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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Grand plans …


Peonies near our house

Today I had grand plans to finally write about Romania, my sister’s visit, the surprise house down on the Wohlensee, the garden at home and in the city, and and and … but the sun is shining and Pastora suggested we meet for a beer …

No contest!

So here are some recent photos which sum up the start of summer, and it couldn’t come soon enough! I’ll get back into the swing of writing again, I promise.

Wishing you a wonderful day.


My first strawberry. It was absolutely delicious, like a strawberry should be!


The wonderful feeling of putting on sandals for the first time since the Fuerteventura holiday and there’s still sand in them.

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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December 1-7: Sliding out of the year

In German, when people wish you a Happy New Year, they wish you a good slip or slide into the new year. Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr. I’m wishing you all a good slide out of  2015.

It’s been a great year. We’ve done a lot of travelling, I’m enjoying my job and fingers crossed we’ve found somewhere to move to next year (more on that soon hopefully!). We’ve seen some great tv shows, I’ve read some (but not enough) entertaining books, we’ve done some lovely walks and I managed to spend a lot of time by the pool in summer. Nothing to complain about at all.

As we wind down for 2015, have you thought about what might be in store for you in 2016? I have no idea what to do with the blog. I really should have thought about the name a bit harder, but fitfor15in15 had a good ring to it. Fitfor16in16 could be an option, but who am I kidding? I have fallen off the fitness wagon with a lard-arsed thump!

Maybe I need a new focus for 2016 … hmmm …

Until then, I’ll try to write more often – for a proper send off to a wonderful year where I’ve made some lovely internet friends, and read wonderful words from people around the world. If I had all day, I’d read blogs, I know it. Years ago I couldn’t see the point of a blog, and maybe it is a bit of self indulgent waffle sometimes (I’m looking squarely IN THE MIRROR when I write that), but I’ve had so much fun. Just wish I’d had much more motivation! Short attention span, me.

Here are some pics from the first week of the last month of fitfor15in15.


A clear sunrise made Leo and I head for the Wohlensee lake one morning


One side of the bridge looked quite dull …


But on the other side of the bridge, the view was breathtaking!


Looking from the bridge on the Wohlensee up to Wohlen bei Bern. If all goes to plan, we will live 100m past the church by March 1 next year


Dinner at Liliane and Rene’s


The sunrise this morning over Bern city

It’s not my last blog for the year, but I want to get in early and say thank you. Thank you for making me push myself in the first half of the year to do what I set out to do, and thanks for sticking by me in the second half when I totally failed to keep going. It’s only a semi-failure, because (and this is going to sound sooo cheesy) I’ve gained so much more than a few lost kilos.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

No!vember 10-30: Lust for life, lust to write

No!vember came and went faster than I could put fingers to keyboard. I haven’t lost my lust for life, just my lust to write!

And exercise? Well you can pretty much forget about all that, just like me. I can’t even say I’ve been walking 40 minutes a day, because lately I’ve been getting a lift to work with a neighbour in the mornings and with Leo on the way home. Slack! But, happily, I haven’t had to walk too much in the cold.

Snow arrived when I was in Bonndorf, Germany, with the female Usual Suspects plus a few extras. Every year for about 15 years, this group of women has been going to the Black Forest for a long weekend of wellness and spa treatments. This year, I was lucky to be invited. And I’ve been sworn to secrecy – what happens in Bonndorf, stays in Bonndorf! I’m embarrassed to say I was the youngest of the group, and always the first one in bed. Ha! I think speaking German, and listening to Bern-Deutsch being spoken, for four days may have knocked the wind out of me a bit. But it was wonderful, and I can’t wait to go back next year, if they’ll have me. Must lift my game.

On the 30th, we went to see a unit for rent in the centre of Wohlen bei Bern (one minute to the bus and shop!) and we hope we receive a contract soon. Fingers crossed. If we get it, I’ll tell you all about it.

Here are some photos from the past 20 days. *shaking head in disbelief at how slack I’ve been with the blog.*

Wishing you a wonderful day.

October 1: Taking the bad with the good

Well, well, well, it’s been a long time coming! Today, I donned my glad rags and went to my job. Even though it was the first official day, it didn’t really feel like it, because I’ve been going to the office, on and off, for the past three weeks to do the handover. But today, it was official.

Luckily, I can catch the bus from the closer bus stop at the right time in the morning. After walking on the road, past the flower field, I walk down the little path to the right of the cows, along a stream and then through some houses. Takes about 12 minutes. Then it’s about 20 minutes on the bus and a 30-second walk to the office.


