Friday, 27 December 2013

Of One Great Place After Another Part II

It was a beautiful day yesterday and we decided to return to Kinbane Head and kick around there for a few hours for Boxing Day. We never made it. With about three miles to go we took a road signed "Fair Head" and made yet another fantastic discovery.

What we found were glorious walks over wonderful countryside much of it on the cliff's edge with drops of many hundreds of feet to the stoney beach below. Having a fear of edges, knees turned close to jelly the near er we got to a cliff face.Watching three climbers abseil over the edge turned said jelly an awful putrid pink colour! Still a great day though..

Monday, 16 December 2013

Of One Great Place After Another

The wonderful thing about Northern Ireland is that you can keep discovering great new places to visit that few others seem to know about. Recently, Anna and I took the neighbour's dog to the north coast and came across one small sign in a hedge pointing to "Kinbane Head". "Never heard of it" we both declared and decided to give it a go.
For me it's just as interesting as Giant's Causeway and certainly more sheltered. Whilst there we were completely alone and the views were just outstanding. The only one who didn't seem too sure was the dog, Remi. There was nowhere on the stoney beach to launch himself into the sea. This might have been just as well with all seals that were kicking around. I'm not sure how they might have taken to their awkward interloper who is just too playful for his own good at the moment.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Of Mad Dogs and Englishmen

I went to Ballintoy on the north coast of Northern Ireland recently with Anna and the In-laws. Vitali spied a rather interesting wall and joked that he would like to see how far he could walk along it before getting washed off. It was a mistake, for I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying to do just that without of course, the getting washed off bit.

My risk assessment went something like this :

    - Only one wave in four seems to be big enough to make it over the wall
·        -  Of those waves only 50% seem to be big enough to wash you clean off the wall
·         - If you do get washed off you fall into a very big pool. It’s deep enough to break your fall but cold enough to kill you if you don’t get out inside 30 minutes

With all of these three things clearly in my favour I determined it was worth a punt and safely made my way to the end of the wall. What I hadn’t bargained for was the neighbour’s dog wanting to join me. Of course he made his way across without having made any of the above assessments and indeed with no reference at all to what the waves were doing. It was agony as I watched him cross and I saw a wave come right in and give him a good soaking.

We duly studied for a good ten minutes what the sea was capable of then noticing a break in the lashing waves made a dash for it. And No I didn't get taken off the wall by a 6ft wave but very nearly a mad dog on the end of a lead.

Fun, but in a risky sort of way.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Of Annual Review Parts 1 & 2

Wow! Is our marketing team on fire at the moment or what? We've just developed a great Powtoon Promo for our flagship event. Click Annual Review of Employment Law Conference to preview. We've also just put together a great video promoting our next conference at the Ramada, Belfast. To preview this take a look here : Legal-Island AR Event

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Of Going after Russian with the Cavalry

I don't want to speak too soon but I think I may have cracked this learning Russian melarkey. Since the beginning of the year I've worked out how best I learn, when in the day works well for me and just what type of language course or courses suits me best.
I'm doing a hour every day first thing in the morning before I swim. This is an hour's audio work with Pimleur's Russian. This course is great if you just want to learn how to say Russian phrases but if you're after grammar it's next to useless. Enter Michele Thomas's "Russian Foundation Course" by Natasha Bershadski. This is by far the best thing I found if you want to get to the centre of what is a very complex language and make your way out alive. Finally, there's which, for a monthly subscription, gives you access to a whole suite of lessons online from Beginners right through to Advanced. Their lessons are in short bites of around 20 minutes. They're best I find for learning the written language and improving your vocabulary. Vocab is best augmented by introducing associations and the more silly and vivid the more they're likely to work for me at least.

I've also discovered what doesn't work for me. You can buy a host of Apps offering the Top 1,000 Russian words to learn but unless a word is in context I struggle to remember it. Russian films with English subtitles haven't helped much either. If they're good I tend to forget it's a language lesson and up enjoying the movie. If they're bad (and there's a good few Russian films in this league I've discovered) I tend to nod off.

Above all, you have to keep at it. It's a slog but one made much easier now with Apps, and MP3s and Ipads. How we managed in years gone by with just a teacher and a piece of chalk I'll never know. Perhaps most of us never did.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Of When there's Overweight and OVERWEIGHT

I jumped on the electronic scales this morning at the Antrim leisure centre to check whether this new fitness regime is paying off or not. One thing startled me; another worried me and a third thing amused me.
It seems I'm 6 ft 1in tall. I had always thought I was 5ft 11 3/4inches. Clearly, I've be misleading medics, tailors and suit hire people since I was 18 or thereabouts.
I now weigh 13lbs 7st 12 oz which is a full two stone lighter than I was this time last year. Well done the Tim Ferris diet and Barry Phillips for the discipline for keeping to it for it's not the tastiest grub going.
My BMI is 25.1. According to the print out, if you're 25 or less you're of an ideal weight. So this makes me overweight. What amused me is that if I were to end up in the next category I'd still be overweight but the overweight is in uppercase! It's a very pc world we live in. Or should that PC?

