The Pregnancy Diaries: Slowing to a Stop

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I have always been a person who moves quickly, this is mostly just a character trait (I say trait others may use the word defect) although it definitely either became worse over eights years of living in London or I just became more conscious of it during this time.

In London most people are in a rush all the time, rushing to get to work, to get home, to meet friends, to catch the bus, and so on. In a city of over eight million people, time and space are at a premium and both need to be maximized to cope with big city living.

However, even by London standards my habitual speed was definitely way above average. I remember when I first took the beard (then beardless) on the train to visit my parents he was amused at the way I ricocheted out of the Marylebone forecourt and raced towards the train as soon as the departure platform was announced. I wasn’t deliberately doing this but I know that my thought process was every person I passed was one less person I’d have to contend with to get a good seat on the train. Perhaps not all my fellow competitors were aware of this but the race was on and I intended to win or at least place well.

Certainly not everyone in London was like me. I had a friend ,who had lived there far longer than I, who moved to her own tune entirely and would never rush, even when crossing roads at non-designated crossing points. Even consciously trying to walk slower to adapt to her pace I’d find myself taking two steps forward and one back to try to adjust my natural equilibrium to hers.

When I first moved from London to Geneva one of the things that struck me most was the (lack of) pace of this city. Even at peak hours, no-one seemed to be in a rush and everyone happily ambled down streets with all the time in the world. Of course, Geneva is a fraction of the size of London and the average commute is probably somewhere around 15 minutes. Plenty of time to meander after work and still enjoy an evening.

I have adjusted somewhat to Geneva time, although I still move a lot faster than the average inhabitant here, but the need to slow down further to accept the fact I’m pregnant has been tough. It must have been at about five months that I first started to notice that operating in my usual gear was not quite as easy as previously. Of course, I continued to ignore this for as long as possible and continued to stomp and stride my way about the city, opting to walk instead of taking the buses for shorter distances.

In my sixth month I started to make some minor accommodations and accept a slight pace readjustment and upping the frequency of taking the bus over traversing by foot. But I still refused to admit there were certain things I just couldn’t do, so I still set about regular weekend walks with the beard. And if I needed to rush a bit for the bus, then so be it, even if I could definitely feel the consequences afterwards and the little potato would object quite strongly to what it probably considered some quite unnecessary bouncing about.

Towards the end of the sixth month I have had to be more accepting of the restrictions my body has imposed upon me as I waddled into the pace of an average person, which from my perspective felt agonizingly slow.

Now I am well into my seventh month I can no longer pretend that everything is business as usual with the occasional off-day causing me to readjust my speedometer. I am having to accept a slow-down into a snail’s pace that is incredibly frustrating yet impossible to overcome. I am now that person that will not hurry across the road. This is not because I’m wholly oblivious of the traffic (although as the beard will testify my road awareness isn’t the best) I’m now just physically incapable of doing so.

Recently, I was traversing a road when the green man transformed into the red version. The beard tried to shepherd me across the road a little faster than the glacial pace I was currently moving at but I explained that I couldn’t go any faster if a dinosaur was chasing me so I definitely couldn’t speed up for a few cars.

When I get particularly exasperated at my inability to walk at even half the pace of a normal human being, my facially-haired man points out this is good practice for when the potato makes its appearance. He’s probably right and I should accept that my capacity to race down a high street, weaving between dawdlers is a skill I’m not likely to get to exercise much with a baby in tow and the need to slow down is just one more way in which having a child will impact on my life.

However, ignorance is bliss so I will ignore his wise words, as I strived for so long to ignore the physical impacts of pregnancy, and will operate under the delusion that as soon as the little one arrives everything will resume to my previously understood definition of normal.

At any rate, we’ll see how handy my ability to quickly distance myself from those around me will prove to be when we are out with the spud in public and it starts wailing for one reason or another. Whoever is closest has to fix it right? If the beard and baby are left eating my dust then I’m sure that is more likely to inspire the offspring to Usain Bolt aspirations rather than indicating I’m a terrible mother.

