April 30: The knock-on effect


Yesterday, I horsed around …


And today I felt quite sheepish 🙂 (Yes, those black dots are sheep!)

I slept the sleep of the slightly sloshed last night and woke up feeling like I’d been on a 10km run. Sheesh, fun has a price, huh?!

Yesterday, before I ran for the bus and had a merry old time, I was having a productive morning in regards to my clothes. In the words of the lovely Ariana from Paris-to-Go, this isn’t a fashion blog, but I like reading about her wardrobe so maybe you might like reading about mine too. Change can be interesting.

I was spurred on by this article on the Becoming Minimalist blog, about people being happier with fewer choices in their closets. A sentence from Drew Barrymore’s blurb really stood out to me.

She mentioned clothes from her 20s were no longer appropriate and I had a sudden flash of a dress I like but don’t wear often because it has several frills on the bottom hem. My mum likes this dress and says the colours suit me, but I’ve only worn it about three times because the frills have always made me feel, well, a bit mutton-dressed-as-lamb-ish. It was no longer age appropriate.

Within seconds of reading Barrymore’s words, I knew what I had to do … I raced down the ladder and grabbed the blunt kitchen scissors and hacked off all the frills. I’ll wear it as a top and love it! Why hadn’t I ever thought of doing that before?! It’s light and cool, and will be a perfect, colourful, cheap, summer addition. I just need to hem it. (Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it, but there’s no chance of me having any inspiration today!) 🙂

Here’s a photo of it without the frill. In my excitement I forgot to take a before photo, because I didn’t think I would even write about it. But I’m really pleased with the result so thought I’d show it off a bit ahahahaha.


The hacked dress which is now a top


That’s all the frill I cut off, hanging around the neck. Purple lace – eek!

So there you go.

I met Claudia in town today and we had falafel kebabs for lunch. Poor Claudia, I’m not sure it was what she was hoping to eat, but I had a hankering for something nasty. Drinking has many knock-on effects. I was craving a burger but went for something a little less greasy. That’s being nutritionally fit, don’t you think?!

It’s still afternoon, but I know I’ll be doing bedtime yoga as my fitfor15in15 workout today. I’ve done it a couple of times before and it really is a soothing way to wind down before tripping the light of the tired and not tipsy.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 29: What a great afternoon!


Enjoying the intermittent sun with Pastora

It feels like Pastora and I have a good-time angel or a fairy godmother or something/one looking out for us. Every time we go to Cafe Pyrennes in Bern we always meet entertaining people.

We’ve met the Everton Football Club fans, a famous Swiss sculptor plus many more. It’s a hub of activity. Today we sat near (but didn’t talk to) the Swiss singer Polo Hofer (you can just see him to the side of Pastora in the photo) and shared a bottle of wine with his friends after he left.

My exercise today is a bit of a cheat – I had to run for the bus this afternoon before meeting Pastora. It took me 12 minutes to get to the bus, instead of 20 minutes walking, and I wasn’t puffed when I arrived early. I also walked 20 minutes home again.

Normally I don’t count walking to the bus and back as part of my fitfor15in15 but today I’ve been blessed with other kinds of fitness – mental fitness. It was a classic afternoon chatting and laughing with new people and that’s always good for my soul.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 28: Triple-A treat

Today’s workout is a Triple-A treat. A triple treat of As.

15 minutes of arms, abs and arse (or as the Americans say, ass, the Germans say, hintern, the French say, derriere, and the British say, bottom).

Squats, lunges, push-ups, plank …

Feel the need to write a poem but can’t think of a line to go next …

Ok, here goes …


Squats, lunges, push-ups, plank

While they’re being done, your mind goes blank

All you want to do is improve your rank

When they’re all finished, your body says thank … you.


If I had a job, I wouldn’t quit it, don’t worry!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 27: Monday Runday … or Runday Monday?

Mondays have been run days for the past few weeks, with mixed results, so I’ve decided to rename Monday as Runday Monday, or Monday Runday. Which one do you like best?

Either way, I’ll continue to run every Monday, mixing between 4km and 5km paths for now, and who knows, maybe I’ll be on track to meet my goal of 8km by the end of the year – if I can curb that head-splitting pain in my ears enough to actually run.

