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.

Warm and cool glow

Being a relative newbie in Switzerland (I think the locals consider you to be a newbie even after 20 years, let alone four), I still get a kick out of snow. It’s finally started to hang around, and combined with the welcome sunshine these past few days, it produces some lovely light.

Yesterday morning I took photos about 8.45am, with a warm glow bathing the Stöckli, and today I ventured out at 11.15am when it was clear and bright. I like both lights; they have a certain (but very different) mood that is pleasing. Warm and cool.

The countdown to the house move has well and truly begun … I’m still making the most of every minute.

Do you prefer warm and cosy or cool and crisp?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

No!vember 10-30: Lust for life, lust to write

No!vember came and went faster than I could put fingers to keyboard. I haven’t lost my lust for life, just my lust to write!

And exercise? Well you can pretty much forget about all that, just like me. I can’t even say I’ve been walking 40 minutes a day, because lately I’ve been getting a lift to work with a neighbour in the mornings and with Leo on the way home. Slack! But, happily, I haven’t had to walk too much in the cold.

Snow arrived when I was in Bonndorf, Germany, with the female Usual Suspects plus a few extras. Every year for about 15 years, this group of women has been going to the Black Forest for a long weekend of wellness and spa treatments. This year, I was lucky to be invited. And I’ve been sworn to secrecy – what happens in Bonndorf, stays in Bonndorf! I’m embarrassed to say I was the youngest of the group, and always the first one in bed. Ha! I think speaking German, and listening to Bern-Deutsch being spoken, for four days may have knocked the wind out of me a bit. But it was wonderful, and I can’t wait to go back next year, if they’ll have me. Must lift my game.

On the 30th, we went to see a unit for rent in the centre of Wohlen bei Bern (one minute to the bus and shop!) and we hope we receive a contract soon. Fingers crossed. If we get it, I’ll tell you all about it.

Here are some photos from the past 20 days. *shaking head in disbelief at how slack I’ve been with the blog.*

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 22: A 20-minute walk for eggs

Inspiration came from … ummm … somewhere … on Friday and I baked a chocolate and raspberry cake. Then yesterday, I baked a loaf of bread. Stop me now! Both were incredibly easy and healthy, and turned out just like the photos in the recipes. They’ll be made again. (I should mention this baking/cooking thing is very unlike me. Very.)

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The bread and what’s left of the cake

Making the bread used up our last three eggs, so if we wanted a hearty Sunday breakfast, Leo suggested we walk to the nearest village to buy eggs from the honesty-box shop. It had stopped snowing but for some reason I really wasn’t interested in going for a walk – too cold, too lazy! But Leo’s coaxing did the trick and once we were outside, it was totally worth it.

I moved from Australia to Switzerland just over three years ago, and still find snow intriguing – especially the way it clings to things and the squeaky noise it makes when you walk through it. Hopefully the novelty never wears off (like it must have if you’re living in parts of the USA and Canada right now). There is a disclaimer, though – while snow can be fun, I really don’t do well in the cold.

When we arrived in the village, a chicken was cackling like an old woman; an infectious laugh and soon we couldn’t stop either. I could totally see her as a woman from the 70s, with a cigarette in one hand and a wine glass in the other, leaning suggestively over a table of hors d’oeuvres as she told the most hilaaaaarious story, darling. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a photo of her, as she was hiding under a small tree in her pen. Highlight of the day, after eggs on toast for breakfast of course!

It’s Sunday, so this pleasant 20-minute round trip is today’s fitfor15in15. I’ll raise more of a sweat during the week, promise. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 21: 20-minute arm workout

What a difference a day makes! The sunny times yesterday have now returned to snow.

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The beautiful spring weather of yesterday …

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… and back to winter today

I feel sorry for the poor people involved in the Fasnacht Parade today … what a disappointment! Yesterday, half of Bern would have lined the streets to see the floats and enjoy the bands and elaborate costumes. Today, people will be more inclined to lie on the couch! It’s been snowing since 10am – big, fat snow flakes for six hours so far – and all the greenery is white again.

