Ask the right questions …

15 April 2024

They say you can always tell a retired copper because he’s always asking stupid questions. Well, I could have done with some of that wisdom last week when dealing with Mrs S’ new phone when it finally arrived. Delighted as I was when it came, it’s one thing to marvel at the new device and […]

Phone, Fiascos & Feathered Alternatives …

8 April 2024

Right. That’s it, I declared with as much gravelly voiced authority that only Morgan Freeman possesses. You really must get a new phone. Mrs S. had just tried to take a photo with her fully charged but ancient Google Pixel 2 only for it to conk out. If it’d been a Tesla, it would have […]

Wedding Stationery

2 April 2024

Psst! Here’s something a little different for you this week because I want to talk about Wedding Stationery. While wedding stationery might not be on your immediate radar, it might be for someone close to you. From Save-the-Dates to Thank-You Cards, our wide array of stationery sets the stage for unforgettable celebrations. Even if you’re […]

Murdered sprouts …

25 March 2024

With the excitement of Easter almost upon us, you might think it a tad odd to hark back to Christmas. Yes, it is but a distant memory and with the Spring Equinox now behind us, Christmas is but a distant spec in the rearview mirror. And yet … It does have a very salient lesson […]

Satan’s cesspit …

18 March 2024

Mowing our lawn is usually well underway by now but we all know what the weather’s been like this winter. The last time we had this much rain Noah was pulling up the gangplank and setting sail, so it’s unsurprising things are a tad late. Luckily, we’ve had a few dry days recently so, with […]

Are you selling what they’re buying …?

11 March 2024

Daniel Priestly may not be a household name but at 43 years old he’s done pretty well for himself. Born in Australia he’d built a multi-million-dollar enterprise by the age of 25 and has gone on to grow businesses in the UK, USA, Singapore, and Australia. Right now, he’s getting a lot of airtime as […]

Our closest support workers …

4 March 2024

Many pet owners will recognise the scene. You’re sitting in the waiting room at the vet waiting for one of your closest support workers (aka the dog) to be seen. Anxiety is rising. You, because you’re cursing forgoing the pet insurance when it was on offer and are now wondering how many noughts there might […]

It’s cool to be square …

26 February 2024

Our local Tesco store is advertising watermelons at £3 a pop. However, shoppers in Vancouver seem to be happy to hand over an eye-watering $200 for the same product. So, what is going on? It turns out these cubed brutes are picked well before they’re ripe making them almost inedible so they’re probably being purchased […]

The “unhelpful” help desk …

19 February 2024

Some say paper is “old tech”. Only a step up from tablets of stone as a means of getting your message across. Surely, they say, only fossilised old relics use paper these days – don’t they? I would disagree. And as you could probably guess, I could wax lyrical about paper. How long have you […]

Hat’s off to Winston …

12 February 2024

Established in 1676, in London, Locke & Co. is the oldest hat shop in the world. And they’ve been making hats for their discerning customers ever since. Indeed, the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s Adventures of Alice in Wonderland was based on James Benning, the firm’s shop manager at the time. Their list of clientele […]

Jars of Sheer Luxury …

5 February 2024

No sooner, it seems, are the Christmas leftovers swept from the table than our minds turn once again to food. For this time of year is marmalade time. When it’s time to preserve those beautifully gnarled and bitter little brutes from Seville into the most delicious accompaniment to the breakfast table. The Spanish who grow […]

Mundane marvels …

29 January 2024

Food markets are some of my favourite places. Full of wonderful smells and delicious treats that assail the senses. Costermongers of old knew all the tricks of their trade as they piled their most colourful wares to catch the eye of passing trade. Some of the cannier ones would spray fresh fruit with a fine […]

Range anxiety ….

22 January 2024

It’s amusing how the meaning of words changes over time. Years ago, range anxiety meant worrying about the next loo stop on a long car journey. Today, it’s all about EVs and planning a long car journey to ensure there are enough charging stations along the way. But last week, I experienced this in a […]

One baby elephant and two Tyson Furys …

15 January 2024

“Baby calf reunited with mother” ran the headlines as the moving story described recently how an elephant calf was reunited with the herd. He’d become separated from his family group in a wildlife reserve in India at the end of December and was found by wardens in some distress looking for his mother. By the […]

The feasting may be over …

8 January 2024

The agony of agonies. The forensic search for the last mince pie has ended in failure. But with a little luck, there will be enough cold turkey to last until Easter. All the guests who drank your wine like they were putting out a forest fire have mercifully long since returned to raid their own […]

A world without colour …

11 December 2023

If you’ve been living under the same rock as me you’ve probably never heard of Despicable Me either. But it turns out nearly everyone else has which is why it’s become the highest-grossing animated film franchise of all time. You don’t get to pass Go on the Monopoly board and collect over $4.4 billion if […]

Emergency Stop …

4 December 2023

Pulp Fiction screamed the inevitable headlines as news emerged last week of the pulping of thousands of copies of Omid Scobie’s latest book End Game. It’s the most recent of his books on the Royal Family and the Dutch edition is already on its way to the shredders. But it was only once the books […]

Blink and you’re toast …

27 November 2023

With a top speed of 645 miles per hour pilots of the RAF’s T1 Hawk jets are expected to have lightning-fast reflexes. We know them as the Red Arrows, our elite band of pilots who undergo hundreds of hours of training to hone their skills. At that speed things happen before you’ve had time to […]

Shakespeare’s First Folio: The Surprising Survival Story

20 November 2023

          400 years ago, Shakespeare’s plays were collected together in a book.           It remains the greatest literary work ever created.           Little is known about the man who wrote it.           But there are clues … So begins […]

Einstein’s Failed Intelligence Test …

13 November 2023

Albert Einstein, a man whose name defined genius was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. Perhaps one of the greatest of all time. So, could it be possible that he’d once failed an intelligence test? The test, 146 questions devised by that other great genius of the time, Thomas Edison after he […]

Planes, Trains and Water Taxis …

6 November 2023

It’s fair to say that my most significant lightbulb moments rarely if ever occur when I’m sitting behind my desk. And so it proved during 36 hours away from the battlefront. Lightbulb moment No. 1. We were at a memorial service recently which was held in the Long Room at Lord’s Cricket Ground in North […]

I think you’re so cute …

30 October 2023

Tired of the “heart-crushing sterility of dating apps” freelance writer Sophie Cockerham decided a new approach was needed. Picking up on something she’d seen trending on “X” she decided to give it a go. And giving it a go involved nothing more remarkable than having some business cards printed. But it was the message printed […]

The Skye’s the Limit

23 October 2023

Dinner and Bed & Breakfast for two at The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye will likely cost the thick end of £500 per night. And it is just one of three world-renowned restaurants on an island of scarcely more than 13,000 residents. Granted, it is situated in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful […]

Ever wondered why your fridge seems like a barren wasteland …?

