The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

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.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

4 lbs down! Yay me!

I know I said I was starting my diet (yet again) last Monday but in fact I only started on the Wednesday. Either way I am thrilled to announce that I am 4 lbs down this morning. While that sounds great of course, I was actually 6 lbs down on Sunday morning but back up again on Monday so as you can see, I really am up and down like a yo yo - which I put down to water retention of course. Still, I'm more than happy with that and I was very good about eating and exercising too last week so yay me! Sunday I kind of went off the rails as I was hungry for something but didn't seem to be able to figure out just what but never mind, back on track now. It's easier to get back in the swing of things when I am at work in any case because there is a discipline about the routine but we'll see what this week holds. In order to feel like I have achieved anything I need to lose about 7 lbs and keep it off so the next couple of weeks will be telling!

Yesterday I had the first day of one of my large meetings (the second day is Wednesday) and it was quite amazing how many steps I clock up on my fitbit when I have these meetings. No worries there about getting in my 10,000 steps a day! Just goes to show how a sedentary lifestyle can really mess with you doesn't it!

Anyway, I'm a bit rushed this week so just in case I don't check in again with you, I hope you all have a lovely Easter and here's to spring being just around the corner!

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

All quiet on the western front (again)!

There's not much new to report here really but I thought I should just check in. Last week was a bit of a disaster workout/weight-wise. The weather was cruddy all week and while I don't mind the cold I don't particularly want to go out in the rain. Not that that's much of an excuse really because we actually have a gym here at work but I just couldn't be arsed to use it last week. Anyway, I weighed myself on Monday and there was no change from the previous week, but then why should there be? Still, even though it was actually snowing when I left home yesterday morning I managed to get in a one hour walk along the lake at lunchtime yesterday, but boy was it cold. Then again, that's nothing compared to the weather today! The "bise" wind is blowing and while it makes everything stunningly beautiful the wind chill factor makes it pretty unbearable to be outside in. So this lunchtime I decided to actually use our gym and - as always - I feel wonderful afterwards. Now if someone could just bottle this feeling (either that or bottle willpower) they would make a mint wouldn't they!

Anyway, we'll see how this week goes weight-wise. I went to my sewing club last night and only three of us turned up. Not a problem as I had stuff to do in preparation for my patchwork lesson tonight (we're starting a new project). But just as we were wondering where everyone was in walked one of our younger ladies who had just had her first baby and she (and dad) bought the babe in to show us. What a little cutie she was, tons of dark hair and all smiley faced but the end result was that in two hours we didn't even get our sewing machines out so I have to somehow catch up on all the stuff I should have prepared for tonight's lesson! However, just before we left I started showing the other two ladies the beautiful fabric that I had bought on Saturday for my next patchwork project and then somehow (as you do) we got on to moaning about our commutes/aches and pains/weight and so on, and I decided to bite the bullet and tell them that I was starting a new diet this week and that they could hold me accountable!!!! So there you go, I've done it now!

I had commented on Sam's blog (A New Frame of Reference) that I would go alone with her and try to lose 6 lb by the end of March. So far it isn't looking great (I think I must have lost 10 grams the day I shaved my legs but not much else since). Like her I am tired of lugging this weight around. Oddly enough, when I went to Costa Rica my case weighed in at bang on 18 kg - which was quite a sobering thought when I realized that that is about the amount of weight I would (ideally) like to lose. My case was heavy! Of course I'm not carrying those extra 18 kg in my right hand am I (unless my knuckles are really heavy) but still, it's not comfortable. I'm not grossly obese by any means but certainly overweight. I think what gets to me more though is the clothes - or the "granny grunt" clothes as I call them. Like most of us, I suppose, I liked clothes shopping when I was slimmer. Now - nah, not so much! It isn't helped by living in France of course where obesity is far from the norm and the woman are, for the most part, still slim and fashionable. Not all of course but .... So anyway I have signed up for the 12-week NHS (UK National Health Service) weight loss programme. It's open to anyone of course (as long as you realize 14 lb is 1 stone you'll fly through it) and is basically just good, solid, no nonsense advice. So I reckon that gives me till mid-June to knock some of this weight off. There, I've put it out there now.

In other news, on Saturday we held our fourth board game evening at my immediate neighbours. There were 12 of us this time and again it was great fun but - get this - we have now decided that we will have to start our evenings earlier because we are are all bringing in so much food that we seem to be eating a very good three course meal before we even start playing!!! Lordy, lordy, we've started something now haven't we! So we've decided that next time we will begin at 4 p.m. in order to have an aperitif/eat before we get into the games evening. Sounds good to me - and it is nice to spend time not only with my neighbours but also with my youngest and his girlfriend, who both seem to enjoy it as much as I do.