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The Pregnancy Diaries: Picking Up Good Vibrations

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I never got around to actually obtaining a driving license but I remember reaching a point during lessons when frustration at my lack of advancement kicked in and was then exasperated by seemingly every living person in the universe telling me ‘don’t worry at some point, it’ll all just kick in’. As that point never happened before I indefinitely postponed my lessons I’ll never know if they were right or not.

Anyway, the frustration at not getting something other people seemed to have the hang of whilst telling me it’d all become clear eventually was pretty similar to how it felt waiting to feel the potato kicking.

At about 16 weeks our doctor asked if we’d felt any movements yet and then explained that this might feel like little bubbles and did a very endearing impression of a gold fish as he glub, glub, glubbed at us complete with little fin like arm movements (the thought of that is almost enough for me to forgive him for the fat insensitivity at our last appointment). He said that in the next month or so movements should start to be apparent.

In these circumstances the internet was definitely not my friend as I’d visit various forums to find people sharing stories of feeling their baby kick at 10 weeks or some other ridiculously early date, which seemed unbelievable but I couldn’t tell whether I was right to judgmentally assume these people were simply experiencing gas and confusing it with something more magical or if I was just downright jealous.

As I waited for my inner goldfish to start bubbling I found myself paying a lot more attention to the inner working of my belly than previously. Whilst I could feel stomach movements, it was hard to know whether these were genuine potato flutterings or just an overactive intestine.

Waiting for those internal stirrings I started to wonder if it would work both ways; if I would be able to feel the baby moving would the baby also be able to feel movements from outside the womb? If the potato’s hearing was developing to extent it should be able to recognise the voices of me and the bearded man what else could it pick up?

One of my cats, Jasper, has become increasingly more affectionate as he has gotten older and for some time has taken to coming and sitting on my lap of an evening whilst I scratch his head and indulge in whatever the latest Netflix addiction is. My other cat, Buttons, also likes to cuddle against me and the bump as I lounge in bed on lazy weekends or before drifting off to the night-time land of nod.

As my body continues to stretch and adapt, to make itself accommodating for the developing life inside, this hasn’t always been the most comfortable. I have often resorted to a hot water bottle against my stomach to ease cramps and tensions as these changes take place. Having a warm cat vibrating with purrs and gently wriggling about to find the best position for one of their humans to give them attention has been a real treat for me and I wondered whether it has also been noticeable to the one inside?

A few people have asked me if I dream of the baby but, aside from some terrifying late miscarriage dreams, I haven’t really, with one exception: I dreamt the baby was born, and as it was snoozing away it wasn’t gurgling, snuffling or snoring but purring.

Around week 22 I started to think the microscopic movements inside were baby related but I wasn’t wholly confident of this until around week 24, when I became much more conscious of little thuds that were distinct enough from regular organ movements so that these were either the baby or my bowels developing elbows, which I really hope they’d have noticed at the 20 week scan!

Now the kicking is fairly frequent and does wonders for providing daily reassurances that the potato is still, well, live and kicking, and it’s a relief not to have to coast the 3-4 weeks between doctor’s appointments without a sense of what’s going on inside.

I was excited to share with the beard the inner movements but disappointed that the sensations I could feel weren’t apparent to him for quite some time. I guiltily worried that kicks wouldn’t be noticeable outside my belly because of the whole fat and pregnant thing, but here the internet came to my rescue and I found a whole thread of fat mammas sharing their experiences and explaining that although it might take a little longer those kicks would still be strong enough to get through the additional insulation some of us hippos carry around.

As the internal thuds started to get a bit stronger I thought it would be easier for the bearded one to sense these but the baby had an irritating ability of refusing to conform to expectations (can’t think where it might have got that from) by steadfastly refusing to move as soon as I’d feel confident enough of the movements to position the man’s hands in the right place, only to start booting away as soon as he’d move them off. But eventually patience won out and the hairy one could sense something going on even if he did then need me to confirm that these were sproglet rotations and not an overdose of carbohydrates (at least I was certain of the difference at this stage).

