Category Archives: Blog

Bangkok

I am just sitting in Starbucks having a coffee before leaving Bangkok having spent a great few days here introducing Marriage Week to a Family Ministry Leaders conference.  Many of the folks here have heard about National Marriage Week, and are keen to get involved.  So watch this space.  Delegates are here from; Philippines, Cambodia, Korea, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, Kazakhstan, India as well as Norway, USA, Holland Ukraine and Switzerland.  Thankfully it’s all in English.

UN Peace conference
I fly tonight overnight to Geneva as I have been asked to speak at a UN sponsored conference for the International Year of the Family.  This event which is sponsored by the United Peace Federation, which has Special status with the UN, is sure to be a fascinating encounter!

 

Sex and the busy brain part 2.

Just consider how sexualised you become when you get away for a weekend. Apparently, most couples when away from the everyday pressures enjoy a much more pronounced sexual engagement when away from home.

This is partly because of greater opportunity with less mundane things to do, but also because you both can relax more having been removed from the everyday demands that shout so loudly. 

Firstly, the multi tasking voices have to be soothed. It’s no good just pretending that all is well, when you have concerns on your mind.  I’m not suggesting that you have to get everything fixed in your life before you can become “interested”, but for anxious souls this is important.

I have divided the inner voices into three categories. The outer world, the family, and the inner world.  The outer world might be unresolved issues at work, issues to do with relationships outside of the home.  Perhaps feelings of self worth to do with status or external achievements.

You might feel intensely that you deserve that promotion, but until you are recognized for being the brilliant person that you are, you can’t just have your life on hold. The family are voices to do with the neediness of your children, parents, and husband, and finally the inner voices are tied up with how you might feel about yourself, your weight, your wardrobe and general attractiveness.

Now clearly, no one can possibly get all these issues looking happy all at the same time, plus many of these areas are outside of your control.  What we are looking at here is general principles which will help to soothe the busy brain to be able to relax into sensual feelings.

Firstly, scene and the atmosphere.  Why not make your bedroom a sort of private intimate area with candles, cushions and such.

He may not even notice, but you will. This sends him a message which sounds like, “I’m preparing for intimacy”.  If you have children in the house, and you havn’t already, get a lock on your bedroom door.

Secondly, get a notebook.  Normally half the things you are retaining in your brain are things which are not creating anxiety as such, they are just draining your resources as you attempt to not forget, maybe Jimmy’s orthodontic appointment or that birthday card for your friend.  Well, just write down a list of things you are carrying round in your head, then guess what, you don’t have to carry them round anymore. This frees your brain to stop multi tasking and get focused on “other things”.

Thirdly, for anxiety producing things that you can’t do anything about, talk them over with a friend or your husband, if you are spiritual pray together. This may seem really awkward at first – but give it a try.

Often just rehearsing the issue will help you to de-escalate it from “important” to sort of “in process”. 

This is really crucial because not everything is resolvable, so you have to find a way to park the anxiety in a good well lit car park, so that you can revisit it when you are able.  Your brain will find it objectionable if you try to just forget about a problem, so parking it in an accessible place can really help.

Finally, make sure your not angry with your husband.  Your brain cannot let you become turned on with the same person that you are angry or upset with.  You have to keep short accounts.

Sex and the busy brain.

We all know that women are brilliant at multi tasking. Spinning numerous plates simultaneously. However, to engage the sexual pleasure areas in her brain she has to silence all the other voices in her head. This is a neurological fact. The part of the brain that remembers everything, the amygdala, cannot function simultaneously with the part of the brain that has to be switched on to get turned on.

Or in other words, you know the way Word and Excel can run side by side on your lap top, well when it comes to sex, you have to turn one off, to turn the other one on. They just won’t run side by side. This is seriously where so many couples mess up. If you’re a woman you cannot multi task an orgasm, honestly – you really can’t. 

The manufacturer’s of Viagra have now conceded defeat in their attempts to create a female Viagra, mainly because women’s brains are so interconnected that a single magic bullet pill cannot possibly fix everything. To fill a penis with blood is unspeakably simple compared with the complexities of helping a women to switch of life, and then to switch on to feeling sensual and well sexy.

