Welcome to www.helenpalmer.co.uk

I’m a tea-drinking, book-loving, gadget-girl, who writes about working & living in Zurich.
Check this website regularly for my news, photos, blogs & tweets. Happy Reading!

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Click here to learn how to juggle!

December 2023

2023 mosaic

Our Year in Pictures: 2023

2023 has been a challenging year, with ups and downs. We’ve been grieving Martin Palmer and celebrated his life in February, sending him off in style with a Triumph sidecar hearse!
Alan started a new job at one of the Zurich Universities in a senior IT role. Life at the bank was interesting for me this year, given the integration announced in March.

Patrick started his last year at Primary school and loves basketball. Markus is in his second year at Secondary school and is equally fanatical about football.
He’s got me interested – we’ve both watched and loved Ted Lasso and Welcome to Wrexham!

My big achievement of the year was running the London Marathon with Sal to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK – a fitting way to celebrate my Mum’s life and to celebrate turning 50!

And there was lots of travel and adventures…
I spoke at the Learning Network conference in Birmingham in March and went to Berlin for a fun team weekend in June . As a family we went to Spiez for our summer holiday in August, followed by a summer weekend in the mountains in Flims & Laax . In October we jumped on the night train to Amsterdam, then travelled onto Brussels to see Mags and Mano! To finish the year we spent a chilly night last week in the Igloo Village in Davos!

December 2022


Our Year in Pictures: 2022

 My lovely Dad, Martin Palmer, died on 15th December. He has been deteriorating this year, but it was still a shock to us and we’re trying to make sense of it. He’s in our hearts and thoughts constantly as we make arrangements.

2022 had a lot of positives about it. As a family we did some short swiss trips to Hergiswil and Geneva, and went to our first football match as a family (friendly between the Swiss and English womens’ teams).
I got my long hair cut off and donated it to a charity, we celebrated Sal’s 50th in London, had our family summer holiday in Münich, Kitzbühel and Annecy, then explored Switzerland with Kate and her boys in August.

The summer ended and Markus left primary school this year and started secondary school. In September Mags, Kate and I walked 26 miles in 8 hours (or so) for Alzheimer’s Research UK in the Peak District – it was an amazing day.
I also completed my volunteer training for a swiss charity and I start shifts in January 2023.

At work I got permission to travel to Wroclaw (Poland) in October and I finally met my team there after a long 3 year wait! Finally in November, my team and I were named “Learning Technology Team of the Year” in the Learning Technology Awards, which was a great honour.

December 2021

2021 website

Our Year in Pictures: 2021

 2021 has been a strange year, learning to live with the pandemic. We are grateful that we’ve all stayed well and healthy, but it’s been hard for me to look after my parents from a distance. The Siblings Palmer are, however, an unbeatable force and we divide and conquer the tasks in our Whatsapp group 🙂 I went back to Bristol for a week in August and along with Kate, her boys and Chris, we cleared the parents’ home – which was quite an undertaking.

As for the Morans, we spent the whole year in Switzerland, fitting in a weekend in Lenzerheide in May, spending summer days in Zurich on the water, going to Beatenberg in the mountains about Lake Thun for our summer holiday, and the boys “learning to fly” from the airfield in Lachen (thanks Jan!). The summer ended with the inevitable school start and a “Full Moon Paddle” on Zürich lake

We celebrated “Alan’s big birthday with balloons, a home made video and an internal zoom call with bubbly and cake!

We were planning to go back to the UK for Chirstmas, but given the numbers, we are staying in Zurich and looking forward to relaxing at home. Here’s to a brighter 2022…

December 2020


Our Year in Pictures: 2020

 We became Swiss in October, after a nearly 2 year process and many bills to pay 🙂 Swiss Family Palmer Moran is here! I had two eye operations at the end of September to remove cataracts in both eyes. The difference was immediate and I am so grateful for my now perfect sight!

Alan and I are both at our same jobs and survived home working together 🙂 We found our way eventually with home schooling, but were very happy when the boys went back to school in June – as were they! On the plus side, we did a lot of walks together, had time to bake together and we were grateful for Draw with Rob to encourage our artistic skills!

We went skiing in February to our favourite resort Malbun in Liechtenstein, with Sal and her boys and had a fabulous time with them – that luxury feels a lifetime ago. I managed a very quick trip to the UK in February before lockdown, then another flying visit July (in between lockdowns) to see my sister, her boys and my parents. As a family we day trips around Switzerland in the school holidays, finishing with a long weekend in Engelberg and then spent a lovely weekend in Arosa in October.