It’s cool and windy here today and I’m nervous about heading out (because of what happened last time in these conditions). I’ll wait until this afternoon, when I’m completely hydrated and feeling warmed up. Hopefully the wind will have died down a bit too.

So to keep you amused until I’ve exercised, here is a new series I’m starting (please excuse my immaturity) called

Funny German words as heard by a native English speaker

#1: der Dudelsack

The bagpipes. When I first heard it, my brain spelled it doodlesack, which takes on a whole different meaning. *crying right now* Try saying it loudly five times without smiling or laughing.

#2: Wankdorf Stadium

Where Bern’s top-tier football team plays its home games. Try saying that loudly once without smirking. Visitors see the signs and ask, “Is that real?” But the best part? The name of Bern’s football team. 🙂 Oh you’re going to love this … Young Boys. Young Boys play at Wankdorf. Nearly four years here and that never gets old. 🙂

Ok, enough college humour, how did the run go? Well, I wish it took me as little time as it did to tell those gags!

Inspired by yesterday’s London Marathon, and the efforts of my friend Ellie (read her hilarious training routine here. She did it in four hours and 23 minutes! Go Ellie!) I thought I’d tackle the 5km circuit (yes, how big of me – she runs 42km, I do five).

This circuit has no Big Ben views or wandering tourists, but a short steep incline after 700m, then it’s relatively flat for the second kilometre, with a slight decline during the third, then a slight incline on the fourth, then a slight decline on the fifth. And guess what … I got a stitch at the bottom of the third, and top of the fifth (sounds like a baseball game) … right after the declines. So I had to walk for about 500m total, to get rid of that bitchy stitchy. Here are some tips for pesky stitches.

It seems my cardio fitness is really suffering at the moment – too much yoga and not enough prolonged sweating, perhaps? Maybe I need more Jillian Michaels when the weather’s crappy, and running more than once a week when the weather’s good? Hmmm … On a positive note (there’s always a positive), I didn’t get the pain in my ears. The wind was warmer than expected, so I think that made a big difference.


Who cares really, but here’s today’s run!

I walked the first minute or so as a warm up, then jogged, shuffled and walked my way through the rest. Tick, but not a big one. Huni, Liliane’s friend, was in her garden again, but I didn’t stop this time. She shouted out “Hop! Hop!” (which means Go! Go! in Swiss German) as I waved on my way past.

  • Physically Fit: 4.5km run, 500m walk
  • Mentally Fit: Listening to more of Cary Elwes book about The Princess Bride movie
  • Nutritionally Fit: Fifth day of fasting on the 5:2 Diet – 500 calories. Breakfast smoothie 280 calories (37g raspberries – 20 calories; 300ml coconut water – 72 calories; 80g strawberries – 26 calories; 182g banana – 162 calories (whoa, I had no idea the banana would be so much until it was already in!). Dinner 220 calories – mixed salad with tuna, sniff of olive oil
  • Minimalism: I went through my t-shirts to see if any could be turfed, but kept them all

So, another Runday Monday, or Monday Runday, is done and dusted. It’s time to get serious about cardio fitness. Despite Ellie saying she’d never do it again, maybe, just maybe, I’ll run a marathon one day too.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 26: Strolling in the neighbourhood

Like a couple of old wanderers, Leo and I walked around the neighbourhood this afternoon for more than an hour. I have to admit it was at a very relaxed pace.

(Writing ‘walking in the neighbourhood’ reminds me of this Sesame Street classic. And can you believe? People think kale is something new and funky but here it is mentioned in … what … the mid 1970s?! Love Bob too.)

Back to the walk … We went to the tulip field, up the hill to visit the cows at my favourite farmhouse, said hello to what felt like half the village during peak hour in the forest, then along the horse trail, past fields of Urdinkel, into the neighbouring village, patted the little horses and up through the fields to home.

All in all, a very nice way to spend the afternoon before the rains came. Tonight we chowed down on Leo’s lasagne and started a new TV series called Bloodline. This is much more to my liking than Braquo. I am a major Kyle Chandler fan, which helps.

