Tahdah! Back from box hell!

Greetings readers, and apologies for being AWOL for so long. For the past two weeks, we’ve had no internet at home which made it less distracting for packing boxes and dismantling furniture and unpacking boxes and assembling furniture! Box hell was relatively brief. It feels like IKEA hell lasted longer.

Very happy to be back blogging again. But before I show any photos of the new place, I have a stockpile of January photos to show you first!

Leo’s best friend Dani and his girlfriend Claudia came to see us one last time in the Stöckli. (We went walking on New Year’s Day with them in 2015). This time, Dani had the flu so didn’t join us outdoors, and I forgot to take photos of the scrumdiddeliumptious fondue we made. But here we are on the road …


Crystal clear day for walking


Leo and Claudia in Möriswil


Icing on the logs


Homeward bound. Claudia’s toes were frozen


Blue skies, following me … Nothing but blue skies

Now that we have internet access, I’ll keep this short and write again soon.

And I’ll leave you with this cat who sits every day in the window of a travel agency near where I work.


How much is that kitty in the window, the one with the elephants as friends?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Warm and cool glow

Being a relative newbie in Switzerland (I think the locals consider you to be a newbie even after 20 years, let alone four), I still get a kick out of snow. It’s finally started to hang around, and combined with the welcome sunshine these past few days, it produces some lovely light.

Yesterday morning I took photos about 8.45am, with a warm glow bathing the Stöckli, and today I ventured out at 11.15am when it was clear and bright. I like both lights; they have a certain (but very different) mood that is pleasing. Warm and cool.

The countdown to the house move has well and truly begun … I’m still making the most of every minute.

Do you prefer warm and cosy or cool and crisp?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Delicate and intricate

There’s an ornate building next door to my work which I’ve loved ever since moving to Bern. It’s in the Langgasse quarter, which has lots of uni buildings, student accommodation and a laidback feel to it all, all conveniently located next to the main train station. I may have talked about this area, and building, before.

Walking along the main street, just past the building on the left, is a driveway. My eye was drawn to an amazing plant growing along the fence. Just like the massive building before, it was delicate and intricate in a different way. Balls of a fine swirly, white, starchy substance replaced any greenery and brown octopus/spider legs wiggled inside. What a showstopper of a vine!

I stole a sprig for closer inspection. Here’s what they look like magnified …

The spiders legs fall out very easily, and the feathery material feels almost little a cotton ball/make-up wipe thing – not as soft as you’d think, but not scratchy either.

Do any of my clever green-thumbed friends know what the plant is called? I had zero luck searching the internet.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

And Vale Alan Rickman. What a chameleon he was, with such an expressive face and that rich, smooth voice.

Often copied, never equalled

The shock of David Bowie’s death last night, just days after his 69th birthday and the release of his 25th album, feels quite surreal. Not knowing he was sick makes it harder to grasp.

One of my friends wrote, “Not too many famous people’s deaths make me go ‘Aw, fuck,’ but David Bowie’s has.” and I feel the same. He will remain a hero for more than one day.

What was your favourite Bowie song? (Did you even like him?) I think mine is Changes. But there are so many good ones.

Put on your red shoes and dance the blues …

I see faces

Today is the beginning of the blog without dates. Not the edible kind, but the time-frame kind.

Dates at the front of my posts put a time “limit” on them and I feel bad when I miss days. Without the daily exercise thing, there’s no longer a date dependency, so from now on I’m just going to write. Whatever comes to mind. Hopefully fun things, inspiring things, interesting things. Today let’s start with something silly.

Do you often see faces in inanimate objects? I love when stuff has a life of its own. Here’s the window latch/catch in our lounge room. I only noticed a few days ago what a great face he has, with his long shoot of plastic wheat. *chew, chew, y’all*


What a face! I think he has a story or two about living on the land

I’ve given gifts of books with photos of faces in random objects as the subject matter, and always thought it was a good laugh – almost a challenge – to see and find faces, but never wondered if this “phenomenon” has a particular term or reasoning. Ta-dah, the power of the internet – I now know seeing faces in objects is called pareidolia (link to Wikipedia explanation).

Leo had never “seen” the man in the moon until we met, but now he knows where the eyes and mouth are. I have always seen the face, and the rabbit in the moon. But should I be admitting this? A study has concluded that people who see faces in stuff are more likely to be neurotic! Me?! Neurotic?! 🙂

They could be right. I’m always looking two steps ahead for danger and often pre-empting an accident situation, much to Leo’s annoyance when we’re in the car. “Brake!” “Pedestrian on the crossing!” “Slow down, please!” I admit I’m not a good passenger sometimes. Nervous Nelly. I say it’s all part of my previous job as a producer/production manager on television shoots. You’re always on the lookout for something that could injure someone. Hell, I paid wads of cash each year for personal liability insurance, and never wanted to test if it was worth it.

