Done

For the last – I don’t know, decade? – I have kept seasonal to-do lists (amongst the plethora of other to-do lists I maintain, primarily to avoid actually to-doing, a lot of the time). They are usually fairly seasonally predictable. Stews and shiraz in winter, a cold weather hike perhaps, always more reading, preferably in snuggly surroundings. Autumn usually includes some sort of produce picking (apples, maybe, or pumpkins) and spring is picnics, picnics, picnics. Summer’s easy: more swimming in lakes, please, maybe some camping, and all the stone fruit possible (perhaps even incorporated into some sort of tasty beverage if creativity allows). Since the days here have – finally, happily – hit the thirties, I in turn hit last year’s summer list, and found a little non-actioned gem waiting for us: Jucker Farm.

Jucker Farm-339Just under a (very screamy) hour away (why do we keep having children who hate the car?), the working farm is fully prepped for summer thrill seekers such as ourselves. Animals? Tick. Produce aplenty? Tick. Coffee and delicious eats for tired parents and cranky kids? Tick and tick. Rusty tetanus threatening tractors for two years olds? You betcha!

It’s asparagus season here – the Swiss are mad for it, apparently (according once again to our source of all knowledge Swiss – our German teacher) – and not only did we find loads of fresh farm-grown spears but also an astounding array of asparagus-related condiments. I was not aware that asparagus salt was a thing until earlier this afternoon.

Either way, some of the crankiness got left behind as we explored…Jucker Farm-323…met some new (scary) friends…Jucker Farm-688

…and found not one, but three apple orchard mazes. Each, as the saying goes, more difficult than the last. The first had us doubling back a fair bit, during which time we discovered a scarecrow and a giant golden apple in the centre of the maze.

The second was circular, and as such had us a little confused (and my little miss tempted to cheat). The centre of this maze had golden sticks of cinnamon dangling from a tree.

The final and largest maze, which was over a kilometre long, we attacked with a game plan: a picture of the map prior to starting and a path worked out (which may not have been in the spirit of things, but certainly helped move the maze show along). This one revealed a novelty sized golden spoon as its centrepiece.

I can only assume that giant gold apple plus giant cinnamon sticks plus giant spoon equals giant apple pie feast.  No wonder Tim looks so excited at having solved it.

Despite our best intentions – and a delicious looking specimen right next door – we didn’t quite manage to tick ‘swim in lake’ off our list quite yet. However, for this summer at least, Jucker Farm can be marked as done (although I may have to return once we run out of said salt).

It’s flying by

I have spent the last week with the very best type of visitor: an old and dear friend (apologies to my parents who are due to arrive next week, but you know how it is). It’s been a week of walking, gossip and wine (not necessarily in that order. Actually, definitely not in that order). I’ve known Mel longer than I haven’t, which is generally my favourite description of my favourite people. I met her the first day of high school, and although she moved to Sydney we stayed in touch, fortunately going through similar phases (bad 90s grunge, anyone?) at the same time. We both lived in Ireland together and enjoyed our ‘fake lives’, the details of which can never be divulged (mainly due to fake life alcohol consumption and subsequent memory haze). On my return to Sydney we lived together in a few different houses, one which received the dubious compliment ‘this looks like a dude’s place’ (due no doubt to our stubby holder collection and gentleman calendar aka porn wall). It was through her that I met ‘Dr T’ as she called him, and in those first bleary months of having a new baby she’d swing by our house – happily around the corner from hers – to have a cheeky Friday night beverage, making me feel I’d maintained a footing, however precarious, in the Real World. Having her in our neck of the woods has been an absolute treat. It’s also been – for both of us, in our different ways – a chance to reflect on the [insert embarrassingly high number of] years that we’ve known each other, as well as the here and now.

My boy turned three months a few weeks ago. He’s one quarter, which is not really much of an age to be. He seems to be making the most of it though, with sodden smiles and under-the-chin giggles and unbelievably vile gas, which I assume is what having a son is all about for the next twenty years or so. Three months with my girl seemed an age. I’d just accepted a voluntary redundancy and signed off on a not especially illustrious public service career, and we were in the process of making the decision to move over here. Despite all the large scale change that was going on, I was stuck in a weird baby time warp. This time, it’s flying by.

