Posts Tagged holidays

Sunday Column (450)

What a fantastic week we had. Taking some friends’ advice we went to Longleat Safari park. Monkeys all over the car, pooping on it too, yet no damage compared to other cars where rubber parts where hanging off after leaving the enclosure. Lions, Tigers – a proper safari out of the comfort of your own car. The boys absolutely loved it and we went on to see a few more animals, played in the play park, did some rides and went into a maze we almost didn’t get out of again. A full on day and three exhausted boys by the end of it.

Holidays. I never was one for taking much time off work, but given the last few months, which have been very intense, it was good to get away for a week. Centre Parks – you either love it or hate it – an organised week of relaxing, too much food, activities and family fun. Even on holidays I wake up early. Good for runs, taking care of the kids and letting the wife sleep. The weather wasn’t too great but we made the most of it.

We did a lot of swimming. What strikes me most is how grown up the boys are. You can let them go down the slides themselves, watch them loosely around the pool and things are alright. They are growing up so quickly. Too quickly sometimes. Having just finished their swimming lessons, they are now safe in most waters, subject to its depth. This takes so much pressure away. Food wise, they are still not experimental. That is a bit of a shame given the international cuisine available in the park. So pizza, chips and fish fingers are still winners πŸ™

Then someone shared a video about the Buddha and the Beggar.

This story reflects on any life. You trust that things work out. That life is going to be ok. Your job is ok. That you can continue to provide for the family. You give to others, as you are better off than others. I am trying to teach that to the boys that there are people that need help more than we do. They understand that, they donate to a partner school in Madagaskar, Africa. Everything you give comes back in life. This is like the energy system in mechanical engineering, mechanics. All forces in the system have to be equal. You give, you will be given. The forth dimension, time, is not being taken into consideration.

But let’s not be sentimental on holidays, you might think. The weather wasn’t nice at all, until finally Wednesday night we lit the BBQ. Yes. Result. I have been waiting for this the whole week. LOL. Burgers. Bacon and Cheese. Wine. Holiday mood, that’s it. Thursday turned out to be even sunnier. I managed to slightly burn myself playing tennis.

Whilst being in Centre Parks, we are thinking if we would return again. Two years in a row. The boys enjoyed fencing and archery. We did too. New experiences, new things to do. That is great. A safe environment, lots of swimming, food and little worries. Yet, of course you are confined to the compound. If the boys were older, they could go off, play pool and enjoy themselves without us. They are now in the “in between stage”. They still love crazy golf but are not 100% competitive to play it against each other. They play a bit of pool but aren’t good enough to compete against each other. Same for most sports. Whilst that is fine, I believe, given I grew up with a brother, that if they were 2-4 years older, they would just love to compete on various sports and run around all day. Cycling around the campus and spending their own money, making friends. On the other hand, my wife and I would love to show them more of other countries and experience, more variety of things. So that’s what we are planning for the next few years, yet probably come back to a Centre Park break in the near future. Or we ask the whole family to go somewhere in Europe for a week.

A great week. Just spending more quality time, not worrying about work and being there with the family is de-stressing. I don’t actually feel too stressed so no need to de-stress really πŸ˜‰ Just not having to worry about day to day was nice. And last but not least, I watched (too many) kids’ TV commercials. Clarks’ ones was the worse. They are getting a beating on social media for their gender ‘enforcing’ models. I asked the kids what they thought the advertising was about and they had no idea. Wow, I understand TV ads build brands but they aren’t really tailored to kids, or if they are, they seem too influential. Crazy. But I guess that’s the industry we live in, and glad we control a lot online in terms of targeting.

Anyway, I hope you had a great week too.

Cheers,
Volker

, , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (440)

Another Monday morning flight it seems, yet given the late spring bank holiday Monday, it was actually a Tuesday. A short week to get as much done as in a normal week. The usual rush, stress, escalations, de-escalations and so on. Just another week. Ups and Downs. I have to say, and this is common knowledge, my learning curve is exponential at the moment. As much as I love it, I hate it too. LOL. I am fine, honestly, actually I couldn’t ask for anything else.

Easyjet was delayed, again. Incoming. The weather was the reason and as my German colleagues confirmed, it must have been a bad storm sweeping through Hamburg. Never mind. I am not minding the idea of travelling less, which I will do from July. June is still fairly busy with events coming up in Hamburg and Munich. Also I need to see some clients in Frankfurt and Duesseldorf. As stated last week, I need more focus in London and the boys and wife are fed up of me being away every week. And understandable so. There is a fun aspect too. And the boys love the Gummibears I am bringing home. There is an adventurous aspect to some extend, but not regarding the ‘commute’ but to be able to make a difference, to have an impact. So when I used to travel every other week to different cities in Europe, that was different to me travelling at the moment. Then it was more about helping and advising; now it is more about day-to-day, doing a job in a different town. Not sure that makes sense.

