Tag Archives: weather

Trying to keep dry for a week!

28 Jul

For the second week or my mum’s visit, we weren’t so lucky with the weather. It has been unsettled for the past week but that is the downside to having glorious sunshine for so long. Sooner or later it has to break.

For a few days we have done little more than relax at home and pop outside when the weather looks like it will hold for a while. But we have been able to get out and about for a few day trips to cities nearby.

On Tuesday we headed out to Bern for the day. This was one of my mum’s favourite places when she came to visit last year. It is also one of mine, mainly because I always go to see the bears. The bear is the symbol for Bern and, in fact, Bern means bear. The bears are housed along the side of the Aare River. The conditions that they live in now are much better than in the past. We have been lucky that the last two times we have been the bears have been quite active. I have also been there at times when they just sit there and do nothing which is not so interesting. But you don’t have to pay to see them so I guess you don’t end up feeling disappointed if they are not in the mood for entertaining the crowds. After a wander around the old town and a hot chocolate in a nice café, it was time to get the train home.

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On Wednesday we went to Rapperswil, which is situated on the lake of Zürich but is actually in Canton St. Gallen. I used to regularly visit Rapperswil before I moved to Switzerland. This is where we used to stay if we came over for work because it was relatively cheap for the company to pay for and nearer to the office. It has been a while since I have been there though, so it was like discovering a new place. There is a small castle in Rapperswil which we walked around and on the side of the castle grounds is a small deer park. The deer are relatively tame and don’t seem interested in all of the attention that they get from locals and tourists alike.

On the negative side, a lot of the shops in Rapperswil were on summer holiday. This is a Swiss tradition that I haven’t got my head around yet. A lot of shops in tourist areas take off two or more weeks during the summer when more tourists are likely to visit. It seems a little counter-intuitive to me. As a result, it was a bit like walking round a ghost town. There is only so much that can be said for going window shopping.

Yesterday we ignored the weather forecast and headed to the Rheinfalls in Schaffhausen. I have visited once before and I had forgotten what a lovely quaint town it is. The architecture is different to other parts of Switzerland, certainly different to Zürich. After getting off the train, we walked the 3km to the falls. The Rheinfalls are the largest waterfalls in Europe and are close to the German border. Even though they are the largest in Europe, they are not even a fraction of the size of the waterfalls in Niagara. It is a relaxing walk from the station to in front of the falls and we managed it in about an hour.

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After a stop for coffee and some cake, we walked the same way back to the town of Schaffhausen. I was recommend to go to Murnot, which is a circular fortification from where you have a fantastic view of the surrounding area. It was pretty hard going. The steps up are steep and feel like they will never end. Once we got to the fortification, my mum had had enough. I carried on up the struture to get a look at the view. It was hard work but worth it. My mum was impressed with the picture of the view but not so much that she regretting not continuing up the structure!

After a wander round the charming town and buying a few more things from shops, we stopped for a beer in a local restaurant before we made our way back to the station and back home.

All too soon, two weeks are over and we will be heading to the airport this afternoon. It has been an interesting two weeks. We have both seen and done things that we haven’t done before. I have also enjoyed not working full time and having time to appreicate a bit more of Switzerland which is sometimes difficult when you are focused on work the whole time.

I am also flying to the UK tonight. But I am heading to London and, not Manchester, for a long weekend to, no doubt, see and do some things that I have done before.

A Monday evening with a cracking surprise!

9 Mar

This week, on Monday evening to be precise, I became something that I never aspired to be and something that I never thought would be possible when I was living in Switzerland. At around 21.00 when I was finally back at home after a long day at work and my German lesson, I became an earthquake survivor.

Maybe it sounds more dramatic than it was in real life but the earth did move for me and, boy, did I feel it. I had just finished speaking to someone on the phone and decided to curl up on the sofa and get some reading done, when the whole apartment suddenly shook. I would say it was a building equivalent of when a dog comes in from the rain and proceeds to shake itself dry. It was over so quickly that it’s a bit hard to remember what actually happened. I remember the glasses in the cabinet that we have in the cabinet in the corner jangling as they shook back and forth. Then it was quiet. There was no warning that an earthquake was about to come and then there was a sort of deadly quiet; as if it had never happened at all.

