Bathtub Beats #2: Down On The Upside, Soundgarden

Well, this wouldn’t have been my first choice album to listen to in the tub …


Down On The Upside

Not exactly a relaxing, chilled-out kind of vibe. Pretty heavy and morose. I’m unsure how Down On The Upside even made it onto my computer, because I’ve never listened to it before! But that’s the beauty of Bathtub Beats – close my eyes, swipe to scroll down on the list of albums on my phone for a few seconds then randomly stop, then open my eyes to “discover” an album to listen to in its entirety in the bath. The first Bathtub Beats review is here.

Continue reading

Working in the new garden


Midday in the garden area. Not much love happening here

Last Friday, I had a spurt of energy, thanks to glorious sunshine, to get the garden into shape. The new apartment has these garden rows in the complex and we were told by the real estate agent that two were free (really? only two? they all look unloved!), so, of course, never one to do things slowly, I’ve dived right in to set up both of them. Continue reading

Novelty factor

This morning for breakfast, we had no milk. So I walked to the local supermarket and back.

This short expedition, after living “in the wilderness” for so long, has a high novelty factor – and probably will for a fair while longer.

I was very, very tempted to buy some of the beautiful potted flowers and herbs while there (the shop sells everything from horse blankets to outdoor furniture to baked-on-the-premises bread), but patience is required. The balcony needs to be cleaned before anything else can be added.


A few days ago, I was almost knocked off my feet when leaving the house. The fields nearby had been fertilised and the whole village smelt like a giant cow poo.


Said fields – thankfully less on the nose today! We used to live about a kilometre further behind those houses


Neat rows and blue skies


Wishing you a wonderful day.

The handbag challenge


To be sure, to be sure …

We were in Dublin last weekend! Woo hoo! I love Ireland – I love the Irish humour, the accent, their general craic for life, the countryside, oh and their beer!

Packing (you know how I love to pack!) gave me the perfect opportunity to fulfill a personal challenge I’ve been itching to do for ages – travel with just my handbag as luggage. And I’m not talking about a giant sack of a bag, I’m talking about my everyday handbag – a small, short-handled nylon bag, which is perfect for me because it weighs nothing empty and has a cross shoulder strap.


Ready for the train from Bern to Zurich, then the flight to Dublin, and then the bus to the B&B … See why I was keen to carry as little as possible?!

We were going to Dublin to watch my cousin referee the Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy. The flight arrived at 21:30 Friday night, and we flew home at 16:15 Sunday afternoon, so the time was limited and no ballgowns were needed. We would spend most of Saturday at the match with family (over from Australia to cheer Angus on too), and Sunday walking around the city.


The bag. Klein aber fein, as they say in German. It’s about 25cm long at the base, the zip is about 33cm long, the height is about 20cm and the width is about 16cm

On the plane over, I wore pretty much everything needed for the weekend, with an extra t-shirt, spare undies and socks and another silk scarf packed in the bag.

Merino wool garments make this so much easier I think. They breathe well and don’t smell much, and dry quickly if you need to wash them.


Overall, it was a raging success but I could have lived without many things!!

  1. The red plastic wallet with printouts of boarding passes, B&B booking etc – I need to get with the times and put everything on my phone. Save a tree! Save space!
  2. The iPod mini and earphones in the gold pouch – didn’t listen to any music
  3. The grey pouch with the iPhone camera lens – didn’t do any fancy photo tricks
  4. Gloves – wasn’t cold enough. The temperature in Dublin was supposed to be around 13 degrees Celsius both days, which turned out to be true, thankfully.
  5. Beanie – wasn’t cold enough (although I was happy to have it on the 20 minute walk to the car when we arrived in Bern at 21:30 Sunday night).
  6. Umbrella – it didn’t rain
  7. Second scarf – although it was nice to change up my outfit with this, it was an ‘unnecessary’ luxury! But it was so small it was hardly a bother.

On Saturday, I wore a black long-sleeve merino t-shirt under a black and white cardigan with jeans, black leather ankle boots and one of the scarves.

