Walking a new path with surprises

Yesterday, we ventured from our new home to a part of Wohlen we’ve never seen before. Well, we’ve seen it from a distance, but never walked through it.

The weather was crazy-amazing sunny and the path threw up plenty of surprises!

The shepherd and his flock have been sporadic visitors – one year they were in the field right next to our house. The sheep knew to scratch at the snow to find the grass underneath, so all I could hear was constant neck bells clanging, munching and scratching. Very cool.

Last year, there was a tiny flock nearby, but it wasn’t the same shepherd. Here’s that post from February last year – look at the difference in the weather!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Oh and I forgot this photo! Home to the narcissus and more sheep yeah, but also a well-deserved beer in the sun! Tee hee!


The new apartment photo tour

The grand reveal. Are you reading, Mum?!

While we’ve been getting used to things like hearing people walking up the stairs or coughing in neighbouring apartments, I have been love love loving the brief walk to the bus and home again! The trip to work is a grand total of 20 minutes, instead of 40 minutes. Who doesn’t love a 50% reduction in travel time?!

Even without all the luxuries, like the grass, forest and pool, from our previous “castle”, we feel very at home here. Amazingly, despite upsizing from 2.5 rooms to 5.5 rooms, we didn’t have to buy too much stuff either. We bought a higher bed to see out the bedroom window (in the Stöckli we had a low bed because of the slanted roof), a cupboard, a clothes rack and two standing lamps. Everything else (except for the hammock!) was from inside the Stöckli too. It was a veritable Tardis!

So without further ado, here’s our new apartment. Sorry about the lack-lustre photography. I’m home with tonsillitis and couldn’t be arsed making art. And speaking of art, all the art work is by Leo. Clever chap!

So there you have it! Everything, apart from the balcony, is pretty much finished. Not bad for two schmucks doing it all on their own over three weeks. I think that’s contributed to my tonsillitis though. We’ve worked hard, carrying everything up two sets of spiral stairs to the front door and another set to the gallery level. No fights were had either, I promise!*

I’m really looking forward to working on the balcony and getting it established in spring. We’ll have an outdoor table and chairs and hopefully that vertical garden wall!

We look forward to welcoming guests. Will you be coming over?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

* I lie.

The last sunrises …

Our old home put on a magical show for us before we left. It felt like every sunrise was a winner. It felt like every day was clear and bright. I’m sure it was nature’s way of saying remember this view! remember this place! in the best way possible.


Taking in the whole view from the left …


… into the middle … (I’ll miss the white house making this scene “pop”)


… and to the right … crisp and clean

We certainly had a grand view of the Swiss Alps.


Gold! The view from the bedroom window (with the eave of the roof on the left)


Foggy but inviting



Ahhhh, those lovely last few days …


Sunrise with stars still shining


Winner, winner!


On the walk down the hill to collect the keys for the new apartment

We’ve moved into the village of Wohlen bei Bern from the outskirts. Leo went to work before our appointment to collect the new house keys, then straight to the apartment, but I stayed home and walked the walk for old time’s sake. It felt fitting to say goodbye to that walk in that way. As much as I loved it (most of the time!), I’m glad, overall, that we’re down in the thick of the “action” now. And the church bells aren’t as bad as I thought they would be, clanging every 15 minutes, all through the night!

Here is the view from our new bedroom window …


We can live with this!

Yahoo! We still can see the Alps! I think seeing those mountains is more important to me than the size of the apartment or having a garden or how nice the floors are or whatever! It’s my way of waking up happy.


The view from the bed looking south east


Closer …

Closer ...

Closer …


With the windows open

I’m making the most of that view during winter, because I think come summertime we will only glimpse the mountains when all the leaves on those trees are back.

Photos of the apartment will be in the next post, promise.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Flowers for a friend

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone. Whether you’re a cynic of the commercialised day of overpriced flowers, or a true believer in the power of love, I wish you warmth from an inner glow.

Lovely Leo surprised me yesterday with this beautiful bunch.


