Posts Tagged renovation

Sunday Column (511)

India. This week was my first trip to this beautiful country. Like most business trips I mainly saw the hotel and the office, besides a few bus trips and an additional day spent on a temple tour. So at least I got some flavour of what the old town of Chennai, Mylapore, is like. The temples, the way Hindus celebrate religion and how India developed. Included was a ride on a motorised rickshaw or tuk tuk which was a lot of fun given the crazy traffic. When most people travel to India for the first time, they have a culture shock, I didn’t so much.

I guess I have been in the job a while now, and I have been working with my Indian colleagues quite intensively. So for me it was a lot about putting a face to the name, connecting to real people in person. People I have known. Also, it reminded me of other emerging markets, e.g. Cairo where I spend some time in 2006 and also Thailand in 2007. A combination of emerging, high tech offices and crazy traffic; cows on the road, dogs, and organised chaos. I enjoyed India, Chennai to be precise, and hope to return many times over the next few years.

The friendliness is amazing. I have many Indian born friends in the UK, and I have to say, I love the culture and people. They are very friendly, forthcoming and helpful. The food for one is very flavoursome, yet after a week, I was glad to have something more Western tasting again, I have to admit. Being able to visit the team, and particularly work with my colleagues in one location, was not only useful from a job perspective, but it gives it the human factor. Too often do we underestimate the power of real, personal meetings. There are things you cannot achieve via a video conference, it just isn’t the same. Also, people from a variety of backgrounds in the business joined, location and function wise, which gave it an even more important angle. A fantastic trip!

What I missed most were my boys. Seriously. I couldn’t wait for today, or yesterday for you readers, to take my youngest to karate. That is the thing I do with him, and I missed that last week. Then we had the boys’ rooms re-plastered and made decisions on furniture. Exciting times for us, but foremost for the kids. It’s great to see them excited about their new bedrooms and seeing the walls being done. It feels like the last bit in the house we haven’t touched, and it is good to know we are now 100% done … when do we start again 😉 I suppose with a house that’s how it goes. Once you finish, you start over again. You are never really done.

And over the weekend, and my colleagues said I talked about it a lot, I ran 22 miles or 35K in preparation for my marathon. Yikes, this was hard. Still not 100% recovered from my cold, and exhausted and jet lagged. It had to be done though. I must have spoken about it a lot, as most of my focus outside work is going into it at the moment. That’s a good thing I think, however I don’t like the time away from the family at the weekend. Three more weeks to the big day. Fingers crossed.

Could life be any better I was asking myself this week. What do you think? I am very happy. I find the job is going well, things are progressing and privately we seem to get into more of a flow too. Life is good. Is it good for you?

Have a great week.
Volker

, , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (333)

July. A month that is traditional quiet, even in media. Not so for us this year or last year tbh. Whilst a few meetings got moved about, and yes you could argue a lot of admin catch up is going on, there is also still a lot of work todo. It doesn’t seem to stop, which is good I suppose.

Also, which doesn’t seem to stop, is the renovation work. Finally we made some progress. Builders, with all due respect, are not easy to handle. You kind of know you have to pay a bit more than anticipated. And you know they are dodgy or sleazy somehow. Not all of them, and the one we have is really good, and does a great job too. Yet, in stereotypical manner, they are what they are. Two more projects to finish, then we are done.

We also saw the dog trainer – that is good news. It is a bit down to us, a bit down to the breed and a bit down to the dog and its age. But overall we learned a lot more about what we have to do with Rosie to keep her stimulated, and train bad behaviour out of her. Nothing anyone before told us in that way and it looks like she is a keeper. After a very stimulating 2 hours work with the dog trainer she was mentally exhausted. Fantastic, yet a lot of work we still have to do with her.

Creative Space

Now, maybe I write a bit about my plan for our spare bedroom. When we moved to Hassocks we got a 4 bedroom house, with the intention to turn one room into a guest room/office. However, I noticed we don’t have too many overnight visitors and often they come alone. So we have an extendable bed/sofa bed and a height adjustable desk. This in itself is great but when you start putting a 22 inch screen and an iMac on it, it gets too small. My dream was to get a big office, with a desk for the family with the desktop, printer, Jen’s stuff for her photography etc. and a desk for myself or later the boys to hot desk with a 2nd screen to increase productivity. This is now happening. I am excited!

