MIPIM 2013 – starts here.

Where do that year go? I can’t believe it’s a year since I was on the Cote D’Azur at the world property show lovingly known as MIPIM. The 2013 show starts today.

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My MIPIM started last night as my flight this morning (hopefully) took off from Brummieland at 6.50am. That means a 4.50am check in. And allowing an hour from sunny Nottingham, my wake up would have been just after 3… I don’t do ‘just after 3′, makes me more grumpy than usual.

Having said that, I’m already grumpy. I stayed in the Novotel at the Airport last night – this allowed a more reasonable 4.30am start. I will pay good money for an extra two hours in bed. £99 on this occasion – for a very average room. But then e9.90 for overnight wi-fi. OK, that won’t break the bank, but I am heartily sick of hotels charging for wi-fi. When I was in the USA a few weeks ago, my son and I commented on the fact that there was free wi-fi just about everywhere – hotels, restaurants, shopping malls.

I’m not going to finish this blog on rip-off Britain though. I’m about to step into the world of millionaires – of Gucci and Prada. Where 10 euros is about average for a bottle of beer. Well, it is this week!

A quick precis though – Team Nottingham are in MIPIM – with the sole aim of promoting all that is good about the City. This a private sector funded trip – although we do have the public sector with us. The team are like-minded about what we want to achieve. It’s all about inward investment – bringing people in. getting them to invest. So we have more jobs and a more prosperous economy.

So, that’s it for this little blog this morning. I will keep you posted on what we are up to as the week goes on. I am privy to some announcements – although they are currently embargoed. They will appear here – so do drop by – I’ll try to keep up with whats happening! There may be some stuff on twitter too – try @TGNot or @TeamNottingham ….

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Children – don’t you just love ‘em?

For some reason when I am allocated a seat on a plane the nice man/lady at check-in must take an instant dislike to me. They invariably ensure that have small children either behind me – or just in front.

Turin to Birmingham shouldn’t be a long flight, but when three six-year olds are in front of you, it is. They seemed to think that bouncing up and down on their seats would somehow make the flight better. Well it didn’t for me. The good thing was that their parents were three rows away – close enough to keep a beady eye, but far enough not to feel the seat jamming into (my) knees. How thoughtful.

On the way out I had to endure a ‘little person’ behind who I think may have been a future Beckham. His parents did keep telling little Tarquin not to ‘express himself’ in that particular fashion. Tarquin thought it necessary to continue expressing himself with my seat as a target.

You do have to be careful on aeroplanes as I believe they take quite a dim view of public floggings. It’s quite easy to get banned I think.

Personally I would thrash the parents first.

I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ at the moment (something that I will come back to) and he highlights some very bright kids who are taught to question things, to be inquisitive and not afraid of speaking up. I can see the merit of this, but I don’t think he was advocating a lack of manners. Because this is what is is. You parents who were on my two flights need to teach your kids some basics. Like that there are other people on this planet – not just them (and you).

In Italy they have an interesting way of dealing with unruly children….

Shanghai – the facts

Shanghai is a difficult place to describe. It’s big, brash and noisy – it demands that you pay attention! I have had a couple of days to reflect on what I saw this time. And what I learned.

Although a couple of weeks ago was my second trip it takes you a while to adjust and comprehend the place. But to put some things in context:

* 21 million people live in Shanghai – 1.3 billion in China as a whole.
* GDP growth in China has been 11.2% on average for the period 2006-2010 – the Government target is 7% over the next 5 years.
* China is now the Worlds second largest economy (the US is still the largest)
* The UK imports £24bn each year but only exports £7bn – the UK Government want this to equalise.
* Inflation is running at 4.9%
* By 2015 half of the Worlds building will be taking place in Shanghai.
* 400 new Cities are being built and their average size will be the size of Birmingham!
* 15 million people are moving away from the Countryside to the Cities each year – by 2020 900m people will live in Cities.
* China was the largest producer of CO2 in the World in 2020

It is quite difficult to comprehend the sheer scale of what is going on here. I find it hard to explain in words – even looking at some of the brochures I brought back don’t really explain it. We just don’t see ‘development’ like this here in the UK. I’m not sure it is happening anywhere else in the World in this manner.

So is it good?

One of the speakers at the Conference I attended was quite damning – he raised the issues of corruption – there are four or five construction companies doing all of the work. Someone is getting very rich.

Then there is the ‘green’ aspect – and you can’t help but wonder if there is lip service being paid to the issues. On more than one occasion I heard stories about the ‘green features and standards being designed in, but not bult in. The latter simply because there is so much going on it cannot be all checked.

But my real issue is that when you peel back behind the veneer some of these buildings are not actually very good. Whilst we might develop buildings for 65-80 years, I am not convinced that the stuff being thrown up is at that standard. I wonder if they will last 20-25 years! I will return to this point again I think….

HS2 gathers momentum

As you may know if you read my blog, I am a keen advocate of the new HS2 line – conditionally that it stops at Nottingham, or very close to. The line has been in the news again this week as protestors in the South have been arguing over the detail of the route. Some of the route has been changed as a result of these protests.

The critical thing for the East Midlands is to make sure we are on the map shown here. Manchester and Leeds have secured their places – as has Birmingham. But a station at Nottingham / Derby could potentially cut the London journey time to 50-55 minutes.

