October 10-27: Mishmash of photos

Well, who’s been a slacker on the blog then, huh?! Me!

To make amends, I’m going to keep the waffle to a minimum and load up a photo gallery of all the lovely things that have happened in the past few weeks.

My job’s going well, I’m enjoying the brisk walk in the fog to work, but since we’ve lost daylight savings, I’m not enjoying the walk home in the dark. There are no street lights and I was nearly hit by an idiot driver who couldn’t see my torch shining in the night. So now I’m wearing a yellow safety vest on the walk home. Stop laughing! It’s pitch black! 🙂

More posts to come!

July 9: Girly afternoon

Sonja, who I met in Paris in 2011, came to visit today. She’s a German orthopedic surgeon who’s been living in Switzerland for 10 years. We haven’t seen each other for about 18 months, if not more, and her company was wonderful medicine!

We drank Aperol Spritzeseses and gas bagged and swam. I didn’t go to work today as we had made these plans a while ago. It really was a great afternoon just hanging out at home.

The doctor was just what the doctor ordered. Brilliant for my mental fitness.

Speaking of doctors, René came home from hospital last night which is good news. I have a feeling he’s not a great patient – very grumpy when he’s told what he can and cannot do!

Can you relate to that too? I know I can!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 7: Not sure what to say

Death hasn’t often lurked in my sphere, but in less than two weeks, two friends have passed away – Annie in New Zealand on June 25 and Elisa in Australia today. Both were way too young, had been sick with different forms of cancer, and leave lasting impressions.

I didn’t write about Annie at the time of her death because it didn’t feel right. I’m not even sure I should write about her and Elisa now. They were both fighters and I think, if anything, I want to acknowledge their fighting spirits.

Fingers crossed they’re feeling fantastic, wherever they are now. I hope Annie has her immaculate wardrobe and pearls, and Heineken still quenches her thirst. I hope Elisa is surrounded by music and white horses and dances under the stars every night. Needless to say, family and friends would have preferred for them to be with us a little longer, but wow, they sure gave it all they had when they were here. The only consolation is they’re no longer in pain.

I wrote to Bronwyn, Annie’s best friend, who I met Annie through, with a collection of thoughts and memories. Bronwyn read them to Annie’s cousin, who asked to use them in the eulogy. Leo came up with the idea of foregoing eulogies by telling those around us what we would say about them at their funeral, while they’re still alive. I know not everyone is presented with an opportunity like this, but isn’t it a lovely thought?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 9: Catch-ups and temptations

Today I went to the city for the first time in weeks. Weeks! It felt odd walking to the bus – everything’s growing and changing.

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The honesty barrel at the new self-pick flower field. There’s no moving that thing in a hurry!

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What’s growing and how much they cost

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Orderly rows. I don’t feel an affinity with it like the old flower field

It was a social day – I had lunch with Leonie and then Claudia invited me to dessert for her birthday. It’s such a strange custom in Switzerland and Germany, and maybe in other places too. When it’s YOUR birthday, you invite people and YOU pay, and YOU take the cake to work for the celebrations. In Australia, if it’s your birthday, YOU’RE invited out, someone else brings the cake and you DON’T pay. Do you live in a country where the birthday person is responsible for bringing the cake and paying the bill too? I’d love to hear more!

I felt strange watching Claudia pay for our treats but it was lovely to spend the afternoon with her. (I was good and had a bowl of fresh strawberries – high in natural sugar but a lot less than the yummy desserts I passed on! It was so darn tempting! Willpower!) We haven’t seen each other for a month. Afterwards, we went window shopping and strolled around the city.

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Claudia, the birthday girl, with her hot berry and ice cream dessert

My 30-Day Challenge (learning three to four new plant names each day) needs your help! There’s a small crop of black and white flowering plants growing near our house, which I saw for the first time today. I’ve searched the internet but come up with a blank.

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Do you know what this tall crop/plant with black and white flowers is called?

While I’m asking questions, do you know what this one is too? It’s in my garden under the hydrangea (which is getting flowers – it didn’t flower at all last year so I’m pretty darn excited to see what colour it will be!)

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Tiny purple perennial. Any ideas?

The third new plant is Dianthus amurensis ‘Siberian Blues’ (it’s more a purple than blue to me!) and the fourth (yes, today there’s a fourth!) is Lithodora diffusa ‘Grace Ward’. Both are growing in my garden. I love the blue colour of the latter and five-petalled flowers are a signature thing for me. I used to draw them non-stop.

