May 18: Monday Runday – 4km

I didn’t think I’d be able to do Monday Runday today, because of that pain in my right butt cheek, which has been … well … A RIGHT PAIN IN THE ARSE!

But after reading in the hammock and finishing off the rest of the lawnmowing in the furthest part of the front lawn, I was itching to do more. Because I was covered in grass clippings and grotty already, I thought, c’mon, why not go for a run and test out the injury?

Worried the 5km would be too far, I did the 4km loop and surprisingly, it went ok. It wasn’t a record-breaking time, at 28 minutes, but that included some jumping of muddy puddles on the trail path through the forest and stopping for three photos. I didn’t have to walk at any stage because of pain, so I’m happy! Six hours later the bum/thigh is still happy too.


A last glimpse of the fields before heading into the woods


A cool trail path, literally and figuratively


Nice to see hay bales near home after so many on the recent Swiss Camino

It was about 24 degrees today. Lovely! Still haven’t taken photos of the new garden plants. Maybe I’m not that inspired by them? I’ve gone for a different planterbox filling  – no geraniums this year! How very un-Swiss! Maybe that’s why I’m not feeling the love?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 4: The force was strong on Monday Runday

Not only is it Monday Runday, it’s also Star Wars Day … May the 4th be with you.

The fourth, I mean force, was strong today on my 5km run. Apart from stopping to take the odd photo and having to walk 200m to get rid of a stitch (again!), I felt really good and was happy with my time. I think I’m so worried about being dehydrated and getting that weird pain in my ears, I overcompensate and drink too much water before I head out.


At the beginning of the run, one of these tracks was a little creek


Looking towards Sariswil


These calves looked so cute, I had to stop for a photo


So sweet – they ran over to say hello!


Maybe I smelt good, but I doubt it


In the end, they all lined up for their 15 minutes of fame


Saw a man using a strange machine in the fields, and waved … and maybe ran a little harder! Such a dag


Rape seed in full bloom


I startled this heron (?) in the puddle and it flew off majestically

I had thought about taking a longer route, but then chickened out at the last minute. Probably a good thing, as it was really humid (no wind too) and I ended up having to shed top layers and run in my tank top – first time that’s ever happened in Switzerland!

As part of my cool-down, I walked back to the tulip field (I measured it as 550m from our house) but the ducks from yesterday were gone. I bought a bunch of solid hot pink flowers as consolation.


Magnificent tulip with insects!


The bunch from yesterday, downstairs


The new bunch from today, upstairs

The tulips aren’t going to be around for much longer – I’m almost tempted to collect a bunch of beautiful white ones, with pointy tips, tomorrow!

This morning was rainy and pretty miserable, so while waiting for a break in the weather, I mended the split in the backside of my apple-green cotton trousers. Initially I thought my pants would only be good enough for garden work afterwards, but I think I did such a good job, and the thread matched so well, I can wear them out again. (Can’t believe (and am very thankful) a hotel sewing kit carried that colour!) Then again, I may have been without my glasses when looking in the mirror … And after taking this photo, I’m now having second thoughts. I’ll wear a long top. 🙂


Maybe my mending effort wasn’t so invisible after all …

All this rain has made our next holiday plans a bit sketchy – from next weekend, we’re planning to walk the first third of the Swiss Camino, from Constance to Einsiedeln. It should take about five to six days of walking, and is only 93km long, but if it’s going to be too wet, maybe we’ll have to rethink our plans. We walked the second (middle) section from Einsiedeln to Thun in 2012 and hopefully we’ll complete the third and final stage from Thun to Geneva before too long.

  • Physically Fit: Monday Runday – 5km jumping across the muddy puddles
  • Mentally Fit: Walking to the tulip field again and talking to the calves
  • Nutritionally Fit: Sixth day of fasting (500 calories) on the 5:2 Diet (and start of the final week perhaps?)
  • Minimalism: Mending the green pants

Have you been out wandering in your neighbourhood recently? I’d love to hear about what you see when you go walking or running.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 27: Monday Runday … or Runday Monday?

Mondays have been run days for the past few weeks, with mixed results, so I’ve decided to rename Monday as Runday Monday, or Monday Runday. Which one do you like best?

Either way, I’ll continue to run every Monday, mixing between 4km and 5km paths for now, and who knows, maybe I’ll be on track to meet my goal of 8km by the end of the year – if I can curb that head-splitting pain in my ears enough to actually run.

It’s cool and windy here today and I’m nervous about heading out (because of what happened last time in these conditions). I’ll wait until this afternoon, when I’m completely hydrated and feeling warmed up. Hopefully the wind will have died down a bit too.