The weather last weekend, and how else could it have been on the last spring bank holiday, was mixed, rainy, muggy. My wife did another 10K run (well done) and the kids and I went to Tailgate park near Crawley. A great day out, lots to do for the kids and we escaped the rain. Just. Some board games, a relaxing afternoon nap, lots of food and a movie. Chill out time prior to the kids’ half term. They enjoying a week off. Just doing nothing, sleeping a lot, and watching movies. Pokemon hunts. Mine craft worlds. Yes, they are having a good time. Lucky them. Brighton, Indian, candy floss, new cloths.

In other news, I think I am getting closer to making a decision on which car to get. Unfortunately I had to rule out the old Mercedes due to the lack of seats in the back. So I am back to dwelling on the Jaguar XJS vs. XK8. Former is older, hence more maintenance and likely needing some electrics sorted at some point. The latter is younger, yet certain engines are having little problems, and the car is not yet a classic. Also it is on average about 1-2K cheaper. I got myself another book to see what the status is on either. Whilst I still need to save up the money, it is getting closer to deciding which car to get. Focus is key. And not getting too excited is key also. Latter is the more difficult part it seems.

Further we are contemplating holidays. So far we booked the summer ones, and for half term in October we booked Legoland. We (I) wanted to stay in the Legoland hotel and do a two day trip to the park. It will be lots of fun. But we still got a few days left before/after where we need to decide on an action plan. We contemplated to go to Hamburg, but now the wife wants to come too, having seen the miniature world on YouTube. So this is maybe for another time when we drive to Germany. This is more cost effective for 4 people. Let’s see. Maybe a few days down at the sea, some days over in Devon or Kent. I am not sure yet. I love staying in the UK and exploring my adopted home.

Whilst I have to say that I try to stay away from politics, it might be at the time to air some thoughts. I cannot see Corbyn being our PM. Yet, I cannot see May getting the absolute majority either. What that means for our country – maybe a hung parliament, a strong opposition and a new referendum? Maybe, and only maybe the future is wide open again. Who knows if in 6 months time we might pull out of Brexit and return to a Europe which will support us, maybe even adopting the Euro as a currency. You will call me crazy. And I am. Yet if I had told you 5 years ago that Britain will exit the European Union and that we have solar cells in every roof tile and cars that are electric and accelerate quicker than petrol cars….you know where I am getting at? We can’t tell the future.

And this is exactly my point. Life is fluid. I don’t know where and if I work in 12 months time. I don’t know if cancer hits me when I am 42, 45 or never. We don’t know how life plans out. What was standard last year, might be no standard this year. House prices are going down in the UK and we having more people renting. 10 years ago this was unheard of. Nothing stays the same and we are in the midst of it. And we need to embrace it.

It took me a while to learn all of that. And whilst it is bl* obvious, we don’t live like that. We, as humans, are pre-programmed to worry about the future. That is what we do. So it becomes more difficult to be a Buddhist and live in the moment. We can train to not fear the future but we naturally do. Because fear drives us on, uncertainty and new situations. If we start embracing this, we manage better, become more resilient and succeed. In life.

As I mentioned before, the evolutionary coaching book I am reading helps me understand the obvious. Yet we are struggling to comprehend or wanting to comprehend. We refuse to accept and instead strive to fight what we actually should embrace. If you asked me today, that’s why I would love to coach people. Helping high achievers to push through that barrier. Helping people in my team to move the goal post. Because we can.

Enough for today. How was your week πŸ˜‰

Volker

, , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (439)

Hello friends. I noticed that, if I am awake early on Mondays, that this is good writing time. So I am on another flight. Just about 16 hours after I disembarked my last. Yet the last one was for fun. My wife took me to Edinburgh for the weekend. It was amazing. Not only did you not have to worry about the kids but could do all the grown up things kids are not interested in. Culture, sight seeing, castles and whisky tastings. Plus, my wife took me to a restaurant, allegedly the best one in Scotland, the Witchery, where I ate the best steak I ever had in my life (and I had a lot), and I discovered the most interesting and tasting Italian blue cheese I ever had too. What a great weekend. Thank you again.

Later in the week I got a belated birthday present. Two actually. One was the picture of a Buddha my youngest drew. I love it. I even got two copies, one for each office. How sweet is that? The other a book of pictures and quotes collected by my wife from my closest friends. It was very emotional to read the impact I can have on lifes. I love you too guys, and this is only the beginning. 40 is the time you turn up the heat, put your foot down and enjoy the wind in your hair. Because you can. Because you don’t know how much longer you can do it either.

So as I wander through the airport on Monday morning, I am tired. Of course I am. The cold I had is still lingering around. Maybe it is more of a hay fever. The weekend was exhausting. I am happy though and that’s what matters. I am trying to think how we best plan our holidays over the next year(s). Also, I am listening to my podcasts again. This time it is all about passion. That someone should not necessarily want to be like someone else, but everyone is an individual. Realising you don’t want to be Steve Jobs or Anthony Robbins is the first step to realise that you are not like them. As I have learned over the years, it is about what you can take from any of those individuals and how you can put it together to form your self. The podcast guest suggested that you shouldn’t quit your job and start working on your passion. A passion is still what you do in your own time. And if that takes off from a side project, so will be it. Those podcast paired with the book I am reading about evolutionary coaching just make a lot of things come together. What an amazing life we are living, and slowly it all seems to make sense. The dots are connecting more than ever before. Wow.

