Evening Sun

Today has been a very relaxing day, spent most of it with the kids and Sharon, just doing stuff and playing.

I am now sat with the dog (Charm) with the evening sun just chilling and reflecting on the whole week.

Last weekend i was planning the trip to Coventry which i was looking forward to as i had heard from a colleague Tim Davies that the chair/facilitator for the day Ewan Mcintosh was inspiring and was great at opening eyes around web 2 and social media. So my expectation was quite high considering most of the time my expectation is quite low for any event i go to as they tend to tell me what i already know. But I was not let down, i found myself inspired and i actually learnt new things which was great and i now find myself a week later with a Twitter account and writing a blog about, well just about anything.

Whilst i enjoy, what seems like the last bit of sunshine before the rain comes, to be honest i don’t mind as the garden needs it and as Billy Connolly once said “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes“. I find myself thinking back to when i was in a band (Redi).

I played the guitar (rhythm not lead), not great but with the rest of the band we collectively sounded good, well i thought so. We wrote a song called Evening Sun and it was one of my favourites and sat here right now i can actually remember the first timed we played it at a gig and this is the type of night that for me it was dedicated to….

The reason i am no longer in the band is that when we had our second child, we started to think about what our next goals would be. We contemplated a number of things, working and paying off the mortgage, studying, or emigrating. After some time we both felt very passionate about emigrating. There was only really one location for us although we had also considered Ireland as we had been there a number of times and just found it a wonderful place to be. But our eventual choice was Australia.

Now i have never been to Oz but was already reading every book i could get my hand on, visiting websites about all types of places and checking out property prices and dreaming about great locations close to excellent surfing beaches. Within 4 weeks of deciding we also realised that studying was also something we should do between now and when we hope to go (2-3 years) depending on application timetables.

But that meant that the band would become very difficult to manage alongside the additional study, so made the very difficult decision to quit, it was even harder than it should have been because we had just recorded our first album and were all positive about what could happen. But there were also a number of other issues which i am not going to go into detail about which also caused friction between us all and also distracted our attentions from making the most out of what we had just achieved. But that is now a different time and a different place.

Anyway, the Australia choice starting gaining momentum and we were using the web to decide on a likely destination when we “hopefully” emigrate. It was also coincidence that on the BBC at that time they were showing a programme called “Wanted Down Under” where they sent families from the UK to Oz for a week to make a final choice about whether or not they would make the decision to emigrate, to say i was hooked on all things Australian was an under statement.

We first looked at the surrounding areas of Sydney, but found house prices and job opportunities, all be it a few years in advance off putting, so we then started to focus on Melbourne and its surrounding areas. We then found a superb place, which i decided to even take a virtual tour in google earth, a place called Geelong. It is the state of Victoria’s 2nd largest city and is also very close to the Great Ocean Road and the famous surfing location of Bells Beach and surf coast.

So whilst i sit here chilling and reflecting on what has happened, my mind ponders the future and all the opportunities that could bring.

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Navigating the future

I had a very interesting day today. I was at a Leadership workshop at Exeter University. It was facilitated by Liselotte Lyngsø from a company called Future Navigator. On the whole i thought the day was great, i watched and participated with people learning how to juggle with 3 balls and talking about larger toilet seats for the well endowed man…and these do really exist!!!

During one part of the morning Liselotte held up a sign which stated “quiet exams in progress”, which she had taken from the door, she raised the question, would this still be appropriate in the future , if young people are learning by collaboration and are sharing knowledge to get things done. If the expectation is that learning is partly a collective journey then how can you measure an individual. This also mirrors a culture difference between the West (United States of Me) and Asia (a collective approach). We need to start to think about this as leaders now as these are the workers and consumers of the future (i’m not talking hundreds of years i’m talking maybe 3-5 years) and it will be there expectations we will be aiming to exceed…

All i can say is that in some areas of my work rapid change will be required to embrace and support a new cultural co worker who will drive collaboration and knowledge sharing to new heights.

The workshop raised a lot of questions for self reflection which i will need to digest and no doubt use this blog to share some of those thoughts and reflections. One reflection i think i can share now is that i need to listen and hear what my kids are really saying to me more. They are only 2 and 4 years old but already offer insights and simple observations which are great to pull you out your normal frame of mind and get you thinking out of the box.

Now the weekend is upon us and i suppose many people will be waiting in line for petrol in response and in fear of a fuel crisis. Another point from today, how much of our lives are driven by our fears and not our hopes and dreams. For me at present it was slightly higher in the fear column then dreams, which is something i am now going to work on.

