The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Tuesday 24 April 2018

I'll be damned if I can understand it!

I was almost excited to weigh myself this weekend as I had been so good last week, both watching the calories and exercising every day so you can imagine how I felt when the scales told me I had put 3 lbs back on!!!! I was down 7 lbs and now down only 4 so I give up. Well not really because the odd thing is a colleague saw me at the bus stop last week and mentioned "how much weight I had lost" and then yesterday, my office colleague who had been away in Paris for the week said she was "stunned at how much weight I had lost"! Seemingly the first thing that deflates for me is my belly (which isn't a bad thing) so I actually had two colleagues pointing out my "weight loss". I know they say muscle weighs more than fat but I know in all honesty I'm not at the point of developing muscle yet with my puny little regime but I'll take the compliments even if I still can't get my head around this weight loss malarky!

On Saturday night we had our fourth (or fifth - I can't remember) board game evening at my neighbours and since we felt we were spending too much time eating lately and not enough time "board-gaming" we decided that those of us who could make it would go round to Isa's for 4 o'clock for an apéro and then we would eat a little later and play games after that. Since she only lives on the other side of the hedge from me I was one of the first to arrive so while we waited for the others to show up we played the game of "guess who I am" or "guess what I do" - or something like that. For the first game we each had a post-it stuck to our foreheads and we had to guess who we were by asking "yes" or "no" questions. Sometimes it can be slightly more difficult given that we had two different nationalities and each country's "celebrities" might mean nothing to the others. For instance, I remember my ex banging on at me one time about how I must remember The Honeymooners, but nope, I'm pretty sure that wasn't on TV in England when I was growing up.

Anyway, I had myself figured out to be male/deceased/English and a writer. So I said "was I born in Stratford?" My English friend said "yes". "Was I married to Anne Hathaway?" My English friend said "yes". "Did I write Romeo and Juliet?" - again yep! So then I said "I have no idea" and they all burst out laughing. (For what it's worth I was Shakespeare!). After that we had to guess what activity the others were miming. I was a rotten bugger and put "giving birth" as one activity and that was picked up by poor old Michel, who was a good enough sport to give it a shot, although judging from his efforts I'm pretty sure he had already had an epidural!

Isabelle playing quiditch
At this point I will be decent and not put up the picture of Valérie who had to be "constipated". She was bloody good sport though and gave it her best!

This is Isabelle's land as far as the tree in the centre. My house is off to the right

The pictures taken inside the house were blurry - gotta find my digital camera for next time!
In other news, I finally got a small "Snapfish" album completed for my son's birthday next month. This is only the second time I have used it and it is quite fiddly, plus some of the photos were photos of photos so not optimal but either way, since both my kids are forever looking through my photo albums I think he will really appreciate it.

I realized after I had taken a photo of the cover page of the album that it looks wonky. That must be the sun because it really wasn't. I hope he likes it.

And finally, as I made it to Geneva in good time this morning I was able to hop off the bus and walk the last 30 minutes into work, in absolutely perfect walking weather. As I was tootling along the lake I passed one of the stately homes that I pass most days and decided to take a photo of it. I think this one is the Villa Barton and most of the parkland around here was bequeathed to the City of Geneva by the owner, Lady Barton, upon her death. Can you imagine what it would have been like to live in such a beautiful house which, if the truth be told, is nothing special in the grand scheme of beautiful houses, but I think it's lovely - and what a view! Just stunning!

Friday 20 April 2018

Finally spring is here!

And about time too! Honestly I would say it only really "arrived" 10 days ago. It feels like it has rained and snowed non-stop since the day after Christmas but at least it is finally here - thank goodness!  I have been so good this week, watching my calories and exercising every lunchtime and walking the last 30 minutes to work three days this week. Weigh-in time soon and I really hope I have lost even a little something, although to be honest I don't feel like I have. Who knows. I guess if not you just have to keep working at it don't you!

In the meantime, walking along the lake or in the botanical gardens is just heavenly this time of year. The flowers are starting to bloom and the temperature is just perfect (for me at least - I don't like the heat). I wish someone could bottle spring and sell it as I would buy shares!

