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.

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 28-31: Last of the summer sun

Have been very lazy with the blog recently! Got to get back into a rhythm soon!

The last of the summer sun blessed us all weekend, which was fabulous! A last lie on the sun lounge, the last swim. I say last, but maybe we’ll have some ok weather again, just not at the moment!

Friday, I worked, then had a quick beer at Cafe Pyrennes with Pastora – we hadn’t been there for more than a month! Then Leo and I had dinner in Uetligen with Liliane, Rene, Lotti and Fritz.

Saturday morning Leo and I went for a five-hour walk, which I’ve calculated would cover my 15 minutes a day for a few weeks! Doesn’t work like that? Oh, ok then …

We walked to a village called Schupfen and home again, on a slightly different path. Then we had a barbecue with Liliane, Rene, Lotti and Fritz for dinner and enjoyed the full moon. Poor Liliane was bitten on the lip by a wasp (we’ve had plague proportions this year), and ended up going to emergency on Sunday morning because the left side of her face swelled overnight. Poor thing.

Sunday we were very lazy, watching episodes of an Australian series called “House Husbands” and then Liliane and Rene came over for an early dinner.

Monday I spent at home, enjoying the last warm sunny day, with a swim and reading by the pool. Liliane cooked too much dinner, so we joined them again!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

August 8-9: Winding down at home

Coming home from holidays is always a mix of good and not so good, don’t you think? You’re happy to see friends and family and sleep in your own bed, but the adventure is over. Sadness.

This weekend we’ve been very low-key, getting back into the rhythm of ‘normal life’ and preparing for work tomorrow. Liliane’s mum, Hertha, went back to her house on Saturday – to prepare her for the shock of not having everyone around, we bought her some yellow roses to brighten up her living room. She is such a lovely and lively woman. I told her I’d visit soon, and hope Bruce the Töffli makes the one-hour trip with ease.

On Friday night, sitting around the pool, Rene asked if I’d been on Bruce yet, which I hadn’t. He then surprised the life out of me to say he’d had the bike serviced, with new spark plugs, while we were on holidays! Liliane had the keys to our house, and he remembered the jacket I always wear on the bike, so he put his hand in the pocket (it hangs with the other jackets near the kitchen), found the key and with help from Liliane and Lene they took it to the mechanics for some fine tuning. I was gobsmacked! I’d wanted to do it before we went on holidays but the mechanic wasn’t answering his phone. Gosh, I love our neighbours! Bruce looks all spruced up and clean too; I’ll add a photo tomorrow.

Saturday we mooched around the house and garden, I went for another swim and finished the book Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (review to come), had a barbecue dinner with the neighbours and played cards til about 10pm.

Today, the weather turned cold and cloudy, so it was the perfect time to finally write some blog posts! And watch the first episode of Montalbano again, so we could shout, “We’ve been there! We’ve been there! We haven’t been there!” 🙂

It’s also time to be a bit more focussed on ‘nutritionally fit’ again – Leo ate his weight in aranchini and I ate so much calamari and ice cream in Sicily – so despite being happy little piggies, it’s got to stop!

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.

July 13: Getting organised

I’ve been a bit slack on all fronts recently, and today was the day to sit down at the desk and get organised. I’ll only be working Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and took the chance today to reply to comments on the blog that I’ve neglected, send some emails to people who I’ve neglected (still many, many more to be sent!) and write some posts on this neglected blog.

There was also the chance to lie on the lounge by the pool and start a new book :). I thought about resurrecting Monday Runday, but that idea quickly faded. Too hot, too unmotivated, too many things to do … too many excuses!

The grass has turned from a rich green to a golden yellow/brown. Walking across it is like walking on hay. We certainly need some rain (but can it come at night, so it’s cooler to sleep?!)


Dry yellow grass


Hydrangea coming along nicely! It didn’t flower at all last year


The crocosmia is starting to flower!


The poor old blue delphinium isn’t as majestic as it was last year


The glads are nearly flowering. They’ll be white and orange


The snapdragons, which I thought were goners, have come good again


I didn’t plant this gladioli here, it just sprouted on its own

I did send a job application off today too, so that’s something. Fingers crossed!