So to keep you amused until I’ve exercised, here is a new series I’m starting (please excuse my immaturity) called

Funny German words as heard by a native English speaker

#1: der Dudelsack

The bagpipes. When I first heard it, my brain spelled it doodlesack, which takes on a whole different meaning. *crying right now* Try saying it loudly five times without smiling or laughing.

#2: Wankdorf Stadium

Where Bern’s top-tier football team plays its home games. Try saying that loudly once without smirking. Visitors see the signs and ask, “Is that real?” But the best part? The name of Bern’s football team. 🙂 Oh you’re going to love this … Young Boys. Young Boys play at Wankdorf. Nearly four years here and that never gets old. 🙂

Ok, enough college humour, how did the run go? Well, I wish it took me as little time as it did to tell those gags!

Inspired by yesterday’s London Marathon, and the efforts of my friend Ellie (read her hilarious training routine here. She did it in four hours and 23 minutes! Go Ellie!) I thought I’d tackle the 5km circuit (yes, how big of me – she runs 42km, I do five).

This circuit has no Big Ben views or wandering tourists, but a short steep incline after 700m, then it’s relatively flat for the second kilometre, with a slight decline during the third, then a slight incline on the fourth, then a slight decline on the fifth. And guess what … I got a stitch at the bottom of the third, and top of the fifth (sounds like a baseball game) … right after the declines. So I had to walk for about 500m total, to get rid of that bitchy stitchy. Here are some tips for pesky stitches.

It seems my cardio fitness is really suffering at the moment – too much yoga and not enough prolonged sweating, perhaps? Maybe I need more Jillian Michaels when the weather’s crappy, and running more than once a week when the weather’s good? Hmmm … On a positive note (there’s always a positive), I didn’t get the pain in my ears. The wind was warmer than expected, so I think that made a big difference.


Who cares really, but here’s today’s run!

I walked the first minute or so as a warm up, then jogged, shuffled and walked my way through the rest. Tick, but not a big one. Huni, Liliane’s friend, was in her garden again, but I didn’t stop this time. She shouted out “Hop! Hop!” (which means Go! Go! in Swiss German) as I waved on my way past.

  • Physically Fit: 4.5km run, 500m walk
  • Mentally Fit: Listening to more of Cary Elwes book about The Princess Bride movie
  • Nutritionally Fit: Fifth day of fasting on the 5:2 Diet – 500 calories. Breakfast smoothie 280 calories (37g raspberries – 20 calories; 300ml coconut water – 72 calories; 80g strawberries – 26 calories; 182g banana – 162 calories (whoa, I had no idea the banana would be so much until it was already in!). Dinner 220 calories – mixed salad with tuna, sniff of olive oil
  • Minimalism: I went through my t-shirts to see if any could be turfed, but kept them all

So, another Runday Monday, or Monday Runday, is done and dusted. It’s time to get serious about cardio fitness. Despite Ellie saying she’d never do it again, maybe, just maybe, I’ll run a marathon one day too.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 13: 4km run, 40 minute walk and day one of the 5:2 Diet


Sunshine, garden lights and purple blooms

What a glorious day! Best day of spring so far. A light, warm breeze, 20 degrees Celsius and plenty of sunshine – perfect conditions for a run.

Because I’ve been eating like a queen the past week, I decided to do the 4km circuit rather than the new 5km track, to ease myself back into the running swing. It all felt good – I was powering through the course and did the second kilometre in under 6 minutes which is a first for me. I actually felt like I was running today, rather than shuffling.

Then at 2.5km, I saw a friend of Liliane and Rene’s in her garden with her grandchildren, so stopped for a decent chat.

Then at the 3km mark, the cows from my favourite farmhouse were being taken from the sheds into the little field across the road, so I watched and waited as they made their way into the sunshine.


Achtung! Cows crossing

Thinking I was home and hosed for a good sprint to the finish, I ran into the neighbour from the big farmhouse who has two small children. She was pushing them in a pram, so I walked the final 500m with them.

Even though it was a stop-start run, it was still great to be outside and I’m happy with the way I was feeling. Maybe another day this week I’ll try the circuit again and see what time I can manage. Today, I would have been on track for my best time, I think.


How’s that for a view? Taken on the run home

Once home, I put on a wider brimmed hat and walked down to the local supermarket to buy some dinner things. That round trip is 40 minutes. I waved to a friendly farmer and felt my toodles (wobbly fat on the upper arm) swing in the breeze, but I’m pretty confident there’s less than the beginning of the year!


This friendly farmer gave a wave, so I gave him a doubly enthusiastic one back, toodles and all!

