Thursday, 2 December 2010

Let It Stop Snowing/Isn't It Pretty?

Over the last few days I've been taking photos of the snow on our balcony in order to impress you all with the arctic conditions of my life.

(I can't believe I ever thought this was impressive)

(Getting better/worse, depending on which side of the wall you're standing on)

(That's more like it. Or not)

Tuesday, 30 November 2010


So cold and so pretty!
Although it is sort of wreaking havoc with our pram, which has very small and uncooperative wheels that tend to get all clogged up and stop rolling whenever they are faced with mud or fallen leaves or even humid air. Or snow, as it turns out. I may stay indoors for the next few months.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Being Unpatriotic

Things that are better in Switzerland:

Television. Not really, but television ads are definitely a step in the right direction. I don't know exactly what the rules are, but if the show's less than an hour and a half or so long, you won't see any ads in it. Hurrah.

Food you buy at outdoor events. Pluto pups and other revolting versions of things on sticks. Hot chips, fairy floss, meat pies and sausage rolls. Versus raclette, a sausage with a really nice bun and mustard, älplermagronen (or whatever the spelling is. pasta and potato and a cheesy sauce with onions and apple sauce. mmmm, perfect when you're on top of a mountain and it's freezing) and käsekuchen (a savoury quichey thing, not to be confused with its literal translation, cheesecake, which is not even remotely the same thing), not to mention all those deep-fried desserty things, like apple rings with vanilla sauce (aka custard). Switzerland definitely wins here (although I would never say no to a nice warm cinnamon doughnut from the Lions Club vans of my youth).

Cheese. There's nothing worse than suddenly finding yourself in the mood for some interesting cheese on the way home when you're in Australia, and finding that all that's on offer in Coles is 8000 types of cheddar and a splash of feta. Not that there's anything wrong with cheddar or feta, but a bit more readily-available variety never hurt anyone.

Christmas. I feel bad for saying that, and actually I'm not sure that it's even true, but I really do enjoy the wintery build-up to christmas here, the glühwein and christmas biscuits (even if I don't associate them at all with christmas myself), all the indoor eating-based activity. Not to mention the christmas lights and candles and decorations that all look so much more charming in the grim wintery weather. Actually, what I think I might be saying here is that traditional christmas things are much better in Switzerland than they are in Australia, and that it goes without saying that an Australian christmas should not try to confuse itself with a European christmas, because it's in no way the same thing.

That is all.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Calm Before The Snow

What delightful weather we've been having lately, especially on the weekends! Last Saturday we went on an excursion to look at the Eiger, and had a lovely time forcing our extremely urban pram to cope with dirt roads (!), puddles (!!) and patches of snow (oh, the horror!). We were also accosted by tourists (I'm kinda loath to say they were Japanese, because it seems like such a cliche, but they were so there you go) who were so swept away by No's cuteness that they insisted on taking her photo a lot, which was hilarious and weird and lovely.
(The pram endures the outdoors)
Oh, and we ate fantastic Swiss mountainy food (lots of potato and meat and things. We resisted the call of dessert, but really, you should have seen the meringue on offer. It was topped with what was described in the menu as "viel schlagrahm" (=lots of whipped cream. The menu was mostly translated into english as well, but the english translation for this bit left off the "lots". Maybe tourists in Switzerland will think that that is the standard amount of whipped cream on any dessert. Hmm), and they weren't kidding. The finished product was easily the size of my head, and every time one was brought out by a waiter, everyone turned and stared and giggled a bit. Which was nice.

And then this Saturday we wasted the nice morning by doing a bit of Christmas reconnaissance in Bern (we've decided to put up christmas decorations for the first time ever, which means we have to buy some christmas decorations. R had very firm and surprisingly conservative ideas about what is and isn't acceptable in a christmas decoration, but I won him over in the end and now it seems I am going to have to talk him out of buying all the revolting jokey cat head/psycho squirrel/doughnut/ostrich-on-a-tropical-holiday type baubles that we saw. For crying out loud. He still refuses to consider tinsel, though. And I think he secretly wants real live candles with flame to put on the tree, but refuses to take responsibility if our house burns down) and then went to Thun and had a delightful time in the afternoon sun with the mountains and the lake and the apple strudel. How much longer can this last?

(Dwindling afternoon sun near Thun)

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Where Do I Live Again?

Out one window,

and out the other.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

I Blame The Baby

Oh, and while I'm in a bit of a blogging frenzy, I'd just like to take the opportunity to say how sad I am to not have been to the Zurich Film Fest this year. This is the first year this century (!) that I haven't been an extreme attendee of at least one film festival, and sadly it's also the year that there was a bit of an Australiana theme at the Zurich fest. On the bright side, I did miss out on all that Zurich-and-back public transport tedium, the aggravating ticketing system and eating far too many (delicious) pretzels when I didn't have enough time for a proper meal.


I have serious problems remembering things that people have told me in french. Yesterday I caught the train to Geneva, and spent the whole trip (all hour and twenty minutes of it) sitting opposite a man with a one-year-old daughter. Babies being the conversation-makers that they are, we spent the whole time chatting, about babies, daily life, politics, the weather (when will all this stupid fog go away?), all the usual stuff. And really, by the end of it I could hardly remember anything he'd said. It happens every time a conversation goes for more than about 10 minutes. Which can be embarrassing.

