Wednesday, 30 April 2008


I'm on holidays! From learning French*! For two days (plus the weekend)! I get to sleep in**! And not think! And tomorrow we're having a mini film-festival at our place (because it's some sort of public holiday. Something religious, I think, but I'm not really sure, and it means we will both be home and at a loose end)! Well, not really films, but we've borrowed a bunch of the first series of The Sopranos from the local library, so it's more like a TV festival! With gin and tonic and some generic snacky items and these weirdly named biscuits*** that Reto insisted on buying! And we're going to go and gawk at bike riders in some sort of cycling competition thingie that will be in Fribourg tomorrow (possibly from the vantage point of a bar down the road if it's open, which it may well not be but fingers crossed)! And I'm going to read a book that's too big to fit into my bag that I take to my french lessons****! Hurrah!

* which is a full time gig at the moment, in case I haven't mentioned that
** apart from the faux-insomnia, of course. I've decided to experiment with ditching the doona from my doona and using wintery pyjamas and a blanket instead (because I think my doona might be too warm)
*** they're called "nippon". They seen to involve rice bubbles coated with crap chocolate. I haven't tried one yet, but I am not holding my breath
**** White Teeth. I have four stupid textbooks for French, and what with all the umbrellas and sunnies (because I have no power of anticipating what the weather will be like in this stupid country, and so whenever I take only an umbrella it's always sunny, and whenever I take only sunnies it always rains, so now I always take both and it's always cloudy and non-rainy) and mug (for the vast quantities of green tea I drink while learning French. It's really not the same out of a plastic cup) and assorted other junk that I need every day, I am really limited to books of 150 pages or less on my hour and a half of train travel each day. At least the view out the window is pretty.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Zzzz, Grr

I haven't had an uninterrupted night's sleep since we moved to Fribourg. Every night I wake up repeatedly for no apparent reason. At first I was waking up all over the place (as in at all sorts of times during the night), but lately I have got into more of a routine of sleeping until 4am or so, and then waking up sporadically for the next few hours until I eventually am forced to get up (exhausted) at 7am-ish. I have never slept this badly for this long before. We have tried changing all sorts of things about our sleeping habits (windows open/windows closed, swapping sides of the bed, swapping doonas and pillows, shutters shut/shutters open, various pyjama options, going to bed early/late) but nothing much seems to help. Reto now has some sort of looney half-baked theory about electricity disturbing my sleep (because we have all sorts of bedside lamp cables going under the bed because there is no power point on one side of the bed), but I think that maybe feng-shui-ing the room is the way to go. Such is our desperation.

Anyone have any ideas?

Sunday, 27 April 2008


Yeterday was a lovely sunny day. I put on my non-wintery coat (for only the second time since being back in Switzy, the first time being on Friday) and off we went to Murten, where we wandered aroud the town (quaint and charming), then wandered down to the lake, had a picnic, toyed with the idea of going on a boat trip to somewhere, but then decided not to and lolled on our picnic blanket for ages instead, reading and chatting and drinking tea from a thermos (which is something that I suspect I have never done before, but I am now a thermos convert. It was super and not at all grandmotherly). Being me, I had taken a brolly and spent all my time under it, avoiding the sun.

And yet, in the evening when we got home, I saw that I was sort of sunburnt.

I hate weather.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Good Day To Be A Cow

Today while I was slaving over a hot french textbook (by which I am trying to refer to the saying "slaving over a hot stove", not to imply that my french textbook is either stolen or lewd) Reto went off for a jaunt in the countryside. By which I mean he sat on trains for about 3 zillion years to get to his dad's place to retrieve assorted junk that we have left there.

The people who live over the road from Reto's dad are farmers, and apparently today was the day that they let the cows out of the barn after the long cold winter. Reto was there when the barn doors were opened, and as opposed to their usual disinterested dawdle up the road, today when they got outside they were running, practically frolicking! What a happy day for cows!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Tater Update

... and in a record blog-posting frenzy, here's the update on the Year Of The Potato. I knew they were versatile (chips, salads, other chips, mash! Will it never end?) but this adds a whole new dimension!

