June 19: Work and play

I didn’t write the blog yesterday because I was having too much fun! 😉

Work went well, I was there for four hours and played around on the ‘back end’ of the website, learning what does what. I’ll go back again on Monday to learn about the email orders.

Afterwards, Pastora, Iva and I went to Cafe Pyrennes, our favourite bar, and had another excellent afternoon which turned into early evening. Sandra and Kanjana joined us as well, and we saw Marion, who we’d met there a few months ago, and met Werner, who at 70 is still fighting fit and working as a stage designer in European theatres. All very interesting people!

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On the way to the bus. I think that’s potatoes growing?

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So many slugs and snails on the walk!

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Looking back at the steps down to the Dojo. There’s another set this long at the top, to the right. They’d make a good workout

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Recent rain has made the Aare brown again

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Can you see the patterns in these pieces of wood embedded in a fence?

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Iva and Pastora on the footbridge over the Aare

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Sandro with Pastora. I forgot to get a photo with Kanjana, silly me

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Werner, the theatre stage manager/designer

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Pastora and Marion

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Cows on the way home

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Corn and lovely light over Wohlen

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 18: A ceremonial swapping of the tools

The Kärcher is being replaced by the computer tomorrow.

Finally, the concrete around the main farmhouse AND our Stöckli is now clean. Another four and a half hours with that powerful jet spray machine has knackered my wrists again. But the end result, and knowing I won’t have to do it again for another two years, is nice.

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Clean as a whistle!

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The cement in front of the house didn’t scrub up as well as the terrace

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My little garden, just because …

It feels like I’m having a ceremonial ‘swapping of the tools’ – the yellow Kärcher beast is all packed away, and now I’ve taken out the travel case for my computer. It’ll be coming on the bus with me tomorrow for my ‘first day’ on the job. I wonder how many hours a week it will involve? All will be sorted out soon enough, I imagine.

Fell off the no sugar bandwagon this afternoon and ate … *gasp* a cherry tomato!! They just looked tooooooo good to not try one.

We’ve started watching House of Cards on Netflix which I’m really enjoying. Kevin Spacey is brilliant. Just brilliant! It’s definitely adding to my mental fitness.

My plant for the day is another herb. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is my favourite because it goes with lamb. Mmmm lamb. (I love how the thyme was vulgaris and this is officinalis. How official!)

Time for bed. I actually have a very good reason to get up early tomorrow! Yahoo!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 17: Possibilities?

One of my friends from German school, Iva, is married to Marko, who is a karate Dan. He has a karate Dojo and wellness centre on the Aare river in Bern. I’ve mentioned it before, when I did a yoga class there earlier in the year.

Marko has asked me to do some work for him on one of his websites, enso-shop.ch which deals with the selling of karate gear. On Friday, I’ll go in and learn the ins and outs of the website from him, and then eventually, I’ll be responsible for all things to do with the site. Neither of us are sure how much work this will involve, but he wants to push the site more than he’s been able to, because he’s so busy teaching.

This means I’ll be working in the office with Pastora as well, which will be fun. She works there five mornings a week. This could be my chance to get back into the swing of things and help promote his website, which thankfully is mostly in English. I’m very excited and hope I can do enough to make the orders soar! Learning more about how websites work will keep me mentally fit, too. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, that this could be a job with possibilities.

Being in the city today (to meet Marko) made me realise how much I’m missing sugar. I’m in week two of the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program, when we can’t eat any fruit either. I was bombarded with people eating ice cream, Berliners and other sweet stuff that normally I wouldn’t think twice about buying. Grocery shopping, and seeing all the lovely bananas and watermelons etc was even harder. They’re healthy! But I’m committed to giving this sugar cleanse a real go. In week six, fruit is reintroduced. It was a dumb time to buy that cherry tomato plant – they’re all looking so ripe and yummy, Leo will have to eat them all!

Here are some other photos from my walk to the bus and time in town.

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More corn growing near us, with my favourite farmhouse on the hill

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This looks like silverbeet perhaps?

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A close up of the silverbeet?

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Healthy geraniums at a house on the way to the bus

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A lovely veggie garden on the way to the bus

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How cool is this bug? Love the colour!

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This is the path I take down to the river on the way to the Dojo

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The building on the right side of the river is where I’ll be doing some work

I use a running app on my phone, called MapMyRun. Today it sent me an email to remind me I haven’t been running in a month. A month! Oops! How did that happen? (Well, um easily – busy in the garden, raining, lack of motivation!) Will try to fix that asap.

