Local music – Ashfields

They say that your kids don’t inherit your taste in music – but your love of  it.

ashfields (1 of 1)

Although when you are young the worst music in the world is the music your parents are listening to? The flip side to this is that as we grow older the worst music is that which the kids are listening to?

I think I have an eclectic taste in music – although this might have been significantly shaped by an affinity with the rebelliousness of Punk Rock and New Wave. That it still plays most on my iPod is probably a clue! And, of course those shape-shifters like Bowie feature highly.

I listen to music more than I watch TV. I still love live music.

On Saturday night we were at The Bodega in Nottingham for a sell-out gig of local band Ashfields. You can track them down on Facebook and they have an EP out on Spotify. It’s called Home Town.

You can read a Nottingham Post article about them here.

They are a talented lot – although I might be slightly biased about the drummer – Jak Garratt. Yes the clue is in the name.

It’s good to see live music and better still if you know the band and the journey they have been on for the last 12 months or so.

They are worth looking out for…. Honest!


David Bowie RIP

The news that greeted the morning was incredibly sad; David Bowie passed away peacefully overnight. His 18 month battle with Cancer was over.


Radio 4, that bastion of middle England and centre of sensibility, made it story number one. They even played Space Oddity – a rare moment of music on the station.

This is a huge loss.

There will be plenty of column inches, blog posts and TV news coverage in the days ahead. And rightly so, here was one of the key influencers of the last 50 years – across music,art  and fashion. You didn’t have to like everything he did (I wasn’t a fan of the penultimate album) – but I challenge you not to like something in his incredible back-catalogue.

I saw Bowie a total of 14 times – including at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2004 – his last UK appearance. On every appearance he was brilliant. From his stadium tour promoting Let’s Dance to his Nottingham Rock City gig in 1997 – I can’t think of any group or artist that has performed better.

His music has provided a soundtrack to my life. Young Americans remains my favourite song of all time.

One of his enduring features was his ability to re-invent himself and never look back. He constantly pushed the boundaries and tried new things. His energy and vision will set him aside when we look back at history – and that is a great lesson for us all.

Truly a man who made a mark on this place. A man who made it better by having been here.

David Bowie RIP.

2015 – the year in review

It’s that time of year when my firm take a look over our shoulder at the market as it happened in 2015. I said a year ago that I though that what was to come would be better than what had gone before. To a great extent this was proven right.

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 18.51.36 copy

We have seen some examples of values creeping back up to pre-recession levels. We saw a great deal of letting activity – especially in the office and retail markets. Some of the crazy incentive deals we witnessed seem to have reduced to a more sensible level.We have even done some rent reviews!

2016 looks to capitalise on the feel-good factor, low interest rates and lack of stock.

We will produce our usual ‘Market Insite‘ document detailing the state of the piste across the East Midlands – and present it in Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and London in a few weeks time. We have a stellar line-up of guest speakers.

If you would like a copy of the data or an invite to the events -which tend to get sold out, get in touch with me …


Transport and quadrocopters

I have blogged before about my DJI Phantom quadcrocopter – which is a fantastic piece of machinery for the sort of work I do. Although technically it can’t be used for commercial use (I have yet to do my Licence) – it is very good …

ehang-184-aav-passenger-drone-12But there is a further development on the horizon…

Ehang is a Chinese company who are saying that they will have perfected single person drone for short flight – by the end of 2016. This is a fully automate drone and supposedly for people without any experience of flying!

Flight times of 23 minutes and speeds of up to 60mph look to be useful for popping to the office from my place.

This is defiantly on my Christmas list for 2016. And I suspect I won’t need to pay the Workplace Parking Tax….

John Lewis – epic fail

Last week I bought some new shiny iPad pro’s for the office. Three of them. The only place I could get them was John Lewis.


Delivery was arranged for Saturday at my local Waitrose – which was convenient. I paid on my John Lewis credit card. It all seemed so simple until I got a call from John Lewis.

