March 2020 recap

Hello friends! It’s time for my monthly recap. I’m linking up with Kristen for “What’s new with you?” – although I expect my answer is the same as most of yours, namely some form of lockdown. Nonetheless let me start at the beginning of the month, when life was still relatively normal.

whats new with you

1st March was Jan’s 40th birthday. He’s didn’t want a proper celebration but there were gifts and I made malted chocolate cake. We walked into town and had a coffee then in the evening we ate at one of the few restaurants in Basel that’s actually open on a Sunday. At that point Basel carnival, which was to have started at 4 am the next morning had been cancelled a few days earlier (along with other events with over 1,000 participants) but there was no indication yet of how much worse things were going to get. We briefly spoke to the staff about the situation and they were mainly worried about what they were going to do with the extra food and beer they had bought.

cake

The Friday after that I went into the office in Germany, then on Wednesday 11th June we were supposed to take a night train to Vienna and then continue on to Poland. After having mild cold symptoms starting on the Monday I woke up that day feeling much worse and called in sick to work. That day Poland also announced the closure of all museums, galleries, libraries, etc. Right up until I was supposed to leave for Zurich I was debating whether to risk travelling, but when I read that Poland were conducting health checks at the borders I decided not to  – also because I really didn’t feel up to spending 10 hours on a night train just to have to turn back. My temperature was higher than normal (when you’re infertile you get to know your normal temperature very well!) but never higher than 37.3ºC (a fever would be 38ºC). The next day I read that the Czech Republic  – which our train would have passed through  – had closed its borders for non-Czechs. Jan cancelled his holiday and worked from home on the Thursday then went into the office on Friday while I went to the doctors on the Thursday (who agreed I had nothing more than a cold) and got a doctor’s note for two days, which meant I got those 2 days of holiday back. I kept my holiday for the following week though since part of it was days I needed to use by the end of March anyway.

My family decided to still fly to Poland on the Friday since their flight wasn’t cancelled. An hour after they arrived the Polish government announced that bars and restaurants would close and there were also plans to close tge borders. Any foreigners still in the country at midnight on Sunday would have to go into quarantine. So on the Saturday MY family headed to the airport and were initially put on standby for the lsst flight out that day. Ryanair then announced two rescue flights so they were taken off the standby list to be placed on a rescue flight only for the employee to realise the flight was already full and put them on standby again. For a rescue flight where anyone who had managed to get a place was in the actual airport. So how exactly could there be standby places? Anyway, they also booked a place on a bus to Berlin for the next morning only Flixbus to also cancel all bus services to and from Poland. After hanging out at the airport all day they were finally told all flights had gonr and they should leave the airport. Luckily they were able to go back to the apartment they had booked! They had also managed to find a taxi driver who was willing to take them to Berlin and booked new flights from there. The next day there was briefly talk of them being dropped at the border between Poland and Frankfurt an der Oder then walking into Germany and taking a train to Berlin but the taxi driver then decided he would drive them all the way  (good people are out there! I hope he’s got back into Poland without issues!). After a night in a hotel in Berlin, my family caught their flight to Düsseldorf and transfer to Newcastle without issues. In the meantime Germany had closed its borders with Austria and Switzerland but flights to the UK were unaffected at that stage.

Meanwhile,  here in Switzerland, my canton  (Basel-Landschaft) became the first to announce that all bars and restaurants and all shops except pharmacies and supermarkets had to close. The national government then announced on the Monday that the rest of Switzerland had follow suit. I was supposed to have a dentist’s appointment in March but it was postponed until May! Emergency treatment only (no pain = no emergency) and that dentist isn’t actually able to open at all – only designated emergency dentists can see patients for urgent cases.

I spent my week off work mainly making Easter cards for PostPals  – with no idea how long the postal service would continue functioning or what delays there may end up being I wanted them all out as soon as possible. I also managed a bit of reading  (but less than I would have liked). And I copied all the necessary documents and sent off the form to renew my residence permit. Who knows when it will actually be processed now though! Jan’s work announced that anyone who could work from home should, so on the Monday he got a car and went to Zurich to fetch all the equipment he would need and then set up the spare room and has been working from there ever since. For most of that week the furthest I went was the post box (probably 3 minutes away) and a single trip to the supermarket (approx. 5-7 minutes walk), but on I think the Wednesday I had to take a tram to near the train station to pick up a prescription – I have a repeat prescription at the chemist next to my doctor’s surgery (the ones for IVF stuff are near the fertility clinic but I obviously won’t be needing any of that for a while!). The tram was basically empty but there were about 10 people at the pharmacy (queuing out the door since they had to keep their distance and there was a system in one place where you entered through one door and left through the other).

