Sunday, 31 August 2008

My Version

It was four years ago today that Reto and I met. In general I don't remember these things, but since we were both on holidays, since I was keeping a diary at the time, and since he was taking squillions of photos all the time, it's easy to look back and remind myself what the date was.


We were in a town called Stamsund in far, far northern Norway. I had already been there for a week or so, and had planned to leave but then, fortuitously, I twisted my ankle while out bushwalking and decided to stay for a while longer.

Not Stamsund. I think this might be Reine, which was apparently voted the most picturesque town in Norway

The first I remember seeing of Reto was at night, when a bunch of us were sitting outside waiting for the aurora borealis to show up. I'm sure the story would be far more charming if the northern lights had have arrived and we had fallen hopelessly in love under their glowy magnificence or something like that, but instead we sat out in the freezing under the black night sky until we couldn't stand the cold any more, and then I explained to him how to use the washing machine.

What we didn't see. Actually, I saw them for the first time the night after Reto left

We spent the next few days together, sitting in the sun and wandering around and eating blueberries (which were growing all over the place. There's nothing more delicious than fruit you've picked yourself), swimming in the idiotically cold arctic water and eating the icecream that would become our namesake. I spent a good part of this time being kind of confused about what Reto's name was, being constantly sure I had misheard (because what sort of weird name is "Reto" anyway?) and thinking it was rude to ask for clarification.

Our ancestor. Sort of.

Reto left, and our habit of chasing each other from one country to another began, a habit that was to continue for a couple of years before we decided to try spending time in not only the same hemisphere but the same tiny apartment. Actually, there's also a whole bit of the story that I've left out because it involves me hitting Reto over the head repeatedly to make him realise he was hopelessly in love with me, but I don't really like that bit of the story and so it stays out.

And then we lived happily ever after.

It's my story and I say only the best bits stay in.

thankyou Google Images

Friday, 29 August 2008

Happy Birthday Eric!

Slightly belated, but since you can't read anyway I suppose it doesn't matter too much! I hope you had a lovely day!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Not A Moron

Today I was mocked in my french class for not knowing what "brushing" was (in the context of going to the hairdressers). "Don't you know the word in english?" the teacher said to me. Well obviously I do, but I suspect it's not the same thing because no one pays to have their hair brushed. And whaddayaknow, it's a blow-dry.

My teacher allegedly speaks english,but I secretly suspect that she doesn't at all.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Alone At Last

Olivia left yesterday. It was really nice having her here. She kept doing the washing up (which was excellent because it saved me from having to nag Reto about it). She got hilariously drunk after a single gin and tonic. She was atrociously bad at bowling and at Ligretto, this card game that R & I were given a few weeks ago, thus saving me from having to lose at everything all the time (which was a nice change and yet still didn't manage to make me enjoy myself). She helped with the cooking and had ideas about what we should eat (which was great. I hate the fact that Reto is so blank when it comes to food). Oh, and she gave us the gift of toast! Olivia asked us what we wanted as a belated wedding present and we said "a toaster!" and, surprise surprise, she gave us one! And it's all fancy with its buttons and knobs and croissant warming rack, and I have a tube of Vegemite at the back of the cupboard that I haven't eaten any of in aaaages (what with the lack of toast-making facilities) and now I've had toast two days in a row! And it's great!

Olivia: sucks at bowling. Although embarrassingly enough, she did beat me once.
Her camera is kinda crappy too.

Friday, 22 August 2008


I have a sporting injury! Yesterday we went tenpin bowling (I am atrociously bad at it, but as it turns out not quite as bad as Olivia. Did I mention that Olivia is my friend who has been staying with us for a while? Oh the luxury of having a spare room! Anyway, at least you can drink beer while you bowl, which gives it a definite advantage over most other sports. Plus I rather like the shoes). I mysteriously managed to cut my thumb and mangle my knuckles a bit, and today I've noticed that my left buttock is in agonies. Obviously its muscles haven't done anything quite so active in a while. I feel so sporty!*

* Obviously if I was actually sporty the minor exertion of three whatever they're calleds (games?) at the bowling alley wouldn't be enough to make my muscles wince. Since I am obviously not sporty, though, the reminder that I did anything vaguely more active than go for a walk makes me feel like some sort of super athlete.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Friends Frenzy

I've been in a bit of a frenzy of socialising lately. My french class has suddenly gone all friendly, meaning that I spend an afternoon each week (as well as 5 mornings a week) making semi-incomprehensible conversation and drinking a lot of coffee. My Australian pal Olivia has recently come back to Switzerland after 7 months of being harrassed and having food poisoning in Egypt (she also had a good time, but she does seem to have a lot of harrassment/vomiting stories which sort of take the shine off but add a lot of interest), and she's staying with us at the moment. I've got back into the swing of my weekly chats with the upstairs neighbour (did I ever mention those? He wants to improve his english, and the price he pays is having to suffer hearing my french).

Actually, that's about the extent of my socialising lately, but it's more than usual.