The question you need to ask yourself if you want to do the same thing is “why are you living?” This is something which is obvious when you turn up at events like today, but each moment of our lives should, in theory that is, be lived to the maximum, but the reality is that we are all struggling to balance the “wishful thinking approach to life” with the reality that actually happens. For most this may mean, putting things off for another day or week and for others it may mean skipping the gym and getting a pizza on the way home and not having time to spend with the family or friends.

All obvious stuff i think you will agree, but how many of us actually get the balance right?

Changing the subject we managed to get about another 15 strawberries from the allotment yesterday and each and everyone i managed to eat (the kids ate the most) tasted superb, fresh, juicy and so sweet.

Rebirth

The difficulty i guess in writing a blog is knowing what not to write, but as i said i will use this as a opportunity to share my thoughts and stuff.

So on we go – We own a 1972 Westfalia VW Campervan (called Tidgy) and he is a pride and joy, but for the last 4 years it has been sat in a garage partly restored, well to be honest in a very rusty state.

We bought it before we got married (to sharon) and we paid for it with our savings for our wedding. The plan once we bought it was to honeymoon around Europe for 6 weeks over the summer and see what happens. We ended up only doing France and then getting an 18 hour ferry to Ireland.

Sharon, Me and Tidgy (Dublin camp site)

I include a picture of what he looked like before we sent him for restoration:

But last weekend it came home, not complete but it came home none the less. We have been getting help this week on the jobs that need finishing: engine, brakes plus some basic internal cosmetic stuff. But it will soon be back on the road.

Now we have 2 children (Ewan and Finley) and they have never experienced any time in Tidgy, but on Sunday we spent nearly 8 hours cleaning him, eating a small picnic in him and the boys played with their trains in him. It was such a joyful experience to see our children being able to have fun in Tidgy (Although he was parked on our Driveway!!)

The interesting thing about all of this is that the company who we had paid money too, went bust, so we were almost for a long period of time facing the possibility of losing him to the scrap yard, the money which was significant but not as important was also lost! But to cut a long story short, we managed to negotiate some additional work to be done at no cost…..

Now many friends have wondered why we bothered waiting and have often said “why don’t you buy a new van” “why is it taking so long”. Frankly even when we told them the whole story they still didn’t understand.

We have been through a great deal of stress trying to get to this point where he can come home, i was never going to give up hope that he would be able to come back. Tidgy is like our 3rd child, the sentimental cost is incalculable. I am reminded of a certain credit card advert. Cost of a new van £8000+, Cost of Tidgy to us PRICELESS

This is a picture of how he looks now without his new protective raincoat, we are very pleased with what we have and are grateful that he didn’t end up on teh scrap yard like many other customers vans.

Tidgy partly finished in our driveway

We are even planning on taken him to Australia (if we can emigrate in the next few years – more on this in future thoughts) so he will face a better climate and rust will be a thing of the past 🙂

Now i guess my question for today is can you ever really quantify sentimental value?

I’m sure insurance companies will have a view, but in our experience losing Tidgy would be like losing a member of our family.

Another one born

I went to a seminar on monday and heard that a new blog is born every 2.5 seconds….

It was suggested that you should only start a blog if you are committed and prepared for the long run. So I found the blogger inside me and decided to join the millions of people out here in the blogospehere. The first post i guess for some is the most important, but for me i guess it is the continuation of the blog that is important. I don’t want to be another dead blogger who gave up because i lost interest.

So what i am going to do – well firstly share my thoughts and life events and general activities, some maybe questions around work or just life in general. But mostly i want to enjoy the blogging experience and when i feel i am more comfortable, i may expand my blog a bit more. One step at a time…

It took me some time to decide whether to not to start a blog – not sure why? But the reason took the plunge is because i think about stuff all the time and sometimes i loose track of my own thoughts so at least for me this will be a record and a way to look back. On the subject of looking back, the thing that tipped my decision was look at a photo on my phone of my son Ewan. It was a snap shot in time and i thought well at least a blog could provide a snap shot of my thoughts, so why not.

So for anyone who actually reads this first post (other than myself) I hope that you come back and share your ideas and thoughts by commenting where appropriate.

I firmly believe that we can learn something from everyone we meet, this blog gives me an opportunity to reach further than my normal social network.

One last thought, we had our first strawberries the other day, they were superb. Does growing food yourself and putting effort in make it taste better, or is it the organic approach? Either way i need to get some clotted cream to go with the rest 🙂