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Bye June!

30 Jun

Another month has come and gone and we are half way through 2020. It’s strange to think we have spent about half of this year in lockdown and I am still working from home at least for another month. What a crazy year.

June itself has been pretty uneventful. Things have been slowly opening up in Switzerland but I’m more than happy to spend as much time as possible at home for the time being and spend time doing (socially distant) sports.

I have started going back to the gym in the mornings. Two weeks before lockdown I signed up for a 12 week fitness plan. I was just getting into it when I had to stop. I’m now in the third week of restarting the programme and I’m starting to feel the benefits already. This means my ambitious running targets have been dropped for the time being but I did get out of bed this morning at 5.30am to go for a 10km run because I realised yesterday that I hadn’t run a 10km in June. I enjoyed it a lot and the sun hadn’t come up. I hate running in heat!

I’ve finished another one of my 40 Before 40 challenges this month as well. I’ve not written about it because I only finished it yesterday but that will be coming soon and I’ve started another challenge from the list – which will take about 6 months to complete.

I’m going strong on my alcohol-free year. It’s something like 130 days now and I’m finding it ok. I think it’s definitely having a positive effect on my wasitline as well as my pocket.

I took part in an online theatre performance. A playwright had written a series of Zoom calls for us to perform all based on Lockdown life and the performance was recorded. I was so nervous about it but I enjoyed it and I hope the audience did too!

My writing progress has slowed down a bit. You might remember I finished the first draft of a novel in May and my plan is to get busy on some other writing before coming back to it later in the year to start the first of many rounds of edits. The hope that I would be able to use my ‘high’ of finishing the book would end up with me being more productive on other writing projects wasn’t been realised. But I have two submissions for competitions in early July to make so I need to get cracking on those or I’ll miss the deadlines.

In July I will be taking part in my online reading challenge again, aiming to read 10 books which fit 10 different categories. I’m happy this challenge means I will be able to get some more room on my reading shelves.

I am also aiming to post every Monday in July on this blog because I realise I haven’t been so good with updating this recently. This is partly because I’ve not done anything that deviated especially from my lockdown routine so it didn’t seem like there was that much to say.

Life after Lockdown

18 Jun

With restrictions slowly lifting, I was thinking about what life would be like when things return back to normal after Lockdown, or at least as normal as they can be after a global pandemic.

I know some people have struggled with the restrictions and have found life difficult but I’ve try to embrace Lockdown life and make the most of it. If you know me, you’ll know that I love travelling but not being able to has given me time to think about what else I like doing and what projects I could do safely from home that have been on my to-do list for a long time.

I am hoping that working from home will continue long into the future (at the moment we have been told to work from home until the end of July and then spilt working will come into effect all being well) because I feel a lot more relaxed working in my little office space at home and I can do everything as well as I can if I was sitting in an office in Zurich.

I have been thinking about what things that I started during Lockdown I want to keep doing. Here’s a little list:

  1. I am pretty bad at keeping in contact with people. I blame social media for a portion of this. When I can see what people have posted from day to day, I feel like I have been in contact with them but seeing where someone went for dinner or which airport they are flying from on their latest holiday is not the same as picking up the phone or sending someone a personal message to see how they are. I’ve made an effort to speak to family and friends, and reconnected with others, during Lockdown and it feels good to hear back from people or to spend 15 minutes on a video call catching up. I will endeavour to carry this on.
  2. We’ve been having a weekly family quiz. I’ve lost count of how many weeks this has been but I’ve really enjoyed hunting down questions when it was my turn to write them or scratching my head at questions when I wasn’t quiz master. I’m not saying that I want to commit to a weekly quiz in the future but I wouldn’t mind doing it once a month or so. I’ve also been doing a monthly quiz for the netball club because we haven’t been able to train which has been fun too. Basically, quizzing is here to stay.
  3. This is a strange one… during the panemdic I ordered monthly contact lenses online. I’d switched to single use lenses more than 10 years ago. Seeing reports of wildlife and nature thriving while people weren’t travelling made me think I should do more for the environment. So I decided using monthly lenses would cut down on my non-recyclable plastic waste and I will save a ton of money too!
  4. I’ve managed to draft a novel in Lockdown and in general I am enjoying my writing and I’ve made some good habits around my writing. I can see it’s improving slowly so I would love for this creativity to carry on, espeically when I come back to editing my novel (which needs a huge amount of work.)
  5. Running has been a regular part of my day over the past three months. It meant getting out of the house and enjoying fresh air. The highlights were my early morning runs. I’ve forced myself out of bed a handful of times for, what I call, morning miles and every time I was amazed by nature. I managed to see a fox early one morning, another time a red kite swooped down to catch some prey less than 10 meters away from me and I saw two rabbits running away from a fox last week. Incredible stuff which made the long hard slog of a weekend run worth it.
  6. I realised yesterday that I haven’t had to make an excuse to get out of any social activities. I know what you’re thinking – that’s easy because we haven’t been able to socialise! But actually a lot of my hobbies and groups have moved online, like writing group and drama classes. I’ve found it really liberating to not feel that awful sensation of guilt about trying to come up with an excuse about not wanting to do something that I signed up to do when I was feeling in a better mood. I am hoping to have the courage in the future to be more honest and able to only make plans I want to commit to.

Has there been anything about Lockdown that you would like to keep?

Farewell May

1 Jun

I normally write my monthly round up on the last day of the month but everything is being postponed or cancelled so I decided it wasn’t so bad to post this a day later.

May seems like it has gone on forever. Lockdown has started to ease in Switzerland but we are still being asked to remain cautious and work has said we will be working from home at least until the end of July. I guess a decision will be made once the effect of the easing measures has been assessed as to what the next steps are for returning to work.

I must admit I enjoy working from home far more than I do slepping into the office every day. It’s quiet at home so I can concentrate on my tasks more and, even though there is a lot of flexiblity in my team and job, I’ve found it great to be able to pop out for a run or a walk while I’m waiting for information from another team. You can’t do that when you work in the office!

Despite lockdown I have managed to have an action packed month. Here are some of the things I’ve been up to:

  • I’ve started tennis lessons. Tennis has to be one of the best sports to be able to maintain social distancing. The last time I picked up a tennis racket was when I was about 14. I’ve only had a few lessons but I’m enjoying it and learning a lot at the same time.
  • This month I ran 115km. My goal was to beat last month’s total which was 91km. So I smashed that. I had hoped to run more than 120km but the last few days I decided to skip running because I was feeling tired. I’m not sure if I will set myself a June running goal because I’m hoping to go back to the gym and carry on with my PT training which will mean I’ll definitely be too tired to run.
  • I’ve been on a few nature walks over the past few weeks. Just wandering round on the local pathways. You can see one of the photos I took below.
  • I’ve had online quizzes with my family and the netball team which have been great fun.
  • I’ve also written my first ever one act play thanks to the drama course I’ve taken during lockdown. I am hoping that the play will one day be performed live. I’m very excited about that!
  • I’m also in the middle of creating a solo performance with the same drama group. We should be ready to perform in (online, of course) next week so I need to get cracking with that rather than just thinking about it.
  • I’ve also finished another one of my challenges. This is a big deal for me and I can’t believe I’ve done it but I have. I will reveal all later this week in a separate post!

So that was May. As I said I’m hoping to get back to PT training in June and get back to some reading which has gone off the boil slightly in May because of the other creative projects I’ve been up to!

I hope you have been productive and well in May as well!

A family of ducks I saw on a nature walk

Lockdown Positives

13 May

I started to lose track of days, weeks and months a while ago. I don’t know when the current crisis will be over and things will be back to normal. Although what we knew to be normal might be something different in the future. I’ve been thinking recently about what positive things have happened since lockdown was introduced. Because there are definitely some.

