Yes, the end of the year is already upon us, and it’s time to take a step back and reflect on a year unlike any other for us. It’s become a bit of a tradition on our blog since 2014 after all (by the way, you can find all our annual reviews here) so we weren’t going to break the rule 😉 .
2023 was clearly not a year like any other for us… Our lives were completely changed the moment we signed to buy an old hotel in a small mountain village to turn it into a coliving space. Gone were our quiet lives as bloggers / authors / travelers / hikers… Here we are, owning a hotel, becoming DIYers / painters / plasterers and so on and so forth.
After a few difficult Covid years and 2022 spent wandering between Spain, France and our beautiful mountains, it was about time we embarked on this new adventure. As I’ve shared with you on several occasions, the global mess we’re living in (environmental crisis, wars, divided society, inflation, to name just a few) has taken its toll on our morale, and we really needed to focus on a project that was more meaningful to us!
So that was the idea 🙂 … but how did we spend this crazy year? Let’s look back at 2023!
- Our year 2023 in images
- January to March: last winter in Morgins and finding a financial partner for the coliving project
- March: signature and short visit to our Galician family
- April to August: full steam ahead with renovations
- September to November: 1st autumn season at Alpiness coliving
- December: the joys of winter and a well-deserved rest
- Our first coliving year in review
- Our blogging year in review
- Our books in review
- Carbon footprint
- Ben’s thoughts on 2023
- Fabienne’s thought on 2023
- The final world
Our year 2023 in images
January to March: last winter in Morgins and finding a financial partner for the coliving project
The year began in Switzerland, in the little village of Morgins, where we still had our apartment. It had been a long time since we’d spent a winter in Switzerland (so long that we can’t even remember when the last time was)…
But if we wanted to find a property for our coliving project, we had to be in Switzerland. For visiting properties, presenting our project, finding financial partners… only things that can be done in person 😉 .
To be honest, we’re just so happy we spent the winter in our former home (we used to live in the small ski resort of Morgins). Even if it wasn’t the snowiest winter in history, we were still able to do a bit of skiing, take up ski touring, go snowshoeing, invite friends home and simply enjoy our beautiful mountains in winter.
At that point, we had already found our current coliving building, but we were still trying to convince the banks that our project was viable. As we explained in detail in this post, this was no simple task… But all’s well that ends well, as the Alternative Bank Switzerland followed us in our adventure. And it makes so much more sense to have a financial partner on our side who is in line with our values.
March: signature and short visit to our Galician family
Once the financial aspects had been sorted out, all we had to do was sign the purchase agreement to complete this 1st major stage of our project. This was duly done at a notary’s office in March… Then all we had to do was wait a month for the keys to be handed over, and for the manual work to begin 😉
Of course, in the meantime, we didn’t stop working! We tackled everything that could be done before the renovations (the website, the company foundation, Fabienne passed her hotel management diploma, for example)… And then, as a sign of fate, at the end of March, our Galician family ( meaning Anceu Coliving) organized a workshop exploring the topic: “How to have a positive impact in a rural area with a creative space”.
It was too much of a coincidence… Since this topic interests us enormously (it’s one of our main motivations for opening a coliving space), we decided to travel to Galicia to participate. And what a week we had in Galicia! We met some extraordinary people, managers of coliving, coworking and other creative spaces, people aligned with our values. All the connections/friendships we made in those few days are so precious, and I have no doubt we’ll be keeping in touch in the future.
We also learned a lot about the different ways of creating impactful projects in rural areas… Agus and Afri have a lot of experience in this area, and they gave us so much good advice that we’ll try to apply to our project in our valley.
April to August: full steam ahead with renovations
Back from Galicia, we were fully motivated to move into our new home and start renovating. Well… the 1st month was mainly spent sorting, emptying, donating and dusting, as the old hotel we bought had been closed for 12 years 😉 . Ahhh we also had to move out and completely empty our Morgins apartment, because of course we had to sell it to embark on this new adventure 😉
Then came the most difficult and incredible period of our lives!
Difficult because neither Fabienne nor I had any renovation or manual skills… So the learning curve was steep!
