Friday, 16 December 2016

Silvesterlauf magic

Due to a last minute Christmas shopping trip to London this week, I am a little delayed in posting about my Big Run  - the Zuri Silvesterlauf - on Sunday. I am sure you have been waiting in suspense for the gory details ;) Well, I haven't actually got any! It was fantastic. In fact, it was quite magical, running in the dark around Zurich's streets, with the Christmas lights twinkling where-ever I looked. The run was lined with people and children shouting out our names (what a lovely idea to have your first name printed on the number pinned to your shirt) with their hands out waiting to high five runners. It gave me a real high. Ok, I took 1.06 to complete and was placed 612 - but I really didn't care! I did it! If you ever get the chance, do take part. (Don't forget you need to register in August)

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Scary Big Race Day has arrived

It's 8.30am.

I have just demolished a big brekkie of beans on toast topped with a fried egg in preparation for my Big Race Day (the Zurich Silvesterlauf my lovely hubbie entered me into after an ill-conceived tiddly bet back in August).

I gobbled up breakfast despite my nerves about my first ever grown-up ‘Race.’ I’m struggling to call it this as I hate the idea of entering a race I have absolutely no chance of winning. But equally, I cannot just call it a run as it is very different to the regular run I enjoy several times per week – a leisurely few km at a slower than snail’s pace around the local woods.

Talking of which, I awoke at 3.30am this morning with a humungous fear that the starting - pistol? - would go and I would be left behind in a cloud of dust by a giant group of runners going pretty slow (I am in the slowest group today) but still plenty faster than me. That was it – sleep was now evading my attempts and I was wide awake for the next 14 hours until my run started. Aaarggh. The day is stretching out before me like a sloth preparing for an 18 hour nap.

Friday, 2 December 2016

And lo and behold - a sparkly Christmas Tree!

Well, knock me down with a feather duster! Just a fortnight ago I was chatting to a fellow choir member in my local village Singengruppe about how lovely it would be to have a carol singing event in the village square at Advent. I said we could of course gather around the little tree which is resident in the centre of the square, under which benches nestle but it would be great if we could have a nice big Christmas tree to stand around, something which, since I have lived here, has never featured in the village.

And lo and behold, only a few days later, I spied a group of people putting lights on a beautiful new Christmas tree in the square! And last Sunday we were invited to go along and help make some decorations and decorate it. It was so enjoyable. And the Gemeinde had even provided a gorgeous, little ride for the children, powdered by a burning furnace, free of charge.

I am now starting to wonder if I can wiggle my nose and make more great things happen around me...

Thursday, 24 November 2016


Well, my efforts yesterday paid off. Poppy wrote me a lovely note back in our Just Between Us book explaining that she likes Raphael for many reasons, which includes the fact that he is funny, for instance when the teacher asked the class if they have any more questions he quipped: ‘Can we get started now?’ and the fact that he is a middle child just like her, with a younger and an older brother.

This really surprised me as she has never mentioned this fact, although I once spoke to my brother-in-law about it when he first mentioned the middle child thing because he is a middle child himself. It seems middle children really identify with other middle children J And yes, I guess it is a big issue which is quite frustrating for them at times, with the older sibling allowed so much more freedom and the younger sibling let off so much more over things middle children aren’t. I guess middle children really do get an unfair deal some of the time.

And there you have a great example of how well our secret journal writing pays off. This is a detail that would never have come out in a regular conversation but is obviously an issue which my middle daughter cares very strongly about.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Our secret book helps me to be an okay mum once more

My 9-year-old daughter came flying in at lunchtime with the biggest grin on her face and announced she has come home with Raphael’s rubber. Raphael is a boy in some of her classes at school who my daughter has recently developed a crush on. I have attempted to put it down to a normal part of her development and a passing phase but for some reason the Rubber Incident made it all a little more real.

I tried to re-arrange my face into a look of nonchalance but inside my stomach was churning. I was very aware that the whole future of our relationship rested on my reaction to this particular revelation. Say the wrong thing and she may never confide her feelings about boys to me again. So while my panicked brain shouted at me: ‘She’s going to have sex too young!’ ‘She’s going to be pregnant before she’s 12!’ She’s going to have a dirty back street abortion which will KILL HER!’ I somehow managed a weak smile and a ‘How nice. Does he have your rubber?’ And then it was easier to act normally as Poppy went off into a detailed explanation of the rubber exchange.

She went back to school after lunch leaving me mentally exhausted. But once the ‘Pregnancy/shame/abortion/death’ thoughts had calmed over a cup of tea, I reached for our special book and started to write.

Our ‘Special book’ it just for the two of us. We share our thoughts, fears and hopes in there and keep it in a safe place – usually under her pillow. No-one else is allowed to look at it. And it really is great. I am not very good at saying the right thing but writing things down a little later helps me to take a deep breath and get to the nook and cranny of how I feel. And for Poppy, she has reached that age when she also finds it difficult to express herself, so I think it helps her. And she loves having something that is there for just me and her.

So I started to write about how it was lovely to see her so happy. I wrote about falling for a boy when I was around her age but he moved away after a year leaving me very sad. However, we wrote to each other for more than 10 years. I asked questions about Raphael - What does she like about him? Does he also like drawing? What does he do that makes her smile? Then I closed the book and felt differently about it all. And I felt hope. That maybe I will get through many more years of being an okay mum.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

First art stall (albeit very small ;)

So following on from my painting of my local church being used by a gospel choir to promote their concert, I have been offered the chance to display my painting of Brutten Church at their event on Sunday. I also have the chance to sell a print and a few cards which I have made. I am very excited now, although I have been assured there is very little chance that I could sell anything as everyone is always very eager to get home after the event. But even so, it is nice to have my art out there for people to enjoy. And you never know, they might even take away a business card for a future commission.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Legoland rocks!

We went to Legoland in the Herbstferien and it was great. It was only a one and half hours drive, with a little complex route through Austria which feels like you are not actually going anywhere, but we arrived relaxed and excited to get going.

We stayed in a barrel, which was so surreal. And very cosy. The park itself was perfect for our girls, aged 7 and 9. I'm not sure it would tick all the boxes for older teens, but then again, myself and Graham had a ball. The rides were fantastic - full of surprises. The girls took a Legoland driving course and even got a license! (Poppy informed me that some 'didn't get a license at all!) We had dinner in a castle, with fabulous service and food.