Today is the first day of the 5:2 Diet. I’ve been planning it in my head for a little while. So far so good.

  • Breakfast – a medium grapefruit – 80 calories
  • Lunch – a boiled egg, 50g – 78 calories
  • Two cups of peppermint tea – 0 calories
  • After-run snack – vanilla protein powder in a 200ml glass of milk – 71 calories and 136 calories respectively (the milk needed to be used. Normally I don’t drink cows milk but didn’t want to waste it!)

That totals 365 calories. Dinner is going to be a mixed salad:

  • 100g lettuce leaves – 7 calories
  • Two medium tomatoes – 44 calories
  • Half a cucumber – 32 calories
  • A spring onion – 12 calories
  • Two small carrots – 41 calories

That totals 136 calories (no dressing – a teaspoon of olive oil has 40 calories!), for a grand total of 501 calories. So that’s that! If you can see anything wrong with my calculations, please let me know – being a novice calorie counter means I’m bound to make some mistakes. But hopefully not.

I was dreading the whole calorie counting rubbish but found an excellent service on Google. We have a small set of kitchen scales which made the measurements very easy. In Google search, I typed in “how many calories in a tomato” etc and this came up – how convenient! You can put in any food and it will tell you. My friend Bec also sent me a list of veggies and calories she compiled when she did the 5:2 Diet a while ago, which is a great help.

So there you go. Hopefully I can make it through another few episodes of “The Killing” tonight without getting the munchies, because there’s nothing left for today (that milk was a doozy!). How many calories are in 100g of oil-popped popcorn? The whole day’s allowance! Damn. Maybe tomorrow 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 23: Sprint training


Clouds over the Alps but a great day to be outdoors

I’ve never done sprint training before, but have often thought how inviting and perfect that long stretch of grass is in our garden. So today, I donned the sneakers and went about giving myself an earache and nearly twisting an ankle.

The ‘track”, which is about 80m long, isn’t flat at all, with lots of holes and divots, from who knows what, making it harder than running on a road or flat track. I suppose it could be like trail running but without the rocks and roots to bring you undone. The grass was quite soft too, from yesterday’s rain, which possibly made it a bit harder. (Can you tell I’m looking for any excuse? I’m appalled by how hard it was!)

With the timer on my MapMyRun app going, it took me, on average, about one minute to walk the 80m, at a very leisurely pace, and then 20 seconds to run back. I did this for 17 minutes, which means I sprinted 12 times. I haven’t sprinted like that – full-on, flat out running as fast as possible – since, well, most likely, primary school. Ahh, fitfor15in15 is stretching my boundaries!

Afterwards I felt a bit woozy; I still feel a bit odd more than half an hour later. I must have looked an absolute treat too, sprinting and wobbling all over the place, trying not to roll an ankle but focussed on making it to the end. And of course, like any kid in a running race, I had to touch the road before turning around, and touch the caravan at the other end to make it feel legit.


I walked from here to the bitumen road just before the white building …


… and then ran from this spot back to the caravan underneath the trees

Now that I know it can be done, I’ll definitely do it again. I was aiming for 20 minutes, but had to stop – it felt like both middle ears were going to explode. Does anyone ever feel that pain after hard-ish exercise? I’ll try for 20 minutes next time and hopefully up the walking pace a bit too.

Do you do sprint training? Do you have any tips for a novice?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 19: A new running path and distance

Wow, my calf muscles were sore this morning! I could hardly walk when I got out of bed! Yesterday’s Badass Yoga, with lots of downward dog stretches, really got my legs working. So I thought I’d put them to the test again with a … wait for it … drumroll … 5km run.

To date, I’d only ever jogged the same 4km path through the forest (a grand total of four times this year! Woo hoo!). This time I wanted to try 5km, so shuffled along my normal walking path towards Möriswil, then instead of going through the village on the bitumen road (which I like to do when walking so I can visit the miniature horses), I took an earlier forest road and didn’t see a soul the entire time. I used to listen to music when jogging, but lately, I’ve really enjoyed just listening to the peace and quiet, and all the birds, too.

The idea of running 5km today came from my friend Bec, who lives just outside Melbourne in Australia. She commented on a previous post, mentioning her fitness goals for 2015, then asked what mine were. I’d never actually written them down before, or thought about them much, other than wanting to feel fitfor15in15. So for the first time, I now have a proper list of fitness goals for 2015. I want to be able to:

  1. Do 2 minutes of plank
  2. Leave my elbows on the floor while lying on my legs or stretching out between my legs
  3. Do the splits comfortably again
  4. Fit into the strapless dress I bought after the Camino
  5. Have toned/slimmer arms
  6. Jog 8km (I’m not a runner though, so that could be unrealistic!)
  7. Improve my balance, especially on one leg doing yoga moves

I might add a few more down the track, but for now, that’s pretty good.

