Tag: holidays

Ballueder Thinks (7) – Summer innit?

It’s hot at time of writing. 27.5 degrees in the car, as I wait for my son to finish his karate lesson. The first ‘real one’, face to face, since March, and parents are no longer allowed to watch. Life has changed. Next time I take the bigger car with the air conditioning. We adopt to the new rules of course, as we all do.

Today, at time of writing, we were supposed to go to Ashford, then Folkestone tomorrow, drive to Germany and celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. The government put Belgium on the list of countries to not stay in and if you come from there, you have to quarantine for 14 days. Surely driving through it would be an exception. But it isn’t. Several calls to the government hotlines got us the same answer and it was: if you touch Belgian soil, even in a car, not stopping, you have to quarantine. Loose your income for 2 weeks. Can’t train for the marathon. WTF. This got changed at the time we rebooked…but hey, you have to make decisions when you do.

So with a heavy heart we postponed our trip to Germany, fearing that France would end up on the list soon too. And it did when we were supposed to be out there, alongside the Netherlands. Why risk it? I haven’t seen my parents for 8 months, yet they can’t postpone their anniversary. The original plan was to go on a cruise, which ultimately got cancelled. And our flights got reimbursed. So that’s good at least.

Cut a long story short, we went to Scotland instead. Staying in the Greater Manchester area over night, driving on the M6 through a lockdown area. No quarantine necessary, despite my arguments on the phone with the government, this isn’t the same use case. There are no restrictions to do be on ‘Manchester soil’. Nevermind. I would argue otherwise, but who am I to criticise the government?

Actually I do. I think they properly f* it up. The UK as it was 19 years ago when I was attracted living here, is no more. The handling of the Corona crisis and the amount of dead people speak for itself. The recession and Q2 GDP contraction figures higher than any other country. I am hugely disappointed with the state of affairs and handling of the situation. Nothing screams ‘Brexit will be a mess’ more than looking at the clowns on the top. Never have I felt more passionate about politics in any country. And looking at A-Level results, both in Scotland and England, I can only say WTF again. Sorry, this wasn’t meant to be a political or blog post ranting, but I guess sometimes it just needs to be said. But what’s the alternative?

Maybe it was naive to think we could leave the country in a pandemic in order to travel. Or it is naive to think we are out of the worst, and that there won’t be a second wave. I don’t know. Looking back at the first half of the year, I have been lucky to have work, as a contractor, and actually uncovering opportunities, regardless of the situation. Things might not be as planned, but who had planned 2020 and actually got what they planned for? Hence, I am actually very grateful for what we have, the health we are in, and the prospects we have. It confirms my decision to go freelance. To be my own boss, and make it happen, without relying on others. This is a huge blessing to be honest, even if it is hard. But why would I want to rely on others to have a job at this stage? I am not saying I am not tempted to join a company full time, but that needs to be the right opportunity. Anyway, not pitching 😉

As anyone at the moment, I just like to have a good life and want this virus to go away. Yet we need to think what life would be like if the virus won’t go away anytime soon, or ever? How will our lives, jobs and situation change? Location won’t be an issue once of a sudden. Barbados, New York, Toronto, London, Singapore – as long as you can work in the time zone of the company you work for, you can live anywhere. It also means that education for your kids and living standards, e.g. activities, are key for location preferences moving forward.

There is something else I read in the Financial Times: a lot of people used the lockdown to clear out rooms, cupboards etc. However, a lot of people also cleared out emotional backlogs. I agree. As a matter of fact we cleared a lot of stuff from the loft and garage at the end of last year, and emotionally I have been on a journey to change and clear things out for about a year. I made huge progress, and recently went through some more hypnotherapy sessions. Contact me if you want to find out more, but I find it super useful to clear out any blockages, and explore what is holding me back. My confidence and self awareness took another step up, and I highly recommend anyone doing it. It’s like clearing out your garage, your mental one.