Initially I figured this was John Lewis Financial Services – checking that it really was me spending on my credit card. I have no issue with this. It gives you some comfort that they are keeping an eye on unusual spending. Alas it was not them – it was the actual John Lewis.

I am hugely suspicious of the calls that start with, “I need to take you through security”, my stock response is to ask them for the password…

But this didn’t work – they were  insistent to the extent that if I didn’t play ball this was a quick route to no iPad Pro. The whole conversation though was fraught – especially when they asked me why I wanted to buy them. Trying to avoid using foul and abusive language I volunteered that it was absolutely none of their business. None. The lady was unhappy about the response – but eventually moved onto the next question – about my inside leg measurement or something.

This really is as bizarre a situation as you can get. Clicks and bricks is an interesting concept. I get the security check on my card, but this intrusive, inconvenient and irrelevant approach puts me off using their service. When I collect the goods I have to provide them the card I used to purchase and a form of ID. What else do they really need?

I have thought for a long time that John Lewis (or Jessops as I still call it) has gone downhill. This incident does not change my view.

San Francisco v Airbnb

Our pad in San Francisco is someone’s house – which we’re borrowing via Airbnb. It represents a cost-effective way to stay – I guess a hotel with the facilities would be twice the price. Of course there are some downsides – cleaning is by self! We are also a little way from town and surrounded by locals…



We were in San Francisco 11 months ago – but stayed in the touristy part – near Pier 39. Staying with the locals lets you see a very different aspect of the City – and I can’t help but think that this time we are seeing some of the less nice elements. In particular there is a major issue with homelessness. I don’t think I have ever seen quite so many people who are living on the street.

And Airbnb are at the centre of a debate about affordable housing here. Airbnb started here in 2008 and has turned into a multi- billion dollar business – who own nothing. They say they have arranged lodging for more than 40 million travellers to date. It claims more than 1.5 million listings in 34,000 cities spread over 190+ countries….

It seems that the city who fell in love with them are less benevolent now – suggesting that many of the ‘locals’ are making such good money from the short term lets that they are building businesses. And they are keeping property from local folks. Property which would have provided ‘affordable’ housing is now being used for short-term lets.

The debate is similar to that between Uber and regulated taxi firms. Airbnb clients are not subject to the same scrutiny or health and safety regulations as hotels.

The third argument stems from the fact that short-term lets may not be compliant with rules in shared condo blocks – which evidently have minimum 30 day lets.

In February the law was changed requiring a registration process, but of the 4,000 to 5,000 Airbnb units available in San Francisco, only 455 have been applied for registration, and only 170 have been approved.

The argument here is likely to rumble on for some time to come!


Riding the bus …

Our little pad (more of that tomorrow) in San Francisco is a 40 minute walk from town – 2 miles. Some of the walk is peppered with some of societies less fragrant types. You need your wits about you.


Today we used the local bus – the MUNI. $2.25 (about £1.50) got us a ride into town and back. Which was pretty good value. Especially as it included free entertainment.

It all kicked off when the bus didn’t spot some passengers at a stop – he was a bit stranded mid lanes but, in fairness did stop.  The passengers needed a taxi from the kerb to the bus, but they somehow managed. But it’s fair to say one of the new passengers was unimpressed. The conversation went something like:

P – “Man, you is supposed to pull over at the kerb, you nearly killed us all. I’m lucky to be alive

BD – “Just sit down

P – “Don’t you talk to me like that – you are a public servant and I pay your wages man. You know you were wrong you should apologise to me

BD – “Just sit down and stop talking – I should have charged you for the dog anyway

P – “I won’t stop talking and the dog is a service dog – you should read up about them and know your rules

BD – “Stop talking you’re putting me off

P – “Just drive the bus man

BD – ” I is driving the bus, you just ride the bus and stop talking at me

P – “I won’t stop talking and I’m going to take your picture

BD (smiles in mirror for photo but nearly hits someone who walks out)

P – “Man you need to concentrate on the road – you are a health and safety nightmare all on your own – you nearly killed me again!