The 30-Day Challenge with the plant names has also taken a backseat. I think I had a bit of burnout, searching the web for the plants I have in the garden, not knowing where to begin other than a generic description of what the plant looks like – the images always offered up so many options. I’m learning some Latin herb names now, starting with thyme – Thymus vulgaris.

Rather than searching for three to four each day, I’m going to scale it back to one from now on – I’d bitten off more than I can chew! Hopefully that isn’t the case for the website job with Marko!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 16: Going bongos on your birthday

Sorry I didn’t blog yesterday, on the actual day of the 16th, but I was in town for most of the day and then out to dinner for Leo’s birthday.

Leo is now the proud owner of a set of bongos. He often taps out a beat and seeing as he’s never touched his Christmas present from 2011, a guitar, I thought these might be more appropriate. Now it’s my turn to learn the guitar, which I tried in 2013, but it’s tough when you’re not so musically inclined! And it’s tough on the pads of the left-hand fingers. Practice makes perfect, I know.

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The new bongos, roses from Liliane’s garden (all on one stem!) and the unloved guitar in the background

I had a lovely day in the city – met Leonie for lunch then Claudia for a cup of tea and some window shopping. Bought some soap at the markets – love that it comes unpackaged.

Then I met Leo and we chose the bongos at a music store in Bern (wanted him to have an input, as opposed to the guitar, which was a surprise). Leo used to play keyboard and sing in a band, so he’s very chuffed to own some percussion!

And then we went for dinner at the same fancy pants steak restaurant we went to for my birthday. It’s a lovely room upstairs, and the waitress was very sweet. She even gave Leo a jar of steak sauce when she found out it was his birthday.

Surprised we had room for any food after starting with these beers. It was the only drink Leo had all night, and I had a glass of red with my main.

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Give the birthday boy a beer!

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Almost need two hands!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 15: Come again another day

Rain, rain, go away …

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All day, rain and more rain …

No Monday Runday, no exercise, not much of anything really! It was gloomy and cold, so I applied for a job, watched the documentary about puppeteer Kevin Clash called Being Elmo (wow, hasn’t his career taken a nosedive since. What a tragedy for all involved), backed up my computer, let the real estate agent and potential buyers through the house (that was their fifth visit), re-potted the cherry tomato plant I bought last Friday, and cooked lunch and dinner. You know, the important stuff … 🙂 Another day where the weather affects my general demeanour!

At least the lawn and gardens are well watered, and the pool is full for the expected sunshine at the end of the week.

I wonder how I can combat this weather-influenced down cycle? Exercise should be my go-to strategy, but for some reason I have fallen behind on the 15-minutes minimum per day.

It’s week two of the I Quit Sugar program – all fruit is banned for a while. This is going to be interesting!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 14: Fourth anniversary

Four years ago today, I walked 29km in Spain with a stranger.

The previous day, I could hardly walk. My feet were blistered and my legs were tired, after six days walking 135km on the Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port to Los Arcos. At the hostel, after I’d showered and tended to my feet, this stranger commented on my slow, heavy gait. “Do you always walk like a duck?” he asked in accented English. “No” I replied and strode past, muttering obscenities under my breath. What a nerve!

The next morning, the morning of June 14, I set off early thanks to five snoring Hungarians who’d been up well before dawn. I walked alone, and turned to take a photo of the sunrise over Los Arcos. And there he was, walking towards me. “Oh great,” I thought, “here comes The Duck Guy.”

We fell into step and walked together – me trying to be pleasant to this Italian born, Swiss raised bloke called Leonardo, while cursing my blisters and sore legs with each metre. Yes, I was walking very slowly, and still like a duck, but I wasn’t going to forgive him in a hurry for that comment!

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Leo, on our first day walking together. It was my seventh day on the Camino, hence him holding up seven fingers. I took many photos of walkers representing each day

After a few hours, talking about music and movies, we met an American-German woman named Simone and the three of us walked for a while before taking shelter from the midday heat in a tunnel with a South African actress, a young German guy, and one of my original Spanish walking friends, who I’d met on day one.

When we checked into the hostel, we were assigned beds, with Leonardo’s being above mine. I wasn’t sure what to think by this stage – he had been really nice on the walk, and a part of me wished it had been just us walking together all day. But I was on this “long walk with a small backpack” adventure alone and meeting someone wasn’t part of the plan. Especially someone who lived in Europe.

