You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


Leave a comment

Back On My Feet Again

I apologise as I completely forgot to let you know how the BCN Tour du Canton went. For those who missed my previous post: as part of a fitness incentive I decided to sign myself up for a series of 6 races ranging from just over 9 to just under 12 kilometres.

I am proud to say that I completed 5 out of 6 of the race “stages” in the top third of my category. Considering I started training 8 weeks before the first race after not having run regularly for over 5 years I am very happy with my results. I did opt out of one race due to the fact it was E’s birthday. We took her out for a big girl birthday dinner with my mum who was visiting for the week. I had a lovely evening and managed to miss out on the most muddy stage of the tour and not feel an ounce of guilt about it.

The races took part every Wednesday evening over a period of 6 weeks meaning you had one week to recover between races. It sounds horrifying but I found that I actually gained stamina and strength as the races went on. In fact the week where I missed a race really threw me for the following race.

I must say the supporters who lined the route were really amazing and I saw some pretty outstanding sites. Let me share some of my pictures. I afraid some are a bit blurred as I was still running but really did not want to miss the photo opportunity.

The first week the race was 9.310 km starting at Planeyse, Colombier with a 210m elevation. You can see the exciting 3D animation of the course here.

1 colombier

Planeyse

It was nice an sunny on arrival but as the race went on the sky clouded and we made it in just before the thunderstorm started. Some of the slower runners were not as lucky. The race was beautiful  as we ran through the wine yards of the Domain de Chambleau. It was also tough running down the winery’s driveway and my friend and I jokingly discussed stopping off for an aperitif with the staff who were out with a bottle of wine cheering us on.

1 chambleau domaine

Chambleau

It was good as I really paced myself but perhaps I went a bit too slowly at the start as I crossed the finish line with plenty of energy despite looking like a beetroot because of my final sprint.

2 Chézard-Saint-Martin

Chézard-Saint-Martin

Week 2 saw us heading up into the countryside to Chézard-Saint-Martin. This race was more a straight uphill and then downhill run with an elevation of 290m. It was 10.360 km with the peak at 5km once you reached that point you knew it was pretty much easy going but from looking at the race animation. I missed one little peak before the final descent which was in fact at the 6km mark so I struggled with motivation  at that last climb before the downhill started! I wasn’t the only one and at the peak I saw many people collapsed around the place with strains or other issues. One thing I love abut running is that runners look out for other runners and anyone I saw in trouble was begin taken care of. Luckily the weather was cool and so the run downhill afterwards was a lovely recovery towards the finish line. Unluckily the weather had been pretty damp the days before the race and the final kilometre was a mud bath and most the people crossing the line were covered! My trainers went straight in the wash when I got home.

3. Les Ponts-de-Martel

Les Ponts-de-Martel

Our third race was up in the Ponts-de-Martel and one of the longest races at 11.314 km. It had an elevation of 197 m which by this stage wasn’t so bad but the main demotivating factor was the fact that the course looped round in a figure of eight so you had a glimpse of the end while you still had half the course to go.

3. Les Ponts-de-Martel countryside

Les Ponts-de-Martel

I loved it though because one of my favourite supporters was there complete with Alphorn to motivate us onwards. Sorry about the blur but I was trying desperately to keep up with a pacesetter for that race and I din’t want to lose him!

3. Les Ponts-de-Martel alphorn

I also saw this extremely house up there which I thought was brilliant. Swiss nationalism is very strong which I do actually love as I think us Brits have pretty much lost it and its a shame not to feel proud of your country.3. Les Ponts-de-Martel swiss house

Once again we finished just in time before a major hail storm hit. As the hail calmed slightly I legged it for the bus for the long journey back home.

4. La Chaux-de-Fonds

La Chaux-de-Fonds

Race 4 in La Chaux-de-Fonds I unfortunately missed as I explained. The weather forecast said snow, rain and freezing temperatures but my friend took part and sent me this picture saying how lucky they had been and despite the cold they got off lightly. It was, however, a complete killer of a race as they had to change the course last minute as there was so much mud and it ended up being not far off 12km with an elevation of 256 m.