It is true that some anti depressants can make a women more relaxed and therefore with an inhibited amygdala the scene can be set for great sex, but who wants to be on anti depressants. No one.

The truth is that men and women both want the same thing, exciting sex. For a man it’s just very basic plumbing.  For a women, it’s slightly more complex, because the female orgasm requires her to switch of her brain, or at least the part of the brain where she considers all her networks or relationships and issues.

Maybe next week I’ll post my top 3 tips for de cluttering the busy brain.

I’m not a wife beater – honest!

Phone rings; it’s a caller asking to speak to my wife who is out of the house just now.  I can tell it’s the nice lady from the hospital or such like, just by the accommodating tone of voice.  I explain that Maria is not in just at the moment.  The caller says

“it’s important please could she have Maria’s mobile number.”  I say, “well, who is it calling?” the caller says, “it’s personal”. I say, “well ok, don’t tell me what it’s about, just tell me who it is calling and I’ll give you her number, I mean are you from a BT Call centre, or maybe a market research person or maybe a caller from the hospital”. “I can’t do that It’s personal”.

This is staring to get annoying, I mean the caller clearly thinks that on the basis of a medical record she has more “personal” rights than I do, despite being married to Maria for 26 years. Why should I give a private number to a complete stranger on the basis that “it’s personal”.  I try to reason,

“Let me make this very simple; tell me that you’re not a sales person, but a caller from say the hospital or such like, and I’ll give you her number”

The caller irritated by my impudence decides I’m probably an abusive wife batterer and hangs up. The march of the individual over the couple, family, group continues on, and at the risk of becoming a grumpy old man, I find it destructively stupid.  I understand that a person’s private medical records should be private, but for goodness sake, it’s safe to say, it’s the dentist calling, or the hospital or the vet.

Next I’ll be judged as an overbearing idiot for even suggesting that I am a husband of a wife, or a father of a child, or a son of a mother.  Imagine the audacity of even suggesting that by virtue of actually taking part in voluntarily entered into marriage vows that somehow 26 years later that could mean something.  Well by law it does so why won’t a hospital caller give any recognition that in the life of my wife I mean something.

In my view the lady from the hospital should have asked me who I was in relation to my wife, “her husband” I would have said.  She could then have said, “well I can’t discuss her details, but it is the hospital calling”. Fine I would have said.  But instead we get the impression that I might as well be the window cleaner or a serial rapist.  Not funny – actually a very sad indictment on our modern individualist lives.

Handle with care – Fragile People Everywhere

Two stories struck me as I glanced through Metro whilst sitting on the tube this morning.  Tallulah Wilson, a seemingly bright and vivacious 15 year old took her own life by leaping in front of a train.  Reportedly, Tallulah was struggling to cope with; the death of her grandmother, bullying and her parent’s divorce.  Her only solace was found in an alternate virtual reality, which honoured self harm, and seemingly promoted suicide.  She walked out of the family home saying that she “didn’t need her ballet stuff today” and was killed at St Pancras station. I wonder how many of her 18,000 virtual friends caught the gaze of her devastated parents by attended her funeral. Not many I imagine.  Shame on those who encouraged this child to make such a terrible choice.

Second story was that of Beverley Pickover, a 35 year old alcoholic, mother of four dying of liver disease. Her partner of five years, Anthony Howard was photographed nursing her whilst the newspaper reported that she turned to booze following a series of failed relationships.  She will die soon.

Call me an idealist, but both stories to me are very sad, and both have at their root a failure in relationships.  Someone very smart once said that, “you can trace just about every problem in the World to a relationship problem”.  How true this is, and how important it is to do all we can to resolve fractured relationships, and to value relationships highly.

And so as we consider the people in our sphere of influence, just watch out because one of them may be an earlier version of Tallulah’s poor lost parent’s, or an earlier version of Beverley’s partner.  You get my point.  People are fragile and precious – handle with care.

 

Plebgate – Lies and vows.

After the scandalous revelations yesterday, I began to ponder on lies, and then vows.  Do vows actually mean anything in 2014?