Weirdly, during that week it was the one year anniversary of my due date. So if things hadn’t gone wrong I would have had two 1-year-olds now and been returning from maternity leave in the middle of this pandemic. Not sure how I feel about that. It’s weird. However, I will say that I am sick of people either making “hilarious” jokes about a baby boom in nine months or complaining about being at home with their children – and I get that it’s hard being stuck inside and struggling to entertain them while the whole world seems to be collapsing, but those aren’t the complaints I mean. If you’ve seen them you’ll know.

Anyway… I went back to work on the 23rd and discovered that by then all my colleagues were working from home. Luckily that’s always an option so everyone already had everything set up. I also found out the company would be applying for “short term working” at some point and on the Friday my boss spoke to everyone via a Skype call and explained that they would be applying from 1st April and exactly how it would work, although I later learned they can’t apply for me. Luckily I’ve had plenty of work so far – currently I have enough to last until the end of Monday and I also have 24 hours of overtime I can use. That week (which was last week) I went out twice – to the supermarket on Thursday where I bought enough for a week and Jan and I went for a walk on the Saturday. As soon as we reached the field we wanted to walk around I felt guilty for adding to the masses  – I’ve never seen so many people there!

And that pretty much brings us to the end of March. The one other thing I have to mention is that I called the fertility clinic on Friday only to be met with an answering machine message stating they are closed and all current and future treatment is cancelled until further notice. I was expecting it but it’s still a bit of a blow. Who knows when we will be able to try another transfer now? I don’t expect it to happen before the summer anyway.

Let’s end this with something good… on the last day of the month I received mail that I didn’t remember ordering. It turned out to be a colouring book from my good friend Naomi with the message to make it pretty while stuck indoors. I know her in real life (from school!) but she has a blog, which you can read here.

And so endeth the first of my lockdown diaries.

How have you been keeping yourself occupied at home? Or are you one of those that still has to go out for work? (In  which case THANK YOU for ensuring that society keeps running, and if you work in care of the health service for looking after those in need. I for one appreciate your efforts).

One more thing – don’t forget check out the link up!

Reasons to be grateful

These are trying times (especially given that, today, I called my fertility clinic to find that – as expected – they’re closed and all treatments are cancelled until the government lifts its restrictions, so who knows when I will be able to even try another embryo transfer), but I still have a lot to be thankful, so I thought I would make a list. This post is about things I am grateful to have in my personal life, so it won’t mention the “key workers” who are keeping society running – and I hope it goes without saying that I am grateful to the medical professionals/care workers who risk their lives every single day to help people in need (a shout out to my mum who is a nurse here – hi mam!). This post was inspired by Kezzie, who always manages to find reasons to be grateful even in the darkest times <3.

Bee

1. I am not in isolation alone. As much as I am fine with being alone – most of my hobbies are solitary – not seeing anybody at all for weeks on end would be too much even for me! I still don’t see a great deal of Jan – it seems like without a commute he works even longer hours – but at least I know he is here, albeit locked in the spare room on his computer most of the time 😉

2. I love my flat. There are definitely people out there who don’t like where they’re living and I can’t imagine being stuck there for the foreseeable future would be much fun!

3. We have a balcony! Obviously I would prefer a nice big garden, but our old flat in Germany didn’t even have a balcony! Even if I can’t properly go out I can at least get some fresh air.

4. My employer is being very transparent about what measures our company will be taking and there’s a plan in place to make sure nobody has to stop work entirely and we can hold out on full pay for as long as possible. We will be applying for “short-time work” from April but the hope is that our customers will rally sooner rather than later and things won’t end up being as bad as they seem. Also grateful that – as of right now – I have enough work to last me until the end of next week before I even need to start using my overtime. (And this is all I’m going to say about work because I don’t really like to talk about it here).

