September 2-20: Oops … sorry about that!

Iiiiiiiii’m baaaaaaack …

It’s been a mental few weeks, and to top it off I had a chest infection which made me cough like a coal miner and sweat like a piggie. But I’ve almost kicked it to the curb, and am ready to, finally, write about what’s been happening.

Once I’ve written it all out, it will feel quite boring, I’m sure! But the best piece of news is …

Drumroll …

As of October 1, I will officially be the Communications and Project Officer for PAGES, an organisation which disseminates scientific data/research/reports on past global (climate) change. This was the interview I had on September 1. I found out I got the job on September 7.

The office is in Bern city, a convenient walk then bus ride away. I’ve actually been working there quite a bit in the past few weeks, doing the handover. The previous employee had her last day on Thursday and will work externally from Norway until the end of the year. This means I won’t be thrown into the fire from the outset, which is wonderful – knowing she will be there to pass on all her knowledge over the next few months is such a relief. There are only five people working for PAGES, so everyone has a wealth of information stored in their heads. Here’s a link to the website if you fancy a read …

I’ve also been writing the stories for my friend’s magazine, which was great except I was sick, then all of a sudden I didn’t have enough time. One story worked out really well, but I failed to get an interview for another story so had to change the concept a bit, and then – bless – my friend said I didn’t have to do the final story as it wasn’t coming together like I’d hoped and we agreed it wasn’t a story as such anymore.

Plus, I was working at the karate clothing website at the same time too. So it was a busy period. I hope the cough goes away soon; Leo has had an earful of it, and so have I. Juggling three jobs while hacking away was rather unpleasant. Going from minimal work to too much was also a challenge!

The other exciting news is … we’re off to Barcelona for six nights … tonight!! We won’t be going back to Australia at Christmas, because of the new job, so decided to have a quick one-week trip before I start officially. We’d thought about Iceland or the Jurassic (south) coast of England, but the weather didn’t look great, so we opted for sunshine and sangria instead. Really looking forward to eating loads of patatas bravas and maybe even having a swim in the ocean.

Rene lost his driver’s licence so has given me the keys to his car and taken back the keys to the Töffli. I think I actually got the chest infection from riding the Töffli in the early mornings to Maru Dojo, just after it turned cool very quickly. The car isn’t as easy to park as the bike, but it does mean I’m able to do a bit more with four wheels as opposed to two … and it’s dry and warm inside! Thank you, Rene.

So, time to get moving. I’ve packed my silver carry-on suitcase, which has one side empty, with enough for the week and more. See previous packing efforts here, here and here … I’ve taken the black and white heart dress; the black jacket; a (new) pink cardigan; the Japanese print skirt; a pair of mushroom coloured shorts; a pair of jeans; black belt; red, black and (new) pink t-shirts; two singlet tops; two scarves; a (new) denim blue thin poncho; bikini; minimal jewellery; black handbag; spotty green cap; umbrella; sandals; leather sneakers for walking; ballet flats; underwear and socks; mini iPad and iPhone. I’m excited to have these new clothes too!

Wishing you a wonderful week! I’ll write more when I’m back from Barcelona. Adios Amigos!


My not impressed, sick face


Flowers Leo bought me when we found out I got the job!


Liliane’s blooming marvellous roses


Me feeling happy about my flat tummy

Covered in dirt after doing the mowing

Covered in dirt after doing the mowing


Lovely clear Sunday walk to the flower field


Saw a cat in the dying sunflower field


Leo taking photos in the flower field. We bought pink lilies and some asters


Funny little pumpkins to buy, for autumnal decorating!

August 25-27: Nervous …

I have a few things on my plate at the moment and am feeling nervous. I talked about working methodically but slowly, but if all goes to plan, I’ll have to start doing things much faster! Hopefully I’ll have more information about this by the end of next week. Sorry more can’t be divulged now!

The past few days have been spent at work, catching up with my friend Sonja who’s about to go back to Ethiopia to continue being a doctor, meeting my friend Leonie who’s about to move to Norway, contacting chefs and working on the four stories for my friend’s magazine, and cleaning Liliane and Rene’s house.

