Sunday Column (343)

What a beautiful weather we had this week. Astonishing, like a second summer, we had some sunshine, warm lunch breaks, and actually I took some lunch breaks too. It was a good week from that perspective. I got a lot done. At the weekend, however, the weather was misty cold, so we had the fire on all Saturday. Cosy warm home….country life 😉

Then, I returned my Oyster Card this week. After registering my Amex as paperless payment card on the tube and using it through Apple Pay on my phone, there is no longer a need for Oyster. However, whilst you easily get a refund into your bank account online, there are only three (!) staffed stations left in London where you can get a ‘manual’ one which involves you bringing a proof of address to show it is actually your card.

I also managed to live without cash for another week. Apple Pay plus card payment make it possible. Whilst it isn’t so much of a challenge, it is more that I feel that the 21st century is happening. Cash, notes and coins will be on their way out. Contactless, paperless on its way in.

On that note, I finally got myself my train travel card on the keycard, e.g. a contactless card. Therefore, no more paper tickets and only one wallet, which is the smallest in the world. I am downsizing.

So last Sunday I upgraded my phone. It was easy to do and I am now the trend setter with the latest Apple iPhone 6s. Nothing special to report on it, but that it makes good photos, is my personal computer and has Apple Pay 😉 Since my iPad was getting old, I traded in my old phone, old iPad and upgraded to the ipad4 mini, which is just a bit easier to commute with and a lot quicker. Again, whilst I was super excited getting all the gadgets, I just need them to work and do what I would like them to do. And they are working fine! On Wednesday Apple released it latest OX, so I am now up to date once again.

At time of writing I am looking back to today and my wife was running an 8K race on Sunday. I am very proud of her, particularly since she has had the bike accident and is now almost back to normal, despite a cracked rib and all. Well done! Our/her transformation from us being a couple, going out most nights, hanging out with friends to having/being family, both being very active and healthy, has been a long time coming. We enjoy our new life style, lost weight and feel better about ourselves. Maybe a normal transformation, yet I wouldn’t have guessed that a few years ago. And, who knows. She managed 8K in under 50 minutes, maybe we celebrate her birthday doing a half marathon in Brighton :-)

It comes down to identify a purpose, as well as drive to achieve those purposes. Most of our identity is determined by external factors like upbringing, family and social environment – however with the help of coaching, new goals and (positive) influence, one can change habits and routines, one changes one’s personality. I have been reading a bit about this and will incorporate this into my next book about personal development and productivity.

The works side of things was interesting. It is forecast season and ‘process’ season. Latter caused, as it often is, some challenges, but nothing I didn’t enjoy :-p Forecasting is often something salespeople dread and I suppose I am not an exception. With plenty of support and understanding for new product lines, I think we managed alright. We finished it on Friday night.

This was the short update of my week. I am excited about the things happening in my life. I enjoy life and enjoy my boys growing up. Winning the trophy at football, being proud to be a beaver and presenting the German beavers in his ‘class’…it all seems to be coming together. A life worth living for, they said, and we should enjoy every moment of it. Whilst these achievements are more C’s ones, R will have similar achievements to come, and he really enjoys school. Being very curious, he asked the wife if the ‘Chinese money plant would spit out prawn crackers’ – I guess he is right, why wouldn’t it?

Live the moment and don’t miss out on the wonders of life. They come in all shapes, forms and sizes.

Below’s picture I found searching for “Indian summer”. All credit to the photographer.

Enjoy your week.


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Sunday Column (342)

What I learned this week was a lot actually. I read another personal development book and managed to listen to a few podcasts. I love learning and constantly increasing my input from a variety of sources.

Putting last week’s tiring show into perspective, my job after the merger, I believe we are now getting to the point to move beyond phase one of integration, just in time for Q4. Without wanting to reveal or bore anyone about any work details, the exciting bits are discussed. My US colleagues have been over this week and I am more than excited to pull the throttle to open the floodgates. Rock’n roll!


Yet, aside work, my wife is still recovering from her accident which happened two weeks ago. Time is a healer. Time, however, is the most precious thing we own. A few weeks ago we were at Littlehampton beach. Whilst the kids were happily playing, and the wife was bathing – yes it was still warm(ish) – I was contemplating about life.

What had I achieved in life so far? Two healthy boys, both now in school, the renovation of the house almost complete, and married to what I believe the best woman in the world. Our 8th wedding anniversary is around the corner. I am happy. Truly happy. Life is treating me well, and I have worked very hard to get where I am.

