July 24: What a crazy day!

Funny how best laid plans can go awry … the day was definitely not what I expected.

I expected to be at work! I arrived just before 10am, but no one else was there. Door locked. No chance. So I waited for half an hour and still no one, so I thought I’d waste a bit of time in the city until midday training (I work in the office at a karate centre which also does other kinds of fitness training too).

Wandering around town was ok, because I had time to finally find a red t-shirt. It’s been on my wishlist for a while, and at 20 Francs, I’m very happy. It goes perfectly with everything I’m taking on holiday (floral pants, shorts and skirt).

So I’m adding it into the holiday list. Totally throws out the three things in each category concept, but I can live with that! No joy finding another oatmeal coloured t-shirt to replace the cowl neck one I love, which has truly seen better days.

fitfor15in15

Finally found what I was looking for!

In front of Parliament House, there were plenty of kids and barking dogs cooling down.

fitfor15in15

The water feature provided welcome relief on another hot day

I went back to the office just after midday, and it was still locked. So I jumped on Bruce the Töffli and came home. Almost immediately, Rene asked when we were going on holiday. I told him tomorrow and he said he wanted to mow again. What? Mow hay? But what Rene wants, Rene gets, so I mowed the extremely dry grass at the front and covered myself in dust. And after it was all done, you couldn’t see one scrap of difference! Just a film of crud covering the pool, tent, table and chairs. Crazy! I drew the line at mowing behind the main house because it would have spat dust all over Hertha and Lene, who were sitting in the shade outside.

A quick shower then jumping in the pool was a welcome relief. The Usual Suspects joined us and we enjoyed the last of the sunshine and prepared the barbecue. It was sort of our bon voyage gathering, which was lovely. Just as the steaks and racks of lamb were put on the grill, the rain came belting down, which was also lovely! Wow, was it warm.

fitfor15in15

The calm before the storm …

fitfor15in15

Boy enjoying the shade on a very warm afternoon

fitfor15in15

Then the clouds started rolling in …

fitfor15in15

Moody blues

fitfor15in15

Remember the beautiful magenta coloured plant I bought recently (behind the lavender)? Fried!

fitfor15in15

Beautiful rain. I can say that because we haven’t had much this summer!

fitfor15in15

Liliane taking her mum Hertha out of the cool weather

fitfor15in15

Leo in holiday mode!

fitfor15in15

Fritz and Lotti

fitfor15in15

Paul, Eve and Lene

fitfor15in15

We’re going on a summer holiday!

After dinner, we adjourned to the pergola (small wooden shack designed to be used for group dinners) and played cards. It’s now 11pm and it’s time for bed!

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!

fitfor15in15

Hertha, as the sun sets

fitfor15in15

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.

fitfor15in15

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 26: Feast or famish

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

fitfor15in15

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.

fitfor15in15

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