Sunday, February 10, 2013

Making a stand.

I have lived in the Czech Republic for over 20 years now. I fell in love with the country the first day I got here, it just felt right, felt like home and I have never felt like that in the UK.  Do I love everything about this country? Definitely not but when I moan about how things are here I think I have earned my stripes, have earned the right to criticize. I speak the language, run a business here, own properties here, pay taxes here, have lived with them and among them and understand not only the mentality but why they think like they do. My child is even half Czech!
What I cannot abide, find extremely offensive and what I will not suffer anymore are expats that persist in Czech bashing. These are people that have CHOSEN to live here, are either employed or are in business here, and enjoy all the perks associated with a relatively low cost of living . If you don't like it here LEAVE!
I appreciate that these people are probably natural born complainers, its just how they roll. They never take the time to learn the language or even try to integrate into the local society . Yes, it is different here but thats what makes the country unique . The world would be a boring place if it was all the same! The legal system is still quite outdated and corruption is rife but don't tell me this is not the case in the UK or the USA, its just better hidden. Czech TV and music leaves me cold  but thats not because of the language but the fact I grew out of 80's pop thirty years ago and I don't like watching cheesy 70's type variety shows.  These are just a few of the things that I personally don't like and I could go on but for every negative thing there are dozens of positives.

* Prague itself is extraordinarily beautiful and if you have only ever been here on a stag or hen weekend then please come back sober and wander through the streets. You don't get this type of architecture in Milton Keynes for sure.
 * The climate. I am writing this sat in my conservatory looking at all the birds sat on my bird feeder - the sun is so hot on my back that I had to take my jumper off yet its  minus 3oC outside.
* The health system - it doesn't look pretty from the outside but as everyone knows its what's on the inside that matters and that is without question fabulous and more importantly the system works. 1 Euro to  consult with a specialist surgeon at an appointment I set up last week! The USA can only weep at this type of health system.
* We don't have horse meat in our ready made processed meals because they are not widely available here .  We actually cook from scratch here!

So what can you do about these negative, small minded and offensive people? Well for a start I have stopped giving them a platform for their views and am unfriend- ing these types of people . Rant away all you like on Facebook and other social media channels but I will not be listening .  Yes I could just ignore their posts and it does seem rather a ridiculous and childish stand to take  but we are all entitled to our own opinions and I have to respect that. Do I think they will be affected by this or change their views, probably not if the article below is to be believed but at least I feel I have made my point.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Where have I been?

Oh my goodness, has it really been so long since I last wrote a blog ? Obviously so !
A lot has happened in my life in the last few years but I guess there isn't a person alive who can't say the same. The trick in writing anything that goes out to the world at large is how much to reveal about yourself , what to say and more importantly what not to say. Whilst I do not particularly care what other people think about me, when you are starting up a new business venture you need to be cautious about presenting the right image and not just upsetting or annoying people with your opinions. Or do you?
I am known for being very opinionated and my 'tell it like it is' policy is one of the reasons why I am respected in my field. Shouldn't I apply the same logic to my writing? The answer is a big resounding yes so this year I am going to write more blogs, mentor more people and generally put my head above the parapet again. I apologize up front for upsetting anyone with my skewed logic and opinions!
In the mean time if you are looking for a great real estate consultancy company in Central Europe specializing in high end residential properties then check out Mantaren Properties at : . If you think we haven't got what you are looking for then ask us because odds on we have but like any commodity of value in life we don't just drop everything on the counter !

Monday, November 22, 2010

Eat that Frog!

Eat that Frog is a book by the great American motivational speaker Brian Tracey. This short book deals entirely with the concept that on everybody's daily 'to do' list there is always one task that is bigger and more important than the others but is a pain to do and hence we leave it until last or even worse we put it off until the next day. This leaves us invariably feeling inadequate at work and leaves us with this black cloud hanging over us. Brian Tracey tells us that we need to discipline ourselves, stop procrastinating and tackle  this task, or frog as he calls it , immediately. The sense of achievement associated with completing this task will then boost you through the day and your effectivity and self confidence will soar.
Yesterday I ate a huge frog and I could not be happier!
I have been studying internet marketing since late summer, I've bought everything that moves , watched more videos than I have in my whole life, written more notes than I ever did at school and have even bought the tee shirt . As many people looking to get involved in this field of work I fell foul to information overload and despite learning a whole new set of skills  the holy grail of internet marketing- having a product to sell on line- seemed no closer than the day I started. The frustration of not making progress in this has been horrible and as a result even the stuff I really enjoy, like blogging has taken a side line. To be fair to myself I got a lot closer than most people ever do ( helped along by throwing money at it!) and I have plans and ideas to keep me going for the next decade but there was always something blocking me.
Well yesterday I spent 7 hours hunched over the computer and voila, the frog is gone!
I cannot describe the feeling of accomplishment and achievement I feel. I couldn't be happy if I had won the lottery and its like the sun has come out on everything. Am writing my first blog in around 2 months and have numerous more ideas of things to write about. I got replies to emails that I had given up on, found someone to sort out my mess of a personal web site and got concrete info about tap dancing lessons I have been wanting to do for years. In general I have had a very positive day and am looking forward to starting my next on line product!
To all of you who are struggling at work or at home try identifying the frog on your list each day and dealing with it first for the next 7 days. See what a difference it can make to your work and your life. Worse case scenario you have more time in the day to do the fun stuff . Whats not to love about that?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where has the romance gone?