Discovering your passion as something like ‘helping others’ and ‘developing others’ is great. That’s what I did. And if you as a reader of this blog or someone reading my productivity book is interested in what my opinions are, then please share and get engaged. I am just someone with some strong opinions on certain topics. I believe I know how to set up a productive work life scenario and work efficiently for others. I believe I am mentally strong and have a good working routine. A routine that allows me to cope with the workload and life load. And whilst doing all that, I still have a lot of fun. I cannot see myself being the Jim Rohn or Darren Hardy or Anthony Robbins but I can envisage to offer seminars for lifes’ little tricks in years to come. Not in my 40ies though πŸ˜‰ And one of the reasons is that once I stopped university, I started learning. Life experience, personal development books and so on. Experience of others that helps me to go through life. And that experience is something I’d like to pass on. But I am far from perfect and yet have many years of (life’s) training to come. Embracing this makes it even so exciting. Evolution at its best.

Bad news this week are coming from Manchester. A terrorist attack killed teenagers and hurt a lot of people. Terror at a ’teenager event’. 22 people died. A 22 year old was named by the police. I am speechless. Those kids had their whole life ahead of them. A 22 year old, someone who just started out in life, what did he know? Was it hatred or religious reasons or just someone being confused. At time of writing I am not sure, but in the end it doesn’t matter. It is awful. My thoughts go out to those affected. And it impacts things in London. Fear of attacks, disruption and anger. United we stand. We will get through this, terror will never win.

In other news, as I still recovered from the weekend, I took it easy this week. A lot of work to catch up on, not too crazy tbh, and I managed to even fit in two saunas. I got a haircut in Hamburg (never as good as home) and caught up on a lot of catch up TV. I haven’t done that for a while, so a relaxing and very productive trip at the same time. Some me time to catch up on important things, testing my new Asics trainers which aren’t as good as the Nike. My pain creep back up running in the Asics but not in the Nike trainers. The weight of the shoes, the way I run in them etc. So the Asics are going back. I might still try some Ultraboost, but at least I am getting back on track. I even managed my first 10K in ages on Friday. Somewhat I haven’t been in a good place with running and the 24 hour race is coming closer with only eight weeks to go. So I better find the right trainers and the right mojo to make it. It’s going to be epic. It must be. Another wall to climb, to break through and move forward from.

When waiting for my plane on Wednesday I was wondering why those trips are so draining. And my conclusion is that you cannot do both of your jobs 100%. I am not sure if that makes sense, but I enjoy what I do. I chose my job to make it successful and be there fully, giving my best and make sure I have an impact. But by doing two jobs, it seems as if I do one or the other, and both only 90%. That is just not satisfying to be not as good as you could be because of restrictions you cannot change. Not sure that makes sense. Nevertheless the support from my boss, HR, colleagues is overwhelming. A great place to work. And so much more to learn and walls to climb. I definitely put my ladder on the right wall here.

However, I enjoy things as I used to. It is a cracking challenge, lots of fun with some really great people and amazing tech. Things are good, and I am not complaining. I am just tired this week, that’s allowed sometimes too I suppose. As the week moved on, my tiredness turns sleepless due to the heat. I am up most nights at 4:30. So I fit in the above 10K, a cheeky 5K and time with the boys before school. Challenging at times, but hey, isn’t that fun. 40 – life is only just beginning. Only now got I the tools to break through those walls. Keep them coming.

From my corner of the world, have a great week ahead. Enjoy the bank holiday weekend! Sun. Summer is almost here. BBQ. Family!

What else to live for?
Volker

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (400)

400 Sunday Columns. Wow. That’s 400 weeks, just about….seven and a half years. Well done me!

dont ever give up

Holidays. Yes, we spent a week in Centre Parks, Elveden Forest, last week. It was great. I have always been a bit sceptical of holiday parks. Yet I was very positively surprised. Given you can book a week, we had essentially four full days of fun, activities and (family) togetherness. And not too far to drive either. Maybe when the boys are older we consider a bigger accommodation or we might stay longer, but a mid week break with lots of activities was just right given their age. A run in the forest most mornings, some wine at night, take aways, good (?) and too much food, swimming, going down a cyclone (check out cyclone video: https://youtu.be/yggVvOid7TI, it scared Colin and me. Both of us luckily did not know what we got ourselves into), lots of water plays, hot tubs, wave pool etc. Then bowling, owls, play parks, cycling, pony riding, adventure golf and the list goes on. Fun. Utterly enjoyed a week off and away. Spending quality time with the family.

centre parks

For many years I have not been a big fan of holidays to be honest. I am quite content sitting at home doing nothing. I did that this year already whilst the wife had the boys in Scotland. And as the boys are getting older it is nice to go out and do things. Even though they fell to bed totally exhausted most nights. But that is how it should be. Wireless throughout helped to stay connected, yet I tried to stay away from social media as much as I could. However, being able to follow the news was nice or not so nice given the earthquake in Italy. I pray for my friends and families who hopefully are fine. I start to enjoy going away and experience things with the family and find new relaxation in doing so. It is nice and great to see the kids engaging in new environments and exploring new things. I believe it is good for them, and me, and the wife of course too. Centre Parks even offers baby sitters so we had a date night too. Result! Only things that lets it down is the quality of food eating out. Yet the spa visit whilst the kids joined a Pirates’ party was amazing. We even consider rebooking for next year already πŸ™‚ Maybe a different park though.