Also, we reduced the amount of books, reducing the shelf space needed. Based on that we free up floor space for both a green grass carpet and an orange bean bag. The room, to increase harmony and productivity and stimulation will have grey and green walls. The walls will be getting motivational quotes, a Buddha wall paper, white board and furthermore some pictures.

Overall we aim to create a creative, yet energetic room where anyone can relax, use it as a second living room without a TV, read, work or study. A family room that is used for work, play and fun. Whiteboard sessions for the family, boys, or work; Flipchart demonstrations and planning sessions for anyone. Top of that, it is a guest room, ironing room, laundry room and meditation room. Calm yet energising.

Once the new carpet is in and we have the first walls painted, I shall post some pictures. Hopefully you agree with me.

I am excited about the room, the space and the possibilities. Hopefully the wife and the boys agree to use it regularly for all kinds of activities.

Stay tuned and have a great week. I don’t believe next week it is going to be August already!

Cheers,
Volker

, , , , , ,

1 Comment

Sunday Column (332)

I survived, actually really enjoyed the long weekend with my boys. Having dad time is great, yet juggling the school run, taking the dog for a walk, particularly in the rain, with two little ones….anyway, it was all fine. The kids seemed to have enjoyed it and I did too.

This week at work it was still busy. Looks like next week a lot of people are on holiday, then another busy week and July is already gone. Wow. Time flies when you are having fun! We interviewed for a German Sales Director position based in Germany and are in the process of appointing someone soon. So that’s good news, we are moving forward. Lots of things to do, targets to achieve. Exciting times.

On the private side of things I am looking at my health again, my exercise patterns, my sleeping patterns. I am tempted to experiment more. My 18K run encouraged me to extend my running cycles but looking at having to spend 2 hours running and being tired for 2 days, just doesn’t work for me. My ambition is to stay fit and healthy. Also, my leg pains are back, not as strong, but I believe it might have to do with my shoes. If you run 20K a week, 800-1000 km are quickly done. Time to get new trainers.

So this week I went back to a 10K, a 5K and another 10K over the weekend. This plus 2 sessions of kettle bells and 3 sessions of own body weight exercise, plus my 10,000 steps a day, keep me fit. Given I continue to eat healthy, I shouldn’t put on more weight.

xk8

What’s my aim?
I want to spend as little time as possible away from my family exercising. I want to stay healthy. I don’t want to regain the weight I lost.

Along those lines I have been looking into my sleeping patterns and the 90 minute cycles. I seem to really be refreshed after 6 hours of sleep (that is 6:30 in bed). 4×90 minutes. I wake up ready for the day. The next one would be 7:30 of sleep, e.g. 8 hours in bed, catering for half an hour of going to sleep.

So rather than sticking to a 5 am start, I might change to a 6 am start but a later time to go to bed? It is all about routine, accepting your body’s internal rhythm and monitoring what works for you, extending on what you have learned. Personally, I find that very interesting and fascinating 😉

mercedes

But let me not bore you with all that. On other notes, our dog got into a habit of jumping up on strangers, licking them and ‘play biting’. Nothing malicious yet unacceptable behaviour, particularly with older people and children. So we seeing a specialist to hopefully get on top of that. She is otherwise such a lovely dog and has positively transformed our kids’ lifes over the past 12 months.

We are also in the process of renovating upstairs. Good bye artex ceilings, new skirting, new design/outlay of our spare bedroom/home office and some electric work on top, matching downstairs’ design. Last but not least we are getting new carpet too. Exciting times.

There is not much left to renovate now, a bathroom and a shower room and my long anticipated driveway….all that to be concluded for my 40th when I then park a birthday present on it…the dream. I will continue dreaming 🙂 See pictures.

Not long now! Things are falling into place.

Whilst summer is on and off, we managed to have a lovely BBQ with friends today, enjoying some of the outdoors, a good chat and some wine 😉

I hope you had a great weekend too.