February 8th will see thousands of couples up and down the land grab their marriage certificates, each other and then with trembling hearts they will pile into venues, mostly churches to reaffirm their marital vows.  There will, undoubtedly be a few tears, and a fair amount of hand holding as the smug “still married” brigade (of which I am a champion) reflect on what might have been, had it all gone differently! Click here.

The 26 years that I have been married has seen many ups and downs. I can recall a few seasons when the downs outnumbered the ups significantly, and conversely so many ups I am spoilt.

Cohabitants cannot take part in this Guinness World Record attempt, not because the smugs don’t like them, far from it. Myself and my smug friends genuinely love cohabiting couples. It’s just that vows are public, permanent and oath like in their intent, and if you haven’t made them you can’t reaffirm them.

Those in perfectly valid and often hugely rewarding, loving “other half” arrangements are annoyed by smug marrieds, trying to understand what if anything is the difference.  Well, lot’s of things, but let’s just consider tense for today.

As loving as a cohabiting arrangement may be, it tends to operate in the present tense only. Don’t believe me?  Go and ask a married person “are you going to stay together till you die?” they say “yes, that’s the plan” . Then ask a cohabitant the same and they say “well it depends on what happens”.  Bingo.  Why does this matter? Well it shows a seemingly small but significantly different heart attitude, which in turn has a shaping affect on how the couple construct their affairs.

So the public confession of vows are significant.  Not so much for the bride, but massively for the groom, but more on this another time.

 

 

3 Top tips to reconnect with yourself, and the special one

radioI blogged at the weekend about what to do when the serotonin subsides.  I suggested a few ways couples could be proactive in building new experiences together.  Developing this theme, today I’m dipping into our stupid appetite for being busy with a few triggers to get you thinking about, what your thinking about;

  1. Eat slowly; I once had lunch with a certain person, a former policeman.  He literally shovelled a massive meal down in less than 3 minutes.  When I commented, he said it was something to do with always being on call, and it has developed into a habit.  Try turning the telly off, turning your smart phone off, lighting a candle and taking time to eat together.
  2. Turn off the radio; Be honest. Are you scared of the silence, the lack of any noise?  Go through the scary bit, and you will find not emptiness on the other side, but your inner voice, and inner conscience.  Helps you to decide what’s important, and unimportant.
  3. Try sitting up late and talking about what each of you have been thinking about.  What have you been pondering on in quieter moments, or as you fall asleep what do you think about.

As my good friend Dr Michael Schluter from The Relationships Foundation said; “Time is the currency of relationships” so spend a little time on your special relationship.

That lingering kiss, and the boredom blues.

Unknown-1We all know that in a very unromantic way our marriages “are a crucial social contract which helps to forge strong families and strong communities, and that every Government in the World views families as crucial micro systems, breeding caring and wealth creating support units”.  The truth is however, we didn’t fall in love in order to benefit society.  It was much more about intoxicating romance, excitement and the headiness of that lingering kiss.

It is the case that sadly the serotonin will subside, and the novelty of “possessing” the affections of that awesome, irresistible special one will gradually wear off with time.  Technically, an infatuated person is clinically insane whilst the brain injects so much serotonin into our systems.  So, is this it? Or can couples fight off the humdrum?

I have met some couples, not many though who even after 50 years just can’t keep away from each other; one in particular who told me; “I still get a rush, when he walks in from work, and if he comes home unexpectedly I get so excited.” 

So how do you do it?

Be honest.

Boredom is inevitable.  What I mean is that as you become familiar with each other, the things that were charming and quirky can become boring, so the amusing way you sing in the shower or answer the phone in a funny voice may become boring, or heaven forbid, even irritating.  The answer is to find something to do, which is new to both of you and is even vaguely interesting to both of you.  Maybe read a book together and talk about it, or go to a class to learn salsa dancing.  Try volunteering for a weekend or try walking and camping, so long as it’s new for both of you.  That is the key! This will re energise your appetites and chase away the boredom blues.

Part Two, coming soon.

What guys are thinking but never say. Part 2.

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Following on from my post yesterday which just had so many reads it was ridiculous, I have cracked on with part two. Hope you find it insightful.

“I want more guy time.”

While I love being around you darling, and am so proud of you, I also, just once in a while really like being with my buddies, and to be honest I could really do without a sort of shadow of an upset wife hanging over me when I meet up with them.