  • Physically Fit: A leisurely wander
  • Mentally Fit: A leisurely wander; saying hello to all the animals
  • Nutritionally Fit: Last of the chocolate cake and too much lasagne
  • Minimalism: A leisurely wander. It really does tick all boxes other than food.

Here are some photos from the walk.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 25: P.S.P.P.S … Lest We Forget

Anzac Day has become a very emotional day for southern hemisphere members of the Allies from World War I. On April 25, 1915, young boys and men from Australia and New Zealand landed on the beaches at Gallipoli in Turkey. It was Australia’s first time at war and some say it was the making of our country.

With the Anzacs trapped on the beaches and low lying areas thanks to an almost insurmountable cliff face, the Turkish soldiers defended their land from higher ground. What was supposed to last only weeks went on for months. The heat, lack of clean water and then winter took their toll and the Allied troops retreated, with both sides suffering huge casualties and loss of life.

Today marks the contributions of Australian Forces in all wars since The Great War as well. Around the world, ceremonies were held – dawn services, a minutes silence, The Last Post, military bands and more. We were able to watch the BBC’s coverage of the Queen laying the first wreath at the Cenotaph. On the lighter side, Two Up is played in pubs around Australia.

I always struggle with the “how” of writing about Anzac Day. Here’s what I posted last year on Facebook. I think it best sums up my feelings.

Anzac Day is a sacred day in our lives – one that fills us with wonder and generally renders us speechless. I never know what to write on Anzac Day … about what went before in order for us to live the lives we have now. How different it could, or would, have been. We are the lucky ones. We put on a coat when we’re cold, open the cupboard when hungry and laugh with our friends at the pub. The men on the frontline had no such luxuries and what we take for granted hits hard on days like today. A minute’s silence and standing in awe during The Last Post are the smallest tokens of our appreciation and respect. To those who gave it all and the loved ones they left behind, Lest We Forget.

We had a quiet day, watching the ceremonies and soaking up that sombre history. Later on, we also finished the second season of the French police/crime series Braquo. I’m not sure I’m a great fan and am looking forward to watching something different – something other than a crime series perhaps?!

I’ve been thinking about today’s exercise routine for a while, and how I would call it P.S.P.P.S – push-ups, side plank, plank, sit-ups. So for 15 minutes, while watching TV with too much chocolate cake in my belly, I did all these exercises. Not a recommended time to workout but I do recommend the cake! (I didn’t make the icing – watching my waistline, you know).

Push-ups are becoming easier (yay!). The side plank ones had the dropped hip part from Thursday’s exercise routine and the rest were as you would expect. I haven’t been doing plank much lately (maybe I just haven’t wanted to see my belly hanging!) and could hardly even manage a minute on my toes before having to go to my knees. Time to get back on that bandwagon.

Even though it’s a double postscript, P.S.P.P.S could be something you’d like to add as a stand-alone workout or to the end of any routine? Not a bad afterthought really.

Wishing you a wonderful day.


I don’t have any poppy photos at hand to commemorate Anzac Day, so here are some beautiful cherry blossoms

April 24: Be like a boxer


Let’s get ready to rumble! Photo credit: http://www.foodielovesfitness.com/ … Please check out her site!

On May 2, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao go toe to toe in the boxing ring in what’s being touted as “The Fight of the Century”. Everyone says it’s been a long time coming, and it would have been better if they’d fought five years ago. They’re now 38 and 36 respectively.

But, hey, everyone’s still fit and keen – the fighters, the pundits AND the punters. Tickets to the Las Vegas bout sold out in less than a minute. Surprised I’m interested in this? I used to be a sports journalist and despite not being a devotee of blood sports, there’s something raw and enthralling about two supremely fit athletes having a good old fistfight. (I’m not a fan of MMA. That’s too brutal!)

So in honour of an event that could be the biggest disappointment in sporting history (I don’t care who wins – Manny maybe?), here are some videos of them training:

  • Why not try Manny’s ab workout for starters? If you can handle watching him blow his nose into a hanky and then hand it to one of his assistants, you can handle anything. Or here’s a longer version (no, not of the snot, the workout).
  • Now, it’s time for Floyd. This man is not short on confidence. He pays someone to pick up his dirty clothes and his nickname is Money. Even if you’re not surrounded by a hoard of well-wishers, be like Money – stick your feet under the sofa and get working on those abs! Or here’s an overview of what he does in training in this music video (language warning: rap song).

