Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Yes, no, no, yes, maybe, possibly, who knows?

Baby Bear had a flight out of LUton yesterday. Flights to Zürich were cancelled. Today he had a flight from Gatwixk. Gatwick is fogged up and LUton is clear.

Fingers crossed, at the last minute it seems that his plane might take off. He is boarding now, but yesterday they were all checked in and then it was cancelled. SO until I see is tired(but hopefully happy face) I won't be taking it for granted.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A bad photo

...of a great bread.

This is the Millet and Dried Fruit bread from Healthy Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. As you can see I had just started smearing butter on it when I remembered that I needed a pic. It is moist and delicious and will definitely be made again. After all, I do have approximately 12.499999 kg of gluten left...

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Do you think I've got enough?

It seems I did in fact understand what the baker was saying to me on the phone- I am now the proud owner of 12.5kg of wheat gluten. Given that about a quarter of a cup is needed to make 3 or 4 loaves, this is going to be around for some time. Fortunately I know some people who could make good use of it. In the meantime, I'm off to choose my first recipe from Healthy Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Friday, 4 December 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine Information

If you have worries about the Swine Flu Vaccine, here is some great information.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Something for nothing? In Swtizerland?

Yep, you read it here, folks. I had the Swine Flu vaccine yesterday. Free.Gratis.For nothing. That is so unusual I think I should have asked for two....

With the seasonal flu vaccine I had no side-effects whatsoever. Today I am feeling fairly crappy and am wondering if it is as a result of the Pig Flu vaccine. I know I haven't got the flu, it is a dead vaccine, after all, but I am feeling a bit 'flu-y', with attendent muscle aches etc. I wouldn't be bothered except I have an appointment tomorrow that I have to schlepp across town for at HALF-PAST SEVEN IN THE BLOODY MORNING. Doesn't anyone know that I'm not working so should NEVER have to see that time of day???

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Well, I'm, erm, well, I was sure

*What do you mean, you were ,sure?
#Exactly what I said. I was sure I left it right here.
* Well, what do you mean by 'Right here'?
#It was on the balcony, well, maybe be not exactly on the balcony....
* (Folds arms, starting to look smug) Ah, were getting to the bottom of it at last. Admit it, you aren't really sure where you left it here at all, are you.
* (Indignant) Now don't play games, I'm tellling you, I could see it from the balcony, and everything. It was right here. It was Thursday and I saw it, clear as day.
*(Shrugs, turns to shuffle back inside). Be that as it may, wherever you think you left Autumn on Thursday, we're back from the UK and it sure as heck looks like winter to me now!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy Happy, Joy Joy!!!

Number Guy and I are going to the UK this week- a combination of Christmas shopping and time for NG to meet up with some of his friends. (Well, they are now my friends, too, but you know what I mean!)An extra specially good thing is that Baby Bear will be joining us for the weekend, too.

Number Guy and his friends will be playing Dundgeons and Dragons- yes, it might seem a bit odd to the uninitiated, but they don't go to the pub and get pissed, they don't hang around football stadiums (stadia???) being obnoxious. This is their equivalent of going for a pint. It works for me :0) I did put my foot down on one issue, though. Number Guy might be quite happy lying on the floor in a sleeping bag, but I've decided that one advantage of my advancing years is that I can veto mad plans like that. We'll be in a hotel.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

More bookish bemusement

I ordered a cookery book from an online company. It arrived about a week later. So why did I just get another one.....?

Monday, 23 November 2009


Something bookish arrived in the post for me today. Well, something more than bookish, it was indeed an actual book. One that I hadn't ordered. Hmmm. A bit of a puzzle. It is 'Last Night in Twisted River' by John Irving. I guess it could be a belated birthday present by someone who hasn't owned up. However, all that came with it was a 'Compliments of Bloomsbury' slip, so unless I hear otherwise I'll assume it's from them .

I'm still puzzled, but I'm not complaining. Thanks a lot for the book:0)

Monday, 16 November 2009


I eagerly awaited Healthy Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day , so was very disappointed to see that every recipe was calling for Vital Wheat Gluten. I was fairly certain that getting my hands on some would be a long and painful process.

However, the internet is a wonderful place and someone on Ravelry pointed me at a particular blog post where a fellow 'ex-pat-in-Switzerland' had the same difficulty. She solved it very simply- she bought some from her local baker. In the UK this might be quite difficult, as there are not many local bakers left. Happily, that is not the case here. The next village along has a bakery with shop right on the main street. In fact, you can watch the bakers at work as you go past. I dropped in today and they were most helpful. They didn't have any on the premises but are going to order some for me. Result :0)

ETA: I Had a phone call from the baker. He was speaking Swiss German, I was (wo)manfully plodding on with German. I think it is now on order. All 12kg of it. Yep, they can't get a smaller pack.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

PFO test

I had the test done on Friday- Profolol you are my friend, I don't remember a damn thing about the procedure, which is just the way I like it. The good news is that I don't have a hole in my heart. The bad news is that there is nothing physical that can be done to stop the migraines. However, the very best bit of news as far as I am concerned is that my stroke risk is not any greater than it would be in any other 'average' woman.*

The only unpleasant thing that happened was trying to get the Venflon in. In the end it took FOUR people. The last person to try was a nurse from the anaesthetic department. He snuck up on the vein and then rammed it home so fast I thought it was going to come out of my elbow! But he got it in... My hands and arms look as if they've had a good beating.