The main reason me bringing this up is as I have been speaking to more and more people experiencing anxiety. The lockdown and loss of human contact, will result in a huge crisis from a mental health perspective. I am super proud of the companies that have worked with me throughout the lockdown to teach their employees mindfulness in the workplace ; one group in particular has done very well by allowing for a weekly session discussing mindfulness, and any mental health issues. The group coaching sessions are ongoing and helping massively to put the lockdown into perspective, whether that is from a mental health or personal perspective. If you or your company employees are effected, and they likely are, you should consider having similar sessions. I am not saying this to advertise my services, but highlight the importance of doing it. Whether with me or any other mindfulness coach or practitioner. The hungover of mental health after the pandemic will be huge; combat it today! Be proactive, you will thank me later.

Our holidays ended up being fantastic. We had splendid weather in Scotland, and hardly any rain. It was warm, and allowed for me to continue my marathon training. I will update everyone properly once it is all confirmed, but the London Marathon 2020 will be a virtual one, and all donations roll over to the next physical one, which I plan to run in October 2021 or April 2022. I prefer the former, so let’s see what we get. I shall update my Justgiving page as soon as things will be confirmed. Bear with me, not a logistical walk in the park for the London Marathon organisers.

I love being in Scotland. It’s a rough terrain, friendly people, good greasy food and lovely ale. Walking, running, or just enjoying the countryside is fab. We rented a wee flat in Inverness and visited the MIL up North frequently, whilst doing our own family things, like looking at amazing forests, Loch Ness of course, or just shopping in town. Visiting a white sandy beach.
Scotland is a lovely country, and if we knew we could work remotely forever, I would go and buy a wee house in the middle of nowhere. However, we don’t know, and there are question marks around some infrastructure here, but that’s for another time. The idea sounds lovely though.

As you can imagine, running your own business, you still work all week. However, I have been lucky as I wasn’t that much in demand, and people respected me being slow to respond. I actually didn’t do much work at all, and we enjoyed a lot of quality family time, a change of scenery, and just doing nothing. Yes. I managed to just sit there, and do nothing. Not like me, but it is so important to reflect, drain your brain and just sit and think. I enjoyed the time off, the company and making memories with the family.

When you read this we are just back. Time to kick-start my 2nd year as a contractor/freelancer and kicking some ar*. I am ready to make a difference, take on more project work, run a marathon and conquer the “world”. Get rid of the virus, spend more time with the family and balance work and life. A holiday puts so many things into perspective, so does Covid, and there will be more decisions coming our way. That’s certain and that it’s certain that I lost all confidence in trust in this government.

For now, enjoy some time off, disconnect and make memories with your children and loved ones. Time you never get back.

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

Living in a new world – Days at home (59)

Hey, happy world meditation day. Below my message.

I think more businesses should take on a mindfulness at workmindfulness at work scheme and get taught through me. I am delighted to have more clients signing up and the interest slowly but surely coming through. We must look after our mental health and those of our employees.

In other news, our daily walk was split today. Colin and I had a fantastic walk at 7 am, chatting what father and son chat about. It was great. Nice to have 1-on-1 time with the boys, and reassuring them about the whole Covid19 mess. And that’s what it is, it’s a big mess in terms of schooling, work, income, planning, holidays…..yet we will get through it.

With my daily posts coming to an end this week, and my oldest going back to school, I am curious what happens come June. We will all be ok.

I hope you are ok too, and stay safe.

If you ever need to feel the need to reach out, please do so. I am happy to chat, mindfulness or not, coaching or not, just a chat and a friendly word of advice, or just to listen. I am here to help YOU!

Thanks,
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (50)

I promised some thoughts on our PM’s message. I am two ways about it. Given I am not a healthcare professional, it is hard to believe we might not go back to a ‘normal’ lifestyle until 4th of July, America’s independence day. Just saying.

But hey, what needs to be done, needs to be done. Most of us won’t go on holidays this summer, so work will hopefully pick up quickly from August. An article I shared this morning, from the FT, suggest it might be a quick return for the economy. Let’s hope so.

I am hopeful, however, that things will return quickly and enthusiastic about the new normal. It means more working from home, and potentially more opportunities but delivered differently – if that makes any sense. And, of course, I feel for hospitality and pubs, and the general public (which includes me) that cannot be in the pub when the sun is out – what happened to the Great British Summer? Safety, and protecting lives has to take priority. And that’s the right decision, no doubt.

