Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Live Life, Love Life (I)

I posted on Monday a plea for us all to bring back some joy, some spring in our step, some hope and some optimism as we edge towards a new world of blending work/life and learning to live with Covid-19.


Most companies/businesses are planning some form of hybrid, staggered, tentative return to work over the next six months.


They are seeking to combine sociability, togetherness, training, coaching, team, creativity and connectivity with safety, security and learnings from the past 18 months, all to deliver a happier, more productive work/life blend.


In my next three posts I’ll share some top-line tips we’re advising companies (and you!) to consider.


Let’s start with going back to the office.


Here are seven things to consider:

  • Create a ROWE (Results Only Working Environment) – it’s about results – not hours, emails, stress, busyness.
  • See, Listen, Talk and Laugh with your colleagues.
  • Keep off your screen – you’re here to meet.
  • Get smart over start/finish times (off-peak).
  • Take your breaks outside.
  • Keep your meetings down to 45 minutes – stand up for most of that time, start and finish on time, leave phones at the door.
  • Connect ✶ Collaborate ✶ Create.



Monday, September 27, 2021

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler


Live music is back in Arizona (as long as you can show proof of double vaccinations) and over the past two weeks we’ve been reliving the 60’s and 70’s with Herman’s Hermits, The Monkees and Jackson Browne.  (In two ‘safe’ venues – Phoenix’s Celebrity Theatre and Scottsdale’s Talking Stick resort.)


The artists are delighted to be on stage.


The audience are thrilled to be with other people.


Everyone’s singing (and laughing, especially along with Peter Noone – a genuinely happy, funny guy).


Science has nailed this virus.


We need now to open up to happiness and joy – as well as remaining vigilant, safe, careful and sensible.


Living well is the best revenge and music and humour the best antidotes (once you’ve got vaccinated of course).


So, Make Happy Choices – Live Life, Love Life.



Thursday, September 23, 2021

Foodie Friday – The French Riviera in Arizona


We’ve added a new treat to life in Desert Dream.


Francine is a brilliant Mediterranean restaurant owned and operated by Laurent Halasz – Chef/Founder of Fig & Olive.


It’s a combo of St Tropez, Nice, Cannes, Miami and (a favourite of ours) Mamo in NYC.


Vibrant, exciting, buzzy – great music, sensational bar, terrific staff – Gilles, a top top commander-in chief, leader and problem-solver – and the best steak tartare in the State.


The food is inspired by Laurent’s mother Francine and by his childhood in the South of France amidst fresh, seasonal, flavourful cuisine.


“It all starts with Olive Oil” says Laurent, who built a great NYC restaurant a few years back called Fig & Olive.


Francine takes the concept forward, adding a great night out, and a terrific, bouncy, fun vibe in today’s challenging environment – pure escapism.


We shared dessert with Laurent and his partner Charles last week and were delighted to receive a surprise treat later in the week – Laurent’s cookbook, Fig & Olive, The Cuisine of the French Riviera.  (Find a copy if you can – published by Assouline in 2015.)


Trudy’s already made three dishes (plus the Fig & Olive dressing is now a staple in Desert Dream).  The Mediterranean came alive as we enjoyed this week – a romaine, beet & endive salad, salmon with cauliflower puree, braised endive and asparagus, and a delicious chicken paillard with pickled pearl onions, green beans, wax beans ....


The French may not be able to make nuclear submarines, but they sure know food!



Sunday, September 19, 2021

No Time To Die


The new Bond movie finally hits theatres in a couple of weeks – with all kinds of surprises coming our way.


In the midst of the hype I looked back to 1960, when I read my first James Bond paperback – Dr. No.


007 was my first ‘adult’ hero – although he never replaced The Lone Ranger really.  He was just more fashionable!!  I had to ‘grow out’ of The Lone Ranger when I was 13 at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, and Cowboys with Indian side-kicks and moral values were replaced by heroes with those Timeless Teen Male Values of sex (whatever that was), beautiful girls, guns, gadgets, fast cars and elegant fisticuffs.


(The Lone Ranger though has stood the test of time – at least in my heart and my eyes – as you can see from the memorabilia we have here in Desert Dream – complete with our new soon-to-be-finished rooftop bar overlooking the desert – Tonto’s.  And from other KRC blogs – September 12 2019, February 8 2018, July 15 2013, January 1 and 2 2013.)


