Sunday, March 26, 2006
I then decided to start cleaning up our garden (back yard) short before noon. Yup, the whole 20 sq. meters of it (okay, go ahead. Laugh, but this is Switzerland!) After raking for about 30 minutes I thought: "I can't stand this heat!". We must have had about 24°C (75°F). So I changed from my sweatshirt and jogging pants to shorts and a T-Shirt. Orange joined me and we cleaned-up a bit more. Our oleander is out again and I just can't wait to get the bougainvillea out too! Everything just seems to start blooming around us today. I just can't get enough of it.
It's now short before 7pm and I've been on the terrasse all day long. I even filled out my income tax forms while enjoying the sunshine. Thank goodness for wireless connections! As I write, I can hear and see children playing and giggling on the playgound in front of me. They're enjoying this beatiful weather as much as I am. And Dale? He's been wandering outdoors all day, coming up to us for a cuddle and to roll himself on the warm terrasse and off he was again. For all I care, it can stay like this for a while.
Here's a pcture I took from our home office balcony about half an hour ago.
We'll all be sleeping very well tonight, I suspect. Wishing you all a great week and hopefully, the beautiful weather to go with it!
Sunday, March 19, 2006
|You Are Teal Green|
Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.
While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.
Your warm personality nicely counteracts and strange habits you may have.
Somewhere back in January, we received an invitation for dinner at TBF’s. Unlike us, they plan these events a long time in advance. You’ll understand why later as you read.
Our day started very early (like 6:30 am!!) because we had to go into town to pick up a few things and OrangeX had the glorious idea of getting an appointment to get his hair cut at freaking 8 am! I need time and a couple of coffees to wake up and get ready. Anyway, we found everything we needed: a bag for my brand new laptop (yeah!), a laser mouse (mouse pads drive me crazy), a graphic pen tablet for - of course – graphic work and a few presents for our hosts that evening. After doing a few groceries, I cleaned the garden table, sat outside in the sun and started installing my newly acquired mouse and tablet.
Knowing that it might get late, I decided to take a 20 minute power-nappy late in the afternoon (and was glad I did so). We called a taxi (better safe than sorry) and arrived at the TBF residence short after 7pm. Charlotte, Mrs. TBF’s french teacher and also a guest that evening, had gotten there short before us. We were welcomed with a Kir royal and soon after that, the last two guests, Chris and Hanspeter, arrived. It’s nice to meet new people, especially because TBF’s always manage to bring together a group that fits well. We chatted a while and were then called to be seated at a perfectly set table.
The Big Finn’s are not only wonderful hosts, but also excellent cooks. We were treated to following (Mrs. TBF: Please correct me if needed):
- a plate of three different cold amuse-bouches: fresh fig wrapped in parma ham, a chilled green pea soup with crabfish and a lentil salad delicately seasoned with truffle oil
- a delicious warm pie filled with walnuts, goat’s cheese and caramelised endives served with greens (are you drooling, too?)
- Pasta with a creamy crab meat sauce and freshly grated parmesan
- Coquelet (or cornish hen) with young season vegetable
- Young and old pecorino cheese with a touch of honey served with pear bread
- Mrs. TBF’s yummy prune pie
- Chocolates and coffee
Now is THAT a menu, or what?!! And the wines that accompanied this scrumptious meal (you must all be jealous by now) were a very nice Chilean white with the first 3 courses, a red wine from Washington with the main course (sorry,but I can’t remember the names), and finally an Amarone (my personal favorite wine). Now you surely understand why the TBF’s start planning early. We haven’t eaten so well (or so much) in ages!
We ended up all feeling pretty good (the wines maybe??), chatting away, comparing feet (yup, that’s right) and joking around until we realized that it was already 4 am. As usual, OrangeX and I were the last to leave. We called a taxi, drove home and went (as straight as possible) to bed. We got up at 10:30 this morning feeling a bit tired still, but going over the wonderful meal in our minds again and still laughing at the fun evening at TBF’s. Thank you so much! Next time will be our turn.
