August 19-23: Finding a rhythm after holidays

Going to Sicily and London were lovely additions to this year’s fitfor15in15 escapades, but it’s taken me a few days to get back into the swing of blogging every day. I don’t think I needed a break, but it was lovely to just enjoy the time for what it was.

At home, the grass has turned green again and the weather is cooler but still nice.

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Leo outside our house. Look at all that green grass!

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Not sure if we’ll use the pool again this season – the water is now just 17 degrees. Too cold for most and definitely too cold for me!

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A beautiful sunset on my way home on Wednesday night

I went to work on Wednesday then went back again in the evening to celebrate Maru Dojo’s 10th anniversary. Congratulations to Marko and his team for a great event, and 10 years of success. Here’s to the next 10, 20 …

Thursday, I spoke with a friend in Australia about some writing work he’d like me to do and Leo’s friend Dani came over for dinner. I made a baked chicken pasta dish which was mostly made up, and thankfully it worked!

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Leo and Dani

Friday I sent in further documents for a job application that’s currently on the go, and helped Rene in the garden pulling weeds, using the electric trimmer and finishing off the mowing. It’s been a while since the lawn’s been mowed, because it was burnt to a crisp over summer. Leo was feeling poorly with the flu on Friday night and didn’t come to Fritz’s birthday party. I was only supposed to go for an hour, but Rene ended up staying much longer than he intended, so I got home about 10.30pm instead of 7.30pm. Thankfully, Leo didn’t mind!

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Freshly mowed. Friday was a lovely sunny day

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Dinner with Lotti, Fritz (hidden), Rene and Paul

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Ueli and Anna-Marie celebrating Fritz’s 78th birthday

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Eve, Liliane and Hani, laughing at the boys because …

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They sculled a shot of whisky! Rene said it burnt his nose and throat

Saturday, I cleaned the pool and enjoyed some warmth, then The Usual Suspects came over for a barbecue and we played cards for most of the afternoon and evening. Poor Eve, who is normally very good, lost six times. She was devastated! I managed to only have to pay once (two Francs, which goes into a kitty to be used on holidays in November) so felt pretty chuffed. Leo joined us only for the meal as he was still feeling rubbish with the flu.

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Sleeping beauty, where he spent most of Saturday afternoon

Sunday, Liliane, Leo (who was feeling much better) and I walked the lovely path behind our house (which I only ‘discovered’ this year) to our favourite restaurant in Wohlen, Restaurant Kreuz. They were having an outdoor lunch celebration with a traditional brass band, so The Usual Suspects met once again for another afternoon of laughs. For some reason, this one turned into a riot. The restaurant owner decided we should all have shots, and because we oohed and ahhed about how nice they were (a warm caramel/amaretto and cream concoction), we bought another round, and then another, and then he gave us something different to try, and then we had Red Bull and Jägermeister drinks and and and … Phew. I’m glad it wasn’t necessary for me to go into the Dojo today. I feel fine but riding in the rain with a slightly foggy head wouldn’t have been the smartest plan.

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10am in Wohlen bei Bern, looking at the Alps

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Liliane and Rene’s dog Boy joined us on the walk to Restaurant Kreuz

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Luckily when we walk to the restaurant, there’s lots of downhill

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Liliane said this red berry clump was quite rare to see in the wild. The leaves of the plant were long thin strips, but I can’t find any references on the internet

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What an amazing, massive hibiscus in the garden with all the decorations, which I’ve mentioned a few times

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Liliane in the elaborate garden

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This was one of the smaller blooms

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Boy with ball = happy Boy

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The band played in slight drizzle but it cleared up after lunch

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We moved our table under the tree so we wouldn’t get wet. Cheeky!

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All the other tables

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The gang. This is the first time I’ve sat outside at Restaurant Kreuz

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Leo killing any lingering germs with a Jägerbomb

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They call this drink a ‘Flying Deer’ here, because Red Bull apparently gives you wings

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Lotti enjoying the warm shot with cream. I can’t remember the Bern-Deutsch name for it, but it means Marmot Fart. Charming!

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Eve isn’t normally a dairy fan, but she thought this was pretty tasty!

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Rene pretending to be our waiter

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I had a shot at being the waitress, but the first friend of Rene’s I spoke to said, “Can’t understand a word” because I spoke to him in German and not Bern-Deutsch. Ahh, the daily challenges!