Saturday was also my oldest son and his wife's first wedding anniversary! I can't believe it, it has simply flown by! So I sent them a message wishing them a happy anniversary - but got no reply, which I thought was odd. Anyway, on Sunday evening I got a reply from my son, who said they were stuck at Zurich airport having missed their flight back from San Francisco! I didn't even know the little buggers were going away but they had just spent a whirlwind 10 days going round some of the bigger tourist spots of the American west. He was texting me so it wasn't very detailed but they said that just as they arrived at one of the lodges they spotted a mountain lion! They weren't quick enough to get a photo but when they spoke to one of the rangers he said that he hadn't seen a mountain lion in 10 years! André said they were actually scared to get out of the car to go into reception (I told him he should have sent Lily in - she can be scary!) but they had a wonderful time. I don't doubt it one bit. Can't wait to see their pictures though. I'm glad both my kids have the travel bug and are adventurous. I mean, you have plenty of time to settle down once the family comes along don't you so I say go for it while you can. My youngest and his gf were telling me that the previous weekend they had gone up the mountains near here for a fondue and afterwards, using head lamps, they luged all the way back down to the car park from the restaurant in the dark. Sounds like heaven eh!

And finally, I seem to be stumbling upon some pretty good books at the moment so my miserable commute is not always quite as miserable as it might be as I get to read for two 45 minute bus rides to and from work every day. It seems like the goods book reads keep rolling in at the moment so I am a happy bunny. But more on that in another post!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Feel the burn!

After leaving Costa Rica our first stopover was in Toronto and as soon as my phone picked up the airport's wifi I got a "pinged" message from British Airways - trouble was, it was in German! Really helpful that, when you've been up since 4 a.m! Still, I learned German many moons ago (forgot most of it) but I was able to decipher words to the effect that one way or another I was not going to be on my 15h flight from London to Geneva the next day. I couldn't tell if it was just me that was being kicked off or if the whole flight was being cancelled but what I could figure out was "we have, therefore, put you on the 18h flight. Click here to accept!" I thought bugger that, I get in at 06.30h and I am not hanging around for 12 hours in London (although better London than Toronto frankly, from my point of view) for my next flight with no guarantee of even leaving then. I knew Swiss Air fly from Heathrow so I decided that come what may I was getting out of there one way or another - and however much it cost!

Anyway, we landed on time so I trudged myself over to terminal 5 and thankfully made it to the BA desk before anyone else was awake. When I showed the nice BA chappie my phone message he said "but it's in German" so I said "wow, I didn't notice that, but from what I can decipher I'm not getting on my next flight am I?" He then went checked his computer and went on to explain that with the expected storm due to hit the southeast shortly, BA would be cancelling quite a few flights out of Heathrow that day, not because they couldn't  handle the volume of flights but because they didn't have the de-icing equipment necessary to keep up with that number of flights. Apparently you have 20 minutes after a plane is de-iced to get it off the ground or you have to start all over again. He then proceeded to tell me that they had booked me on the 18h flight but I said that I hadn't "clicked here" to accept it and was going to try my luck with Swiss Air, when the wonderful young man sitting next to him said they could get me on the 9.40h and would that suit me? I could have kissed him. It was already better than my original flight time and again in business. I have to say, considering they were probably going to be in for a helluva lot of complaining that day they handled the whole thing very professionally and with humour, although I'm sure that at the end of the day the perma-smile might have begun to wear a bit thin!

So I made it back early and seemingly one step ahead of the storm all the way along. I was well pleased. Until the next day, that is, where I went from +40°C to -11°C in one fell swoop - or from this:

to this:

and this:

Obviously if you travel in "your" winter to someone else's summer you  have to expect this kind of thing but even though I am used to the cold and don't actually mind it, this big of a change was quite a shock to the system.

And then of course there were the infernal traffic jams. Second day back I got stuck on the motorway behind this:

which managed to make my already hellish commute even more hellish, although thankfully no-one was hurt in this pile-up. But this morning some lunatic was racing down the motorway in the wrong direction (beats me how you can even do that) so my morning commute was again almost three hours! Ah the joys of the daily commute.

Still, I do love it here whatever the season, and last Thursday three of us went out for lunch to celebrate two birthdays in a yurt restaurant which is only available during the winter and which was shortly about to be dismantled. I actually got married in this little village and my husband and I went for a drink after our town hall wedding - just the two of us - in this same restaurant (although not in the yurt). And for once I was able to get a good shot of the alps - even if it was only with my phone. Usually they are in a "haze" but the heavy snowfall had briefly cleared all the haze away.

Of course I weighed myself when I came back (beerrrrkkkkk) and since I was as heavy as I had ever been I decided that I had better get back in the weight loss saddle. I was very good last week about exercising and even (seriously) got out the old Jane Fonda original workout and did those (nearly suffocated myself doing the shoulder stand), but this week it has gone to pot a bit so I have to get back at it. It's tough, though, when the weather is crap as it makes getting outside harder and we seem to have had non-stop rain since last week. So yet again, it's onwards and upwards for me.

In my dreams!
My reality! (Picture by Design Studio)
Although seriously where tonight's Chinese cookery class fits in with my weight loss goals is eluding me for the moment!