Sunday, 31 July 2011

A morning in Bern

Birds drinking in a public water fountain in Bern

Happy Sunday one and all!

You may remember that I went to Bern for a job interview last Tuesday. I still don't know whether I got the job but I thought that I'd share with you some of the pictures I took. My interview wasn't until 2pm, so I decided to take a mid-morning train from Zurich to leave me a couple of hours to have a wander around the old town.

The Swiss capital is named after bears (Bären), and bears are featured on the city's flag and coat of arms

As soon as I left Bern train station, I realised that Bern was very different from Zurich. It is of course much smaller (despite being the capital of la Suisse) and the old town has almost managed to retain some sort of village feel to it (mind you a very wealthy village...). I turned into Bären platz and found myself in the middle of a very big market.

I did not set off with a particular route in mind so I ended up following the groups of tourists in front of me, thinking they probably knew where they were going. So, I walked past the Swiss Parliament building...

... the cathedral (it was such a shame that it was being cleaned/renovated so I could not take a picture) and this beautiful house next to it.

The old streets of Bern are lined with beautiful statues and colourful water fountains

I also spotted a few of the many churches in the city centre

Church of Sts Peter and Paul

Nydegg Church
 The Nydeggbrücke bridge connects the eastern part of the old city to the new part. You have very nice views of the city's rooftop from the bridge

Returning to the old town, I walked past the Rathaus (not sure what this building is?)

I then walked on Kramgasse towards the Zähringen fountain and the clock tower (Zytglogge)

This is the view of the clock tower from the other side (there is a lot of building work going on in the city centre at present and it proved to be a bit of a challenge to take decent pictures)

The architecture in the old town is beautiful if not quirky at times like this little house below

or this facade

Judging from my guide book, this is just the tip of the iceberg that is Bern and I can't wait to return with Mr T to go and visit some more! Mind you, if I get this job, I should have plenty of time during my lunch breaks to go and explore Bern...

Saturday, 30 July 2011


Bet you must be wondering what on earth I am doing?

...well, this is me using a fig picker to pick...mirabelles! Yes, it wasn't until Alf started coming into the house with little yellow plums in his gob that we realised that one of the trees at the back of the house was full of mirabelles.

That day I also had a forage in my neighbour Heather's garden and came home with raspberries and beans. I got a craving last weekend for crêpes after missing out on the pancake action in February. So I decided that the raspberries will be enjoyed eaten with crêpes and honey. Unusual combo but it worked!

Home-made cherry jam on crêpes rocks too!

Since I am a jam-making fiend now, I used my 1 kg of mirabelles to make some jam following a recipe found on a blog called "Lucy's kitchen notebook". First of all, you must cover the stonned mirabelles in sugar and leave overnight...

... this gets their juices flowing!

Then, you bring the mirabelles to a boil long enough for the jam to set and pour in jars!


Friday, 29 July 2011

Rapperswil part III: snapshots of the town

Bonjour everyone!

Thank you for the kind wishes sent my way on Tuesday regarding the job interview. Although I don't know yet whether I have been successful, the 3 hours interview (sooo long) did go well and I managed to spend a couple of hours walking around Bern old town. I never imagined Bern to be quite so different from Zurich (or so far away from Meilen: it is a 2 hours and a bit commute door to door...) and I am quite excited to show you some of the pics I have taken.

I am writing today my third and last post on my visit to Rapperswil (almost 2 weeks ago). My first post focused on the old town square and the castle while the second took you on a tour of the rose gardens. This post will be an assortment of snapshots taken in the streets of the old town which I hope will give you a better feel for the place. Enjoy your tour!

I find walking around old medieval streets to be both mind-blowing (I mean it is like travelling back in time!) and sometimes a bit scary when you start to imagine how dark and smelly those streets would have been back then. Some of the houses in Rapperswil date back from 1630! Isn't it amazing?

Even some old wooden houses were still standing up after all this time (although I don't know how much of the original woodwork remains)

It is clear looking at some of these houses that they belonged to some wealthy people as so much care (and money) must have gone into every details, from doorways... sundials and painted walls

 You can also find some quirky modifications added to these old houses like this cat ladder. Genius!

Finally, I just want to share with you what must be one of my favourite new shops! Rapperswil's old town is full of quirky little boutiques, there are virtually no shop chains (they must all be in the new town) and you could spend hours window shopping! Tucked away in one of these little streets, we came across a dog boutique called Zampetta.