For me, It’s about being the Master Chief (Halo) amongst Master Chief’s, about belching, telling stupid jokes, calling each other rude names, recanting old stories and generally being very unsophisticated which is so appealing.  You could call it my cave man moment.  You can meet with your girl friends and discuss books, actors and nail varnish.  We will play shoot em up first person games, eat pizza and sit with our feet on the coffee table (terrible), even though we know you hate it when we do that.

Its not about being anti you, it’s about being wrecklessly masculine, with my friends, some of whom you might disapprove of.  Amazingly, when I have done this for a while, I will remember what it was about you that drew me from the pack in the first place, and I’ll come home delighted to see you, having evacuated all that hot air.  Might even bring you some flowers.

“You look hot.”

Ok, so I understand that with little ones running round, and the school run, and the shopping and all that stuff that you don’t always feel that smoking hot!  Lingerie is now underwear, and clothes are sometimes, well just a tad too comfortable.  But you know, inside this guy is a man, who still thinks you are a real hotty, and knows just how good you can look when you have time to do what’s needed.  Seriously, we mostly aren’t seeing the outer garments anyway, if you know what I mean.  So, get this.  We have love tinted sunglasses, we see right past that puke stained blouse to the real women underneath, we love what we see, and you should too.

“It turns me on that you’re the mother of my child.”

Finally, without you I could never have become a Dad.  The pride and self esteem I get from seeing you nurturing our little ones wells up and makes me so devoted to you.  You see I didn’t always know that I would actually get this family thing going.  I might have become Billy no Mates, no kids, no wife.  It was a very realistic possibility, until you came along, and pow, here we are.  I’m your man, we are lovers – everyone knows that you and I are well “intimate”  and that makes me feel really manly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What guys are thinking but never say.

 

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 08.53.04I just found a fun little article from last year published at (Parenting.com) drawn from married men with children in the household. Here are the first three results, I’ll publish the others later.

“I want to cuddle.”

Sometimes, we stagger home from work and it feels as though we have just done 15 rounds with Mike Tyson. To be very honest what we really, really need is not gymnastic sex (straight away) but just a loving cuddle.  No words, no solutions – just cuddles.  Now if one thing leads to another fair enough, but to be very honest undemanding cuddles are so welcome.

“Take charge in bed. Please?”

We know that on your list of jobs somewhere between hoovering and the dishwasher is “do sex with hubby”, which is fine.  Marital sex is sometimes dutiful, as well as sometimes sparkingly exciting.  However, we feel like we make so many overtures of interest, so many little squeezes, lingering pecks, sort of carrying around the unending question; “would now be a good time?” all the time like wearing a big hat with “would now be a good time?” written on it in big letters.  This can make sex for us a responsibility, as we endlessly seek the hormonal moment!  So, just once in a while, plan ahead take some initiative and surprise us with a lingering kiss, a sexy brush past or even just talk to us about times you have loved being sexy with us.  This may make you feel awkward or embarrassed, but hey who cares.  We are important aren’t we?

“I’m fed up with date night.”

Routine, routine routine.  We hate too much routine.  Raising children and earning money involves quite a bit of routine, so please, please, don’t regularise our date nights too.  I want our infrequent nights out to be aspiring to spontaneity. This means if we order a special bottle of wine, then enjoy the excitement, don’t mention the family budget. We are in that moment trying to create a special me and you moment within the cascade of family life. It’s not about spending money necessarily, we would be just as happy with a special picnic or a late night movie – anything that is more spontaneous than predictable.  So please, let’s have some unplanned fun.

More soon.

Why are divorce rates amongst Christians the same as everyone else?

IMG_9718-for-webWell, actually they aren’t!  In fact depending upon how committed you are to your faith, seems to have a significant bearing on divorce risk. Weaker faith factor, leads to greater divorce factor.

I do not believe that if you have no faith, you are doomed to a poor, crabby and gloomy love life, and conversely that all religious people are blissfully happy, having amazing sex lives and all that stuff.  I’m just saying that since their are times when perseverance is crucial, faith filled people, well, have more faith that “God” will bring them through.  Additionally, It is my experience from working with organisations and couples that almost all volunteers working with families, and especially couple work are people of faith.

