Archive | April, 2014
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Quote of the Day

25 Apr

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.
Helen Keller

Holiday time finally!!! Oh wait a moment….

18 Apr

Today I start my Easter holidays with a bang! Today I fly to LA and the West Coast of the US for 2 weeks of adventure and fun.

That was until I received an email from Swiss airlines at 7am telling me that I had a 4 hour delay (minimum) and my flight will not leave until early evening now instead of lunchtime. On the one hand: Thanks for the heads up, I now have a bit more time to get myself organised. On the other hand: Seriously????

I had no specific plans for Friday late afternoon/evening in LA but now I won’t get to have a swim in the pool at the hotel or even possibly leave the hotel until the morning. I have no safety concerns about walking around a city that I haven’t been to before but not after dusk when the chances of being disorientated are higher. Because everywhere looks the same in the dark. I hope that the restaurant in the hotel has decent food and is affordable.

The trip that I will be do starts in LA and then travels on to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, San Francisco and then back to LA. It is an organised trip with a company called TrekAmerica. I was recommended the company by a person I met in Peru when I was trekking the Inca Trail in 2011. I used them last year when I went to the East Coast of the US.

I know that this sort of group trip is not for everyone but for me it provides a lot of advantages. It provides the safety of being in a group while you do get to have some independence, the intinery is flexible so you can see the things that you are interested in so no trip will be the same, you have a local guide who knows the area and is knowledgeable about not only the trip but life in America in general and willing and able to sort things out for you. The majority of the trip is camping. I think 9 nights in tents and 6 nights in hotels. 2 of the hotels are either side of the tour because I am arriving early and leaving late to have a few days on my own to take a bit more time to explore.

I booked this holiday in November last year. I like having something to look forward to. For the time being the amount of time I have to wait for is slightly extended but I am a firm believer in the saying “Best things come to those who wait”.

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Know that every…

14 Apr

Know that every breath is a miracle and every moment a blessing and you will achieve your dreams.

Ski season is over

11 Apr

Ski season is over. In fact, it was over a few weeks ago for me, when I took my rental skis back.

In December I was not even sure if I was going to ski at all this season. I went once last year, which was the first time that I had been. I kept flip-flopping between being very keen and motivated about going and thinking “I probably won’t be able to do it”. Partly because a few of my housemates are skiers and boarders, I decided why not? At least I would have some people to go with.

The other big reason that I decided to go was because people pay thousands and thousands of pounds, euros and the like to come to a place like Switzerland and ski. I live here and can easily get to any number of ski resorts on the train and within a couple of hours. I have the flexibility to go for a day or a morning and it still be relatively cheap. I would be an absolute fool not to make the effort to learn while I have the chance and be the envy of all my friends in the process.

I every almost weekend that I possibly could and it turns out I am still rubbish at it. I always find it difficult not to compare myself with other people and Switzerland is possibly not the best place to assess your skiing abilities because everyone is so good and has been skiing since they could walk. I would not surprise me if a couple expecting a baby here went to the hospital to find out, not the gender of their child during a scan, but whether they would be having a skier or a boarder! Also the amount of children who are knee high to a grasshopper, who were far superior to me, was unbelieveable. And let’s face it unbelieveably annoying.

Skiing is a difficult beginners sport, partly because there is such a big social part to it. Maybe this is the part of the sport that I excelled at. Going downhill on, what is essentially two planks of wood strapped to my feet, was ok and sometimes enjoyable. But taking them off and putting up your feet for a well deserved alcoholic beverage, can’t really be beaten.

Overall, I’m proud of my skiing efforts. Considering that it was my first full season skiing, I don’t think I did too badly. Sometimes it was difficult, one time I had a complete panic attack and always I finished the day with aching muscles and tired bones but it was hugely rewarding and I proved to myself that I can do things that are out of my comfort zone and still come out of it alive.

Hopefully next season I can feel just as proud at the end of it. I will be aiming to ski more red runs than blue!