On Sunday, I wore what I wore over on the plane – the long-sleeve merino t-shirt underneath a black and white polka dot blouse with cardigan, jeans, boots, plus the other scarf. And when outdoors, always the coat!

Total things taken: –

Worn: bra, merino singlet, black merino long sleeve t-shirt, black and white spotted blouse, black and white cardigan, coat, undies, jeans, socks, boots, watch, two rings, necklace, ear rings, belt, silk scarf.

Packed: merino t-shirt (which I wore to bed – the B&B was freezing), spare undies, socks, second silk scarf, umbrella, gloves, beanie, red plastic wallet, passport, wallet, phone, electronics pouch, plastic bag with toiletries, handkerchief, makeup pouch (plus two hard boiled eggs, an apple and two sandwiches for us to start the journey!)

Leo also packed very light – a small 18 litre backpack. Wish we could always travel like this! I can’t wait to do it again. It’s a giggle of a challenge, and works well if the weather works in your favour. Although, saying that, all bases were pretty much covered. The beauty of denim on such a short trip came to the fore too – while carrying a tray of Guinness back to our seats some sloshed onto my jeans. I washed it with water and it was all fine. The only problem travelling with jeans on a longer holiday is they weigh a lot and take ages to dry! But for something like this, a long weekend or what have you, they’re the perfect option.

But enough about the packing, here are a few shots from the weekend. It was Leo’s first trip to Ireland and I think he’s keen to go back, even though he’s not keen on Guinness! Ireland won convincingly and Angus did a great job on his first Six Nations call. It was so lovely to see so many family members too! Many tears were shed on goodbye.


Wishing you a wonderful day.

Bathtub Beats #1: A Rush Of Blood To The Head, Coldplay

In the new apartment (here’s a photo tour if you haven’t been here before), we have a bath. I had a bath in Sydney before I moved to Switzerland, and for the past four years have made the most of holiday soaks to satisfy that chilling-out-in-walm-calm-liquid feeling. (I’m a Pisces – we need water!)

Tonight was my third time in the tub here, and I’m thinking it should become a regular Sunday feature. Normally I would read while warming ma bones, but this time, I listened to music. Leo gave me a Sonos Play 1 speaker for my birthday. (No affiliations, I don’t get any money from products on the blog.)

I was a bit miffed when I saw the box, not knowing what it did, but it’s a little powerhouse of sound which links to your own music via your iTunes collection or the music on your phone etc and it also links to radio stations.

So how about this for being the perfect present for a music lover who doesn’t listen to anywhere near as much music as preferred?! We set up the speaker in the office, but because it’s so small and light I transferred it to the bathroom, with the plan to listen to an album from start to finish.

When was the last time you listened to an entire album? I think the only time I’ve done it since the invention of the MP3 player was for Radiohead’s In Rainbows, in 2007. Not only is it brilliant, but also the first time a major international act released an album where the buyer could download it and pay what they thought it was worth. I love that album still (and happily paid about AUD$20 for it!).

I digress …

Using the app that you need to download to work the speaker, I went to “All Albums” and closed my eyes, scrolling down for a few seconds and eventually stopping on A Rush Of Blood To The Head by Coldplay, released in 2002.


Coldplay’s second album

There are some great, award winning songs on this album, including the main hits “Clocks” and “The Scientist”.

But by about song eight, I started thinking I’d heard the song before. This same feeling hit me when I saw Coldplay in concert, turning to my mate Phil and asking “Haven’t they played this already?” It becomes a bit samey-samey! When Chris Martin sang the final words of the final song “Amsterdam” 55 minutes after I first lay down, I too was ready to be cut loose. And not just because my fingers were pruning.

It was the first time I’d really listened to Martin’s voice, and I like it for its imperfections. The acoustics in the bathroom weren’t too bad, and while in corpse pose I really started to relax. Maybe that could have something to do with the excellent smelling bath bubbles too.

