November 2018…

Wow, I seem to have stopped posting for a couple of weeks there. But don’t worry, I aten’t ded (If you don’t get that reference I’m not sure we can be friends.) (Just kidding.) (Or am I?). I am aware that I’m starting to sound like a stuck record, but how is it December already? I’m so not prepared for this! Although I do kind of want this year to be over, so there is that. Still have to actually get through December though and I have no idea how I’m going to get everything done. We’re not even going away for Christmas so I don’t know how things are so stressful. Work is crazy busy again, I have at least three more packages to take to the post office (and really need to do it soon before I miss the last chance for them to reach their destinations before Christmas), I still have almost all my Christmas cards to make/send – which admittedly is self-inflicted but it still needs doing. Then I always try to give the whole flat a thorough clean before Christmas so that a) I don’t have to do anything on Christmas apart from cook and b) we can start the year with the place looking decent for once (which admittedly lasts all of two weeks, but oh well). Other people spring clean, I Christmas clean. But I am supposed to be talking about November right now, so let’s do that. Usually I do a “currently” type post for these monthly recaps, but that doesn’t really seem appropriate this time so I’m just kind of going to ramble on. Feel free to stop reading at any point 😉

Of course, I am linking up with Kristen.

whats new with you

Jan finished his old job on 31st October and wasn’t starting his new one until 12th November (which involved flying to the US on the 11th for three weeks of “orientation”), so before I lost the babies I had applied for a few days off so we could spend some time together and go and look at some baby furniture. Needless to say, the latter didn’t happen, but I decided to still take the time off anyway. On 1st November (which was a holiday for me anyway – All Saints’ Day), we had an appointment with the fertility specialist. We were basically told the same as at the hospital: they advise waiting two cycles  to physically recover then we can try again as soon as we feel emotionally prepared. He also wanted me to come in for an ultrasound on day 12 of my next cycle to check that the curettage hadn’t damaged my uterus in any way (pregnancy makes everything more sensitive anyway, and then the infection on top of that increased the risk of damage, apparently), so I did that and luckily everything was fine. At least one bit of good news! He also said it would be 6+ weeks before my period came back, but luckily it was closer to 5. The doctor’s advice was basically to go ahead and use our remaining two IUI cycles… while the pregnancy may have reset my hormones he still thought that if I managed to fall pregnant naturally it wouldn’t happen for at least six months… and I haven’t exactly got any younger in the five months since I conceived! Also, based on when I actually ended up ovulating in the cycle after my period came back it doesn’t look like anything’s changed. We’re officially “unexplained” but the one theory any doctor did manage to come up with is that my body doesn’t respond properly to the hormones, meaning my follicles grow too slow and by the time I ovulate my eggs are old and low quality and thus fail to fertilise. I ovulated on day 17, which admittedly is quite early for me (almost normal, in fact) but seems to suggest that nothing has changed. So it looks like I still need the help. Not looking forward to giving myself daily injections again, but that’s just how it has to be.

Candles

Jan managed to speak to a funeral director and then get an appointment with the person at the local council who deals with bereavement for the first Monday in November, so we decided to go away for the weekend before that, just for a change of scenery and to not have to think about everything that had happened. We went to Yverdon les Bains, where I was very disappointed to discover that the Museum of science fiction, utopia and extraordinary voyages was closed that weekend! I will definitely be going back just for that. We also managed to leave the suitcase behind when we changed trains (we got it back a few days later though), so the first thing we did in Yverdon les Bains was buy toothbrushes, toothpaste and underwear. There wasn’t loads to do there, but we managed to fill our time with food, walking and a visit to the town museum, which is located in the castle. If anyone is keeping track of my 40 before 40, one item is to visit a place in Switzerland starting with each letter of my first name. Yverdon obviously starts with Y… I’m beginning at the end, apparently.

Yverdon
Yverdon Castle

We met with the bereavement person on the Monday at 9 a.m.. He had already spoken to the funeral directors/crematorium so it was basically just filling in forms. The cremation was taking place on the Tuesday, then we had the choice for them to be laid to rest at the memorial for babies born too soon on either the Wednesday or Thursday. Since I had to be back at work on the Thursday, we chose Wednesday. So on Wednesday 7th November 2018, we laid our beautiful first born babies to rest. I’m not going to get into that here, so if you’re interested read this post.

