Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Well, in spite of my earnestly good intentions to write a nice post about Lisbon and how super it was (and it was!), I'm going to possibly thwart myself a bit, or possibly save myself from being a complete slacker, by giving y'all a bit of an edited highlights list now. In no particular order:

The sun! Not that the weather hasn't been quite nice here lately, but getting back yesterday and finding it all cold and rainy and grim (and even snowing in places! Not our places fortunately, but it has been &^%^$#$ing cold) was depressing, to say the least.

Gum trees! And bottle brushes (in flower)! Normally the only place you ever see Australian flora is in Australia (although apparently there are tons of gum trees in Israel, and I saw some in Monaco and the south of France last year) so this was pleasantly nostalgia-inducing. I like gum trees.

The architecture, and particularly all the pretty tiles on the walls of buildings. Also, the lovely cobbled streets, decoratively and attractively cobbled, not boring run-of-the mill cobbling. Although those streets were slippery at the best of times; I hate to imagine how they'd be in the rain. The tiles were very lovely though, and I have any number of photos of them that I could (and possibly will) share with you.

The portugese tarts. Although funnily enough, I only ate about 2 of them the whole time, but it was nice to know they were there. And as it turns out they're delicious sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon.

The ease of public transport use. The metro is fab. I've never liked buses much, but who needs them when you have a well-running train system?

The IndieLisboa film fest, which just happened to start the day after we arrived! We ended up seeing (choosing based on language, because the blurb we found had nothing about what the films were about, just when they were on and where they came from) an American doco called Tyson, which we assumed would either be about Mike Tyson or the evil chicken-growing corporation Tyson (disappointingly the former, but it was still really interesting), a programme of short films (two from english-speaking nations, one Finnish and two Dutch. We were thinking that we might have some chance with Dutch (or at least Reto would) because it sounds kinda german-ish, but happily they were all either in english, without dialogue or subtitled into english (and portugese, obviously)! The hardest one to understand was the New Zealandish one!) and a French flick called Avant que j'oublie, which we were all prepared to watch in french but it was subbied into english too! And each ticket only cost 3 euros 50! Cheap!

The beach! We paddled in it and it was freezing.

The shopping! We hardly did any of it, but I managed to rustle up a few tshirts and they were so cheap. Possibly because they're from sweatshops or something, but I won't think about that. Although I should.

The food! For some reason we ate Tibetan food more than anything else, and it was lovely. And as it turns out Portugese wine tastes kinda Australian.

The fact that everything was so easy. Everyone spoke english or french, the public transport was great, it was easy to find our way around and nothing was a drama.
And that's the list. At least as far as I can remember it now. If I'd been more organised I would have gone for a better ending.


Living In The Past

Hmm. Reto just called his mum, who was preoccupied with babysitting her new(ish) grandson and therefore not paying proper attention to R's (undoubtedly) scintillating conversation. At the end of the call, she said "Well, have a nice dinner and say hi to Tina for me". Erm, that would be Reto's ex girlfriend then. From about a million years ago, admittedly, and who I've since stolen from him (as in she's my friend now, not his) but still.

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.

Swine Flu


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

Call Me A Sad Old Whiner, I Deserve It.

I was just out at the shops and I saw a huge queue of people outside fnac, waiting to buy tickets to the Paleo festival (which go on sale in a few hours. Actually, right now, but it was a few hours ago that I was at the shops). And that's why I don't like festivals. The boring queueing required (and if it's not for tickets it's for toilets or food or drinks or tickets to buy food or drinks with (great system, whoever came up with that one, making everyone queue twice for the same thing) and the implication of competition to get stuff (I assume the tickets sell out quickly) and having to sit in mud (or on the floor of a shopping centre, not that I would have a problem with that) or in the relentless sun getting sunburnt. Fun fun fun.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

French and Portugal and Facebook (not in that order)

Well, I've just wasted my evening away doing lame quizzes on Facebook, and apparently I should live in Balmain, I'm Jen Garner (whoever she is), I'm a "bible scholar" (random guessing seems to suffice) and the "what hair colour should you have?" quiz is broken. Let's hope I haven't been embarrassing myself as a blonde all these years. Sadly I gave up at that point and so I may never find out if I married the wrong person, or what the name of my husband will be (I bet it's not "Reto", though, which suggests maybe I don't need to do the other quiz).

