Amsterdam is the best Euro Weekend Destination from Scotland, I reckon. There’s other cities you can fly to in the same amount of time, but Amsterdam is the perfect blend of Different Enough From Home and Non-Painful Journey From The Airport.
It also brings that miraculous feeling of childhood day trips to Orange – you travel for just over an hour, then magically arrive in a exotic new world! In Amsterdam that means canals and stylish shops, whereas Orange it was traffic lights and a Dymocks bookshop and a McDonalds, OMG. Not to mention Franklins supermarket with its bargain jelly fruit. And that one time the Mothership accidentally rolled the car over my foot in the K-Mart car park.
Anyway! In early December I met Julia in Amsterdam for another Up & Running Coffee ‘N’ Planning Summit. This was our third meet-up there, although it feels like we’ve been more often, so engrained are our Amsterdam rituals and routines.
Hotel Highlight #1 – the resident cats. Sometimes if the door behind the fancy reception desk was open, you could see them sauntering around and/or shredding the walls of the back office.
Hotel Highlight #2 – Cocktail bar!
One evening Julia suggested we go see a movie. She’s a big Apple fan so was keen to see the Steve Jobs film. I was keen to see Michael Fassbender so happily agreed.
Julia was new to the work of the Fassbender and about five minutes in she turned to me and whispered, “Oh my word, who the f*ck is this guy?”
“I KNOW! Even in the Dad jeans, he’s still got it!”
When not drooling over the cinema we also drooled at shop windows. I was delighted to find this first-person toy car to raise Gareth’s hackles. I AM €22.95!
The traditional-because-it’s-happened-three-times finale of the Up & Running Summit is the Dreaming & Scheming Session at our favourite cafe Villa Zeezicht, home to the great apple pie. It’s about three inches high, a veritable wall of apples, served with cinnamon ice cream…
Previously the Session involved us ordering the pie then each taking a big blank piece of paper. We’d divide the page into four squares, like this:
Then for the next half hour, between bites of pie, we’d get real quiet and think about the year ahead. For both Up & Running and our individual life (relationships, home, work, anything) we’d come up with a list of Sensible, Doable things we wanted to do or achieve, then a list of Wild & Crazy, outrageous impossible insane batshit silly things.
I would have thought this all a bit too woo-woo before I met Julia, but now I love it. It’s just taking a bit of time each year to think, where do I want to steer this ship? Because even if the ship gets attacked by pirates or crashes into a cliff, if you were generally headed where you fancied going it all seems easier to deal with somehow.
Also, the Wild & Crazy exercise really fires up the imagination. Sometimes, what seemed crazy and impossible turns out to be perfectly doable a few years down the line.
This time we shook things up a bit. Rather than big lofty goals, we both wanted to work on making our everyday lives more purposeful and productive. So instead of the big piece of paper system, we went stationery shopping (any excuse) and each got a new notebook and pen. I got this notebook because I love that ampersand, but it has an Artistotle quote, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work”.
Neither of us can be arsed with perfection, which is why we won’t be quoted on the front of a fancy notebook thousands of year from now. Even so, we started the Session by writing out what our perfect working day would look like. Ideal would have been a better word – I’m still experimenting with that bloody morning routine and learning how I best get shit done.
Then we wrote down what stuff we wanted to do in 2016, and finished with some Crazy Dreaming. My lists were not that wild this year. They were kind of cosy and doable. You might say I’m getting old and crusty and lazy. But I think it’s more I want to appreciate and enjoy what I already have and make sure I’m giving that my full attention, instead of racing off to a random thing.
Nearly two months into 2016 I’ve already ticked some things off from the Cosy and Doable list. Pow! And I’ve booked that cat-scratched hotel again for December, just in case Julia put a return trip on her list too.