Autumn days and other stories …

So, lots going on at the moment, this is our ninth week and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. We are also at the end of the first school term and didn’t they do well ? settling in and just getting on with it. I have (I think) got to grips with the school system now and we are awaiting the first set of report cards, so it will be getting to grips with marks schemes etc next – joy of joys.

I have had to return to a place not visited for a long time, a place that I viewed with a sense of dread as a child when choosing school uniform, yes, last week I uttered the words ‘thank goodness for C&A’. I was on the hunt for smart trousers for the youngest  who was singing in a gala concert the weekend just gone. There is no school uniform here at all so there is not the usual access to racks of grey and black trousers in most shops, so the hunt was well and truly on, (plus I had left it too late to order any from the UK). I am probably being a little harsh on good old ‘Clockhouse’ at C&A, but I had one school coat from there and I haven’t ever got over it, it was grey, very 1980s (but not in a good way) and was so huge it could have probably fitted a small family and then some! ‘Get it big so you will grow in to it’ – unless I was going to grow to the proportions of Demis Rousos by the time I was 13 this was never going to fit! I also had my heart set on a bat wing version from Chelsea Girl, but I was never going to get that passed my mother! Anyway, having searched all the shops here, I ended up venturing in to Zurich, where I thought I was going to have to take out some sort of mortgage or lose an arm and a leg to finance some sort of designer effort. When low and behold C&A!! Found said trousers at a relatively (for Switzerland) reasonable price and they were smart and looked nice, good result!

Step back in time – though these shops are still very popular in Europe

It was whilst we were on a ‘Challenge Anika’ type hunt around Zurich for trousers, that something else struck me, the Swiss are a very forward thinking country, very smart in nature and dress, especially in somewhere like Zurich. Everything is super, super clean and precise and lovely. So, and this is something that I can’t get my head round, why do so many people still smoke here?? Because, to me that undoes a lot of the lovely and clean and smart. The rules are not as strict here and if you are sitting outside a restaurant to eat you will invariably get someone lighting up as soon as you start eat, this is something that I’m just not used to anymore. I am not saying that this is always the case, but when it happens it is a real shame. I thought that the days of going out and coming home stinking of smoke where gone, alas it seems not.

beautiful Zurich
Enjoying the sights of Zurich, window shopping generally given the prices!

Moan over! We went to the Autumn Fair or Herbstmesse in nearby Luzern last weekend something that I had spoken about in my last blog. It was a gorgeous typical Swiss Fair lots of tiny huts with gorgeous smelling food and drink, amazing things to try. A lovely, friendly atmosphere. It definitely made me look forward to the Christmas markets here. Our local shopping centre has opened its Christmas shop this week, which is always a treat, I have never seen such a selection of ribbons and bows. I was like a wide eyed child at the window, but then had a word with myself, as it is still only October!

baulbles bangles
christmas shop
Too much for the balcony??

Another very Autumnal tradition, that we actually didn’t get to see this year, but is definitely one that we will make a point of seeing next year (well I will I’m not sure that it is everyone’s cup of tea). This is a real  Swiss tradition local to this area, when the Alpine cattle are brought down off the mountains for Winter they are adorned with flowers and are accompanied during their descent by alpine horns and music. Traditional food and drink is served (everything here seems to be accompanied by music and food, I’m not complaining), it is a lovely sight and I think that the cows looks so pretty (if you see what I mean), there are lots of traditions here and I love the fact that they still take pride in carrying them on and take them very seriously.


alpine cattle
Credit -Skedi Forum  –    Looking good girls!

So when I haven’t been hose hunting or cattle carousing what else have I been up to?

What I’m reading: The first book from my new book club, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,  by  Mary Anne Shaffer, which I had to miss because I had blinkin (get it) suspected conjunctivitis. I was ignorant to what had happened on Guernsey during World War 2, but this is a superb insight (and it is also going to be a  film, out 2018, I made a decision not to look at who was laying which character, because I didn’t want that to distract me). It is told in the form of letters from a writer to a literary society (or book club) definitely recommend.