Hopefully, my blind scroll will take me on another hour-long, start-to-finish, listen-to-how-it-was-intended-to-be-heard musical adventure again soon. It was great to lie back and think of England …’s aural talents and enjoy the start of an album, before willing the end to just hurry up and come. “Ooh err, I say, missus!”

Here’s the track listing, to jog your memory about A Rush Of Blood To The Head, if you, too, know the album, but haven’t listened to it for ages.

1. “Politik” 5:18
2. In My Place 3:48
3. God Put a Smile upon Your Face 4:57
4. The Scientist 5:09
5. Clocks 5:07
6. “Daylight” 5:27
7. “Green Eyes” 3:43
8. “Warning Sign” 5:31
9. “A Whisper” 3:58
10. “A Rush of Blood to the Head” 5:51
11. “Amsterdam” 5:19
Total length:

Wishing you a wonderful day, and apologies for my terrible 70s British comedy gag!

How the mind works

Isn’t it crazy how the mind works? One minute you’re laughing at yourself and the next you’re feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders.

This morning, I was brushing my wet hair into this configuration … Not because I wanted to, but that’s just how it looks following a shocking haircut in Fuerteventura after Christmas …

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.58.15 AM

“Dumb” Donald Parker, from the Fat Albert cartoon show

And within seconds I went from thinking fun things about Hey Hey Hey, It’s Faaaaaat Albert and his friends, including Dumb Donald, to Bill Cosby to Cardinal George Pell, and that made me hope there’s a hot corner in hell for people like that.

Australian songwriter Tim Minchin penned and recorded a song in less than a day recently, raising funds for the victims abused by five of Pell’s Catholic church paedophile cronies in Ballarat, Australia, in the 1970s. Here’s the YouTube video of his song “Come Home Cardinal Pell”.

If you’re not familiar with what Pell has done, or hasn’t done, or can’t remember, or wasn’t much interested in, here’s a recent story.

Amazing what can flit through/inhabit you mind in less than five seconds. I’m on a mission to rid my mind of revolting Cardinal Pell, and the best way of doing that is with Minchin’s masterpiece about Christmas. Here’s “White Wine in the Sun”. I think I may have mentioned it before.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 31: Lausanne, push ups, abs and other inspirations


Beautiful Lausanne on Lake Geneva

Up until seven weeks ago, I’d never been to Lausanne, on Lake Geneva, and today I found myself there again, to see an old friend from London days. Brett and I worked in media, we had mutual friends and occasionally often found ourselves propping up a bar, beer in hand, watching said mates being idiots.

We’re older and wiser now, and chatted about the past and present (during the breaks) while Brett worked as a cameraman covering the current Iranian nuclear arms talks. When the presenter asked me if I was interested in the outcome, I had to confess my complete lack of knowledge (I dislike the word ignorance) on the subject. Unfortunately I couldn’t learn more from her, because her live news crosses were in Persian! The line-up of journalists and crews under those tents was totally multicultural.


Reporting from Lausanne on the Iranian nuclear discussions


All the outside broadcast (OB) vans

Overall, a great afternoon gasbagging and drinking tea down by the water in the freezing wind. Definitely good for the soul! Thanks Brett!


Mates for 20 years

For the workout today I made something up, which now has my arms shaking. Initially, the 15 minute plan was to alternate one minute of push ups with one minute of abs, but after the first two minutes I could only manage 30 seconds of push ups. So it became 30 seconds push ups, one minute abs, 30 seconds push ups etc. All the push ups were done on my knees – I’m still not strong enough to do a full push up. But I’m getting there. Using the timer on my phone, I wound down the clock and I know my arms, more than my abs, will be sore tomorrow. That might make amends for the chocolate croissant I ate in Lausanne!

Following on from Sal’s inspirational story yesterday, I was thinking, on the train, about other things that have made a lasting impression on me. I’ll limit this to two for now.