Incredible, because throughout this period, many people came to lend us a hand with the renovation work. People we met in colivings, readers of the blog, others who had just heard about our project, family and friends… there were always about ten people in the house throughout the summer for some really collaborative renovations!
The planets have also always aligned, allowing us to meet the right people at the right time, like Olivier, our renovation coach 😉 or Nico, a craftsman we met by chance, without whom our kitchen wouldn’t look exactly the same (and many others, like Nico our architect, Eric for the fire analysis of the building…).
It’s difficult to describe in a few words this period that was so intense with work, encounters, emotions, fatigue, moments of sharing and doubt… The easiest way is to share a few pictures with you, so you can get an idea:
Of course it was difficult, we were stressed, lacking sleep and all that… But what’s certain is that we’ve created very strong bonds with all the people who helped us this summer, and that these moments will remain forever engraved in our hearts. Thank you all for your help! Without you, none of this would have been possible 🙂
September to November: 1st autumn season at Alpiness coliving
We’ll be honest, when we bought the coliving building, we set ourselves the goal of opening in September… But deep down we only half-believed it. Everyone we’d talked to about renovations had warned us that it would always take longer (and cost more money too 😉 ).
Well, to our great surprise, the coliving was up and running by the end of August! Of course, not everything was perfect, and there are still a lot of little things to finish, but we were ready to welcome people.
2nd pleasant surprise, although we still didn’t have any pictures of the coliving on our website and had barely put our booking system online, we got our first bookings already for the end of August! This was a great relief for us, as we were obviously wondering whether people would want to come and work remotely from our little mountain village (we had a feeling they would, but we weren’t sure).
And then word of mouth started to spread! From 6-8 people in September, we completely filled the house in October (at most we can be 14-15 people). We were finally able to swap stress and tools for hiking boots and show off our magnificent valley to our guests. Between short and long hikes, nights in huts, climbing or via ferrata days, larch trees changing to their beautiful orange color, the first snow… What a beautiful autumn we’ve had!
We still haven’t had time to share with you all the great excursions we’ve made this autumn, but we have already published the story of a magnificent sunrise on top of Mont de l’Etoile, and of a hike I’d been dreaming of for a long time on the Hardergrat ridge. But the rest will be on the blog soon, I promise!
Finally, in November we had a visit from our Galician family (Afri and Agus), who already came to visit us for the 1st time in our mountains. What a joy to be welcoming them in our own coliving after talking so much about it together 🙂 and to be able to show them our beautiful valley. They also came to help us get started on a project in the village that we really care about… But we’ll tell you more about that in due course 😉
December: the joys of winter and a well-deserved rest
December was a quieter month at the coliving as we had decided to close the last 2 weeks of the month to rest after this crazy year and spend the holidays with family. So we gently said good-bye to our last colivers and took a few days off.
And as this year we were spoilt with snow in December, vacations meant skiing, ski touring, relaxing evenings at home and a few little repairs around the house as well 😉 . I have a feeling we’re going to love winter here!
Our first coliving year in review
If someone had told me in January that by the end of the year we’d have a renovated coliving space, open since 4 months and fully booked until mid-March, I’d obviously have signed right away! At the time, we had no financial partner, no property, no renovation skills… and our coliving space was still just a dream in our heads. Honestly, it’s pretty crazy and we’re very proud to have managed to create all this in such a short time.
But if I had to sum up this coliving year in a few points, here’s what comes to mind (both positive and negative)
Meeting extraordinary people
It’s been a difficult year at times, but we’ve always felt we’ve met the right people at the right time. For example, when we signed the contract to buy the building, we thought it would be great to carry out collaborative renovations, offering people free accommodation in exchange for a helping hand with the renovations… But we never imagined for a second that so many people from so many different backgrounds would come and lend us a hand!
Throughout the summer, there were always between 6 and 10 people in the house. Family, friends, people we met in different colivings, readers of the blog, remote workers who had just heard about the project from other people… Quite simply, without their help we’d never have managed to open the coliving in September.
These people, who have become real friends, are also our best ambassadors and even our first customers! Some of them have never really left, because they feel so good in our mountains ( isn’t that right, Austris? 😉 ).
