May 20: Tulip season is over – with a bull…dozer

My fitfor15in15 exercise today was to walk to the shops and back. I’m counting this as 40 minutes of exercise because I could have borrowed the neighbour’s car. Cheating?! No! The weather was pretty average again and also cold, so walking instead of driving was a torture of sorts. 🙂

What was even more torturous was seeing the tulip field. It’s gone! All gone! Bulldozed! And they’ve taken away the little shelter where you wrapped the flowers and paid the money into the honesty box. What the?

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Walking to the tulip field. These clouds were ominous but cool. Corn growing in foreground

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And there it was – the bad news

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Blumen zum selber pflucken …

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Is no more … totally flattened

But it’s not all doom and gloom, because …

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A new flower field is across the road

No tulips, but soon there’ll be gladioli and … other flowers that I have no idea about. It’s a smaller space but hopefully it will yield as many colourful blooms, and make me as happy, as the original one. (A neighbour said it’s being rested after years of flowers, so the soil can rejuvenate. Next year it will probably be sprouting corn, sunflowers or wheat.)

But it’s the end of an era. Sob. I loved that field! Especially when the Alps were in clear view – you could take a photo of the flowers in the foreground with the mountains behind. This new field faces the other way. Oh well … that’s nature.

If you would like to see photos of the tulip field from this season, starting from the green shoots, click here, here (first blooms), here (at sunset), here (the best gallery), here (the pink and green one) and here (the vases at home). Sob. Now, they’re just memories … 😉

So you don’t feel sad too, here’s a happy cow.

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I shall name thee Betsy. The buildings in the top right are where we live

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 15: Injured at home in the dry

I think it rained once today – all day! Thank goodness we were home, warm and dry. It was also five degrees Celsius – a wee bit cooler than the previous four days! Oh the joy of lying on the couch, looking out the window, thinking what could have been! Horrible! Just horrible!

In general, I haven’t had to walk much in bad weather. The worst experience was in the Black Forest in 2013, when I plodded along for a day in non-stop rain. Stupidly, before I set off, I wondered how wet could I possibly get in seven hours? After one, the only dry part of me was my chest.

Water had soaked up my sleeves past my elbows (using walking sticks meant the water had the chance to run up and down my arms), it pooled around my toes when walking downhill and my rain jacket puckered in such a way under my backpack’s waistband that water poured straight towards my crotch. My walking pants weren’t waterproof and hung so low with the weight of the water that after only a few hours I was treading on the cuffs.

That was the day I saw one other walker. We nodded as we passed each other going in opposite directions and after about 20 metres, unprompted, we both turned around to look at each other and burst out laughing. I know we were both thinking, “Phew! I’m not the only idiot out in this weather!” Despite the dire conditions, the spontaneity of that moment is a happy memory.

That was also the day I vowed to always carry an umbrella in the future, to keep the rain off my face. My clothes dried pretty quickly and it took five changes of stuffed newspaper in my shoes for them to dry overnight.

My current right butt cheek injury still has me baffled. I don’t know how I did it, but I could feel a twinge on day two. On day three, after sitting in the buttercup field, it was really hurting. Everything was generally fine yesterday, except for the final hour into Einsiedeln, and I thought it was going to be ok. Plenty of heat-generating cream later, I’m still hobbling and really hope it will be fixed for Monday Runday!

Needless to say no major exercise for me today. I did some push-ups and sit ups but took it really easy and caught up on lots of reading. That’s good mental fitness!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 14: Swiss Camino Day 5

Well, the final day has come and gone, and my right butt cheek is pretty happy it’s ended, but the rest of me wishes we were walking for longer.

Today we did a shorter stretch of 16km from Rapperswil to Einsiedeln, to finish the first third of the Swiss Camino, but because there was a fair bit of uphill it took us about six hours (with stops). See here if you want a detailed description of our whole journey, written by people from the Camino.

When we walked the middle section of the Swiss Camino in 2012 we started in Einsiedeln, so it was a logical end point for this trip. We can now say we’ve walked across two-thirds of Switzerland.

Leaving Rapperswil, you walk through the city, past the marina and onto a wooden footbridge which crosses the Lake of ZĂŒrich. What a great way to start the final day, listening to all the birds nesting on the lake, which is a nature reserve. Once across, we walked along a train line for a while, and then headed up, up, up to St Meinrad, where we stopped for a quick sugary drink and then started, for me, the highlight of the trip.

This section, between St Meinrad and Einsiedeln, is the postcard vision we have in our head of what Switzerland looks like – snow capped mountains, lakes, fields, cows, little wooden houses and glorious greenery. I kept taking photos of the same section of landscape, hoping to properly capture its beauty, but, alas, no picture can portray just how awe inspiring it is. You’ll have to come see for yourself!

