Tag: merry christmas

Ballueder Thinks (11) – Merry Christmas, the year in review

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year 2021!

2020 – most of us would love to wipe this year out. Forget about it. It is weird to think that a year ago, most of us could have guessed what was coming. However, the Western world was ignorant about the new ‘flu’ that was going on in China, and slowly spread across its borders. In hindsight, a friend of mine mentioned that he saw his work colleagues from China hardly making it on or off the plane in London – he knew it was coming. Why didn’t we act sooner?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so in hindsight I want to reflect on what was my 2020. A year that brought change, challenges but also a year that wasn’t too bad for us on a whole. We are truly grateful and hope that 2021 will be even better. There are good things that happened. Small things, like being able to book a barber’s appointment, or spending more time with the family, less of a commute, discovering the country side or just how grateful one should be.

My 2020 thoughts were all about healthier living and building my own business. I said it then and say it now, I am more of a consultant, working on different projects and that’s what I enjoy. In 2021 you will see my positioning change more towards Strategy and Leadership Consultant. I will still continue the same I have before, but my focus will shift towards a more teaching and skill based training approach which incorporates elements of my leadership research, mindfulness, counselling and coaching skills. I am brining the best of my abilities together, to build training programmes for leaders, middle management and individuals to become better in what they do.

But enough about work. I want to provide a personal review of this year, looking at each month, providing some thoughts on what I felt was important. And as I have been writing it, I noticed I got events muddled up, but that’s ok. It’s how I see it from and end of year perspective. And if you are sitting down with a tipple, you might not even notice it 😉

What I do know is that in January, I became a vegetarian. I tried vegan but without eggs and cheese, life wasn’t quite right. I also enjoy knowing this is good for the environment, and I stuck to it most of the year, with the exception of the odd piece of chicken and prawns. I would say I am 95% vegetarian, without wanting to beat myself up for eating a small piece of meat now and then. This resulted in me learning how to cook proper veggie meals, particularly whilst training for my marathon. Overall, my carbon footprint from food would have gone down massively. So that’s a good think I believe.

Thanks again for all your support this year. Without you, my friends, listeners, readers and mentors this would have been a harder year than it was. Let’s hope 2021 will be a new, amazing year!

Best wishes,
Volker

——

January – I started the year knowing that my contract might be up for renewal. Things weren’t moving as expected, yet a new product with one of our partners kept us busy. So it was a bit ‘business as usual’, a lot of working from home, as gloomy January. It was miserable in my memory anyway. I just kept on working, and I was waiting to see what the year would bring. Two jobs, one paid, one for sweat equity, awaiting 2020 to shed some light on what was there to come. I also went on a retreat in Germany, which I truly enjoyed. That was my last travel for a long time, who would have guessed.

February – Mid February, just after my wife had a second wave of her ‘illness’, I got it. A day of fever, the kids off school for a day, and this ongoing cough. My throat was so sore, it kept me awake at night. When the first wave was over, the cough persisted, and the second part of the illness left me a bit breathless, as if I had smoked a few joints. People moved away from me on the train when I was coughing. As people became more knowledgable about this ‘virus’, I realised that my sense of smell and taste slowly recovered. I am certain I had the Coronavirus, but at the time, I didn’t have a clue. Maybe I should have, and I probably should have worn a mask.

Also, I had my first hypnotherapy session, I would have another one later in the year, dealing with some childhood issues. It’s fascinating what you can do with the mind, and it made me even more interested in studying hypnotherapy at some point.

March – I stayed home from mid March. Meetings were moved online, and people didn’t want to meet. Events we planned were cancelled. I received notice on my contract and was looking for a new one, yet no one wanted to commit to anything. A look around the globe gave us some warning, but little time to prepare for what was called a lockdown. The kids went off school, home schooling was a joke, and juggling a contract, finding new work and home schooling wasn’t happening at all. It all felt very surreal. We spent time going for long walks in the countryside, walks down the beach and kept ourselves sane. I am so proud of my boys, and wife, for coping so well this year. It was a hard time, yet we managed. We had outside space, running water, a toilet and enough food. We were the lucky ones, and I reminded myself daily of this.