16 October 2023

If I opened the fridge door, all I’d probably see was an old lump of cheese with a fur coat that would have made Liberace proud. Mrs S, on the other hand, could open that same fridge door and produce a calorie-busting feast that would feed an army. Heaped platters of tasty treats would be […]

A Camel or a Thoroughbred: Which Are You Riding?

9 October 2023

They say that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. And never has a phrase been more appropriate. With all good intentions, people wade in to add their two pennyworth. Every suggestion is well-intentioned and worthy of consideration in its own right. Until it’s too late. Your dashing charger that once would have […]

Bread Wars: France vs. Italy – Who Takes the Crust?

2 October 2023

There’s no doubt that the French make wonderful bread. But in Italy, breadmaking is elevated to an art form and never fails to delight any hungry gastronaut. The amazing thing is that bakers the world over use the same four basic ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. Yet they turn out wonderful loaves that look […]

The Pope, The Painting, and Epic Procrastination

25 September 2023

If you were asked to define the word Genius, the name of Leonardo da Vinci would top many a list. Born in 1452 to Caterina, a destitute orphan, he grew up to be one of the world’s greatest inventors. With many ideas centuries ahead of their time. Whilst most famous for his paintings such as the […]

The tale of a 600-year-old sick note …

18 September 2023

Geoffrey Chaucer has been called the father of English literature. Poet, author and civil servant, he is best known for Canterbury Tales – one of the first great works of literature to be written in English. Disguised underneath a veneer of lewd and vulgar prose Chaucer aims a razor-sharp quill at those who abused their […]

Zooming Back to Reality …

11 September 2023

Zoom has changed our lives. Yet like any advanced tech, it has its infuriating moments. But during the pandemic, the video communications platform was a Godsend. But it isn’t real. Stories abound of people wearing shirts on top and tutus and fluffy slippers out of sight below desk height. Some couldn’t even be arsed to […]

Flying on the Edge …

4 September 2023

The Red Arrows are our Royal Air Force’s elite aerobatic display team. Flying in Hawk T1 aircraft, nine elite fast-jet pilots make up the team in the air. Their call signs range from Red 1 through to Red 9. Two of the most accomplished pilots in the group are Reds 6 and 7 who form the […]

Checkmate …

29 August 2023

Have you ever wondered why chess players looked so vexed? The two protagonists facing each other across the chequered board. Poised in a mind battle of epic proportions. If you have, there’s probably a very good reason. Because they say that there are more possible variations in the game than there are atoms in the […]

The parable of the seed sower …

21 August 2023

It could have all been so different for Dame Andrea Jenkyns. Now a well-established Member of Parliament she was not always destined to become part of our legislature. In her teens, Andrea was a fine soprano, a talent discovered whilst singing songs written by her childhood hero, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Night after night her father, […]

The Spy Who Loved Me …

14 August 2023

The email landing in my inbox read a bit like a Ben Macintyre spy novel. Clouded in mystery and intrigue, it explained that a man had collapsed in the street in Holywell and whilst attempting to establish his identity one of OUR business cards had been found “about his person.” KGB Double Agent Oleg Antonovich […]

It’s how it makes us feel …

7 August 2023

“We love sport because of how it makes us feel.” So ran the headline on the BBC’s cricket page after England had just won the 5th Men’s Ashes Test at the Oval. Whilst there were 22 men involved in that game, the article’s focus was on just one of them. Stuart Broad. Dreams don’t come […]

Orf with the offender’s head …

31 July 2023

On Saturday the 6th of May, King Charles was crowned at Westminster Abbey. The service began at 11am that morning and he was officially crowned at mid-day in a ceremony watched by millions across the globe. The problem was that no one thought it prudent to inform the marketing department at Highgrove House, King Charles’ […]

Kitchen Wars: Redcurrant Jelly Edition

24 July 2023

Two people working in a kitchen can be a recipe for disaster. But there was little I could do to avoid invading Mrs S’ space last weekend because it was Redcurrant Jelly time. Every May our three mature bushes are netted to protect them from the birds and in July the wonderfully bright little scarlet […]

The Bee’s Knees …

17 July 2023

Insomnia is said to affect one in three people in the UK. So, there’s a possibility that you may have listened in on Radio 4’s Farming Today last week. It’s an early morning programme with all sorts of interesting stories about where our food comes from and the people who work so hard to put […]

Please don’t reach for the painkillers …

10 July 2023

When they’re fishing for business, website wonks love sending out colourful reports about how good or bad your website is performing. Page after page of impenetrable jargon that even Elon Musk wouldn’t understand. Such a report is sure to have you reaching for the painkillers before you even get to the end of page one. […]

The party bore …

3 July 2023

No one likes a party bore. There you are, trapped in a corner having to listen to endless droning. On and on they drone. And it’s always about THEM. They’ve done this, they’ve done that, they’ve done everything, but YOU are well and truly trapped. This must be a learned art because a part bore […]

Butch & Sundance

24 June 2023

The 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is something of an epic. The cast, cinematography, script, and soundtrack all come together to make one of THE great American Western classics. One of the most memorable moments occurs early in the film when Sundance is playing cards and winning big. So big that his […]

Timing is everything …

19 June 2023

Everyone seems to be fretting about AI taking over and replacing people. But there aren’t many virtual workers that I know of who’d be brave enough to scale a tall ladder and fix a wobbly chimney pot. I’ve never been to building school so I’ve no idea what their coursework looks like. But it doesn’t […]

I blame it on Doctor Who …

10 June 2023

A gathering of ex-CID officers of the Metropolitan Police met for their annual lunch recently. As is usual at such reunions, stories were swapped, and gossip exchanged as the ex-coppers fondly recalled tales of the hardened villains now doing time. There’s nothing like nostalgia they say. So it was something of a surprise to see […]