The first ‘person’ who came to mind was actually a frog. Watching Kermit the Frog do his Sesame Street News Flash stories made me want to be a journalist. Stop laughing. Ok, start again, because here’s a silly clip where Kermit tries to find out what makes people angry. For me, his incredible job allowed him to ask all the interesting questions, even if he sometimes never received a proper answer. Overall, those spots made a huge impression on my once overly inquisitive mind. Now I’m happy to just let some things remain unknown, possibly such as, for example, in-depth details of the Iranian nuclear debate.

The second big impression I want to mention was a feature story written by Gay Talese. While studying a Masters of Publishing in 2009-10, one of the subjects introduced me to his amazing magazine article about Frank Sinatra. In 2003, Esquire named it the greatest story they’d ever published. Even if you’re not a Sinatra fan, I vouch that you’ll still enjoy it. Oh to be able to write like that!

Fancy sharing some of your inspirational moments or favourite influential people?

Wishing you a wonderful day. And here are some other pictures from today:


Still getting used to the missing flagpole – it came down in the wind yesterday. Now we have an even better view!


Looking over Wohlen towards the Swiss Alps


The flowers are coming! The sign says “Flowers for self picking”


A beautiful magnolia bud, I think?!

March 30: 30-minute HIIT workout

Have you seen today’s guest contribution from Sal Book? She proves you can change a ‘never never’ attitude to a ‘let’s do this’ attitude with time and patience. What an inspirational transformation! If you didn’t see it, read about Sal’s memorable story here.

Her enthusiasm for running made me want to go for a run today. (Actually, I first read her story on the bus home from the city last week, and if it hadn’t been for a pair of boots and some heavy bags, I would have jumped off and tried to sprint home!) Unfortunately, it’s going to be raining here for the foreseeable future, so another 5km run in the forest remains a carrot at the end of the donkey’s string. Yes, I am the donkey.

It’s been a cruisy few days in the fitfor15in15 exercise stakes, so I thought I’d go a bit harder on core today with another workout from Fitness Blender. This 30 minute total body workout, which is also called Intense at Home HIIT Cardio and Abs Workout – Abs on Fire, requires no equipment and lived up to it’s name.

I couldn’t complete some of the exercises as fast or as well as the trainer, Daniel, which is no surprise really, but I laughed out loud when he piped up at one stage with “This is a bad idea.” I couldn’t agree more – we were both sweating like maniacs at the end! He definitely made it a tough workout. To paraphrase an Alicia Keys song … “My abs are on fiiiyyyyerrrrr!”

With it blowing a gale outside – the wind was so strong it uprooted our flagpole – I spent a lot of time on the computer today. My 52 Books Challenge for 2015 is running behind schedule, but finally I’ve written another review. Last week I finished The Lotus Eaters by Marianne MacDonald in three hours – if only all books were that easy – and you can read more about it here if you fancy.


The view is clear without the fallen flagpole with the Aussie flag. It is fixable!

Judy mentioned in a comment on my diet/food dilemma post about the 5:2 diet. Have you heard about it? If not, you can read more about it on the official website here, on the BBC Good Food website or in Marie Claire’s ‘definitive guide’ on the pros and cons, including some recipes for the two fasting days. The main crux of the plan is you eat normally for five days and have a reduced calorie intake for two non-consecutive days per week, like a form of fasting.

I had heard about it before but hadn’t done much research. For someone who has a phobia about cooking a different meal every night, this could be the perfect solution. Maybe April is a good time to start? Luckily, Leo made a risotto for dinner last night and we have enough for tonight as well – the perfect lead in to a new idea to shift a few pesky wobbly bits. Would you be interested in joining me?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

The Lotus Eaters by Marianne MacDonald


Marianne MacDonald’s first novel about two lost souls who somehow become friends

When the internet was down for the week, I had the chance to read this book in one three-hour sitting, which gives an indication of how easy it is to read. Whether I like it or not is still debatable. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great.