Got my work face on as I walk to the bus … our little house in the background


A grey day …


The path past the cows

My direct colleagues total four. The group is small, but good fun, and it’s a very relaxed environment. We work in an old house, and share the first floor with another climate change organisation. On the ground floor there’s another. I think I’m going to be very happy there, once I get my head around all the scientific words!

I haven’t ridden the Töffli much since I had the chest infection and I don’t think I’ll end up riding it to work much. Maybe a few times while the weather’s still ok, but definitely not in winter. So there’ll be at least 25 minutes of exercise each day walking to and from the bus. I know I said I wouldn’t count walking to the bus as part of fitfor15in15!! Fingers crossed, I get into a good routine again which includes some morning exercise. Still getting used to getting out of bed so early! Ahahaha 🙂


At the flower field, taken on the walk home. Recently, I bought a butternut pumpkin from here and made a great soup. Love the little weird ones, but they’re not for eating, just decoration


A good-looking weed


My Buddy … the Holly (groan!), next to our house, with the garage in the background

So, that was the good news …

And now for the bad news …

The property is pretty much sold. Liliane told us a few days ago. Our time in the Stöckli ends about April next year, if not earlier. Rene and Liliane have sold to a group of tradespeople, who are all friends, and they’ll do the renovations and upgrades themselves – there’s a builder, a roofer, a tiler, someone who does the floors and so on. It’s a dream community and they’ve scored themselves a great deal. I just wish we’d had the money to buy it all, so we could continue on in our blissful little house, surrounded by our blissful forest and grass and fields and cows and and and …

We’ll try to find another place in this area, but I think we’ll have trouble trying to compete with what we’ve had! I’ve been here nearly four years, and Leo for about 13. He’s not a happy camper. I’m happy for Rene and Liliane, but it’s hard not to be a bit sad too!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 2: She works hard for the …

I think I’ve worked out why I’ve been going like a bull at a gate on the weeds for the past two days (no, I’m not smoking anything green, just removing them from the lawn).

Not only are they Rene’s enemy, so therefore mine, I think I’m taking out my frustrations on not getting either of the jobs I’d recently applied for. I found out on Friday about the job in Zurich and yesterday about the job in Lausanne. In the wonderful words of Kevin Kline’s character, Otto, in A Fish Called Wanda, “DisapPOINted!”

So, I reckon I am currently in training to be a gardener and, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind that at all!

While working out with Brad today, I listened to the end of the Serial podcast. Manual labour and a mental workout all at the same time. Highly recommended! I won’t say anything about the series in case you haven’t heard it (but I really want to write lots of stuff and have a big discussion!!).

I was overly optimistic thinking I’d get the rest of the lawn done in four hours. It ended up taking just over six, and that was just pulling the weeds out. I’ll fill the holes with soil tomorrow. I enjoyed the work today more than yesterday for some reason – Brad behaved well, all my aches and pains were gone, and I have the Birkenstock tanlines on my feet to remind me of my labours.

Today was also a very big day in the kitchen. Last week, Rene and Liliane decided it was time for us to have a dishwasher, and today it was installed (replacing the small bar fridge). Leo’s eyes went wide when he found out about it, as he has lived here for 12 years without one. We don’t really need it, but it’s a lovely gesture and will be great when we entertain. Now we just need to buy more than the four plates and bowls we currently own! Ahahahahaha. No, that won’t be happening. (Honestly, we’ll probably only use it once a month!)

We finished the television series Derek tonight. Another series bites the dust! We’re on a Netflix roll! I love binge-watching a series and not having to wait a week for the next installment. I really enjoyed Derek, but have never cried quite so much in a supposed comedy series. (It’s set in an old people’s home … join the dots.) Ricky Gervais is a very clever man (although the character of Kev I could have lived without) and I wish I was cleverer and could write something more inspiring about him than him what is clever (said in my best attempted Derek voice).

It got completely dark around 10.15pm tonight. I took this poor quality photo of the full moon just before 10pm. Not long til the longest day, which always makes me sad, because it feels like every year it comes too soon.


Still light enough outside for my old phone to take a photo!

Speaking of phones (caption above), my iPhone 5 was too far gone to be fixed, so Leo very kindly bought me a second-hand one off the internet which should be here by the end of the week! Yahoo! I can use Instagram again #fitfor15in15 @fitfor15in15

Disappointed Roger Federer lost today at the French Open. I’ll have to cheer for Stan now. Or Rafa. Are you watching any tennis? Are you Wimbledon fans too?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 27: Five hours in the garden

Today was a busy, do-it kind of day, as opposed to yesterday’s nothing kind of day.