The details are fantastic, with little lego men doing stuff around the park, getting stuck in cement, getting lost up pipes, appearing in unexpected places. Very funny. I heartily recommend a trip if you've not been.

My painting has become a promotional campaign

A painting that I made of Brutten Church has appeared all around the village and surrounding villages (including on street side posters!) as part of a promotional campaign for Dubendorf Gospel Choir which is holding a concert in the church on Sunday (20th)

It got me thinking that I can create art that people want. An opportunity I should be able to use to start a little art business. Although Gray is very well paid, with the high cost of living here we are constantly a little worried we haven't got a financial 'buffer' for when those unexpected big bills come along (and a few are looming right now as Gray's back problem has resurfaced)

The choir has suggested that I bring my painting along on the night of the event so they can tell everyone a little about the artist (me!) behind the picture they fell in love with. I'm also hoping to get a bunch of business cards printed this week (I would have got them done yesterday but the printers in Winterthur are closed on Saturdays!) and perhaps a few high quality prints of the picture printed out for people to buy at the concert. I need to update one of my other blogs just to feature my artwork so I can add this to my business cards. Phew!

But for the first time I'm feeling hopeful I can do something creative which will actually earn me a little money too :) I'll keep you updated with my progress (or not!)

Here is the flyer featuring my picture which went to hundreds of homes:

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Don't forget to Check 'Em!

Mary Berrys by Chris O'Hara
I think that by a certain age most of us have been horribly touched by the monster that is breast cancer, whether it has affected us, our family or friends.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and once again Breast Cancer Care is promoting the importance of checking your breasts regularly - as the sooner breast cancer is discovered, the better the chances of a complete recovery. This month the charity has come up with a fantastic idea for putting this important message across with the aid of London’s Seed Animation Studio.

A new sassy thirty second animated film has employed the talents of 26 international artists. Entitled Check ‘em, each animation director was given the brief to create a film that visualised a cheeky euphemism for breasts and lasting no more than one second. From ‘Brad Pitts’ to ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘bazookas’ the film asks for people to check their breasts, 'no matter what they call them.'

“The end result is a playful and diverse collaboration that promotes the importance of checking for breast cancer,” says Morgan Powell, creative director at Seed Animation studio. “I was bowled over by the response from the directors who were really supportive of the cause and donated their time to spread an important message.”

Enjoy the film here.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

My daughter changed the world today (in her own little way)

My 9-year-old daughter was having problems at school with a boy called Marco. Marco is a 12-year-old in her class. I was a bit unsure about the way they mix the ages in classes when I first arrived here but am now convinced it’s a great idea. Poppy’s own age group of girls can get quite clicky and bitchy at times and she now finds solace in the older friends she has made in class which is lovely.

But she didn’t like Marco. She said he was very mean. She mentioned Marco's 'nastiness' again over the weekend and when I questioned her further she admitted he was mean to most people but ‘especially’ mean to her. And on further questioning the meanest thing she could remember him saying is that she is ‘rubbish at gymnastics’ (I had to stifle a giggle here because my daughter has become opposed to sport and activity in general, much to my despair) I said what did you say to that? She said she blew a raspberry at him. I said ‘Do you think you could have responded in a better way?’ She said ‘no’.

So I had a little think and tried a different tactic. I talked about Marco and the fact that he had been kept back from progressing to secondary school last year. They seem to do this quite a lot in Switzerland - holding a child back a year if they are not ready to progress. But of course it can be tough on the child involved, especially when they are left behind in primary school.

I discussed how Marco might be feeling and challenged her to try and make Marc smile once this week. She guffawed and said in an exasperated tone, ‘Mum! That will be impossible!’ I just smiled and said, ‘Just keep a lookout for an opportunity’

And do you know what? She arrived home yesterday LUNCHTIME grinning her little butt off, yelling up the stairs (we live in a third floor flat) ‘Guess what? I didn’t just make Marco smile – I made him laugh – TWICE!’

Then later at bedtime she said, ‘Marco has changed somehow.’ I said ‘For the better?’ She smiled and said ‘Yes!’ Before I turned the light out I said: ‘Poppy you changed the world today.’ And for once she didn’t argue.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Super healthy, easy - and yummy - lunch for hungry chops

It is a never-ending challenge to come up with healthy, nutritional meals for picky eaters, especially for energy packed lunches that aren’t too siesta inducing when the kiddies have to return to school in the afternoon.

To be honest, I had run out of ideas. And as a last resort I handed over Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Veg Everyday cook book to my daughters (aged 7 and 9) and challenged them to pick one thing out to try the following week. The reason I chose this particular book is that there is a large photograph of each dish, and lots of child friendly type easy to cook dishes inside.

This actually worked really well – they soon picked a dish each that they liked the look of. And today I cooked my eldest daughter’s choice – Steamed Veg with a hint of Garlic – she liked it because it looks ‘really green’ in the picture. And boy did it go down amazingly well! I cobbled together a steamer from a colander in a large pan with aluminium foil covering any holes poking out over the top of the pan.

Steamed veg is the business. Veg is incredibly flavoursome cooked this way and of course you are getting a mixture of fab nutrients to boot. I’m also fast coming round to the idea that everything tastes great smothered in garlic butter – I mean, what’s not to like! And what a success it was. The whole family cleared the entire dish off – from daddy to my youngest!  It was yum.

This is a dish I wish I’d discovered when my children were at the finger food stage – it is perfect for tots and little fingers.

  • 400-500g green veg (I used green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and a generous helping of frozen peas)
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 fat garlic clove, crushed
  • salt & pepper
Prepare the veg and steam over boiling water until just done (tender but still a little crunchy) While the veg is cooking, heat the butter and oil in a saucepan over a low heat. Once melted, add the garlic. Cook very gently for a couple of minutes, letting the butter fizz slightly but taking care that the garlic doesn’t colour. Remove from the heat. Toss the steamed veg in the garlicky butter and season. En guete!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

At last I have found an alternative to Truprint (and a malfunctioning printer)

I'm back! What a wonderful Summer I had. I hope yours was just as good x

My eldest son will be 18 on Saturday. 18!! Where did the time go? Anyway, I wanted to produce him a special photo album featuring every year of his life. But there were a few problems with this. Firstly, my printer is malfunctioning so I cannot print them out myself. And secondly, I have, as usual with these things, left it to the last minute so cannot do my usual Truprint order delivered to my mother-in-law who then forwards them onto me, due to the limited time available.

