December 8-10: We have a new place to live!

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One from the vault – where we currently live, with our little house on the left

As sad as we will be to move away from our beloved little Stöckli, from February 1 next year we’ll be right in the “thick of the action” in the village of Wohlen.

We’ve found a very large apartment in the town centre, which means no more forest on the doorstep, but also no more walking with a safety vest at night in the dark on the way home from work.

Our new place is large – 5.5 rooms, compared to the 2.5 rooms we currently live in – and while it has a definite 80s feel it has SPACE. It lacks the Stöckli ginger-bread house charm, but it does have convenience – a two minute walk to the bus, two minutes to the shop and three minutes to our favourite place to eat, Restaurant Kreuz. And there’s a pot-belly stove in the loungeroom! And we can still see the Alps from the bedroom window! And Leo now has a painting room. And and and …

Our good friends and neighbours Liliane and Rene will live just a 15 minute walk away, so we’ll still see each other often, which makes us very happy.

Half of me can’t wait to move in and make it ours, and the other half wants to hang on here as long as possible. The time will come soon enough when I’ll be firmly in the “move now” camp. Since finding out yesterday that the place will be ours, it’s almost all I can think about. We’ll have enough space to allocate one room as a chillout zone, for want of a better phrase. We’ll hang the hammock, have a nice rug maybe, the stereo with tunes and enough space to leave the yoga mat always on the floor. 2016 could be the year of reading and yoga. Oh wait, that’s what 2015 was supposed to be! 🙂

My minimalistic tendencies will be put to the test with all that space, but I think it’s still going to be a wonderful place to live and thrive. Just like it has been here for the past four years. I’ve been in Switzerland for four years. Can’t believe it. My arrival anniversary was December 5, and I totally forgot to celebrate!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

December 1-7: Sliding out of the year

In German, when people wish you a Happy New Year, they wish you a good slip or slide into the new year. Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr. I’m wishing you all a good slide out of  2015.

It’s been a great year. We’ve done a lot of travelling, I’m enjoying my job and fingers crossed we’ve found somewhere to move to next year (more on that soon hopefully!). We’ve seen some great tv shows, I’ve read some (but not enough) entertaining books, we’ve done some lovely walks and I managed to spend a lot of time by the pool in summer. Nothing to complain about at all.

As we wind down for 2015, have you thought about what might be in store for you in 2016? I have no idea what to do with the blog. I really should have thought about the name a bit harder, but fitfor15in15 had a good ring to it. Fitfor16in16 could be an option, but who am I kidding? I have fallen off the fitness wagon with a lard-arsed thump!

Maybe I need a new focus for 2016 … hmmm …

Until then, I’ll try to write more often – for a proper send off to a wonderful year where I’ve made some lovely internet friends, and read wonderful words from people around the world. If I had all day, I’d read blogs, I know it. Years ago I couldn’t see the point of a blog, and maybe it is a bit of self indulgent waffle sometimes (I’m looking squarely IN THE MIRROR when I write that), but I’ve had so much fun. Just wish I’d had much more motivation! Short attention span, me.

Here are some pics from the first week of the last month of fitfor15in15.

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A clear sunrise made Leo and I head for the Wohlensee lake one morning

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One side of the bridge looked quite dull …

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But on the other side of the bridge, the view was breathtaking!

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Looking from the bridge on the Wohlensee up to Wohlen bei Bern. If all goes to plan, we will live 100m past the church by March 1 next year

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Dinner at Liliane and Rene’s

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The sunrise this morning over Bern city

It’s not my last blog for the year, but I want to get in early and say thank you. Thank you for making me push myself in the first half of the year to do what I set out to do, and thanks for sticking by me in the second half when I totally failed to keep going. It’s only a semi-failure, because (and this is going to sound sooo cheesy) I’ve gained so much more than a few lost kilos.

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.

October 28-31: Mum and Judy visit Bern, and the RWC

After months of talking about it, my mum and sister’s visit came and went in the blink of an eye.

They arrived about 9.30pm on the 26th, and left at 5pm on the 30th. Why would you come all this way for only a few days, I hear you ask? Well they’re now on a 36-day cruise from Athens to Singapore, and hopefully having a whale of a time. It was great they could fit in a few days with us beforehand – or as I like to say, do the obligatory family catch-up before the real fun began! 😉

They were here in summer 2012, and I was worried the cooler weather this time might be a downer, but the sun came out every day, and Friday was positively balmy!