Hard to believe I was jogging through the forest 24 hours ago. My legs are feeling pretty good, so maybe I need to stretch myself to 5km next time? My arms still feel a bit sore from Tuesday’s workout, so I thought maybe I’d capitalise on that and give just the arms a flogging today. It’s no secret – I want toned arms! These days some women dream of having “Michelle Obama arms”. When I was in high school, we wanted “Madonna arms”. Over 20 years later, I’m toning down the expectations, knowing how much genetics plays a part in all of this, and toning up what I’ve got.

This 8 min 23 sec video, from a ballet studio in Brooklyn, focuses on the arms, shoulders and back with six exercises. Make sure you grab some weights first – I used the trusty chickpea tins. Once you learn how to do each exercise, you can press pause on the video to complete each set of repetitions, before moving on to the next exercise.

For the exercises using single arms, I did two sets of 16 repetitions each side, so they took longer. For the exercises where both arms moved at the same time, I just did two sets of 16. By doing this, the workout totalled 20 minutes, and my arms are shaking as I type! I had to modify some of the exercises (and do one on my knees), because the ceiling in the office is so low.

The instructor uses quite a few ballet terms, so if, like me, you’ve never done a ballet class before, prepare for an education!

Last night we went to dinner with the neighbours Liliane and Rene, and their friends Lotti and Fritz. We spend a lot of time with these guys, especially outside by the pool in summer, along with another couple Eve and Paul.

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From l to r: Rene, Fritz, Lotti, Liliane, me and Leo. Rene looks very small here – he’s actually very tall!

Because we don’t cook a lot of meat at home, I had an amazing steak with salad … and fries 🙂 Yes, I still haven’t completely changed my diet, and at the moment, that doesn’t concern me at all. Doughnuts/donuts are no longer on Saturday’s shopping list, but I’ll still go to town when I … well … go to town!

So, that’s it for today. I hope you’re enjoying the weather, wherever you are! (Those in North America and Canada may not be so excited by what’s happening around them.) And keep an eye out next week for fitfor15in15’s next guest blogger, Karie Parker, who is preparing for her third marathon.

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the weekend.

And as usual, on Saturdays, I like to post some articles and videos I’ve enjoyed this week. Hope you like them too:

Austin Raye is a very fit man. This short video shows his flipping talents. Thanks for bringing him to our attention Rachel!

An enjoyable article and interview with American television presenter Dan Harris about meditation, from the guys behind The Minimalists.

For art lovers out there, this is a book about bark. The pictures are not as dry as the subject matter sounds (badoom tish). Totally beautiful. Thank you Jocelyn, for the link.

This story about cycling, and the rise in popularity of cycling tours, made me feel nostalgic for my trek down the west coast of America in 1999.

And this is just silly! A robot hat has been made in Japan to feed runners tomatoes. John, you are responsible for filling our minds with such craziness.

February 20: A 4km run through the forest

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Sandra ready for her run. Alas we weren’t running together, only in spirit!

After seeing this photo my friend Sandra sent me this morning, I was inspired to go for a run/jog/shuffle too. The weather is amazing – all the windows are open in the house to let the fresh air in, and our jackets are hanging on the clothesline getting an airing. Sandra stepped it up a notch and ran 8km, whereas I settled on my usual 4km track. Maybe when I’m fitter, we’ll go running together?

Seems like quite a few people had the same idea to enjoy the outdoors; I came across three couples and one man out for a stroll. So sweet, seeing the oldies holding hands as they walk in the sunshine. If they’d been eating ice creams on a bench together, I probably would have burst into tears (not sure why, but that gets me every time).

Unfortunately, the icy sections in the forest still haven’t melted. I felt a bit foolish tiptoeing through the dangerous parts (it must look hilarious from a distance) so ended up walking quite a lot, for fear of doing another learner-on-roller-skates impression. Pushing off with the back foot was always the slipperiest part.

And, of course, taking photos slowed me down! I found it hard to get into any kind of rhythm but still managed the 4km in 29 minutes 32 seconds. That’ll do me I say! My third fitfor15in15 run of the year. One bad thing though – as I set off, I realised not one drop of water had passed my lips this morning. I’m making up for it now, guzzling a few litres … in a ladylike manner.

Listening to all the birds and the snow melting has filled me with the joys of spring. It’s supposed to snow again tomorrow and early next week, but today, you wouldn’t believe those weather predictions could come true. Are the seasons changing where you are? I’m feeling for all my Australian friends on the north and east coasts at the moment, suffering in the cyclones. Hope the damages aren’t too bad.