And you know what else I did? Deleted the card game off my phone that stops me from reading books. Mum and I are addicted to card games, it must be in our genes, but today I decided enough was enough. It’s distracting me from doing things I want to do, like be in contact with people, learn new things, read new books, write some stuff, generally get moving and out of the twilight zone, which I seem to enter every time I open that app on my phone. Not good! Not good at all! Sure, there’s a place for some relaxation, but I was becoming way too reliant on it as something to do, when there are so many other wonderful things to be doing.

Nutritionally, I’ve been a bit naughty too. I’ve eaten ice creams. And chippies. But hey, all’s good. I’ve realised it’s incredibly hard to quit sugar, and I’m not quite ready to do it just yet!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 10-12: Weekend wrap

Sun, sun and more sun this past weekend. Combine that with not much inspiration to write, and you get another weekend wrap!

Friday I went to work and then for a quick drink with Iva and Pastora afterwards. Claudio, our regular waiter at Cafe de Pyrennes, was amazed we only stayed for one drink, but we all had things to achieve in the afternoon.

Mine was to mow the lawn for Rene, but the lawnmower is having petrol flow issues, so we canned the idea. That night, we went to dinner with The Usual Suspects (minus Eve, who is in Finland for a gymnaestrada event) which was very lovely. Leo and I ordered a tower of food, literally, which was a nice summer change to what we would normally choose.


I almost caught Rene smiling!


Lotti, Leo and Paul


With Fritz and Liliane


Leo and I shared a tower of cold food. The gazpacho was delicious

Saturday, Rene spluttered the lawnmower into life long enough to do the job and I cleaned the pool. We then spent the afternoon and evening by the pool with The Usual Suspects again, playing cards and enjoying a delicious barbecue. We watched a little bit of the women’s Wimbledon singles final but mainly we were outdoors. Congratulations Serena!

Sleep and repeat. Sunday we spent time by the pool again, but without the combined dinner. We watched pretty much all of the men’s Wimbledon singles final too. Poor Roger. I feel so disappointed for him on his quest to become the first man to win eight Wimbledon singles titles. Maybe next year? Djokovic was just too good.

I started and finished a sweet book on Sunday too – Waiting for Doggo. I’ve written a review here.

All up it was a very relaxing weekend. Very quiet. Not a lot of exercise, just some light swimming. But plenty of socialising!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 6: Stop horsing around!

We’re all full of the joys of summer in Switzerland right now. It’s the tail end of a heatwave, everyone’s cooling off in the nearest pool of water, sleep deprivation hasn’t quite kicked in yet because of the humid nights, but, for me, I think the horseflies have stolen the show.

I’ve seen a new side of The Usual Suspects. A relaxing afternoon by the pool becomes an interpretive-dance fest. Everyone’s slapping and squirming and yelping and jumping out of their seats. They’re vicious little creatures, the swatters and swattees!

In German, horseflies are called Bremse. In Swiss-German they’re called Breme. The verb ‘bremsen’ in German means ‘to brake’, and these blighters certainly put a handbrake on proceedings! We seem to have plague proportions around home at the moment.

I’m currently sporting six fresh bites from today, and a few old ones from the weekend. All the welts will fade if I leave them alone. After being bitten so many times recently, I can safely say the bite on the back of my leg from a few weeks ago wasn’t a horsefly. These welts are tiny in comparison, hardly itchy and aren’t on fire!

Work went well today, Bruce the Töffli ran smoothly, I visited Rene in hospital and he’s pretty well, and I only lost one round of cards this afternoon against Lotti, Eve and Paul. And tonight we watched a cracker of a tennis match between Djokovic and Anderson, which stopped at two sets apiece because of bad light. I thought Djokovic was a goner having lost the first two – I want him to be gone to give Federer a better chance of becoming the first man to win eight Wimbledon titles!

Swimming was my fitfor15in15 today. About 15 minutes of laps – some breaststroke, mainly freestyle. I really enjoy, but am quite hopeless at, swimming and may look into finding a bigger pool to do some more serious lap workouts!

