Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Déménagement

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Last Saturday I helped my friend Jen and her boyfriend Laurent move from their separate apartments into their new love nest. I have only met Jen twice – she is a friend of my cousin who got married and I met her at the wedding – but when the opportunity to stick my nose into three Parisian apartments came along, I couldn’t resist volunteering to help.

Thankfully Jen appears to be a highly organised and very well prepared person, so all of their things were packed and ready to go when a group of nine or so friends turned up at 9.30am. There was coffee and biscuits with smiley faces on them – everyone was impressed and in good spirits. And so it began.

I have never really been involved in the moving of houses before except for when I was very young and was given tiny things to carry so that I felt special. This time it was serious AND it was in Paris which meant we had to deal with the concept of carrying household items and boxes from the apartment to the truck. Without a lift. And their two apartments were on the fifth and fourth floors. Thankfully, I am a girl, and therefore was not required to lift anything larger than my torso. It was left to the manly men to carry couches, washing machines and cupboards out of the tiny doorways, through impossibly tight hallways and then down the narrow flights of stairs.

Moving truck

Of course a removal truck in Paris has a naked lady on it.

Jen had come up with a great team-work system involving one group of people carrying the boxes from the fifth to the second storey, and then another group carrying the boxes the rest of the way. That way we weren’t going up and down five flights of stairs for each box. It worked well but two or three sets of stairs is just as bad as five.

It was weirdly fun and the time passed quickly. But by the time we came to put all of the stuff into their new apartment we were all exhausted, hungry and thrilled to see a rather large elevator that made the transportation of their things so much easier. Hooray for modern technology!

Jen and Laurent then whipped out baguettes and cheese and ham for us to gorge ourselves on after six hours of heavy lifting. I came away with some scratches on my arms and two impressive bruises on my hips, plus some very sexy leg muscles from climbing all of those stairs. And I made some new friends! It’s amazing how a bit of brutal physical activity can bring people together.

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Snow

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Easter crept up on me this year – perhaps it was the lack of dried-fruit-filled-dough-balls, although I think I had enough of the Dutch fried version of these over New Years. Tom and I spent our Easter weekend (it was clearly stated as a ‘weekend’ in France and definitely not a holiday) with our friends Louise and Marcelo in the Alps. We stayed in Louise’s aunt’s cottage in a tiny village called Boudin. I felt like we had said farewell to civilisation and had run away to join a hippie cult in the middle of the French mountains. Boudin consisted of less than 15 wooden chalets that were inaccessible by road. You had to park your car in the car park at the base of the village and walk up.

Boudin

Boudin

It took us approximately eight hours to drive to Boudin from Paris – this was largely due to some bad advice from the GPS, and then a few misguided decisions as we worked out the best way to get to the mountains. By the time we arrived, it was dark, it was raining, the clouds were settling low and we had to drive up a one-lane, twisty road with some particularly useless windscreen wipers. Oh, did I mention the lightning?

Fear not, we made it and were all overwhelmingly happy to get our things into the house and sit down to some food and some good wine. The next day as the sun came up, the rooster started crowing outside my bedroom window and I finally dared to peak outside, I realised why an eight hour drive is really ok. WOW. WHAT A VIEW.

Boudin

Good morning, mountains.

Perhaps it is the Australian in me and my complete foreignness to all things mountainous, but geez those lumps of land are just spectacular! Particularly when coated in white snow. I think I have only stayed in one other place in the world that had such an inspirational view – Crete and our view of Plakias bay. I could have sat and stared at the mountains all day, watching the clouds roll through, the passages of rain and then light snow. Beautiful.

Boudin mountains

Fluffy.

Saturday we had a quiet day as the weather wasn’t great and we were all feeling very lazy. We bought a truck load of local produce – cheese (Beaufort is one of the towns nearby), fromage blanc, blueberry coulis, saucisson, and blueberry tarts. Then we essentially just ate all day. For dinner we made cheese fondu with locally produced cheeses. It is fantastic – you can go to the local fromagerie, buy the fondu cheese and they will lend you a fondu pot, the sticks to hold the bread and the little heating element to keep the cheese warm. All you have to do is bring it back the next day. Now that’s small town trust. I like it.

Fondu

They eat this every day in the mountains

On Sunday we celebrated Easter by walking up a snow covered hill. The idea sounded great – we would hire ‘raquettes’ (or giant tennis rackets that you attach to your feet), take the chair lift to the top of the first part of a mountain and then walk up to a restaurant where we would eat good food in the sunshine while surrounded by snow. Louise was the only person who a. was French and had been to the mountains before and b. had skis so she left the two Australians and one Brazilian in the middle of a field of snow, lost, lonely and cold. Not really, there were very obvious ski-routes to follow but still. So cold.