April just became more of it. Any breaks we planned weren’t happening, ground hog day. Hustling for work, activating your network, speaking to people about work, reducing your outgoings. Yet I picked up some mindfulness training courses, and helped a couple of companies through the lockdown. For us digital folk it was easy to get used to the ‘new normal’, the video conferencing, remote working etc. I had my most creative time, and came up with new business ideas, yet nothing of those materialised in the end. But I learned a hell of a lot!

We moved from grocery delivery to click and collect; I ran half marathons on the treadmill to keep me sane. This month wasn’t the best, I want to be honest. And it ended with my birthday, a first birthday in lockdown.

But, we were alive. We had food on the table. We did better than a lot of people in this world, again being very grateful for what we have.

May became the month of hope. We slowly came out of lockdown, and thought we managed to put most of the virus behind us. Little did we know. Some people returned to their offices, or were planning to. Other companies decided to work from home indefinitely. Things changed, opinions of right or wrong, and what to do and not to do split the nation. I started cooking more for myself, making sure I get the right vegetarian fuel to sustain myself. I learned all about veggie BBQs too, sampling every veggie sausage on the planet. My conclusion: the Richmond veggie sausages are the nicest and of course the Beyond Meat burger.

June was when things slowly normalised. We still had a long way to go, but it was as if there was a new horizon. I picked up a new contract which helped immensely, and continued to have discussions what the best way forward was for me. Even for a mindfulness practitioner, the mind f* is real. No one could help you to determine what is right and what is wrong. What should you focus on, what not. It became a time for me to look inwards, looking what is important to me, the family and how we can best make it through those difficult times. Luckily, our kids went back to school until the summer break, but a lot of people were struggling.

On a sad side, my grandmother passed away age 99, 3 months before her 100th birthday. She had a blessed life, and I sometimes think it was good for her not to understand this Covid-19 thing.

Oma Erika

July was the month it became real. For many years I fancied a tattoo. I never did it, and when lockdown hit, I decided to go for it. And when I was allowed to, I did it. My first ever tattoo. Amazing 🙂 I never looked back, and the buzz you get from getting one is so amazing. I spare you more details, but this is epic. Why didn’t I go for it in 1996 when I wanted to???

I also finished off a contract which in total lasted a year. To make my business operations easier, I decided to move all my work related stuff to www.balluederpartners.com to separate work and life emails. I don’t want to lie, it was a quiet time from a work perspective, so I had a lot of time to position myself, the company and make plans. And plans I had plenty, some which crystallised and others that didn’t.

As a family we fancied the idea of a hot tub. So we tested a few of them, but ended up with a blow up one later in the year, as we are planning to make some changes to the house and all. I guess 2020 was about making your home as comfortable as possible, knowing you would spend a lot of time in it. We still haven’t decided what to do next, but hey, there needs to be some excitement in 2021 😉

August was a month I wanted to take off. Summer holidays. The plan was to go to Germany but the government decided 2 days before our departure that if you drive through Belgium, you had to quarantine on return. Instead we drove to Scotland for a great week and stayed in Preston on the way. Not sure if the latter was safer than driving through Belgium, but given France was added to the list in the meantime, we could have not escaped the quarantine. Covid made re-booking things and changing bookings a lot more flexible. It was a also a month we started clearing out a lot of stuff. Sometimes you just need a proper clear out. Towards the end of the year I rediscovered eBay, selling my old Apple Watch (I went all Garmin in 2020) and my humidor. It never occurred to me how much money you can make by selling some of the stuff.