Dowdy journalist Lottie and wannabe-actress Patty Belle strike up an unusual friendship during the late 90s. Patty seems to have it all and Lottie, well, not a lot. Her hopeless relationship with a forever-absent copywriter becomes a bit dull and pointless. Patty’s relationships with, well, almost everyone, including the violent gangster Ed Kaplan, are also eye-rolling material, but we all know people like Lottie and Patty and I suppose that’s a bonus point for MacDonald.

All friendships in groups big or small tend to have that one train-wreck member, and in The Lotus Eaters, Patty is just that. Guys fall for her innocence and charm, girls don’t know whether to hit her or play mum. By the end of the book most people just want rid of her.

Without any thought for consequences, Patty makes her mark on Lottie’s established group of university friends and changes them all. Patty just thinks about what feels right at the time in her constant search for adoration and love. Of all the characters, she is the most memorable, but at the end of the book you’re left with the feeling that everything has changed but it’s still exactly the same. Not much of a legacy for the glamorous Patty Belle.

No More Rules by Sal Book

This is the fifth 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. Sal Book’s life-changing light bulb moment came several years ago when she broke a self-imposed rule and took on a challenge. The balance she’s now found makes for a wonderful, inspiring and totally relatable story. Take it away Sal!

No More Rules by Sal Book (FOX8 Design Director for Foxtel in Sydney, Australia, and lover of baking)


Sal and her boys after a half marathon in Sydney, September 2014

No running policy. No running whatsoever. Too many bits that wiggle. It hurts. Don’t run for buses. Maybe run for your life if necessary. I lived by a ‘no running policy’ that I joked about a lot. It was up there with my ‘don’t wear swimwear in front of work colleagues’ and ‘don’t live in share houses with couples’ list of rules to live by. Because in my 20s, I thought I knew everything.

I nearly broke that lifelong no running policy. Almost. I made some wonderful little humans and before long, I was running around after them 24/7/365. I wasn’t physically running, but there were definitely a lot of bits that wiggled. As a busy mum, working full time and chasing after kidlets, my 162cm body broke through and beyond the 100kg barrier. I had a moment of shock one day, watching the Biggest Loser and stuffing my face (as you do), when one of the contestants weighed in lighter than me. Yikes! It was time to ditch the wiggle.

I bought a very cheap cross trainer and off I went – weight watcher-ing everything I ate by day, cross training by night. My husband was wonderfully supportive and helped me find the time I needed for exercise. Most importantly, he listened to all my bitching about food. I love food and it was hard. Kilos slowly peeled away and 18 months later I was 30kg lighter. But the lifelong no running policy was still intact. In my mind, a cross trainer wasn’t running, so all was good.

I work in a creative industry and have found that most creatives are an inspired and positive bunch of people who enjoy the lustre of crazy ideas. Two of my colleagues were mad enough to sign up for this thing called Tough Mudder. They started a campaign to enlist anyone and everyone on their team. I was 30kg lighter, feeling great and tempted by the idea to just do something out of the ordinary. My friend knew I was a country girl at heart and wasn’t afraid of a bit of dirt, so he kept pushing me to give it a go. I had to tell him about the no running policy but he persisted and I’m ever so grateful he did.

The event was months away and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I figured that it if I could endure over 24 hours of labour pains, to squeeze out a human being, then surely I could take on this measly Mudder business. One unexpected perk from childbirth was the feeling of empowerment. The most incredible thing I’ve ever done in my lifetime is give birth to my sons. After they arrived in my life, I was surprised by an unforeseen drive that was born inside of me, especially to feel ownership of my body again. I felt like I could do anything. Take on any challenge. So I decided to do the Tough Mudder. I was going to own it. Go the whole 21km with obstacle courses. I signed up. I was scared. Damn it! I better start running or something.

The no running policy was abolished. Training was hard. I had a lot of support from friends and family. My sister ran with me, my team ran with me. My Mudder goal was to be able to run 7km without stopping and push myself with strength training on the side. Everyone around me helped a great deal, but ultimately the person who had to push me the most was me.


