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

June 8: Kärcher Queen

“I am the Kärcher Queen … Wrinkled and sweet … more than 43 … Oooh yeah!”

I should make a workout video with the Kärcher high pressure water hose. It’s great for your arms! Today, in 3.5 hours, this section behind the main farmhouse (I love a good before and after photo) …

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Green and slimy …

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Reverse angle

Became this …

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Pristine clean …

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Patches still drying

I quite enjoyed doing that. Much more than the lawn!

Today is also the first day of a personal challenge to do the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program. This is a fitfor15in15 new addition, to break what could be a bit of a sugar addiction and possibly feel a bit fresher.

A nutritional challenge, with only naturally occurring sugars, following set recipes, for eight weeks. I wonder if I’ll feel like a Berliner doughnut by the end of the program? (Must stop talking about doughnuts … it’s only day one!)

Breakfast was yum, lunch was fine and dinner was yum. Happy with that!

We watched the first two episodes of Liev Schreiber’s television drama series Ray Donovan. I’m intrigued. Jon Voigt also stars. Thanks again to Netflix for providing something different.

On to the 30-Day Challenge – more plant names!

In between the two geraniums in the pot near the front door, I planted a selection of coloured snapdragons (Antirrhirum majus). Not sure if they’re going to last as long as the geraniums though – they look a bit sad already.

I have a large, low growing patch of sea campion (Silene maritima) in my garden. The flowers seem to have had their best run, but hopefully it will continue to flower until August? Can only hope!

And last but not least for today … I mentioned a reddish brown succulent in a previous post and have now discovered its name – common houseleek or St Patrick’s cabbage (Sempervivum tectorum). We have random, small clumps of it growing between the fir/pine trees (must find out what their names are too!)

I’ve run out of time to do the As You Wish book review – hopefully tomorrow!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 7: Stormy night and a cool, calm day

A hilarious, if not a bit scary, end to a great night last night at the Sonisphere concert in Biel.

We survived the heat and looming storm clouds to see The Hives and then (after a break for a band we didn’t like) the main act, my favourite band, Muse, hit the stage. We had good positions for both performances, in a sea of 35,000 people.

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The Hives – getting hives in the heat!

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Some idiots in the crowd

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The main act, Muse

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Towards the end of the Muse show. They’re on stage in there somewhere

Both bands were great fun – the poor Hives played in the hottest part of the afternoon and were constantly dousing themselves in bottles of water on a hot, black stage, and Muse played a lot of songs from their new album which I haven’t heard yet. They were all great.

We rode the Vespa (40 minutes there), wearing shorts, sneakers and our bike jackets. We had cool, long sleeve, loose tops for the concert – I’m still amazed how people who wear practically nothing can cope with slathers of sunscreen (or none at all) and the inevitable (slight) sunburn that comes. And no hats! Put a hat on it!

Anyway, as the afternoon progressed, the storm clouds gathered. Leo and Pastora sent a photo of their balcony, damaged from the high winds, and wondered if we were ok as it was heading our way. Luckily, we had no rain and could just see plenty of lightning in the distance. Straight after the last song, we headed home.

The great thing about taking the bike is you can park close to the stadium, so we were underway quite quickly. I didn’t do up the top part of my jacket, which protects my neck with another zippered layer, so I could feel the breeze. It was great setting off, seeing the cloud formations, riding through small villages, in relative darkness except for the lightning flashes, and feeling pretty content on such a rare, balmy night.

Well, then! Whaddyaknow! The ride (but luckily not us) went belly up! A third of the way home, it started to rain. Really rain. A deluge. And then, it started to hail. A deluge of hail. The wind was blowing the bike all over the place and water was seeping into my jacket around my neck, so I hunched down behind Leo. Poor thing, he was getting battered, and with no windscreen wiper it was amazing he could see. People in the cars behind us must have been shaking their heads in disbelief. I know we were!

The hail was small but sharp and pinged our faces and bare legs. We were totally saturated when we got home at midnight. I took photos of my legs with all the bright red ‘ding’ marks from the hail, but I forgot to shave my legs before the concert, so decided you can just imagine it instead!

It was the first time either of us had been on a bike in such a downpour, and I was very grateful to Leo for getting us home. Another experience ticked off the list (not that I have a list, nor would that have been on it).

Today was a mental fitness day. I hung in the hammock (with a rug to keep off the cool breeze) and finally finished As You Wish, the audio book from actor Cary Elwes about his experiences working on the movie The Princess Bride. Will write a review tomorrow.

