July 6: Stop horsing around!

We’re all full of the joys of summer in Switzerland right now. It’s the tail end of a heatwave, everyone’s cooling off in the nearest pool of water, sleep deprivation hasn’t quite kicked in yet because of the humid nights, but, for me, I think the horseflies have stolen the show.

I’ve seen a new side of The Usual Suspects. A relaxing afternoon by the pool becomes an interpretive-dance fest. Everyone’s slapping and squirming and yelping and jumping out of their seats. They’re vicious little creatures, the swatters and swattees!

In German, horseflies are called Bremse. In Swiss-German they’re called Breme. The verb ‘bremsen’ in German means ‘to brake’, and these blighters certainly put a handbrake on proceedings! We seem to have plague proportions around home at the moment.

I’m currently sporting six fresh bites from today, and a few old ones from the weekend. All the welts will fade if I leave them alone. After being bitten so many times recently, I can safely say the bite on the back of my leg from a few weeks ago wasn’t a horsefly. These welts are tiny in comparison, hardly itchy and aren’t on fire!

Work went well today, Bruce the TΓΆffli ran smoothly, I visited Rene in hospital and he’s pretty well, and I only lost one round of cards this afternoon against Lotti, Eve and Paul. And tonight we watched a cracker of a tennis match between Djokovic and Anderson, which stopped at two sets apiece because of bad light. I thought Djokovic was a goner having lost the first two – I want him to be gone to give Federer a better chance of becoming the first man to win eight Wimbledon titles!

Swimming was my fitfor15in15 today. About 15 minutes of laps – some breaststroke, mainly freestyle. I really enjoy, but am quite hopeless at, swimming and may look into finding a bigger pool to do some more serious lap workouts!

Had a bit of a blowout on the no-sugar program, by eating a mini ice cream tonight. It hit the spot, I have to say! πŸ™‚

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 30: Didn’t that go fast?

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Clear blue skies today and …

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… the moon tonight. It will be a full moon in two days

Leo took this shot of the moon. I hope the skies are as clear on Thursday when it’s full. Loves me a good fullmaaaaoooooooon, I does! πŸ™‚

Will keep this post short today. It was wonderfully warm and sunny, unfortunately a bit too hot for the work Pastora and I did – counting all the karate clothes and moving boxes and things while making the inventory. I rode straight home and jumped in the pool.

Still feel like a kid at Christmas on the bike, even if I was overtaken by an electric bicycle on the flat. (I keep telling myself the man had longer legs than me.) My niece suggested the bike should be named Brad, but I already have a Brad in my life and I’m well and truly over him. So far Bruce is still the leader (not hard seeing as Brad was the only suggestion!).

One of the two new plants, which I promised to mention today, has me stumped. The Celosia venezuela was easy to find because of its magenta prongs, but the second has me baffled. It’s quite tall and could possibly be another Campanula variety? The flowers are a beautiful blue and have very obvious petals. Any takers?

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New plant number one – Celosia venezuela – the magenta spiky one in front of the lavender

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And do you think this is another Campanula variety?

Can’t believe half the year has gone! How would you rate the first half of this year? I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone so far and hope you are too (and hopefully I’ll be struck by ‘exercise lightning’ tomorrow and be back on the bandwagon for the next six months!).

What will I do on December 31? I can’t very well keep a blog titled fitfor15in15 when it’s no longer 2015, can I?! Should have thought about that a bit harder.

I haven’t mentioned the I Quit Sugar program for a few days because I find it boring talking about food, but it’s going well (not perfect) and I’m really watching what goes in. As hot as it was today, I resisted the temptation for ice cream! That’s a win.

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! πŸ™‚

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 24: Mixed bag of goodies

I’m typing this again, because, for some reason, my original post went missing! Arrggghhhh! Not what you need at 11pm!

Didn’t fall asleep on the couch this afternoon, because I didn’t sit on it!

Came home from work, put on my daggy clothes and helped Rene in the garden. The two new front wheels for the lawnmower arrived last week, but the weather’s been terrible so no chance until today to put them to the test. Many trips to the compost were made, because the grass hadn’t been cut for two weeks (since I broke the front wheel).