Stay tuned,
Volker

, , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (268)

Short weeks pass quicker they say. After a stunning and great wedding last weekend, we went back to work on Tuesday. I went for a run on Monday, then again on Wednesday, trying to get back into shape. I enjoy my exercise and don’t mind the early mornings as much.

I also got introduced to proper Indian music – rhythmic style 😉 I played it all over this week, kind of motivating!

The house is coming along nicely. The builders have left, the kitchen surface is due to drive next week and the fireplace and decoration has been done. We are getting somewhere. Unfortunately we have to do some more essential work, including repointing and replacing the cladding. It is never ending but hopefully we got most things done before the winter comes 😉

My pride, besides the whole place really, is my Sonos sound bar. An ease to put music on, stream radio or enjoy the sound of the TV. Also, of course, my fish tank with the fishes recovering. Only one fish loss so far, so fingers crossed. We get there at the end. Plus, I cannot wait to get the new couch, sit in front of the fire and listen to music. Three things that will just go well together.

20140423-075209.jpg

We spend the weekend cleaning our place, testing the burner, buying coal and wood logs, cutting the grass (after getting our lawnmower back) and all that without the boiler working. That one gave up on us Friday night. Wow – what else can happen next?

Reflecting on the last few weeks we have been busy and stressed. It is difficult, particularly for the wife, to entertain a 3 and an almost 5 year old whilst having builders in. No matter how patient you or the builders are. That and not having a functional kitchen makes it difficult. The amount of take aways was disgusting to be honest, no use of the gym in the garage and no 7 minute circuit work out.

This is hopefully due to change; saying that I did come down with a cold and the cough the boys had for the past few weeks. Deos it ever stop??

It is nice to ease back into a routine, if slowly, into a familiarity with new surroundings. For us and the kids. Even they were stressed by the changes – their house was taking apart! With it all being back together again I am looking forward to next week. A normal sized one, yet with a three day bank holiday weekend to look forward to and spend lots of time with the family, the kids in particular and enjoying the new place.

Stress over. Moving on.

Have a good week,
Volker

, ,

1 Comment

Sunday Column (267)

Easter Sunday. Easter hasn’t got a religious meaning for me anymore, I almost forgot it was happening. With the building work to be finished, and with the MIL arriving and us going to a wedding, this is more a four day mini holiday to sort out the house, take a day off from and for the kids, go cycling and sort out some other errands. No, Easter for me is definitely nothing else.

Looking at this, I gain a better understanding why people in other countries don’t even get the Friday off. Life has changed over the years, we get too busy in our lives. Religion, whether you want to classify Buddhism as that or a philosophy is up to you, allows for retreat. For me, and I never saw that going to Christian church when I was a child, the belief in ‘something’ which helps you to focus on yourself, quieten your mind, and engage in nothing, focusing on something.

Essentially it helps you to focus, switch off from every day life, not look at your todo list and not having anything to do or planned or worry about. This can be nice. Almost a treat. This and the overall charitable, caring aspect of religion is what I appreciate.

We tried telling Colin about a guy called Jesus and Easter eggs and that he came back from heaven at Easter. His response was that they already spoke about Jesus in school and had now moved on to ‘Humpty Dumpty’ 🙂 Kids’ innocence.

20140415-082201.jpg

The last two weeks were stressful. The build, the heating not working, the niggles here and there. We believe we are on top of it now. We hope it is all finished, but the decorating. I should really post some pictures once we have the furniture and all in. A great transformation, making our living space so much better and nicer! A nicer home.

It is so important to have a place you call home. A place you feel comfortable in, the kids and wife are happy in. A place to come home to, a place for shelter. Often I wonder, looking at the bigger picture, how many people don’t have that privilege. When I look out into the world and feel privileged because I have hot water and food, a roof over my head.

I don’t want to get sentimental. Of course I am annoyed I had to reset the heating daily for a while. But it was working then. Others don’t have heatings and if I told some people you have to go to the loft to light the heater, they would be happy to have heat whilst we are annoyed at having to manually light it.