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Restaurant owner Peter handing out more drinks … really? Really? I’m well over them by this stage!

Overall, it was a great social weekend, but I’m looking forward to some quiet days ahead!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 24: What a crazy day!

Funny how best laid plans can go awry … the day was definitely not what I expected.

I expected to be at work! I arrived just before 10am, but no one else was there. Door locked. No chance. So I waited for half an hour and still no one, so I thought I’d waste a bit of time in the city until midday training (I work in the office at a karate centre which also does other kinds of fitness training too).

Wandering around town was ok, because I had time to finally find a red t-shirt. It’s been on my wishlist for a while, and at 20 Francs, I’m very happy. It goes perfectly with everything I’m taking on holiday (floral pants, shorts and skirt).

So I’m adding it into the holiday list. Totally throws out the three things in each category concept, but I can live with that! No joy finding another oatmeal coloured t-shirt to replace the cowl neck one I love, which has truly seen better days.

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Finally found what I was looking for!

In front of Parliament House, there were plenty of kids and barking dogs cooling down.

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The water feature provided welcome relief on another hot day

I went back to the office just after midday, and it was still locked. So I jumped on Bruce the Töffli and came home. Almost immediately, Rene asked when we were going on holiday. I told him tomorrow and he said he wanted to mow again. What? Mow hay? But what Rene wants, Rene gets, so I mowed the extremely dry grass at the front and covered myself in dust. And after it was all done, you couldn’t see one scrap of difference! Just a film of crud covering the pool, tent, table and chairs. Crazy! I drew the line at mowing behind the main house because it would have spat dust all over Hertha and Lene, who were sitting in the shade outside.

A quick shower then jumping in the pool was a welcome relief. The Usual Suspects joined us and we enjoyed the last of the sunshine and prepared the barbecue. It was sort of our bon voyage gathering, which was lovely. Just as the steaks and racks of lamb were put on the grill, the rain came belting down, which was also lovely! Wow, was it warm.

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The calm before the storm …

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Boy enjoying the shade on a very warm afternoon

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Then the clouds started rolling in …

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Moody blues

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Remember the beautiful magenta coloured plant I bought recently (behind the lavender)? Fried!

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Beautiful rain. I can say that because we haven’t had much this summer!

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Liliane taking her mum Hertha out of the cool weather

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Leo in holiday mode!

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Fritz and Lotti

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Paul, Eve and Lene

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We’re going on a summer holiday!

After dinner, we adjourned to the pergola (small wooden shack designed to be used for group dinners) and played cards. It’s now 11pm and it’s time for bed!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 17-19: Weekend wrap

Another weekend wrap! This is becoming quite the habit.

Friday was a fun day. Liliane’s mum, Hertha, arrived early with Rene, who had gone to collect the lawnmower (which now runs like a Ferrari … touch wood) and picked her up on the way home. She is in such good shape, mentally and physically, it’s hard to believe she’s 91. Her wicked sense of humour also takes you by surprise sometimes!

Liliane and I went grocery shopping together to a ginormous bulk centre called Growa. We spent an hour or so wandering around with a huge flat-tray trolley grabbing this and that – she bought beer, wine, meat and dog food etc, and I bought beer, feta cheese, spinach, filo pastry (can’t find it anywhere else anymore!) and dishwasher powder. Woo hoo, hold the phone, we went to town!

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Hertha, as the sun sets

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Everyone’s here except for Eve

That afternoon Lotti, Fritz and Paul joined the five of us for dinner beside the pool. We played cards (I lost twice!) and had a huge barbecue. It was a late night but a fun one. Hertha said she really enjoyed it because Rene stayed the entire time. He’s feeling fit enough to socialise more which is great.

Saturday morning it rained briefly for the first time in a very, very long time! At last! Leo went to work for a few hours so I did odds and ends around the house, and once the sun came out again, cleaned the pool, swam a bit and mooched a bit, then Liliane cooked dinner for us all again. We’re good at doing this ‘sleep and repeat’ kind of thing each weekend (although I’m glad we didn’t have another barbecue. It feels like we’ve done nothing but eat meat!).

