The Society Of NLP Practitioner, Milan

Society NLP Practitioner Golf Hotel Milan
Society NLP Practitioner Golf Hotel Milan
It has been some time since my last blog, but that is not because I have not been inactive, far from it I have not had much time on my hands.
Today is the last day of the Society of NLP Practitioner Course being held in the Golf Residence Hotel in Milan. Coach4Life.
Once again, the Italian participants have been a joy to work with and to pass-on my knowledge to.
It has been since the early 1990’s that I have been coming to Italy sometimes on a monthly basis, to give courses, and it has made me happy to see participants rise to fame themselves in the training field.
Breakfast in Bed Golf Hotel Milan
Breakfast in Bed Golf Hotel Milan
But what happiness this morning, my last morning, a knock on my bedroom door, and there waiting for me was my breakfast on a tray.
Thank you guys for arranging my breakfast in bed.

Hawthorn Hedge under attack

Outside our apartment in Norbiton Hall, we have gardens, with trees, bushes and shrubs, flowers and lawns, making it a pleasant place to live.

Around the grounds we also have hedge rows mostly of hawthorn, and as long as it is cut and trimmed adds something to the ambience of the properties.
Hawthorn Hedge covered with web
Hawthorn Hedge covered with web

But, in the last couple of days, the hawthorne hedge has come under attack, from a hoard of black caterpillars.

They seem to have covered the hawthorn hedge with a thick covering of silky web, and beneath, the leaves are being eaten, leaving bare stalks.
Hawthorn Hedge under attack
Hawthorn Hedge under attack
Hawthorn Hedge caterpillar
Hawthorn Hedge caterpillar
Hawthorn Hedge cluster of caterpillars
Hawthorn Hedge cluster of caterpillars
What are these caterpillars?
What do they become?
Will the hawthorn hedge die?
Anyone any ideas please? Please leave a comment posting.

There Once was an Ugly Duckling

Walking along the Thames Path from Kingston upon Thames towards Richmond upon Thames, a sight took me back to a story by Hans Christian Andersen, a story that was told to me as a small boy, and to a song sung by Danny Kaye.

There Once was an Ugly Ducking
The Ugly Duckling
This little ball of fluff had three other siblings with it, not really standing out from the surrounding landscape, and it made me think of the work, my career, I have found myself involved with for nearly twenty years, and the people I have seen over this period of time.
Back in the 1990’s, 80’s and 70’s, I was an expert in my work, working for computer manufacturers, I had to create computer systems to produce the results customers wanted. The customer would have a problem, perhaps to produce a payroll system, to capture sales figures at the point of sale on the shop floor, to record medical history in a hospital of patients, many many problems, and at that time, there was no packaged software, no apps available to provide them with the solution, so I would have to design, write and develop programs from scratch.
From knowing nothing about a subject, I had to learn what was being done manually by the customer, and transpose that to a computer system, I had to become an expert, to become one of those that had studied and worked in that area for years.
Yet I did not wish to become one of their group, or to replace them with myself.
In the late 1980’s, again I had to become another expert in an area I had no knowledge, to know how the industry of manufacturing windows and doors and the making of glass worked, so that I could support the computer systems that were installed to help the workforce in the factories.
I had a need, the need to gain knowledge, to become an expert, to know what made things work, what were they? That need for knowledge has continued in my life.
In the early 1990’s, I came across NLP, PhotoReading, Mind Maps and hypnosis, and the whole subjects fascinated me, I needed to know what was happening, what were these new ideas, how did they work, how could they make such major changes in people.
I had to understand, to become an expert, and I sought out the best to learn from, the originators.
One of my earliest computer clients, at the start of my working life, at a time I was learning new ideas, when I was honing my skills at becoming an expert, gaining the art of acquiring knowledge, in the 1970’s, there was a company that had been in existence for over 100 years, and they wanted to move from quill pen to a computer. I listened to what they wanted, and produced a design for a computer system from my understanding of what was required.
It was at the presentation of my solution to the partners of the company, that I was told :- “Thank you Phillip, you have shown us a good computer solution, but, we have been doing this work for over one hundred years, and we are not going to change now, go away and come back with what we want.”