Fun At The Supermarket

There are several supermarkets near us. The closest is a crappy tiny wee Migros that has very little other than 2kg bags of potatoes. A bit further away there is a Coop that has most stuff. Even further away, but where I happened to go today because I was over in that direction having a coffee with me 'usband, there is a giganto Migros that sells absolutely everything ...

... except mince. They have soooo much meat in this place, including a whole fridge dedicated to wackier meat options like offal and tripe and tongues and horses and stuff (not that eating horses is so unorthodox here), and they don't sell normal boring beef mince. Looks like it might be veggo lasagne.

Cake Aux Poires Et Au Gingembre

I just cooked a cake in french. As in, the recipe was in french (I got it from one of the crappy train magazines, which seems a funny place to be getting recipes from, but the picture looked nice). It's still in the oven, so I have yet to see if it was disastrous or not (actually, it seemed a bit dry when it went into the oven, but there's no way I can have misinterpreted "60mL de lait" so I am assuming that's just the way the recipe is), but how hard can cooking a cake really be? Not very hard, I say, and that's even accounting for the fact that we don't really have a cake tin.

And speaking of things that we haven't yet bought but that would probably be handy when baking cakes in french, I don't actually have a french dictionary. Yes, yes, much like I could go out and buy a toaster instead of whining about it for a year and a half, I suppose I could go out and buy a french-english dictionary. Reto has a french-german one, though, and I have a german-english one, and so that does me quite well for the time being. Much like I can make toast under the griller. Except that our griller in this flat seems to be broken. Maybe I should get one of those little kitchen blow-torch things. Then I could make toast and creme brulee.

UPDATE: The cake was super! I meant to take a pic of it when it came out of the oven, but then I forgot and we ate half of it. So here's the rest. Oh, and it looks nothing like it did in the picture. There it was all dark and gingerbready-looking. Hmm.

Happy Anniversary, Mum And Dad!

Happy anniversary to my parents, who got married 36 years ago. And on a weekday. I'm not sure what weekday it was, but given that the day after their anniversary is a public holiday,I assume they made it into a very long weekend.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Not Just Me

Reto got a letter addressed to "Madame Reto NewSurname" the other day. Hee hee, someone thinks he's a woman.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Celebrating Root Vegetables

Did you know that 2008 is the Year Of The Potato? Me neither, but my coffee cream thing tells me so, and therefore I imagine it must be true. Perhaps when I have more inclination I might look into it further.
I also didn't know that "bintje" was a type of potato.

Happy Birthday Phil!

Happy birthday Phil!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Where To Go?

... and while I am having a frenzy of constant blog-posting, does anyone have any ideas about where in Switzerland would be a good place to go away to for the weekend? I am looking primarily for an excellent place to stay (if I didn't live in the town it's in, I would go here, because it's totally wacky and whimsical and weird and fantastic. How awesome is the bath that rolls out the window??), more along the lines of interesting than fancy. Of secondary importance is that there be stuff to do in the area. Bearing that in mind, I don't say no to mountains, food, or thermal pools. We're going in May. But where are we going??


Our local video shop has a section called "zone 1", which is full of DVDs from the USA (and Canada as well, I guess. Wherever zone 1 DVDs are the norm) and it's full of movies that are still on in cinemas! Surely there are legal issues with this?

Happy Birthday Tina!

Happy birthday Tina! You'll be pleased to know that it was a lovely day here after all, not rainy and horrible at all!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Chez New (haha)

I am so in love with our new flat. It's great. It's big (well, in comparison to our last flat and in comparison to having no flat at all), it's really centrally located (just step out the door and you are in the main drag (depending on what you consider is the main drag)), there are restaurants and cafes and shops all over the place (including the shop directly over the road that sells asian-style paper parasols! And I was so sure that I would have to get my sister to bring me one from Sydney when she comes to visit! You can ignore all those instructions now, Steph! There's also the vietnamese restaurant a few doors up that apparently has two slightly different takeaway menus, with the result that the stir-fried tofu and veggies I ordered the other night ("number five") came out of the kitchen as some sort of triple-meat rice frenzy. Which was disappointing, but I just made Reto share his meal with me and my problem was halved), and we're only a five minute or so walk from the train station.

a protest out our window the other day. Something about trains

As it turns out my fear that the flat would be more ramshackle than charming was pretty unfounded. It is quite ramshackle (in a "crumbly plaster" sort of way, although only in patches. And the floorboards are very squeaky in places), but everything works. The stove and the hot water system in particular, with a terrifying style of burn-inflicting efficiency.