Later we played rummy and I didn’t lose. At last! Rene brought out some long thin cigars which are twisted/crooked like a small tree branch. I can’t find any pictures of them on the internet, and didn’t take any in the darkness, but we had a laugh smoking them. We could also hear, sporadically, music coming from the Gurten Festival on the little hill of Bern, about 20km away. And it rained again! We sat under the tent and enjoyed hearing and seeing rain again after less than 12 hours.

Today, Liliane’s friend Lene arrived from Germany. Both she and Hertha will stay about three to four weeks so we’ll see them again when we come back from Sicily. Leo had an idea to go to the Rose Garden in Bern, but we both felt too slack. I had a swim and cooked dinner (Jamie Oliver’s spinach and feta filo pie with salad. I love it! Meat free at last!) and then finally at 9.15pm, dragged myself (no, not really) upstairs to write here. It was a great, hot weekend, with two bursts of much welcome rain.

In other non-weekend news, I’ve been experimenting with Dr Bronner’s ’18-uses-for-one-bottle’ liquid soap as shampoo and body wash. It’s been about a month now, and I’m still unsure of the result. My hair feels like it’s coated in kind of a sticky wax, and the effect makes my hair look greasy/stringy. If it dries naturally, it sets into loose curls, but if I blow dry it, it feels like I’m amping up the waxiness even more.

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Natural lavender liquid soap from Dr Bronner. You can clean almost anything with it apparently. I just wish my hair responded a bit better

So the jury is still out. I need a haircut and am loathe to have it washed with their products, because it means I’ll be back to the drawing board again for this experiment. I’m kind of hoping after a few months, my hair gets used to not being washed in all those chemicals and silicone and so on. Maybe I can ask them to just wet it and then cut it like that?

Dr Bronner’s soap comes in all sorts of smells and is available worldwide (I’ve linked to the American website, where you can see all their products). I was given lavender by Claudia when she and Dani came to visit last month. I’ve previously bought the baby/neutral smell and peppermint. I tried washing my hair with those ones too with similar results to now, but I gave up on the experiment after only a week or so, because I couldn’t cope with the sticky/clumpy feeling. Fingers crossed I can persevere and come out a winner.

This is all part of a desire to cut down on the products I use and to be more aware of the ingredients of things. Half the contents of Nivea and other store-bought products are three words long and impossible to pronounce. It would be nice to be rid of stuff like that. Our skin is a big sponge and I’d rather it be soaking up natural goodies rather than chemical nasties.

I’ve started putting things together in a carry-on suitcase for our trip. I was hoping to take a 22 litre backpack but I think that might be pushing it a bit. Not that I’m taking much! I’ll do a post about that on Friday, hopefully. Love the challenge of travelling light!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 27 and 28: Weekend wrap

Saturday and Sunday served up plenty of sunshine so we made the most of it by being outdoors.

Saturday we worked in the garden and I did some small things around our house and Liliane and Rene’s too. Even though we’d spent the previous evening at dinner together, we all joined forces again in the afternoon for cards and dinner around the pool (for the first time ever, I didn’t lose a game!). I still find it so amazing to only turn the lantern on at 10.30pm.

Today there was an airshow in a neighbouring suburb, so we all stood in the garden and gawped at the heavens, watching the nine small planes do all their spectacular stunts. A forest blocked some of the view, over the Wohlensee, but all the loop-the-loops and high-up action kept us entertained for 20 minutes, and then they just all flew away again. It was almost sad – the way they couldn’t even wave goodbye!

We walked to Lotti’s house for her birthday gathering this afternoon, a good 40-minute wander in the sunshine on the path that I only ‘discovered’ earlier this year, that’s directly behind the house. Once home, a quick dip in the pool and a play on my new toy (see the last photo), ready for tomorrow’s commute to work, and two episodes of House of Cards wrapped it up.

Overall, it was a very social weekend, with maybe not the right sorts of foods consumed (Lotti’s birthday cake and a few other small sweeties) and not enough exercise completed to counteract the beer calories consumed, but wonderful fun.

In case you missed my post from yesterday, please click here to read the latest guest contribution to fitfor15in15, from personal trainer Richard Wheeler. He has some excellent tips, which I will be taking on board, for (re)starting your fitness!

Signing off with a mixture of photos from the week. Some wouldn’t load a few days ago, but most are from this weekend.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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.