Sunday, December 21, 2014
I have missed my hikes during these last 3 weeks and a half! My hikes and people, if I am honest
3 weeks at home after the hospital, I am more than ready to see my colleagues in the office tomorrow!
But I am back on my feet and, as I said, Ill go back to the office tomorrow (for 3 days, then stopping again for a few days after Christmas). To celebrate this, I decided to go for a walk in Chantilly today. It was a very grey day but I didnt mind, I was feeling joyful! To feel so well after what isnt minor surgery after all makes me very very grateful (and having lost 10 kilos/22lbs too!).
Chantillys castle was built in the 19th century to replace a former medieval castle
which had been transformed over the years
until it was completely destroyed during the French Revolution and replaced with the one you see today. The nearby stables (yes, this is all the building shown below
they are huge!) are actually older, as they date back from the 19th century. Luckily, they werent destroyed.
For a number of years now, the Musée du Cheval (Horse Museum) has been fittingly hosted in the stables. I saw today that a new smaller museum with temporary exhibitions (not horse related!) opened across the road and I am planning to go back after Christmas to see the current one, as it ends early January.
I visited the Horse Museum many years ago with my Dutch friend Cora and it is beautiful. I saw that it is now called Nouveau Musée du Cheval, so I guess it must have been renovated. I should go back!
I LOVE the details on that building
As I left the stables, I walked by the hippodrome for a while
with some houses on the right
(The painting says: Derby de Chantilly, 1884)
I then also left the houses behind
and entered the woods
Now dont start getting all worried (I know some of you!!!), I had chosen this walk because it was short, never too far from buildings, and I expected there would be plenty of benches as it is very touristy. I was right!
But my legs werent at all shaky, I was feeling fine!
As I walked by the back walls of the cemetery, there was as often a lot to see!
Then I walked more deeply into the woods
Still lots of welcoming benches, no worry! :-)
As you can see, it has rained a lot in Paris lately!
After a while, I was back at the hippodrome (with the stables in the background).
I decided I was feeling well enough for a short walk through the town center and even a bit of shopping!
I could have spent the day in that shop!
I bought myself a new (smaller) mug for the office as I can only drink small quantities at a time now, and a beautiful candle too. Now I am ready to go back to work tomorrow!
As for you, I hope you are enjoying a great weekend and are getting ready for Christmas! Merry Christmas, dear Sparkfriends, thank you for reading, and thank you for all your lovely comments and notes lately, they were all greatly appreciated!!!
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Hello dear Sparkfriends,
La vie est belle! Life is beautiful!
If you have been following my hikes and travels for a while, you know I am convinced of it. Yet, life can also be tough. I gained about 100lbs in 3 years for several reasons too personal to explain here, and I didnt manage to lose them later. (Before you ask... Healthy eating check! Exercising check! Counseling check! I conquered the binges and stopped gaining weight in 2012, but I didnt conquer overeating...)
I was very much hesitating to share about this surgery. I always dread feeling judged
but I laughed and thought the decision had been made for me when one of my Sparkfriends commented on my weight loss status yesterday by writing: It is already working wonders. Hmmm the secret wasnt going to last very long!!!!!
So yes, after lots of soul searching (about a year in total), lots of research, last summer I took the decision to go for weight loss surgery in my case sleeve surgery. 85% of my stomach was removed in the shape of a sleeve, like this:
I am NOT saying it is the best solution, nor will I become a champion of weight loss surgery, believe me!!!
But for me it was the way forward. I was stuck, obesity-related health problems were slowly appearing (sciatica, heart arrhythmia, very uneven blood pressure with dramatic lows and highs, esophagitis, painful knees and hips) and I didnt want it to limit my life. I wanted to succeed at weight loss for a change!!!
Sorry if I sound a bit defensive. : ) To be honest I have received only one very negative reaction, of someone who told me: Dont do it. All the other ones, either my very few Sparkfriends who knew or friends in real life, have been mostly supportive, one way or another. Some said they didnt understand because they arent obese themselves, but they were there for me.
One of my colleagues at work gave me a tiny bowl that looks almost like a dolls one, which I am using for every meal at the moment, and it always brings a smile to my face. Thank you Francine!
I read on the Web people who seem to advertise this surgery as being very easy and painless. I disagree. It is tiring, it isnt painless in my case, and although you are quickly out of the hospital, it can take a while to recover (in France the minimum sick leave is 3 weeks for sleeve surgery).