In other news, the Tiniest Australian (citizenship, check; passport, on the way) has started eating solid food. It's messy. I have some sort of unexplored hatred of the idea of feeding her pureed food, so we're going with the idea of baby-led weaning, which means that she has spent the last few days sucking on chunks of bread, raspberries (which she seems to really enjoy, at least the bits that make it to her mouth and don't just get mushed into nothing by her inept baby hands), capsicum (ditto), pork, carrots and zucchini. And then wiping herself, me, Reto, all our furniture and everything she can get her hands on with a horrible mixture of pre-sucked food and slobber. What a cutie.


I saw a cheese at Coop today called "Moron du Jura" and I was going to buy it for the sole purpose of putting a picture of it on here, but then I didn't.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Things that make the No cry lately: people sneezing, people blowing their nose, people laughing. Which is a bit of a bummer because I have a cold and we've been watching 30 Rock on telly.

Friday, 10 September 2010


Did I never put up a single picture of the No? Okay, here's one:

Who knows why she's so sad. I suspect it's all an act.

Return To Lisbon

Having agonised for ages over where we should go for a holiday, we finally (last week) made a decision to go back to Lisbon (next week. Well, tomorrow actually). I'm thoroughly looking forward to going back to somewhere that we've been to relatively recently, so we don't have to face all the usual drama of finding out where we are and how we get where we want to go. Plus we had a really great time there last time, and even though it seems very unlikely that we'll happen across a film festival this time, I'm full of optimism. Plus we seem to be staying at some wacky interesting hotel that Reto found, and not a return trip to the B&B from last time, which, although not bad, does suffer somewhat from being above a wine bar full of drunken people who don't know which is the light switch for the toilets and which is the light switch for the B&B room.

On a potentially negative note, it will also be the No's first flight, which we are all bracing ourselves for. Good practice/terrible advance warning for her first flight to Australia, which we are thinking will happen in Feb or so next year.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Seasonal Confusion

Apparently the supermarkets here are in denial about it still being summer. My local Migros started selling the "autumn" themed yoghurts weeks ago, and yesterday in Coop I saw some Christmas biscuits. Specifically, I found pfeffernusse, which I love and have stupidly missed out on for the last few years because shops seem to sell them briefly in October (or September, I now discover) and I think "ooh, it's too early for that" and then they vanish forever. Anyway, there they were yesterday, sitting on the shelves and giving me the eye, so I bought them and now I seem to have scoffed the lot.

They're not really as good as I remember, actually.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Ways In Which I Will Never Be Swiss

1. Answering the phone by saying my name instead of by saying "hello". Some junk mail caller got all stroppy at me the other day because I wouldn't tell him my name. He didn't seem to know how to proceed if he couldn't call me Madame whoever.

2. Writing 1s, 7s and 9s with all their extra tails and lines.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

I Didn't Vote ..

.. but fortunately they're not going to fine me*. Even though it's all my own fault.

Apparently I enrolled as an overseas voter in 2007 (for the last federal election), but apparently I forgot that and apparently the AEC website don't tell you that sort of thing when you look up your enrolment details, and so when I eventually got around to sending in my forms to apply for a postal vote, I got an email telling me that they had already sent the forms to the wrong address and that now my only chance left to vote is to go to Geneva and do it there (at the permanent mission or whatever it is). Which I had no intention of doing, not only because about a day or two before I got that email I had been to the mission in Geneva to get some stuff certified to make the No into a tiny Australian and I wasn't about to make that annoying journey again.

Even if they had sent the voting forms to the right address it still would have been extremely annoying. To complete the forms, you have to get another Australian (one who is enrolled to vote, I suppose) to sign your voting forms. I have a grand total of one Australian friend in this country (hello Sarah!) and she is inconveniently located in Zurich. So in many ways, not voting is much more convenient for me, but you can all rest assured that if Tony Abbott is the next PM, I will feel very very guilty.

* There's a federal election on today in Australia, in case you didn't know, and voting is compulsory, in case you didn't know, in the sense that they fine you if you don't vote, but apparently not if you misinform them about your address and thus scupper your chance of voting. And apparently it's not really compulsory if you don't live in Australia, and after you've been away for 5 years or something it might be not so much compulsory to vote as forbidden. Nice (that was sarcastic, by the way. I find it outrageous that they apparently want to deny me my chance to vote in my own country, even if I don't live in it).

Is It Something In The Water?

Last night as I was making some rice to have with dinner it occurred to me, as it frequently does, that these Swiss are crazy. They recommended cooking time for rice here seems to be 45-60 minutes for brown (which is what we were eating last night) and about half that for white rice*. Really? It's been a while since I cooked rice in what I like to annoy Reto by referring to as The Sensible Continent (=Australia, obviously. And then we have an argument about whether it actually is a continent or not, which Reto obviously always loses because he is wrong and foolish), but I'm sure brown rice cooks there in something like 25 minutes, and white rice in about half that time. And my (many many many) rice-cooking experiments in this country lead me to think that Australian estimates are far closer to the truth than Swiss ones.

