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

 

Power of a Break and a BONUS Post too!

Power of a Break

I have my summer holidays later than most and this year was no exception. We visited the lovely island of Kos and I took an almost complete “tech” sabbatical.  It was an excellent way to just get back to doing what us humans have done without aids for thousands of years….communicate face-to-face with each other…no need for electronic gadgetry. With the distractions gone, you can just get on with living in the now, which I found totally refreshing.  It is amazing how much you later remember when you are actually fully engaged in the moment and how time isn’t blurring into a stream of sameness.  Mind you, I admit that this is much easier to accomplish when you are on holiday….next challenge is to achieve this in “normal” life!

self-imposed break from technology

A refreshing break with no technology

A refreshing break with no technology

So after my semi-self imposed break from technology I took some time to actually just do those things that are important to me, that fire me up and help me have outlets for my energy and creativity other than the 9 to 5.  There has been quite a lot to digest, and I will share more in the coming weeks, when I again find time to really focus on my writing. And although I do realise it has been a few weeks since I lasted posted here at Leisure Guru, I haven’t been entirely dormant on the writing front.

Previously I wrote about my hopes for Leisure Guru and mentioned I was preparing a guest post for the Emerge and Evolve Magazine……well…. ta da!  My “6 (and a bit) business travel tips” have now been published. So I am keeping things ticking along and working towards more “Perfect Days“.

guest post published – 6 (and a bit) Business Travel Tips

So what’s next? Well I have few more posts planned on my “personal discoveries” from my holiday to Kos plus we are coming into one of my favourite seasons….autumn, quickly followed by winter….so expect articles on good winter warming foods, my ideal winter’s day, winter sports and a whole lot more. But for now, why don’t you head over and read my tips for making the most of your next business trip so you see more than this….. (and yes, I did take a picture of the inside of an airplane!)

See a lot more than this on your next business trip

See a lot more than this on your next business trip

Post written by Catherine Evans Joines

The perfect leisure filled life? It’s going to take some hard work . . .

Dreams - Bernhard Edmunds
As part of The Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 day blog challenge, Catherine’s spent the last few blogs talking about the importance of finding out what you’re really about, what you want your life to look like and prioritising how to get there.

Now, I’m temporarily in a slightly more fortunate position than Catherine who is still leading a double life of corporate chick and wannabe leisure addict. In April, I took a year sabbatical from my corporate job when my husband was offered a 12-month work contract in Abu Dhabi. As fate would have it that’s morphed a bit and after 2 months in the UAE we’re now living in Bangkok for 3 months, due to head back to the Middle East at the end of September.

On top of being able to live in these new places, I’m incredibly blessed because I don’t need to work in a ‘traditional job’ whilst we’re away (in fact visa restrictions actually make it really tough to), and financially we can afford for me not to (it’s tight but doable). Even luckier, I have a hubby who is fully onboard with me wanting to ditch my corporate lifestyle in favour of running the show myself (via an online business that leaves lots of time for leisure). In fact, I think he feels like the PoW watching his buddy scale the prison fence and make the bid for freedom,  “if she manages to do this and get away, perhaps there’s hope for my escape. . . ”

Nirvana right? A whole year to work on getting the dream life so I don’t have to go back to the big company prison? Except here’s the rub, the bit I’m quite ashamed I’m actually going to say–

it’s a hell of a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.

There I said it.

The reality is that there’s something quite comforting in working for the corporate machine. The pressure is on them; they make the calls, set the direction of travel and schedule the work. There’s an enforced routine, human interaction every day and, if you’re lucky, feedback on how you’re doing. And after ten plus years I’ve learnt the rules and know what to do to survive. Now even if you hate your life in this machine (and trust me, I really really did), when it all gets stripped away suddenly you realize you’re standing on your own, metaphorically naked, and feeling more than a little bit vulnerable.

Now don’t get me wrong, during my first few weeks I loved it. I devoured my new leisure time. I read every book I’d been wanting to read for the last 3 years, I sat outside in the sunshine watching the world go by, I did my weekly shop in the middle of the working day when it took 30 minutes instead of the 90 minute weekend hell, I had time (and energy) to make food from scratch. I consumed blogs on travel imagining all the places I could now go to. I created my dream board, drew a ‘get a life’ tree (more on this in another blog), decided on my top 5 goals to make this my best year yet and did all that absolutely essential planning Catherine has been blogging about. It was really quite fabulous.