Relying on other people to contact me for those stories, when I’m working to a deadline, is making me feel like I’m not in control of what’s going on! I need to take 10 deep breaths, keep plodding along and find some patience. The latter is the tough one.

Here are some photos from yesterday. It was a beautiful day! I met Sonja at the Marzili, the public swimming area right in the centre of Bern, and then came home about 5pm to a lovely mountain panorama.


Quite a few people were swimming. It was 18.5 degrees in the water


This lady found a lovely sunny spot. Must remember that!

We thought about going in ... Sonja thought it was ok! But the belly button is always the test!

We thought about going in … Sonja thought it was ok! But the belly button is always the test! No go!


I managed up to my knees


So we opted to laze in the sun. Good luck in Ethiopia again, Sonja!

Clear as a bell!

The view from home. Clear as a bell!


Zoomed in a little bit. The mountain with the mostly black face is the Eiger, then the Mönch to the right, then the Jungfrau

We face south so we get plenty of sunshine. All the mountains that we see face north; the north side of the mountain is considered the coldest (in the northern hemisphere). Brrr …

I weighed myself at Liliane and Rene’s this morning. 65.6kg. I think that might be the lightest I’ve been for a while. Can’t say it’s because of all the exercise I’ve been doing (although walking around London must have helped. The beers not so much …) so I attribute it to the ‘summer diet’. Lots of salads and not much stodge.

One thing I’ve noticed when I come home after cleaning the neighbour’s house is I want to declutter even more at our place! They have many ornaments on display and small objects I have to clean around, and I feel thankful that our place isn’t overloaded with adornments. Just a few well-loved items. Happiness.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 23: Getting excited … and new hair!

Rode Bruce the Töffli to the hairdresser and I have new (helmet!) hair! Not exactly what I was hoping for, but it’s ok. There’s a bit of a language barrier problem, as she speaks a lot of Bern-Deutsch, so I occasionally nod like an idiot, completely lost.

Like today. I thought she was using two different shades of blonde as streaks, but she only used the lightest shade. So I have very streaky hair now – platinum blonde with my natural ash blonde. Here’s to the Sicilian sun melding it all together a bit better.


Shorter and blonder and wavier

Leo said “You can’t use that photo – you look about 50 years older than normal” so I figured I should use this photo. It’s funny posting photos of myself, as I can only imagine what people who don’t know me think when they see the pictures. “Doesn’t smile much”, “Big teeth”, “Look at that zit!”, “Rudolph”, “Boring” come to mind. Funny how we always think strange things (c’mon, I know it’s not just me!) but it’s human nature, don’t you think?!

I think I explained my hair-washing experiment quite well to the hairdresser, but could tell she wasn’t impressed, so my hair has been washed and primped with hairdressing products to be ‘clean’. What really made me laugh was the stickiness of the curling cream she used, to make the waviness a bit more exaggerated, is very close to how my hair was feeling using the Dr Bronner liquid soap! Touche!

Tonight we finished season two of Broadchurch, a BBC series about a murder investigation in a small coastal town. We enjoyed season one, the start of season two was heavy going and a bit too much melodrama, but the ending was very satisfying. I gave myself a pedicure and manicure while watching and now my hands are also primped (or should that be pimped?!) for the holiday. I’m getting ex-CITED. Not looking forward to the plane, though, I just do. not. like. being in small flying sardine tins.

Today, thanks to the website, I did some further reading about the pH balance (I almost wrote pHD) of our hair and scalp. Ariana linked to Sonya’s website, which had some very interesting articles about making your own shampoo, like rye flour or coconut milk and aloe vera (which are balanced for our pH 4.5-5.0 skin), after the author ruined her hair using baking soda. I also tried baking soda and worked out very quickly (quicker than using Dr Bronner!) that it was not going to work on my hair. I found Sonya’s experiments very interesting, and nice to see some scientific analysis of the whole shebang.

Happy reading if you fancy … and wishing you a wonderful day!