I have three "circuits" that I do at lunchtime - one down to the sauna/turkish baths on the lake and back, three times round the botanical gardens and a slog uphill to the American Mission.  I am almost on my knees by the time I get up to the US Mission but it is very slowly getting a little easier! I use the excuse of taking photos to try to catch my breath and not cough up a lung!

A 24-hour "egg timer" in the grounds of a local restaurant!
I love this tree - which I guess must have been hit by lightning!

Château de Penthes - at the top of the hill!
Pink flamingos in the botanical gardens

I love this kiddies' merry-go-round!
To be honest, when you are surrounded by such lovely scenery you have to be a bit pathetic to talk yourself out of at least going walking don't you.

A little lakeside bar being set up for the summer!

On another note, I see that in England at least there is a plan to ban the use of single use plastic straws and cotton buds with plastic handles (amongst other things). It has yet to be adopted but there seems to be somewhat of a groundswell against plastic and single use products starting up. "Great" is all I can say. Recycling and zero waste is something I am very interested in and hope to get more involved in once I retire. At least once a year there is a mass clean up at the Geneva end of Lake Geneva and it is just amazing what is dragged out of this end of the lake alone. The far end of the lake is just past Montreux (think "Jazz Festival"), with the north shore being 95 km long and the south shore around 72 km. I don't know what goes on further up the lake but I hope there are groups doing the same thing.

And finally, this morning I was looking up laws/regulations and so on dealing with "importation of llamas and alpacas". I said to my colleague "you know you are working in an international environment don't you when you are looking up stuff on llamas and alpacas"! Which bought to mind a funny story told by a wonderful English comedian called Hugh Dennis. Many years ago he was being interviewed at the BBC studios at Pebblemill in Birmingham. I come from Birmingham and to say that the Brummie accent is atrocious is an understatement. Anyway, apparently, the Dalai Lama was also there being interviewed in another studio. As Hugh was waiting for a taxi to pick him up a young receptionist with a thick Brummie accent called over the tannoy "taxi for Mr. Lama"! I guess you had to have been there but Hugh had me in stitches!  So on that note, I'll see you on Monday probably. Have a lovely week-end everyone!

Dalai Lama

Monday 16 April 2018

The hormonal hula!

Up and down like a bloody yo-yo, that's me. I mentioned before that I had lost four lbs over the Easter week when I was sick and knew full well that I would put them back on because it was obviously just water loss. Of course I did put weight back on - three lbs to be exact but that still left me five lbs down on my starting weight so I was happy with that. Then at the end of last week I had lost two more lbs, then weighed myself the next day and had put three back on, and then the next day five down!!! Crikey - are you following because I'm having a hard time of it! In the end I weighed myself Saturday and I was down two lbs, for a total of seven lbs over my starting weight. I was really hoping for some weight loss as I had been really good all week with trying to stick to 1,200 calories a day and having exercised in some form or another every day last week. I think the moral of that story is don't weigh yourself more than once a week isn't it!  So, onwards and upwards (or downwards, hopefully)!

On the decluttering side I did pretty well last week too. I took two bags of clothes to the local consignment store where they took seven dresses (four with the labels still on them - what was I thinking) and they said to come back with the coats/suits later in the year. I also put three woolen winter dresses in the charity bin near home - I quite liked the dresses but hadn't worn them all winter and with my ever-growing belly they tended to make me look like a mobile sock so out they went. I also took jewelry - most of which I had bought at the market in Turin last year - down to the charity shop in Geneva one lunchtime, which was a good excuse to get in some walking. It's weird isn't it though that no matter how much stuff I seem to be throwing out some little gremlin sneaks out in the middle of the night and fills those gaps back up. Huh! I have set gremlin traps but haven't managed to catch any so I will just have to continue to keep an eye out for them I guess!

And it finally feels like spring is sprung (at last), with the tulips and daffs in particular bursting out of the ground and the pollen seeming to settle endlessly in my eyes and nose. It's not as bad as it was but it still affects me, sadly. Funnily enough I didn't really start suffering from hay fever until I hit around 40 and then it was miserable for about five years, after which it calmed right back down. Now I seem to get the occasional "red eye" and itchy nose but it's much better than it was. I have a friend who used to suffer terribly from allergies, the whole permanent red eye and runny nose, the lot. Now I know a little of how she felt!