So it's back to being appreciative of the good things in life and not letting the bad weeks get me down. Speaking of good things, I am listening to one of the CDs that Baby Bear gave me for my birthday. It is 'Y-Yo Ma plays Moricone.' Baby Bear and I both love the music to 'The Mission', so this was a very, very thoughtful gift, filled with beautiful music. It's on in the background as I drink my coffee, read a good book and generally enjoy life in Switzerland. Good things indeed.

* People who have migraine with aura have an increased risk of stroke. The cardiologist confirmed for me that this is directly as a result of PFO

Thursday, 12 November 2009


I'm new to eBooks. I'm new to iTouch. I'm new to downloading eBooks to my PC and then transferring them to my iTouch.

Despite that, I somehow (not sure how) managed a major step in the proccess when I registered with Adobe Digital Editions. No big deal? Try doing it in a foreign language....

Monday, 19 October 2009

New personal best

10km, 1 hour.

This health &v fitness thing sure is odd. I didn't get up until 1.00pm today because I had (another) bad migraine. Ye this evening I feel good enough to go on the crosstrainer.

What is even odder, and more frustrating, is that my weight stays resolutely the same. I am not eating between meals. I am not eating huge amounts of carbs. I am not drinking lots of milk. If my measurements were changing, then that would be great. But everything stays the same :0(

Sunday, 18 October 2009

just in case

Last winter we had trouble with the heating a couple of times. Well, it wasn't really trouble, since by the time I realised there was a problem the letting company were already on to it. But I do wonder what would happen if the heating failed at 5.00pm on a Friday. With this in mind I bought enough wood to last a few days. This is a pathetic fire to be sure, but it was only to check that there were no chimney problems.

Now, where did I put those chesnuts...

Saturday, 17 October 2009


Just finished Her Fearful Symmetry.. I needn't have worried, it was a great read.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Seize the moment

(Hard to do when it took me a few moments to work out how to spell 'seize'- German is really screwing with my English.)

This week has been harder than normal. I am having lots of migraine problems. It's getting me down a bit.

However, one of the things about living with chronic pain is that you learn to make the most of the good times. And to be fair, I have had lots of good times with the current med regime. I had a couple of hours today where I felt not bad at all. I leapt at the chance to go on the crosstrainer. Well, okay, I admit that is putting a bit of a gloss on it. I dragged myself upstairs and did my first 60 minutes for a long time and clocked up just over 9.00km.

Feeling far too knackered to feel smug about it, I then sat down to do an hour of German, which wasn't too bad at all.

I also managed to chuck on some pumpkin and apple soup (my favourite) and slung some soda bread in the oven. I'm starting to feel really crappy again so it's off to the sofa for me and an hour or two of Star Treck- in German, natarulich ;0)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


I've had a migraine off and on for 3 days now. It hasn't got to the head-pounding stage but I am feeling a bit on the miserable side. Nauseous too. This is when I am very grateful that I am not trying to hold down a job, nor have to care for 3 children under 5.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Don't look back in anger

Thanks to the suggestions on an earlier post, I am now tuned into Absolute Radio. Nothing like a bit of Oasis to take me back a few years....

Friday, 9 October 2009

Next step

HAving had the appointment earlier this week regarding the possibility of a PFO, I had a long chat with one of the patients who has had the procedure.

I have decided to join the study. The first step will be to have the test to see if I have a hole in my heart. That will be sometime next week.

Speedy, huh?

Thursday, 8 October 2009


Just completed 50 min and 7.66km on the crosstrainer. Had to push hard for most of the was and those extra ten minutes at the end were bloody awful, but it has to be done if I am going to reach my goal of 1 hour every two days.

I am also trying very hard now with regards to what I am eating. A small amount of carbohydrate twice a day, protein at every meal and loads (and loads more)vegetables.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Much as I hate to admit it to myself, never mind anyone else, when I was a skinny miss I was fairly smug about it. Until about 10 years ago, I weighed 7.5 stones. I wasn't on a diet, in fact I ate a ridiculous amount of cream cakes and chocolate bars. I only put on the regulation 1.5 St when I was pregnant and with no effort at all was back in my jeans when Baby Bear was 3 weeks old. Over the next decade I put on about half a stone ( about 3 kilos). I 'knew' that people who were overweight 'simply had to eat less and exercise more.'

Well I am paying for that smugness now. I use my crosstrainer every two days. I am eating much less....but I am not losing weight. Ha, the simple things in life are not so simple after all.

I have made some progress though. Having come off the pizotifen (which was responsible for the weight gain, but not for the weight staying put), I am now back to a more normal eating pattern. Thze current migraine med, a beta blocker, is not affecting my pulse which makes it easier for me to exercise. Today when I had my nutritionist appointment (well, don't all the best people have nutritionists?)I told him I wanted to move on..

Next goal- increase from 40 min to 1 hour every two days on the crosstrainer, one stone in weight lost. Both by Christmas.


....you know that feeling you get when you have changed your password on your email and then can't remember it.....?

Monday, 5 October 2009

Suggestions please

When I was in the UK, I listened to Virgin Radio. For an oldtimer like me, it was perfect- some of the music from my youth (the 70s and 80s, in case you were wondering!!) and more modern 'stuff'. But none of that rap crap- I'm talking Cold Play, Snow Patrol, The Killers,Maroon 5, Greenday & C.

Any suggestion for a similar station that I can listen to on the Internet. I can see that Virgin is based in some other countries, but I am having problems streaming so can't tell if it is the same.

(polite)Suggestions welcome.


