Nottingham – hot property!

Last week saw Nottingham feature in an article in the Financial Times – with a headline “Nottingham drives revival in the east Midlands”.


RBS have done some research announcing that their growth tracker has shown the east Midlands as having grown by 1% in the first quarter – as against 0.8% in the UK as a whole. But more importantly they have also suggested that we are the only English region apart from London to have an economy bigger that that pre-recession. Manufacturing is a critical part of that growth.

But the article also focussed on ‘Science’ – which has a massive home here. Obviously we have Alliance Boots – but we also have Bio-City. There is a very significant scientific community. The MRI scanner was invented by Sir Peter Mansfield (he and I learned to fly at the same time!) and Ibuprofen was invented by Dr Stewart Adams at Boots. We are even making replacement blood – through Andaris at Ruddington.

The article harked back to a time when Nottingham was known for Raleigh Bikes and Players Cigarettes. By the end of next year the Imperial Tobacco factory will close…

Nottingham is capable of re-invensting itself. The Science is obvious, but I have touched before on the creative sectors. They too are growing and will allow us to differentiate ourselves.

We have a lot going for us – we just need to capture the talent, nurture it and retain it.

Treat all guests as Angels – you never know….

At the weekend I spent a bit of time with my youngest son – looking at potential cars. His current wheels are pretty good but he’s ready for a change.


It’s frustrating for him – especially in the main dealerships. So here’s a bit of a summary…

BMW Nottingham – he went in last December and they promised to call him. He complained a month ago and they promised to call him. They haven’t done so. He left another message. I don’t hold out much hope.

Audi Nottingham – were a bit short staffed but they did talk to us and were helpful – although couldn’t source a car for him (not their fault!)

Mercedes Nottingham main dealership – clearly did not consider him worthy of much time. The salesman could not have been more disinterested. Clearly didn’t think Jak could afford the car – explaining rather patronisingly how expensive it was. It seemed a lot of trouble to get some details of a second hand car…

It was all becoming a little depressing – until we got to Toyota Nottingham. Despite the fact that the dealership was about to close (in 15 minutes0 they offered us a drink and the salesman worked some figures out, showed us a range of cars and sorted out a test drive for this week. The difference in attitude was palpable.

I forgot to mention – the Toyota he is looking at is similarly priced to the BMW, Audi and Mercedes…

Of course Inchcape own both Mercedes and Toyota and Sytner controls BMW and Audi.

Some businesses really don’t deserve customers…

Hotels.Com – beware!

Last week I stayed in London. I had a long two days of meetings. It was a set of fairly late arrangements – I couldn’t book my usual hotel. I was also in the West End – away from the centre.


I searched via Google and found 196 Bishopsgate – ideally placed and reasonably (for London!) priced. The booking was done through I had a confirmation email – with a long number.

I turned up at the Hotel after a long day of meetings to be be met by the poker faced receptionist who say ‘non’. They didn’t have the booking. I showed him the reference but alas he was not on my side. Worse still they were fully booked with people who didn’t share my name.

It was Hotels.Com fault apparently. I called Hotels.Com from the reception – 14p per minute. Despite their best efforts it was all lost – there was no room at the Inn. In fairness I was tired and marginally irritable at this point. The girl offered to call me back to make alternative arrangements. After 49 minutes I gave up. I do realise in this interweb age that the call centre is unlikely to be near where I live – but the girl was struggling with the concept of where I was and where I wanted to sleep. Heathrow may have been her idea of where London is in the world – but it isn’t exactly convenient for the West End. I had no idea where West-meinster was – presumably close to large Benjamin?

It took me 4 minutes to book on my phone what it had taken Hotels.Com 49 minutes to fail to do. I had to pay though – the choice was limited!

You may be surprised to know that I have complained – that was a week ago. No reply just yet… I’m not holding my breath.

So beware – just because you have confirmed booking doesn’t mean you have a confirmed booking at Hotels.Com.

UPDATE.. No I haven’t yet had a reply, but they did invite me to rate their booking ystem, which I did (‘poor’ but nothing rude!). Then I got this email … It seems that they don’t like the truth.


England – it’s not over…

I struggle with English football. I think there is too much money in it – look at Derby last month. Bobby Zamora cost them around £80m with a single kick in the dying seconds of the game.


Last night it was painful (as always) watching England. But Adrian Chiles (and no doubt Gary Lineker too) will find the mathematical route through. We have to beat Costa Rica and other teams have to win and lose by specific amounts. And then we’ll be fine. We’ll be through. We can then suffer more as we face another better team.

The pundits have analysed and watched, oohed and aahed. “We were unlucky”. “We had so many chances”. “We are a young team”.”We had the better possession”. “More shots on goal”.

Last week it there was a consensus – we were really weak on the left hand side and Rooney was playing in the wrong position. Had it not occurred to the management that it would have been good to have sorted that stuff out before we got to Brazil?

At the end of the day it really is simple. You have to score goals. More than your opponents. If you don’t, you lose – it matters not if the game is beautiful. The missed chances are forgotten. Goals is what it is about. The rest is not relevant.

I personally am praying that the whole of the Italian team are all tested positive for drugs, Uruguay have to go home because they don’t have the right Visas and we beat Costa Rica 36-0. We can then progress and then go home after the next game…

I think I may plan to wash my hair next Tuesday teatime. And buy an England shirt now they are reduced today.

North of Watford…

I was at the Derby Property Summit yesterday – an impressive showcase for Derby held at the home of (Championship) football – Pride Park. The great and the good were gathered and there was no mention of Bobby Zamora – or his being given freedom of the City (Nottingham). I digress.


