TIPS for AIRBNB HOSTS – What guests REALLY want

Kurt.nzTravel

In the last year alone we’ve spent over 250 nights in over 30 different Airbnb’s. So I guess we know a thing or two about what makes a great Airbnb. If you’re thinking of setting up a property to list on Airbnb, take a look at what we really value in accommodation. It’s split into the things we thought it must have, and the things we found were really nice to have. Must have: Nice to have: Check out our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/breetventures I wrote a book on how to travel with kids: https://bit.ly/twkbook

CYCLING in the NETHERLANDS vs. NZ  – Some THOUGHTS

Kurt.nzTravel

After living in the Netherlands (Rotterdam) for a year I really got into the habit of cycling everywhere. It became the first option to get around locally. So much so that when you did go to drive somewhere you’d have to hunt around for your keys again. Lots of people ask why New Zealand can’t be like The Netherlands when it comes to cycling. There are some very obvious differences. But NZ could still do so much better. Here are some thoughts on how. This is from someone who does own a bike in NZ but only uses it a few times a year, and has never ever worn lycra. I would love to be able to cycle every day in Auckland. That’s one of the biggest things I’m going to miss from the Netherlands. It’s so nice to just … Read More

Top 12 TIPS for TRAVELING with KIDS

Kurt.nzTravel

Traveling is great but it can also be challenging. And traveling with kids is a whole different ball game! But don’t be put off, it’s incredibly rewarding and doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are our top tips for traveling with children. Go and have an adventure with them, it’ll be good for all of you. Check out our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/breetventures I wrote a book on how to travel with kids: https://bit.ly/twkbook

Top 8 TIPS for EUROPE with KIDS

Kurt.nzTravel

Europe is amazing. For anyone from a younger country such as the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, the history in Europe is mind-boggling. But it’s also different to what we’re used to, in many ways. Here are our top tips for traveling Europe with children. Europe is there, go and enjoy it! Check out our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/breetventures I wrote a book on how to travel with kids: https://bit.ly/twkbook

Top 9 TIPS for FLYING with KIDS

Kurt.nzTravel

The fear of flying with their children is possibly the biggest reason parents choose not to travel. It can be daunting. But it’s also entirely manageable. Here are our top tips for flying long-haul with children. Prepare well enough, and long-haul flights can be something the kids look forward to, not dread. Check out our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/breetventures I wrote a book on how to travel with kids: https://bit.ly/twkbook

How to WORK while TRAVELING with KIDS

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Travel

If you’re lucky enough to be able to travel long-term with your children without having to work, that’s awesome! But for the rest of us, we probably need to be doing some sort of work on the road. Because of the type of business I have, I’ve done everything from accounts, building websites, Zoom meetings, managing staff, editing videos and everything in-between, all while traveling. Here are my top 11 tips for remote working while traveling with kids. You do get used to working on the road pretty quickly. Sometimes I still miss my proper stand up desk, but the benefits far outweigh being stuck in an office. Check out our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/breetventures I wrote a book on how to travel with kids: https://bit.ly/twkbook

Top 3 MISTAKES parents make when TRAVELING

Kurt.nzTravel

We’ve travelled a lot with our kids, and made so many mistakes I’ve lost count. Here are the top 3 that we need to constantly remind ourselves of. Check out our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/breetventures I wrote a book on how to travel with kids: https://bit.ly/twkbook

Top 5 TIPS for FLYING with kids during COVID

Kurt.nzTravel

Coronavirus may well have changed air travel forever. If airport security hadn’t already made flying with kids complicated, a pandemic has doubled the administration required. But with a bit of research and pre-planning, you can get through it. Here are our top five tips for flying with kids post-COVID. Yes, it’s complicated, but don’t be put off by it. If the destination is worth going to, it’s worth the trouble. Check out our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/breetventures I wrote a book on how to travel with kids: https://bit.ly/twkbook

Top 10 TIPS for DISNEYLAND PARIS

Kurt.nzTravel

You never quite understand the scale and intensity of a Disneyland theme park until you visit it. The amount of people, the attention to detail, the sheer size of all the buildings and rides. It’s something out of this world. It’s amazing, a little bit overwhelming, and totally worth it. These tips will make your trip to Disneyland Paris just that much better. I don’t need to say ‘remember to enjoy yourself’, because it’s almost impossible not to! Check out our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/breetventures I wrote a book on how to travel with kids: https://bit.ly/twkbook

Top 8 TIPS for PARIS with KIDS

Kurt.nzTravel

There’s a reason Paris is near the top of most traveler’s lists. There is an insane amount of history and culture, and no matter how many times you go, you’re always discovering something new. But should you go with kids? With these tips, you should be able to find a happy compromise between keeping the kids happy while still getting your Paris fix. The city of lights is waiting for you, go and enjoy it! Check out our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/breetventures I wrote a book on how to travel with kids: https://bit.ly/twkbook

Our 7 FAVOURITE RIDES and places in DISNEYLAND PARIS

Kurt.nzTravel

There is so much to do in Disneyland and you’ll want to make the most of your visit. These were our favourite things to do when we visited with a six and seven year old. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but take your time. You’ll get through the park. And don’t forget to enjoy all the little walk-throughs and scenery on the way to your next ride. For more videos and tips on traveling with kids: https://bit.ly/breetventures Check out our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/breetventures I wrote a book on how to travel with kids: https://bit.ly/twkbook

The top 3 mistakes people make when looking for a job as a P.I. [How to become a PI – book excerpt]

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, How to become a private investigator

Now that I’ve been on the other side for a while (having people call me wanting to become a P.I.) I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. Remember what I said before about prospective employers. Their default answer is ‘no’. Do any of the following three things and you make it that much easier for them to say no. 1. Saying you’re enthusiastic, keen and a quick learner, without any evidence. If you say these things, but have no actions to back them up, they’re not only redundant, they’re a complete lie. Every single person who has contacted me has said these words. I can only think of one person who actually had the evidence. She got a job with us. How enthusiastic and keen are you? Have you contacted them more than once? Do … Read More

A day in the life of a private investigator [How to become a PI – book excerpt]

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, How to become a private investigator, Stories

I’m not sure what your perception of private investigators is. You may have already done plenty of research and have a fair idea of what they do. Then again, this may be the first thing you read, and the only examples of a P.I. that you have are from movies or TV shows. As with most things on TV (including ‘reality’ TV), real life is different. Hopefully reading through this book, and looking at the below example schedule, will dispel any myths and perhaps show you another side that you didn’t think about. Just remember though, if you tell people you’re a P.I., the first thing they will think of is whatever TV show they’ve seen. Often the first question I get is ‘do you drive a Ferrari?’ This can get annoying if you let it. Just realize that most … Read More

Equipment [How to become a PI – book excerpt]