The girl is finally talking fluently(ish) and it has been both a joy and a bewilderment to finally get some insight into what’s going on in that wee noggin of hers. She lives for slippery dips and cake (all flavours, but caramel slice cake – a mythical yet delicious sounding delicacy – is apparently her favourite) (I’m not so interested in the carrot stew cake, thanks all the same Ads). She is obsessed with the mild earthquake she completely slept through the other night, recounting where I was, the fact that her father saw his water ripple Jurassic-park style, and that she and Teddy were tucked up ‘niiiiiiice and tight’. She’s terribly bossy to her dolls, telling them she’s ‘too old’ to do certain tasks, and that ‘there are rules’ about others, clearly mimicking…um…some other unidentified bossy person. She continues to be a stellar older sister, joining in the clapping when the lad rolled for the first time, enthusiastically offering him toys, (unsuccessfully) soothing him and proudly saying ‘Addie and Teddy are best friends’ (which is equal parts adorable and loser-y). She thinks his full name is Teddy Bear and got two-year-old cranky – which is to say all hell broke loose – when I advised her otherwise.

These vignettes of daily life – my here and now – are simple and sweet (and at times horrendously dull, but the idea of caramel slice cake generally keeps me going). What’s harder is the reflection on the passage of time since we were those twelve? thirteen? year old selves, and maybe more pertinently those years in our twenties when everything was heady and full of promise (and, erm, beer). Mel and I spent a glorious spring day sans kids in a mineral spa on a nearby Alp – which I can assure you was every bit as heavenly as it sounds – mulling over all the things. A lot of it was reflective of where we’re both at respectively now, and where we’d like to be heading, but the easy nourishing nature of that conversation was only possible due to our patchwork of shared history. We know each others’ people, backstories, interests and (most fun of all) dislikes; we have also shared conversations like this more often than I could possibly recall, each one a building block. There’s a familiarity, a security, to this that allows for all manner of exploration and it is without question the thing I miss most about living away from her and my other ‘longer than I haven’t’ people.

There was nothing revolutionary discussed; in fact, a variation of the exact conversation was probably held in 1996. Still, days later – even with my return to the doldrums of screeching children, daily chores and no Mel – I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Such is the power of a (horrifyingly close to thirty year strong) friendship, which seems to have flown just as quickly as the life of the wee lad of mine.

Just across the border

Following the debaucheries of Fasnacht, Tim’s dad had scheduled a week in Berlin, staying with Tim’s sister and her partner. We met Dom and Roh in the German village of Rhinaeu to hand over the paternal cargo. We stayed in an Escher-esque German farmhouse, with odd lofts and wings, two lovely wood fireplaces, and a view of a creek with a population of (we hope) water voles (as opposed to the possibility of their less attractive cousin, water rats). After a night of catching up and sampling yet again delicious Alsatian wines, we made our way to the French town of Strasbourg, just across the border. Our early business of the day included glasses-shopping: our little girl has to wear goggles like her mother, and French specs are significantly cheaper than their Swiss counterparts. Fortunately, Peppa Pig wants to wear glasses so our little miss is down with the idea (I am coming around. I will admit there have been tears on several occasions – mine, not hers – but the cute red frames we picked together have gone a way to perking me back up). We also sourced some excellent coffee – much needed after a rocky-ish night with the youngest Purler – and hit the centre of town for some Gothic cathedral viewing.

And some sleeping in her uncle’s digs (the Palais Rohan, home of a group of cardinals, stood majestically across from the cathedral).

The largest town in the Alsace region (and the ninth largest in France), Strasbourg architecture was very similar to that of Colmar, although being a much bigger city it also had a broader range of styles. The cathedral above was an obvious difference, but many almost Parisian style balconied buildings also lined the squares. Being a border town, Strasbourg was also impacted early on in the second world war, its 80,000 inhabitants evacuated and several buildings destroyed by bombs.

