Archive for April 11th, 2007

Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers – New Zealand

Toured through Arthurs Pass, and Castle Rocks prior to heading through the New Zealand Alps to the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers. No drama here unless you count leaving over a case of beer at the Flock Lodge fridge…and it was good beer too. More single lane bridges. Imagine this, racing down a main road and hitting single lane bridges, some of which you share with a train! New Zealand drivers are determined to go through, pedestrians and cyclists are at great risk here.

Heres a hint: Glaciers grow with rain and snow- 278 out of 365 days a year. We did not hit a dry day. Not even close. Imagine a Kitimat downpour, add 50% and you just about have it. No material , Goretex included can keep you dry. Our Glacier walk included:

  • boots with three socks that still did not fit,
  • rainpants, gloves, toques and coats 1 size fits all.
  • 1105 steps cut in the ice by 6 ft long legged guides.
  • Kea mountain parrots that can unzip your pack and eat your lunch- they also like windshield wipers

Struggling but still smiling- Its early onThe squeezer!Nordic distainMy five foot zip companion Amanda did not fare too well. By the end of the day, I was lucky that she was only not speaking to me. Plumb tuckered out with everything hurting for days. Son Joel spent the day ice wall climbing, he looked quite happy, so I let him drive the five hours back to the dry side , Christchurch.

Christchurch is Kelowna bounded by Long Beach on one side and Whistler on the other. What better place for a Vancouver boy to live?

What we can learn from the Australians- More than a top ten

So four of us sat around (Cdns all) and collected the “best”ideas we found.

1. Every city uses the same system of garbage collection like Vancouver. A WCB initiative, you are given standard garbage holders (more than a can) which you wheel to the curb. The truck comes around and a robot arm picks up the can and dumps it. One man, one truck.

2. BYOB laws. There are unlicensed restaurants near “bottle shops” (Liquor stores). Go to the bottle shop or bring bring your plonk from home and open it at your open air or inside table, they provide the glasses. (Never ate inside all the time I was there). No drama!

3. Every toilet has two buttons. One half flush and one full flush. Simple and required by building code.

4. Sun sails. Open spaces (School yard, back yards, restaurants etc) are shaded by these classy and stylish sun sails. Not lightweight cheap stuff but really well fixed-in units that serve for sun and rain covers.

5. Food courts that have really good food in them. We had some of our best and tastiest lunches in food courts.

6. Open air markets . Granville Island market would be a very small market in australia. Fill every parking lot at vancouver airport on Sunday with stalls and you have a mid sized market. And these really only operate Saturday and Sunday mornings (early). Best fresh food (meat and veg) plus all kinds of other things at good prices.

7. E-chemists. You (or your doctor) can order and receive your prescriptions online for less than at the store. Oh govt post mail delivery is really fast.

8. Flavoured tunas. Chil and pepper, lemon and sweet pepper, sweet thai sauce, there are dozens of combinations of flavoured tuna at 99 cents a tin ( albacore, yellowtail etc) Really tasty and they are all pop top.

9. Move over Vancouver, let the aussies teach you about fireworks displays. Off roofs. bridges, quays plus on barges. You have never seen anything like this. Sydney at New Years is one example.

10. Transit systems that work and are integrated. Buses arrive as trains and ferries drop off passengers. Off peak fares start at 10 through to 3 weekdays and all weekends. Bus drivers who give change. The cities are not sold out to the car. Free shuttles around the core to encourage you to use buses not cars. It works.

11. If you make a mall in a main street like Granville street, make it permamant, no traffic just people. Eliminate curbs, build restaurants, cafe’s and bars in the middle of the street and let people sit outside under sun sails. Build wide sidewalks so restaurants can put tables under permanent covers out. Yah Yaletown, extend the roofs!
12. Free electric BBques in picnic sites. no brickettes, no smoke, no flame.

13. If there is a famous area to visit – charge a preservation tax . Ie for the barrier reef every visitor pays a reef tax.

14. Use roundabouts not traffic lights in smaller places – really efficient. Not good when events let out.

15. In cities have some major intersections (Burrard and Georgia etc) where all traffic lights go red and pedestrians can cross corner to corner and criss cross the street. How many times do you have to wait for two lights to get across the street? Cars can wait a bit more.

16. Meat pies. Come on local bakers, learn how to really do this to make flaky pastry and yummy fillings, not salty!

17. Screen doors and windows. How to make really robust and secure ones. No more flimsy ones. These you can lock and they have security grills.

18. Pub lunches where you have the roast of the day with 5 to 7 veggies. They really do this well. Rarely do you make a mistake picking a pub lunch. Fresh and tasty. ( But it comes with chips)

Sydney Australia

A city that puts any other to shame when it comes to accomodating tourists. You can walk around the “Rocks” near the downtown core and get to everything. The City abounds with nooks and crannies, and scenic delights. And it was all done by convicts, talk about good use of time!
Check it outp3250069.JPGp3290017.JPG
Alfresco dining and drinking with loads of people around and having a good time. This is what Granville Mall should have looked like. No traffic, just people! Great coffee in every restaurant, bar, coffee shop – Vancouver lags this too!. Made some terrific contacts, Jeff Smoot , GM for Fujitsu Australia- A salesmans salesman, who really knows the buyer driven sales process. Stephen Hughes, a Med. Dr. (friend of Ean Jackson) who invited me to an Aussie tradition, a sunrise swim in the surf at Bondi Beach followed by a bit of Breakie! I walked so much that my Dr Schols sandels kicked the bucket. Our hotel was right on the Sydney Harbour boardwalk. We open the slider and walked out into the middle of it all. looking direclty at the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Oh sure there were the little gotchas, like your Internet access card was only valid for 24hrs once you started so use it or lose it. Breakie (continental) was $27 and not laid on in a 5 star hotel. But hey we coped. We walked 100 feet to a little cafe on the water called Simmer on the Bay.

