Tahdah! Back from box hell!

Greetings readers, and apologies for being AWOL for so long. For the past two weeks, we’ve had no internet at home which made it less distracting for packing boxes and dismantling furniture and unpacking boxes and assembling furniture! Box hell was relatively brief. It feels like IKEA hell lasted longer.

Very happy to be back blogging again. But before I show any photos of the new place, I have a stockpile of January photos to show you first!

Leo’s best friend Dani and his girlfriend Claudia came to see us one last time in the Stöckli. (We went walking on New Year’s Day with them in 2015). This time, Dani had the flu so didn’t join us outdoors, and I forgot to take photos of the scrumdiddeliumptious fondue we made. But here we are on the road …

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Crystal clear day for walking

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Leo and Claudia in Möriswil

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Icing on the logs

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Homeward bound. Claudia’s toes were frozen

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Blue skies, following me … Nothing but blue skies

Now that we have internet access, I’ll keep this short and write again soon.

And I’ll leave you with this cat who sits every day in the window of a travel agency near where I work.

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How much is that kitty in the window, the one with the elephants as friends?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

November 6-8: Weekend wrap

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When the solar panels heat up, she sways her hips, with her arms going in the opposite direction. She moved this weekend. Woo hoo! Warm sun!

It was a very social and outdoorsy kind of weekend. Unseasonally warm weather has lulled us into a false sense of hope that we’re heading into summer rather than winter. What glorious temperatures we’ve had for three days!

Friday morning, I went to work at the dojo and now have a lot on my plate with some additional things to do. Not sure how this is going to pan out as I can’t do everything needed to be done just on Fridays, so will have to work at home at nights, after work!! Hmmm … not so sure this is going to work out well. By the end of the year, a decision will have to be made!

Friday afternoon, Iva and I went to visit our friend Kanjana who had a baby boy, Alessio, one month ago. He’s gorgeous, Kanjana is enjoying being a mum, and we had fun ‘falling asleep’ with Alessio on the couch.

 

Saturday morning was spent in the garden, pruning and tidying, and then BAM! These little fellows (below) came out of nowhere! I think they might be Soay Sheep? We have no idea where they’ve come from, but they have ear tags, so they’re a known quantity. They’ve never been to our place before and they’re welcome to come back anytime. Very timid, happy to move along together, not worried about us standing around gawping at their sheepy fur and goaty heads. An hour after they left, three came back into the garden, closer to our house. Such a nice surprise.

It was a glorious day but we had to leave the garden and blue skies to jump in the car to drive two hours to near Zürich for a combined birthday party for Leo’s sister and nephew. A quick stop at the shops, where I saw (but didn’t try) these cute bread figures, called Grittibänz mit Branchli (has something to do with 6 December and St. Nicholas. Gritten means spread legs, which is also a saying for old people, and Bänz is a short version of Benedict, who also has a relationship to St Nicholas. Mit Branchli just means its with this certain brand of chocolate called Branchli, a special addition for what is normally a plain figure with sultana face features. They’re baked from around the start of November until the end of December). Then the frivolity with the family began. Arrived home about midnight.

 

Today, the sun was still shining, with temperatures around 17 degrees, so we walked one of our favourite walks to Aarberg. We did this walk in reverse in March, when we met the lovely dog Luna. This time we walked from home and caught the bus back. Glorious! My hip gave out on the walk from the bus to our house – couldn’t bend it properly so had to walk with a peg leg to get up the hill. Not good. But the views were.

 

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 3-5: Weekend wrap

We’ve had a bit of a heatwave here in Switzerland and for the past few days the thought of sitting in the office and writing at my desk has made me wither further. So, here’s a wrap!

After Thursday’s ‘disaster’ day, Friday went very smoothly, thank you! Work, then home for a swim with The Usual Suspects who were here to enjoy the pool and look after Boy, the dog, while Rene is in hospital and Liliane is at work. We played cards (we’re addicted to rummy) and sat under the tent, and jumped in the pool often. What would we do without the pool? Because the temperature has hovered in the mid-30s for a week, I’ve been jumping in water as often as possible!

Friday night we went to Kanjana and Sandro’s for dinner which was great fun, then yesterday we rode the Vespa to meet Iva, Marko, Pastora and Leandro at the karate dojo for an afternoon catch-up and swimming in the Aare.

