You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

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I might add event organiser and hotel manager but pretty spot on!

familydaystriedandtested's Blog


After almost 30 years of working whilst raising a family I decided to become a stay at home mum…our seventh child is expected shortly and I will not be returning to work after her birth.

I’ve never applied for the job but if I did this is what I would expect the qualification stipulations to be based on the actions I myself have partaken in as a parent that has already and continues to have the experience of six growing children.
Absolutely big up to all parents that juggle work alongside parenthood…this reiterates the fact that you have multiple jobs.
For others that are stay at home parents, your job role is as listed above.
We all have the vocation of motherhood….

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One day this week we woke up to discover it was a beautiful sunny day. We immediately set to work making ourselves a picnic and decided on the Evologia gardens in Cernier as our destination.

historiqueEvologia was initially an agricultural college founded by Frédéric Soguel in 1885. For over a hundred years it was the site of the École cantonale d’agriculture until 1995 when the school was moved to a new location and a committee was appointed to develop the site. Today Evologia still holds agricultural at its heart promoting nature and its related professions to the general public. Throughout the summer there are numerous events that take place up in the gardens and exhibition centre from music concerts to art workshops.

I knew there was an exhibition on currently called Tractorama which I thought would be right up the children’s street but I also knew that what they would appreciate most would be being able to run free around the gardens after being cooped up because of the bad weather.

Cernier is a beautiful spot high up in Neuchâtel in the Val-de-Ruz backing on to the Jura Mountains. I am a mountain girl. I once had a conversation with someone where we discussed there being two types of people: mountains and lake people vs sea and beach people. If I ever had to choose it would definitely be mountains and lakes. Heading up there I immediately got that mountain feeling which causes me to relax and immediately lifts my spirits.


We started off with a bit of an explore of the gardens and M was in his element! He has gotten so steady on his feet now and he just loved pushing his way through the slightly over grown bushes, admiring the butterflies and generally running in all directions. I thought at one stage I had lost him to a giant flower pot but he reemerged looking very chuffed with himself.

M's favourites

E found different interests. She was intrigued by bamboo which we found round the back of the greenhouses. I can only imagine at her height how impressive it must look. I explained to her about how we use bamboo in gardening to support plants and even for decoration, when we found some colourfully painted in another part of the gardens, but I don’t think she quite believe me. We also found some “Christmas Trees” which E decided she had to spend a good 10 minutes decorating with dried grass while singing loudly to herself.

E's favourites

It was getting pretty hot so we found ourselves a shady spot for a picnic before we continued our exploration. Unfortunately I forgot our picnic rug so improvised with a towel which actually worked pretty well absorbing all spills and being easier to clean. I suspect we got a little carried away in making our picnic as we had tonnes of food but we had a good selection of sarnies including some jam ones from my batch the other day. There is a restaurant, la Terrassiette, up in the main building but a picnic suited us much better.


After lunch we went in search of some tractors. The exhibition Tractorama closes for lunch but reopened just in time to prevent WW3 as both kids fought to ride on a tractor just outside of the exhibition room. It turns out that all of the antique tractors are actually all in working condition. They are all owned by one man who has a major tractor addiction (by his own admission). He buys them and then restores them to like new. There were plenty of old American models like the ancient blue Titan and a classic John Deere below but I think M was less than impressed by the fact I wouldn’t let him ride on them in the exhibition with the caretaker observing us.


It was a lovely free day out with something for all of us and I would definitely take the kids back up there. Enjoy your weekends!

The view


A Note on Common Sense

If you don’t know Douglas Adams I recommend you pick up the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy immediately and discover his take on the universe. His comedic philosophical writings are brilliant for all ages.


Recently I was rereading the Salmon of Doubt, a book published posthumously of some of his writings found on his computer after his heart attack. One piece I came across was brilliant analysis of the concept of common sense. It was written for publication in the Independent on Sunday.

Adams starts off the article by explaining how as opposed to the old Soviet Union which was governed by rules in the West we have always highly valued common sense but we “forget that common sense is often just as arbitrary. You’ve got to know the rules. Especially if you travel.”

He uses the example of “a little run-in with the police” that he had while driving in London and overtook on the inside lane. “Not a piece of wild and reckless driving in the circumstances, honestly it was just the way the traffic was flowing” but enough to get him pulled over. “[A]gast” at the dangerous location the police officer had pulled him over in to berate him while his heavily pregnant wife remained in the car he gave up trying to argue with the officers who were busy stating that he “wasn’t in the universe [he] was in England”! He quickly admired all wrong and excused himself on the fact he had recently been in the US where, of course, American readers will say, it is “perfectly legal, perfectly normal, and, hence, perfectly safe.”