Except now I’m 100 or so days into this experience, and I notice my mood is starting to change, it’s getting tougher to make dreams a reality and I knew I was in trouble last night when I thought about my old corporate life and seriously considered going back. “It wasn’t that bad, it paid well, it was relatively secure’ all flashed across my mind. This of course is total BS – I would often start work at 4am and finish late into the evening; our honeymoon was the first time in 18 months hubby and I had spent longer than 7 consecutive days together (travelling for work having kept us apart previously). My old corporate life had more than a few serious flaws.

So where does that leave me? Well I have a vast array of great dreams, ideas, possibilities and opportunities – the world is my oyster. The problem is, that despite the dream board and goal planning, I don’t appear to have a terribly detailed map to navigate this new world. More problematic still, is the reason that map is missing, is because I haven’t drawn it yet.

It’s all on me now.

If I fail at making the most of this opportunity then it will be entirely my own fault.

I am the master of my own destiny and potentially my biggest saboteur.

And that quite frankly is, in equal parts, the most exciting and terrifying position I have ever been in. And what it’s taken me 100 days of dreaming, goal setting and prioritizing to realize is that creating my new life’s map, that will help me get to that awesome leisure filled life, is going to take a lot of hard work. In fact standing at the beginning of this journey, having already experienced some bad days, false starts and set backs; I’d say it would be a safe bet that this is going to be the hardest change I have ever had to make.

So following on from Catherine’s 30-day blog challenge, I’m going to take on a little challenge of my own.  I reckon building a new life is a bit like building a house, you’ve got to start by getting the foundations right. When you have that you know the base is solid and everything that gets added on top will hold fast.

When Catherine and I founded Leisure Guru we said we wanted to take the hard work out of leisure, and making the transition from dreaming to doing is hard. And let’s be real here, 99.9% of folks are not going to be able to take a sabbatical to help them become a life long leisureholic. So I’m going to try to do some of the legwork for you guys, I’m going to see what it takes to build those foundations. By the end of it I’m going to be honest, I won’t be able to draw your life map, only you can do that, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to pass you a template that you can adapt rather than a blank piece of paper.

So let’s see how we get on, someone pass me a spade so I can get cracking on these here foundations – no wait – too hard – anyone know where to hire a mini digger . . .

Written by Morag Young

When it comes to Leisure, the Passionate Entrepreneur is your friend

Only when you get a bit older do you look back and realise why your parents did the things that they did – hindsight is a fabulous thing.  And when it comes to leisure our father cottoned on to something 30+ years ago that still holds as true today as it did back then – the Passionate Entrepreneur is your friend.

the Passionate Entrepreneur is your friend

When we were growing up Dad used to take us on holiday at least once a year, sometimes we stayed in the UK, other times we ventured to Europe on a driving holiday and occasionally we would travel further afield to the USA or South Africa. Whilst the locations would change one thing never did, wherever possible Dad would use small businesses throughout every aspect of the holiday. The travel agent would be an expert in the area we went to, the accommodation would be a small B&B or hotel run by a local family, breakfast would be from the local bakery, wherever possible we would eat in one of the local restaurants, not at chains, and if a choice of activities was on the cards we would head to – you guessed it – the one run as a small business by people who loved what they were doing.

the lone rangers against mass-market competitors

As Catherine and I started to brainstorm what Leisure Guru could become several words kept coming up, words like ‘passion’ ‘expert’ ‘unique’ and ‘local’. Clearly influenced by our younger years, as we’ve travelled the world under our own steam we to have taken on our father’s love of the passionate entrepreneur. Every now and again we want to take a moment to say thank you to these lone rangers who’ve fought to build their businesses against their larger mass-market competitors, because these are the people who can really make life-long memories.

