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Monday, 4 August 2014

Running Spots

Running in Geneva is something else! I've been keeping up my runs while away for these four weeks in Geneva and I'm very proud of myself for doing so! I am starting to understand why people become hooked on running. For me it is becoming a little parenthesis in the day where I can take myself off, for a bit of reflection, for solitude. I'm not sure where, but a few months back, I read somebody say that 'you never regret a run' and it's stuck as my motto. It has got me out of the house on many a day when my mind and my body are trying to tell me that I would much rather lie in front of the telly or in the garden with a good book.

In Geneva I've taken to wearing my bikini under my kit and I've been running 5-7km around Lake Geneva (which takes you a decent distance away from the crowds of the city centre) and rewarding myself with diving into the crystal clear azure water of the lake, finding quiet and tranquil spots far from the crowds of tourists and noisy teenagers. I've spotted a glittering mosaic of interesting things on these runs. Besides the general environment of breath-taking vistas of the glistening lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains there are the many people and sights that I have seen. Watching the silhouettes of people dancing, running and jumping as the sun sets behind the famous jet d'eau spurting fine fronds of water skywards. The colourful flower displays inexplicably imprisoned behind metal and wooden barriers, perhaps to discourage the public getting too close. The white sails of the yachts and boats moored at different points around the lake flapping and flying in the gentle breeze. Watching clouds roll and build over the mountains, getting progressively heavier and the clatter of thunder and flash of lightening in the distance as I run as fast as my legs can carry me.

These are just some of the sights already seen. Once I've covered enough distance, I will settle down on a rock and dry in the sun. This is the perfect time to take 10 minutes mindful reflection and to bring some stillness and rest into the day. Following this, I will settle down to the novel that I'm currently demolishing until the sun goes down. My 5km + walk home means that I am pushing myself towards a total of 10km so that even if I'm not running the whole thing, my mind and body are getting accustomed to these sorts of distances.

I've decided that running when visiting a new place gives a new perspective and a different way of interacting with your environment, it is something that I plan to continue for years to come.

I'm just off on this afternoon's run..... wonder what I'll see?

A Swiss Summer

I have spent the last three weeks in Geneva, Switzerland. I am taking a 'petit pause' from real-life and I've decided to grasped various opportunities that have conspired to allow me to dedicate a whole month to breathing life back into my deflated French. I've always been a Francophile, somehow feeling at ease and at home in a French speaking mileu and what's more, I love the puzzle and challenge of practising and learning a new language. It's like a never ending crossword!

I studied French at university, along with Spanish and Politics. I had neglected my French since my graduation in 2004 and I realised that if I didn't do something soon, I would lose a skill and a very solid basis in a language in which I had invested over 15 years of study to achieve a degree level standard. So, for the last three weeks I've been in class at 8.30 every morning, plunging myself deep into the curiosities of French grammar and re-immersing myself in the wonderful world that is the subjonctif! I'm all too aware that this is just the beginning - if I truly want to master the language it will take a commitment to self-directed study. That said, I have been both pleased and frustrated in equal measure at how in just three weeks I have felt the memory of this dormant language begin to unfurl, to spread its wings and to stretch out its limbs in my mind. But it feels like a patient who has been bedridden for weeks and is just feeling well enough to take its first tentative steps into the light. Yes everything is there, the legs, arms, skeleton and muscles are all intact, but they are stiff and sore and weak. They need to take things slowly but to be used more and more each day to return to their former strength. That's how I feel about my French after these three weeks. I know that I have a particular aptitude and interest in languages but I am equally, painfully, aware that unless I build up my strength, practise and use my French by actually living life in French, I may never reach my goal of being a fully functioning fit and healthy specimen, I may be stuck faltering, taking tentative and wobbly steps rather than progressing confidently and with strength and self-assurance. What this short period of immersion has taught me is that I love learning, speaking and reading French and while fluency may be the ultimate goal, there is much enjoyment on the journey towards that goal. If it takes a life-time, so what - we're allowed to dream! Having this opportunity has reignited my determination to continue to practice and strengthen my ability in the language - who knows where it will take me!