Tag: travel

Sunday Column (168)

What should I say. An eventful week has passed. Summing up the last weekend, we went to a Christening. It was a Catholic Christening and I still feel a bit awkward to go to Churches. I guess I have been a bit detached from religion if you don’t count Buddhism as one. Anyway, it was a great event, and a nice get together afterwards. I hope, once we move, that we stay in contact with all those fantastic people we met in Beckenham over the last 8 years.

We also got a new neighbour. I didn’t post about it as I didn’t want to be the first one announcing it. A fantastic occurence if you think about it. Whilst having two kids of my onw it is still a miracle thinking a new human being enters this world. I love it and still get a bit sentimental.

Nevertheless our two are more than enough work. Nothing warms my heart more than coming home from work or travel and getting big hugs, kisses and a play about with the boys. I absolutely love and adore them!

I travelled to Milan this week and got a chance to read more of the Joan Baez biography. Page by page I realise what kind of world she used to live in. Segregation, inequality between races and genders. I actually cried a bit when she described her relationship with Dr. King. Those hippies set out to change the world, not to become super rich. Their motivation was “to make a dent” in the universe, nothing else.

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Have you thought about the values you are living for? More money, bigger car or bigger house? It doesn’t work like that. It never will. Attachment and greed will ruin our society. Nothing about earning more money, being more successful but at some point you have to stop and think about it. Are a couple hundred more a month worth the additional hassle you have to put in? I guess it depends which level you are talking about but stop and think about it for a moment. Happiness comes from within not out of your wallet.

Making this impact I described above drives me on. Flying to the international offices and making a difference. I enjoy doing that. Having these 19 hours days collapsing at the end of the day with a satisfactory feeling. This is the dent I am making at the moment. On the exact opposite end I enjoy turning everything off during my flight and just relax. That can work wonders too!

Taking these powernaps at 30,000 ft. I love doing that. The 10 minutes after lunch or on the couch on a Saturday afternoon after the boys woke you up at 5:30 again. I guess I am lucky I can do that πŸ™‚

We all followed the Facebook IO on Friday. Isn’t it fascinating that a social media network is worth so much money by the input we all provide. Should we not all have a bit of a share package? After all if we all withdraw our membership Facebook would be worth nothing. Interesting thought, no?

Anyway. Just when I left work on Friday someone stopped me in the street saying “Volker, you remember me? You interviewed me last year.” I didn’t remember him. He thought I was arrogant admitting it and saying he could add me on Linkedin. Crazy. I normally have a good memory but over the last 12 months I met so many people for interviews and business, how could I possibly remember who is who. I guess I was right (arrogant again) to not employ him, as he obviously didn’t make any lasting impression on me.

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We spend the weekend on a 3rd birthday party and a school party down in Hassocks. I got some sun and we finished the day with a curry in our local restaurant. We cannot wait to move. Hopefully we finally exchange contracts on Monday. Fingers and toes crossed.

Have a great week.

Best wishes,
Volker

Sunday Column (164)

This week passed very quickly. I was in Germany for the Exchangewire Ad Trading Conference. Those events are exhaustive. Not only do you hang around at the airport, then fly and then go out with folk from the industry, but you also don’t sleep long, don’t sleep well and cannot follow your normal routine. Particularly if you only just started running again πŸ™

Having said that it was a gorgeous day and a great programme. I enjoy hanging around at those events. I met a few new people from ad server to software developers, and caught up with some friends I haven’t seen for a while. It was fantastic.

Being away is great. Time flies, you get to see new places. But you don’t get to see the family. You hear how the boys are missing you and not understanding that “if daddy is up there” he is in a plane and not in the room upstairs. My oldest was disappointed. On the contrary I have two long weekends coming up which is nice. Next week I am travelling and then probably three times in May before we hopefully move at the beginning of June. Fingers crossed. So the time I spend home is now more and more focused on the boys. We go swimming, play with train tracks and have a laugh with the farting monsters πŸ™‚

Before I finish I wanted to mention a great online programme (recommended by a good friend): Early to Rise.