5. Couvet

Couvet – Centre Sportif

I was back for Couvet in the Val-de-Travers the next week. It was a scorcher of a day starting off by the Sports centre. The final sprint of the race would be around the running track but firstly we had to get around the 9.560 km course in the heat. By this stage 245 m didn’t sound like that much of an climb but the temperatures changed everything. Firstly I was knackered: E had been sleeping a maximum of 5 hours a night that week and then my hayfever kicked in. Gah! I started struggling to breath and realised if I was going o finish this race it would be slowly and not in a great time. I therefore took my time up on the climbs preferring to walk them and run the downhill bits. The good thing about this was that I had time to really look around and take in the beauty of the place.

5. Couvet fields

5. Couvet hill

Once again there were some fabulous supporters to keep us going!

5. Couvet supporters

I made it across the line. It wasn’t pretty but I don’t think it was a good race for most people. There were ambulances everywhere. People had been collapsing along the course from dehydration and many passed out just after making to the end. I don’t know if it was just because of the heat or because it was a shorter race more inexperienced people turned up but it was carnage.

The final week in Neuchâtel town I was determined to do better. It was my home stretch and I knew that plenty of friends and family would be about to watch. When I arrived I spent a good while warming up properly.It was a lovely day but not too warm. Perfect.

6. Neuchatel swans

 

Just before the race kicked off they even had a stage with two ladies doing a warm up routine down by the lake so I joined in and bounced along to the music with everyone else.

6. Neuchâtel lake

Neuchâtel

The Neuchâtel lap was tough at 11.204 km and with the biggest climb yet of 345m from lakeside up past the train station, into the forest and back down again via Hauterive. The climb was tough but I kept moving only grinding to a stop when the line of runners bottlenecked into the forest. The forest trail was great as I know it well. The shade from the trees keeps you cool and it was soft underfoot. The final kilometre was tough though as I had given all I had to give in the uphill climb at the start. Friends who saw me thought i was limping as I reached the end although I was unaware. All I wanted to do was to get there! I high fives the kids I ran past for the final 100m and then it was over.

I was sad to reach the end. I really enjoyed my rather extreme reinitiating into the running world and remembered how much I used to enjoy my runs. Running is addictive. Every time you complete a goal you want to do more; push yourself toward the next challenge. First thing I did was to get a treadmill. I am now training 6 or 7 days a week and have put myself in for the London Marathon lottery with a few charities. Its easy enough to find the time to train if I do it first thing while M is napping. E comes to “workout” with me and we put a cartoon on the TV.

I love that running gives you extra energy and I love the fact that it allows me to eat cake.

Keep your fingers crossed for me for London but if I don’t get a spot I’ll sign up for a local one instead.

Advertisements


1 Comment

Stuck for ideas?

We all lose inspiration sometimes. Its raining outside and the motivation to do something is there but can you figure out what you want to do? Nope! Or what about those days where you have absolutely no motivation and it would be so easy to pop the kids in front of the TV and watch a film but you know you should do something with them? I have a solution.

A very clever friend of mine introduced me to the concept of an activities jar and I have adapted it for my kids. We now have two jars: one for rainy days and one for sunny days. When you are feeling inspired after a particularly good day out, maybe even a chat with other mums or perhaps just a good old browse of pinterest write down your ideas on slips of paper and sort them into your jars. I have colour coordinated our activities (because I am like that) into red for E, white for both kids or green for M.

They can be as simple or adventurous as you choose. I have a total mix but here are some of my first scribblings:

jars with some ideas

Its almost like a forfeits jar. Go on I dare you!

jars


Leave a comment

No fun like snow fun!

Yesterday feeling very inspired by my trip to the mountains I decided we would try and create our very own snowflakes.

We tried 3 different sorts:

snowflakes

  • First the good old paper snowflakes cut by me but directed on shape and location of cut by E. I did show her how to use scissors but I think shapes are still beyond her. We will be doing something involving a fringe soon as she can do that very successfully (picture numerous sheets of paper now semi-shredded around the house).
  • Then we decided to steal all of my hubby’s cotton buds and make some snowflakes by glueing them together. We did this in two ways: our first attempts just glued them whole on top of each other (on greaseproof paper) and the next attempt (which worked better) was to halve them and stick them back together.
  • Our third and final idea was to make snowflake-esque patterns with our glue. E loved this perfect excuse to make a mess. You have to put the glue down quite thickly onto the greaseproof or it snaps when you take it off later.