I know, this is pretty poor, having lived here in Switzerland for nearly three years now. But what with everything else, the photo situation has taken a back seat. And I haven't needed pictures within a deadline before so my previous way worked.

So, having a few days to get 60 photographs printed (I got carried away and now have 3 or 4 pics of each year) I had two options – to use ifolour ( which has been recommended to me on many occasions – and the website looks suspiciously like the Truprint one – or use the photo machine at Winterthur Bahnhof. I chose the latter and was amazed who well this worked! You can choose English, upload your images from anything – memory stick, card, etc – or even Bluetooth them, which I did! Ok, I underestimated the length of time needed to print out 60 photographs and missed my bus (it took nearly half an hour) There were a couple of negatives - the machine, for some reason, didn't give change - so you need to be careful and have the right money available - and it didn't accept card payment. But for me, this is something I can live with for such a great immediate printing service. And the pictures turned out great! 

Now, when friends and family visit, I can instantly print out a few mementos of their holiday on the go, from by phone without having to fret whether the printer will work when I get home or if I need to buy another pack of outrageously expensive printer inks. 

By the way, the cost was 50 Rp per photograph. Bargain. If you're not printing out a life's worth of images for your son's 18th birthday that is...

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The blessing that is a Joker Tag

A Joker Tag makes wishes come true
I had a dilemma. We had been given free tickets for the Royal Circus in Zurich which just happened to be taking place on my youngest daughter’s 7th birthday week this week. A perfect birthday gift. But to use the tickets we had to go to the evening performance, which begins at 8pm, instead of the very sociable matinee at 3pm but then I had to pay full price tickets – and break the bank for a good seat. And then I realised my eldest daughter’s school Jahresschlussapero (end of school party) was the same night, involving a very special occasion prepared by their teacher for those moving from lower school to middle school. So she really could not miss it.

What to do?

My saviour came in the form of my daughter’s teacher who mentioned that the girls had a Joker Tag (don't you just love the name?) available. Fantastic. This meant we could go to the circus the night before, have a sleep in, my daughter could open her presents at leisure and then we could have a pancake breakfast and a relaxing birthday day out (probably involving pizza and ice cream somewhere) easily arriving back in time for the Jahresschlussapero.

Ah, the delight that is Joker Tag. These joker days are fantastic – they can be taken anytime, with just 24 hours notice. Kindergarten pupils have four and primary school children have two available each year. They provide a way to beat the crowds on the holiday getaway and of course they provide the opportunity to always have your birthday off school. And get this, you can even squeeze two years Joker days together and get an entire extra week off (if moving from Kindie to primary school) Prima!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Zurich Festival - a three day extravaganza

The Grossmünster as never before 
Wow, wow, wow, what an amazing event the Zurich Festival (ZüriFäscht) was. Gourmet Gray and I went along kid-free to the Saturday night extravaganza and took the little ones along the following day (after recovering ;-O)

The Zurich Festival, a celebration of Zurich joining the Swiss Confederation in 1351, takes place throughout the city centre every three years on the first weekend in July. It is by far the largest Swiss festival, attracting around 2 million people over the three days. There is music, dance, a host of live gigs, shows, daring fly-bys, high wire antics, and a varied feast of events to tantilise the senses, with a stunning 30 minute display of fireworks at 10.30pm every night (with an extra display for the die-hard fans between 1.30am and 1.50am on the final Sunday night!) In addition, all inner city train and bus schedules run as a normal day service throughout the night – how fantastic is that?

Being a triennial party, this was the first time we had the chance to experience it and our expectations were high. But we weren’t disappointed - Saturday night was seriously good fun. I was in awe. We arrived into the city via Stadelhofen Bahnhof, my favourite station and favourite part of the city. Coming out of the station we were greeted by a mass of people swarming to and fro. The sun was just going down, bathing the sky in a golden glow as we sauntered onto the humming fairground on Sechseläutenplatz in front of the beautiful Opernhaus. We stopped to watch a monster ride which pushed a revolving circle people up to the heavens before releasing them back down to earth with a spine-tingling whoosh and then crossed over to the banks of the Zürichsee and watched a spectacular helicopter fly-by. The boats tooted in response and I gasped to see a line of cars sailing along the river! How very Bond.

Eat your heart out Bond
The smell of the grill and the beat of the music was beckoning so we walked up Limmatquai, stopping every few steps to enjoy the groove of the various DJs we passed, spilling out his own particular sexy mix of techno which we could not pass by. There were many cool and hip people gathered around each DJ box but as a forty something mum I didn’t feel too out of place, the atmosphere was all inclusive for those with a love of music. We danced, we bopped, we happily relived the enthusiasm of our hunger for the clubbing scene when it first exploded onto the scene in the 90s.

The Grossmünster was rocking - on both sides. We greatly enjoyed the Doors tribute band. If you closed your eyes, you could have been standing in front of the real thing, these guys were so, so good. I’m pretty sure Jimmy Morrison looking down from above would have approved of his reincarnation with his baldy head and crazily long side pieces of hair – and hypnotic performance. And following hot on the heels of this incredible act was a Jimmy Hendrix and Janice Joplin tribute to name but a few! Pulling ourselves away with great difficulty to see what was taking place on the other side we were immediately engulfed by gyrating bodies, happy smiles and the incense of cannabis. The DJs NaturKlang act was as captivating as the rock gig – with their pulsating anthems you couldn’t help but move with the groove. The Grossmünster itself was pulsating with different colour schemes - one minute it was adorned in Swiss flags, another plagued by spots and later covered in techincolour rubber ducks. Great fun.