Here is a list I put together of things I’ve been grateful for which I definitely wouldn’t be if there was no coronavirus:

  1. I’ve realised how stressful I find travelling on public transport. It’s very reliable and clean but trains in the morning and evening are packed with noisy, rude people who reserve seats with their bags and play music too loud so everyone in the carriage can hear it. People have video calls without using headphones which is so inconsiderate. I hate listening to someone wittering on to a relative when I’m trying to read my book in peace. I’ve been so grateful to have no commute (more time in bed for one) but I feel relatively calm when I sit down to work rather than feeling harrassed.
  2. I’ve spoken to my niece and nephew more over the past few months than the rest of their lives put together. I’ve been doing ‘lessons’ with my friend on most weekdays which I would like to think we both enjoy. I’ve also spoken more with my brother and mum as well. We have weekly family quizzes which are so funny they should be televised.
  3. I have also had contact with friends who I’ve not seen or heard from in a long time. With not being able to go out, I’ve finally found the time to give them a call or write to them. These are things I’ve overlooked and taken for granted for a long time. It’s starting to redress the balance a bit.
  4. I’ve been able to bring some projects forward. For instance, I’ve started writing a novel. I’m probably about 40% of the way into the first draft. This is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember but neither never got round to it or started it and soon given up. I’ve learnt from my previous mistakes and feel like I’m making real progress. In the time I would have spent commuting I have been able to invest time into my writing project. Fingers crossed the first draft will be ready by the end of May.
  5. I’ve been taking photos every day since the start of lockdown as a record of what I have been doing during this time. It’s a good way to see that it hasn’t been so bad even though I’ve been stuck inside most of the time. I’m not sure when to finish the project. I might start taking one photo a week until things are back to normal.
  6. My drama classes have moved online which has been great fun. I’ve met some new people in a virtual sense and learn a lot. I’ve also been able to use some of the exercises and activities in my writing. My drama teacher is hoping to put on a performance of the pieces we have created live when it’s possible to which would be very cool.

I could probably go on and go about the positives. I think there are a lot of them if you look hard enough but I know not every one feels the same. I quite like pottering around the house, reading, starting projects that I have been meaning to for ages and I like not having to think up excuses of why I don’t want to go somewhere or do something. No one is doing anything at the moment so I don’t get any invitations!

Wherever you are stay safe and try to find some positives, no matter how small they seem to be.

Adios April!

30 Apr

It’s been a funny month. Today is the 44th day of Lockdown in Switzerland but things are slowly, slowly beginning to reopen.

I have heard people saying they have lost motivation to do anything during Lockdown but I’ve managed to keep myself busy over the past month, despite the restrictions. I’ve been quite productive. Being stuck at home has meant I’ve had time to re-organise my bathroom cabinet, take better care of my house plants and other small things I keep meaning to get round to doing but end up forgetting or being too tired when I get back from work.

However, aside from these little jobs, I have been busy with quite a few other things. Firstly, I set myself the challenge of running 70km this month. I’ve only done one long run (which was 11km and that’s not all that long really). The rest have been shorter. I’ve managed to run my 90th kilometer this afternoon! I was so surprised that going 6 times a week and doing short distances would add up to such a large total. I guess my goal for next month should be to run 100km or more.

Of course, I have been baking more than usual over the past 30 days so this might be a motivation to my running success. I’ve baked hot cross buns (2 batches), crumpets, scones and a rhubarb and apple crumble. Even though I’ve only done this, I now don’t think applying for Great British Back Off is just a pipe dream.

I’ve also been reading a lot, although over the past couple of days I’ve not been as interested in it. I’m not sure if that’s because of the book I’m reading or because I’ve reached my fill for April.

I’ve been doing a fair bit of writing and I’ve been dabbling in screen writing for the first time since being at school. This project came about because I signed up to do an online drama course with the drama teacher I studied with at the end of last year. In one of the sessions we looked at home to write a theatre scene and now I am trying to finish it. It will hopefully be a short 3 act play. The drama course has been great fun and I have learnt so many things that I can use for my fiction writing as well.

I’ve also decided now is the right time to sit down and start the first draft of my novel. I am (almost) 5’000 words in and it is interesting to see where the book is going. It seems like it might be a Young Adult novel or a children’s book which isn’t what I thought it would be like when I sat down to write.