Not long ago we had a friend staying with us for a few weeks and in the short time she was with us she managed to learn more about Ferney Voltaire than we had despite our having moved here last August. One of the wonders she revealed to me was that there was a yoga studio a mere two-minute walk from our apartment. I joined the yoga class tailored for pregnant ladies and seniors, which sounds odd but is a combination that works surprisingly well. After my first session I shared my experiences with our temporary flatmate and said I’d enjoyed the class, and even managed to get into the chanting and ohming that I’d never thought people really took seriously until I found myself in a roomful of people doing just that.

My amused friend, evidently more of a yoga-afficionada than me, asked if I believed in chakras. I quickly replied that I didn’t but remembered reading somewhere that the vibrations caused by a cat’s purr aren’t purely there to indicate its smug pleasure at a world that it understands as its own personal kingdom, but also have the purpose of helping to heal the cat through minor ailments. If I could accept that a cat’s unique purring frequency could have a positive physical impact on its wellbeing, then why couldn’t yoga chants serve a similar purpose for humans?

If that is the case then I hope the cats purrs and weekly yoga chants are positively impacting on the potato. Perhaps the dream I had will turn out to be a premonition and the baby’s first word will be more ‘miaow’ than ‘mummy’, but if it grows up to be as self-contented as the kitties that wouldn’t be so terrible. Although if it picks up on other cat habits such a penchant for murdering birds and burying poos in the garden that might be a little more alarming.

The Pregnancy Diary: Passing the 12-Week Point

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The 12 week scan is a big deal in a pregnancy, it’s the time when chances of miscarriage drastically decrease, you get the first in-depth analysis of how the potato is growing and accompanied by a thorough blood test is likely to be the first indication of any potentially serious problems.

In Switzerland we have been lucky in that before we were sent for our formal 1st ultrasound we had already had 3 scans with the gynaecologist. Although his equipment isn’t as advanced as that at the ultrasound centre we were referred to, we could see that the potato was developing as it was supposed to and could check its heart was beating.

I was talking with the beard about this recently and he felt that having more regular scans made us more likely to feel more paranoid than if we only had the 12 week and 20 week scans we’d have been entitled to in the UK. But I think the regular scans means that at least we get to alleviate our paranoia each time we see the doctor.

I still dislike the action of having to go our gynaecologist (lovely man though he is) and my blood pressure is still highly elevated every time we do (but is fine whenever I have recorded this at home, so clearly I have a distinct touch of ‘white coat syndrome’). I used to bemoan the fact that the doctor kept asking us to come back at three week intervals, but when travel circumstances dictated that we had a four-week gap between appointments I found myself increasingly anxious as week three passed and we had to wait a whole extra seven days to check on the potato’s progress. But maybe the bearded one is right, perhaps if we didn’t expect such frequent scans we’d find a way to be a bit calmer in-between times or perhaps not.

At any rate, had we been in the UK, the 12-week scan would be the first visual encounter we’d have had with the baby. So I can imagine the wave of emotions this first encounter provokes in UK-based parents would be very different to that which we felt awaiting our premier echo in Switzerland but this didn’t mean we weren’t on our own emotional rollercoaster as the scan took place. Certainly the official ultrasound felt like a very different experience than our regular consultations.

It’s quite hard to know how you are supposed to react when viewing the grainy black and white images of your growing child, probably there is no set way to respond but certainly some kind of response is required as the technician points out various body parts, organs, etc. on the screen. It felt a bit like at Christmas when you are being handed so many nice presents that as you say thank you time and again the effect of the words start to sound hollow. You start to panic that the gift givers will sense a lack of enthusiasm in the repetition of your words, so try to overcompensate with effusive acknowledgement but then worry that earlier, more simple, iterations of gratitude suggest a lack of interest in these initial gifts.

And so it was in the ultrasound room as they point out the head, arms, legs, organs, etc. and I’m politely responding with a vague ‘mmm, yes’ as though I understood that one blob here is a lung and another blob there is a bladder. I became increasingly self-conscious that perhaps I’m not responding correctly. The technicians must see so many expectant parents, that in comparison my ‘mmm, yeses’ might sound like someone who isn’t interested and shouldn’t be trusted with a child. Oh god, I thought, I’m doing this wrong, and started trying desperately to think of something, anything else to say with the next image they showed me.