Happy Valentine’s Day

I’d like to share them, with Leo’s blessing, with Freda, from livesimplysimplylive, whose husband is in hospital. Freda gave me encouragement to start blogging and is a wonderful supporter of fitfor15in15.

Without her, I wouldn’t have had the joy of cyberspace “meeting” Penny L, swissrose and other readers who have dropped by to say hello. Or joined in the fun of Kondoing. Or swooned at her red gate and garden. Or learned about so many plants and flowers. Or enjoyed the simplicity of white. Her writing is a calming force.

Everything is crossed for Barry’s safe return home, and soon.

Wishing you a wonderful day. Hug your loved ones.


Colourful visitors to warm your day

* Still catching up on old photos and stories from earlier in the year.

Walking to the laundry in the main farmhouse on one of my beloved free Fridays (I work Mon-Thurs), two unexpected but welcome guests called me closer.

It was January 22 and we’d had what was to be, so far, the most snow all winter earlier in the week. Because I leave for and return from work in darkness, patience was needed to snap this charming couple, who were taking it easy by the pool.


Our friends stayed for a few days …


Why does the woman always get the broom?!


He did well, bringing an umbrella to avoid all that sun


Maybe they’d been for a dip?

Thanks go to the neighbours, who have two small children, for inviting them over and making us all smile. Alas, the mild weather returned, and Mr and Mrs nourished the soil after nourishing our souls … a broom and umbrella the only reminders.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 28: Yoga Cross Training arm workout

My stomach muscles are sore today from the previous two days, so I switched focus to my other ‘problem’ area by giving my arms a solid workout with this video from yoga instructor Sadie Nardini. I’ve mentioned her a few times before and really enjoy her style. This is the first time I’ve done this video. She also has workouts for core and legs if you fancy having a look at those (I may end up linking to them next week, so if you’re patient, I’ll do the searching for you soon enough!).

This wasn’t a normal yoga routine, rather what Nardini calls yoga ‘crosstrain’, with the main difference being the moves were done a little faster than normal yoga. And I have a major announcement to make … drumroll … I’ve replaced my two chickpea tin cans (Shock! No way! “They’ve been with you from the start!” I hear you say!) with two 1.5 litre bottles of water. I’m half expecting them to explode over the top of the computer because I squeeze them so hard. Maybe they’re not the best workout equipment because they’re quite hard to hold, but I need to ‘up the weight’ to do some serious damage on the chub!

Overall, once again, this was a workout that did what I expected and taught me some new moves and stretches as well (the forward lunge on the knee with the foot turned out and leaning in was a great inner thigh and hamstring stretch). It runs for over 26 minutes, but the actual workout part is about 24 minutes long. As much as I enjoy doing the videos, I’m really looking forward to going for a run soon. Come back sunny weather, please? Soon? Have I caught the running bug? Could I become a runner? I do like the outdoors aspect of it, definitely. Only time will tell!

We had a great day today, with my first trip to a famous Swiss biscuit factory called Kambly. It took an hour to drive there and I was a bit surprised we couldn’t actually tour the factory – I was fully expecting to put on white coats, hair nets and plastic covers over our shoes so we could walk around the factory floor. Instead, we could only watch a video of the production process, a live macaroon maker and taste all their biscuits and buy them cheaper in the factory shop.

After we sampled ourselves sick, we decided on a few packets for us and some as gifts. Yummy, buttery, chocolatey biscuity goodness. They are not part of the nutritionally fit plan for 2015, I know, but as mentioned before, I haven’t changed my diet too much yet. Baby steps, baby steps. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy those naughty treats that come around once in a while …

Oh alright, alright … I have to confess I’ve been naughty two days in a row. Leo brought home custard doughnuts/donuts yesterday as a treat for doing all that cleaning and it was impossible to say no! So next week I have to be better. Damn, did we really buy all those biscuits? Did I mention they were yummy, buttery, chocolatey, biscuity goodness?

