Thursday, 10 December 2009
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Update: he seems to be much better today. His temperature is now the same as mine and his conversation is much better than it has been for days.
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Some lunatic climbed over the bear park's fence this afternoon and got into the enclosure of one of the bears. Unsurprisingly, he was attacked by the bear. A policeman shot the bear. The bear and the man are both alive but understandably injured.
Monday, 9 November 2009
I'm pregnant! Quite a lot, actually (almost 5 months) but even if you saw me every day you probably still wouldn't know unless I'd told you (or if you came over to our house and saw the assorted books about pregnancy and ultrasound pictures lying around). I don't look pregnant, I didn't spend my days vomiting sadly into the toilet, and apart from the multivitamins and VAST numbers of iron tablets I'm taking every day (actually only 2, but there's a lot of iron in them), everything's pretty much business as usual. Except that I have a tiny baby girl living in my insides. Due in April. So that's nice.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
The man who made an introductory speech before one of the films I saw and told us that the movie had a happy ending. Great. Just what everyone who's about to watch a movie wants to hear.
The time I left a very crowded Q&A after a movie, snuck out the convenient exit just near where I was sitting, only to find that the door at the end of it, which opened into the lane beside the cinema, was unopenable because some moron had parked their car in front of it. A security guard got the car owner to come and move it and so I was freed, but never mind the fact that these emergency exits (which I think was what this was) are there for a reason. I was pleased that when I tried to open the door I shoved it the 7cm or so that it would go before it ran into the car and that I was responsible for making a bit of a dent in the side of the car, and for getting some door paint off the door and onto the car. Idiot.
Monday, 5 October 2009
My undoubted favourite movie of the fest was Sergio, a documentary about the all-round impressive (unless you were his wife) UN dude who was killed in Iraq in 2003. Apparently the rest of the festy-goers didn't agree with me, because it didn't win the audience prize for a documentary, but had I been the only voter it definitely would have. Someone in my screening even gave it a standing ovation, so maybe he would have been allowed to vote too.
Feature-film wise, my favourite was a really grim Romanian/English movie called Katalin Varga which also didn't win the audience prize, but had far more charm than the really grim Russian flick that did.
I patriotically went and saw the only Australian movie on offer, Samson and Delilah, and it was also pretty grim. And dialogue-lite. And sort of slow moving, at least for the first half, but definitely worth it in the end. Plus I think we all took away a clear message from it - sniffing petrol is bad. In case you didn't already know.
The festy people really need to work on their ticketing skillz. Buying my festypass involved being sent to the wrong place twice, having gone to the right place in the first place and been told authoritatively that I was in the wrong place. I eventually got hold of my festival pass (which let me see all the films at the festival without having to pay more for anything), but then I still had to get individual tickets for the films I wanted to see, and I was never allowed to get a ticket for anything more than a day in advance. Which meant that every day I had to queue up and get tickets, and really, of the 7 times I did that, only once or twice did I manage to be given the right tickets without any drama. People gave me tickets to screenings on the wrong day, they told me it was impossible to reserve tickets for that movie (which was never true!), they told me that my pass only let me see one movie a day, they gave me ticket reservations instead of actual tickets (which meant I had to queue up again and get the actual tickets later). None of it was a real problem, but it was all very annoying.
All the movies (bar one) had english subtitles. Oh, and maybe another one which was partially in english and partially in russian and had french and german subtitles the whole way through. That is great, in my english-speaking opinion. It was also a very pleasant surprise when we stumbled upon the Lisbon film fest in May this year and found that everything had english subtitles there too.
I hate reserved seating and the Swiss mania for sitting in your reserved seat. And also the enthusiasm of the ticket sellers for allocating you a seat in the middle of everyone else (behind/in front of/next to people, even when 90% of the theatre is empty). Which meant I rarely sat in my allocated seat and lived in fear of someone coming and telling me to go away. Which they never did.