After an afternoon relaxing, including Leo washing some of my clothes while I had a beer with Simone (!!), it was time to sleep. While getting settled, I noticed his arm hanging from the bunk bed. His hand was right in my line of vision. Was he trying to say something? Or was he just asleep? I looked at his hand for a very long time, and eventually summed up the courage to take it in mine. He gave a warm squeeze, as a kind of ‘hello, thank you for a good day and good night’, and that, as they say, was it.

We were together for the next 24 days, walking to Santiago de Compostela. You get to know someone very well spending 24 hours a day with each other, walking and talking. We had no commitments (work, family, social and so on) to distract us. It was an intense month and at the end we had to make a big decision.

I stayed in Spain and walked to Finisterre, Leo stuck with his original flight and flew home to Switzerland, and 11 days later he met me in Barcelona. We spent four days there, then I flew with him to Switzerland for three days, to visit the little gingerbread house where he lived and to learn more about his life. We said a sad goodbye and I returned to Barcelona to continue the final few weeks of my European adventure.

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In Barcelona

Fast forward to November 25, 2011 – Leo flew to Australia to meet my family, and December 5 we arrived in Switzerland to begin our life together. It’s amazing how things work out. I had no intention of meeting someone while I was on the walk, and that’s exactly what happened. Sometimes you just have to go with it and I’m very glad we’ve had the courage to ‘give it a go’.

Happy fourth anniversary, Leo, you cheeky monkey! Imagine if you’d never made that duck comment? Imagine if I’d not walked with you that day? It’s amazing how life can instantly change for the better.

(And, yes – for the record – even without the blisters, I still walk like a duck.)

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 13: The first swim of summer

Fitfor15in15 could have some new workouts in the pipeline – the pool is finally reading for swimming, and today, after Leo took the robot cleaner out, I made the most of the sunshine (and 23 degree Celsius water temperature).

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The juxtaposition of a Swiss flag and a pool always makes me smile. I don’t think of pools when I think of Switzerland but I’m very grateful for ours

Of course, Leo was there to prove I didn’t just get my ankles wet. Normally, our neighbour Liliane’s friend Lotti is the first to swim every year, but she’s on holidays in Tuscany and I couldn’t wait until she got back. We won’t tell her, ok?

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Go!

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So refreshing!

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Happiness is a pool on a warm day

I did about 15 minutes worth of freestyle laps. I only breathe twice on each lap, because the pool is about eight metres long (I think). Looking forward to more days like this in the next few months.

Before the swim, I baked a chocolate cake for Pastora and Leo’s birthday (our married friends who were born on the same day in the same Spanish hospital; Leo three years before Pastora) but I won’t be eating any at the party tonight. The I Quit Sugar program would frown upon that! (I may have licked one of the beaters … normally I would have licked both.) 🙂

And now, we’re off to the celebrations. Party! Vamos!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

p.s The wasp bite is getting better. Not as red and angry as yesterday, thanks to some cooling gel we bought to bring down the heat. Phew. Still can’t squat down properly though – feels like the skin behind my knee will split! – and it’s still ever so itchy. Grrrr.

p.p.s Big addition of plant names for the 30-Day Challenge coming on Monday or Tuesday. Hopefully 🙂

June 12: A busy but pain-full day

Liliane and I achieved so much today. It’s now 11.30pm and I can’t believe I’m still awake!

We went grocery shopping at 8.30am, then bought a mosquito screen for the upstairs office door so we can have some flow-through breeze when it’s warm. Why hadn’t we thought of this years ago?! Also bought another basil plant and a cherry tomato plant.

Then we trimmed the little fir trees, or whatever they are (still need to look that up!), surrounding the terrace. That took a couple of hours, including clean up. Looks great, and one of them is clear of the house and guttering now.

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Tops lopped off so they grow a little wider

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The one on the right no longer grows into the gutter

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And the one on the left is a ball shape again. I think it’s a lilac tree

After a short lunch break, we collected rubbish from both our houses for the council depot drop off and loaded up the wagon I used when filling the holes in the lawn. It was full! Liliane threw away an old table, we had stuff from the cellar, there were old plastic plant pots and so on and so on. And now – clean and clear!

And to finish off, we finished mowing the lawn with the small, normal mower, seeing as the ride-on will be out of action until early next week. It was good to finish what I’d started.