July 22: Glory-ious Days

This afternoon, I raced home from work on Bruce in order to miss a big thunderstorm – didn’t take any photos of it approaching, but snapped a few shots after it had passed.


Sunset on the Alps, taken from the front yard


The brown, brown grass of home

It’s raining again now, 10.30pm, and boy do we need it. (That cool breeze will also make sleep easier tonight!)

Yesterday afternoon, after I wrote the post about what I’ve packed for our holiday, I met Claudia at the Marzili (public pool area) and finally snapped a few decent shots of the Aare – what bedlam it is on a hot day! This was Tuesday afternoon around 2pm (admittedly it is summer holidays).


The steady stream of people walking back to the camping place to jump into the river again


One of several places at the Marzili where you get out of the water. The rubber boats have to go down further to a dock area


Have a paddle or a swim


People put their clothes etc in waterproof bags, which also provide some buoyancy as you float or swim along

I’d like to buy a waterproof phone case so I can make a little film of the journey. Won’t be swimming for a while though, as all this rain will make the water murky and dangerous.

And last but not least in this photo-fest, proof that Dr Bronner’s liquid soap is not good as a shampoo for me. I’m getting my haircut tomorrow, and I think I’ll just let her wash out the weeks of … ??? whatever it is – soap scum? – and start again in Sicily, maybe with a bar of Savon de Marseille?

My friend SJ likes the home-made shampoo soap bars she can buy in her town. Do you use a soap bar for your hair too? Any suggestions? Because there’s got to be something better than this below! Maybe I should try the Ariana-method, from Paris-to-Go, and just use water combined with a good scalp massage?


My greasy-feeling but clean head of hair

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 21: What I’m taking to Sicily

In the vein of Project333, I’ve decided to take three of the main things each on this holiday to Sicily. This isn’t the normal approach for Project333, but the founder, Courtney Carver, says you can bend the rules to suit whenever you want, so I’m altering them a little for this two-week trip.

We leave on Saturday, staying the night in Basel so we can be at the airport in time for our early flight on Sunday morning. I love packing, so everything’s prepared already!

Leo came home yesterday with a new carry-on suitcase for me, which was a lovely gesture. At 2.75 kilos, it’s probably heavier than something I would have chosen for myself, but I’m sure I’m going to love it.

Originally, I’d planned to take a 22-litre backpack, but it would have been a bit snug, and maybe, just maybe, I might buy something new while I’m there 🙂 (Update: I bought three small bars of soap. That’s it! And if you’d like to see what I packed for a five-day trip to London, click here.)

So, here we go!

I’m really sorry about the quality of the dress-up photos. The only mirror we have is attached to the back of a door which faces directly towards the window, so the light from behind makes everything dark.

For my toiletries and make-up, I’ll be taking something very similar to this previous post for our walk in May. Instead of the small liquid foundation, I’ll pack a compact face powder and some tinted sunscreen.

I know I have too much (I could get away with one dress I’m sure), but there’s still plenty of space in the suitcase, so much so that I’m taking that third pair of shoes! I never normally travel with heels, as they make me taller than Leo. Choosing the best shoes can be a real pain. Luckily mine are lightweight and hopefully fashionable enough for the Sicilian nightlife.

I won’t be the smartest dressed there, but hopefully what I’ve packed will be suitable. Comfort and practicality always take precedence over fashion for me!

Wonder if I’ll take anything out or add anything in between now and Saturday. Can you see anything missing?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 17-19: Weekend wrap

Another weekend wrap! This is becoming quite the habit.

Friday was a fun day. Liliane’s mum, Hertha, arrived early with Rene, who had gone to collect the lawnmower (which now runs like a Ferrari … touch wood) and picked her up on the way home. She is in such good shape, mentally and physically, it’s hard to believe she’s 91. Her wicked sense of humour also takes you by surprise sometimes!

Liliane and I went grocery shopping together to a ginormous bulk centre called Growa. We spent an hour or so wandering around with a huge flat-tray trolley grabbing this and that – she bought beer, wine, meat and dog food etc, and I bought beer, feta cheese, spinach, filo pastry (can’t find it anywhere else anymore!) and dishwasher powder. Woo hoo, hold the phone, we went to town!