I don’t own any boxing equipment, other than a skipping rope and a body, but that’s not going to stop today’s sparring time!

First up, do you know all the punches? Jab, cross, hook, uppercut? Go on, step outside the ring your comfort zone and have a go. Here are some different boxing exercises and routines to get the blood flowing:

  • A 20-minute workout from Body and Soul
  • A 20-minute workout from Discover Good Nutrition
  • A routine of punches interspersed with squats, lunges and skipping from Women’s Health – this is the one I did and it took 20-25 minutes. The second and third punching routines are the same but leading with a different foot (and hand), so don’t be fooled by exercise one (like me!) and think you have to do both left and right all in exercise two. It’s split up.

Finally, to finish off all things boxing, check out this heart-warming story about three Rocky fans who got the shock of their lives. We all want to feel like Rocky on those steps! (Cue the music …)

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 23: Tough ab workout and flexibility

For today’s exercise, I thought I’d search for something different from somewhere different, but I knew it had to be stomach-centric. When I plank, I’m gobsmacked at the pudding that hangs from that area! When the fitness instructors plank, their bellies stay flat and taught. How is it so?! I can’t even ‘blame’ having kids on this excess! So that’s a new goal for the end of fitfor15in15 – to plank without the pudding.

Thanks to the Internet, ask and you generally shall receive. I liked the name of this – Get Fit Fast Ab Workout – 15 minutes of pain – and ignoring the physique of the totally ripped bloke without a shirt, thought I was up for it.

Ahh, no … nowhere near up for it. Apart from it feeling a bit militarised, with the host, Adam Harper, barking at his buddies, “Don’t you give up on me!” *cringe* it would be a brilliant workout for someone who has the fitness levels of, say, Adam Harper and his buddies.

Wowsers it was tough. I couldn’t do any of the exercises properly, or for the entire duration, apart from the side plank hip lower one. I’ve learnt some new exercises though and will try adding them into any homemade routines. The last one, touching your ankles through bent, spread legs, may become a regular. (I really had to giggle at the end of the show, when the host plugs his company’s t-shirts. If they’re so good, shouldn’t he be wearing one?!)

A lot of the raised-leg exercises hurt my lower back, so I did them with bent knees. I realise this made them much easier, but I’m not an advocate of pushing through the pain, yo. Especially when it’s yo back, yo. Overall, I’m not proud of my efforts in that workout, but it’s something to do again and refer back to, in order to keep improving. It’s motivation to plank without the pudding! Plank without the pudding! (A new mantra?!)

One thing I am proud of today is the realisation I’m becoming more flexible. Yesterday and this morning, I was able to touch my nose to my knees for the first time, albeit briefly, but that is a massive improvement from January. Sure it can be contributed to four months of moving, but I also think yoga is making a big difference. I’ve done two yoga classes, here and here, in the past week and I really think my hips are loosening up, which means I can bend further forward. Morning stretches, as part of my morning routine, will have also played a role.

Have you been doing something regularly and noticing an improvement? It’s such a nice boost, isn’t it?! Please, tell me about your successes.

  • Physically Fit: Get Fit Fast Ab Workout
  • Mentally Fit: Sitting in the sun for 10 minutes
  • Nutritionally Fit: Fourth day of fasting on the 5:2 Diet – 500 calories
  • Minimalism: Nothing today – other than minimal calorie intake 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful day. Here are some photos from my walk home yesterday evening after meeting Iva.


The long way home


The sun was a huge ball and created a wonderful sunset glow


The sun sets on another day in Tulip Military School

Friendship, memories and stuff

“What a wretched lot of old shrivelled creatures we shall be by-and-by. Never mind – the uglier we get in the eyes of others, the lovelier we shall be to each other; that has always been my firm faith about friendship.” George Eliot.