And then, when willingness isn’t enough, I can’t forget the incredible professionals we worked with. I’m thinking in particular of Olivier, our renovation coach (yes, we do have a coach 😉 ), Nico, without whom we’d never have managed to build our kitchen, and Marta, who was an invaluable help with the interior design of the house… These people are really passionate and committed to their projects, and we’ve learned a lot thanks to them. Honestly, thank you life/fate/chance for bringing them into our lives just when we needed them.
Finally, thank you to all the people who trusted us from the start, even though we didn’t yet have any photos on our website or any reviews online (and we still had a lot of unfinished bits and bobs around the house). It’s hard to believe that we’ve already welcomed colivers of 20 different nationalities to our little mountain village… and when I read all the wonderful messages they’ve left us in our guest book, I tell myself that the magic is already happening in our coliving space 🙂
The joy of living in such a beautiful valley
We already loved Val d’Hérens, but now that we live at the heart of this valley, its beauty takes on an even greater dimension. We’re so lucky to have direct access to nature from our front door, to see it change with the seasons. And there’s so much to do around the coliving for us outdoor enthusiasts.
It feels like we’ve only just scratched the surface of all the possibilities that are opening up to us as the seasons go by. We took up rock climbing this summer with some of our colivers, and we’re also taking up ski touring this winter… activities that offer us so many new possibilities in the years to come.
But simply being able to walk the dog every day with the view of the majestic Dent-Blanche and the glaciers, under the orange larch trees in autumn… is a real joy. We’ve taken our time to find the place that resonates with us and where we feel “at home”. But now I think we’re on the right track 🙂
Warm welcome from local people
To be honest, we weren’t sure how the locals would react to a project like ours. A coliving space for people who work online, mainly foreigners… And yet! From our very first weeks there, we received a wonderful welcome with lots of encouragement, a few bottles of wine… and also a few questions about the concept of coliving. In the end, I think people were just happy to see “young people” reviving a building that had been closed for 12 years in the center of the village.
This is obviously very important for us, because one of our main motivations for the years to come is to create synergies with local people. We don’t want to live in our “digital bubble” in the mountains… On the contrary, we’d like to break the bubble, participate in local life, share our skills and dynamism, and include our colivers whenever possible.
Of course, this year we haven’t yet taken the time to get involved in too many things, as we’ve put so much energy into renovations… But we’ve already started working on a project that’s close to our hearts, and we’d like to thank Virginie and Marlène for their support. But don’t worry, we’ll tell you more about it as soon as it becomes more concrete 😉
Learn how to do-it-yourself
To say the least, we weren’t great DIYers and we were much more confident with our computers than with our little hands 😉 . But hey, it’s not as if we had the budget to hire builders to do everything around the house for us. So we didn’t have much choice but to get started!
Of course, we’ve watched loads of videos online and it’s only by doing that we learn. But sometimes it’s good to have access to experienced people to help you avoid mistakes and learn faster. That’s why, instead of hiring craftsmen to do the work for us, we hired them to teach us how to renovate.
That’s how we met Olivier, our “coach” who taught us how to plaster, paint properly, lay tiles and lots of other things. Whenever we had a new skill to learn, we’d hire him for a day so he could share his experience with us. And whenever we had a doubt or a question, we could always call him for advice… which turned out to be extremely valuable during those few months (Thanks for everything Olivier).
In the same vein, that’s how we met Nico, with whom we built our custom kitchen, creating all the furniture ourselves. The thing is, the kitchen is probably the most important room in a coliving space, and with our skills, we could have done something decent, but nothing special.
But instead, we worked with Nico for 2 weeks… He stayed at the coliving, brought all his tools and taught us how to use them. Basically, he was in charge and we helped him the best we could. Of course, we’re not pros yet, but thanks to him, we’ve learned to use a lot of tools and we now feel capable of creating simple pieces of furniture ourselves (Thanks a million Nico).
In the end, we’re still not renovation experts, but we’re much more confident now! We’re no longer afraid to change a toilet ourselves, renovate a bathroom, plaster, paint, lay flooring… We’ve become much more self-reliant in all these things, and we’re now looking for solutions to these problems ourselves. And when you own an old building like ours, that makes a hell of a difference!
