Posts Tagged ‘switzerland’

Aude enjoying a summer BBQ

Aude getting ready to enjoy a spring BBQ


Matt cooking ribs on the BBQ

Neil complained the other day that there were more pictures of the cats on my blog than Aude (I notice he didn’t mention anything about there not being enough pictures of me on the blog, but I’ve chalked this up as an oversight on his part and have included one of myself as well).  It’s only fitting, then, that I dedicate this post to him.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that was definitely the case today.  I bought a few racks of ribs to throw on the BBQ, neglecting to check in advance whether I had any barbecue sauce in the fridge.  Sure enough, the cupboard was bare, and this being Sunday, all of the shops were closed.  Two trips to the local petrol stations yielded plenty of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, but no barbecue sauce.  So I had no choice but to make my own.

Fifteen minutes of Googling later, I had a recipe that I could assemble with the ingredients in the house and a little creativity.  Ketchup, tomato paste, garlic, onions, paprika, chilli, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cider vinegar, brown sugar and bourbon, plus a splash of Worchester sauce, a dollop of mustard and a little soy sauce all came together to make an improvised BBQ sauce that turned out to be great.

All in all, a pretty good Sunday.  We had a nice walk through the forest behind our house this afternoon, discovering a new castle (how often does that happen?) and finding a great vantage point to survey our whole village.  Five loads of laundry.  Lunch and dinner on the balcony. 

What more do you need on a weekend but that?

Men's and Women's hiking boots

The seasons are changing, and the last of the winter snows seem to be behind us.  Actually, they were behind us months ago.  We had an incredibly snowy November and December, then almost nothing since.

The skis have gone back into storage, and after 18 months here, I’ve finally succumbed to Swiss peer pressure and bought myself a pair of hiking boots.  No self-respecting Swiss person would be caught dead doing something without the right equipment for the job, and I got tired of getting disapproving looks from all the passers-by as we walked in the woods behind our house.  Even the deer shook their heads and cross the path, lest they be mistaken as being part of our hiking party.

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to update my blog, partly due to a heavy travel schedule at the end of the year and partly due to a much busier work life with my new role.  I have lots of photos that I need to get edited and added to the blog, and plenty of dialogue to accompany it, but for now a short update will have to do.

After a beautiful white Christmas with my parents here in Basel, I flew almost immediately after New Years to Hyderabad and Mumbai for a series of meetings.  Then it was over to New Jersey for a set of meetings, where heavy snows meant I got stuck on the runway at Newark airport for seven hours.  I arrived home a day late, just in time to take a quick shower and head out the door for a week’s skiing in Chamonix.

Skiing isn’t really the best way to describe what we did, because the slopes were mostly covered with ice.  There hadn’t been any new snow since the end of December, and it was nearly February when we went.

Back from Chamonix, a quick overnight in Munich and then over to Newark again for more meetings.  I managed to squeeze in a quick visit with my parents in Washington and do a little shopping.

Our thoughts now are turning towards vacation – we’re off to Paris and the north of France to visit with friends and family next weekend, and a week after that we’re off for two weeks to Singapore and Vietnam.  Can’t wait!

Woman with pet pig

The Swiss have a well-deserved reputation for being a nation of quiet, conventional, conservative conformists.  And by-and-large, they live up to this reputation.  They’re good neighbours, have 2.4 well-behaved children, a dog that never barks, and drive a silver Audi.  You could be forgiven for assuming that they’re all cloned at birth.

Until you begin to dig a little deeper.  Then you notice the (otherwise very conservative) women with hair died a shocking shade of pink, purple, or blue. 

Or some crazy lady with a pet pig, walking through the centre of our village.


Sometimes everything just goes right. 

For months, we’d been planning for my parents to come over and spend Christmas with us in our place in Switzerland.  I booked their flights on Lufthansa, connecting in Frankfurt and then onto Basel.

About three weeks before they were supposed to fly, I got a phone call from Lufthansa telling me their initial flight had been cancelled and that they’d been reaccomodated on a flight via Munich.  What a saving grace that ended up being.  Flights across Europe were cancelled due to the heavy snowfalls, and Frankfurt airport ground to a standstill, but Munich was open and operating as per normal.  My parents managed to arrive in Basel about 15 minutes behind schedule, but otherwise without incident.

We brought them back to the house and a week of gluttony began!  On the 23rd, the snow arrived and it continued snowing until Christmas day, about 8” in total and the first white Christmas in Basel for many, many years.  It was the perfect setting for a traditional Swiss Christmas dinner – roast goose, spaetzle, and red cabbage.

The next morning, the sun came out and it was a spectacular day for walking, so that’s what we did, before heading off for two days in Germany to visit old family friends.

And then it was time to send them home again, this time via Frankfurt.  While the airports in the north of Europe were all buried in snow, Frankfurt was open again as the snow had melted off.  They got back home right on schedule. 

I should have such luck every time I fly!

After being stuck in the house for a week, a combination of the stores being closed for the holidays and then miserable, rainy weather after they reopened, we finally emerged today to go downtown to walk around the city centre, do a little shopping, and see the decorations before they take them down later this week.

Basel Rathaus at Christmas

Basel Rathaus at Christmas

Matthew at Marktplatz

Matthew at Marktplatz

Aude at Marktplatz

Aude at Marktplatz

Entrance to Marktplatz

The entrance to Marktplatz

Street scene

Christmas lights

Street scene

Street scene

Fountain with Christmas lights

Fountain with Christmas lights

Christmas lights at the Hotel Basel

Christmas lights at the Hotel Basel

Christmas tree at the Hotel Basel

Christmas tree at the Hotel Basel

Lights on tree

A creative use of bottles to decorate the tree outside a bar

Our first fondue in Switzerland! (Well, the first one we did at home. We’ve had a few in restaurants…)

Eating fondue