Kurt.nzHow to become a private investigator

Here is a list of essential equipment. These are the items I use on a regular basis. I haven’t gone into too much detail as there are plenty of other articles that do so, and that’s more on the training side. But this should give you a good idea of what you’ll most likely use in your first year. Be aware that if a company hires you as a contractor, they will most likely expect you to have your own equipment. Not many firms supply equipment to their contractors these days. Necessary Digital video camera. This must have a number of features such as ability to record in low/no light, a decent optical zoom, compact enough to conceal easily, ability to have a date/time stamp on the recording, tripod mounting point, ideally a viewfinder (not just a fold out screen), … Read More

Personal attributes of a private investigator [How to become a PI – book excerpt]

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, How to become a private investigator, Personal development

There are some very specific traits common to almost all private investigators (successful ones at least). Having a thick skin. This is not an easy job and you are not dealing with nice people all the time. You will face abuse and you may be treated like the villain by whomever you’re investigating. You need to be able to handle this. Yes, you should try to treat everyone fairly, but you will at times have very uncomfortable conversations. As long as you’re staying true to your own values and maintain your integrity, you don’t need to worry too much about what people think or say about you. Good verbal and written communication skills. A lot hinges on what you say, both on investigations and in court. You need to be able to communicate, persuade and influence effectively and succinctly. Equally, … Read More

Common and uncommon backgrounds of private investigators [How to become a PI – book excerpt]

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, How to become a private investigator

After a while in the industry you get to know where investigators tend to come from. In the case of former police officers, often just by looking at them! But regularly you’ll come across that person who came from a completely different field, one that you wouldn’t expect would lead to a career in private investigation. There are common backgrounds for most private investigators, but just because you don’t have this background doesn’t mean you won’t make a great investigator. In the next chapter, we’ll go over attributes common to investigators (regardless of what background you came from). In the meantime, here are some common and uncommon backgrounds. Common Police officer or other law enforcement role Insurance claims adjuster Military police or intelligence Parent was a P.I. Completed a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or similar Private internship or online … Read More

Reasons why you shouldn’t become a private investigator [How to become a PI – book excerpt]

Kurt.nzHow to become a private investigator

Working as a private investigator is an exciting and rewarding prospect. But be under no illusions, there are many difficult aspects of the job. Coupled with the excitement, there can also be a lot of boredom sitting on stakeouts or sifting through documents. You don’t necessarily deal with happy people all the time, on the contrary. It can also be a very seasonal job, with irregular hours and income. Before you even begin the process, you need to decide whether it’s really for you. You need to ask yourself a lot of questions. Later in the book I’ll go through a ‘typical’ day which will give you some idea of what to expect. In the meantime, have a look at these questions and honestly answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. You prefer to work normal daytime hours, and you like … Read More

The chase [How to become a PI – book excerpt]

Kurt.nzHow to become a private investigator, Stories

The chase He slowly walks down the gangplank, struggling under the weight of two heavily laden backpacks. That fits the description, but is it the guy I’m after? A quick double check of his picture on my phone confirms it. Back to watching him through my video camera. A container truck blocks my view. By the time it clears he’s disappeared. Damn! Two seconds later he reappears, he’s stashed the bags behind the gangplank and is sitting, waiting. This could be a while, you never know how long for. A taxi pulls up. A struggle to get the bags in the cab and then he’s in the back, taxi heading towards the exit, straight past me. Video camera down, engine started ready for a vehicle tail. One car in-between us, perfect. It’s a fairly short tail from the port to … Read More

Are you training or doing?

Kurt.nzPersonal development

When I was in the Army reserve, we did a lot of training. That’s how you learn. That’s how you get good. Training is a necessary tool, so when it gets real, you know what to do. You’ve done the drills so often that you can do them without thinking. The problem was, there was very little opportunity for me to actually use that training. At least not immediately. The same goes for many people in the military. Even when on a deployment, a lot of your time is spent waiting. Sometimes it was difficult for me to take the training seriously. I have a fairly short attention span. If what I’m doing doesn’t show results pretty quickly, it’s easy to become bored. The alternative doesn’t make sense though. I think everyone would rather a little training before being thrown … Read More

(Book) The Personal MBA – Josh Kaufman

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

The Personal MBA - Josh Kaufman

The Personal MBA is a great overview of everything related to business. Josh explains concepts in such a way that anyone can understand them. Yet he goes into enough detail for everyone to come away with actionable points. I literally sat there with the book in one hand and my notebook in the other, creating action plans for the couple of businesses that I’m involved in. Here are my notes: Business is made of 5 things. It (1) provides something of value that (2) other people want or need (3) at a price they’re willing to pay, in a way that (4) satisfies the purchasers needs and expectations and (5) provides the business sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for the owner to continue operation. Sales Starts with trust. No trust, no sale. Value based selling. What is it worth to … Read More

(Book) The Road Less Stupid – Keith J. Cunningham

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance

The road less stupid - Keith J. Cunningham

My summary notes: Intro: A great business book on leadership, delegation, asking the right questions, finding the cause not the symptom. Business is an intellectual sport. The dumb tax – how much money would you have if you could take back 2-3 dumb financial decisions? The discipline of thinking time. Not emotion. Start with a high value question. Find the unasked question. Separate the problem from the symptoms. Check assumptions. Consider second order consequences. Create the machine (plan and execute). “How might I… so that I can…?” Address the core problem, not the obvious symptom. Thinking time. 45min and 15min summary. No distractions. Few things are more common than unrewarded artistic and technical expertise. 4 hats. Creator, technician, owner, investor. Growth is inversely proportional to direct control. I.e. have to delegate, trust and check. Get a board to add valuable … Read More

(Book) The Effective Executive – Peter F. Drucker

Kurt.nzBooks read

The Effective Executive - Peter F. Drucker

My summary notes: Intro: The effective executive manages and leads himself first. Systems, rules, delegation, leadership. The knowledge worker produces ideas and information that someone else has to act on. Working on the right things. Knowledge work is defined by its results. Four realities: The executive’s time belongs to everybody else. Executives are forced to keep operating (i.e. not strategising) unless he changes the reality in which he works. Changes the work flow. He’s in an organisation reliant on other people to make use of what he contributes. The results are outside the organisation. Unless executives work at becoming effective, the realities of their situation will push them into futility. Five practices: Time management Results oriented Building strengths Concentrate on a few major areas Make the right important decisions Don’t start with tasks. Start with time and allocate it. In … Read More

(Book) The 7 habits of highly effective people – Stephen R. Covey

Kurt.nzBooks read

The 7 habits of highly effective people Stephen R. Covey

My summary notes: Production vs production capability. Short or long term thinking. Getting the output but taking care of the machine. Read and learn as if you have to teach someone the next day. Be proactive. Take initiative, take responsibility and ownership. Act or be acted upon. Focus on your circle of influence, not circle of concern. Begin with the end in mind. Endstate. Everything is created twice, planning and doing. Visualisation. Important things we tend to delay: Prevention, self-improvement, relationship building, recognising new opportunities, planning, recreation. Roles: Personal development, spouse, parent, business owner, community service, church member, fellow human. Stewardship management. Moving yourself away from the fulcrum so output increases, by effectively delegating. Trust is the highest form of motivation. Expectations need to be explicit, and at the start of any relationship. Win/win or no deal. Four kinds of … Read More