This popular waterside path in Sydney, called The Bay Run, is one of Sal’s favourite runs

Running was a whole world outside my comfort zone. All those wiggly bits did hurt. Running with a D-cup does suck. Every time I had a running session, I never actually wanted to run. I would procrastinate, taking forever to get out of bed, find my gear, put my shoes on. I would force myself to run, and found that I always felt amazing afterwards.

Hiding inside that little moment after the run is the addiction. You don’t see it or feel it coming. The mind says no, but after you finish, the body says yes. It feels amazing … after you’ve run your first ever full kilometre without stopping … after you’ve run your first 5km … after your first ever racing event … after your first ever PB … after every PB … Eating. After. Running (my personal favourite).


A leap of faith! Sal flying high in the Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder was difficult and incredible. Mission impossible was to attempt every obstacle. I succeeded all but one and I was grateful for my run training. For those moments between the obstacles, it didn’t feel hard. My body was able to cope and keep up with my team.


What’s not to love about this photo?!

All the winter running had really prepared me for the cold, thick mud. I finished and it was surreal. I felt invincible. But the very next week I stopped running. It was all done and dusted. I didn’t realise that I had ignited a spark.


Mission: Accomplished!

After Tough Mudder, I spotted an advertisement for the San Francisco Half Marathon. The thought of running across the Golden Gate Bridge was enough to turn that spark into a desire to find that invincible feeling again. It didn’t take much pestering to convince my husband that we should take a family holiday to the States. Much like me, he is a man who loves experiences and before we knew it, we had booked flights for the family to America and both of us were signed up for the half marathon.

I ran 21km in 2h 26mins. I ran 18 of those kilometres grinning like an idiot, oblivious to the hurt, feeling mesmerised by where I was and where my running had taken me. I couldn’t believe I was running on the road of the Golden Gate Bridge. The last 3km did actually hurt, especially on some of the hills as we headed back into the city, but I still loved it.

My husband and I had walked across the Golden Gate on our honeymoon 11 years earlier, so to run across it was very special. He was behind me on the course, but I worked out that we would cross paths as I came back for the return leg of the bridge. I texted him to keep an eye out. We found each other, a quick kiss in the middle of all the runners and then off again.


Running across the Golden Gate Bridge was a proud and memorable achievement

One thing I love most about life, is that you never know what is ahead of you. The first time I walked that bridge with my husband, I never imagined a decade later we would be running a half marathon across it. These are the things that make me smile in life. Running continues to make me smile in life.


Sal chasing Minions in the iconic Sydney City to Surf race

It’s almost my three-year ‘runniversary’ and running is just a part of who I am now. I am a busy mum and to fit everything in, I run to work. I’m solving a transport and time issue all in one. On my long run days, I get to feel a little bit ‘bad ass’ by watching the sun rise while I’m out. If I run to work, for the rest of the day I enjoy a lovely ‘I don’t care if the Zombie Apocalypse happens’ sort of feeling – if the zombies come, well at least I can run fast enough! If work gets a bit stressful, somehow it feels easier to cruise through the problems and find solutions.


Peace and beauty on an early morning run to work

I get a lot of support from my husband. Running is something that requires time, but we try our best to give that to each other. I think it’s important for parents to have time for themselves. When I’m running, there are no phone calls, no emails, no mummy, no dramas. It’s just me. I also get a lot of support from my running group. Last year I joined Running Mums Australia, not expecting the positive change it would bring to my running. It’s a virtual running group on Facebook with over 9000 members. All of them just mums who like to run. Some are champion runners, some are just starting out, some do ultra marathons, others enjoy 5km events. All of these women are connected by their desire to run. It’s a place to share run stories and seek advice. RMA has definitely helped me maintain my running mojo and I’m very proud to be a part of that group.

My new rule is to stop making rules. They only hold you back.


Crossing the middle of the Sydney Harbour Bridge by foot isn’t something you can do every day. But it was possible for Sal, once she broke ‘the rules’