making life-long memories

They’re the James and Pepsi Crockett’s of this world, who founded Jus’ Sail in St. Lucia by buying the wooden Carriacou Sloop ‘Good Expectation’ and lovingly restoring it so they could offer sailing tours, private charters and day sailing experiences.  I met James and Pepsi in January of this year whilst on honeymoon. We chartered Good Expectation as a rather extravagant way to get from our hotel near Rodney Bay Marina in the north to our next hotel in the south of the island. The day was eventful; we had blissful sunshine, pouring rain and gusty wind but through it all James and Pepsi were brilliant, teaching us about the boat, letting us helm, feeding us with Pepsi’s gorgeous homemade snacks and keeping us well hydrated with a variety of fruit juices and, later in the day, beer. Eight months on my husband and I still recount the day as one of the best of our honeymoon. You just need to take a look at the Jus’ Sail website to see how passionate James and Pepsi are about what they do, so passionate that during the summer months they also commit some of their time and resources to running training programs for local youth groups to give them an overview of yachting as a potential career path.

Good times on Good Expectation (Photos Courtesy of Jus’ Sail and Chris Young)

Good times on Good Expectation (Photos Courtesy of Jus’ Sail and Chris Young)

a man on a mission

But James and Pepsi aren’t one offs. We also met Orlando Satchell in St. Lucia, he was a mere month or so into starting his own restaurant Orlando’s from his home in Soufriere. Having travelled the world and worked in top hotels building his skills, he had taken the risk to leave the stability of that life behind and build his own business; he was now a man on a mission to bring Caribbean cuisine to international recognition. And rightly so, because his food was some of the best I have ever tasted in my life. Served al fresco in the small courtyard of his home with perhaps maybe 10 to 15 tables in the whole place we savoured every mouth-watering, mind-blowing taste. In between courses Orlando would leave the kitchen to talk to each of the guests; finally at the end of the meal bringing us his pick of the finest rum which tasted like melted toffee and caused us to zig-zag our way back to our hotel, happy, satisfied and in awe of how food could taste so good. In eight months Orlando’s is now the 2nd highest rated restaurant in St. Lucia, an impressive and well deserved rise up the rankings for a man who is helping raise the profile of his local cuisine whilst also employing young St. Lucians so he can teach them about food, service, quality and value to help them gain the skills to further their prospects.

Orlando outside his restaurant in Soufriere, St.Lucia (Photo Courtesy of Orlando’s)

Orlando outside his restaurant in Soufriere, St.Lucia (Photo Courtesy of Orlando’s)

now I don’t think you’re going to get adventure like that at Fitness First!

Move forward six months and whilst living in Bangkok I find The Lab, dedicated to helping their clients (affectionately called Lab Rats) get super healthy by utilising a myriad of different equipment from kettlebells, TRX trainers, ViPRs, to ceiling ropes. Founded by Richard Cohen, the Lab started life in a small studio in the front of Richard’s house, he’s expanded this to a 2 floor gym in the centre of Bangkok with a team of 10 trainers. But more than this, what Richard has created is a community; it’s unlike any gym I’ve ever been to before (in a really good way). Every one knows your name, every one wants the next guy to be the best they can be, every trainer is committed and interested in their clients and every workout is different. In 2 months I’m fitter than I’ve ever been and what’s more it’s really fun – so much so that a trip to The Lab is in Trip Advisors top 20 attractions in Bangkok! Once again as we’ve seen with our other passionate entrepreneurs, The Lab is also giving back by supporting local charity, Mercy Centre Thailand, even going as far as arranging a once in a lifetime sponsored charity trek to Everest Base Camp led by one of their trainers, Ross Norman. Now I don’t think you’re going to get adventure like that at Fitness First.

The Lab, Bangkok, lots for the Lab Rats to Play with (Photos courtesy of The Lab)

The Lab, Bangkok, lots for the Lab Rats to Play with (Photos courtesy of The Lab)

The Lab, Bangkok, lots for the Lab Rats to Play with (Photos courtesy of The Lab)

like being given permission to be a kid again

I could go on and on with this list; waxing lyrical about XO Tours in Vietnam, singularly the best city sightseeing trip I have ever done; Escape Hunt in Bangkok, innovative, clever and highly enjoyable (and you get to play dress up at the end – it’s like being given permission to be a kid again) or Cornwall Segway in the UK because very few things are as cool as an off-road Segway course amongst the old satellite stations at Goonhilly; or the joy of a great B&B like Rosehill Rooms and Cookery in Devon, a Grade II listed house near to the sea with the kind of outstanding breakfast you would expect from a B&B doubling as a cooking school..….