Heading up Niederdorfstrasse, we heard again the boom boom of the beat and turned down a tiny side street, finding ourselves in another dance haven and we danced some more, drawn to the huge disco ball revolving in the centre. People peeked out at us from the flats above, enjoying the occasion. I guess if you live in town you have to succumb to these festivals and enjoy it or move out for a while. We had to head for a train on the packed platform at 12.15am – unfortunately we live well outside the city so our last bus home was at 12.45am – but we could have happily stayed a while later.

And the amazing thing about all this - apart from the incredible quality of (free) entertainment – is that, despite thousands upon thousands of young people thronging through the packed streets, many carrying a beer – or in some cases swigging from an entire bottle of wine – there was absolutely no sign of trouble anywhere. No anger was even hinted at. The mood was calm, serene, and above all happy. And diverse. How diverse it was. Looking around the crowd listening to The Doors reincarnated, I struggled to see two people alike – people from across the entire world seemed to standing around me, grinning just like me. A city, full of thousands of people from everywhere, many full of alcohol, some on drugs, some with tough lives - and not a hint of trouble. How do the Swiss do that? While throwing the best ever street party at the same time! 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Switzerland sadly leaves Euro 2016

The friendly footy crowd at Paddy's on Saturday afternoon
It was so sad to see Switzerland get beaten by Poland in the first Euro 'last 16 clash' on Saturday.

They went out in a heartbreaking 5-4 penalty shootout, especially miserable for the fans following the spectacular scissor kick of Sheridan Shaqiri in the 82nd minute. Wow, what a strike - for me, the best goal of the tournament so far. 

We were enjoying the game at Paddy O'Brien's Irish Pub in Winterthur and the whole place erupted, it was fantastic. And then the TV screen showed the square behind Manor in Winterthur, just 500m down the road, jumping up and down with delight. It was a great moment.

I am going to miss cheering the Swiss team on. It's just not the same supporting England in public here. Although I am looking forward to seeing the England game from the comfort of my on home later on tonight. Come on England!!

Friday, 17 June 2016

There may be hope for us insomniacs

I’ve suffered from pretty chronic insomnia over the past few years and it’s got me down, real down. The only thing that keeps me going (apart from my gorgeous family) is the fact that I’m not alone. Apparently a whopping 25% of us suffer from sleep disorder on a regular basis.

With my particular ‘disorder’ I have no problem getting to sleep but I often wake up at either 2am or 4am (on a good night) and then I am completely unable to get back to sleep. When the alarm goes off I drag myself out of bed and the morning routine of getting my two young daughters ready for school is pure torture. However, it constantly amazes me that by mid-morning I am feeling so much better and can manage the day adequately (although I’m sure it would be a different story if I had a full day at work) Evenings are a write off though – I am desperate to crawl into bed soon after saying goodnight to my daughters (c 8.15pm) I worry that my body will one day conk out from a build-up of sleep exhaustion and also stress about the affect it will have on my mental health in the long run.

However, there seems to be reassuring news on the horizon. Research now suggests that sleeping for a continuous eight hours is a recent invention and our body clocks are much better suited to two shorter bursts of sleep each day.

In an article published in the Conversation, Dr Melinda Jackson, a psychologist who specialises in sleep disorders at RMIT University, and Siobhan Banks, sleep researcher at the University of South Australia suggest that so-called segmented, or bi-modal sleeping actually used to be the norm.

“Interestingly, the appearance of sleep maintenance insomnia in the literature in the late 19th century coincides with the period where accounts of split sleep start to disappear,” they explain. So perhaps striving for eight hours could go some way to explain why 25% of us suffer from some sort of sleep disorder.

This isn’t the first time a two sleeps a day regime has been suggested as an alternative, potentially more beneficial sleeping pattern. In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted a month-long experiment to test the theory, where a group of people were left in darkness for 14 hours each day. By week four, a distinct new two-phase sleep pattern had emerged with the participants sleeping for four hours, waking for one to three hours and then falling into a second four-hour sleep. Wehr concluded that people were much better suited to a split sleep pattern.

Experts argue the research suggests segmented sleeping suits our body clocks better. And it could even make the mid-afternoon flop a thing of the past because ‘it provides two periods of increased activity, creativity and alertness across the day, rather than having a long wake period where sleepiness builds up across the day and productivity wanes.’

So next time you can get away with a sneaky little afternoon nap, go ahead, it's good for you – the scientists agree!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Deutsch Welle - a great way to learn German

I’m in love with Harry on a fantastic new website I’ve found called Deutsch Welle. Well, I’m not in love with the man himself because he is arrogant, bad tempered, rude and ignorant. But he is teaching me German. Well, his story, Gefangen in der Zeit is teaching me German. And all the people he meets as he has a multitude of accidents, gets arrested and ends up in a psychiatric hospital!

This is the second great story I have been following on Deutsch Welle – the first was equally entertaining, called Mission Berlin about an English speaking girl who learns German on her way to save Germany’s history from the Time Terrorists.

As well as all these fab stories you can also follow general big news stories at your German level, with a translation in English and a host of many other resources, all made possible with the support of the European Union. As far as I understand there are also similar websites to teach other languages which I will explore when I have finally mastered German.

Seek out and enjoy!

Learn German with Harry here.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Switzerland breaks records as Gotthard tunnel opens

The world's longest and deepest rail tunnel has officially opened in Switzerland with a flamboyant ceremony.

The 57km (35-mile) Gotthard tunnel, which took almost 20 years of construction work, will provide a high-speed rail link under the Swiss Alps between northern and southern Europe.

Goods currently carried on the route by a million lorries a year will go by train instead and Switzerland has said it will revolutionise European freight transport.

View today's amazing opening ceremony on the Beeb here.

A clip of the tunnel as it was created from January:

The tunnel has overtaken Japan's 53.9km Seikan rail tunnel as the longest in the world and pushed the 50.5km Channel Tunnel linking the UK and France into third place.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Rocking Winterthur Half Marathon

I love to run. But I don’t run in races. I’ve never understood running in a race I will never have the chance of winning. My hubbie seems to think this is a crazy notion, ie it’s not about the winning, it’s about the taking part (although we all knew that wasn't true when our parents told us as kids)

So, anyway, this leads us to spending lots of time at running races – hubbie running in them and me watching them. Which I actually don’t mind because I love the atmosphere at these events and so do my girls. We've been to a few in Switzerland now and they are always very well organised - and the majority of those taking part are pretty fit - even the seniors, So you may find yourself in a different overall position to that which you are accustomed to - and you may find yourself being overtaken by a surprising number of sprightly runners who are 20 years or more senior than you. But don't let that put you off, you'll still have a blast.