Mr K tried to befriend the serviette holder, but he didn't expect its hidden rage

The only possible improvement left (now that we have the internet at home again! Yay!) is the delivery of our couch, and happily that is apparently happening on Thursday! Yay!

no couch but lots of space

Happy Birthday Daniel!

Happy birthday Daniel, who doesn't read this blog!

Happy Belated Moving Day!

Happy belated moving day to Phil!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Cheese And Smut

Reto and I went on a wee trip on Sunday (during the only break in the relentless grey/rainy/snowy/haily skies there has been since we moved here) to Gruyeres (yes, as in the cheese). I had no idea what it was going to be like, but Reto said it was supposed to be relentlessly touristy and cutesy, and I thought there might be a good chance of getting some cheese-eating done, so off we went.

Gruyeres is relentlessly touristy and cutesy. If you intend but fail to get some cheese eating done, you have no one to blame but yourself. There is also a lot of double cream in the region, and apparently meringue with double cream is quite the local specialty. Which strikes me as the poor man's version of pavlova (what, no fruit? No squishy centre? And double cream? Blergh! We went to some cafe for a coffee in the afternoon and instead of giving us the normal milk/cream stuff that you get with your coffee here, they gave us wee chocolate pots filled with double cream, which looked all adorable and decadent but tasted a bit blah and ended up leaving a layer of oily blobs over the top of the coffee. Like I said, blergh). Unlike every single other person there that day, Reto and I didn't have raclette or fondue for lunch, but in spite of our avoidance of the traditional cheese-heavy dishes, we still managed to clog our arteries a bit (as I said, it would have been hard not to).

We went for a wander through the lovely castle on the hill (saving 10chf or something like it with our Swiss Museum Passes, hurrah) and we goggled appropriately at all the adorable old cobbles and low doorways and twirly staircases and snow-covered peaks.

We also wondered why it was that there were so many goth-looking guys (for they were mainly guys) in serious, long black leather coats. We discovered the answer to this question when we went to the HR Giger museum. HR Giger was (is?) some Swiss chap who designed the aliens for the Alien movies (and also for various other spacey movies that I haven't necessarily heard of) and then he bought this house in the otherwise-charming town of Gruyeres and devoted it to his life's work. We went in (saving another 8 chf or so, that good ol' museum pass) and looked at squillions of drawings and paintings and sculptures and models of Alien aliens, and personally I was kinda shocked by the extremely pornographic nature of it all. Not because I am prudish or anything when it comes to imaginative sex among consenting aliens, but because it really wasn't what I was expecting to see there in what is probably one of the cutesy-touristiest bits of Switzerland, and because the pictures in the adults-only rooms were hardly more graphic than the pictures in the "fun for all ages" rooms, and because the sexual themes were everywhere, in every picture in the place. I don't remember the movies being quite so sexually charged. It was surprising. It was weird. It was a huuuuge contrast to all the cheese and twee-ness outside. It gave the whole day a strange feel, and if someone asked me now what my day in Gruyeres was like, I would have to think for a moment in order to come up with an answer that was appropriate for all ages.