Enough about politics. More rules in our household.

Similar to most parents I spoke to, kids are using the time in between studies, or should I say in between video games, to play video games. There isn’t enough home schooling material and more time is spent on devices. Unless you have a home schooling parent, but in our case my wife is back at work more often, and I am busy. Hence, I had to come up with a new structure of the work/school day to limit video gaming and make sure the overall aim of schooling and learning wouldn’t be cut too short. Let’s see how this goes.
It is very challenging to juggle it all, but we get through that. The oldest might be back to school as early as in 3 weeks time. Fingers crossed.

Below are a few impressions. We keep up our daily walks, enjoy the South Downs National Park, and good company. We are happy, which means a lot, and we are confident, which means a lot too. Life is good, given the circumstances, and we will get through this. Together!

Living in a new world – Days at home (15)

What a day – it is getting quieter.

I believe Easter paired with the lock-down results in quieter days.
The boys are off for Easter, and there is no co-working space atm. They are relaxing, as kids should do on their holidays.

With the events unfolding and the PM being in hospital, I spoke to a few people today who think this is terrible. It seems to hammer down the message how serious the situation is. We all hope, like his politics or not, that our PM will recover. Sending good wishes.

The weather is cracking. We went for our daily walk. We did some smaller errands and I had a day preparing some of Ballueder Partners work. There are a few days left still on my contract, but the majority will be done after Easter, when things will hopefully pick up again.

Stay safe. Please.

Sunday Column (513)

Berlin. Taking the family to Berlin for half term would always be an adventure. A 7 and a 9 year old on a city trip with lots of history? This wasn’t to meet family, it was about showing my family a Germany away from the grand parents, it was to experience Berlin and a couple days in Hamburg. So before we set off, we talked about German history, about the war and how this resulted in Germany being split in four parts; and it resulted in Berlin being split in four parts.

For me, Berlin has always been the capital. From Prussia to the modern ages. I never, probably similar to most Germans, saw Bonn as a real capital city. Berlin just has this charm, this feeling of being able to host big statesmen and to have the space to parade in front of presidents. It is that flair and history that attracts me to Berlin. However, and I want to be as honest as I can be, yet not being rude, Berlin in parts looks tired. My sons pointed out the massive amounts of graffiti and when you started to look under the hood, what we saw at least, was a Berlin that is a bit run down.

I guess, given it’s size, there are different areas. When visiting friends of ours one night, we loved the big side streets, high ceiling flats and quality of living. Our AirBnB on the other hand was in an area which seemed a bit less upmarket, yet had a flair, which at least I love about Berlin. The multi cultural aspect you don’t find in every city around the world: openness, togetherness, community.

So we did what you do with two little ones on a city tour. We visited the main attractions like Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate. We looked at famous squares, hopped on a tourist bus and went for walks in the park, finding some play grounds. We met friends, caught up over locally made pizza, gyros, ouzo and wine. We went up the TV Tower for the sunset and had a drink at the bar, taking in the view. We met with extended family, school and university friends, as well as having a night in whilst autumn weather was blowing the rain outside. We just enjoyed ourselves with no agenda, made our own chocolate, went for our runs, watched TV, went on a boat tour and visited a planetarium. And above all, we had a lot of fun as a family. Thank you Berlin.

On Thursday came the highlight. Something I wanted to do for a long time. We went to Hamburg on an early morning train to see the Miniature world, a model of the world out of minituare trains, planes, cars and everything that belongs to it. It was mind blowing. 3.5 hours of miniature world watching. And, we managed to have a look around Hamburg, a harbour boat tour again getting close to big container ships. For me, Hamburg is a city that portraits itself so differently to Berlin, and we enjoyed our time there very much. It might have been that it is smaller, more affluent, or that the shower in the hotel just gave much more comfort than the one in the AirBNB. But in the end, Hamburg as a city, won over Berlin, it just impressed more.

Now back to reality, back to work.