Like everyone else, we are celebrating Christmas at home alone, but probably with a few Zoom calls in there to catch up with family and friends. Alan and I will celebrate 20 years married on Dec 28th 2020.

Wishing all our friends and family a relaxing festive season and a better start to 2021.


December 2019

My creation

Our Year in Pictures: 2019

 2019 has been busy! Patrick is now in 2nd class and Markus in 4th class. They have a stream of friends coming round, particularly to our Friday evening “Pizza Party Kino”where we watch a film and eat pizza! Markus’ school football gang played in a Zurich tournament and got to the final day, when they played at the FIFA grounds in Zurich! Their team came 7th out of 100 teams. 

Alan is still at Educa.ch and has had an epic year running a digital identity education project for the whole of Switzerland. I am still at CS and in October ran a week of workshops in Wroclaw, Poland for my team and our vendors. I attended several conferences during the year and gave some speeches, which was terrifying but a highlight (once i’d done them!)

We spent our summer holiday in the UK, which started with Chris & Tamsin’s wedding in the Lake district. The 6 cousins had a ball! We then did a Harry Potter themed holiday, visiting Alnwick Castle and then the Harry Potter studio tour. It was epic! We then finished in Sevenoaks to visit the Swete family, who used to live in Zurich. In the autumn school holidays we again went to Portugal for some sun and sea! 

We are looking forward to a relaxing 2 weeks as a family in Zürich, with time for stories, walks, board games and some screen time 🙂 I’m hoping to hit 100 books read in 2019, only a few more to go! 

Wishing all our friends and family a relaxing festive season and a peaceful start to 2020.


December 2018

My creation

Our Year in Pictures: 2018.

2018 has been busy! Patrick left kindergarten and started school. Markus is in 3rd class and has a huge gang of friends. Both boys love playing football and Markus has joined a rubgy team. Alan is still at Educa, running a massive IT education project, and I am still at CS.

We spent our summer holiday in Switzerland and the boys and I had a camping trip with the Palmer gang in Derbyshire. In the autumn school holidays we got some sun and sea with a lovely family holiday in Portugal.

This advent Patrick and I took the steam train into the forest to find Santa.. Markus ran on his own for the first time in the Silvesterlauf though the old town., Patrick and I ran together.

We are looking forward to Christmas in Zürich, and then a week in the UK in Bristol, Derby and Manchester catching up with everybody!

Wishing all our friends and family a relaxing festive season and a peaceful start to 2019.

November 2018

November 2018 Travels

November was my month for catching up with friends, near and far 🙂 From Left to right…
1. I went to Brussels and caught up with my University friend S over a quick Saturday morning coffee – we covered 25 years of gossip in an hour!
2. Had the rest of a lovely weekend in Brussely-Brussels with M&M, the waffles were delicious. We sat and drank tea and I re-learnt how to knit
3. Met B, a friend from CS, in the airport as I flew to the UK to give a conference speech at the https://elearningnetwork.org/eln-connect-2018/
4. Lovely A, friend from Zurich, who is now back in Kent – very yummy lunch at Borough Market
5. Fab evening and overnight stay with K, another friend from Zurich, now back in Surrey and finally …
6. Saturday morning lunch with L, who I worked with in my first job post-Uni!

July 2018

My creation

The summer has flown by with lots of changes. We had a flying visit from my Aunt Sharon, all the way from Canada. Followed by Patrick’s 7th Birthday family celebrations, with a football theme 🙂 Then we had lots of end of term events to enjoy, football afternoon, theatre production. And then finally Patrick left Kindergarten and Markus finished his second year of school.

The boys and I went camping with Kate and Chris and their families (lots of fun and rain and small excited boys) and then I came back and flew to Wroclaw to train my new team. Now it’s time for a family holiday of 2 weeks – we just need to decide where to go!

May 2018

My creation

It’s been a while since my last update. Big thanks to the fantastic Les Dundas for helping me migrate my website to wordpress! Expect more updates on a hopefully more regular monthly basis.

In other news – I had a birthday, I went to Berlin with the Witches (& Amit the wizard), we had the first paddle of the summer  and the first ice-cream.