After whipper-snippering around the edges, I finished off the mowing. Then I weeded around the garage (damn nettles!), dead-headed Liliane’s roses and the pots around the pool, and then I thought I’d have a rest. Sat on the terrace for two minutes and saw a plant which I really don’t like the look of, and never have, so I pulled it out. Then I had to give the soil a bit of a scratch to patch up the hole, then I thought I ‘mose well weed that garden bed too. Oh and why not my main garden bed as well, while I’m in the swing of things?! All up today, three hours in the garden and one hour of walking. Not too shabby.

I managed to snap a few pictures in Bern’s Botanical Gardens. After yesterday’s 30-Day Challenge plant name, my eye was drawn to another Allium strain, Allium fistulosum. In German it’s common name is Winterzwiebel, or winter onion. In English, it’s the Welsh onion. I thought the stems would smell oniony, but nothing.

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The Welsh onion in Bern’s Botanical Gardens

Even though I really didn’t feel like it, I cooked another I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program dinner and finally flopped on the couch for two episodes of House of Cards. Didn’t eat a sweet thing all day! After 2.5 weeks of much less sugar than normal, I’m finding it easier and easier. The natural yoghurt for breakfast seems sweet enough. Never thought I’d say that! Berliner doughnuts were on special today in the supermarket – six for the price of four – and I walked straight past (while shooting daggers at the man who grabbed a packet so nonchalantly!)

All up, a nice mixed bag of goodies today. I hope you achieved too. And as always …

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 20 and 21: Saturday night and Sunday morning

This title comes from one of my favourite books, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe. It was the right book at the right time for me (1995, living in London) and also reminds me of my friend Tricky (real name Richard) who will be fitfor15in15’s next guest contributor. I’ll tell you our unlikely and incredible connection when I post his helpful and humorous personal story later this week.

Nothing from Sillitoe’s book happened to Leo and I this weekend, but the title is appropriate to wrap up this double-whammy post.

Leo’s family came from Zurich on Saturday afternoon to celebrate both his and his niece, Lorena’s, birthdays. All up, with our neighbours Liliane and Rene, we were 11 people. It was a day of preparations and organising. Leo did an amazing job with all the food, and I made the cake, of which I ate a slice! Gasp!

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One, two, three!

We ended the night quite late, with our neighbours saying how much they’ve appreciated all the work we’ve done around the property lately. So that was nice too.

Today, we were very lazy. Watched more House of Cards on Netflix and read about the Australians beating Brazil in the Women’s Football World Cup to make it through to the quarter-finals. Great news.

But overall, a quiet day today, after yesterday’s entertaining fest, was just what the doctor ordered. The sugar blowout continued with some chocolate marshmallow things that we forgot to give to the kids. The old saying is true – “If it’s in the house, you eat it.”

I actually don’t think that’s a real saying, but it gets proven true time and time again. Tricky will back me up on that! So the I Quit Sugar bandwagon gets serious again tomorrow. I can’t say I felt bad after eating the sugar, but I do know my brain said, “More! Give me more!”

I really need to do some proper exercise again soon. It’s been waaaaay too long and I can feel it. Fingers crossed this week is it.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 17: Possibilities?

One of my friends from German school, Iva, is married to Marko, who is a karate Dan. He has a karate Dojo and wellness centre on the Aare river in Bern. I’ve mentioned it before, when I did a yoga class there earlier in the year.

Marko has asked me to do some work for him on one of his websites, enso-shop.ch which deals with the selling of karate gear. On Friday, I’ll go in and learn the ins and outs of the website from him, and then eventually, I’ll be responsible for all things to do with the site. Neither of us are sure how much work this will involve, but he wants to push the site more than he’s been able to, because he’s so busy teaching.

This means I’ll be working in the office with Pastora as well, which will be fun. She works there five mornings a week. This could be my chance to get back into the swing of things and help promote his website, which thankfully is mostly in English. I’m very excited and hope I can do enough to make the orders soar! Learning more about how websites work will keep me mentally fit, too. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, that this could be a job with possibilities.