And last weekend’s Marathon/Half Marathon event in Winterthur certainly didn’t disappoint.

We arrived just under an hour before I expected Gourmet Gray and his brother Paul to finish and the atmosphere was buzzing. There was rock music playing loudly, the perfect musical accompaniment to any public, testosterone-led get together I feel. We squeezed into a space in the crowd of people lining the last 100 metres before the finish and started ‘hop, hop’ hop’ (ing) the runners as they headed for home. The lovely thing about this race was that every runner had his first name on the front of his vest so the audience could shout encouragement to each runner by name, which I think is a lovely touch.

The music went off and a band started playing just as there was a frisson in the crowd and the first Half Marathon runner came in (Dadi Fikru Abera at the amazing time of 1:06)

It was of course a little while later before daddy arrived but I was over the moon for him breaking his PB in under two hours. I love to witness the elation among the runners as they cross the line on a high and feel a little stab of something – who knows, perhaps one day I can also run a race without the need to win.

Details of Sunday's Winterthur Marathon competitors here.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Spring Inspiration

I love to see the flowers spring up all over our village, it is so very beautiful at this time of year. I began buying flowers to paint but that turned out to be a little too expensive - and they often died before I finished my picture :( So I have now resorted to taking photographs of beautiful flowers I see in their natural state all around my village and Winterthur city. And then I paint them in the comfort of my own home at leisure. Here is my latest effort in watercolours. What inspires you at this time of year?

Monday, 23 May 2016

A lorra laughs at Winterthur's Comic Slam

At the weekend we experienced Winterthur’s first Comic Slam event which brought together nine of the city’s talented illustrators and cartoonists.

The stage was set in the atmospheric Alte Kaserne on Teknikumstrasse (why have I never come across this amazing place before) in the ‘heart of Winterthur’s comic scene.’ Cartoonists taking part were: Lilian Caprez, Schlorian, Daniel Bosshart, Zea Schaad, Caro Rutz, Rina Jost, Frida Bünzli, René Lehner, Beni Merk.

After first emailing the very nice Daniel Bosshart, president of the club behind the event, to check it was suitable for children and being assured it was, I took my 9-year-old daughter who is a huge comic fan (she became really interested in comics on our arrival here as the libraries have buckets of them and I now happily attribute this to her being an avid reader and picking up German so easily) 

After paying our 15sfr entrance fee (10sfr adult, 5sfr child) we had out hands stamped and were given a red strip of paper each on which to write a word. This required thought – what word would give a cartoonist potential for a great cartoon? And, out of my fairly unsophisticated German vocabulary, which could I spell correctly with some degree of certainty?  I finally settled on Überraschung – surprise – (but did have to check the spelling with my daughter) who spurned my suggestion of elefant – pretty self-explanatory - and instead chose geschenk (present)

We were early enough to bag a good table in front of the main stage and sat down with a glass of red wine and a coke purchased from the small, well stocked bar inside. A lovely lady artist from Henngart also sat at our table and told me lots of juicy facts, for instance, one of the artists taking part - Lilian Caprez – has recently won third place in the Fumetto International ComicFestival Competition in Luzern.  

Just then the show started, ably and wittily compered by René Brügger & Andrew Wolfensberger. I only understood sections of the chat but that didn’t matter as it wasn’t too long before a word was being drawn out of the pot and the first three artists were busily sketching.

I think they had just three minutes to complete each drawing – and it wasn’t easy, as some members of the audience had submitted horrendous words such as ‘winter jacket’ ‘ahoy’ and ‘national anthem?’ And the comperes ended up chucking more than a handful away over their shoulder in disgust. But then, to our delight, my word was pulled out, along with the word ‘Eule’ (owl) and three very entertaining sketches ensued. 

The atmosphere was buzzing and I especially loved the countdown music and clapping for the last seconds of each sketch. There were nine illustrators and graphic artists competing against each other in all (three rounds) And the audience voted for the best in each round, with much applause, and finally Caro Rutz, all the way from the French speaking part of Switzerland, was crowned the supreme winner.

There was a disco afterwards with a DJ but it was 11.15pm and it was time to take Poppy home although she was still amazingly upright and buzzing with the thrill of it all. On the way out, I spotted Beni Merk who had made one of the ‘owl surprise’ sketches and asked him if there was any chance I could have it as it featured my word. He said somebody had already taken it and on seeing my crestfallen face offered to redraw it just for me! How amazing is that? So I had a super fab entertaining night – the event was very well organised and ran extremely smoothly - and I came away with an original sketch to boot!

The Club Comic Panel Winterthur was established on 7th October, 2013, when eleven comic enthusiasts came together on the back of the city’s anniversary project which involved many of them sketching an illustrative street plan of Winterthur (which is available to buy) The association aims to promote comic art and provide a way for professionals and enthusiasts to network, as well as promoting their work to the public.

The next big event at the Alte Kaserne is an all hours marathon art session which begins on Thursday (26th) and lasts until Sunday (29th) After this, the exhibition of all the creations is on view until 8th June.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Comic Slam and other stuff going down in Winterthur

There is some good alternative entertainment in Winterthur this coming week and weekend.

At the Theatre Casino, Familie Hinztagram, an improvisation event, is already a sellout next Tuesday. In this story, it all goes haywire with the family Hinz as the audience dictates how the family should live. The creativity of the audience will have no limits and everything is possible. For chaos is taken care of, and daughter Leah posting this diligently on Instagram. The event includes a special improvisation theatre for young people.

At Winterthur's Alte Kaserne on Saturday from 8pm, nine illustrators and graphic artists will compete against each other while inspired by suggestions from the audience which then chooses the best cartoon. Amongst those present are Daniel Bosshart, who is a well known figure on stage. Zea Schaad, who has designed the funky logo for the event (pictured above) will also step into the ring.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Salad days are here again

Hurrah, sunny spring days have returned so it is time to wade into salad territory. Whenever we eat salad you can almost see the thought bubbles drifting above our heads which say 'nice, but it would be better with a good slice of meat on top.' So I am always looking out for salads full of flavour and a bit more welly.