Absolute perfection in the heart of the Swiss Alps

Absolute perfection in the heart of the Swiss Alps

Quote

Quote of the Day

7 Apr

“May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been,
the foresight to know where you’re going,
and the insight to know when you’re going too far.”
~ Irish Proverb

Live and Laughing

5 Apr

On Thursday I went to a comedy gig to see the Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan. I have seen him on TV before on programmes like Live at the Apollo so I thought why not?

I was a bit nervous about going because I couldn’t find anyone to come with me. In truth I hadn’t really tried all that hard to find someone. My fears soon subsided when a lady who was also on her own sat down next to me.

The venue was interesting. It was a Volkhaus in the centre of Zurich. Normally when I have been to comedy gigs it has been in a large venue like the MEN arena in Manchester but this place was more like a village hall. There was a little stage and someone had set out the rows of chairs.

The seats were unnumbered (again never seen this at a comedy gig before) so I managed to get a seat at the front. It turns out that I didn’t have to be worried about being picked on because he wasn’t that sort of comedian.

There was a big Irish contingent who came to see your man Tommy. In truth I have never seen so many Irish people in one place before. Well, apart from in Ireland of course.

He mainly talked about James Joyce, the Irish writer who lived and died in Zurich. He pointed out the oxymoron of the chaos rolling around in Joyce’s head compared with the calmness of the city itself. He actually described it as being like an open air psychiatric ward where everyone is sedated because that’s how calm it was.

I have always wanted to read all of Joyce’s books but as Tommy pointed out if you gave a condemned man who was about to start a 99 year sentence a copy of Ulysees he would probably turn to you and say “Oh come on I won’t get through that!” This is definitely on the Bucket List. And if it is anything like his less lengthy books that I read for A-Level, it will be worth it.

He mentioned that he had been to see Joyce’s grave while in Zurich and this is on my list of many things to do while I am still in Switzerland. It does see to be a bit morbid to go and visit someone’s grave. However, when I was in Oxford, I did go to visit the grave of Kenneth Grahame which was in a cementry not far from where I was living at the time. In fact there were quite a few famous people buried there: 19th century theologians and the like. I wondered now if I am a grave spotter.

So all in all it was a great night and I would happily go to a comedy gig on my own again. It relieved a lot of stress from the working week, especially if it someone who is as funny as Mr Tiernan. Laughter must be the best medicine!

Spring Clean

2 Apr

Over the past few weeks I have been making a conscious effort to have a tidy up and a spring clean and get rid of things that I don’t want, don’t use or don’t need.

Since I have lived in Switzerland (18 months already!) I have moved 3 times and it has made me realise how much stuff I have that I never use. Living in Switzerland has been a different experience to living at home in the UK. As there is a big expats community here, people seem to be more transient and move around more than they do at home. In fact I think that this is probably true for some Swiss people as well. It therefore makes sense to be more mobile and ready to move on because you never know when you might be forced to move on again. And to be more mobile you need to have less (material) things weighing you down.

I often do a spring clean but when I have tried this year I realised that I might not have done such a good job. The first drawer of clothes that I open is full of clothes that 6 months ago didn’t fit me but I decided to keep them because “I will definitely lose weight”. 6 months on and I realise that nothing has changed; they still don’t fit and they have just been gathering dust and taking up space in my small room. They have now been given to charity.

One of my passions is reading. I can easily get lost in a book and read one in a few days if I really get taken in by the story. As a result, over the years, I have bought books and not have the time to read them so they gather dust and never get opened. I am now on a mission to read the books that I have before I buy anymore (I will not have to buy a book until 2016 at the earliest). Today I have started a Michael Crichton book that has been under my bed for months and months. 

I also found that I have more beauty products and creams and lotions than any woman could need in her life and I don’t really use them anyway. So I am gradually using these up or just throwing or giving them away. Because why should I keep something that is not going to be useful?

It can be hard getting rid of things that you have had for a long time. And you have to be brutally hard and honest with yourself about how much you want/need/can’t live without something.

I still have things that I need to sort through and it could take a while get through anything but I feel so much better that I have made some progress. I now just have to make sure that I don’t buy more things to replace the things I have agonised over throwing away.