It was still early, so we went and picked up a car, drove part-way up a mountain and then took the Geissflue circular route. When we started off, it was very cloudy and we were right in amongst them, but then it started to clear so at times it was cloudy on one side of us and blue skies on the other. So random, but very cool looking (photo below does not do it justice). As it gradually brightened up  I even ended up having to take my coat off because it was too warm… in November! The view was gorgeous… autumn colours galore. It was nice to get out in the fresh air. The whole walk/hike took us about 2 hours (including photo breaks!), which I was pretty pleased with considering a month earlier we went for a walk up the hill near where we live and I had to sit down twice because I felt weak. Nice to see the iron supplements worked! Once we arrived back at the car we drove to Aargau and had delicious Flammkuchen for lunch.

As previously mentioned, Jan flew to the US on 11th November for three weeks, but I didn’t spend those entire three weeks alone. Someone from one of his choirs came to stay for a weekend so that she wouldn’t have to travel back to Geneva after practice every day, I finally worked in the office in Germany again for the first time on 21st November because that evening was our Christmas meal – I had goose with bread dumplings and red cabbage – and then my mum and sister came over for a few days last week (was it really only last week? It feels like ages ago!). I was working most of the time, but I did manage to get the Wednesday off and we went to Freiburg in Brisgau for a few hours. We looked at the Christmas markets and my sister managed to purchase a decoration for her Christmas tree then we found a café where we ate burgers and drank beer before taking the train home so they could relax and pack ready for their flight home the next day. It was nice to see them, even though the reason for them coming was a sad one (so that I wouldn’t have to be alone for ages after everything that had happened in October and November… there was also more bad news for a family member that I won’t talk about on the blog because it’s not my place).

Freiburg im Breisgau

In between all that I worked a lot – broken record again, but it really has been so busy. The 12 days I was off sick when I lost the boys and the few days off at the beginning of November seem like a long time ago. I am looking forward to Christmas purely because I have 13 entire days without work. I’ve also made and posted cards to most of the Post Pals (yeah, I managed those ones… it’s just my friends and family ones that I’ve barely started on!) and I’ve been trying to eat extra healthily in preparation for starting the process of trying to conceive again. That kind of went out the window when my family were visiting with all the beer and wine I consumed, but I managed to eat fish at least twice most weeks, upped my water intake (I definitely don’t drink enough usually) and did my best to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. I’m trying to continue with that this month, but I’m not going to promise that the odd Christmas treat (or 10) won’t creep in…

So, that was November. What’s new with you? Are you as unprepared for Christmas as I am? Come link up and see what everyone else has been up to.

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35 before 35 – the results

6-tea+candles

It has been three whole days since I turned 35 so I suppose you could say this post is late. I’ve been trying to think how to write it. After all, there’s not much point in just re-listing all the things I had planned to do when you can just check the master list here and see all the things I have an haven’t done. So, instead, a summary:

Out of 35 goals, I completed 18. That means I did not complete 17… so I did just over half. Of those I didn’t complete, I only read 21 out of 50 non-fiction books, so less than half for that one, but I read 69 out of 132 books for the BBC Big Read, meaning I managed more than half for that one and only have another 63 left to read before I turn 40.

Number 27 on my list, spend the night in a wine barrel, I’m just not that bothered about any more and number 3, learn Spanish, was a silly goal anyway. What does “learn Spanish” even mean… how much would I have had to learn in order to consider it complete? For number 33, have a poem published, I can say I tried. I submitted three poems to a competition and not one of them got through. Not even an honourable mention. I was quite proud of one of them as well! Oh well, their loss… right? 😉

Overall, I am very pleased with what I did manage to do. The main goal was to be able to look back when I turned 35 and be able to say I have done things with my life… I have read, learned, travelled and had experiences. And I can certainly say that! I may not have managed to see the Northern Lights (yet) but I did visit not just one but two new continents (overachiever ;-)) having travelled to both Taiwan and New Zealand in the past 5 years. Drinking champagne in Champagne and seeing three World Cup rugby matches were fantastic experiences and 69 BBC Big Read books isn’t bad considering the length of some of them (looking at you Anna Karenina). Now on to 40 before 40! I have a feeling the next five years are going to be interesting whatever happens with my list 😉

