Haystacks of Romania

From 20-27 May, I was in Romania for work. Transylvania in fact. We all survived without a vampire attack – I didn’t even see a bat.

A highlight was the traditional haystacks in the rural areas. Such a sight! Big, small, solo, in pairs or rows … it really made me want to do a bicycle tour through the countryside capturing all the haystacks and scenery. But that would be almost a death wish – the roads were terrible, like a patchwork of attempted repairs. I will never complain about a rogue pothole again.

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Plant people – what are these?!

This is a garden update with questions … do you know what these two plants are? They’ve popped up out of nowhere in my garden plot and I don’t know if I should dig them up or let them grow?

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Round trip to Murzelen

IMG_5342Have you ever made plans to go for a long walk, somewhere spectacular, which involves getting in the car, and at the last minute think why waste time in the car when you can just start walking from your front door instead?

Leo and I had grand plans recently to go walking close to Spiez, on the Lake of Thun, doing a four-hour circular wanderweg. Spiez is probably only 45 minutes away in the car, but the whole thought of wasting 45 minutes of glorious sunshine sitting in a car put us off enough to search for a plan B. And luckily, where we live, there is always a plan B.

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Walking in Wohlen

DSC00270We had a public holiday on May 5 and the sun was out, so Leo and I took a short wander in Wohlen before joining The Usual Suspects at Liliane and Rene’s apartment for an early dinner.

Magnificent day, one of the few sunny days we’ve had in May (why so much rain?! My garden! Ugh!) and it was nice to put the walking shoes on again. Our wanderwegs have been missed!

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May 31: The World’s Longest Staircase

In Berner Oberland, a region of the Canton of Bern in Switzerland, lies the Guinness Book of Records’ World’s Longest Staircase.


Looking back at the terminus, heading straight up. The stairs are to the left of the track


A glimpse of what’s to come

With 11,674 steps going steeply to the top of the Niesen mountain, you’d be a fool to consider a running race on them, wouldn’t you?! But on June 6, crazies of all ages will huff and puff their way up in the 14th Niesen Stairway Race. I wonder if they ever stop and have a look at the amazing view behind them?


Somewhere around the middle I think

At all other times, people aren’t allowed to walk on the steps, because the funicular train goes up and down at 15-30 minute intervals – apparently it gets a bit tight in some sections. For any of my hardcore running fans, do you fancy entering in 2016? I’ll cheer you on at the start and have a cold drink waiting at the finish! 🙂


A clear view on the way down

The funicular was built 1906-1910 and takes you to 2362m. The first section of 2111m takes 14 minutes to complete, with a steepest gradient of 66%. You switch to another train for the second section, which is 1388m long, takes 12 minutes, and has a gradient of 68%.


Leaving the top station

The Niesen, also called the Swiss Pyramid because of its shape, is about a 45 minute drive south from Bern. We caught the funicular (no surprises there!) to have brunch on top today. It was Leo’s birthday present from our neighbours last year and we were shocked at how full it was! Sunday seems to be a popular day to sit and watch the clouds whiz by. It’s also popular with the paragliders who constantly fly past the viewing platforms and over the restaurant.

Below is a gallery of our photos and here’s a link to the Niesen official photos (some lovely shots in there in clearer weather).

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 30: Physical and mental #2

Woke up with the worst hhhhh…ayfever (you thought I was going to write hangover, huh?), so spent a few miserable hours in bed feeling sorry for myself and waiting for the tablet to kick in.

It wasn’t all a waste of time – I listened to more episodes of a thoroughly intriguing podcast called Serial. Being behind the times is a recurring theme in my life – this non-fiction story/series, about a Baltimore journalist trying to find out if a convicted killer is in fact innocent – was released to great acclaim in October last year and I’m only just getting around to checking it out. Highly recommended when your eyes are so puffy from hayfever that you can’t read a book! Or when you’re doing the dusting, or knitting etc, or can’t sleep at night and don’t want to turn a light on. I can’t wait to find out what happens! This definitely ticks the mentally fit box!

Once I was ready to venture outdoors, we put up the tent near the pool with help from Liliane’s friends Fritz and Lotte. Now all we need is clean water (once it’s warmed up a bit more).


Many hands make light work


An action shot from the working bee after-party!

