Tuesday, 20 January 2015

BlogBS 1965...

A few days ago I spent the weekend away from BS5, celebrating my mum and dad's 50th wedding anniversary. The wider family spent valuable time together - my two brothers and my dad's brother and sister and their children (our first cousins). We were 17 in all and spent a fine evening at Glewstone Court, a rather nice venue in Herefordshire. Some pictures are here. Our oldest brother made a fine toast. Plenty of food, wine, chatter, love and laughter.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Fifty and 132.

My mum and dad have been married for fifty years today. Half a century of peaceful togetherness, whilst gently bringing up we three sons, now aged 42, 44 and 46. I am writing this blog post at their house, ahead of my brothers joining in tomorrow for a family dinner out with loved ones and important friends. 

The self assuredness, confidence and ease of mind this upbringing has instilled in me is Cathedral like, and I am grateful for that. 

Here is a picture of them both, one of we three , one of me and one of said Cathedral. Toby and Quaddy are there too, latest loved hounds in a long family line.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Christmas shopping man style

Tonight young Harry and I went Christmas shopping. I drove him so he could freely bounce his ideas and explore gifts for his mum, sister and Gran. We had a planning meeting first at the drive through, messing about and losing napkins to the wind.

Once we got into character Harry ninja'd it in one shop and in under 35 minutes. And we larked about on the escalators.

Here are some happy memories of our evening. 

What a top chap he is. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

A suit of clothes.

I will put on my dinner jacket later this week. I enjoy wearing it as it is well made and I am long and tall and I wear it very well. In this particular instance, I am indifferent about the event as I don't know the people or the firm well enough yet to feel anything but on guard. 

In fact, I have two dinner suits and I always enjoy the game of 'what was I doing when  last I wore it?', a game played by not emptying the pockets on getting home from the event.

I don my dinner suit every eighteen months or so, although in my rspb job, it was a deal less frequent than that.

Thus when I took it from the cupboard tonight, and on this very day of days, of completed years since significant things, was it with remembrance or regret? 

Oh, I do not know which. 

Friday, 28 November 2014

Black Friday and vulgar fights.

Black Friday was a story of rare, pitiable fights in American retail just three years ago, when viewed from here in the UK.

Two years ago it remained an all American story.

A year ago it caught on a little in half a dozen British high streets, but was already strong and prevalent on line.

This year and today, it was in absolute full swing. Almost every retailer had some sort of offer, with 20, 30, 40 and even 50% off everything, right across the high street and into the coming weekend. Full-on POS and window posters too, and appropriate staffing levels, in this orgy before Christmas and coinciding with pay day for most.

I worked Black Friday in Cheltenham, hardly renowned for vulgarity, and yet the streets were full and the elbowing, grasping disposition was there. These well to do pictures are all within 100 yards of each other on The Promenade at Cheltenham, and even there the buying was forceful.

Elsewhere in the UK (north London and the north west), fighting, police intervention and vulgarity seemed present all day.

What is it all about?

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Unboxing !

It is here!  For ages and ages I have reviewed, contemplated, tried-in-store and  considered an Iphone 6 plus. After many a pause in an Apple Store (at pretty much any city I have worked in that has one), today they were available to reserve and in good number. So I reserved one....

My Iphone 4s had not worked properly since the week before my brother's Stag do (June 2014) and it had a virtual home button only, meaning once the screen went to sleep I could only wake the phone up by plugging it in. That meant I had to switch off the sleep mode, and in turn that meant the battery lasted about as long as a suet ball once my resident crow has clocked it here in BS5.

So, off I went to the Apple shop at Cribbs Causeway on this merry Saturday off. I was pretty excited.

Now I am into Retail for work, and these fellas have it down. Service was flawless end to end; polite, knowledgeable, professional, courteous, fun, and in no hurry to move me on from the store until I was happy. Perfect in fact.  I also visited my phone provider to swap out to a sim only tariff. At Apple I took the massive plunge (largely the majority of my considered thought) and bought the phone outright, figuring that a much, much, much lower monthly tariff was a better deal in the long run.

Playing with it now, and here are some pictures from Store to home. 

I am not much of a one for design appreciation but each iteration of the Apple box is a keeper!

Happy chappy.


Dunster by Candlelight

This week I have worked at my store in Dunster.

Dunster is a wee little village in Somerset, just tucked in from the Bristol Channel. 817 people are registered as residents. It has a Yarn Mill in the high street where local yarns were traded from 1609. It is also the village where All Things Bright and Beautiful was penned, and the location of Dunster castle, built by the Luttrell family in the 17th C and given  by them to the National Trust just a few decades ago.

Each year Dunster has a festival, Dunster by Candlelight. I am working at my store for this year's event and we will trade 10-10, so I will work the whole day and stay overnight. I am really looking forward to it - store event days are often fun, fast and hard work. Customers are usually in a good mood, and all in all it is a pleasure rather than a chore.

I will take my own pics in a couple of weeks but here it is from a previous year, along with some village shots.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Shopping days, sprouts, car-jacking and country roads.

Man, I have not blogged in aaaaaages...

Three weeks is really the gap, but after a spurt of blogging delight this year, the mundanity of regular work has kicked in via my new job and I have been getting home zonk-out tired every day.