Which reminds me of a conversation that I eavesdropped on some time ago, where my mother-in-law and brother-in-law were discussing corn on the cob, and whether we were, at the time, eating the fresh variety or the pre-cooked variety. There was some confusion for a while, and eventually my mother-in-law said "no, it's the fresh stuff; I boiled it for half an hour". I assumed she was joking and sort of laughed a bit, and then when I told them that I was under the impression that corn on the cob needs to be boiled for about 5 minutes it became clear that everyone thinks I have no idea about anything, can't cook and am probably feeding my family on nothing but hay and raw potatoes.

So what's going on? Why do we apparently need to cook everything forever in this wacky country? And why is the corn on the cob still so gristly and tough even after it's been tormented for all that time?

* I mean normal uncooked rice, not that horrible parboiled stuff which looks, tastes and smells weird and also doesn't really seem to even take much less time to cook anyway. I did read somewhere once that parboiled rice retains more of its nutritional value, but that doesn't convince me that it's worth eating.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Not To Be Neurotic Or Anything, But ...

My parents, who are visiting, brought me a bunch of old Good Weekend magazines (which comes with the paper on Saturdays, and which I love). In this one I'm reading now, the journalist flew to Geneva to interview someone. She says

"the two-hour train trip to Lausanne costs more than $100".

Hmm. Maybe she caught a regional train and stopped at every station there is between Geneva and Lausanne, and maybe she means a return first class trip, and maybe the exchange rate was very very very bad, but it seems to me that someone should be doing a better job of checking the facts.

Surely there are enough stereotypes about Switzerland that are true that we can gleefully repeat to others, without making up stuff that is just blatantly wrong? Incidentally, I always thought that the fear of draughts (as in movement of air, not the board game. Oh how the Swiss love board games) was a bit of a rumour. Apparently not.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Thanks, Everyone

Noémie: waah, waah, waah
Everyone In The Entire World: Oh, she's teething.
Me: Aaargh!

Really, strangers on buses who have spent a grand total of two stops-worth of time in the vicinity of the No feel the need to tell me that the reason she's crying is that she's teething. Really? Not that she's hot, tired and hungry? Well, I suppose you're the expert aren't you, whoever you are?

Thursday, 22 July 2010


Me: Grr, it's so hot.
Everyone Else: But you're Australian, you must love it.
Me: If I loved the heat I wouldn't have moved to Switzerland. Grr.

Monday, 5 July 2010

How Good Are We?

We went to visit our tiny new nephew the other day, and because R is the godfather it was his responsibility to bring the geburtstafel (baby name sign thing that sits in the garden for the next year or so). Poncy and ridiculous as I think these signs are, we dragged out all our DIY skills (minimal, I thought) and made the best sign ever.

Pretty good, hey?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Who Needs 'em?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, single parenting seems to be suiting me surprisingly well (R is off in the army). Under my watchful single eye (just call me Cyclops) No has progressed to sleeping a whopping 10 hours straight (well, she's done it a few times over the last week), I've found the time and enthusiasm to cook myself all sorts of fancy and delicious food that I never really bother with when Reto's home, I've scrubbed half the flat in preparation for moving (next week!) and packed a fair bit of it as well. I'm also an expert (albeit a fairly fed up one) at lugging our stupid pram up and down our stupid stairs a million times a day,and wrangling it onto buses and trains and through tiny tortuous aisles in shops. In between that and all the baby-carrying I'm constantly doing, I'm sure my arms have never worked so hard. Oh, and I successfully took No off for her first lot of vaccinations, which she coped with admirably for the first second or so, but then the realisation that she'd been stabbed in the leg set in and she screamed like she's never screamed before, poor little thing.

Unfortunately, Reto comes home again on Friday (having finished all his army duty forever!) and will no doubt throw everything into disarray, or at the very least force me to watch a lot of sport (Wimbledon AND the World Cup, zzzz) on the telly.


Being Australian, I think I'm supposed to be genetically programmed to call everyone by a shortened version of their actual name. I've always been a bit uncomfortable with jumping into the nickname pool with people I don't know very well (as in when you meet someone and they say "Call me JayJay! Everyone does!") but in general I thoroughly approve. I'm not really sure, though, what I'm supposed to do about all these babies I've been meeting lately. The vast bulk of the parents seem to call their new babies by their full names, rarely using any sort of nickname. It seems a bit crazy to call these tiny funny little people long, serious names (Benjamin? The name's longer than the baby is!), but everyone seems to and I rarely hear shorter versions being bandied about. I've even heard people say that they don't like it when babies are referred to by too many different names because they find it confusing and they imagine the babies must too. Hmm.

Fortunately this isn't a problem that keeps me up at night, and I can cope with the drama of calling children (or anyone!) by their full name if I feel I have to. Rest assured, though, that, should you happen to meet my daughter, she has a million nicknames, we rarely use her actual name, and that you can call her practically anything you want. No, Nonie, Noé, N, Nonifer, None (rhymes with "zone"), any one of a squillion embarrassing babyish nicknames with "muffin" and "pudding" and other dessert items in them. Even the full Noémie if you want to be original.

She doesn't seem to be suffering any sort of crisis of identity yet.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Things I Could Have Blogged About Lately ..

.. but didn't.

As it turns out, babies aren't to be trusted at all. Just when I think she's getting in the habit of something, she changes her mind and does things completely differently. Which is bad when her non-habit has been sleeping for 6 hours a night, good when it's crying and crying and crying every time I have the audacity not to hold her constantly.

