Posts Tagged train

Sunday Column (484)

Easter is over. I don’t really enjoy Easter generally, and this one was just miserable weather wise and being a non-believer, it doesn’t have any meaning for me. Unlike Christmas, which for me marks the end of the year with a new beginning. Besides Easter was far too early this year. And it was raining for the most of it this year. Anyway, it is over and I look forward to summer – if it ever comes. We did have a few great days last week, so fingers crossed this will continue. The car needs a proper wash and the garden some doing too.

Life moved on this week, things come and go, and opportunties come and go. I am a bit fed up but enjoy the moment, the contract work I am doing and the time I can spend with the boys. I had to take a day off this week feeling under the weather, and have a few days off next week to spend with the boys whilst the wife is back at work. Life is in constant change. Let’s see what the next week brings.

One day this week it was nice to be on the train coming home in daylight, after 7 pm. It was actually very nice, as the sun was setting, a beautiful light and a calmness. The train was a bit emptier than usual, as a lot of people were still on Easter holidays I assume. It was one of those nights, where the mood from nature took over, I had little to catch up on and just relaxed. I guess it was almost an enjoyable train journey where I tried out a new app I downloaded, called Subliminal. One can choose different themes of underlying, subliminal, messages like ‘attracting opportunities’ or ‘attracting a male/female’ or ‘being more confident’. The messaging cannot be heard but are within the music and tunes. Really weird, but I was keen on trying it out for a month before subscribing. It reminds me of ‘alpha waves’ I used to listen to in order to concentrate better when I was at uni. Not sure that got me the good degrees, but maybe it helped. Love the idea of subliminal messaging, and tunes to relax and perform better. The ways our brain works, the law of attraction (LOA).

I am reading this book at the moment called ‘Brain Chains’ (BrainChains: Your thinking brain explained in simple terms. Full of practical tools, tips and tricks to improve your efficiency, creativity and … email, social media, lack of sleep and stress) and it is highly fascinating. It looks at how our brain works and how we are able to influence how it works. E.g. the way we structure our day and life, with always checking our phone for emails and messages, the whole information overload, does have an impact on how our brain performs. And some tasks are just not made for our brains either, multitasking is a big no-go. We have less of a disconnected life and less of a relaxed life, we chill out less often. Reading this book, I am trying to consciously change some of my daily routines to ensue my brain capacity is actually increasing rather than decreasing. That goes in line with the above subliminal messaging. We must use science to improve what we are doing and how we are doing things, in a way to constantly better ourselves. I couldn’t sit still for a moment, could I 🙂 And, as you know, I am doing the same with sleep, which again has a huge impact on brain performance.

People can think what they want whether exercise is good if you feel under the weather. On Thursday morning I went for a 7.5K run after going to bed with a hot tottie at 8:30 pm the night before. And I had energy. So much energy and felt so good, almost a spring in my step all day. Of course it wore off during the day and as daily things take over, this is just the way it goes. But spring must be in the air, and running ‘away’ my virus seems to work. Onwards and upwards.

Then my parents came for a ‘second Easter’ if you like. So besides the usual wine shipment they brought sweets and stayed a couple days longer, e.g. they are still here at time of publishing. It is nice to get everyone together and exchange ideas, see the kids spend time with the grandparents and have a good time. Good food, enjoying the moment and making the most of the time we have.

I am a bit sentimental this week, not sure if that’s due to the weather, or just the general mood. It feels we have been stuck in a world for the past 2 months now that could be worth living for, yet isn’t sustainable long run. And the learning from that is amazing, interesting, scary and relevant all together.

Where next?

Volker

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Sunday Column (414)

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Life is heavy going at the moment. I am loving it though, or do I? Of course I love it? Where do I start? We had a great weekend with my folks, discussing some heavier topics. Guess that’s what you do when parents reach a certain age. Then Monday I felt rubbish. The virus that has been lurking around hit me hard. I should have stayed at home but went in instead. Result was that I worked from home Tuesday trying to rest up a bit. It helped so by end of week I was back on the treadmill. Still not 100% but 100% better than Monday. Then last night a temperature hit me, I felt rotten most of today. I guess it is end of year and I am running on empty a bit. Lots to do, lots to sort out before the end of the year, and not much time left. We will be ok. I envisage myself to sit there on Christmas Eve with a glass of wine in my hand, looking back at the year, and smile. And to be honest I will. I know I will. There are some other challenges going on I cannot speak about in public. Things I have seen and experienced before, but to see them with closed and loved ones gets harder. They touch you differently. It is different. But before you panic, it won’t be as bad as it might sound. Sometimes it is difficult to share things here which I cannot speak about as people might interpret it the wrong way, so don’t even try 😉 And just when you think you got things aligned to work through, someone hit our car at the car park and made a runner. WTF is going on? It feels a bit like I cannot win, which makes me even more determine to succeed. In ALL aspects.