Three ways small businesses are vulnerable (and how to make your business resilient)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance

It’s heart wrenching to see so many small businesses having to close their doors for good. Owning a small business is like having a baby. Sleepless nights, lots of hard work, plenty of trials. But ultimately a sense of pride in watching it grow and develop. So to see it all disappear is a real sense of loss. From what I’ve seen and the people I’ve spoken to, there are three ways small companies are going out of business over this time. Over the years I’ve closed businesses for each of these reasons. The cause is simple and very clear. Lack of revenue. Starve a business of its lifeblood and eventually it’ll die, some quicker than others. But some are particularly vulnerable, like the companies below. The first example business is doing OK before the COVID-19 lockdown, but now the … Read More

Unintended consequences from COVID-19 response

Kurt.nzUncategorized

covid-19 second order effects unintended consequences

A recent book I read, Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman, talked about second-order effects. It states: “Every action has a consequence, and each consequence has another consequence. These are called Second-Order Effects. Every change you make to a system will have Second-Order Effects, which may affect the system’s functionality. Be careful when making changes, they may have the opposite effect of what you aimed for.” I’ve tried to apply that thought process to every change I’ve made since I read that book. For example, I have a dodgy knee. My initial solution was to rest it, or not use it as much. Makes sense right? If something is hurting, let it heal. But I went and saw a professional about it. Turns out that I need to do a different type of exercise to strengthen the knee. If I had … Read More

A way to move forward (when procrastinating)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Personal development

Summer break is the time to dream big. I usually come back with dozens of ideas for the new year. How quickly real life gets in the way of them! Here’s a way I’ve found to move forward. For something you really need/want to do, come up with 10 actionable steps you could take right now to move forward on it. Then pick the top 3 and do them. Right now. Why 10 steps? This forces you to think creatively, not just 1 or 2 things you could do. It doesn’t matter if you don’t do all 10. At least you’ll have 3 to make a start on. Finished the 3? Do the exercise again. Your next 10 will probably be quite different (and more useful) now that you’ve made a start.

Which responsibilities are you willing to give away, and which will you keep?

Kurt.nzLifestyle, family, community, Personal development

responsibility_kurt.nz

Physically, our lives are getting easier. We used to gather our own food, create our own warmth, and build our own shelter. Agriculture came along and we let other people make our food. Someone was really good at building huts, so we got them to build ours, doing something else in return for them. These days, we don’t even have to cook our own meals, or wash our car, or take care of our kids during the day if we don’t want to. Human nature is to want comfort. To make things easier for ourselves. Not only that, getting other people to do certain things allows us to concentrate on what we’re good at. Or what we enjoy. We are constantly giving over responsibility for certain areas of our lives. With AI and automation, this will only increase. For example, … Read More

Highlights from the weekly Kurt bulletin

Kurt.nzUncategorized

Kurt.nz-bulletin-weekly-newsletter

Here are a few excerpts from the bulletin I send every Friday. The bulletin is a collection of 5 things you may find helpful. If you’d like to see more, sign up! Thought of the week “In theory there’s no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.”-Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut, computer scientist What are you theorising about that you just need to put into practice to test? Turning an old laptop into a Chromebook Another project I’ve completed is converting an old Dell Inspiron Mini laptop into a Chromebook for the kids. I’ve had this laptop for about 10 years and eventually the Windows 7 starter edition it came with just wouldn’t boot up. So I erased it all and made it a simple Chromebook. You can surf the net, watch movies and do basic … Read More

(Book) The obstacle is the way – Ryan Holiday

Kurt.nzBooks read, Personal development

The obstacle is the way - Ryan Holiday - kurt.nz

This is one of those books that you can read at any time of your life, and it’s still relevant. Human nature is to avoid obstacles and look for the easiest path. This directly addresses that, and highlights the benefits to be had by overcoming obstacles. Not just avoiding them, but turning them into advantages. A challenge and a bit of a kick in the pants. The obstacle is the way – Ryan Holiday (highlights, my thoughts in italics) Our actions may be impeded … but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions . Because we can accommodate and adapt . The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting . The impediment to action advances action . What stands in the way becomes the way . And from what we know , … Read More

(Book) Influence – Robert B. Cialdini

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

Influence-Robert-B-Cialdini-Kurt.nz

Various ways to influence and persuade people through scarcity, urgency, reciprocation, consistency, commitment, social proof, liking and authority. Highlights from the book: Weapons of influence As the stimuli saturating our lives continue to grow more intricate and variable, we will have to depend increasingly on our shortcuts to handle them all. And even when it is not initially successful, she can mark the article “Reduced from __” and sell it at its original price while still taking advantage of the “expensive=good” reaction to the inflated figure. Simply put, if the second item is fairly different form the first, we will tend to see it as more different than it actually is. So if we lift a light object first and then lift a heavy object, we will estimate the second object to be heavier than if we had lifted it … Read More

(Book) The E-Myth Revisited – Michael E. Gerber

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance

E-Myth-Revisited-Michael-E-Gerber_Kurt.nz

A tactical book on the common reasons why businesses fail, and what to do about it. Knowing how to do the work is a lot different from knowing how to run a business. Everybody is a combination of 3 people: Technician, manager, entrepreneur. It’s knowing which one you need to be at certain times that’s the key. It advocates setting up a business as if it were a franchise, being able to replicate and systemise everything. The E-Myth Revisited (highlights) People who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more. The mundane, tedious little things done right make a business great. Business is a way to know ourselves. A mirror to what we know and how we act. Just because you like baking pies doesn’t mean you … Read More

(Book) Awaken the giant within – Tony Robbins

Kurt.nzBooks read, Personal development

Awaken-the-giant-within-Tony-Robbins-Kurt.nz

I wish I had read this when I was in my late teens or early twenties, as I think it would have had a greater impact then. A very useful tool to make you look at what you’re doing now. What you’re linking pain or pleasure to, what limiting or empowering beliefs you have, your value hierarchy, goals, frame of reference, and states. Attempts to help us master the five areas of life we need to master: Emotional, physical, relationship, financial, time. Awaken the Giant Within (highlights) Lasting change: Raise your standards, change limiting beliefs, change your strategy. Five areas of life we need to master: Emotional, physical, relationship, financial, time. What actions can I take today that will shape my ultimate destiny? The father of action is decision. “This is what I am. This is what life is about. … Read More

Taking risks (what do you really need to live?)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Lifestyle, family, community, Personal development, Travel