My life ticks a few boxes of the Tony Robbins’ six Human needs. Yes, sometimes more uncertainty than certainty, and I definitely prefer certainty, but I get significance and love. I could have a bit more significance or responsibility in one or two areas of my life, but nothing I ‘must have‘ at the moment. As of above I am learning and growing, and I am in a position I can and do contribute to others.

I can help others. This for me is one of the greatest gifts I received in life. I am able to help others develop, grow and be part of something bigger. I help clients and sell them a superior product. This is something I genuinely enjoy. And whilst this sounds all like I am a boring person, every now and then I enjoy letting my hair down.

I noticed, particularly when not at home, that I enjoy going out and party. I guess it is because I don’t have the kids’ responsibilities or a wife telling me off 😉 It is the balance between hard, very hard work, and play hard attitude. I have been brought up from my early tele-sales days to play hard but to focus even harder at work. When you spend a whole day, meeting after meeting, bringing in the revenue, you need to let steam off somewhere. Have you seen the wolf on wall street? Important is that you deliver.


Supposedly I am jumping around a bit here. And why am I writing about this? Simple: I have been thinking about this a lot. About the why I love the hard work, and which need it fulfils. And, what the other side fulfils. In times of change, and at work I am going through changes, I like to evaluate. I want to make sure that the change ahead is in line with my needs, values and direction. This is important for me, and I also make sure this is important and there is alignment for my staff.

Life is fantastic. I am not complaining. Things could always be better, but they could always be. The grass is always greener. Yet, it will always be grass. Nothing is ever perfect. And wouldn’t it be boring if it was? Maybe, many years from now, I will be looking back and realising which part of life I was playing at this moment, and looking back at other part of my life just now, boy, I have come some way. Why I made one decision over another. And why we chose one path over the other….life is in life’s hands if you like.

Let us rejoice in the beauty of life.
Its challenges and its sorrows.

Let us celebrate life to move beyond where we are today. Let us grow and be great.
Let’s get shit done! GSD.

Have a fantastic week.

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Sunday Column (341)

Where to start. An eventful week. A scary week.

Monday was a great conference in London. An old friend has put on his annual RTB/Programmatic conference and I haven’t missed one yet. Just when I settled into the second panel, I got this message from my wife saying ‘there was an accident, I call you‘.

Nothing ever happens to us, right? We are always going to be alright. Your mind goes into an overdrive: Is your family ok? How bad is it…how long will it take me to get home? Luckily this ended up being mild(ish). My wife had hit a pedestrian when that person stepped out in front of her. Lucky for him she wasn’t driving but on her bike. Bad for her, she was knocked off her bike. Lucky for her she didn’t break anything and no car from oncoming traffic ran over her afterwards. Needless to say she wore a helmet.

She is fine. She is in pain. Seen the doctor and eventually the pain will ease they say. Time heals. We are grateful she escaped without serious injuries. I am grateful for her being able to continue looking after the kids whilst I then, on Tuesday, embarked on my adventure to dmexco.


I almost didn’t go. Yet, this is the biggest online and digital show/exhibition in the world. Again, for over 10 years, once it was a competitive show, I have been seeing this show grow from 1 hall and maybe pushing 100 exhibitors to now 4 halls and 300 or more exhibitors. Two days of meetings non stop. Three nights of heavy German food, actually a Michelin Sushi for us on one night, washed down with Koelsch, Wine, Lagavulins and Schnaps.

Discussions about work, the industry, ad blockers, companies, visions, futures. No sleep, lots of input, catching up with loads of industry friends, giving away almost 200 business cards, connecting to people, showing expertise, selling, visualising. And, of course, making deals, closing deals, celebrating success. That’s how the industry rolls and it is fun, exhausting but satisfying. There is no feeling like it when it hits 4 pm on the second day and you calm down, your brain is frazzled and you slowly wind down. It was the first time we presented my “new” company, the company that recently bought my existing outfit: 4C Insights. What I think of them? Awesome, see here for a vision/article I wrote about the merger.

Yes, as much as I hate the strain of it, I love it and enjoy doing it. Once a year! It has been an amazing event. Thank you organiser, Christian and Frank, for another show. Maybe I should have joined you years ago, but hey,….that’s for another time maybe.

I promised the kids some new pens. So I accomplished my mission with 27(ish) different pens I collected, some gummi-bears, squeaky ducks and some blue toys as well as a pixie book about the Internet. For myself I ended up with yet a few more external batteries, still needed at shows or when travelling. Those give-aways are so popular that people attend trade shows just to get freebies. Never mind.