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So what’s the exciting bits at the moment? My book is almost there. I’d say end of year is the time I publish it on Amazon or find a publisher, who knows. Yes, I am very excited about it. Another deadline to become more British. I signed up for the next attempt to pass the Life in the UK test. Actually it seems rather simple (touch wood) once you lived in this country as long as I have. It makes sense in the process, yet the first time around they didn’t accept my ID. So the pressure is back on and I am planning to do it all before Christmas. Fingers crossed. Another step closer to Brexit and Naturalisation. A friend of mine is considering to leave the UK, another one already has. Theresa is aiming to negotiate better deals for European Citizens to stay and vice versa, British people to stay. There is a lot of insecurity in the air, making life a bit daunting. Hammond fights with the budget, as more people getting self employed to evade taxes. I totally get all that, yet I couldn’t leave Britain. I love it here. I consider myself more British than German. And where would I go? Even the wife isn’t considering NZ anymore, so it might be Hassocks for a while longer. Or Bali as a friend suggested, but I have never been. That is, if Southern gets their train services sorted. Whilst I had one train this week being early, next week the drivers start striking on top of the conductors’ strike. I guess I will be working from home a bit, and the economy will suffer more. Southern is so sh*! The only silver lining are a compensation of one month rail ticket and delay repay for 15 minutes delay. Wow, that means I can claim every other train! The next weeks are going to get tough train wise but we will survive. Think Christmas. Think wine.

The kids are excited about Christmas. They wake us up early and ask if Christmas is happening yet. Bless. I thought they might have got behind the Santa Claus story by now. But they haven’t, which is really nice. Of course I could do with a lie in rather than being woken up at the weekends but who am I to complain. An afternoon nap in front of the fire sorts me out.

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I look around the train, then out of the window, as I started writing this post, and the houses on my early commute and a touch of frost covers most roofs. It looks idyllic. Life is great. There are millions of people that got up this morning, thought it was cold, put the heating on and a cuppa. However, then I am thinking of those that are not. Not getting up, not getting a warm cuppa. We are in a very fortunate position where and how we live. And in times like these, when winter blues sets in, I keep reminding myself of it. My wife said she read a ‘rubbish’ article suggesting the world comes to an end in 10 years time (see quote above). Let’s assume for a moment that this could be right. What would that mean for you? What if you once of a sudden had a deadline to miss. Would you pack your bags and live your dreams? And if so, what are your dreams? What is on your bucket list to do in the next few years? What is the plan if it fails, either the world coming to an end or your dreams. I don’t believe that dreams can fail. You don’t want to look back in ten years and have regrets, do you? If the prediction fails, you would just go back to what you did. You cannot loose. It is not possible! So you would try and do what you should and most probably succeed, as your energies align positively. Wait for my book!

As I am sitting on another train journey, studying and reading, I think this was a good year so far. I am in an amazing place with amazing people doing some outstanding work. I feel I am making a difference, and touching lives for the better. That’s amazing. That’s fun, and it gives me a great inner satisfaction. As I am getting older, I am more intrinsically motivated, a discussion I had with one of my staff this week. I blink against the morning sun and see the world go by, listening to my favourite tunes. Life is actually quite amazing.

Have an outstanding week. Touch some lives. It makes you feel great.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (382)

Last week started on Sunday when I flew to Germany. I piggy-backed a long overdue trip onto a trip to some clients in Frankfurt. Frankfurt is not only a pain to fly to (Heathrow only), there aren’t that many companies in our industry. It has been 18 months since I have been and stayed one day this time to then train it to Düsseldorf. Germany is very scattered when it comes to big cities and there are important people in each one of them. I guess it keeps it interesting.

A bit of travel is essential to cover ground in Germany. One of the few countries without a centralised city for media, not like Paris/France, Milan/Italy, Madrid/Spain and of course London/UK. My next trip to Germany is Berlin in a few weeks time. That again will be from Gatwick, which is a lot easier. It seems that Easyjet changed their flight plan and doesn’t fly to some cities I need to go to. That means a long taxi drive to Heathrow.