If only I had a phone with a camera (as opposed to one with no features at all, which is what I do have. Still, it's capable of sending SMSes, so it's far superior to my previous phone) I could have taken all sorts of pictures of interesting things lately. Especially mysterious horse parades through Bern (I think they were protesting about something. I've never seen so many foals and shetland ponies at a protest) and the adorable baby bears, who are still very cute and are much more adept at tree climbing than they used to be.

Reusable nappies are far better than I anticipated. They always seemed like a good choice from an environmental smugness perspective, but I heard so many negative things about them (usually stories involving poo explosions) that my hopes were pretty low. As it turns out, the ones we got (Bambinex, in case you're interested. Which we chose because they were about the only ones we could find in Switzerland) have been perfectly good so far. The main negative aspect that we've discovered is that by the time we've folded them down to their smallest size and then velcroed them up and put on the waterproof top layer, No's bottom half is so enormous that she really can't fit into the clothes she normally wears.

Reto will be abandoning me to single parenthood quite a lot in the coming weeks. There's a practice run where he goes away for work for a night, and then the extended version where he spends a few weeks gallivanting around and playing with guns/bayonets in the army. Of course I won't have time to worry about my abandonment issues or looking after No on my own, because I'll be too busy packing up all our belongings so that we can move into our new flat a few days after R gets back. Great.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


I keep forgetting I have a baby. Not in a neglectful leaving-her-at-the-shops kinda way, but more like I wake up hearing strange noises and I wonder if we have a cat or something. This morning I went into the bathroom to find Reto changing N's nappy and I was so surprised to find that there was a baby in there and that I recognised her and that she was in fact my baby.

I may be sort of sleep deprived (actually I'm not, but I do sort of have a cold so let's blame that).

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Future

This is Reto's last week of leave, meaning that next week I will be left holding the baby all on my own. Which I'm sure will be fine, but I suspect I need a bit more practice at getting N in and out of the sling on my own, and I haven't even tried to use the pram yet (that's Reto's area), and it seems that N is not a fan at all of public transport. So that bodes poorly. We're going on an experimental train trip to Bern this afternoon to see how we all cope with that, and hopefully it will be less unpleasant than the last few bus trips. Thank goodness almost everything is within walking distance of our place.

UPDATE: N doesn't seem to have the same loathing for trains as she does for buses! Bern was an outrageous success, apart from the bit where the toilet with the nappy-changing thingie was locked and you had to ask someone for a key to open it (it was also the disabled toilet - great plan, people responsible for the toilet. Make the least-mobile people have to go back up and down the stairs and chase you morons around looking for a key). Plus we had some delightful Mövenpick icecreams and got almost sunburnt and saw one of the bear park bears swimming in the bear park pond. Which was charming.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Baby On Board

Various relatives visited us on the weekend, and some of them gave us a baby sign (as in those signs that you see so often in people's gardens in this country, with the name and birthday of recently-born babies, as well as a cute picture of a stork or a bunny or a cartoon character or something). Apparently the giving of these signs is generally the responsibility of the godparents, and since Noémie doesn't have godparents, we thought we'd be saved from getting a baby sign. Apparently not.

One one hand, it was very sweet of them to make this sign for us (not to mention to spell N's name correctly, which, as someone whose name is ALWAYS spelt wrong, at least in this country, is a favourite concern of mine. Shortly after she was born an SMS was sent (not by Reto or me but by a well-meaning relative who will remain anonymous here so as not to make me sound too complainy) in which N's name was spelt wrong and her weight was increased by 2kg, which caused most people to say "surely that can't be right!", but still, you never know when misinformation like this will stick), but on the other hand ....

it's really not something I want to stick in the window. I don't feel the need to advertise the birth of our baby to the world (apart from via this blog, apparently), and really, I've always found these signs kinda stoopid. Much like I would also never put a "baby on board" sign in my car (if I had a car, which I don't). Hmm.

I guess it's one reason to be glad that everyone thinks we live too far away to visit.

Saturday, 24 April 2010


In other exciting news - we're moving! We've been toying with the idea for a while now, and while I was in hospital Reto found an ad for a place that looked promising. The day N and I came home from hospital we all popped over and looked at the new flat, successfully charmed the landlord by being so charming (R and I) and newly-born (N), and a week or so later they offered it to us. And so we're moving, although we're not really sure when because everyone is very flexible with dates and the current tenant hasn't found anywhere new yet, apparently.

I'm not sure that the new place is a step up in terms of size, but it's definitely baby-friendly, we will have a biggish balcony, our own designated bit of garden, a gigantic park just over the back fence, an excellent view over the town and nearby mountains (and apparently on a clear day you can see Mont Blanc, which is pretty impressive), and all still within about 10 minutes walk of the train station. Plus it seems the only noise issues we'll have to learn to live with are birds chirping and people playing soccer in the park on Sundays (as opposed to all the relentlessly-bellringing churches we live within earshot of at the moment, and the restaurant downstairs where they like to sort (=throw in a big noisy pile) their glass bottles at 8am on Sunday morning). Aah.