From Cherry Blossoms to Google Analytics …

20 May 2023

Every May the flowering cherry in our garden is bedecked with flowers. It’s a superb specimen and treats us to a magical display every year. Without fail. Whether it flowers early or late is very much dependent on the weather. And despite the late Spring this year, it hasn’t let us down. In fact, this […]

From complete dud to a dashing knight of the skies …

15 May 2023

At 9:28pm tomorrow evening it is 80 years since 19 aircraft from 617 Squadron rolled down the runway at Scampton RAF base in Lincolnshire. They were the Dambusters. Their targets were the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams in the industrial heartlands of the Ruhr Valley. The aircraft they flew were Roy Chadwick’s superlative Avro Lancaster. […]

Toasting the King with a wee dram …

9 May 2023

Those partial to a wee dram will know that whisky is aptly named. The name derives from the Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’, or ‘usquebaugh’, meaning ‘water of life’. Scan the shelves of any off licence and you’ll see dozens of different types. Make a trip up to Scotland and hundreds of different types, sizes, and flavours […]

Bannau Brycheiniog

1 May 2023

On Monday 17th April, the Brecon Beacons Nation Park was renamed … henceforth to be known as Bannau Brycheiniog National Park. Why? The park’s managers said the present name – referencing wood-burning, carbon-emitting beacons – no longer fitted the park’s eco ethos, hence the rebrand. And then the world erupted. You knew things were turning into a […]

Was it Fred Flintstone …?

24 April 2023

Easter may have come and gone but it was a great opportunity to get away from the slings and arrows and get out and smell the roses. Every year we plan a short trek and this year’s amazing weather was the perfect opportunity to get out and about. Our destination? A 5/6 mile walk along […]

They call it the Yellow Peril …

16 April 2023

Yellow Peril is what hay fever sufferers call it and the UK’s crop of Oilseed Rape is almost in full flower. And it could be a bumper crop for farmers and … our honeybees. A wet March has left soil moisture levels high which is good because damp soil and warm weather mean lots of […]

A table for two, Madam?

10 April 2023

The city of San Sebastian lies on the shores of the Bay of Biscay. It’s famous as a foodie destination and the northern Spanish city boasts the second most Michelin stars per capita in the world. But to sample the gastronomic delights of its most famous eatery, hungry travellers must take a 16-minute car journey […]

What’s a therapist got to do with it?

3 April 2023

“Sex Therapists slug it out in £2m court battle”, screamed the headlines in last week’s papers. It’s a sensationalist headline and heaven knows what they were saying behind the doors of London’s High Court. If it was anything like the goings-on in the Gwyneth Paltrow (of Goop fame) trial, I’m sure it would be well […]

Meatballs, Daim, and missing screws …

27 March 2023

How many of us have spent the best part of a weekend assembling a piece of Ikea flat-pack furniture? You’ve sweated, sworn, and spent hours trying to put together something childishly simple but the hope is you can stand back and admire your remarkable woodworking skills … At times you might have thought it would […]

Never change a winning formula …

20 March 2023

For some mysterious reason, the tummy-gurgling glee of mid-week suppers outweighs weekend feasts by a country mile. Maybe it’s got something to do with only eating two dried dog biscuits between breakfast and supper. But I doubt it. Because rain or shine, my much better half never fails to put a delectable dish on the […]

How easy are you to find online?

13 March 2023

The email landed in my inbox in the early hours of Friday morning. “Could we print some Matt Laminated Business Cards – super urgently?” Nothing unusual in that apart from the fact that the message had been sent from a company in Sydney, Australia and the cards were needed for their UK Head of Sales. […]


6 March 2023

For those that enjoy a little light bedtime reading, the Principia Mathematica probably doesn’t top the list. Written in 1910 by Alfred Whitehead and Bertrand Russell the weighty tome runs to more than 700 pages and demonstrates the close relationship between mathematics and formal logic. What is particularly interesting is that a significant chunk of […]

How late is late …?

27 February 2023

Winter 1916 was particularly wet and grim. February of that year saw the start of the Battle of Verdun – the longest and one of the costliest battles of World War 1. So, who knows what the thoughts were of Christabel Mennell as she braved the elements on Saturday the 6th of February 1916 to […]

Lunch on a soggy park bench?

20 February 2023

Fancy eating lunch on a soggy park bench under dark leaden skies in late winter? No, me neither. But for those lucky enough to be getting away for a spot of skiing, eating al fresco can be pure bliss. The scenery is breathtaking and the air impossibly clear with just a hint of the scent […]

You have got a backup, haven’t you?

13 February 2023

Last Sunday I promised my dearly beloved that I’d fix the lock on our front door. The door’s hinges have worn over the years which means that the latch didn’t fit into the receiver properly. A dead simple fix. Or so I thought. All I had to do was remove the receiver, nip over to […]

How many colours can there be …?

6 February 2023

We all know that oranges are, well, orange. But novice designers often come unstuck when they want something a little out of the ordinary. The colour of your logo, for example. The English language has 11 basic colour words which can be split up into primary and secondary colours. But then it starts to get […]

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

30 January 2023

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society tells the story of the wartime book club and its island members. In 1946, London-based writer Juliet Ashton, played by Lilly James, was invited to the island to meet the club whose wartime experiences capture Ashton’s imagination. But for some, their wartime experiences were still too raw, […]

Wine on tap …

23 January 2023

Up and down the country, in factories and offices across the land Britain’s entrepreneurs work tirelessly on product improvement. Making their product or service just that little bit better than the competition. Maybe it’ll be faster. It could be cheaper. Possibly bigger or smaller or even … an evolutionary step-change in design. Whatever it is, […]

Ready for 2023?

12 December 2022

Former US Secretary of State, James Baker defined the 5 Ps. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance A dictum I should have taken on board long ago and which is why my planning for 2023 is shaping up well. Three things have been chewing my backside off for far too long which is why they took […]

What business are you REALLY in …?