December 2016

2016 has been a year of change – Patrick left nursery and started Kindergarten, Markus left Kindergarten and started school, Alan started a new job as Head of IT at Educa and I clocked 10 years at Credit Suisse and increased to 90%. At work we won silver for best Learning Technology Team (at the Learning Technology awards), which was a great honour.

Thanks to all our visitors this year – Sal, Mags, Chris&Drew, my parents. In the summer we had a fab 2 weeks touring Ireland, and then in the autumn holidays a week in the UK (Peak District & London).

As is our advent tradition, we took the steam train into the forest to find Santa and we all ran the Silvesterlauf though the old town.

We are looking forward to a two week Christmas break in Zürich, with my university friend Jane and family arriving on Boxing Day for a visit.
Wishing all our friends and family a relaxing festive season and a peaceful start to 2017.

July 2016

has been full of celebrations! My parents came to stay and we did several day trips and went to stay on a farm for a weekend! Alan celebrated his birthday with a rocket cake and space theme and I celebrated my 10 years anniversary at Credit Suisse!

May 2016

2016 is whizzing past already and we have had lots of guests! Sal came in January and was very happy to see the snow. Chris and Drew came in the Easter holidays and hit a heatwave. Mags came in May and it rained. I just celebrated a lovely Birthday and we ran away to the circus!

December 2015

Click here for our year in pictures…

It’s been a busy year. Alan wrote his third book, about Agile Financial Management. Markus started losing his baby teeth (4 so far) and Patrick enjoyed watching the world “bumper ball” aka Rugby! I took over leadership of a group of eLearning Advisors and entered a steep learning curve about technology based learning.

We went for our very first family ski trip in March and Markus mastered the mountain! During the summer, Kate came to Zurich with her boys and we enjoyed week in the sun – at the lake, at the pool, travelling with steam train… They left and we then went to Minorca for a week at the pool and on the beach 🙂 

The year has ended with three of my favourite advent routines – an icy swim 111m across the Limmat river (Helen)steam train trip to the forest to meet Santa (all of us) and the Christmas run through the old town (Markus and Helen). It was a very good year 🙂

Click here for our year in pictures…

May 2015

Spring has sprung in Zürich, with summer sunshine one minute, torrential rain the next. We have been enjoying playing in parks, going to a farm and generally coming out of hibernation. Alan has his head down, writing his third book, whilst Helen moves job internally on 5th May.

March 2015

2015 has started well with the normal routines of work and childcare. We have just been on our first family skiing holiday in Malbun, Liechtenstein.

Markus took to the slopes like a champ, Patrick enjoyed sledging with Alan and amazingly I remembered how to parallel turn after more than 20 years break from skiing! We have been bitten by the skiing bug 🙂

December 2014

2014 has been full of friends, family and new challenges. Alan got his first book published, graduated his MBA with distinction and started writing his second book. Markus finished at nursery and started kindergarten. Patrick got used to going to nursery without his brother. I worked on a huge project at work, got promoted and ran the New York Marathon with Best Mate Sal!

Our summer holiday took place in Italy and France. The Palmer family’s big news was to welcome Kate’s sons to the family Peak District weekend in March and then to celebrate their official adoption in November in Manchester. We had visits from Mags in Feb, Sal in Sept, Chris & Lydia in September and Mum & Dad in December. It was a very good year 🙂
Click here for our year in pictures… (only 16 of them!)


January 2014

We had a lovely Christmas celebration with my sister. Alan and I even escaped to our favourite hotel in Luzern for an overnight stay, while my sister heroically looked after the boys at home. Got to celebrate 13 wonderful years of marriage somehow!

Since then there has been much January induced decluttering throughout the flat and a new bookcase in the boys’ room.

Alan is in the final throes of his MBA, just one more study weekend to go. I am currently enjoying a long weekend in Manchester. My big challenge in 2014 is running the New York City Marathon on 2nd November!

Scroll down in this section for previous months….

December 2013

We have had a lovely, but busy 2013! Alan has been busy with his MBA studies and I am doing 40 personal challenges in this significant year!

Markus and Patrick are at a great age and play well together most of the time! They love “reading books” and are fascinated by our iphones / tablets / laptops.

We have had lots of visitors and have been on several trips, including a weekend on a farm in the black forest and a week in Vienna in the autumn. The year ended with advent  & christmas visits from my family.

Click here for our year in pictures… (only 16 of them!)

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