September brought on some unexpected positive changes. I picked up a contract which went from strength to strength since. A position I really enjoy and I hope will be a long term engagement. The kids went back to school, which was great. Don’t get me wrong, great for a) education but b) after home schooling and a long summer break with no childcare or appetite and options for holidays, it was good to see them back at school with their friends. They need the social interaction.

It was then that I saw a few doctors, for palpitations, stress related hearing issues etc. What aspired then was that I was stressed from everything that was going on which was 2020, but also the marathon. My body was knackered from the training. Since increasing my distance above 25K I had had the above problems which all disappeared after the marathon. The good things was that the NHS was great in getting tests done, and reassuring me that I was fit as a fiddle. Two doctors independently suggested to me that I should change to decaffeinated coffee. Which I did, and I have not looked back since. I discovered a variety of coffees since September that are really nice and decaf. Here we go with a healthier life in 2020.

Also I started my podcasts again. Season 4. There have been some amazing episodes since, yet I plan to take a longer break next year to revisit the show and look what’s on the horizon next. New projects etc. But not yet, we finish season 4 next summer, I already recorded episodes up to March and they are good and educational! It’s a fun journey, but I think I need to reflect on a few years first, to then fine tune it for a relaunch in 2022. We shall see.

We also had trouble with our Skoda. However, we got it all fixed in the end, but lost a bit of trust with the garage. It’s always worrying if a part breaks after they had the car for a check up. And then, once of a sudden, it gets really expensive. With the new regulations coming in for petrol and diesel cars, I am thinking we are waiting until electric cars are mainstream to get a new motor. The current one will do for a few more years, and the money we wanted to spend on a fancy new car this year is better spend elsewhere.

October was the month where things fell into place a bit. We got more of a routine. The new iphone came out and I was quite excited to upgrade on my usual 2 year cycle. I also finished the London virtual marathon in aid for the RNIB, and I got a space for the 2021 marathon in London. Fingers crossed we can run it in London and I won’t have problems again. 3rd time lucky, but recovery was quick and smooth.

Since we couldn’t go away for half term, we spend a long weekend visiting Dover Castle and staying in the pre-booked Premier Inn for our planned Germany trip. A change of scenery was great, and we had lots of fun as a family, creating memories. Positive memories in 2020. We tried really hard this year to make it as positively memorable as possible for the kids – and ourselves of course.

I also joined a charity to help them as a volunteer, which hopefully leads to a trustee position in the new year. This is another focus for me moving forward. Giving back and helping others with my experience. Ideally, I want to join companies as a non-executive director next year, helping them to understand digital transformation, marketing and sales as well as positioning.

November saw me finishing up a smaller contract but also discussions around new opportunities. The good thing about consultancy is that if you loose one contract, you normally have another one still. The bad thing is that you still need to find new ones all the time 😉 It’s about networking, knowing people, connecting to people.

Lockdown 2.0 saw some personal plans shattered, yet schools continued, and really it was just miserable due to the darker days, daylight saving, rain and all. And, you couldn’t plan anything. So having a hottub, and enough food, log fires, wine, and cheese fondue boosted our morale. I am not sure how often we said that we are grateful for everything we have. The kids seem to suffer too.

I also attended my first funeral, losing one of my mentors to Cancer.

Also, Apple released the M1 chips in their new MacBooks. Unfortunately, when I got my MacBook 3 years ago, I thought 8 GB of RAM would be enough. Working as a consultant, having different programmes, millions of browser windows, and two external screens to power, 16 GB are a must. So it was a nice coincidence to combine the upgrade of RAM with the upgrade of a new processor. I was astonished how much of a difference it made.

December was another month where we came out of a lockdown. So the mood was more positive. As I got into artwork this year, this was the time to add more, and finally I was allowed to do it. Finally something to look forward to. I also completed the first half of a diploma in counselling and learned a ton about inner conflicts. This year has really been about learning, about looking forward, looking inward, and making it work. Particularly the latter, you come up with so many ways to spin a positive story, to keep the kids entertained, to make it through this year. Helping others, helping yourself, and supporting each other.