Fatigue, lack of sleep, stress during renovations
Well, we’re not gonna lie to you, it wasn’t all smooth sailing during this period either, and we’ve never been so tired in our lives as we were during the renovations. With the stress of finishing the work on time, the 1001 things we were constantly thinking about (Fabienne and I woke up at 5am every day, our brains were in overdrive), the fear of making mistakes or forgetting something important, the fact of being outside our comfort zone all the time, having to manage a group of people who didn’t have any more experience than we did… By the end of August, we were simply physically and mentally exhausted!
What’s more, as we also wanted our colivers / corenovators to discover a bit of our beautiful valley, we went hiking again, sleeping in huts, climbing and so on…
So rest assured, things are much better now! We’ve got the hang of our new house and, even if it’s not perfect yet, we now know that everything works. As a result, we’re much less stressed and sleep much better than before. In fact, several of the people who helped us this summer have told us that we look much “younger” now than we did during the renovation… Ahah, we felt like we’d aged 10 years ourselves when we looked in the mirror lol.
Taking time for ourselves and our other projects
Since April (and if we don’t count the last 2 weeks of December), I think we’ve spent maybe two or three evenings just the two of us in our apartment. It’s easy to see that, during the renovations, when we arrived in the apartment, we’d simply collapse into bed because we were so tired.
But since we opened the coliving, it hasn’t gotten much better, I must say lol. If there’s one piece of advice most coliving managers have given us, it’s not to get too involved and to keep time for ourselves. Well, I think there’s still room for improvement on that front lol.
The thing is, we love sharing good times with the other colivers, doing activities together, remaking the world in the living room in the evenings… It’s a way of life we really enjoy! ( It’s a good thing we do 😉 ) But I think that for our long-term balance, we need to take a little more time for ourselves. So let’s just say that this year we did what we could, but we’ll try to do better next year.
As for all our other projects, let’s talk about them 😉
Our blogging year in review
We expected it, but this year we haven’t had much time to spend on Novo-monde (but also on our other blog Novo-media). It’s even the first time in 11 years that we haven’t published a new post for more than 4 months (between May 13 and September 30)… And to tell you the truth, we felt a bit weird about it.
This blog is first and foremost a passion project that has taken up a huge amount of space in our lives since 2012. We share our adventures, our travels, our hikes (more and more), our lifestyle, our thoughts just because we love it.
In fact, Novo-monde gives it back to us quite nicely:
- all the interactions with you, whether through comments, emails, social networks… your many words of encouragement have always been our driving force in continuing to work on the blog.
- many encounters in real life! We’ve lost count of the apéros we’ve had with some of you all over the world, the friendships we’ve made thanks to the blog, the people who’ve come to help us renovate the coliving… and that’s just incredible!
- The opportunities that have opened up… like writing our own books or selling our photos.
- Our main source of income… without any compromise on our freedom of writing, opinion, choice of partners, or advertising. And that’s something we’re proud of 😉
You can see why we felt sorry to have left it a bit on the sidelines this year. Fortunately, we still have Hélène on our team, who has continued her wonderful work on the blog throughout the year (but I’ll come back to that).
Our novo-monde blog in numbers in 2023
It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but we’ve had our best year since we started in terms of numbers on the blog. This is quite normal, since 2023 was really the 1st “post-Covid” year, in the sense that there are virtually no travel restrictions left in the world (in 2022 there were still quite a few restrictions in Asia, for example).
So in 2023 there were over 1,600,000 unique users of the blog (+38%) for 2,800,000 (+52%) page views.
Until October, we were really having a great year! But there’s a little downside to note… At the beginning of October we suffered a sudden drop in traffic following an update to the Google algorithm, which took us down to the level (or even a little lower) of our 2022 visitor numbers 🙁 .
After a lot of research, I haven’t found any very clear explanations, but I do know that most of the bloggers I’ve spoken to have also been affected by this decline. Hélène and I have a few ideas to work on, but nothing very concrete… I have to admit I’m a bit frustrated, because we’ve always tried to create the highest quality content possible for our readers, without over-optimizing for the search engines. But apparently, we’ve been penalized for some obscure reason.