Unfortunately that was the moment they decided to switch to the 3D imaging technology, which is supposed to give you a glimpse of your baby’s actual facial features and therefore be rather exciting but instead struck me as some kind of mud monster creating itself out of the dirt to suck away all humanity. On the plus side I managed to say something other than ‘mmm, yes’ on the downside what I blurted out was ‘oh, it’s weird’ in a genuine state of shock at the thought of this nightmarish creation shaping itself so crudely out of my own flesh!

It may be naïve to think there is a right way to respond to ultrasound images of your child but I’m am now fairly confident that there is an incorrect way as seemed evident from the doctor’s somewhat stunned response as she quickly corrected me ‘no, not weird, beautiful’. I’m a bit embarrassed by my patently non-maternal response but still find myself thinking ‘that’s easy for her to say, she’s not the one with some slime demon growing inside’. At least she switched back to the traditional ultrasound images pretty quickly.

Initially we told the immediate family that we’d give them the all-clear to start spreading the news at the 12-week point, but as we were still awaiting the results of the blood test, we made them hold off for another week. Fortunately, a week later, the results came back positively and Down’s Syndrome was assessed as very low risk so we didn’t have to confront the issue of how we’d act had the risk been otherwise.

I thought I’d feel elated as soon as we reached this marker and could sound the sirens announcing the pregnancy but we both felt strangely flat after leaving the doctor’s that afternoon, and decided to communicate the news to family members by text rather than having to talk to anyone.

However, the next day I started to tell people at work. I had a new boss starting in a few months who happened to be in Geneva that week preparing for his handover (he was already internal to the organization) and I wanted to let him know as soon as possible and to reassure him the timing wasn’t a deliberate attempt to abandon him as he took on his new role. I was also keen to share the news with office-mates to be able to justify the constant state of exhaustion and permanent green tinge I’d been exhibiting for the last 6 weeks or so.

As an added bonus, in the act of telling I provided a source of amusement for one colleague amused by that variety of methods I went about spreading the news from slipping it into conversation, firing it at people as they came in the office and a dozen ways in between. And I found the more people I told, the more I felt their enthusiasm catch within me.

This shit just got real and finally I was excited!

 

 

 

‘Twas the night’ – L’escalade

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Twas the right time of a year for a repost – Happy Escalade Geneva and all who sail in her!


Twas the night of midwinter, when all through Geneva,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a beaver,
The washing all hung, by the chimney with care,
In hopes that come morning, dry clothes would be there,
The children were nestled, all safe in their beds,
While scents of hot soup, filled their sweet heads,
And Madame in her bonnet, apron in her lap,
Had just settled down, for a long winters nap,
When out on the walls, there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed, to see what was the matter.
Away to the window, I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash,
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of midday to object below,
When what to my wandering eyes should appear,
But enemy troops, in formidable gear,
With the Duke of Savoy, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment, this was a devilish trick.
In blackened armour, they scaled the walls,
As they clambered, and scrambled, and planned our downfall.
Now musketeer, now canoneer, now pikeman, now fusilier,
On scoundrel, on crook, on rascal, damned villains!
To the top of the outer wall, to the foot of the inner wall
Now dash-away, dash-away, and damned you all!
A sentry alerted that all is awry,
Having met with alarm, emits a loud cry,
But up to the money gate, the rapscallions they flew,
With an armoury full of weapons, and bad intent too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard from the gloom,
A rattling, and clattering from our little room,
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Away from the kitchen, Mère Royaume came with a bound.
She was dressed in night wear, from her head to her foot,
And her apron, tied round her, had remained put,
A cauldron of soup, she turned to with a knack,
And engaged in removing it from the hot rack,
Her eyes, how they darkened; her brows, how creased,
Her lips were drawn tight, her anger unceased,
Her bare little feet scuttled across the floor,
As she emerged from the kitchen door,
The lump of her pot, she held tight with gritted teeth,
And the steam it encircled her head like a wreath.
She had a broad face, and little beads of sweat,
From all the effort were making her wet,
She was determined and grim, a right angry old elf,
I started when I saw her, in spite of myself,
A wink of her eye and a twist of her head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread,
She spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,
And from the window, her soup she upturned, with a jerk,
From the enemy below a cry soon arose,
Rising up through the night, we heard their woes,
The brigands at bay, burned by the soup, gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle,
But I heard Madame exclaim, as the enemy fled from sight,
“Happy Escalade to all, and to all a goodnight!”
© Courtesy of www.1602.ch