Some people are nuts. Reto came with me to one of the films I saw, a reasonably full screening of somethingorother, and our seats weren't next to each other because I hadn't bought the two tickets at the same time. There was a woman sitting between us. Reto asked her if she wouldn't mind swapping seats with him, and she said "okay, since they're only showing a DVD [as opposed to reels, I suppose] I guess it doesn't matter if I'm not exactly in the middle", and then she looked sort of grim-faced, as though it really did matter. Quite a bit.
Those chocolates that Globus gives you with your coffee are great. And I have a new-found respect for Brezelkönig as a meal-substitute, although if you buy their pretzels at 11pm as you're rushing for the last train home, they tend to be kind of old and dry and blergh (but still better than nothing).
Oh, and all that Roman Polanski bizzo - whatever. I find it sort of odd that so many people went so bonkers about saying how he deserves his freedom and he has paid his debt to society because .. well, look how good his movies have been. Whatever high profile guests the fest invites next year might be well-advised to look into any outstanding international warrants against them before booking their flights, though.
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Him: I've got a present for you!
Me: [understandably suspicious] Really? One you deliberately got for me or is it something someone else gave you?
Me: Did someone give it to you at the train station?
Him: No, it's better than that...
He hands over a nice little box of fancy handmade biscuits
Me: Ooh, yummy!
Him: A guy at work gave them to me.
Him: Because I let him borrow my pants*.
* Reto has a suit at work for the occasions when he needs to look respectable. Apparently his (similar-sized but slightly taller, hee hee pants that are too short) colleague doesn't.
Monday, 21 September 2009
"Mention an electric teapot and most Americans are clueless. But to the tea-loving British, electric kettles are everyday appliances..."
And so on, about how kettles are great for making hot drinks and boiling water for making couscous and rehydrating mushrooms. Seriously? Kettles don't exist in America? I always thought it was weird that Reto's family never had a toaster, but no kettles?* Is it really true?
* Actually, now that I think about it, they don't have a kettle either. Which makes me wonder if it's us kettle-owners that are the odd ones out. I mean hardcore green cooks.
Monday, 14 September 2009
Other than that I had a delightful day that was in no way blighted by the spectre of disease and death. We went to the Tinguely museum in Basel (which was sort of bad timing because it's mostly closed at the moment, preparing for new exhibitions which are opening next week. Still better that going to see the Van Gogh exhibition at the Kunstmuseum, though, because oh my goodness there was a massive ticket queue there both times we went past. Reto and I saw the exhibition on the easter weekend, which you would think would be a moronic time to go to something like that, and it was pretty crowded when we were there, but apparently the last weeks before it closes are much worse.), the high point of which was a toss up between this (the Meta-Harmonie 2, a giganto machine with all sorts of drums and keyboards and cymbals attached which, unsurprisingly, makes a bit of a racket when you press the "go" button and not in a delightfully musical way, either, in case you were getting your hopes up. More in a random banging of drums way) and lunch, which was veal with proscuitto and parmesan cheese and a red wine risotto, and although in general I completely disapprove of the mixing of meat (as in two or more types at once), this was ridiculously delicious. And the salad was great, and the coffee was great, and the restaurant itself was also charming. And then we went for a pleasant stroll along the river in the afternoon sun and watched children and dogs and the occasional adult frolicking in the water, and then we almost froze to death in our bed overnight when the temperature suddenly dropped about 45 degrees (possible exaggeration. I was forced to close the window, though, which I normally never ever do). So that was mostly delightful.
Thursday, 3 September 2009
Unless you count the fact that they've suddenly become confused about who I am. The first 4 magazines that I got were addressed to Madame Robyn Surname. The most recent one was addressed to Monsieur Surname Robyn. Why? Why would they suddenly decide to change my name and my gender for me? Why? Why? I used to find this whole gender confusion thing that all these idiots over here have with my name funny and inoffensive. Not any more. NOW IT IS RELENTLESSLY ANNOYING. Just stop it, people. Grr.
