And now for something completely different and other stories ….

Well Happy New Year everyone, as it is still January, just, (getting written in the first month by the skin of my teeth), I think that I can still get in there with an ‘all the best’ salutational greeting. It has been a while since my last blog, partly because we were back in the UK (wonder why the Beatles didn’t find that a catchy song title) with the children having three weeks off school. Then when we got back I was whisked in to a hospital over here and had my gallbladder whipped out; it had been giving me gip for a while so I was glad to see the back of it. I have my (quite impressive) collection of stones in a pot and may think about having them fashioned in to a quirky piece of statement jewellery. As I couldn’t really move very well for the first couple of days after the op I have spent the last week or so recuperating (sat on the sofa watching the TV), a friend asked me if I was doing a ‘recuperating jigsaw’ and it reminded me of the things that we associate with being ill. For me one of the triggers is Lucozade, not the all singing and dancing lurid blue energy drink of today, nope the glass bottled orange cellophaned top Lucozade of yesteryear; the thought of it still makes me feel bilious. In those days it was only available in the chemist, next to the whistle lollies (healthy) and the real liquorice that looked like a stick (that I always pestered my mum for forgetting that it was vile).


Real liquorice that looks like a stick!

Anyway, as it usually does, Christmas went as quickly as it came. We managed to fit a lot in during our stay in the UK and spent it with some lovely family and friends, but I have to say that it was tinged with great sadness for us, something I will come on to later.

We managed a couple of days away post Christmas in Whitby, we had never ventured that far North East before and we loved it, even though it was super blustery (mind due I think it was super blustering everywhere).  I had always been intrigued by all the Dracula stories and my love of all things Northern. We stayed just outside Whitby in a place called Raithwaite Estate which was fab and highly recommended, it was also a doggy wonderland with well behaved spaniels at every turn, so for a dog obsessed non owner like me I was in my element. The hotel was a good brisk walk from Whitby along the coast road and we had a great time visiting the town, exploring the abbey and the little shops and spent many a relaxed evening eating and watching some classic Hammer Horror, getting in the Dracula spirit.

Whitby by the sea (so used to paying Swiss prices I had to take a pic of the cuppa and cake bargain)


We drove over from Switzerland this time rather than flew, and I am certainly glad that we did given the winds we would have encountered on our flight back. We had a good drive back, albeit a very long 13 hour drive on the second day and arrived back to find that the wind had ripped the metal shutters off one of the front windows in our apartment, completely scratching the glass, so they will need replacing, a bit of pain but all replaceable. But to do this much damage, it must have been some storm!

It’s now that time of year when the feeling is ‘had Christmas, long time until Easter’ vibe. It’s time to be watching ‘wish you were here?’ (I can even hear the theme music now) and taking hints on your summer holiday from a saronged Judith Chalmers from some exotic beach (she’s not so saronged these days as she’s advertising circulatory equipment on the Drama channel; a hint at the demographic that they think will be watching). I am not one for making resolutions and think that if you want to resolve to do something whether it’s starting a diet or signing up for a new course, or learning a new skill, blinkin well do it whether it’s the 1st January or the 28th May! Don’t let the lack of B&M bargain party poppers  stop you.


judith chalmers
Obviously ‘travelling with your pet’ week

So now that we are well and truly back in to the Swiss way of life again, and I can’t believe that as I am typing the children only have another week and a bit before they finish school again for the next holiday, this time for ‘Ski week’ (aka Feb half term). Which brings me on to our next adventure – skiing!!!! (due to my recent medical shenanigans I am having to sit it out for the time being). Everyone was measured up at the weekend and are ready for action, (we are now regularly watching Ski Sunday to get some extra tips). As everyone is a beginner it will be some intensive lessons (with an English instructor) so they have the best start, we have chosen a resort quite close to us with a lot of gentle runs, and also some great sledging runs too as we have our super-duper sledge with us! I will keep you up to date on all our progress!



snow fun
This is us last year, we are well kitted out this year!


we are ready
We are ready!

Even though we are off skiing at the weekend, the weather is so mild here at the moment, some days I would go as far as saying you could get away without wearing a coat if you stayed in the sun. In fact in some parts of Switzerland it has been the warmest January on record, but then in some areas they have had so much snow that ski resorts have been cut off!  I have been getting out and about for some lovely walks in the sun, and had some lovely visits to cafes for coffee (and laughter) my favourite at the moment is tisch und bar …. Whilst out and about I have noticed another Swiss custom, putting signs up outside your house to celebrate the birth of a child.  I’ve seen them in a lot of places and tried to find out what they were (and why they were there, apart from the obvious) perhaps it’s a warning that there will be a crying baby in the house and also not to call during the day  in case you wake them up! Anyway, what is odd is that some of them are left up for flippin years (you can tell because they add the year of birth to the sign too), perhaps they take them down before they go off to University! They are called Geburtstafeln translated to me birth panels, I do quite like them, but not sure that I would like one pinned to the front of the house for several years, several weeks perhaps.


birth panels
Birth announcement or wedding announcement (judging by how long they stay up)


So when I’m not having a small organ removed (medical not Bontempi) what else have I been up to?

