MIPIM – the plan is set!

After much soul-searching we have reached a consensus agreement in Nottingham. After Nottingham City Council pulled out of the show last year we have managed to gather a group of like-minded private firms. Some are MIPIM die-hards, some virgins.

Team Nottingham 2011 will comprise:

Innes England
Gleeds – cost consultants
Morgan Tucker – engineers
CPMG – architects
Miller Birch – developers
Geldards – lawyers
Nottingham Regeneration Limited

We have all committed cash to create a brand (“Team Nottingham”) which will represent Nottingham on the world stage in March. We will be holding two events in Cannes – one a dinner for Investors, the other a less formal drinks reception. We have commissioned branding material for the event.

We have also offered to sponsor Invest in Nottingham to the extent of paying all the expenses for a key member of the IIN team to come out with us.

The real work is yet to be done to make sure we get the profile Nottingham deserves. We will be inviting key people to the events we have arranged in Cannes and we will hopefully be able to report on success stories in due course. As a team we are all optimistic about our chances. We are all very positive about our presence on the Cote D’Azur.

There has been much press interest in what we are doing – but I hope it will be seen as positive – unlike the rather negative coverage the City got last week in the Evening Post. Updated PR here from The Guardian though – more positive!

We are hopeful of keeping Nottingham on the world map! We are not really interested in the politics. There is quite a big picture here – which is about inward investment, jobs and wealth creation.

I will post updates here!

You won’t feel a thing…

A couple of weeks ago I had to have a blood test – to check if it was still red I think.

My own Doctor couldn’t do it – not sure she was fully trained. So I traipsed off the the QMC. Which
in case you don’t realise is quite inconvenient.

Bu they have a brilliant ‘take number system’ – like at the butchers in Morrisons (allegedly).

But it is wierd. You wait your turn and I was 16th in line. I swear that 15 people (I made sure there
was no cheating) went in the room but only 6 came out. And when I got in there there were 4 people
only. By my basic maths five went missing. There were no windows or other doors to make an

The Nurse who took my precious blood was too grumpy for me to ask, but it was a true x-files
moment. I wondered if they took so much blood that the people actually disappeared and they are
now in a small plastic bag? Or washed down a drain?

The Nurse was grumpy because she didn’t want to take blood from my left arm (I use my right one quite a bit
more than the other) – I asked if blood was different in each arm (apparently this was not funny). She said
she wouldn’t bruise me, but I have a long memory and I reminded Nursey that she did before (it was
same Nursey). Now have bigger bruise. Top Gear Top Tip – only criticise nurseys after they have
inserted sharp implement in arm.

I only allowed her a spoonful if my finest for fear of ending up in a Tesco’s carrier bag. Or worse still
being flushed down the drain.

And where might I end up I wondered? Like some nightmare it occurred to me that this could be in
the Science Park lily pond at Highfields across the Road from the Hospital – which I manage.

So just beware before you rush off all to give blood – I think something is going on! And, trust
me, you don’t want to end up in that pond at Highfileds with the students from Dunkirk emptying their bladders on
you after a night on the Special Brew.

School was rubbish

I didn’t particularly enjoy school. The feeling, I gather, was mutual. We didn’t really hit it off. Still they gave me an ‘O’ level so I should be grateful in some ways.

It was all those rules I think that were lost on me (amongst other things).

Like “I before E, except after C“.

It seems that school have now abandoned this little ‘rule’. Because it’s wrong. Well, it seems that there are more exceptions to the rule than compliances! 923 exceptions have been counted!

Some include species, science, sufficient, ancient, society (where ie follows c) or seize, weird, theism, eight, weight, protein, sovereignty, foreign, vein, feisty, kaleidoscope, being, neighbour, and their (where ei is not preceded by c).

One of my favourite words breaks the rule twice – Oneiromancies.

The mnemonic has been traced back to 1876, as a footnote in James Stuart Laurie’s Manual of English Spelling. It was abandoned in 2009 by the British Government.

School was rubbish. They made me learn stuff that turns out to be not true!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged English, rules, School

Shopping the old way?

Over New Year we were in Oxford – a favourite town which we travelled to frequently when our daughter Jade studied there for three years. It has been a couple of years since we had been – but not much has changed in this scholarly place. Nor do I suppose it will over the next few hundred years!

But one of my favourite parts of the town is the Covered Market. It’s been there since 1774 and was once the trading heart of Oxford – built to tidy the streets of the then numerous ad-hoc stalls. At the time of its opening meat could only be sold from within the walls – which would have added to the improvement in food standards no doubt!