In a video series they describe how to have success in life. And, it shows one bit where they talk about building a network of friends, then to tell your network what you want to achieve, then eventually your dreams come true. Only the ones that really know you can help you to achieve excellence. Your mentors, your friends.

Enough for the day.

Another busy week ahead, going to Madrid. The MIL is coming to town too. Life is harder if you don’t have family close by and you aren’t around every night/morning.

Have a good one folks,
speak next week πŸ™‚

Volker

Sunday Column (152)

I started writing this column whilst having a Saturday night off. Glass of wine, German music, kids in bed and the wife visiting a friend. These evenings are rare. Time to reflect, time to / for myself.

What am I thinking these days? I am thinking a lot to be honest. There are a few things that I anticipate this year. All and foremost our move to a better life. I am getting quite excited thinking that I finally settle down. A bigger house. A better quality of life. All other factors probably stay the same but that is how it is. You never completely change just because you move or change one bit of your life. There are the same illusions you have that every year at New Year’s Eve you give up smoking. Most people never last. Change is within us and not (necessarily) location dependent.

Then we get our new (used) car on Tuesday. A Seat Alhambra. As you know my wife and I insist on rear facing car seats. The Alhambra was the only choice for a comfortable drive and space in the car, whilst keeping the car seats’ third leg on a solid ground. Most other cars (Sharan, S-Max, Galaxy, 2011+ Alhambra) have under floor storage boxes that don’t support the weight of the leg. Anyway, my wife will write an extensive report as a guest post. So any comments should be waiting until the full review is published. However, I think once the kids are out of rear facing car seats we get an XC90 Volvo again. We just loved that car too much.

This week I have been to Milan. I only went for the day. Despite no sleep the night before (thanks kids!) I had a good day. I really look forward travelling more regularly to Spain, Italy and potentially more countries in the future. This will be my job moving forward. Besides Colin loves ham at the moment, so both of those cities offer me the best “take away” for him πŸ˜‰ The perks.

Other than that work is busy. I have found some time to catch up with half the industry about the acquisition. January was a lot busier than anticipated and I look forward to March. Why March? February looks like it will be even busier than January already, so March can only be better, right? Then again there are a few longer trips planned too. Lots of progress to be seen. I like that.

We had a fantastic weekend. We didn’t do much, but given the fact we weren’t house hunting and didn’t have any viewings for our place, we were busy but relaxed. We took some pictures, shopped for some wine and just chilled. Good bonding with Colin and Rohan. Wine: not having a constant stack of wine at home, buying them cheap when on offer, allows me to go and shop different wines. I got some excellent bargains on some French Fitou and Shiraz. So what am I complaining about?!

Guess that is all for this week folks.

Have a good one,
Volker

Sunday Column (144)

As a child I never travelled much. Austria or Denmark with my parents, usually by car and we never flew. That was fine then and I have no regrets. I wasn’t jealous of other kids that did fly. Even when I grew up, I never went anywhere. A short trip to Spain and a motor bike trip to Italy and Denmark. But that was about it. Another bike trip around the UK of course. Only when I got married, our honeymoon took us to Thailand, and boy did I love it.

My hotel was next to one of those towers, never noticed the other πŸ™‚
This week I went to Madrid for business. Business travel is always a bit different, unless you get to know the locals. My luck was that our Country Manager in Spain is local but since he wasn’t free the night of my stay, I met with another friend who has lived in Spain for over 10 years. Now, I was shown Madrid. I am not talking night clubs but tapas. The little dishes you have whilst having a good chat in one of the local bars. Having a beer, or a glass of wine, a snack. It is fantastic. You find different and very fresh flavours. If you follow me on Foursquare you will see where I have been. Whilst I abandoned the daily use of Foursquare, I still check in at places I like to remember. Like a travel diary if you like. So, I just wanted to say that business travel, tiring as it is, can also be a lot of fun.