5. Spring is here! The days are lighter and warmer and even though I can’t see any flowers from my flat I know they’re out there. (And I can see the trees that are budding and growing new leaves – hard times are so much easier when it’s light outside and everything looks alive.)

6. Books. I am always grateful for books, but I’m even more grateful now that I enjoy reading and have plenty of unread books that have been waiting on the shelves for far too long.

7. Solitary hobbies. Cross stitch and card-making are things I can do without even leaving the house, so really I haven’t even lost anything. (Other than the ability to go for hikes before it gets too hot. And, of course, we had to cancel our holiday but this is supposed to be a positive post so enough about that.)

8. That we went to the UK for Christmas. If we hadn’t, I have no idea when I would have got to see any of my family again. Before Christmas, the last time I had seen my dad and grandma was very briefly in February 2019!

9. That we have so much technology for keeping in touch these days. My dad called me via WhatsApp the other day, the boss addressed us all via Skype today, my mum is in constant touch via WhatsApp, and people have even messaged me on Facebook… and of course I’m constantly in contact with blogging friends via Instagram, Twitter and – naturally – their actual blogs. I may not be able to physically see anybody, but honestly I’m probably in touch more now than I would be if I actually lived in the same country as my friends and family!

10. We have plenty of food and our local supermarkets (mostly) do too. When I’ve noticed something missing it has usually been available again the next time I went in – so last Friday I couldn’t get tinned tomatoes but yesterday I managed. (The only loo roll available yesterday was the scented kind but luckily we currently have plenty ;-)).

Okay, that’s it. ten seems like a good number. I hope you all have a good weekend despite everything!

Tell me something you’re grateful for in the comments.

Friday letters

Hello lovelies. I haven’t done one of these in a while… I’ve just checked: the last one was June 2018. I don’t have anything else to post about right now – or at least nothing I feel like making the effort for – so we’ll go with this.

Friday letters

Dear Christmas. I see you lurking just over the horizon. Calm down and bide your time… I have way too much to do before you get here!

Dear people who constantly posting X sleeps until Christmas. You are not helping with the above situation!

Dear universe. On behalf of my family, I would like to say please just stop! The last couple of months have been relentless.

Dear flight companies. Are you actually serious about your prices to fly from the European continent to England this year? I paid triple what I normally do for flights to England… and that includes the time I went over for my grandpa’s funeral and literally booked the flight the night before. In fact, I’ve just checked and I could get a return flight from London to New York on the same dates for less. Care to explain?

Dear work. I still love you but I have to confess I would much rather be off right now. As I already told Christmas, there’s just so much to do!

Dear weekend. You’re so close I feel like I can almost reach out and touch you. I just wish we could hang out more often and for longer!

Dear bookshelves.  Please don’t be sad that I’ve put myself on a book buying ban for the rest of the year. After the extortionate flight prices I really can’t justify buying anything other than necessities and Christmas presents now. And the unread books seem to be on a mission to take over anyway, so I shall be attempted to make a dent in those before adding any new ones. Okay?

Dear everyone. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, however you plan to spend it. I will be reading, cleaning and trying to get as many Christmas cards as possible made.

September 2019 recap

Before I get into today’s post, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that today is exactly one year since we lost our boys. I never thought I would reach this date again and still be no closer to being a mother. (And please don’t give me any comments about how I still am my babies’ mama, they are always with me, etc. While true, it is not the same as having a living, breathing child to take care of and love). In honour of this day, I thought I would share the only “bump” photo in existence from my pregnancy – courtesy of my mother who insisted on taking it. I was planning to wait until I actually looked pregnant and not just bloated and frumpy, but I never got the chance.

Bev

This and a handful of ultrasound printouts are the only evidence I have that I was ever pregnant. Oh well, gotta keep swimming, to paraphrase Dory. I’m meeting up with my great aunt and uncle this morning (no work because it’s a holiday in Germany), but I hope I’ll be able to go to the cemetery later.

