Happy Christmas!

You will have guessed that life has been a bit busy again! And the blog took a back seat.


So that you can feel really sorry for me – I’m still working today…

The blog is taking a bit of a scheduled rest – until early January.

Im 99% sure it will be back.

But I also may have a slightly new angle for it – which I have been thinking about for the last few months. I won’t spoil the surprise – but you can be sure it will be centred on Nottingham, will have a lot to do with property, be positive as much as I can be … and perhaps start to get us to think of a better way forward for the City. I have probably said too much…

Then again, it could be just back to the grumpy old man. Which I think I am perfectly suited to.

Finally, I wish all of my visitors a very Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year – and I’ll see you on the 6th January 2014.

A timely reminder …

Apparently it Christmas next week which means several things:

1. I need to start thinking about those gift ideas.
2. Christmas Day is a Quarter Day.

In respect of the latter – this is a big rent collection day – one of four in the year. And, as a managing agent, it is one of our busy periods. Although technically you will think that this is a Bank Holiday this doesn’t change the fact that rent is due. It’s not due the day after Boxing Day.

We would stick to that story as there is nothing else we can do – most of the commercial tents signed a contract which requires them to make the payment on the due date. That it is a festive day – full of hope and joy makes no difference.

It seems though that one of our local Housing Associations might have rubbed the news in to get them suitable PR – their ‘card-like’ reminder has been picked up by a number of the press folks.


Apparently on the back is the real message, On the back it reads, “Our offices are closed from midday on December 23 and reopen on January 2 but that doesn’t mean that rent payments should stop.”

It is a serious message – and they have a significant number of arrears in January each year.

I just wonder about the gift-wrapped message?

Happy Christmas.

Merry Christmas & a prosperous New Year!

It’s that time of year when I need to go and do a bit of shopping!


And my blog needs a bit of a break. It’s been a roller coaster year with the hit rate going through 200,000 and the average page views at around 375 each weekday. That ignores the email list – which adds another thousand or so…

I’ll be back in the New Year – with more blogs about what I think is going on in this neck of the woods. And I hope I’ll still be saying what you’re thinking. Or causing trouble generally. Apparently it’s what I do best.

I’m upbeat about 2013 – hope you are too.

In the meantime – I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. But do remember:

* 1,000 people are injured in Christmas Tree ‘incidents’ each year
* 350 people are hurt by Christmas Tree lights
* On average 59 people are treated for ‘acute intoxication’ on New Years Day (2007 was a record at 258 idiots)
* 25 people died from slipping on the ice or snow last Christmas.

It’s a dangerous time of year!!

Post script: this temporary holiday has nothing to do with the end of the world by the way. That’s happening at 11am UK time today, so this may well be the last ever blog. If we don’t get obliterated by Nibiru (a planet hiding behind the sun)- I’ll be back in January.

Tim Garratt

Christmas Gifts – part 3 – for blokes!

Guest blog by – Lesley Garratt…

The great question that has never been answered and which, I have not yet been able to answer, despite my 30 years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’” – Sigmund Freud.

Whilst, I’m sure that Freud was not referring directly to Christmas here, it seemed an apt quotation when Tim asked me to guest blog as to “What does a woman want for Christmas”. If Freud struggled to know, it’s a fairly safe bet that the average man also does not know. To be fair, us women are a fickle bunch, so I won’t even attempt to answer for the majority, but maybe I can give a few pointers to those men who are still pontificating with only a week to go!

Perhaps it’s easier to start with a short list of what we don’t want:

1. A Vacuum Cleaner– a friend of ours gave his girlfriend one, and she quite literally wasn’t to be seen for dust.
2. Socks – even if they are from Paul Smith
3. An Exercise DVD – the question will inevitably arise, “Do you think I’m too fat?” The potential answer is not always conducive to a harmonious start to Christmas Day.

not what we want...

Next, what do we want?

1. A voucher for a Spa Day or even better a Spa Weekend – something to look forward to after what is usually for women a hectic and demanding build-up to Christmas.
2. Fragrance – this can include body sprays, shower/bath gels or body lotions. Just make sure that you know her signature fragrance and purchase items in the same range- branded of course, not a ‘knock-off’.
3. Jewellery –always appreciated as its something that most women don’t buy for themselves. Christmas and birthdays are usually their only chance of receiving some, unless of course, their menfolk are like Richard Burton who gave Elizabeth Taylor a 33-carat diamond ring, ‘Just because it was a Tuesday.’ For a romantic touch, have it inscribed –just make sure it’s with the right name or the relationship might not last until Boxing Day!
4. A handbag – designer ones are particularly appreciated.
5. Lingerie – but only if it’s in the right size, so you will need to do a bit of rooting around in her ‘knicker drawer’. Also, festive red is often the choice for males but some women think it’s ‘tarty’ – you have been warned!
6. Gadgets – but only if the woman in your life is not a ‘technophobe’. I particularly like my IPad and Kindle.

Personally, I would be quite happy with Coldplay’s latest CD, and even happier with tickets for their forthcoming tour or maybe a Sarah Millican DVD. But I appreciate that these wishes aren’t for everyone.