I have been really struggling to eat/drink again (I am on a liquid diet until tomorrow). Hence the feeling of being extremely tired I suspect. But all in all, it is going better every day and I am delighted I have already lost almost 7 kilos (15lbs). It hadnt happened in a while!
Here is where I spend most of my time: reading in my chair! (Next sewing project should be to make a proper slipcover for it, hopefully around Christmas!)
I also take a long nap every afternoon and I am glad my bedroom feels like my little nest!
Finally I would like to share this picture with you. I find it interesting because of the last paragraph
Failure to exercise, frequent snacking and poor dietary choices are the common reasons for weight loss failure after gastric sleeve.
It rings a bell doesnt it? Indeed, this is no magic!!! And I definitely intend to keep eating healthily and exercising (and seeing my therapist too), so there will be more hiking blogs coming soon!!!
Thank you for reading! Let me end by wishing you a beautiful Advent Season!
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Hello dear Sparkfriends,
Greetings from Athens, Greece! That was the view that greeted me when I reached the hotel on Saturday evening
Striking no? For me however, being in Athens isnt just the beauty of the city and the excitement of work meetings (NOT!!!), but of course
meeting with NUOVAELLE and BLOOMINGLENA again! - We first met back in February 2013 when I had a few hours in Athens between flights. The blog is here if you want to have a look:
As I visited Athens a couple of times in the past, we didnt do all the touristy sites: I especially wanted to spend time with Elle and Lena getting to know them better! (Before I continue, I should say that as I am writing this blog tonight I am listening to a Greek singer I discovered thanks to Lena, called Haris Alexiou... Apparently she is very well known but to my shame I didn't know her! Here is a link to listen to one of her songs:
But I love flea markets and antique shops, so we walked around the little shops and stalls near Monastiraki. It was very busy, but not more than a Parisian flea market on a Sunday, and I loved it!
(Looking at this lamp above on the right, I am really regretting I didnt ask for the price
yes it would have been crazy taking it back home on the plane, but it is exactly the kind of thing I like for my home! Ah well, too late now!)
If you are into embroideries and laces, believe me this flea market is the place for you! It was very small, but there were even more by square meter than in French markets!
But I think the stall Elle, Lena and I enjoyed the most was the one with all the old boxes of all kinds. Of course for me, anything with Greek writing is exotic too, but even apart from that, they were fun!
Ohhh I forgot to tell you! It was the day of the Marathon! Everywhere we walked in the afternoon, we saw people in running clothes, some with their medal around their neck. It was very fitting for a day 3 Sparkfriends meet!
In the little streets going up the hill there were mostly second-hand books stalls
and, to my surprise, birds in cages! I should have asked Elle and Lena whether these were peoples birds or whether they were for sale!
By then we had reached the Roman Forum, and Elle and Lena found a great place for us to eat, in the shade but with a great view!
I tend to be suspicious of restaurants in touristy places, but this one was great!
The Greek salad didnt disappoint, and Elle explained to me the herbs on top are oregano, not thyme as I had always thought. So Ill try to redo this at home, although the beautiful Greek olive oil really is the secret ingredient!
Have you ever had fried feta cheese? Give it a go if you have a Greek restaurant nearby, it may not be very healthy, but you only need a small piece to enjoy the taste! : )
Same for fried aubergines/egglplants! They were great!
I had ordered grilled octopus and that was a special treat for me. I could have seafood everyday I think!
After our late lunch we walked further up the hill
... to well-known Plaka. It is very touristy but so pretty!
(Elle and I in Plaka)
We walked further up the hill (I id 18,000 feet in total that day, so we didn't just eat and chat you know!!!)... and ended up near the Acropolis Museum, which I definitely want to visit next time. This time my sciatica presents me from standing still (I must keep walking all the time or it really hurts) so we didnt go in. But the building itself is a work of art!
What a lovely time!!! And you know what? Lena and I met again tonight for a walk and dinner after work and we enjoyed chatting, chatting, chatting!!! About (healthy) food and exercising of course (Lena loves zumba and recently discovered pilates too!), travels, friendship...
It was the perfect way to celebrate the near end of my meetings before heading back to France tomorrow. I am feeling quite sad tonight though, I will really miss Lena and Elle and I wish I could come to Athens regularly (or they to Paris)... Believe me I have rarely been disappointed when meeting Sparkfriends, but Elle and Lena are extra special with BIG hearts and very warm personalities! Thank you both for taking such good care of me during my visit, dear friends!
Ill end with these bougainvillea flowers to send you a bit of Athenss sunshine and warmth!
Thank you for reading friends!
Sunday, November 02, 2014
Do you know Vétheuil?