Once I got back on Friday I cleared (most of) my inbox, picked up the boys from school, took them swimming, slept, had a dirty take away and soothing wine. I slept from 9 pm solid for 9 hours. I needed it. Still very tired the whole weekend, I got my wife to make some German food. Why not 😉

Guess that’s all.
I have to say, going for a run and taking it easier on the booze this year helped. I am slowly getting less carried away. Not sure if it is maturity or knowing that my body can’t cope that well anymore. Having said that, due to my fitness level, I can cope with lack of sleep and booze a lot better than I used to which is interesting. But nothing makes up for good sleep, and I don’t seem to sleep well when away at trade shows. And of course there is age concerns, but more about the mid life crisis another time 😉

Have a great week.

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Sunday Column (340)

Next week I will be travelling again. A big UK conference, then the biggest online marketing exhibition in Germany, dmexco. 20 meetings scheduled. Lots of friends and partners to meet. This is going to be fun presenting ourselves for the first time since the merger as a combined company. I keep you posted next week.

However, the greatest thing this week was R starting school. Now our two boys are in school. It is an odd feeling, particularly for the wife, to have free time and no one around. Yet it is nice to see them being tired, challenged and full on. They are very proud to be at school and enjoy learning. Whilst R was a bit apprehensive I am confident he will settle in. Didn’t we all?

It is a bit like fitting a square peg into a round hole. A child from play to serious learning, step by step, they are made to follow a routine and system. I am not too certain if I fully agree with that, however at least in our country they are educated to free speech and open thinking, being able to form their own opinion. This is something I strongly encourage. Also, compared to Germany, I like the school uniforms, so no one actually looks richer or poorer than their pals, making class differences obsolete, focusing on the character and education. And if they continue to associate learning with fun, I am a happy dad!

For me it is like the first step of letting go. Next is college, then university if they wish. Then they will go all independent and we can only guide them to a certain extend. As a friend of mine, whose last child just graduated from uni, said: my job is done here, they are now grown up. Yet of course we still seek our parent’s advice as long as we live. Support, love, and of course when we have kids, we like the grandparents to help. The cycle of life. No progression in technology will stop us from those basic life principles.

99 success

In other news, the latest iPhone was announced, an even bigger iPad. A more sophisticated entertainment machine, aka Apple TV, and sure there is more to come early next year. Luckily I am due an upgrade, so plan is to get the new iPhone week after next, then exchange my current ipad for an ipad mini…and maybe the iWatch for my birthday…we shall see.

I am sometimes wondering what the future holds. Technology wise, whether we will have a chip implanted that pays for things or tracks our whole body’s chemistry? I stopped paying with cash as much as I can and it is a lot easier than I thought. Of course, as a Buddhist, I should focus on the now rather than dwell on the past or future. Yet, one must be allowed to think what the boys will do for a living, what their work will look like, what our retirement will be like and whether we make it at all to retirement age? Not doom and gloom, but diseases, technology advancement, and accidents might kill us before we even got a chance to finish off our bucket list.

We don’t know. And that is how it should be. Being able to influence it a little bit by eating healthily, exercising and doing our part, we might just be ok. Let’s hope so and stay positive, and focus on the present moment. Let us tick off those items on the bucket list as we go along and let’s not aim too high. Maybe we keep a few we never achieve, just so we never run out of ideas and goals. Something that keeps us going.

That’s it really for the week. Enjoy life as it is.

Have a great week,

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Sunday Column (339)

As I started writing this blog I just published an Ebook/guide on weight loss. It describes what I have done, and what made me lose and keep off 8 kg since January. Yes, I am proud of it, yet this is only one piece of the jigsaw of a successful and healthy life. As a matter of fact, the guide will form part of a new book I am writing on, hopefully completed next year.

I am excited about personal development. I am passionate about the potential to train your mind, to develop your personality, and about what all we can learn, and how we can improve other people’s lives. This is my greatest hobby, passion and interest. For me, being back on the commute, is like being back at school. I started to pick university lessons from iTunes university and listened to quantum mechanics this week. I now understand why older, retired people, are going back to university. There is so much out there to learn, understand and explore. However, it is time that is the challenge.

With on average 7.5 hours of sleep, a 5:30 am start at the moment, I feel I don’t have enough spare time. Over the next few weeks I will change to 5 am starts again. However, I don’t want to go below 7 hours of sleep. Balancing that, trying to find the optimum, is key in life. A lot of things like your health, your success, performance, mood, state of mind and so on, are depending on your sleep. Weight gain too btw.

I like to experiment with these things. The early routines, meditation practises, exercise routines, studying, researching and writing. That is all for me, yet there is a whole family and a demanding job on top of it all.