Above are the highlights of the week. I am mentally preparing for a new challenge, a new start of my career. If I say start, it is more of a new beginning. Already, I feel like this is the right move and things will be great. They will be different but I can make a positive change and move my career in the right direction. And, it will be a lot of fun, and hard work. Latter is what I enjoy a lot, so it is all good I think. Given tomorrow’s bank holiday, I look forward to a new start on Tuesday.

There is little else happening in my world at the moment. I am exploring options for diagrams for my new book, e.g. to outsource the drawings. Then there is still a lot of editing to be done which I hope to get done by end of year before publishing it next year – maybe. Time is the main challenge, as I have a few projects on the go at the moment. The other one is to see which or if I can get myself a toy for my 40th birthday next year. When I say toy I am thinking Porsche, Jaguar, Alpha Romeo, Audi….but to be honest I am not sure how much I have to spend and how much I want to spend for something I do not need, but I do want. Not sure if my common sense prevails over my appetite to own and enjoy. A fine balance to strike, and still a lot of money to earn, which then puts things into perspective I suppose. Maybe we postpone to my 45th….

digital agency

What is life all about? Fun, family and memories? Ownership and wealth? Creation and making a difference? I don’t think life is as black and white and I also think it is a combination of above. As a Buddhist it is definitely not about ownership, but about fun and enjoyment. Little attachment, lots of fun, as far as I am concerned. If you realise that, you can own too. Maybe a loop hole but there is no reason to not owning nice things as long as you are not attached to them and they are the only thing you care about. Health is sitting on top of all of this, and you cannot buy health. And if health isn’t great, you end up cutting your life short, excluding most of the above, no? It helps to drill on that every now and then and put life into perspective. And value one’s holidays. To allow the odd indulgence and enjoy life – not excessively but consciously, not knowing when it will end. Yet we must assume it won’t end anytime soon, else we will not be able to enjoy it as much. And this week we enjoyed ourselves a lot!

I hope to look back on life in a few years time or hopefully many years from now and I might even look at my blog and read this – and I’d like to think that most of my decisions and thoughts were right. And that we made the right choices for our little men and pushed them into a happy, content life! It is a balance what you say to them, what you explain to them and how. They suck up your explanations like a sponge and don’t question it at all. Dangerous sometimes.

To finish….I had a dream a while back. I was breaking into a bank and was with two friends. One of which I remember. And we stole some gold bars or tried to anyway, and got caught. Instead of going to jail we were told that we will find out in a few weeks time what would happen. So we went home. Whilst on holidays the dream came back to me. This time being anxious that I haven’t heard and they hadn’t been in touch. I was hoping work wouldn’t find out about me having broken into a bank and trying to steal gold. No, I didn’t think of nor executed breaking into a bank. But maybe that dream tells me something. About waiting for the gold to come to you and not chasing it? Of being patient and seeing the gold in front of you rather than stealing it? Or maybe it was about letting go of ownership and chasing the dream with a friend? Maybe it was just a weird dream. Any ideas?

Have a great bank holiday. Spend it with the people you love and cherish. Share your love and gold and avoid short cuts. Life is good and you should appreciate it when it is there. Don’t live the future dream, enjoy the now.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world,
Volker

, , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (390)

A busy week lies behind me. Draining. Even my 5 year old said he was ready for a week vacation. Bless.

Firstly I had to overcome the thought of not climbing my wall, overcoming my fear and challenging my body in 6 weeks time. I am a tad disappointed. It feels like I revert back to my swimming and kettle bell and running exercises as I have done, to keep fit, without a goal. I was asking myself if I should just do a marathon instead. But I still don’t fancy it. So the search continues for another wall. I keep you posted. Any ideas are welcome.

When running a 10K on Tuesday I felt drained, tired. I don’t sleep well lately. The swimming on Monday seems more exhausting than anticipated. 1.5K is my swimming distance and whilst it doesn’t seem that far, it does take a bit out of you. As a matter of fact you burn almost the same amount of calories with a breast stroke 40 minutes swim as you do with a 40 minute run. Who would have guessed.

Next week is Cannes. Less running, busy days, Rose fuelled. Maybe I take it easy for a week re exercise, reset the system and get on with it from the week after again. It almost feels as if I need some time off. Not long until the summer holidays.

Cannes for adtech

Cannes for adtech

I really feel that for the past 2 years I haven’t had a proper break. A detox of work, being responsive to emails. Just this week, reading another productivity article, I have been supported by my theory that those productivity principles don’t cut the cheese. Yes those gurus are right and my summary of the tools are right too. However the key to unlimited productivity lies in a personalised system. As every job, every relationship, every circumstances are different, we must apply a person based productivity principle. That’s the theory I am working on in my next book, to allow for a tailor made system. Being able to get your personalised productivity plan.