The I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program is going along nicely. Leo liked the dinner tonight, so that’s good. I had a mixture of buffet salads for lunch with Leonia, without dressing, and the strawberries with Claudia. It was a bit of a shock to realise I was ‘under pressure’ to find alternative options to the program menu after only two days. You’re not ‘allowed’ to eat fruit in the middle part of this program, so I figured some berries on day two wasn’t too bad an idea for a celebration. Fruit is re-introduced into the plan slowly in the final few weeks, to see how fructose affects you too.

Here are some other photos from today. It was nice to be out and about. Time for a run again soon, I think!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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A flash of poppies, wheat and my favourite farmhouse in the distance

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Corn, doing its thing

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I started the 30-Day Challenge with one campunala in bloom. It’s going great guns now

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A cold and windy day today in our ‘hood

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.

Friendship, memories and stuff

“What a wretched lot of old shrivelled creatures we shall be by-and-by. Never mind – the uglier we get in the eyes of others, the lovelier we shall be to each other; that has always been my firm faith about friendship.” George Eliot.

I love this quote from George Eliot, the pen name of author Mary Ann(e) Evans, who wrote it in a letter to her friend Sara Hennell in May, 1852. It’s stuck to a pin board above my computer and comes from a little 8x8cm paperback book about friendship, given to me by Gabby (pictured below … at our finest).

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Dumb and dumber

The book no longer exists – I ripped out the quote which grabbed me the most so I can see it every day, rather than having it lost amongst my belongings. I’m sure Gabby wouldn’t mind knowing that part of her present has been recycled, because I’ve taken the best thing from the book and it’s being used. Those sentences remind me of our friendship and I smile every time I read it.

To celebrate our 20th anniversary of travelling around Europe and the UK together, Gab and I walked Hadrian’s Wall, in the north of England, in June 2014. What a blissful (and strenuous!) week that was, stomping across such lovely countryside, surrounded by all that history. It was all the more special because Gab lives in Melbourne and has two young boys. Many thanks also go to her husband, Dean, for holding the fort and making this trip possible. So many wonderful memories …

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Exhausted on Hadrian’s Wall

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Gab on the bridge at Willowford

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What a sight! A field of buttercups. We ran through it like excited children

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A little box of goodies for walkers to buy, set up by a young lad keen on some pocket money

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Just glorious

What would you rather have? The present or the memories? I’m very grateful for both, but, for me, experiences and memories mean so much more.

Plenty’s been written recently about a trend that’s gathering strength – selling things rather than keeping them for the next generation. This is a blunt but brilliant story from The Washington Post about adult children not wanting more stuff from their parents. Even my mum and sister are thinking about selling their huge dinner sets which no longer see the light of day, because they know none of our clan are all that interested in them (the responsibilities of an heirloom, stressing about them breaking when used or moving house, and how much space is needed to store them, to name a few concerns).

Do you have unused things you hold onto, because someone gave them to you and there could be tension if they were gone? This can be a really tricky area if you’re trying to declutter or downsize your belongings. We all have a few (or many!) things we keep for sentimental reasons. How do you sort through them all and decide what to keep?

Here are some tips from Miss Minimalist about letting go of heirlooms and more from House Beautiful about sentimental clutter. Maybe something in there will be helpful. And don’t forget to thank your things before letting them go, a la the KonMari Method. Even though it sounds crazy, I think it really helps.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

p.s The exercise story will come next. I’m happy for this to be a stand-alone post.

January 23: Clean and simple

On average, once a month, my neighbour asks me to clean her house when she’s really busy. I’m happy to do this because she and her husband are very good to Leo and me. Like tonight, for example. We were invited for an amazing fondue dinner (which I enjoyed so much, I forgot to take photographs) and we spoke German and Swiss German for hours.

I’m always appreciative when my Swiss German friends speak High German with me, because, really, it’s a foreign language for them. Yes, they read it on a daily basis, but they don’t speak it. It’s kind of like requesting a Spanish person to speak Portuguese when you live in Spain. A neighbourly language, sure, but not really the same thing.

Today, I cleaned my neighbours’ house for four hours. I repeat. Four Hours. My back is broken but I feel like I’ve done something good for people who mean a lot to me. We have neighbourly dinners quite often, and they’re always a good giggle … with conversations such as how do you annoy a Swiss person, and how big is Australia in comparison with Europe.

I haven’t done my fitfor15in15 “15 minutes today” because, hell, I’ve done four hours. Cleaning a house where two people and a dog live takes time. I’m meticulous. I don’t even clean my own house as well as I clean the neighbours’. For me, it’s a labour of love. Tomorrow, it might be hard to touch the toes, but it’s worth it for the camaraderie and ongoing friendship. I like helping out when I can.

Wishing you a wonderful day.