Refreshment for the Soul

Meditation

Every year for the last 4 years I have looked forward to one particular conference, the annual Swiss Group for Mass Spectrometry (SGMS) meeting – a niche scientific meeting, which takes place in the stunning location of Beatenberg, a village situated high above Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. The meeting only lasts 24 hours but I always leave feeling refreshed.

Looking from Beatenberg toward the snow capped mountains in the distance

Looking from the Dorint hotel in Beatenberg toward the snow capped mountains in the distance

The air is cooler, fresher, cleaner. You can hear the goat and cow bells ring out over the meadows, see the blue-green lake below and the eagles gracing the sky above. And if that doesn’t sound idylic enough, on a clear day you are blessed with one of the best vistas that Switzerland has to offer. For directly across from Beatenberg you can see the snow-covered Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau. These three peaks are some of the highest and most impressive mountains in Alps and make up one of the most famous and emblematic sights in Switzerland.  You can not help but be in awe. 

The Alps at Dusk

The Alps at Dusk

I can and do spend some time just staring out at the mountains. Meditating.  Watching the sun set at about 5.30pm and the mountains getting a red-orange hue across them or seeing the first rays of sun spring from behind the mountain peaks. Magical.  I am not sure what it is about the mountains but they have a calming influence on me.  After the hecticness of a busy work day, being selfish and taking 10-20 minutes just for me to clear my mind and with no distractions, truly is refreshment for the soul.

Evening light over the Alps

Evening light over the Alps

 Written by Catherine Evans Joines

 

Is there more to autumn than dank dark mornings?

There is no mistaking it. The misty mornings, watery sunshine, longer shadows and the darker evenings.

Autumn is here.

autumnal long shadows

autumnal long shadows

Now others might be rueing the end of another summer, but not I, my friend, not I.  Autumn, for me, is an amazing time of year and here are 6 (British and Swiss) reasons why.

That autumnal outdoor feeling – get yourself outside, whether it is on foot or on a bike, and just explore.  I love wandering in the woods or around a Tierpark (animal park) like the one in Sihlwald, near Zurich.

A wolf at the Tierwald in Sihlwald near Zurich

A wolf at the Wildnispark in Sihlwald near Zurich

The “Herbstmesse” or autumn tradeshows are in full swing.  This is something for those danker, wetter days, as mostly they are undercover.  Not that I am biased, but I rather like the Zugermesse.  It lasts 10 days and there is something for everyone, from the home improver to the chef, from the fitness fanatic to the holiday seeker, from the foodie to the wine-lover. The kids love the farmyard enclosure. Personally I just love wandering round the stalls and seeing what is on offer.  But be warned these tradeshows are not for the faint-hearted, they are huge. We went last weekend and we walked for 3 and a half hours without sitting down!

The “Chilbi” or “fair” comes to town.   This weekend in my village, we have bumper cars going round the roundabout instead of cars.  The main streets are completely closed for 3 days as the village comes together and enjoys the fair and celebrates the end of summer.

Steinhausen Chilbi - the main roads through the village are closed for 3 days for the fun fair

Steinhausen Chilbi – the main roads through the village are closed for 3 days for the fun fair

It is almost time for the ski season and so the preparation must begin in earnest.  Now this involves hard work as well as a little bit of retail therapy for some new socks and thermal undergarments (sexy, eh?). A new exercise regime working on strengthening the leg muscles and increasing flexibility has begun.  (Let me tell you, sitting against a wall is quite painful after about 45 seconds!)  But I know that all this effort will be worth it, when I can start the ski season in December without any stiff legs!

The traditions….halloween is almost upon us and I love fancy dress plus who can resist the jack o’lanterns, apple bobbing, toffee apples and pumpkin pie? Then the Christmas markets will start, but not before I am back in the UK for work, which nicely coincides with one of my favourite UK traditions, bonfire night on the 5th November. While most other countries stand outside and watch fireworks in summer, we stand outside and watch them in autumn, often in the rain! But nothing quite beats wrapping up warm with hat, scarf and gloves, wearing sturdy boots or wellies and then heading out to friends or to the town firework display and bonfire, partaking in some mulled wine to keep warm, plus a hot dog and toasted marshmallows, if you are lucky. But best of all you can write your name in lights (ok,  in sparkles) with the sparkler.

Fireworks on November 5th in the UK

Fireworks on November 5th in the UK

The food….”wild” season is upon us and there is lots of game in the shops, but best of all for me it is the vegetables and fruits we have in autumn: the pumpkin, butternut squash and sweet potato, plus the figs and dates. Warming soups, cheese fondue and raclette can all now reappear on the menu and stay til April!

Fondue at Christmas time

Fondue at Christmas time

What do you like about autumn? Or even why you don’t!.

Written by Catherine Evans Joines

A walk in the woods and why it is important to honour the promises you make to yourself

About a month or so ago I made a promise to myself to try to spend more time outside. Well in my first ever video blog post (be kind), I confess that today it almost didn’t happen, even though it was a stunning autumn day.

If you don’t honour the promises you make to yourself, who else will?

If you want to spend more time doing something then give yourself permission and time to do it.

The important things in life need to be prioritised, otherwise they will get lost amongst all those things we “should” be doing.

For me, I love being outside, walking, exploring and relaxing.  And in this short video I chat a little more about why I love to walk in the woods in autumn – the original topic of my blog post today!

Here is some autumn inspiration.  

The results of my walk in the wood today.

There are so many ways to enjoy the autumn. Here are just some.

There are so many ways to enjoy the autumn. Here are just some.

A snapshot of an autumn day in Switzerland

A snapshot of an autumn day in Switzerland

Loving the autumn colours

Loving the autumn colours

A beautiful autumnal scene

A beautiful autumnal scene

 

And now over to you….you too can enjoy the autumn!!

And just in case you are procrastinating, this is how I deal with it!

Written by Catherine Evans Joines