Adams then goes on to argue about the experience he had at the hands of a Californian law enforcement officer when he “parked in the only available space, which happened to be on other side of the [empty] street.” The fast acting officer explained that parking against the flow of traffic “that would be there […] if there was any traffic” is a dangerous crime in the states even if it is perfectly normal on busy English roads.

Lucky enough to get away with a only a ticket. Adams believed the officer would “rather have deported [him] before [his] subversive ideas brought chaos and anarchy to streets that normally had to cope with nothing more alarming than a few simple assault rifles. Which, as we know, in the States are perfectly legal” and, yet, a bizarre concept for Brits to grasp.

While the Europeans and the Americans have generally come to understand each others’ ways there are a few more extreme examples of cultural common sense gone awry. “In China, for instance, the poet James Fenton was once stopped for having a light on his bicycle. How would it be, the police officer asked him severely, if everybody did that?”

But Douglas Adams’ hammer in the coffin of common sense comes in the form of a Japanese example. He “tells of a court case in which a driver who was being prosecuted for driving up onto the pavement, crashing into a shop window and killing a couple of pedestrians was allowed to enter the fact that he was blind drunk at the time as a plea in mitigation.”

Sometimes we complain that our children have no common sense but maybe we should reevaluate this comment. Our children are just trying to learn all the unwritten rules of a complicated world.



Introducing New Foods

I like offal: liver, kidney, sweetbreads. I am big on seafood as well including whelks and winkles. Scottish black pudding beats English black pudding hands down and Haggis is delicious.

I was brought up on “interesting” cuts of meat none of which I considered odd until I reached secondary school at 11 and people started eeeeeeeeeewing everything. Then I turned veggie for a while but that’s another story.

Unfortunately hubby is a little less adventurous than me. I mean he’ll try everything, which I applaud, but we have had a few, albeit rare, dashes to the bin for things he considers too revolting. There aren’t many things I haven’t been able to stomach in life; I can list them all on a couple fingers:

  • Jellyfish – It was just like eating rubber and I couldn’t figure out how to take a bite or even swallow it.
  • Tripe – I reckon I’ll try it again at some point but cooked in a clear broth was just too much texture for me on a first try.

I haven’t had to try many insects yet. I’ve eaten ants (in chocolate) but I don’t know how I would react to deep fried locust for example. I’d like to think I’d give them a go. I know a lot of it is mental and perception can definitely influence how we taste things but its hard to override your brain.

Fried crickets

Fried crickets

Now, I’m not saying you should like everything. I don’t really like onion, for example, and frogs legs can hop on. But its all about being open to new flavours. Did you know that children may need to be offered a new food as many as 10-15 times before they will eat it?

Probably, like a lots of things, there are tastes best acquired at a young age. One study showed that repeated taste exposure can increase liking for certain food products in young children.

This is why I am on a mission to introduce my kids to as many flavours as I can before they learn from their peers that somethings “shouldn’t” be eaten.

This week we had tongue. Ox tongue cooked in broth with carrots, celery, onions and boiled potatoes is one of my favorite childhood dishes. It is super easy to cook: Firstly you clean the tongue thoroughly and then you pop it in a large pot. Chop up 3 to 4 carrots in to batons, 3 sticks of celery into batons, one onion into chunks. Add all the veg to the pot with the celery leaves, 6 peppercorns and a bay leaf and then just cover all with some stock. Then you cook the tongue until the skin can be peeled off easily. This can take a few hours so I tend to pop it on at low temperature when I go out for the afternoon. While I am peeling the tongue I add my potatoes to cook in the stock. Then I slice the tongue and re add it to the broth to warm it before serving.

Tongue has an acquired texture but it has a great taste plus it is really easy for the kids to eat. I was determined that the kids would like it, and not snub it like their Dad, so I pulled out the big guns: the paint palate plates that I’ve shown you before. The trick is to make it as colourful as possible to make it more appealing!


Success! The plates were spotless and no complaints. M even had second servings of tongue.

What foods do you eat that others might consider odd? How adventurous are you with new flavours?


5. Couvet fields

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Back On My Feet Again

I apologise as I completely forgot to let you know how the BCN Tour du Canton went. For those who missed my previous post: as part of a fitness incentive I decided to sign myself up for a series of 6 races ranging from just over 9 to just under 12 kilometres.