Nothing like this week when my 6 year old asks how the world was made, leading to a discussion whether there was a god. We are quite open for him to form his own opinion and quickly he concluded there isn’t one. He is smart. It doesn’t make sense, sorry. As much as we all would like to have someone there, and I personally believe in a superior (un)consciousness, there is no one that put Adam together from a handful of clay. Maybe this isn’t the place to discuss this but I love the challenging questions.

On other notes. My new wallet only holds cards, notes are a bit tricky. So I started using wireless payment whenever I can. Thinking about that, I am probably a slow adopter, I realised I carry less and less coins with me. Hence I can’t give money to homeless people or charity collectors. Not that I ever did this a lot in the first place yet I won’t be the only one. The world goes paperless, now coinless. Whilst I still donate coins to my Buddhist shrine (note Buddha isn’t a god in my eyes in reference to above), and I donated £150 this year from it to a GSP charity which we felt was the right thing to do, most people won’t carry cash in the future.

With Apple pay and other phone based electronic payment options, we won’t even need a wallet anymore. The scanned card, our fingerprint and that’s it. Banking is changing. Just this week I was debating via Twitter with Halifax Banking whether they need to send me a reminder to log in to my online, meaning desktop, banking account, as I regularly log in to the banking app? They think they have to for legal reasons, whilst I disagree. Most of my main accounts are managed on an app base only. The future are apps, app environments and functionality.

The world is changing. Our kids might not need a driving license as they have an app calling a driverless car to take them anywhere they want. They pay wirelessly, or via a chip implanted in their arms. Phones will be replaced by mini computers in a watch that has the same capabilities as our current smart phones. Tablets are no longer used. Laptops will be around, connecting wirelessly to huge roll out screens on walls. One will just throw content on there to do presentations. Most of this exists in its infancy already btw. By the time our kids are grown up it will be normal.

In the meantime I am going back to the commute. I am almost at Victoria, having had a pleasant journey, writing this post and meditating on the way. People will still need to get together to collaborate. More and more can be done virtually, but nothing will replace physical get togethers. I am off to work really.

On that note, have a great week.

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Sunday Column (338)

What a great week off I had. Or did I?

For weeks we wanted to go camping. If I say week, more like years. I have been putting it off, but this year really wanted to go for it. Earlier on this year I got a cooker, cutlery, crockery, sleeping bags, coffee and all the little things that last forever to spend this week camping. And, of course, I got a tent too. New as much as £450 we got it used for just under £100. I was chuffed, little did I know about tents… :-(

To cut a long story short. We got the tent up, had a fantastic BBQ, kids playing, evening sun, chilly wind, but great evening. We knew the weather forecast wasn’t too good, so here were we….the kids in bed by 9ish – to sleep is a different story – and when I woke up the first time it was because the campsite was under a flight path. They flew until late, I am not used to that anymore. I woke up later because it started to rain. I woke up again, water dripping on my cheek. I kept being awake, hearing dripping water in the ‘living room’ of the tent.

When I finally woke up I saw three or four puddles of water on the floor. I knew camping was over. The tent wasn’t watertight. There is a difference between condensation water dripping and water blowing into the tent and it leaking. No fun.

The worst part was that I started to enjoy it – the camping that is. The most awkward thing was for me to pack it all in the car, little did I know how much stuff you need to take, then of course particularly when going home and we had this wet wet wet tent in there. However, it went to the bin straight away. Maybe we get a different one. New of course.

For myself, and maybe this sounds daft, another learning. I thought a tent lasts forever. I didn’t know you could repair the seams. I was fed up of it too btw, and maybe I was too hasty binning it. A bit annoyed, and given the weather we probably would have called it a day anyway, but the equipment didn’t give us a chance. Maybe I am just too comfortable….and I book ready pitched tents next time again, another Yurt, Tipi or something.

How did we make up for it with the kids? Day trips as you would.

Tuesday we went to Sea Life in Brighton, got soaked and even our jackets didn’t withstand the gale force winds and rain. We went to London to spend a tiring but great day in the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The boys loved the tube, the bus, the train, the museum – a long but worth while day. We even visited daddy’s work 😉

Colin got his fish tank, as promised for his birthday. We got the first fish in, but decided to place it in the kitchen, to make sure the kids behave with it. We went to see the Minion movie, we didn’t go to Littlehampton Beach as the A27 was closed but had fish and chips….and we continued our decoration of the spare bedroom, played games, coloured in, watched TV, had the fire place on and and and.