A trip back down memory lane; a longer look back this week and a piece that I had written for something else, so a big indulgence.  The Christmas shop this week got me thinking about the excitement of Christmas as a child and the creation of your Christmas lists (aka Christmas box – I love that phrase) what did we long for as children? I have listed my top 5 below, would be keen to hear if there was a consensus, and if anyone actually had a Mr Frosty!


Mr Frosty

Mr frosty
The excitment that a cup of ice brought!

Coveted by everyone I knew, but did anyone ever know anyone who actually had one? (could this be as mythical as knowing someone who has actually had their arm broken by swan?). What it was that excited us about what effectively was a paper cup full of crushed ice and some enumbered to the hilt juice, I don’t know. In spite of all this I blinkin well wanted one and to be fair we weren’t awash in the 1980s with fridge freezer ice dispensers, we stretched to an ice tray and some ice pops so I know what the lure for this was. Rumour has it that the handle was impossible to turn to crush the ice (no surprises there), so was I setting myself up for a Christmas morning of disappointment, probably, but I never did get one, so I’ll never know.

Major Morgan

major morgan
Become the pied piper of many a playground!

Play twinkle, twinkle little star on your Major Morgan and kids will be following you round the playground like the pied piper, or so the advert led us to believe. A school friend had one and brought it in at the end of term to ‘bring your toys to school day’ I can’t remember if everyone followed her round the playground, but I bet I did! It was never going to set the charts alight, but if a tinny off key rendition of row, row, row your boat was your thing, then the Major Morgan was the toy for you. This was from the same range as the Little Professor, another little hand held gadget, (not a vertically challenged academic) which extolled the excitement that maths could bring, to me it couldn’t, especially when CHiPS was on the telly.


The Sindy House (the one with the lift)

sindy house
70 & 80s Chic indeed!

‘Every girl’s dream’ yes it certainly was. I was always a Sindy girl rather than a Barbie, and to be honest I can’t ever remember Barbie’s anyway. I had the horse and wardrobe and bed and ballerina and other bits and pieces, but the house was the pièce de résistance. I think it was the ‘lift to all floors’ running up the side that did it. This was the ultimate in 70s & 80s cool. The one failing was that you couldn’t really get Sindy to stand unaided, or sit convincingly either, so perhaps they were a bit bobbins, but I didn’t seem to mind at the time and would have given my right arm for one of these. But alas it was never to be.

Playdoh at the barbers

play doh barbers
The look we all aspired to!

Now I remember this being called play doh at the barbers, but having looked at the advert on youtube it seems to be called Play doh fuzzy pumper hair salon (this might have just been the US though), not an establishment that I would be haring along to today (get it)! I loved this especially the chair, turn the handle and watch the hair grow, fab. It was unfortunate that you could never properly get all the play doh out of the little holes so there was always dry play doh there ready for next time and I was never careful enough not to mix my colours, but play doh was ace and smelt divine!

Al la cart kitchen from Bluebird toys

a la cart
Christmas morning fun in many a household – easy on the beans!

I am sure it was the advert that did it me with this one, the little girl wheeling her own kitchen round and then making the amazing concoction of swiss roll and beans for her unsuspecting father’s breakfast ‘wake up Daddy, breakfast is ready’ in her twee warble! Sink on one side, oven on t’other all a big bundle of plastic fantastic. I am sure that there were more adverts then on the TV for toys and games, perhaps I am less susceptible to them now, but I was definitely hooked by this one – the power of advertising.

The excitment of a small Welsh girl in the 80s – I loved that dressing gown!

Now where is that Littlewood’s catalogue?
Anyway I’ve gone on far too long this week, thanks as always for reading.


Sarah-Jane xx



  1. I had a Mr Frosty! Loved it but soon ran out of the sachets of luminous pink crystals to ensure that Percy Penguin 🐧 could squirt squirt squirt raspberry flavoured cordial over the slush. Also had a moment when I lost the little plastic shovel which was vital for slush removal. Found out later that a dessert spoon works just as well.
    In love with those beautiful cows 🐮 🌺🌼🌸

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, the playdoh hair dressers set!!! Another great trip down memory lane – thanks SarahJane! Also very much loved the cute cows – moooooo


  3. Great read once again x if we had bought a holiday home in Cyprus ( which was our fav hols destination ) C&A would have been my reasurring landmark 🤓xx


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