BD – “You need to stop talking at me

We got off at the next stop – but they were still at each other.

I did like his service dog – as you can see….

The dream office?

I’m back in San Francisco for a few days. When I was last here in December last year I was interested to see that Westfield were converting the 4th floor of their shopping centre (center!) into a funky shared workspace. It opened in April this year and is called Bespoke.

Yesterday we got to tour the space as a ‘guests’ – and it is brilliant. We are used to seeing images of the cool Google offices and the clustering of high tech companies here seems to attract this forward thinking design. Bespoke is no exception. It is seriously cool but also fantastically practical. It offers really flexible rates too – $35 for a day pass – $385 per month for a shared desk, $595 for your own and $1,450 for an office. I think these prices are really good value for what you get – 24/7 access, high speed internet, meeting rooms and spaces, a kitchen facility and sleep pods! But more than this, it is the clustering around like-minded people. It is aimed at the retail / tech sector – but there’s no reason for this not to work across small business generally.

I’ll let the images do the talking…

Event space for seminars / presentations

Event space for seminars / presentations

Perimeter meetig rooms

Perimeter meeting rooms

Persuasive assistance!

Persuasive assistance!

You have to be a bit techy to get this - but very funny...

You have to be a bit techy to get this – but very funny…

Sleep pods

Sleep pods


when it gets to the point of the day when you’re climbing up the wall…


formal and informal meet


The quality and feel generally is of the highest standard


croquet and lunch….

Apple Music – fail.

It pains me when Apple get things wrong. A company so brilliant under Steve Jobs seems to be losing its crown. This is not good speaking as an early adopter and Apple evangelist.

Bye Apple Music....

Bye Apple Music….

In the past the beauty of Apply lay in the seamless co-ordination between devices – laptop, desktop, iPad, phone and latterly watch. All genius and ‘Star Trek‘ like at times (who would have thought I ask my watch a question!).

But Apple Music is an unmitigated disaster. I have stopped my subscription after one month of paying and returned to the dark side – known as Spotify.

The reasons?

  1. The service takes control of your existing music (in my case 56,000 tracks of music carefully built up over 10 years) – analyses them, loads them to the cloud and then only gives back some of them. The rest you can’t see. I do still have them backed up – but can’t use them. They say you can – but I can’t.
  2. The system doesn’t work with Sonos at home – apparently they are ‘working on it’ which means it was rolled out prematurely. And it is a major flaw in the system.
  3. Apple won’t talk about the problems – not seeing them as such. This is Apple MO, but frustrating beyond belief. Try looking up how to get your entire music back (which I do actually own) – you can’t get a straight answer. In the Apple stores (I have asked) they adopt, politely, the ‘why would you want your antiquated old way back?

So I have stopped using Apple Music, returning to iTunes for my entire owned collection and using Spotify for new music which I can pick and choose.

Apple do sometimes get it wrong. Horribly wrong. This time they have.

Bowie – the last act?

I wasn’t sure what to make of the story last week that Bowie’s manager and agent have denied rumours that Bowie would play at Glastonbury 2016. In fact he won’t play a live gig again.

The news is sad – Bowie is by far the best performer I have ever seen live – and I have seen him live quite a few times! I had hoped he might do one last tour after the last album, but it seems not.

What I am pleased about is that I saw him on the very last occasion he played in the UK – that was 2004 at the Isle of Wight Festival. He was brilliant – playing a set he wanted. Not all of the crowd were pleased – but I was!

The album tracks I hadn’t heard live before were rolled out – including Station to Station in its full glory.

He did do some concerts over the next few years – notably Fashion Rocks in 2006. But it’s been some time since a real live appearance.

We’re told he’s not stopping producing music, just the live performances…

So another hero stops touring.

It’s a good job I have tickets to see The Boomtown Rats in Dublin in December for their ‘last’ gig… you just never know!