On the note of train travel in Germany: my annual travel card from Hassocks to London, which I renewed this week, costs more than a travel card to use the train all over Germany for a year. On first sight my ticket seems like a rip off. Discussing it with people, it seems that Germany subsidises train travel and given you pay almost double on tax, this explains how it works. Guess every country has its pros and cons.

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I seem to hate flying out on a Sunday. It seems like I am cheating on family time but luckily this happens only a couple of times a year. Particularly as I got a good engagement going with the boys, playing chess and doing homework. We had a fantastic weekend.

However the meetings we had were awesome. The industry is very responsive to our solutions and we are pivoting. It is nice to see we offer innovation in a crowded market space and drive business forward. What is not to like?

My Hilton in Dusseldorf was a bit unliked by me. We got to a personal chat with the Operational head and a make good. Actually curious to meet him in person now 😉 He seems very much switched on. Next time. First unhappy Hilton stay so far. That’s a better track record in comparison to IHG. Let’s see how the next three Hilton stays stack up. Being away from home you want to have a good bed and a good service, a good place to stay and most of all, value for money. When staying in a very low frill hotel the other day, it ticked all the boxes. Yet, it didn’t come at the price tag of a Hilton. Same is true when we travel, as a family we go into a Premier Inn for the night. Anyway….I keep you posted, no doubt.

Overall it was a very successful trip. Definitely worth while with some very challenging and good discussions with industry leaders. Just the way I like it.

Work is very interesting at the moment. We are, as a company, innovating a lot around cross device data points. That and us playing in the biggest offline silo, TV, and the most engaging online silo, Social, leads to some interesting developments. It’s going to be exciting over the next few months.

My wife ran another race. I am very proud of her. She managed to hit her anticipated time. She also signed up to more runs. I am a bit afraid I would get addicted if I start signing up to races. Hence I am still refusing to join races but the one in July running a 24 hour relay race over the distance of 10K. Despite my exercises I seem to be putting on weight. Not a lot to be honest but it seems to be creeping up. So this week I have done a few more runs than normal. 30K and 45 minutes Cross Trainer. That resulted in the weight being down again but I was exhausted on Friday.

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For the matter of weight I need to look into my diet again. A few client lunches and boozing sessions with lots of finger food and crisps seem to take its toll. That of course is fair enough so I shall try to cut down on those wasted calories of nuts and crisps. Also I am wondering if this high fat diet, having a ham and cheese omelette every morning, is the best idea. I guess I need to do more research. If you look up athletes’s diets they eat ‘normal’ with focus on veggies, carbs prior to events and fruit as well as protein. Yet they never mention chocolate, cashew nuts or crisps as part of their diet 🙂

You only live once I guess 🙂

I am buzzing this week. Overall. The challenge is our bathroom. The tiles just don’t seem to be on there right. Uneven in any of the three directions. The builder keeps trying. I am hopeful we get there in the end. Quite a stressful experience. But for now, it was weekend. Time to chill.

Last but not least I decided to grow a beard this week, then took it off again. I just don’t seem to be able to decide on the right look. And the right itch. The right format of beard. Off again for now….we shall see.

The joys of life. Hope yours is going well.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (282)

Nothing like Monday morning. After a nice and sunny weekend, a late Sunday reading my papers and catching up with everyday life, I ended up sitting with C on Monday morning discussing thunderstorms, lightning whilst thunder filled the fresh, rainy air. C sat, wrapped up in a blanket, on our new window seat in the kitchen, just watching the outside. He likes thunderstorms and keeps asking me about whether I liked them as a boy and if he could watch TV, as mummy told him TVs would break thanks to lightning.

Anyway, my national rail app alerted me that trains are delayed due to lightning and I keep wondering if there is any excuse not good enough for train companies to delay or cancel trains? However, coming to the station, meeting a few friends, there were no trains for a while. I eventually got on one and my journey and day/week could begin.

There is some positives here. The garden needed the water, it was long overdue. Then the dust that has been collected everywhere around the house from the repointing got washed away. The car which I hosed down on Sundays got “hosed” down again.

And it isn’t a busy period at work, the summer slump. So whether I sit on the train working through some emails or in the office doesn’t matter too much at the moment. Holiday seasons is upon us. Having said that, the rest of the week got really busy.

Whilst sitting on trains, I noticed an interesting behaviour. Often, and that includes myself, one puts his bag next to oneself when travelling. If someone wants to sit next to you, and I normally sit on the aisle as I am a bit taller and like to stretch my legs, they ask and I happily get up and move my bag. Of course I do! You get the odd people not wanting to ask or if really busy I move my bag, signalling my willingness to make space.