And the latest which we sat down to last night is super yummy. It's a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg Every Day book. It suits Gray and I very much with it's middle-eastern tahini dressing (we have both spent a great deal of time in the Middle East) Frying the courgettes is time consuming and a bit of a hassle but I assure you it's worth it :)

The Tahini Dressing
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed with a little coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp tahini (stir the jar well first)
  • Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • ½ teaspoon clear honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
The salad
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium courgettes sliced into 3mm [very thin] rounds
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • About 125g French green beans, trimmed
  • 4 good handfuls of salad leaves
  • 12-18 oven dried tomatoes or semi-dried tomatoes (optional)
  • A handful of mint, finely shredded (optional
The recipe

Make the dressing by mixing crushed garlic in a small bowl with the tahini, lemon zest and juice, honey and a grind of black pepper. The dressing may go grainy but you can thin it down by whisking in a little water, 1 tbsp at a time until you get a creamy, trickling consistency. Finally, gently stir in olive oil. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.

For the salad, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the French beans, for 1-3 minutes. Drain, then dunk in cold water to refresh. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a fairly high heat and cook the courgette slices in batches, tossing them occasionally until tender and browned on both sides. Transfer to a bowl lined with kitchen towel to soak up any residue oil. When all courgettes are cooked, season generously with salt and pepper, add the lemon juice and chilli and toss together well. Pat green beans dry and toss with the courgettes.

To assemble the salad, spread salad leaves in a large shallow serving bowl and scatter over the dressed courgettes and beans, tomatoes and shredded mint. Trickle the tahini dressing generously over the whole lot and serve. En guete!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Held up by the Love Ride procession

As we were making our way back from a perfect Mother's Day morning at Pfäffikon Am See, we were forced to stop for the biggest procession of bikers I have ever seen. I mean, we are talking hundreds of bikes, which took nearly 10 minutes for them all to pass, accompanied by police escorts. The girls were very excited as all these big burly bikers revved their engines and waved at them as they went by. It was amazing.

I later found out it is all part of a Love Ride event which began in early 1993 when bikers Erwin W. Wyrsch and Gabi Müller in Bänikon / Kloten were looking to have a Harley Davidson meet up but were aware of the perhaps negative impression that would be caused for locals by a big crowd of bikers gathering together in a particular location. The solution was to have a festival which would not only be attractive for motorcyclists but one that would endear non-bikers with a good cause and perhaps a raffle with super prizes.

They thought it would be good to follow in the wake of the US Love Ride movement which raises money with a big annual bike ride supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association, of which Harley Davidson is the official sponsor.

This is now the 24th year for Love Ride Switzerland, which takes place each year on the first Sunday of May. This year, hundreds of bikers were making their way to the airfield at Dubendorf, which is why we passed many on our way back from Pfäffikon, then again passing through Oberwil next to our village. I think most of them were heading to the event (which began at 8am!) for the 2pm stunt show, and certainly for the 3pm big raffle that has in the past included a prize of a flight to the US and hire of a bike to partake in the LoveRide event there! There are plenty of rock gigs but also stuff for the children with an on-site circus.

I can imagine the atmosphere is very special and would love to go along next year.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Lunch at Frau Gerold's Garten

It's Open Season for the freibads this week so we've overdone the outdoor swimming a bit and the girls wanted a change. I had just one thing in mind - after an outdoor dip my favourite place to be when the sun is shining is Frau Gerold's Garten in Hardbrücke.

This amazingly warm and friendly meeting place began in summer 2012 as a temporary project ‒ a beer garden complete with kitchen garden ‒ at the foot of the Prime Tower. It has since grown into a hip and trendy institution, with shops, art, and a community garden.

We somehow managed to bag the best table on the roof terrace thanks to my eldest daughter who charmed the pants off a couple who beckoned her over when they were leaving, telling her to bag it before anyone else did! Our corner table gave us welcome shade, with prime views of the rest of the garden, the railway tracks and snow-capped mountain peaks in the distance.

The girls enjoyed cans of orange and lemon zesty fizz, I had a beautiful rhubarb drink and we shared Bratwurst, Cervelat, Gerold's special potato salad, hummus and pitta bread. The food was lovely and plentiful.

The place is open until midnight (except Sundays) all summer and is reduced to a charming wooden hut serving fondue in winter.

I hear with a sad heart that Frau Gerolds Garten’s days may be numbered, with plans for a shiny new convention centre to be built on the site. Recent plans failed but it's a horrible thought. However, the garden has been built with temporality in mind - the containers and vegetable beds can easily be packed up and moved elsewhere, so I guess the garden will find a new home if this happens. It just seems so perfect where it is right now though.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Former bunker becomes swanky pool

I love how resourceful the Swizzlis are. I've just been reading about a former military bunker in the canton of Zurich which has been given an incredible facelift and now houses a funky new swimming pool (see pic left)

The idea to repurpose the bunker came from the local council after officials realised they could kill two birds with one stone by disposing of a useless and expensive piece of real estate and providing much needed space for a swimming pool in the area.

Zurich architects Illiz won the council competition to come up with a design for the pool which took two years to complete and 7.5m Sfr lto fund and offers stunning views of Lake Zurich and the Albis chain.

Traces of the original bunker remain, such as the hexagonal floor tiles, the old numbers marking the former sleeping quarters and the beige walls but the pool is no doubt state-of-the-art - shame it isn't open to the public (not sure who the lucky people are who get to use it)

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The importance of a handshake

A Swiss secondary school was in the news earlier this week for allowing two Muslim boys not to shake hands with female teachers - a common greeting in Swiss schools. The boys had told the school, in the small northern town of Therwil, it was against their faith to touch a woman outside their family. This has caused a fair deal of outrage as it threatens the very heart and soul of this country’s culture. I will explain.