Now the strike action of the public sector. Only in Cameron’s Britain did I ever experience strikes, riots and high unemployment rate. I am might be biased as for the first 8 years of me living in the UK Labour was in power, and maybe they messed a lot of things up. But lately I get increasingly annoyed of what is happening. Anyway, arriving back at Gatwick there weren’t any queues, no problem whatsoever. Fantastic.

But enough about travel. Work is very tiring as it is, but very rewarding too. I even went into work on Friday when I had a day off. This time though to show off the family. It was great to just sit there on Friday afternoon and presenting the kiddies. And the wife of course πŸ™‚ They enjoyed it and I believe my colleagues enjoyed it too. We then went home and did some Christmas shopping on the way.

We also went Christmas shopping in Bromley on Saturday. I believe we decided on a new hifi system so we can dock in our iPods and iPhone(s) as well as USB sticks. Not an easy decisions but as my wife and I are both half deaf, we don’t need a super duper hifi system, LOL.

We also made food plans for Xmas. I cannot wait. I know that after Christmas I want to change a lot of food and drink habits in order to live a lot healthier. We shall see. I have been saying that for years.

Last but not least I am very happy with our fibre optic broadband. I streamed an online movie on Friday night and it was fantastic. Good quality.

Oh, and a quick word about the kids. Every weekend I start enjoying Colin more. It seem as we get along better, communicate better and get to know each other well. Today we went for a long walk (10 km), of which he slept most of it. But even just being out and about with the boys for a walk gives me great satisfaction.

Enjoy December, I think I am slowly getting into the mood for Christmas.

Cheerio,
Volker

Sunday Column (140)

What a week. Just back from my holidays things got busy at work. And at home for that matter as we all got a blimming cold (or man flu which is even worse). However, we managed to stay alive, the kids got better by the end of the week, and we got a final answer to our car. THE final answer.

I had a trip to Milan and returned late Friday.

When I went to Milano, Italy, I also travelled around a bit, including an amazing office with the biggest vertical garden in Europe. See picture. The architecture in Italy is amazing, people are great, and the online business is fantastico too. Just not as developed as in London for instance. But we are working on it very successfully.

Then THE CAR this week: our lovely Volvo XC90 with this amazing engine for this amazing price and the amazing expensive repairs which were partly unnecessary….had to be written off. At least from our end. When the garage eventually discovered that the gear box needed replacing, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We couldn’t and wouldn’t want to afford that. We still got a bit of money back for the unnecessary repair and the car but of course this wasn’t the end we had in mind.

What we learn: don’t trust the first garage you go to. Doves Volvo Croydon literally sold us the car knowing the gear box for that model came to an end. We had endless repairs last year. Our new Volvo garage now got us a good deal, a fantastic offer for repair (which we had to decline), and were really amazing. Thanks for that.

So if you want to buy a Volvo in England/London, please go and visit the guys from Parkside Volvo Orpington! Somehow I think I am going to be back there within the next 12 months πŸ™‚

We haven’t been too lucky with cars. After I left Germany where I drove a Fiat machine (Punto I believe), I took over my brother’s Nissan Sunny in 2002, nicknamed the Messerschmidt in my bouncer days, which gave up after 14 (or even 16?) years. Bless. Then Molly, my wife’s old Corsa which packed in after 11 years I believe and we sold for small change. We then got a Nissan Primera which I drowned in the flood after 9 days on the road, then an Astra which was great until we had kids (space wise) and we got the Volvo XC90 last February.

We were hoping the XC90 would last for a while. At least until the kiddies were old enough for front facing car seats but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.

For now we decided to try to live without a car but I am sure we must look into a people carrier or mini bus next year πŸ™‚ We shall see. We managed shopping in Bromley today going by bus, so we can accommodate – so far anyway.

So that was the excitement of this week. At least we found closure. RIP big Volvo beast. We are going to miss you but maybe the new Volvo XC90 R is just what the family needs. It is supposed to come out shortly.