What I’m reading:

I am a sucker for adding books to the kindle app on my phone, so I have loads that I need to read, I have just started what promises to be ‘The Girl on the train’ of 2018, we shall see, I loved that book (not seen the film, due to the fact that they chose to base it in the US which got right on my pip so I did a silent protest and haven’t watched yet) anyway , ‘The woman in the window’ by A J Finn has already got me hooked so I think that this will be a book read in a couple of sittings. It’s the story of an agoraphobic woman trapped in her apartment (US based) where she keeps watch on her neighbours … I will review next blog.
What I’m dipping in to: I am a massive, massive fan of Northern humour, Peter Kaye, Caroline Ahern, and the superb Victoria Wood,  I have spent the last few weeks dipping in to youtube and rewatching a lot of Victoria Wood stuff that I used to have on video. I spent most of my teenage years living, breathing and quoting Miss Wood (Mrs Overall) and it is so sad that she is no longer with us, likewise Caroline Ahern, such amazingly talented women.

victoria wood
‘Dicky bladder’? ‘No we call him Dad’
Mrs overall
Boadicea Overall – what a woman!

This is one of my favourite scenes, mind due I could post loads, in fact an entire blog could be dedicated to my fav comedy clips.


What I’m watching : I love a bit of crime, murder mystery etc and was looking for something else to binge watch on Netflix. I have started Mindhunter, an FB/psychology thriller based in the 1970s, superb ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and I am liking it so far, again I will let you know .

A trip back down memory lane: Children’s birthday parties. The days when a piece of cake wrapped in a bit of kitchen roll and a balloon if you were lucky constituted a party bag are long gone. But there was nothing better than parties when you were little, whether it was four friends round for a birthday tea, or when someone had a ‘big’ party and you went in your bridesmaid dress (it was all long dresses in the 1970s). So my fav memories of parties were:

Rabbit jelly Nothing said birthday tea more than a rabbit jelly (usually orange) with green jelly grass, it was indeed the little things.

rabbitt jelly
The famous orange Welsh rabbits

Long dresses

It was definitely waste not want not when we were little and if you were lucky enough to have been a bridesmaid, pound to a penny you would be wearing  the dress to the next lot of birthday parties that you went to, teamed with a pair of black patent shoes (or your school shoes).

fashion 1970a
Fashion wise you couldn’t knock the 1970s!

The food

Cheese and pineapple on sticks, stuck in to a grapefruit covered in foil (or a potato in some cases) likewise with the sausages on sticks, my Aunty used to do a version with grapes and marshmallows on sticks too. Egg and cress sandwiches, party rings (never seen apart from at a party) and those crisps that looks like big wheels.

Party bags

Whilst it seems like the expectation these days is a spa treatment and a piece of Swarovski jewellery, back then it was a piece of the birthday cake, and a balloon, and if you were super lucky a packet of chewits and you were blikin well grateful. How times change.

I want to finish with something that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. The reason that our Christmas was sad was because we lost a very dear and special man, a great friend of my husband’s from their time at Uni together, where they spent their time playing football ( which sounded as if they had the best time if you listen to the stories). Through this friendship our families have become friends too. Andy was funny, very funny, clever, and a  fantastic family man with a fantastic family and very kind. Cancer is something that touches nearly everyone these days and it is a cruel, heartless disease. So this month’s offering of my ramblings is dedicated to the great Andy Clague –  because that’s what he was and he will be missed by many.

Anyway, that’s all from me this time and I promise not to leave it so long next time

Thanks for reading and I really do appreciate all the feedback.

Sarah-Jane xx


  1. Lovely blog, I too remember the Pengwern parties, especially cake wrapped in kitchen roll; how times have changed. Looking for a good read so, I too will download “The woman in the window”
    keep the blogs coming and hope you recovering well xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is a lot of the North East that is north of Whitby! The countryside to the north of Newcastle is stunning. You should definitely try the walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh Casle, recently voted the 9th best walk in the UK. Not Snowdon maybe, but it is flat 🙂

    I am sure you will all have a great time skiing. Even watching it is fun. There are some good videos on YouTube that I find a useful reminder of basic technique after you have had your lessons.


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