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

A Nice Day

I had such a nice day today. Reto and I went to Zurich for a spot of loafing and a change of scenery. It was sunny and delightful. We went to a design museum and saw a bunch of wacky designy things, then had a rather lovely lunch and coffee in the park outside. We did some very low-maintenance shopping (which I got fed up with after about 5 minutes, which is just what I always anticipated and it saved me from having to go to the trouble of actually trying on any boring clothes that I wasn't going to like anyway). We loafed for ages in a bookshop (which culminated in me buying a book on french grammar, not so charming but nice to have). We had a Mövenpick icecream (pear for me, which was delightful; raspberry/strawberry for Reto, which confirmed the superiority of my choice). We loafed for ages at the Chinese gardens down by the lake (oh the serenity, if you don't count all the kiddies running around playing hide and seek, nor the dead carp I saw in the pond) and read about life in a Thai prison (not so good). We went out for dinner at Hiltl (veggo restaurant that everyone's a big fan of) with our Zurich-dwelling Australian pal Sarah. Which was delightful not only for those reasons, but also because our waiter got the impression that Reto and I were both proper german-speakers (in spite of me not saying a word in german) and that Sarah wasn't, and he kept bringing her english menus and speaking english to her and speaking german to the rest of us. Which was funny, because my german is so abysmal as to be practically non-existent these days (although I'm okay at understanding it, I'd be hard pressed to make a sentence that didn't turn french within a word or two) and Sarah's totally down with the lingo. It's nice to think that other people assume I'm socially competent, though.

And then we went home.

You Sexy Thing

I read a thing in 20 Minutes this morning about how women are likely to rate men with certain professions as more attractive than other men, and men are likely to rate women with certain jobs as more attractive than other women. No surprise there. But what are these jobs? Well, women apparently prefer men who are architects, and men prefer women who are doctors or "working girls" (which was how it was written in french, ie. in english and in inverted commas).

Erm, so that's prostitutes then?

Monday, 13 April 2009


About a week ago, Reto started reading some pop-psychology book about how he can be a better person and improve his life. At the same time, I finished (re)reading The Ethics Of What We Eat, and decided (as the primary shopper/cooker in the house) that we should be far more ethical/vegetarian in our food choices. Fortunately Reto's book told him he should be more of a veggo too, so since then it's been tofu and chickpeas galore chez nous (which it already was, but now Reto's much more enthusiastic about it. INcidentally, I've also been assiduously choosing the organic/fairtrade options, and I now do our regular shopping at 3 different supermarkets (which is incredibly annoying but makes me feel smug and virtuous. I suspect I might start feeling less smug as spring and summer march on and it gets hotter and I get more and more annoyed at dragging my stupid canvas shopping bags of fairtrade bananas and tinned tomatoes all over town and up and down our 3 flights of stairs)).

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.

Netiquette Problems

I'm having a bit of a dilemma. One of my dearest friends, who is all new to blogging and thus full of enthusiasm in a way that I can only dimly recall (note my absence of posts, and her outrageous enthusiasm for writing something not only new but also usually quite thoughtful and entertaining all the time) has tagged me in a modern-day-equivalent-of-a-chain-letter (albeit one that is more flattering than chain letters ever were and which doesn't threaten me with BAD LUCK FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE if I refuse to send it on) and I just don't know what I should do. Actually, I sort of do. Common decency seems to indicate I should acknowledge it, do the questions you're supposed to do and then pass it on, but ....

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.
Thanks, Ange.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Mystery. By My Standards, Anyway.

I've lost my pyjamas. It's mysterious. I was wearing them yesterday morning. I had a shower. I'm sure I would have picked up my jammies from the bathroom floor and chucked them on our bed after that, but ... they're mysteriously not there. Or anywhere. Our flat has a total of about 3 rooms, so there really aren't many places where they could be, so why can't I find them? Why? Why?

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


When I was at the supermarket this morning the checkout woman actually congratulated me on having minimised the number of plastic bags I used (because, non-Swiss people, here you have to weigh your fruit and veg yourself and then stick the stickers onto something. Which, in my opinion, can be the fruit and veg if you only buy one piece (like a single pineapple, although be warned, pineapples don't cope well with stickers), but otherwise it really has to be on a plastic bag, with said f&v in it). I always put my potatoes and carrots and zucchinis and whatnot in the same bag and then slather it in stickers, which normally earns me a glare from checkout chicks, who apparently find it outrageously inconvenient to have to scan the same bag more than once (oh, the horror). So this morning's experience was a very nice change.