5 December 2022

Ask someone what business they are in and they might say something like: I’m a Vet or I’m an IT specialist. This may be true in the literal sense but from the customer’s point of view people don’t wake up one morning thinking it might be fun to go to the vet today. They need […]

Psychological Warfare in 335 BC …

28 November 2022

In 15 years of brutal but dazzling conquest, Alexander the Great never lost a battle. A close-run encounter with the Illyrians demonstrated his brilliance – even when caught off guard as he faced them outside the city of Pelion. Arriving at nightfall, tired after one of his trademark lightning-fast forced marches, Alexander made a hasty […]

Breath-taking aerobatics …

21 November 2022

Now that the clocks have changed many of us have to make our way home in winter’s inky blackness. But before they wound their way back, there was just enough light for me to walk home across the fields and marvel at watching nature bedding down for winter. One of my very last cross-country walks […]

A 500-year lesson in design …

14 November 2022

Il Paradiso is one of the largest paintings on canvas in the world. Painted by the Venetian master Tintoretto it dominates the main hall of the Doge’s Palace in Venice where it has hung since its completion in 1594. Its theme is the Final Judgement and depicts over 500 figures across its enormous 22.6 metre […]

Lest we forget …

7 November 2022

The driver of the Gräf & Stift Double Phaeton turned onto Franz Josef Street and quickly realised his mistake. Reversing into a side street to perform a rapid U-turn, the 4-cylinder 32 horse-power engine stalled. Across the street, the episode was watched by an incredulous Gavrilo Princip, one of seven Bosnian-Serb assassins belonging to an […]

A 225-foot tonk on the head …

31 October 2022

In the heart of London lies our most famous church: Westminster Abbey. Burial place of over 3,000 souls and where every coronation, bar two, have taken place since 1066. Spared during the dissolution of the monasteries when he granted the abbey cathedral status, Henry VIII ensured that it was saved from the destruction inflicted on […]

A Mood Board to A Million Pairs of Shoes …

24 October 2022

On a large wall in his light-filled Paris studio is a mood board filled with pictures and ideas that inspire the world’s most famous shoemaker. Expelled from school at the age of 16, Cristian Louboutin began his career in shoes just two years later. Branching out on his own, he opened his first store in […]

One-year-old dog biscuits …

17 October 2022

For those interested in sleep-inducing reading the Office of National Statistics is a great place to start. Some of their undoubtedly valuable insights are as dry and unappetising as a year-old dog biscuit and barely more digestible. But dig around in their data and there are some extremely valuable insights. You don’t need to be […]

The colosseum of nature …

10 October 2022

High up in the French Pyrenees sit Le Cirque de Gavarnie. One of nature’s most breathtaking creations. A 5,000 feet high wall of rock reaches the sky to form the most spectacular natural amphitheatre. It is a beguiling but treacherous landscape and a natural wonder of the world which has inspired many writers, including Victor […]

What if …?

3 October 2022

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “What if …?” Who hasn’t, would probably be the answer. But instead of just rolling the question around in our minds until it drives us nuts (one of my most common failings, by the way), some surprising things happen when we actually do something about it. In fact, […]

The conker shoot-out of the century …

26 September 2022

If the BBC has a conker expert on speed dial, I’m sure they would be heard on the airwaves declaring a vintage year. In the same way as the head winemaker of one of our ancient port houses might be found wreathed in the smoke from a fine Havana whilst celebrating a momentous grape harvest […]

Crushed by the competition …

20 September 2022

Watching someone like Ben Ainslie at work at the helm of a fast yacht might not provide much inspiration for business. But there IS a big lesson in there. But before we start – who is he? Firstly, he’s the most successful sailor in Olympic history. Secondly, alongside Sir Alex Ferguson he’s one of my […]

We plough the fields and scatter …

5 September 2022

Doing his best impression of Young Kaleb from Clarkson’s Farm, my young nephew, Tom, was driving the tractor. On a warm late summer’s evening, our kitchen door was open and as we ate our supper, we could see Tom ploughing the last of the winter barley stubble into the ground. The immense 200 horsepower of […]

Bill & Ben the Flowerpot Men …

30 August 2022

Walking across our drive the other day, I spotted a weed. There’s nothing unusual in that but in the Atacama Desert-like conditions we’re experiencing right now, it’s a wonder that anything is growing. Ok, so our drive isn’t the driest place on earth and unlike the Atacama, we HAVE seen rain in the past 500 […]

7 million reasons …

22 August 2022

“It Ain’t What You Do It’s the Way That You Do It” sang Bananarama in 1982. And they could have been written with Turkish butcher Nusret Gokce in mind … Whom you might know better as Salt Bae. Still puzzled? Salt Bae opened his first restaurant back in 2010 and now has restaurants all over […]

Travelling Room to room on horseback …

15 August 2022

A majestic mile-long drive lined with centuries-old oak trees leads to Middle Hill house. All 20 rooms of it. 16 of which were packed with books belonging to Sir Thomas Phillipps, owner of the largest collection of privately owned books in the world. Born in 1792 and an avid collector, he’d already amassed over 110 […]

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

8 August 2022

The mantlepiece clock ticks quietly over the fireplace and a favourite leather chair is pulled up to the writing table. Ancient oak bookshelves provide the perfect backdrop and a tranquil stillness envelopes the room, accentuated by the light streaming in through the large windows which gaze down the grounds. If it sounds like Heaven, it […]

Yes, I still read a TV guide …

1 August 2022

Forced to read Evelyn Waugh at school I found his books as funny as standing on an upturned plug barefooted. But a recent TV write-up sounded rather more promising. Which is how I found myself watching Amazon Prime’s Decline and Fall and simultaneously trebling my on-demand TV feasting in the process. The truth is, there […]

Mad dogs and Englishmen …

25 July 2022

I’m writing this on the hottest day of the year so far. Eggs really could be fried on the pavement outside and we’re experiencing the sort of heat that would have Lawrence of Arabia reaching for a cold beer. Who, incidentally was born only 40 miles west of here in the village of Tremadog. But […]

It could be you …

18 July 2022

Pick up almost any magazine or newspaper and you’re sure to find a book review section. Whether it’s fiction or fantasy. Crime or drama. A fast-paced thriller or something a little more sedate there are books to cater for every taste. Some may gravitate towards great wordsmiths such as Dickens or Shakespeare. Their prodigious output, […]

The Premonitions Bureau …

11 July 2022

I was sat discussing the renovations to a large house outside the village where I live the other day while idly passing the time. Once upon a time it was a small pig farm, and latterly an agricultural machinery repairs business … But all the old buildings have recently been demolished and the ground extensively […]

Jamie’s 30-minute Meals

4 July 2022

Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute first aired on UK TV back in 2010 – 12 long years ago. For those scared by long hours of toil just to get a meal on the table, it was a godsend. Sure, there was undoubtedly a great deal of selective post-production editing but he prepared a tasty-looking feast at the […]

30 million years to perfect their craft …

27 June 2022

Almost 400 feet below us, a light surf crashed gently against the cliff. The sun shone and a breeze blew gently across the Irish Sea before quietly brushing up and over the cliff top. It was a hot midsummer’s day, all was still, the insects buzzed, and the world was at peace. As I sat […]

Do cars still have indicators …?

