Zurich part two

Fun in Zurich

So of course, eventually we arrived in Zurich and had a great time.

The weather was a little better than on my last visit, but even so, it still rained quite a lot. Zurich is a pretty enough city. It was nice staying with Katie who of course lives in the suburbs, which I had not seen before, and which probably have better architecture and are more interesting than the centre. Very very different from anything I have ever seen before.

We had fun on Friday just wandering around the city and looking at the shops. They have a fantastic department store there called Globus. One of the many Globus shops in ZurichWe don’t have anything like this in Prague, which is a pity in one sense. It is a paradise of consumption, which everything that you might want to buy centrally located in one place. Beautiful food including things that are nigh on impossible to get in Prague, or at least not in a single, conveniently located place. Lobster, seven different kinds of prawns, Moreton bay bugs, and a fantastic selection of wine and cheeses. Now that the French and Belgian grocerers (Delvita and Carrefour) have abandoned Prague to the Germans and the English, it’s almost impossible to buy nice wine unless you make a special trip to a specialist wine shop. In addition, Globus has a huge selection of clothing and home furnishings.

The only snag is the eyewatering prices, but I’m not sure if they are a result of the goods being in this particular shop, or simply because they are in Switzerland, where absolutely everything is unbelievably expensive (or at least seems unbelievably expensive to us).

Its was nice waking along the main street in Zurich knowing that stored in vaults beneath our feet were millions of bars of gold bullion. Young Turnbull seemed to like this – he was twitching a lot while we were in this area – perhaps pointing to a future as a successful financier, dentist, or gold smugger.

In Switzerland you can buy things that you can’t get in Prague. Marketa is very excited because she now has a new herb called Lemon Verbena. I actually like this one too as it tastes great in cold drinks.

But otherwise, I don’t think we could ever imagine living there. It’s nice and pretty and clean and organised. But perhaps a bit too clean and organised for us. It’s not that we like mess that much, but we do sometime park our car facing in the wrong direction, and we couldn’t cope with the recycling nazis they have there.

We’re back home now, and enjoying summer. We’re done a lot of work in the Mill lately including totally stripping the ground floor of everything including most of the walls and about a foot of earth from the floor. Now we are sitting in the garden waiting for the plasterers to come and make a few more habitable rooms for us including (yay!) a bathroom, and maybe even a sauna.

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Zurich or bust

European Route Signs

I was about write an update about our trip to Switzerland, but found that I had been beaten to it by Kate who has already summarised our weekend perfectly . . . here

What else?

Well, the trip there was interesting. We use a website called www.viamichelin.com when driving around Europe as it gives you great directions. According to their calculations the trip was supposed to take us about 6.5 hours. We know from experience that the times they give are calculated for someone driving a Ferrari at the maximum speed limit, with no breaks and no traffic and who doesn’t get lost twice. As usual it took us a bit longer . . .

The German autobahns are a great idea in theory – beautiful roads, and you can drive as fast as you want. Sadly though on Friday, they didn’t work perfectly for us. We have a very nice, but quite old, Renault which is quite happy cruising at between 120 and 130 kph. (130 kph is the speed limit here in Czech). At speeds beyond that though it develops an unfortunate shake. So on Friday, from Nuremberg to Stuttgart, what should have been a smooth drive became problematic as we had to choose between the slow lane (which was full of trucks) doing 80kph and the fast lane full of Porsches doing 160kph. Trying to travel at 130 just didn’t fit.

Europe has a great system which allocates numbers to the main routes across Europe. These routes are signposted in most countries and so you can just follow the signs irrespective of which country you are in. It really is a brilliant system. We travelled to Zurich on Route 50 and then turned left onto Route 41.

There are only two European counties who refuse to cooperate with this system; The UK (of course – they never cooperate with anything European) and oddly enough Germany. They did occasionally stick a token E50 sign on some of their motorway signs, but never it seems at junctions. Very inefficient and unGerman. Which, to cut long story short, is why we got lost (twice)

More about our trip and some photos later.

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Even more exciting furniture news!

Most of you have already heard our other most exciting recent news.

Apart from that, there hasn’t really been much happening- honestly, and we apologise to those who are complaining that they haven’t heard from us.

Over the last couple of months we’ve been working slowly on improving our house.