Anyway, all these giganto bags of my favourite version of pfeffernusse (the ones without the crappy chocolate coating on the bottom) were gazing out at me from the chocolate aisle and I thought to myself "This is ridiculous! It's still summer! That's half a kilo of biscuits that Reto doesn't like (he only likes the zimtsternen and I think they suck) and I'm never going to be able to restrain myself from scoffing the whole packet and feeling sick" and passed stoically on by with only my avocado to console me. Which I think was the right decision, but if I end up with a repeat of last year's debacle, where they eventually stopped selling my biscuits and only sold the crappy chocolate-bottomed ones before I had managed to have a scoffathon, I'm going to be VERY ANNOYED.
Friday, 28 August 2009
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Television, hey? It teaches you stuff.
Thursday, 20 August 2009
I feel a little bit like I invited Facebook over for a nice cup of tea once and it hid in my cupboard and went through my stuff forevermore instead of leaving. Grr.
update: now they're recommending me some woman I've never heard of, have no friends in common with and don't seem to share anything else with either (like the country we live in or come from or anything).
Friday, 14 August 2009
Thursday, 30 July 2009
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Last time I met my inexplicable relative and her grandchildren (which was also the first time I met them, as well as being before I was related to them. R and I weren't even engaged then! Aah, the olden days) was a few years ago in France, at which time my ability to speak french was minimal to the point of entirely absent. We spent our time smiling well-meaningly and forcing Reto to be the interpreter. This time, however, I wowed everyone with my ability to be an adult and carry on a sensible conversation. It's remarkable how heartwarming it can be to have a 9-year-old compliment you on your impressive language skillz (although then his slightly older sister had to tell me what the word for a dam wall is, which detracted a bit from my sense of pride. As did the fact that the 9 year old was almost impossible to understand because he speaks soveryveryfast).
Saturday, 25 July 2009
We're going on holidays the week after next (Scotland!) and, as often happens, our plan is to rent a car and drive around without giving anything much thought. As a result of everyone's distaste for planning holidays we haven't bothered to actually do the car renting until just now, and apparently there are no automatic cars left in the whole of the country. Since we long ago decided that I'm the designated driver whenever the driving is to be done on the left, that's not ideal. I learnt to drive in a manual, but that was a few years ago* and since then I've done relatively little driving at all and I've only driven a manual once (which was mostly successful but I did stall us across both lanes of traffic and just next to a bend on the fortunately quiet street my parents live on). Add to that the fact that the last time I drove a car was more than a year and a half ago and that I've never been very enthusiastic about driving, and .. well, it all makes for a bit of pressure, really.
Fortunately Reto has agreed to share the driving burden, but he's never driven on the left before, and is a bit concerned about the idea of changing gears with the wrong hand. And I can't think when the last time he drove a car was, but not within the last 2 years as far as I can recall.
Watch out, Scotland. Although I'm sure it will all be fine.
* not actually that many, because I didn't bother learning to drive until I was about 26
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Anyway - "Switzerland, don't believe the stereotypes", is my experience. But two things that always strike me as being odd here (and it's entirely possible that I'm just extrapolating this from"things Reto and his family normally do" to "things ALL Swiss people do ALL THE TIME") are:
1. You often don't get enough cutlery in restaurants. It doesn't always happen, and I'm sure in fancier places it never happens, but I often find that you sit at a table with each place set with a single knife and fork, you order an entree and a main meal, your entree arrives and you eat it, and then you see your (Swiss) husband putting his used cutlery back down on the table so that it won't be taken away with the (now empty) entree plate, saving it for re-use with the main course. Really? They can't give us more cutlery? I suppose that if you do have your cutlery taken away that the waiter will bring you some more for your main meal, and who knows, maybe that's actually what happens normally, but I'm so in the habit now of saving my first lot of cutlery that it hardly even seems odd any more. I was kind of surprised to have to explain it to my family when they were here visiting in Dec/Jan.