Another highlight was being charged by a little cow. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of that, but I would have loved a video of him bouncing in front of me, being all threatening, and me running away flailing my walking sticks in the air.

When we arrived in Einsiedeln, home of a very huge monastery, we were shocked by how many people were there, but it is a religious public holiday in Switzerland today, so maybe we shouldn’t have been too surprised! Because of this we didn’t go into the church, as we’d seen it on our previous trip.

We stopped for a much-needed late lunch and then caught the train to Bern and then the bus to Wohlen. It took just over two and a half hours to get home. While walking that 10 minute path from the bus, we felt the first spits of rain, and as I type this, at 10.30pm, it’s raining heavily. Our decision to compress the five-day walk into four days was a good one, because the weather has quickly turned from amazing to miserable.

Signing off for now. The photos once again will tell a better story than me. I think I might start a new section on this blog about walking, with the various hikes we’ve done, but need to work out if the time it takes to set it all up is worth it. Would you like to see more photos of other walks around the UK and Europe?

We haven’t slept well the previous two nights, so hopefully being in our own bed will put everything right again, including that strained butt cheek??

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 13: Swiss Camino Day 4

Today was tougher than I care to admit, and it was the shortest of the three days we’ve walked so far. Why so tough? Because so much if it – I’m thinking about three quarters of it – was on asphalt. That stuff is a killer, especially when you can see green grass so close by. Walking on a street/sidewalk/footpath is so much tougher on the feet than a natural path and we’re both suffering because of it.

I had my phone interview at 8am which I think was ok (please be good!) and then we left the Hörnli at about 8.45am. Lots of downhill to start the day and then into Steg … and then a very long straight footpath next to a busy road for about an hour. Ugh! Reprieve came in a short grassy path but then it was back onto a narrow road which serviced some smaller villages.

We chatted with another walker in a lovely field of wildflowers and she cracked us up. The first thing she said was the Canton of ZĂŒrich, being Protestant, had terrible signs for the Jakobsweg, or Swiss Camino, which is a Catholic pilgrimage. We laughed at first but then we had to agree with her. Not only was this 24km stretch between Hörnli and Rapperswil tough (yes that is the real name of this lovely village on Lake ZĂŒrich – I always joke about it being full of rappers), but the signs were pretty non-existent. The woman we spoke with in the field had been on a very long detour thanks to bad signposting, which involved going a long way down only to have to come a long way back up again. She was livid!

Later we spoke with an old woman who ran a little cafe for walkers/pilgrims and she said a few years ago, the canton had ordered all the Jakobsweg signs to be taken down, and because they live on the path, her husband had bought a few of them at the markets and put them up again! They were very helpful, so hats off to him for his foresight!

We struggled slowly into town just after 4pm and I’d lost my sense of humor by the time we found an overpriced hotel. I had a pain shooting from my right butt cheek down my thigh and Leo was also struggling. Why do we do this? Oh that’s right, it’s fun!

We did see amazing snow-covered Alps (the photos don’t really show them so well) and an incredible storm rolling in which thankfully bypassed us, but we were both very happy for the day to hurry up and end.

Even though it’s a lovely city, Rapperswil goes on the ‘must-see next time’ list for when we have more energy. We had a quick drink on the waterfront and then pizza near the hotel, where Leo cracked me up. I took a photo of him at the table and he was surprised that the man who refuses to wear sunscreen could be so sunburnt!

It was warm again today, and our decision to make the five day trip into a four day trip seems to be a good one, because bad weather is forecast for Friday, which would have been our last day of walking. Thankfully, tomorrow is our last day and we’ll be home and comfy on the couch when the bad weather kicks in.

Hope you enjoy the photos. No surprises that I didn’t take many photos of walking along the roads and on the footpaths etc. Hardly inspiring stuff!

I’ll post descriptions when I’m home.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 12: Swiss Camino Day 3

Another long day with a very steep and arduous hill at the end but the view from the top is worth it!

It was pretty warm today, even I can admit that. I had sweat droplets coming down my face which hasn’t happened for a very long time! We left the accommodation in Tobel at 8.45am (we’re creatures of habit it seems) after a big breakfast talking to the owners and another couple who are walking one more day with their dog.

First came some fields with fresh hay bales, then some flat parts, then some hilly parts, then lunch in Fisherlingen, then some really beautiful forested parts and then finally some open parts which were very, very steep. Leo asked me was it just him or was I suffering on the incline too? I was suffering. We arrived in Hörnli just after 4pm and decided after 28km that was enough for one day. It was time to stop and enjoy that view.