After a decent amount of wandering we made our way to indulge in the local specialties of Crémant d’Alsace (the sparkling wine of the region) and ‘pie baked in the flames’ – tarte flambée or flammkuchen, depending on which side of the border you’re standing on.

The rest of the weekend was spent grocery shopping in an overwhelmingly and depressingly large French store (and subsequently skipping back across to Switzerland with our goods), feasting in our weird farmhouse and enjoying our final time with Mike for a while.

Reality has hit this week with Hotel starting a run of travel for work, meaning I’m the lone sailor on the ship at home (because let’s face it, my two wee deckhands are not good for much other than cake eating, giggling and wearing cute onesies). Amongst other boring household and administrative tasks, we’ve finally managed to secure the youngest Purler’s citizenship and – as of today – a passport, so happily in future it will only be groceries smuggled across the border.

 

(Freaky but fun) Fasnacht

This is Tim’s story, really. I’ve been a ([largely] supportive, amused, bemused and frequently jealous) bystander throughout the experience. It started after last year’s Fasnacht, when an always-enthusiastic Tim got chatting to colleagues at his office about the festival. It turned out one of them plays trumpet in a local Guggenmusik band. Tim is also a trumpeter, and it was suggested that he might be able to play along in the festival the following year.

Firstly, the band had to agree he could join. Although some members come from slightly further afield, the majority are Luzerners and certainly there were no other foreigners. He then had to audition, something which inspired more than a few nerves as it had been many years since he had picked up his horn. He left, trumpet strapped to his back as he cycled to the bunker where the band rehearsed, while I waited at home nervously on his behalf. The hours passed and eventually I went to sleep. He rolled in well after 2am reeking of beer and cigars and declared the audition a success despite having not played a note. Turns out as long as he could booze with them, the band were down with the foreigner joining.

Rehearsals started in earnest last September, held weekly. The first few sessions had Tim feeling a little glum: there was no music as everyone played by ear, the names of the traditional tunes were long forgotten, and the conversing and instruction was all in Swiss German. However as the weeks went by it started falling into place and he would come home from practice with increasing enthusiasm as his skills grew (other than the Swiss German. Still haven’t even remotely nailed that). My nerves increased in line with my due date – there was no mobile reception in that bunker – but little Teddy didn’t interrupt his father’s hobby and was rewarded with the band filming a tri-language rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to welcome him, and celebrate his sister’s birthday.

The costume was the next hurdle. The band had a Venetian theme and he needed both a coherent outfit as well as the traditional style of Fasnacht mask. The costume was sourced at a local Fasnacht speciality store, the staff happily knowing Tim’s band’s theme and being able to ensure he wasn’t out of place. The band’s conductor makes masks, and Tim had several fittings of the sculpted fibreglass headpiece, choosing eye colour, final touches and hair style (which I somewhat cruelly mocked, given his current choice is ‘bald’). The finished mask arrived about two weeks before the festival and sat in pride of place in our living room, prompting Addie to wander around declaring ‘Daddy’s mask’s scary‘ on a regular basis. To be honest, I couldn’t argue.

Finally, the week prior to lent arrived and with it, the festival. The schedule for Fasnacht is gruelling. Starting on Dirty Thursday, Tim played from the official cannon shot at 5am through till one the following morning, with similar shifts again on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. His group follows the tradition of the early Fasnacht bands, marching the catacombe-like streets of the Luzern Altstadt playing, and popping into local restaurants to serenade diners with their tunes.

Marching the cobbled, bustling streets of the city while trumpeting in an oversized mask is, apparently, tricky business.

Luckily, the rest of the band were old hands and made sure Tim was well-fuelled for the task.

Let’s drop the euphemism:  by well-fuelled of course I mean drunk. In between playing sessions they hung out at the band’s stand which converted into a bar. The day started with beers, progressed through wine to gin and tonics, and then when someone needed a pick-me-up, espresso grappa shots. It was little wonder their audition process was so exacting.

