Archive | Thoughts RSS feed for this section

Brexit Boredom

21 Jan

I suspect that I am not the only one who is bored of the ongoing rumblings about Brexit. But living abroad makes it so much harder.

When people find out that I am British, the first thing they ask is what is going to happen with Brexit – as if I somehow have already been briefed about how everything is going to be resolved. I also get greeted with spontaneous outbursts of laughter or wry shakes of the head. It’s all very worrying. What is more worrying is that I can’t even escape the whole sorry affair by watching Swiss or German TV because they are reporting on it as well (in complete disbelief about what’s happening).

Boredom is only one part of my problem though. Since the dreaded vote I have been constantly worrying about what is going to happen to my rights to stay in Switzerland. Although Switzerland isn’t in the EU, it clearly states on my resident’s permit that I was granted the right to live and work in Switzerland because of my EU nationality. It is a lot, lot harder to get a job here if you are a non-EU national.

Would I be packed off on a plane back to Blighty on 30th March by an very apologetic Swiss official? Would I have to do something to prove that I really should stay here, like compete in the next series of Ninja Warrior Switzerland, or prove that I can yodel as well as a native? For these and many other burning questions, I went to a talk for British Nationals living and working in Switzerland which was organised by the British Embassy in Bern.

I was glad I went and not just for the free glass of wine! The talk was really informative and put my mind at easy about a lot of things that I have wondering about. The best news what that the rights that we have accumulated so far will not be taken away from us. It sounds like business as usual and the proposals are due to be ratified by the Swiss Parliament in the next few weeks. So, although the Brexit process for leaving the EU does seem in turmoil, at least the bilateral agreements that will mean my life will have little disruption are almost all sorted. (I know I sound selfish, especially as so many Brits in EU countries are yet to be given guarantees and assurances and for that I am sorry!)

I was surprised about some of the questions that were asked at the event to the panel. People seemed to be more concerned about still being able to go over the border with a Swiss driving licence to go and get cheaper shopping in Germany and which queue we need to get in at passport control after the Brexit date. However, some of the questions, like would British children lose their rights to live in Switzerland if they attended a British university, had a more serious note and had very complex answers. Depending on what residents’ permit you have, depends on how long you can leave the country for before you lose your rights to residency.

I’m glad my life isn’t so complicated and I can carry on as normal (or as normal as can be). However, my boredom for Brexit continues, just as the news reports do every day that no progress has been made and there are more and more arguments over this point or that point. So, please don’t ask me what’s going to happen on 29th March because you will be greeted with a yawn and a disinterested sigh.

politics-2361943__340.jpg

The Start of 2019

10 Jan

It’s been a busy start to the New Year. It’s only the 10th January but I have the feeling that I have done more in the last 10 days than I did in the whole of December. Which is hardly surprising because my main activities last month were eating and drinking.

Although we had a few smatterings of snow in December, the snow is finally coming down. Perhaps my increased productivity is due to this weather. I don’t feel like going outside so I have been busy doing activities indoors.

Here is a list of what I have done in the past 10 days.

  • Stopped eating and drinking as much as I was doing over Christmas in an attempt to lose the weight that I’ve put on;
  • Read 5 books (and I’ve almost finished number 6);
  • Collected and built a wardrobe that I had ordered;
  • Tried some new recipes in the kitchen;
  • Had a haircut;
  • Packed away all of the Christmas decorations and the Christmas tree – and the corner in the living room still looks empty without it;
  • Bought a new TV – our old one decided to give up the ghost on the 5th;
  • Started work for preparations for lauching my own travel website later in the year;
  • Started learning some coding in Excel;
  • Sorted out some clothes and other things to be taken to the recycling centre or to donate;
  • Went swimming for the first time in as long as I can remember;
  • Had a couple of lunch dates with friends;
  • Begun editing a short story that I wrote last year.

Bearing in mind that we were on holiday in Belgium until 3rd January I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself.

If the snow keeps falling and I remain inside, I think this month could be the most productive one on record! I hope you’ve also had a good and productive start to 2019.

Goodbye 2018

31 Dec

As 2018 draws to a close, I can’t help but thinking that it’s been another pretty good year.