© Image courtesy of http://www.1602.ch

 


With credit to Clement Clarke Moore’s “‘Twas the night before Christmas” poem which inspired, and provided some of the lines, for my parody.
You can find l’escalade Part 2 here.

Ten reasons to be impulsive

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1. Thinking things through gets in the way of actually doing stuff, avoid the problem and skip the thinking part!

2. The sooner you impulsively commit to something the more likely you are to follow your instincts and go through with this. For example you could think I’d like to travel more so randomly apply to an internship in Cambodia and then when the email offer comes through immediately respond that you are in and tell everyone. Its so much harder to back out when you force others to become collaborators of your impulsive ways!

3. You can be impulsive in some areas of life but still remain resolutely steadfast in others. I like to be impulsive about the small things such as committing to take up a new sport by buying all the equipment before even trying the game, which career to pursue or whether to move country. However, I remain wholly restrained when it comes to more serious things like deciding not to go out for a spontaneous afterwork drink when I’ve been looking forward to an evening of some sort of Netflix fix and binge eating with the cats for company and judgment.

4. Being impulsive makes for much more interesting and also more succinct story telling process. Guess which is the impulsive version from below?

  • ‘I applied for a job in Switzerland without thinking about it, was offered the job and then decided to move’
  • ‘I carefully considered whether or not to apply for a job in Switzerland, I weighed up all the pros and cons and sensibly thought through all potential ramifications of undertaking such a step, eventually I concluded that such a notion was ridiculously ill-thought out and I therefore decided to stay here in a predictable job I ceased to enjoy some time ago.’

5. Being impulsive gives you an air of mystery, where people are never too sure what you are going to commit to next. Maybe you’ll simply buy a life-size elephant soap dispenser on your next Ikea trip, maybe you’ll have moved to Timbuktu before you got round to telling anyone, maybe you’ll do nothing impulsive for long enough people will think you’ve got over these crazy tendencies then BANG! You can surprise them with the next adventure!

6. Impulsive behaviour is just another way of following your gut-instincts. These aren’t the instincts your gut has to avoid cheese wrapped around butter encased in clotted cream but that inner feeling within you that tells you if a particular course of action is right or wrong. All too often we suppress our gut instinct and agree to things like attending a seminar on how to optimise seminar attendance when we really should have listened to that inner voice telling us we don’t want to do that.

7. Being impulsive is a characteristic often associated with children, this doesn’t mean it’s bad for adults but means it will help you access your inner, and frankly much more fun, child. It means you can enjoy running through the rain, cartwheeling across the park/in the office and climbing trees without worrying about getting wet, making a fool out of yourself or how you’ll get down again.

8. Being impulsive means you can face your fears and learn to overcome these. I was pretty terrified of teenagers, particularly en masse, so when I saw a volunteering opportunity (whilst studying part-time and working full-time) to work with groups of 16 and 17 year olds in the spare time I really didn’t have I signed up without thinking it through AT ALL. Having impusively committed myself to something where others were relying on me, I was compelled to continue and actually quite enjoyed the experience, learning that young adults aren’t nearly so terrifying as I had initially expected!

9. Whilst being impulsive may occasionally get you into some foolhardy situations, the stories that occur as a result are usually worth any traumatic experiences at the time. For example an impulsive desire might lead to your clambouring on top of the fridge (so you can stare down at others) and then realising that the washing machine you used as a staging pad has since been turned on (and is now whirring so much it’s truly terrifying) that now you can’t get down without some serious help you desperately need but are really reluctant to accept. Traumatic? Yes. But probably worth it for the stories you can later share with friends of how great it was to be able to stare down at that mean cat you don’t like and leave them guessing abut how you got to be so high up (this may have been an example of my cat’s behaviour rather than mine).