And for something totally different, the sleepy capital city of Switzerland, Bern, came alive yesterday afternoon, thanks to the visiting fans from the Everton Football Club. Their team played Young Boys last night (yes, the football team from Bern is called Young Boys; so odd) in the Europa League and in order to prepare themselves for the match, thousands of fans took over the city. Drinking beer.

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Not sure how they got up there to hang those banners, as I think it’s an office! But they did!

I was meeting my friend Pastora in our favourite bar and we ended up having a hilarious afternoon talking to some of the more refined fans from England’s north – all totally out of the ordinary and very good for the soul. (It was a sad result for Bern and a good one for Everton: 1-4.)

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Pastora with the afternoon’s entertainment – the Everton lads!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 11: 15 minutes of squats and sit ups and … chocolate

As part of Monday’s celebration, Leo bought me a 500gram bag of my favourite chocolate – M&M Peanuts. They’ll be finished tomorrow. Oops. This was NOT part of the fitfor15in15 plan … but gosh, they’re a whole world of yum for me.

Must. Stop. Eating. M&M Peanuts (tomorrow … when the bag is finished). I know I’m addicted, despite not feeling all that great after eating them. Sugar overdose, perhaps? The idea of that crunch gets me all excited, but now, gorged, the thought of half a kilo of chocolate in mah belly is not so cool. No more good news please. I can’t handle the treats.

I spent this morning in the city and then had a lovely lunch at my friend Claudia’s. She cooked a three-course lunch so I didn’t feel like dinner … but still managed to fit in a lot of those coloured balls. 😦

Because I was all juiced up on the little suckers, I did the minimum 15 minutes tonight – squats, lunges, sit ups and knees up with the tin cans going all over the place (in specific movements, not willy nilly) while watching the series Arrested Development. (We’re a little late to the party on this one and have just started watching season one.) But, sorry, back to the exercise …

While shifting my weight from one leg to the other in a side-to-side movement, I could actually feel the muscle above-and-to-the-right of my left knee, and above-and-to-the-left of my right knee. I’m sure they have proper names. But for now, let’s just call them WOW 1 and WOW 2. There are actual muscles there! They moved. Real muscles. Not fake. Gob-smacking, jaw-dropping get-out-of-town real muscles. I haven’t felt the muscles there since The Camino in 2011.

It’s amazing how doing 15 minutes at the moment doesn’t feel hard enough. Maybe exerting myself can be my new addiction? Must up the ante tomorrow … or maybe Friday … when all the nuts are gone.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Oh, and here are some photos from today …

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Taken about 8.45am, on my walk to the bus

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It might be too hard to see, but on this little cleaning cart is a witch broom, just like in Harry Potter. They still use these stick brooms to clean the streets here

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A quick stroll along the Aare river in Bern

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Using English expressions is sometimes considered cool. The play on words with Aare/Are is part of a safety campaign for swimming in the glacial river, which runs very fast in summer when all the snow has made its way down from the mountains

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I think I may have found a good set of stairs to jog up. Looking up to the final part …

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… and looking back down to where I’d come from. A potential killer workout

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Walking across the Aare back into town. I’d been at a meeting in the building under the bridge, which was an old brewery. Sadly, no beers there now, just lots of fitness classes!

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Walking the road home. It’s amazing how quickly the snow has melted, after just two sunny days

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Icy fields

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And finally, the view that greeted me from home

February 10: Beautiful day for a 90-minute walk

Despite still being around -2 degrees, the sun was out and it was time to walk! I may have walked the regular path, but there’s always something new to see, a subtle change, something unexpected … Today’s fitfor15in15 was magical!

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A clear and bright sunrise promised big things … and delivered

The birds seem to have come back in the past few days. I bought some bird food yesterday after collecting my work visa (yes! We celebrated last night with an Aperol Spritz. Yum), but there haven’t been any nibbles so far, despite seeing and hearing plenty of my favourite little sparrows.

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Come on birdies! Come and get it!

The path at the start of the walk had been churned up by a tractor, which made for a hard slog, but once out into the sunshine, it didn’t matter!