Here are some interesting stories with further explanations and examples on the pareidolia subject here (NY Magazine), here (Huffington Post) and here (BBC – the woman in the toast). If you’d like to see a whole Twitter feed dedicated to the topic, go here for some laughs! But only if you’re neurotic 🙂

On the theme of faces, this could possibly be the last photo of all these faces together at this table. We had fondue on Friday night at Liliane and Rene’s with The Usual Suspects, Liliane’s mum Hertha and Liliane’s good friend Lene from Gemany. A great night.


Happy faces, in a familiar setting. How many times will we all be together here before Liliane and Rene move house?

Wishing you a wonderful day … filled with faces in inanimate objects … Brake!

Holiday on the rocks #2


All kinds of cacti could be seen on Fuerteventura. These ball-shaped ones are always impressive, especially in clumps

Following on from yesterday’s reminiscing about the ingenious ways to use all those volcanic rocks lying around on Fuerteventura beaches, here is part two.

The second thing I had never seen before was on a day trip to Lanzarote. We caught the ferry for about 50 minutes from Corallejo to the port of Playa Blanca. Then we shuffled onto a bus for a five-hour tour of the island, stopping at an Aloe Vera factory, a winery and the Timanfaya National Park.

When I found out a winery was included on the tour, I admit I rolled my eyes. Seen one vineyard, seen them all. Rows and rows of vines, try some wine, on you go.


Seen one winery …


… seen them all?

But this winery is one I will never forget, because these are the vineyards …

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Each plant has its own hole, protected by a volcanic rock wall to stop wind damage. Have you ever seen anything like it? And for the record, the sweet white was too sweet but the dry white was quite nice (not that I know anything about wine).

So, the scenery was memorable for many reasons – the ground was so dark and the mountains looked amazing, with various red flecks from different minerals – but this Canary Island version of a vineyard takes the cake! Totally eye-popping moment and well worth the visit.

To find out more about the La Geria vineyard, and to see the plants in a better state than we saw them, go to this website. http://www.lanzarote-virtual.eu/lanzarote-round-island-trip/la-geria-vineyards-of-lanzarote

Here are some other snaps, taken from the bus, of Lanzarote. Around the port, it had a much cleaner, almost clinical, feel to it than Fuerteventura. Like the rich and famous, rather than the surfer crowd, would be comfortable there. But these are countryside pics.


Yaiza has been voted the loveliest village in Spain – twice!


Like being on Mars or something, but still incredibly beautiful and interesting


Camel, anyone?


Our tour guide making sure we were all prepared to hold a handful of small stones from one of the ‘hot points’ at Timanfaya National Park. They were damn hot! I had to drop mine quickly.


Dry twigs caught on fire very quickly when put down this hole


Water poured into this funnel burst back up within three seconds


The restaurant in the park cooks meat on a naturally heated grill!


We learned about the different types of lava flow as well. You’re not allowed to walk anywhere off the track because it’s so unstable and fine in places

So there you go! It’s nice to be surprised, isn’t it?!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Holiday on the rocks

Two things have really stuck in my mind from our recent holiday in the Canary Islands, and they both involve the volcanic rock found everywhere.

From Corralejo, on Fuerteventura, we walked to the big beaches, or grande playas, near the extensive sand dunes on the north east of the island, and as we came around the coastline past the great holiday houses and beach bars …


They even built some houses with the volcanic rock. Normally it was a garden feature but some houses used them for walls and not just pavers


I went to uni in Toowoomba. Nice to know it’s a mere 18,000+ kilometres away


A chilled place to hang out with a drink, looking at Lobos Island

… and hit the sand, Leo pointed out some circular formations, obviously built by man, using volcanic rock.


What could this round mound be?

From a distance, I could only see two, so I thought they were places to barbecue (check me out, the classic Aussie, thinking of a barbie) and smartypants Leo, who’s been here before, laughed at my stupidity.

Do you know?


What could …


… they be for?

They’re for people to lie in, normally naked!, to protect themselves from the wind. And boy what a wind. It’s a windsurf/kitesurf mecca, which makes for tough conditions on the beach if you want to bare it all.


Kites all over the beach. The ones with a human attached at the bottom, going through water …


… like this guy

Of course, people wearing swimmers also used them, but I have to say (from the cheeky peeks I was taking as we walked past them, and there were dozens of the formations, some in better states than others) that the majority were filled with rudie nudies. I’d want to to save my bits from being whipped by the sandy wind too!


Three wise monkeys


I stayed fully clothed!

I’ll tell you all about the second weird man-made rock formation thing that I’ve never seen before tomorrow.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

p.s all the good quality photos were taken by Leo. Thanks Leo!