10. Impulsive behaviour led me to writing this blog, I bought a domain name before I knew if or what I was going to write and then before I knew it I was happily blogging away like a trooper and connecting with all sorts of cool other bloggers.

Ten reasons my 30s will be better than my 20s

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1. I’m turning 30 tomorrow, whether I like it or not (unless I don’t, which would be a whole lot worse than the alternative), so no point in clinging on to those rose-tinted memories of my twenties, when I indulged myself in feeling mightily superior to teenage me, but still young enough to be called ‘youth’ by my brother.

2. Compared to a volcano I’m still super young!

3. I might not be quite so youthful anymore in human years but I’m not actually any closer to getting old, in fact the more years I have, the further ‘old’ moves away. I can prove it too: when I was 10 – 30 seemed old, when I was 20 – 60 seemed pretty old, but now I’m 30 – 90 seems old. Clearly old is just 3 times as far away as your actual age so, by that logic, although I might not be so young anymore, I’ll also never be old.

4. In my 30s, people will assume I am mature and experienced so I expect I will be able to bluff my way through challenging scenarios more competently and can pass myself off as an expert on certain subjects on the basis of age, rather than actual experience (if this isn’t true please don’t disillusion me now).

5. I had a surprise birthday party at work today and one of the girls, for the first time in her life, made Apple Crumble in honour of my Britishness (she is predominantly Belgian). I never had anyone make me nationality-themed desserts in honour of any of my 20 something birthdays so this is already an improvement.

6. In my 20s I did lots of interesting ‘experience-gaining’ type things (like studying Human Rights and then the law conversion course, interning in Cambodia and moving to Switzerland). Whilst I regret none of these things I hope that now I’m older, and therefore must be wiser, I’ll be able to just know stuff without the challenges of having to acquire information. So for the time being we’ll ignore any evidence to the contrary, like the fact I’m itching to start studying again and that the world doesn’t actually work like that.

7. In my 20s I never had much money (see point 6 above for various reasons why) but now all that crazy stuff is behind me, I’m confident my 30s will be the decade I actually start to enjoy having money. In a couple of years my student loan will finally be paid off. Hopefully I won’t have to accept any more loans from my parents and may even be able to pay them back at some point in the coming ten years! I might finally become a real grown-up (said with a tear in my eye)!

8. In my 20s, I spent a surprising amount of time caring what other’s thought about me, worrying about how I was spending my time and wasting my youth. Well now that youth is wasted I actually no longer care if people think I’m ‘cool’ or not, which I just as well as I’m definitely not cool. Unless we are talking in some sort of ironic, British in a land of expats, uncool-cool sort of way, but we probably aren’t.

9. In my 20s, I worried about how I would achieve so many life goals before I was thirty, like establishing myself as an expert to be revered in my chosen career, getting married and having kids, exploring every continent and mastering at least one other language (apparently being able to talk with my mouth full doesn’t count). Now that I’ve missed the deadline for these things, the pressure’s off.

10. I’ve come a long way since I turned 20, I’ve done some things I’m pretty proud of, met some awesome people and had some great experiences and although there have been some not-so-good moments too, these are far outweighed by the positives. So I’m pretty confident that I’ll go a long way in the next ten years, in ways I haven’t even considered yet. Cool, eh?

A year in Geneva

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22 February 2015 was my one year anniversary of moving to Geneva. I celebrated this by trudging through the slushy snow to go to work (yup that was on a Saturday but don’t worry I don’t make a habit of it) and later I met up with a friend for a drink. I forgot to spend any time reflecting on the momentousness of the occasion as I experienced a pretty normal day without spectacle. So I’m using this week’s blog post to consider what failed to register at that time and offer a retrospective on my year in Geneva.

When I first moved here this city seemed so strange and alien to me, so far from ‘normal’ life that for my first few days, well probably first six months actually, I was constantly noting the passage of time and questioning whether coming here was the right move or not. (Parlez-vous franglais per favore, mein leiber dich?)