choose the unsung heroes of leisure

But I have to stop, not because I don’t have any more on the list but because it’s time to go out and discover more of these gems. So here’s to the passionate entrepreneurs, building their businesses whilst giving back to their communities, introducing you and me to a glimpse of the world they’re passionate about and helping us to make terrific memories. Next time you’re faced with a choice between mass market or one of these unsung heroes of leisure – go for the latter, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

 – the passionate entrepreneurs

End Note: We have not received any money or special treatment for mentioning the above businesses. In fact none of them knew that we were from Leisure Guru when we met them and used their services. We simply believe that when you see people working on something they love,  and are truly passionate about it and able to impart that passion and knowledge to others in a quality, value-filled way that they deserve to have their presence shouted from the metaphorical blog rooftop every now and again. If you know some other passionate entrepreneurs and want to do the same, tell us about them in the comments section.

 Written by Morag Young.

Delving Deep to “Soar like an Eagle”

I decided to join the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day Blog Challenge, albeit a few days late and so now am playing catch-up. This is an all too familiar state of affairs for me at the moment and is something I desperately wish to correct. I am still working hard in the corporate world and sometimes it feels like all I do is work and travel for business.  But since the start of the year I have been making subtle changes both in terms of my mindset but also in my actions.  Now I have a bit more get up and go. I am determined to make the most of my time away from the office, by really focusing and doing those things that interest me, which have sparked my imagination.

the birth of Leisure Guru 

Funnily enough this has coincided with my sister experiencing a similar desire for a change in direction.  We got chatting, as sisters do, and before we knew it the Leisure Guru blog was born. We are not experts, and neither do we pretend to be, as we haven’t yet got this leisure lark completely sussed, but one day we might!  The Leisure Guru blog is really our way of sharing our experiences of trying to maximise our time away from the office, so that we can look back on the last year and have some really cool stories to share.  Plus in years to come we will have a full suitcase of memories. Our hope is that you will enjoy sharing in our adventures and maybe it might inspire you too to grab life by the scruff of the neck and make it work for you!

So back to the challenge

The whole premise of the 30 day challenge is to respond to daily blog posts with one of your own.  I thought this would be an excellent way to gather momentum on the blog and get into a routine of writing and posting.  Here’s hoping! But as I am now arriving on day 4, this first post will have to be a mismatch response to not only today’s challenge but also those of the past 3 days… But hey what is a girl to do?

life on your terms requires clarity

As I read the first four challenges it became abundantly clear that in order to live life on your own terms both from a work and a lifestyle perspective you have to be crystal clear on what that looks like. Otherwise how are you going to know if you have made it? It is a bit like getting into the car with no clear destination. You just drive aimlessly round, turning left and right as the mood takes you.  But how do you know when you have reached the destination and you can get out for a while and admire the view before getting back in and deciding where to go to next? It appears that living your best possible life requires some planning and some strategy….it seems that we need to have “goals”.

your best life requires “goals”

It is all too easy to say “I want to put the zing back into my life by doing more fun things, travelling and seeing new places, meeting new people.” Being a bit of a control-freak I, of course, want to have more control over what I do with my time and be able to do work that can come with me wherever I am. I want to be location-independent. And naturally being a bit of a leisureholic I need to have time to wind-down and chill-out. But what does all that actually mean in practice and what does it look like?

delve deep to find your true heart’s desires

To be honest, I am still trying to delve down into my true heart’s desires in order to have a really clear vision on where I want to be and what I want to be doing, but this is what I have figured out already (in no particular order).