So taaaadaaaa (our very patriotic snowflakes):

flag snowflakes
I do think these are my favourites even if hubby was busy complaining that he could not find his cotton buds tonight… Whoops. Must add them to the shopping list.

snowflake
Tomorrow is going to be all about baking by the way. Right its getting late. See you all soon and take care.


Leave a comment

Lauberwhat?

So as I mentioned this weekend I was pretty quiet as I was off in Grindlewald watching the Lauberhorn Race.

lauberhorn ticketThe Lauberhorn is the mountain between Grindelwald and Wengen in the Bernese alps. The actual race is one of the oldest downhill races in the world and is know for being particularly picturesque.

We had some beautiful weather on the day we arrived but the rest of the weekend wasn’t so great.

Mountains & tree Mountains

Unfortunately on the day of the race the start position was changed at the last minute leading to delays as it was seriously windy up at the top. However the atmosphere was something else which made up for the miserable weather. The Swiss are a hugely patriotic nation but not in the way that I feel we do it as Brits (eg with the whole “2 World Wars and one World Cup” style chant). Anyone is welcome to join in with the cheering and everyone gets a cheer (albeit it a lesser one if they have bumped a Swissie off the top spot).

swiss flags

Despite the wind there were some pretty amazing aircraft acrobatics going on:

aerobatics

Oh and I just have to share some fantastic picnic apparel too! The Swiss will really do fondue anywhere:

fondue

The locals were all pretty chuffed as a Swiss claimed the title for the downhill. My photos didn’t come out too well but I did get a good shot of this US team member on the big screen:

us team

We had a lovely time although I did really miss the kids but we were kept up to date with their various antics by email and SMS. The kids obviously missed us too however I am not sure if E was happier to see the flag we brought back for her or us.

Once we got back though I started planning our next activity inspired by our weekend. It’s currently drying so I’ll fill you in tomorrow.

Hope you all had a great weekend too.

mountains setting


Leave a comment

Splish, Splash, Scream!

Oh dear, what is up with my 10 month old? My little monkey clings to me and anytime I can actually detach him he screams. What ever happened to my easygoing baby? In an attempt to cheer him up I decided to brave our swim class.

While there are very few organised classes for the under threes, Neuchâtel is actually great for baby swim classes. There are lots of private classes but we go to the local state run ones (Service des Sports) as the waiting lists on the others were just ridiculous when I investigated them. The classes take place in various handicapped equipped pools that are heated to almost body temperature so the little onesdon’t catch a chill. The Service des Sports (Sports Service) is also really flexible and try to make it as easy as possible for parents to attend, for instance, if you can not go to your class one week they will let you rearrange to join another group during the week.

Nonetheless we still struggle to go as I have to find someone to keep the other kid or they are too tired to attend. Due to the fact the classes stop during the holidays and we went away it has been a while. This week M’s mood has gradually been getting worse and worse until today he turned into a limpet. Now, I know he loves the pool, so I thought if anything would help it would be a bit of a swim.

He literally would not be let go of me till we got in the pool. I didn’t realise how strong he was! Once we sang our welcome songs he started to relax but it was only when we started moving around and meeting the other babies he started to smile and splash a bit.

swimming with floatsswimming

When you start the class they show you a few basic holds which allow your baby to feel the water moving around them and get a sense of how to move in it. As the course progresses you learn more and they introduce holds for older babies. You can also play with plenty of bath toys and various float constructions which allow you to move around your baby more easily and allow them to explore the floating sensation in different ways. Despite what you might think there is very little in the way of immersions with these classes until the children are about two years old – I believe this is to prevent ear infections and the babies drinking too much pool water.

the slide

This class they brought out the slide which all the kids love! Unfortunately M suddenly decided to have a mummy panic once we he was at the top. He did giggle though the moment he was back in my arms at the bottom (cheeky boy!).

M & slide

All in all it was a good class and it certainly wore M out – he slept for 2 hours once we got home. The other parents were lovely too so I think there is a strong possibility of making some new friends for us – happy baby and happy mummy.

underwater