We made it in the end. We are still alive. I will have 2 weeks off which are desperately needed. New ideas for 2021. New hopes. New plans. And on top of that, we are so grateful for what we have. I don’t know how often I cried this year, but more often, and more often for good reasons.

A quote I read was ‘maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.

This sums up 2020 a bit for me. I looked inwards a lot, and I discovered a lot in there too.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas. As you might read in my newsletter, I am not religious. So however you want to spend this Christian based holiday, spend it with your loved ones, and enjoy some quiet time.

Maybe look back at 2020, see how much you have learned and what you can be grateful for, and make some plans for 2021.

For me Christmas is about time off, nice wine, cheese, food and log fires. Time with the family and sharing the love. No excesses this year. We want to be humble.

If there is ever anything I can help you with, don’t ever hesitate to reach out.

Have a great 2021.

Love and Kindness, Volker

Sunday Column (417)

Please accept my apologies for the late publication of this blog – the scheduling let me down 🙁

Merry Christmas.

We have been, and are celebrating, with our families today. So I have already written the post and by the time you read it, I hope you are sitting down, chillaxing after a fat turkey dinner, glass of sherry or wine, maybe a cheese board, and you are creating an experience and memories with your families. That is what Christmas is about. Having a good time and spending some amazing time with your loved ones. For years to come you will look at your pictures from Christmas, remember the moments when the kids unwrap the presents, the sound of the fire and the taste of cheese and wine. There are so many experiences you’ll remember, the funny and sad stories. Moments that matter.

Christmas, end of year, is time to reflect. An amazing year it was. It started actually with an interview on the first day back after Christmas in 2016. This year was for me to create my life. To find out what I want to do and how I want to do it. Given the recent developments, I mapped out what I want to do what I shall focus on moving forward. And the reasoning for anything is around a few things that are very important for me: values. What I value. What I cherish in life and what is important to me. And my career is important to me. Lots of things to do, so much opportunity out there.

One value for me, without any question, is family. I want to have the flexibility to see my boys growing up and make the good night story more often than just at the weekends. Or the school pick up. At least once a week I’d like to be at home and be there for them, around them and help them grow up. I want to be their sounding board and advisor, friend and lecturer all at the same time. That is important for me. And, it is important for me to allow my wife to go back to work too. That will hopefully happen early 2017. So more change to come.

Another value is energy. I want to put energy into things and projects where I get energy back. I enjoy working with people that work hard and put a lot of energy into things to make them work. Honesty. Trust. Not being able to funnel your energy into the right direction or not being able to funnel energy whatsoever, just doesn’t work for me. So a part of 2016 is learning about my energy household, about meditation techniques and on that note I concluded more than 365 days of daily meditation. It helped me a lot!

This year saw my oldest joining middle school. The youngest going into year one. Those are big steps. I don’t believe how quickly or too quickly they grow up. Whichever cliché you think it is, we don’t have enough time to see our kids grow up. See earlier point. My wife re-trained and is ready to go back to work. Life is moving on slowly but surely. You would have noticed me mentioning the driveway a lot, yet it is a completion of the house for now. All work has been done, the next few bits and pieces are repairs and cosmetics, some plastering, some decorating etc. After 4.5 years we are finally done with the house and the outside in a way we wanted to have it. A great, satisfying feeling. I can sit in my chair, have a glass of wine and happily say we are done with the house. A very satisfying feeling. We have good health. My wife even ran a marathon. We are surrounded by family. What else can we ask for?

We saw Trump’s election this year. We saw Brexit. Latter resulted in me sending off for the naturalisation this week, to become a British citizen. I love this country, love living here, so might as well have a British passport in order to be 100% sure I can stay. Most probably I can anyway, but after 15 years it was about time to get this sorted. The likelihood of me moving back to Germany is very slim. And Trump – I follow politics and I am a bit concerned, yet we have to evaluate as we go along. As anything in life, there is a German saying, nothing is eaten as hot as it is cooked – let the news die down, see them taking office and see how much they actually do of what they threaten to do. Yet, given the German history, I am cautious to not ignore early warning signs. Fingers crossed.