2. I suspect Swiss people have a different serviette-using policy to me. Firstly, no one here ever puts their serviette (napkin?) on their lap when eating, which I was always under the impression was the polite thing to do. The main point of difference though, becomes clear at the end of the meal when my serviette is back on the table and all scrunched into a ball after I've finished using it (not that that implies I'm using it excessively or eating with my fingers or dripping food all over the place or generally making a mess. I don't think I am). Then you look at the serviette of Reto and you can hardly tell he's touched his, although he has. He has wiped his mouth/fingers/whatever with his serviette and then folded it into a nice neat rectangle, usually with the dirty bits not showing although that could be a coincidence, and put it back on the table where it was before the meal started, and it doesn't look like it's been used at all. Seriously, you hardly even see a crease in it. Which can be problematic if you come from the "slacker" school of table clearing and generally only take away the dirty things (leaving clean stuff there for the next time).
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Stoopid post. No wonder no one uses it any more.
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
a shirt in the theme of a flanno but made of cotton and not flannelette, usually with some sort of sparkly vibe to it too. Note that this shirt is normal shirt-length, ie. sort of bottom-skimming;
unattractive faux-leather belt;
opaque-ish tights, by which I mean opaque around the calves, more transparenty around the thighs; and, and I think the next point is key
no pants. I mean nothing over their tights.
Today it was quite windy and so I confirmed that the girl waiting on the other side of the pedestrian crossing from me was not wearing pants (I gave her the benefit of the doubt for a while and assumed she was wearing tiny tiny shorts), and also that her tights were of the "control top" type style, ie. where the fabric is thicker at the top.
I realise I just had a birthday and am OLDER THAN EVER, but does me thinking that this is the stoopidest trend ever make me into a sad old loser? It's bad enough that famous people don't wear pants from time to time, but teenagers? Shouldn't they be at school?
Friday, 22 May 2009
We've also been in the Paris, Je T'Aime queue for about 6 weeks (honestly, I can understand it might take a while to watch 10 episodes of TV show, but a movie? It's two hours, you watch it all at once and then you return it. That takes a week at most, and that's assuming that the only time you can get to the library to return things is on Saturday. For some reason the idea of "after hours" slot thingies doesn't seem to exist here), and now, having finally got through the first season of Six Feet Under, some person borrowed the first 2 DVDs of season 2 on the very day that I was going to go and get them. Grr, I say. Grr.
So happy birthday me (and Ms Mac, whose blog I won't link to because it's gone private these days, who I graciously deign to share my birthday with. Or perhaps she's the gracious one, since it was her birthday first), slightly belatedly. You'll all be pleased to know I had a fab day.
Friday, 15 May 2009
And then we sang the song.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
(the military part of the cemetary in Rouen. Some of it, anyway)
Friday, 1 May 2009
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Good thing I don't have any mother-in-law issues that need a bit of extra fuel. Not to mention jealous ex-girlfriend rage.
If you can't be bothered clicking on that, the DRAMATIC story is that a container of swine flu exploded on a train just outside Fribourg. The LESS DRAMATIC version is that it was a strain not dangerous to people (apparently).
We're back from Lisbon, by the way, and it was SUPER.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
In other news ... not a lot. Today someone in my french class apparently had a pressing need to learn how to write a formal letter (like for a job application or something) so we spent an agonising hour or so talking about where to put your name and address and where to out the recipient's name and address (which I'm pretty sure is the opposite of what I would consider normal, although I can't really remember what the normal way is anymore) and all about the "formule de politesse", aka vile grovelling about how you hope that this person who you're writing to is showered with good fortune in every aspect of their life and how you feel blessed to receive even the scantiest percentage of their attention instead of just saying "best wishes". Honestly, it was the most offensive thing I've ever heard. I suggested that it's perfectly possible to be polite and respectful without both demeaning yourself and sucking up in such a blatant and implausible manner, and the teacher said that everyone recognises it's just formulaic and that it doesn't matter as long as you just do it too, and I said it was the opposite of everything I stand for and she sort of grudgingly said that's okay too (possibly just to shut me up). I'm willing to wish people "mes meilleures salutations" but that's the absolute limit. And that's about it.
