Posts Tagged europe

Sunday Column (457)

Monday Monday. Oh yes, nothing like a 2 hour drive in the taxi on a Monday morning to Heathrow. Longest ever; normally it takes 1.5 hours max. So a bit of adrenaline this week to get to my flight, which ended up boarding late, and everything was fine. Being rushed I ended up grabbing the wrong breakfast and feel just so much better about the week ahead 😉 BBQ Pork for breakfast. Yeah 🙁 Calm, breathe. Life is good, and fingers crossed, I have yet to miss a flight. 25 trips this year so far. That’s on average every other week, and more to come. Wow, the most I have travelled in years. And I keep saying it is getting less, but I haven’t got any more news on that at the moment. I believe it isn’t actually the travel as such but doing an additional job that takes focus away from what I wanted to do in the first place. However, I know there are changes on the horizon, and hopefully they will be good for me. One must believe that moving forward things will turn out the way they should. Believe in the future and that the dots will connect looking backwards. And they always will.

Weekends. Trying to spend more bonding time with the boys we went on a long walk down Littlehampton beach last weekend. It was nice and we all just love being close to and at the sea. The noise of waves coming on shore and then the water disappearing into the pebbles. It is great and calming, it makes you feel far away from home, on holidays. Balancing life.
We also upgraded to the latest iPhone 8 this weekend. A bit of a hiccup, we had to go twice as only passports or UK driving licenses are accepted for having a credit agreement – no German driving licenses or ID cards. But we got there in the end, and it was probably the first time I used my UK passport for something official. The new phone is great, but not much of an advancement in comparison to the 7, and just a slight improvement from the 6s I had before. The main differentiation is water resistance, wireless charging and an improved home button. Having a hardware contract with Apple now, means we are eligible for an upgrade from 12 months and have a 12 months pay monthly deal with Vodafone. This gives us the opportunity to get a new iPhone every year, something I always aimed for. But nowadays the innovation year on year is getting smaller, hence the need to upgrade yearly is less. Anyway, let’s speak about that in a year’s time, as technology and face recognition will move on.

In terms of data, it was easy to restore the iPhone. Everything gets backed up in the cloud but my gratitude journal didn’t. Since February I have been writing a daily gratitude journal which seems to have vanished. This is a bit of a shame. It is a great practise to reflect once a day on all the positive things in life. I wondered if I ever look back at it…guess for now I won’t 😔 I will no longer trust an app, but instead will write the journal on Evernote. Maybe it is my fault for not backing it up properly and then restore it, but then again if it isn’t an obvious process in the app. Never mind. The NHS app I used for 5 years with my BMI/weight data has also vanished, but luckily I had a back up in Evernote. I just love Evernote! So for anyone who hasn’t seen my posts about it, please do use Evernote to track everything. I write my blog on it as it syncs cross device and I can edit it on the go, then copy and paste it later. I collect my Thursday Flash links in it and take all my meeting notes on it. Evernote for everything!

Germany. If short, I stayed two nights in Germany, Hamburg, this week. I went for a walk after work as I still can’t exercise, go to the sauna or gym. I overworked my back after the initial minor surgery, so I now need to wait until it heals properly. It takes longer of course. I reflected on my relationship with Germany, thought about whether I could live there again. I like Hamburg, enjoy the organised life and the city is just georgous. However, I also feel like that about Munich. In Germany, the cities are nice and green, not too big, and one can find a good life life balance within the city or close proximity. It is just right. But it doesn’t feel right. Just because things are ticking all the boxes doesn’t mean they are right for you. Logic doesn’t always prevail. Does that make sense? If your mind isn’t in it, it doesn’t make sense.

I suppose you can achieve the same in the UK but maybe not in London, maybe in smaller cities, or only at a price that is reserved for the few. Yet, I am very happy with my life in London, being able to have the best of both worlds, balancing both village life and city career. Germany yet somehow doesn’t appeal to me anymore. The latest elections aside, and the negative movement towards right wing politics, Germany is just another country – and where I grew up in. After moving to the US 25 years ago, I learned what life could be like in a wide open space and I enjoyed something bigger than what I had at the time. Germany, and to a certain extend Europe, is a place that can get too small. And if not physically, I feel like I couldn’t permanently live in Germany, as it would be too small for me. Not sure if that makes sense. Sometimes village life gets like that too, and without the escapes to London, it might not be for me either. Freedom – that’s what I associate with the open space I experienced. Like the pubs in New York that just have space. Or you find a 20 lane bowling alley in the middle of town with 15 pool tables. The space you have, the freedom you feel. And, as Europe moves towards Brexit, maybe Europe is just not the place to be in a few years time. We shall see.