At home, we watched a replay of the Brit Music Awards and, boy, I felt for Madonna. What a professional, to get up and keep singing – she must have been in so much pain! I’m not going to put a link to it. She’s been all over the news. Poor Madge. On second throughts, I will add a link, because this lovely, funny story from The Guardian puts it all into a bit of perspective. She didn’t fall, she was pulled!

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the weekend.

And here are the links to some articles I found interesting this past week:

Bea from zerowastehome shared what’s in her wardrobe with us … now she’s a minimalist. Could you be like Bea? I’m trying to wheedle my stack down and would love to carry it all in a carry-on!

Someone made an amazing underground greenhouse to grow food all year round. Brilliant.

An article about foods that make us smarter … what? No doughnuts/donuts?

Do you have an anger issue? Here are some tips from a radio interview discussing how to react differently to stop a potential heart attack.

The gymnastic flips this guy can do are just amazing. What a skill. How fitfor15in15 fit must he be?!

February 27: Five hours of cleaning and 20 minutes of ab work

You read that headline right. Today, I cleaned the neighbour’s house for just over five hours. It shines. It’s spotless. Leo will be disappointed when he comes home because all that cleaning was done somewhere else! Ha!

My back aches a bit from the vacuum cleaner (they have a German Shepherd – lots of hair!) but unlike last month when I decided four hours of cleaning was enough exercise for one day, I wanted to do more.

As predicted, yesterday’s Pilates workout really gave my stomach muscles a hammering. I could feel them all day and cleaning the top of the shower gave them a good stretch. Luckily I haven’t sneezed yet; I think they’d yell “hello!”.

Because my abs feel good, and my tummy feels a little flatter, I thought I’d concentrate on core again with something new – this 20 minute advanced total abs workout from GymRa. I am officially nuts! I should heave read the comments on the video first – this is tough! My abs were cursing me after five minutes, but I made it to the end … and am a bit scared about what tomorrow will be like.

This could be a great addition to anyone’s weekly program. They suggest you do it three times a week on alternate days. You don’t need any equipment, just those abs … and arms and legs. The instructor Christine Khuri has an incredible six-pack stomach – majorly daunting, but impressive at the same time. She looks like someone who takes exercise very seriously.

The GymRa website has a free 30-day trial you might be interested in. You can create your own workouts by adding exercises to a video timeline which is pretty cool. I have no affiliation with this company whatsoever and am just providing this information in case you think it could be beneficial.

After yesterday’s glorious sunshine …


The sun sets on a beautiful, sunny day

And a homemade treat, with help from Pastora …


Yummy chicken and Spanish ham croquettes for dinner

It returned to a strange old dark’n’gloomy day today …


Early morning snow

Speaking of strange, I did something strange today too – I had to pick up a rifle. It was heavy and freaked me out. I doubt it’s loaded, but it was sitting in the neighbour’s house and I had to clean the floor underneath it, so I picked it up … tentatively … and put it back down again straight away. In Switzerland, men from 19 years of age start compulsory military service, which continues until they’re 34. Everyone keeps their gun. So there are a lot of guns in Swiss houses. But, thankfully, minimal gun-related crimes.

On a much lighter note, here’s a field of poppies to give you something nice to think about. It was taken while walking the Camino in Spain, 2011.


Ahh … that’s better …

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 26: 20 minutes of Pilates

Well, I couldn’t really showcase yesterday’s yoga routine, in the yoga versus Pilates debate, without doing Pilates today, could I? And on the beach … I want to watch some lucky person doing a workout on a beach …

Voila! Jessica Smith TV (I’ve done videos of hers before here and here) came up with the goods. Surprisingly, there weren’t that many beach Pilates options to be found. Call me unpatriotic, but I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the Australian woman’s accent in this 15-minute video. You might like it!

Smith’s 20-minute Pilates workout requires just a mat and a towel. One of yesterday’s highlighted texts from an article said you don’t really sweat much with Pilates. Not true! I definitely worked up a little sweat doing all those core muscle exercises. Phew.

This was a great routine. Tough but not in an upside-down-with-one-hand-in-the-air-and-the-other-behind-your-knee kind of way. Just solid leg stretches and lifts with a lot of focus on engaging the stomach muscles. Using the towel also made the arms work as well.