Tim’s dad had travelled from Australia for the festival, having been here last year and falling for its bawdy charm. Himself a trumpet player (it’s genetic, clearly) Mike became the band’s groupie at first and then joined them on the final few days as an honorary ring-in, making his trip quite the experience. I confess that as much as I love my two littles, I also love festivals and day drinking, and holding the fort while the lads had a ball was at times hard. Luckily, the kids and I made it down a few times to experience the hullaballoo.

Fasnacht was weird and wild and the streets were pumping throughout the day and night (and provided me with some good ‘here’s what happens if you don’t eat your vegetables’ material).

And of course, I did my best to make up for lost party time.dsc_8952In a country where we’d been warned the locals were not particularly welcoming, and that it would be hard to make meaningful Swiss connections, Tim feels so fortunate to have shared this crazy experience with a bunch of people who he now calls friends (or at the very least, epic drinking buddies). The hospitality was extended to me and the kids as well as Tim’s dad, making a week that will be remembered for years to come (even if said memory is sightly beer and grappa hazy).

(Also, that’s our baby’s rattle Tim’s a-shaking there. Nothing but the best instruments for our family.)

A forest fling

The last weeks have been hectic yet dull as I’ve been learning to juggle a not-so-tired-anymore ten week old and his increasingly tempestuous (cough terrible) two year old sister. There are differences to when she was young – he smiles so much! eats so easily! who’d have thought the two might be related! – but there are also similarities. The primary one: walking. When Adelaide was teeny I walked everywhere with her as it was a surefire way to get her to sleep (bus roulette, anyone?). With the Tedster there’s little choice; toddler sisters demand movement. We traipse the streets (well, the streets that lead to slippery dips) of Luzern until one out of the three of us are exhausted. The upside of this is that when Tim’s dad – the kids’ Grumps – who is visiting expressed interest in checking out the local bush, we were happy to oblige.

We made our way to Adligenswil – about 20 minutes away – for a hike through the no-longer-snow-covered forest. I’m not so bold as to call it spring quite yet, but there’s something going on.

Hiking in Switzerland is a very common pastime and we ‘grüezi mitenand’-ed people constantly (not least because we were somewhat map deficient and may have circled back on ourselves a few times). Tracks are well marked, and hobbies well catered for: we came across bird-watching towers (enthusiastically investigated by Grumps) and exercise circuits as we walked.

As always with hikes – here and anywhere – it’s the intimacy of the landscape that makes it worthwhile. Tim fell for bedraggled trees, Grumps found himself lost amid towering trunks and, every now and then, corners were turned to spectacular vistas, reminding us of where we were.

 

…et la deuxième partie

In part, our trip to Paris was to celebrate my birthday. It’s the last year before I have to be in denial about being forty, and we saw it in well: a luxurious lunch at the (surprisingly child tolerant) local and an epic cake that delighted Addie and bored Teddles.

In the height of decadence, my wonderful mother in law looked after the kids while Tim and I hit the town for dinner. By ‘hit the town’ I mean we raced out, guzzled wine and a bistro dinner, and legged it back home as the clock ticked over to double figures (and my boy started screaming). But the delicious wine came in a ginormous wine-glass shaped decanter, and the boeuf was the size of my head, and it was totally worth the sleepless night.

Our holiday rationale (not that one needs an excuse to go to Paris), other than my birthday, was to get out and travelling again as soon as possible as a family of four. We’d taken Addie on her first trip at six weeks (to a 90th birthday bash in Melbourne. We know how to party, people) and conquering my ‘travelling with a newborn’ fears stood us in good stead for future adventures. We wanted to do the same with the lad, especially as Gra was with us to pick up any disastrous slack. I’m not quite prepared to call it a roaring success, but it forced us to leave our comfort zone and we know a bit better how to coordinate ourselves in future. The week certainly had its challenges, and in some ways I feel we slightly short changed Paris as we weren’t able to experience quite as much as we’d have been able to,say, sans kids. I’ve never thought they’d be to my taste, but I now understand why people with littles choose package sun holidays.

paris-792However! It felt terribly indulgent to be there, and we explored as much as we could (I am fairly sure we covered every single playground in a 5k radius). And as we succumbed to the sweet lure of technology on the train ride home, we all agreed that it was a wonderful trip (although perhaps not quite so much for our waistlines. It’s officially Diet Town in our house).