Taiwan
View of Sun Moon Lake from Wen Wu Temple, Taiwan

Recent doings #30

Hi friends! Can you believe it’s August already? That means I will be turning 35 this month! And with so much of my 35 before 35 list left undone 😉 I have done a lot of the things on the list though – and also quite a few that weren’t even on there so I’m fine with it. Anyway, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… today I’m here to talk about what I’ve been doing in July.

whats new with you

 

Eating. Lots of salad – it’s been far too hot to cook! Trying to eat fish twice a week. And before you start thinking how virtuous I am, a  lot of ice cream has also been consumed 😉

Reading. I didn’t manage to read as much this month partly thanks to work being crazy busy and also because I had a lot of cross stitching to do and also I feel like work has been trying to drown me in translations…. I did so much overtime in July! I managed to read 6 books for Erin’s challenge though, plus 3 other full books and I finished one I had started in June. I also started 2 other books for Erin’s challenge but one I couldn’t manage to get into and the other is long so I haven’t finished it yet.

Watching. Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars… which means we’ve actually finished a whole series. Woo! Also football because World Cup and Young Sheldon.

Cross stitching. Birthday season has begun! Actually, it started with my mum’s birthday on 26 July but I didn’t stitch her a card this year so the first cross stitched card was one I started last month for my friend’s son’s 1st birthday. I then stitched a card for another friend’s son, whose birthday is on 27 August. Next up are my brother’s birthday (1 September) and my godson’s birthday (13 September). And I also started my Christmas stitching in July… yes, I know that sounds crazy but past experience tells me if I don’t want to be stressed in December I have to start now.

Going. Up mountains. As I mentioned last month, we took an overnight trip to Vitznau on Lake Lucerne on 30 June. On 1 July we took the cable car from Vitznau up to the Wissifluh – part of Rigi – then drove down to Stans and went up the Stanserhorn. We saw loads of butterflies on both mountains. I’ve never seen so many different types outside of a butterfly house! It was pretty amazing. Then last Sunday we spontaneously decided to drive to French-speaking Switzerland last week – St Ursanne and Neuchâtel.

butterfly

Seeing/hearing. The Basel Tattoo! Jan was performing with the tattoo choir again and I had a ticket for the first Saturday. It’s definitely an experience I can recommend.

Buying. Too many books, as usual. Also a bird necklace from Etsy. Anything else? A birthday present for my friend’s son, which also happened to be books 😉

Wishing. Things would cool down just a little. This is Switzerland – there’s no need for it to still be 28°C at 9 o’clock at night!

And that was basically my July. Work, boil to death, prepare food that preferably doesn’t involve generating more heat, attempt to sleep even though I apparently live in an oven, wake up, repeat. With a little trip at the beginning and end of the month to balance things out.

How was your July? Anything new you want to share? Check out the link up to see what other bloggers have been up to lately.

Recent doings #28

Before I start this post can we just take a minute to think about the fact that it is now June? The sixth month of the year. We are almost half-way through 2018 and I feel like I have absolutely nothing to show for it. Although I have read 87 books so far this year, so that’s something, I suppose. Anyway, today I am here to tell you about the month that’s just ended. So without further ado, here is what I got up to in May:

whats new with you

Reading. I read 11 books in May and finished another that I had started in April. You’ll find out all about them on Tuesday. I also continued with Pillars of the Earth but I’m still not even halfway through.

Listening to. We hired a car to drive to where my uncle lives near Munich and listened to Welcome to Night Vale on the way there. Coming home, we listened to part of the audiobook of M is for Magic, written and read by Neil Gaiman.

Watching. We are still watching Young Sheldon, so that. Also, we went to the cinema in May – for the first time since moving to Switzerland! We saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It was odd but good. I can’t remember whether I watched anything else in May. Jan watched random stuff, as always, but I usually don’t pay much attention.

Eating. Umm… what did I eat in May? I started the month quite well with salads and whatnot. Then after putting the half kilogram I had lost back on then failing to lose any more weight I temporarily gave up and consumed way too much ice cream. The trip to Munich didn’t help either! I’m back on the wagon now, but heavier than ever. Ugh.