At the same time we see terrorism in Germany and I am glad I don’t know of anyone being affected. I lived through 7/7 in London in 2005 and that is over 10 years ago now. We almost expect terrorism daily and luckily not much is happening. Let’s hope that we will see less of it rather than more. Paris, Madrid, London, Berlin….why can’t we all live in peace. Aleppo. I feel better by donating £50 to Unicef for some winter blanket, shoes and cloth for a child. But I am still very detached from what is actually going on. I wouldn’t say bubble wrapped but distanced. Fortunately or unfortunately. Trying to explain to your kids that having a turkey for Christmas, presents and the fire on, sitting in the warm and enjoying ourselves is something that they shouldn’t take for granted. I am trying. We should value every little thing in life and cherish those moments we create. Share the love whilst it lasts. Enjoy the good moments, and cherish them.

We also had a few nice holidays. Nothing fancy but great memories for the children. Memories and experience that matter. York in autumn. Centreparks. A few days at at the beach, Scotland with the MIL. The kids do not care if it is Cacun or Littlehampton, and when they are older I hope to show them more of the world. At the moment we are struggling to communicate some basic principles of what the European Union is or that the world is round. And just because Power Rangers are in New York, doesn’t mean going there we will see them 🙂 The world isn’t that simple, or maybe it is and we lost touch with the simplicity of it by making it more complicated than it should be. Anyway.

What I wish for in 2017 is simple: more time with the family, more happiness and health – latter is key to anything we do. Nothing is more important than health. So I continue to run my 20K a week, doing some weight training and maybe take up swimming again. We encourage the boys to take on different sports. Food is key too. What you put in, results in energy and output. Bad food will result in diseases. Very simple, so making sure to choose the right ingredients, cooking and eating healthy is in stock for 2017.

And maybe this is the same tune I had on last year. Sunday Column 364 and 365 talk more about sick bugs which we seemed to have avoided this year, at least the nasty stomach ones, so far. I also talk about my exercise routine which I kept up throughout the year, and still even then the work life balance wasn’t 100%. Guess it never is. And I do talk about the driveway LOL.

With that closing, thanks for being a regular reader of my blog and thanks for your support and help throughout the year.

Have a Happy Christmas, great start into the New Year and I hope that you are as excited as myself to embark a new journey in 2017. A year where I like to look back to and say it shaped my future. Yet every year does 🙂

All the best and stay safe and well,
Volker

Sunday Column (199)

I thought I had overcome the jet lag but when I tried to get up for my 5 am run on Monday I just couldn’t move. Worse I slept the whole train journey into work. On a high side our new family iComputer arrived and it is fantastic. A lovely little toy. And beautiful too.

20121219-073601.jpg There are a lot of things you need to get used to but ultimately it is my wife’s working machine. Future proof I hope 🙂

I often feel a little overwhelmed on a Monday. A lot of people want to know lots of things all the time from you. Particularly if you have been out of the office for a week or so. This is ok but if you have deadlines to meet it can be quite annoying. So I try leaving early on Monday and catch up with the stuff that needs done at home or on the train. Too much information these days. The year end stress of course accelerates things, so I was very glad when it was Friday. Time to chill out for two weeks. Family. Toy story. Christmas I suppose 🙂

Not sure if I will put a goal or wish list together for 2013. I am excited about the opportunities at work. I am excited about Colin starting proper school. I am excited for Rohan to start talking. There is so much life has to offer us. And it is just there to grab and live the moment. I am tired just now (in general at the end of the year) but full of enthusiasm and positive energy for next year. Bring it on, I can take it!