Having said that, Forbes published a video about that time bound work, 9-5, doesn’t work any more. And this is one of the overarching principles that will always apply. We are not machinery and each of us has peaks and troughs at different times of day and months. We must work with and in harmony with our own energy system to reach peak performance. Taking breaks every 90 minutes is essential.

What I have noticed is that I haven’t written much about my commute. Sitting in first class accommodation whilst writing this, you would assume it is fine. No, it isn’t. The conductors went on strike. But nothing changed. With the new trains they are fearing for their jobs. However, I understand that Southern and other train companies offered to retrain them and keep them as employers. This is supported by the train drivers, who don’t want to steer 12 carriages without a conductor, fearing to leave the cabin if anything happens on the train. Fair points.

Cut a long story short a lot of conductors are now long term sick instead of going on strike. Train drivers seem to join in a bit and we have lots of cancellation of trains. Today’s train is one in three they didn’t cancel, yet they made it 5 instead of 10 coaches. It is standing only, ram packed and by time we get to Gatwick it will be that full, that I can only assume what the visitors to Great Britain think of our rail system. It is disgusting really and has been ongoing for a while. The service, as you might remember from my last moans, has never been that great but now it is even worse. Lucky for me the air conditioning is working this morning. I saw a pregnant woman and hope she found a seat (she went to a different carriage) and elderly which I likewise hope got a seat. This is getting dangerous. Do I have sympathy with the conductors? I do and I don’t. They should go to work, take offers to be retrained or find a different job. Easier said than done but sometimes work is like that. They wouldn’t have to endure the journey. And another strike is looming next week.

I am wondering where that leaves us as a country. The looming Brexit, the conductor strikes, the shooting of an MP this week. Sometimes I fear this country that I adopted as my home is turning for the worse. I get scared sometimes. Just as we seem to settle, raise the family, and just want to get on with life, this is happening. Let’s hope we get through that turmoil quickly and back to the old British pride in the next couple of months. Very decisive weeks ahead.

At the end of the day it is what it is. You cannot change life. It is almost predestined. Your life overall. Family. Kids. Job. Success. Or not. The way you want to live your life. Whilst it all depends on you, at the end of the day you live the life you were told to live. That isn’t bad and you just carry on, be one of the many. However, some people are very successful in breaking those patterns. They break free and accelerate beyond what would be called the “norm”. They might take more risks than an average person, or they might just not go with the conformity.

I have seen a few changes with people recently which makes me think about the state of affairs. About motivation, external influence, and understanding of business. It might be a phenomenon of our industry yet there are too many people not investing in talent and or experienced managers. They think that they know it all. That they are untouchable. Yet the really successful people have strong, experienced advisors on their side, the ones that help scaling the business and introduce processes important to smooth growth. Hiring of top talent. Maybe I should do more consulting work, yet I enjoy what I am doing at the moment. My company is at the edge of the industry, pushing boundaries. I like that.

Predestined. That’s my word this week. I am not actively watching the Euro Cup yet I am looking at the results and fill in the wall chart for the boys. Who is going to win? When will we all dance like Swedish and Irish fans in harmony rather than rioting? Will there ever be peace?

My bags are packed. For now to go to Cannes. To go and have a few days in harmony. In peace with the industry and have some fun in the sun. Yet a strong business focus too. I hate to leave the kids for the few days, but I am looking forward to a weekend with them next week. The wife is away and I am in charge. We are going to have fun.

I report to you then.

Best wishes,

Volker

, , , , , , ,

No Comments

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 Β£450 we got it used for just under Β£100. I was chuffed, little did I know about tents… πŸ™

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰
Volker

, , , ,

1 Comment

Sunday Column (230)

Today my grandad would have been 105 if he was still alive. Strong headed, strong yet open minded. Very smart and great in Maths. He was someone I rate very highly. To this day and beyond.

We went on holidays, or to be precise ‘we went away’, to stay with my MIL (Mother in law) for two weeks. So it was more a change of scenery than real holidays as I continued to work during that time. I got loads done but also spend loads of time with the kids and enjoyed some time off. So almost perfect…

I took my own espresso machine and had great food, drink and fun. Not least at a wedding we went to. And almost daily I spoiled myself with some good food and/or indulgence πŸ˜‰ Holidays.

20130725-125232.jpg

Some nights or mornings we tried to all cuddle up in one bed. The boys enjoyed having me around all the time.

20130725-125244.jpg

And we went to a forest adventure park which the boys enjoyed too. Crazy to think that Scotland was once almost completely covered with those trees and woodland. Amazing. Overall the scenery, the outdoors in Scotland, are amazing. Rough terrain yet subtle colours. With the sun shining through the clouds or clouds throwing shadows on the purple coloured hills. I love it!