Hope you enjoy the photos. I’ll write descriptions when I’m home.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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May 11: Swiss Camino Day 2

We set off just before 9am after a hearty breakfast at our hotel in Constance, through the city for about half an hour and then into a lovely forest area next to a stream. After just over three hours we arrived at our intended destination, MĂ€rstetten, and thought why stop now? So we went on, for another four hours and made it to Tobel. Just over seven hours of walking and about 26km under our belts.

All up a wonderful day in the sunshine with plenty of spectacular views and animals and hay bales. We’ve had dinner and my hayfever tablet has worn off and my nose is running and I can’t stop sneezing so I’m going to keep this short!

We’re definitely going to feel our legs and feet tomorrow and are worried we may have overdone it on day one! But the weather was too good to stop. Leo has a sore part at the back of his knee and I have a blister on the back of my left heel. Not to worry! We’ll power on tomorrow (we’ll probably be up quite early as it’s 8.15pm and Leo is asleep already!) and see how far we can go.

Enjoy the small selection of photos. I’ll add descriptions when I get home.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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May 10: Swiss Camino Day 1

We caught the train at 9am from Bern to Weinfelden, then changed trains to the smaller local train to arrive in Constance, Germany, at 11.35am.

I was here in July last year with Pastora and her husband Leo, his friend Sven and her friend Rosa. My Leo was at his school reunion. I was looking forward to coming back and sharing the beautiful scenery with Leo.

Leo thought he’d never been here before, but when he saw a building he exclaimed, “My sister had her wedding reception there!” So it turns out he’s been to Constance before too. 😉

It’s on the Bodensee, or Lake of Boden, on the border of Germany and Switzerland and there’s plenty to see and do here for all ages. We had a great afternoon wandering around the cobbled laneways and slowly taking in the sights. I’ll let the photos tell the story.

Looking forward to setting off tomorrow morning after a hearty breakfast for the first stage of walking.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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Travelling Light: Toiletries and make-up

Finally! I can’t believe it’s taken me five months to write about what I take when travelling. I love to pack light – just love it! Some may look at this and think ‘that’s not light’, and I’m cool with that! Everyone’s different, so, without further ado, here’s what’s in my new toiletry bag.

It’s a three-zippered number from deuter, with a capacity of 1.2 litres, weighing 50g when empty.* Until recently, I used a single zippered lightweight case from Eagle Creek (which I can’t find on the internet), but I’m loving the organisation options of the new bag – three compartments for easy access!

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The old … (pen is for size reference)

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… and the new

We’re (hopefully, depending on the weather) going hiking/walking for five to six days next week from Constance to Einsiedeln in Switzerland, which is basically the first third of the Swiss Camino.

We don’t know where we’ll be staying along the way, so I have to assume that some nights may be in youth hostels or basic hotels, where no toiletries are provided.

Sample or travel sizes are your friend (most of these were free!). Here’s what I’ve packed for one week:

  • Toothbrush (very lightweight and slim)
  • Toothpaste (I have two small toothpastes 25ml and 30ml, each about a third full, so will take them both to use them up)
  • Floss (mini)
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Dental things

  • Shampoo (sample/travel size, 30ml)
  • Conditioner (sample/travel size, 30ml)
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Shampoo and conditioner

  • Body and face moisturiser (in orange GoToob, 60ml)
  • Deodorant (spray bottle, 30ml)
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Moisturiser and spray deodorant

  • Contact lenses
  • Contact lens case
  • Contact lens solution (15ml)
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So I can see the pretty scenery!

  • Soap (for face and body, 40g)
  • Toner (love a refreshing spritz of toner, 10ml)
  • Perfume (a sachet and a small sample size (1.5ml) – nice for a few evenings!)
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Soap, toner and perfume samples

  • Tablets (hayfever, vitamins, headache, penicillin (for tonsillitis), gastro-stop (the last two are for just-in-case moments) in a small plastic ziplock bag
  • Cotton buds
  • Toothpick
  • Bandaids
  • Hotel-size sewing kit (for dealing with (hopefully no) blisters). The past four items are all in a small ziplock bag)
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Tablet bag and cotton bud bag

  • Hairbrush (foldable with a mirror inside)
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Folding hairbrush

  • Foundation (sample size, 7ml)
  • Eye and cheek powder (silver duo compact)
  • Eye and cheek brush (small)
  • Eyeliner (mini)
  • Mascara (very thin, light and short)
  • Lip balm
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Make-up items

When it’s all listed out, it looks like so much, but I’ll use everything (except possibly the make-up) every day.