We're going to Lisbon tomorrow for a few days of holidays before Reto has to return to the workforce (did I mention that? He left his last job at the end of Feb and has been happily unemployed for the last 2 months (mooching around in my french classes with me for a significant portion of that time, which made me less than happy, but that's a different whinge-fest) and now we're going on a final celebration of spare time before he's shackled once more to the grindstone of his new job, which starts on the 1st of May). Hello portugese tarts and ... Vasco da Gama, and .. well, port, I suppose, but someone told me today that there's some other port-like beverage that comes from the south of Portugal, so hello that drink. I may bring photos when I return.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
And then we went home.
Erm, so that's prostitutes then?
Monday, 13 April 2009
Anyway, shopping-wise it's all going well at the moment. The main down-side is that Reto is taking his self-improvement thing waaaaay too far and making me feel like a slob/grot/scoffer. First he started drinking a glass of water with lemon juice in it each morning. Then he stopped having sugar in his porridge and started having dried fruit instead. Then he stopped scoffing chocolate (which he LOVES!), and started requesting half-glasses of wine instead of proper-sized ones. The final straw was when he bought a heart rate monitor and a pair of hideous shorts and took up jogging (he's only been twice so far, but he seems so uncharacteristically enthusiastic). I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be the earnest nutritionist/alternative health care bore in our family. I think I'm losing my sense of purpose.
The thing is, though, that the tag thing is something about how fabulous my blog is. Hmm. My blog which I rarely write anything on these days, and when I do it's normally more on the humdrum tedium side than the fabulous side (I found my pyjamas, by the way. They were in the laundry basket. No idea how they got there, but I like to think that perhaps Reto did pinch them so he could wear them, and then he chucked them in the washing. Thanks for that, Vlad!). Fabulous? Hmm. I feel like an impostor.
And the other thing is that the "and answer these questions!" part is where I'm supposed to list 5 things I'm addicted to. If there's something I've realised, it's that moving away from my country and culture has not left me pining for the fjords (so to speak). I'm not one of those people who packs their suitcase full of Vegemite and Cherry Ripes in order to survive the long cold winter (although that being said, I do have Vegemite and Cherry Ripes in the cupboard, but I haven't really touched them in ages. In fact, I should really give away the Cherry Ripes before they go off. Anyone interested?). I'm much more unconcerned than that. I do find having backwards northern hempisphere seasons constantly unsettling, but I don't know that I would say I'm addicted to the opposite. Oh, there's always the internet. I couldn't live without that. Wearing jeans. Porridge (although that's more of a fad, and one that is likely to die off soon now that spring is here, stupid reverso-seasons). Hmm. Tinned tuna, perhaps. I do love a nice salade niçoise or a tuna pasta or a tuna salad or a tuna lasagne. Perhaps water, too, lame as it sounds (not only because I'd obviously die without it, but because all other thirst-quenching options, like fruit juice or soft drinks or iced tea or whatever, are kind of repellent. I wouldn't turn up my nose at a green tea/black tea/coffee/boozy option, though, but they're not for thirst-quenching purposes).
Okay, maybe I am addicted to some things. Maybe I am fabulous. But that's as far as I'm willing to go. I'm sticking to my long-standing "anti chain letter" stance and not passing this on at all. Anyone who thinks their blog is fabulous should feel free to go for it, though.
Sunday, 12 April 2009
In related news, I also can't find my easter bunny, which Reto has hidden (in plain sight, apparently), which is VERY ANNOYING.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Sunday, 22 March 2009
A huntsman spider. Hopefully we'll never see one of these in Switzerland.
Saturday, 21 March 2009
In other TV news, I've just found Buffy on a french channel! It's like homework and fun all at once!
Friday, 20 March 2009
And now that that's over, I've possibly lowered the tone a bit by moving on to the His Dark Materials trilogy, which may be considered children's books. Or maybe "young adult". And I'm reading them in english (and by the way, I bought them for the bargain basement price of 1.50 chf for the three at my favourite Swiss second hand bookshop, which is so outrageously cheap it must be worth mentioning).