Taking_risks_backpack_kurt.nz

I was speaking with a friend of mine recently and he made an interesting observation. He said it’s funny how people who have been in the Armed Forces, specifically the Army, even more specifically, the infantry, seem to be more comfortable taking risks and trying new things. We talked about this for a while and the conclusion was this: People who have been in the infantry have spent a significant amount of their career walking around outdoors, carrying everything they needed to survive on their back. They know what it’s like to be wet, cold, tired and hungry. They know discomfort. I know I certainly did. They also know how far they can push themselves and what they actually need to survive. Not only do they know that they need food, shelter, water and warmth, they know how to get … Read More

(Book) The inevitable – Kevin Kelly

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance

The_Inevitable_Kevin_Kelly

A book by someone who has spent most of his life thinking about the future. My thoughts in italics.   The Inevitable – Kevin Kelly (highlights) Our greatest invention in the last 200 years was not a gadget or a tool, but the invention of the scientific process itself.   1. Becoming Everything requires energy to maintain itself. Existence is chiefly maintenance. Because things need endless upgrading, we’ll constantly be newbies. Protopia is a state of becoming. Things are a little better today than they were yesterday. Kurt: Imagine a world where no one owns a home. Everyone lives in standard automated accommodation, the same the world over. You can move when you want. Global shared ownership of these facilities. Business idea: Shared ownership of hotel like apartments in major cities, standardised. Can move cities when you want. People predicted … Read More

5 first steps to financial wellness (for someone starting at zero)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Lifestyle, family, community

Financial_wellness_kurt.nz

What Hope Community Trust recently did a presentation on wellness. It covered areas such as physical well-being, financial discipline, education and development etc. What Hope is a charity I’m involved with. We work with at-risk youth in south Auckland, focussing on creating a culture of belonging and connection for youth, in a safe environment. As their treasurer, I was asked to contribute 5 steps someone should take for financial wellness. This is what I came up with. It’s very basic, but has important principals no matter what your circumstances. Decide on what you really need Don’t fall into the trap of buying things just because other people have them, or because it makes you happy for a couple of days. Decide on what you should and shouldn’t be spending on, before you even think about opening your wallet. Once you’ve … Read More

A brain dump of business ideas

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance

Business-ideas-kurt.nz

I don’t know what it is about me, but I can’t stop myself coming up with business ideas. Not just business ideas for the sake of business, but better ways to do things. More effective ways. This is a great habit, but it can also be dangerous. Instead of thinking specifically about the problems or goals I’m working on, my mind can wander. I may be trying to work through a marketing plan, and I find myself thinking about how cool it would be to have a QR code on my kids pyjamas, with a link to a bedtime story. So any idea I get, I write it down and try and forget about it. If more ideas about it pop into my head, I’ll add them to it. Eventually I may have a few bullet points about the idea, … Read More

A couple of different investments (Sharesies and Harmoney)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance

Investing_kurt.nz

I’m always looking at different investment opportunities and platforms. Here are a couple that I’ve been using recently, and quite like.   Sharesies (www.sharesies.nz)   I had followed this company for a while, and then promptly forgot about it. It wasn’t until recently that I rediscovered it. It’s an online platform that allows you to invest anything from $5 into 11 different index (EFT) funds. You can’t invest in individually listed companies, but the index funds range from NZ to Australian, US and global funds, with more on the way. I already invest in individual shares, and the sharemarket is a long term investment strategy for me. With Sharesies, I’ve invested a small amount in most of the different funds available. The platform is the easiest I’ve ever used. No surprise there, since it’s designed for people who are starting … Read More

Good and bad comparisons (giving some guidance to kids)

Kurt.nzLifestyle, family, community, Personal development

comparisons_kurt.nz

One day, in about 10 years, one of my kids is going to come and ask me why we don’t drive a BMW like their friend’s parents do. What am I going to say to that? How am I going to show them the danger of making comparisons like that one? Maybe I’ll tell them of a friend of mine who asked a similar question about 30 years ago. I’ll tell them how hard he worked and how much he sacrificed to get that first flash car. His relationships, a little bit of his integrity, his time. How it satisfied him for about a month until he set his eyes on an even nicer car. Within another month he has traded his in for another, losing a bit on the trade. I’ll tell them how this cycle repeated. And it … Read More

(Book) Ego is the enemy – Ryan Holiday

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

Ego-is-the-enemy-Ryan-Holiday

Ego has stopped many people (including myself) from learning, improving and doing really great work. This book is a clear example and reminder of the constant battle we face. Ego is the enemy of ambition, success and resilience. It’s especially relevant in the age of social media, likes and follows. A must read for anyone, regardless of your aspirations in life. This is one book I will be reading again. My thoughts and key takeaways: Ego is an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Stay grounded and do not fool yourself about your own ability. Silence is strength, talking takes away from doing the actual work. To be or to do. To receive praise or do work that is important. Substitute passion with purpose. What steps must you take now? Discipline trumps passion, which can disappear. Remain a student. Have … Read More

(Book) Your move: The underdog’s guide to building your business – Ramit Sethi

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance

Your_Move_Ramit_Sethi

A direct, to-the-point, guide on how to sell. Yes, it covers more than just selling but this is the main point of the book. It has some good tips and examples, not just to do with actual selling techniques but it addresses our beliefs and mindsets first. In brief: Make sure your product/service is great Focus on the customer and ensure you’re giving them exactly what they want Be bold in selling, the more you sell, the more value you can create Your move: The underdog’s guide to building your business – Ramit Sethi (highlights) But when you start your own business, there’s no limit to how much you can earn. But the biggest failures aren’t things you did. They’re things you didn’t do. And I still read books and get advice from people whose businesses are a fraction of … Read More

(Book) Born for this – Chris Guillebeau

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

Born-for-this-Chris-Guillebeau

A book that actually takes the pressure off ‘finding your passion’. It’s not so much about finding and focusing on the one thing that you were born for. It’s more about trying different things, taking calculated risks and thinking about the future. A good book if you’re still working for someone else, feel stuck and don’t quite know what to do next. My thoughts are in italics.   Born for this – Chris Guillebeau (highlights) Even if you work for someone you’re still essentially self-employed. No one will look out for your interests as much as you. What work would you do if you no longer needed money? There’s more than one path you can pursue, and the may lead to the same place. There’s probably one path that’s best of all. Social scripts, norms, expectations can be particularly unhelpful. … Read More

How to become a private investigator: Break into the industry with little or no experience

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance

How to become a private investigator

So, you want to know how to become a private investigator? Great! You have a desire to enter one of the most exciting professions available. One where no two days are the same. One where you are constantly challenged and need to remain alert and engaged. One where you’ll regularly stop and think ‘…and I’m actually getting paid for this!’ However, if you’re like a lot of people, there are some roadblocks: Little or no law enforcement or related experience Sick of sending resumes and calling companies only to hear ‘no’ Want to start your own business but don’t know how Want to know what it’s really like being a P.I. but struggle to find any good information A few years ago I was in exactly the same position. I had wanted to be a private investigator for years. Yet, … Read More

How to evaluate options and make decisions (a different method)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Personal development