  1. I love the outdoors. The mountains and the sea to be specific.  I need to spend time outdoors every day. As I work from home when I am not travelling, this has been relatively easy to achieve. Today I even worked on the balcony sheltered by the canopy from the rain teeming down. Surprisingly refreshing!
  2. I like being active, but hate the gym. However, doing all the same exercises outdoors is actually quite appealing. Getting on the bike for a cycle ride, jogging round the block, hiking in the mountains, swimming in the lido, doing the parcours (outdoor gym thing with 10 stations on a 1.5 km route) – now that sounds much better.
  3. I love to cook healthy food, and be inventive with it. My poor husband has been subjected to all manner of weird and wonderful combinations and creations. I am loving experimenting.
  4. I need to be able to explore and investigate and learn new things.  I explore in the online world as well as the real one. I have been learning about building the life I want; doing several courses or events which have sparked my imagination; researching trips and vacations; fiddling with and learning wordpress to create this blog; visiting new cities; getting out there and trying new things; scaring myself doing adrenaline-fuelled activities. And all this in the past 7 months!
  5. I love being with my family and friends and spending “quality fun” time with them, not just being there in body but being really present.
  6. I need for work to inspire me, to really interest me. I need to work with people who have passion, who are enthusiastic about what they do. I get a buzz from being around those people who care about what they do and believe that their contribution makes a difference.  I need to feel that passion, to end the day feeling I achieved something.
  7. I am not defined by my job title.  I want a “job” that is flexible, which allows me to work from anywhere, at any time. I need it to mould to my life. I may choose to work all the time from the coffee shop round the corner, but if I want to, I want to be able to pick it all up and work from the ski chalet in winter and from the beach in summer.  I need that flexibility so that I can spend more time with those I love and care about.
  8. But most of all I need to play to my strengths. No more trying to be good at everything. I need to focus. I know that when I am doing those things that I am truly good at, it doesn’t feel like work. I finish and it has been “easy” – I have worked hard, but I was happy slogging away, figuring out those little bugs, researching that idea, investigating the best deals.  I am a lean mean researching organising machine!

how did I figure this much out?

Well, quite a bit of soul-searching, of noting down what made me smile, what gave me a sinking feeling, realising when I had completely lost track of time and when it was dragging into eternity and beyond.

But the best exercise of all was creating a board all about me and what I connected with, what inspired me, what would make me feel like I could “soar like an eagle”.

My dream board part 1

My dream board part 1

My dream board part 2

My dream board part 2

If you have never done this, it is simple. Get loads of magazines, scissors, a piece of paper, glue and stopwatch. Set the stopwatch for 45 min and then you are off into your own world (fab music helps here too). Flip through the magazine cutting out pictures or words, which call to you. These could be activities you want to try, scenes you would like to visit, really anything that makes you smile and think “hell yeah!”.  Stick the pictures to the piece of paper and hey presto after 45 min you have your board.

My board sits on my dressing table so that first thing every day I see the elements of my dream and know what I am ultimately working toward.

Awesome leisure is part of an awesome life!

In response to http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/blogchallenge/blog-challenge-day4/

The mountains are not just for winter fun….

This week’s blog post is a little late as I spent a long weekend enjoying some fun times in the Dolomites.  I love the mountains and not just in winter. In fact, my first love of the mountains came on walking holidays in the French and Austrian Alps in summertime with my Dad and sister.

fantastic views, fresh air, exhilaration and relaxation

Now that I live so close to the mountains in Switzerland, I get to see first-hand how the landscape changes within a matter of weeks (sometimes days!) from green, green grass with little yellow and purple meadow flowers to having a white blanket of snow (and vis versa).  In winter the mountains have a more even appearance, as many of the smaller dips are covered over, much like correcting flaws in a cake when icing!  But in summer these little dips and bumps are clearly evident and look like wrinkles in the green carpet.  They just seem to beckon me to come and explore.  For me nothing can beat the combination of fantastic views, fresh air, (gentle) exercise, exhilaration and relaxation that a summertime trip into the mountains can offer. (Plus for me it has the added advantage of being the only place I seem to be able to pick up a bit of a suntan!)

the Dolomites

From Kronplatz toward the Austrian Alps - amazing

From Kronplatz toward the Austrian Alps – amazing

So this last weekend was my first ever trip to the Dolomites, in the South Tirol (Italy) and it certainly won’t be my last. We stayed in a lovely little village called Valdaora or Olang, depending on whether you are a German or Italian speaker – this caused no end of confusion with the satnav!  Valdaora sits at the foot of the Kronplatz. From December through to April Kronplatz and the villages beneath it are a hive of snow-filled activity and with over 100 km of pistes it is easy to see why.  The area doesn’t just sleep during the summer. There are plenty of activities to try out.  As we only had a couple of days we could only choose a couple.

