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Happy birthday Poland

Polish flag

Today, 11 November is the birthday of the modern State of Poland. What’s more is that 2018 marks exactly 100 years since Poland was restored as an independent country.

11 November 1918 is remembered in the West as the day that World War One ended. For people in the East of Europe, it meant the end of domination by the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires. Out of those ashes, new independent countries were born. One of those was Poland

Polish history goes back to the early middle ages. However, in 1795 Poland ceased to exist as a State. It was conquered, overrun and portioned by the Prussians, Russians and Austrians.

For 123 years there was no Poland. But there was a Polish culture. The Polish people are proud to say, that during those long years of occupation, there was a revolution every generation. Every generation of young Polish men grew up, rebelled and died.

As an example, there was the uprising of January 1863. This lasted for over a year before 35,000 Polish rebels were crushed by a Russian Army 145,000 strong.

But this is about Poland’s rebirth and not it’s historical past.

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Kiwi expat living in Europe. Wandering the maze of life, trying to find the cheese, while avoiding the rat traps.

Marxist madness: Labour is coming for everything

One of the UK’s biggest business groups pleaded with Labour not to see enterprise as “the enemy” after shadow chancellor John McDonnell delivered a radical speech at his party’s conference.

Sunday, the UK Labour party started their annual conference. Overnight (NZ Time) I watched the live speech from the John McDonnell, The UK Labour Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister)

He started by off by greeting everyone as Comrades. Throughout the speech, he frequently referred to himself as a Socialist. He went so far as to say that if anyone (the Arch-Bishop in-fact) got insulted by being called a Marxist, then he John McDonnell, had the answer of how to respond to that.

So Mr McDonnell’s speech. Two promises, then the detail… Under a UK Labour government…

A. The minimum wage will be lifted immediately to £10 an hour (from the current £7.83. That’s a 27% increase)

B. 10% of company shares would be forcibly given to employees.

Those were the headlines. But let’s drill down into Mr McDonnell’s own words regarding item B based on my notes from watching the speech.

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Kiwi expat living in Europe. Wandering the maze of life, trying to find the cheese, while avoiding the rat traps.

We remember, in September, when the Winged Hussars arrived: Part two

There are two parts to this post. Yesterday we looked at the history of the Winged Hussars and part two is how that history relates to us today.


Outside Vienna, there is a Polish Church, complete with Polish Priest. It sits on top the mountain of Kahlenberg. This was the mountain from which the Winged Hussars launched their charge to save Europe. Four years ago I went to a funeral there. This place and this event are so deeply ingrained into the Polish psyche that some people choose to have their memorial service there.

It is not uncommon to see tattoos of a Winged Hussar. I know a number of men who have this. A certain type of person. They have no false macho image. You can get drunk, be an idiot, even insult them and you will be fine, … but threaten their families or their way of life and you will quickly learn just how hard they are. Unfortunate things will happen, some very very unfortunate things.

But here is the thing, because these men are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their families and way of life, they don’t have to … often. People know just to not try it on.

I will give you one example, but only because it was in the news. Not the people I know, but an example. Last year, a person was stabbed to death outside a Kebab shop. 250 people immediately gathered and thrashed the place. When the Police turned up, the crowd turned on the Police.   Read more »

Kiwi expat living in Europe. Wandering the maze of life, trying to find the cheese, while avoiding the rat traps.

We remember, in September, when the Winged Hussars arrived: Part one

There are two parts to this post. First a bit of history, then how it relates to us today.

14 July 1683, a 170,000 strong invading Muslim army arrived at the gates of Vienna. The Ottoman forces included 40,000 Tatars (Mongols) from Crimea. Another 70,000 Ottomans and troops from vassal states controlled the countryside.

For centuries the Muslims had dreamed of conquering Europe. Vienna was the key. It’s position dominated the Danube River (East-West) and also South–North overland trade routes. Take Vienna and the door to Europe was open.

The Ottomans had spent 15 months in preparation and the pending invasion was well known. Prior to the arrival of the Muslim army, The Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, fled the city with 80,000 troops, leaving just 15,000 to defend it.

With the Ottoman army at the gates, and the Muslim support troops in the area, the Viennese defenders were outnumbered 15 to 1. The City Governor, Count Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg, refused Ottoman demands to surrender.

The siege started on the 14th July.

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Kiwi expat living in Europe. Wandering the maze of life, trying to find the cheese, while avoiding the rat traps.

How a ‘Dwarf’ revolution stood up against Socialist Anti-Free speech laws

On 1st September 1939, Poland was invaded by the German National Socialist government. 17 days later it was also invaded by the Soviet Communist government.

So started the war in Europe. Britain and New Zealand went to war against one invader, but not the second. But that’s another story.

We all know the outcome and Poland was left under a Socialist yoke for decades. I say Socialist rather than communist because private property was still allowed in certain circumstances.

As an example, flowers are very important in Polish culture. The Socialist authorities could not guarantee state supply, so they needed to rely on private growers and sellers.

But back to the dwarfs.

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Kiwi expat living in Europe. Wandering the maze of life, trying to find the cheese, while avoiding the rat traps.

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How to damage a brand: Case study Harley Davidson

Photo supplied to Whaleoil

The Girl Friend and I are avid Harley riders. For us, it is more than just a weekend hobby. Our holidays are mostly road trips, loading up the bikes and heading away for a week or two. The majority of our social life includes fellow Harley enthusiasts.

From Norway, Sweden and Finland in the north, down to Sardinia, Italy and Romania in the south. From Belorussia in the East through to Germany in the west. We have covered every country, often multiple times.

The Girl Friend’s Harley now has over 90,000km on it. It was, therefore, time to start thinking about a replacement, something better suited for the long road trips. She rides a 1200cc Nightster and we were looking at getting her a 1750cc Softail.

With that in mind, we recently took the opportunity to test ride a number of 2018 model Harleys over two days when the demo truck was in town showcasing this year’s offerings.

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Kiwi expat living in Europe. Wandering the maze of life, trying to find the cheese, while avoiding the rat traps.