Being in the city today (to meet Marko) made me realise how much I’m missing sugar. I’m in week two of the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program, when we can’t eat any fruit either. I was bombarded with people eating ice cream, Berliners and other sweet stuff that normally I wouldn’t think twice about buying. Grocery shopping, and seeing all the lovely bananas and watermelons etc was even harder. They’re healthy! But I’m committed to giving this sugar cleanse a real go. In week six, fruit is reintroduced. It was a dumb time to buy that cherry tomato plant – they’re all looking so ripe and yummy, Leo will have to eat them all!

Here are some other photos from my walk to the bus and time in town.

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More corn growing near us, with my favourite farmhouse on the hill

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This looks like silverbeet perhaps?

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A close up of the silverbeet?

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Healthy geraniums at a house on the way to the bus

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A lovely veggie garden on the way to the bus

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How cool is this bug? Love the colour!

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This is the path I take down to the river on the way to the Dojo

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The building on the right side of the river is where I’ll be doing some work

I use a running app on my phone, called MapMyRun. Today it sent me an email to remind me I haven’t been running in a month. A month! Oops! How did that happen? (Well, um easily – busy in the garden, raining, lack of motivation!) Will try to fix that asap.

The 30-Day Challenge with the plant names has also taken a backseat. I think I had a bit of burnout, searching the web for the plants I have in the garden, not knowing where to begin other than a generic description of what the plant looks like – the images always offered up so many options. I’m learning some Latin herb names now, starting with thyme – Thymus vulgaris.

Rather than searching for three to four each day, I’m going to scale it back to one from now on – I’d bitten off more than I can chew! Hopefully that isn’t the case for the website job with Marko!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 15: Come again another day

Rain, rain, go away …

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All day, rain and more rain …

No Monday Runday, no exercise, not much of anything really! It was gloomy and cold, so I applied for a job, watched the documentary about puppeteer Kevin Clash called Being Elmo (wow, hasn’t his career taken a nosedive since. What a tragedy for all involved), backed up my computer, let the real estate agent and potential buyers through the house (that was their fifth visit), re-potted the cherry tomato plant I bought last Friday, and cooked lunch and dinner. You know, the important stuff … πŸ™‚ Another day where the weather affects my general demeanour!

At least the lawn and gardens are well watered, and the pool is full for the expected sunshine at the end of the week.

I wonder how I can combat this weather-influenced down cycle? Exercise should be my go-to strategy, but for some reason I have fallen behind on the 15-minutes minimum per day.

It’s week two of the I Quit Sugar program – all fruit is banned for a while. This is going to be interesting!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 13: The first swim of summer

Fitfor15in15 could have some new workouts in the pipeline – the pool is finally reading for swimming, and today, after Leo took the robot cleaner out, I made the most of the sunshine (and 23 degree Celsius water temperature).

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The juxtaposition of a Swiss flag and a pool always makes me smile. I don’t think of pools when I think of Switzerland but I’m very grateful for ours

Of course, Leo was there to prove I didn’t just get my ankles wet. Normally, our neighbour Liliane’s friend Lotti is the first to swim every year, but she’s on holidays in Tuscany and I couldn’t wait until she got back. We won’t tell her, ok?

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Go!

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So refreshing!

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Happiness is a pool on a warm day

I did about 15 minutes worth of freestyle laps. I only breathe twice on each lap, because the pool is about eight metres long (I think). Looking forward to more days like this in the next few months.

Before the swim, I baked a chocolate cake for Pastora and Leo’s birthday (our married friends who were born on the same day in the same Spanish hospital; Leo three years before Pastora) but I won’t be eating any at the party tonight. The I Quit Sugar program would frown upon that! (I may have licked one of the beaters … normally I would have licked both.) πŸ™‚

And now, we’re off to the celebrations. Party! Vamos!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

p.s The wasp bite is getting better. Not as red and angry as yesterday, thanks to some cooling gel we bought to bring down the heat. Phew. Still can’t squat down properly though – feels like the skin behind my knee will split! – and it’s still ever so itchy. Grrrr.

p.p.s Big addition of plant names for the 30-Day Challenge coming on Monday or Tuesday. Hopefully πŸ™‚

June 11: I broke the mower!

