Robin Hood – the cat’s out of the bag

As I blogged about a few weeks ago, the City Council have now shared some of the ideas they have been working on for Nottingham Castle. As I had hoped, many of these ideas were picked up by us on the sheriff’s Commission three years ago.

Some of the ideas:

* Using the story of Robin Hood as a guide through key periods in Nottingham’s history to create links to
important historical events

* Providing a significant educational experience for all visitors, using the excitement and richness of the
Nottingham Castle history to engage visitors, particularly younger people, in an exploration of different
ideas and activities

* Exploring the castle site as a symbol of Nottingham’s importance nationally within social protest and
rebellion through the ages – and the development of democratic institutions as a result

* Creating a new Visitor Centre that provides modern facilities and access, new toilets, a café / social
space and a place where visitors can engage with the castle programme and enter the site

* Creating an entrance directly from the castle to improve access to the caves beneath the castle which
are themselves a rich source of history

* Hosting a more diverse all-year-round programme of outdoor festivals and events

* Enhancing and exploring the historic early English architecture of the castle to create a sense of place
as part of a world class heritage site

* Offering a range of indoor and outdoor leisure opportunities to generate an improved family offer that
encourages users to spend more time at the site

* Connecting the castle with other key heritage sites including Brewhouse Yard and Ye Old Trip to

This is now out to public consultation… It will be interesting to see what the Nottingham folk think. You can comment here.

It’s a pity it has taken this long to get to this point?

How life used to be…

A generation ago, the world was a diiferent place. Before you imagine I’m on a grumpy rant, I’m not. I’m just in observational mode!

When my father started his job of work, jobs were pretty much for life. It was post-war, we manufactured everything and the UK ruled the world. You worked and if you were good you got promoted to ‘middle management. You even got a gold watch after 25 years service. But the real win was in the retirement fund. A Pension was what most people worked for! You carried on without the pain of working – but getting paid, on the basis of your salary on the last day you worked!

How life has changed.

Pensions are not quite the same – a final salary pension scheme is now almost unheard of. And a job for life would be a rare commodity indeed. The current generation are chasing fewer jobs – the majority of which are in the service sector as our manufacturing base has virtually disappeared. The nature of this work is that it changes and so what you learned to do a few years ago might well be irrelevant now. People move on – shifting careers

We certainly don’t rule the world. The Americans might like to think they do, but I suspect it is more the Chinese today.

It is incredible to think how this has all changed in sort a short time period relatively. And the funny thing is that I don’t think this a cyclical thing. We are not going to be able to afford to return to the old ways. The financial mess the Country is in will take generations to correct. We’ll all have to work longer…

Happy days?

The best game in the world (probably)

I play two sports – neither of them particularly well. I love my golf – but struggle to get the handicap down much, I’m too inconsistent. But I also still play squash – which is my sport of choice. I play at the Nottingham Park Squash Rackets Club.

On Sunday night I witnessed a match the like of which I don’t think I have ever seen at the squash club.

It was the final of the Mantis Fantasy Squash Tournament – and $5,000 prize money was a stake.

Bu the night started with an exhibition match with some of the Club’s young talented players – competing for a prize pot of £50 – they played some times matches – frantically trying snatch as many points as they could! It was great fun to watch – and Lewis Walters took home the prize monies – finishing the match with a ‘popped’ ball – which the referee refused to let the players change!

But the big game was an Egyptian affair – Zahed Mohammed (word ranked 106) took on Karim Ali Fathi (WR =78). As it turned out the match lasted around two hours! The rules are that every point scores – so the rallies are supposed to be shorter – but this match went to the wire. It was best of five and the higher ranked Fathi won in the end, but by no more than a whisker.

The quality of the squash was world class – aggressive, fast, skilful and energy sapping!

Nottingham is very lucky to have this squash facility – and these sort of events are well supported by club members. But you couldn’t help but wonder how we can widen participation in this sport. It was criminal, in my view, that squash didn’t make the Olympics for 2016. It is being considered for inclusion in the 202 games – and a decision is expected on that in October this year.

The players we saw on Sunday night are the epitome of true sportsmen – their fitness levels I would suggest are on a par with any swimmer or cyclist… And Forbes magazine voted the game the ‘Healthiest Sport”…

RICS Assessment of Professional Competence

It’s that time of year again when a new cohort of candidates fumble their way towards their professional qualification. The RICS have spring and autumn sittings. After a 2 year diary the candidates send a critical analysis and have a final one hour interview.

I have sat as an assessor for a few years now. I did it to help my own firms candidates initially, but it also is good for me – I have to keep up to date with my professional knowledge.

I try to help our candidates (we have two in this session) in the run up to their interviews. But this week they are due to hand in their critical analysis’. I read these for them – and try to make constructive comments. I use lots of red ink up (which, as an aside, I understand you can’t use in schools now – ‘too aggressive’?) – trying to point things out!

If you are doing your APC – my top 5 tips…

1. Treat it as a report. It should be clear, concise and without typos. Don’t rely on the Word dictionary – that won’t tell you that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors is an issue for us!

2. Get your significant other to read it – and ask them if they understand it! Or at least understand the gist of what you did. They should be able to!

3. We are assessing you as an individual – so phrases like “My firm did the Conflict checks” might lead to a question as to whether you did it. Documents peppered with ‘we’ might lead to lots of questions. It’s you being tested – not your firm!

4. Use language which makes you sound like a surveyor! Leases tend not to start – they commence! They don’t finish either – they expire! Small things – but clues as to whether you have seen the language we are accustomed to!

5. Don’t bullshit. We can smell it.

I should make it clear that these are my own views!