This weekend a friend and I trotted up to a place called Châtillon-sur-Cluses for a vide-grenier. She picked up a lovely painted metal watering can and I got these lovely serving dishes for €3 the pair! Lovely aren't they? I know, I know, I'm supposed to be decluttering but I couldn't resist these!

Actually there is a lot of this kind of china about - particularly blue and pink floral - and I love it, but I have to be reasonable, even though I know I could go nuts for it!

The "vide-grenier" at Châtillon
After that we went down the mountain to a place called Marnaz where a local craft exhibition was on. It was only small but there was some beautiful stuff there. Not all of it was for sale - my friend was particularly interested in a beautiful quilt and a painted wooden scene, but unfortunately neither were for sale.

These pearly king and queen's outfits were entirely made out of coffee capsules!
Decorative mail boxes

Outfits for carnaval!
After that we headed down to a local garden centre to pick up some plants. I tell you, I could spend a fortune in these places as the stuff was just so lovely. I bought a few plants to replace the dying plants I had rescued from my ex's place a couple of years ago, plus decorative outdoor plants, some strawberry and fennel plants, and a couple more tomato plants. Local lore has it that you don't plant delicate plants out round here until after the Saints de Glace (which is around 15 May). You may as well listen to the locals because I have ended up throwing so many young plants away when I thought I knew better! So I put the delicate plants outside during the day and will keep bringing them into the house at night for another couple of weeks.
A solar lamp picked up at the garden centre
I actually got all my planting/repotting done yesterday evening!
It's weird actually because I have been reading so many blogs lately where the ladies are on the run up to retirement. All being well I am planning to go myself in 2020. The big sticking point for me is getting my mortgage paid off because without that I can't retire, my mortgage being too large a chunk of my prospective pension. Still I reckon I can have that paid off nine years early in spring 2020 and after that, "Bob's your uncle" as we say in England. I can't wait because although I am not unhappy at work and do indeed have nice colleagues I feel it is time to move on to other things, and seeing all the wonderful crafts produced in these exhibitions I suspect I will wonder how on earth I managed to fit everything in when I was working! Fingers crossed!

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Weighty matters!

I think I may have mentioned before that my house is getting me down. Don't get me wrong, it's not dirty or anything (well not that bad anyway) but there is just too much stuff! On top of my own capacity to collect "stuff", I inherited all my ex' junk when he just abandoned his three-bedroom farmhouse nearly three years ago. I mentioned at the time that my youngest and his gf were able to take quite a bit of it when they moved into their own place and over the space of the two months' notice period he had to give after he had gone back to the States I went up every weekend and sorted and pitched what I could, but I still have a load of his crap in the basement. On top of that, of course, since the basement is very large, I also have anything the kids didn't want to take with them when they moved out - don't we all!

Anyway, it has been getting me down so as I was beginning to feel better towards the weekend I decided to have a shot at getting rid of 10 things a day. Not saying that will always be easy but I was willing to give it a go. Of course the first 10 were easy - magazines and things that I was "going to read" sometime. They went straight to the tip - don't know anyone that would want 20 year old copies of The Good Food Guide in English around here anyway. And of course "old me" says there are probably some good recipes in there but newly-minted me just said "ah bite me" - so in the recycling they went. I was easily able to throw out more odds and ends, plus things like - oh you know suntan lotion that is way out of date and that I don't use anyway because I don't sit in the sun at all! So easy peasy again. But next came the slightly more difficult issue of rather nice dresses that fitted me at the time I bought them but that I had never worn - and now I no longer could if I wanted to! You know, those kinds of things! That stuff was a little trickier because there are some lovely things in amongst them but hell, if they didn't fit me 18 months ago they sure as heck don't fit me now. Nope, not even that Karen Millen dress with the label still on it!!!! So I just took a deep breath and ploughed in until I had gotten 10 items on my bed, photographed them and put in a bag to take to the second-hand shop on Saturday. This shop is a new consignment store and I wouldn't mind getting a little "pin money" for some of it. I'm sure it will sell - what with the labels still on but we will see. I have also taken another large bag of stuff down to the charity shop and am planning more sorting tonight. Three books to donate to our second-hand book shop here at work meant I had to go over and sort out the cash kept there as I am the group's treasurer. So I took the bull by the horns and trotted my little petty cash tin with its millions of small coins in it to the bank here in work where the lovely lady with a fixed grin and gritted teeth counted it all out for me and guess what - just short of 1,000 Swiss francs - so over $1,000 that we can decide which charity to donate to shortly. Yikes, small change really does add up doesn't it!

