Friday, 31 August 2007
After the initial confusion of thinking that I was being robbed, we had a pleasant evening of looking out for the northern lights (because we were up in the arctic circle at the time) and discussing laundry (which was why he wanted my money), followed by a pleasant week of loafing around, eating a lot and swimming in the icy arctic depths of the Norwegian Sea, followed by several relatively unpleasant years of looooong international flights and tearful scenes in airport departure lounges. And now here we are. Who would have thought?
The other significant thing about today is that it is the day that my immediate family became largely unemployed (again). My father is officially the only one of us with a job (again). Well done on rejoining the ranks of daytime TV-watching scum, Steph (not that I watch daytime TV or am scum).
Thursday, 30 August 2007
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Monday, 27 August 2007
Note in this photo the alphorns, and the people standing behind them with white
tops on who are carrying ginormous cowbells, which they sort of clanged into their thighs as they walked, which made a loud and surprisingly hypnotic racket. We also saw flag-throwing,
which looked really quite pretty)
All in all, and speaking as a non-fan of all forms of sport, it really was a fairly fun day. It seems that the aim of Schwingen is to get your opponent onto his back, while simultaneously retaining hold with at least one hand of his hessian wrestlin' nappy. Possibly the most confusing thing about it all was that there were 7 separate Schwinging fields (or whatever they are called. "Circles of sawdust" would be the non-technical term) in the stadium, so every now and then a whole lot of people would cheer even though nothing much had happened in what you had been watching (apparently everyone else was watching the match that you couldn't see because it was obscured by a pole or something).
Anyway, we watched a bunch of wrestling, we got kind of dusty and hot and sunburnt, we saw some large cows, we drank shandies (which was fantastic!), we heard the Swiss national anthem (it seemed hardly anyone sang along, which was surprisingly non-patriotic of them, but then again apparently it has only been the national anthem since 1981), the favourite won the whole thing and then we went home.
Oh, and someone asked me if I was from the Gold Coast. My mock-Swiss (Australian) friend and I were talking and someone leaned over to us and said "where are you from?" and I said "Australia" and she said "from the Gold Coast?" and I said "errr .. no, Sydney" and she said "Sweet as" and then we wondered why anyone would assume anyone was from the Gold Coast. I thought "sweet as" was a weird touch, too.
Saturday, 25 August 2007
let go of the rock while simultaneously pulling a funny (tormented) face,
and then, when all the throwing is over and done with, you have to carry the rock back for the next bloke to hoick.
It seems sensible that this sport does not have the equivalent of tennis's ball boys.
Friday, 24 August 2007
It was lovely though. We wandered around and drank a bunch of coffee and complained about all the same things, and it was fun. I like people I know. Especially people who are all fish-out-of-watery over here.
* Olivia had seen them before and thought it was horrible, which it is, but I thought that the bears couldn't be sadder this time that they were when I saw them last time (which was in the dead of winter and it was all bleak and freezing and cold), and so I made her see them with me so I could have less grim memories. And my memories from this time are far less grim (the bear pit was all leafy and watery and one bear leapt playfully into the bear swimming pool in a cute belly flop type fashion reminiscent of Knut) but it was still kind of sad. Apparently the bears are soon moving from their grim bear pit to a far more cheerful sounding bear park, though, so that's nice.
** Starbucks, my god. I thought she was joking at first,but apparently not. The couches were nice though, and I feel like we got our (overpriced coffee) money's worth by staying there chatting for about 8 years.
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
Plus of course I am too much of a social butterfly this week to spare the time. It seems I am in a relentless whirl of tripping across the country to visit my fellow countrymen(women)*, across the canton to visit people I hardly know and to eat delicious Indian food**, across the town to watch grown men wearing scratchy nappies and fight over a cow***, and across the room to go to sleep****.
* Olivia in Bern tomorrow! Yay!
** Badenfahrt again on Saturday, with other people and more food
*** SchwingFest on Sunday, with my shiny new mock-Swiss (ie. they live here but they're not) friends
**** Self explanatory. Zzz
Sunday, 19 August 2007
Because I have been entirely hopeless during the year to date, I am back in german classes, and it's reminded me why I really wish I had been a more diligent student back in my Sydney german-learning days. In Sydney I had the luxury of english-speaking classmates and english-speaking teachers who could and would explain things in english. Hence I never had to learn german grammar in german. Here, though, we can be talking about stuff I already know, but I have no idea what's going on because I don't know how to say "past imperfect" (or whatever) in german. It's relentlessly frustrating.
On a lighter note, I had a dream the other night in which I was at a pub with one of my former classmates from german and Bob Hawke, the well-known former PM. As it turns out (according to my subconscious, anyway), Bob is really quite fun to have a beer or two with. He even laughed along good-spiritedly when Vlad made some crack about Australian children living in poverty. Ah, Bob.