And my time running today was pretty good too, I think, finishing the 5km in 32 minutes 46 seconds. I walked for the first two minutes as a warm up, then had a mix of reasonably steady up and down gradients which saw me faster in the third kilometre (I’d like to think I was in the zone, but really, there was more downward gradient running than in the other sections). Now that I know this path is exactly 5km from door to door, I may have run my last 4km on the old track. There are no photos from the new path because I didn’t want to take any pauses, but I can tell you my head was as red as a tomato when I got home.

Thank you Bec, for encouraging me to write down my goals. Written goals are achieved more than those that aren’t, so it was about time I put them on paper. If I want to run 8km by the end of the year, it was time to up the ante, and seeing that inspired me to attempt my first 5km run in many, many years.

On a nervous note, right now, as I’m typing, a group of people who are interested in buying Liliane and Rene’s property – the big farm house, our Stoekli and the land – are wandering around the place. It’s incredibly sad thinking we may not be living here for much longer. The property has been on the market for two years (things don’t move fast here in Switzerland!) and this group have been here a few times before, so I think they’re getting serious. Rene and Liliane have had enough of the responsibility of maintaining everything and would like something smaller that they can lock up and leave easily for when Liliane retires.

Leo and I have often talked about what we’d do if we had the money to buy here. We’d turn some of the apartments into holiday rentals and set up a country B&B. It would be perfect, with all the grass and pool, for families and people who want to get away from it all. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re the ones who will eventually be getting away from it all – by moving! But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, we’ll just keep enjoying what we have, which is pretty darn special.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 12: 4km run and a bathroom cupboard cleanup

The tried and tested 4km path through the forest was stomped on again by me today. This was only my fourth run/shuffle this year, which I’m finding hard to believe! The previous ones were January 10, February 13 and February 20. The weather and a sore foot have played some part in this, of course, but I really thought I would have done more by now.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m improving! Using the MapMyRun app on my phone, I can see I’ve done 31:15 (fell over), 26:15 (must have had a tailwind), 29:32 and today’s effort was 27:19. A bit all over the place really. And I do like to stop for the odd photo or two.


There was an incredibly cold wind today, which made this blue-sky run not as much fun as it looks like it should be


The sun lead me along the path

But, it’s done and it was good to be outside, even if the headwind was freezing and it felt like I was on the verge of getting an ice cream headache the entire way.

This morning, I was motivated to get out of bed early and tackle the bathroom cabinets. For some reason, I really felt the need to declutter. I’m sure there’s a scientific reason for this (or a mental one!). The thought of “the mess” in one of the cupboards was making me cringe. There isn’t really all that much stuff in there, but then again, there is … know what I mean?!

Old things went that hadn’t been used in ages. I held them and asked the Marie Kondo question, “Does it spark joy?” In some cases, it was more like, “Could that make me sick?” A red lipstick (how long should you keep them for before they go off?), green eye shadow (what was I thinking? Haven’t worn it once in three years), a makeup bag, an old mascara (which was a great size for travelling but it’s a few years old now and it says to keep for six months on the packaging), two makeup brushes and some penicillin tablets past their use-by date (for tonsillitis which flares up now and then). I thanked them all for their efforts and in the bin they went.

Then, to top off my OCDness, I made a list of every item of mine in the bathroom, everything, using the Evernote app, and sorted them into groups such as Creams – Face; Creams – Body; Nails, hands and feet; Cleansers; Perfumes; Oils; Face; Eyes; Lips; Sunscreens … you get the idea. There are now 16 different lists within the “Bathroom Supplies” notebook. I know, I know … I need a job.

At least I now know the names of everything I use for when they need replacing. If they get replaced. In an ideal world, I’d just use soap, moisturiser and a toothbrush, but I’m not quite that minimalistic (yet!). And I don’t think my sensitive skin would love me for it either. Most of the lists aren’t extensive. I have two perfumes, four oils, and five sunscreens all in various states of emptiness. But I do have seven lipsticks (mattes and glosses) and six lip balms … hmmm …

Some things were simplified. I love tiny ziplock plastic bags for travelling (about 7cm x 8cm) and had several made-up with cotton buds (must clean my ears to get the water out after washing my hair), headache tablets, penicillin tablets, toothpick things, the occasional band-aid or Compeed plaster (a must on all long walks), hayfever tablets … oh the list goes on.