Relentlessly Happy

Funnily enough, I seem to be relentlessly happy at the moment. I think it's mainly because we finally have our own flat again (no more living with the in-laws! Hurrah! Not that there's anything wrong with them, it's just nice not to see them every day), and what a super flat it is (more about that later). It's also because, contrary to all expectations, I don't hate the french lessons that I have recently started, and because I have the relentless freedom of my shiny train ticket, and because I have rediscovered the joys of cooking (see also "not living with the in-laws any more". I like to cook what I like to eat, not what the hardcore meat-loving Swiss like to eat). It's raining/hailing/snowing relentlessly, which I always enjoy. I have a shiny new town to discover (which is actually not shiny or new at all) and I'm excited about inviting friends over to see our new flat. Things that could make my life a bit happier at the moment include owning a cat (which isn't going to happen) and having a couch (we ordered a replacement for the one that wouldn't fit through the front door, and hopefully it will turn up any second now). Oh, having the internet at home would also be a plus.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Speed-Typing In The Library

Hey everyone! Just a wee note to let you know that we have moved into our new flat (which is awesome and nowhere near as ramshackle as I had feared, but still charmingly ramshackle), that Fribourg is lovely, that my french lessons are surprisingly non-hideous (although I may have inadvertently agreed to go out for lunch with the class lunatic, but only because he was waffling away at me in french and I didn't know what I was agreeing to), and that we have no internet access at home yet. So I won't be emailing. Not for awhile.

Oh, and we have no couch. The delivery dudes turned up with it, they hefted it up three flights of stairs and then it was about 10cm too long to fit through the doorway. So thankyou very much to Keith and Patsy for the ridiculously luxurious rug which we now spend all our time sitting on. Sigh.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

The Best Games Ever

I was off wasting some time in Lausanne the other day (actually enrolling in my french course which I am starting on Tuesday - aagh - and which was moronically difficult to do what with me spending ages not being able to find the place and then the three people I dealt with there not really being able to speak much english, and then them giving me a form in french to fill in but I didn't know what to write where and they were telling me what to write but they were telling me in french and then there were all the spelling issues and so on..) and as I had a bit of time up my sleeve before having to pick up my husband in Fribourg and take him home I thought I would pop down to the Olympic Museum and see what they had to say for themselves.

Rather than being at all controversial or decisive, though; rather than talking about the incongruence of the juxtaposing of all the red stuff festooned everywhere with information about the history of China and its many warm and embracey qualities, and the statue celebrating the Olympic ideal of non-violence (a gun with the barrel tied in a knot, and a plaque next to it talking about how the Olympics aim towards an "increasing effort to create peace and non-violence through sport"); rather than talking about whether or not I would throw things at people taking part in the torch relay (which incidentally I would not), I am going to instead talk about the wondrous event that was the Sydney Olympics.

A few of the walls inside the museum are dedicated to a small blurb about each of the modern Olympics and what was so great about them. As anyone who remembers what little Juaney Samaranch said during the closing ceremony will not be surprised to hear, what is written in the blurb about the Sydney Olympics is that they were "the best Games in history". Huh. Apparently that wasn't just the sort of hysterical hyperbole that they say during the closing ceremonies all the time, it was actually true enough to write on a wall in a museum (although of course we all knew that anyway. Or at least, it was certainly the best Olympics that I have ever been to, not that I attended any actual sporting events of course, since, let's face it, sport is boring. All the non-sporty bits were super, though).

Interestingly, the wall also said that the reason the Sydney Games were so super was because of the many volunteers (some of whom you still occasionally see out and about in their volunteer uniforms, weirdos), because of the Australian love and knowledge of sport (fair enough), and because of our "anglo-saxon capacity for fair play". Hmm. Are anglo saxons known for their capacity for fair play? Does that mean that everyone else is cheating? I thought the reason the Sydney Olympics were so super was because it was sunny and the trains weren't atrocious and because everyone was bizarrely happy all the time. Oh, and because we all really enjoyed that show that Roy and HG did (I can't believe I have forgotten what it was called and that I can't be bothered to google it. The Dream?).

Happy Sort-Of Moving Day!

Well, even though today is totally the wrong day for it, and even though there has been a glut of celebratory cats lately ...