Make decisions

We’re pretty spoiled these days with the amount of options available to us, we’re called to make decisions every day. Sometimes though, there are so many options we can choose from, we end up choosing none of them. It’s called the paradox of choice. Sometimes we need a kick in the pants just to make a decision. Think back on your last few major decisions. How much easier or harder was it when that decision was made for you, and you had to go along with it? Suddenly, when that happens, you know with certainty whether you wanted to make that decision or not. As humans we don’t like being forced to do something we don’t want to do. My wife will often present me with two options that she can’t decide between. The blue dress or the black dress … Read More

Fulfilling one of your dreams (lessons learned)

Kurt.nzLifestyle, family, community, Personal development

fulfilling_your_dream

A couple of years ago I fulfilled a lifelong dream and became a private investigator. With almost no experience I entered one of the most difficult professions to get into. In doing so I learnt a few things about doing something huge. Something that you’ve always wanted to do, something that may seem impossible, fulfilling one of your dreams.   Three things you need to keep in mind: Things don’t have to be perfect for you to make a start. You’ll almost never be the best straight away, or land your dream position immediately. It doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think.   What does this mean?   1. Things don’t have to be perfect for you to make a start. Things will rarely ever be perfect. For a huge decision we often wait until what we perceive to … Read More

(Book) Growing great families – Ian & Mary Grant

Kurt.nzBooks read, Lifestyle, family, community

Growing_great_families_Ian_Mary_Grant

A well-researched book on growing great families that pulls no punches. It puts the onus squarely back on the parents whilst giving lots of tips. If you read this there’ll be plenty of notes to take and actions to implement once you finish!   1. What is a community? Focus on the need for connection and community – found in a family. Not an individualistic focus. It’s a very secure thing for a child to be born into a family which already stands for something, has values, principals, goals and leadership. It takes a village to raise a child. Truth and love are the bricks and mortar of community. We were designed for connection and belonging. To be part of a team. Make your family a team, able to rely on each other. We bond to things we invest in. … Read More

(Book) The war of art – Steven Pressfield

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

the_war_of_art_steven_pressfield

A book about discipline. It’s written about making art but it really applies to all areas of life, since to live is to create. My notes from the book: What stops you being creative is resistance. It’s not the act, it’s starting. We have two lives. The life we live and the un-lived life within. Between them stands resistance. Any act that rejects short term and favours long term elicits resistance. “Those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.” The more fear we have about something the more certain we can be that it’s important. The professional knows that success is a by-product of work. It may or may not come. You turn a corner when you turn pro. Suddenly you take it seriously and do the work. Principle of priority. Know the … Read More

(Book) Anything you want – Derek Sivers

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Lifestyle, family, community, Personal development

anything_you_want_derek_sivers

This book is worth 10 years of life and business experience and it only takes about an hour to read. I suggest you just read it, even if you’re not in business. It’s a great reality check for a lot of areas in life. You can do anything you want. Choose wisely. My notes from the book: What’s your compass? Don’t pursue little distractions in life because you don’t know which way to go. Chase your big dreams. Making a company is a great way to improve yourself to the world. It’s your utopia where you design your perfect world. Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it. With CD Baby, Derek wasn’t trying to make a business. He started off helping a few friends out and, with his love of … Read More

Setting yourself weekly challenges (5 steps to changing your behaviour)

Kurt.nzLifestyle, family, community, Personal development

Weka_habits_behaviour

Every year I used to write down these big brave new year’s resolutions. A few things that I wanted to achieve or some habits I wanted to change before the end of the year. No tactics, just a goal. Sure enough, come the end of the year, I was no closer to achieving them. I then thought I’d make it a bit more tactical. I’d break it into weeks and have smaller goals I wanted to do before the end of the week. There’d be about 10 of them. Still no progress. This continued until it was daily goals (still over 5). Very rarely did I ever do even half of them, or significantly change any habits. The problem was twofold. Firstly I had way too many goals to concentrate on. Sure I might achieve the top couple that I’m … Read More

Turning everything into a win (minimising the downside)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Personal development

Stepping_Stones_WekaCo

When I travelled to Europe a few years ago I learned French and Spanish using a bunch of Michel Thomas audio CD’s Side note: If you’re wanting to learn French, Spanish and a number of other languages you should definitely look him up at michelthomas.com, if you learn best by listening (like I do) then he’s the way to go. I managed to listen to over 24 hours of lessons in the three months before I left. I did this by simply replacing the music/radio in my car to language lessons instead. 40 minutes commute each way every day adds up to a lot of potentially wasted time! It got me thinking. How can we turn potentially wasted or not ideal situations into something that actually benefits us? Not just by recovering wasted time, but by using situations or experiences … Read More

What would life look like if it were simple?

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Lifestyle, family, community

Simple_Weka

Life can be complicated. We get that. We expect that. Do we sometimes make ‘complicated’ the default though? What if ‘simple’ was our default? What would life look like if our decisions were made with forethought and rationality? Less would be more. We’d carefully think before acquiring more possessions because more stuff means more worry and more complication. Each time we’d ask ‘do I really need this?’ We’d be more forgiving. Holding on to grudges or bitterness is a sure way to complicate and poison our own thoughts and lives. What people thought about us wouldn’t matter. If you spend your life trying to please people you’ll end up pleasing no one, least of all yourself. Consequently we’d spend less money trying to keep up appearances. We’d choose to work in a field we have an interest in, not one … Read More

(Book) Tribe – Sebastian Junger

Kurt.nzBooks read, Lifestyle, family, community

Tribe_Sebastian_Junger

An interesting take on how we live in the modern world compared to how our ancestors lived. Individual vs. tribal societies and the role of war and initiation rites. Tribe – Sebastian Junger. These are the ideas that I took away: Introduction How do you become and adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice. How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage? A tribe may be the people you’re compelled to share the last of your food with. Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It’s time for that to end. The men and the dogs In the US, immigration almost always went from civilised to tribal, not much movement the other … Read More

(Book) What to do when it’s your turn – Seth Godin

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

Seth-Godin-What-to-do-when-its-your-turn-book

Another great book from Seth about your turn, in his words: “I think we’re wasting the chance of a lifetime. This is an urgent call to do the work we’re hiding from, a manifesto about living with things that might not work and embracing tension when doing your art.” Here are the ideas that jumped out at me, my own thoughts are in italics. Opportunity? It’s everywhere. Freedom is our problem and freedom is our opportunity. We automatically limit ourselves yet we have so much choice. Being stupid is associated with learning. Embrace the stupid. This might not work. the cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing. The safest dreams are the ones with no hope of coming true. This is hiding. Concrete dreams are possible. They expose us to hope and risk. Great work … Read More