The garden isn’t finished yet, but it’s already 1000% better than it was. It’s a beautiful relaxing place now. Before it felt cold and a bit sad

One thing that we wanted to change was our bed. Our old bed was OK, but not great. We bought it from IKEA (and it was a little bit romantic because it was the first thing that we bought together as a couple). However it was a bit plasticky, quite uncomfortable and the slats kept breaking.

So we decided that it was time for a new one. We like antique furniture so started looking in antique shops. It’s strange, but in the past most people had very small beds (I wonder why?). We saw some beautiful beds, but nothing that actually worked for us. We thought about going back to IKEA, but in the end we felt that we wanted something better. We also saw some nice beds on the internet, but they were all too expensive.

So we decided to have a bed made. We went to see our local carpenter and showed him some designs of antique beds that we liked but which were too small and some internet beds that we liked.

He made an oak bed for us according to our design that cost about the same as we would have paid for some horrible crap from IKEA. We went to visit it twice as it was being built an it was delivered a couple of weeks ago.

In Progres

It’s beautiful

We’ve started a bit of a local trend, as a few other Slany people saw the bed being made (it’s a small town) an ordered something similar for themselves.

At €1,000 for a beautiful hand crafted (no screws) individual oak bed that will last for 100s of years it easy to understand why. We’re thinking of going into business :)

I’m sitting outside in the garden at the mill now waiting for the barbecue to cook. We’ve had a wonderful day.

In a couple of weeks we are off to Zurich to see Katie an Andrew. We don’t know if we’ll get to the wedding now, and anyway we want to go an see them while they are still in Europe and it’s easy.

I didn’t enjoy Zurich last time I was there, but I’m guessing we’ll have a better time this trip. We’ll drive. According to the internet this will only take us six hours (which seems really quick). Anyway a full report will follow on our return.

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Beranek

Here is the beautiful Beranek that Markéta made me for Easter.

You are not allowed to eat the head first . . .

Marketa's Beranek

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Easter Fun

Pomlazka 2007

I have just finished making my pomlazka. After two years of training I felt that I was capable of flying solo and so I’ve made my own this year.

I am quite pleased with the result. I have used seven willow shoots. Eight is more traditional – but I was feeling adventurous. I’m pretty happy with the result and I’m looking forward to putting it into action tomorrow morning.

It seems that women here in some ways have it comparatively easy. One Slovak was telling me that in his village they don’t use pomlazky, instead they just toss the women fully clothed into the river. It can’t be that pleasant as the weather is still quite cold.

For more about the wonderful Czech Easter tradition, see here.

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Happy Easter Everyone

This morning we woke up at 3.30 in the morning to go to church,

The service in the monastery started at 4.00 am. Despite the fact that it lasted for three hours and even though it was in Czech (so at best I only partly comprehended it), I enjoyed it nevertheless.

I was a lot better theater (with raging bonfires, candle-lit processions etc.) than I can remember these kinds of things being in New Zealand. It was also followed by a huge breakfast.

It’s lunchtime now though and I have to say that I’m feeling a little the worse for wear.

We’ve had quite a bit to do with the monks recently.

In Slany there are two beautiful churches. Both are very very old. One is called St Gothard, and we went there at Christmas to sing Christmas Carols. There is a link to some information here. It’s very old and very beautiful. It still has the original medieval mural painting on its very high gothic ceiling. Maybe it’s just me though, but somehow I feel that it lacks character.

St Gothard

St Gothard (more or less as it looks now)

On the other hand, the other church is part of a monastery, and this is where we were this morning. I like the idea of monks. (That doesn’t mean I’d like to be one myself though!) But I do really like the idea of people spending their lives meditating and helping after other people.

Our local monks are, as you would expect, some of the genuinely nicest people you could meet. They also have a very beautiful monastery including an enormous baroque church (which is too cold to use most of the time).

Because they are such nice people you feel like you should do whatever you can to help them. Markéta is doing her part by teaching one of them to speak Czech (he’s from India). I guess the rest of the community is doing their part by getting out of bed well before the crack of dawn. And forgiving them for running a three hour church service.

If you would like to see the monastery. their web site is here. It’s not in English yet (despite the fact that they have a flag). Perhaps this will be our next job?

So click on the Czech version if you want to see some pictures.

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And here’s the “After” photo

Chest 1
. . . of the chest I restored (see below). Nice isn’t it?

I’m starting a new project this week, so this time I’ll make sure I take a “before” photo before I start.

Chest 2

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