If you are a Claude Monet fan, you actually know Vétheuil! The painter lived in the village between 1878 and 1881 and made over 100 paintings of it.
The hike I did yesterday was through the villages and the countryside
but one of these days when I go to Vétheuil I want to find the view Monet painted the most, from across the Seine. So beautiful!
That was a short hike. I should probably say a gentle walk (2 hours and 10 minutes), but it was hard work as it was steep in places, and my sciatica wasnt happy (a colleague who did it last week said it was all flat
hmmmm it was far from flat!).
But it was sunny, warm, a gorgeous area, and I took things easy! I couldnt believe it was 1st November, I was wearing a light linen shirt, it was that warm!
And you may have noticed already, the autumn colours are definitely starting to appear. They should be at their best in about 2 weeks, when I am back from Greece (Ill be in Athens for work, woohoo!). But it was definitely starting.
My favourite part of the hike was probably as I followed a little creek
I loved how it sounded
I share the views of my hikes, but never talk about the sounds much. They are so much part of the pleasure of hiking in this area though
the sound of the leaves under my feet
a churchs bell in the distance
the birds in the trees nearby
the cows and horses roar
I think it is partly thanks to all these wonderful sounds that I never feel lonely during my hikes, and also that I prefer to hike alone to really listen to them.
Even though yesterdays hike was short, it had all I love in a hike, and made me feel like I had been far away, both in terms of geography and time, on a great holiday!
Isnt it a fantastic feeling to have? Ill definitely go back to Vétheuil though, and then a little further to Giverny again!
Thank you for reading dear friends! Have a sparkly Sunday!
Saturday, October 18, 2014
I am sorry for the dramatic title, but today was an eventful hike indeed! I don't think I like those, I'd rather have one of my usual hikes, where the worst that can happen is to get a bit lost... And speaking of getting lost (to start with the fun bit!), I havent lost my touch! Although it hadnt happened in a few months, I still know how to get completely at the opposite of where I am supposed to go during a hike!!!
It is especially stupid as todays hike should have been really easy! Mostly flat and straight, through the beautiful Vexin countryside!
But I used directions prepared by an association I already had had problems with. I think out of the 3 hikes I did that they prepared, all 3 were very badly done! I.e. poor maps, no signs and almost no directions. The best way to get lost!!! If I could remember where I got these 'hiking sheets' from, I would go back and tell them they are really unreliable!
Because really I did get lost brilliantly!!! I took the wrong path in the woods
it wasnt straight at all, so I lost my sense of directions (and of course I thought I was on the right path!)
I ended up completely West in Blamécourt when I thought I was completely East in Nucourt.
Of course paths didnt match what I saw on the map, I didnt understand but I kept going, walking through the countryside and crossing a village with a funny old water pump with an animal head
And as I left the village, there was a sign with its name, and I just stopped and laughed out loud. Suddenly it made sense! I really was completely in the wrong place!
Luckily, that village still appeared on the very poor map I had in my hands, so I was able to find my way back, cutting through the countryside. It was such a gorgeous day I didn't mind at all, and the area is so beautiful! (In France most paths are public, i.e. everybody can walk on them, so if you have a map that shows the paths properly, you are fine!)
But it is never a good idea to be creative in terms of paths finding during hunting season! I ended up on footpaths that werent official ones (not recognised by the hiking federation and clearly marked)
and suddenly, as I came out of some woods
I heard a very loud BANG that sounded way too close for comfort!!! Hmmm what to do? Well I kept going, slowly, and singing at the top of my head!!! I think between cows (see my blog from two weeks ago!) and hunters, Ill choose cows anytime!
When I finally came completely out of the woods, facing the fields, I saw about 10 hunters facing me in the distance. My goodness, they had been shooting animals in these woods! I dont know between them and me who was the most unhappy to see the other(s). I am sorry I interrupted your little Saturday afternoon game, guys! And very glad you didnt permanently interrupt my life!!! I didnt like the sound of your BANGS at all. (No, I didnt say anything, I am not that mad... and they were too far anyway... I just left as quickly as I could!)
I wont lie: I was a little wobbly on my feet for a while after this! And I was glad I basically only had to cross one last big field before I reached Serans again.
The church looked wonderful as I saw it appear in the distance! PHEW. Now can I go back to my usual uneventful hikes please? I would love the same sunshine next week, but NO HUNTERS, or at least very far away from me!
Thank you for reading, friends. And please dont worry, Ill be more careful next time and make sure I have a good map with me so that I dont get lost. I hope you are having a fantastic weekend!
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