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Going to the movies here is weird enough what with the allocated seating, different ticket price for different areas in the theatre, intermissions, and outrageous enthusiasm for dubbing instead of subtitling. Actually, I've found that only the dubbing part of that is relevant lately (maybe I'm just going to the right movie theatres, but I haven't had an intermission in ages), but I think all the years of indoctrination with allocated seating might have had a permanent effect on the movie-going habits of many Swiss folk. In my experience, ticket-sellers at Swiss cinemas, when they have to allocate seats, tend to allocate everyone into the smallest space possible. Even if there are only 10 of you in the whole theatre, you'll all be wedged into the middle, nary a spare seat between you, and your Charming Swiss Companion will be surprisingly hesitant to agree to move with you to other seats so that you can have some elbow room. If, unlikely as it is, you do happen to use your initiative and move to a seat other than your allocated one, you can be sure that someone will come in and say "excuse me, you're in my seat". Everyone cares that much about being where they're supposed to be.
Even now, in the brave new world of "sit where you like! All the tickets cost the same!" a lot of people can't bear to see a seat in the middle go to waste. At pretty much every movie I've seen in the last few days (which is about 10) I've seen people come into the (usually mostly-empty) theatre just as the lights are going down, spot a single reasonably-central spare seat (usually with coats/scarves/bags on it) between groups of other people, and squish past everyone else in the row to ask "is that seat free?" rather than just taking a slightly less central seat that perhaps has spare seats around it. I'd rather sit at the end of the row and have a bit of room to myself and be able to whisper annoying commentary to my Charming Swiss Companion (that's Reto, by the way, not some Mystery Swiss Companion) without annoying other people as well, than have the "best" seat in the house. Apparently no one agrees with me.
Sunday, 15 March 2009
So far we've seen Terminal Island (an american flick from the 70s or so, which is in the festival under a "revanches de femmes" theme, although I'm not really sure if the women in the film were actually the agents of their own revenge or if they were there more to take their clothes off a lot and be rescued by their menfolk (rescued from the other menfolk, whose intentions were nowhere near as gallant).
And then we saw Garapa, a doco about malnutrition and starvation in the slums of Fortaleza (a town in northeast Brazil). Which was relentlessly depressing, as you'd imagine, and really interesting. "Garapa" is the name of the sugar water that people give their children to drink when they have no other food available, which seems to be an awful lot of the time, in spite of the government's "zero hunger" programme which seems to involve giving money for food and/or milk for children under a certain age. While the lack of work/money/food is obviously a major problem, one of the more interesting bits of the doco for me was near the end when the filmmaker asked his subjects if they wanted to have more children (more than the 11 that one family already had!). Some of them sort of said "no", but overall the mood was more one of resignation; that there's nothing you can do to prevent it, that you're equally likely to have another baby whether or not you use contraception, and that if you do have more children, you will always find a way to feed them. But of course that way is frequently with nothing more than sugar and water, which really isn't doing anyone any good. Lordy it was depressing.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
I think the moral to this story is not to use the same chopping board to cut up the almonds that go in my porridge that Reto used last night when he made garlic bread.
Saturday, 28 February 2009
Friday, 20 February 2009
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
The terrifyingly narrow/snow-covered/winding road we had to take to get there. Which was flanked on one side by the edge of a mountain, and on the other by an enormous yawning chasm that ended in the iciest-looking river you've ever seen. Fortunately we were protected at most times by the uselessest of safety barriers, which was about shin-height (ie. not much help when a bus wants to topple over the edge) and made of wood. Wood, for crying out loud. Old, pathetic wood that has been out in the weather for too long. Oh, and the horn thing that the buses honk when they approach blind corners and want to warn any oncoming traffic that THE RISK OF A PLUNGY, ICY DEATH IS IMMINENT is not charming and reminiscent of childhood, as Reto seems to think. It's alarming and noisy. If I was an oncoming driver I'd probably panic, veer to the wrong side of the road and either die a horrible death in the chasm or t-bone the side of the mountain and block the road meaning that the bus would have to reverse its way to safety. Great.