According to an article produced by, possibly the largest internet dating site in the world, us women have changed our attitudes to dating. We are no longer looking for a knight in shining armour  instead we are looking for someone low key and who wants to settle down. Can this really be true, has romance died out totally and if so what was the straw that broke the camels back?
Pragmatic dating does seem to be all around us though. I also read this week that the most romantic gesture these days is usually an SMS or a Facebook posting. Bad news for the flower and gift card shops!
I can't help thinking though that this report must have been aimed at the older age group. At 42 I am sceptical beyond belief about matters of the heart etc but I refuse to believe that as a whole our cynicism with romance has been passed down to the younger generation in such a way that they do not even dream of the grand gesture. Maybe the internet generation are so used to instant gratification that it doesn't even occur to them that there is another way? Will this save them any heartbreak and anxiety along the way? Probably not, after all it is a rite of passage but what it does mean to all us oldies that once again the teenagers will be right when they say that we can never understand their angst. For that I am glad though because if anybody tries romancing me by sending me a virtual bunch of flowers on Facebook instead of buying the real deal( actually I hate flowers so skip that idea totally) or God forbid wants to dump me via text message then be prepared for a grand gesture Google style. Google will show me your house, tell me what web sites you visit,show me who your friends are, the list goes on. Actually now I come to think about it this non romantic pragmatic dating thing is quite fun!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

GDP growth-something to hang your hat on or a load of old cobblers?

The average man in the street used to have no idea what GDP was let alone what effect it had on an economy. It was only when recession hit that it was fully explained to us in plain mans language what it truly meant. Just in case it is all a distant blur I will recap - the qualification for officially being in a recession is that the economy has stopped growing 2-3 consecutive quarter's in a row. At its most basic level it means that people have stopped spending money.This whilst undoubtably true became a self fulfilling prophecy though because the more the analysts and journalists wrote that people were scared to spend money the more we started to believe them and really stopped spending money.
Eighteen months later and everyone is now trying to be positive and the analysts are blithely announcing that GDP is up, confidence has returned to the world and we can all put a smile on our faces and get back to business as usual. What a lot of boloney! Whilst I  have no doubt that statistically everything is on an upward trend I think we have to be cautious with this information.Whilst I think the world most definitely needs to have analysts I think the world is in even more need of people who actually get out of their office and step into the big world for real and comment on progress.
One look at the CEE up close and despite all the positive numbers and lots of charts pointing in an upwards direction it is very plain to see that things have not returned to normal, whatever that might be! People are still scared to make long term commitments and are still worried about keeping their jobs . Cash is still King and yes, I will have my shoes re- heeled rather than just buy a new pair! What these analysts are very shy to tell you is that these numbers are all relative because they are based in comparison to last years figures. Last year in certain property markets we saw absolutely no movement whatsoever so anything is better than nothing! Doesn't sound so impressive now does it?

So what needs to happen to get things back on track? 

  •  Banks need to stop hoarding money and start re-lending. Am not talking the silly loans and mortgages that caused all this but sensible 'lets get this show on the road' type of lending. Lip service is being paid to this but at interest rates of 5% + who is interested in that?
  •  Don't stop going on holiday, just do it at home - stay-cations as we call it in the UK. Keep your money in your own economy!
  •  Support your local businesses and buy products at  farmers markets etc. Tesco and the big guns can afford to lose your business for a while but the small independents need our support.
  •  Pay your bills in a timely fashion- if your local tradesman does a job for you then pay him on time. One of the biggest blights in Central Europe is bad payment moral. Its like traffic lights - if everybody was to run a red light then pretty soon the whole traffic system will grind to a halt. Without paying your bill the tradesman cannot pay his suppliers and the suppliers cannot pay the manufacturer - vicious circle.