Study title: Percutaneous closure of patent foramen ovale (PFO) in migraine with aura (PRIMA)- a randomized prospective study.

This article explains it quite nicely. If I decide to take part in the study the first step involves a procedure to discover whether or not I do have a hole in my heart. And guess what? It involves shoving something down my throat. I'm so over having that kind of thing done. Unlike the endoscopy that I had a month or so ago, I'll be wide awake for this one :0( I'm going to talk it over with Number Guy and make a decision about it this week.

It's here!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Thrifty cooking

I've had a look at a few 'thrifty cookbooks' and some of them are ok. Some of them involve eating things that, quite frankly, turn my stomach. However, I think The Thrifty Cookbook is a winner.

The author gives some excellent advice on how to waste less food, basic techniques, what to shop for, storing things in fridge and freezer. Then she gets down to it with chapters such as- Soups, Stews and Curries, Bakes, Rice, Pasta and Things to do with Bread amongst others. Ingredients are cross-referenced in the index. Another handy section is 'What goes with what.'

I don't think anyone would feel hard done-by if they were served a meal made from one of these recipes. Baby Bear is often looking for recipe ideas and I think that one of these books is going to be finding its way into his Christmas stocking, as it's a great book for students, too.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Scared of a book

I've been waiting so long for this that I can't quite bring myself to start it. What if it's, well, crap?

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Saturday, 12 September 2009

That time of year again.

We waved Baby Bear off this morning. I managed not to cry but it was a bit of a close thing. We've been doing this for four years now, and although it does get easier, I am never going to 'get over it.' I'll always have a heavy heart when he goes.

But the good thing is that he is progressing in his studies- this time he will be working on his MSc, so he'll have a fairly intensive year.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

I can hardly walk

Tonight I upped my distance from 6.3km to 7.00km in 40 minutes.I'm really pleased but I am very stiff. After the exertions of the crosstrainer I do a variety of stretches. They were much needed tonight as I feel incredibly stiff- all the muscle fibres seem a bit shorter.

I'm a bit concerned that I am coming down with a virus that a friend has- now that I (think??)I can see some changes in my body I don't want to be cooling my heels while a virus does its worst.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Pickle/exercise update

Tried the Olive Oil Pickles and some Pepper Pickles yesterday. The Pepper ones are nice, but no as ovewhelmingly scrumptious as the Gingery Pcikle Vegetables. The Olive Oil ones are disgusting- soft, slimy cucumber. They went in the bin- life is too short to eat nasty food.

I am grading each recipe that I try in my pickle book, so that in a couple of years I don't waste my time again.

I am now doing 6km in 40 min on the crosstrainer. I realise that this does not make me an athelete, but I think it is beginning to show in a slighter trimmer body. I'm not deluding myself - there's plenty of work still needed.

What makes a book prizeworthy?

Because I would really like to know!

On Friday I hosted our book group meeting, since I had chosen the book. The upside was the company and all the baking I got to do. The downside was the book.
The Blind Side of the Heart won the Deutscher Buchpreis. Despite this fact, no-one in our group like it. It was full of tormented souls, none of whom one could feel any affection for. It wasn't as if it broaches life in pre-war/war torn Germany in some new, astounding fashion. I don't think it added anything to our understanding of how crappy some people/life is. IN short, we all found it mundane in the extreme and some could not bring themselves to finish it.

If you've read this novel and loved it, how about enlightening me?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Stick a fork in me

I think I'm done with the pickling. Yep, that mad urge has finally come to an end- though I have no doubt that I will continue with it over the winter, just not so frantically.

These are two different types of cauliflower- one with ordinary pickling spices, the other with 'Indian inspired ones'- although I imagine that anyone who loves Indian pickles will find these not up to the mark. But wimps like me will probably love them.

Friday, 28 August 2009


Homemade: bread, hummus, Fennel and Orange pickle, Aubergine pickle. I could eat the Fennel pickle straight from the jar. So delicious. The Aubergine is 'ok'- a bit tart but I am sure I will get over that. The hummus was delicious, too, much to my surprise because it is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair with me.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper..

...or in other words, more pickling. (I know, doesn't make sense but I do have pickling on the brain right now).

These pickles are Gingery Sweet Pickled Vegetables. They smelled so good as I was putting them in the jars that I am sure they are going to be delicious.

Here we have two jars of Honeyed Peppers. I have to say that unless they are completely spectacular I won't be making them again as they were a complete pain in the ass to do.

ETA: Rest assured, Davi, they do indeed have vinegar in them. The Ginergy one is supposed to be 100% rice wine vinegar, so I am not sure how topping it up with cider vinegar will go, but I'm hopeful.. The Honeyed Pickles have a wine vinegar and water mix.

I'm sure I have more pickling in me yet ;o)

Potted sunshine

Peppers with fennel seeds, bay leaf and garlic. I'm looking forward to eating these with homemade hummus and crusty bread.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Apple and Onion pickle

This one is so easy- thinly slice one peeled and cored apple. Thinly slice an onion. Layer in a jar with mace, allspice (had none so I used a few peppercorns), sliced ginger and a few shakes of flaked, dried hot pepper. Cover with cider vinegar. Leave in a cool place for a couple of weeks.

In answer to T's question 'With what does on eat apple and onion pickle?'the answer is: I haven't a clue! And to be completely honest, I haven't a clue what to eat with most of the pickles I've made!! I'm just going to keep trying different combinations. I can say, however, that the Fennel and Orange pickle is great with chicken.

