Month: February 2014

Moving Day

The cool damp air puffs through my window

I lie awake in my bedroom for the final time

5.18am. Hearing the soft rain outside and the flat fapping of the bunting I’ve used as a makeshift guard, reserving the space for the truck

It’s not enough room. Can I ask the neighbours to move their car? Whose van is that anyway?

The fridge is empty, things are packed.

Mustn’t forget adaptor plugs.

Where did I put those tickets? Oh yes.

I hope the wardrobe will fit.

Don’t let them take the recycling bucket.

5.45am. The heater starts to tick into life

It must be time to move

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The Things I’ll Miss About London

Tottenham nails

I’m back in London for two weeks while we pack up for the Big Move.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ll miss about London… as well as some of the stuff I’ll be glad to leave behind.

I will miss:

  • My friends. I’ve got friends here that I’ve known longer than I’ve been in London (7 years) – people I was mates with in Sydney who also moved over here, and it’s really strengthened our friendships and made us close. I’ve also got newer friends, not least the group of mums I met through NCT classes, who I’ve spent time with pretty much every week for the past three years.
  • My house. We’ve transformed this place from a West Indian grandma’s cozy nest — complete with crimson carpets, stripy wallpaper, 80s kitchen and frosted glass and/or net curtains on every window — to a sleek, calm, modern place (but still cozy I hope) with a perfect-for-us kitchen and lovely light all hours of the day.
  • Working. I’ve quit my job at visitlondon.com to move to Switzerland. I miss it already – I miss being able to go somewhere I’m known just as Claire (not as someone’s wife, mother, friend, family member etc) and I miss doing work that means I am accepted and appreciated for my skills, ability and experience.
  • English. I love words, I love the English language. I am really excited about learning German but it will be very strange not to hear my native tongue spoken and see it written as a matter of course. All the crazy permutations of English – the way the London schoolkids on the bus use words, hearing it evolve around me. Reading bad signage and laughing at the mistakes and funny turns of phrase caused by those who aren’t as expert as me. Now I’ll be the one wrangling and mangling words and I’m pretty sure Schweizerdeutsch is not nearly so flexible as the language I’ve always known.
  • Cheap stuff. And knowing where to get it. They say London is expensive. But it’s not, compared to Switzerland. At least, not round here, in the grungy area of North London I reside. Food and groceries are cheaper. Clothes are cheaper, furniture, homewares, etc. etc. It’s not just that though, it’s…
  • The familiarity of crap. There’s plenty of crap here. But at least it’s familiar crap. My crap, I could say. Although a lot of it is actually other people’s dog’s crap and disgusting chicken bones on the footpath which I lay absolutely NO claim to! But, like the aforementioned cheap stuff, at least I know what stuff is, where to get it, how to avoid it, etc. Oh you know what I mean.
  • Nails. I’ve been getting my nails done with acrylic overlays for the past five (!) years. I’m going to have to give them up because it costs CHF60 (£40) in Zurich, compared to £15 here. I will miss the silly nail art I’ve been rocking (Facebook friends can see my nail art pictures here) and I’m afraid it will mean I start biting them again to boot : (

This has turned into rather a long entry. I’ll have to tell you about the stuff I won’t miss in another post!

The Pricetag of a Freitag Bag

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I went to the Freitag store yesterday with P. Pretty much a must-do pilgrimage for anyone visiting Zurich. Man, those bags are expensive!

Freitag bags are a Zurich invention and they have a funky store made from a vertical stack of old shipping containers in Zuri West (the newly hip, ex-industrial, inner-city area of town). I’ve been past the store a few times but this was the first time I entered it. As you can imagine, it’s not exactly a buggy (stroller) friendly building.

We’ve been experimenting with leaving the buggy behind, which is what we did. The transport here is so easy and there’s LOTS of it. So we caught a tram to a park I’d spotted a few days ago on an earlier random tram trip. Then I checked the map and realised I could get a bus across to Hardbrucke/ Zuri West to Freitag. Win.

I’m hoping to get one of the bags as a gift for someone back in London. It seems like a useful, cool, practical thing that is also very “Zurich”. They do cost a lot and I am happy to pay the money, but what if the recipient doesn’t like it? They’re all a bit old and beaten-up looking (which is the point – the bags are made out of recycled truck tarpaulins) but it might not be to everyone’s taste. I find present buying so hard, for pretty much this exact reason. I want to get people something great, but if they don’t love it, I’d rather not spend so much, add to the unwanted tat of the world etc. And, if I’m brutally honest, maybe I’m just worried they won’t know how much I paid and therefore, how much I value them… it’s awful that it feels like money= an expression of worth/value in this instance.

On a positive note, you get an amazing view from the top of Freitag tower, although I didn’t take any pics, d’oh – next time! And it was fun to browse all the different bag designs. Plus I’m sure hefting a 15kg? child the whole way to the top was good exercise.

I came home and looked Freitag up and, grudgingly, can kinda see why they cost so much. I guess, like most Swiss-made things I’ve come across so far, it falls into the “reassuringly expensive” category. If you pay that much, you’re hopefully buying something that’s very good quality, sustainably & locally produced, non-sweatshop etc. And hipster as hell, of course. 

Zurich Reconnaissance Mission

Lake Zurich

Two weeks in Zurich and we’ve found a lovely flat, checked out a nursery for P, got registered (hoping for B permits but it’s all a mystery/ lottery until the thing arrives in the post), set up cable TV/phone/internet to the new flat, opened a bank account (or rather, many bank accounts but all bundled in together… it’s complicated) and will see about enrolling in German lessons on Tuesday. Phew!

I’ve also paid WAY too much for passport photos and dealt with more bureaucratic annoyingness from HI’s work than I even want to talk about. C’est la vie. Or however you say that in German.

On balance though, living in Zurich is going to be amazing. It’s been great to spend these couple of weeks here just stooging around on the trams, familiarising myself with the city and the lake, checking out some parks and playgrounds with P and getting a handle on the supermarkets etc. Mmm supermarkets.

Have developed an unhealthy addiction to Berliners (vanilla creme or jam-filled donuts) and vacuum-packed “instant” rosti .

And I am loving the Swiss efficiency in stuff so far. Ohyes. It’s a good country for anal types. Especially parental – paranals?  ha ha ha

I think I almost believe that we’re really, actually moving here now.