20 June 2022

The Rolls was due for its service last weekend, so I duly popped along to the dealership and left it for its annual once-over. Okay, I don’t actually own a Rolls Royce – it’s just what I’ve christened my car. The morning had been planned down to the minute and once all the booking-in palaver […]

Simple things done well …

6 June 2022

Three years ago, two members of our team walked out of the office with a box of branded jotter pads and packets of sweets. It doesn’t sound like much, but they headed off to nearby industrial parks and trading estates with a simple plan … To visit as many businesses as possible, explain in 60 […]

Every little helps …

30 May 2022

Alert! Alert! Unidentified item in the bagging area. Alarms start ringing. People stare. Store staff rush towards you. And the next minute it feels like Scotland Yards’ rapid reaction force (all wearing size 14 Doc Martens) are sprinting over to apprehend you. As your face turns puce and your ears burn with embarrassment you realise […]

50 shades of grey it isn’t …

23 May 2022

On an industrial estate in West Yorkshire stands an imposing grey building. Behind a tall perimeter fence and a security cabin at the gate, 50 shades of grey it most certainly isn’t. Although you might find a copy of it behind those walls. Because inside that inconspicuously monotone building lies 373 miles of shelving that […]

Coming 2nd isn’t on the agenda

16 May 2022

The parallels between sport and business aren’t always clear. But Netflix’s outstanding Drive to Survive offers more than its fair share. Now in its 4th series, the main characters are well established, and Red Bull’s Christian Horner is, without doubt, the documentary’s steely-eyed missile-man. Staring straight into the camera and with a menace that would […]

What’s your favourite logo?

9 May 2022

A couple of months ago, the Bank of England (BoE) proudly unveiled its new logo. And all for a cool £51,594.49p An oddly specific number, you might think. But was it worth it? If you are keen to tick boxes like accessibility, inclusivity, and equality, then the BoE will probably tell you it’s money well […]

If …

3 May 2022

Waiting for our train on the platform last Saturday I couldn’t help but notice how people were whiling away their time. Almost everyone was glued to their phones as if even a momentary loss of signal would ruin their day. A scene which made me smile as I recalled how Rudyard Kipling is said to […]

Pride comes before a fall …

25 April 2022

After a long dismal winter, Spring has well and truly sprung. Lambs gambol in the fields, the cherry blossom is bursting out in hedgerows all around, and crops in the fields are greening up as the sun puts its hat on and comes out to play. Our lives run at such a hectic pace that […]

All the world’s a stage …

11 April 2022

Shakespearean scholars are very fond of debating his many works. One chap I once knew would spout endless lines of King Lear at the slightest hint of an audience which was when I’d usually head for the hills. But whilst we know a great deal about the great bard’s work, surprisingly little is known about […]

Three notes, one word, and a lesson from 1975 …

4 April 2022

Despite being released almost 50 years ago, the original Jaws movies still have the power to send a shiver down the spine. After all, who would decide to go for a spot of light surfing off Bondi Beach alone without saying a little prayer? Everything in the film is designed to create terror and suspense. […]

An apple a day …

28 March 2022

For some, the first day of Spring is the Vernal Equinox. For others, it’s the meteorological 1st of March. For the equine world, it’s the glorious spectacle of national hunt racing at Cheltenham. But for me, it’s apple tree pruning before my collection of Bardsey, Bramley, Nant Gwrtheyrn and Anglesey Pig Snouts burst into life. […]

Make my day …

21 March 2022

If just one order came in today, what would you want it to be? The type of order that would make your day. Last year I was asked that same question and unhesitatingly answered; a “Self- Published Book” Well, where are they featured on your website? Cue much embarrassing shuffling of feet whilst my steam-powered […]

Ink that wrote our history

14 March 2022

Any of us can go out today and purchase an ink cartridge – pretty simple task, right? In fact, we use a dry toner that arrives following an automated alert from our presses, which is about as effortless as it can be. But it wasn’t always that easy. Centuries ago, it had to be made […]

Drive to Survive

7 March 2022

If you’ve not seen Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” I wholeheartedly recommend it. The fly on the wall documentary peeks behind the glamorous veil of Formula 1, its drivers, cars, team principles. You can almost smell the petrol as the cameras record the fast-moving action – on and off the track. Its detractors say, however, that […]

Waiting for Godot …

21 February 2022

A wet shave is undoubtedly one of life’s great luxuries. And whilst we wouldn’t like to admit it, sourcing the right product is something which should never be rushed. Great time and attention are given over to this daily ritual without which we simply can’t face the day’s many trials and tribulations. After all, can […]

The £1.5bn power of paper …

14 February 2022

“We thought we had one box left, but we’ve run out! How quickly can you get us some more?” That’s how the urgent call usually goes. Now, ordinarily, we’re only talking about a few thousand Invoices or Letterheads – and we can get these run off in a day or two and out for despatch. […]

Ya wee timorous beastie

7 February 2022

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to know that the world can be a dangerous place. Even if you’ve only got half an ear tuned into the news there’s always some alarming development around the globe. Today it’s on the Russian/Ukrainian border. Tomorrow it’ll be somewhere else. But if you really want to experience […]

Cranking it up to the max

31 January 2022

The business pages in the Sunday newspapers don’t tend to be a barrel of laughs, do they? Let’s be honest, the articles as dry as chalk dust baked under the burning sun of the Kalahari Desert – I half expect to find tumbleweed rolling across the breakfast table. They are not the most uplifting of […]

