While the cats away…..


River Walmsley, a beautiful Bengal cat owned by the fantastic photographer, Hannah http://www.whitefeatherphotography.co.uk


The mice will play alright!  I have personal experience of this within my business and others I have come into contact with.



The author showing middleweight show hunter Below Zero at Royal Windsor Horse Show


I started a business from scratch back in the 1990s.  At the time IBM were the main IT providers to retail and the financial industry.  A market existed for second hand IBM refurbished equipment as for smaller users to buy new was cost prohibitive.

Of course, there was a market for other manufacturers equipment, in which I specialised.

I grew the company to a turnover in the region of £700k per annum, having worked my butt off over several years.

Personally, my interest was all things equine and I had a show hunter I showed at County level as well as a Doberman who was also a show dog. My problem was time, for example, if the horse went to Royal Windsor on the Thursday, invariably the dog would be back at Windsor on the Saturday or Sunday.  I travelled all over the country with these beasts!


I decided I ‘deserved’ some time out and recruited a manager.  I paid her well, £25k per annum (a lot of money at the time) plus 10% commission on any profits she made, so she was earning more than me, but hey ho.

Off I went in my huge gold lorry, nicknamed Goldfinger, all over the country, really believing I could take some serious time out.

To cut a long story short, I caught her stealing from me.  Not only had she set up her own company to rival mine, she was nicking deals from my company to give to hers, which was run by her boyfriend.  After I sacked her she then had the audacity to take me to an employment tribunal!

Karma came – the boyfriend was caught red handed trashing my loading bay on camera and got nicked, she lost the tribunal, he then had a heart attack and her business went bust – good riddance to bad eggs.


The next batch of mice came around the same time.  I used a hairdresser who ran a tight ship.  I used to go there at least once a week and spent fortunes in there, over a period of years.

The owner, like me, decided to take some time out.  Probably a couple of months after his initial ‘time out’ started, the service started to get sloppy.  One of the girls put a colour on my hair I did not like.  When, the following week I asked her to change it, she went mad – totally unprofessional – I haven’t been back there since.

Needless to say, the owner, realising the folly of his ways is now back at the helm, where he belongs.


The third case happened to me recently.  I found a local ‘gastro’ type pub/restaurant which was initially first class.  The place had a party like atmosphere, brilliant food and impeccable service.

I have been back there numerous times and over the last two years, particularly the service has declined.  There are still one or two good members of staff, but the newer recruits – well, what can I say?  We visited a couple of weeks ago, mid week, expecting to have supper after an early evening watching the Summer Solstice morris dancing.  Yes, we arrived a couple of minutes past 9.  We walked into the bar and the handful of people present all swivelled round and the girl behind the bar totally ignored us.  Unbelievable.  We asked if we could get some supper to be told “no”.  No sorry or explanation whatsoever.    Yes, it was mid week and guess what?  Senior Management were taking time out!


The fourth and last case concerns, again, my  current hairdressers.  I have been going there for four years and love going there, the resultant superb hair, the beauty treatments and the whole ‘joie de vivre’ atmosphere.

Until recently that is.  Yes, you guessed it, the owner is taking time out and has put in a young manager, who at Christmastime split with her long term partner.  Oh dear!  You now walk into an atmosphere like a wall of ice.  The girls are all obviously upset as she is taking her emotions out on them, when the owner is not around.

I have spoken to the owner, and I thought she had taken my concerns seriously, but she is hardly ever there and when she is, she locks herself away in her office and is oblivious to the atmosphere, which is, quelle surprise, quite different when she is there!

As an update to this blog, it appears ‘someone’ has cancelled all my appointments from September onwards – I’m booked until Christmas.  The girls spotted this and they have now been put back in.  A further update, it also appears that this moody, sulky, poor me atmosphere has transferred from her previous salon.

Why do we never learn and take up references, or indeed,  employ secret shoppers?






British Period Properties and their Listings explained

If you are thinking of purchasing a listed building or currently own one, there are implications dependent upon the actual type of listing. I detail below the types of listing that currently apply to period properties and properties of historic interest.

There are three types of listing, Grade 1, Grade 11* and Grade 11. Of approximately 500,000 listings, around 14,200 are in Essex.

GRADE 1 (Grade 1)
A Grade 1 listing applies to properties regarded as being of exceptional architectural and historic interest. Of the 500,000 listings in England, 2.5% are Grade 1 and whilst the majority of these are secular buildings, the Youth Hostel in Saffron Walden is a super example of this type of listing.


The Youth Hostel, Saffron Walden


Grade 11* (Grade two star)
Grade 11* means a building of importance, being of more than special interest.

The Sugar Hut, televised on The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE), is a Grade 11* building being of architectural and historic interest, dating back to 1480 when it was known as The White Hart and was a coaching inn with coaches going to London and a daily service to Bury St Edmunds.


The Sugar Hut, Brentwood taken on Friday, 14th July, 2017



Grade 11 (Grade two)


Great Lodge Farm in the snow, a fine example of a Grade 11 Listed Building.