This year I have:

  • had 5 weeks travelling around South America doing and seeing a lot of things that I never thought I would
  • read 68 books – a new personal record
  • moved into a new apartment that I love, love, love
  • quit a job that I didn’t like
  • completed 4 of my 40 Before 40 Challenges and 8 are almost finished
  • finally recovered from a knee injury so that I can get back to playing sports in 2019
  • made some new friends
  • became a vegan for 3 months and realised that not eating animal products is not the end of the world
  • had a celebrity reply to one of my tweets (Kim-Joy from Great British Bake Off)

All in all, it’s not been so bad at all. Of course there are some things that I have said that I will do but I haven’t got round to them but everyone has things that they have to carry over into next year. I see it as having a few extra things to tick off next year. I have high hopes for next year and I hope that I will be able to cross off more than a few the challenges from my list.

I hope you also will be saying goodbye to 2018 with fond wishes and high hopes for 2019.

All the best, thank you for reading in 2018 and Happy New Year!

fireworks-574739__340

 

Airport delays

28 Dec

The Christmas festivities are almost over and we are now in that funny time of year where no one knows what day it is or what they should be doing to keep themselves busy.

Apologies to my readers for a lack of a Happy Christmas message on my blog. My intention was to sit down on Christmas Eve after we arrived back in Switzerland after our brief trip to the UK. However, our flight was delayed by 2 hours so by the time we had landed, got our case, got back home and then went to do the food shopping before the supermarkets closed, there wasn’t enough time for me to see through my good intentions.

This airport delay was an inconvenience but nowhere near as bad as people who were flying into and out of Gatwick experienced in the run up to Christmas. Such inconveniences are things that we will have to put up with if we want to spend time at Christmas with both of our families. It was nice to enjoy the build up to Christmas in a British way, which means mainly starting drinking at 3pm, and finishing off with a cheesy Swiss Christmas, including fondue and raclette.

I hope that you did have a good Christmas. I feel like I have been constantly eating and drinking this festive season. I have got plans to get back to doing sport (in the form of swimming while it is cold outside) and get back into shape after my recovery from my knee injury. I will be glad to get back to normality when I don’t have to have monster-sized portions, followed by dessert and nuts and snacks to finish.

I still can’t believe that it is Christmas. This year seems to have flown by. While I still can, I will enjoy the leftovers and the biscuits and snacks before it’s January.

santa-claus-1819933__340

Dinner Party Madness

20 Dec

We are still a few days off from Christmas and I am almost ready for the New Year to be here so I can have a long period of abstinence. From the end of November we have had a lot of dinner parties and meals to keep me full-to-bursting. It is nice to catch up with people over a tasty meal and enjoy winter food that we don’t get to eat for the rest of the year.

Here are some of the festive dinners that we have had over the past few weeks with family and friends.

Raclette

Six of us sat down at the end of November for Raclette. Since moving to Switzerland, cheese raclette has become a firm favourite of mine. And why wouldn’t it? It’s melted cheese with potatoes and meat. This is one of the main reasons why I decided to do my vegan challenge in the summer. I don’t mind cutting out dairy and meat but cheese is really difficult for me to deny myself. We all ate until we had eaten and drunk our own body weights. I was slightly shocked that between the six of us, we managed to drink six bottles of wine plus about eight bottles of beer – and one of us was driving. Needless to say we all had a great time. What was even more great was that we ended up having the leftovers (we always prepare far too much food for guests) the following evening.

Sunday Roast

Two of our friends heading off to go travelling in the next few days. Because we aren’t able to go to their leaving drinks because we will be in the UK, we invited them over on a Sunday to experience a traditional British Sunday Roast. I’m always a bit wary of sharing British classics with other nationalities because literally everyone else in the world thinks that British food is shockingly bad. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my homemade Yorkshire puddings, stuffing balls and gravy were all quickly devoured!

Cooked Ham

Three days after the Sunday Roast two more of our friends came round to enjoy one of the hams that we had won at a shooting competition. It was basically the same as the Sunday Roast but with ham substituted for chicken and no yorkshire puddings. I was surprised by how good the ham was. Sometimes when you win food stuffs at a competition it’s not the best quality but we were all very impressed by it and again there wasn’t anything left at the end of the meal.