Friday, 15 August 2008


I've seen about 4 people on roller skates this week. All of them on their own (as in, I didn't see 4 people rollerskating together, which would have been less odd). And when was the last time I saw someone on roller skates? In the 80s maybe?


Thursday, 14 August 2008

Happy Birthday Kim!

Doesn't he look like Turbles! At least sort of! Well, he's the right colour, anyway.

Sunday, 10 August 2008


Today we had a really excellent afternoon swimming in the river in Berne (along with about 8 million other people). There is a local pool complex thingie down by the river (which, unexpectedly, is all free to use), so off we went and we ditched our towels under a tree and we walked off up a path along the side of the river. At the place where we decided to get into the river (about 500m from where we started), we took the option befitting our advancing years and unreliable swimwear and leapt in from the stairs on the river bank (as opposed to all the teenagers who were jumping off the bridge, which was only a drop of a few metres but I really doubt that my togs would have done their best to retain my modesty if I had subjected them to that sort of exertion). The water was freezing*. Actually 18 degrees, but cold enough to take my breath away when I jumped in.

Anyway, the current, which is pretty zippy, carries you back those 500m that you walked, then you have to swim over to the side of the river and grab onto one of the strategically located poles to get out. I'm not sure what happens if you don't make it to a pole. I gather there is another option for pole-assisted getting out another 250m away, but after that? I think there might be a weir. Which doesn't sound like too much fun.

Anyway, it was super. And surprisingly exhausting, what with the shock of the cold and then the constant minor struggle to keep nicely afloat, and swimming over to the side and so on. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who finds themself at a loose end, with cossies and a towel, in the general vicinity of Berne. Although possibly that description really only applies to people who live in the general vicinity of Berne and who therefore probably already know about it or have done it.

* I have no tolerance for cold water and am a complete wuss about getting into it. It really wasn't that bad, but I carried on a lot.

Things On Our Living Room Floor

A rug (recently vacuumed. Our normal standards of tidiness don't warrant photographing):This rug was a wedding present, and a much appreciated one given the Swiss loathing for carpeting. All of our floors are hard and cold and not at all pleasant for sitting on, so this rug (which is really thick and densely furry) creates a lovely oasis in the living room.

The other interesting thing on the living room floor at the moment is this:

Which is the beginning of a blanket I am making. Which I suspect might take forever to finish, and I also think that I might start to regret the uneven size of all the squares and the boring arranging I have to do to make the edges all neat and even (hmm, maybe I won't make the edges even. That's an intriguing idea), but hopefully one day it will be all pretty and useful and finished. The purple is much more purple than it looks in that photo, too.

Finally Over!

Our honeymoon is all booked! All forms of transport, all accommodation, and I'm never thinking about any of it again! Atrociously enough, we're going to have to travel for about 22.5 hours to get there ("there" being a town in the far far north of Norway, 2.5 hours on a plane, 16 hours on trains and 4 hours on a boat away via Oslo) and about 28.5 hours to get back (via Stockholm, 6 hours on a bus, 20 hours on a train and another wee flight). Plus of course the hour and a half that we need to get from our place to the airport.

That's crazy. We could have practically gone to Australia in that time.

Oh, and in other good news, I have used up all of my stupid frequent flyer points and will now be saying goodbye to the United programme forever! Yay!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Zimbabwean Dollars, Perhaps?

A while ago, Reto forced me to bet him a million zillion dollars that Australia would win more cycling medals than Switzerland at the olympics. I embraced some olympic-appropriate patriotism and the certainty that Australia's olympics are the summer ones and Switzerland's are the winter, I ignored my complete lack of knowledge of our talent at riding bikes (indeed the first time I heard of that Cadel Evans person was last week (after we had made the bet!) when my french teacher explained who he was. His name caused a lot of difficulty. I thought perhaps "cadel" was a french word that I didn't know yet) and I took the bet.

This afternoon Reto had a gloating frenzy because apparently some Swiss dude got a bronze medal in a bicycle event. Make the most of it while it lasts, Mr Smug*.

* I'm still not sure if we're any good at riding bikes, but I'm certainly willing to try to dampen R's sense of victory. Aussie Aussie Aussie, etc etc etc!

Honeymoon Rage

There's nothing that ruins a holiday like having to organise it, particularly a holiday that involves lots of long (ie. reservation necessary) trips on trains, boats and planes.

We're going on a honeymoon. Finally. To the place where we met, actually (and practically on the anniversary of when we met, which is twice the bang for your romantic buck), and where the icecream we named ourselves after* hails from (Norway). Getting there is going to be arduous (plane, train, boat) but at least we've already booked it, getting back is still the world's biggest headache (bus, train, plane), not least because we're trying to use my pathetic collection of frequent flyer points to book the flight.