20130725-125254.jpg

The wedding was a great laugh and it was good to see some old friends again and win some new ones. Some people we haven’t seen for almost 10 years, or even longer. 12 years since I left Germany! I met with fraternity brothers and old school buddies alike. It was really nice to catch up with everyone. And this seemed to be wedding number three that my wife and I instigated, so better watch it LOL.

20130728-154448.jpg

Then there were two days in Rogart, an hour and a half on the train, then a night in a retired 1st class carriage. It is called Sleeperzzz and has retired carriages with beds, kitchen, shower and loo as well as an old bus and circus bus/wooden carriage. A great little village with no 3G reception (imagine me) but openBT wifi reception on a pathway between 3 houses on the way to the playground. We had a great family time and two very excited and exhausted boys.

20130731-183828.jpg

20130731-183839.jpg

Last but not least we were lucky with the traffic and made it home in good time on Saturday, after spending another night in a hotel in Preston. The boys loved the sleep over, were amazed by a hotel and we got a good rest before setting off at 5.30 am. This way the boys slept most of the way.

We also managed to hit the 60,000 mile-stone. I love our Seat Alhambra, it serves us well and gives us plenty of space for our rear facing car seats and plenty of stuff we had to take back home from the MIL. No further comments on the latter.

20130802-212047.jpg

Next week will be busy. Lots to catch up on, lots of people to catch up with. New routines, better diets and my own bed again.

Welcome home. Have a great week.

Volker

, , , , ,

1 Comment

Sunday Column (172)

Another week. As you might have seen I was off work moving house. Or unpacking to be precise, getting quotes for various jobs and getting annoyed at our vendors for leaving the place in a state…which is not what I define as “clean”, “cleared” or “good condition”. So we ordered a new dish washer already, the council to collect the rubbish, and we also managed to sort out the overgrown garden a bit.

Wow, an action packed week. Considering we have only been here for a week, we got a lot done. But we are quite stressed too. We noticed that we are running close to capacity, and this was supposed to be a holiday = relaxation. No? Och well, we manage, and we got so much done that we will hopefully have some time to relax over the next few weeks, not being too busy with tradesmen and site visits but with people sorting the house. Our home.

Latter is important. It feels home. I have arrived. We, as a family, have arrived. I now properly care about the place we live in, this is our family home, the place our children grow up in and will call home. This is our castle. Our place. H-O-M-E. Crazy to think. Not only that a three year old Colin looks at me and considers what ever I do as right, no we now provide him with what he will remember as his first home for the rest of his life. That is fantastic and scary at the same time. But we will try to do our best. For him. For Rohan. For us.

We are excited about the place. We got endless space considering we doubled the amount of bedrooms. We got good schools, good life style opportunities (Brighton, South Downs etc). We are living. We arrived. We are deeply satisfied, and we make this our place.

Shame is that I spend my holidays organising the move, the builders etc. rather than chilling out and playing with the kids. I did a bit and I enjoy it but I could do with so much more. Lost opportunities on the one hand but also a sacrifice for a better home as described above. Finding that right balance is yet a challenge for me to overcome but I will manage. I am confident I will.

Tomorrow I go back to work. A longer commute which I will manage fine given my iPad. Speaking of such it played up this week and I had to fully restore it. Not happy! Then my iPhone played up but with a small trick I managed to get it sorted again. Puh!

On Thursday afternoon I went off to a friend’s wedding in Berlin. The good thing was to leave the house and the trouble and thoughts behind. Good to chill, get some distance and relax, meeting old friends from school, and getting some “me time”. Quite selfish I suppose but we didn’t know that we were to move the week before the wedding, did we? It worked out well. On the other hand my wife got some time off from me who was going at a 100 miles/hour for the past 2 weeks sorting the move.

Enough, tomorrow my new life properly starts. The next 20 years or so. Trust in the universe, things will sort itself out. That’s what Steve said.

Berlin: maybe a few words. I wrote a lot about Germany before, so not sure if I want to warm anything up. However, being able to go across Berlin for 3 Euros on public transport is unbeatable. Not comparable to London I suppose, thinking of having to cough up a few hundred GBP for my monthly (!) travel card. But Berlin is great. People are nice, Germans are nice (despite my comment on Facebook that they don’t queue and are rude by jumping queues, pushing their luggage into the overhead compartments without considering others – quite selfish), and well known for their quality and engineering skills. Latter I heard a million times this week from the tradesmen trying to sell us doors and windows.

Germans know how to “build to last”. That is where we are at. Putting down the foundation for growth, for a future that is going to be build to last a few decades. Something to look back to when you are all grey, old and retired.

I also visits the Reichstag. A historic building making me think a lot about German history. Amazing to think what this building hosted and what decisions were made here over the years.

I am drifting a bit. Enough said for another week of fun. I am physically exhausted but happy. I am eager to get back to my routine, our routine, and work. I haven’t checked my work emails for the past two weeks either. I didn’t even have time to stay on top of my private ones.

So there we are. Two weeks of holidays come to an end.