Banana cake

I have lost my favourite banana cake recipe, so I am trying this one from
Bake. It was a bit odd as I have never made a banana cake with the rubbed-in method. I added sultanas as suggested, because I always do. I left out the nuts and cherries because they have no business being in a banana cake, no siree!

Iced Vanilla Latte

This is my weapon of choice at a well-known coffee chain that I visit most Wednesdays. I decided that I didn't have to be a barista to make my own. Yesterday I cold-brewed some coffee and today mixed some of it up with ice, vanilla syrup and low-fat milk.

How'd it turn out? Delicious.

ETA: cold brewed coffee is as easy as pie. Get a container, add some ground coffee, pour in some cold water and leave in the fridge overnight. Then put it through a coffee filter. This gives you a concentrated coffee that you can dilute to taste. I just added about 1/4 cup of coffee to a jar of water.

Migraine update

Saw the (lovely in every possible way) neurologist today.I had stopped taking the vitamin B2 and Co-enzyme Q10 supplement because...well, because the beta blocker was working so well for the first three weeks that I was not motivated to take it. Having discussed the matter at length I will be taking it religiously for the next six weeks. I can increase the current beta blocker if need be, but I am not going to do that just now because I don't want my ability to use the crosstrainer affected.

I am also going to contact a specialist who is running a programme relating to hole in the heart and migraines. It is just possible that I have this defect. It is also important to know whether or not the hole is there because a very small hole can increase the chance of small emboli being thrown off and lodging in the brain. Hmm. Nice.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


This time last week my maximum pulse during my 32 minutes (yes, I count every one!!)on the crosstrainer was 136 BPM. This week that maximum was down to 126BPM, so I'm taking that as a good sign. I am going to stay at 32 minues for a month and then I will increase the intensity and see what happens. I'm sure it won't be pretty....

Tomorrow I have a follow-up with the neurologist. If it had been this time last week I would have been jumping up and down and 100% delighted. However, the last week has been really crap, quite frankly, and I am at a complete loss to explain why. Nothing has changed. So I am not sure what will happen at tomorrow's appointment

First signs

Well, second signs when I think about it. The first signs have been with me since the beginning of August - slight colour changes in the leaves. Today I saw my first leaves on the ground, all brown and sad-looking. Man, I hate it when summer is over.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Banana Chutney

Making half a recipe might lea^d you to think there would be half the stated yield, but in this case it made just about a third. I have a half jar which I didn't boil (it kept floating) so that will be kept in the fridge for a month and then be eaten first.

Pickled beans

No matter how hard I try, I don't seem to get the jars packed firmly enough, although in this picture you can't see the space at the bottom of the jars because of the towel that they are sitting on.

As I write this there is the comforting sound of 'popping' going on in the background, letting me know that the seal is working :0)

Tonight I am going to make some banana chutney. However, as I can now see from the (obvious) quantity stated, the recipe makes six and a half pints. I'll be halving that, as I can't see me working my way through that much chutney, now matter how much I like it.

ETA: Turns out that 2 or the jars didn't seal. I put them back and boiled them for another 5 minutes and as soon as they came out the water bath they popped.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Pickled Grapes

These grapes look more like pickled eggs than grapes, which isn't a particularly enthralling though. I hope they are ok- in the shop I thought they were seedless and they aren't. All the recipes call for seedless but I am hoping that this is more to do with texture than anything more problematic.

ETA: I made double quantity of the preserving solution and it was only just enough.

(yet) more on pickles

I tried the fennel and orange with some roast chicken last night. Soooooo good. I think I am going to have to have a jar of this permanently on standby.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Oilve Oil Pickles

When I went to our local farm to get eggs this morning I found some cucumbers. They aren't like the ones we commonly have in the UK- they are fatter with bumps on. There were three of them and I reckoned they were perfect for my foray into pickled cucumbers.

They were so easy to prepare- cut in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Thinly slice two small onions and mix in with the cucumbers and salt. Leave for 5 hours, drain and then layer with yellow mustard seeds and flaked chillies. Cover with wine vinegar and float a couple of tablespoons of oil on the top. Kept in a cool place, these will be ready in a couple of weeks.

Friday, 14 August 2009

canned pears

Canned the pears last night (actually, I want to say 'jarred', because I didn't use cans, but I guess it is the process that is called canning, not the containers? Anyway, I have a question for y'all. How long to pickled pears need to be kept before they are at their best? This being a piece of information that I couldn't find in the book, which is odd because the other recipes have this.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Scary stuff

I went in search of a taller pan so that I can boil the jars but the only ones which came close to what I need were CHF300. Yep, 300 francs for a pot. I bought some smaller jars instead.

This seems to have done the trick. I boiled the jars of pickled pears for the 15 minutes stated plus an extra five to allow for altitude. Let me tell you, it was quite scary standing beside two full pots which were burping and bubbling away like molten lava. Hope the results are worth it - and I'm waiting impatiently to see if the last pot is going to 'pop.'

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


I'm on a bit o a preserving kick. Here is my 'pickled aubergine cubes'and 'fennel and orange.' Well, I made them, but the recipes came from
The Joy of Pickling. I have a little bone to pick - my understanding is that the vegetables need to be completely immersed in the pickling solution - to achieve this with the fennel pickle I had to make four times as much solution as directed. The other issue I have is that she doesn't give quantities - she tells you which size of jar but not how many. When you are a novice, it kinda helps to know. The other 'problem' is that I don't have a pan deep enough to boil the jars after filling, so they will need to be kept in the fridge. This is a pain, so I am going to be on the hunt for a deep enough pan.