I hate frequent flyer points. Without actually going into it, because everyone hates frequent flyer points and it's not really an interesting conversation,
1. The fact that my frequent flyer thing is with United Airlines is moronic.
2. All frequent flyer websites seem to be unbelievably moronic. Why are they so badly organised? Why don't they tell you the things you need to know (ie. how to book the flights, what flights are actually available, how many points they cost, what are the taxes)? Why don't they let you book a one way flight? Why don't they make it easy to contact them? Where are the phone numbers and emails? Why did I have to crawl pathetically around for ages on their stupid site for about half an hour looking for what I needed? Only to phone them up later and be told that everything I had read was wrong?


* Did I ever mention that on here? The new surname we eventually decided to take as our married name comes from a Norwegian ice cream.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Taking The Good With The Bad

I don't like sweet and sour. Reto doesn't like tofu. The other day I made sweet and sour tofu for dinner and it was deeeelicious (we both thought so). I wasn't sure for a while if it actually was nice or if it just wasn't as icky as I was expecting, but I had leftovers for lunch for the next two days and now I'm sure it was delicious.

So here's the recipe. By the book, and with my modifications [in brackets. Including potentially patronising detail for those who are inept]:

500g tofu, diced [or why not use meat if you're a whiner like Reto? Although he did say that he didn't think the tofu was at all offensive in this recipe. Or maybe what he said was that if he's going to be forced to eat tofu it may as well be in this form where it's practically delicious, rather than marinated in soy and ginger which he hates]
Veggies, cut into thin strips [the official version says 1 small carrot, 1 red capsicum, 2 spring onions. I used 1 large carrot, half a zucchini, half a capsicum, a brown onion and some green beans, and I also rejected their authoritarian advice on how to cut them. Despots]
200g shiitake mushrooms, sliced [I used dried ones, which I soaked for 10 minutes or so in warm water then sliced]
1 T (tablespoon) groundnut oil [whatever that is]
1T sesame oil [I used canola oil instead of both of these oils. I also reject all oil measurements because I like to think I know better than some moron recipe]
300mL water
3T cider vinegar
2T brown sugar [Switzerland has apparently voted against brown sugar. I used raw sugar]
2T tomato paste
soy sauce to taste [a splash]
1T cornflour
300g fresh diced pineapple [I used tinned. Also note that I hate pineapple, which is a large part of my anti sweet-and-sour stance. The fact that Reto loves it may be a part of his S&S stance. He also likes ham and pineapple pizzas, which means that we very rarely share]
4T groundnut oil
50mL sesame oil [again with the canola for both oils]
75mL soy sauce
4T brown sugar [again with the raw sugar]
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2cm fresh ginger, grated
1T tomato paste
Mix all the marinade ingredients together, then bung in the tofu and leave it to marinate overnight [note this step before you decide to make it for dinner tonight].
The next day, take the tofu out of the marinade, keeping the rest of the marinade for later. Fry the tofu in some of the oil until it's all golden and delicious, then take it out and set it aside for the time being.
Saute the veggies in a bit more of the oil. Add the marinade, water, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste and soy sauce. Bring it all to the boil then stir in the cornflour to thicken it a bit [it might be best to stir the cornflour into some water before adding it, to minimise the chance of it turning all lumpy and annoying]. Bung in the pineapple and tofu and heat until it's heated.
Then eat it. With rice. Then tell me how super I am. I mean, how super it was.

And here's some balloons. Awww

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Happy Birthday Reto!

The best husband I have. Ermmm, I mean, could hope to have.Happy birthday also to Demian, who is off wallowing in exile in the wilds of New York city, and to Isabelle (wallowing in the wilds of Switzerland). Who'd have thought there were so many birthdays today?

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Happy Birthday, Mum!

I don't know if this hat is more celebratory or olden-days-loopy-military, but what a furry little cutie pie!Have a super day, mum! Or what's left of it now that the time difference and being off at my french lesson have thwarted my posting this post before 11pm AEST.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Being Australian

On Friday we celebrated Switzerland Day in a pleasantly Australian fashion, by going to a pub and eating crappy (excellent) pub food and drinking heaps of beer. Then we sat around for ages waiting for the fireworks to start, which also felt pleasantly familiar. Less normal was the hysteria of people letting their own fireworks off (what with that sort of thing being legal here) and seeing all the insanely gigantic bonfires around the place*.

In other Australia-heavy news, yesterday I bought a bottle brush! Sadly since we are apartment-bound types and we don't even have a balcony, it will have to survive in a tiny wee pot on our tiny wee window sill, but it still makes me feel outrageously patriotic or something.
(note the capsicums looking more accurately tiny in this photo than they did in the other one. Note also the tiny garden gnome Reto gave me for my birthday. Odd.)

* The first time I was in Switz on Switzo Day, a few years ago, I went to some sort of celebration in Reto's home town and they had the WORLD'S BIGGEST BONFIRE just near the carpark of the local town hall or something. We were all standing there and squillions of cars were parked there and about 3 metres away was this enormous blazing inferno. Odd.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Happy Switzerland Day!

And happy long weekend to me. Which is doubly nice in this land of non-long weekends, and where if the holiday falls on a weekend you don't get a weekday off in lieu!
* Note that I chose that cat for its William-Tell style enthusiasm for apples. Obviously.