Pictures will follow as soon as Blogger will let me. Hopefully it won't take all evening! *Sigh*
***UPDATE*** THE PICTURES ARE HERE***
OrangeX is really enjoying the company.
... And so is King (Charlotte and I took good care of him)
Hanspeter and Chris relaxing after dinner
It's getting late...
Who, us?? Never!
Charlotte demonstrated how to prove to the cops that you are still capable of driving. Really??!!
And the finale, just before we left.
We'd have much more, but I don't want to overload blogger ;-)
Till next time.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Sunday, March 12, 2006
After waking up at 8.30 on Saturday morning CS felt pretty much okay so we had our breakfast and left for Lucerne. We arrived in Lucerne just after noon, parked in the parking garage at the KKL (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Lucerne) and walked up to Station Square.
The "Kultur- und Kongresszentrum"
When we got out of the parking we felt the cold wind as KKL is located directly at the Vierwaldstädtersee. After freezing our butts of more a moment, while overlooking the Vierwaldstädtersee, we walked in the direction of the “Kapell-Brücke” which is the oldest wooden bridge in Europe. As a result of an accident with fireworks the bridge burnt down for the larger part in 1993 after which the bridge had to be rebuilt.
The "Kapell-Brücke" and its water tower
We crossed the bridge to the other side of the river and walked along the waterfront for a while. As we were getting pretty cold we decided to go into one of the many restaurants along the riverside to warm up a bit. After a nice lunch we were warm enough again to resist cold and snow/rain. We walked through the old city centre admiring the beautiful paintings on the facades of the buildings.
In spite of the cold and the rain and snow, coming down regularly, we enjoyed our visit to Lucerne. We walked through the small streets, crossed several bridges and simply took in the beauty of the city.
I was happy CS felt a lot better again which gave us the possibility to go out for dinner in Basel in the evening. I booked a table at the Café Des Art's, a lively bar/restaurant where you can enjoy great food, from a rather small but excellent card, and listen to live music every day of the week.
We were lucky to have booked a table as it turned out Des Art's had a large group over for dinner. After we ordered our starters and main courses we tried taking our group picture via the mirrors on the ceiling. Not an easy job as it turned out. Harry finally succeeded in taking the best picture but we forgot to download it from his camera before they left this afternoon. Dinner was great as usual (look at the great dishes) and we ate and drank the evening away.
Of course the guys didn’t forget to give ladies the attention they deserve. After all, they mean everything to the both of us.
After we were all happily fed we paid the bill and left. We took the tram back home from Barfusserplatz and had a tram ride we will probably never forget. We started talking nonsense and at a certain moment we couldn’t stop laughing. We were laughing tears and ended up with muscle aches in our jaws, eyes and abdominals. Some people in the tram were affected by our laughing and laughed with us (not having the slightest idea they were part of the reason we were laughing, I know it's a bit mean). After we got out at our stop, the fresh air helped us to get a grip on ourselves again, which was a necessity otherwise I would have probably peed in my pants from laughing. We had an absolutely fabulous day and a great evening, but as always weekends pass by so fast…
On Sunday morning we took it easy, enjoyed our breakfast together and then, unfortunately, we had to drive Harry and Brenda to the airport again. Neither of them felt like leaving and Brenda even hoped for a lot of snow which could probably cause the cancellation of the flight back. Her wish almost came through, but the snow started falling only shortly before the plane took off. Oh well, we have plenty of our cosy gatherings ahead of us. Either in Holland or Switzerland or wherever in the future…
We took a quick peek inside and were impressed by the enormous amount of pipes of the organ. Okay, enough religion for the day, so we left the cathedral (but not before lighting a candle for my grandmother) and walked towards the shopping area. Before starting any serious shopping, we dropped into a cosy café/restaurant for a coffee and decided to go for the specialty of Den Bosch: “Bosche bollen”. A “Bosche bol” is a pastry made from a light dough filled with delicious light whipped cream and to finish it off, it’s covered with a layer of dark chocolate all around (see picture).