However, it takes a little more to demotivate us and we’ll try to find a solution to satisfy our friend google in 2024 🙂 .
Here are a few more numbers:
- We wrote 13 new blog posts (in French and English): As I said, it’s not much compared to what we usually write in a year… but considering we created our coliving at the same time, it’s not that bad 😉
- 9800 comments on the blog (+509): This is in line with the last few years and shows us that there are still real conversations on the blog.
- 32% English-speaking readers: That’s a figure that’s growing year by year and makes us very happy. It means that the quality of our English posts is improving ( we also live in English now with our coliving)… I wouldn’t be surprised if we hit the 50% mark in 2-3 years’ time.
Hélène is more than ever part of our team
Hélène is undoubtedly the person who has worked the hardest on the blog this year. As you may remember, we told you last year that with around 1,000 posts on the blog, it had become difficult for us to update all our content (which is even truer now that we have a coliving) and that’s why we’d decided to expand our team.
Well, Hélène is still with us, and she’s been busy behind the scenes. In particular, she has updated all our articles about Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia and Ecuador, as well as tackling our Round the World trip guide. After a year and a half working together, we’re still very satisfied with the quality of her work. She updates the information, enriches the content while retaining the touch with which we wrote our posts. If you take a look at the articles she’s reworked, there’s no comparison 😉
We like to get her perspective on our blog, to talk with her about SEO… we also appreciate her as a person and we trust her 100%. If our blog has done so well this year, it’s mainly thanks to her. By the way, Hélène, since we know you’re reading this, thanks again for everything you do for us. We look forward to working with you for many years to come, and to seeing you in person in 2024 😉
Income from our novo-monde blog in 2023
If we take into account all our activities except the coliving (at the moment, the coliving is costing us a lot more money than it’s bringing in with the renovations 😉 ), 2023 was our best year (+12%) since we set up our own business, and the blog brought in around 60% of our income this year (the rest being mainly book sales).
As a reminder, our income comes almost entirely from the sale of our books and from affiliate marketing (if you don’t know what that is, we explain it in detail here). This year, the share of affiliate sales in our income has increased quite a bit (our affiliate income has practically doubled). This is mainly due to the fact that we’ve had a lot more visitors this year (which means more clicks on our affiliate links and therefore more income) and that we have a new affiliate partner in the hiking industry (alltrails) which is very relevant to our readers.
Obviously, we’re very happy about these numbers, and they reward years of work on the blog. However, we’re well aware that a change in Google’s algorithm (as in October) can turn everything upside down overnight, and we take nothing for granted.
Our Novo-media blog in review
Last year, we hadn’t set ourselves any goals regarding Novo-media, as we were well aware that we wouldn’t have enough time to spend on it with the coliving project. We’re still interested in the topics we generally cover on this blog, and we’re not short of ideas for posts… But we simply can’t do everything, and we have to accept that we’ll have to put this project on the side for now.
Hélène did write 2 posts at the beginning of the year, and I had time to update our guide about the fastest WordPress themes, but that’s about it 🙁 . So unsurprisingly, site traffic is down in 2023 (30,000 visitors over the year and 50,000 page views)… and I doubt we’ll have any more time to devote to it in 2024.
Our books in review
If in 2022 we published 2 new books (“Beer hiking in Brittany” and the “Dents du Midi tour guide“), you can imagine that in 2023 we didn’t publish any 😉 . But that doesn’t stop our printed books / ebooks from continuing to sell, and in 2022 we had a pretty good year in that respect (we won’t have the figures for 2023 until March).
Here’s a brief overview of our book sales in 2022:
- Beer hiking in France: 7,800 copies sold.
- Beer hiking in Brittany: 3100 copies sold
- Destination tour du monde: 650 copies sold
- Dents du Midi tour guide: over 200 copies sold
- The Via Alpina guide: 100 copies sold
- Our Chablais hiking guide: 50 copies sold.
Honestly, we’re very happy to see that our books continue to sell year after year. We’ve put a lot of love and hard work into them! It’s really a great reward that around 40% of our income comes from the sale of our books / ebooks. Randos bière en France should soon reach 40,000 sales, Destination tour du monde 10,000… It’s pretty crazy when you think about it!