At first, I was not sure if I had imagined it all completely and this is one of the reasons that I haven’t blogged about it until now. At the time I was sitting on the sofa thinking, Was that an earthquake or am I going slightly mad? There is only one thing to do in this situation: ask Twitter. Sure enough, there were people asking the same question: #Erdbeben in #Zurich? Earthquake in Zurich? It was a mixture of excitement and relief that other people had felt it too. It was a partial confirmation that I am not utterly gaga yet! It is surely only a matter of time.

After 20 minutes or so, there was already information on Twitter about how strong the earthquake was: 4.7 on the Richter scale. I will round up to 5 because that sounds a bit more impressive. Or do I actually mean dangerous?

Maybe it isn’t so surprising that Switzerland experiences earthquakes. I am no scientist but the formation of the Alps, however long ago that was, must have originated from the movement of tectonic plates under the earth creating pressure which, in turn, created the mountain range. Most of the earthquakes in Switzerland are not so strong that they are felt but in 1356 the city of Basel was completely destroyed by an earthquake. There are plenty of towns in England where an earthquake or some other natural disaster would possibly increase the value of property, so it is a shame that the UK does not sit on active tectonic plates.

All joking aside, it was a terrifying experience. I cannot imagine what it would be like to experience an earthquake greater than 5.0 on the Richter scale. Nor can I imagine how it would be to live in an area where the threat and fear of earthquakes is a part of everyday life. To have you home completely devastated, while you are possibly sitting inside it, is a fear that I am glad I do not have to contemplate on a daily basis. I’m content with the earth moving once in a while so that I can appreciate the force of Mother Nature but please, no structural damage to the apartment or my possessions!cracks-2099531__340

 

Uninspiring times

2 Mar

Lately I have been feeling a little uninspired, hence the lack of blog posts. Work, German learning and trying to reinvent a social life have been taking their toll on me in the past few weeks. I hardly even noticed that we are already in March. How can we possibly be in March? As an account, I would say that the first quarter is almost at its end. How sad does that sound?

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I spoke to a very good friend of mine last night for the first time in a long time. It was something that I was looking forward to as soon as we realised that we were both free and arranged the call before something else got in the way. She was telling me all sorts of things that she had been up to lately, film recommendations, work nights out with colleagues. Then she turned to me and said “So, what’s your news? What have you been up to?”

I was more than a little disappointed that I answered with “Oh, you know, not much”. Not much? I haven’t spoken to her for about 3 months (a quarter in accounting terms) and, during that time, I have been up to “not much”. I think she was a little disappointed with the answer!

Of course, I was ecstatic when I started to notice that the mornings were getting lighter and that there have been a few evenings where I have been home before it is dark. I was starting to have a spring in my step again after a cold winter of self-inflicted hibernation. I think it might have been a false start. Is it even possible to have a false start to a new season?

What threw me was on Tuesday morning when I woke up. Monday had been like a spring day. The city was basked in sunlight and I was fooled into thinking that maybe it would be soon time to get my spring/summer jacket out because my knee-length quilted jacket is getting a bit on the warm side. Open the curtains on Tuesday. Four inches of snow and the snow is still falling. Out come the winter boots again and the scarf and gloves.

Maybe if the seasons would be able to make up their mind it would help. I’m confused as to what I should wear each day and I’m finding it draining and tiresome. It will be nice to get up in the morning and not have to look outside the window and on four weather apps to have an idea of what the appropriate attire for the day will be.

What won’t help shift me out of my uninspired phase is my tasks in the office. We are about to come up to our busiest time of the month, where I usually end up working long hours and feeling pretty stressed. Hopefully, all uninspired thoughts will disappear completely soon and more blog posts and creative things will keep coming.

As British as it sounds, a change in the weather for the better would also help.

Finally!