Have a great start in the week, it got colder out there.
Volker

Sunday Column (502)

This is my holiday post. So a bit more personal, less topical. I am sure I wrote it the other day – apologies but I have a few articles sitting at the ready, so I don’t remember where the wording is – that I am not much of a holiday person. I find it difficult to switch off, so this time I tried to force myself to switch off, which of course doesn’t work either. Having said all that I had a relaxing time, and the amount of sleep I got was amazing. Plus, thanks for the feedback regarding my topical posts, I am glad you are enjoying them.

Having finished my contract work and got my first few days at the new job, having a two week break should be easy. And actually, it was. I was yet thinking a lot about the job, but I refrained from checking emails etc., as I am too fresh into the job as someone really needs to rely on me. Hence, this was probably my only chance for a while for a “work detox”. And I am keen to get busy for one job only too.

On the other hand, I cannot sit still. I am creating an article a day almost, topical blog posts, thinking about my career and developing my podcast ideas. As the brain relaxes, there are new brain connections to be made, resulting in new input, new ideas and fresh thoughts. I try not to write on my book though and focus on other things first. There are podcasts I am going through whilst running and seeking new inputs. Not many podcasts recently chime a chord, and I found books that I put away after a few pages. Time for change is on the horizon. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got!

However, holidays 🙂 Yes, I enjoyed our two week break. We went to Singapore. A lot of people warned us that 10 days were too long but given we lived in a hotel/flat complex where we had our own little flat, pool and breakfast, this was as much a pool holiday as exploring the city as visiting family living out here. And it wasn’t too long. It also was the idea of introducing the kids to a different culture, whilst knowing it is one of the safest places you can imagine. What’s not to like? A holiday where we could use the gym to keep up with our training, park the boys in the pool for half a day whilst writing blog posts, and meeting expats that just came over to Singapore and stayed at the complex before the final move to a long term arrangement. The kids and us both loved it. The weather of course was amazing, hot and humid, just as it was when we left the UK 🙂

I finished reading Richard Branson’s ‘Loosing my Virginity’ biography (the latest one) as well. It was a stunning read and I read a lot about things I didn’t know he was doing. It almost felt like he had me around for a cup of tea, whilst telling me the story of his life. Not only do I agree with him on most topics like Brexit, Trump, Obama and others, the Elders, climate change and saving the world, are all topics I am keen on investing more time on. It almost feels like I would love to work for him on some projects now and help him make a difference. Let’s see where my life will develop into, as I only turned 40+1, wrote 500 blog posts and finding my own path as we speak. I got plans, they slowly materialise and are put on the right tracks I feel. Patience, as always, is the key to everything. Anyway, I tweeted that man, allegedly he reads them all, maybe I might get a reply too.

Another thing I learned on holidays, and would love to have people’s opinion that experienced similar, is the saying ‘Sorry, I don’t think it is worth it’. I said that to (luckily) a friend who when I apologised laughed, but I didn’t mean it in an offensive way at all. I texted him saying ‘attending his birthday party, giving timing and train journeys, is not worth it’ – in German ‘lohnt sich nicht’. It made me think, as neither the German expression or the English one is meant in a negative way. However, the Germans are very direct in their language and appeal to the nature of the event, saying it is hardly worth anyone’s time to be at a party for 1-2 hours. The Brits on the other hand see it as ‘you are not worthwhile my time at all’. Latter is very rude, former is German directness, hence I me translating one with the other isn’t working at all. I can see that now and hope I haven’t offended anyone prior to this, or won’t in the future. Anyway, if I come across to anyone as rude again, just let me know. Most of the time this isn’t intentional and might just be down to a wrong translation.

And that’s really it from our holiday. I was asked why there haven’t been any pictures shared on social media, and I’d like to answer it here. I enjoyed the holidays. We took about 850 pictures and we had a fantastic time. Family and friends would have seen some pictures, but I personally do not think that I need put an album up on Facebook or Instagram to share what a great time we had. I have been thinking a lot about social media recently and it is nobody’s business to see the intimicy of our holidays, or for me to show off what a fantastic, expensive hotel we lived in. Does that make sense? Oh and it wasn’t that expensive either. I have never done that in the past, and that was partly due for me not wanting people to know I was away, but this time we had someone staying at our house at home, so this was the time to let people know where we went. It is different when you are on work trips I believe, and you will find the odd picture on social media, but the majority….I do not know, not for me anymore. In the past I shared far too much, not thinking about implications but these days I feel a lot wiser tbh.