Emergency Stop

24 January 2022

I just about remember doing an emergency stop in my driving test. It wasn’t much fun but, hey, I passed. What WAS fun, though, was learning to drive in an old Morris 8 out in the fields. The petrol tank had been removed for safety reasons, but we lashed a half-gallon mower fuel tank to […]

Little Hinges Swing Big Doors

10 January 2022

Made any New Year’s resolutions? Me neither. Save for one. I’m done with rushing around trying to change the world around me. Stick at it religiously and by the end of the year you feel like a slither of giant alien leeches have sucked the lifeblood out of you. I mean, boy does it take […]

Seek and you WILL find …

20 December 2021

Just in time for Remembrance Sunday, I finished a wonderful book called “The Searchers”: The Quest for the Lost of the First World War. By November 1918, the whereabouts of over half a million British soldiers remained unknown, and the book details some of the extraordinary searches for the missing which go on to this […]

Keep it Simple …

29 November 2021

Cast your eye over a map of the London Underground today and you see a thing of pure beauty. It’s simplicity personified with clear lines, well-defined colour coding, and easy to read text. In an instant, travellers quickly know how to get from point A to point to point B with the minimum of fuss. […]

A heart stopping moment or collector’s item?

22 November 2021

Printing errors: brown-trouser moments or collectors’ items? Anyone who has ordered print will know that goolie shrivelling experience when they spot a printing error … Sometimes it’s a nasty typo. Just try typing Shire and realising two weeks too late that you’ve hit the adjacent “t” key instead of “r” by mistake and you’ll know […]

Don’t tell me it’s gone up again!

15 November 2021

Paper merchants have been overdosing on blue smarties of late – or so it seems. Barely a week goes by without some hyperactive shroud-waving spokesperson announcing another double-digit increase in paper prices. And with fuel, timber, and just about anything you can think of ramping up in price, I do wonder what is really going […]

A message from outer space …

8 November 2021

I started my day like any other – with a cup of tea as I read through my emails. Everything was hunky-dory until my eyes gazed upon this subject line: “Access Type for Print Parameter and Proposal” Mystified but recognising the sender I thought I’d better take a look and find out more. Dear Business […]

Patting your head and rubbing your tummy …

1 November 2021

Patting your head and rubbing your tum at the same time is a game as old as the hills. I’ll be honest – I never mastered it. Some say it’s a learned behaviour but, to be honest, life’s too short and I’ve got better things to do. But the brain’s ability to process and send signals […]

I’m sure I came in here for something…

25 October 2021

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve rushed from one room to another to fetch something vital … and then completely forgotten what I was looking for. Some might call it amnesia and others absent-mindedness, but a scientist recently ventured that it was nothing of the sort … His theory was that as […]

The best way to plan for tomorrow …?

4 October 2021

Marathon runners feel it at around 18 miles. A wall of pain that feels like you’ll never break through it. But one foot at a time, you do. Work can be a bit like that too, sometimes. Last week my right-hand man was off for a well-deserved week away and I hit my 18-mile barrier […]

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water …

27 September 2021

Sport is probably as close as it comes to having a national religion. For some, it’s the most important thing in the world. And millions of us engage in it every single day. In the end, it’s tribal loyalty to their club or society … For me, I’ve always marvelled at the powerful lessons sport […]

Today is Monday the 20th of September 2021. Or is it?

20 September 2021

I know I stick rigidly to my Monday message because I’m a stickler for my diary and organisation. I can’t help it – it’s just who I am. But speaking of diaries and dates, there’s something a bit more pressing right now… And that’s calendars. I’ll be honest, there’s days when I’m not even sure […]

Chin Chin, Cheers, Próst, Ya Mas …

13 September 2021

Now, I’m as partial to a glass of fizz as anyone – but English sparkling? Delicious though it is, it’s got a few too many zeros on the end for me. Although if a generous host happens to press a glass or two on me, I’m not refusing! So, when a catalogue dropped through the […]

A touch of sightseeing in Kabul, anyone?

6 September 2021

For most of us, the holidays are over. Come rain or shine we’ve hit the road and explored the highways and byways of our beautiful countryside like we’ve never done before. The more intrepid have braved flights to foreign lands suffering the anguished 11th hour “will we”, “won’t we go”, verdicts determined by the travel […]

Brain teasing word spaghetti …

31 August 2021

To an expert, Sudoku is a mildly testing brain workout. To a beginner, it’s a devilishly testing unfathomable puzzle. But to all its devotees it’s like a highly addictive narcotic. Once you’ve had your first fix, you’re hooked. Historians believe that it originated in India or China in around 900AD, but it was the genius […]

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

23 August 2021

The heatwave’s coming back! Well, supposedly… A sunny Bank Holiday weekend would be the PERFECT way to end the summer – so, if anyone starts to talk about Christmas… you might want to reach for the smelling salts. Why do I mention Christmas, I hear you ask? Because the first signs of it are already […]

No such thing as a free lunch? Then read on …

16 August 2021

If I’d have succumbed to every takeaway promotion during lockdown, I’d have a waistline something close to the circumference of the London Eye. Thankfully, I didn’t, and I don’t. But it’s been hard. Takeaway meals from local pubs and restaurants were one of the great success stories of the pandemic and showed how the more […]

Taking the hump …

9 August 2021

A good racing camel can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. And watching one close-up in full flight is an unnerving experience. Poetry in motion they are not. Sitting atop one of nature’s more ungainly creatures as it breaks the speed limit must be rather like a ride on Oblivion at Alton […]

Whitewashing the coal cellar …

2 August 2021

Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. With too much to do and not enough time to do it that webinar you signed up for bites the dust. It sounded interesting at the time but right now it feels as attractive as sawing off your right foot. You send your apologies saying that unfortunately, you […]

Tenzing Norgay was in the starting blocks …

26 July 2021

All I had to do was put up some fencing around a Scots Pine tree … And I’d made a bit of a Horlicks of it. If a fencing contractor has seen it, they’d have probably burst out laughing. But that’s without reckoning on Tenzing Norgay – also known as my better three-quarter’s goat which, […]