I hope they are tasty, because one jar of each is a birthday present for my friend J

Edit: Seems that I couldn't see the wood for the trees. As soon as I opened the book this morning and looked at a recipe, there it was for all the world to see: the quantity, sitting loud and proud under the title of the recipe. Oops...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


Before today I have had two endoscopies - believe me when I tell you that being semi-conscious while someone rams a tube down your throat is not a pleasant experience. Happily the doctor who performed the 3rd one today is not like the other two. He listened to my concerns and then made quite sure I was unaware of the procedure.

All of this is to follow up on the diagnosis I received two years ago re the oesphageal dismotility and acid reflux. Well, specifically to check whether or not there I have eosinophilic oesophagitis . A biopsy is the only way to tell, hence today's procedure. The good news is that there is no sign of Barrett's oesophagus which is great news. In fact, everything looks normal as far as the eye can tell.

Monday, 10 August 2009


I just took the lid off my kettle to check how much water was in it.....and discovered a big dead bug. How many cups of bug tea have I had.....?

Book Clubs

Everyone who is anyone seems to be in a book club. Don't let anyone tell you that we ex-pats don't have our fingers on the pulse.

Book clubs can be rather clique-y,and I have to admit that a couple of friends and I were knocked back from a club we tried to join. No particular reason, just that our faces didn't fit. Ho hum. We formed our own friendly club.

Right now we are reading Towing Jehovah by James Morrow . Basically, God id dead and his corpse needs towing to the Arctic circle to prevent it rotting. I was really enjoying it, but two things are getting in the way. Firstly, there is just too much yucky 'bodily' detail. I am sure there is a point to this, but frankly it turns my stomach. Secondly, and somewhat importantly, I managed to leave it on the bus. This is turning into a common occurrence with me, leaving things on buses and trams...* Here's hoping that the replacement copy gets here in time - we're discussing it on Friday. I'm going to take along chocolate cup cakes with vanilla frosting, so I'm gonna make sure I eat mine well before we get to the gunky bits of the discussion ;0)

On the migraine front, I am very, very pleased. In the last 5 days I have had only one dose of painkillers And as far as we can tell, I have not been sleepwalking, although I am still having some bizarre dreams (OK, more bizarre than normal). So it looks as if this beta blocker might be a winner.

And for no particular reason, here is another pic from Harlow Carr

*Now you know why NUmber Guy has said we can use his mah jong set but I am not allowed to take it out of the house!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Gawd, I hate cleaning the fridge.

No, really, I do. I loathe it. Yet somehow today I have managed to cast my negative feelings aside and embrace the basin of water. Well, not really - cleaning a fridge in a wet t-shirt is not my idea of a fun time. Seems I did it just in time - there were things in my fridge that were approaching that time in their life where they could only be identified by a particularly keen archaeologist.

I would provide some kind of evidence except that someone (aka Number Guy) has moved the cable that lets my phone and computer talk to each other. I also wanted to show you the delicious dim sum that my friend J made for the -mah-jong-session-that-never-happened, together with a pic of the glorious matcha cupcakes that I made for same session-that-didn't-happen.

On the migraine front, things are (fingers crossed) looking fairly good. Not as good as that other beta blocker, but a shed load better than this time last week. I was just a little disturbed to wake up this morning to discover that I had in fact signed something that Number Guy gave me last night. I have no knowledge of this at all, yet the signature looks remarkably like mine....oh well.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

new migraine treatment

So....I am giving a the beta blockers one final chance in the guise of nebivololum. If I don't have any nightmares during the first few days I have to keep using it for a month....anxious, anxious.....

I have been given two different triptans to try in case of an acute attack. Naramig, which I've had before about 5 years ago and a completely new one Almogran (almotriptan). There were more mutterings about Topomax but I just told them point blank that I was not prepared to take it.

Monday, 27 July 2009

migraine misery, Genoa (not necessarily linked ;0)

I'm back on the beta blockers, not that this is helping any right now, I have had a very miserable few days. I am also having rather unpleasant dreams again and am very worried about the sleepwalking and what I might do whilst in the grip of a nightmare. Fun times. I managed to get an appointment at the migraine clinic tomorrow- it's a long journey by public transport and I am not looking forward to making it.

On the positive side, at least I am miserable in Switzerland ;0)

OUr recent trip to Genoa was.....interesting. The old part of the city looks filthy, even though there is no rubbish lying around. The (almost constant) smell of urine doesn't help. The food is bloody awful. Yep, we were eating where the locals ate and all I can say is that they must have pretty low standards! The people were very friendly though and were very tolerant of my lack of Italian - and we found what was Probably The Best Gelato In The World.

Number Guy has a weakness for aquaria (is that the correct plural???) so a visit to the Genoese one was a must.
It ticked lots of the right boxes, but we do think that their humming bird display was a bit, erm, unworthy of the extra admission fee.

Right, I'm off to remind myself that there are worse things in the world than chronic and acute migraine - wish me luck!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

more migraine stuff

just want to document the latest changes so that I have it written somewhere.

Went to see a neurologist who seems to know what she is on about this time.I am a but anxious because I am stopping the metroprolol due to sleep-walking issues (Number Guy found me trying to get the French doors in our bedroom open while we were in Genoa. We were four stories up....)

