26 January 2009

Royal Mail

Our recent trip to northern England turned out to involve a more varied set of mailboxes than we had anticipated. The first one we saw (far left in the picture) is quite reminiscent of one of the mailboxes we saw in Lisbon. Soon thereafter we noticed also the twin model as well as a host of mailboxes much less dominated by roundness in their overall design.

24 January 2009

Tyne and Wear

Gateshead Millennium Bridge over the river Tyne

Back in the fall we let ourselves be tempted by yet another offer from EasyJet and planned a trip to Newcastle and Durham here in the middle of January. Despite forecasts threatening the opposite in the days before the trip we ended up having sunshine for most of the weekend - and it certainly wasn't any colder than here in Geneva.

The old Baltic Flour Mills is today a museum for modern art

This was Lisbeth's first trip to this corner of England, but Tue was here no less than twice before: 3 months as an Erasmus exchange student in 2000 and again for one week of summer school in 2002. It was particularly amusing for Tue to see that although it couldn't any longer be same persons, the group of youths from the goth subculture was still hanging out at exactly the same spot on Eldon square.

A glimpse of the castle in Durham and the river Wear (rhymes with 'ear')

Although Tue was in the area before, this was the first time he spent time in Durham. Our locally acquainted guide, Alistair (whom Tue knows from his first trip to Newcastle), led us around showing us both the old cathedral, the castle, and one of the local pubs where we had a traditional British Sunday lunch.

We both agree that it was a great weekend. It was of course lovely to see/meet Richard and Alistair as well as their partners, Vivienne and Nicola, but we were also excited about being able to understand scraps of conversations around us on the train/in restaurants/on the street; to buy a pile of English magasines and books; to have lunch at Wagamama; to choose between a number of excellent beers in the pub; and not least that Lisbeth finally found a 'Lattice Pastry Cutter'!

15 January 2009

Tue's birthday

Last Saturday was Tue's birthday - and on the very day he experienced a veritable shower of gifts: the in the household long wanted salad spinner, a new USB stick, promise of 2 new t-shirts (ordered, but not arrived), decorative bottle caps, freeze-dried curry leaves (which apparently are somewhat like bay laurels and have nothing to do with the common yellow spice mix known as curry), dried kaffir lime leaves, new gloves for running (it seems Lisbeth tends to be worried that Tue is freezing his fingers this time of year), a gift card for FNAC and last but not least 5 carrots from his funny colleagues.

As if that wasn't enough, Tue had the good fortune of being able to spend most of the day doing what he likes best - after a bit of shopping for ingredients in the hours before noon, he spent the rest of the day in the kitchen, busily cooking so we had something to served for the invited guests in the evening.

10 January 2009

The Mail Van

We saved the best for last - to end this flashback series of Californian mailboxes we choose our all time favourite mailbox: the little mail van we found on Alameda Padre Serra in Santa Barbara .. we hope it's still there and wasn't consumed in the Tea Fire. For comparison we show it here next to the actual mail van that used to come and park in front of our flat on West Campus. The mailbox craftsman did a pretty good job, eh!

08 January 2009

The mail is dead ... long live the mail

Well, it's not like we want to be morbid, but we honestly always found that what this mailbox resembles most of all is a coffin.

Some might claim that these days one only receives bad news (window envelopes) in the mailbox.

Not least since even such important events as births and weddings have begun to be communicated via e-mail, facebook, blogs or even sms...

06 January 2009

Koninklijke TNT Post

Connoisseurs might recognise the logo of express delivery firm TNT on the Dutch mailboxes. TNT bought the national Dutch postal service in 2006 and they are still in the process of exchanging the mailboxes from the old red ones (like the two in the picture) to the new orange ones (apart from the colour identical to the old ones).

04 January 2009


As already mentioned we spent the last half week of 2008 in Amsterdam. The weather was very sunny but cold which is why we didn't manage to go in to see Anne Frank's house because the line to get in appeared to us to involve too much standing and freezing. For the same reason we were grateful for the tickets Diego got us for the van Gogh museum allowing us to skip the line there (we couldn't apply the same trick for the line to the wardrobe, but at least we were indoors by then). Overall, most of our time there was spent getting warm again after strolling around in the cold: cafés with warm snacks, restaurants, and a canal tour (in the afternoon dusk) with mulled wine.

One of our many stops in cosy places was in the company of Ann who we both know from when we were living on Sixth at the Hørhus dormitory - and who we think has been living in Amsterdam for almost 10 years by now. It was also our first time meeting Ann's Mark. Hopefully, it won't be the last...

01 January 2009

Happy New Year!

Originally the plan was to meet up with Drew and Leontine in Amsterdam for a couple of days - on the occasion of their being in the Netherlands to visit Leontine's family - and then returning to Geneva to celebrate the new year in our little home. Already during September we planned to surprise Drew by also meeting Diego and his wife Lea in Amsterdam. Despite lacking an actual plan for the execution of the surprise meeting we managed to have Diego and Lea walk into a café where the other four of us were already sitting and talking.

Diego - Drew

Lea - Leontine

The last part of the plan didn't go quite as smoothly - when we reached Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in the afternoon of the day of New Year's Eve we realized that our flight to Geneva was delayed: expected departure some 4 hours later than originally scheduled. There we were, and decided to start killing time by shopping in the many stores in Schiphol. Afterwards we used the food vouchers the airline had given us, first for ice cream, then some pasta and salad. All this while the restaurants and shops in the airport were closing one by one and most of the remaining flights of 2008 were cancelled. The last couple of hours we were sitting in an increasingly empty hall and reading a little. Around the earlier estimated time of departure the aeroplane that was to take us to Geneva finally landed, and we learned that the late arrival was caused by Geneva's airport being closed for 3 hours due to a snow storm.

mmmmm... ice cream!

We took off around 10 pm, landed around 11 pm and were happy to see that trains were still running from the airport to the city. Of course it took a while to get the luggage and getting through passport controls, but we got on the train 11:47 and got off at Geneva's main station some 6 minutes later. Midnight stroke just as we were unlocking our bikes to get the last bit of the way home that way - the sky was lit up above our heads with accompanying blasts and we stopped for a few minutes to behold the fireworks. Home at last about a quarter of an hour into the new year we decided that the day had already been long enough and postponed the champagne and the steaks purchased prior to the trip for a New Year's Dinner on New Year's Day.