We all had this yummy piece of pastry and all enjoyed it in our own way. So did Brenda….
After the coffee break we were ready for the shopping battle of the day. Watch out stores, here we come!! While shopping we enjoyed the great atmosphere of Den Bosch. It offers a wonderful friendly ambiance. We went in and out of shops during a few hours and came out with several new things. Shopping makes hungry, so we stopped at a “Febo”, one of the many snackbars you’ll find all over Holland. We enjoyed our junk food lunch and continued our shopping tour afterwards. At a certain moment, we arrived at a square where a big band was playing their music loudly (we thought we could escape the noise of the Basler Fasnacht!). A part of the square apparently was shut closed after shopping hours with big metal fences. While waiting for Jaap & Patricia, who were looking for birthday presents, we waited at those huge gates. It gave me the feeling of a huge prison (see picture).
Unfortunately, the stores closed at 17.00 hrs, so time put an end to our shopping mood. We strolled back in the direction of the shuttle service and checked for the time the last bus would drive to the Transferium. Harry, our top-athlete of the day, sprinted to check the schedule and informed us the last bus would leave in a little over an hour. Great! This gave us time to go into one of the bars to sit down for a moment and have a drink before going back.
We enjoyed a nice drink, or two in a cosy bar and then made our way to the shuttle. Bye-bye Den Bosch, see you next time!
Left to right: OrangeX, Jaap, Brenda, Patrica, CS
We drove back to Nieuwegein, about half an hours drive, arrived at Patricia’s place, kicked off our shoes and sat down for the next drink. Jaap & Patricia had planned to have a cosy dinner at home and did the shopping the day before already. The menu stated “stone-grilling”. Jaap, Harry and I had the pleasure of preparing the sauces, cutting the meats and veggies and basically had a fun time in the kitchen. Harry and I are Bacardi junkies and we realised earlier we would have to get some as the stocks at Patricia’s were running out. What a pity, we had forgotten to buy some and there was no evening store selling Bacardi in the direct area. Luckily Harry & Brenda brought a little something for CS and (most of all) for me as they were coming over to Switzerland the weekend after. Surprise! Harry bought a bit of Bacardi for us to bring back home. A full sized 3-liter bottle! Now we were sure not to run out of it this evening, but it takes skill and concentration to mix the drinks….
Dinner was in one word “gezellig”. There are somewhwt equivalents to this word (German: Gesellig) but it never reaches the meaning and uses in Dutch. We sat down at the table, preparing our own food, grilling on the stone, chatting, laughing and taking funny pictures. When the bunch is together, there is no time to get bored. The pictures say it all….
What a "small" bottle of Bacardi can do...
Friends will be friends...
Harry & Brenda drove home around midnight and we enjoyed a last drink before going to bed. The next morning, we got up around 10.30 and really took our time to get ready for the drive back to Switzerland. Before leaving, we checked the internet to see which weather conditions we could expect as snow and storms had terrorized the southern part of Germany and larger parts of Austria and Switzerland. The forecast showed us we had nothing to fear, so no worries. We decided to make a quick stop in Utrecht before driving back, but it was a shopping Sunday in Utrecht. The city was overfilled, parking garages loaded with cars, so we decided to turn around and leave for home. The weather was great, traffic was smooth and 5 hours later we crossed the border in Basel. That’s when we got the biggest surprise of the weekend. Half a meter of snow in the area we live in! Big packs of white guck everywhere we looked. Trees had fallen over and we had to fight our way to the front door. The stairs going down to the front door had vanished under a thick layer of snow, so the steps were completely invisible. Once we got in our “son” welcomed us with loud meowing. Yes Dale, we’re back and all yours for the rest of the evening…
Monday, March 06, 2006
Orange-X and I then made our way to Ede, where he (Orange) had to get some documents, stopped by his old office and dropped in to say hello to his old colleagues, then went off for other document requests. After that, we off to Amsterdam to get Orange's birth certificate – Ahhh! I see. You guys must be getting curious by now... ;-) We stopped at one of the brown cafe's for a typical Dutch lunch, close to one of the oldest markets in Amsterdam: the Albert Cuyp, named after the Dutch painter who was known for his paintings of landscapes. Doesn't that look yummy??
