Happiness is…..

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the smell of frangipanis in our garden……

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and a tray of Bowen mangoes (the best mangoes in the world)…. $12.90 for 20 gorgeous balls of deliciousness.  Summer doesn’t get better than that.

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Long time no see

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We are back in Australia in our own home again.  It has been quite the journey.  We had a few lovely days up at Caloundra (north of Brisbane) spending precious time with my sister from Canada and recovering from jetlag.  The weather was perfect – sunshine during the days and a couple of storms at night to cool the temperature down a little.  We didn’t take a lot of photos.  We didn’t do a lot of anything other than spending time at the beach inhaling the ocean,  watching the waves roll in, the seagulls fly past, and enjoying the peace that being near the sea brings.

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We swam.  We walked.  We ate when we felt like it.  We squished our feet in the sand.  We jumped in the waves.  This is how I spent my summer holidays as a child and how I still love to spend them.  Summer holidays in Australia are all about relaxing……

 

Wrapping things up

Someone has been complaining (again) about my lack of blog posts.  You know who you are Kym…..

Well, it has been more of the same this week.  Packing up your life to relocate overseas takes time.  There are so many ends to be tied up before you leave because it is definitely not easy to do afterwards!  Everything we ship has been carefully packed in bubble wrap.  Some boxes had to be reopened after we suddenly had a cold snap and winter boots were needed.

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The gardeners came this week and prepared the balcony for winter.  The grassy shrubs have been bound and now they look like they did when we arrived.  It seems we have come full circle.

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At the moment we are sleeping on mattresses on the floor and have only one frypan for cooking.  As of tomorrow we will be car-less.  And after the weekend we won’t be in our little apartment any more other than for the inspection next week.

Today Claudia has her last day at school.  It has been a big year for her.  Ironically there are two English girls starting on Monday…..

The three of us were talking about leaving last night.  And we all agreed that rather than be sad about leaving, we are going to be happy that we came.

A whole lot of nothing

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Life on the other side of the world is not always travel and fun times.  At the moment it pretty much consists of packing, taping and labelling.  We have to get all of our boxes packed ready for shipping by next week (which seems to take a long time considering we don’t actually have much stuff).  Things are moving out of our apartment quicker than you can blink an eye – the bench we sat on to put on our snow boots, the bbq we used every time the sky was blue, our sled, and even our beloved plant Benjamina has gone to a new home.  It is never easy to pack up memories but it has to be done so we spend our days and nights at the moment trying to work out how few things we can live with before we move out of here in less than two weeks.  It has been a great year.  Some days were hard.  Many days were wonderful.  All were memorable.  So glad we came.

Seasons

I have been to Switzerland before we came to live here and seen it in all of the seasons but to watch it change from one to the next was really special.

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It was only a few short weeks ago that I was staring out the window on a rainy day at this gorgeous tree.  The colours of the leaves are incredible and I could look at them all day.

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Now it is completely bare.

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Winter is coming….. and we might just be hoping for a little snow before we leave 🙂

 

What has changed in 10 months?

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  1. We are packing boxes, giving things away, selling things, posting things, and returning things in preparation for our return to Australia at the end of next month.
  2. The mornings are really dark again.  It is hard to get out of bed…..
  3. I have become aware that living as a foreigner amplifies all of your inner thoughts about your capabilities, resilience, the mortality of your loved ones, the direction of your life etc.  It makes you examine everything you believe in much greater detail and to question things.
  4. At the start of our time here I noticed all the differences.  Now I notice all the similarities.
  5. Claudia has had a lot of new children join her class.  She refers to them as ‘the newbies’ (the ones that started in August) and ‘the new newbies’ (the ones that started in October just after the last school holiday).  There is a lot of chaos in the classroom at the moment.  Multiple children of multiple nationalities, languages, and ages dealing with being in a new country in sometimes very inappropriate ways.  Our quiet studious girl has never been good with a lot of noise and this is taking it to a whole new level.  It is interesting to see how she is dealing with it so maturely and reflecting on the reasons for the behaviour.  I am really feeling for her poor teacher at the moment.
  6. I finally feel like I am orientated as to where various villages and cantons are in relation to each other.  I used to be so confused about this despite having been to Switzerland several times.
  7. I made a major decision regarding a career change.  It has not been an easy process and I have been filled with a lot of doubt and fear.  The reality is that, once you are really honest with yourself, a sense of relief replaces both of those feelings.
  8. We have spent a lot of time thinking about how we want our life to look when we get back to Australia and the changes we want to make.
  9. I am still terrified speaking on the phone in German and avoid it as much as possible.
  10. It is very interesting how little you miss the ‘stuff’ you have stored while you are away.  There are only a few things I would be sad to not see again.