I left the presentation deflated, I lost what confidence in myself I had in my abilities, I was not the expert I thought I was.
My manager saw this state I had gotten myself into, and helped me regain my confidence, to go out and acquire the knowledge to become an expert, to understand deeply down how things worked, why were things done in certain ways, what were the reasons certain results were wanted, because my manager saw in me a special person, an expert in the making.
I went back into the client, and with their permission, became one of them, to understand each process, the reasons why those processes were in place, and the results that came out of doing them.
Not only did I look at the client at work and learn, but I sought other companies that were in the same industry, and learnt from them too, adding to my knowledge.
So it has been with my work in NLPPhotoReadingMind Maps and hypnosis, I have continually sought-out knowledge, and with the permission and knowledge of the people I have worked with, incorporated this knowledge into my work, to become the expert, so to teach others.
I have watched others become experts, by taking their time to acquire knowledge and become an expert, to do the 10,000 hours that has been written about by Malcolm Gladwell and Matthew Syed.
Yet, it was at a recent training, that a participant spoke out with a smile on her face, “Now I understand. This is the second time I have done the course, and the first time it made no sense and did not work.”

Puzzled by this statement, I asked her to explain, as I had never seen this person before, this was her first course with me, and I knew that I was the only trainer teaching this subject in the country.
“Oh,” she said, “I went on a course with …………, he was a student of yours and decided to give the course himself, but I did not understand him.”

How many people become “experts” before they have learnt the subjects?
Like the fluffy “Ugly Duckling” in the picture above, we all have to learn, gain knowledge from those around us, like from our parents, our mentors, our teachers, to do our 10,000 hours, before we can blossom out to become the majestic swan.
Swans on the River Thames at Kingston
Majestic Swans from Ugly Ducklings

The Weather Changes in the UK at Hampton Court

From my home town of Kingston upon Thames, there is on the opposite bank of the River Thames the grounds of the Palace of Hampton Court, a largely open parkland area south of Bushy Park, the home of the Hampton Court Flower Show, and the historical Palace of Henry VIII.

On the north bank of the River Thames is an easy walk of about 3 miles (just under 5 km) following the river to Hampton Court called Badge Walk. Pleasure boats and ferries enjoying the leisurely pace of life, cruise passed on the river. Cyclists, joggers and walkers, out to exercise or just enjoy being out in the open air pass by, sometimes with a jolly “Hello” greeting. It is a pleasant walk on a sunny day for all.
For many weeks the weather in the UK has been like summer, even if it is only March/April, so much so that many parts of the UK are so short of water there has been a hosepipe ban introduced, rivers and reservoirs are running dry, the area has been declared officially in drought conditions.
And so I set out on a beautiful morning, to exercise myself on the walk, with the warmth of the sun putting an extra spring in my step. But as I neared the end of Badge Walk, coming to the entrance to the Royal Palace, the skies darkened, and I could see the ribbons of heavy rain falling in the near distance. Looking at the movement of the clouds and the direction of the wind, I realised and hoped the storm would pass to the north of me.
Ribbons of rain about to fall on Hampton Court seen from Barge Walk on the River Thames towards Hampton Court Bridge
It had taken about an hour and a half to reach Hampton Court, time enough to earn a sandwich and a cup of tea in one of the cafe’s the grounds, and then to take a leisurely stroll through some of the gardens of the Palace.
It is a little too early for most of the flowering plants to bloom, but there were beds and beds of daffodils, some already having flowered looking a little bedraggled, some just in their prime, carpets of yellow gently swaying in the sunshine.
Daffodils in the Royal Palace of Hampton Court gardens
Yes, the rain did not materialise, but the sky was darkening, this time the blackest black I could remember, a storm was brewing, and it was time to leave, the quicker the better, and the quickest was a bus ride back to Kingston.
It was a race against the storm, and having reached the shopping centre of Kingston I entered the Bentall Shopping Centre, the heavens opened, delivering hail stones and rain drops large enough to stop and elephant stampede, but I was dry.
This British weather. It is so changeable, and it seems to be getting more so, from desert heat to Arctic freezing, tropical rainstorms to parched landscapes.

A Pot of Gold At the End of a Rainbow

There is a saying, a myth, a fable in many cultures which says that there will be A Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow.

After a loverly Spring day in Kingston upon Thames in the UK, the sky darkened as the cloud became black. The weather forecast had predicted heavy showers perhaps with hail stones, and this looked like we were likely to be on the receiving end.
Yet that dark cloud did not cover the whole sky, for in the east, the sky was clear, and the sun shone bathing us in a bright sunshine.

