Colourful visitors to warm your day

* Still catching up on old photos and stories from earlier in the year.

Walking to the laundry in the main farmhouse on one of my beloved free Fridays (I work Mon-Thurs), two unexpected but welcome guests called me closer.

It was January 22 and we’d had what was to be, so far, the most snow all winter earlier in the week. Because I leave for and return from work in darkness, patience was needed to snap this charming couple, who were taking it easy by the pool.

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Our friends stayed for a few days …

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Why does the woman always get the broom?!

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He did well, bringing an umbrella to avoid all that sun

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Maybe they’d been for a dip?

Thanks go to the neighbours, who have two small children, for inviting them over and making us all smile. Alas, the mild weather returned, and Mr and Mrs nourished the soil after nourishing our souls … a broom and umbrella the only reminders.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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.

Delicate and intricate

There’s an ornate building next door to my work which I’ve loved ever since moving to Bern. It’s in the Langgasse quarter, which has lots of uni buildings, student accommodation and a laidback feel to it all, all conveniently located next to the main train station. I may have talked about this area, and building, before.

Walking along the main street, just past the building on the left, is a driveway. My eye was drawn to an amazing plant growing along the fence. Just like the massive building before, it was delicate and intricate in a different way. Balls of a fine swirly, white, starchy substance replaced any greenery and brown octopus/spider legs wiggled inside. What a showstopper of a vine!

I stole a sprig for closer inspection. Here’s what they look like magnified …

The spiders legs fall out very easily, and the feathery material feels almost little a cotton ball/make-up wipe thing – not as soft as you’d think, but not scratchy either.

Do any of my clever green-thumbed friends know what the plant is called? I had zero luck searching the internet.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

And Vale Alan Rickman. What a chameleon he was, with such an expressive face and that rich, smooth voice.

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.