Anyway, on to my September recap, although honestly the entire month went by in a flash and I don’t feel like I did much at all. I’m linking up with the lovely Kristen, of course.

whats new with you

Travel/day trips

Jan was away on the first full weekend of the month, so on the Saturday I went for a bit of an explore. There’s a place close to Basel called Münchenstein and I had read there’s a ruined castle there, right in the centre of the village, so I went in search of it. I forgot to take my camera so I can’t show you a photo (although I put some phone shots on Instagram, which you my have seen if we’re connected on there), but I found it. The path/stairs outside and the house next to it are private property but there’s a sign saying you can walk there. Nonetheless, a woman standing outside one of the buildings at the bottom of the stairs spotted me reading the sign and glared at me like I was desecrating the place. Rude! The following weekend, Jan was away again, but the one after that was the only one in the entire month where he wasn’t either away with a choir or spending both Saturday and Sunday at rehearsals. We decided to go out for the afternoon on the Saturday, but needed somewhere close since he had to do something with a choir in the evening (literally stand outside the theatre and hum for 9 minutes, then leave. Weird project). We decided on Brugg, which the Internet told me is a “picturesque town”. Spoiler alert: it’s not! I mean, it’s not horrible… there are a couple of nice buildings and the river is pretty, but when I read “picturesque” I kind of expect something more. Windisch, which is either the neighbouring town or a district of Brugg (I never quite figured it out), has the remains of a Roman amphitheatre – called Vindonissa – so that was kind of cool. We had a nice afternoon, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going out of your way to visit Brugg.

Comedy stuff

We went to see John Cleese at the beginning of the month. I think people who didn’t know much of his stuff would have got more out of it since the show mainly consisted of him showing clips from various things on a large screen and explaining how they came up with it/the background to certain things or just showing his favourite clips. It was a bit like a documentary about projects John Cleese had been involved in, but live. Not that it wasn’t good, but I’m not sure it was worth what we paid for the tickets. Oh well.

Cross stitch and card making

I was mostly making Halloween cards in September – I’m now up to 14 completed. Plus a few birthday cards for Post Pals. I meant to start on my Christmas card cross stitching and technically I did, but I only completed one design so I really, really need to get a move on in October!

Reading

For the second month in a row, I read 13 books. I had days where I didn’t pick up a book at all, which is unusual for me. I was tired most of the time and I also got stuck on one book that I enjoyed when I was reading it but never seemed to feel like picking up. Still, 13 is a decent amount so I’m happy.

Watching

I got the box set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for my birthday, so Jan and I started watching that in September. I am loving my trip back down memory lane so far. I’m hoping Jan will have some time to continue watching it with me this month because October feels like the perfect time for demons and vampires and all things undead.

Celebrations

My “baby” brother turned 13 (I officially feel old!) and my godson turned seven. Not that I actually celebrated either birthday since they are in England and I’m not, but they happened. Here’s the birthday card I stitched for my brother (I’ve blurred out the name):

teenager card

Also, I started my current job on 1 September 2009, so it was my 10-year anniversary. Again, I did not actually celebrate but I got a letter from the bosses and will get a one-off bonus payment with my October wages. Perfect timing for Christmas shopping!

Miscellaneous/general life stuff

I don’t really have much to add in this section. I’ve been trying to declutter… using the Swiss method – basically take an empty cardboard box, write the word “Gratis” (=free) on it, fill with things you don’t want and place outside for the neighbours to help themselves. I managed to get rid of a few things that way. I also took about 25 books to free public bookcases in September… I still have a few more in the carrier bag I mentioned in my last post, but I will hopefully be taking those away this weekend. I made apple and rhubarb crumble the other week to use up some apples that we’d had for too long (the rhubarb was frozen) and I decided it should definitely count towards my 5-a-day since I didn’t put any sugar at all in the filling. The topping contained wholegrain porridge oats and pecan nuts. I am a crumble-making genius.

That’s all I’ve got for ya. Like I said, this month went by way too fast.
Let me know what you’ve been up to lately, and of course check out the link up to find out what’s new with the rest of the blogosphere.

Plastic-free July in the office

Hello my lovelies! I thought it would be good to record another day in my life of trying to be plastic-free since the month is now half over (has my motivation lapsed?) and I also had to be in the office yesterday. Totally different situation to my usual days working from home.

I completely forgot to take photos of my morning routine – I’m not at my best at 5:30 a.m.! But you know the drill from last time anyway. Bamboo toothbrush, toothpaste in a plastic tube, refillable bottle of shower gel. And at this point I should admit to you that I caved and used my old shampoo in its plastic bottle the day before. I just couldn’t get on with the shampoo from the zero-waste supermarket… my hair was lank and felt greasy. No thanks! Jan has now bought me a lemon grass shampoo bar so we’ll see how I get on with that. Anyway…

1-water flask

I filled a flask with water before I left so I had something to drink on the two-hour train journey.