Show me the numbers?

Brad Wilcox, a marriage expert at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project with whom I enjoyed a canapé and glass of Sauvignon Blanc at the launch of Marriage Week USA February 2012 (see photo above) has managed to dig a little deeper than your average analyst.

Cleverly, Wilcox has delineated between those who are committed to religious practice, and those who merely identify with a particular faith, such as those who, for example, on entry into a hospital, identify with a particular faith from a multiple choice of 10 or 15 options.  Although peculiarly even identifying with a faith decreases the likelihood of divorce (which I completely cannot understand).  Even after adjusting his findings to allow for socio economic factors, Wilcox uncovered some pretty significant outcomes.

Catholics are 5 percent less likely to divorce than the average, but active Catholics are 31 percent less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.

Nominal Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce than nonreligious people, whereas, Conservative Protestants are 10 percent less likely to divorce, and Conservative active Protestants are 35 percent less likely to divorce than people in the general population.

What does this tell us?  In my view it tells us three things;

1, That being part of a faith community makes you more likely to stick together through tough times. 

2, It tells us that active, participatory faith in God gives you a net benefit, and that even nominal identification with a faith strengthens your marriage. 

3, The public identification with an institution known as generally being “good” such as “the church” will help you to stay being “good”.

 

The sexless marriage is very hard work.

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Click on image to launch video report from MW Hainichen

Couples in distress seem to find their way to our door, seeking help.  Sometimes one party is determined on leaving the marriage, other times they just need a bit of coaching and reassurance.  Mostly they are fairly well suited to each other, and have just sort of fallen out of being in love.  Simply forgotten how to be nice to each other. Seriously, quite often they are clearly fond of each other, but have just got into bad habits.

A couple I saw yesterday are typical.  Five years into the marriage and he is set on divorcing, or at least he was last week. Now he wants to stay in the marriage and she wants to divorce. It’s insane how each ones appetite for retaining the moral high ground constantly usurps the other ones repair attempts (I could give them a slap sometimes – really).  The Richard & Maria Kane school of counselling / coaching is at times fairly abrupt.  Yesterday was no exception, as I spelt out the blindingly obvious;

1. You both want the same thing; love, sex and fun (so why not with each other).

2.  You haven’t had sex for so long it’s no wonder you are irritated with each other (the sexless marriage is very hard work).

3. It doesn’t help at all living in different houses (blindingly obvious, unless your blind to the obvious).

In an ideal World what would I do for this couple;

  1. Send them on a being nice to each other programme.
  2. Send them on a selective memory deleting programme.
  3. Force them to become intimate, sort of a pump priming exercise.
  4. Ban TV and laptops from the bedroom (research suggests couples with bedroom tv’s have 50% less sex, than those without).

I know this is a bit flippant, but hopefully you get my point which is.  Its supposed to work dummy, you might have just got a bit sloppy, and for goodness sake especially with children in the family, get your act together please!

Where is the real power, with the speaker or the editor?

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I Have just clipped and cribbed 55 minutes of excellent digitally recorded dialogue into just over three minutes, which begs the question; where does the power actually reside, with the editor or the speaker?

Now clearly the editor has to have some material to work with, but believe me, I have left some superb comments on the digital equivalent of the cutting room floor, but why?  Well, modern people will only watch a web film clip for 2-3 minutes max, so there you have it. People have the attention span of small mice.

So, the video is an edited montage of clips from the London, Marriage Week UK Parliamentary launch, held on Feb 7th.  It shows a snippet from; David Burrows MP, Harry Benson, Baroness Ruth Deech and myself, all in just a tad over three minutes.

It’s snowing outside.  Already about 50 cm and rising.  I am sitting in the home of our good friends Angela & Andreas Frez, in the old East Germany, about 2 hours south of Berlin in the city of Heinichin.   I am here because I’m part of a group looking at inter-cultural marriages, and the particular pressures they experience, and since I can work remotely I might as well be here for 3 days as anywhere else. We are producing a course designed to help couples with those particular cross cultural tensions, which with increased numbers of cross cultural couples clicking in together, has to be a good thing.