Garbage Bags For Baby

We got a letter from the town the other day saying hello to N, offering us 20 free garbage bags (as in the official garbage collection ones that you normally have to pay for) and asking what religion she has and what her mother tongue is. Religion was easy enough, but the language question inspired Reto to pop down to the town hall (which is just around the corner, so it was no big deal) and ask. Apparently she isn't allowed to have two native languages, so R chose english. Which is fine with me.

We've decided to go for the one-parent-one-language approach with little N, which is to say, I speak english with her and Reto speaks swiss german. As well as that, R and I are making a sort of half-hearted effort to only speak french between ourselves, partly so that N is exposed to that language as well, partly so that english doesn't become the dominant household language, and partly so it's easier for R to remember to speak german with her. I say half-hearted because we never really remember to speak french, or if it gets too confusing we always swap back to english. I went to a talk a while ago on raising multilingual children, and it seems that consistency is the key, as well as a clear division between each language, so it seems we really should be making a much bigger effort.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Silly Things.

Apparently my pulse is ridiculously slow. A midwife measured it while I was half way through a fairly half-hearted contraction and it was 47. "Are you particularly sporty?" she asked, and I said no. As anyone who has ever met me will agree.

I`ve lost 10kg this week. Obviously a lot of that is baby and placenta and things, but .. well, it seems like there`s still a lot that`s unaccounted for. Still plenty more to go before I`m back where I started, though, so I`m not too concerned. In other news, it`s nice to have buttoned up my jeans for the first time in months.

In Australia (and in the UK, based on the pregnancy books I bought when I found out I was pregnant, which was when we were on holidays in Scotland last year), they tell you to put cabbage leaves in your bra if your breasts get too engorged and milk-packed and painful. Here, I was told to put quark on them.

In all my books they tell you various home-methods of inducing labour (like having sex or eating pineapple or drinking various herbal teas). In Switzerland the list of things is similar, but you can add "wash your windows" to the list. Aah the Swiss.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Edited Hospital Highlights

Fortunately little Noémie`s birth and hospital stay was all relatively undramatic and straightforward. The two long and annoying nights of so-called false labour that preceded her birth, where I was having half-hearted contractions for no good reason every 10 minutes for a good 8 hours a night (and obviously getting no sleep) were the worst bit. A bit of a contraction frenzy on Saturday at lunchtime sent us off to the hospital, but when we got there we were told it was still fake labour, nothing was happening and we should go home. So we did, making the choice to walk, which seems to have been the trigger because by the time we got back to our place the contractions had got going in a much more serious way. After a bath and a bit of dithering we headed back (via a taxi this time, not by bus or foot, so you can tell it was serious) and upon arrival were told that I was 8cm dilated and that she would probably be born within an hour. And she was. I didn`t even have time to grovel for drugs (although the thought occurred, at least before I knew it would all be over soon) or change my mind about having a water birth. So much for an average of 12 hours of labour; we hardly managed 4.

And so she was born, a terrifying shade of blue (which is apparently normal for babies born in baths) but in hearty good health. And then we loitered in hospital for 4 or 5 days, eating what I would describe as the Swissest of food (my mother-in-law could have been responsible for cooking all of it. Poor Reto was clearly tormented every time he was there at mealtimes when I would offer him some food and he had to insist I eat everything myself and regain my strength blah blah, when all he wanted to do was scoff the lot himself) and being annoyed by my roommate (not Noémie!), a woman who had constant visitors, made constant phonecalls and who ate more loudly than you could possibly believe. Fortunately we shared no common language, so at least I was spared having to make small talk with her.

And now we`re home again, where the roommate is much more to my taste and there is far less pasta served as a side dish. And everything`s going really well.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Diary of a Baby

Saturday: Be born
Sunday: Loll around
Monday: Loll around
Tuesday: Have a bath and loll around
Wednesday: Have a pleasant morning of lolling completely ruined by being forced to leave hospital, discover a new home, go on a brief shopping trip, make a first foray into the world of real estate (a new apartment to live in? fingers crossed/thumbs pressed, because the Australian/Swiss baby has to make both gestures if they want good luck), catch 3 buses and have a major tanty on the last one. Hopefully be left exhausted for a good night's sleep.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


Gah. My doctor said to me at our last appointment (a few weeks ago) "the baby could be born any minute! Within the next 10 days, I would say, but maybe I'll see you at the hospital this weekend!" and so I had a bit of a panic and then assumed that he wasn't just making stuff up and that the baby probably would arrive sooner than later, and so I have spent the last 2 weeks sitting around and waiting... and waiting..

And still no baby. It's starting to look as though I may be pregnant FOREVER. It's all getting a bit annoying.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Pregnancy Report

I'm sure there are plenty of other things I could talk about, like how adorable the furry new bear babies in Bern are (now that the weather is nicer and they've come out of their cave to frolic clumsily and fall down hills and attack each other in an incompetently adorable way), or how nice it is now that it's not completely freezing every day (even though everything still looks pretty grey and grim and dead). But I'm not going to.

Every time I want to open a tin (that doesn't have a ring pull thing on it, which is most of the tins in my life) I have to get Reto to do it for me. Our tin opener is in a Swiss army knife (an actual one that the Swiss army gave to Reto, funnily enough) and apparently my vampire baby has leached me of sufficient fingernail strength that I would now starve if I was forced to exist on a diet of nothing but tinned corn and chickpeas. Or if I didn't have Reto to open tins for me. Or if I didn't have the means to go and buy a tin opener that I can use.