I saw Dr. No – my first 007 movie – in 1962, followed by From Russia With Love and Goldfinger and I’ve seen every one since.  Like many fans, Sean Connery and Daniel Craig have been my two favourites.


Anyway, this got me thinking about which fictional characters I liked reading about nowadays, so here’s my list of men of action on the printed page – not the silver screen – that I follow today.

  • Gabriel Allon – Daniel Silva’s Sabra intelligence officer – a good man.  20 years, 21 books so far.  The Cellist out now.  The Kill Artist started it all in 2000.
  • Orphan X (Evan Smoak) – Gregg Hurwitz’ loner – recommended to me by my brother-in-law Colin.  Six books so far, number seven Dark Horse out in February next year.
  • James Beck – John Clarkson’s Brooklyn ‘good’ criminal.  Three books so far, latest is Death Comes Due.
  • The Gray Man (Court Gentry) – a legendary ex-CIA operative from Mark Greaney.  10 books so far, number 11 Sierra Six due in February.  The Gray Man movie wrapped in July this year - $200 million budget – Netflix Original due for release Summer next year.  Ryan Gosling is The Gray Man, Chris Evans and (one of my favourites) Billy Bob Thornton in the cast.
  • John Rain – Barry Eisler’s Japanese-American assassin.  10 books, The Killer Collective is the latest.


With honourable mentions to:

  • Jack Reacher of course, mantle now moving from Lee Child to brother Andrew.  Better Off Dead due out on October 26th.
  • Lance Spector – Saul Herzog’s American operative.  Four books so far with number five The Splinter due in February 2022.
  • Marcus Ryker – Joel C. Rosenberg’s all American hero.  Four books so far – The Beirut Protocol is the latest.
  • Scot Harvarth – Brad Thor’s man keeps on going.  26 so far – Black Ice the latest.


Pure Escapism!



Thursday, September 16, 2021

My Favourite Mellow TV Soundtrack


Timeless French, Belgian, Italian, American, Classical tracks from times gone by.


Comforting, emotional, poignant – from Randy Newman and Johann Sebastian Bach, to Benny Goodman, Dalida and The Doors.


Imagine these on a turntable/LP/stylus – old school – and a glass of Calvados/Armagnac – quiet, calm, nostalgic.


Spotify – Professor T (the Belgian version – KRC, August 16th 2021).

Four playlists to choose from – Professor T, Professor T 2021, Professor T seizoen 2, and Professor T seizoen 3.



Monday, September 13, 2021

Reasons To Be Cheerful (II)

Last week I wrote about using the crisis to get your head up, smile, fight back, re-imagine your future and find the silver lining (or at least Thomas the Tank Engine did).

Here are some of the things we tried, enjoyed and learned.

1)    Live Life Longer.
Win back the 18 months the Pandemic took away from us.  Trudy and I committed to change our lifestyle last November.  Our new lifestyle:
  • Fasting – every day – 16-8.  Lunch at 1pm, dinner finished by 9pm.  Massive change in appetite/metabolism.
  • Reduced alcohol intake – 6-1 or 5-2.  No alcohol for five/six days per week, every week.
  • Dietary changes – focused on daily fresh fruits, green vegetables, fish and reduced meat/dairy.
  • Daily exercise – me on my road bike for 45 minutes every day, Trudy on a 20,000 step low-impact bike-ride/walking/swimming programme.
  • Eight hours sleep per night – in bed before 10pm, up before 6am.
  • Keep some Pandemic protocols in place – vaccines, hand sanitisation, masks in confined spaces.  We’ve not had a single cold/cough/fever in 18 months. 
2)   Connect virtually with Family regularly.
Make Zoom work for you.  Fortnightly call with all the kids – we’ve all got time now.  We should never give this up.
3)    Feed your mind, soul, and heart. 
We’ve both read more books this year than in the past three, made more eclectic choices, watched more international TV shows to provide more cultural understanding, listened to new and different music genres – and created more personal playlists.  We’ve visited more art galleries (virtually!) than ever before.  Chicken soup for the soul. 
4)    Re-evaluate your Personal Purpose. 
Revisit your Dream, your Focus, and Key Beliefs.  Look at the world as it is, not as it used to be, and not as you’d like it to be.  Make sure you’ve got the right blend of you, your family, your work (not balance!) and you’re Making Happy Choices.  Life is short as you now know.  Live your best life every day. 
5)    Change it up! 
This year we:
  • Downsized our New Zealand home and switched from a ‘resort’ home to our first ever beach-front apartment.
  • Revamped Desert Dream by adding a Casita for guests, a roof-top bar (Tonto’s) stretching out into the Desert.
  • Changed out the gym in Beckwood (Grasmere) for a lounge-bar as part of our Lancastrian pub.
  • Accelerated our New Jersey Farm project with Mark and Vanessa to create our new Family home. 
6)    Change it up on the work front too.
  • We created and ran seven new leadership programmes for the new VUCA world.
  • Reshaped the focus of the business in terms of customer base, delivery method, bespoke programming and delivering more with less.  Focus – Commitment – Discipline.