2-croissant

Breakfast at the train station… croissant in a paper bag. I also grabbed a napkin so I could place it on the counter while I paid.

3-baguette

I purchased lunch on arrival in my destination city. Baguette wrapped in some kind of waxed paper and placed in a paper bag.

4-water

At work we drink water from plastic bottles. German tap water is safe to drink, but the pipes for our building are old and not necessarily hygienic/safe. A company delivers the bottles then picks up the empties for recycling or reuse (I’m not sure which).

5-dinner

I finally got back to Basel at around 8 p.m., by which time I was way too tired to cook! So I stopped at the vegetarian restaurant by the train station. The straw in my drink is paper. Still single-use, wasteful and entirely unnecessary but not plastic. Did any of the food on my plate come in plastic packaging? I can’t guarantee that it didn’t (and I’d honestly be surprised if every ingredient they used was plastic free). Did I care? In that moment, no. I just wanted to eat and get home. (And yes, I’m aware that it’s exactly that kind of attitude that led to all the problems with plastic bags, straws, bottles, etc. in the first place!).

I then went home, brushed my teeth (plastic tube again), took my folic acid (plastic packaging – unavoidable) and very gratefully collapsed into my bed. Office days are long!

January 2019

Ah, January. The month that should have been my last one at work before going on maternity leave. Instead it’s just the start of what feels like it’s going to be a long year. I mean, there’s still a chance I could end up with a baby in 2019, a December baby could still happen, but it’s hard to believe I’ll ever be able to conceive again when some days I find it hard to believe I ever conceived in the first place. A combination of that, the cold, dark days and the relentlessness of work made it difficult to be positive. Mostly I was just tired. I either need a holiday or spring to hurry up… or a combination of both. I’m okay though. Some days are just hard.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about what I got up to in January. And to link up with Kristen, of course, because link ups seem to be the only thing I post these days!?

whats new with you

We started the year with a slow day. I mean, we were up relatively early to have breakfast with a friend who had stayed the night, but neither of us actually left the house on 1st January. We watched something. I don’t remember what. The BFG? Or was that in December? Maybe it was The Jungle Book. No clue. Then I started my first book of the year, which was Far from the Madding Crowd if you’re interested. It took me days to finish.

2nd January was my last day of freedom, and Jan was also off because it’s a holiday in Zurich. Berchtold’s Day. Don’t ask me! We got a car and drove to Einsiedeln. There’s a big abbey there that I can only show you the outside of because you’re not supposed to take photos of the inside. Some people were, of course, but I am a good girl ;-). There was snow, so that was nice… but cold! We then went to a café and had hot chocolate and cake. We wanted to drive to Glarus then to Lake Lucerne and finally to Schwyz, but once we got to Glarus we discovered that the pass to get to the lake was closed and we had to drive back the way we had come. We stopped at a shopping centre where we found some mini drawers for my craft stuff then we drove to the motorway and just came straight back to Basel. Schwyz will have to wait for another day.

Einsiedeln Abbey

My first day back at work was a long one because I had to be in the office on my 2nd day, meaning I worked 9.5 hours on my first day back to make up for only working 6.5 hours the following day (and even though my working day is shorter when I go into the office, it’s a two-hour train ride to get there, so overall the day is longer). I was so glad my first day back was a Thursday and the weekend came after a mere two days!

The first weekend of the year was pretty uneventful. On the Saturday we went to the furniture shop where we bought the light for our “home office”. It hasn’t been working properly for a while and Jan wanted to ask them about it. There’s another branch of the place where we bought the mini drawers in the same area so we also went there and bought a third set. I finished reading Far from the Madding Crowd and started my second book of the year. Sunday was going to be the day the tree came down (6th January… it’s the tradition) but we discovered it wouldn’t be picked up until the 14th so we decided to let it stay for another week. Last year we took the tree down on the 6th then realised too late we had to wait 2 weeks for another collection day so it sat on the balcony for ages and dropped needles everywhere. So this year it stayed. I did take down most of the other decorations on the 6th though. And we hung this year’s calendar… most likely the last time it will show the correct month until about April (typing this has reminded me that 7 days into February it hasn’t been changed yet). I started stitching my grandma’s birthday card then stopped when I ran out of the right thread colours – the two colours I needed to complete it were ordered but hadn’t arrived yet.