First off yahoo, the sun came out!!!! so it was time to scoop the leaves out of the pool to prepare for summer fun. In the next few weeks, it will be cleaned with a power hose, old water out, clean water and chlorine in and then final ingredient – just add people.

Rene kindly ‘made’ me a pair of gumboots from an old pair of fishing waterproofs, which came up to his thigh. They’re really old and he never uses them anymore, so he cut them off just below the knee. Because they were about five sizes too big, I wore a thick pair of socks and a pair of slipper kind of things as well. But I was dry and clean, and in this mess, that’s all that mattered …


Gumboots at the ready …


… let’s clean this thing!

The leaves and algae/gunk on the bottom were quite think and the smell was pretty foul too. Leo came home quickly on his way to a meeting, so he snapped some pictures to prove I stood in that cesspool.


Had to block my nose!


Dumping the leaves and getting a little sunburnt

I forgot to take an after photo, but all the leaves are gone and plenty of the gunk/gunge is still floating on the bottom but at least it will flush out easily with the jet hose.

Then Rene mowed the lawn and I whipper-snippered a large section behind the garage, where the forest is creeping closer and closer.

It’s amazing how fast the time goes when you’re working outdoors. I definitely gave my arms a good workout, scooping and snipping. And there’s a bit of colour on the back of my neck and arms. Oops!

Speaking of colour, here are my little garden photos at long last.


Pinks and purples and one red one


Lots of colour in the pots


In the corner near the herb garden


Geraniums and snapdragons on the kitchen window …


… and geraniums on the unused, north-facing balcony

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 24: Exercising my confidence

It’s been quite a few months since I’ve been on the Vespa, because of winter and so on, so this afternoon we went down to the local gardening store and I did a few refresher laps of the carpark.

I did three days of lessons last summer and rode it quite a few times around our neighbourhood (haven’t ventured into the city yet) but I lost some confidence in the last session when I dropped the bike coming to a slow stop.

No fitfor15in15 physical exercise today, but I mentally exercised my brain and nerves. I’m sure it will all come back to me (not that I ever had it in the first place!) and a few more lessons would be good as a confidence booster.


Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

Leo was very patient, standing on the sidelines watching me do figure-eight moves. I have real issues with tight right turns. Tight left turns, no problem, but being right handed and turning sharply right causes some problems – the nerves come and I don’t have enough speed and then I get the wobbles, and the nerves come and so on and so forth in a circle.

But hopefully I’ll master it. I’ll never be Valentino Rossi and that’s fine! Leo asked if I wanted to ride home with him as the passenger – no way!

We finished the tv series Luther tonight. Unfortunately, I have to say “don’t bother”. We then started watching more of Derek, by Ricky Gervais, which is a comedy about the title character working in an old people’s home. How can a show be so funny and make me cry from sadness in every episode?? It’s brilliant. His mate Kev is really starting to annoy me, I love how blunt and honest Douglas is and Hannah holds it all together. Well worth watching.

Hopefully the wind stops enough tomorrow so we can clean out the pool and get the communal outdoor area set up. It’s a public holiday here tomorrow too, so Leo will be in charge!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 20: Tulip season is over – with a bull…dozer

My fitfor15in15 exercise today was to walk to the shops and back. I’m counting this as 40 minutes of exercise because I could have borrowed the neighbour’s car. Cheating?! No! The weather was pretty average again and also cold, so walking instead of driving was a torture of sorts. 🙂

What was even more torturous was seeing the tulip field. It’s gone! All gone! Bulldozed! And they’ve taken away the little shelter where you wrapped the flowers and paid the money into the honesty box. What the?


Walking to the tulip field. These clouds were ominous but cool. Corn growing in foreground


And there it was – the bad news


Blumen zum selber pflucken …


Is no more … totally flattened

But it’s not all doom and gloom, because …


A new flower field is across the road

No tulips, but soon there’ll be gladioli and … other flowers that I have no idea about. It’s a smaller space but hopefully it will yield as many colourful blooms, and make me as happy, as the original one. (A neighbour said it’s being rested after years of flowers, so the soil can rejuvenate. Next year it will probably be sprouting corn, sunflowers or wheat.)

But it’s the end of an era. Sob. I loved that field! Especially when the Alps were in clear view – you could take a photo of the flowers in the foreground with the mountains behind. This new field faces the other way. Oh well … that’s nature.

If you would like to see photos of the tulip field from this season, starting from the green shoots, click here, here (first blooms), here (at sunset), here (the best gallery), here (the pink and green one) and here (the vases at home). Sob. Now, they’re just memories … 😉

So you don’t feel sad too, here’s a happy cow.


I shall name thee Betsy. The buildings in the top right are where we live

Wishing you a wonderful day.