Monday, July 8, 2019

Relocation completed

My dears,

I thought of updating the blog given the new life we have started in Switzerland as of last week. The move from Nottingham has been smooth and we have now settled in our new apartment about 10Km from the city. The commute is brilliant, I have a train every 15 min and we have decided not to buy a car for the moment as we don't need it.
The children have made already new friends with children living in the same complex as we are. It's incredible the difference...yesterday Oliver and Martina told me they were going with their bikes and their new friend (possibly 12 years old) to see the school where they will be going. Alone. I was definitely not comfortable with that, I mean... cycling on their own, out of sight, with no adult supervision? But this is how it is here, so so safe, children are independent very quickly, they know the rules (or so we hope). And so they went, and they were back maybe 15 min alter, all in one piece, even Martina had no problem in cycling uphill.

I feel like I'm on holidays still. I will try and post a bit more to at least keep this diary updated with the new first that will happen here. So far everyone loves it! 

This is the view from the back balcony of the apartment:

When we eat at the table it feels like we are in a postcard... 
And this is the view from the front of the house:

I will never get tired of the Alps!

Just one comment if any of you is still reading: I have been unable of posting on your blogs, I type my comments, they seem to be ok, but they never appear. I do not know what the problem is, I just want you to know I'm reading!

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 round up

As the last day of 2018 is swiftly moving along, I want to stop for a moment and express gratitude for all that this year has brought. From the work point of view it has for sure been exceptional, I have an amazing team that is dedicated to our research and achieved incredible results. The new job starting soon, what a rollercoaster that was and now I'm nearly nearly the place of my dreams in Switzerland.
From the family point of view it has been very much on the same sort of "chugging along" we have been for a while. I suppose it could be worse. We bought a house in Nottingham we now have to put back on the market after a renovation which was never-ending (still not fully finished), Brexit will not help, but it is what it is, let's hope not to lose too much.
Children have been very good, they are growing and many things have become easier, while new challenges have come to light. We have been through Oliver's saga in school, now finally closed for good, which was extremely stressful for us. I hope the children will quickly settle in Switzerland and we can start our new adventure.
Health-wise we have have been well, I went through my usual round of anxiety of deadly diseases, did all the checks I felt were needed, and I seem to be still doing well.

Tomorrow a new year will start, as always it brings anxiety for me, of the unknown, of the what if this year will be a bad one. I love 19. 19 is my favourite number so this year is loaded with expectations and it's unfair on anything, including a "brand new year" that still has to begin.

To my cyber friends, I wish you all the best for 2019, may it be interesting, full of laughters and adventures.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Next week is the week

The semester is over. I'm wrecked. I got excellent students' feedback on my lectures which is always uplifting and makes it all worth it. But still...I had a gruelling semester because I'm condensing almost all my teaching in the autumn term. And just as well.

Next week I'll be travelling from monday to friday, visiting two cities in Italy where I'm giving a lecture and then I'll go to the dream destination for final negotiation. I am hopeless at negotiation. HOPELESS. I really would pay someone to do it for me. I'm told they want me to have the best stat there as possible but my minimum request is way above the granted offer both for equipment and personnel... let's see how far I get. In fairness, I want this job so much that I'll take anything they give me (which is a terrible negotiating position to start with).

I have started sharing the news with some closest colleagues, they were all very sad to know I'm leaving but they were also so so happy for me and the dream job (which is not just my dream job, but it's objectively a stellar opportunity). I will remain closely affiliated for at least another 2.5 years so it's not that bad. Of course, having said that, it's a mystery what will happen with this damn Brexit the UK decided to bring upon itself. What a disaster.

In other news, FIL had a major accident at home, and after a miraculous recovery, he is now left incapable of feeding (has lost his swallowing reflex) and is definitely not self-sufficient. He is also not recognising his children or anyone. Mike and his sister are looking for a nursing home in Dublin. We will go visiting just after Christmas. Let's hope this situation won't drag on too long, because that is not a life worth living. Even the doctors apologised...but they had to do their job and save him of course.

I'll update on everything next week, send positive vibes on all fronts please!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Major news!

Well well well... in my last post I mentioned about the dream job that was shortlisted for but that unless of a miracle I was just not the best candidate.
Would you believe it, last week I got an email and I immediately recognised the sender of course. I was at a very important meeting in Brussels and thought "oh crap.... I so don't want to read this now..." but then I thought "ah what the hell, I better get this over with and focus on what I have rather than on what I don't have". The email read something like this:

Dear Fran,

it's been a while. I have some good news, unofficial as of now, but better to talk on the phone, can you take a call?

I was completely blocked for the whole day and it was only 9 am!! I could not leave or take a call, it was nerve wrecking..I though Ohhhhhh shit!! This can't be happening, this can't be happening...
I texted Mike and my parents, and of course emailed back to say I could only talk in the evening.
You can imagine my level of concentration for the rest of the day.

The call was amazing. I ranked as top candidate unanimously!! So while there is a set of technical procedures, the job is mine if I want it. IF I want it?? Can I sign a contract now??

So anyway, today I spoke with my group, they were all thrilled (I can take them all with me if they want to move), and I also mentioned it to my Head of School. I know most people will just pretend nothing is happening and they will just resign when the have to. But there are several things going on in work and my HoS is a great person that deserve honesty. He was great, he knew he could not compete with such an offer, it's not just my dream job, it would be a dream job for half the academics I know...