I won’t deny that with the coliving we’re not planning to get back to writing a new book in 2024. But we should never say never, and who knows what the future will bring 🙂
Since 2019, we’ve been sharing our annual carbon footprint with you, because even if the environmental problem is systemic, doing your fair share is far from being insignificant! (and I highly recommend that you read the report in the previous link). So we feel it’s important to keep talking about it.
But this year I’m not really sure how to calculate our carbon footprint… With the coliving renovations, we’ve had to buy lots of stuff (paint, plaster, flooring, furniture, lamps, kitchen equipment, tools and lots of other diverse stuff) and even though we always try to find second-hand materials, it hasn’t always been possible. Besides, carbon footprint calculators don’t have the “I’m renovating an old building in a small mountain village and I’m doing my best” checkbox 😉
In short, from a standpoint of carbon emissions, I doubt the renovations are the best… From a personal point of view, we’re still making our usual efforts regarding food (local, seasonal and as little meat as possible), transport and our personal purchases.
So this year I’ve given up the idea of calculating our carbon footprint, as the result would probably not be very representative of reality. But I still encourage you to do it if you’ve never calculated it, using this tool for example.
Ben’s thoughts on 2023
Last year, I shared with you our vision of this big house lost in a small mountain village and filled with a wide variety of people. A place to work, of course, but also to connect and live closer to nature… at the time, this vision was just a dream, and I’m honestly still struggling to realize that we’ve made it a reality in such a short amount of time.
That’s why I like to take the time to write this review… it allows me to look back on the past year, appreciate all we’ve accomplished, the people we’ve met and set new goals. And really, what a crazy year it’s been!
It’s been intense in every way! Intense in terms of encounters, work, shared experiences, happiness, doubts, achievements… so intense that I’ve paid virtually no attention to all the turmoil of the world we live in, which has sometimes been so demoralizing in recent years (ecological crisis, energy crisis, wars, inflation, divided society, etc.). And that did me good.
This year, I’ve dedicated all the energy I had to our project… because I believe in it and I really feel I’m doing something useful! So even though I’ve been very tired at times, and there have been moments of doubt, I’ve always found the energy to keep going, because this project is meaningful to me.
And fortunately, we’re a two-person team… Without Fabienne, I don’t think I’d have embarked on such an adventure! Renovating a building, maintaining it, daily chores, creating/animating a community… so many things that seem difficult when you’re on your own, but are much easier when you’re with someone else. And when one of us has a down, the other can step in, which has been a lifesaver on several occasions this year.
Since May, there have always been between 6 and 15 people in the house… It was obviously a challenge during the renovations, but also after the coliving space opened in September. Living in a group requires flexibility, tolerance and compromise… And with the fatigue of the renovations, our nerves were sometimes put to the test.
But living in a group also means many evenings spent talking about the world in the living room, meals from all over the globe, shared hikes, trips to the climbing gym, pub crawls, game nights, karaoke, movies, laughter… It’s a lot of new friendships, and the bonds become even stronger when they’re forged by working together on a common project.
Funny enough, when we closed coliving in mid-December, after 10 days we were feeling a bit lonely in the house and were looking forward to having people around again. Of course, we still have to learn to take more time for ourselves, to find our own routine so that we can keep it up over time… but with hindsight, our life is much more lively, stimulating and interesting when we share it with all these people!
To finish my thoughts, here’s my/our wish for next year:
- That we find a routine with Fabienne where we manage to free up a little more time for the two of us, to spend evenings together regularly (so that they’re no longer exceptions like this year).
- That we put systems in place to be a little less involved in the life of coliving. It’s not that we don’t want to get involved, but if we want the project to be sustainable in the long term, it has to be as autonomous as possible.
- Getting back into a healthy routine… we do a lot of physical activities with the coliving (renovations, hiking, climbing, skiing and so on…) but I’d like to do more things to prevent injuries (like yoga for example)… We’ve all had our little injuries this year and we’d do well to pay a little more attention to that.