When Leo came home, he put up the hanging mosquito screen (and I’m now sitting in the office enjoying the cool breeze. Winner winner chicken dinner!). Then I cooked dinner and we watched four episodes of Ray Donovan on Netflix. I’m enjoying the series but not as much as at the beginning.

I had a terrible sleep last night. Yesterday, while mowing, I was bitten by a wasp. At first, I thought it was a horse fly, but it’s so swollen, so hard and giving off so much heat that I think it has to be a wasp. And man it’s itchy! I woke during the night scratching and even after several antihistamines today it’s still giving me grief. The skin texture has changed too. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

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That swollen red patch is damn itchy!

Once again, no plants. I’ll cover the backlog next week perhaps. I’m flailing (but not failing!) on the 30-Day Challenge. Oops!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 11: I broke the mower!

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The part that was mowed! Our little house – those fir trees on the right will have the tops lopped off tomorrow

It was a pretty quiet morning again, but thankfully I had the lawn to mow this afternoon. It was almost finished, when I broke the mower.

I didn’t realise the front left tyre was going flat until I turned sharply right and it went all skewiff. Had to get the jack underneath the front and take the tyre off and try to fill it with air, but it was too late. Kaputt!

Rene ordered two new front tyres/wheels from England (why replace one when you can replace both?! Rene never does things by half. They should be here Monday), because, as he kindly kept saying, the lawn mower is 20 years old and it’s bound to have problems. I couldn’t help but feel that this problem could have been averted if I’d been on the ball a bit more. Strange that I didn’t notice any issues with the steering until it was too late. Bugger!

About 5.30pm, Rene, Liliane and I sat outside enjoying the beautiful balmy evening and planning our day tomorrow. It’s going to be chockers. We’re going grocery shopping in the morning, taking stuff to the dump/tip/rubbish collection, which luckily is in the building next to us, and we’re going to trim some overgrown trees/shrubs at our house – one is growing into the gutter, so it’s about time. Electric trimmer, get ready to be well used!

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Sitting outside, playing with Boy, the dog, and talking lots of German with the neighbours

I’m too knackered to find three new plants to name today, as part of the 30-Day Challenge. I’ve left it too late to write, and there’s nothing left in my batteries. I ate quite well, as part of the I Quit Sugar Program, but maybe I didn’t drink enough water. Or maybe my body is saying, “Where is the sugar, woman?! You know I can’t function without the sweet stuff!”

We’ll see, sugar demons, we’ll see.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 10: Craving sugar, much?

After finishing actor Cary Elwes’ book, As You Wish (reviewed here), I thought it only fitting to watch the movie The Princess Bride today. That could quite possibly be the 20th time I’ve seen it, and I enjoy it every time. Twue wuv. Tweasure your wuv. Has it added to my mental fitness? Well, it definitely made me smile.

I also did a lot of internet reading, not enough job searching, and pottered in the garden for a bit, but the wind was too wicked for my liking, so I mooched. I mooched a lot. I don’t think mooching is very healthy sometimes!

Liliane and Rene invited me for dinner which was nice, as Leo is at a work function. I’m sure the meal they served fell within the boundaries of the I Quit Sugar program. I’ve been very good about not eating sugar, and maybe that’s part of the reason I’m feeling so ‘meh’ today. Detoxing perhaps? I could definitely handle some ice cream or a handful of peanut M&Ms about now!

The 30-Day Challenge continues with new plant names. But a quick recap from yesterday’s request for help – Gabby was quick off the mark to tell me the crop with the back and white flower is broad bean aquadulce (Vicia faba) and Freda kindly informed me the small purple plant from yesterday was another campanula – Dalmation bellflower (Campanula portenschlagia). Thank you, ladies!

Liliane has a lovely blue flowing plant called Gentian (Gentiana acaulis) in her garden, which I would love to take a cutting from for next year (her garden is a bit bigger than mine so I have no idea how all this is going to fit!).

I’d like to get some Speedwell (Veronica spicata) because I like the candle shape, and another on my wishlist is a common jasmine vine (Jasminum officinale) growing on the terrace somewhere, because it would be amazing to be surrounded by that smell in summer.

Tomorrow and Friday will be more active. (I’ll have to make it so, won’t I?! Can’t be mooching for extended periods.) Rene has indicated he’d like my help replacing the mower blades tomorrow, so that’s something to look forward to 😉 and I’ll spend some time with Liliane on Friday as she has the day off!

Wishing you a wonderful day.