Hertha, as the sun sets


Everyone’s here except for Eve

That afternoon Lotti, Fritz and Paul joined the five of us for dinner beside the pool. We played cards (I lost twice!) and had a huge barbecue. It was a late night but a fun one. Hertha said she really enjoyed it because Rene stayed the entire time. He’s feeling fit enough to socialise more which is great.

Saturday morning it rained briefly for the first time in a very, very long time! At last! Leo went to work for a few hours so I did odds and ends around the house, and once the sun came out again, cleaned the pool, swam a bit and mooched a bit, then Liliane cooked dinner for us all again. We’re good at doing this ‘sleep and repeat’ kind of thing each weekend (although I’m glad we didn’t have another barbecue. It feels like we’ve done nothing but eat meat!).

Later we played rummy and I didn’t lose. At last! Rene brought out some long thin cigars which are twisted/crooked like a small tree branch. I can’t find any pictures of them on the internet, and didn’t take any in the darkness, but we had a laugh smoking them. We could also hear, sporadically, music coming from the Gurten Festival on the little hill of Bern, about 20km away. And it rained again! We sat under the tent and enjoyed hearing and seeing rain again after less than 12 hours.

Today, Liliane’s friend Lene arrived from Germany. Both she and Hertha will stay about three to four weeks so we’ll see them again when we come back from Sicily. Leo had an idea to go to the Rose Garden in Bern, but we both felt too slack. I had a swim and cooked dinner (Jamie Oliver’s spinach and feta filo pie with salad. I love it! Meat free at last!) and then finally at 9.15pm, dragged myself (no, not really) upstairs to write here. It was a great, hot weekend, with two bursts of much welcome rain.

In other non-weekend news, I’ve been experimenting with Dr Bronner’s ’18-uses-for-one-bottle’ liquid soap as shampoo and body wash. It’s been about a month now, and I’m still unsure of the result. My hair feels like it’s coated in kind of a sticky wax, and the effect makes my hair look greasy/stringy. If it dries naturally, it sets into loose curls, but if I blow dry it, it feels like I’m amping up the waxiness even more.


Natural lavender liquid soap from Dr Bronner. You can clean almost anything with it apparently. I just wish my hair responded a bit better

So the jury is still out. I need a haircut and am loathe to have it washed with their products, because it means I’ll be back to the drawing board again for this experiment. I’m kind of hoping after a few months, my hair gets used to not being washed in all those chemicals and silicone and so on. Maybe I can ask them to just wet it and then cut it like that?

Dr Bronner’s soap comes in all sorts of smells and is available worldwide (I’ve linked to the American website, where you can see all their products). I was given lavender by Claudia when she and Dani came to visit last month. I’ve previously bought the baby/neutral smell and peppermint. I tried washing my hair with those ones too with similar results to now, but I gave up on the experiment after only a week or so, because I couldn’t cope with the sticky/clumpy feeling. Fingers crossed I can persevere and come out a winner.

This is all part of a desire to cut down on the products I use and to be more aware of the ingredients of things. Half the contents of Nivea and other store-bought products are three words long and impossible to pronounce. It would be nice to be rid of stuff like that. Our skin is a big sponge and I’d rather it be soaking up natural goodies rather than chemical nasties.

I’ve started putting things together in a carry-on suitcase for our trip. I was hoping to take a 22 litre backpack but I think that might be pushing it a bit. Not that I’m taking much! I’ll do a post about that on Friday, hopefully. Love the challenge of travelling light!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 29: Zoom zoom zoom!

The new bike, known in Switzerland as a Töffli (which I spelled incorrectly yesterday), proved to be a worthy stallion this morning and afternoon.

It takes 30 minutes to ride to work, which shaves 20 minutes off my commute time. I park at the top of those mega-steep steps, so I still get a bit of a workout. Maybe I should make a new goal to be able to run up those steps non-stop (at the moment, walking them without stopping would be a win!).

The wind was cool, the light was gloomy but the Alps were visible through the clouds, the seat was comfortable, the fumes weren’t too overwhelming and I just loved the buzz and hum of the straining engine.