So onwards and upwards, new adventures on the horizon!

Monday, September 17, 2018


All of a sudden is already my birthday. Hello my virtual friends!

I wanted to post a nice update about the house renovation with pics etc, but we are still living in a building site without a kitchen... fun was gone by the time we came back from holidays a month ago and we won't have it for another 2 weeks...but we are nearly there.

Children have started school back again and they are delighted (I promise I will update soon on Oliver's saga which, would you believe it, it's still dragging on).

I went for a dream job interview during the holidays but while I would sell a kidney for it, I was not the perfect match and two other candidates fit better the job description, so unless of a miracle that is gone (but the process is very long, I won't hear for while a definite no). There's another good position going that I will apply for, and I'm also going for promotion this year. Work has gone quite well, one of those years where planets align and several very ambitious things have succeeded. So I'm going for it because it was really what I should have been offered 2 years ago when I joined this new Uni. I am telling myself that if I'm again caught in the bureaucracy of a broken system (not enough budget for the School, too soon to be promoted, etc), I'm packing up and enrol into a medicine degree which is what I should always have done. But that's not without other major consequences (assuming I'm not too old already and eligible).

My feelings in general are still very troubled. I feel very conflicted with Mike (who is his usual self, great person, great with the children, but zero ambition or drive to do much at all), I feel stuck, I day dream of other lives most of the time, but at times I dream of moving back the clock to when I felt happy with what I had. I need projects and plans...I'm one of those.

Health-wise we are all doing well, I had my usual anxiety about whatever, did all my checks, all is good. Till the next bout of anxiety. I am doing much better from that point of view but when anxiety strikes it's a beast. The one who is doing worst is Carlito the cat, who has not settled much in this new neighbourhood, the other cats are giving him a hard time, and on saturday he was hit by a kind neighbour took him to the vet where we found him today. He should have (one very expensive) surgery tonight, poor pet he looked miserable...but should be ok.

I read all your blogs, you that are still writing, but sometimes my messages to you don't get posted and I don't know why. Know that I'm there for you.

Friday, May 11, 2018


I am sorry to have left you without updates for a while, I know this is not nice, specially when there are children involved.

So things have gone quite well since the visit, we went to speak with the Head Master who was very nice and said he was going to follow up with the other children and let us know. He never did really and we should go back to him again.

Oliver is no longer playing with those girls and would you believe it, there has not been a report since of bad language or overly sexualised behaviour... which to me it says it was just them.

We received yesterday the report from the social worker (effectively closing the case), so now we really would like to know what has happened with the school and the other children (I suspect nothing at all, which annoys me a good bit given what they put us through). But Oliver seems very happy and is playing with other children which is very nice. In fact he seems to have taken it very seriously the not playing with the girls and he was told off by a teacher for being too dismissive of them... seriously....he is seven...7!! anyway...

In other news, we bought a house! Yes I know, totally not what we were planning, but rents are higher then mortgages so that decided it for us, even if we move in a couple of years it would be worth it. It's a bit of a project which we love.

I will be back soon, I promise!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The social worker visit

All in all it went great. I wasn't in the Country actually but Mike gave me a very detailed report. We had talked together a lot about how to best explain how it all developed.

The SW was a young girl and Mike said she definitely didn't have any bias one way or another and that was great. First she spoke with Mike while the children were playing in the garden, he told her how Oliver never had a problem in Dublin, how his introduction in this school went, how the isolation was really affecting him etc. She was listening and taking notes, she asked about his access to the internet and television (virtually none, certainly never unsupervised) and she seemed very happy with that. She disclosed to Mike a few more phrases the school had flagged to her (apparently Oliver said to someone what he will do on the the first wedding night, with words worth of a sailor...) Mike was doubly shocked...first of all Oliver never would have had that type of conversation at home, and second, how did the School decided not to tell us!!! We are going to have a meeting set up asap.

Anyway, she then spoke with Oliver (alone, but then told mike) and asked him if he new the PANTS rule which he knew by heart, and also if he knew what words should not be used (he listed a few). She asked him also where did he hear those words and Oliver admitted for the first time we think that they came from a girl in school.

She also spoke with Martina (again alone and referred back), who is as happy as possible and the most upsetting things she could come up with about Oliver was if he pushes her. So all good there.

She said she will talk to the school and get back to us next week (school holidays are finished).

In relation to this we discovered that it is in fact a cultural thing here to constantly tell on people. Whether it's in school or in work, that's how people deal with even minor issues with friends or colleague. I assure you for us this is a major shock and we were raised with "do not tell tales" and "try and talk it through and solve the problem" approach. I see it here even on the playground, if we are out with friends with children...those children are back to the parents every 2 minutes with "Oliver said thiiiiiisss.." "Mark did thaaaaat" it's absolutely unbearable, the most ridiculous things are being reported and the parents have to intervene. So obviously our children and certainly Oliver don't have this approach. Martina is totally laid back and just at the end of the day doesn't give much of a crap about what people say or do if she can still have fun, but Oliver suffers and feels constantly under punishment and judgment. We just have to leave this Country, this is no way to grow up happy.