I almost fainted the other weekend. Sitting down outside in the fresh air made me feel better again, but unfortunately, a few days later at an antenatal class where we were a much larger group than normal, being given a talk by a gynaecologist and an anaesthetist, I started to feel similarly weak and fainty. I went outside and felt better again after a few minutes on the balcony, but then the second time it happened that evening everyone paid a bit more attention to me coming and going, and all of a sudden I had a midwife and the gynaecologist fussing over me in a riot of different languages (which was kind of confusing). They made me come and have my blood pressure checked after the talk was over, found it to be surprisingly high and had a bit of a panic. They insisted I go and see my doctor the next day and have everything checked, so I did, and I was fine. Avoiding poorly ventilated, overly heated rooms seems to be the solution, which should be easy but the Swiss seem to like nothing more that heating their rooms too much and never opening the windows.

People stare at me a lot. It seems to be a common complaint of non-Swiss people living here that the Swiss have an enthusiasm for staring for no apparent reason, something I've never really noticed apart from during the last few weeks. My tummy is really not that big by pregnancy standards (it's far more annoying how often people goggle sceptically at me when I tell them I only have a few weeks to go, as though they think I am lying or deluded or have a pillow shoved down my top and am not pregnant at all, or they start grilling me on my eating habits and whether Reto is a midget or something), but in the last few weeks I have been openly stared and pointed at by squillions of passers-by. One person even stopped as we were passing him and turned to gawk at my stomach. I would wonder if I was being paranoid and if people were just looking in my general direction, but the pointing is really pretty unmistakeable.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Antenatal Classes

Things I discovered at my first antenatal class last night:

Everything should be fine in french. I already suspected this, but it's nice to have some confirmation.
Everyone else's tummy is waaaay bigger than mine. Most notably (obviously) the woman who has started classes even further along in her pregnancy than us and is due in about a month, but even the women who are 2 months behind me.
The midwife that I had an appointment with at the hospital a few weeks ago (so she could get all my medical details and talk to me about my pregnancy/birth/baby-worries) may have thought I was lying when I said I'm not particularly worried about anything. I'm actually not and my pregnancy continues to breeze along without causing me much trouble at all, but all the other women in the class seemed to have terrible stories about how hard it is on them physically and how they're not sleeping, exhausted, having a bad time at work or with their doctor, blahblahblah. I had nothing to add to that part of the conversation.
The six classes are going to drag on forever. We were there for 2 and a half hours last night!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Suburban Mystery

Something funny is going on with our letter box. When we moved in we made a little sign with our names on it and stuck it on the letterbox, along with a "no junk mail" sign. I don't really remember what happened with the first name tag, but it fell off after about a year and a half and we made another one to replace it. About a month after we put it up, someone peeled off the second name tag (all these signs are paper stuck on with sticky tape) and re-stuck it onto the top left corner of the letter box. The sticky tape clearly didn't appreciate being made to unstick and restick, but it clung pathetically there for some number of months and we didn't give it much thought. At the same time as the second tag was moved, our "no junk mail" sign (which was in german) was taken away and replaced with a french one, as were most of the other non-matching junk mail stickers on our neighbours' letterboxes.

The other week we got no mail. Eventually we realised that this was because the name tag had fallen off the letter box (and there are no apartment numbers here - if your name isn't on the letter box you don't get any mail) so we made another tag and stuck it on. Two days later we saw that someone had unstuck the third name tag and restuck it in the top left corner again. There are 6 letter boxes for our building, and of those 5 have their name tags in the top left corner, and 4 have matching "no junk mail" stickers (another one has an unmatching one and the last has none). No one has ever said anything to us about the importance of name tag placement.

Who is moving our stickers? And why? I am extremely sceptical that it would be our landlords, because they're not really concerned with anything much (I'm sure that if the appearance of the letter boxes was at the forefront of their daily thoughts, they wouldn't have painted them hideous lime green nor let us make crappy paper-and-sticky-tape name tags instead of buying those matching metal name plates that seem to be the norm here. Plus maybe they'd be more concerned about fixing our crumbling walls and they might have made us pay a bond when we moved in. I really like their lack of concern). Is it the people from the post office? Does the misalignment of our name tag cause them so much difficulty in their work? Is it so hard (in this bilingual canton) to read "no junk mail" in german as well as in french? And why didn't whoever moved our name tag move the one remaining misaligned name tag on our building's collection of letter boxes as well?


Saturday, 13 February 2010

No Choice

It never really occurred to me that perhaps partners don't attend births these days. I've never really talked about it with anyone of my own age (or with anyone at all), so who knows if I'm living in some sort of strange fairytale land or not, but I've always assumed that Reto will be there when our unborn baby is born. And so he will be, there's no question about that. People keep asking him, though, and I've noticed that his response is becoming ever more hesitant.

"You are going to be there with me in hospital when the baby is born, you know" I said to him one day upon noticing his apparent unenthusiasm.
"Yeah, I know"
"So what's with all the hesitation? You don't want to come?"
"Erm .. well.."
"I don't care. I don't really want to be there either, but if I have to you have to too, so there"
"My opinion on it all is that it doesn't really matter what I want, I'm just going to do what you want me to do"

So that's that all clarified then, and in the best way possible I suspect.