Have a fantastic week,
Volker

, ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (125)

This week we went on holidays. We rented a berth at Sandy Balls in the New Forest as recommended by some good friends of ours. The environment our berth is located in is fantastic. Lots of forest (New Forest, I guess you got the hint), open fields, narrow roads, country houses and cottages. England as you love it. It is only about 2.5 hours drive from home, of which Colin slept most of the time. So we arrived for a 3 pm check in and started exploring what this place was about. Unfortunately it started raining, so we ended up in the pub with some great local ale, pub food, and a kid’s disco.

I can imagine, at some point in my life, to move to the country side. The English, Scottish or Welsh country side to re-build a cottage, build a Huf House or just move to a renovated propery. Who knows. Life is great out here.

The moment we arrived you could see that Colin got so excited seeing something else, exploring something new! In hindsight he got over excited so that we only could get him to sleep around 9:30 at night. By that time I had a few naps on the couch and my wife was exhausted too. This didn’t improve over the next few days, no matter how we tried to tire out our wee man, he just wouldn’t settle. I guess an older boy would understand and you could communicate with him, a younger one, like Rohan, just doesn’t bother. The joys of taking 2 year olds away from home πŸ™

So that was day one. I am normally someone that says, I don’t want to go on holidays. It is more comfortable at home, you know what you’ve got, and you have internet. But how important is that all? I can do most things via my Android phone, and a week’s break from my Google Reader won’t hurt (although even that could be accessed via the phone). But you quickly realise how unimportant emails or work become. I am here to quieten my mind, shut up about work and relax. And I did. I finally got some distance between work and myself. For the first time in almost 20 months to not check emails every day. That was about time!

I guess holidays as such are about choosing. Choosing what you want to do and how you want to do it. A concept that I am still mastering. This sounds sad, but from my personality I like to work, get things done, organise and manage things. But since I got my boys I notice how priorities are shifting. I believe it was the Dragon’s Den Duncan Ballantyne’s wife who said in an interview once that Duncan is very good to judge when things are important and when they can wait. I guess it is just a small step up from my work life balance and productivity theories. It is like productivity of not being productive, a clear form of prioritising as my wife would say πŸ™‚

Now day 2 was rainy. Whilst I don’t want to go into much detail on how we got soaked first in Salisbury, then at Stonehenge, we had a fantastic day nevertheless. Colin was, due to sleep deprivation, very grumpy and slept everytime we were in the car. I was tired beyond normal and got a mayor headache that could only be cured with wine at night πŸ™‚ I learned that day that no matter how tired YOU are, and how awful the weather is, YOU have to be there for your kids. Not a great revelation but more of a “I don’t care if you are buggered dad, you are the one that I rely on, you are the one that makes sure I am safe“. This holiday I am learning to be a grown up, to be a father and dad to my two boys.

I don’t want to give you a breakdown of every activity. We did fantastic walks, got rained on more and ended up in a lovely country pub which home made food and local ale. Colin enjoys using his balance bike, and he just loves to be outside. Rohan is just himself, coping well with his first teeth. My wife and I enjoyed a great time away. Much better than anticipated.

Looking back we had a few fantastic days away. Holidays are good for you, and they give you some distance to everyday life. This let’s you concentrate on what is really important: your family and kids.

So we came home on Friday to a new washing machine as the old one died after I put a terpentine (floor wax) drenched cloth in it and it ruined not only the washing but also the whole machine. We now got a washer dryer, just in time for autumn, at least weather wise it looks like we are moving into the darker seasons again already soon.

I am not dreading to go back to work next week, but for a long time I noticed again that there is a life beyond work. Ask me again in 2 weeks if that feeling persisted πŸ˜‰

Have a great week,
Volker

, ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (74)

As of the last two weeks, our wee family has been on holidays. Hence I am not sure where to start. Maybe with a family picture taken in Skye:

We took our XC90 from London up to Scotland on a few hundred, or more over 2,000 miles stretch. Whilst it took almost 2 hours to get out of London, the rest of the journey up North was ok. We drove from London all the way to Paisley outside Glasgow. From there we drove up to Skye the next morning where we spend the weekend with a really good friend who really spoiled us and hit off the holidays nicely. On Monday we went to Dingwall where my wife is from, and from there we drove up to Orkney for the remainder of the week. We stopped at a few distilleries on the way and had a fantastic time. I have to admit that I love the XC90. It is comfortable to drive, easy to drive and one feels safe in it both for us but also, and more importantly, for Colin. The idea of a rear facing car seat and the decision to buy a car that fits those requirements was definitely right. However, being on Orkney, a warning light came on that there is something wrong with the transmission. A local garage checked it and it seemed to have been a wrong signalling from the sensor. Never mind, just getting the car checked every now and then seems to be an expensive hobby πŸ™ So far the car has costs more than anticipate, given the size of the engine it also eats on insurance and tax. We shall see how much use we make of it over the next 12 months. Having a family and being able to have a car at our discretion is important and helps a lot. Unfortunately, we don’t have the option to downsize due to the car seat and size of ourselves. And actually, I love “the machine” πŸ˜‰