a little bit of R+R

We decided to use our long weekend for a bit of R+R and to try to kick-start a bit of a “new you” health and fitness regime. So we booked into a lovely hotel with spa facilities offering jacuzzis, sauna, swimming pool, massages etc. We also booked half-board (which can be risky) but we were not disappointed – the food was amazing. A different but highly imaginative five course menu was freshly prepared for us every night. The portion sizes were just right, so that you felt only pleasantly satisfied and not stuffed to bursting at the end of the meal.  And if you didn’t happen to like one of the options they were more than happy to prepare a substitute. So the hotel was a little bit of luxury to ensure we managed the rest part of the equation.

a little bit of luxury in our hotel room

a little bit of luxury in our hotel room

But what about the relaxation side? Well, whilst I could have spent all my time indoors enjoying the spa facilities at the hotel, this would not have helped me “switch my brain off” fully.  For that to happen I have to be fully engaged in an activity, and I usually have to have some fear associated with it…this is why I find skiing so mentally relaxing, even if it is physically exhausting.  I spend all my time worrying about staying upright that I cannot concentrate on anything else other than what I am doing in the here and now – so the office doesn’t even get a look in.  So this last weekend, I didn’t pass up the opportunity to see some awe-inspiring scenery, to get the adrenaline flowing and to feel that sense of accomplishment that comes with trying or seeing something new.

Obviously a walk in the mountains was on the cards. So we took the cable car up to Kronplatz and walked down – in total we descended 1300m.  Now  whoever thinks walking down is easy, obviously hasn’t spent 3.5 hours doing it continuously without encountering even the slightest incline to help alleviate the pressure in the knees and thighs…not that I am moaning.  It was just stunning scenery the whole way down, mountains everywhere, ski runs turned into meadows, the sound of cow bells, the butterflies fluttering around your legs as you walked though long grass interspersed with pretty flowers, the breeze helping to cool you down in the heat of the day, and best of all the peace and quiet. Bliss.

So this is how a ski run looks in summer!

So this is how a ski run looks in summer!

a plethora of activities

On our walk we encountered others making the most of the amazing landscape. There were the mountain bikers

mountain biking on Kronplatz

mountain biking on Kronplatz

The paragliders

paragliding from Kronplatz to the valley below

paragliding from Kronplatz to the valley below

The photographers

there is so much to be inspired by...you just have to capture it

there is so much to be inspired by…you just have to capture it

The picnickers

just take some time out and admire what nature has to offer

just take some time out and admire what nature has to offer

The adrenaline junkies looking for some excitement by swinging out over the valley floor below

swinging out over the valley below

swinging out over the valley below

And all of this on one mountain!

don’t forget the rivers, lakes and forests

Where there are mountains, there are often rivers, lakes and forests….so even more activities to try like river rafting, canoeing, canyoning or just simply swimming in a mountain lake. But we didn’t opt for any of those for our second day’s activity…instead we chose the high-ropes course, a kind of obstacle course up in the trees. This certainly got the adrenaline coursing through my veins, especially as I am not overly keen on heights and am Little Miss Cautious. So whilst I know that it is safe, providing you follow the safety instructions, the idea of traversing a course several metres above the ground, whilst overcoming different obstacles to get from one tree platform to another, was, well, daunting.

adrenaline, fear, accomplishment

wobbly legs, aching arms, but loads of adrenaline ensured I made it across.

wobbly legs, aching arms, but loads of adrenaline ensured I made it across.

After our safety instruction (in English) and our first test course we were let loose on the different courses. There were several of differing difficulties. Once we had sussed out which was the easiest we were underway.  It was not easy. Sometimes it was not elegant, but I navigated the first one. I felt amazing. I had had moments where I didn’t think I would be able to stop the legs from wobbling or my arms from shaking, but I had managed it.  I was excited and thrilled.

Survived and thoroughly enjoyed it

Survived and thoroughly enjoyed it

After a short break to let the lactic acid dissipate and also to feel the relief of having solid ground under my feet again, I felt able to tackle another, harder, course.  This time I was more confident, had greater control, but was as equally inelegant as the time before.  It was awesome. Finishing with a zipline into a cargo net, followed by disentangling myself, whilst my heart was beating out of my chest, totally made me feel alive.

holding on for dear life, but secretly loving every second

holding on for dear life, but secretly loving every second

I love the mountains for their variety, for their magnificence and for their ability to inspire me.  It won’t be long til I am back visiting them again.