drawers
Jan took the legs off two of the sets of drawers so I could stack them

The following weekend was a fairly boring one. Saturday was mostly housework and I wrote two pen pal letters… I’m way behind on my replies! Sunday we took the tree down ready for collection the next day. The living room looks so boring and empty. The threads I needed for my grandma’s card hadn’t arrived, so instead I started cross stitching a motif to make a birthday card for a friend’s son. I still haven’t actually made the card and his birthday is in 8 days so I need to get a move on. While I stitched we continued watching Season 2 of Pushing Daisies.

On weekend number three, Saturday happened to be photo an hour day. You can see my hourly photos here. It was sunny, so in the afternoon we decided to take a drive out. We went to Burgdorf in Emmental. The castle turned out to be closed for renovation so we didn’t stay long. We then drove towards the mountains but it got dark fairly quickly so we didn’t stop anywhere else, just took the scenic route back to the motorway then came home. We watched the final episode of Pushing Daisies while eating dinner. I am so mad that it was cancelled. There are things I need answers to! Sunday was a lazy day. I started cross stitching a unicorn that would later become a card for a Post Pals child and we watched some random stuff on TV, including Tatort. The threads I needed for my grandma’s card finally arrived the next day (Monday), so I spent that evening working hard to get it finished so it could be posted.

On the fourth and final weekend of the year, Jan had a choir rehearsal weekend so I had the place to myself. Saturday was the first deep-clean day of the year… I’m determined to at least keep that resolution (not doing so well on the drinking water one). I changed the bedding, cleaned the oven, hoovered and mopped, scrubbed the shower. I also picked up a prescription and took books to a free public bookcase. Not bad! Sunday was my grandma’s 80th birthday, so I called her, of course. (We spent the following weekend in England so we could celebrate with her, but that’s for February’s recap.)

In between weekends I worked, shopped, cleaned. I’ve been cooking a lot of soups/stews/broths lately – it’s the only way to cope with the grey miserableness of January. That and chocolate, which I’ve definitely consumed too much of recently. Thankfully all the Christmas junk food is finally gone so I can stop making a pig of myself now…

So that was January. February is a short month and then March brings my due date, two days later it would have been my other grandma’s 90th birthday and at the end of the month it’s Mother’s Day in the UK. Can’t wait to get that one over with!

I hope your January was a good one. How’s everyone doing with their yearly goals so far? Don’t tell me you’ve all given up already 😉 Check out the link up to see what’s new with everyone else.

Freeeedom!

Bird

Well, this has been the weirdest (attempt at a) working day ever. I went to log on early this morning only to get an error message. At 8 o’clock, when I thought somebody might be in the office, I called to find out it was a general problem. All our work is done remotely now – even those who are actually in the office log on to a server – and there was a problem with said server. So I spent most of the day waiting around to see whether the problem would be fixed, punctuated by having my project management colleagues send the things that needed doing to my private email address so I could download them, do the work, and then email them back for delivery to the customers (or in one case to be uploaded to our own website – sometimes I do internal translations as well). Luckily I didn’t have too much left to do today, but it means I only did around 3 hours of actual work between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The rest of the time I was just sitting around. I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything just in case things started working again and I could actually log on and work properly. Fun times. However, I took tomorrow off because I have several appointments and working in between them would just be silly, and from Monday we’re closed so I am now freeeeeee until the New Year. I mean, I still have all the cleaning to do before Monday because I like the flat to be properly cleaned and tidied for a change before Christmas Eve so that I can spend Christmas itself doing absolutely nothing (well, almost nothing… obviously we still have to eat so I will be cooking and dealing with the dishes from that, but I don’t want to be hoovering or cleaning ovens during that time). But from work, I am free! That makes it sound like I hate work… to clarify, I do not. I’m just exhausted. I have honestly never been more in need of the Christmas break than I am this year.

And I have no idea what the point in this post was so I’m going to stop here and go actually do some of that cleaning I keep going on about!