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup


The original book was a best-seller

Once you get your head around the writing style – mainly the old-fashioned language – this book is fantastic. I pretty much read it in an afternoon, it was so engrossing … and very unsettling.

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup was published in 1853 and documents Northup’s kidnapping and enslavement. After stating he was a free man from New York, he was beaten so badly by his captors he decided it was better to preserve his life and bide his time. He was sold and passed around between an unfortunate mix of decent and horrific owners (guess which way the balance fell), tried to escape, fought in self-defence, helped others, built things, picked cotton, played his violin at gentrified parties … it’s a life of one thousand men. What he goes through, and how he manages to be free, make for mesmerising reading.

No wonder it was turned into a movie (which I haven’t seen). I’ll be looking out for it now though.

Have you ever been so engrossed in a book, you turn into a zombie? Here are photos Leo took to prove it.


Can’t talk, or even look …


When it got a bit cold, I just rugged up more. No way was I moving!

I wanted to read it fast because not only was it just one of those stories, but I also didn’t want that stop-start reading experience I had with Alice Monro.

Do you think you enjoy a book more when you read it in one or two sittings, rather than a page or two each night? I really like getting my teeth into a book and believe this intensive reading experience plays a major role in how much you enjoy a story.

I’d definitely recommend this book … to be in awe of one man’s fight against injustice.

January 31: 15-minute workout on the floor

How on earth can it be 10.10pm? Not one skerrick of exercise has been done! Argghhhh!

A beautiful clear morning quickly turned into a snowfest around midday and it hasn’t stopped snowing.


Love how the icicles have formed on the garage

I was hoping to do this 14-minute pilates class tonight, with a Thera-Band. The band’s been hanging around in a drawer for years (used halfheartedly a handful of times) and it’s been staring at me since the start of fitfor15in15. But I couldn’t do the routine in the upstairs office (Leo’s downstairs watching a movie) because it’s impossible to put my arms over my head up here! The ceiling is even lower than downstairs. So I’ll save it for Monday. Maybe you might like to do it with a Thera-Band or an old pair of stockings or stretchy tights? You don’t really need the actual rubber thing. See if you like the idea of using a resistance band first before buying new equipment.

So the search continued for more 15-minute routines and far out! There’s a whole series called #fitin15 which I’ve never seen before, which is crazy because I’ve already done one of Jessica Smith’s videos. Cannot believe it – it’s like I’m not as clever as I thought I was. It’s been someone else’s mantra for years! I’ve just added the ‘for 2015’ in there.

This is the routine (I wanted something mainly on a mat!) which is video #5 in her #fitin15 program. It had some great exercises, and I feel like I’ve done something, which is the goal! It came up a bit short time-wise, so I did just over a minute of squats with the chickpea tins to complete 15 minutes.

On a totally different note … How great are these smoothies we found at the shops? With the sale of every drink with a beanie, money is raised for older people in financial trouble, to keep them warm and healthy in winter. Loving that concept, and the cuteness!


It’s like they were saying, “Pick me! Pick me!”


So many creative options


Leo chose blue and white (Zurich colours) and I chose the sweet little hippie beanie

And last but not least, here are some interesting things I’ve read this week that you might enjoy too:

Can breathing properly, with focus, make us healthier?

25 things you can do with apple cider vinegar

More insights into high-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Ira Glass talks confidence (one-minute video)

And finally, babies reacting to going through a tunnel in the car. This is one of the best laugh-out-loud videos I’ve seen for a while. Such incredible expressions!

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the weekend.

January 30 #2: Stepping out to the tennis

My first ‘workout’ this morning didn’t quite cut the mustard, so I went downstairs and happily donned a new pair of sneakers bought the previous week. The only other sneakers I own were/are still covered in mud and looking pretty grotty from running in the forest. So using some of my Christmas present money from Leo, I splashed out on a half-price pair of sneakers that will never leave the house! No more jumping around barefoot.


New sneakers good. Urgh.

Stan and Novak were into the second set of the Australian Open semi-final by the time I stood on the little step machine, so with baked bean tins in hand (we ate one of the kidney bean tins in a chilli last weekend!), I cheered them on for 30 minutes. Heart was definitely pumping at the end, but not because of the result. Poor Stan.

Tomorrow marks one month of blogging. It’s been fun making an exercise habit, with you as my witness. I was thinking about tackling the nutrition/food part of this fitfor15in15 project in February, but I think that’s too soon. I’ll slowly phase out bad things throughout the month of February and then start with conviction in March. Eating chocolate will still be on the cards, but maybe I’ll forgo the cheese and beer. Did I just say beer? I must be delusional.

Wishing you a wonderful day, again.