We have heard the story before that the Soth-East is over-heating and the regions have it all to play for. I’m not convinced that it’s quite as simple as that; London and the South East have a different dynamic – associated with a Capital city sat firmly on the world stage. The market doesn’t operate in quite the same way as the regions – the inward foreign investment makes sure of that.

One of the questions addressed by the panel was whether the private rented sector was coming of age outside the M25. This translates into – “will the major Institutions invest in our regional cities?”. It’s a fair question. The answer is complex.

5 years ago there was little or no institutional investment in residential property to speak of – let alone that investment being outside the M25. But times have changed and there is Institutional investment now – the money chases money and return. Residential property has come of age and now can provide a reasonable return. It does need quantity to spread risk. It was suggested that you need 800-1200 units to spread risk and make the investment worthwhile.

But the really interesting comment was that the regional cities need to get visibility with the Institutions – they need to sell themselves. And herein lies the rub – this is not easy. It is quite difficult to get the men in suits out of their London offices. It was a bit harsh to suggest that the fund managers are lazy. They’re not – they’re busy and a trip up here takes a day…

It does show how important it is for our cities to go to London. Both Nottingham and Derby do this – and they need to keep on doing it!

Sad news – Rik Mayall

I was saddened yesterday to hear that Rik Mayall had died – aged just 56. At the time I write this there are no details of his death.

Most of the commentators were celebrating his life and remembering performances in The Young Ones and Bottom. He co-wrote The Young Ones with Lise Mayer and Ben Elton and like the other cult show, Fawlty Towers, there were just 12 episodes.

But my memory of him was as Kevin Turvey, the Brummy investigative journalist on Kick up the Eighties. His blue anorak and a penchant for Theresa Kelly were brilliant. Each week he delivered a rant at camera, dressed up as his investigative journalism.

Mayall was anarchic and brilliant. I used to wait eagerly for the next episode!

Some people suggest my life is modelled on Clarkson, I’d like to think that it was more likely Kevin Turvey…

He’ll be missed.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged A kick up the eighties, Kevin Turvey, Rik Mayall, RIP

The Muppet Show….

This is superb. WARNING – it contains adult language.

Having been the victim of the Tram works for the last 12 months at NG2 I can fully understand where they are coming from!

Handy Commuting skills…

I have been to the office on my bike a few times. And at the moment avoiding all of the building work would take some serious cycling skills. In fact my colleague and fellow Director, Matt Hannah, managed to fall out with a tram track two weeks ago. His bike is broken – his knee worse.

This film is dedicated to him – and others who are trying to be green in Nottingham at the moment.

It’s a film featuring Danny MacAskill who is exploring the forgotten town of Epecuén in Argentina, a location that has been submerged for the majority of the past 25 years…

And I thought doing a wheelie was hard! This is amazing…

NTU – more talent on show

You may be having a sense of deja-vu if you drop by here often. I have blogged a couple of times lately when I have been at Nottingham Trent University.


Last night it was the Annual Friends of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment dinner in the amazing Newton Building. I am a friend of the University apparently. I’m certainly an Alumni – although that seems like a very long time ago!

The dinner was great fun – meeting lots of new people. There was even some ‘KT’ (knowledge transfer!) going on. One of the lecturers was really keen to understand how we are appraising properties in a rising market.

Part of the evening gives the guests a chance to look around the end of the year student shows. And this is where you get to admire the work done by final year students. It’s corny – but there are some very talented people. I love looking at the architectural drawings and designs – even if some are fanciful. Perhaps some of the ‘fashion’ is not really what I’d wear in the office (we have only just started to lose the ties!).

But the part I really enjoyed this year was the furniture design. There are some really beautiful pieces. In some cases it is art rather than furniture.

My favourite piece was done by Charlie Adams and is shown in the picture. It is a simple desk – the workmanship was ‘Audi’ standard and the lines and proportions just perfect. It was designed for the House range of John Lewis. I thought it was the star of the show!

A technology update…

There’s a couple of updates today on my digital life!

Taken on SamsungS5 - impressive detail - look at the East Midlands Airport control tower on the horizon!

Taken on SamsungS5 – impressive detail – look at the East Midlands Airport control tower on the horizon!

I’ve had a Samsung S5 for the last month – and as promised a brief update… I’m not a huge fan.

Without doubt the camera is better and unquestionably the battery is heaps better than the iPhone. I get home and still have a third power reining having not charged the phone at all in the day. My iPhone would be charged in the car and at my desk! And would still struggle to live through the evening.

But there the good stops. The screen is bigger! But I’m not sure it is much better than the iPhone (although some of the animations are quite cool!). The biggest problem I have is with the operating system. It is a bit notch pitch. It doesn’t fit neatly together. My iPhone synchronised easily with all of my mac gear. The Samsung doesn’t. I miss the iPhoto stream the most!

The joy of Apple is that you don’t have to think. It just does. The Samsung does – but you have to tell it…

I really do hope that the Iphone6 is launched in September – normal service will resume! So long as they sort the battery!

My other attempt at the start of the year was to go as paperless as I could. I was using ‘Day One’ as a notebook. I like it – but it isn’t terribly convenient and I can’t scribble or sketch. I didn’t realises just how much I do! So I’m back to my trusty Leuchtturm1907 notebook. However, I have one with ‘whitelines‘ technology. So I can scribble, sketch and doodle – take a picture on the phone and the ‘image’ appears in dropbox or on Evernote.

It looks like I might have to write a bit neater!!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged iphone6, Leuchtturm1907, peperless office, Samsungs5, Technology, whitelines link