Raquettes

These shoes are made for snow walking

So we started walking and immediately discovered that walking with tennis rackets attached to your feet is really quite tricky. You turn into a transformer and your feet suddenly weigh a lot more than you ever thought they could. We set off completely unsure about what direction we were supposed to be going but eventually figured that as long as we were heading uphill we were probably on the right track.

Mountain edge

I think I'll avoid walking over that hill

The second thing I learnt is that despite it being cold, snowy and probably some sort of minus-temperature, if you are wearing lots of layers of clothing and are trudging up a hill with tennis rackets on your feet then you get very, very sweaty very, very quickly. I was soon stripping off my beanie, scarf and gloves and turning bright red and complaining a lot. I wasn’t the only one. It was really hard! Walking uphill in snow is worse than running 30km and I almost threw my walking sticks down into the snow in frustration. But the food! We were walking towards food! Onwards we went, meeting up with Louise once as she glided past on her skis, the wind in her hair, a smile on her face. She, of course, felt dreadful but everyone just laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation and how much we really wanted to get to the restaurant. Louise informed us we were almost half way. Great.

Raquette

Up we go

Two hours later we arrived at the restaurant, removed as many clothes as possible while attempting to remain decent and flopped into our chairs demanding water, water, water. My tshirt was saturated and I’m fairly certain the table behind me left due to my stench. But after a slice of beaufort cheese tart, a huge plate of chips (yes, delicious, salty, deep-fried chips… something I usually avoid but at this moment they were the best things ever), and salad followed by a Nutella crêpe, I was happy. And ready to walk back down the hill.

Beaufort tart

Tarte au Beaufort

Nutella crepe

Nutella-full

The walk back was AMAZING. I have to admit that the walk up the hill was completely worth it once I started going back down. There is something so wonderful about standing still on a snow covered mountain and listening to the silence. It is one of the most beautiful sounds on the earth.

Snow on pine tree

Snowy

The snow was such a pure white and everything looked like a movie. The three raquetteers were in much jollier moods walking back to the chair lift and we stopped at a patch of gloriously white, soft snow, threw ourselves back onto it and made snow angels. My first snow angel! It was heavenly to lie in the snow! It is so soft and luxurious – sure, I got a bit wet, but I was already drenched so who cares?

Snow angel

Don't I look angelic?

It was hard to drive back to Paris the next day as the sun was shining in the mountains and it would have been a great day to sit on the chalet balcony in the sunshine and read a book. Unfortunately work and responsibilities called and we repacked the car and drove another seven hours to get home. This time we had the joy of Parisian traffic jams as everyone returned home from their Easter holidays. Next time we’re all taking an extra day off work.

Left, Right, Left, Right

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

The weekend before I returned to Paris, my friend and running buddy, Becky, completed the Paris Half-Marathon. Impressive stuff, although her boyfriend, Vivien, a man who runs very infrequently, completed it too, which is potentially even more impressive, but I am on Becky’s team. Anyway, Becky is now in training for the full marathon – a decision that has made me question her sanity, but she is a neuroscientist so she must have a fairly functional brain.

She has been going on long runs and this week I put up my hand to accompany her on her Saturday morning death-jog. What can I say? It was early in the morning, I wasn’t fully awake and my brain was clearly in some sort of self-harm mode. So this morning, at 10am we met in the front courtyard, kitted out with water-bottle holding waist belts and GPS watches. We looked impressive.

I must say that the great thing about going for runs in Paris is that time and distance passes very easily due to all of the distractions. We spent most of the time either looking at beautiful buildings, pointing out newly blossoming trees, or dodging Parisians and dog poo. Constant distractions. We ran down to the Seine and then along towards the Eiffel Tower. By the time we had reached there, an hour and a half had passed and we were 13km from home. Time to turn around and go back.

Our total distance was over 23km and we ran for two and a half hours. Considering the longest I have run previously is about 15km I was extremely pleased. My knees are currently yelling at me and I want to go to sleep, but knowing I am capable of running those sorts of distances is very good for the old ego. If I have managed to recover from this run within the next week I might agree to go again on Becky’s next cross-city adventure.

Paris run

Look at us go!

Exercise Challenge is Fun!