This line is still many years away – and the detail is important. But we really do need to fight for a station. The line is certain to come through our neighbourhood anyway – the worst thing would be for us to watch the trains whizz by?

The finer details of the route can be thrashed out – no one wants it in their back yard, but we have plenty of room to the west where this 22nd Century transport system could go? The impact on our lives will be massive and I see the benefits considerably outweighing the downside.

I just wonder what we are doing about it…

ipad – a new beginning?

As Apple launched the ipad in the USA over the weekend I was thinking how the world of computing has changed, but also wondering how this new device might change computing?

The new apple ipad - which I don't own yet

There have been some attempts previously (notably Microsoft in 2002 with the white elephant Tablet PC) – but Steve Jobs has a habit of getting things very right. Think MacBook pro’s / ipods / iphones.

My love of all things Apple is quite simple really. Although they usually look great apple products work out of the box. I cannot ever remember reading a manual! But the other thing with an apple is that if you attach a camera it recognises it as an old friend – and instantly guesses what you want to do (do you want me to download the pictures?). No hassle, no disks. No installing new drivers.

I was wondering about an ipad. There has been some criticism that they can’t multitask – like the iphone. And you need to buy software via the itunes store – so Cupertino have control over everything.

But we are moving towards a very wired society. Information is now being opened up to virtually everyone. It’s also in real time.

So my trip at the weekend to Birmingham in the future could be dealt with by an ipad? Clearly directions via GPS and moving maps are now passe. My car has traffic information – but this tends to be limited to motorways. A mobile device could overlay this information – but could also include car parking information (Nottingham has information signs now). But the device could also point you to certain shops i.e. Selfridges today has Armani on offer…

We are also moving toward to augmented reality and overlaying live information on a moving map is potentially going to revolutionise the way we absorb information around us.

I could get this information on my laptop, but carrying it around isn’t a lot of fun. The new devices are getting thinner and lighter.

This really could change our lives. And I haven’t even started to think about how it could simplify our working practices yet! There’s a blog there somewhere….

Shopping the expensive way

Nottingham has some excellent shopping – and is rated 7th in the UK by Experian. But last week I had reason to be in Birmingham and called at The Bullring for a drink. I had not been to Selfridges before and was impressed.

Selfridges Birmingham

So yesterday we went back. It is quite an experience and sadly we have nothing like this in Nottingham. The closest is John Lewis but Selfridges have more choice and is a step up in terms of quality (and cost!).

The external facade is, of course, quite spectacular and sits amongst some quite old buildings, including a church. Internally the shop is huge. The ground floor has an eclectic mix – including a Krispy Kreme donut shop and the beloved Starbucks. Some of the food on offer is different too – I bought some extra matured Marmite XO. It’s strong!

In fact the shop reminds me of New York – with many of the concessions having an American feel – even the range of drinks is deli style USA. What makes the shop is the range of exclusive goods / clothes. Even the Tom Ford Grey Vetiver after shave is limited to six per customer!

What is also interesting is that the opening hours are much later than we are used to – 8pm weekdays (except Thursday when it is 9pm). This is the true sign of a cosmopolitan city – coupled with a champagne bar!

Obviously the population size makes a difference to what can be sustained. But getting people to stay in the town (retailing dwell time) is also important. Being able to buy different things adds to the exclusivity draw.

As we left Selfridges and went into the main Bullring shopping centre it was just like Nottingham again. We didn’t spend too much time out of Selfridges. It’s amazing to see the impact of a single shop on a place.

Oh- and the Krispy Kreme donuts are to die for!

Nice is not at all Nice

I arrived home tonight after a long day of travelling – which shouldn’t have been! Nice to Birmingham is a couple of hours courtesy of BmiBaby.

Nice Airport by Lafrance


We left Cannes in plenty of time – to arrive at Nice Airport at 12midday. Then our problems started. The Check-In opened at 12.15 for our 2.15pm flight. After the queue started to move we seemed to be making pretty slow progress – caused by a broken luggage belt. Luggage was being taken through the main concourse on very small trolleys. We eventually made the front – to be asked the usual questions (are you carrying explosives, guns, knives of other things that might be able to blow a plane up?) I wonder how many people nod…

We headed up the stairs to go through the security / undressing thing. Another half hour wait. We thought we were in luck when we were transferred to the first class security system – except there were only two machines. But even the posh people have to take their shoes and belts off.

After re-dressing we queued to go through Passport control. The whole queuing episode took two and a half hours. We were then encouraged to run to the plane.

No time for coffee or duty free shop!

This then made the plane late – but you can always rely on such journeys to contain much more misery. The lady who sat behind me was heard to say how unlucky she was to be by the over-wing escape door. Not nearly as unlucky as the 20 people around her who were subjected to a barrage of ‘chat’ for the entire duration of the flight. Think engine noise mixed with Joan Rivers. Her husband had a hearing aid – I suspect the batteries had worn out years ago. She never drew breath.

We were fairly desperate for food and drink. This arrived on our descent into Birmingham 95 minutes after we had taken off. We were asked to hurry our all day breakfast and coffee (I think it was coffee – dark brown and hot). As the last mouthful went in – the rubbish bag was thrust at me.

It does make you realise what a miserable place an airport can be when things don’t go right… Some went to Cannes by Eurostar – this might be an option!