Now, going with the flow, I plan to do some catching up over my holidays. A bit of writing and reading. Running. This week seemed like running wasn’t possible because of tiredness and Xmas parties. I got a massage this weekend which helped me to relax. My muscles are much looser than in the summer when I had my back ache. I got a few plans for the holidays. Spending time with the kids and going down to Sealife in Brighton again. But, going with the flow (this will be my new mantra I think), there is no pressure for anything but to spend time with my loved ones. Look at what kind of family man I become 🙂 I am loving it too.

20121219-074837.jpg You probably heard a lot about sleep and tiredness there but there is one detail I haven’t mentioned: C sleeps through the night. He now wears socks and has a gro clock which shows him stars when he is supposed to sleep and a sun after 7 am for waking time. He loves it. He gets up and is all excited to have seen the sun. Bless. R also, after almost 2 years, sleeps through the night. A bit more food, a bit of crying and off he went. So after two years I seem to get my life and wife back. Catching up with sleep I never thought I would get back.

I believe I survived our Christmas party alright-ish. I was fine to the point I came home and my wife offered me a few zips out of the bottle of wine she had open. So it got later than anticipated and I did feel it a bit the next day. Crimbo drinks with some “industry veterans” the next day were a bit messier but I survived even that. A bit ropey on the Friday but lucky me worked from home as all trains were cancelled into London. Due to a fire in the signaling box along the line trains were cancelled even at the weekend. So that all worked out well, overall a good last week in the office. I am now off until the 7th of January, a proper break.

We got a couple new fish at the weekend too. Some Neon Tetra, two plecos and more catfish. A friend advised me on the right set up of the fish tank, so fingers crossed this all works out.

Cory-Punctatus

pleco

To be honest, this is concluding the highlights of the week. We are very fortunate and happy. Things are good in our little village and our little home. All set for Christmas. I am sure I will post a picture of a few toys that are meant to be for the boys but I will spend most Christmas Day playing with 😉 Christmas is really for the kids and hence we are more excited for them than for us. We already got our Christmas iPresent this week, so we are all set.

This year has been a bit rocky road. With the move, some changes at work, some changes with the kids. But overall it has been a really good year. It went fast but not too fast. We didn’t manage to catch up with as many friends as we wanted to but you never have enough time for everyone. That is mainly true for the guys living in Scotland or Germany. Having said that we saw a lot of the family this year. The move is probably still the biggest thing that happened. One of the best things that we have ever done. We slowly settling in our little village, found friends and just going with the flow.

Maybe one last comment or thought. I read the other day a quote that went like this: “Just because it is better, doesn’t mean it has value. Value comes from improving people’s lives, not impressing them with your technology.”

I work and sell technology. I try and help people to improve their lives. That is very enjoyable. But sometimes more technology, a better computer, a nicer tablet, another laptop, a faster car or just a bigger TV won’t get you anywhere. Just because things are better than others doesn’t mean you add a lot of value to your life. A 42 inch TV doesn’t add more value than a 32 inch TV. It isn’t about “the longest” or “the biggest”, it is about what value you add using technology. And I am determined that this will always be the case for me. With work and with my private life. Value adding, giving and sharing is so important. And, if we can do that utilising technology to make it better, faster and more valuable for everyone, then this is a good thing. That is why I love technology, embrace Facebook and Twitter.

Enough now. I hope you and your family, wherever you are, have a fantastic, peaceful and happy Christmas and a great break.

Love and Kindness to you all.

Yours, Volker

Review of 2009

Dear Diary, Family and Friends,

Whilst I had many thoughts this year and published many ideas and deep thought pieces, it is always a pleasure to sit down just before Christmas and have a yearly review. Just a review of things that happened, things that should have happened and dreams I had, and of course dreams that came through.