2 Eavesdropping strangers in disguise

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Click on image to launch video.

It’s been a brilliant day!  Up early this morning for a radio interview which took place in a cafe over breakfast, on completion two eavesdropping strangers wandered over and commended us on the content of the interview!  How weird is that.  Then off to Parliament for the Media Launch.  I spoke a bit about infatuation, followed by interviews for everybody except me!

We then enjoyed a very nice lunch set up for networking between the Vice Mayor, MP’s, religious leaders and the Marriage Week team.  I spoke about my favourite topic.  Amazingly, an old buddy from Romania saw through FB a photo of me, in Bratislava, where in fact he now lives.  Quick as a flash he calls and we are having dinner together!  How cool is that.

Off early tomorrow for a final TV interview (so they must have liked the last one) and then fly out from Vienna for Berlin, where I pick up my hire car to drive to Heinichin near Dresden.

Six TV interviews, 2 talks, a thousand miles – 1 day.


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Click on image to go to video. 

Six TV and 3 radio interviews, 2 talks, a thousand miles, two capital cities, two launch events – yesterday was a pretty busy day.

My taxi picked me up at 6.45 UK time, off to the press launch for Marriage Week Hungary, downtown Budapest.  45 journalists, 6 tv crews and 8 photographers puts yesterdays event in the big league of press events I have been involved in.

Last year whilst I was here, during a TV interview, apparently I said something like, “the best way to fix your economy is to encourage people to marry and have lots of children”.  It does sound like me, and it is true that  we have armageddon like demographics in the Western World (a nation needs a reproduction rate of 2.3 children per couple to just stand still, most European nations are about 1.6, with people living longer and longer, their won’t be enough people to pay for everything).

Apparently it sparked a massive debate bringing in the scoffers who had to try to explain how this wasn’t the case (which would have been impossible).  So this year, I decided to do the same again.  I spoke about the economic benefits of marriage to society, with an interpreter, since I can’t speak Hungarian, which incidentally is the second hardest language in the World (the hardest being Chinese or Arabic).  So, whilst the other speakers sounded great, I have no idea what they were saying.

I did all the interviews (see video above) and then took a taxi to the airport to catch the 12.55 back to Heathrow, took time to edit the film on the plane.

Into Westminster for 5, I was the first to arrive in the Palace of Westminster to set up for the UK launch.   David Burrowes MP introduced the event and made closing remarks to the packed room.  I spoke about “is marriage just a piece of paper?” and then introduced Baroness Ruth Deech and Harry Benson.  Harry cited some new research which suggests that once a couple reach their 10 anniversary, divorce levels have not increased since the 1970’s, and that it is between the 3rd and sixth year that most couples are vulnerable.

I then talked about Renewal of Vows, citing a story from a little church in Hampshire which held a vows service, inviting all the couples who had married their to return.  I stood at the back, scoffing quietly until the Vicar led the flock in a confession and vow ceremony.  I watched these people bunch in tighter, clasping hands and hankies.  It was shockingly moving and powerful. I felt as if an awkward intruder in a very private, and bizarrely public ceremony.  I then introduced Dave Percival who introduced our genuine World Record attempt; The Big Promise for 2014.

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Train back to Heathrow and then drove home.

Photo shows;

David Burrowes MP, Ruth Deech, Dave Percival, Harry Benson & Richard Kane

Marriage. The hot topic of the day!

images-1Launch Events

On the 6th I fly out to Budapest to speak at the launch of Marriage Week Hungary.  The team are especially excited this year as they have the Hungarian equivalent of Richard & Judy to be the patron’s of their Marriage Week, alongside the First lady.   Returning on the 7th I go straight to the Palace of Westminster for the UK launch of Marriage Week.  I will be speaking about the importance of vows in relationships.  Other speakers are; Harry Benson from The Marriage Foundation, Baroness Ruth Deech DBE, and Dave Percival from www.2-in-2-1.co.uk .  Especially interesting will be the unpacking of our big idea for 2014, which is a genuine World record attempt!

