Recent doings #21

Once again it’s that time of the month where I tell you all about what went on the one before. For August, it’s going to be a very holiday-filled one, because the first two weeks of the month were uninteresting and honestly I can’t really remember most of what I did, other than trying to cram in packing in the evenings leading up to our going away and wondering why I didn’t take the Friday off for precisely that purpose…

Anyway, let’s get to it.

whats-new

Reading. I read six books in August – or technically read 5 and finished reading one. Four were for Erin‘s reading challenge. I will tell you about all of them on Tuesday.

Listening to. Welcome to Night Vale! I actually took the audio book on holiday with me but we thought the hire car didn’t have a CD player so we listened to episodes of the podcast. Then, with only a few days left, I discovered a CD player hiding in the glove compartment. What?! So we’ve now made it through the first seven CDs and we’re nearly caught up on the podcast!

Watching. Something my dad had recorded about restoring old buildings. Before our holiday I’m not sure I watched anything…

Eating. I don’t remember what I ate before we went away. Probably lots of ice cream. On holiday I ate all the British foods I could cram in, although surprisingly no Monster Munch. Actually, very few crisps – just some Hula Hoops. I’m awful at food photography, but here’s a venison sausage with black pudding mash. Yes, it’s Bambi. And it was delicious.

venison sausage

Drinking. Cider in a multitude of flavours – the rhubarb one was nicest. I also treated myself to a can of Dandelion and Burdock and some point.

Buying. While we were on holiday I pretty much only bought food so I’m trying to think back to what I bought before that. Umm, a few books for the bonus round of the reading challenge and a T-shirt for my holiday are all I can think of.

Celebrating. My friend’s 30th birthday. She turned 30 at the beginning of the month, but had her celebration together with her mum over the August bank holiday weekend. Oh, and my birthday as well (I genuinely almost forgot about that!)

Travelling. To Britain, but you know that already 😉 We also travelled to Überlingen on Lake Constance to see Jan’s mum and her partner and did some driving around in Switzerland for my birthday.

Meeting. Fellow blogger Kezzie and her husband, who happened to be in Northumberland at the same time as us. They are both lovely, lovely people.

Admiring. Puppies! So many puppies… some literally puppies (but all dogs are puppies, right?). I swear every dog owner in England was visiting the same places we were. I even got to pet a few (dogs, not owners!).

Cross stitching. Birthday cards for my godson, another friend’s son and my little brother, as well as many, many PostPals children, plus a new baby card for a friend. I feel like every time I blink someone either gives birth or announces a pregnancy.

rocket card

As usual, I am linking up with Kristin and Gretch.

Have you been doing anything interesting recently?

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Guess who’s back, back again!

No, not Shady… well, possibly him too. Isn’t he always back? But that’s irrelevant here. Nope… it is I, your very own Confuzzled Bev who is back! After two weeks of gallivanting around Britain (well, England and one town in Scotland – but I’m counting it as a Britain trip for the sake of my 35 Before 35), drinking gallons of tea, consuming mountains of proper bacon, scones, pies and fish and chips, walking on beaches and climbing up mountains, I am now back at work.

I will tell you all about our trip eventually… when I can be bothered to sort and resize the dozens of photos I took. In the meantime, here are two photos of bees on flowers in Cornwall – because bees are cool and deserve to have their photos shared whenever possible!

Hello readers! As fun as travel always is, it’s good to be home.

Shooting stars for 34 years of me!

As you may or may not have noticed, it was my birthday on Sunday. I’m now 34 – less than a year until I have to tick the next category in age ranges (why is it always 35 to something) and less than a year left for my 35 before 35. Eeep. Obviously, 34 doesn’t feel too different so far. Obviously I am another year older, but at this point I’m also only 4 days older than I was before my birthday…

Part of my gift from Jan was a trip to look for shooting stars. As you may know, the Perseids is a meteor shower that takes place every year from around mid-July, peaking between the 12th and 14th of August… i.e. right around my birthday. Since it was cloudy in Basel on the 12th, we had to go hunting for them elsewhere. So Jan hired a car, which he eventually managed to pick up in the afternoon after some mix up about where it was. Since it was still light, we went to Solothurn first, where we were just in time to climb the tower of the Baseltor before it closed.