Let’s start with work, not because it was the most important part in 2009, but to get it covered 🙂 The year started with a big pitch and lots of work, many long nights and a great learning experience. However, it ended with my work not managing to secure the business. We had to make people redundant too, including one of my staff. It was a sad time at work. Privately, the times got more and more exciting, looking forward to my wife giving birth to our son in June.

I started writing weekly reviews as of March, just after the “big London snow” in February. The weekly columns helps me to keep track and sometimes I go and read them again. Our male cat Hansel for instance got his balls chopped off in February and we went to a Baby Show. Thinking about it, I still remember every minute of it, particularly the Baby Show 🙂 We also changed our mortgage, thinking that interest rates had hit rock bottom. They hadn’t but we are still happy we have done it. A crystal ball could have helped with a lot of decisions this year. Santa, please put one under the tree this year 🙂

Also in March I went to a conference in Oslo and had a very busy schedule leading up to another big pitch. On the private side of things, leading up to mid April, we had another scan and went to concert of Kate Rusby. Two weeks later I found out that my work closed the London office and since I couldn’t relocate to York, I had to find a new job.

Between anticipation of the arrival of Colin Heinrich Ballueder on June 12th, I went for interviews and could secure a new job which I started as of July this year. I was glad to not have to wait around for too long to find a new position and was very excited about the opportunity. However, as you know, things didn’t work out at the end.

I had never thought how Colin would have changed my life. Not only did you see my 8 weeks review, there was another one later on. He is great and we cannot wait to have another one soon. But when would be a good time? It was a steep learning curve for me to have a boy, and my focus shifted only slowly from “this is my wife’s job” to “I want to get engaged with my son”. I don’t want you to misunderstand this, but I think for someone who is very focused on his job and work, it is not the easiest to adopt to a baby. But, particularly with my time off in December and the great support of my wife Jenny – and of course the cutest smiles and laughs as of month four – I absolutely enjoy fatherhood.

In October I decided to get myself a career coach which helped me a lot towards goal definitions and motivations for my job and private life. Thanks to him, personal contacts, a lot of networking and long ongoing discussions, I decided to start a new exciting job as of January 2010. I think that the next year, from a work perspective, will be the most challenging and most exciting yet. And, whilst being a little bit scared of it, I am very much looking forward to making things happen. I will be starting a new technology service company for display advertising in the UK. The company already exists in Germany and I know the founder for many years. I appreciate his trust and I trust in him and his team’s expertise to conquer and grow in the UK market. Updates will follow next year but I can tell you that I am very much looking forward to it.

So, before we knew it, Christmas is here. I cannot believe that the recession might be over, I changed jobs twice and that my wife gave me the greatest of all gifts: a healthy boy. And, that I was blessed with a lot of family time this year too. (PS: of course we will still feel the recession for years to come unfortunately, but things will get better!)

Below are two pictures we took in the recent snow. My parents have been over to visit recently, and we are looking forward to seeing my mother in law for Christmas and finishing the year with a reflective detox. With us maybe having the last ever Christmas turkey as we might go 100% vegetarian (or Pescetarianism) next year, this Christmas, and with it being Colin’s first Christmas, it will be a very special one.

Wherever you are, we hope you have a peaceful Christmas. This year, more than any year before, made me appreciate what I have, that I am healthy and how well we are doing.

We wish you love and kindness from our home in Kent, just outside London.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

With Love from Volker, Jenny & Colin

Merry Christmas!

I was wondering the other day. At our supermarket you could buy the first bigger tins of peanuts designed to last you a few days over Christmas. Some nice decoration on the tin already, I was thinking that is wrong. It is too early for Christmas products.

Saying that, we are all aware that it is getting, or seems to get, earlier every year that the Christmas products come into the shops.

So here we go: Lidl’s weekly offers from next Monday, 13th of October.

Wow, I can now enjoy my Christmas cakes, Stollen and Pandoro 10 weeks prior to Christmas. How nice. Maybe I get an advent calendar for November and one for December – who really cares these days?

HoHoHo, Merry Christmas!!!!