So much to say, where to begin? I think I’ll start with headings and write a little about each one.
Smoke (and mirrors)
Smoking deserves a special mention so I’ll start with that! The Swiss must be full of contradictions because according to my guidebooks they are obsessed with their health. There are more doctors per head than any other country, they spend a fortune on vitamins and yet they all smoke! They are there outside the train station, outside offices, at the bus stops all desperately getting a last drag on their fags before entering the (few) smoke free zones. And hidden in the back of the guidebook I find what I’m looking for -cardiovascular disease tops their list of diseases, it’s killing 40% of them. An obsession with health doesn’t necessarily make you healthy!
I should say first of all that I love dogs! BUT…you can’t walk around town without keeping your eyes on the pavement. I would have thought Geneva would be cleaner than Kuwait but Kuwait is spotless compared! The first time we got on a tram (they look so swish from the outside…) the doors opened and there in the middle of the floor, in a perfect spiral, was a canine calling card. Charming!
Two problems with the apartment (well, three if I include the absence of a washing machine!) – no Internet connection and…er..the toilet. The toilet was the subject of much conversation when we first moved in! It’s almost the focus of the place since it’s the first thing you see on coming in the front door. It had (past tense), how can I say this, a shelf! (Does the word anal come from analyse?) I think that’s as much information as I want to give (or you want to read) but I read once that these were common in France. Miraculously it has now disappeared and been replaced with a new one! After a few problems with it, I think the management were embarrassed into getting rid of it.
On a side note, this made me think about Feng Shui and whether there is anything in it. I had been interested in it a while ago (see my ‘diffuser’ post for more details!) but decided it was nonsense. But seeing the toilet placed at the end of the hall and opposite the front door, it struck me as wrong. As I said, we spent much of the time discussing it, and it seemed to drain the energy of the apartment. Perhaps our collective feelings towards it combined in some way to destroy that bad energy?!
I’m getting pessimistic about us getting a connection here. We’re finally changing out our geriatric PC for a new laptop that should arrive next week. That will be a major improvement and hopefully make re-sizing my photos and reading blogs much faster when we do get connected!
We are staying in Veyrier – not Veyrier Douane as I said before. For the first couple of weeks that’s what I was calling it until I realised it is the name of the bus stop! Like saying I live at Victoria Coach Terminus! Doune means customs and the border lies just metres away from the bus stop. We are at the end of the number 8 bus route and the buses turn around there. I mention this because the buses run exactly on time but at the end of the route, if the driver has a few minutes, he’ll step out for a cigarette and you may get an extra 30 seconds to run for the bus if you’re late and he’s enjoying his smoke! The bus stop too is worth a mention as it has a fabulous view – I’ll put a photo on the blog when I can. There is a wall behind the shelter and the land falls away below it overlooking a valley and across to France. You can see the area around Annemasse straight ahead of you and a mountain to the right with a picture perfect French chateau just above. Our apartment looks over to the mountain, the chateau is to the left and we watch the cable cars going up and down and paragliders circling around like eagles catching the thermals.
Another special mention! One of the little restaurants in Veyrier has a display of newspaper cuttings in the window to show off the awards the chef’s macarons have won. Yuk, I thought, remembering the nasty hard biscuits I tasted way back in the seventies in London. They tasted almondy and artificial like those pink and yellow Battenburg cakes Mum and Dad used to like.
Last week Paul and Alex both celebrated their birthdays (Alex’s 13th and Paul’s 15th – eek, I’m the mother of two teenagers!!). When we went into Geneva to buy a cake for Alex we found very few cakes, only slices so in one of the chocolate shops we each chose something different. Paul and I love meringues (and I have a wheat intolerance anyway) so we pointed to a plate of chocolate meringues in the window. ‘Ah, macarons’ said the lady, reaching for them. Oh no, thought I, but bought them anyway since my French is awful and I didn’t want to get into conversation. Back at home, Paul and I bit into them at the same time and looked at each other. Oh my goodness! Crisp on the outside and soft and gooey inside with a filling of firm, fudgey, sweet chocolate, this was like no macaroon I’ve tasted before! Another foodie obsession to add to my very long list!
Boy what a learning curve! It’s another contradiction because according to the estate agents there are thousands of clients looking at hundreds of properties. Yet you see the same few properties advertised week after week. Why aren’t they being snapped up? Because no one can afford them! Banks don’t give 100% mortgages – in actual fact they give you an 80% mortgage on what THEY think the property is worth, which of course is way below the asking price. It’s no wonder that everyone I have spoken to rents and has been waiting years for the right house to buy.
I joined an international woman’s group mainly to get info on living in Geneva but also for the classes they offer. I’ve started beginners French, felting and life drawing. Felting has been fun and I’m wondering how I can incorporate it into quilted wall hangings. Life drawing is not really a class as there is no teacher but a group of people who get together and share the cost of a model for 3 hours. I went to my first one a couple of weeks ago, a little nervous about what to expect and about making a mess of my drawings, but I really enjoyed it. The group discusses the pose they want and one that the model will be comfortable with as she will stay in that pose for the whole class (with breaks of course). I liked this idea as we can do one carefully observed drawing/painting or move around and do a series of shorter sketches. I was relieved that my two drawings looked like the model, I hadn’t made a terrible job of it and even found it very relaxing. Three hours sounds like a long time but the first hour is spent loosening up. I wonder if any of them are interested in a sketch crawl?!
I think that covers most of what I wanted to say. I’m not keen on this retrospective way of blogging so after the laptop arrives I hope to get some photos posted as well and talk in ‘real time’ again! Today the weather changed dramatically – it was really warm and sunny – and Mark and I went out for a walk past the border into France (so cool, being able to walk there don’t you think?!) and I took some photos for the blog. Well, waddaya know, there’s a water fountain in Veyrier!