So - trying magnseium again, starting at 5 mmol and working up

Vitamin B2- starting on 200mg working up to4oomg (may have an allergic reaction, nice)

INcrease the medication I take for oesophogeal dismotility as it apparently works for migraines. so up to 100mg

Tale Zomig when I get face pain. Dr thinks I wait too long. I don't. I know the difference between the 'take other painkillers' and 'this is gonna blow my head off' so I am a bit anxious that I'll be taking Zomig all the time

Take MAxalt (same type of drug as Zomig) if the Zomig doesn't work. THis is a bit of a relief as although the times when the Zomig doesn't work are few and far between, when it doesn't the pain is indescribeable.

HAve EEG and MRI scan to check all really is ok, but there is no reason to think it isn't

Whew, I feel tired just typing that lot....

More about Genoa later, methinks.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Good migraine news

Initially, I was a bit concerned about the efficacy of
Metoprolol in the treatment of my migraines. I am happy to report that things are now going much better than I had anticipated.

The very positive thing about this drug is that it is having a dramatic effect on the chronic face pain that I have with migraine. This can be low-medium-hight intensity and results in having to take painkillers on an a,most daily basis (I am aware of rebound pain, and for the most part this isn't a problem). I am now having more days when I don't need any painkillers at all than days when I might need one of two doese. This is great. The downside is that weightgain is still an issue with this drug. Darn it! The added problem is that my pulse won't go above about 110, which makes exercise on my cross-trainer difficult. But I am not giving in and in addition I am seeing a nutritionist to help me get back into a good routine of eating, both in terms of what I eat and when I eat it. I am feeling fairly positive about this.

What I am not feeling positive about is my BMI of 28.1. For someone who was skinny all their life, this is an unhappy situation. I am going to calculate my BMI at the start of every month and hopefully it will be on a downwards trajectory.

Friday, 12 June 2009


meringues made....check
lemon curd made ....check
flaky pastry made....check
chicken cooked....not yet
layer cake made...erm, not yet
raspberry sauce made...tomorrow.

We are having some friends over for dinner tomorrow and it is feeling like a military operation.

I am making:
Chicken and broccoli pie with flaky pastry - if I was in the UK I would buy 100% butter frozen puff pastry, but all I can find here has some rather dubious oils in it - serving it with carrots, peas and new potatoes followed by
A coconut layer cake with lemon curd filling made from Southern Cakes , which I picked up in California.

As a lighter option for dessert, I have made meringues (it took two attempts, don't ask) and will whip up some cream and make a raspberry coulis. Now I could have made a starter instead of two desserts, but hey, I'm the cook so I'm making it my way.

The pastry takes about 3 hours to make - you have to refrigerate it after every fold and roll. I can't make anything else while I am doing this because the kitchen will get too hot. I had hoped to make the sponger for the layer cake today, but I think that will have to wait until tomorrow morning, then it will simply(!) be a case of assembling it all and finishing off the pie at the last minute.

Monday, 8 June 2009


Guess which float we were on for the
Europride Parade?

There was a great atmosphere. When there is so much homophobia in the world it gives me some hope that there are also events like this, open to, and attended by, so many diverse groups.

Here is just one of the participants. How can he walk in those heels??

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Go Zürich

It's Gay Pride time in Zürich, and here you can see the Cantonal flag, the Swiss flag and the gay Pride flag (is that how it is called???) here together. The trams are sporting the same 3 flags.


have a peek

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

What do you do when you've been told to cut down on wheat and dairy?

Why, you bake, of course ;0)

I haven't been told to stop consuming them, just to try not to eat them 5/7. I'll never manage cold turkey, so I am trying to just cut back gradually. One way of doing this is to mix in other grains etc. The Muffins on the right have some cornmeal and with the roasted peppers and mini-mozzarella balls ( just a few) they are delicious with soup. I only made 4, so I am not tempted to pig out.

The muffins on the right are from
Rachel Allan's 30 day muffin recipe . Believe it or not, the uncooked batter keeps in the fridge for 30 days, so you can just use it as and when you need it. Hence, two strawberry muffins all scrumptious looking and ready to eat.


Just had a phone call from Baby Bear.

He is now the proud 'owner' of a 2:1 in Economics. So, so, SO proud of him.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

May 2009

May has passed by in a bit of a blur, as you will gather from what I said earlier. Thought maybe I would share a bit of the detail.

The first weekend in York was a bit hectic, seeing us making an essential visit to
Bettys Tea Room *.I didn't have any Swiss wine this time, as strangely enough I can get a hold of some any time I want, but I did have some rather delicious cakes. We also visited The Deep , which as the name suggests is a rather big aquarium. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. Much of the building is very dark, to the point of it being rather unpleasant. The food was appalling, despite a very appealing menu posted on the entrance. We made up for that by visiting another Bettys on our way to the airport, this time at
Harlow Carr , an RHS garden.
I was tempted to take some photos of the cakes, but decided on a few views of the gardens instead.

The next weekend saw us attending
The Badminton Horse Trials . HAving been horse-daft since I was a nipper, this was a fantastic Christmas gift from Number Guy, to help cheer me up when my son went back to the UK.

Just look at the size of that SOLID fence. Believe it or not, the horses (preferably with rider still on board) have to clear that thing in a one-er.
For those of you who don't know about horse trials, there are 3 main phases. Day one and two are dressage . Day 3 of the competition is the cross country where some very brave (and just a bit mad?) riders and their horses leap the most solid and formidable fences that you can imagine. As you can see in
this video falls can and do happen. Riders have died in the past, so it is not for the faint-hearted.