This is were Michael (famous barista) whipped up breakfast delights for us for a very reasonable fare every day for a week. Owned by Brigid Kennedy ( two terrific cook books under her belt) we had delightful chats with her and passed the warm sunny AMs away quite pleasantly.

A word about Australian TV. There is really no content to speak of on, except for hilarious commercials now and then. Some of the creatives are just so clever, amusing, scandalous and downright cheeky. Too bad that most of the locals seem to be content with last years Desperate Housewives, House, Brothers and Sisters, Law and Order, CSI New York and so on…the exporting of American culture continues unabated. I really don’t care to hear about Brittany Spears and company anywhere thank you very much.

Australian business seem to suffer from the same full court gouging that we saw with Tyco, Conrad Black and so on. Absolute piracy from what I can see and they do not have the consumer and investor protections we have, definitely no SOX. Customer non service abounds and its likely due to no tipping at all. There seem to be serious disconnects in their logistics. We went to open air Saturday/Sunday markets. The food prices to farmers were quite low, but you never saw that in the Coles and Woolworth’s supermarkets. I suspect that they have the worst of the Old English system of side deals, cosy contracts and really unproductive labor agreements etc. The locals pay a lot for what they have.

But as a tourist I had a ball. So it is hard to find a great salad. You cope by drinking Guiness..more preferable. And the sushi is to be avoided at all costs? Have some more chips with your sausages at lunch.

B&Bs in Australia

Well things are a bit different on this front. We arrived at Moniques B&B in Wentworth , the Blue Mountains region ( be prepared, they are rolling hills, gorges, excarpments, canyons, but any mountains have been worn to a smooth nub over 80 million yrs). Very scenic and finally a bit cooler!. Liam Williamson shows us our converted cottage, three bedrooms, sitting room , fire place going ( hey it was below 25 degrees C) . He (and his shepherd puppy) is very excited to see us a it is the low season. Can’t do enough for us. He shows us around the kitchen ( well set up) and says, ” What type of bread and milk to you want? The eggs, bacon and tomato are in the fridge for your breakfast, so I will leave you to it. Different , but then civilized, as we could set our own times to cook and clean up (there are notices about being charged more if the kitchen is not cleaned up when you leave) . Delightful with a full jazz collection. The next day he shows us a wonderful trail to the Wentworth Falls. A highlight of the trip so far.

Blue MountainsThe parrot at Moniques

In the Hunter Valley

We stayed 3 nites at Greta Main Guest House B&B, a converted mine pay office on an old mining site. 90 acres, new rooms ( 5 bedrooms) big sitting dining room, a new gourmet “to die for” kitchen in the old safe (beyond words) , swimming pool and hot tub ~$100 per nite all to ourselves. Tpo top it off, the owners, Colin and Lorraine were gourmet cooks and they fixed up a terrific curry meal for us one nite. Qantas points, and everything else. If you are ever there check them outGreat Main Sitting roomThe Kitchen at Greta Main

The Hunter Valley, Australias oldest wine district.

Growing only 3% of Australia’s wines, the Hunter Valley is an easy drive from Sydney. And then you are faced with an amazing plethora of boutique wineries. We knew the challenge and had been training for weeks (some jaundiced souls say years). They open at 10 and close at 5. Some serve meals. So it was best to plan accordingly. At a very early stage on Day 1 I realized that I would never see any of this fine plonk in Canada, the Aussies drink it all!. So I commenced to buy to bring home. As the tastings continued (15 wineries day 1, 12 on day 2, yes we were fading under the 30 deg sun) my car trunk was compiling “treasures”. As I drank 10 to 25 yr old cellared wines (Semillon , Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay) I realized that my wine fridge was going to be too small! Quickly I decided I better buy another bigger fridge! The experience delightful, due to be repeated, and of course life changing. Had I known that the customs duty coming to Canada was going to be 100% , it would not have stopped me. Next time, I will just need a longer trip so I can drink more wine in country . By the way, in New Zealand, they have the cheapest retail good wine as well as low prices on beer. Very civilized. (So if they can do that, why do bananas cost $2.50 a kilo?) In the Hunter ValleyA sample of a winery

The Leaky Funnel. Hugh MacFarlane. A diamond from Australia

The Leaky Funnel. Hugh MacFarlane. 2003. ISBN 0975116320. I had heard about this great book from Chris Jordan and Michael Webb. I read it on part of my 36 hr flight back to Canada from Australia/New Zealand ( more later) It is a very well presented, simply put, but brings all the elements we have been working on for the last few years together. What The Goal did for manufacturing, the Leaky Funnel will do the same for Sales and Marketing. Written as a business “fable” for CEOs you will see the parallels to your business. Do not hesitate to immediately buy this book. If you read only one book on sales and marketing this year, read this one. I liked it a lot. (ony available from Amazon.com). (Not to say doing this stuff well is easy.)

Lots of resources