So here's a blog burst; a quick unloading of phrases as they occur to me tonight.

M&S Chocolate sprouts
Gambled spoons & games of cards
White roses
Home lilies
Dorset roads
Dry Requisite Trousers
Winchester ease
A zip pocket suit? FFS.
Shrewsbury pop up
A bit pissed in Cardiff
New TV!
Massive screen clarity
Comfort of Bath tobacco
Brother going to Spain
Bunny eighteen
Fixed vacuum cleaner
Feeling taller than I did three months ago (actual, not spiritual)
Nudging 12 stone again
Tractor theft in Los Santos
General theft in Los Santos
Earning immoral dollars in Los Santos
Sixteen bit Lolitas (Pete Tong)
Mac u'g to Mavericks
Apple TV
Yolanda 3800 miles already
Where to rest for Christmas?
Like using my fountain pen


Friday, 31 October 2014

A long Wiltshire week. With Devon, Somerset, Hampshire , Bucks and Wiltshire thrown in too.

This week I have started to find my stride in my new role. Some things still challenge, and some things aren't quite parked up in the immediate recall part of my mind in the way that so much RSPB retail was and still is. That said, it is coming together as I end my third week.

The shop floor part I get instinctively; I am excellent at customer service and I am good with store teams - what I need to  secure is the product knowledge to glue it all together, and this is no more a task than familiarity, exploration and eating the current catalogue. 

The week has taken me far and wide. I started with a long day driving to Milton Keynes but I did stay the night at a fabulous hotel... this one. I think our Christmas do is there too. The venue was terrific as was the reception team but the barman was a rude, (Russian?) surly, ignorant chap who genuinely did not know what beer was. I politely asked for beer and he just said vee have lager - three times. 

The day after I sat in front of our design team who showcased next year's range. It was rather like Project Runway and it was very entertaining. Across the rest of the week I visited stores in Cowbridge, Dunster, Exeter and Wimborne, all of which I will eventually cover. I finished off the week in Salisbury today and drove the till and talked to customers. Checked off Christmas window POS (point of sale, or in store printing & posters) and got to know the store team a little better. 12 hours door to door and some middle ages agricultural roads home but I enjoyed it.

I also engaged in some fine digital hooliganism in Los Santos with my BS7/GTAV Wingman mid-week, and that was the high spot of the week, truth be told. Had some kind texting across the week too, but from a county I did not drive through this week (amazingly, considering my route).

Here are some images of the week, as well as some from my timber expedition last Sunday! The peacock was live, real, brave and in absolutely no hurry at all.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

A size 8 week.

This week in my new role, I began to visit stores that I will manage as well as calling in at our flagship store in Covent Garden.  I also attended an invite-evening for our customers who take a size 8/extra small. We invited then to our Guildford store to meet the Chairman and to feedback on sizing, range and garment construction. They were vocal, passionate, polite and not averse to spending.

It was quite a week!

Leaving BS5 on Monday I took a there-and-back-in-the-day drive to exotic Milton Keynes (work HQ) . I also took in Paddington, Covent Garden, Guildford, Winchester, Salisbury, Lymington and Southampton. Home late on a Friday night via a sardine-can train.

More 'my' stores next week, with a west-country shape to the route planning.

I am enjoying it, although my new colleagues drink coffee unceasingly.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mappa Mundi

This is my new mappa mundi (in the world of BS5).

It is a map that shows my store locations with each to be visited on a regular basis.
I have been to two of them so far with the rest of my opening days spent at my head office. This week I will take in three more of mine and two more that are not mine (necessitating a train hoof into London to visit Covent Garden store). I like the train element but I am also enjoying the solid comfort of the car.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Please say hello to Yolanda.

I have not had occasion to post an entry like this one in the 7 year, 4 day, 1243-entry history of BlogBS5.

In all that time, I have delighted in owning VX52, my faithful, reliable and much loved Mercedes Benz. VX52 (a he) is solid and well put together. He has  been with me longer than my blog and he and I have notched up 91,000 miles all over the place and with beloved passengers along too.

Now, however, in October 2014, I have landed a new job. I have left the RSPB and moved on to become an Area Manager for this firm: Rohan. I have twice as many stores to look after across roughly the same geographical region.  The role is on probation for three months, and then moves to permanence. Fair enough and quite the norm these days.

I have a company car with this job. Three years old but new to me, and only three years old because it makes sense for my firm to allocate an 'old' car my way until they and I decide if this gig is permanent; at that point a newer one heads to BS5.

So, in the meantime, please meet Yolanda.

Yolanda hails from Liverpool and she has rather hussy-like red brake-callipers.  To be perfectly honest she is a bit racy, at the top end of her model range (a VRS) and pretty fast. VX52 is unsure...

I have to confess I had driven Yolanda 140 miles before I realised she had a sixth gear (oops). She's a diesel, as sporty as they come and if you get at her , she can really belt along, although thus far I have honestly not exceeded 71 mph in my opening 300 miles. Of course, like any good woman, she has plenty of torque.

Here she is with VX52 looking on in the last shot.  I should sell VX52 (reluctantly) but may just hold on, in case three months is the end of the line! I hope he doesn't hold a grudge towards me and I trust semper fidelis  will top out until I have to move him on.