The final day is the show jumping, with the riders going in reverse order. This year the competition was literally decided on the very last fence jumped in the competition. Exciting stuff.

The next weekend saw us in the US and we stayed in a very swanky place in Carmel, called the Tradewinds . If you like exotic flowers in your bedroom, this is the place to go.

After a week of work for Number Guy, we stayed in Monteray for the next weekend so we could go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium . Now these people know how to show off a great aquarium. They had lots of otters and a new sea horse display which were highlights for us.

So as you can see, we really have been run off our feet. Not complaining, though, I'm just glad to have had the opportunities.

* No, this is not a punctuation error. For some reason (possibly due to the fact that Bettys has a Swiss connection and this punctuation is correct in German???)this is how it is spelled, without an apostrophe. I know, hard to imagine, really.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Busy, busy, busy

First weekend in May - in York, birthday weekend for Number Guy's mum.

Second weekend in May - Badminton Horse Trials - belated Christmas present for me

Third and fourth weekends in May - in California, work trip for Number Guy, holiday for me.

Tonight - fighting off jet lag and bronchitis to go to a
Snow Patrol concert in Winthertur.

I'm telling you, this non-work life is tiring ;0)

ETA: Snow Patrol completely rocked last night!!! :0) :0) :0)

Friday, 10 April 2009

Birthday Cake

It might not be the prettiest cake in the world, but I reckon it's one of the tastiest.

One of my friends is having a "significant" birthday and she asked me to make this for her party. It's the Nigella Lawson Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

It's one of my favourite cakes, but it does make rather a lot. I reckon that even half the recipe would do too much damage to my hips, so I tend to make it only on special occasions. The last time I made it I made a mistake and put whisky in the icing instead of ginger ale - I know, a really easy mistake to make. It was delicious ;0) but I decided to go for the ginger ale this time, in case anyone at the party needs to avoid alcohol.

Now I just need to keep out of the kitchen, as I feel a bit like Alice - the darn thing keeps saying 'Try me'...

Thursday, 9 April 2009


A quiet house, a malt whisky and ginger ale* and a good book. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. Just relaaaaax.....

*Yeh, I know, but I'm a Scot so I reckon I have the right to abuse my national drink ;0)

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


...what I would like to know is this - why do some health professionals feel it is ok to say one thing to your face and something entirely different behind your back?

Although patients in Scotland have the right to see their medical notes, they can be edited if it is felt that something ' would be detrimental to their wellbeing.' Yeh right. We all know what THAT means, don't we? Suffice to say that I got a copy of some of my notes today. I don't think that the person who wrote them envisaged me getting to see them.

I am really angry. But more to the point, I am really, really upset. I had a great deal of trust in this person and it has now been irrevocably shattered. To add insult to injury, I have to show these notes to another doctor tomorrow.Oh well, it's only self-esteem....

On a cheerier note, I may be getting one of these beauties

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


I went to see my Augenartzt (eye doctor) yesterday. He measured the pressure in my eyes, which was a bit on the high side. By the time he used his 'Gameboy' as he called it, to perform a calculation once he had plugged in eye pressure plus corneal thickness, all was well. Pressures normal, visual field great, optic nerve wonderful.

All this means that he is happy for me to have beta blockers - in fact, turns out that some drops to treat glaucoma have beta blockers in them.

So I left a message for THAT neurologist and picked up a prescription today. I don't trust her but will make do until I find one I can actually trust. So no more pizotifen for me tonight, and I start the new medication tomorrow. It isn't propranolol, which gives really, really bad nightmares. I *think* it may be atenolol, but of course it has a different name. I am hoping this will have less of an effect on the dreaming - wonder if this is why I am to take it in the morning....?

I feel a little bit excited. It would be great to have more migraine control with no weight gain, but only time will tell.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Thanks for the kind words about Athyr....

I really miss having cats in the house, and Athyr's passing just made me feel it more. Looking on the bright side, it lack of responsibilities makes travel a lot easier. We are going to be having a crazy travel year. Part of the travel plans involve my second trip to the USA in May.

Looking forward to it already :0)

Thursday, 19 March 2009


If you look at the picture in the 'About me' section on the right of this blog, you will see Athyr, our chocolate-point Siamese. I say 'our', because although she had to go to a new home when we moved here, she always had a special place in our hearts.

The final, and most important, kindness that you can and must do for a pet is to let them go when the time comes. However hard the parting is. One of the reasons that we chose the new owners for Isis and Athyr was that we just knew we could trust them to do this if the time came.

Sadly, that time came for Athyr just under a week ago. She was not quite 6 years old. My heart is heavy, but I can't thank J & M enough for this last kindness.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Thy middle name is....


SO glad to get my dishwasher fixed today. Sad, isn't it?

But trying to balance things out a bit (or am I simply justifying???) I do make my own bread ;0)

Monday, 16 March 2009

Go me! - noch einmal!!

Now, assuming that I did in fact understand what I was saying and hearing, the dishwasher repair man is coming out tomorrow.

These little things, which include explaining the problem, collecting and giving information, can be so daunting. I feel inordinately proud of myself when I achieve something like this.

Now the proof of the pudding - will someone turn up tomorrow? And will he expect to fix the dishwasher?

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Flying visit

Number Guy and I spent less than 24hrs in Scotland yesterday. Arrived at 4.00pm, left at 9.00am today. But I got to see my boy, so it was well worth it :0)))

Monday, 9 March 2009

Dear Neurologst....