The food. Oh, the food. We had 6-course dinners both nights we were there, and we had giganto breakfast buffets that sadly I don't think I really did justice to, and we had lots of delicious home-made chocolates in our room that they kept replacing while we were at dinner (not that you get back from a 6-course dinner and think "hmm, what else can I eat?") and there were apples everywhere, really crispy crunchy ones, which was lovely. And .. oh, at dinner one night I did a bit of a salt degustation. There were about 8 different types of salt on offer. I always enjoy buying fancy salt, but it always takes me forever to get through a packet of it so I can never really compare them and tell which ones I like best. At dinner the other night, though, I tried the murray river one from Australia, one from the red sea (guess what colour it was!), one from the black sea (guess what colour it was! I don't think I could seriously use black salt on a regular basis, though. It looks odd), a hawaiian one, and a few from France. The conclusion, however, was disppointing - they all tasted kinda the same. The Australian one wins for reasons of patriotism, though, and also because it was such an attractive shade of pink. Now I just have to finish this stupid enormous packet of Maldon salt I have at home before I can buy some. Other memorable food moments included the baked saffron icecream with sweet pesto (which was weirdweirdweird) and the cheese trolley.
The thermal pools. It was a thermal pool hotel place that we went to, so you'd hope the thermal pools would be a highlight. And they were. We went midnight-thermal-pooling and we went crack-of-dawn-thermal-pooling and we went civilised-middle-of-the-day-thermal-pooling and it was all fantastic. The low-point being after you get out of the thermal pool and you realise the water has sucked all the moisture out of your skin and hair and that you've wildly underestimated your conditioner and moisturiser needs for the weekend. Seeing all the hotel guests wandering between their rooms and the pool in their hotel-supplied bathrobes was funny, though (when do you ever see people in bathrobes?), as was seeing the same strangers you'd seen in their togs all day in the pool wearing real pants at the next table at dinner.
Oh, and I discovered that I can't float. I'm sure I used to be able to when I was a youngster. Reto spent lot of time floating about all over the place (although he seems to think he can only float when he uses his special floating technique of stretching his arms out above his head. Not above as in upwards, obviously) and being smug while my legs sank and I got water in my eyes a lot. No one likes a gloater!
All the romance was nice. Which you would hope, for a first-anniversary holiday.
And then there was the bus back down again. After all that new snow had fallen (and continued to fall and made the road EVEN MORE TREACHEROUS. But we survived, and even better, we forgot to take the bottle of fancy champagne that my sister and her boyfriend got for us for our anniversary (not that we would have had time to drink it in between all the swimming and eating anyway), so we've decided to drink that next Fridy in celebration on Reto being unemployed! Because he quit his job and his PhD a few months ago, in case I didn't mention it. We'll be a no-income family, and what better way to celebrate that than with a bottle of Moet? Hurrah!
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Anyway, I've learnt that French people are apparently cheats, either that or the French wheel (of fortune) is ridiculously heavy. One of the competitors, an old lady, apparently had some terrible arm disorder that prevented her from spinning the wheel much, but the other two (able-bodied youngsters) didn't really spin it much further than she did. Most of the time they just gave it a gentle nudge so as to stay as far away as possible from bankruptcy. Boring.
The Lovely Assistant was sort of a departure from what I'm used to, and sort of the same. She was tall and blonde and flashy (normal), but she also looked sort of plastic (in a plastic surgery way. When I say "sort of" I'm being extremely generous. She looked extremely plastic) and she was at least a head taller than the host (who was small and featureless but not at all charmingly Tony Barber-ish). And her dress looked more like a nightie than a dress. At the end of the show, she danced with the winner (who, strangely, looked a bit like the Lovely Assistant, but shorter and less flashy. Just as blonde though)
The French version has a dog. He doesn't do anything, but he's always there watching.
