A night under the stars

When I added the plan to spend at least one night sleeping under the stars to my bucket list, I imagined I would do this on a holiday, possibly in a remote destination, somewhere close to the beach or maybe in the mountains.

I had no idea that I would do it at home, in my back yard.

Still, because of the heat of the last couple of days here and the accumulated humidity that unfortunately comes with it in the Netherlands, I thought last night was a perfect opportunity to, well, sleep under the stars. I took a blanket and a pillow outside and lay down on our garden couch. After getting used to the sounds (most of them you don’t hear throughout the day), and some star- and airplane gazing, I spent a short but wonderful, fresh, oxygen-laden, night under the stars.

I’ll definitely do this more often in the future. Maybe, some day, in that remote location I envisioned back then. But then again, maybe in my own back yard…

Sleeping under the stars

(By the way, that picture definitely was not taken in my back yard. I wish…)


Seeing a film on my own

So, since I found myself in Manchester, UK this week with a couple of hours to spare, I thought it would be a good idea to make good use of my time and check off another item on my list by popping into a cinema to see a film on my own.

The film I saw was Loving Vincent, the world’s first fully painted feature film. Since I’m a fan of Vincent van Gogh’s work and the idea of seeing a film that’s entirely created out of hand painted work sounded like a good idea as well, this film was an obvious choice.

And it didn’t disappoint. The film was beautifully made, the storyline was decent and being in a cinema for the first time in years was a good experience as well. I’ll try to do this more often!

For those of you that are interested in what Loving Vincent is all about, here’s the official trailer:

Welcome to the world!

As I have said in my post looking forward to 2016, my wife and I have been expecting our second child, which was going to have a major impact on what I was planning for for this year. I am happy to announce that last Monday our son and little brother Tom was born in good health!

As expected, nights have been a little shorter, but so far we’ve been off to a far better start than with #1. I can already tell this will have some impact on my energy levels and overal fitness, but I expected nothing less. For now, we’re going to focus on staying happy and as well rested as possible, all other plans can wait for a couple of months..

Looking back on 2015

As the year nears its end, it’s again time for the annual end-of-year review based on my plans as presented in this post. Let’s see how I did!

Cycle to my parents’ house (#6)
Yeah.. Let’s get the most disappointing part of 2015 out of the way.. Fitness-wise, it wasn’t nearly as good a year as I hoped it would be. I did a bit of running, a bit of cycling and I also started a new sport (more on that later), but no big goals either running- or cycling-related have been met. I hope 2016 will be much better, although it won’t be easy for reasons I’ll explain when I look forward to next year.

Visit Italy (#78)
Done! We made a trip to Tuscany in June, so the first of twenty provinces of Italy has been visited. Only 19 more to go!

Visit another continent (#43)
As I predicted, this would probably be the hardest item to complete, and indeed I didn’t manage to go outside Europe. No worries though, I’m sure this will happen in a couple of years. It’s not on the list for next year, though.

Be regarded as an expert in my field (#57)
Done! Albeit in a different way than expected. I have been asked to give a course on software testing at a university here in the Netherlands, and as we speak most of the lectures have been delivered. I also published an article on a renowned international website related to the software testing field, which also generated some interesting feedback and reactions.

Run another half marathon (#33)
See the first point. I don’t think I’ve done any run longer than 10k this year, so no way I would have been able to complete a half marathon (and be even remotely happy with the outcome).

Stay active throughout the year
This item I somewhat managed to complete. I did some running, some cycling and I started pilates lessons, but I can’t say I’m terribly happy with my current fitness level. Let’s see what next year will bring…

Put another 10k payment towards our mortgage (#73)
We aced this. Starting freelancing has done wonders for our financial situation, so instead of paying off 10k, we managed to lower our mortgage by no less than 30k. This will surely come in handy if we decide to move house next year, which is a realistic option.

Pass the PLIDA B1 exam in Italian (#3)
I decided to quit studying Italian for a while, since I don’t feel I got the most out of it by only following a single 1,5 hour class a week, and I didn’t know how to motivate myself to do more studying. I’ll probably pick it up again in the future as I still love the language.

Add another five items to the list
Done as well! Even better, I added 12. This brought the list to exactly 100 items and I decided that was enough for the moment. So from then on I’m focusing on completing items rather than adding new ones, as that’s what having a bucket list is all about!

Other completed items
Apart from the items mentioned above, I managed to complete a couple more this year:

Bucket list-wise, the year has been so-so.. I completed a couple of items, but not as many as I’d hoped, probably because work and family life have taken up most of my time and energy. I can’t wait to see if next year will be better, but more on that in my next post, where I’ll look forward to 2016!

2015 review

#50b – Visit a Buddhist monastery

Note: this item replaces #50 (get my weight down to less than 75kg), which I feel is no longer in line with what I want to do and achieve in life.

I am not a Buddhist, in fact, I am not a religious person at all, but I admire the aura of peace and tranquility that is radiated by Buddhist monks. During our honeymoon in Malaysia we visited a Buddhist temple, but I also want to visit a Buddhist monastery one day to experience how Buddhist monks live for myself.

On the top of my list is the Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan, but I can’t see myself traveling there anytime soon, so any other Buddhist monastery will do. Bonus points for scenic locations, of course!

Tiger's Nest (Paro Taktsang) in Bhutan

#98 – See a grizzly bear in the wild

To me, grizzly bears represent true wilderness and the force of nature. Plus, I think they’re cool! I’ve seen a bear in the wild before, but that was a black bear (and a relatively small one too) during our first trip in Western Canada. I’d love to once see a grizzly bear in the wild as well, although preferably from a safe distance and not as close as the black bear encounter (it was just a couple of feet from our car..).

Grizzly bear

#97 – Go on a silent retreat

Even though I am a pretty laid back and calm person most of the time, and I like to read and think in silence, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed and sometimes even irritated by all the noise around me. Cars, television, crowds, electronic devices all screaming for attention, those kind of things. Therefore I’d love escape that for a couple of days and go on a silent retreat. On the one hand to escape the aforementioned noise, on the other hand more as a sort of experiment. I think I can do without all that noise and distraction, but is that really true?

Silent retreat