I recommend this workout to people of all fitness levels. As a beginner, you can modify the moves by not dropping the legs as low. I couldn’t do certain sets of exercises for the duration she did them – they wear you out! I’ll definitely have a tummy ache of a good kind tomorrow.

So which workout is better? Yoga or Pilates? I think they’re both beneficial and can easily be included in a varied exercise program. It would be strange to dismiss one or the other outright as they provide different things – in yoga, the quiet time may help you slow down; in Pilates, the succinct simplicity may suit those with time constraints. Both will continue to be part of fitfor15in15!

And did you see yesterday’s guest contribution from knitter and spinner Peta Yaxley? What an inspiring and relaxing story. I was almost in a meditative state, thinking of her spinning on her property, hearing the wheel and the birds, feeling the sun and taking in the view. I hope you enjoy reading about Peta’s way of staying mentally fit, too.

Wishing you a wonderful day.


The sun may be shining today, but it definitely isn’t beach or pool weather. The poor pool …

I am a spinner by Peta Yaxley

This is the third guest post in a new fitfor15in15 series designed to show the pleasant impact that feeling fit, in all its forms, can have on your life. Peta Yaxley stumbled upon a community willing to share its knowledge and she now enjoys new skills which have dramatically altered her life. Take it away Peta!

I am a spinner by Peta Yaxley (school teacher in Australia and lover of music)


Peta spinning at the Borough Markets, London, during a blizzard!

I am a spinner. I take raw fleece, preferably dark, straight from the shearer and through a process of carding and drawing and plying I make yarn. It’s such a simple, pure process and I am addicted. There are many things I love about spinning wool – the main being that the only thing that has come between me and my garment is a shearer. In a world of sweat shops and Primark, there is an ethic to my craft, along with the general ‘slow cloth’ movement, that looks to embrace the slow process of transforming raw materials into something beautiful and unique to the creator.

I left Australia in 2004 after a bad breakup and three years later found myself lonely and depressed living in London. Working in London in the hubbub of broadcasting, I revisited crocheting and then taught myself to knit under the tutelage of my dear cousin Karen, who also lived in the UK. As my love of these crafts cemented, I saw Karen spinning (and saw the cost of quality yarn) and thought I might try my hand at a wheel. It was my urban epiphany.

At the back of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (where I had spent many a trashy night in my ‘lost years’) was The Vauxhall City Farm where I met an amazing group of older women who taught me their crafts. My Saturday mornings became sacred as an escape from the churning cog of London town – I would jump on my bike, pop into the Farmers Market on the way and then with panniers full of veggies I’d cycle across town to the farm. I learnt to spin on a drop spindle, then a wheel. We spun the fleece from the farm’s sheep and alpacas and I learnt to dye from their large and comprehensive dye garden. All this whilst I bonded with women of all ages and walks of like – my love of the craft circle was born too.

The apothecary of dyeing with plants had me transfixed as I learnt about the wonders of woad and weld and madder. Reds from Brazilwood and greens from stinging nettles. Yellow from marigolds and those blues from indigo – those blues! I was transfixed and transformed by a craft centuries old – mordants and dye baths and rinses – alkaline or acid bath can alter my hue. Addicted.


Spectacular indigo dyed wool, drying on Peta’s property

There is a meditative state that I get from spinning that calms me. I often spin listening to music or the radio and I can be at the wheel for hours; time dissipates as one hand sorts the fleece and the other releases the draw. I can spin very fine and have tried my hand at sheep, alpaca, yak, angora, cashmere and the amazing world of silk. Spinning silk is akin to working with cobweb – fine and strong and stunning.

There is a resurgence of women into knitting, crocheting and spinning. For all the twee ladies (to whom I owe a huge gratitude) there is a growing number of us into the ethics of the craft. There are guerrilla knitters, yarn bombing public monuments. Ravely.com connects millions of us across the globe as we share projects and advice and patterns. There are stitch’n’bitch groups globally, connecting women (and some men) together; Stitch London was an amazing network – some nights there would be over 80 of us making at Royal Festival Hall. Good, clean, productive fun.