Today it has traditional shops – butchers, fruitiers, cake shop, cheese shop, a chocolatier and many others.

It is a much more interesting shopping experience than the supermarkets we frequent and have grown used to in our modern cities. It has lanes of shops, narrowing to keep you close to shop windows, but it also has a central square and four separate entrances. You are enticed into looking down the lanes to ‘find’ shops. There are surprises. It is interesting.

It reminded me of the Farmers Market I visited in Los Angeles in September 2009. And I found a similar place in a Shanghai at the Tai Kang Road Market – a myriad of small lanes and tiny shops selling local wares. Both had a slightly grungy fee. But you feel safe there.

These are not expensive marble laid malls with mirrors and large expanses of glass. They have a human scale, are relatively cheap in construction and are interesting to the eye.

I think I prefer to buy my stuff at such a place if I can…

Modern malls have a place, but they can have that ‘so what’ feel. They are formulaic because of the national multiple retailers. Markets, on the other hand, are reflections of the personalities of the shop-keepers, not of some corporate buying office somewhere in London. This appeals to me!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham, Robin Hood, Travel Tagged Covered Market, Farmers Market, Los Angeles, , Oxford, Shanhai, Tai Kang Road

Dubai – not a great place for property

Over the last couple of weeks I have blogged about our rather challenging marketplace. I have tried to be positive, but there is a cold wet towel still there to remind me!

The Burj Khalifi

But spare a thought for Dubai. I have never been but by all accounts it is a spectacular place.

The tallest building in the world lives in Dubai – The Burj Khalifi is 828m (2,700 ft) tall and was finished in 2010. But a recent report suggests that 90% of its 900 luxury apartments are empty! And since 2007 prices have fallen by 70%. Ouch.

A straw poll has suggested that there are 40,000 vacant apartments in the Emirate. And potentially another 52,000 in construction and like to come on stream in the next two years.

Overall prices have fallen by 60% since the boom.

The owners of the Burj Khalifi have suggested that the demand and supply should be back in balance in just 20 months. I think he may have had his pessimistic hat on!

I am a great supporter of development – it has a key role in making our planet a better place to live and work. We need our property assets to improve – it is in our nature as human beings to make things better. The cave seems a long way away!

But there is something quite perverse about the situation in Dubai – there could be nearly 100,000 apartments empty. These are not ‘flats’ but luxury apartments. And yet in other parts of the world people are living in houses made of tin or under sheets of cardboard on these winter nights. And some of these people are near to you!

We shouldn’t stifle development – but the Burj is just a statement that they can piss on the wall higher than everyone else? Sometimes you do wonder if we have got this all horribly wrong?

We have a new office toy!

You might remember that I went sailing in the Little Britain race last year. We famously and impressively (after much hard work) came second*.

But I did win something. I won a raffle! And the first prize was a shiny new Dyson Airblade. I never normally win things in raffles! And I have never won a hand-dryer before, ever!

This week the new “toy” has been fitted at our office – and takes pride of place in the male visitors loo.

It is brilliant. In my early days of blogging I was saying that I had come across some imitation ariblades which were nowhere near as good as the Dyson. Since that time I have seen some more imitators and no-one seems to have come close. There really is something about originals.

As the blurb says – “It’s the fastest hand dryer – and it’s hygienic, too, cleaning the air before blowing it onto hands. And because it uses up to 80% less energy than warm air hand dryers, it costs less to run. It can also help lower a business’s carbon footprint – with no paper towels creating waste.”

These bits of kit are not cheap though – around £550 + VAT for a unit. But they are very good, they make your hands look like Clarksons face whilst driving the Ariel Atom.

You might not get excited by a hand-dryer, but this is no ordinary hand-dryer!

I think we might save up for one for the Ladies next (In a Andy Gray style it has been fitted to the gents…)

*to last.

DDA – full circle?

I am doing some work with an organisation at the moment who help Blind people. They are a fantastic Charity with their particular group of client’s firmly in their hearts and minds. They provide a service that clearly makes a difference to blind people.

Dame Tanni-Grey - as impressive as an abled bodied athlete

As I was being shown around their building (not by a blind person) I couldn’t help but notice that the building was not at the ‘fully DDA’ compliant end of the spectrum. We have now grown used to the DDA rules which allow an element of managing situations – as opposed to constructing property wholly compliant in all aspects. Sometimes that is simply not feasible.

Another of my Client’s has spent considerable sums of money over the last few years making their buildings DDA compliant as far as they are able. They are in the Public Sector so it is seen as a key component of accessing their property. In particular staircases now contain floor coverings of differing colours and with textured finishes – to enable blind or partially sighted people to distinguish changes in levels at steps or locations of half-landings.