When we arrived at my 6-year-old daughter's first school in Switzerland (at the ungodly hour of 8.15am) on a sunny morning in October 2013 we were amazed to enter a classroom full of 22 children with each and every one of them seated at their desks quietly reading, without any sign of a teacher present. How is this possible? I questioned myself walking home. And, in the two-and a half years since we have been living here, I have tried to answer that question. A question that is significant in the story that broke this week about two Muslim teenagers being allowed not to shake the hands of their female teachers.

You see, hand shaking is a huge part of Swiss culture - whenever people meet, a handshake is expected, along with good eye contact. And this is taught from a very early age. So it is well established by the time a child starts school, when it becomes a daily ritual. At the beginning of class, the teacher stands at the door and shakes the hand of each and every child as they enter. Again, eye contact is expected (I have seen a teacher hold onto a pupil’s hand and give it a friendly squeeze if their gaze wanders) And at the end of the day, the ritual is repeated.

It is not hard to see how much this teaches and builds mutual respect between teacher and pupil. And this leads on to life after school when the handshake becomes a natural part of meeting and greeting each other, creating a healthy respect for everyone you meet.

So when the secondary school agreed to allow the two Muslim boys, aged 14 and 15, to refrain from shaking hands with their female teachers, the case quickly became the centre of a national debate about Swiss identity.

"In our culture and in our way of communication a handshake is normal and sends out respect for the other person, and this has to be brought [home] to the children in school," Therwil Mayor Reto Wolf told the BBC.

Since living in Switzerland I have travelled from handshaking around twice a year - most likely at an inanely boring work conference, with potential ‘networking contacts’ - to shaking hands most days with everyone I meet. I shake hands at my local choir, which involves doing the rounds of 16 people before I sit down. When I arrive at the school’s parent meetings, I will go around everyone in the room with a handshake and a friendly hello. At all school events my children’s teacher makes a point of shaking the hand of every parent present (which can take a while..)

The handshake is a very normal part of conversation and contact with people – it also means I have a little contact with every single person present - and it does indeed teach respect. It makes you closer to people somehow. And along with the handshake, comes eye contact, which is something, embarrassingly, I found incredibly hard at the beginning. I now realise that when living in the UK I would often say hello to people in passing without even looking at them. How rude. But I have definitely improved since living in Switzerland. Because eye contact and hand-shaking go hand in hand here – and this leads to a very healthy and natural respect for your fellow human being.

And the proof is in the pudding as they say – respect between teachers and pupils has become rather a fragile affair in the modern day classroom – but not here. I will never forget my first day in the most respectful classroom I have ever experienced.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Weird and wonderful Bruno Weber Park

We went to the Bruno Weber Park in Dietikon (not to be confused with Dietlikon which is a completely different town) on our last day of the Easter Break.

What a place! It’s a bit of an enigma in many ways. It took us forever to find a way in by car – there are no signposts on the road leading there so we sped right past and ended up on the other side of the hill, with an infuriating glimpse of the tower just 50m away. When you finally take the right road, the only place to park is in the car park for the sports centre, with a 10 minute walk up the steep hill. In hindsight we should have gone by train (details below) as Bruno Weber Weg (the road inaugurated by the municipalities of Spreitenbach and Dietikon in 2006) leads from Dietikon Station to the site (a 30min walk or 5min bus ride)

Swiss artist Bruno Weber (1931–2011) was born in Dietikon. In 1947, he completed college in Zürich, began training as a lithographer with Orell Fuessli (Zürich) and then studied in Italy, Greece and Czechoslovakia before returning to his beloved Switzerland. He discovered his passion for sculpture after thirty years of painting. He then extended his sculpture garden (Bruno Weber Park) where his house, comprising a 25ft tower, is situated. Bruno also created the sculptural decorations on the Uetliberg mountain, including the street lamps leading to the top of Zürich plateau (Uto Kulm) and park benches, that you can enjoy now.

Bruno Weber Park covers an area of 20,000 m2 and is decorated with dozens of columns, reliefs, heads and gargoyles. A 12 m high tower at the entrance area and the estate tower were also built, forming landmarks overlooking the Limmat Valley. The Wassergarten, which opened in May 2012, is embraced by two 100 m long winged dogs (Flügelhund) forming an exciting footbridge from which you can look down on the water garden. Two dragon figures (one male and one female) also mark the entrance into the 'magic forest'. The dragon motif runs through Weber's entire work – supposedly the balance between woman and man. The dragon gate is the prototype of the so-called Drachentor sculpture that represented Switzerland at the World Expo 1992 in Seville. And Bruno became hugely influenced by Antonio Gaudi after visiting Park Güell in Barcelona, which is evident throughout the park.

The Gaudi-esque features of Weber’s back garden really are thrilling. There are unicorns, gargoyles, winged dogs, giant snails, serpents with cats heads, a finger lion (!) there are grockles and snufferwinks (what we called them anyway) and oodles of weird and unworldly characters dotted around with a host of mosaics thrown in. There is a pavilion with thousands of mosaic features, suns, moons and figures, and inside Bruno talks about his treasured work on film. I particularly loved his self-portrait and landscape scenes, which were hung without fanfare, on the walls. We loved walking through this weird and wonderful landscape and the girls were so excited when they saw the pond full of frogspawn and a line of frogs organised along the side looking right at them. (I think this is the first time I have ever seen a frog swimming!)

But there were a few really infuriating factors about this place – the ticket office is an unassuming, uninspired cabin on the left hand side, there is absolutely ‘no pik-niking’ allowed in the wooded area, despite some amazing sculptural picnic tables. There are smaller dragon bridges which you can't go on (although I admit they are probably a little hazardous for children) And there was this whole area in front of the house fenced off so we could only go halfway down the delightful little staircase at the front. The incredible house is now out of bounds (Bruno’s wife, Mariann Weber-Godo, still lives there) despite being open to the public for many years. These few things were particularly galling - especially after paying 45fr for a family ticket - the house is very much an integral part of the site.

But, despite this, my adult's stuffy viewpoint about value for money, we all had a ball – it's nice to achieve that old fashioned sense of awe and wonder - and I am certain this particular outing is one my daughters will never forget (and will probably zanily colour their view of the world for some years to come!) This outing is really pricey but it is an ‘arty’ fun experience far unlike any other I have had in Switzerland so far.

