Vacation Time Countdown

Man, I’m dying for a vacation. I’ve reached the point where the body moves, but the mind stays in its own little cocoon. Maybe it’s because it’s 200 degrees in Malta right now and you can’t sleep without the AC on or maybe it’s just because the last couple of weeks have been all about moving from the house we’ve stayed in three years now.

As most of you know, moving is a LOT of work and if you have a townhouse full of stuff there’s a lot of running up and down the stairs carrying heavy things. That plus all the stress of finding a new place along with not having had a vacation in a long time, has made me into some kind of zombie.

But as this Friday winds down into the weekend, there is only one week left before three (almost uninterrupted) weeks of leave starts. It will be a long last week at work, but heaven afterwards.

It’s when you reach this almost numb state that you realize that time is money and money is time. I’d like both please, but right now I need time more than anything.

Have a nice weekend everyone and make sure you rest and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Being in the now

I’ve previously written some posts on how easy it is to lose your focus when there are thousands of things trying to grab your attention: Adapting to the increasing speed of change and Rambling on patience, blogs and the meaning of life, but it seems like a topic I keep coming back to.

The reason is that people seem to have a hard time really being in the now these days. Cellphones, bills, computers, and general worries about a lot of the other things come in the way. Things move so fast these days it has become necessary to always be a step ahead (in your head!). This obviously makes us more stressed and less able to just be in the now and experience life.

This might require you not fiddling with your phone while you’re at that dinner party or waiting for the bus. And for you to realize that you would be better off not thinking about next month’s bills when you’re sunbathing in the park. And you might have to stop stressing over what your life work will be while you’re taking a shower or walking your dog.

The answer is just being.

It’s not as easy as it sounds (although for some people it might be, I can’t imagine the people living on my street in Sliema, Malta, a place called “lazy corner” having a hard time shutting off their brains), because if you’re like me, there’s always something whirring around the old brain.

I know I need to shut it off and just exist, but things keep coming in the way. Life comes in the way.

So how do you shut off your mind? Here are five super simple ideas:

1. Exercise. Take a walk or a jog or preferably some even more high-intense exercise or sport that makes it impossible to think about other things.
2. Kiss your loved one (corny – but if you think about other things then, you have a problem).
3. Talk to someone and really, really listen. Too many people have one eye on their phone during conversations these days.
4. Do something fun with your kid(s) (if you have kids, otherwise borrow one). Their endless energy should hopefully rub off on you.
5. Meditate.

Can you help me come up with more ideas on to shut off our brains and really just be in the now? Please comment.

Have a nice day.

Starbucks Verisimo, great coffee or brand ploy?

As a coffee lover in Starbucks-deprived country (Malta) it’s hard not to salivate when you see the Starbucks Verisimo, a pod-style coffee maker that will bring you the taste of Starbucks every morning. It’s quite an obvious yet interesting move from the U.S. coffee giant. With loads of brands trying their own pod-style devices, such as Nestlé with their high-end Nespresso, their medium-range Dolce Gusto, or Bosch with their Tassimo, etc. etc., it seemed only logical for Starbucks to be next in line.

A Verisimo costs $199, shipping excluded and a package of 12 pods costs around $12 which comes to a dollar per cup. I think this is outrageously expensive. We have a Kimbo pod-style coffee-maker which makes great coffee (I’m a bit of a coffee snob) and where you get a pack of 18 pods for less than 4 dollars. But Starbucks is Starbucks so maybe people won’t care?

A Starbucks spokesperson commented on the Verismo ™ launch “From the very beginning, we have offered coffee for at-home brewing, so this is not new for Starbucks. We are always innovating and staying relevant, and premium single cup is what customers are seeking for at-home brewing today.

This leads me to think about how much of a lifestyle thing coffee is today. It’s like a human right to have a nice cup of coffee in the morning or possibly ten cups at work and if you don’t have anything to write on Facebook or tweet you can always write something about coffee because very few people have something bad to say about it.

Maybe coffee is the way to love, peace and mutual understanding? Who would vote against the Coffee Party, proudly proclaiming “Coffee for Everyone!”? Coffee could possibly solve a lot of things I guess, but mostly it makes us feel good and that’s worth a lot.

If it’s worth the price of a cup of Starbucks Verisimo, is up to you.

Back to school

After three months of farting around in the sofa playing with their iPads, it’s time for the kids to go to school and for parents around Malta to breathe a sigh of relief. Three months is a long time. Which makes you want to ask the question to the Malta Education Authority (I have no idea if this is the right people to ask or if they even exist) why it’s three months. Some people say because it’s too hot. Well it’s too hot anywhere you go in Malta during Summer so they might as well be in school.

Tennis training with “Bob” Caruana

Aiden (aka Bob) and I had a tennis session on Saturday. It was almost too hot to play but he hit some decent shots. Lenah also came by to say hi, looking beautiful and tennis Summery in a white dress.

And on Sunday we were walking the streets of Valletta and stumbled upon this declaration of love for Roger Federer covering a MEPA application. Nice to see fans of the Fed Express in full force also in Malta!

Tom Hanks on Sliema promenade, Malta

When you either walk or run on the seafront every single day it’s nice to see some celebrities enjoy the same thing. A few months ago we had Brad Pitt shooting a few streets from our house and in the above picture Tom Hanks is walking with his daughter along the Sliema promenade (you see Surfside in the back, right?). The reason the Oscar winning actor is in Malta is that he’s shooting the historical thriller Captain Phillips.

It makes you proud to have famous people enjoying the island the same way you are and it seems like Hanks is already a native when it comes to complaining about the traffic.

Follow Tom Hanks on Twitter here

Händelserik dag: Palazzo Parisio och bad

Underbart vackra Palazzo Parisio där de även har fantastisk mat.

Man har det rätt bra på Malta. Från vårt hus i Balluta Bay, Sliema så har vi bara några hundra meter ner till havet. Nu har de dessutom ordnat med en liten sandstrand där (bara klippstrand tidigare) så det är perfekt för ett morgondopp. Här leker Aiden och Lenah av sig:

Efter vi simmat lite begav vi oss alltså till Palazzo Parisio i staden Naxxar i centrala Malta. På Palazzo Parisio är miljön helt fantastisk med en mysig restaurang mitt i en välskött trädgård som får en att känna sig som en riktig brittisk herrgårdsman. Jag och Marcus delade på en riktig vinklassiker i en Marquez de Riscal Rioja Gran Reserva, något som sätter guldkant på vilket tillfälle som helst. Vi var alla nöjda med maten (jag åt någon form av rosmarinskyckling och Lenah och Bea tog varsin kycklingsallad) och timmarna snurrade iväg som de gärna gör på en söndagseftermiddag.

Nu när jag låtit som Ernst Kirchsteiger i en paragraf vill jag bara tillägga att om det är något vi borde exportera till Sverige från Malta och andra Medelhavsländer (förutom idén att man kan prata med främlingar utan att behöva skita på sig och tro det är en våldtäktsman) så är det söndagsluncherna. Varje söndag på Malta är en familjedag (familj+vänner) och då samlar man ihop så många som möjligt och går ut och äter på restaurang. En toppentradition som håller familjen/släkten/vännerna närmre varandra och också ger en social krydda i tillvaron. Nu är det ju dyrare att äta ute i Sverige än på Malta, men man borde ändå kunna unna sig det, i alla fall varannan helg. Man får prioritera bort en ny LCD-TV/dator/stereoanläggning helt enkelt. Det är det värt.

Pust. Det var mycket ordbajseri det. Här kommer lite bilder. Lenah har tagit de flesta, hon är rätt mycket bättre på kameran än jag.