I came a long way, as did Facebook for the past 12+ years, of how I use social media. And when I think back to when I was a child, I had 2-3 rolls of film, 36 pictures each, and had to develop them after the holidays for expensive money. Now over 20 times as many pictures are sitting at the palm of my hand. I saw people running around with GoPro cameras and I wonder if anyone ever sits on holidays and takes on the experience, and to remember it the way they want it to be remembered? What I mean is that we had good and bad times, as you always have anywhere you go, and I just want to remember the good bits. That’s what I have always done, I don’t need to monitor everything all the time and sometimes like to let go.

Actually, I do feel a lot more relaxed than before, a lot better for it and fear the jet lag, the shorter nights, the going back into the routine and….I will be fine. And unlike me, I am planning the next holiday already. The boys would move out to Singapore in a heart beat, let’s see if we can discover more places like that. Let’s be Brexit ready, but before we know it I am in a new job, new routine, the boys will attend the same school and we get a deal for Brexit and life will just move on as we knew it. Won’t it?

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

Sunday Column (499)

A full working week it seems. Not quite, actually, only four days, but I was working in London and I was busy. I suppose I will get used to it again very quickly. I also recorded another podcast and managed to finish the audio book Sapiens. In all honesty, I wasn’t as taken with the book as everyone else seemed to be. Some interesting snippets of human history but a lot of bla bla about life. Never mind, another book done. I very much enjoy reading Richard Branson’s biography, it is a fun story of a successful man’s life. Stories of Success, really.

However, I then started Homo Deus by the same author of Sapiens and it is more interesting as it is looking to the future. It is about how things might look like moving forward for humans, and mankind and on this planet in general. A philosophical book, it gets you thinking, but again if I didn’t listen to it whilst out running, I am not sure it is my time worth spend taking it all in. Nevermind.

I started writing this post as I sit at Clapham Junction on a Gatwick Express service, air conditioned, cold and with wifi access. We were held as London Victoria got evacuated due to a fire alarm. When the train guard announced that we were held due to London Victoria station being evacuated, you could see how people got really quiet on the train. I am not sure if my perception comes due to me reading about 9/11 in Richard’s book, or because everyone went really quiet, but people just seemed to be worried. And that’s a fear we are living with: terrorism. Although, based on the Homo Deus book, more people die of overeating than undereating these days, and terrorism or airplane accidents are very rare. That of course doesn’t necessarily go in line with our perception of things.

What both books show me time and again is that our thoughts form what we make of our environment. I wasn’t too worried it being a terrorist attack but it crosses one’s mind. And then your mind can go on a rampage. What if the city was under attack, would it not be better to sit in Clapham? It surely would be. It was a false alarm, which is good and we continued our journey. Your thoughts however determine what you make of things.

On that note, on Friday I had a day off. My last one for a while but holidays with the family, and I spend with cars. We had a courtesy car from the garage, an SUV, a Skoda Kodiaq. I really enjoyed driving it but it isn’t sportive, it is an SUV. On the one hand I like sitting up, maybe changing my driving a bit and enjoy more comfort. Skoda has a nice ‘Landrover green’ colour they introduced and next year they bring out hybrid models. Let’s bear all that in mind for now 😉

I also spend the day looking at a few Jaguars. My choice of a second car is clear: a Jaguar XK8 or XKR, 2006 model or younger, as the older model is too small for me. Now I need to find the budget and the time to look at one and buy. Or will I hold off and be sensible. But for what? Life is for living and who knows how long we can enjoy it. Anyway, lots to think about.

And on that note it was the last day of school for the boys. Now I got two boys in middle school from September, they are just growing up so quickly. I love that as much as I hate it. Being able to join the leavers’ assembly was great, a bit emotional but overall it is great to see them moving on, growing up and becoming little grown ups. What will the future hold for them? Will AI and robots rule the world when they will be our age? Nothing ever stays the same, things always change.