Friday, 12 February 2010


Reto went crazy at a book sale the other day and came home with a huge collection of crappy books that no one else wanted to give a home to. I'm reading one of them at the moment, Microtrends, about small but significant behaviour patterns (in the USA) that one might be surprised at. One of these is the prevalence of people who describe themselves as slobs (and "America has always fancied itself a country that values neatness", apparently) which is something like 10% of the population. According to their statistics,
"Fewer than 1 in 4 make their beds as part of a daily routine. More than 1 in 3 will leave their dishes in the sink more than a day. About 15% will even leave dirty dishes in their den, living room, or bedroom longer than a day. When they get undressed at night, almost 4 in 10 drop their clothes on the floor. One in 3 lets kitchen countertop clutter go uncleaned for more
than a week, if not indefinitely."

Hmm. So I guess that puts Reto and I, as well as practically everyone I know, firmly in Slobville. The big difference being that I don't actually consider myself a slob.

Friday, 29 January 2010


While I've spent most of this week flailing about and being sick as a dog (well, I've had a cold), the dogs we saw last weekend were adorable and not showing any outward signs of illness.
(not sick)
We went to a cold mountainy town (Kandersteg) and watched some dog sled races, and it was really surprisingly fun. I don't know anything about dogs, but they all seemed to be having a nice time and were going COMPLETELY MENTAL jumping around and straining at their harnesses and making a racket while awaiting their turn to go hooning off around the track.(some dogs were hooning less than others. Admittedly this was uphill, and it was freezing in the shade, and teams of less than about 6 dogs really seemed a lot more knackered by the end, but yes, that is the sled person running along behind, and yes, that dog on the right looks like he might be wondering about a shortcut)
Particular marks for adorableness go to the samoyeds (for being so furry),
(not samoyeds, because I figured they were already overrepresented in the photos below)

to the dogs in boots, to all the dogs that turned all cute and puppyish while gawky spectators gave them a pat (some of these dogs looked like they'd prefer to bite their own legs off than submit to the indignity of being patted, but I didn't see one that maintained its steely-eyed glareyness in the face of actual affection), and, most of all, to this dog in goggles, who seemed to be the favourite of all the spectators.Special mention also goes to the person who got so keen about taking photos that he kinda went onto the track and then got run into by one of the teams of dogs. Stoopid.
(not this person. It wasn't Reto either, by the way. Or me)

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Enjoying The Dread

The other day we sprayed our squeaky bathroom door hinges (and front door hinges, although they were much less squeaky than the bathroom ones) with some WD-40 and now they are silent. My quality of life has improved enormously. The squeak had been getting worse for the last few months, and reached a frenzy of Psycho-ish, high-pitched, fingernail-down-a-blackboardyness last week that finally drove us to action.

Nowadays, when I am about to open the bathroom door I am usually swept up by a sense of dread ("nooo, not the noise!"), and the subsequent happiness I feel at not hearing the squeal is out of all proportion. It really makes my day, which is especially nice since trips to the toilet are becoming ever more frequent.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Bad Cheese

Having been reasonably diligent for the last 6 and a half months at avoiding booze and rare meat and oysters and all the other yummy things they tell you to avoid when you're pregnant, today as I was eating a piece of emmental cheese I happened to look at the packet and notice it was made from raw milk (which is another thing on the list of foods to avoid). "Oops", I thought, then cut myself a piece of gruyère. And as I was eating it, I noticed it is also made from raw milk. Hmm. I would say I've eaten these two cheeses (as in these particular brands of them) on average every single day that I've been pregnant (clearly that's an exaggeration, but only because I spent some time out of the country).

That being said, Reto's just done a bit of research and found that apparently hard cheeses are fine even if they are made from raw milk.

Guessing Game

Reto stopped at a bakery and bought some bread on the way home last night. He also brought me a present.

Me: Ooh, is it from the bakery?
Him: Yes
Is it bread?
Is it cake?
Is it a biscuit?
Is it a pastry?
Is it fruity?
Is it custardy?
Is it chocolatey?
Is it savoury?
Is it really from the bakery?
Is it ...

[hours later]
Is it an incomprehensibly Swiss occasion-specific specialty that I will never ever guess?
Um .. no
Did you really get me a present from the bakery?

And eventually I gave up. Apparently the correct guess would have been "is it something like a madeleine but in the shape of a bear?". Which I would say actually counts as a cake.

Saturday, 16 January 2010


I'm often concerned that I won't recognise Reto when I have arranged to meet him somewhere crowded, and instead of looking for his face I look for the clothes he's wearing or for the bag he has carried pretty much every day for the last 7 years. Clearly this is ridiculous and obviously I am pretty familiar with what he looks like, but I remember being worried the first time he came to Australia that I wouldn't recognise him at the airport (I hadn't seen him for 6 months or so) and my concern doesn't seem to have abated much since then.