Can these things really help? The short answer is yes. Talk to your grandparents and ask them how things were after World War II. Everyone will tell you that things were hard back then but everybody pulled together and bit by bit things came together. Will it ever go back to where it was? I certainly hope not ! One thing is for sure though, we all need to take responsibility and do our part . Its all too easy to blame the politicians and bankers  for everything but ultimately we all need to become responsible citizens. Only then will we have a chance to prove the analysts and their GDP growth figures correct.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Work horse or work shy?

Have never really bought into the idea that people should know what they want to do with their life by the time they leave school and if truth were to be told at 42 I still have no idea! I do feel quite strongly though that as with a pair of shoes you have to try on a lot of pairs before you find the right fit.
As a student I had a fantasy list of jobs that I wanted to try out whilst I had the opportunity and whilst non of these jobs would ever have figured in my ideal career list I figured that it couldn't hurt to try out the world a little bit. Between the ages of 15 and 19 I held the following jobs:

  • Checkout girl - loved seeing into peoples world via their shopping basket.
  • Breakfast waitress - chefs are mean and Germans want breakfast far too early!
  • Barmaid - good source of boyfriends.
  • Amusement arcade cash desk - english coins stink.
  • Bakery assistance - the silly hats do not suit anybody and cannot look at a chocolate eclair to this day.
  • Petrol station worker - night shift  on the forecourt is the place to be.
  • Fish + chip shop chef - how on earth I got that I will never know.

  • Cocktail waitress - stuffy and dull.
  • Door to door Double glazing sales person - thankless task.
  • Telemarketing - cold calling sucks.

Plus many more. Now some jobs lasted longer than others and some I did better than others ( will leave you to figure out which was which) but without exception I had a ball, earned enough money to keep me out of debt during college and definitely learnt valuable lessons at them all.
So what happened to this type of work ethic ? I don't see the younger generation in any hurry to go out and get any job - do they have too much money or are they just too precious to get their hands dirty? In Central Europe it is not uncommon for people to have their first job at 24! I just don't get it and more importantly how do we go about changing this mentality? Students leave university with such huge levels of debt these days ( tales of people still paying off student loans into their 30's) that logic tells you that the economic recovery is always going to be hampered if we do not instill a better work ethic into our youth. Jokes are often leveled at the Polish and Ukrainians and their willingness to do any job but my goodness give me this mentality any day over the sense of entitlement I see from the so called educated Westerners.
So, are there any jobs still left over from my fantasy list? Long distance lorry driver!!  I do, however , have some relatively new additions to this hypothetical list including working at Harrods in the music department and working on a cosmetics counter at Selfridges. Both of these are a million miles away from my current life working in the real estate sector in Europe ( which I love by the way!) and neither are motivated by money but who knows what will happen in the future? Its good to have a plan.
What fantasy jobs have you always secretly wanted to do? Drop me a line and share your story.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Easy Abs at Home - No Gym Membership required!

Girls, sick of going to the gym and not seeing any results? The sad truth is that the only thing that will happen when you spend time waving your arms around on the machines at the gym is you will be bored and disillusioned . Am sure, like me you have spent a fortune on gym memberships and machinery that claim to give you great abs in next to no time. The problem? 99% of these abdominal contraptions are just useless . With the right information you will quickly come to realise that you neither need machinery or a gym to get the results you deserve. These four exercises will have you working your way towards great abs in no time at all.
1) – The Squat – the ultimate exercise!
While the squat is primarily a leg exercise, it relies on the abdominals in order to keep the body straight. Squat as low as you can go but keep your feet flat on the floor.Don’t let your knees go over your feet. Once you get stronger and want to increase the intensity of the squat then you can use a weights bar, a plastic pipe or even a broom handle to hold above your head.  Move through the movement and keep your abs reasonably tense, and your chest puffed out. While your legs may ache right afterwards, it’ll be your abs that see the true benefit in a couple of months.
2) – The Sit Up
This is a classic but often neglected abdominal exercise, and is incredibly effective when performed alongside virtually any other lifting exercise . An Isolation exercise such as this is usually  best done at the end of your routine, as they stress muscle groups that have already been exercised . For extra intensity hold a weighted object between both hands.
3) – The Push Press
This is another weighted exercise, and one that also exercises your chest, shoulders and arms. Take a couple of small weights in each hand ( a tin of beans or bottles of water will do) and simply push the weights from shoulder height above your head, all the while using your abdominals to keep your body straight and upright. Once you gain in strength get heavier weights.
4 – The Leg Raise
Another great exercise to end your routine with. Lay on the floor with your arms by your side and your legs straight. Raise your legs until they form a right angle with your body  all the while keeping them perfectly straight and pointed.Don’t let your legs drop all the way to the ground though until you have done all your reps.Yes it will hurt but that shows it is working! 
So come on ladies - put your favourite music on LOUD and take positive action today!