Gra departed yesterday afternoon; she’ll be sorely missed by us all. In a minor miracle both the children are asleep at once (well, they’re quiet at any rate, and I don’t want to be advised differently) and it feels we’ve turned a small corner away from crazy newborn land. We couldn’t have done it without her gentle helping hands (especially when they passed my delicious nourishing wine) and our little family feels much fuller, more balanced for the experience.

Paris, partie un…

I’m not going to lie: travelling with both a five week and a two year old ain’t the most fun I’ve ever had. Admittedly it’s not the absolute worst, but as Tim’s mum has said on numerous occasions, my holiday standards need to be temporarily lowered (I could, of course, be making jokes about travelling with said bambinos and my mother-in-law, but in fairness she’s been the holiday hero and is quite right about standard adjustments).

We’re in Paris for a week. We caught a train from Luzern last Thursday – it’s only a four hour trip, and we figured there would be plenty of capacity for the kids to wriggle around if needed. Also, due to the bureaucratic complications of both our home and adopted countries, Teddles is currently a Man of No State meaning the passport controls of airports needed to be, um, dodged. We’re staying in an apartment near the Place de la République, an area which we’re getting to know quite well given the boy is on three hourly feeds and the French do not support out-of-the-home breast feeding. Again: standard adjustments.

Happily, we have some fine literature on Paris which is keeping us informed (although is apparently a little dull for some of the crew). It’s also helped our wee mademoiselle identify the ‘wow, fantastic’ Eiffel Tower.

If the truth be told, I don’t actually mind having an excuse to keep it local. We’ve found a delicious bistro around the corner that we’re tag-teaming visiting for dinner, a lovely coffee shop to provide necessary support for our late nights, and of course all the street pounding our hearts (and cranky unsettled children) desire.

We were joined for the weekend by Aunty Dom and Uncle Roh, who as always brought the fun times (and entertained our kids, which is always greatly appreciated. NEVER LEAVE EUROPE YOU GUYS).

We decided fairly early on that waiting in line for hours for The Art (which wouldn’t be particularly appreciated by half of our family) wasn’t for us. Instead we’ve opted to wander the streets – and the Seine – to absorb the city (and to attempt to counteract at least some of the pastries, pomme frites and vin rouge being consumed). Thus far, we’ve spent several days meandering, one on a river tour, and made daily trips to assorted parks to appease the resident toddler.

And of course, in Paris, that’s pretty much enough.

(Other than the food. Did I mention that?)

And then, we were four

I write this on a foggy winter’s afternoon at my kitchen table. I’m not entirely sure, even when I stop to think, what day it is. I am wearing  – still, sadly – maternity jeans and shirt, not because I remain pregnant but because disappointingly I have not instantly lost the twenty odd kilos I gained over the last nine months. I am also, bizarrely and humiliatingly (and admittedly amusingly), wearing a pair of hospital issue stretchy white underpants with the crotch cut out of them, my arms thrust through the leg holes, as a crop top of sorts. Into this I’ve shoved two ice packs that are regularly swapped out – at my midwife’s instance – with cabbage leaves and this weird tigerbalm-scented paste called Pasta Boli (not the kind you eat, she helpfully advised). Birth itself is of course undignified, but it feels like it’s nothing on these early weeks of motherhood.