As I said at the beginning of this blog, women are a fickle bunch, and I do not envy men having to choose us women a gift for this Christmas (or any Christmas) for that matter!

(Editors comment – perhaps a book on disappointment will be appropriate?)

Blokes Christmas Present List Part 2

It seems that I may have made some glaring omissions from yesterdays ‘ideas list’. I apologise, but my colleague and fellow blogger Simon Dare hit the nail on the head (as did Mr Baker) in observing that there were no Apple goodies. Mr Dare was probably right in that I probably have more Apple kit than most…

But, for the sake of you beige-box people out there who don’t mind staring at those little egg-timer things, there are some pretty brilliant bits of kit with little Apple logos. In no particular order ladies, your blokes might like…

1. An iPad2 – superb bit of kit that has allowed me to lose my notebook. Writing is so last Century!

2. A MacBook Air – 11.6″ screen is fantastic. And it doesn’t break your arm carrying it.

3. IMac 27 – for the desktop. Eyewatering display. Like a razor.

4. Iphone 4 – simply the best.

5. Apple TV – great for streaming images from your laptop or iPad onto your HD TV screen.

6. Ipods – you could go for a shuffle, nano, touch or classic.

7. Magic Mouse – unbelievably good and very clever with gestures (not rude ones)

Having looked down the list, I seem to have one of each of these, except that I don’t have the current line up of iPods. In any event Apple don’t have an iPod big enough to carry all of my music (322Gb at the last count)

I hope this helps…

And tomorrows blog is a very special edition – ideas for blokes. From Mrs G – and ‘just in time’ methinks!

What Men want for Christmas…

I have been asked by one of my regular blog readers – Liz Lewis – if I can offer a public service to all of the wives, girlfriends and the like in answering that age old question – what do you get a man for Christmas – especially if that man is one who already has everything (and a few more things).

Most men adopt a similar approach to Christmas – being in the camp where Christmas planning should only start when the Virgin Mary starts her contractions. I’m with the “water breaking” gang myself…

But, in order to be helpful, here goes.

In an ideal world we like cars. Fast cars. Cars with long names – like the Koenigsegg CCXR Edition. The challenge for you ladies is that there were six built – and one is shown above. It is a bit on the sharp side price-wise, £1.5m. We will wait if theres a bit of a queue. But we will really be appreciative.

We quite like socks too, but they really do need to be Paul Smith. Rather than 3 pairs of bundled white Nike. We have lots of those you see – even the greyed-out ones. And they’re not really ‘presents’. Anything with the name ‘Farah’ on is unlikely to be suitable.

If the humble T-Shirt appears on the list – brand is all. Fruit of the Loom is not good. Boss is very good. Better still is James Perse (from Los Angeles). We’d like that, we’ll even fetch it for you.

CD’s are ok, but we tend to shy away from Greatest Hits – especially from the 80′s. We veer toward loud stuff – or stuff which reminds us gently of a person or group we were not – think Phil Lynott / Thin Lizzy -Live and Dangerous! Loud and brash and dangerous. CD’s are ok, but vinyl is better. Like us, it’s making a comeback?

And since Vinyl is in the ascendancy – how about a turntable. But not a cheap USB one. We are talking analogue here – so it doesn’t have to be a computer driven thing. We need an amp too and great headphones. Like Grado.

Books are nice – architecture and photography make us look intelligent. Pictures speak a thousand words. You might like Mills & Boon, we don’t… Less is more. Hardback is everything. Pictures are the new black.

We are simple beings and like tools. Sharp stuff – Victorinox know what we mean. You never know when you might need a cross head screwdriver? Alternatively things you can use for hitting. Or seeing – torches – with squillions of candle-power. All these appeal to our basic need to make stuff. Or fix it (even sometimes its it not broken). Makes us feel wanted.

Games are good too – we like beating you at Cluedo (we have a system) or Monopoly (which I am qualified to be good at). Even cards are good. Murder Mysteries are quite good.

The AA are kept afloat by the latest UK (2014?) Map – which will be out in January. Maps make us feel superior as you haven’t got a clue what they do. We can speak authoritatively about these mysterious coloured books. Deciphering is the preserve of us menfolk – it’s a black art.

I was trying to get to 10 ideas… so how about a nice notebook / pen set. we like using proper ink – dark blue or black only. Moleskine Notebooks are great – the special edition ones take us back to happier times (I like my Star Wars one!)

So that’s it – I hope this helps?

PS Liz – I know Nick is keen on the first one….

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged , men, Presents, Virgin Mary, What to buy?

What I want for Christmas

This, if you know me, is a somewhat premature list. A week ago, I was asked what the City’s messages are going to be for us to take to MIPIM 2012. I’m not sure I am qualified to be deciding the City’s messages – but since they asked (and apparently it is getting close to Christmas – approx. one month I’m reliably informed) here’s a suggested list. I’m happy for you to add / subtract as you see fit!