No, it wasn’t a boring week. It was a great week, good bonding time and we truly enjoyed each others company. What we didn’t do as much was spend time outside. This weather isn’t August or summer. This is more like autumn. I am back to work on Tuesday (Bank Holiday Monday) and will then work until half term. The last few months of the year tend to be very busy for me, so this will pass quickly. R will start school. He will be shattered. C starts year two. Time goes by. As it always will, it never stops.

I love being a dad. I love having time for the kids.

Have a great week, make the most of it, come sun or rain 😉

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Sunday Column (337)

This week I watched the movie about Stephen Hawkings’ life and subsequently read his autobiography. When I was young, my brother who studied physics, read his first book, a brief history of time. While Hawkings gets a lots of attention due to him sitting in a wheelchair, also living longer than anyone anticipated, I like him explaining science in a common way.

He must have patience, speaking/typing at a speed of three words per minute. Whilst this would be difficult for most, I am personally someone that runs at a million miles an hour. Recently I have been practising to take my time, to meditate, to slow down. This helps me a lot. Yet, reading Hawkings’ book I wonder what else is out there to explore? Should I read Einstein’s book? Or should I go back to university? I have those thoughts regularly, often think an academic career would have been nice, yet I believe that I am doing well with what I am doing and I am very happy with my life.

black hole

My next book however needs to tick the box of a more intellectual work than the last one. More research. However, unlikely I philosophise about the universe, black holes and time travel. I am writing an eBook at the moment which is more of a summary, similar to the last one, yet embarking on a bigger project for publication later in 2016. We shall see, it might not be the phd thesis though 😉

Ever since I was a child I refused to think about what could be beyond the universe. What is in space and what does it do? Will we ever find out? Did we become humans by pure chance? Is there a god? Latter is the only question I could answer for myself, and by common definition the answer for me is ‘no’. Yet I believe in energy, infinite greater conscious, a common unconscious everyone can tap into. Some might call it god though.

Other thoughts this week are around music. For many years I have been struggling to expand on the music I am listening to, listened to few new artists, realising that I am missing out on potentially nice stuff. The above mentioned rush doesn’t help. With the addition of another Sonos system to my beloved spare bedroom and the arrival of Apple Music, subject to them two integrating, I am keen on changing my approach and exploring new music. For many it is difficult to understand but I am running on iOS. I like what is easy to use cross device, for work, for pleasure and it being fully integrated. So the more this ecosystem develops, the more I will be sucked into it. Hence only Apple Music is appealing to me, Spotify never was. Silly, I know.

I guess Steve Jobs’ approach works. A closed system that works 99% of the time, or at least more often than other systems. Windows seems to crash by far more often, and maybe Windows 10 will change it all. Or Android for the masses. Is any approach just for the data or as Steve said about user experience.
I (like to) believe that Apple is good, and puts customer and their experience first. Ever since I know, and my wife has done it, that you can buy your new phone and renew your mobile contract through the Apple Shop, I love it. The best of both worlds. Give back your old phone, get a voucher, get a new phone, get a contract and…the Apple service on top. You can’t beat that. No upsell in the Vodafone shop, no silly calls, no waiting for a phone to return to one of the many phone ‘recycling’ sites.

Maybe I am a bit naive. Maybe I just like it simple. Life is complicated enough to not worry about certain things, and having things that work, and not thinking what is beyond our universe, just keeps it simple :-)

Have a great week,

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Sunday Column (336)

Today to the day I left from Dusseldorf, Germany, to go to the USA for a year as an exchange student. I was 16 I believe, so 1993. 22 years ago. Life passes very quickly! On the way back I remember smoking and drinking whilst being stuck on the run way in Chicago, sitting in the last row of a Lufthansa jumbo. Those were the days.

smoking in an airplane

On Tuesday, 18th of August, I will have another anniversary. On that day, 14 years ago, I left from Dusseldorf to Aberdeen, via London, to move to the UK to finish my university degree. I never returned to Germany permanently and met the love of my life just before I finished my studies. Our anniversary is later this year 😉

Isn’t life amazing. You never know what you get. You step on a plane, you go places, and you it might change your life forever. For the better, hopefully not for the worse.

Anyway, let’s not be sentimental. What has happened is the past. History really.

The highlight of the week was actually very personal. My wife managed, thanks to the MIL (mother in law) babysitting, to come into London and go out for a meal with me. It threw me a bit out of my comfort zone, not having had the wife out in London for a good while, 3 odd years or so. Wow. And there she was, looking stunning as ever, to go to dinner with me and drinks pre dinner and post dinner of course 😉 The full programme. We loved it. A great night out. Genuinely enjoyed it.