Saturday, 18 August 2007
Anyway, I'm sure there are many interesting things I could potentially say about Badenfahrt, but the one thing that springs to mind just now is that one of the sideshow things we saw was a shooting game. I didn't really pay that much attention, but presumably you had to shoot ducks or something to win gigantic stuffed tiger or whatever the Swiss equivalent is. I suspect, however, that a country where half the population is fandangled into the army and has to go and prove that they have decent aim with a gun once a year is not a good country in which to run such a business.
Friday, 17 August 2007
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
Monday, 13 August 2007
1. In the Olden Days (ie. the 1950s-ish), did people who were of UK descent but who had lived all their lives in Australia, refer to England (or Scotland or wherever) as "home"? As in, "I am planning a trip home in September", or "My uncle lived to be 93 but he never went home. No, he stayed all his life here in Melbourne"; and
2. In the Olden Days (ie. the 1950s-ish) was "a tray of tea and buttered scones and cakes the universal signal in Australia that the party was coming to an end" and that everyone should therefore go home now?
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Saturday, 11 August 2007
Friday, 10 August 2007
Reto is carrying on the Nevil Shute-athon that has swept our flat lately by reading On The Beach (which I got for him for his birthday. Being a cheapskate I tried first to find it in the local second hand bookshop but to no avail, and then to my surprise I found it at the english-language Orell Füssli (bookshop) in Zürich, and to my further surprise it only cost 13.80. Which seems cheap to me. So then I was looking around at the price of other things, and I found Shantaram (and by the way did you know it's being made into a movie starring the hot-or-not Johnny Depp?) for about 20 francs, as compared to the Dymocks price of $35. Hmm) and he (Reto, not Johnny Depp, in case all that parenthetical stuff was too long and distracting) occasionally asks me to translate things from Strine to normal english for him. Yesterday he asked me what "dinkum" means, which I suppose is possibly confusing (not having "fair" attached to it), but as it turns out he didn't really know about "fair dinkum" either.
Sadly now it is probably not long until he incorporates it into everyday language. He has started saying "fair cow" at least a few times a day. Which is funny, because he is hopelessly bad at using german slang (apparently).
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
* Not that I want anyone to die of soot-inhalation-related disorders
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
Monday, 6 August 2007
Sunday, 5 August 2007
and wander around town goggling at all the wacky buildings (you're really going to have to click on the photos below to appreciate the buildings in all their glory. The patterns and drawings are scratched on in an organised graffiti sort of way).
UPDATE: I lost. By quite a lot, actually, although we both did very badly.
Saturday, 4 August 2007
Anyway, it was super. It was super not only because they were lovely people, but also because finally I heard people pronounce "Coop" (a supermarket) and "Manor" (a department store) the way that I want to pronounce them, because I could attend a social function without having to kiss everyone thousands of times (although as it turns out I kind of enjoy all the kissing, but I would prefer to be more selective about it than Switzerland forces me to be), because we could all start our glasses of wine without ensuring strict adherence to the rules of cheersing, and because everyone laughed at all my jokes (although possibly they were just being polite, but I am prepared to live with that possibility).
Thursday, 2 August 2007
Anyway, the party was super. The garden of the new house is full of fruit trees, so I spent a lot of time picking and scoffing blackberries and raspberries, wondering about making wine out of all the grapes, trying to talk the new owners out of chopping down the plum and cherry trees, and wondering what "holunderbeere" is in english (elderberry, apparently, but since I have no idea what they look or taste like, I couldn't tell at the time). As it turns out, though, no one else is as interested in the edible parts of the garden, so I left with vast quantites of blackberries and raspberries that were too ripe to leave on the bushes (yay!).
The other highlight of the night (apart from the fruit) was the fireworks. As I have mentioned, people buy their own fireworks and let them off whenever they want to, but there are also organised firework events in the towns. From where we were we had a huge view over lots of different towns, and so from about 9pm onwards (when it was sort of dark-ish, or at least enough so that people were starting to set off their firecrackers in earnest, and to light their insanely ginormous bonfires) we had a 180 degree view of pyromania at its prettiest. The best aspects of which, in my opinion, were the massive bonfire in a field nearby (too far away to really appreciate, but it definitely brought back the memories of last year on Switzerland Day, when I had just arrived here for a holiday and I was taken, all jet-lagged and bedraggled, to see this HUGE fire that the town was putting on, that was ENORMOUS and HOT and only about 10m away from where a bunch of cars were parked. No one else, apart from the other token foreigner, seemed to think this was strange), the official fireworks display of the closest town (which was pretty and organised and much grander than all the individual efforts), the huge fires that were burning on big mountains in the distance (because of all the smoky haze you couldn't actually see the mountains any more, so it looked as though there were fires suspended in the sky), and the fireworks that someone had brought to the party, that were let off in the backyard (especially the last one which seemed to be sort of broken and kept flaring a bit then sputtering and half dying before flaring a bit again, and ended up as a few pathetic (but still kind of enormous) tongues of flame shooting up a metre or so then sort of collapsing on the lawn. Fortunately nothing got set on fire that shouldn't have).