Time to enjoy life

A happy and healthy family life with time for plenty of pulse-raising activity

"We talk every day about how happy we are living in Læborg," agree Johannes and Katja Bjerre. "But it's difficult to put your finger on why. It's just a charming and delightful place to stay."

"We knew nothing of Læborg before moving here. It was mostly because Fenja and Tais were at Vejen Independent School that we moved to Læborg. For the school moved from Vejen to Læborg in 2011. But it was really good that we moved here," say Johannes and Katja smiling.

Fenja enters the room shyly together with a friend. She carries little brother Emil outside to the trampoline in the garden with the fantastic view of fields and woods. Tais leans over the first floor railing and asks if he and a friend may take a fizzy drink.
The house buzzes quietly with happy and active children.

Warmth and activities
"We've been welcomed in Læborg with genuine warmth. Right from the start, we've been invited to the many activities held on Fru Mettes Vej, where we live. Last year, we were in the darts and carombole championships on Fru Mettes Vej," laughs Johannes.

Læborg is a very children and family friendly town. The roads are quiet and safe, and there are lots of activities and clubs for all the family. Their neighbour, Marianne, for example, is chair of the tennis club, Tais goes to scouts and Katja runs in the local club, "the Læborg runners". Although not a runner himself, Johannes happily acts as water boy at the various runs Katja takes part in. Johannes proudly explains that Katja is a really good runner and completed, for example, a 100-km run in Bramming a couple of years ago in one of the fastest times.

Katja is an active sportswoman. She has run for many years, and - before Emil was born just over a year ago - taught bodypump at  Vejen Sports Centre. "Vejen Sports centre is a fantastic place. There's so much on offer that it's actually the eighth largest sports centre in Denmark. That's something we can be proud of in Vejen Municipality," says Katja.

The route to Læborg
"We met in Esbjerg's nightlife in 2010," remember Johannes and Katja warmly.

Having moved from place to place for several years working as a house officer, Johannes was living in Esbjerg in 2010, where he had finished his general practitioner's training in 2007. Following a divorce, he had given up plans for investing in his own practice, however. He had instead begun a special course of training in psychiatry and taught at nursing college while working at Spangsbjerg Hospital.

In 2010, Katja was living in Vejen with her children. She had moved there from Hjørring in 1996 and never considered returning. Instead, Katja enrolled at the nursing college in Esbjerg. And one evening in 2010, when Katja was celebrating her newly acquired title of nurse in Esbjerg's nightlife together with her classmates, she met some of the hospital staff - including Johannes. They've been together ever since.

Initially, Katja and Johannes lived separately in Vejen and Esbjerg respectively. "In Vejen Municipality, you can get a new-build plot, house and garden at an affordable price. We'd therefore planned to build a new house together, but then the house we now live in came on the market and we bought it instead," says Katja.

Time to enjoy life
Johannes still worked at Spangsbjerg Hospital, while Katja worked as an operating theatre nurse at Kolding Hospital. Both had variable working hours and long shifts. A none too family friendly working life.

When the opportunity to take over the doctor's practice in Gesten arose, Johannes therefore took three months' leave and worked there as a locum. It was a great experience, and he went home every afternoon happy and content. In 2012, Johannes therefore decided to buy the practice in Gesten. The previous owners, Bodil Lefevre and Poul Risager, who had owned the practice for 35 years, stayed on part-time. "It's given a really good overlap," says Johannes.

He's been warmly welcomed by the people of Gesten and has settled well. "I now have a job that I love and a working day that is much more family friendly," says Johannes with warmth and happiness in his voice. As Bodil and Poul both want to retire, Johannes is looking for a partner to join the practice. "Someone who also wants a wonderful, family friendly job five minutes from the motorway - and just two and a half hours from the national football stadium in Copenhagen," laughs Johannes. He's been warmly welcomed by the people of Gesten and has settled well. "I now have a job that I love and a working day that is much more family friendly," says Johannes with warmth and happiness in his voice. As Bodil and Poul both want to retire, Johannes is looking for a partner to join the practice. "Someone who also wants a wonderful, family friendly job five minutes from the motorway - and just two and a half hours from the national football stadium in Copenhagen," laughs Johannes.

Having finished maternity leave, Katja has begun working part-time in the practice in Gesten. A completely different type of nursing - and with the opportunity of running home from work. "It's not that far, just 7.5 km, partly on a narrow gravel road where you come past fields with dromedaries and kangaroos," she says.

Room for all the children - yours, mine and ours
On Fru Mettes Vej in Læborg, Katja and Johannes live in a wonderful, well-designed, light and airy wood-clad house with room for the entire family of two adults and six children, aged between almost one and seventeen. Johannes's three sons, Mathias, Lukas and Tobias aged 17, 15 and 11, usually live in Esbjerg, but visit Læborg every other weekend. Katja's two children, Fenja and Tais aged 12 and 10, live with Katja and Johannes every other week. And then there's the family's latest ray of sunshine, Emil, who will soon be one. Johannes points proudly to the family portrait from their wedding in Læborg Church in 2012 with all six children. ´

Interview held in May 2013