Saturday, 28 February 2009


Yesterday I had lunch in an Indian restaurant in Lausanne with a friend. We were chatting to the waiter and he asked me if I was English. "No", I said, "I'm Australian" and he said "Aah, that's why you sound like Ricky Ponting". As it turned out, what he meant was that I speak incomprehensibly quickly, not that I talk about cricket a lot.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Look What I Made!

I made a crocheted blanket! For me! And it only took me about 4 months!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

How Complicated Is A Teapot?

More than you'd imagine, apparently.

At our Excellent Breakfast Frenzy at our Swanky Anniversary Hotel, there were about 12 different types of tea on offer, all loose leaf. There was a plethora of teapots,
(sort of like this)

some of them with tea leaf straining thingies inside them,

(pretty much exactly like this, but inside the teapots)

some without, and there were a bunch of tea strainers like this

(but less fancy. With the strainer and the thing you rest it in, though)

next to the teapots as well.

I've never really noticed people here drinking much tea at all, but people were going for it very enthusiastically at breakfast and in a variety of confusing ways. Basically, everyone wanted to use the outside-the-teapot strainers as inside-the-teapot leaf holders (which they were all wrong for and it meant you couldn't get the lid on your teapot and it unbalanced the whole thing). People were taking their inside-the-teapot strainers out and replacing them (inside the teapot!) with outside-the teapot strainers. I saw one woman put an outside-the-teapot strainer into her teapot then fill the teapot with water and put the lid on it and walk away. With no tea in her tea! I mean, drinking hot water is an odd but acceptable habit (hello, Mum!) but does it really require a teapot and strainer?

I thought everyone ws being weird and misinformed until later when I had a cup of tea from a cafe place there (ie. staffed by hot beverage professionls who should know how these things work), and the waiter brought me my teapot with an outside-the-pot tea strainer in it. Which has led me to wonder if I'm suffering from some ridiculous cultural confusion where all these loony Europeans do things ridiculously. By which I mean differently. By which I secretly still do mean ridiculously.

Anyone have any ideas?

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Happy Anniversary, Everyone!

Ange and Jonno, specifically, and me and Reto too since it's always nice to share in the furriness of a celebratory cat.

Happy Birthday Tawny!

I haven't managed to put this up in time for your time zone birthday limits, but in mine I've still got heaps of time! I hope your day is still going well!

Happy Anniversary, Me and Reto!

We've been off swanning about in swanky hotels in celebration of our first wedding anniversary over the past few days, and lordy isn't it sad to be home again? Highlights included:

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

Wheel Of Fortune

I've just been watching the French of Wheel Of Fortune on telly, and what a cultural experience it was! It was like going to KFC in another country and finding that they offer a different type of sauce or something when you order the nuggets. Not that I go to KFC in Australia, and not that they have KFC here (as far as I'm aware) but once long ago I went to KFC in England and I'm sure they had a surprising Indian twist to their menu there.

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

Alone At Last

It's our first weekend spent without hordes of my relatives hanging around since the end of November (!) and we've spent it doing absolutely nothing. Which has been quite nice. And it snowed all day today, enough to look charming but not enough to be annoying when we ventured out for a coffee and a piece of cake.