... happy moving day to Kathryn (yesterday) and to us (tomorrow)! Our moving day was actually supposed to be yesterday as well, but what with one thing and another (and another and another) it was changed to Monday then to Sunday then to Friday now back to Monday. It's a good thing it's not today, really, because we woke up this morning to find snow everywhere (and it's still falling).
In other news, Reto got the keys for our new flat on Friday, and he says it's far more ramshackle than he had thought. Hmm. He also says that the bedroom is far narrower than he recalled (apparently we can anticipate having about 10cm of spare space on either side of the bed) and he's concerned that the couch-deliverers won't get the couch up the rickety, narrow staircase (3rd floor, no lift). Aaaaagh.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Fun At Le Kiosk

Today I found myself killing some time in a Kiosk (aka shop all over Switz that sells newspapers and magazines and so on. I rather enjoy making wedding-related jokes about them these days, as those of you who know that our wedding reception was held at a place called Le Kiosk would understand). Anyway, I thought I might check what my horoscope in Vogue said (I'm not a believer at all in astrology, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy reading my horoscope, and several years ago, also while killing time in newsagencies, actually, I discovered that Vogue has my favourite horoscopes. Which is odd, because as well as not being a horoscope fan, I also don't hold with the Vogue ethos, whatever that might be).

Anyway, I picked up some insanely overpriced international version of Vogue and flicked through the last pages hoping that I might stumble on the horoscopes by accident. I didn't, which wasn't surprising because I never do because Vogue is a stupid magazine with pages that it's impossible to flick through, so I went to the beginning of the magazine instead to look for the contents section. And instead of finding that with any ease at all, I flicked (incompetently) through pages forever until I finally found what I was looking for after FIFTY FIVE PAGES OF ADS! 55! Sadly my task didn't end there, though, because that wasn't the only page of contents information. Do you know where the next one was? Page 57 would be a good guess, but obviously you would be foolish to suggest it. No, the list of contents was continued on PAGE ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY! And then it was all wrapped up on PAGE ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY SIX!* And all of those other pages up until there were ads!

All of which was very annoying, but not as much as the fact that horoscopes were not listed anywhere in the contents at all! And by that stage I'd spent so long standing there not buying magazines that I got fed up and left. I wonder if my horoscope mentioned anything about that.

* The whole magazine had something like 300 pages, I think

Friday, 4 April 2008

Happy Birthday Lidia!

Happy birthday Lidia! Now you're as old as me (again)!

Leukerbad Revisited

Because my first trip to Leukerbad was such fun, I decided, a week later, to mark the occasion by going there again. Actually, I went because I heard on the grapevine that an Australian person who lives there was leaving the country and that she wanted to give away her book collection. I emailed her and said "please may I have your books?" and she said "sure" and so I spent another long and arduous day sitting on a train.

This trip was quite different from the last one. For starters, there was no Reto there to chat with and to fall asleep on. There were no thermal pools, no Miss Switzerland and no fighter planes (there were still lots of those birds though). It was grim and grey and freezing and snowing (apparently most of the ski lifts there were on wind hold all day). Instead of lugging around wet towels and swimwear, I lugged around bags and bags of books (really, she gave me about 50 books. Mostly paperback, fortunately, but still extremely heavy). I hardly even gave the likelihood of the bus falling off the road and down the side of the mountain a second thought.

And was it worth it? Well, since it's my solemn duty now to travel as much as possible so as to get my money's worth on my train ticket*, and seeing as I got a giganto stack of books out of it, I'd say yes, of course. I had a really nice time chatting to the woman who gave me the books, and I always like a nice trip to the mountains. I'm not sure that a lot of the books are things I would necessarily choose to read myself (a lot of romance stuff. There's even one with a picture on the cover of a man with a sword and a ponytail, wearing a billowy white open-to-the-navel pirate shirt and gesturing heroically) but that doesn't mean I won't. I carried the damn things half way across the country, after all, and I will certainly get my effort's worth out of them.

* and I am doing very well indeed on this front. I seem to have done about $400 worth of travel in the past week and a bit

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Hello, My Employed Husband

Congratulations to Reto, who is rejoining the world of employed people today!

And also to Alisa, who is moving into her shiny new flat today (if only I was too, sigh. Into my own shiny new flat, that is, not hers).