Rather than the four or five I seemed to have in various states of use, I now have one, and only one, ready to go in my travel toiletry bag. Which is just a small waterproof makeup bag really. Lots of people swear by the ones you can hang, but for me they’re too bulky. The bag is now ready for any spur of the moment weekend trips, and will oggle me longingly with a desire for adventure every time I open the lower cupboard.

Does your skin go crazy in winter? I get a shocking case of winter itch which sometimes prevents me from getting to sleep. It seems to happen most, when my skin is warm but dry, while lying on the couch or in bed. Thankfully, a good chemist recommended a body cream at the start of the year and it’s hardly been an issue this year. I didn’t take it to Strasbourg and whadiyaknow, after three days I was covered in tiny, red, itchy bumps. It’s starting to go away now thanks to this …


This stuff is the best winter-itch cream. Life saver!

What other wafflings can I bore you with from today? Umm … I watched another Miss Marple, I searched the internet for jobs (nothing!), I read, I ran, I ate … oh yes, and how I ate!! For some reason, I have a hunger today that can not be satiated. After the run, I immediately had a glass of water, four small round slices of a baguette with soft cheese, salmon and cucumber, then an apple, then a cup of tea, then a few spoons of yoghurt with protein powder and fresh raspberries, two small easter bunny chocolates (5cm high), then (yes … and then!) four rice cakes with honey drizzled over the top … and I still can’t wait for dinner!

Just writing about it is making me hungry. I’m off to warm up two of these little beauties, which we had fresh last night with a salad. They were delicious.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 20: A 4km run through the forest


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.


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.)


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

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 13: Plenty of luck on a 4km run in the forest

I’m not overly superstitious, but occasionally I touch wood and avoid walking under ladders and so on. This morning, I joked with Leo that I wouldn’t leave the house for fear of something going wrong. Strange things can happen on Friday the 13th, or on any other day to be honest …

Throwing caution to the wind, I DID leave the house – to christen my new jogging/shuffling sneakers. A big risk, considering I took a tumble on my last run, and still have the scars to prove it!


Out with the old …


… and in with the new!

The white ones had served me well for the past six years, not that they were flogged to death or anything, but running – sorry, shuffling – in the forest over the past few years had taken its toll.

So when I saw these new ones also 50% cheaper (in a continuation of the sale where I bought my indoor sneakers), I couldn’t resist. It was time for replacements and at half price, resistance was useless.

The track through the forest was still very icy and covered in snow, despite so much of it melting in all the glorious sunshine over the past few days. Dripping water was such a comforting sound today – it means spring is coming! Normally dripping water makes me want to race to the toilet and if it’s a dripping tap, well that’s another story completely – that noise drives me mental! Ahh, misophonia … the gift that keeps on giving.

At first, I was unsure if these new shoes would provide enough support for that problem with my left foot, which has been diagnosed by a podiatrist as Metatarsalgia. New orthotic inserts/innersoles have helped a lot. The pain was crazy there for a while, and that’s another reason why I haven’t been jogging since January 10.

After testing them out on my usual 4km lollipop loop, which involved some springing from non-muddy patch to non-muddy patch, there was no pain. Happy camper. I didn’t struggle with the slow incline as much as I have in the past, and may have stretched my legs a little longer and held my head a little higher as I ran past the loggers cutting down some trees on the homeward stretch. Such an idiot! All up, the run took me 26 minutes, which included walking as a warm-up for two minutes. I’m getting fitter!

Buying the two new pairs of shoes goes against my minimalistic grain, but the foot problem made it a no-brainer. I know you’re supposed to replace sneakers quite regularly too, so six years was a good stint. And it was so nice to see that flash of colour, especially running through the snow!

Fancy going for a shuffle/jog/run? Even round the block is better than nothing. Start on a flat path and then maybe build up to an incline or two when you feel ready for another challenge. I’m not quite ready to run any further just yet (this being only my second jog – sorry, shuffle – of the year), but with these new shoes I’m looking forward to doing more.

Wishing you a great day.

P.S I cleaned my desk today too.


Space, at last!

There’s no before photo – WAAAAY too embarrassing. It was littered with German books and German magazines and pieces of paper and dust and notebooks and, let’s face it, too much crap to go on like that. Now along with all things computer, I just have a candle and lighter (for my morning routine, done on the floor), the lamp, a little bottle of nice smellies topped with the tiny knitted hat I love, a print of an artwork by Hans Schärer called Madonna 2 (my highlight from an exhibition in Bern in 2012) and a box of tissues.

Surely, with all this space, prize-winning writing will ensue?!

Do you love your creative space? Does it inspire you?