11 other snakes are helping police with their enquiries …

19 July 2021

For most of us, the loo is a wonderful refuge from life’s struggles. Once we’re locked in, all the horrors of the world are safely locked out … or so we like to think. That’s certainly what Walter Erhart from Graz in Austria thought recently as he settled down for the luxurious experience of one […]

Clarkson’s Farm …

12 July 2021

Euro 2020 might have been dominating the TV schedules recently but there’s something else on the telly which has been doing something quite remarkable. Clarkson’s Farm. Whilst Amazon won’t reveal any viewing figures, all they’ll say is that it’s definitely moved the needle. Management-speak for the numbers have leapt off the graph and are heading […]

Trebles all round …

5 July 2021

I think it’s fair to say that I’d probably be the world’s worst court witness. If asked about my whereabouts at 10:30am on the Monday before last, I wouldn’t have a clue and would probably pass a lie detector test to prove it. But whilst recent experiences are often lost in a misty haze I […]

The Fear Bubble

28 June 2021

For some, fear is jumping out of a plane for the first time and hoping to heck that the bundle of material strapped to your back is going to open before you hit terminal velocity. For others, it might be potholing and trying to ignore the millions of tons of rock above your head and […]

Selling lawn mowers to high-rise flat owners …

21 June 2021

It’s best to check first. Who you are sending promotional material to, I mean. And, more importantly, what you are trying to sell to them. Marketeers are always blathering on about how important it is to segment our lists. And I guess we all sort of know what they mean but nothing makes the point […]

Some people think it’s all about the football …

12 June 2021

So, the Euros are upon us and whether you are football mad or not, the tournament is sure to bring a much-needed feelgood factor to the nation. Some people think it’s all about the football but there’s an interesting takeaway for all of us in business too. Whilst much of the attention is on Gareth […]

Repetition is the key …

7 June 2021

An unexpected run of eye operations has led to some enforced and unwelcome time away from my desk. And whilst Audible is my trusted companion of choice during any down-time, the telly has provided some light relief – especially when concentration levels fall to the level of a 5-year-old who’s just gorged on a ton […]

Held to ransom …

1 June 2021

The Pepperoni and Chorizo wood-fired pizza we ordered from a local restaurant recently was lipsmackingly delicious and definitely one to order again. But it very nearly didn’t happen. It had come by recommendation so with the weekend coming up I jumped on to the restaurant’s website and searched high and low – but any mention […]

The “spiritual” power of print …

24 May 2021

Pilgrims have long trodden the path to holy places and surprisingly, these routes are more popular today than in medieval times. Although today as many travel to escape their hectic lives for a period of self-reflection as they do for religious reasons. Routes around the world abound. Destinations range as far afield as Tibet or […]

What’s 60,000 times faster than reading this subject line?

17 May 2021

The human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words … A point worth bearing in mind next time you’re updating a web page or printed material because a well-curated image library is worth its weight in gold. No, your images don’t have to look like a Hello magazine photo-shoot – just well thought out […]

Why are 99.5% of all proofing errors are spotted AFTER printing …

10 May 2021

Campaigning for any election is a bloody hard job. Late nights, early mornings, and all day out on the stump. Harangued by unfriendly voters and snappy dogs, and there’s always a dribbling baby or two for an unenviable photo op. Yup, it’s hard graft all right but with the tantalising prospect of winning a seat […]

Einstein defined it perfectly …

4 May 2021

Scientists may be able to split the atom over breakfast or explain how much a neutron weighs – even if it is in largely unintelligible language. But they aren’t best known for crafting an adept turn of phrase. But Einstein was different. Not only was he a genius but he understood human behaviour. Never more […]

39 years and four days ago, today

26 April 2021

Shortly before midnight on the 30th of April 1982 Flight Lieutenant Martin Withers gently eased forward his four throttle levers. The four giant Olympus engines behind him began to howl in response and all 93.75 tons of XM607 gently started to roll down the runway. Their target; Port Stanley airfield on the Falkland Islands. As […]

What business are you really in?

19 April 2021

Ask anyone what business they’re in and you’ll hear replies like hospitality, manufacturing, construction, sales. Delve a little deeper and depending on how good a conversationalist you are, and you might get as far as an outside events manager, supply chain management or senior buyer. Hmm? We might be getting a little warmer but not […]

A submariner’s tale …

12 April 2021

How many of us haven’t railed against lockdown recently? For a very lucky few it may have been a blessed relief but for many, it has been pure mental torture. For the most part, at least we’ve been able to venture outdoors for a little exercise and freedom from our temporary imprisonment. But for some […]

The cost of everything and the value of nothing …

6 April 2021

Never look a gift horse in the mouth – so the saying goes. But then again, it’s not such a bad idea to give it a bloody good dental check if you get the chance. Not a million miles away from what seems to have been happening to poor AstraZeneca these last few weeks. Agreeing […]

Are you asking the right questions …

29 March 2021

Albert Einstein once said: ‘If I had one hour to solve a problem and my life depended on finding a solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask. For once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” Our lives may not […]

Face Masks … they’re so 13th Century

22 March 2021

Throughout 2020 debate raged about face masks. Some love them but many loathe them. Some experts said they were essential whilst others said they didn’t do any good at all. In any event, they were a new experience for many of us working outside the medical and research fields. Considering how long they’ve been in […]

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

15 March 2021

There are three types of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics – so said Benjamin Disraeli. But then, he hadn’t heard about Google Analytics. Packed full of stats and overflowing with real-world information your first dip into Analytics can be a bit daunting. But there’s no need to wrap a hot towel around your head […]

Terrible table manners …

9 March 2021

Watch any professional tea taster, or wine taster at work and the amount of slurping and gurgling would put a toddler to shame. You can imagine the fearsome scolding from a parent as a toddler polishes off their juice with a lip-smacking relish sucking up as much air as they do liquid. These terrible table […]

Catch me a Tiger …

1 March 2021

In deepest rural Dorset there’s a rather large shed. Tucked up safely inside is one of the deadliest weapons of World War 2. The Tiger tank. Sure, the tank is interesting but how it was captured and brought from Tunisia to London is one of the war’s most epic tales. The Tiger was one of […]

Have you got the keys to the Rolls …?