The second highlight happened on Monday this week when the carpet layer came. We now got underlay in each room, a good carpet, and a new feel to the house. It is fantastic. We are very proud of the achievements we have made with the new home office/guest room being my new ‘hobby’ really – my wife painted the walls, but I will decorate them with quotes from Steve Jobs, Buddha and also ‘installed’ a fairy door. Yes, a bit of fun, a grass carpet, vibrant colours, a bean bag, desks to work on and soon a Sonos system to complement the room. A second family room, a home office too. Creative, funky, productive. Whiteboard, soon flip-chart, bouncy ball, height adjustable desk, plants and meditation cushion.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you will see a lot more pictures. I am happy. I now need to make sure the family will enjoy the room as much as I do 😉

Other highlights this week include…
– I picked up my new passport from the embassy, so now got another 10 years until I go through that procedure again. By then I am almost 50 :-(
– My parents have been married for 45 years. Congratulations!
– We got logs delivered and I finally stacked them properly into my new shed, hopefully with another load to come soon. I am getting all domestic and prepare for the cold winter to come….or more autumn evenings like these. And yes, we had the fire on this week already!

Having the MIL around is great. As mentioned, not only could my wife come to London, we also had a lie in, lots of help and someone who enjoys and does a great job entertaining the kids. We got invited out to a new Indian restaurant, and got a chance to buy a picture frame without kids annoying you. Not that we mind, but sometimes it is nice to get some one-on-one time back.

In the meantime work is busy, steady but not mad. That’s good. With people coming back from holidays next week and week after, it will get busier in the lead up to dmexco, our biggest trade show of the industry. I am excited! Q4 will be mad but good.

That’s all for this week really.

Enjoy the best of the British summer,
Volker 😉

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Sunday Column (335)

We are back from a week off. Similar to Marissa Mayer from Yahoo, I believe that I rather take a week off, and that more often, than having a longer holiday. Particularly at the stage I am in life with family and job. As long as you don’t worry and don’t work that week at all, you can really wind down. And having a few ‘one weeks’ off a year suits us currently well as a family and also works best in my current work situation.

We went to Devon, glamping, glamorous camping, in a yurt. That was fun! Back to basic staying on an organic vegetable farm. The yurt was spacious, heated up during the day and was pleasant at night. The roof light made me wake up reasonable early, 6-7 am, so I fit in my exercise and meditation routine. The family stayed asleep.

The kids and even I slept 12 hours often, a real wind down, I am chilled. Back to nature, a roof light through which you saw the moon. The door opened to the East to get the morning sun in. A fantastic, peaceful setting. A somewhat miraculous space I have to say, and we could sit outside some nights enjoying the moon rise and a glass of wine. It was great. Unfortunately we had some rainy days too, so ended up driving home Friday night rather than Saturday during the day. However, this wasn’t due to dislike but a decision based on traffic, things to do and yes also comfort and weather 😉


The yurt experience was back to basics. Firstly, and most annoyingly, not even 3G coverage, no emails, no Facebook. Latter wasn’t bad of course but not being able to use Google Maps when lost, Strava for tracking your runs or looking at (personal) emails I found challenging. Yet it was a good digital detox. After two days I found a Costas, and then regularly free wifi in shops and tourist attractions to get my digital fix.

The toilet was wood chip based, or flushed, e.g. no water. The hand basin, both located a short walk up the hill, was ok to wash hands yet for UV filtered water to drink we had to walk down the hill to the farm. A power shower, solar powered lights and hot water were there too. Sustainable. That’s where we charged our phones, which batteries lasted forever not being used often, wifi turned off most of the time. That was a first.

It makes you think about rubbish, recycling and a self sustainable life style. A bit hippyish, sharing the communal space. We liked that. Veggies and fruit as much as we liked. Fresh eggs. However, we almost had a bad conscious eating our pre-packed chicken thighs and sausages from Tescos creating a lot of rubbish. Was there guilt?

Not really. They didn’t try to make us feel bad, it was us! What I mean by that is that one reconsiders. Could I buy things differently packed? In Germany when I was 14, so well over 20 years ago, they introduced a 5 cents (10 Pfennigs really) charge for plastic bags. We, in our environmental group, bought things in supermarkets which were packed a few times and unpacked them to demonstrate the amount of unnecessary rubbish. Nothing has changed but that I accepted the rubbish. Dropping principles I suppose, giving in to the money making machinery of supermarkets.