3 Jan

Finally, the snow has arrived! Of course, it was too much to ask for the snow to come between Christmas and New Year, when we were all sat at home with our feet up. Instead the snow decided to fall on the evening before everyone goes back to work. It’s been freezing for weeks with not a sniff of snow in the air and all of sudden it comes when you would really prefer it not to. But the day before the alarm clock goes off at 5.30am, the snow makes an appearance.

There was actually quite a lot of it. I only realised it had snowed last night when I was checking the weather app on my phone to see what the weather would be like on the first day back to work (and by that I really mean, how cold it would be so that I could already start to calculate how many layers I would need in the morning.) When I checked the app, it said that it was snowing. Even though it was dark , I checked outside and it was!

Back in England, I would have been tempted to work from home or just phone to say I wasn’t coming in because it was too dangerous to drive. That doesn’t work here. Last night they were already clearing the paths and gritting the roads and the pavements so that people would be able to get to work with as little stress as possible. At home, a light dusting covering the road surfaces will have people stressed out to the max or, even worse, driving on the road like a complete idiot.

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Brits complain every year that the country is ill-prepared for snow and winter weather but nothing ever seems to improve or even change just a little bit in the right direction. Un-gritted pathways can have you doing your best impression of Bambi on ice before you have even left the bus stop.

The good thing about having snow in the city is that it means that there has to be more snow up in the mountains. Good news. Many of the ski resorts are open but not completely and they can’t even produce “fake” snow to supplement the real stuff because it is too warm on the mountains for the snow to stay there and not melt. Not to mention professional skiing competitions that I have seen on TV where they seem to have piled all the available snow on the path that the skiers go down, with noticeable patches of green grass on either side.

Although I am not the greatest, nor the keenest, of skiers, I can imagine it is extremely frustrating for skiers and businesses alike who have been waiting for the last 9 months for ski season to start again. If more snow keeps coming (and it is forecast to do so), I might make the effort to head up the mountains and to put myself through the embarrassment and shame of my woeful skiing. Which I am only willing to endure because of the aprés ski!

Winter has arrived

30 Nov

At the risk of sounding like an old woman, hasn’t it gone cold all of a sudden? The weather has definitely turned and winter is here. Until the end of last week the weather was beginning to get a bit colder and I was managing to survive without hat, gloves, scarf and winter coat but I have finally admitted defeat!

I dug out my hat and gloves this weekend and got out one of my winter coats and I am glad that I did this morning. It was so cold that I was praying that God would be merciful and the train would arrive a few minutes early so that I could be inside the warmth of the train.

The problem with wrapping up warm in the morning is that the trains and tram are heated too much. First world problems, right? I need the hat, gloves, scarf and winter coat to walk from my flat to the train station in the morning but after that it is just uncomfortable to wear them on public transport. I start surreptitiously striping off before I pass out.

It is particularly grim when you see trams driving past with the windows completely misted up with condensation. You know that these trams are packed with people wearing too many clothes for them to be comfortable in any shape or form and are now sweating uncomfortably in close proximity of strangers.

I remember when I first moved over to Switzerland. Moving to another place at the end of autumn/start of winter is never a good idea but 8 weeks after I moved to Switzerland, I remember waiting at the bus stop in the morning and it being -8 degrees (that is minus 8 at the end of November). My colleagues assured me that this was the coldest winter that they could remember for 5 or 6 years and it wasn’t always this cold in November; I wasn’t sure if I should believe them or not.

It turns out that they were right. I haven’t experienced a winter that was as cold as my first one here since then. I have a feeling that this winter will be really cold though. Ski resorts have already been opened for a few weeks already because there is enough snow.

However, a colder winters in Switzerland doesn’t mean “snow days” as it does in England. For anyone who is unaware what a snow day is, this is when you wake up in the morning, see the snow and decide not to risk going into work because it will be far too dangerous. The amount of snow doesn’t really matter: 10cm, 1cm or a light dusting are all acceptable amounts of snow for phoning your boss to tell them that you’re just not prepared to risk it.

And we don’t have them in Switzerland because it’s winter and so they are prepared for the possibility of snow. And, yes, the trains run on time as usual.winter-234721_1920