Only start something if you’re ready to continue it

Kurt.nzPersonal development

The other day I gave my daughter her first taste of chocolate. It took her a while to process the taste, but once she did she didn’t want to stop eating it. Before then, my wife and I could happily open a bar of chocolate in front of her, eat what we want, and then put it away. Without any fear of harassment or complaining. Now we’re reduced to sneaking away one by one, hiding in the cupboard and quickly eating one or two pieces before going back into the lounge as if nothing happened. Once my daughter had the taste for chocolate, she’ll never lose that again. She’ll always see it and know she wants it. That got me thinking, how often do we start things that we don’t actually want to continue? It doesn’t necessarily have to be … Read More

How to figure out what you want to do in life (hint: it’s not about what you do)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Lifestyle, family, community, Personal development

I believe that ‘figuring out what you want to do in life’ is the wrong way to look at it for two reasons:   1. What you do actually comes from who you are. Sure you can do things that you don’t believe in, or aren’t really ‘you’. But this is just lying and it’s pretty hard to keep doing this without it eating away at you. Yes, you can change who you are by your actions, but you still need to think about how you want those actions to change you.   2. It’s extremely difficult to figure out what you want to do in life without having done it first. It would be like wanting to be a snowboarder without ever having been to the mountain and touched snow. It looks fun in theory but maybe you won’t … Read More

What are you actually doing right now?

Kurt.nzLifestyle, family, community, Personal development

What are you actually doing right now? A few days ago I was playing on the back deck with my daughter, just stacking toys and pointlessly moving buckets around. As I was doing this I thought ‘I really should be doing something more productive’. And then the question came to me. Why do we feel so guilty when we’re not doing something that can be immediately quantified? I think it’s because we love to immediately measure how we’re spending time. And the easiest way to measure it is by the improvement we see straight away, or the financial reward we get for what we’re doing.   It’s a real struggle to measure our time in other ways, but it’s a very important exercise to go through. We first have to start with what our priorities are. For me it’s my … Read More

(Book) What matters now – things to think about (and do) this year

Kurt.nzBooks read, Lifestyle, family, community

I’ve just finished this great little booklet about what matters, from various thought leaders such as Seth Godin, Kevin Kelly, Arianna Huffington, Guy Kawasaki, Steve Pressfield, Derek Sivers and more. You can find it here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/files/what-matters-now-1.pdf It’s only 82 pages so you should read the whole thing, but the highlights for me were: Generosity – Seth Godin When the economy tanks, it’s natural to think of yourself first. You have a family to feed a mortgage to pay. Getting more appears to be the order of business. It turns out that the connected economy doesn’t respect this natural instinct. Instead, we’re rewarded for being generous. Generous with our time and money but most important generous with our art. If you make a difference, people will gravitate to you. They want to engage, to interact and to get you more involved. … Read More

The end of the road

Kurt.nzTravel

Routine. Routine the great equaliser. The great smotherer of all things different. The inevitable steamroller of all the peaks of life. It’s what we hold to; it’s what we’ve come from, and what we’ll always return to. Routine and time. Time the great healer, time the memory fader, time the double edged sword, time the… ok enough of the cheesy philosophy, I don’t think it becomes me as of yet, I’m still too young and I don’t have a beard. But I think you know what I’m getting at. Two days back and it seems like I never left. Like the past six months was some feature movie I watched last night. Are we that desensitised or forgetful? That six months of adventure is just part of our routine entertainment? Or is that just blatant prosperity, that we take those … Read More

The closing scenes

Kurt.nzTravel

How does that old saying go? ‘What goes around comes around?’ And so it was that after years of hustling, bargaining, and taking advantage of vulnerable motorcycle sellers in New Zealand, the exact same thing happened to me in Holland. I sold my bike. But being in the precarious position of wanting to fly home, and selling just when winter’s about to start, I got cleaned out with a steel wire brush. Ok maybe not that bad but at least a plastic bristled brush. Putting it in perspective it was only a few hundred dollars loss which isn’t bad for 8,500 km and six months of use. But I’m comparing the deal to my three other bikes I’ve owned in NZ where I actually made a profit when I sold them again. Which is a decidedly better position to be … Read More

Old Blighty

Kurt.nzTravel

After Belfast I flew to London for a couple of days before taking the bus to Oxford. Since I’d been to London before I didn’t really need to see the main sights again, instead I concentrated on some things I missed last time I was there. However I was glad to get out of it after a while, it’s just way too busy, noisy, and is just general mayhem. I must confess again, I’m not much of a city person. Oxford is a lot nicer in my opinion. The hostel I was staying in at Oxford was exactly what a hostel should be like; clean, lots of character, friendly staff, cool guests, free internet, and a fully functional kitchen. I had a lot of fun in that hostel and met some really cool people, including an Aussie girl who thought … Read More

A walk with Halle Berry

Kurt.nzTravel

Aye, and sure we’ll go down for a wee Guinness, like you know, it’ll be great craic right enough. Here’s me ready to go so I am. I guess I should have warned you before reading this that you had to think in a very Irish accent. Otherwise I fear the previous sentence may have sounded very weird indeed. I can assure you it’s quite normal here, maybe not all those colloquialisms in the one sentence though. Welcome to Ulster. You can call it Northern Ireland at a stretch, but never just Ireland. And what a place it is, it’s been blessed with some of the finest coastline in Europe dotted intermittently with jolly locals and wee pubs. Now I’ll get to Halle Berry in a minute. But first, the period between Holland and the land of giants. I certainly … Read More

Saddle sores

Kurt.nzTravel

1140 km in 16 hours. Let me say that again. One thousand, one hundred and forty kilometres, in sixteen hours. That’s what it took me to ride to my holiday destination from Rotterdam right across France diagonally to the south west. Four fuel stops and a lunch break. Time of departure from Holland 3 am. Just call me crazy. I was past Paris by 9 am, enjoying the view of the Loire river and many chateaus by 1 pm (I stopped at a little town called Amboise for lunch), and I was in Parentis-en-Born by 7 pm. Talk about traffic though, it seems the whole of Europe was on the road heading on holiday. Lucky I was on a motorbike and could pass everyone. The courteousness was a pleasant surprise; most cars would see me coming up in their mirror … Read More

Am I not already on holiday?