What interested me about the Charity for the blind I am working with is that they are starting to move away from this a little. They have reverted back to the ‘ordinary’ finishes. There were no colour changes or tactile finishes.

And the reason? The blind people using the building want to be included in Society. They don’t want to be treated differently. They don’t want special allowances made for them. In some ways they don’t see their particular disability as being disadvantageous.

I was surprised. Pleasantly so.

This is a really difficult subject matter. It can lead to claims that abled bodied people are discriminating, simply by discussing such matters in the open.

In general terms we do need to make our buildings accessible to everyone. And make it easier for disabled people. But it is interesting to note that in a building actually for blind people, they don’t want special features, they don’t want to be different.

My title is slightly tongue in cheek; we have’t come full circle, but we would do well to remember that not all disabled people want to be treated differently to us abled bodied folk…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged Blind, Buildings, Dame Tanni-Grey, DDA

A blog award – but I need your help!

I have been nominated – or rather my blog has – for an award!

It is for the BE2 Awards 2011 – and the voting ends on 7th February. I’m quite pleased to be on the shortlist!

If you enjoy this blog and fancy voting for me you can do so here.

The award criteria : The best AEC social media blog will be one about how social media and its relevance to the architecture, engineering, construction, property, facilities management or infrastructure sectors. It may be looking at deployment of Web 2.0 within a design team or in a site environment; it might look at social media from a marketing or PR perspective; or perhaps it looks at how the industry engages with the society of which it is part. The choice is your’s. But as with the other blog categories, we are looking for bloggers who create lively, engaging and original content and who actively cultivate conversations with their readers.

Thanks – if you do vote!

The misguided missile that is AA Gill

Apparently we in Nottingham have done something to upset AA Gill.

In the last thirty years (according to an article he wrote after Christmas) he has visited us twice – the first time to see Goose Fair – although from his description I wonder if he was dreaming – he saw a Miners Spitting Contest? Funny – I have been to Goose Fair for probably 45 years – and have never seen such a spectacle? The second was recently where he ate at Hart’s. thats his “job” – he’s paid to eat the very best restaurants.

He was with a mysterious luvvie – who had a cadged Rolls Royce for the weekend. His mate had been worried that they “would be made to squeal like pigs and stomped with ultra-violence” in Nottingham.

We have apparently been hit with an “ugly stick and got a bad dose of the Detroits”. There is then the historic roll out of crime statistics and some cheap jibes about them disguising the (cadged) Roller as a skip in Hart’s car park.

We then move on to Lunch – which is what he is paid (a lot) to write about. There seems to be an issue with him being served by an English Rose waitress – from Lithuania. And apparently people around him were dressed in their best track-suits bottoms and t-shirts… I think not!

When I read the article – I just wondered if the real issue was that no-one recognised this little man. Apart from Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) who was playing a gig in Nottingham. Apparently Norman had asked the luvvie if he was AA Gill. They thought they were going to be a crime statistic because someone came up to them …

So, once again, the article is more about sensationalist journalism – if you can actually call it that. Most of it is outdated clap-trap which just makes for entertaining reading for some Sunday Times readers. It doesn’t seem five minutes ago since I was blogging about Daisy Waugh – on a similar subject.

Clearly we have done something terribly wrong to these people. I don’t know what it is. What I do suggest though is that they leave us alone if all they can do is write this sort of rubbish. Quite honestly we don’t need them. The Home Counties do – where they can ride around in their Rolls Royce’s wrapped in cotton wool to their hearts content.

Personally I would be suspicious of anyone who can’t write their own name (first or second)…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged A. A. Gill, AA Gill, Harts, Home Counties, Lithuania, , Rolls Royce, Sunday Times

Rendezvous – an amazing video

My son Jak is mad about cars and showed me this amazing video on Youtube.

It’s a car hurtling through the Streets of Paris – running various red lights all in search of a romantic Rendezvous. It’s difficult to see how they did this – allegedly they had one spotter car, but otherwise ran the film off the front of their Mercedes. It seems that a Ferrari soundtrack was added later.

The driver and Director was Charles Lelouch – it was filmed in 1976 at 5.30am.

It was shot in a single take – and the route is approximately 10k, meaning the average speed was only 77kph… It looks faster.

Snow Patrol used part of the film for their video on “Open Your Eyes”.

There are plenty of urban myths about the film – one that at its first screening Lelouch was arrested!

Watch it – but try not to blink or flinch!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Green stuff Tagged Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Paris, Rendezvous, Snow Patrol, YouTube