Life of Ryrie

Adventures in family life



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…


Ascension Day meant that in our Catholic canton the children were off school for a long weekend.  We decided to make the most of our central European location and take a short(ish) trip over the border into Austria and explore Innsbruck.  I have to admit that the only thing I knew about Innsbruck was the hosting of the Winter Olympics (which the city has done twice, the last time being in 1976) but my husband has happy memories of childhood holidays spent in Igls, just 5 kilometres out of the city at the foot of the Patscherkofel mountain.

It took us about four hours to make the journey from Steinhausen; wending our way through the small, but perfectly formed, gem of Liechtenstein, before threading our way round the Arlberg Pass, rising to a height of just over 1,800 metres, and arriving in the heart of the Tyrolean Mountains at Igls.  It’s easy to imagine the bustling, hyperactivity of Igls in the winter as it seemed that every street had places to hire skis, snowboards and sledging equipment with a cable car station for the Olympic resort just a few hundred yards from the centre of the town.  However, what with it being May, skiers had been replaced with hikers and cyclists, a far more sedate crowd.  We stayed at the Sporthotel and any hotel that greets its guests with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine gets my recommendation every time, the perfect antidote to four hours in the car with the children!

Continue reading “Innsbruck”


One of the loveliest things about Switzerland isn’t the fondue, or its proximity to the rest of Europe, or even the view from the balcony, nope, it is actually the Blumen fields.  The whaty fields I hear you ask?  The Blumen fields.  Now let me explain.

Many of the local farmers dedicate a corner (actually sometimes more than a corner) of their land to flowers.  Tulips, dahlias, lilies, sunflowers, and many more besides.  Between April and October these fields allow members of the public to select a segment of the rainbow to take home with them.  As with everything in Switzerland these multicoloured delights don’t come for free with each stem costing anything from 80 rappen to 3 francs.  The joy comes from the fact that you pull over from the road, grab a knife that the farmer has kindly left for your convenience(!), you wander along the rows choosing the blooms that catch your eye before you leave your payment in the honesty box.  Yep, you read right, not only are there half a dozen knives left out (health and safety clearly not an issue here) but there is also an HONESTY BOX!!!

For me the humble honesty box sums up the difference between Switzerland and the UK.  In England (or Scotland, or Wales or Northern Ireland for that matter) honesty boxes are as rare as hens teeth.  I guess that in a society where local newspapers report thefts of charity collection tins then honesty boxes are laughable.  If you do happen across the odd small holding where eggs are for sale the honesty box is practically cemented to the ground, gloriously contradicting its title and leaving you to wonder whether even the owner can access it.

The Blumen fields are more than just a pretty patch of land that generates a few extra francs for the landowner, they illustrate a society that still has faith.  Faith in each other to do the right thing.


Switzerland – Five Recommended Expat Blogs

I can’t believe it. have included me as one of their five (yes count them, only one hand needed!) recommended blogs for expats living (or thinking of living) in Switzerland!  I am so delighted I can’t even begin to express it properly.  It means that people actually read my blog!  So, if you do read (and you’re not a blood relative) THANK YOU!

To find out a bit more about me and my expat experience you can read my ExpatFocus interview by clicking the link…



If you would like to keep up to date with me and my expat life (intermingled with a bit of family stuff) then click the ‘Follow’ me button to the right of you…



Beautiful, bountiful, lush Swiss Spring Greens.


The Art of Indication

I have previously written about driving in Switzerland, but I felt it was time I should warn any soon-to-be expats in Switzerland, or indeed any driving tourists, about the roundabout situation.

If you are English (or Australian) you will immediately fear the roundabout because you are going round it anti-clockwise (which, if you ask me is completely irrational unless you are in the Southern Hemisphere where water goes anti-clockwise down the plughole so at least there is a semblance of rationality about the practise).  To be honest though going anti-clockwise hasn’t been too bizarre.  I think that in the early days of driving you approach every roundabout with the mantra of “go right, go right” beating through your conscious in order to avoid a fatal error that it rapidly becomes part of the sub-conscious, and dare I say it, almost natural.  The issue that has prompted this post is actually to do with the art of indication.

Indication is all about timing to ensure that the other person is clear about your intentions.  Basically, the Swiss, if you’re lucky, don’t do any indication on a roundabout until just before they pull off.  Now my brain is trained so that if you don’t see an indication the other traveller will be going straight over which has meant that I have had a few near misses when in actual fact the other car has been turning left.  I know that this may seem like a small, fairly insignificant problem, but it’s these small insignificant issues that suddenly become huge, massive, whopping ones.  I have three roundabouts to negotiate before I hit the highway to school and on the approach to each one my stomach starts clenching and my hands grip the steering wheel ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly, tighter.  I have had occasion when I have sat at these roundabouts for an inordinate amount of time just to be sure that the car on my left isn’t going to suddenly whizz past me but is indeed turning off.  Or I have taken a chance and pulled out only to realise that the car that I thought was going straight over was in fact taking the third exit and I have totally cut them up.  The Swiss are very quick to show their irritation and I am now able to tell the make of the approaching car just by the sound of the horn.

Being an expat means that you learn new things all the time in order to embrace the culture that your find yourself in so that you can fool everyone into thinking that you are in fact a local.  In this instance though I am flying in the face of embracing local custom and have instead learnt the art of over-indicating.  Indeed I indicate so much that I swear the middle and index fingers on my left hand have got slimmer.  I indicate as I approach the roundabout, when I am on the roundabout and when I am about to leave the roundabout.  I even indicate when I am in the roundabout-bypass lane.  Yes, there is another lane in the roundabout layout which allows drivers to bypass the roundabout and which prompts further navigational negotiation if you happen to be taking the first exit off to the left.  This is Swiss efficiency at its most un-neccessary as the roundabout bypass lane only seems to exist in fairly rural locations where the possible build up of traffic (which must be why this lane exists) is pretty minimal.  I am aware that my over-indication could be confusing but if the worst were to happen and there was an incident, I can at least say that I was the one indicating where I was going.  If there is no indication at all, how the hell does the other party know where you’re headed as, let’s face it, very few of us have psychic powers.

See?  652 words later it is clear that the small, insignificant problems soon become the massive, insurmountable issues.  Safe travels everyone.


We travel light these days – allegedly! 

Single Wives Club

“Will Daddy be home tonight?” or “When will Daddy be back?”, these are the two most often asked questions by my children.  Daddy and I are married, we are not a ‘modern’ (alternative) couple as we still inhabit the same property to raise our children in partnership.  I am not a single Mum.  So, why are my children asking these questions?  Daddy has a job which entails lots of travel, international overseas travel, which means that he can be away for one night here and there or ten days here and there.  He is just coming to the end of a seven week period of which five weeks have included at least four nights, and at most seven nights, away and will be entering a quieter month of just being away one or two nights a week.  I am not a Single Mum but there are many occasions when I feel like one.  I am a wife, but there are many occasions when I don’t feel like one.  I have christened myself a Single Wife.

Continue reading “Single Wives Club”

If you’re expecting this to be a post on the wonders of mathematics or an appreciation of a beautiful algebraic equation then I am afraid you are going to be disappointed.  This is however a short rant cunningly disguised as my next post.  

My children who attend an International School, and who are both taught by very lovely American teachers have started to call mathematics ‘Math’! 

This REALLY gets my goat and has become symbolic of everything that is wrong with this International education.

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