Leo is slightly amused by my excitement over something that 14-year-old kids are allowed to ride to school. We also think there’s a rule here, that if you’ve lost your driver’s licence, you can still ride a Töffli. So maybe people will see me and think I’m a teenager, or a lawbreaker. I’m fine with either.

On the way home, I stopped at the shops, because I can do that now 🙂 and bought two plants to fill some holes in my garden layout, and some laundry liquid. They all fit wonderfully in that fetching plastic green basket on the back. If you missed it yesterday, here’s another angle 🙂


I’m also particularly fond of the muffler rust, as you can tell

I overtook a few bicycles and was overtaken by everything else. There’s a long slow hill on the way into town, where I felt like running beside the bike to help with the speed, and on the way home, I was worried about the motor blowing up. S/he was flying down the hill!

Which brings me to my reader request. I think the bike needs a name. I’m quite partial to Bruce, because it’s old-fashioned and reliable. Very apt.

Do you have any suggestions for this gallant steed? Should it be male or female? I’m open to all suggestions. The bike make/brand is Alpina, s/he was born in 1983.

It’s been a day of good fortune today. This afternoon we discovered a loop hole in an electronics company’s advertisement. It said you could take all your working Apple smartphones and tablets back to them to recycle and you would receive money towards ‘Apple products’. What the advert failed to clearly state was it had to be another Apple smartphone or tablet, as if you were doing an upgrade.

So with a little bit of hassle we managed to make our point that even though one part of the ad said swap old for new, it didn’t actually say the new had to be a phone or tablet. Just an Apple product. I’m now the proud owner of a new wireless computer mouse, a green iPod Nano to carry when running (it has a workout app as well) and a CHF50 iTunes voucher. All for the grand sum of CHF16.

What’s also brilliant is we have now Kondo’d our electronics! We took in two iPhone3s (neither worked so we didn’t get any money), an iPhone4, my dead iPhone5 from earlier in the year (again, no money) and my old iPad. I have been wanting to get rid of those electronics and all the associated cables for a very long time. Clean drawer! Relief!

On that note, it’s time for bed. Tomorrow I’ll take photos of the two new plants – forgot to do that – as my 30-Day Challenge (which is sporadic at best!) continues.

I look forward to reading your bike name suggestions! 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 27 and 28: Weekend wrap

Saturday and Sunday served up plenty of sunshine so we made the most of it by being outdoors.

Saturday we worked in the garden and I did some small things around our house and Liliane and Rene’s too. Even though we’d spent the previous evening at dinner together, we all joined forces again in the afternoon for cards and dinner around the pool (for the first time ever, I didn’t lose a game!). I still find it so amazing to only turn the lantern on at 10.30pm.

Today there was an airshow in a neighbouring suburb, so we all stood in the garden and gawped at the heavens, watching the nine small planes do all their spectacular stunts. A forest blocked some of the view, over the Wohlensee, but all the loop-the-loops and high-up action kept us entertained for 20 minutes, and then they just all flew away again. It was almost sad – the way they couldn’t even wave goodbye!

We walked to Lotti’s house for her birthday gathering this afternoon, a good 40-minute wander in the sunshine on the path that I only ‘discovered’ earlier this year, that’s directly behind the house. Once home, a quick dip in the pool and a play on my new toy (see the last photo), ready for tomorrow’s commute to work, and two episodes of House of Cards wrapped it up.

Overall, it was a very social weekend, with maybe not the right sorts of foods consumed (Lotti’s birthday cake and a few other small sweeties) and not enough exercise completed to counteract the beer calories consumed, but wonderful fun.

In case you missed my post from yesterday, please click here to read the latest guest contribution to fitfor15in15, from personal trainer Richard Wheeler. He has some excellent tips, which I will be taking on board, for (re)starting your fitness!

Signing off with a mixture of photos from the week. Some wouldn’t load a few days ago, but most are from this weekend.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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.


Tops lopped off so they grow a little wider


The one on the right no longer grows into the gutter


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.


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.