Still looking the wrong way when I cross the road

The more loyal of my readers will have noticed I have been AWOL the last few weeks. Well I have now reappeared in another country entirely; from frenzied Central London, we have moved to a beautiful quiet town in southern Switzerland. It’s been a huge move, which happened in a whirlwind of activity over Christmas, and now 4 weeks after moving I can finally take in what’s happened! So I hope no one minds if I depart from my usual book talk this week to put down my thoughts about it. After all, my Italian is not good enough to talk about it with anyone here yet. It’s also worth noting this post has actually taken quite a while to write, as the way I feel about my new home changes daily so it’s been surprisingly hard to write them down.

It has only been a few weeks since flying into our new home, so apart from the fact that my poor sedated cat was flown over 3 days later, and the fact I’ve got a job to battle my way to every day, it still feels like a holiday. That being said there have already been noticeable differences and little challenges to get over that give a taste of what is to come in the next 6 months to a year.

Looking out the window

My cat, who has since recovered, enjoying his new home

The first thing fellow Londoners, or even anyone who lives outside of a rural country village will notice about our new home is how at times it looks like the apocalypse has happened. It’s quiet. It’s a ghost town. In London, one complains if the next bus is 5 minutes away, and that the shops close at 6pm on a Sunday. Here, on a Sunday, I could perhaps count the amount of cars that pass my house on my fingers and toes. If I were to go out on a Sunday there are so few shops and restaurants open I would basically just end up wandering around (which in itself is a great activity with the beautiful landscape, but I’d at least like to buy a coffee to walk around with). The other day I was going to pop in to our closest shop on my way to the bus stop and saw it was closed for two hours in the middle of the day - there would be riots if a Tesco Express did that in London!

But what we lack here in convenience, we also have great advantages with the quiet. After nearly a decade of living right in the heart of one of the busiest cities of the world, I’d forgotten how to walk down the street in a straight line; the amount of people on the streets will not allow it. One of my fondest memories of my late Nan, who lived in a smallish city in the Midlands, is her sitting in a taxi with us on my wedding day driving through Piccadilly, and her being astounded at the sheer number of people out the window. And the amount of people can wear you down. Sometimes it’s nice to just go out and not have to battle your way through crowds of people. You do have to make sure you stow the London attitude of just bowling your way down the street, barging people out the way. The change in lifestyle after all why we moved out here, so I’m not about to poison the laid back outlook of the people who live here in what’s known as Little Italy.

It does feel a lot like Italy here, with a Swiss twist. You think moving from England to the Continent that there wouldn’t be too much of a culture clash, and to tell the truth, there isn’t. There is still McDonalds and H&M, and Claire’s bloody Accessories for goodness sake. You can end up feeling like it is just like home. But that just means that any difference that you do come up against seem hugely magnified. Like the fact that there’s no rubbish collection here and nowhere to drop rubbish outside your apartment building. A fact that we didn’t realise and so ended up driving round (and across the border a couple times) with our rubbish in the boot of our rental car for a week until we realised those strange shaped things on the street corners were communal rubbish bins. Thank goodness we didn’t end up getting pulled over on the border, I don’t know if we would have been able to explain it away with British eccentricness.

Another thing is the buses. Weeks in I still am not sure how the buses work. I have a card like an oyster card, but it doesn’t work like an oyster card which is very confusing for my still London-centric mind. I’m pretty sure through no fault of my own I’ve gone for free bus rides. Do you buy the tickets before or during the journey? Why is it that none of the drivers validate my travel card? And, why did that one hilarious bus driver think it was so funny to tell me the bus was terminating as I got on, revealed the joke when I started to panic (it was one of the last buses home after all) then chuckle continuously to himself for the next 5 minutes? That’s just cruel, no wonder I can’t work out the buses when the drivers are actively against me!

I won’t go into the epic roller coaster that was finding a place here, including the reams of paperwork needed to rent a flat here - my estate agent now is in possession of every bit of paperwork associated with me, including my year 5 school report and my first letter to Santa. But through sheer dumb luck, we’ve ended up in a beautiful flat with the incredible view of the lake and mountains, which is such an alien landscape for someone who grew up in the most flat suburban area of Milton Keynes. While obviously this view is stunning in the sunshine, I love the rainy days which makes you feel like you are actually living inside the clouds.


In the clouds


In the sun

Honourable mentions for the other notable events here, both me and my husband suffering with a bad stomach bug in the first week here, which led to me almost fainting on the bus; the time we almost killed some nuns as we accidently drove onto a pedestrianised area, and the time I mixed up my Italian words and asked for directions to the whale car park (Autosilo Balestra became Autosilo Balena as I became flustered).

Well I’m on my own for a couple weeks while my husband wraps up things in England. Bring it on Switzerland, let’s see what else you have to show me.

Raclette party

My husband, cat and I enjoying our first raclette!

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