Further to the consultation re my migraines this morning, I thought you might be interested in this information regarding Topomax. I have taken the information from:


This is the Topomax website, not some anecdotal piece of information.

Other serious risks include decreased sweating, increased body temperature, kidney stones, sleepiness, dizziness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and increased eye pressure (glaucoma). Call your doctor immediately if you have any decrease in vision or eye pain. These problems can lead to blindness if not treated right away.

I have to say that I was surprised and very worried that you did not know that this was a potential problem. I would also like to commend you for managing to not-quite laugh in my face when I mentioned the possibility of blindness. I would like to commend myself more for not telling you exactly what I thought of you.


One Very pissed-off Patient.

PS Why did you also tell me to consult an opthamologist about the side-effects of beta-blockers? It seems that you don't know much about the medications that you are prescribing. What ever happened to the concept of 'Do no harm'?????

Friday, 27 February 2009

Daily bread

This is the Pumpernickel from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day . I didn't have any caramel colour or caraway seed, but it sure looks good. Of course, having never tasted Pumpernickel I have no idea how it compares to the 'real thing.'

Monday, 23 February 2009

baking suppler plea

Does anyone know of a Swiss/mainland European of
King Arthur or Shipton Mill .

You'd be making my day- to say nothing of the cakes and breads ;0)

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


I finally had enough last week. The oven could never be relied upon to be at the correct temperature, or even the same temperature, twice. I have been using it for a year with moderately successful results but was fed up with some of the inconsistencies.

I phone the landlord last week and a repair man was sent out.

Just how stupid do you think I felt when I discovered I had been using the wrong setting all this time....?

Friday, 6 February 2009

Jetzt kann ich ein bisschen Deutch lesen...

Whether or not I can read some German, it would appear that I can't get rotated images to stay rotated. Doh! But as you can see, I am trying a little light-hearted German practise.

I also decided to supplement my English library books with some German ones, too.

Comics are good because the language (tends) to be simpler and the pictures help a lot with the context. I decided a 'novel' was aslo required and when I was a youngster, I read a lot of Enid Blyton. I'm just wondering how 'Lashings of cherry cake and ginger beer will be translated into German....;0)

And of course, I can never have too many cookery books.Hiltl is a famous vegetarian restaurant here in Zürich (the oldest in Europe, apparently), and I have been thinking about buying this book for some time. Let's see how I get on with it in German.

PS - for the English speakers amongst us, I think 'Lust' would be translated as 'enthusiasm' or something like that, rather than the, erm, obvious translation ;0)

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

44 is my lucky number.

The world is watching. What an amazing day. Raising my glass to the USA and to the memory of Martin Luther King.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Hoovering the crockery.

For some of you this may be further evidence, as if it were needed, that I have been licking the aluminium again* ;0)

The reality is a bit more mundane. I have an 'official' allergy to house dust mites (and some fruit moulds). That is to say, I have been tested and diagnosed. Usually it isn't too bad, but it has been driving me mad lately. I noticed lately that when I sit at the PC, or at my dining table I would immediately start sneezing/itching.

Now, some of you may be amazed to know that I don't like housework. Yes, really, hard to believe, isn't it? I manage the usual stuff, but dusting the shelves where I keep the 'good' crockery is above and beyond the call of duty. But not-too-close inspection revealed a whole warren, not just the odd (dust)bunny. So now I am feeling all virtuous, having been up close and personal with the Dyson ;0)

Apart from the housework, what else have I been up to? While my darling boy was here, we did some sight-seeing. Amongst other places, we went to Davos and watched in amazement as some complete nutters adventurous types tried their hands at this:

Now I don't fancy skiing,but I can understand the appeal,particularly in such beautiful places as the Swiss Alps, but why anyone would want to throw themselves off a mountain when there is a perfectly good cable car is beyond me!

The weather in general has been cold and snowy, leading to some fantastic scenery.

When we weren't out and about, I was busy fulfilling a request - my son told me that his girlfriend would love to learn to knit. Well, I couldn't let a chance like that go by. I duly purchased an Addi circular and some gorgeous Rowan Wool and Silk. Sadly, the poor girl is allergic to both wool and alpaca. I had to teach her with some man-made fibers,shock horror! To be fair, I got what turned out to be beautiful red nylon and acrylic, plus some black bamboo and soya. She is now well on her way to her first feather and fan scarf. And she wasn't the only young 'un with pins in their hands:

And with that comforting sight, I shall leave you just now.

* I also do Wasgij jigsaws. I know. But we all have our foibles ;0)

Friday, 9 January 2009

Nearly that time again

The time when my heart gets all bent out of shape.

This time last year we were in Edinburgh,getting ready to emigrate on the Sunday, so I had lots on my mind. This year, all I can think of is how much I love my boy and how great it has been having him here.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Time for an update.

As it is now just over a year since I was diagnosed with
oesophageal dismotility I thought I should have a follow-up. I asked around and got a few recommendations and tried to make an appointment today.

Not unreasonably the receptionist said that the doctor would need to see my previous notes. The previous consultant's secretary said there would need to be a written request from new doctor. All good so far. You should have 'heard' the stunned silence when I had to tell the Swiss secretary that the Scottish hospital didn't have access to a reliable fax machine and the letter would have to be sent through the mail...

Saturday, 3 January 2009


Today iGoogle is telling me that the temperature is -4 outside. Tuesday is forecast to be -8 during the day and -18 during the night. Bloomin' eck.

Thursday, 1 January 2009


Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness for 2009

ETA - if you cliok on the pictures, you will be able to see them properly!