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 26: Feast or famish

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

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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.

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

June 25: Stress … and relax

As soon as the boss goes on holidays, everything falls in a heap, right?

My new boss went on holidays today so of course the email system failed and the website wouldn’t work. Handy, huh! By 4pm it had all been sorted out (hopefully), but I hated having to send Marko an email to say, “Um, do you know how to fix this?”

I met Claudia for lunch and we wandered around the Botanical Gardens. There’s a palm building, nice and humid, which I didn’t know existed. Love being surprised in your ‘home’ city. So many wonderful plants – I didn’t know vanilla, originally from Mexico, was part of the orchid family!

Here are two which stood out for me (as part of my 30-Day Challenge to learn more plant names) – the Acalypha hispida and Victoria cruziana. In the pond with the Santa Cruz water lily was a turtle that bites, or so the sign said. We saw some other turtles at the cafe, sunning themselves. So very sweet. I would load a photo but the computer is going soooo slow – not having much luck with technology today! Oh well!

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Acalypha hispida – red hot cat’s tail or fox tail. The blooms were so soft

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So peaceful, and impressive. Victoria cruziana, or Santa Cruz water lily

This morning on the walk to the bus, a spotted a great photo opportunity – clear Alps, a corn field and a tractor approaching; a true summation of my Swiss experience. After I took the photo, the driver of the tractor opened his door on approach, and I felt a bit nervous. Was he going to get mad at me for taking a photo? No, he just wanted to talk about how amazing the weather was and how clear the Alps had been at 6am. Very un-Swiss, and a wonderful surprise!

Tonight, Claudia and Dani came for dinner, and by surprise Liliane and Rene joined us as well, on the terrace. We had a great laugh and Leo and Dani smoked their obligatory cigars together. Very funny. We hadn’t seen C&D since New Years – we better not wait another six months til next time!

The Junikäfer were out in full force – amazing how many come out at dusk. They really are a force to be reckoned with and Boy, the dog, loves eating them. They must be packed with protein! And it was hilarious watching Leo trying to swat them away – he’s really not a fan of flying insects!

I’ve given up waiting on the other photos to load. I’ll add them in tomorrow! Night night.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

P.S In loving memory of an amazing Kiwi friend, Annie, who was beaten by the cancer demons tonight. She made a lasting impact. Words can’t really do her justice.

June 5: A scorcher!

Today we baked. Not in the kitchen but outdoors. Wowsers, 30 degrees Celsius here, with no wind, feels like 40 degrees in Australia. Or as I mentioned before, maybe I’m just becoming acclimatised to the (normally) year-round cooler weather.

But I refuse to be defeated! I donned all my long gear, gloves, socks with my Birkenstocks (please, don’t tell anyone, but my feet got burnt during the week and I hate the t-bar tanlines!), hat and neck scarf and set about filling more holes in the lawn with soil.

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The lawnmower with trailer attached to the front (now that makes for interesting driving!) It was full of soil yesterday – we need more!

I forgot to mention yesterday, before I could fill the holes with soil, I had to load the trailer with the dirt! Man that was tougher than I thought it would be because the soil mound had been overgrown by weeds! But it was great being able to drive the lawnmower and trailer around and fill the bucket as needed, rather than filling the bucket from the source all the time. What a nightmare scenario that would have been!

So today, I thought I’d be able to finish everything, but I ran out of time and soil. Yesterday, I was so precise (hate being a perfectionist) and took out all the stones and packed it in nice and tight … After four hours today in the sun, I was practically throwing handfuls of soil into each hole and wanting to be done with it!

Saved by the bell! I was very, very happy to see Sandra arrive, so I downed tools and we hung out. We haven’t seen each other since we went to the BEA festival in early May.

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Sandra came to help clean the pool!

We drank glasses and glasses of water and chatted under the terrace umbrella. Leo arrived home early which was great, so we three had a “welcome to the weekend” beer before Sandra went home.

Then we joined Rene, Liliane, Eve and Paul under the pool tent for dinner and played rummy (cards) til about 9.30pm. It’s been another great day.

The only downside is we were supposed to clean the pool this afternoon and start filling it with water. Unfortunately, Rene was unwell and didn’t emerge from the house. Neither Liliane nor I knew how to empty the dirty water from the pool, so we’ll do it all tomorrow morning before the Muse concert in Biel.

I may not write a blog tomorrow (unless I write before the concert), as we will be away from home from 3pm to midnight or so. We’ll drive the 40 minutes to Biel with the Vespa, and fingers crossed the expected thunderstorms don’t eventuate!

Really excited to see Muse, a three-piece English band, again. I love live music, and these guys know how to make a lot of noise and entertain people! They have an amazing stage show and presence.

My 30-Day Challenge continues. For fear of this turning into a gardening blog, I won’t post any example photos! I’m learning the common names (and maybe the Latin names?!) of three to four new plants per day. Today, I’ve memorised delosperma, which Liliane has in her garden, blue delphinium, which is growing in mine, and stonecrop angelina sedum which is growing in both our gardens.

Right, it’s time for bed! We’ve got a pool to clean and dancing to do tomorrow!

Wishing you a wonderful day.