Let’s use my parents as an example who have been able to connect with us since the introduction of What’s App. I remember putting coins into a phone booth when calling my grand parents from a holiday. Nowadays we send pictures instantly, whilst then we had to develop a roll of 36 pictures and got them a week after the holidays. Wow. We are talking half a life time here, and things will only get faster.

Have a great summer, enjoy things whilst they last.
Volker

Sunday Column (454)

This week was an awkward one. Somewhat anyway. I left the house on Monday, just as the installers of our new multigym arrived. My kids had their last day of holidays and went back to school on Tuesday. Daddy left Monday morning and came home late Tuesday night, important meetings with dinner/drinks in the evenings. I was home on Wednesday though, partly to make up for it, but mainly because I had a small surgery, removal of a mole, nothing big. Nothing serious. Yet with it all taken a bit shorter than anticipated, I managed to pick the kids up from school. That was nice.

Those weeks make me think of what would it be like if I am not around at all. No, I am not afraid of dying, or that the mole might be cancerous, it is more about prevention. Hence the multigym, my runs, the diet. I want to be fit as long as possible to see as much as possible of my boys. Guide them, listen to them. Yet, and partly this is due to our choice of moving that far out of London, I often don’t see them. And with the three busiest travel/trade show weeks in the industry, September is a tricky month. I have to admit. Long hours, out of the office, late nights. This is just part of what I do. And I was around a lot in the summer. Not that I need to justify myself, but somewhat this is what I do. At the end of the day, you cannot make up for lost time. The age they are in makes them notice it a lot more. Hence when travelling for most of the week, I try to work from home a day a week.

So when you come home only after being away for one night, it is great. It feels like being away for ages, as you missed them so much. School started. The wife shared some amazing pictures of the boys, and the little one does so look like me! Very proud!!! And when you come home late, and they are asleep, and you tug the oldest in, without waking him up. The moment he turns to his side, enjoys the comfort of the blanket, sighs and continues to sleep. Priceless. That’s when I feel humble, sentimental and I am full of love. Or the youngest, after taking him to the loo, snuggles up with his soft toy and goes back to sleep. And they feel that you are back, and that you are watching over them, care for them. And you feel their love and that they feel safer and more comfortable with you being around. That’s the bond, the invisible touch, no one will ever explain to you, cannot explain to you, but every parent feels it. It’s a mixture of love, trust, comfort, protectionism, challenge as well as fear and safety at the same time. It works both ways. That’s when I feel truly blessed.

Work: we finally announce the merger/take over. I knew when joining my company in January that either we will be sold or we will have lots of challenges. I cannot speak about it in detail, neither do I want to, but we officially sold to Sizmek this week. That puts us in an amazing position within the ecosystem. A full stack solution. End to end demand side. Creative, DCO, DMP, AI, execution, ad server, reporting, analysis, brand safety and much more. Amazing, and exciting times ahead. The potential we have moving forward is immense. My third exit in the industry and I am excited about the prospects. The meeting this week actually showed me how much I care about building a useful and exciting demand side technology stack, yes I can actually get excited about what I do! I usually do 😉 Anyway, I keep you posted on any developments but for now I am super pumped.

With the pain in my back (see above minor surgery) I  didn’t exercise the rest of the week. So I took a break and caught up on some sleep. The next few weeks will be rather sleep poor, as I also just confirmed another international trip. The joys. But I love what I do, see above, and shall not moan.

Saturday happened my long planned ‘boys day out‘ of the year. A few friends of mine and I met in London to hit the pubs, eat lots of food and play some pool, drink some whisky and so on. Yes, it was a great day! Whilst on the one hand I dread those days, they give you so much back by just letting your hair down a bit, talk ‘men talk’ and having a good time, forgetting about everything else. So another long sleep on Sunday and a first trial at getting back into exercise despite the back strain.

Anyway, have a fantastic week ahead.