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 20.12.21On the 10th I leave for Bratislava to speak at their launch event.  They sent me the schedule yesterday which is; “Regarding Your program schedule in Bratislava, we have invitation for radio discussion (Slovak State Radio Regina) at 8 AM to 9 AM, press conference 10 AM to 12 AM at mayor office, lunch with First Lady Silvia Gasparovicova, deputy mayor and some parliament members, church leaders and Marriage Week team at 12.30, open end. Is it OK?”.

Then on the 12th, onwards to Germany where I will be speaking at the media launch for Marriage Week in Saxony. Home on the 14th.  Both Germany and Slovakia have done so well with Marriage Week, attracting amazing levels of support.  I have really wanted to support them for some time, so this is a great opportunity to do so.  In Germany alone last year they had 3,000 volunteers lead 1000 events in 500 cities attracting 30,000 participants.  I return to Germany the week after and then later in the month I am in Bulgaria.  New nation’s doing Marriage Week this year are the Bahamas and a pilot project in Israel.

Burning legs and raspy breath, it’s Verbier!

IMGA0049Is Verbier all it’s cracked up to be?  Well it depends how addicted you are to zooming down motorway pistes, as opposed to cracking into those hairy long black, unpisted, mogully runs.

Click here for little powder crash film

I like both, although I have to confess that after a few hours of zooming about M5 style, I do get a tad wanton for a bit of hairy scary of piste, popping into the forest kind of adventure skiing, where you don’t really know where you will have to turn next, finally, dropping back on to the piste with burning legs and raspy breath.  Verbier offers both, so for me it’s a brilliant place.  I know everyone moans because the old car park is now a building site, but I don’t care about that.

We took a flight with EasyJet from Bournemouth to Geneva, hired a car from Holiday Autos stopping at the supermarket on the way.  With luggage, three pairs of skiis and food for a week, the guys literally couldn’t move in the car, nor could they see each other at all.  I was the only driver, because they wanted an extra 10 Francs per day for a second driver, and I have annual excess insurance anyway. Our holiday auto’s car was fitted with winter tyres, and an ominous looking pack of snow chains in the boot (I hate snow chains).

The first day was 100% white out, so I thought cosy fire day.  However, the other guys were so hungry for snow, they forced me to go with them.  First big crash occurred when I missed the piste completely and skied straight of a rocky outcrop into thin air, down into a massive powder bowl.  Irritatingly, physics still apply even when you cannot see anything.  Did a sort of head over heels, and then dug myself out of volumous amounts of soft light powder, we laughed but it took ages to get back somewhere close to a skiable area.

The weather improved nicely and we did almost the entire system, including the deliciously long Mont Fort into Nandez run.

Having spent a few days in December with Snow Vole’s Bloggers trip to the French alps, one would expect that I would be curious to compare the luxury and friendliness of snow chateaux with the coziness of our self catering flat.  I like both actually, and truth is I don’t really care what it is, so long as the snow is sweet and the sky is blue.

Finally, we did have an epic gangnam style video shoot at night and yes I do have the raw footage, but at present it’s staying (especially the lift bit) un edited, as they say “what happened in Verbier, stays in Verbier”.

 

 

Couple fighting on plane, emotional attitude

All about the right equipment.

Resolving conflict and handling contentious issues are just two of a host of potentially inflammatory issues which couples have to navigate to stay successful.  To do so requires a certain amount of skill and relational dexterity. For example sitting next to me on my flight yesterday were a good looking couple, probably mid thirties who were on the verge of rowing throughout the 70 minute flight, all I can say is “God help us if it had been longer”.  He had the skills to assuage her anger, but clearly no ability to begin to deal with them as a couple.  I just sat quietly and played “grumpy traveller” a game I’m good at.  It was sad really because they were clearly fond of each other, but their fondness was frustrated by their lack of dexterity as they chatted over contentious topics (Yes, I heard everything – grumpy travellers hear it all).

So, what’s to be done, well two things have to happen for couples to build love; firstly they must reduce the pain, and in tandem increase the love.  Sounds too complex maybe, well it isn’t really.  In fact your probably doing most of it already.  Just do more of the stuff that he/she really likes, and do less of the stuff they dislike.  I know there is more to it than that, but basically that’s the gist.  It’s about having the right equipment or what I call emotional attitude to deal with hassle when it comes along.