- Get back to working on our travel blog on a much more regular basis.We have so much to share with you about our beautiful valley that we wouldn’t want to take it away from you. Count on hearing from us much more often next year.
- To keep taking part in the local life of our village, to get more involved, to make this shared space project a reality (we’re already working on it), to make new acquaintances… We feel really at home here, and we want to do our best to contribute to the development of our new home.
And I think it’ll be pretty good if we can make it all by 2024 😉 .
Fabienne’s thought on 2023
Hello! As I do every year, I’ve stepped into Ben’s review to write a few more personal lines about my feelings and share a few of my more personal projects / desires for the coming year.
2023, what a year it’s been! I’ve just reread our 2021 and 2022 reviews, and I must say I’m still having a bit of trouble realizing just how much change this year will have brought!
At the time of our last review, we were just about to send our offer to the previous owner, but above all we were still in the middle of talks with the banks (and believe me, it wasn’t easy… 2 travel bloggers who want to open a coliving in a remote mountain village isn’t exactly the best-selling profile in the banking world haha).
But a few weeks later, in mid-January to be precise, everything lined up and we were in the starting blocks for what was to be the craziest year of our lives!
Ben has already told you, but 2023 will have been an incredible year, but also the year of physical and mental fatigue. Personally, I found it extremely difficult to deal with this part. Towards the end of August, I simply couldn’t do it anymore… When our colivers would say “oh tomorrow we could go for a 20km hike and sleep in a hut, that would be great!”… I confess, I had moments when the only thing I could think about was melting into tears and lying curled up in bed.
But once again, Benoit and I make a great team! It wasn’t something we had really planned or discussed, but we started a kind of “relay”. When I felt he was having a down moment, I’d pool my energy and take the lead on activities, and vice versa, when I was having a hard time, Benoit would say “don’t worry, I’m off hiking with everyone else, so make the most of resting and having the house to yourself”.
In short, it hasn’t been easy every day, but on a closer look, I think I can safely say that we’ve managed relatively well!
Then, curiously enough, the physical side of things did me a lot of good too! I’d already said so in my previous reviews, but I really felt that I needed more ” practical “ activities in my life and fewer hours spent in front of my computer. Well, to say the least, in 2023 I got what I needed! To tell you the truth, I even ended up missing the hours in front of the computer a bit 😉 On a more serious note, I think that with the coliving, I’m on the way to really finding the right balance between manual work, social interaction and hours of “geekery” in front of the computer.
On the blog side, I’ll be honest, I had a harder time feeling really involved. For me, it was almost “too much”. When Ben talked to me about our statistics or the next posts we’d be writing, I would sometimes take a fairly passive “yes, yes, we’ll see” attitude. In fact, I think I really needed to focus my energy on the coliving project, and I simply didn’t have enough resources to “diversify” further.
But as Benoit said, we’ve been able to count on Hélène to keep things afloat, and I’m infinitely grateful to her for that! I’m ending 2023 with a desire to get back on track, to create more content about our new little home #MagicValley but also to continue exploring the surrounding area with Benoit, Winchy and Dahu our van (we’re hoping to be able to plan a few little getaways with the van this year! )
In short, I can’t wait for 2024! This new year promises to be full of encounters and challenges (we’ve still got quite a bit of work to do during our month-long closure of the coliving in April), but also a bit more relaxed in terms of pace.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for always being there to read our updates (even if we’ve been a little less present), but rest assured, we’ll continue to share our adventures here and we’re not done wandering (or hiking)! 🙂
The final world
That’s it! Well done if you’ve reached the end of this 2023 edition! Even though we’ve had a little less time to spend on the blog this year, it’s still very important for us to share what’s been going through our minds over the year, our highs and our lows. Feel free to tell us what you think in the comments below 😉 (we read and appreciate each and every one of your comments, which help us to move forward with our projects).
2023 will have been an intense year of great change for us! We hope that 2024 will be the year we find our rhythm and balance in this crazy life we’ve chosen 🙂
The only thing left for us to do is to thank you for still being around after all these years! If we’re still blogging after more than 11 years, it’s first and foremost because you’ve made it all worthwhile. We wish you the very best for 2024.