Back down on the ground, we took a walk through Solothurn and then went for dinner (I had tuna steak. It was delicious). Then I decided since it was my last meal as a 33 year old I deserved dessert. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. Yum! I didn’t take any photos of the food, but here’s one of the restaurant we ate at:

Brasserie Federal_Solothurn
Brasserie Federal, Solothurn

After dinner, we got back in the car and drove in a generally south-ish direction, hoping to find somewhere less cloudy. We eventually got to Bern, where we checked the cloud radar and decided to move further south. We eventually ended up in Spiez, which is where we got out of the car. First we went down to the lakeside (Lake Thun for those who are interested) and then we headed up to a castle on a hill so that we could see more of the sky at once. I still only managed to spot a grand total of three shooting stars the entire time we were there, but we did see a bat, which is always cool. Midnight struck while we were by the castle, but unfortunately no meteorite showed itself to wish me a happy birthday 😉 From what I could see, Spiez looked like a nice place. We’ll have to go when it’s light some time. Here’s the castle and a church that was opposite it – I thought the moon beside it (half hidden behind a cloud) looked cool.

It was 2 a.m. by the time we got home, so all I did was go to bed, leaving my cards for the morning.

Such a beautiful place to see in my 34th birthday. Once again, I’m so glad we took the chance and moved to Switzerland.

35 Before 35: Progress report 7

A blog post two days in a row? What is this madness? I hear you cry! Well, it’s exactly a month until my 34th birthday (HELP!) so I thought I’d better check what progress I’ve made on my 35 before 35 list since my last check in – which was in January, apparently.

Number 13:  Read (or re-read) 50 non-fiction books

I was up to 18 last time, and now I’m on a grand total of…. *drum roll* … 19. Yeah. I read A Sense of Style by Steve Pinker. I reviewed it yesterday.

Number 15: Read 30 books in German

Last time I was up to 22, and now I’m on 24. So a whole 2 for this category.  Die Stille Braut by Barbara Wenken (okay) and Märchenwald by Martin Krist (really good!).

Number 21: Read all the books from the BBC Big Read that I hadn’t before starting this challenge

I’d read 46 last time and now I’m on 56! Finally some real progress. I’m not going to list them all, so you can see all the Big Read books I’ve read here. I have 67 left to read… theoretically it’s possible, as long as I stop reading everything else!

Number 30: Learn to crochet or knit (or both)

I haven’t written a post on it yet, but I did loom knit a bunch of tiny hats (too small for even a newborn, but recognisable as hats) and one and a half socks for myself. Loom knitting isn’t exactly knitting, but the items are made of wool and look knitted so I’ve decided it can count.

Number 31. Watch 35 films I’ve never seen before

I had made it to 29 last time… and now I’m finished! I’ve actually managed to watch all six of the films I still needed this year. I completed this item by watching Kajaki. You can see what else I’ve watched here.

Number 34: Drink champagne in Champagne.

Woohoo! I actually did this. Thank you Germany and your ridiculous amount of public holidays in the spring! I wrote about it here.

So, I have made some progress on the reading front, discovered a new hobby in loom knitting (because I totally need even more sedentary hobbies with the way the scales are looking!), crossed off one more travel item and actually managed to watch films for a change. With one year and one month to go, I obviously won’t manage everything (especially not all the travel-related items) but hopefully I will at least get all the reading crossed off. Wish me luck!