That makes me think. Did I accepted the fact that we pollute the planet, that I cannot afford individual wrapped sausages from the butcher, that I buy ‘convenience’ or that I, me personally, will not be able to change the world?
It is probably a combination of all of the above. I alone cannot change the world and life moved on, so I went the path of least effort and resistance. Why would I want to be the odd one out, trying to explain to others how it is done? I was never confident to do that, and also believe circumstances didn’t allow me to.

I would encourage it though. The hippyish lifestyle of our yurt owners is something to envy. The idea of living of your own land, sustain yourself, stick to your principles. And this is more a guess than me interviewing them about details. The bit to be a bit different. Hence it is nice to be back to basics for a week. Re-learning and letting the boys understand that not all packaged food has to be packaged and some food grows on trees. One can pick one’s own raspberries, beans, blackberries, salad…and collect fresh eggs. We try that at home sometimes too. So maybe we aren’t that bad after all. Maybe a week in the country side does help us to connect, connect with Mother Earth, in a very old fashioned hippy way. And it feels great, calming, soothing.

It almost feels romantic, giving something back to life, to humanity, to world peace maybe. Could I do it? I always used to say I am a banker and work 24/7 or a sheep farmer in the Australian out backs. Black or white, extreme. I am never going to be a farmer, rather a monk, and I don’t believe I will own a Harley Davidson driving through America either. No, I work more like the banker but with additional family time. I have just a usual life. Happy. Content in my own world. Probably just normal. Nothing wrong with it I suppose. Ordinary really.

That doesn’t mean I can’t dream or try. Every now and then escape. Being able to waste a day, being in bed doing nothing. Letting the kids roam ‘wild’ and enjoying the being in the now. Exploring the woods, nature and sitting on a wood chip toilet overlooking the countryside. Having a digital detox in a first world country.

It was a great week away.
We loved it.
A first trip of a journey back.

Love and happiness from my corner of the world.

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Sunday Column (334)

I am writing this post with a heavy heart. This is not only a post, it is an article I suppose about coping with change, making decisions and being self critical. I am sad, devastated. Yet the decision we made is final and right. This isn’t easy. But who ever said life was.

Whilst last week all looked very well with Rosie and we were hopeful to have new training methods that stopped her from jumping on people and snapping at them, we decided to give her back to her breeder after all. It broke the family’s and my heart. And the questions are asked whether we gave up? Did we fail?

We got Rosie despite knowing that C was scared of dogs. He turned out to be her best friend, and to that extend the person that loves dogs more than anything else. His whole attitude changed towards animals in general. He loves any animals and isn’t scared of dogs anymore. Rosie helped us to transform his life. But also she helped transform R’s life. He loved that dog too, and cuddled beyond acceptability, and she let him do it. True companion and friendship. This dog didn’t have a malicious bone in her, friendly, good with children, yet she needed a lot of attention too.

As you might remember we went a long way to get Rosie. A long journey every weekend. Proving that C would be fine with big dogs. We put a lot of research in which breed to get and settled for the GSP (German Shorthaired Pointer) as this breed is intelligent, good with children and easy to train, willing to run for hours. That was the plan, once Rosie was old enough, we wanted to take her on daily runs.

However, the main problem we had with her was her jumping up. This started from day one. The first dog trainer at early puppy stage said this was a puppy behaviour and you tackle it when they get older. And that is where our inexperience came in, we had to believe that dog trainer. As time progressed and she started jumping up and snapping at our kids, it was time for another trainer. Even at that stage we put it down to puppy behaviour, yet she did jump up on strangers, out of the blue, after excitement, without excitement. The kids learned (!) how to kneel down and seek cover when she ‘attacked’.

The next dog trainer put it down to the dog, saying maybe this GSP in particular wasn’t going to stop jumping and might have to be on a lead all its life. This wasn’t an option or isn’t an option for a GSP. So we soldiered on, always on the look out for strangers, then putting her on the lead if she was off it. We stopped going to the park or the beach as we couldn’t take the dog.

We tried more training. We went from buying a citronella collar, to almost buying an electric collar but couldn’t bring ourselves to do the latter. My wife spend hours training her, any free minute she had, sacrificing a lot. Yet it seems as if Rosie needed more than 3 hours of attention a day, taking the attention away from the kids. Rosie then jumped on R again at a walk a few weeks ago, and shortly thereafter on an elderly woman. There was nothing I could do, I had no control of that dog. For all I know, I could be in jail if that person had pressed charges or had had a heart attack.