My first few months, when it was just me, whilst my fiancé tied up loose ends in the UK and prepared to join me, was quite an intense experience. I lost quite a lot of weight through a combination of discovering meat was too expensive to eat and going running most evenings, not because I’m an exercise freak but because I had nothing better to do. In my first flat I didn’t have television or radio so most evenings were spent watching a DVD on the laptop, reading, running and an early night. (“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”)

I strove to make friends and discovered this was a pretty exhausting process when driven by compulsion. If I stopped to think about it I have to admit I was pretty lonely and I needed some friends in the flesh, although was grateful to remain in contact with those friends I’d left behind. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder)

But it started to pay off and relationships that maybe had to be forced a bit in the early stages developed into something more genuine and I’ve met some very cool people. Although some of these I’ve also had to say goodbye to as their expat adventures have taken them elsewhere. And that hasn’t been easy but the great experiences we’ve shared more than make up for my sadness at their departure. (An expat among expats)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI found a lovely flat in an area I really like that suits me well. It is close enough to walk to the centre of Geneva but enough out of town to be pretty quiet and it borders on some truly beautiful woodlands along the river Rhone. We navigated arrangements, which were surprisingly straightforward, for the cats to fly out to join me, travelling as cabin baggage from the UK to Switzerland. I had no idea that animals could even travel in the cabin on flights, probably because you can’t do this coming into the UK, but it was a pretty easy process. And with the cats and then our UK life shipped out to me in boxes, my new abode started to feel more familiar. Normality was creeping up on me, gradually seeping into the day-to-day.

I had a period of illness when I felt completely sorry for myself, nothing serious but a flaring up of multiple minor ailments that I was left to fend to myself. Nothing is worse than feeling a bit grotty and not having anyone to complain to about it (that can’t escape from the whinging by just hanging up the phone). I also didn’t understand how the health system worked, but fearing the financial cost of seeing a Doctor I potentially couldn’t communicate with decided to stick with home remedies and sweat it out. Literally. (Why I’m not great with doctors)

I now had the cats for company but Jasper chose this moment to develop an infected abscess and force me to figure out how vets work. However, having someone else’s needs to focus on stopped me from indulging in so much self-sympathy. And not needing a loan to pay for his vet’s fees was a pleasant surprise! (The forlornest looking lampshade)

Jasper lampshadeEventually the fiancé came out too and my world started to right itself a little bit more, although his being there after several months of living apart did take a bit of adjusting to. (The arrival of the fiancé!)

We settled into a bit of a routine, disrupted by a few trips back to the UK including for my best friend’s amazing wedding. (The art of public speaking) And also a trip to Portugal for another great wedding. (Strangers are friends you haven’t yet met) I’d work, he’d job hunt, keep the flat in good working order and cook for me when I got home. I definitely got the better end of the deal.

His job hunting has been a bit frustrating with nothing resulting in paid employment to date but we’ve scraped by on my salary, and spent a lot of time speculating on how great it’ll be when he’s working and we can buy this, go there and enjoy that. A bit like playing the game of ‘when I win the lottery’ just with better odds. Even on a budget though, we still managed to try some fun new things. (The fears we all share)

Christmas and New Years were spent in Geneva. We had a nice time with great friends on those days and enjoyed a leisurely period of blissful nothingness for the days in between. I’d thought it would be weird to have such a friends and family-lite Christmas but actually it was really relaxing not rushing around like lunatics trying to see everyone, and after quite a disruptive year it was easy to appreciate a bit of quiet time. (Going somewhere nice for Christmas? Well, bully for you!)

This year, has felt a bit strange with personal challenges and exciting work opportunities but these have been absorbed into the new normalcy of life in Geneva. (Resolving on a great 2015, The tedium/tremendousness of travelling for work) I’m not quite settled here yet and don’t think I will be until the man finds a job and can start to find his own way to a regular life here. But the fact that my year’s anniversary here was so unremarkable is a good sign. It doesn’t feel quite like ‘home’ yet but it doesn’t feel like another planet anymore either.