Making. Birthday cards for Post Pals kids. I don’t seem to do much else these days.

Cross stitching. I finished the wedding card I started last month and also stitched a goat card for a Post Pals sibling.

Travelling. To just outside Munich for my cousin’s confirmation and then to England at the end of the month for the wedding I stitched the card for. On the way back from Munich we went to the Partnach Gorge near Garmisch-Patenkirchen with my Munich-dwelling uncle plus my aunt and uncle who came over from England for the confirmation. My camera couldn’t cope at all with the combination of bright light outside/darkness in the gorge, but here’s one of the photos that turned out okay-ish.

Partnachklamm

Going. To a set of waterfalls called the Trümmelbachfälle. Basically ten glacier-fed waterfalls inside a mountain. It’s very, very cool to look at! On the way back we stopped in Spiez and were going to play mini golf but we didn’t have cash and the only banks were right on top of the hill.

Celebrating. My cousin’s confirmation. There was a long church service then we went for a three-course meal. I did not, however, celebrate my friend’s wedding in May because it didn’t happen until June 😉

Buying. I put myself on a sort-of mini spending ban in May, but still bought four books because I could not resist. That’s a lot less than usual though. I also bought shoes, which was a necessary expense because I didn’t have a suitable pair for the wedding! And I bought two necklaces from Etsy (they were on sale and they were way too cool for me not to own them). Obviously I suck at not spending.

Walking. I tried to walk into town at least once a week and Jan and I also took a 3-hour walk from our place to the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. The final part of the walk was a sculpture trail called “24 stops” that ends at the Vitra Design Museum (or starts there depending which way round you do it). And we went for a walk along the beach with my mam and brother while we were in England (that was on 31st May so still last month). Once again, walking was my only exercise. The exercise mat I bought continues to watch me accusingly as I consistently ignore it.

Basel 24 stops
One of the 24 Stops sculptures

Seeing/hearing. A musician called Christian Zehnder who Jan performed with once. Christian Zehnder is a “vocal artist” who mainly does what’s known as “throat singing” or “overtone singing”. This time he was with another musician who was playing a hurdy gurdy. If I say it was unusual it sounds as if I didn’t like it, but I actually did. Unusual (or interesting) really is the best adjective to describe it though!

Umm, I can’t think of anything else of note that I did in May. Jan had choir stuff practically every weekend so I spent most of my time home alone either reading or cleaning/sorting. I managed to take about 25 books to the public bookshelf over the course of the month – and still have about another 30 to get rid of!

So, that’s all from me. What have you been doing recently? I’m linking up with Kristen, as always.

Switzerland, three years on

Basel

Today is exactly three years since we packed the last of our stuff in a van (the rest having been taken a month earlier when Jan moved), said a final goodbye to our flat in Karlsruhe and I came to join Jan here in Basel. So, what’s been going on?

I still have the exact same four friends/acquaintances as last year, but our friends who moved here from Karlsruhe will probably be returning to Germany soon and I’ll be back down to two. I was hoping Jan would make friends for both of us, but despite him being involved in more choirs and singing projects than I can count I rarely get to actually meet any of the people he spends time with. I’ve been to every single one of his concerts and even joined the performers for dinner after some of them, but once it’s been established that I don’t (can’t!) sing, the rest of the conversation goes on without me. Basically I need to find some less antisocial hobbies… and the courage to go out and meet people by myself.

Other than that, we have visited even more places in Switzerland, including Geneva (finally), Spiez (in the dark!) and Castle Chillon, tried quite a few new restaurants in Basel, watched the fireworks for Switzerland’s national day and attended both Fasnacht in Basel and the Liestal fire parade again this year. We had fewer visitors in 2017, but have already had one in 2018 and will hopefully be seeing more later in the year.

basel-rhine

All in all, I am still very much enjoying living here and I hope we can continue living here for a very long time!

If you go down to the woods today…


Es war einmal
“Once upon a time…”

No, you won’t see any teddy bears… not in these particular woods anyway! Last year, at around this time, we wanted to do something on a sunny day that just happened to also be a public holiday in both Germany and Switzerland. I had read about a fairytale sculpture trail in some nearby woods, so we hopped on a tram to Reinach and went exploring.