At the weekend I fished out three rather large bilingual dictionaries I had - English/French, English/Spanish and English/German, photographed them and put an ad up here at work and also on Freecycle just on the off chance anyone was jurassic enough to still use proper dictionaries and guess what - they went within the hour! It would have been a tough thing for me to actually throw them out as I love books so I am so glad they have gone to a good home!

Oddly enough, even just getting rid of one or two small things seems to lift a small weight off your shoulders doesn't it, so by my reckoning, at this rate, lifting constant small weights "off my shoulders" I should weigh around 120 lb before Christmas! Ha! Like I said yesterday, "I don't want to talk about my weight" because having lost 4 lbs in one week when I was sick I knew it would go right back on immediately I got better but, even though three of those pounds did indeed go right back on I am still down one pound on last week, making a total of five "real" pounds in two weeks, so I'll go with that!

Oh and remember yesterday I mentioned about the two kids that had been arrested for blowing up the gas bottles at the local supermarket - turns out they were 14 and 15! Bloody hell. Not sure if they were feral kids or just idiots. More to follow I guess.

And finally, since my commute can be hellish at times I am signed up to a FB "motorway alert" for accidents called in in the local area. Mostly I get these alerts in French but just occasionally Mr. Google decides to translate them into English. A traffic jam/bottleneck in French is called a "bouchon" - which is also the same word for a cork in a bottle. Anyway, yesterday for some reason Mr. Google decided to send me an alert in English, which came out as "beware large cork on the road near the junction of ....."! Well it tickled me anyway!

Monday 9 April 2018

A better weekend!

Well this weekend was a vast improvement over last weekend both in terms of the weather (which was great - finally) and in that I felt so much better. I had to drag myself through work on Thursday and Friday and on Friday night I slept over 11 hours - I'm surprised my bladder didn't explode!!! But man did it do some good! So on Saturday I was up and fresh as a daisy.

Buuuuuuttttt late on Friday night I initially couldn't sleep so was still up at 11.30 reading when I heard "boom, boom, boom" - absolutely roaring bangs! My first thought was "fireworks" but then I realized you don't let fireworks off at 11.30 at night - you start when the sun goes down. Then I thought, "oh they're triggering avalanches" as this is the season to be wary of them. But again, you don't do that at 11.30 at night. I couldn't figure it out but eventually went to bed and slept with the fairies (see above). Found out next day that two "individuals" had been filmed on security cameras at the petrol station/gas bottle station of the local supermarket setting light to the gas bottles!!!! How stupid do you have to be!!!!! They had their faces covered but were obviously a bit thick as it only took 12 hours to pick up the two of them. There was some gossip about "terrorism" but honestly, if you want to hurt people you don't do it at midnight. Then "maybe it is someone with a grudge against the supermarket". Turns out two 16-year olds have been taken into custody and placed with social services pending appearance in court. Apparently about 20 gas bottles went up, with one landing really close to the petrol pumps, but thankfully no-one was hurt - although how those two idiots weren't killed is beyond me!

Anyway, after all the excitement on Saturday morning I had to run down to a local village as I wanted to book my friend and I on another day trip to Turin market. The company we have been with twice already never replied to my email about dates but this company seems to be much bigger and much more professional, so we are booked in like two little old ladies with our granny bags for the trip on 26 May (departure 6 a.m. - yikes). I know we've been a few times but it really is a nice day out and you can get some good bargains too, as well as the wonderful fruit and veg!  I was talking to the young woman who did my reservation and asking about bus trips to Cinq Terres (Italy), which isn't too far from here but she said that they hadn't made any plans so far this year but that they certainly would be doing so because there is so much interest in it. It would be a four/five day trip so I will definitely look forward to that. In fact, Jordan and Jen are going for four days in May at a wonderful price through Jen's work - lucky buggers, but I'm glad for them as even though they are not the international jet setters André and Lily are they definitely do some good trips too (Rome was the last one).