Looking out of the window a wondrous sight caught the eye, a rainbow, in fact a double rainbow, with the end of the main rainbow seeming to end on the top of the block of flats which shone as if it had just been built.

It was in 2010 that a major fire had occurred in Madingley Tower, on the Cambridge Estate, which resulted in a refurbishment of the flats. (click to see video of the fire)
Now finished, and the flats reoccupied, perhaps the fortunes of those residents will change, as I hope there is a Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow for them.
A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Madingley Tower, Cambridge Road Estate, Kingston upon Thames
The above photograph has been republished in the Kingston Guardian newspaper.

Spring in the UK

Relaxing and recovering from my visit to the hospital, it was good to take a walk beside the River Thames in Kingston upon Thames on a sunny spring day.
Boats on the River Thames in Kingston upon Thames
Walking along the Thames Pathway, stopping for a refreshing cup of tea at the Riverside Cafe, passed boats moored on the pontoons, sailing boats enjoying the light wind, and other people taking in the clean air, my eyes caught the cherry blossom above me, freshly blooming and contrasting with the blue cloudless sky.
Cherry blossom on the Thames Pathway Kingston upon Thames
It’s good to be alive among the wonders of the world, large and small, and yet realise how fragile and short life is.
Let us all enjoy the day, for we do not know what tomorrow will bring.

Tortoise, Turtle or Terrapin

As a small boy, I had many pet animals, a budgerigar, a guinea pig, a dog and a tortoise, each of them still holding a fond spot in my memory, the budgie sitting on my finger its’ claws holding tight, the big black bulging eyes of the guinea pig, my dog racing up to me with such excitement after we went to pick him up from a weeks stay in a kennel and he pee’d up my leg, to the hard shell of the unfriendly just give me food tortoise.
There have been animals in my life through friends, the media, TV, films etc, Lassie the sheepdog, Kaa the hypnotic snake in Jungle Book, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, Flipper the dolphin, and then the Ninja Turtles.
Many of my friends had pets, one in particular had a terrapin who I called Fred. Even though Fred showed no friendliness to humans, I had a soft spot for him, arranging for him to have a larger home with a little plastic palm tree and in which we added a “beach” of pebbles so he could, if he wished, pull himself out of the water. 
I was a little too old to get caught-up with all the hype and commercialism of the Ninja Turtles, but my mind certainly went back to the children’s cartoon TV series as I stood on a beach in the Galápagos Islands observing the tracks of the turtles as they made their way from the Pacific Ocean to lay their eggs.
Also on the Galapagos Islands I visited the giant tortoises, seeing Lonesome George, (click to see picturesthe last male specimen of his breed, or so it may seem, as researchers are trying to find him a mate.
It was visiting a friends’ and colleagues home in Italy with anticipation, as he had told me he had two turtles. I expected that in his back garden there would be a ornamental pond, very much like the Kek Lok Si, Goddess of Mercy Temple, in Penang Malaysia, which has the Liberation Pond full of turtles.
It was then that I started to wonder, what is the difference between a tortoise, a turtle and a terrapin? What environments do each live in.
The biggest differences between the three is the environments they live in. Essentially a tortoise is a land dwelling reptile, a turtle is a sea water, ocean dwelling reptile, whereas a terrapin is a freshwater or brackish water (river estuary) dwelling reptile. Although in many countries there is no distinction made between the three species, they are all referred to as turtles, or testudines, or chelonian, which the latter is often used by veterinarians and scientists. In Spain for example they use the word “tortuga” for all three, but add-on the the descriptive word of “terrestre” for tortoise, “marina” for turtles and “de rio” for terrapins.
Another distinction can be found in their feet. Tortoise have short stubby legs whereas, turtles and terrapins will have webbed feet, with ocean going turtles having developed flippers to propel themselves through the water.
For the northern hemisphere countries where tortoises are not a native animal or reptile, they are a protected animal, and only held as pets, but in hotter counties it is common to see wild tortoises roaming the countryside. It came as quite a shock to me the first time I saw a wild tortoise in Gaziantep and Antalya (Turkey).
So recently I saw the tortoise in the photograph below roaming my back garden in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia. I have never seen a tortoise with markings on its’ head, two yellow stripes. 
Can anyone tell me the breed of tortoise please?
Malaysian tortoise
What breed of Malaysian tortoise is this please?