Had a bit of a blowout on the no-sugar program, by eating a mini ice cream tonight. It hit the spot, I have to say! 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 30: Didn’t that go fast?


Clear blue skies today and …


… the moon tonight. It will be a full moon in two days

Leo took this shot of the moon. I hope the skies are as clear on Thursday when it’s full. Loves me a good fullmaaaaoooooooon, I does! 🙂

Will keep this post short today. It was wonderfully warm and sunny, unfortunately a bit too hot for the work Pastora and I did – counting all the karate clothes and moving boxes and things while making the inventory. I rode straight home and jumped in the pool.

Still feel like a kid at Christmas on the bike, even if I was overtaken by an electric bicycle on the flat. (I keep telling myself the man had longer legs than me.) My niece suggested the bike should be named Brad, but I already have a Brad in my life and I’m well and truly over him. So far Bruce is still the leader (not hard seeing as Brad was the only suggestion!).

One of the two new plants, which I promised to mention today, has me stumped. The Celosia venezuela was easy to find because of its magenta prongs, but the second has me baffled. It’s quite tall and could possibly be another Campanula variety? The flowers are a beautiful blue and have very obvious petals. Any takers?


New plant number one – Celosia venezuela – the magenta spiky one in front of the lavender


And do you think this is another Campanula variety?

Can’t believe half the year has gone! How would you rate the first half of this year? I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone so far and hope you are too (and hopefully I’ll be struck by ‘exercise lightning’ tomorrow and be back on the bandwagon for the next six months!).

What will I do on December 31? I can’t very well keep a blog titled fitfor15in15 when it’s no longer 2015, can I?! Should have thought about that a bit harder.

I haven’t mentioned the I Quit Sugar program for a few days because I find it boring talking about food, but it’s going well (not perfect) and I’m really watching what goes in. As hot as it was today, I resisted the temptation for ice cream! That’s a win.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 26: Feast or famish

Sorry I didn’t post this yesterday … busy having fun again!


This is the photo I mentioned previously where the tractor driver stopped. I thought he was going to get mad at me for taking a photo, but he just wanted to talk about the good weather!

I’ve been forgetting/don’t have time in the mornings to make my breakfasts for the I Quit Sugar program, so for the past week I’ve been making do with a tub of natural yoghurt and a small sunflower seed bread roll on my walk to work.

At CHF2 from the supermarket, it’s not too hard on the wallet but it’s lacking in thrills. So tonight, after a good morning putting together an inventory of karate clothes at work with Pastora, and a few quick beers together at Cafe Pyrennes afterwards (fast becoming our Friday ‘welcome to the weekend’ ritual!), I was really, really looking forward to dinner with our neighbours and their friends at a nice restaurant in another village 10 minutes drive away.

A juicy steak promised plenty of song and dance but wasn’t all that entertaining – this time the Angus beef came from the property of one of the members of the Swiss band Yello (they had some big hits in the 90s, including Oh Yeah). Not really a smash hit this time ’round, despite plenty of veg to make it a feast, so our last meal there remains my favourite.

After dinner, Eve, Paul, Lotti and Fritz came back to sit around the pool with Liliane, Rene, Leo and I in the beautiful twilight (would be amazing to go walking in that light), and the men demolished (and yes, I am using this term with confidence) a bottle of Montenegro that Leo’s dad gave him for his birthday. We’re glad it’s gone! We don’t really drink hard spirits or liqueur at home, and the shelf in the lounge room is full. Maybe by putting the bottles on display, people think we enjoy it and they’re encouraged to buy more. Unfortunately, we don’t have anywhere else to store them, apart from the cellar. Hmm … there’s a thought! 🙂

One thing I’ve really missed with consuming less sugar these past three weeks is a glass of elderberry cordial. They love it here (it’s called Holunderbluten syrup). Feeling adventurous? You can make your own cordial here, if you have access to a tree, or if that’s not quite your style, how about elderflower wine?! Hic!

So my 30-Day challenge plant name for you today is the elder (Sambucus). We have many trees growing around the property, but I’ve never made the syrup!

Wishing you a wonderful day.


The Aare river running through Bern. I cross this bridge to go to work