However! Our boy is here! Little Theodore Winton arrived precisely on his due date, endearing him forever to his prompt mother’s heart. His birth was almost the opposite of my experience with his sister; gory details aside, this time was far easier and much less traumatic. The most surprising aspect of the birthing procedure was the mingling of alternative medical practices with the more standard delivery process. At various times I was fed different homeopathic concoctions, assorted aromatherapy treatment was pumped through the room depending on my current state, and I was given acupuncture towards the end of labour itself. I’m finding the same with my midwife – there’s a surprising focus on alternate options and traditional practices; and to be fair, they appear to have worked. I had assumed that the seemingly clinical, straight-and-narrow Swiss would not be so into alternate treatment options, but on reflection maybe it makes more sense that a comprehensive and thorough approach to healthcare is taken rather than the more linear one we have at home.

We left the hospital six hours after little Teddy was born. I’d not even contemplated doing this prior, but in the absence of a family room and due to the smoothness of the birth we decided we’d be happier heading home. We were back in time for a patchy night’s sleep and to wake our little miss on her birthday, the highlight of which was hearing her say ‘niiiiiiice’ when she saw her new brother.

We hosted Swissmas again this year, with the life savers that are my bestie and Tim’s sister and bro-in-law, who kept us not only alive but alarmingly well fed and watered during our first week as parents of two. I’d thoroughly recommend recruiting them if you ever wish to extend your family and still feel like a human being. There was raclette, a life-threatening glühwein maker, a ridiculous amount of gifts (Ads went from not knowing what a present was to demanding to open all of them in about two minutes flat), lots of champagne, many tasty treats from home, and a few not-so-silent nights.

Now, we’re in that no-man’s-land between Christmas and New Year, which is only compounded with the haziness of a newborn (and the sick resident two year old, just to keep us on our toes). We’ve a week or so before Tim’s mum arrives, during which we’re tentatively feeling our way as a family of four (or eight, if you include Peppa Pig and her fambam, who I confess are making fairly regular visits to the Purler household), capitalising on the frozen meals I feverishly prepared prior to his arrival, and enjoying being wrapped in the newborn cocoon. Right now, though, both bambinis are asleep, so we’re indulging in a cheeky wine and leftover Christmas cheese platter (possibly with a mint slice chaser). And cabbage leaves.

Festive

It’s beginning, as they say, to feel a lot like Christmas. I’ve always loved this time of year – even more so now it’s special for my little Christmas kinder – and it’s definitely magical over in this neck of the woods. My wanderings / waddlings through the glittering streets of Luzern are currently limited, but happily neighbouring windows are filled with Advent candles, sparkling lights (or stars, as the little miss calls them) and an increasing number of Christmas trees. We’ve gotten in on the action as well, counting down the days of the season.

(Incidentally, I am not sure how I parented prior to Advent calendar related bribes; the girl lives for the crappy promotional calendar her father received from work, and our lives are far simpler when she stops to think of chocolate consequences. Advent year round, anyone?)

Every year, my mother-in-law’s close friend hosts ‘Pudding Day’, an event much anticipated during the festive season. Family and friends gather at her house, usually around a month prior to Christmas, to do exactly what the name implies: make puddings. I have never attended but have happily been on the eating side of the equation many times. Although Christmas Pudding is not a Swiss tradition, it’s definitely a Purler one (I think Tim is still slightly disappointed there was none at our table last year), and so this year – fortunately armed with the Official Pudding Day Recipe – the inaugural Swiss Pudding Day was implemented. Naturally, my wee helper was in the festive (gingerbread batter stealing) spirit.

A few friends swung by with their little ones to measure, mix and assemble the puddings (and imbibe festive prosecco, of course). I’m fairly sure the wish Addie made while stirring the pudding was to eat only icing and sprinkles for lunch which, happily for her, came true.

To carry on with the cheer – and in contradiction to the advice of the hospital to stay within about twenty minutes of Luzern until the bubba arrives – we rebelliously hit the road to visit the Christmas markets in Einsiedeln (a whole forty minutes away. Living on the edge, me). Touted as the best markets in our vicinity, we weren’t disappointed as we pulled in to the bustling town.