Yesterday we went out and bought Reto a new bag for Christmas. I had bought him a different new bag for Christmas, after he had spent forever going on about how his old bag was on its last legs and he needed a new one. He decided he didn't like the bag I gave him (fair enough; it was deceptively small and not super terrific) but it wasn't a complete loss because it provided the impetus to end the complaining and actually go and buy a new one. And so we did, and although the new bag is the same make and brand as the old bag (Freitag. Apparently I'm not Swiss enough to understand why everyone here loves them so much) it's a different colour and he looks completely different carrying it than he looked with the old one.


I can't button up my normal winter coat any more. This problem was clearly getting closer and closer before our Christmassy sojourn in Australia, and now that we've got back and it's so freezing all the time I've been forced to retire the old green one (which I've been wearing constantly for the last 2 and a half winters) and embrace a less charming but more spacious brown one that I found in the cupboard. Yesterday as we were walking through a crowded train station, Reto and I were slightly separated (by no more than a metre) by people walking in the other direction. The crowd thinned and I was moving back over towards Reto when I noticed him looking distractedly out past me into the crowd. Had he seen someone he knew? No, he was looking for me. He didn't recognise me because I wasn't wearing my green coat. This (I hope) also explains why I saw him making a move to hold the hand of a stranger the other day during a similar crowd-separation situation.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Pregnancy - A Bit Dull

I would write an exciting pregnancy update post, but it's just not that exciting. Apart from having made christmas a bit sad (what with all the booze and oysters and things on offer that I mostly valiantly said no to) and made my legs swell up like elephant legs on the flights to and from Australia (really, you should have seen my knees! I might have anticipated swollen ankles and feet, but my knees! My calves! My thighs! Fortunately everything was back to normal after a nice night of lying down) there hasn't been that much going on. I have put on 11kg or so, which seems like more than I should have gained at this stage (28 weeks), but last night I was told by a gaggle of semi-strangers that I'm looking "tiny" (which I don't think I've ever been called before in any context. And one of them may have implied that she didn't really believe that I am pregnant, or possibly that I am as pregnant as I am), and most of the time I am still wearing my normal non-pregnant clothes (although I have retired my tighter jeans and tshirts).

All the necessary shopping is also starting to loom a bit dauntingly. I'm not a big fan of shopping at the best of times, and the fact that this baby shopping requires me to do research into what I need (and where I can buy it) is incredibly off-putting. As is the fact that it's too cold to rustle up much enthusiasm for going outside to do things I don't want to do. I had planned to do some baby-stuff research in Australia, where it would be easy to pump shop assistants for information, but my unenthusiasm meant I didn't get around to anything more than buying a baby sling and a few adorably cute clothes (as well as being given some other adorably cute clothes by my mother). Nappies are my main torment at the moment.
On the less complainy side, though, the idea of having a little person is pretty exciting, and feeling her rolling about and doing whatever it is she's doing in there is really lovely, and we bought her a completely excellent toy wombat a while ago. And a mobile with whales on it. And not having spent the last 6 months vomiting or being exhausted or having haemorrhoids or any of that stuff is probably a fairly good thing.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

So Furry

Adorably cute kangaroos, as seen from my parents' garden.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Getting Things Done

Jet lag makes us efficient.

Which isn't actually true at all, but it does mean that we had woken up, lounged around in bed, had a leisurely breakfast, called my parents, been indecisive about what to do today, done some googling and made a decision, organised ourselves, left the house and caught a bus by 8am (that was after waking up at 4am, so really it took us ages). We went to a thermal pool in Charmey, a nearby-ish town, and it was great. We arrived in time to have a coffee and a croissant (normally I loathe croissants and only eat them if I'm starving but this one was actually ... edible. If not slightly enjoyable) before the pool even opened and still be practically the first ones there. Unusually, the entry price (which was relatively cheap) included all the novelty pools (by which I mean saunas in various styles and temperatures, and a coldcoldcold pool and a foot bath too, I think, none of which I used because apparently these things are verboten during pregnancy. Well, not the foot bath but the rest of it). The main pools (one indoor, one outdoor) had a few of the bubbly/jetty things that are always fun at a thermal pool place, but not so many that the whole thing would be a magnet for little kids who like to frolic mindlessly and kick you as they don't watch where they're going. There were pretty mountains around to look at. The walls and floors were all covered in really nice green mosaic-y tiles. On the down side, we caught a very inconvenient bus to get home again and spent an hour and a half following some tortuous route through the smaller towns of canton Fribourg, but I guess you can't win them all.

And then we had a fondue as a very early dinner, and now I'm wondering how early I can possibly go to bed. I suppose I should try to stay awake and get rid of the jet lag, but bed seems very enticing.

Saturday, 9 January 2010


Yesterday I was worrying about getting sunburnt at the beach and the dilemma of having to potentially pack wet swimmers in my suitcase for the flight back to Switzerland (you'll all be pleased to know they dried in about 2 seconds after I hung them on the line), today I struggled not to fall over in the snow slush on the way home from the train station with my giganto suitcase and in my summery shoes. Sigh.

In other news, when we were going through the metal detectors in Dubai, one of the staff asked me "are you pregnant?". I said yes, and she directed me around the side of the machines and over to some woman who took me into a cubicle and frisked me (in lieu of being metal detected). I think most options are better than being frisked (including those nudie scanners that are causing such controversy lately), but this was the first I've heard of avoiding metal detectors during pregnancy. Which is possibly not ideal, since I've gone through at least 4 of them in the last few weeks.