We did the swim twice. You walk a bit upstream and then the current takes you down the river quickly. In this section of the Aare, near the dojo, the water flows slower than where I was on Thursday with Claudia. It was Pastora’s first swim in the Aare ever! She did well to control her fear of the rushing water. On the second pass, Leandro, Iva and I jumped off the steel footbridge into the water. I managed to touch the bottom of the river with my feet and emerge with bikini intact.

Last night we met The Usual Suspects (Lotti, Fritz, Eve, Paul, Liliane, Rene) at home for dinner under the tent, and more cards. Rene was allowed out of hospital for the night, so we all enjoyed sitting and talking with him. The full moon – a glorious orange – came up just after we called it a night.

Today has been another lovely, outdoorsy kind of day. My sister called to say hello (and to check if I was alright, seeing as I hadn’t blogged for three days!). Thanks for calling Judy! Then Leo and I booked the first part of our holiday to Sicily. We leave July 26 and come back August 7. We’ll rent a car (hopefully a Fiat 500!) from the airport in Catania and drive to Leo’s dad, who has a holiday house at the foot of Mt Etna. We’ll stay with Tony and Bossy for three nights, then head north to Taormina for three nights. That part is all sorted. Then we’ll have seven days to sort out where we go. We’re big fans of the Inspector Montalbano series so we hope to see a few of the villages where the show is filmed.

It’s 8pm and still 32 degrees. We sweltered eating another barbecue dinner with The Usual Suspects and swam all afternoon. Rene has just gone back to hospital and after I finish this, I’ll swim with Liliane when she’s home again. I really think she enjoys having company when Rene isn’t here. He’ll have more tests tomorrow. The two mini strokes could have something to do with him being bitten by a tick in Alaska a few years ago. He’s had a lot of problems since then.

Here’s a random collection of photos from the week that was. I’ve swum for the past three days and that counts for my fitfor15in15 – especially the Aare swim which is very active. I like swimming against the current to slow down – if you swim with the current you’re at your destination way too quickly!

Hopefully we’ll be able to sleep well tonight. The mosquitoes have been out in full force and seem to find my head, and ears especially, a great place to buzz around. Plus it’s been close to 30 degrees in the bedroom every night, which makes sleeping under the covers hard. I always have to have something over me to combat the mozzie bites!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 1: Back on the horse

From the beginning, I’ve always said JUST 15 minutes a day. The simplicity of fitfor15in15 originally focused on doing just 15 minutes of exercise a day. Then I fell out of love with that idea for some reason – my motivation went south.

Some goals had been reached, I felt better and fitter, and then I just stopped caring. I think half of that hard work over the first four months of the year was lost in just a few weeks. So, it’s time to re-start the engines, jump back on the horse, re-join the circus … however you’d like to describe it! And it will be slowly slowly.

Have you thought about what you’d like to achieve in the next six months? I’d like to get moving again, get back into doing my stretches and go for more runs in the forest. I’d love to run 10km by the end of the year. Not in a race, just on a nice forest trail. And I’d like to return to the workout/exercise videos that I really enjoyed at the height of my fixation!

It’s 27 degrees inside the house (with windows and doors open!) at 10.30pm – now’s as good a time as any to start again, right?!?! I’m about to do 15 minutes of stretches and lunges with the hand weights. This is going to be interesting (and sweaty)! I thought about going back to January 1 and re-doing everything from the beginning, in the same order, but it’s too late to go walking now!

My friend Leonie and her kids Maya and Sebastian came over for a swim this afternoon. It was 26.5 degrees Celsius in the water. The Aare river is already 20 degrees too, and with the warm weather predicted for the next week, it may even reach about 22 degrees – not bad for a river coming directly from the Bernese Alps. Could the pool reach 30?!

We had a great afternoon and not one photo to show for it. I really enjoy Leonie’s company and not just because she’s a fellow Aussie. Lotti and Fritz joined us in the shade of the tent as well. Lotti told me Rene is back in hospital – they think he had a little stroke a few days ago, so he’s staying in for observation. I really hope he’s going to be ok. The doctors are worried a bigger stroke might follow.

On that sombre note, I’ll sign off … 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.

May 29: Physical and mental

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Outdoor dining! Our first for the year

A short post for today (because I’m writing this on the 30th, because I ran out of time yesterday, because I drank too much wine :))

I cleaned Liliane and Rene’s house in the morning, then Pastora came over after she finished work, and we cooked a chocolate cake, then had some beers, then Jaime arrived, then my Leo arrived, then Pastora’s Leo arrived, then Liliane arrived, and then the party started.