1. The A453 to be ‘dualled’ from the M1 at Junction 24 to Clifton Bridge.

2. Work starting on The Broad Marsh Centre – and only finishing when the new owners at CSC have run out of cheques – £450m should cover it. Ridding us of the Patio Door entrance from the stain would be a really nice, early pressie.

3. Work not starting on the Victoria Centre – well not until c.2020

4. Some sort of World Class offer being introduced at Nottingham Castle. Ideally based around Robin Hood. But joined up thinking with The Trip, BroadMarsh, The People’s College site, Castle and Castle Gate all being a part of something big.

5. A ‘new’ Specsavers / Speedo / Experian or Capital One. Someone who can bring jobs to the young people of the City. We need jobs generally, but our young people need a step up too.

6. Work starting on the tramlines 2 & 3. After Xmas ideally.

7. An announcement that the HS2 Station will be close to the A52 / M1 junction (this rather assumes the HS2 line will proceed)…

8. An announcement that the Nottingham – St. Pancras line could be electrified in the short term.

9. Some money from central Government for investment in Education in the City – schools and colleges have slipped back.

10. A pair of Paul Smith stripey socks…

I hope this doesn’t sound greedy Santa? Could you sort?

It’s all about confidence

I picked my latest data up last week from the guys at PropertyData. It’s not a pretty picture. If you look at the first visual it shows a clear double dip. We looked as though we were coming out of recession in 2010 (judging by the number of deals done) but today we have slipped back. And that has been the story for the last couple of months.

It’s also what we are seeing as a business. There are deals around, but they are reduced in number and are at ‘realistic prices’. There are some opportunistic buyers back – those who have cash are currently King.

The news is a pretty sordid affair when it comes to the economy. There are few, if any, good news stories. That applies to the Europe and the rest of the World too. You could easily become depressed!

So where are we going?

I wish I knew. It is a difficult call. We should be doing better – interest rates are at an all-time low and values could be described as realistic. But we’re not. People are saving, not spending – and Christmas is round the corner – this will be the 4th year when we read about the slow in spending?

My view is that this is all about confidence. Or lack of confidence. My savings are in ‘safe places’ – not under the bed! But I can’t read the market and I fear it could get worse before it gets better. So if we are not yet at the bottom, things could get worse.

I wish I didn’t feel like this…

Can someone give us some good news, please?

This is England 88

Shane Meadows is making a Christmas special which will show over three consecutive nights on Channel4. I blogged about the film before – here.

I have seen a bit of it. Well, a tiny bit.

I was at Antenna on Friday night – having a look around Nottingham’s best kept secret. Home to the Nottingham creative industry. And the sound-track is being finished at Antenna – in their high tech Dolby studio.

I had never quite anticipated the complexity of how sound tracks are edited. In essence every sound you hear (ticking clock, music, fork hitting plate) is split out into a track and ‘cleaned up. There were 132 tracks to the 10 second segment I saw. This allows over-dubbing in different languages. Even the music (Driving Home for ChristmasChris Rea) was played through a filter to make it sound like a radio.

I was very impressed. And like most things, you have no idea what goes on behind the scenes of a film. You do start to realise whey everything is so expensive. The man hours required to de-contruct and then re-construct just the soundtrack is amazing.

So I am looking forward to seeing the mini-series – having seen a (tiny) sneak preview. And I will, from this point on, appreciate what has gone on behind the scenes to make a film.

If you get the chance to go to Antenna – do go. It really is a jewel in Nottingham’s crown. It is a hot bed of Nottingham talent.

Sneaky Apple – for once I’m not impressed

I am normally a fan of Apple and it’s products – I have done quite a bit for their bottom line over the last few years; I have quite a collection of Apple gear.

I have also had an Apple Mac account for many years – I use it as my private email address. My wife has her email account as an add-on service to mine – the cost of which was £7.50 a year. She doesn’t need all of the extra features (idisk, ical synchronisation etc.) so the email account is ideal. I pay £59 for the privilege of mine – but I do use all of the features.

On Christmas Day I got a message saying that there was an issue with my mac account – and it transpired that it had not automatically renewed on Christmas Eve as it was supposed to have done. They had my credit card details and these were correct. My wife’s account then abruptly stopped too.

I was impressed to be able to have an live chat (via keyboard) with Apple. In the early parts of the conversation it was clearly a very clever robotic programme, but later on, I think I was dealing with a human being.

In essence I was told that they had issues with the renewal process and that the best route of action was to close my account which I could then re-open without losing anything – just by manually entering my details. I did this and it worked – but not for my wife’s account.

I was still on line when the Apple person (Charlie) reassured me – an extract from our chat is set out below…

Guess what – when I tried to sort this all out on Boxing Day – I couldn’t – they put a very small announcement on their web site saying they were no longer offering the email only account – I needed to buy a family pack. As my wife uses her email account quite a lot it was Hobson’s Choice. So I spent £30 – buying additional 3 more email accounts and features I don’t need.

I am less than impressed. This sort of behaviour does nothing to enhance a Company’s reputation – even if their products are (generally) superior to the opposition. I guess it impacts on so few people that Apple simply don’t care.