If you are doing the APC – good luck!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged APC, Assessor, critical analysis, , Surveyor, tips and traps

The end of a (golden era) – Neil Armstrong RIP

I seem to be going to a few 50th Birthday parties at the moment. It’s a worrying trend. But sadly, it’s a one-way street.

And the people of my generation will have all know the name Neil Armstrong. The man who had the honour of making those first steps on the moon back in 1969 – whilst an incredulous world watched on. His famously (incorrect) phrase known to everyone – “Thats one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. It was an era or great hope and exciting advances. Space was a big thing. Most kids of my age were fascinated by these apparent hero’s. In fact Armstrong was uncomfortable with the limelight it thrust him into – it was, as he said many times’ “his job”.

But what a job. He was a risk taker – they landed the Eagle with less than 30 seconds of fuel left. On a foreign ‘planet’ – where there was no ‘go around’. No ability to have a few practice runs with an instructor. No one knew if it would work. He pushed the limits of human ability in flying terms. He and Buzz Aldrin became household names for their bravado. It was an incredible achievement.

It is more amazing when you think back to the technology in 1969 compared to now. Your iPhone contains a more powerful processor and computing power than the computer used to get Armstrong and Aldrin to the surface of the moon!

Armstrong was a hero of mine. I never got to see him – although I did meet Buzz Aldrin once. Armstrong inspired a generation. What a pity that this era has ended. It’s a sad fact that NASA have stopped manned exploration of space now – it might be some time before we see another Neil Armstrong?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged 12 men on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, Moon, NASA, Neil Armstrong, one small step, Space

The Evernote App

My colleague Simon Dare mentioned to me yesterday that Evernote (a brilliant top ten App) have brought out a new feature – a Moleskine Book – with an ability to photograph and migrate your notes into Evernote. Clever – yes!

But, I don’t use Moleskine anymore – I’m now a fan of Leuchtturm1917 books – they are slightly bigger, better wearing – but the paper can take ink pens without showing through to the next page….

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged Evernote, Leuchtturm1917, Moleskine, Simon Dare

Apple – don’t panic

After my Apple wobble last week I seem to have recovered. I hear that the keynote speech will be on the 12th September with the newest incarnation of the iPhone (5) available probably around 21st September. This is, I think exciting stuff. There is likely to be a new ipad too – possible smaller.

I have alos have a more detailed look at the Samsung gear – whilst I think the phones are probably just shading the iPhone 4 – I’m not now sure the tablets are. I had forgotten that they run that funny old windows / robotic / android stuff. That you have to re-boot every time you want to do something new? I think the iPad outshines it.

I think I’m staying with Apple…

I have had a couple of people ask me what Apps I use the most. Aside from Safari, Mail, Contacts and Calendar (which I use every day) I suspect my list of critical Apps would be:

1. London Tube map
2. Evernote – probably the best free App ever!
3. Shazam
4. Maps (which are about the get a whole lot better in Ios6)
5.Yammer – for my work intranet
6. Star Chart – which is superb for settling arguments about the Pole Star!
7. Sky Go
8. Twitter
9. Facebook
10. WordPress

These are in no particular order.

Of course, I also us the phone function quite a bit too….

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged app store, , Apps, iphone4, iphone5

Wealth – and the power to show off

I was interested this week in the BBC’s research about how people show off their wealth. We have become a nation of Chavs? The top aspirational ‘thing’ which you must have is a hot tub! Followed by a walk-in wardrobe. The latter I can live with, but the former I struggle with. I have neither.

Blokes thought that a 3D TV was important – whilst the ladies thought a US Style fridge propelled you into the world of celebrity.

The full list is:

As for the free standing food-processor ladies – I think you could aim a little higher? Some of the stuff is all a little, er, shallow?

Apple – the grip loosens?

This week there were numerous column inches taken up with the story that Apple was now the most valuable company in the world – worth around $623bn. Steve Jobs has left an indelible mark on society – and on the financial markets.

But is this all correct. In fact the most valuable company in the world is likely to be a Saudi Aramco. Saudi Aramco has proven reserves of 260 billion barrels of oil – a fifth of all the oil in the world. And then there’s 283 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves (the fourth largest in the world). These companies are not easy to value, but it is estimated conservatively that it is worth around $1.25trillion – double that of Apple.

It doesn’t really matter as much of this is paper money – and fortunes can change – although if I were a betting man, I might put my cash into oil rather than technologies.

It pains me to say but I wonder if the Apple crown might be slipping. The iPhone 4 is now showing it’s age and the secretive Apple bods aren’t announcing a date yet for the 5. It will need to be good, because there is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is a fantastic piece of kit. I have spoken to a number of people who think it currently out-shines the IPhone.

Then there’s the Galaxy Tab – head to head with the Ipad. Again, the Galaxy is quite comparable.

People still like Apple stuff because it works. But you are rather tied to what Steve Jobs is prepared to let you tweak. The Samsungs on the other hand are much more able to be personalised due to their operating system. I met an Architect in the week – he showed me some of his work on an iPad – I suggested that these devices had made this sort of presentation so much easier – he agreed, but pointed out that the photos had to be shown in the order Mr Jobs chose! His colleagues used a Galaxy Tab – they had no such issue.

Interesting times?

PS In case you were wondering – my iphone 5 is on order!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged , , Iphone 5, market capitalisation, , Saudi Aramco, tablet, Value

One True Saxon – a reprieve?

There was news today that JD Sports has agreed to sell the Canterbury rugby brand to sports and fashion retail group Pentland for £22.7m. And as part of the deal JD will acquire One True Saxon for £50,000. So might there be a reprieve for one of my favourite Nottingham shops which ‘closed’ in the summer?

I guess only time will tell…. Finger crossed. Although I’m not sure I fit the JD demographic – chavshell-suit and cap?