The Unpredictable Predictable weather

As a small boy I remember waking-up with the glass of water frozen in the glass next to my bed.

It had been cold when I had gone to bed, and I had piled extra blankets and coats on top of my normal bed coverings, plus I had kept my socks on, but I had not expected it to have been that cold.
Looking out of my classroom window during a less than invigorating lesson of history, to joy of seeing the first snowflakes floating like little feathers to land on the green grass, waiting. anticipating as to if the fallen flakes of snow would “stick” or disappear, melting away like the information being taught that in 1509, Henry VIII came onto the Throne of England.
There was the thrill of nudging the boy next to me without the teacher seeing, and indicating the snow falling, and then the buzz emerging in the classroom, until the teacher being so absorbed in his own knowledge of dear old Henry became aware of the snow.
If the snow had “stuck”, (stayed on the ground), there would be the rush to be the first out into the playground to have a snowball fight, totally ill-dressed to be out there, ordinary shoe, no coats, hats or gloves.
How were we to know it was going to snow?
The old “Red sky at night, shepherds delight, red sky in the morning, shepherds warning,” did not apply, the cows were not lying down in the fields, the wind was not blowing from the East.
We just did not know, and the was the joy of not knowing, the excitement of being surprised by the weather. Everyday was new.
Today we get weather forecasting that is said to be correct for say five days. We have weather warnings sometimes given as colours, Yellow, Amber, Red, the most severe being Red. Then we have Early Warnings and just Warnings being the lead time of the event. We have precise temperature predictions down the the actual degree to be expected. Lastly we have the time all this is due to happen, when we can expect the rain to come down or the sun to poke itself out from behind the cloud.
Where has all the fun gone, the excitement, the not knowing?
Last week whilst giving a Society of NLP Master Practitioner course in Istanbul, Turkey, an old friend told me that on Thursday there would be heavy snow which would be continuing for the next three days.
I had not seen real snow for some time as in previous years I had been giving trainings in warming areas of the world, so I became excited, I wanted to know how much, when precisely and for how long would it last.
I went on the internet and accessed many weather forecasting sites only to find that each one differed in what was going to happen, one predicting just rain.
When it came, I was disappointed as I had chosen to take the word of my old friend literally, expecting to see very deep snow, snow drifts, roads closed, I expected the participants to be late in for the morning start, but found it was me to be the last to arrive and I had only a five minute walk from my hotel to the course venue.
Snow in Istanbul 2012
Snow in Istanbul 2012
So I sit here, recovering from the only predictable outcome from the cold weather, the flu, waiting to see if the predictions of the weather forecasters will come true, will the predicted snow warrant an Amber Warning, in fact will it snow at all?
I think I would rather not know what is to, or should happen.

Feedback on Mind Maps after many years

In all the countries around the world I visit, and with all the people who have attended my courses, who I have worked with on private issues, phobias, confidence building, I never fail to get joy and wonderment from my work.

I never expect praise or criticism, although both are welcome, neither do I seek feedback unless the participant or client is willing to give it to me. I know intuitively how I have down as I continually test and monitor my work.
Back in 2004, I ran a Mind Map course, along with other courses on that visit, one of many Mind Mapping courses I have given to the public, schools, businesses, and individuals. I had indeed forgotten that trip.
Today I received an email from Kamani Gunathilake which says:-
Just that simple message has given me such a boost, just reminding me that any little thing we do, any little piece of information, any help that we give to others, can have a profound influence on their life.
Just that simple little message has given me the drive to deliver more to as many people who wish to engage me in whatever country it may be.
Thank you Kamani.

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Global Tech really do think I am an idiot.

I just received another telephone call, but this time the number read 02080997526 (UK London telephone number), and yes the person had an Indian accent.

He introduced himself as Mike, oh I have heard that name before, and this time he said he was from Global Tech.
Then he went on about how my computer may be infected by a virus, and could I get on my computer and he would prove to me that it had been infected.
Mike, you have called me three times in the last week. You are not British, you are from India and and still in India, you are a fraudster a scammer, trawling through the telephone books, telephoning people who you can convince there is something wrong with their computer when it is OK, then take their money.
Read my last blog, click here
Just by buying another internet telephone number does not stop people knowing who you are.
If you have been a victim in the UK, you can report the incident to Action Fraud.