Kurt.nzTravel

There’s a concept known to travellers that I’ll call ‘a holiday within a holiday’. In effect it’s based on the premise that after travelling for a while, being on the move and being a traveller becomes normal day to day life. It actually comes close to being your job. You commute to and from work, in this case place to place. You complete your daily tasks – sightseeing and experiencing the culture, and you write reports – blog or email. Even meeting new people is akin to building rapport with clients. The only differences between long term travelling and work, well major ones at least, are that its way more fun than most regular jobs, and you don’t get paid for it. Unless you’re a travel writer. Offers anyone? Therefore, you still need a break, or a holiday, from your … Read More

The last of the German speaking countries

Kurt.nzTravel

They say bad things happen in threes. Well, upon arrival back at Gomaringen in Germany I was a little surprised to find my bike was dead. Not only would it not start with the key but I pushed it up a hill about a hundred times to crash start it but no go. I figured out the battery was completely dead and beyond the chargeable stage. So, new battery. Then, after a ride through the Black Forest, my air vent cover came loose. I stopped on the motorway to get it and after about twenty cars the very last one ran it over and shattered it. Great, so new air vent cover. Then I found out Davids cousin had written off his Suzuki 750. Not a good week for motorbikes in that area. I just hope the three bad things … Read More

Poor in Albania

Kurt.nzTravel

When I said Hvar was pleasant, Korcula was remarkable. Dubrovnik was a bigger Korcula, and Montenegro was a revelation! On the bus towards Kotor we saw the deepest fjord in southern Europe. It was a shame we didn’t have more time in the country but we weren’t expecting to be going through there anyway so anything we saw was a bonus. And I can safely say that I would definitely be happy to go back, perhaps even more than Croatia. We weren’t completely sure what to expect, the limit of my knowledge was Google earth, lonely planet, and Casino Royale. In many ways it was actually reminiscent of Morocco. The not so developed infrastructure, the beautiful landscapes, and the prices. Seriously, where else could you get a very professional haircut for only five euro? I think I was in desperate … Read More

103 Dalmatians

Kurt.nzTravel

“Hello, accommodation?” “No thanks” “OK, bye” Wow, what a difference from the Moroccan way of spinning the biggest lies and following you down the street to force a sale until they can latch onto the next tourist. This is the enterprising but ever so polite Croatian way. Plenty of sales offers but when you say no they take it as no. Ferrying from Ancona in Italy to Split and then the island of Hvar we managed to score probably one of the nicest rooms on the island with its own en suite and kitchen. I have to say I immediately fell in love with Croatia. Its polite people and relaxed atmosphere all set in beautiful roman style marble towns with an awesome climate certainly is my idea of a holiday. Two days of wandering the town of Hvar and its … Read More

All roads lead to Padova

Kurt.nzTravel

You know all the clichés you learn about Italian people? How they’re always loud and dramatic and love food? It’s all true. Clive and I had dropped Martin off at the train station in La Spezia and had found a bed and breakfast a little way out of town. So here we were sitting in a completely local restaurant in the middle of nowhere and we had the restaurant staff and all the patrons discussing quite vigorously everything from which item was best on the menu for us to what we should definitely see in their particular area, it was awesome! The only thing missing was Tony Soprano sitting in the corner contemplating who to whack next. Their lack of English was quite noticeable but boy do they make up for it by trying hard. That experience in itself was … Read More

C’est le Wi-Fi Rangers!

Kurt.nzTravel

I don’t think you ever realise how manacled we are to the internet until you’re away from it for a while. This is what found Clive, Martin, and I driving around a wine store in a random little French town called St Chinian trying to get the best signal from the unsecured Wi-Fi network inside. Martin had bought along his IPod which proved to be invaluable for the internet. Sometimes we’d be walking around the most beautiful city just looking for an unsecured network. Wi-Fi Rangers all the way! Staying for three days with Uncle Gerard from Holland at his holiday house in Babeau, Southern France was so good. A perfect break during our sometimes taxing travel, especially after Morocco. There’s something therapeutic about staying amongst vineyards, meandering rivers, cute villages, and genuine rural French people. A bit of a … Read More

Hola Espana

Kurt.nzTravel

I guess people celebrate the passing of years in different ways, especially when it’s a momentous one. For me 25 isn’t that big or depressing despite the fact that it’s a quarter century. And what better way to celebrate it than in Spain? You know what I did? I had a beautiful restaurant dinner in a hotel by myself in a town I didn’t even know the name of. How cool is that! OK I looked on the map and the towns name is Loja. Look it up, I turned 25 there. Actually the day itself was pretty cool it’s just that at dinner time Clive really needed to lie down, the remnants of Moroccan stomach still lingering. So he shouted me dinner and went to bed. So there I was sitting by myself after a drive from Tangier to … Read More

Top ten sales pitches

Kurt.nzTravel

Out of all the prep for my trip, the thing I´m most happy with was the French I´ve learnt. So as usual with something recently learnt you try and impart this knowledge to other people. Clive, being the only one who would listen, seemed like the best student. I noticed one day whilst speaking with some locals that he was sort of acting strangely though. He kept swinging the conversation in certain directions and took great pains to try and explain certain things using hand gestures. Finally he managed to ask the fisherman if he had caught any fish knowing full well the answer. No. That was when Clive reached his point. Leaning back, a pleased grin on his face as he glanced at me, he uttered “ahh, c´est la vie”. I suddenly knew what it had all been about. … Read More

Sneaky sales system

Kurt.nzTravel

I have an idea to start a course for salesmen, and it’s held in Morocco. Seriously, one day of working alongside a Moroccan vendor and you would be the craftiest, sneakiest, most conniving salesman ever back in NZ. There are volumes of books that could be written on their techniques. We took the road to Marrakech from Casablanca and on the way we were waved down by a motorist who had his bonnet up on the side of the road. Actually, despite my introduction on sneaky sales techniques I think this guy was genuine, but the conniving will come into this story later. Anyway, we picked him up and he seemed quite refined. We dropped him at the nearest mechanics and he asked us to drop a note to his family which was on the way to where we were … Read More

Oleeee ole ole ole

Kurt.nzTravel

I have to admit, seeing a familiar face after a few weeks of just meeting new people is pretty cool. I was quite glad when Clive walked out of the arrivals at Casablanca airport. I could have said “see, I survived this far despite your videos at the going away party“ but I didn’t. It got me thinking though, what have I survived thus far? Amsterdam, Belgian roads, the French language, wind and rain in France, a night hugging my motorcycle for warmth, Swiss chocolates, illegally abseiling a German tower, crazy Spanish drivers, crazier Moroccan drivers, mysterious ship explosions, and countless hustlers. Not a bad effort I guess but the best was yet to come in Morocco. I have to say, staying with Yassine and Amin was the best introduction anyone could have. Thanks to them I am now hooked … Read More

Welcome to Africa

Kurt.nzTravel

I´ve always wondered what it would be like to be amongst people in a state of panic. You know like on a sinking ship or burning building. Well, here I was relaxing on the car ferry when all of a sudden there was an almighty bang and the whole ship shuddered. My first thought? “What do the other people look like?“ Well most people were fairly alarmed; you could almost smell the fear. However one Moroccan looked like his eyes were going to pop out as he ran to the window. I found out later that most can´t swim. It didn’t help that the guy I was sitting with said rather loudly “it’s a bomb“ in French. Smooth, that´ll calm the masses. Speaking of the guy I was sitting with, he was French with 1.5 arms and only 3 yellow … Read More

Possums are pests, and probably not Kosher either

Kurt.nzTravel

How is this for pretty much my first conversation in Spain, and in Spanish what’s more? “Pardon sir, in order for ´something´ street?” “Oh , umm, wait. I think…there“ “Here?“ “Yes“ “Thanks so much“ “That´s ok“ You know the funny part about that? I was the one being asked for directions. So a Spanish guy asked me, a kiwi who had been in the country for 2 hours, for directions in his own country. Priceless. There´s probably a middle aged man lost wandering the streets of Madrid right about now but hey it felt good to speak Spanish and give someone directions. Madrid itself was grand, especially the palace. And so much more since that particular day entry was free for EU citizens so I was Dutch that day again. I was staying in a hostel and met a guy … Read More

This is Baden-Württemberg man!