Now it all goes into the three pockets of the washbag:

  • Back zip: Brush, make-up
  • Middle zip: Soap, shampoo, conditioner, toner, moisturiser, deodorant, contact lens things, packet of tablets, packet with cotton buds etc
  • Front zip: Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
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Back compartment (without the brush)

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Main compartment, with ziplock bags and soap flat at the bottom

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Front compartment

And this is what it looks like when it’s all zipped up. There’s still a bit of room in there, and will gain more as the tablets get taken.

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All zipped up and ready to go. Total weight 620 grams

I’m pretty happy with that total weight, just over half a kilo, and if I didn’t feel the need to pretty myself up at night, I would ditch the make-up completely.

But wait? What about sunscreen, I hear you say! I wear a wide-brimmed hat, neck scarf, long-sleeved top and pants to avoid sunburn (damn thee fair, sensitive skin!) and carry a small sample-size sunscreen, about 7ml, in the pocket on the waistband of my backpack for easy access and regular cheek and nose applications. The lip balm (which also has sunscreen in it) lives in my trousers’ pocket.

So there you have it. In a dream world, where I had 20/20 vision, my skin wasn’t dry and sensitive and I had short hair, I think my toiletry bag would look very different. Eventually, I’d like everything to be eco-friendly plant or oil-based items, but because I have these things already, and most of them were free, it would be crazy not to use them. I’d love to travel with one natural soap for everything, one oil as a face, body and hair moisturiser and bicarb soda as toothpaste and deodorant. One day! One day! (I look forward to writing that post too!)

What toiletries do you like to take when travelling? Do you use sample sizes or take the lot?

Check again soon for posts about my backpack, walking clothes, casual clothes and sundry/miscellaneous items.

* As always there are no affiliate links on this site. I’m just providing you with information and receive no perks or money from the companies and products mentioned, giving me free reign to say if I like them or not.

May 3: Another Sunday walk

We had a great time at the BEA with everyone yesterday, and a quiet, relaxing time home alone today.

The gang - Leo, Tom, Sandra, me, Leo, Pastora and Iva

The gang – Leo, Tom, Sandra, me, Leo, Pastora and Iva

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We didn’t go on this ride

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Leo, Tom and Sandra

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General BEA sideshow and ride alley

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Bueller … Bueller …

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Sandra and her hamburger, me and my second Berliner raspberry doughnut. I told you I was addicted

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Leo found the biggest sausage grill

A little bit of wine tasting

A little bit of wine tasting

Seems to be a Sunday tradition at the moment, going for a wander in the neighbourhood. It’s been raining so much the past few days, we made a break for it during a rare break and headed out. Again, the walk was leisurely, but they say 30 minutes a day is all you need.

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Good weather for them

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You know it’s impossible not to stop at the tulips

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These ones came home with us

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A mistake photo but I like it

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What an amazing tulip!

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Beautiful light on the rape seed field

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Lovely colours, blues and greens

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Mud up a side track

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He wasn’t very camouflaged

At home I spent a bit of time in my garden, admiring the blooms. We also watched the first season of Broadchurch, which I really enjoyed. I’ve long been a fan of Olivia Colman – she never disappoints. She was amazing in Tyrannosaur (not for the faint-hearted) and Green Wing too.

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In my garden at home

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The first two signs of my gladioli!

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My new bulb garden is coming up a treat! Those pink tulips started white

Oh and Mayweather beat Pacquiao. I didn’t watch the fight, just read about it. The more I know about Mayweather, the less I want to retain.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 26: Strolling in the neighbourhood

Like a couple of old wanderers, Leo and I walked around the neighbourhood this afternoon for more than an hour. I have to admit it was at a very relaxed pace.

(Writing ‘walking in the neighbourhood’ reminds me of this Sesame Street classic. And can you believe? People think kale is something new and funky but here it is mentioned in … what … the mid 1970s?! Love Bob too.)

Back to the walk … We went to the tulip field, up the hill to visit the cows at my favourite farmhouse, said hello to what felt like half the village during peak hour in the forest, then along the horse trail, past fields of Urdinkel, into the neighbouring village, patted the little horses and up through the fields to home.

All in all, a very nice way to spend the afternoon before the rains came. Tonight we chowed down on Leo’s lasagne and started a new TV series called Bloodline. This is much more to my liking than Braquo. I am a major Kyle Chandler fan, which helps.

  • Physically Fit: A leisurely wander
  • Mentally Fit: A leisurely wander; saying hello to all the animals
  • Nutritionally Fit: Last of the chocolate cake and too much lasagne
  • Minimalism: A leisurely wander. It really does tick all boxes other than food.

Here are some photos from the walk.

Wishing you a wonderful day.