Mongolian Pot

My boyfriend always invites some of his former work colleagues to ours for a pre-Christmas dinner. We had mongolian pot which is something that we only eat around Christmas time. It is basically a pot of stock that you cook meat and vegetables in. I like that it is a very social meal. You need to wait for certain things to cook so you can talk, drink and laugh while you are waiting. Theoretically it means that you shouldn’t overeat because you have time to recognise that you are already full. I must admit I am still working on that bit! Also I have no idea why it is called Mongolian Pot but is still extremely popular in Switzerland.

I also made chocolate brownies from a new recipe which turned out far better than I expected!

Fondue

Another tradition for us is choosing our Christmas tree at a local farm and then enjoying Glühwein and Fondue before carrying the tree home. The fondue is so good there. This dish has been another one that I have become very fond of since moving here. I was very sceptical to begin with because I wasn’t so sure that melted cheese and bread actually constitutes a proper meal. But it does fill you up and now it is one of my favourites.

Over Christmas we will definitely be eating Raclette, Fondue and Mongolian Pot at least one more time. Plus we also have invites to a few friend’s houses over the Christmas and New Year season. Now perhaps you can understand why I will be ready for a “detox” in the New Year.

The first snow of Winter 2018

16 Dec

There is nothing quite as magical as waking up to a blanket of white snow and that is what happened this morning. As soon as I realised I started jumping around saying “It’s snowed!” My Swiss boyfriend wasn’t so excited – they are pretty much guaranteed snow every year but it is still a novelty to me.

What made it even more magical was that we bought our Christmas tree from a local farm last night. This has been a “tradition” for the past three years. We choose our tree, pay for it and get it packed up and then go inside to the small restaurant to have a Glühwein and eat Fondue until our sides split.

When we came back home last night, carrying the Christmas tree and full of wine and cheese, we had no idea that there was going to be a flurry of snow overnight. Yes, it was definitely cold enough to snow but in the hours that we were asleep we had no idea that the snow was gently coming down.

img_4461.jpg

I was feeling so Christmas-y that I demanded that we decorate the tree as soon as possible. So that is what we did with some new lights, new baubles and a special ornament that we bought when we were on holiday in Spain earlier this year.

I love having a real tree at Christmas. It gives the place a bit more sprinkle of magic and You don’t have to dismantle it and squeeze it back in the box for next year in January.

Have you already got your tree up? My next job to make me free ever more Christmas-y is to bake some mince pies to eat. Of course, I need to make sure that there is at least one spare to leave out for Santa in a week’s time!

Weekend wanderings

2 Dec

This weekend is the first weekend I have spent in Zurich since the middle of November. We have been to visit the UK twice so things have been a bit hectic travelling from one place to another. This is the reason why I have been neglecting my blog in recent weeks but that means that I do have some things to write about!

London (South)

Late November is my annual trip to London to see the ATP World Tennis Finals. I managed to get tickets in the pre-sale this year so the overall cost of the trip was a lot less than in previous years. I was disappointed that Roger Federer didn’t make it to the final but we were treated to a fantastic match.

We also did some Christmas shopping. Even though it was the middle of November, London was very Christmas-sy and you could easily mistake the time of year for being a week before Christmas.

We also got caught up in a protest against Brexit which was going down Regents Street. It did remind me of the time that we spent earlier this year in South America where there seems to be an aggressive protest about everything all of the time.

We also managed to catch up with some of my friends that I have known from my university times. We don’t get together so often but it is always nice to catch up with them.

Manchester (North)

The following weekend we headed north to visit my family and to go to the wedding of one of my good friend who I met a long time ago playing hockey. The weather was overcast but the actual ceremony, reception and evening do was excellent. I was surprised by how good the food was because at some weddings it can be a bit ropey. It was my boyfriend’s first experience of an English wedding. Weddings in Switzerland and very different to weddings at home. For one thing, there is a lot more drinking. However, we both enjoyed it immensely. I also got to catch up with some friends that I haven’t seen in a long time.

I got to spend some time with my niece and nephew. I cannot tell you how much colouring in I did or how many times I read the same story book over and over again. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Now we will be spending the next few weekends preparing for Christmas. We need to buy a tree, finish getting presents and do the shopping for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I’m glad we had a few weekends away to relax and enjoy some time together before we start to get busy in December.