Travel info
  • S12 from Zurich
From Dietikon Bahnhof the park can be reached by:
  • Bus 325 (Weinberg stop) with a walk of 7 mins
  • Bus No: 306 with a walk of 10-15mins 
  • By foot, following Bruno Weber Weg, in around 30-40 minutes.
Admission is: Adult 18fr, children 6-16 10fr, children 3-6 6fr, family 44fr.

Further info

The park has been blighted by lack of finances through the years, which is evident in the groups of un-positioned, unloved sculptures dotted around here and there. And despite 20,000 visitors per year, the trustees announced its closure in August 2014 due to financial troubles. But with support, and a petition of over 15,000 signatures, it opened again eight months later (April 2015) And if the finances begin to flow the trustees have set out a longer term plan. By 2018 the infrastructure for the preservation of the park to be provided and the renovation of paths and squares will be carried out. By 2022 it is planned to open the park for overnight visits, including artificial lighting, renovation of buildings, pavilions and villa. By 2026 it is hoped that the park will have been declared as a national monument.

And I think this definitely has huge potential as a national monument. So please support it if you can!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Happy Easter!

I love Easter. But it’s not quite the same as it used to be when I lived in the UK, with a big family or friend get-together and a huge roast dinner, usually consisting of a succulent leg of lamb. Now we live in Switzerland, leaving family and our closer friends behind, the big Easter get-together has had to take a back seat (for the time being anyway)

And this year, my husband is away in the US for work so it’s just me and my two girls. So it’s down to me. Our Easter weekend began last night, with the girls snuggling up with mummy and the popcorn on the sofa to enjoy The Voice on the BBC. A very late night. So it wasn’t until around 10pm when I got chance to sort out our traditional Easter Egg Treasure Hunt. I have a series of clues I use, adding a few extra details, hiding places and rhymes so it is a little different each year.

I also have a lovely little selection of re-usable decorated eggs, which I build on each year. I found a couple of beautiful ones in Vollenweider this year – I had to tiptoe through the outrageously priced but incredibly beautiful chocolate sculptures to the back of the shop where the cheaper items are hidden away – and picked up a couple for a few francs each (top left and right) 

My youngest daughter loves to decorate our Easter tree
I then get a big bag of choccy eggs from Aldi and put them inside my treasured egg shells. And let the fun begin! I often hide the eggs in more unusual places – slippers, plant pots, etc so there is a humorous element to the treasure hunt thrown in. And at the end, the final ‘treasure’ was a couple of ‘Paint Your Own’ bunnies set of two which I picked up at Manor for a bargain 2.50sfr (The store begins its Easter sale a few days before Good Friday!)

And for the first time this year we made Jamie Oliver's hot cross buns. Very easy and incredibly yummy. Recipe below:

Easy Hot Cross Buns

Add 200ml semi-skimmed milk and 50ml water to a small pan and place over low heat for a few minutes until slightly warm. In a separate pan, warm 55g butter over a low heat until melted. Transfer warmed milk mixture to a medium bowl and stir in 2x7g sachets dried yeast. In a large bowl, sift 455g strong bread flour, add 1tsp sea salt, 1tsp mixed spice, 1tsp cinnamon, ½whole nutmeg, 55g caster sugar. Finely chop 2 pieces stem ginger and stir into mix. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter, followed by the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg and add it to bowl. Using a fork, mix well to a rough dough, then knead for around 10 minutes until soft and springy. Return dough to a flour dusted bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.

Transfer dough to a clean flour dusted work surface and knock back, then sprinkle over dried fruit (55g sultanas or raisins, 30g dried cranberries, 2tbsp mixed peel) and knead into dough for 1-2 mins. Divide dough into 12 pieces and roll each into balls, spacing them out on a greased/lined baking tray as you go. Cover with the tea towel and leave in a warm place for a further 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Mix 2tbsp plain flour and 2tbsp water into a thick paste. Gently pat down the risen buns then carefully trace a batter cross over the top with a spoon. Cook for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and transfer to a wire cooling rack, brush over a little runny honey and leave to cool.

Top tips:
• Swap the raisins and dried cranberries for your favourite dried fruit.
• To keep the buns moist for longer, soak the dried fruit in fruit juice for a couple of hours beforehand.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Proposed vote seeks basic income for all

A friend was given a 10 franc note this week at Zurich Hauptbahnhof – and so were hundreds of others! The cash giveaway was highlighting an incredibly inspired vote which will hit the ballot box this June.

In the summer referendum, every Swiss adult resident will have the right to a guaranteed basic monthly income of 2,500 francs a month if the proposal to voters is accepted!

If the plans, which will go to the ballot box on 5th June, go through, our country will become the first in the world to provide a guaranteed unconditional monthly income to its residents, whether they are in employment or not. The idea has been put forward by a group of intellectuals with the aim to break the link between employment and income. The initiative also aims to give each child 625 francs a month.

The committee’s proposal is based on a survey, carried out by Demoscope Institute, which demonstrated that the majority of Swiss residents would carry on working, or still look for a job, even if the guaranteed income was approved. The survey also said only two per cent of people were likely to stop working, while eight per cent said they ‘could envisage this possibility depending on circumstances.’

In a statement, the committee said: “The argument of opponents that a guaranteed income wouldn’t reduce the incentive of people to work is by this largely contradicted.”

The federal government estimates the cost of the proposal at 208 billion francs a year. Around 153 billion taxes would have to be levied from taxes, while 55 billion francs would be transferred from social insurance and social assistance spending.

The action committee pushing the initiative consists of artists, writers and intellectuals, including publicist Daniel Straub, former federal government spokesman Oswald Sigg and Zurich rapper Franziska Schläpfer (known as ‘Big Zis’) Personalities supporting the bid include writers Adolf Muschg and Ruth Schweikert, philosopher Hans Saner and communications expert Beatrice Tschanz.

I can imagine people will poo-poo this idea as impossible – but I really think this would work. How it would revolutionise society! In any case, I’m sure the campaign garnered a good deal of support in its promotion at Zurich HB this week. The really funny thing is that my friend, who is French, said people formed an orderly queue to receive their free 10 franc notes and commented how it would have been a chaotic free for all if it took place in his home country. Of course, you have to admit, if any country is going to make this work, Switzerland is certainly the one to do it.