I admired the glistening pool, a chilly 18 degrees Celsius, then prepared some food for the I Quit Sugar program, which starts tomorrow – quinoa, for dinners, and toasted muesli, which tastes pretty darn good!

We watched the Swiss Cup football final between Basel and winners Sion and then bits and pieces of the French Open men’s singles final. STAN, the MAN, from SwitzerLAN(d), won his second GRAN(d) SLAM, beating Novak Djokovic in four sets. Even Roger was watching!

And now, as the next electrical storm rolls through the neighbourhood, I’ve made the ridiculously late discovery of how nice it is to write at my desk, with the office door open onto the balcony with the geraniums, feeling the breeze and smelling the rain. (Just got to make a screen door to keep the insects out!)

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The view from my desk, with Bellamy, the stuffed guinea pig, sneaking a peek

And now that the rain has stopped, the birds are going crazy as the sun sets.

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Peaceful and noisy, all at the same time

The 30-Day Challenge continues and today’s three plants are (why did I choose three to four each day? Why not one, you know? Most people would just choose one, but no, I have to go and choose three to four *smacks forehead*):

I remember African violets growing on my grandmother’s window sill in Brisbane (well, I think I do?!) and the Latin name is Saintpaulia ionantha.

Liliane, our neighbour, has a lovely patch of these Hardy Garden Pinks (Dianthus gratianopolitanus, which are almost red) in her front garden. I might steal some for next year!

She also has a herbaceous pink peony (Paeonia lactiflora, seen middle, far right, near the driveway in the above picture) which smells divine. I took a fading bloom for the kitchen because it was too sad to see it hanging near the ground, still with so much smell to give. I’m not sure of its variety.

And with that, I’m off!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 3: Rebecca-Louise Smith workouts

Don’t you love it when you find something that backs up your own way of thinking, just after you’ve thought it? My nutrition at the moment isn’t ideal, but during the month of February I want to wean myself off some (not all!) of the “bad” things and introduce other alternatives.

There are courses out there providing recipes and eating plans for 8-12 weeks, such as I Quit Sugar and Kayla Itsines (to name just two of many!), but at the moment, for me, they feel slightly overwhelming – just the THOUGHT of cooking all those new dishes every night saps me of energy! Cooking has never really been my thing (eating on the other hand is a totally different story!), so the pressure of learning another recipe, and going through the motions, every night gives me the shivers.

And then this morning, I read this article from Leo Babauta, who writes the very popular website zenhabits. He hit the nail on my head!!! Well, he hit the nail on the head of what I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks. Jumping into something new is tough. We’re all gung-ho about it and enthusiastic, then reality kicks in. We falter, and then get mad at ourselves for faltering. And then give up, because, hey, we’ve faltered.

By keeping the expectations realistic, the flow and transition should be smoother. That’s why this site is fitfor15in15 – apart from being a catchy title, the idea behind it is very simple. Just 15 minutes of exercise a day. Some days you’ll want to do more, like me today, and some days you’ll struggle through the minimum, but by making it a regular, and achievable, habit, it’s not so tough; the thought of it isn’t draining.

So for nutrition, just like starting to exercise, I’m using the whole ’21-days to make a habit’ concept, and hopefully by the end of this month I’ll be less inclined to buy the not-so-healthy option and actively search for something better. Baby steps! (I’m going to miss those jam doughnuts …)

Now (mmm … doughnuts …), onto today’s exercise …

I felt like doing more today, something intense! Searching “tough exercise” on YouTube resulted in these two (and other) videos from Rebecca-Louise Smith, who appears to be a pilot as well as a fitness trainer.

First up, I did her Military Boot Camp Workout and then went straight into the 7 Best Ab Exercises, for a combined total of 25 minutes.

Even the realisation that I had to do burpees in the first video didn’t put me off! Ok, I may have groaned in disbelief, but incredibly, I did them (still with shabby form, I suspect) and it wasn’t too bad. And the planks at the end of the second video were tough. I went to my knees after about 10 seconds – all part of the process, I know, and something to aim higher for next time.

I’ll definitely keep a lookout for Smith’s videos again. On her website, she says being healthy requires 80% proper nutrition and 20% fitness – something I hadn’t read before. These words have provided another boost in this year-long campaign to look at what I can do better, to make me feel better.

Wishing you a great day. (It was a bit cold here, so that’s why I stayed indoors!)

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Chilly