Ballenberg

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Ballenberg is an open air museum in the Brienz region.  It is enormous – we were there for over five hours and still didn’t see everything.  The museum features homes from various regions of Switzerland that were dismantled and carefully rebuilt piece by piece.  A big task considering the age of some of them.

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There are many artisans at work in the museum.  Here cheese is being made the old fashioned way…

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The woodcarver had an impressive workshop.  This one’s for you Dad 🙂

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Gutters made from a hollowed out log, and held up with wooden brackets.

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A very old sled….

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There is an airport near the museum and a group of FA18s were roaring through the valley while we were wandering around.  The noise was unbelievable.

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Claudia did some woodwork – sawing, drilling, carving.

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Ha, this is a very old fashioned hair-curling machine.  Clearly women have suffered for beauty throughout the ages!!

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Thatched huts.  The thatch was incredibly thick.

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This compound would look right at home in Italy but is actually from the Italian-speaking Tessin region of Switzerland.  It is one of my favourite areas – mild weather, lots of sunshine, and delicious food.

Trummelbach Falls

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Trummelbach falls are 10 glacier-waterfalls inside a mountain that we visited while we were staying at Lauterbrunnen.    You access the falls via a lift (doesn’t every mountain have one?).

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Switzerland is a masterpiece of nature.  There is no denying it.

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There were a lot of stairs to climb once inside so it wasn’t all easy going.

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Some of the waterfalls were pounding but we were told there is a much higher volume of water at other times of the year.

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We walked off a lot of the schnitzel we consumed while staying in the alps.  It all evens out in the end…..

Toboggan me……..

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In the village of Lauterbrunnen, a farmer leads his cows down the mountain to market on a foggy morning…..

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Meanwhile, the Gaytons and the Birrers headed here to go tobogganing.  It would have been nice to be able to go sledding in the snow but we will take what we can get.  Can I just say, I LOVE tobogganing (and sledding).  So much fun.DSC_0994

A few were a wee bit nervous heading down a steel track on a little toboggan that they may or may not be able to control.  But after a few goes, everyone was speeding down as fast as they could.

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He flies…..

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She also notched up some pretty impressive speeds…..

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Oh and look at the view!!

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It was hard to concentrate on the track with all this gorgeousness in the background.  I will take a toboggan in any season.  Love it!!

Bond morphing and dangerous mountain-top antics

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Let’s just get the Bond morphing out of the way shall we?  We laughed so hard doing these photos that we were crying.   Claudia as 007….

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A Bond girl…..

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And Dr No….

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I was also a Bond girl.  You have no idea the face contorting it took to get these photos to look semi-real.  Again, we laughed and laughed.  Really loudly.

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So it took us four gondolas to get to Piz Gloria, the mountain famous for having been in a Bond movie (the one with the least well-known Bond, George Lazenby, in it).

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And it was all the more fun for the Bond connection.  So much laughing.

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At some point we decided it was a good idea to walk out to this viewing station…

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And risked our lives on the slippery slope with nothing more than a pair of joggers on…. There was screaming, and more laughing, and a bit of crazy snowball throwing.

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It was a memorable day for family….

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Sisters….

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And cousins.  Still laughing.  Every time I look at those Bond photos.