I also mowed a small section of lawn that couldn’t be accessed last week because of a parked car, and then whipper-snippered further down the hill in that area. I don’t like mowing there because the mower gets quite a lean-on, on the edge of the forest, so I had to clean up the edges a bit. It was important to do it today, so it’s nice for when Rene comes home from hospital tomorrow – his operation went so well, he’s allowed to leave earlier than expected. Good news! (Hope I haven’t jinxed it now.)

And in other ‘good news’, here are some articles I’ve enjoyed this week:

My blogging friend Freda (am I allowed to say that, Freda?!) from livesimplysimplylive recently posted this ballet-influenced exercise routine which I’m looking forward to trying. Her blog has many interesting and inspiring musings and themes, and many calming photos.

Improved flexibility and balance have been high on my list of “wants” for 2015 and this article reinforces the need to bend and stretch, reach for the stars

Despite the disturbing headline, this is a wonderful, heart-warming story of true love and having to go to odd lengths for the same rights. I hope countries around the world soon follow Ireland’s lead.

Ariana from paris-to-go has completed one month of washing her hair just with water. See the results and read her thoughts about being chemical free here. Very inspiring!

And presto! The reason for the holes in Swiss cheese has been discovered!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 29: Physical and mental


Outdoor dining! Our first for the year

A short post for today (because I’m writing this on the 30th, because I ran out of time yesterday, because I drank too much wine :))

I cleaned Liliane and Rene’s house in the morning, then Pastora came over after she finished work, and we cooked a chocolate cake, then had some beers, then Jaime arrived, then my Leo arrived, then Pastora’s Leo arrived, then Liliane arrived, and then the party started.

It was so lovely to sit outside until 11pm, in the relative warmth (had to put jackets on at about 8.30pm), soaking up the sunshine and twilight, enjoying a barbecue on our terrace.

A morning of physical fitness (it appears I’ve lost one kilo this past month) and a wonderful afternoon with friends for mental fitness = a great way to end the week.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 28: Caving for a craving

Another beautiful sunny day meant more outdoor work, and outdoor work without breakfast or lunch meant one hungry beast come dinner time.

Rene went to hospital this afternoon for a scheduled visit – he’s having an operation on his neck tomorrow afternoon. This is his sixth hospital visit/operation since I’ve lived here (three and a half years). The first four were for his hip – what a debacle that was. This operation will hopefully alleviate some headache problems he’s been having.

So before he left, there were things to do. (Hopefully he’ll be back by the middle of next week, touch wood). I spent four hours with the jet hose cleaning the stone tiles around the pool. Four hours – on one ‘small’ job! But it was needed to get rid of three years worth of grime. I’ll do our terrace and the back of the big farmhouse on Saturday.


You can see where I’ve cleaned – the two and a half rows on the right


And this is what it looks like now. Cream stones rather than green

I was soaked and covered in black grot by the end. I had little stones up my nose and in my ears and my glasses were smeared grey. My arms are also slightly sunburnt. Slightly …

That’s not the only thing hurting my arms. Have you ever used a Kärcher jet spray machine? Those things pump out some serious water and the nozzle weighs quite a bit when in action. My arms were still sore from scooping and snipping yesterday so they are going to weigh a tonne tomorrow! How will I get over that? By cleaning Liliane’s house, of course!

And now to caving for a craving … I called Leo at about 5pm and asked if we could drive straight to McDonald’s when he got home from work. He was shocked – that’s not part of the fitfor15in15 plan! This is the first time I’ve had McDonald’s this year. It could possibly be the first time I’ve had fast hamburger food for an entire year. But he didn’t put up a fight and boy did we enjoy those babies! I was so hungry, I could have eaten my arm (if it wasn’t so burnt! 🙂 )


Hello Alps! You’ve been hiding behind the clouds for too long! Taken by Leo at 6.30pm

Leo cracked me up when he took the photo, above, for me. My substitute iPhone4 is very, very, very slow and we’re still waiting to hear what’s happening with my iPhone5, which was sent for repairs last week following the black screen of death. Leo asked why I wanted him to take photos with his phone, and I explained the quality would be better. He then said, “You’re suffering from a bad case of missyourphoneia!” I told him that joke, in a language that is still sometimes foreign to him, deserved a hug (I suffer from misophonia). Very clever boy!

Wishing you a wonderful day.


Missyourphoneia! Burgers! Yeah baby!