The sculpture path originally opened in 2005 with 12 sculptures. More were added in 2008, 2009 and 2011, for a total of 46 fairytale characters by 22 artists today. Obviously the later ones are in better condition than the earlier ones. Some of the sculptures represent specific fairytales that I recognised, some are Swiss tales that I didn’t know and others seem to just be general fairytale themes, for example a palace or witch that didn’t seem to be from any particular story.

fairytale palace

The palace above is actually a marble run, which is pretty cool. We found a marble on the floor and managed to give it a go. Then, later on the trail, we found this:

We spent quite a while playing with it because… well, you just would, wouldn’t you? So fun!

Poor Puss in Boots appeared to have fallen victim to a madman with an axe, and Pinnochio had lost his famous nose completely. Does that mean he had been telling too many truths? Telling tales unnecessarily, perhaps?

We found Red Riding Hood, hiding from a rather young looking wolf.

I immediately recognised the following sculpture as a mirror and assumed it was SNow White, but its sign informed me it’s actually Momo’s mirror. Momo is a fantasy novel by Michael Ende, which I started reading ages ago and never finished so I’m not sure where the mirror comes in!

Momo's mirror

Of course, no fairytale trail would be complete without an actual fairy!

fairy sculpture

We didn’t bring any food with us, but there is a picnic area in the woods including a place where you can “grill” over an open fire. The sculpture trail is only in a small part of the woods, and there is also a nature trail throughout the whole thing – the signs are only in German but I’m sure you can still have a nice walk. The photos I’ve shown here are, obviously, just a few of the sculptures. There are plenty more to discover. I can recommend this to anyone visiting Basel who has children or – like me – just loves fairytales!

To get to the sculpture trail, take tram number 11 from Basel to the stop called “Reinach Süd”. The start of the trail is a short walk – about 10-15 minutes. Follow signs for “Schulhaus Fiechten”.

Bletchley Park, August 2017

Jan and I recently watched The Imitation Game, which has inspired me to finally write about the day we spent at Bletchley Park last year! As I’m sure you know, Bletchley Park was the home of the WWII code-breakers. Really, I only had the vaguest idea of what went on there – something to do with decoding the German military’s secret messages? Likewise, although I had heard of Alan Turing, I had no idea who he actually was. Yes, clearly I was very ignorant.

Bletchley Park1

Located in a the grounds of a mansion in Bletchley, a small town that’s part of Milton Keynes, Bletchley Park was the home of home of the Government Code & Cypher School – now known as the Government Communications Headquarters – during the Second World War. Nobody actually knew that at the time though – the work being done at Bletchley Park was highly secret and only started to be discussed publicly in 1974. The site has been a museum since the 90’s and was restored to what it is now in 2014.

The exhibition starts in the welcome centre, where they have a short film and some information about the history of Bletchley Park. Once outside, you can enter some of the restored huts, which have partly been set up as they would have been originally and partly contain some interactive exhibits. Then the main exhibition is in Block B. There, you can read about the history of the Enigma – the machine the Germans used to write their code. Early models had been used commercially, so everybody knew they existed, but of course the military version was more complex. Block B also has an exhibition about Alan Turing, which is where I learned all about him and his sad fate for the first time. He was, of course, part of Hut 8 at Bletchley Park and instrumental in the invention of the machines that were used to crack the Enigma’s codes (although not quite to the extent depicted in the film!), but to computer scientists he is mostly known as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.

In a way, the exhibition at Bletchley Park was the perfect combination and Jan’s and my interests – the codebreaking, Colossus machine used for breaking ciphers (considered to be an early computer), and Alan Turin stuff for computer scientist Jan, and the linguistic component for me: obviously it wasn’t enough to just decrypt the messages… somebody had to translate the German (and later Japanese) text into English as well!

The exhibition was really interesting – it’s fascinating to think of all that happening not even that long ago, certainly within our grandparents’ lifetimes. But there was so much information. We were there for about 5 hours and didn’t even manage to see everything properly. We left right before closing time and I was actually pleased they weren’t open any longer since, by then, I was all museumed out. It was definitely a good start to our holiday though and I can highly recommend it to anyone who is at all interested in history, cryptography, computer science or languages. Tickets are valid for a year, so those who live closer can go back time and again. I feel like smaller doses will make it easier to take everything in 😉