Aside from all of this, I’ve been playing online board games with friends and virtual quizzes with family and the netball club. It has possibly been one of the most productive month’s ever for me so I am sad it is over.

Let’s see what May will bring and what I will find myself doing if they let us outside again!

Fitness Goals Update

24 Apr

2020 was going to be the year that I got fit and ticked more of my fitness goals off my list. Unfortunately, it looks like Coronavirus has put a stop to my modest ambitions for this year.

Two running races I was going enter have now been cancelled which has left me at a bit of a loose end. I find exercise a lot easier if I have something to aim for. With these races off the cards, I decided to set myself the target of running 70km in April. Just to be clear that this means literally putting one foot in front of the other. I’m not trying to break a world record or anything! Today is 24th April and I’ve already surpassed 72km. I guess I’ll keep going and see how many kilometres I can get in total.

I have enjoyed running more than normal I think because this is the only reason I leave the house. I feel a bit like a dog let off the lead and I end up running further than I had planned to. But not every single time. It just goes to show that doing something little and often adds up to a big difference.

Having to put off the races I was planning for this year, means that I might not make my target of running an Ultramarathon this time next year. To help me get fit for my 50km race next year, I had also started personal training sessions to get me into shape quicker. I was 2 weeks into a 12 weeks plan when Coronavirus shut my gym.

On reflection it is far better to have stopped 2 weeks from the beginning of the training plan than 2 weeks from the end. I will have to restart the programme again when everything is back to normal and the gym is reopened.

I’m currently deciding what my fitness goal should be in May. I might try and beat the amount of kilometres I ran in April or I might switch to the bike for a change. Or I might do something completely different. I have a few days to decide yet.

I think at the moment the best thing to do is make sure you’re getting enough exercise for physical and mental well being. I think I’m probably doing enough at the moment. If anything it is a good excuse to get out and enjoy the amazing weather we’re having.

Great News

7 Apr

I got some great news yesterday and right at this moment in time it’s important to focus on the good!

I found out I have been shortlised for a short story competition I entered last year meaning my story will be published in an anthology later this year.

I had very low expectations when I entered the competition and still can’t really believe it. This is the first short story I have ever entered into a competition which I would say is a very good sign.

While we have been locked indoors, I have been writing more and this news has given me a real boost to carry on going with it. I feel like I’m making progress in the right direction. It’s now a case of getting my head down and write more and, if possible, better.

The longer we stay confined to our houses, the more likely it is that I will write my first novel so maybe something positive will come out of this after all.

I have no idea when the anthology will be published but I will let you know when copies are available in case you want to get your hand on a copy.

So long, March

1 Apr

March 2020 should go down as the weirdest month in the history of mankind. It feels longer than any January I’ve even experienced and it’s gone on and on, and on, and on… Even though it’s only 15 days since we went into lockdown mode in Switzerland and like many other countries around the world life has been a bit different.

I don’t mind staying in the house, pottering around, reading and writing but even this is a bit much for me. It doesn’t help that Mother Nature is proudly displaying bright blue, cloudless skies taunting me.

Typical! Perfect weather when we all locked in

I’m flipping between being unmotivated to exist to having bouts of seemingly limitless creativity. I also have a huge compulsion to bake and cook anything and everything. Like hot cross buns. Like flapjacks. Like scotch eggs. I looked at a recipe for scotch eggs and the compulsion quickly left me.

I’ve been reading quite a bit and working on some short stories that I will hoping to enter into competitions later this year. I also think I have had a great idea for a novel but I’m still working out the details and wondering exactly to do with it and what type of book it would be. Being shut in and not being able to go might be the perfect opportunity to get a book written. But I’m sure I will find an excuse not to put pen to paper.

No one can travel (my trip to Dubai in the middle of March was cancelled) so I’ve had to put on hold some of my challenges but it does mean I’ve been able to spend some time working on the other ‘indoors-y’ challenge that I don’t need to leave the house to complete.

I’ve finished my challenge to make some art, learnt some more origami designs and have been making use of time spent in front of TV by making my way through the mammoth challenge of watching the Top 250 Films on iMDB.