I am proud to say that I completed 5 out of 6 of the race “stages” in the top third of my category. Considering I started training 8 weeks before the first race after not having run regularly for over 5 years I am very happy with my results. I did opt out of one race due to the fact it was E’s birthday. We took her out for a big girl birthday dinner with my mum who was visiting for the week. I had a lovely evening and managed to miss out on the most muddy stage of the tour and not feel an ounce of guilt about it.

The races took part every Wednesday evening over a period of 6 weeks meaning you had one week to recover between races. It sounds horrifying but I found that I actually gained stamina and strength as the races went on. In fact the week where I missed a race really threw me for the following race.

I must say the supporters who lined the route were really amazing and I saw some pretty outstanding sites. Let me share some of my pictures. I afraid some are a bit blurred as I was still running but really did not want to miss the photo opportunity.

The first week the race was 9.310 km starting at Planeyse, Colombier with a 210m elevation. You can see the exciting 3D animation of the course here.

1 colombier


It was nice an sunny on arrival but as the race went on the sky clouded and we made it in just before the thunderstorm started. Some of the slower runners were not as lucky. The race was beautiful  as we ran through the wine yards of the Domain de Chambleau. It was also tough running down the winery’s driveway and my friend and I jokingly discussed stopping off for an aperitif with the staff who were out with a bottle of wine cheering us on.

1 chambleau domaine


It was good as I really paced myself but perhaps I went a bit too slowly at the start as I crossed the finish line with plenty of energy despite looking like a beetroot because of my final sprint.

2 Chézard-Saint-Martin


Week 2 saw us heading up into the countryside to Chézard-Saint-Martin. This race was more a straight uphill and then downhill run with an elevation of 290m. It was 10.360 km with the peak at 5km once you reached that point you knew it was pretty much easy going but from looking at the race animation. I missed one little peak before the final descent which was in fact at the 6km mark so I struggled with motivation  at that last climb before the downhill started! I wasn’t the only one and at the peak I saw many people collapsed around the place with strains or other issues. One thing I love abut running is that runners look out for other runners and anyone I saw in trouble was begin taken care of. Luckily the weather was cool and so the run downhill afterwards was a lovely recovery towards the finish line. Unluckily the weather had been pretty damp the days before the race and the final kilometre was a mud bath and most the people crossing the line were covered! My trainers went straight in the wash when I got home.

3. Les Ponts-de-Martel

Les Ponts-de-Martel

Our third race was up in the Ponts-de-Martel and one of the longest races at 11.314 km. It had an elevation of 197 m which by this stage wasn’t so bad but the main demotivating factor was the fact that the course looped round in a figure of eight so you had a glimpse of the end while you still had half the course to go.

3. Les Ponts-de-Martel countryside

Les Ponts-de-Martel

I loved it though because one of my favourite supporters was there complete with Alphorn to motivate us onwards. Sorry about the blur but I was trying desperately to keep up with a pacesetter for that race and I din’t want to lose him!

3. Les Ponts-de-Martel alphorn

I also saw this extremely house up there which I thought was brilliant. Swiss nationalism is very strong which I do actually love as I think us Brits have pretty much lost it and its a shame not to feel proud of your country.3. Les Ponts-de-Martel swiss house

Once again we finished just in time before a major hail storm hit. As the hail calmed slightly I legged it for the bus for the long journey back home.

4. La Chaux-de-Fonds

La Chaux-de-Fonds

Race 4 in La Chaux-de-Fonds I unfortunately missed as I explained. The weather forecast said snow, rain and freezing temperatures but my friend took part and sent me this picture saying how lucky they had been and despite the cold they got off lightly. It was, however, a complete killer of a race as they had to change the course last minute as there was so much mud and it ended up being not far off 12km with an elevation of 256 m.

5. Couvet

Couvet – Centre Sportif

I was back for Couvet in the Val-de-Travers the next week. It was a scorcher of a day starting off by the Sports centre. The final sprint of the race would be around the running track but firstly we had to get around the 9.560 km course in the heat. By this stage 245 m didn’t sound like that much of an climb but the temperatures changed everything. Firstly I was knackered: E had been sleeping a maximum of 5 hours a night that week and then my hayfever kicked in. Gah! I started struggling to breath and realised if I was going o finish this race it would be slowly and not in a great time. I therefore took my time up on the climbs preferring to walk them and run the downhill bits. The good thing about this was that I had time to really look around and take in the beauty of the place.

5. Couvet fields

5. Couvet hill

Once again there were some fabulous supporters to keep us going!