I love this quote from George Eliot, the pen name of author Mary Ann(e) Evans, who wrote it in a letter to her friend Sara Hennell in May, 1852. It’s stuck to a pin board above my computer and comes from a little 8x8cm paperback book about friendship, given to me by Gabby (pictured below … at our finest).


Dumb and dumber

The book no longer exists – I ripped out the quote which grabbed me the most so I can see it every day, rather than having it lost amongst my belongings. I’m sure Gabby wouldn’t mind knowing that part of her present has been recycled, because I’ve taken the best thing from the book and it’s being used. Those sentences remind me of our friendship and I smile every time I read it.

To celebrate our 20th anniversary of travelling around Europe and the UK together, Gab and I walked Hadrian’s Wall, in the north of England, in June 2014. What a blissful (and strenuous!) week that was, stomping across such lovely countryside, surrounded by all that history. It was all the more special because Gab lives in Melbourne and has two young boys. Many thanks also go to her husband, Dean, for holding the fort and making this trip possible. So many wonderful memories …


Exhausted on Hadrian’s Wall


Gab on the bridge at Willowford


What a sight! A field of buttercups. We ran through it like excited children


A little box of goodies for walkers to buy, set up by a young lad keen on some pocket money


Just glorious

What would you rather have? The present or the memories? I’m very grateful for both, but, for me, experiences and memories mean so much more.

Plenty’s been written recently about a trend that’s gathering strength – selling things rather than keeping them for the next generation. This is a blunt but brilliant story from The Washington Post about adult children not wanting more stuff from their parents. Even my mum and sister are thinking about selling their huge dinner sets which no longer see the light of day, because they know none of our clan are all that interested in them (the responsibilities of an heirloom, stressing about them breaking when used or moving house, and how much space is needed to store them, to name a few concerns).

Do you have unused things you hold onto, because someone gave them to you and there could be tension if they were gone? This can be a really tricky area if you’re trying to declutter or downsize your belongings. We all have a few (or many!) things we keep for sentimental reasons. How do you sort through them all and decide what to keep?

Here are some tips from Miss Minimalist about letting go of heirlooms and more from House Beautiful about sentimental clutter. Maybe something in there will be helpful. And don’t forget to thank your things before letting them go, a la the KonMari Method. Even though it sounds crazy, I think it really helps.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

p.s The exercise story will come next. I’m happy for this to be a stand-alone post.

April 22: Yoga and gardening


Looks just as good today!

Outstanding weather again. Two loads of washing are drying quick smart on the line, and I’ve spent a few hours in the garden, taking some plants (with permission!) from Liliane’s perennial garden to add to mine. Her flower beds are cramped for space, they’re all thriving so well. Fingers crossed mine handle the transfer. Not feeling confident though, as I don’t think I took enough roots.


White and purple-flowered perennials add a bit of colour to my garden, which flowers in summer, not spring

The neighbour Ahlem was outside with her children, aged three and two, so we played for a while. They watched me gardening and apart from standing on a few plants they were fun. Neither of them speak much but I had a chat with the daughter for quite a while. She’s a real chatterbox but neither her mum nor I knew what she was saying! Gobbeldy gook! And for the first time, the son, who is very shy, came over for a cuddle. He calls me Ani. So sweet. They go back to Tunisia next week for five months – will be strange without them around.

Exercise today was Dagmar’s yoga, which I mentioned on April 17. You can find the direct YouTube link here. As predicted, it was really soothing, and still a great workout. I didn’t have time to lie still at the end, so next time I’m prepared to be totally relaxed afterwards! Right now I feel relaxed but stressed about the time. Needless to say, I didn’t even attempt the headstand, and just did some wide leg stretches instead. My balance is still pretty horrid.

Right, now I’m off to the city to meet Iva for a German gasbag. Hope I don’t miss the bus!

  • Physically Fit: Yoga and gardening
  • Mentally Fit: Sunshine and gardening; meeting Iva this afternoon
  • Nutritionally Fit: More smoothies and salmon for lunch; no doubt a few beers to come
  • Minimalism: Taking plants from Liliane’s thriving flower bed to add some colour to mine – no charge!

Wishing you a wonderful day.