Yet others don’t. They are holding on to their bags, almost paranoid not to take up space, eager to jump up if someone just looks at the empty seat besides them. I think people can ask. And then again others just plank their bag on the seat next to them, ignoring people standing and use the spare seat as a luggage rack. Those are the ones even I get tempted to sit next to, just to ask them to move their luggage.

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Train life, commuter life. You then get the people playing or typing on their phones and tablets with the sound on, talking loud on the phone or drink and shout on the train. The nervous ones afraid of missing their plane from Gatwick. The studious ones sitting reading their papers. The working ones doing emails, spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations. A train is a micro ecosystem of what’s happening in our society. But more often than not I cannot even enjoy it, as I am busy myself 😉

Hassocks station got a new train station. A 2 million investment leaving the tunnel connecting the two platforms flooded. These are the things I don’t understand. Or the people trying to dodge their fares. Without wanting to have a general moan, if one spends money to fix things you would expect them to be fixed. Our house wasn’t quite finished despite them saying it would be within one week. It now has been two already.

The joys of life. We just have to look forward, think positive and believe it all works out in the end. And it does. It just ends up costing more money, time and unnecessary hassle. But we are all getting there.

The strong belief, as I was discussing a lot last year, that wherever you are in life, you must believe that this is the right place to be. If you doubt it, change it, but go with your gut. Trust the universe and your gut feeling that life will take you to your (final) destination. Not saying this is easy. It requires a lot of patience and trust in the intangible universe. Are you ready for that?

Have a great week everyone, whilst I didn’t want to complain about the weather, a cooler breeze might be nice for a while.

Stay cool!
Volker

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Sunday Column (264)

Giving thanks and feeling sorry for others, or focusing on your own miserable self. That’s a question I asked myself this week. It of course was Monday and I contemplated to work from home. I try to go to the sauna on a Monday night and decided to have a meeting in town, yet leave on time to get home in time.

Being at Victoria station early I followed a friend’s advice to jump on the first fast train to Haywards Heath. Stuck outside Victoria station for 30 minutes we eventually got back and sent on a different train. The train broke down and the later, direct train, overtook us whilst we pulled back. The one we all went on then got stuck at Battersea station for about 30 minutes. By now I should have been home for about 30 minutes. A broken down train and two persons hit by a train in one night. Pot luck.

It was my choice to move to the countryside and pay £4,500 a year for my train travel. I chose to live a more balanced life. Yet, I didn’t sign up for a crappy train service, no value for money which comes up with bad excuses why things don’t work, or why there are delays.

And just as I write my anger off my chest I look around me. People with heavy suitcases on the way to Gatwick airport. People with light luggage on their phones trying to change planes. Mothers with children, elderly totally lost. No internet, no twitter to air desperation. They are worse off. Some might have more time yet need more help and lack of information makes people short wired. Latter is very typical for Southern trains, who don’t even respond on Twitter anymore.

Emotions are high on these journeys. I should be thankful. I made it home that night to a warm place. No, I didn’t go to the sauna, and yes, I had a glass of wine. I am lucky really. That all happened on the same day people found out that the Malaysian airline was definitely lost. One puts life into perspective.

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One has to be thankful for what one created and what has been given to someone. It is not about money. It is not about health. Sometimes it is about accepting that your situation cannot be changed and that you need to get on with it.

Life sometimes throws these big rocks in your path. You just need to get on with it and move them. Or you go around them. Or you find another solution. Either way, no point of worrying about it. Trust things work out in the future. Trust, as Steve Jobs said, that the dots connect moving forward.

Enough philosophy. Enough moaning. Life is good. Actually life is quite good and I am working through a few things that should even improve things further. We are getting there. Always things to improve 😉 Always pushing boundaries.

On Friday I set off to a stag weekend to Edinburgh. I panicked when the flight which was announced as delayed on my app wasn’t announced delayed at the airport. I left late, got there in time, had food, and actually – whilst missing the family – also enjoyed some piece and quiet. My first trip away which wasn’t work related in a long time.

And if life was plain sailing, it would be boring wouldn’t it be? We wouldn’t even know what to do with half of our time. So let’s be thankful for what we have. And let’s give those that are less fortunate than us a helping hand.

In the meantime, enjoy your week,
Volker.

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Precious Moments (14)

When your 2 year old is so obsessed with trains, it is great to just sit still and wait for the train. The moment he jumps up, and points at the train, shouting “train, train”. That is precious to me.

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