I quit London and spent a year in the Middle East. I’d already joined a knitting group online and fell straight into a community of expat women who welcomed me and helped me navigate the strange land I had fallen into. Again, huge gratitude to the Doha Knitters. I spent a hot, repressive Ramadan spinning silk dyed with spices from the local souk. I later knitted a shawl that earned me first prize at the local Bangalow Agricultural Show (in northern New South Wales).


Peta’s winning silk shawl

Back home to Australia, a land built off the sheeps’ back. The irony of living in the Northern Rivers of NSW where it is ‘too wet for sheep’ doesn’t escape me. There are loads of alpacas though – in fact there are currently eight on the macadamia farm where I live. Two spinning wheels that have crossed continents and oceans sit in my awesome tin-shed-conversion flat and I spend days outside spinning staring across the valleys. I have taken on the local agricultural shows with gusto – first prizes and highly commended for shawls and vests and skeins. I joke that I’m giving the nannas a run for their money.

These days I am never happier than when I am at home, outside in the sun, BBC6 on the radio, cat by my side and sat at my favourite Ashford spinning wheel. It is the simple things.


Another beautiful creation – Peta’s mandala shawl

February 25: Yoga v Pilates

Reading this article on the greatist website this morning got my mind working … (by the way, greatist.com is an exercise website with a catchy name, not my misspelled personal endorsement! If you want to find out more about their philosophy click here.)

What exactly is the difference between yoga and Pilates? Which one is better? Show me a novice exerciser who hasn’t asked these questions!

The article explains the origins of both formats, which is interesting in itself. Pilates uses a capital ‘P’ because it’s the founder’s surname. I didn’t know that. If I’ve written it with a lower case ‘p’ on this blog before I shall go through and amend all mentions … in another lifetime.

The crux of the ‘argument’ between yoga and Pilates basically boils down to personal preference and the article’s final sentence … “Yoga’s the go-to choice for stress relief and a mind-body workout … while Pilates is typically better for strictly strengthening muscle.”

Not one to count on a single story as a source of information, the search continued for my yoga versus Pilates debate. It’s endless!

From bodyandsoul.com.au this article concludes, “If recovery from injury or strengthening weak joints is a priority, Pilates is probably going to give you optimum benefits … If, however, your aim is to take a break from everyday stresses and refocus, yoga is probably more likely to be your activity of choice.”

From the Victorian Government’s website, this very in-depth comparison contained a lot of new and relevant information with handy bullet points: “In Pilates, your muscles are never worked to exhaustion, so there is no sweating or straining, just intense concentration … The health benefits of regular yoga practice may include lowering blood pressure, improved posture and circulation, and a sense of wellbeing.”

This article from active.com highlights five key differences and to finish off, this Oprah magazine article does a good comparison between heart health, weight loss, body strength and flexibility, and bonus benefits.

There’s so much more information out there, but if you’ve asked yourself ‘what’s the difference?’ before, hopefully you now have a better idea of which one you might prefer. But you don’t really have to choose between the two – mix them together, if you’re so inclined, for a healthy mind and body.

So, obviously, today I’ve either chosen to do a yoga workout or a Pilates workout, right?! (I wish I could be cheeky and say wrong!) Yes, I’ve gone with yoga. I need to calm the head a bit. My plan to include yoga on Mondays as part of my morning routine hasn’t quite happened yet. On the strength of the only other Sadie Nardini yoga workout I’ve done (I still love it; click here to read more and find that workout), I chose her 20 minute yoga workout for weight loss and fat burning.

It’s actually only about 17 minutes long, but she encourages you to lie on your back for a few minutes at the end, to centre yourself before you jump up and resume your day. This workout has similar moves to the previous one, but is shorter and not quite as tough, so if you’re looking for a gentle but still challenging routine, this could be the right one for you.

I do feel calmer … even if that DAMN CAT is still running around in our ROOF! Ahem … calm … calmer … calmest …

Wishing you a wonderful day.