Volker

Sunday Column (451)

The second and last part of the holidays took us to the Isle of Wight. We wanted to go for a long time. Unfortunately we didn’t have a whole week, so left on Sunday and spend the most day on the beach. I even went into the sea. The next day we spent at the Needles, an old navy outlook and defence system dating back to the 19th century. We didn’t expect an old ‘fort’ but had an amazing walk along the seaside. Attached to it was an amusement park/tourist trap where the kids saw how glass and sweets were made, and we ended up on a beach with different sand colours via a cable car – I decided to walk back as those heights still freak me out a bit. Before heading home from the short trip we experienced an amazing Indian meal. Yes, the food on holidays has been treating us well! We also spend some time at the sandy beach in Ryde which we very much enjoyed. Not to mention my slight red face too 😉

Again, whilst not going very far, we had a fantastic time away. Just being able to spend time with the boys in a relaxed atmospheres, learning about things like how glass is made (this is so comforting to watch) – all those things are precious and it means we are growing closer as a family. I genuinely enjoyed our holidays this year. Let’s see what we are planning for next year. The kids however were glad to be back home. 10 days away is still very long for them. The remainder of the week we spend at home, chilling and getting ready to go back to work really, whilst the wife was away for a family matter.

Every time I go on holidays in the UK, I keep thinking of having a holiday home we could go to everytime we have time off. The challenge is simple: costs first and foremost, but then location. And how often would you go, based on location. Can you drive/fly there and be there within 2 hours? Can you rent it out 20-30 weeks a year through AirBnB? Most people I spoke to that have holiday homes, don’t like the idea of going to the same place every year. So you are bound to a certain holiday destination or you consider renting it out the whole year, probably yielding more than you do on a second home. It sounds quite appealing to me, whether in Devon, Isle of Wight or the Scottish Highlands. Yet the financials aren’t there yet, still saving the pennies for my beloved Jaguar.

Holidays, and I wrote about that last week, make me feel detached. It makes me realise a few things. I do love work. Yep, I am happy to admit it, I actually like to fill my days with commercial and management challenges. It’s my idea of fun and I always enjoyed doing that, developing staff, solving problems, making things happen, GSD. It also makes me realise that my biggest hobbies are fitness and family, as well as my fish tank. Hence the need for a hobby like a car or holiday home to keep me busy with things 😉 Guess not for a while. But by spending more time with the family I realised that I should do that more often. Get away with them, or have 1-on-1 time with the boys and spend quality time together. Things come up which normally we only scratch the surface on in our day to day life. And that is important to form the relationship with our kids.

On the other hand there is fitness. Yes, I decided to invest into a multi gym for home. Delivery should happen within the next couple weeks, luckily they also assemble it for me. This and my new regime for eating (I am using my fitness pal again to track what I eat), should counteract my weight gain. After loosing a lot of weight in 2014/15 (my guide here is pretty much two years old) it slowly started creeping up on me again. It settles differently to before, so instead of just being blown up and fat, I have an ever growing gut. Saying that, the holidays and lots of food didn’t help, but a few runs counter acted it to a certain extend. Speaking to a friend it is simple why that weight came back: change of routine, new job, more snacks. Then a lot of travel with no routine and in my case lots of bread in Germany. Whilst you would say it is up to me to decide what I want to eat, you are somewhat bound to the availability. So the fight is on, from Monday I will count calories again and follow my own guidance on loosing weight again. It will significantly improve my running performance too and the weight training should do its part. Fingers crossed.

Now, going back to work on Monday will be great. I do miss my team and getting involved. Likewise, I will miss my long sleeps and live into the day. I will miss the time with the boys.

And the days are not getting longer. I am not sure if it is only me, but it seems to be dark towards 9 pm already, some trees have brown leaves, and I wore my jumper more often than I used to. It is only mid August, the time I consider to be the height of summer. But autumn, the golden autumn usually in the UK, is around the corner. Two more weeks and we enter September. Two months of my favourite time of the year, before we enter into winter. Before we know it is is going to be Christmas.

Ok, I stop with those depressing sounds. Let’s focus on the good things, the good times and the quality time we spend with friends and family. Let’s cherish the moments of love. And, let’s share the love amongst our friends.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world. Have an amazing week!
Volker

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 🙁

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 😉 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