5. Couvet supporters

I made it across the line. It wasn’t pretty but I don’t think it was a good race for most people. There were ambulances everywhere. People had been collapsing along the course from dehydration and many passed out just after making to the end. I don’t know if it was just because of the heat or because it was a shorter race more inexperienced people turned up but it was carnage.

The final week in Neuchâtel town I was determined to do better. It was my home stretch and I knew that plenty of friends and family would be about to watch. When I arrived I spent a good while warming up properly.It was a lovely day but not too warm. Perfect.

6. Neuchatel swans


Just before the race kicked off they even had a stage with two ladies doing a warm up routine down by the lake so I joined in and bounced along to the music with everyone else.

6. Neuchâtel lake


The Neuchâtel lap was tough at 11.204 km and with the biggest climb yet of 345m from lakeside up past the train station, into the forest and back down again via Hauterive. The climb was tough but I kept moving only grinding to a stop when the line of runners bottlenecked into the forest. The forest trail was great as I know it well. The shade from the trees keeps you cool and it was soft underfoot. The final kilometre was tough though as I had given all I had to give in the uphill climb at the start. Friends who saw me thought i was limping as I reached the end although I was unaware. All I wanted to do was to get there! I high fives the kids I ran past for the final 100m and then it was over.

I was sad to reach the end. I really enjoyed my rather extreme reinitiating into the running world and remembered how much I used to enjoy my runs. Running is addictive. Every time you complete a goal you want to do more; push yourself toward the next challenge. First thing I did was to get a treadmill. I am now training 6 or 7 days a week and have put myself in for the London Marathon lottery with a few charities. Its easy enough to find the time to train if I do it first thing while M is napping. E comes to “workout” with me and we put a cartoon on the TV.

I love that running gives you extra energy and I love the fact that it allows me to eat cake.

Keep your fingers crossed for me for London but if I don’t get a spot I’ll sign up for a local one instead.



The Apples Are Ready!

Today while I was attempting to tame the garden, and prevent my little boy from eating the rotten apples under the tree, I noticed that they were finally ripe as the healthy ones were starting to drop.

I quickly scooped up a bowl and with the help of E picked the remaining apples off the tree. I reckon we have about 5 kilos in total so not amazing but certainly good enough to do some baking. I have no idea what sort of apples they are but have a pinkish tinge and they turn to purée when cooked. I believe they are something related to a Duchess of Oldenburg apple thanks to this very useful website called the Orange Pippin but I’m no expert.


This week I saw a brilliantly easy Apple and Sage Sausage Roll recipe posted by The Peachicks Bakery, a blog which specialises in dairy, soya and egg-free recipes. I do not have any need for specialist recipes but the lovely lady who runs it keeps her baking appealing to all. This recipe actually popped up on her Facebook page and I loved the idea so decided to give it a try with my new apples.

I adapted Midge’s recipe slightly to our ingredients, for instance, the closest we can get to British sausages is a a Saucisse Vaudoise, but this comes rolled in a spiral as one extra long sausage.

Firstly I made my apple sauce by peeling and chopping my apples and placing them in a large saucepan with enough water to cover half. Then I cooked them on a medium heat until they were soft and pureed. If your apples remain firm you could always puree them in a blender but it is nice to leave a little bit of texture in my opinion.

Sausage rolls
  •  2 Saucisses Vaudoises (or any sausage/sausage meat you like)
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1 roll of puff pastry
  • 1 beaten egg
sausage rolls
  • Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C fan oven).
  • Firstly lay out your pastry and up it in half lengthways down the middle so you have two long strips.
  • Then spread the apple sauce on the pastry.
  • Tear the sage leaves and sprinkle on top.
  • Place the sausages on the pastry and roll them up into long rolls. Press the join together with your fingers.
  • Cut the long rolls to desired lengths and lay out on a non-stick baking sheet.
  • Lightly brush with beaten egg.
  • Place in oven for 25-30 minutes.

The preparation was simple enough that E could help which she loves and we served them for dinner very simply with some green beans (and ketchup for the addicts). The kids wolfed them down and even came back for more.dinner

They were really delicious, fabulously easy and all I can really say is thank you very much to Midge at the Peachicks Bakery!

chateau de chillon

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The 1st of August in Pictures

Following on from my previous post on Swiss National Day…

running collage

The view on my run the in the morning. The quiet before everything kicks off.


chateau de chillon

The Château de Chillon on Lac Leman by Montreux. (I had to add this one as it is just so pretty)


1st august fireworks8

Neuchâtel’s fireworks kicking off over the lake.


1st august fireworks6

The are set off from barges and people take their boats out for a closer view. You can see the ring of boat lights.


1st august fireworks

The grand finale.