22 February 2021

“I never invent anything, because inventors go broke.” So said, Sir Frederick Henry Royce, he of Rolls Royce fame, to anyone who would listen. When we think of this most famous of marques, Rolls is the name which usually springs to mind. But it was Sir Henry Royce who was the engineering genius behind their […]

Patience is a virtue …

15 February 2021

It’s an astonishing thought that the summit of Mount Everest is made of Limestone. Which means that around 450 million years ago it once formed part of the seafloor. With the summit now standing at 29,032 feet, that seafloor has moved an awful long way over those mega-anna (*) and continues to do so at […]

Is Professor Brian Cox thick?

8 February 2021

Is Professor Brian Cox thick? The professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester? Of course not! The guy’s a genius. But the interesting thing is that he only got a D in Maths at school. This is the guy who could split the atom while he’s […]

Who cares about your logo …?

1 February 2021

Honestly, who really cares about your logo? And I wonder if anyone asked the Royal British Legion before they splashed out close to £100,000 on their new logo and endured an alarming flurry of brickbats last week for their troubles. I bet they wished they’d never bothered. Sure, we all want to show it off […]

50 Shades of Grey it is not …

25 January 2021

Lockdown may be wearing a bit thin but one its blessings has been a little more time to curl up and get lost in a good book. Tales of adventure, derring-do, travel, history – all there for us to lose ourselves in whatever magical moments of me-time we’re lucky enough to grab. One mighty tome […]

Horse delivers images quicker than broadband …

18 January 2021

Last week we talked about the cost of being invisible in the marketplace. Whether you are using Google Ads, SEO, Leaflet Drops or whatever, getting your message out there doesn’t come on the cheap. Sure, if you’ve got a big budget and are prepared to fire money at the problem like it was going out […]

Are you as invisible as Captain Mainwaring’s wife …?

11 January 2021

Dad’s Army ran for 9 years and 80 episodes and in all that time Captain Mainwaring’s wife never appeared on screen. As invisibility goes, that’s pretty good going. The writers deliberately played on the fact that Elizabeth Mainwaring was never seen, and it became an amusing sideline in a show brimming over with subtle interplays […]

Royal rogues and rascals …

4 January 2021

In the rich tapestry of our royal rogues and rascals poor old Queen Anne seems to have been a bit of a dull old thing. But who could have guessed her obsession with candles would have such a profound influence on our retail landscape? For those living on a shoestring in the early 1700s, tallow […]

Are we nearly there yet …?

21 December 2020

On a balmy summer’s afternoon in 1977, Voyager 2 sat quivering on its Cape Canaveral launchpad.   Everyone at Mission Control on hyper-alert, the myriad systems all in contact with each other and all totally focused on the serene form waiting patiently on the launch pad for the command to go.    At 14:29 precisely […]

Short Cuts Deserve a Second Look …

14 December 2020

If you enjoy the occasional slurp of red wine, you’ll probably know that a glass of Italian Amarone is a wonderful treat. The trouble is that it comes with a rather hefty price tag. Which, given the process of making it, is not surprising. Harvested by hand, the grapes are picked, sorted, and carefully inspected […]

The Japanese Tea Ceremony …

7 December 2020

Nuts and bolts can be a bit of a hard sell. As Chris and I soon found out whilst discussing some new copy for his brochure and website. We’d only just met so I was new to the challenge but it was clear that he’d been wrestling with the conundrum for a long, long time. […]

The Dashing Count …

16 November 2020

On the 18th of December, the dashing Count rocketed across the finishing line and into the record books. Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat had just set the first land speed record of 39.24mph and the date was December 1898. And his car? An electric-powered Jeantaud Duc, apparently. Who’d have guessed that EVs were all the rage […]

Hungry PC’s 80mph crash …

9 November 2020

After a tiring 12-hour shift, PC John Byrne was looking forward to getting back to the station and clocking off. Just as he thought he could relax his phone buzzed and a message popped up on the screen. One he couldn’t ignore. As the adrenalin surged through his veins, on went the blue lights and […]

Calendars: the unbreakable rule …

2 November 2020

They say there’s nothing new under the sun and they’re probably right. Adverts for 2021 calendars are arriving thick and fast. Big ones, little ones, wide ones, and tall ones – all with one unbreakable rule which I’ll tell you about in a mo. But one caught my eye – waxing lyrical about its amazing […]

I blame Lewis Hamilton …

26 October 2020

Whether you are a Formula 1 nut or not (I’m not, by the way) you’ve got to admire the way they use data. Because the pointy heads in Formula 1 certainly know how to use it and it’s a lesson which should resonate with anyone serious about the success of their website. The reason this story stands […]

Don’t build a lighthouse in the desert …

19 October 2020

For over a millennium the great Lighthouse of Alexandria shone out over the Nile Delta. Flames leaping skyward atop its 350-foot stone tower to guide ships into the bustling port of Alexandria. As one of the Seven Wonders of the World it is undoubtedly the most famous lighthouse in antiquity. The world over, lighthouses have […]

Carrier pigeon might not work …

12 October 2020

Every week I chat about something which catches my imagination. Something to help you promote your business more effectively and … help you steal a march on the competition. But the chances are that it’s not always about what’s on your mind right now. So, that got me thinking. They say that to get the […]

A ticket to nowhere …?

5 October 2020

Boarding a flight to nowhere and landing right back where you started from isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Most of us, if truth be told, prefer to land in a different place from where we took-off. And with airlines and their planes Covid-clamped that’s not quite as easy as it used to be. But who […]

What did the Egyptians ever do for us …?

28 September 2020

It may be rarely talked about, but the Rosetta Stone is one of the most famous objects in the British Museum. It’s more than 2,000 years old but it holds a very valuable lesson to anyone sweating over fresh content for anything from a web page to a new brochure. Created in around 196 BC […]

Your Secret Sauce …

21 September 2020

Soon after my Monday posts have been broadcast the “out of office” replies come trickling in. They’re brief and business like and completely devoid of any personality, but they’ve been designed to do a job and they do it well. But last week one stood out like a beacon in a sea of grey. It […]

Please keep my details on file …

14 September 2020

An email I received just after New Year grabbed my attention right away. I think it was from a guy called Pete, but I can’t be sure. We’d been thinking on and off about how to solve a dilemma and the email which had just pinged into my inbox suggested that he might have an […]