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A harder slog than normal

Then it was through the houses and up and over the hill in to Möriswil …

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A funny little cloud

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Another house has put out some food for the birds

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An icy, uphill path made for some interesting times

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These sheep have never been here before! What a great surprise!

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Friendly faces (and not so friendly-looking bums!)

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Their clanging neck bells made a stop-start melody

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This path leads to Möriswil, but the village in the distance is Säriswil

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People have put a lot of love and care into this fellow!

And again, Möriswil provided new things to see and experience …

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A lovely piece of nature’s art from a gutter

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Drainage art

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An old Stoeckli used for storage now. A family probably lived in it 100 years ago, or more. Our Stoeckli is over 150 years old

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One of the beautiful houses in the neighbouring village of Möriswil. I walk here often

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A heavy duty icicle at the little ponies’ house

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Smooth to the touch

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The horses weren’t interested in a pat today – they had fresh hay! Move on woman!

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Not many hours spent in this hammock at the moment! Can you spot the dog in the driveway?

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The trusty yellow Wanderweg signs

Then it was back into the forest and out the other side for a big surprise!

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This sign means trucks CAN’T go through here at any time. In Australia, a slash through the middle means you can’t, but here, just the red ring means no permission. “Kein Winterdienst” means the road isn’t serviced/maintained in winter

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Walking through snow like this reminded me of walking barefoot through soft sand. Hard going!

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Someone’s been wanderwegging through the fields!

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I jogged through the colder, shaded sections

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Straight and true

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Patterns

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Unfortunately, the trampoline had a private sign on it. I was keen for a bounce!

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A misty Alpine outline

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Talk about getting a surprise! This skier came out of nowhere. I’d never seen anyone skiing around here before! It’s farmland!

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Peter stopped for a photo and we talked for a while. He’s lived in this area his entire 67 years, and had been exercising/skiing for two hours when we met

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Off he goes. Thanks for the chat!

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Bye bye Peter! Would have been lovely, looking at the misty Alps the whole way home to his village

I did my best impersonation of a first-time roller skater on a frozen section of path, and almost fell over from the shock (and laughing at what it must have looked like!). All part of the winter fun. Then it was home to do some work.

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Achtung! I nearly came a cropper on this icy section. It would have been hilarious to watch as I over-corrected myself for about five seconds

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I love the contrast between all the colours. So fresh and clean, you can almost smell it

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The final stretch home

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Patches where no snow goes

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Hey! Another snowman

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A little less elaborate, but still just as sweet

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Back home. There was a flower garden in there a few months ago. Who walked through it?

Have you been for a walk in your neighbourhood recently? You might think it’s boring and you’ve seen it all before, but it’s an ever-changing experience. You never know what you might see or who you might meet – I wouldn’t have seen the sheep and met a true local today if I’d stayed at home. Go on … go for a wander.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 1: 15 minutes of strength exercises

Once again, I’ve left it too late in the day to exercise properly. I’m finding it hard on the weekends to do exercise!

While we were watching the men’s Australian Open tennis final this morning, the weather was gorgeous.

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Blue skies!

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Everything looks amazing in this kind of light

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Love the white trees

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And the white telephone wires! Our little house is looking good!

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Probably not the right footwear!

When we were ready to do something, it was snowing and yuck.

So I made the most of the afternoon doing something fun, which I’ll tell you more about tomorrow.

Tonight, I did 15 minutes of strength exercises in the office, as before – squats and lunges with the tin cans etc – and this time I threw in the occasional salute to the sun. My butt is feeling quite sore from the previous days’ exercises too. Yippee!

The weather’s supposed to be horrifically cold over the next few days, so I apologise in advance for my own prediction – an onslaught of blog posts to keep me occupied!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

January 25: Two-hour walk in the neighbourhood

Going for a walk on a Sunday just seems right, doesn’t it? We left at 12.45pm and arrived home at 2.45pm. The change in the weather was really noticeable, going from grey to brilliant blue, and by the time we were close to home, walkers were everywhere.

We went through villages and forests, where we stomped our way through mud, but were lucky enough to come home with clean shoes thanks to the endless snow.

I hope you enjoy the collection of photos from today’s two-hour fitfor15in15 walk from our house to Möriswil, Sariswil, Wohlen bei Bern and home again.

Wishing you a wonderful day.