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The part that was mowed! Our little house – those fir trees on the right will have the tops lopped off tomorrow

It was a pretty quiet morning again, but thankfully I had the lawn to mow this afternoon. It was almost finished, when I broke the mower.

I didn’t realise the front left tyre was going flat until I turned sharply right and it went all skewiff. Had to get the jack underneath the front and take the tyre off and try to fill it with air, but it was too late. Kaputt!

Rene ordered two new front tyres/wheels from England (why replace one when you can replace both?! Rene never does things by half. They should be here Monday), because, as he kindly kept saying, the lawn mower is 20 years old and it’s bound to have problems. I couldn’t help but feel that this problem could have been averted if I’d been on the ball a bit more. Strange that I didn’t notice any issues with the steering until it was too late. Bugger!

About 5.30pm, Rene, Liliane and I sat outside enjoying the beautiful balmy evening and planning our day tomorrow. It’s going to be chockers. We’re going grocery shopping in the morning, taking stuff to the dump/tip/rubbish collection, which luckily is in the building next to us, and we’re going to trim some overgrown trees/shrubs at our house – one is growing into the gutter, so it’s about time. Electric trimmer, get ready to be well used!

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Sitting outside, playing with Boy, the dog, and talking lots of German with the neighbours

I’m too knackered to find three new plants to name today, as part of the 30-Day Challenge. I’ve left it too late to write, and there’s nothing left in my batteries. I ate quite well, as part of the I Quit Sugar Program, but maybe I didn’t drink enough water. Or maybe my body is saying, “Where is the sugar, woman?! You know I can’t function without the sweet stuff!”

We’ll see, sugar demons, we’ll see.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 10: Craving sugar, much?

After finishing actor Cary Elwes’ book, As You Wish (reviewed here), I thought it only fitting to watch the movie The Princess Bride today. That could quite possibly be the 20th time I’ve seen it, and I enjoy it every time. Twue wuv. Tweasure your wuv. Has it added to my mental fitness? Well, it definitely made me smile.

I also did a lot of internet reading, not enough job searching, and pottered in the garden for a bit, but the wind was too wicked for my liking, so I mooched. I mooched a lot. I don’t think mooching is very healthy sometimes!

Liliane and Rene invited me for dinner which was nice, as Leo is at a work function. I’m sure the meal they served fell within the boundaries of the I Quit Sugar program. I’ve been very good about not eating sugar, and maybe that’s part of the reason I’m feeling so ‘meh’ today. Detoxing perhaps? I could definitely handle some ice cream or a handful of peanut M&Ms about now!

The 30-Day Challenge continues with new plant names. But a quick recap from yesterday’s request for help – Gabby was quick off the mark to tell me the crop with the back and white flower is broad bean aquadulce (Vicia faba) and Freda kindly informed me the small purple plant from yesterday was another campanula – Dalmation bellflower (Campanula portenschlagia). Thank you, ladies!

Liliane has a lovely blue flowing plant called Gentian (Gentiana acaulis) in her garden, which I would love to take a cutting from for next year (her garden is a bit bigger than mine so I have no idea how all this is going to fit!).

I’d like to get some Speedwell (Veronica spicata) because I like the candle shape, and another on my wishlist is a common jasmine vine (Jasminum officinale) growing on the terrace somewhere, because it would be amazing to be surrounded by that smell in summer.

Tomorrow and Friday will be more active. (I’ll have to make it so, won’t I?! Can’t be mooching for extended periods.) Rene has indicated he’d like my help replacing the mower blades tomorrow, so that’s something to look forward to πŸ˜‰ and I’ll spend some time with Liliane on Friday as she has the day off!

Wishing you a wonderful day.