So maybe Easter is a bit of reflection too. A bit of looking inwards. Of looking outwards and seeing were we are in the greater scale of things. To understand and make our kids understand that we are actually quite lucky. That the reason daddy goes to work in the morning is to have food and a house, and that Daddy has work should not be taken for granted either.

A first world problem that is I suppose. Comfort. So let’s think of the ones that are less fortunate, and let’s be thankful.

Have a great Easter.

Cheers,
Volker

, , , ,

1 Comment

Sunday Column (266)

Crazy is an understatement when I look back at the beginning of this week. By Sunday night 11 pm we finished packing our whole downstairs minus couch and had removed all furniture from the living and dining room. The couch had gone the week before.

Monday at 10 am our builders rocked up. They took notes, discussed how to move the fish tank, which sockets need replacing, where the TV goes, and where to put the Sonos sound bar. By the time I left at 3 pm to catch a plane from Gatwick, the kitchen had gone. The floor had gone. The place looked like an empty shell.

My wife who I hadn’t seen that stressed since our wedding managed to take one kid to a friend and the other to the doctor, back on the rail replacement bus service. It was chucking it down. She organised a three night stay with friends, gave final instructions to the builders and out of nothing presented dinner to the boys.

In the meantime I had to take a taxi to Gatwick as there had been a fatality on the rails. I had dinner, wrote another article, caught up on emails and felt sorry for myself. Still tired from a challenging mountain bike ride on Sunday, I also caught a cold. Tired and exhausted I slept most of the plane journey, thinking how brave my wife had been. And this was only the beginning.

Why we do it? Because we hope that in two weeks time we will have a nicer place: my wife’s dream kitchen, a fire place, a new stereo system, wooden flooring and a nicer home for the kids. We cannot wait.

IMG_2501

Travelling this week: I don’t want to go on about it but going from city to city over the week, sleeping in different beds, having busy days and evenings, can be quite tiring. My colleagues are at a trade show, probably I got it much better to be honest.

It is a good life though too. I enjoy it. Experience. One hotel was dirty and the manager very apologetic; another had the greatest service. I experienced an “ironing room”, rabbits in a foyer and thanks to Foursquare I met with an ex colleague in Milan and another old friend in Milan also – we happened to be at the same time at the same place.

Yes, I enjoy what I do. It can be exhausting, being away from the family isn’t nice, but it is a good way of working, however stressful it can be at times. Oh, and it isn’t as glorious as in the movie “up in the air” with George Clooney. Not yet, I still haven’t got my golden Easyjet Pluscard. Maybe one day 😉

We came back to an empty shell of house downstairs. Plastering, wet walls, cables hidden in the wall, a new window sun seat in the kitchen, the flooring got delivered and my wife had to paint parts of the wall to make sure we can mount the radiators next week. The floor has been leveled, the fish survived so far and we got an electric hob from next door. We manage. The kids are a bit worried but once they see the progress they should be ok.

This concludes a busy and stressful week, both for the family at home (or away) and me. Next week should get better, we have a home again, Easter is coming up, we got some time to ourselves. Life is good, we shouldn’t, and am not, complaining. Just moaning 😉

Have a great week,
Volker

, , , ,

1 Comment

DIY – Renovating part 1

I think I mentioned it before. My wife is “nesting” and we are looking into turning our house into our home.

Part one was the hall. My wife painted and then started sanding the floor with a small sander she had. Not a good idea, took too long. So we hired a bigger one last weekend and I did the floors downstairs in the hall and she did the hand rail. Now, the cleaning of this fine dust was the worst thing!

Done and dusted (literally) now and we live with a hall that needs varnishing still and a carped down the middle of the stairs which still needs painting.

Upstairs we aim for laminate flooring for

a) the landing where you get laminate looking like real wood, and
b) the bathroom. There are clever solutions out there now where laminate looks like ceramic floors.

So I am quite impressed of what we can do and now I am eager to get it done. My wife plans to do some of the painting and varnishing as I am not patient enough to do a good job. However, I will try my luck with the laminate upstairs. If it goes well… who knows, I might be doing the living room soon.

Here are some pictures.

, , ,

1 Comment