I was devastated to find out it was closed on a Tuesday (the day we visited) as I was desperate to go in and have a look! I am not one to buy unnecessary expensive accessories for my dog but some of the things in the shop were seriously funny and cute. I had a look on their website when I got home and decided that I must return. Some of the dog houses and beds on the website would require a bank loan/mortgage but I can totally imagine people in Zurich paying that amount of money for their dogs! Maybe I'll just get a food bowl or something small for Alf...

Thank you for dropping by today. I will sort my Bern photos this weekend to share them with you in a future post. Bye for now!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Redcurrant tart

Good morning everyone!

When you will be reading this post, I will be in Bern waiting nervously for my first job interview in la Suisse. Please, send positive thoughts my way!

I thought I would share a recipe I tried 10 days ago when we had visitors. I had about 500g of redcurrants left from this year's crop in my freezer. After having made two batches of redcurrant jelly (you can read about it here), I thought I would look up a recipe to use the last of the redcurrants. I am not usually a big fan of fruit tarts but being summer and all I thought I'd give it a try. Most recipes I could find combined different types of red fruits to make a tart but I used the following recipe from a French blog called "Les Toques de la Cuisine" and adapted it slightly by ditching the  raspberries in favour of more redcurrants.

The recipe could not be easier really. I used shop-bought pastry too to save time and it did not affect how yummy this turned out. You mix some cream, sugar and eggs together; pour on top of the pastry and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.

When it is done, let it cool down a bit. In the meantime, dissolve some gelatine in warm jam (the recipe called for some blueberry jam but I used some of my home-made redcurrant jelly instead) and add to the fruits.

Pour the fruits over the pastry/custard combo and Bob's your Uncle!

Keep in the fridge until ready to serve! This tart was seriously good and was an instant success. I now wish I had kept more redcurrants aside to make another one!

Go on, give it a try! If anyone would like help with translating the French recipe, leave a comment and I will get back to you. Bon appétit!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Rapperswil part II: Kiss from a rose

There's nothing like a bit of Seal to get me take out the hairbrush mic and give it some in my living room. Still, this post won't be about my lack of singing abilities but about the very pretty rose gardens in Rapperswil.

Rapperswil is often referred to as the town of roses (Rosenstadt). Over  15,000 plants of 600 different kinds of roses can be viewed there in the summer. There are several rose gardens tucked away in Rapperswil but the ones we spent the most time in are located near the port within the Capuchin monastery.

Entrance to monastery can be seen at the back

This particular garden wasn't very big in size but it must have had near a hundred different types of roses and was very sweet-smelling.

The back of the rose garden has a little vineyard
There were so many beautiful roses that it was difficult to select the best looking ones to show you. So here is a little collage of some of the finest specimens:

The gardens were very quiet when we went to visit (may have had something to do with the weather...) and it was lovely to have a walk around and sit down on a bench for a few minutes.

Don't you just love the Swiss public water fountains? This one had water coming out of a heron.
After the post from yesterday, I can only highly recommend a day trip to Rapperswil if you ever find yourself in Zurich for a few days. You can take the boat to Rapperswil from Zurich (it takes about 2 hours) or a train (it takes about 30 minutes).

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Rapperswil part I

So, yesterday I left you on the boat just when we were arriving in  Rapperswil and we could just about make out the top of the castle.

Here it is again
We had no plans before setting off to Rapperswil so we decided to have a walk around the old town. The old town is only a few minutes walk from the ferry terminal and it is so quirky and beautiful that you could happily spend a full day walking around, stopping for cakes and doing a lot of window shopping.

As we got off the ferry, the first thing we saw was this amazing painted house. I didn't record its name or age but I seem to remember this was a family house for a local doctor (but then again, I wouldn't bet my life on it).

As you walk in the old town, you soon reach the main square underneath Rapperswil castle with its large fountain and cafes (we stopped for lunch at one of them and managed to catch 30 minutes of sunshine whilst sat at the was soo nice!)

Looking up towards the castle
 Many old buildings have sun dials on their walls, the one that adorns the castle tower being just one example.

View from the top of the stairs that lead from the square to the castle:

No, the weather hadn't gone mad, I was just playing with the settings on my camera!

There is a Polish museum inside the castle that you can go and visit but we decided to just continue exploring the grounds and the old streets surrounding the castle. There is a restaurant inside the castle courtyard that had been beautifully covered with a fancy plastic sheet so that diners could eat outside in all weathers. That would be a stunning place to have a wedding reception!

This courtyard led to another smaller one with a small rose garden and looked into the church

Looking over the rooftops from the castle, you should be able to see the Obersee and the Alps but we could not spot much. Beautiful roofs though!

I have so many nice photos of Rapperswil and so many good memories that I have split this post into 3! Do come back to hear more about the old town and about the rose gardens!

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