Won’t you be my neighbour?

In that we will be calling this home for the next 12 months, we set out to capture some shots of our new hood. Despite living in the most urban setting of our family’s lives there is a definite farm feel to it. A few moments walk from our house are fields and farms, complete with cows wearing the quintessential Swiss cow bell. But within our block are spectacular gardens and even a chicken coop. 

It’s like Victoria here, gardening paradise. It would seem that everything grows.
One of the many cats on our block we’re hoping might come choose to live at our house.
We’ve noticed a few of these elaborate systems people provide to give their cats access to freedom. With most people living in apartment style dwellings, all the non-ground floor cats still need to roam.
The chickens up the block from us. Must make friends with this family so that we can score some fresh eggs!
Just up the hill behind our house. The kids were quite thrilled that these cows had bells.

Hopefully in the coming weeks we can become familiar with our neighbours and forge some friendships. Ideally the kids will make some buddies with more than just the neighbourhood cats. That will make all of our lives much more pleasant. Life without buddies is tough. I miss all of mine terribly.

There is a certain degree of angst for the kids at the moment. In continuation of the cat-theme, the cat is now out of the bag regarding something we were keeping secret from the kids. Manolo and I learned quite quickly upon our arrival here that the kids would be attending different schools. More specifically, Diego would be going to a different school. Helena would be attending with her cousins which had been our hope from the start. This was obviously not good news and we did our best to contact the school to plead our case to have them stay together. It was explained to us that for new-comers who don’t know German, they are put into special classes with other newcomers to do accelerated language classes. Because of the high demand, many refugee families, each school specializes in a specific grade so as to not overwhelm the system. Once that has been established they would then integrate into the mainstream class, possibly at their own local school. Fingers crossed… We knew that this news would terrify Diego and so chose to keep it a secret until closer to when school begins which is on August 22nd here.

Well yesterday we had help reading the letter we received from the school system which has confirmed that they are both attending schools away from their cousins. While this still isn’t great news, the fact that they’re now both in the same boat makes this a little simpler to navigate in terms of their angst. Less simple in terms of the geography of it all and how we go in two different directions each day. But that we’ll figure out. Having just D isolated on his own would have been brutal. Misery loves company right?

So our goal these days is simplicity and doing our best to create a feeling of home and familiarity with our surroundings. Manolo & D set out to explore the trails by bike today while H and I set out on foot to find more awesome playgrounds. (See, the fact that I brought 3 bikes means that D can ride one of mine until we find him one of his own. It wasn’t selfish at all.)

Not sure if we’re allowed in the fountains but we go for it while it’s hot.
A little cloud gazing while waiting for the boys to meet us after their ride.
Dad & D discovered a bunch of covered bridges.

I had a chance to explore on my bike on my own this morning. This country is so bike friendly; it’s amazing. Bikes and cars travel seamlessly together all over the place. I love being in the mix but am terrified of the idea of ever driving. There’s too many bikes. I’d far rather take my chances as a biker than have to worry about spotting them all. Considering how tricky we’re finding it to read the road signs, it’s probably best we’re not driving.

See what I mean about confusing signs? The vertical sign shows all the bike routes throughout the country. You follow them and you dont get lost while biking from village to village. So clearly I was on the right track and yet the big sign above it would suggest that bikes aren’t allowed. Like the rebel I am, I boldly peddled on!
In no time I was through Winterthur and out in the country on my way to another town. I am so excited about the possibilities of exploring by bike.

Biking around town had been tough on my ego until I remembered what was at play…after the fourth grandparent passed me on an uphill I realized it was more than just their amazing Swiss genes. (Trust me, the genes count for a lot! There are some incredibly spry old-folks around here.) It’s the ebikes that are the true advantage. They are everywhere and help you coast up a hill like an Olympian. Ma, I think we need to hook you up with one when you get here. 

For anyone else planning to come for a visit (please, please would you) I will ask you to save some room in your suitcase for some peanut butter. Thanks. I’ll be here, waiting, with a cold beer ready.

A rare moment when I am the photographed rather than the photographer.

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