Don’t waste the crisis.  You’re never out of the fight.



Thursday, September 9, 2021

Reasons To Be Cheerful (I)


It’s been a challenging 18 months for all of us – and we’ve another few months to come as the battle continues.  But as Thomas the Tank Engine (courtesy of our grandkids) reminds us:


Life is full of surprises, full of ups and downs,

And so to have a silver lining,

first there must be cloud.


There's no sense in worrying if things start going wrong,

Obstacles can all be overcome,

If you never lose hope, you're sure to cope and carry on.


Every cloud is silver-lined, even when it rains,

So don't get too downhearted,

as things are bound to change.

All you've gotta do is wear a smile

and you will find

Your sun will shine.


Next week I’ll share with you how we found some sunshine amid the torrential rains.



Monday, September 6, 2021

The Best Is Yet To Come


Robert Frost and Walt Whitman were early US poets introduced to me at Lancaster Grammar by my influential, innovative, imaginative Enlish teacher – Peter Sampson, as foundational blocks to the Beat Poets and Mersey Sound I loved so much.


Robert Frost lived a fulfilling, creative life but a tragic one in many ways personally.  He lost both his parents at a young age, and outlived four of his six children before losing his wife.  Yet he survived and continued his search for love and laughter.  When asked on his 80th birthday “In all your years and all your travels, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned about life?”.  He gave a simple three word response “It goes on”.


Regardless of the pain we may face, it is always possible that the best is yet to come.



Thursday, September 2, 2021

Foodie Friday – In Praise of Fabio Trabocchi

We were in Washington DC last month and wanted to eat somewhere in Georgetown where we were staying.  We were delighted to see Fiola Mare, part of the Trabocchi group, was 100 yards away on the waterfront.




Fabio is a Michelin chef with his starred Fiola flagship in Washington – his contemporary Fiola Mare lively Italian seafood paradise in Georgetown, a couple of outposts in Miami and Venice, a handmade pasta house and a Spanish tapas/seafood restaurant on the wharf.


Fiola Mare is perfect for lunch or dinner.


Outstanding wine list with a couple of tip top sommeliers, a bubbly Irish Philly raconteur Master Sommelier Dan McDaid with an endless stream of stories and his partner-in-wine Megumi Awaya – a hospitality expert passionate in her love of wine.


We loved the buzz, design, crowd, bar, wine, and food so much, we went there on both our days in Georgetown – once for a decadent four hour lunch and once for a relaxed, happy dinner.  Oysters, Spanish grilled sardines, grilled whole Dover sole – vagabond luxury.


Bravo Signor Fabio and team (with an honorary mention to Faith Serrano, who ‘captained' our on-site service in a human, caring and fun way – Bravo Faith).




PS: And a dessert menu including a Campfire Sundae (toasted marshmallow gelato with caribe chocolate sauce, caramel popcorn, honey cracker and smoked sea salt), plus throwbacks and seasonal specialties – a Grand Chocolate Tower, a selection of ‘wellness’ organic chocolate from Sicily (optimism, beauty, health and youth were the choices) – all washed down with Bacardi’s Facundo private collection rums, rare tequilas/cognacs, rare bourbons, grappa, ports and excellent vin santos).  Vagabond luxury indeed.