After getting his birth certificate (took about 15 minutes including waiting time), we drove to Orange’s Ex (I/she finally go t to meet her/me in person) to pick up some photos of their daughter (itchin’ to ask, already?? –Hehe.) Anyway, we left for Orange’s parents for dinner where we were also to meet my lovely sis and bro-in-laws. Here’s a picture of his little sister.
OrangeX is already 1.88 meters (6”2’) and Brenda is about 1.85 meters (6“). And Harry, her husband, is approx. 1.93 meters (6” and 3.3 inches). Now that’s what I call a BIG family and I adore them all. I’m the shortest by far with only 5”5 (165 cm). Ma cooked a wonderful dinner for us. I’m not used to anything else wither her. She’s just divine!
Pa wasn’t feeling very well, so he went to bed early. He’s been fighting with some kind of lung disease where that lung capacity shrinks and a cold to go with it. He was too “proud” to do his exercises to expand the lungs and get more volume in there, but a couple of weeks ago, he got a real scare, so he’s doing them for now. I just hope he continues. He’s a bit fragile at the moment and it makes me sad and helpless to see him like this, but I think it was only that evening.
Here are a couple of extra pictures. meet the family: Harry and Ma, and Ma and Pa.
We left around 9 pm and drove back to Patricia’s. It was a very ”gezellig”** evening and we decided to hit the sack a bit earlier to cope with the next day. I’ll let Orange finish that part in Den Bosch. So, more to come.
**Gezellig can be all of the following. There is no equivalent in any other language I know: Homey, intimate, good company, enjoying the time chatting & eating & drinking with friends, enjoying time on your own in the tub with a glass of wine, etc. Get my drift??
Right. So let’s scroll back to Saturday, February 26th where we invited a work colleague to have dinner with us. Her daughter was on skiing holidays with her ex, so what better time to get together. She was at our place around 7 pm and we started chatting about this and that, movies (we ended up lending her about 4 DVD’s out of our +/- 250 DVD collection) while enjoying a drink and a few snacks. We had prepared a fondue chinoise for dinner accompanied by lots of veggies and self-made curry-banana, cocktail and Orange’s unbeatable garlic sauce! We chatted and ate and chatted and ate until we realized that we were 1) full and about to burst and 2) we had totally forgotten to take pictures. BUT, we thought about it just in time to show you the slaughter effect! Berit even tried to get the last piece. As you can see, we did not want to stand in her way (had another pict, but unfortuntely, I blurred Berit :-( Sorry.)
While having dinner, of course Dale had to beg a little for some fresh meat (pork, beef and ostrich). Okay, he did get a few pieces, but he also got his favourite “desert”, namely, his multi-vitamin paste (commonly called “The Tube”).
We had a fun evening and all of a sudden it was almost 1 am, and Berit decided to leave. And at least Berit got to take a good chunk of chocolate cake home for the coming days. I hope we can do that again soon. It was "gezellig". (read more about this word in my next post ;-))
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Tomorrow around 3 p.m., we'll be off for Holland. I'm sorry I didn't have time to post, but I did make sure to visit and comment on most of my favorite blogs. This week has just been crazy and I've been feeling as if I'd be getting something, but my immune system is fighting against it and taking my energy. Guess these things happen.
I'll be posting last weekend's fondue chinoise with a work colleague as well as the upcoming weekend in Utrecht (NL) upon our return.
Hope you are all well and send you all big cyber hugs.
CanadianSwiss & OrangeX