It was so lovely to sit outside until 11pm, in the relative warmth (had to put jackets on at about 8.30pm), soaking up the sunshine and twilight, enjoying a barbecue on our terrace.

A morning of physical fitness (it appears I’ve lost one kilo this past month) and a wonderful afternoon with friends for mental fitness = a great way to end the week.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 3: Another Sunday walk

We had a great time at the BEA with everyone yesterday, and a quiet, relaxing time home alone today.

The gang - Leo, Tom, Sandra, me, Leo, Pastora and Iva

The gang – Leo, Tom, Sandra, me, Leo, Pastora and Iva

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We didn’t go on this ride

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Leo, Tom and Sandra

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General BEA sideshow and ride alley

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Bueller … Bueller …

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Sandra and her hamburger, me and my second Berliner raspberry doughnut. I told you I was addicted

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Leo found the biggest sausage grill

A little bit of wine tasting

A little bit of wine tasting

Seems to be a Sunday tradition at the moment, going for a wander in the neighbourhood. It’s been raining so much the past few days, we made a break for it during a rare break and headed out. Again, the walk was leisurely, but they say 30 minutes a day is all you need.

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Good weather for them

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You know it’s impossible not to stop at the tulips

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These ones came home with us

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A mistake photo but I like it

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What an amazing tulip!

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Beautiful light on the rape seed field

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Lovely colours, blues and greens

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Mud up a side track

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He wasn’t very camouflaged

At home I spent a bit of time in my garden, admiring the blooms. We also watched the first season of Broadchurch, which I really enjoyed. I’ve long been a fan of Olivia Colman – she never disappoints. She was amazing in Tyrannosaur (not for the faint-hearted) and Green Wing too.

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In my garden at home

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The first two signs of my gladioli!

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My new bulb garden is coming up a treat! Those pink tulips started white

Oh and Mayweather beat Pacquiao. I didn’t watch the fight, just read about it. The more I know about Mayweather, the less I want to retain.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 2: Getting back on the bandwagon

It’s been wild weather here for a few days, and Leo is at work attending to some flooding on his building site. What a pain that’s going to be – sourcing pumps and people on a Saturday.

This afternoon, we’re going to the BEA, which is Bern’s agricultural exhibition, kind of like the Royal Shows in Australia and the UK and, I imagine, State Fairs in America.

There’ll be cows, horses, tractors, and wursts on the grill. (That Oxford comma was very important, otherwise it would sound like the animals and tractors would also be on the grill!)

We’re going with Pastora and Leo, Sandra and Tom and Iva, whose husband Marko is away for work, so it will be a hectic afternoon of German. Good for my mental fitness. Maybe some beers will be consumed later on. Not so good for my physical fitness.

I feel like I’ve fallen off the sweaty exercise bandwagon a bit lately but was very pleased when I stood on Liliane’s scales yesterday – two kilos lighter than last month’s ‘weigh-in’ (when I clean their house, I use their scales!). I don’t trust scales much, and definitely don’t feel the need to own any, but I do feel slimmer (and stronger!). Maybe the 5:2 Diet is working for me?

Speaking of the 5:2 Diet, I only did the 500 calorie day once (Monday) last week. I’ll do two again next week. And speaking of weigh-ins, the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight is tomorrow morning Swiss time (at about 6am they say). It starts very late tonight in America. I wonder if it will be a fizzer? I look forward to reading all about it and watching the highlights.

In order to boost my cardio fitness a bit, I did Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Workout Level 2 again (the last time was March 2). I should have done Level 3 but I was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t want to search for something.

She really makes you sweat, ol’ Jillian, which is why I keep coming back to her workouts, along with the duo from Fitness Blender. This time, I actually did most of the walking to plank and push-up exercises on my toes, not on my knees. Hallelujah! My arms are hurting quite a bit too, because of that and various lifts with weights that were tough. Yahoo! Overall, I find it a great 25-minute workout.

  • Physically Fit: Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Workout Level 2
  • Mentally Fit: Going to the BEA with friends
  • Nutritionally Fit: Back to two days per week on the 5:2 Diet next week
  • Minimalism: Loving my stretchy black and white Marimekko dress I bought in Melbourne with Gabby. Today I’m tucking it up to wear as a top with jeans – love clothes that serve more than one purpose!

Wishing you a wonderful day.