Don’t get me wrong. There was not a bad bone in that dog. She wasn’t evil, just very excitable and very jumpy. A GSP through and through. And maybe the jumping was normal and will go away as she gets older. But maybe not. The snapping got worse and we continued to solve the problem. Yet, with her ‘attacking’ (playing with) a friend’s child and out of the blue, without any playing involved, coming up to C to snap his face (luckily nothing major happened), we felt we compromised on the safety of our children.

If we cannot trust the dog we love, the one we put so much hard work into, and yet the dog without prior warning comes up and snaps one of our children, a decision must be taken. Whether this is puppy behaviour, wrong training from our part, or whatever, the safety of our family and friends must come first.

We just had got another dog trainer involved who had the best approach yet. We are almost through the first year, her birthday coming up, how much longer can we wait? Will Rosie be ok when we go camping? We cannot put a GSP on the lead, can we? What if she decides to jump on a baby, another older person or seriously (if not deliberately) injures one of our kids?

Again, this dog is far from aggressive. She, and maybe it is just her personality, wants to play and expresses her needs by snapping at people. If she does that with a grown up, this might just be ok, yet not acceptable, but with elderly and children, vulnerable people, this isn’t going to work.

And yes, maybe we had to try it for another few weeks. Another, third, dog school. A gun dog trainer taking her away. And maybe she would have been fine. Maybe she would have hurt a child. We do not know. And giving her away for someone else to train didn’t feel like the right thing to do.

It is devastating. We miss her. It is one of those logical decisions, not emotional ones. I tried explaining it to the kids but one cannot. They will get over it. We re-homed our cat because of the dog. We cut our personal life and visits to friends short to accommodate Rosie and trying to make it work.

Yes she was a hard work, like any dog would be, to be dependent when you go on holidays, travelling in general, taking her for walks in bad weather, making a mess. The inconvenience she caused, not least of her behaviour, that limited us to do things, all that we could and would have and did deal with. She was the greatest joy and transformed our lives for the better. She taught me patience most of all. It is empty in the house without her. No one that greets you in the morning or when you come home from work. And, without a doubt, I would get a new dog tomorrow. But I suppose we wait for a while…before we decide on another pet.

I guess, my honest conclusion, is that we got the dog at the wrong time. A time when our kids still needed most attention and they weren’t in school yet. Also, I believe we got the wrong breed at the wrong time. A smaller breed, or quieter breed might have been better. One that might have needed less constant attention, less energetic. Whilst of course there is hassle, and the dependance, and all the negative things that come with a dog, we were happy to do that. I remember the pain of going to Germany, putting my parents through the experience of a hyper active GSP. This was all fun :-) However much inconvenience it caused.

This isn’t about blame. Whether the less experienced breeder had the right limitations with giving us the dog or whether we should have been less determined to get this breed. It is not about whether the breed is bad (which it isn’t, we would get one again), and maybe it was just Rosie’s personality. Maybe we did a mistake from the beginning or should have waited another few years. Hindsight is always easier. The only thing I would do if I could turn back time is to wait another 2-3 years before getting a GSP. So the kids can be more involved and hence the dog got more attention. Then again, more than 3 hours are hard to find…and I still wonder if there was something wrong with ours (Rosie).

But we don’t know and can only speculate. The decision was right. We were not able to judge if the snapping develops into a more malicious biting, and whether you could have friends with children around – and it wasn’t fair on the dog to put her in the crate when all others were playing? Or, we likewise didn’t know whether she might just stop snapping tomorrow. Speculations.

So we are glad the breeder took her back. Matter of fact she managed to re-home her with an experienced dog handler who already has a GSP. We are glad about that. I could have not brought myself to put her into a dog home. I love her too much. We couldn’t risk injury of the kids for the sake of a dog. And that is what the kids will understand over time.

Things in life, I tell them, happen for a reason. Rosie transformed us, tested our patience, was a true companion, a lovely cuddle and great friend. She was a challenge and we loved her. She gave the boys so much confidence in dealing with animals. She made us learn so much. Rosie, you will always have a place in our heart and we will miss you. When we put you in the car to drive you back to the breeder, you knew. Your eyes told me that you knew you were in trouble. Yet you loved being back with your sister and mother.

And we tried a lot to make it work. I hope, for my Karma, and for Rosie’s sake, that Rosie will be able to forgive us. That she understands that she wasn’t the right companion for us in the long term. That she went one step to far, and that we couldn’t bear the thought of her not being controllable. That she understands that we tried, and tried again but at the end of the day, the life and health of our family is more important than her. And I hope she understands that she enriched our lives, and will always be in our hearts. And that we love her. We cherish her and wish her well. And we believe we put her in a place where she will be happy.

Farewell Rosie. You have been amazing!
We lost a true companion.

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