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Life of Ryrie

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Big Adventure

Expat endings

The bubble has popped.  Reality has kicked in.  We are back in England.  The Life of Ryrie Big Swiss Adventure has come to a close.  Well, what a year it has been.  We have lived in a different, non English speaking country.  We have even survived.  We can now do anything, go anywhere.

Here are a few of our best bits…

Mount Titlis

“Joshua, what would you like to do for your birthday treat this year?”

“Skiing or sledging.”

Joshua was born in July.  Usually a month associated with sun, beaches, holidays and gelati, my son decided to flip the norm and present us with a challenge.  Fortunately, we live in Switzerland and are only an hour away from Mount Titlis and the Titlis glacier.

Midsummer’s Day dawned, and whilst Druids were witnessing the sunrise at Stonehenge, we were dragging out our winter weather gear and heading off to find summer snow with two of Joshua’s friends to celebrate the (nearly) six years he has been on this fascinating planet.  (Little did we know it, but half the population of India and China were doing the same, but more of that later).  Mount Titlis is located in Egelberg, part of one of the largest ski networks in Europe and, at a height of just over 3,000 meters (10,000 feet), is above the all important snow line thereby giving us the opportunity for summer sledging.  Engelberg-Titlis is all about the outdoor adventures; hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking, fishing and all manner of other -ings can be done at Engelberg.  It boasts beautiful alpine views, plenty to do and a central location, and is only an hour from Zug.

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International Day

Every school in the world has a fair of some description, whether that’s a Summer Fayre, a Christmas Bazaar or an Easter Egg-stravaganza.  At some stage in the school calendar there is a get together, a chance for a bit of fundraising, a bit of socialising, a bit of teamwork and an opportunity for the members of the parents association to show their mettle.  The International School of Zug and Luzern doesn’t so much have a fair as a summer spectacular, this is International Day.

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Snow in May

On our recent trip to Innsbruck we passed through St Anton am Arlberg on the Arlberg Pass.  We stopped at the top of a windy road at St Christoph am Arlberg at a height of just over 1,800 metres the children were bemused and delighted to find – snow even though the temperature a little further down the mountain was in the early twenties!  An opportunity to take a few photos…

Legal Alien

I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York

Sting, ‘An Englishman in New York’

Six months and four days ago I boarded a Swiss Air flight from Heathrow and arrived in Steinhausen, Switzerland at the start of the Ryrie Family Big Adventure.  The one where we become expats.  The combination and contradiction of our emotions on that flight was both confusing and exciting.  It is all too easy to get swept along in the here and now, but I figure that this six month anniversary is a good  time to take stock and reflect a little.

When we first started researching Switzerland as a place to live, not just one to ski in (not that we’ve actually done that I hasten to add), we drew a bit of a blank as to what it was actually like here.  I mean we could go on the HSBC Expat Explorer and find out loads of statistics about cost of living, proportion of nationalities resident, random hints and tips but we could find nothing about what it was actually like to live here.  We kept coming across weird laws, like you’re not allowed to wash the car or hang the washing outside on a Sunday (both true).  Everyone we spoke to would say how lovely/beautiful/quiet it was here, but this was all based on business or ski trips.  Everything we have been through in the past six months has, by and large, been with eyes wide shut.  Our naiivity at times embarrassing, at others entertaining, but always a reminder for the seasoned expats of how they were on their first move abroad.

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Poorly

Q. What’s worse than a child home from school ill?
A. Both children home from school ill.

Not a very funny joke to be honest but I’m afraid I make no apologies.  This is not a very funny situation.

Tilly was home poorly yesterday and it was a perfectly lovely day.  I fear that this statement may need a little further explanation, I am not, I assure you, some sadistic woman that takes pleasure in their child’s suffering!  Tilly was poorly enough to be home from school (the yardstick always being whether the child has a temperature higher than normal combined with some other symptom from the pick n mix of childhood ailments) but not so bad she was confined to bed.  So our day went something like this; we took Joshua to school, popped into the supermarket to get provisions, got home, had some late breakfast, went to bed and had a nap (the napping part was me, Tilly just lay there and wriggled), got up and FaceTimed Grandma, tried to eat some lunch (managed about half), did a bit of maths, and finally made some paper Little Red Riding Hood puppets before once again returning to school to collect the boy.  See what I mean, perfectly lovely.  A bit of craft, a bit of sleep, a touch of socialising – all interspersed with bouts of hacking coughing, headaches, nausea and, of course, the fluctuating temperature.  However this I could handle.  Tilly was, despite clearly feeling absolutely dreadful, in her element.  I mean she had one on one, dedicated mummy time.  Precious time indeed.  Just a pity that this time had to be given in such miserable circumstances.

Continue reading “Poorly”

Homesick

He thought he was sick in his heart if you could be sick in that place.
James Joyce – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Being homesick hits you at the most inopportune moments. It is the most obscure things that give you the twist in the stomach, the pull in the chest and the prickle behind the eyes.  Most of the time it can be shaken off within a few minutes, but sometimes it stains the day with its desperation for familiarity and longing for belonging.

Continue reading “Homesick”

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