Those are my thoughts this week. Of course there are more but I don’t want to bore you. Interesting chats about politics with a taxi driver in Germany. Booking of my next trip to Belgrade, Serbia, which will be new experience.
There were days I took the kids to school and felt very privileged to spend more time with them. They are my purpose and priority.

Another busy week and a week of no travel ahead. That will be nice and I have lots to do with the team this week in London.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Brexit – some personal thoughts

I have been in the UK for pretty much 15 years. That is almost as long as I lived in Germany in any one go, as I left the country when I was 15 to spend a year in the USA. I have seen democracies and understand that the people are the ones in control. When I was young, too young to understand politics, the Berlin Wall came down. That is now over 25 years ago. However, I still vividly remember the visits to East Germany. The discussions with my granny who we took back to where the Russians tried to harm her and the family in the war. The place where my grandad took his two boys, probably not much younger than mine, on his old motor bike to drive them to freedom.

My generation has been lucky. No wars and no conflicts in Europe. We have heard about the war and have been repeatedly told about the evil Nazi machine which had a humongous influence on my grand parents and of course my parents generation. My generation broke free from that. I broke free from Germany 15 years ago.

When I left Germany the primary goal was to study in a more international environment. An environment that supports me. I couldn’t even count the amount of different nationalities that I met whilst studying in Scotland. Then I met my wife and we consciously decided to move to London, a cosmopolitan city open to the world, where we still live – at least in its proximity. This is where my boys were born. This is where I (re)build a base to bring up my boys in a safe environment, with a good education, and where I can pursue both my family life but also my career. Easy access to Europe via Gatwick and Easyjet (and other airlines but I am also part of generation Easyjet).

I never bothered to get the British passport. My boys have both passports: German and English. I work hard and don’t see them often enough to teach them German. Maybe that has to change now. They need to have access to a wider world than ‘England’.

What does Brexit mean for me? I don’t want to leave. I choose this country to live in and bring up my family. I have been planning for the next 20 years to stay where I am, probably longer given retirement age. My pension fund is here, my investments, my mortgage, my bank, my friends.

Here we go with a video from the Wolf on Wallstreet, summing up my mood:

Yet of course we are contemplating. Should we go elsewhere. Would I need a British passport. I shouldn’t have any problems getting one but what for, in a free and open Europe? I guess I got 2 years to decide, and maybe they give me one because I am married to a British citizen? I am not too worried that I will be kicked out of the country and I don’t think that the discussions around ‘immigrants’ that fuelled the Brexit vows are meant against people like me. At least I’d like to think so.

However, it still leaves a bitter taste. There are people in this country, and from what I gather the majority, that don’t understand. People that go with propaganda, the same kind of propaganda Hitler once used. Of course it works, and if you get enough critical mass, you will win a petition.

I am hoping we won’t execute on the petition. There are so many rumours at this point in time, that we will never leave the EU and that article 50 to start exiting the EU will never be executed. We will get a new Prime Minister, the opposition will fall apart over the next couple of months, re-elections etc. The country will reset. The majority of people that are leading the country will have seen the fall out by then, the damage already done, and will do their utmost to stay within the EU or make sure that the impact of us ‘leaving’ will be minimised.

Brexit

Where does that leave us?

I think we stay of course. We are settled here, grew our roots. However, it will leave a bitter taste of knowing you are less welcome that you ever were. That the majority of this country doesn’t understand the wider consequences. Democracy doesn’t differentiate between people’s intellect. And quite frankly it shouldn’t. We are living in a democratic state. And hence I am confident that the government will look at the petitions, the damage done so far and will paddle back. Just in time to limit the damage.

And over the years we will see other countries doing the same, until eventually, the EU will fall apart. Until another person, state or power will try to reunite us again….this is up to the younger generation, which luckily are the future of this country. And they overwhelmingly voted to stay in.

There is hope.
There is a future.

Let’s work positively towards a better Britain, remaining in Europe!

PS: By time of publishing, this might be already out of date. Things unravel very quickly here in the UK.

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