Recent doings #19

Once again I start with an apology to the blogosphere. Sorry I disappeared again! Work last week was just horrible. I kept having more and more things planned for me until I ended up working 10 hours on Thursday because there was no other way to get everything finished in time. And once I was done I still had to pack because I was spending Friday night at a hotel in Germany. Friday/Saturday I was at a course on legal translation for work, which was actually more interesting than it sounds. Anyway, despite my recent crapness I have not forgotten that today is link-up day with Kristin and Gretch. So here’s what I got up to in June when I wasn’t drowning in work…

whats-new

Eating. It’s been too hot for proper food, so we’ve basically been living on salad. That makes me sound way healthier than I actually am, so I should clarify that one of those salads consisted of new potatoes, spring onions, chicken, Greek yoghurt and seasoning. What? It’s a potato salad! I also have to confess that my diet has involved rather a lot of ice cream in June…

Watching. I started watching that new Channel 4 drama Ackley Bridge. I couldn’t watch yesterday’s though because Jan was home and he doesn’t watch stuff like that (I once watched an episode of Casualty while he was there and he asked me why I was watching a soap).

Reading. I actually managed to finish Sophie’s World. Woo! I also finished The Sense of Style, read four other books and started Three Men in a Boat/Three Men on the Bummel (and finished the Three Men in a Boat part, which is the only part that’s on the Big Read list so yay!). Much better than May’s tally! With Erin‘s challenge now on, I am hoping July will be an excellent reading month.

Listening to. Welcome to Night Vale. Yay! It’s been forever since I said that. We hired a car for our trip to Champagne and car journeys mean time for Night Vale.

Seeing/hearing. The Swiss Youth Choir performing at a church in Basel. Jan is in a choir with some people who are also in that choir so he wanted to go along.

Travelling. To the Champagne region, where I drank champagne (of course) and crossed another item off my 35 before 35 list.

Growing. Chilli plants. Our friend gave them to us when they were just little and they’ve grown and grown,  flowered and are now starting to produce  little chillies. Yum! Also parsley and thyme outside, although the thyme isn’t doing so well.

chillies
Hi little chillies!

Buying. Books, stickers, writing paper. Oh, and since I was in Germany on Friday, I popped to Primark for some tights to replace all the ones I’ve ruined and came out with a cardigan. It had bees on it so I couldn’t possibly not buy it! (Plus it was reduced to €5).

Swimming. In the Rhine, the week before last when it had been really hot for ages. It then rained and cooled down a few days later plus work went crazy so I haven’t been back in yet.

Cross stitching. A new baby card for a friend and lots more cards for Post Pals.

dragon card

Wishing. Time would slow down. It’s my birthday next month and the month after is the official start of autumn. Where is this year going?!

I can’t think of anything else I’ve been up to… as previously mentioned, the main thing I’ve been doing recently is working (are you sick of hearing about that yet?). So I shall leave this here.

Check out what’s new with everyone else here and let me know what you did in June in the comments.

35 before 35: Champagne in Champagne

Champagne

WordPress congratulated me on my anniversary this morning… apparently this blog has existed for a whole nine years today! So even though I didn’t intend to blog, I didn’t feel like I could let such a momentous occasion pass without a post. And what better way to celebrate than with champagne (albeit champagne that has already been drunk).

Whit Monday is a public holiday in Germany and Switzerland (or at least the parts that are relevant to us), which meant a long weekend. We didn’t want to let it go to waste, so with the Champagne region a mere four and a half hours’ drive from here, I decided it was time to check something else off my 35 before 35 list.

We were staying in Reims, but after arriving there on Saturday evening we decided to spend some time exploring other place and save Reims itself for the next day. First of all, we drove to a village called Avizes, where there’s a champagne company that one of Jan’s colleagues recommended (the one in the photo at the top of this post). Unfortunately they had already closed for the weekend so we couldn’t book a tour. We stopped in a little park just outside the village where even the landscaping featured champagne!

The next stop was Epernay… home of the (apparently) world-famous “Champagne street”. All the big names have headquarters there.

As you can see, it had started to rain by this point, so we were glad to head off and find some food (and actual champagne to drink!). We each chose the evening three course meal. Jan was driving, so he drank some delicious apricot juice, but I chose the version of the meal that came with three types of champagne. Sadly I don’t remember what they were, except that the first one did come from where it says on the glass. How’s that for a wine list though!