And Colin was great too. I finally got time to spend whole days with him. He was ok driving too, and I had a fantastic time being with him in every aspect of his day. It even went as far as that Colin cried when I left the room. Now I know how it feels to be a “mum” πŸ™‚ He took his first steps just before we left London, however being in Skye he walked for at least 15 steps. At the end of the holidays he is walking properly, and he also looks very cute pulling up his shoulders when walking πŸ™‚ His interaction is more fun and he starts tidying things up. At his great auntie Sally’s home he spent all evening tidying away cloth pegs. He also laughs so much. The only draw back of a long journey and the sight seeing is that Colin fell asleep in the car and we had to wake him up every 30-45 minutes to stop somewhere and do some more sight seeing. You felt sorry for him being fed up with being driven and pushed around, so we made sure we put a few hours play into our daily routine in either granny’s house or the local play areas. I managed to spend most mornings in the second week playing with him, and we had great laughs. He is so much fun to be around. I fully enjoy being a dad and seeing my son grow up. We got so many compliments from people of how handsome he is too πŸ™‚ He is really taking after me!

The picture above was taken in Skype, below are the Churchill Barriers where you can still find wrecks of the boats that sank in the 2nd World war at Scapa Flow.

The first week we went to Orkney on a 90 minute boat journey and spend almost a whole week there. Jen’s family on her father’s side is from Stromness and the person in the garage where we got the car checked out was related to a Clouston too. A small world/island. So we met some aunties of which one had a dog. Colin took some time but ended up loving the dog and play with her. That was fantastic to see him engaging with animals outside his comfort zone. We visited some historic sites like the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae, Maes Howe, St. Magnus Cathedral, Churchill Barriers, Scapa Flow, and the Italian Chapel. You can google them all yourself, but Jen put a very nice programme together. Funny enough Colin’s godfather and his wife were on the island at the same time we were, so we met them too, mainly to see the Highland Park distillery. That was a bit disappointing as they outsource quite a bit of work to the mainland, e.g. the Highland Park Whisky is not 100% made in Orkney πŸ™

Orkney is one of those places you automatically fall in love with. So was Skye and the Westcoast. But whilst Orkney is rather cold and windy, the light makes the environment come out in various colours and let’s the island show off its beauty. I find it nicer than Skye personally, although I could imagine living in either of them. However, that wouldn’t be before retirement age unless Talisker or Scapa distillery would offer me a job πŸ˜‰ It really brings up our current discussion on where we want to bring up children, where we want to live etc. Maybe the UK, maybe Scotland comes back on the decision matrix?

Now I have written a bit about the whiskys. I got some “Distiller’s Edition” of Talisker, Clynelish, and Lagavulin (I know it is an Islay Whisky but they all belong to the Diageo Group which now owns 26 distilleries of the over 80 in Scotland). On the way back to Dingwall we stopped at my most favourite Whisky Distillery in the Highlands: Dalmore. I treated myself to one of the last two bottles of Dalmore MacKenzie 1992 they had sitting about. Ach well, I can either keep it for Colin and by then the bottle might be worth above Β£1,000, or I can enjoy it. The choice might be clearer than I originally thought πŸ˜‰ Hence we actually tasted this “golden nectar” with a good family friend in Dingwall.

From the second weekend of the holidays, we stayed with the Mother in Law in Jenny’s home town, Dingwall. We attended yet another wedding where, although we only spend the evening there, I managed to get quite tipsy πŸ˜‰ Also, we met with good friends from our time in Aberdeen in Inverness. Most have families now, so it is weird to be all “grown up”, seeing them with children (and vice versa I suppose), meeting at places where the kids can play, seeking child friendly places. I still find it difficult to comprehend that I am not “mummy’s boy” any more, not being looked after, not going to university or school with no or little responsibility.

Having some time off, I had lots of time to reflect and think where I am in life and where to go. Jenny and I have many ambitions, plans and ideas but we both agree that we need to focus on where we get the best in life for our children. It is about opportunities for my career, for our children’s education and the society our children grow up in. But it is also about happiness, environment and the combination of all of those factors above. The future will tell, and Scotland is not out of question for a place to settle down at some stage in life….at the latest when I retire πŸ˜‰ Then I might be smoking cigars similar to the one you see on the “snapshot” my wife took of me on the ferry crossing. Daddy Cool I guess – just being me, being on holiday πŸ™‚

I think that finalises our two weeks holidays, but of course a final and first game of golf at a lovely golf course in Fortrose. I think I might seriously consider playing golf. However, it might have been the last holiday for a while but I explain that maybe next week. Of course my wife will put more pictures up soon and share them with you. Let me know if you haven’t received them but would like to. The collection here are just a few chosen ones, but I have seen some of the ones my wife took, and they are amazing pictures. Yes, I am sure she will be starting a career in photography sometime soon πŸ˜‰

Enough said. Two weeks. Thanks to modern technology I was connected to work, emails and Facebook. Should have I? Again, a question to be answered once you figured out what is the most important thing is in life. And, currently, that might just be the little fella looking around the screen of my laptop, shouting at me typing.

I better get off now.

Thanks to my wife for organising a fantastic trip and time away.

Volker

, , ,

No Comments