And, most unexpected of all, the French version of Wheel of Fortune is educational. I now know that there's an expression "entre la poire et le fromage". I don't actully know what it means, but I like to imagine that it's the French equivalent of "between a rock and a hard place", except the French think that being caught between two soft places (like a poached pear and a camembert, perhaps) is the worst possible scenario. Or maybe it's like being caught between a beurre bosc and some parmesan. Which could well be delicious.
Sunday, 1 February 2009
Monday, 26 January 2009
Friday, 23 January 2009
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
And then we had a loooong conversation about cultural stereotypes.
* except possibly in Japan, it seems, where, according to the Japanese chick in the class, it's less insulting to phone up and give an excuse and reschedule a work meeting than turn up 15 minutes late
Monday, 19 January 2009
2. Morons waiting for the train who have 2nd class tickets, but who get into the 1st class carriages (because it's always quicker to get into the 1st class carriages because there isn't a huge queue of people in there waiting to get out) and then go through the door from there to the 2nd class carriage that I'm queueing (with a million other people) to get into, thus managing to get in and get a seat first. Cheats.
3. Having an argument about something remotely serious in french but being unable to express my opinion in a relatively coherent way because my vocabulary is dismal. I think I may have ended up being construed as a militant vegan, which would have been fine but it wasn't what I was saying at all.
On a more positive note, I got my Swiss license (yay!), I managed to have a decent argument in french (maybe it was just everyone else misunderstanding me, not me being incomprehensible), I didn't break my leg on the ice, it wasn't freezing, I had a rather excellent salade nicoise for dinner, I got something pleasant in the mail (rather than just boring letters from my health insurance, which is what it usually is) and Reto didn't hog all the blankets last night. Which is the first time in ages that that's happened. Assidouously poking him in the ribs all the time every night seems to have finally paid off
Friday, 16 January 2009
Unlike almost everyone else I have ever known, I've always had great vision. No glasses, no squinting at computer screens, no whining about having to buy prespcription sunglasses, no agonising over that laser surgery.
Anyway, I've just been off for an eye test for my driving license here, and I discovered that MY RIGHT EYE IS PRACTICALLY BLIND. When I had to read the letters on the sign, I could read the bottom line with my left eye no worries, but with the right eye I had to move up a line (and even then I had to guess a bit).
I'm actually finding this really quite disturbing. It's like the beginning of the end. Next thing you know my hair will turn grey and I'll have to have a hip replacement.
Thursday, 8 January 2009
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
Apparently it weighs more than a kilo.
If only I liked Toblerone.
* Don't be fooled, they're actually the king and lady king from yesterday's hard-won religious bakery item
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
I went to the bakery. It went something like this (but all in french):
Me: Can I please have a couronne des rois?
Me: The bread thing being sold specially today? A couronne des rois [note that I wasn't actually sure what the things were called, but this bakery had a big sign outside saying "couronne des rois", so I was going with that]?
Her: I'm sorry, I can't understand you at all. You're making no sense to me.
Me: The special bread thing because today's the 6th of January ...
Her (to colleague): Can you understand what she is saying? I can't understand anything she says.
Me: You know, like a crown [gesturing at my head] ... for kings .... [petering off]
And then someone else helped me. Who miraculously understood me. Really, I'm not that incomprehensible. It was annoying.
As it turned out there were 2 kings in our galette des rois (it was more like a collection of cinnamon snails than anything properly bready. And one of the kings seemed to be a lady). I got one of them, but the crown didn't fit. Sigh.
Friday, 2 January 2009
Get a Swiss drivers license (before March, but preferably before February)
Be more proactive about doing things in french (like going to the dentist/doctor/small shops where conversation is unavoidable. I was going to add hairdresser to that list, but since my hair is looking really quite respectable at the moment and I haven't seen a hair professional since March, I've decided not to)
.. Hmm. No doubt there are many more things I could add about getting a job and being a responsible adult, but I don't think I will. Better to keep it all pleasantly achievable.