After breakfast the next day, we headed into Reims for a look around. I’m going to tell you about that in a separate post though, since there was no champagne drinking involved and this post is for the 35 before 35 item 😉 Instead let’s skip ahead to that afternoon, when we had a G. H. Mumm cellar tour booked.

We saw some of the barrels they originally used, each with the name of the village the grapes came from, learned about the villages where Mumm grow their grapes, saw all the different sizes of champagne bottle that exist (Mumm only has about 4 of them available!) and visited the museum.

Obviously the tour ended with a glass of champagne!

And that’s item 34 crossed off my list: Drink Champagne in Champagne.

 

Recent doings #17

At the beginning of April I said that it looked like it was going to be the fastest month so far this year, and I was not wrong! How on Earth is it May already?! I suppose all the busyness at work has not helped! Last week I ended up doing overtime because it was the only way to get a job finished that had been re-planned to me because my colleague had too much to do, and tomorrow is my first time to go into the office this month (I now have to go twice a month), which means I’ll be out of the house from 6:30 a.m. until just after 8 p.m. Since I am only actually in the office for 6 hours on those days, in those weeks I have to make up the remaining 2 hours on other days. In other words, every two weeks I work an extra half an hour on four days of the week… and that’s before any additional overtime that crops up just because nobody can ever predict when things will get busy. So, that’s one reason my blogging has been rather sporadic lately. Others included going away for Easter, another friend coming to stay for a weekend, and cross stitching lots of cards. But anyway, it’s time to link up with Kristen and Gretch again, so let me tell you about April’s doings…

whats-new

Reading. I started the month reading a lot and then didn’t finish a single book in the final week and a bit of April! I had read a total of ten books by the 20th of the month though (but still haven’t finished the one I started after that). I will tell you about them soon, so I won’t list them all here. My favourite was a German crime thriller called Märchenwald.

Watching. I bought season 1 of The League of Gentlemen on DVD so Jan and I have been watching that. It doesn’t take up much brain power so I can stitch while I watch. Ah, the video cassettes and landlines. So 90s!

Eating. I had big plans to up my veg intake in April, but then I went to Berlin for Easter and ate all the bad (but tasty!) foods – and yes I’m aware I haven’t written about that yet. Then towards the end of the month Jan was out nearly every evening for choir stuff, so I consumed a lot of toast. May will be better (I hope)!

Visiting. My friend K in Berlin. Also…

Travelling. To Berlin to see K 😉 And to Chur at the beginning of April where Jan had a choir performance (which I didn’t see because I had already watched it in Basel – it was the concert I was at in March, but the people he was staying with invited me to come down for a night).

Berlin
Berlin being all atmospheric with clouds

Hosting. A friend from Karlsruhe who we had invited to come down and see an art exhibition as his birthday present from us.

Looking at. Art in said exhibition. Specifically, it was an exhibition of works by Monet.

Going to. Bern and Fribourg with the aforementioned friend on the same weekend that we looked at the art.

Seeing/hearing. Jan performing with another choir last weekend. Also some choirs/a capella groups in Fribourg. See my April photo an hour post.

Cross stitching. Lots of cards for charity. I promise to explain more sooooon (hopefully I will be better at blogging this month…).

Growing. (Well, hopefully). Lavender, Forget-Me-Nots and some herbs. I could have said planting, but Jan did the actual planting. I just give them water and beg them to grow.

plants
Something is happening!

Buying. Uh, what haven’t I been buying more like! Books, craft stuff, an awesome hat in Berlin (technically Jan bought it for me, but with his German card and the only money going into that account right now is from me… so in a round about way I bought it for myself. Weird!). I also ordered a dress but it hasn’t arrived yet.

Planning. Our summer holiday! We are definitely going to be in Britain and we even know where the first stop will be. Holidays from work are approved so the next step is to book a flight…

Okay, I think that’s all. What have you been doing recently?