Centred around a Benedictine Abbey, the town also boasted the ‘largest nativity scene’ in the world. I was imagining a giant-sized cradle filled with a terrifyingly large Baby Jesus, but they meant largest in terms of scope. A panoramic scene, complete with models, the nativity took over six years to create and is a geographically accurate representation of the holy land; all figurine’s joints were fully moveable and all animals were carved from single pieces of wood. It was impressive, but having promised Adelaide enormous cows (with matching enormous ‘mooooooooos’) I am afraid I under delivered slightly.

The markets themselves were fab, though, and filled with exactly the right amount of Christmas fun times (by which I mean every third stand sold glühwein).

Like the enormous Baby Jesus, there was happily no sign of our own baby, and other than meat-on-stick sword fights the afternoon passed merrily. Tonight, we’re preparing for yet another Swiss Christmas tradition: Samiclaus is due to pay us a visit. He leaves good (cough heavily bribed) children peanuts, clementines, chocolate and gingerbread in their boots, which are left outside the door the night prior. Addie has nodded off to sleep saying ‘shoes, cake, shoes, cake’ so I rather think said bribes might have worked their magic.

Ballenberg

The combination of the change in seasons and my pregnancy (slash cheese) related girth has meant a significant decrease in activity in the Purler household. A four day long weekend came and went with no travel plans; I confess I got my teenage surlies on as I thought of all the European exploring we could be doing. It didn’t help that three of the four days were sodden, making our indoor Luzern exile seem even more challenging. We attempted a hike in a nearby national park rumoured to have spectacular leaf coverage, but our arrival coincided with a massive, freezing downpour resulting in a car picnic, the only redeeming feature of which was our Aussie addition of cheese and vegemite scrolls.

On our one not-so-miserable day, we decided to hit the road for a day trip to anywhere that the googles advised was not raining and as such we found ourselves en route to Brienz. Tim was hoping for some Autumnal vistas, I was hoping for some relief from cabin fever, and Addie was hoping – as always – for Kuchen.happy-herbst-0021-20161106Brienz is a lovely wee town which showcases a lake and the Alps bordering Interlaken, but it was the Ballenberg museum that held our fancy. A large, open air museum, Ballenberg has collected over 110 buildings from over Switzerland to preserve them and give insight into traditional Swiss life over the years.happy-herbst-0232-20161106Because all our research was done through mother’s group hearsay and last minute car googling, we only realised once we arrived that we’d rocked up on the last open day of the year, as the site closes for winter. Thanking our fortunes, we chose a small section to explore; the site is huge and given my current waddling situation seeing it all was not possible. We opted for a loop that covered Central Swiss buildings and had a range of demonstrations (such as cheese making, bread baking and weaving) as well as houses in which we were allowed to interact with the collection.

On our wanderings around the countryside we’ve seen many older style Swiss dwellings, some likely occupied and some not. It was fascinating to explore the interiors: low roofs, dark pre-electicity multifunctional rooms, and frequently the living space held close proximity to where the livestock was kept. The section we explored was laid out like a village: apothecary, village gardens, townhouses and then, on the outskirts, farmhouses.

Due to our lack of planning, my dream of cooking sausages in one of the numerous fire pits around the country this summer was not realised; instead we picnicked under the Autumn leaves (and at least one of our dreams came true – our little miss knocked into her cake like a champ).

We wandered around for the afternoon, noseying through houses, playing with toys and making ridiculous animal noises to keep our girl entertained (bunnies totally say ‘hop hop’, no?).

happy-herbst-0138-20161106

Our curiosity on old-school Swiss living sated, we called it a day and made our way home, intending to return in better climes (and with Swiss snags to cook up…and possibly more research into rabbit noises).

There’s only a month to go – I hope – until the little guy arrives, and three more business trips away for Motsy during which I sincerely hope there is no baby related action. Until then it’s code go-slow here: more nesting (poor Tim was forced to clean and reorganise all our storage over the weekend because of course newborns require a neat hallway cupboard), trashy novel reading, and enjoying the changing view from our apartment as winter takes hold.