I guess this will be all for this week folks. The weekend was quiet – kind of. It was a mix of children and baby and adult parties. And public transport of course.

Have a great week!
Volker

Sunday Column (106)

Last week passed very quick, once again. Not only work but the short nights with the boys are taking there toll. It seems as if things happen in delirium, a kind of surreal feeling if that makes sense.

The highlight clearly was my trip to Iceland to a conference: Rimc. A detailed conference blog post to follow.

I have known my friend Kristjan from Iceland for some time and was glad to be invited to speak at his conference. Due to Rohan only being 4 weeks, I thought I had to fly back just after the conference, hence missed out on an amazing (so I heard) trip around Iceland. Hopefully next time.

My wife always wanted to travel to two countries for her whole life: Egypt and Iceland.
In 2006 I went to Egypt and only the night before I left she mentioned that β€œI would see the pyramids before she does”. And, yes, I totally forgot. When I travel for work, I focus on the job I have to do rather than things that need to be done outside the working environment.

Hence this time, after I once travelled to the South of France in December without shorts, I involved my wife to pick cloth to wear. I took her advice and thought I had it covered, until my boss mentioned the blue lagoon, and that I should go there. The blue lagoon didn’t ring a bell with me, so I asked my wife who of course knew about it. And so I went.

Based in between lava rocks, there is a lagoon with hot sulphur water. What an amazing experience. Thanks to my contact I got an invite to go and enjoyed it very much. Whilst the cold wind and minus 6 degrees cooled my head, my body was emerged in very warm water. You had the chance to get a β€œmassage” under a waterfall or just chill sitting in one of the bays. Sitting in the hot water, seeing the snow fall to the ground and the fog covering your view beyond 10 meters was an extraordinary experience.

I then decided to go to the sauna, did my session there, cooled down by rubbing fresh snow on my body. That was great. Finally I understand why people in cold countries use saunas much more than anyone else.

Going to the hotel, I was just tired, relaxed and my body felt refreshed. However, I went into Reykjavik town centre which is small but nice. I got some souvenirs for my boys and my wife, and then eased my day out with some great networking.

Oh, that was Thursday πŸ™‚ On Friday I was at the conference and flew back early Saturday. I had to leave the networking party where we saw the Northern Lights around 11 pm. The lights were amazing. The whole trip and Iceland, including the Icelanders, are amazing and very welcoming. My taxi left at 5 am and I was home for lunch. Better be helping the wife, but thank her that I was allowed to go after all. Next year, I hopefully will be back, then for the weekend, maybe even taking the wife πŸ˜‰

It all went well, I am getting used to travelling again. And, on Saturday we looked at a new sofa for our living room, cleaned the house and sorted things out…just back to our normal routine…..

Have a good one, a full write up of the conference to follow.
Volker

Sunday Column (57)

Ok, this week wasn’t really exciting. I worked a lot and met with ex colleagues from my old work. However, most of them will be, like me, ex-Profero people soon. Weird, somehow many seem to leave there too.

Anyway. I was off on Friday to go to Zurich for a long weekend. We promised Colin’s god mother, my cousin, to visit them a long time ago. Colin woke us up on Friday morning at 3 am and we thought he had pain teething. He slept through the flight on Friday and got us up in the early hours of Saturday again. From Saturday lunch time he was sick every time he ate. We decided to take him to A&E in Zurich on Saturday night and they diagnosed an ear infection.

We just got home not long ago. He seems to be much better and the home environment seems to get him going too. However, he did take a lot of medicine and antibiotics. Hopefully he will sleep more tonight.

Jen and I are just knackered now. We hardly slept, travelled and worried. So a glass of vino, pizza and an early night are calling.

Honestly, that will be all this week. I am too exhausted to tell you how much I enjoyed Zurich, meeting my cousin and having had a great cheese fondue. And, Colin started waving at people.

So all is good – and even Swiss Air personnel that didn’t care you travelling with children and being ignorant didn’t disturb my mood (almost).

Have a great week,
Volker