Here’s a small collection of photos from their trip. I worked on the Wednesday, so Mum and Judy wandered around Wohlen bei Bern, then we went out for dinner Wednesday night; Thursday we drove to Thun and toured the castle, walked to the lake and then went to dinner and saw the light show in Bern; and Friday we walked the Lüggliweg path (the one I “discovered” in March) to Restaurant Kreuz in Wohlen bei Bern for lunch, and had a very cruisy afternoon before they jumped on the train to Zurich for their flight to Athens.

The autumnal colours were out in full force and it was nice they could visit the Stöckli again before we have to move. And they both fell in love with a very popular Swiss salad, called Nüsslisalat. Here’s a link about it in English. Do you know of this salad leaf too? It’s very yummy with chopped egg and bacon.

Saturday night we went to Evi and Paul’s for a lovely dinner, and to watch the Rugby World Cup final, where the better team, New Zealand, beat the underdogs, Australia. (Leo got quite into the RWC, and we watched many games each weekend.) I’m very happy for all Kiwis, and we will miss seeing Dan Carter on the field in the future. What a face!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

October 10-27: Mishmash of photos

Well, who’s been a slacker on the blog then, huh?! Me!

To make amends, I’m going to keep the waffle to a minimum and load up a photo gallery of all the lovely things that have happened in the past few weeks.

My job’s going well, I’m enjoying the brisk walk in the fog to work, but since we’ve lost daylight savings, I’m not enjoying the walk home in the dark. There are no street lights and I was nearly hit by an idiot driver who couldn’t see my torch shining in the night. So now I’m wearing a yellow safety vest on the walk home. Stop laughing! It’s pitch black! 🙂

More posts to come!

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.

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 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.

April 15: New 20-minute HIIT routine with a happy trainer

I chose today’s workout because of the trainer’s magical striped socks! How cool are they?! It’s called Burn 200 Calories in 20 Minutes (I don’t care so much about the calorie element) and it turned out to be no easy-peasy, candy-coloured workout. Sweat was dripping and I couldn’t do all the exercises properly.

The push up inch worm ones were especially tough and my balance was really out of whack on the lunge to knee lifts. Overall, I really enjoyed this workout and look forward to doing it again, and going deeper into those lunges. It’s a great beginners-intermediate HIIT routine and at the end, the instructor was also feeling exhausted, which is pretty cool – it shows she’s human! And she had an infectious fun outlook during the whole routine.

Right now, I’m in the library in Langgasse using the free wifi on my iPad. I still haven’t worked out where the exclamation mark is, so from now on you’ll be spared the excitement.

Part of my Christmas present from Leo was a membership at the Kornhaus Bibliotek (library) in Bern. I hadn’t been an active member of a library for years and it was strange how comforting it was to walk back through the compacted rows of books. Today’s the first time I’ve come in here to work *in inverted commas but I don’t know where they are on this tiny detachable keyboard either. And now I can’t find that star again to close the train of thought. The first one was a fluke. Grrr …

Do you have a library you regularly use? I’ve found books I’d normally never look for, which has its pros and cons of course. Not all of them have been winners. See the Books section in the top menu for book reviews. I’ll be adding another one tomorrow.

Free libraries are popping up in unexpected places, but not everyone seems happy about them. A free library is a box on the corner with a “take me or swap me” sign on it. Would you like a free library in your area? Should they be allowed to be free? Here’s a story about them being banned and here’s a lovely story from Free Our Kids about one that is thriving.

I met Claudia for lunch today and stayed in the city to meet Sandra for a drink after she finishes work. The sun is outrageously glorious again – I’ll post photos when I get home tonight. Here are today’s photos:

  • Physically Fit: Today’s workout; walking to the bus
  • Mentally Fit: Meeting Claudia and Sandra; being in the library
  • Nutritionally Fit: A healthy day until this evening’s beers
  • Minimalism: Using the library for travel guidebooks and novels

Wishing you a wonderful day. Now … where’s that exclamation mark?