Since I am still working I am more interested in day trips at the moment to be honest so I might try their day trip to Lyon. Lyon is only 90 minutes away but I don't know if I have the nerve to drive round there any more as they drive like lunatics. Plus of course on the bus the driving/parking is not your problem. We used to joke when I was young about the old biddies on their day trips to Weston-Super-Mare - guess who seems to have become one of the old biddies now!

After doing my usual Saturday morning run around I decided to take another trip to the new local organic shop. Finally it seems to be taking off around here so we actually have some choice. It is of course hellish expensive but I realize I am still wasting food so maybe if I bought less, but better quality, even it it is more expensive, it might be a positive. For me the test of "is it worth it?" is the taste, and the ultimate taste test has got to be strawberries and tomatoes. I had already bought strawberries at the market so I picked up some tomatoes at the organic store and yes it definitely was worth it! The plastic, tasteless stuff we get in the shops is so disgusting that I generally don't bother anymore until my own, homegrown toms come in. I'll see how it goes but I think buy less but better might be the way to go, for me. A first world luxury I realize but I am on my own!

Talking of "growing your own" I was chatting in the back garden with my neighbour while he was cutting back branches, so I asked him to save a few for me as stakes for my tomato plants. I think he must have supreme confidence in my tomato-growing ability don't you - those suckers are almost two metres long!!!

Then on Sunday I ended up going all round the reekin to find one of the first vide-greniers (car boot/garage sales) of the season in a lovely little village called Arbusigny. It's not far from here but I kept getting diverted because of roadworks. Not much there of interest but at least it was a trip out. After that it was on to a very well organized garden/plant/local skills themed fair in another local village. While the weather was overcast it held out which was great as there was quite a bit to see.

These metal poppies were about two metres tall and I would have loved them, but at €110 a pop I couldn't justify it, so I came away with three tomato plants and three broccoli plants - who says I don't know how to throw my money around!  Still, it was a pleasant way to spend the weekend after all this rain and it finally feels like spring has sprung. Oh and my weight? I don't want to talk about it!!!!!

Thursday 5 April 2018

Been absent for a few days!

Not that I had done anything fantastic for Easter but my neighbour, her daughter and I headed off to the hot springs at Lavey on Good Friday. It should only take about 90 minutes to get there but due to an accident it took three hours! Still, you know women - we yacked for three solid hours, sorting out world peace and all that! Then just when I had a chance to get off the motorway and "go around the accident", the traffic started moving again only about 100 metres further along! Still, we had a lovely few hours together in the springs. I knew it would do M good as she suffers from arthritis and seemed to love the pummeling from the stronger jets. That would have been a great day out I guess but for some reason I felt really cold when I got out. Probably didn't dry my hair properly and that was a definite mistake in this crappy weather. Honestly, it seems like we have had non-stop rain since Christmas - interspersed with the occasional snow fall. Like so many others I'm totally fed up of it now and spring can show up anytime it wants!

I didn't do much over Easter but to add to my stupidity I decided, like always, to pressure spray my back terrace to clean up some of the grime from the winter. Only problem was, by this time most years the weather is starting to warm up but this time the rain started when I was about 30 minutes into it - then followed by a little snow - and stubborn old me decided I wasn't giving up and I was getting the damn thing finished one way or another. Which, in the end meant getting soaking wet and sick as a dog for the next two days. I really should get it in my head that I'm not 25 anymore and I just can't go on pretending like I am.  Anyway, the good news (if you can call it that) is that I didn't feel like eating for about three days and when I weighed myself this morning I am down a total of 8 lbs. Of course I'm pretty sure some of that will go back on when I get back to normal but .... I'll take what I can get at the moment.

So sorry not to have been commenting on your blogs lately but I intend to get back to it when I feel a bit better.