Kurt.nzTravel

I think now is an apt time to explain the ´suiting up´ process as I´ll call it for getting ready to go on a motorbike trip. First I put the over trousers on, tightening the strap at the waist and making sure the knee and hip protectors are in place. I then slip on my riding boots and laces. Then I put a thermal or jacket on, pulling on a balaclava type scarf over the top to stop the wind coming under the helmet, and of course to stop the helmet strap chaffing my designer stubble. Next comes the jacket, which is no small feat depending on how much clothing is underneath. It also has a zip and dome clips. Keys, wallet, phone, insurance papers, ownership papers, compulsory EU crash form, check. MP3 player, or ear plugs in, helmet on, … Read More

Swiss stereotypes

Kurt.nzTravel

The contrast between French Switzerland and German Switzerland is amazing. When you start in the south west and head north east it’s like going through a different country. In the French part they speak, surprise surprise, French. All the signs are in French and the cities are not as well kept as what you’d expect from a German. To me Geneva could have been a French city. On the ride north the change happened somewhere in between two little towns. I passed a whole lot of French signs and then just like that everything was German. I suddenly realised that I really don’t speak any German at all. Sad one. The day after I arrived in Geneva I went to the UN headquarters. It rained the whole day but it was OK, I was inside the place exploring where the … Read More

Australian pick-up lines

Kurt.nzTravel

“Do you want some company or are you a man who likes to eat alone?” Now let me ask you one thing, does that sound like a pick up line to you? It certainly does to me. So here I was in Geneva sitting by myself in the hostel restaurant enjoying a dinner of cordon bleu and spaghetti bolognaise, complete with some sort of custard cream for dessert. This was luxury compared to my dinner of weetbix and a vitamin pill in Clermont-Ferrand the night before. Anyway, I heard the family of Australians walk in and I thought ´I should go and sit with them´. You can tell I was longing for company if I was considering eating with Australians. I´d been speaking mostly French for the last couple of days with bits of English and I really wanted to … Read More

French faire

Kurt.nzTravel

I’ve actually been very spoiled in terms of gastronomy in France. Every place I’ve stayed in has had beautiful authentic French meal. Even when they cook something simple they manage to make it so delicious. Eating here is almost ritualistic. First you have an entrée of soup, salad, or bread. Then you have the mains. Then you have a digestive of cheese and bread, then there’s dessert. And of course you have wine during the meal. This can be done for every meal of the day, ok maybe not quite breakfast. So it appears the mainstay of the French appetite is bread, cheese, and wine. Nice. I was riding away from Ploermel after seeing Vannes the previous day – beautiful little city. I was heading to La Rochelle further down the coast. As my usual luck was continuing the weather … Read More

What a couple of days

Kurt.nzTravel

After a breakfast of a couple of pieces of toast (now that I am on the continent) I was chugging away towards Rouen. I was still unsure of my next destination as I had contacted a few people to host me but none had replied. Foolishly I was hoping to be able to check my emails on the way and that someone would reply. On the way, Rouen was a very different city to the others I had just been to. It’s right on a river which winds its way through a gorge and Rouen is nestled in between this. Very picturesque and lots of spires I thought. But onwards I went, stopping at a camping ground to see if they had internet. This is where I found out the French I had learnt was surprisingly good and useful, even … Read More

The road to Wissant

Kurt.nzTravel

The next day I was on the road heading for a little French village called Wissant. I must say, the ride started pretty well, okay so the weather was a bit cloudy, but the going was good and I was in high spirits. And then I hit Belgium also known as worst-roads-in-Western-Europe-for-a-motorbike. Seriously, I was on the best highway they had and there were bumps that knocked me off my saddle every ten meters. Then to make it even more interesting there were grooves in each lane where vehicles had been over and over. I felt like I was on some old cart worn Roman road. I hadn’t expected this until at least Eastern Europe. As I was going along I looked down from the highway and saw a tractor going along what looked like a better road. Where’s the … Read More

The old and the new

Kurt.nzTravel

Anyone who knows their New Zealand history knows that it was a Dutchman that was the first European to discover NZ. But did you know that he named it after an area in Holland? Well, not him but his cartographers anyway. I rode around Zeeland in the south of Holland, or Old Zeeland if you prefer, just to see whether it really is anything like my homeland. And it was! Take away the windmills, quaint villages, and people driving on the wrong side of the road and it could have been any beach on the Coromandel or Far North. There were white sand dunes, tufts of tussock grass, and waves. Of course the sea is a lot colder being the North Sea so I don’t think there’s any swimming between the flags here. There’s also the Dutch answer to tides … Read More

The long and the short of it…

Kurt.nzTravel

Here is a random fact. The Dutch overall are the tallest people in the world. The average height of a Dutchman is 6-foot 1 inch. So, this begs one question; where on earth did all those Dutch genes disappear on me? No, that wasn’t the question I was thinking of but is another side issue because of my mish mash of Dutch, Irish, and Polish blood. The real question is how come they make their houses and buildings so small? Seriously, tallest people in the world, smallest houses in the universe, I don’t quite see the connection. It’s not the citizens fault though; they do a fine job of expanding their living area into every imaginable space of land available to them. But they get such small plots of land. I guess the dykes and canals do take up a … Read More

Flying sardines and anti-jetlag

Kurt.nzTravel

Long haul flights are not fun. That may sound like the understatement of the trip, but it must be said just in case you think I’m the type of traveller who defines ‘well travelled’ as the most amount of miles covered in the shortest amount of time. Flying really is a means to an end, unless of course something interesting happens while on board. The only thing that could have interested me on this particular trip would have been us having to make an emergency landing, in which case that may have been the end, not the means. Alas, this journey really was uneventful. Auckland to Sydney was the first leg, and then I had a brief respite from my flying cell. I took a train into the centre of the city and saw the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, … Read More

Farewells, pro wrestlers, and a punch in the nose

Kurt.nzTravel

Have you ever had the feeling that the event you’re looking forward to has already passed? Like your ‘going away party’ is actually a ‘welcome back party’? That’s how I felt at mine anyway. I think I had prepared myself so well for my trip (mentally I mean, well as mentally prepared as this brain can get…) that the party seemed almost a post event. Albeit a kind of sad post event as I kept reminding myself the seven plus months away were still to come. Great party though, although as with most going away parties I guess, one mixed with feelings of excitement and sadness. Sadness that you’re not going to see most of these people for some time, except for Clive of course who’ll join me in Morocco in six weeks. We had the obligatory round of poker … Read More