On 1st March I decided to start my 365 days of not drinking alcohol. Only 334 to go! I’m not sure if this is a stroke of genius (all of the events I was worried about missing out on in the summer will probably be cancelled and the pubs are shut so there is less temptation) or the worst idea ever (if you can’t drink to drown your sorrows during a global pandemic when can you?). I know when lockdowns are finally lifted and life returns to normal, there will be the biggest party ever and – story of my life – I will be sat on the sidelines drinking a glass of water, looking on with pure jealousy and hatred. But I’m trying not to think about that and keep strong.

Booze is a distant memory

Stay safe and stay healthy!

Ciao January

31 Jan

I don’t know about you but I feel like this month has lasted for about 90 days but I’m not sure why. Because I work in finance, January is always a busy month as everyone is so interested in finalising the full year results and, as a result, I end up working longer hours. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Today marks the end of the first month of the new decade and also Brexit will finally happen at midnight. With so much going on, it feels like it is a good moment to sit down and have a look at what I have been up to over the past 31 days.

  •  We welcomed in the New Year at home with Raclette and plenty of alcohol. I’m not a New Year’s Eve person by any stretch of the imagination so that was fine with me. It was nice to be at home for a change and feel relaxed enough to do virtually nothing.
  •  I went back home to see family and friends in the middle of January to try to make up a little bit for not being home over Christmas for the first time in seven years. It was great fun but I completely derailed my aim to try to eat healthier.
  • I finished the latest installment of the online Book Challenge by Erin that I have taken part in for the last 2 years. I only finished my final book of the challenge last night so I am still to post my review about the books but it will be coming soon.
  •  I managed to stick to my fitness goals for January that I blogged about earlier in the year. It was surprisingly easy to stick to and I have managed to run for more than 50k over the past month. Apart from a few blips in my healthy eating programme, I have also managed to stick to a good diet. In February I am hoping to do exactly the same but I also want to do more exercises like sit-ups and press-ups at home to help me slim down.
  • I’ve got stuck back into writing again after taking a bit of a break at the end of last year. So far I have 6 drafts of story stories that I hope I can make into a collection at some point this year. I also have 3 other story ideas on the go.
  • I was elected to the committee of the netball club at the end of last year and I have been busy updating the website and posting things on Instagram and Facebook. I’m enjoying it so far and it makes me more motivated to go to training every week.
  • I also cashed in my birthday present by attending a brewery course in Luzern last weekend. I found it really interesting and the free beer tasting was also great.

It seems that my wish to take it a bit more easy this year is already out of the window. I genuinely don’t realise how much I do until I sit down and thing what I did over the past month. In February though I will be taking a two-week holiday in a warmer climate which will mean more time for running, beer drinking and writing. I can’t wait!

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Birthday Treat

28 Jan

At the weekend I cashed in my birthday present from last year and had a great time on a Master Brewer course. I find it slightly worrying that my birthday and Christmas presents normally have a boozy twist to them. People are going to have trouble buying me presents when I get round to doing my alcohol-free year!

My boyfriend had bought me the course and we both went to the Luzerner BierBauer on Saturday to learn more about brewing beer. The company itself is a cooperative run by 12 members. I’ve visited the big factories of Heineken in Amsterdam, Carlsberg in Copenhagen and Guinness in Dublin so it was interesting to see an operation on a smaller scale.

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We were told that part of the equipment used for the brewing was made from an old heating tank! You definitely wouldn’t find that at the larger breweries. The machines in the larger factories are all operated by touches of buttons and automatic processes.

As some of the equipment is make-shift, the process there is very time consuming and it must be a huge commitment for the 12 people involved to co-ordinate who does what and when. They brew on the weekends because they have jobs to go to during the week so it makes sense that they invite people in to see how the process works and can earn some money in the meantime.

We also got our hands dirty by cleaning out the vat where the malt was brewed, so I felt completely justified in having more than a couple of beers afterwards.

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Cleaning the vat out

The beer they made is only sold at the brewery itself and is sold at two restaurants in the area. With this in mind we bought some bottles to bring back to enjoy at home.