So, my skiing buddy Rich, has injured his big toe horribly because his boots fitted badly, his tools were poor and so he has been injured, so get good tools (emotional attitude tools) and your ready for that long flight because you know how to reduce the pain and increase the love.

Just popping the jabbing snow chains on the grinding sick dripping wheels.

So as I prepare for home, with tomorrow the last day, more than anything it’s the juveniles language which has caught me by surprise; popping, dropping, dipping, jabbing to name but a few.  It’s my pen ultimate day on the Snow Vole courtesy bloggers ski and board trip.

I had a great day today in Les Arcs hanging out with G Man and FionaOutdoors . We left the juveniles to play on Burn’s super new product.  Sort of a fat snow blade that acts like a snowboard, but is fixed to each foot singly, unlike a board which fixes both feet.

We hacked around Les Arcs today.  Just perfect slippy soft snow, empty runs.  We were kings of the mountain, except for the 800 Bristol University students who were on every lift and in every bar.  They were strategically placed, sort of 10 at a time on each slope helping enormously with contrast.  I didn’t really mind them at all.

For those of you who know what I’m on about it was like, super fast on piste, super powdery of piste and super exciting in the forest, no queues and nothing to pay for thanks to Phil from Snow Vole, and our super courtesy chalet at snowchateaux Our transport a gift from Holiday Autos was slightly weird; the juxtaposition of big time hard core skiers and boarders being driven around in Skoda Octavia’s was as they say not quite “bang on trend”.

Riding the powder with the young dudes.

Unbelievably I am the resident “old dude” in a group of about 20 bloggers most of whom seem to be about the same age as my kids!  In fact yesterday out on the piste in Les Arcs, someone referred to me for the first time in my entire life as “the old dude”.  This will take a bit of getting used to.

Free 5 Star ski week did sound just a tad unbelievable.  “What do I have to do?” I asked, “Oh just come along, enjoy the ride and blog about it”.  Where’s the catch then? There must be a time share sales guy waiting to pounce or another similar financial purpose.  Well actually, now that I am here, the only catch is on the bathroom door of my luxurious en suite bathroom.

Phil from Snow Vole who invited me along on the trip picked me up from the bus stop somewhere out here, quite late on Sunday night.  As I waited standing on the kerb side with just my backpack, ski boots and phone, I did wonder if this virtual Facebook friend actually did exist and was going to arrive, and was this actually an epic prank.  Glad to report, that yes he does, and he did!  On reflection, you have to be fairly adventurous to be me.  I’m always arriving at some distant place expecting to be met by just an email or Face book contact.

Val Disere day one, Les Arcs yesterday, Le Plagne today, Tignes tomorrow, its all too exciting for me!  The chalet is run and owned by Dan through his company Snowchateaux It’s really nice, relaxed, not too stuffy, hot tub, great gourmet tuck, nice staff, hot water, boot room – it’s also ski in ski out.  Les Coches is really well connected since the massive Vanoise Express, double decker cable car opened. I have stayed before at Plagne 1800 and also Nancroix (so cold that Christmas, it warmed up to -17 day time) and this place is the sweetest!

Phil fixed up with some real nice skis and my pass.  I’m not used to this level of “jolly” to be honest.  The powder yesterday in Les Arcs was the best I have ever ridden (young people don’t ski or board – they “ride”).  I ended up having like a Narnia moment, all alone in a forest of hip high powder, trees looking like Christmas, laden with snow and the silence, or lack of noise was deafening, and enchanting in equal measure.  Those of us who have ventured into such a wonderland are indeed privileged.  Hacked down under the chair lift just for fun, at one point it was unspeakably steep, but you know there are times when those thirty six weeks of lifetime skiing do come in handy.  A quick jump, spin – oh yes, no real problem to me!

One of the guys on the trip John Moy of lifecenematic.com is an awesome film maker, he literally has am amazing amount of gear with him, like a waistcoat harness thing, with a counterbalanced device for his Canon 5D – awesome.  He is where my son Dave-kane.com wants to be in a couple of years.  So, today no skiing, I’m sitting here working away at my lap top, tomorrow the sun is out, so I’ll see if I can get some pictures.