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

As I have frequently mentioned, every morning I go running with my friend Becky, our running courses usually involving 6 to 8 kilometre circuits of the canal and local parks. Becky has signed up for the Paris half marathon AND the full marathon later in the year. I would have attempted the half marathon with her, however it is on the day that I return from Perth so I will be asleep and/or on a plane. Very annoying. Anyway, in order to help Becky train for the upcoming half-marathon and to burn off a few of those excess Christmas-calories, I suggested Becky and I attempt a longer run on the weekend in order to see how hard running longer distances really is. This was my Fun Times Count Down item #6.

Yesterday (Saturday) morning, Becky and I met at 10am and caught the metro to the Bois de Bologne – a wooded area just north of the Eiffel Tower that is notorious for being the place to find prostitutes at night time and if you want to be murdered and buried in a shallow grave, go here when it is dark. Fear not, it is perfectly safe and full of people exercising on Saturday mornings.

Becky had planned a route that would be approximately 20km long, winding through the woods, circling a hippodrome and doing a figure-eight around Lake Superior and Lake Inferior. Interesting fact – Lake Superior is SMALLER than Lake Inferior. How French. We set off well – the first 3km passing easily and then everything seemed to slow down. It took forever to reach 5km, and then 7km was even slower. It wasn’t physically straining, it was just taking forever. We played eye spy in French for a little while but it became far too easy as we both have a limited vocabulary and there wasn’t very much to spy in the woods anyway.

We eventually made it over the half way mark and up to 12km but then our team was struck by injuries – poor Becky was hit with a terrible cramp in her lower calf that just wouldn’t go away. We called for our medical staff but no one came – no good looks physiotherapists to massage away the pain. Becky struggled on for a few more kilometres but it soon became clear that running was not a good plan. We decided to stop and walk back to the metro, having run 15km. Not bad for a first effort. The walk back to the metro was another 3km so in total we did 18km. I was pleased with our efforts and we are planning for a second attempt at the 20km challenge next Saturday.

It was a particularly enjoyable activity to be doing on a cold Saturday morning – the temperatures have dropped over the last few days so it was really very cold and I should have worn my gloves. It was about three degrees as we were running and there was frost on the ground – the closest I have seen to snow this winter. While it was cold, the sun was shining and the sky was crystal clear – a crisp and sparkly morning. The cold weather made my room temperature tap water in my water bottle turn refreshingly cold. Instant refrigeration.

So a great start to the weekend – I hope next Saturday the weather is just as nice and we can make the full 20kms. It was a lot of fun and I am really enjoying the fact that I am physically able to make these longer distances. Having run 15kms I know I could have easily continued on to complete the full 20. Maybe the marathon isn’t such a crazy idea after all…

Here’s the News

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Three weeks of holiday eating = 1.5 kilogram weight gain. Not as bad as I thought but I think a lot of my muscle is turning into floppy flab so numbers are deceiving. Hopefully my 7km run this morning will get things back in shape soon.

Hint of the day = job interviews in French aren’t fun if you can’t speak French. Let’s just say my nerves got to me and my French speaking ability is no where near as good as I hoped it was. I haven’t received an official “You failed” but I’m prepared for it. Shame really… the office looked really cool with dark wood panelled floors and open work spaces. Noisy though. I couldn’t concentrate and write under such conditions.

Weather in Paris = rainy, humid, cloudy and warm.

Tomorrow = Mum and Dad arrive back in Paris for the final leg of their holiday before heading back to Perth on Friday. Will be hard to say goodbye, me thinks.

Joyous Moments

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Last night I experienced one of those moments in life where you just smile and are generally amused at what the world is throwing at you. I decided to kill myself by doing a pump class at the gym, but the experience was made far more enjoyable by the fact that the class was run by a steroid-filled, slightly darker haired version of Chuck Norris. Never have I pumped iron so hard.

Chuck Norris

Buff as.

Let’s Get Physical… Physical!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Feeling fat? Do you lack the energy you used to have? Can you feel those love handles forming around your middle? Well, head to Hyde Park where you can get back into shape with the ultimate work out! Simply jog or power walk around the lake, dodging crazy old women and drugs addicts, and stop at each of the exercise work-out panels to discover your next exercise! From stretching to strengthening, you’ll be feeling fit before you can say, “Lycra shorts!” Soon you will be looking as good as these ladies:

Exercising

Woo!

Sadly, before you can reach this ab-crunching state of fitness you must first be the lumpy, flabby, glasses-wearing old people that are featured on the exercise panels around Hyde Park. Here are a few for your enjoyment but you can see more on my Flickr site.

Exercise image

Pedalin'

Exercises

Restin'

Exercises

Steppin'