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Employment Law Conferences

We're full out at Legal-Island at the moment working on our big five employment law update conferences
The great news is that they're selling really well. So well done team Islanders it looks like all the hard work and forward planning is paying off.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Of Food Inglorious Food

I'm on a diet at the moment. It's tough going but the weight is falling off. I jumped on the scales at the end of last week to find I have lost almost a stone since the end of the summer. The aim is to get under 14 stone by the end of the month which means I've another half a stone to shed. I'm working largely off Tim Ferris's book "The Four Hour Body" and this is what he recommends scrapping :

* All diary products
* All drink except water
* All fruit - far too much sugar
* All bread
* All chocolate, cakes and buns

No much left you might think? Well, as he says himself you're on a diet to lose weight not to spoil your taste buds. You've got to enjoy abstinence to do this well, oh and an awful lot of lentils.

Monday, 14 October 2013

OF One Great Weekend after Another

I never thought I'd say this but I'm holding out for some bad weather right now. For each weekend we get to the forecast is great and we seem to spend just a few minutes in the house -Friday to Sunday. It's great to enjoy the outdoors but at some stage we're going to have to start the decorating, change the carpets and clear out the garage.
This weekend we attended Northern Ireland's first ever Russian festival and it was superb. Anna sung three traditional Russian folk songs with a few others which was lovely to watch. She was in traditional "Russian dress" she had purchased at Junction 1 in Antrim! She did look quite Russian although she did look a bit like a 60s hippy too! There was Russian food on offer too which was a novel experience. Cabbage in pasties takes some getting accustomed to but then so does our black pudding I suppose.
On Sunday we cycled from Cultra to Bangor along the coastal path which was just wonderful. Sunday lunch at the Salty Dog was terrific. Blue Jasmine by Woody Allen topped a great weekend.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Of Belfast Speakers Circle Round II

It was the second meeting of the Belfast Speaker's Circle last night and a cracker it turned out to be too. Members contributed a huge variety of material from Shakespeare to Keats, Tolstoy to WB Yeates. There was even a children's nursery rhyme and an old Cornish folk song.
It was rich, last night. Powerful, and utterly compelling.
For anyone wanting to practise their public speaking in Northern Ireland this is the place to do it.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Of Times They Are A Changin

The training is going well. Today I swam 30 lengths in 16 minutes 27 seconds. Now, the aim is to get the time down to 16 minutes or less. Once I manage this the goal is to do 30 lengths in 16 minutes or less + 10 laps. Yes you're exhausted. You ache all day but you feel good too - even a tad self-righteous and that has to be worth all the pain..

Friday, 27 September 2013

Of One Cheeky Chappy

About a week ago I was in the car park of the local leisure centre. It was about 6.30a.m..I was too early for the pool  so I decided to sit in the car and listen to a Russian language CD. As I did so, I looked out and saw an animal nonchalantly making its way across the top of the car park towards the river. Not believing what I was seeing I hopped out to take a look but by the time I had fumbled for my camera it was gone. For a good few days I wondered whether I'd seen a badger, a large fox or a badly deformed cat. There were moments too when I doubted whether I had in fact seen anything at all. Russian lessons at dawn can do funny things to the head.
And then this morning this cheeky chappy made an appearance. At first he hid under a car but I managed to flush him out with a few animal like noises and capture him on camera.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Of Triathlons and Times

I'm in a race at the moment. Not against anyone else but myself. You see I'm in training for my next triathlon. The training plan is as follows. First I swim a timed 30 lengths. Then I aim to shave a decent time off this. Then I swim 30 lengths quickly plus another 10 at my own pace. Then I swim 40 timed. Then I keeping swimming 40 with the aim to do it quicker each time as I approach the next triathlon. Today I swam my first timed 30 lengths in 16 minutes 27 seconds. By  the end of next week the aim is to do it in 16 minutes or less. Then I go for the 30 + 10.
Stages two and three on the bike and in the jogging suit come later. For now it's all about the water and the stop watch.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Of Not Rushing the Russian

I'm learning Russian at the moment and it's tough going. But I'm refusing to give in and am throwing everything I have at it right now. I'm currently using the Idiots Guide to Russian, Michelle Tomas's Russian Language Course and Pimsleur's Russian Language Programme. The trick, I've decided, is not to rush to where I want to get to but to maintain a keen steady pace of learning.
The wife laughs at the prices in the audio examples which clearly belong to the old Soviet times and laments that she can no longer stay in a good Moscow hotel for 40 kopecks or buy a train ticket Moscow to SPB for 30 kopeks.
I was never very good at languages at school. In fact, if the truth were told I was rubbish. But I always had discipline and if I decided I wanted to do something I'd do it. That's why now I'm doing an hour of Russian every day and if I run short I have to make it up the next. Вынесите эй?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Of a Diesel of a Dilemma

We were having a great weekend. We had been to see the fabulous Red Arrows in Portrush, Argory House in Moy and the Bluegrass Music Festival in Omagh. And then between us (for the exact culprit shall not be revealed) we threw 6 litres of diesel into our car, which of course runs on petrol.

So what would you do if this happened to you? In fact I'd like you to tell me either by adding a comment below or by emailing me on and then I'll tell you what we did and whether or not it got us out of a major hole or just dropped us straight into a deeper one.

So here's what I did next. I phoned a family member and retired mechanic. He advised me to drain the fuel tank and under no circumstances start the engine. I called the AA because we're members. They advised that we weren't covered because we had caused the incident ourselves (they clearly took a dim view of those who "self harm"). They could assist but it would cost £240 plus extras including proper disposal of contaminated fuel.

I went into the petrol station to see if they knew a local company that specialised in misfueling. She didn't but very helpfully directed me to her dad who was working in the bar attached to the station. Clearly a family descended from the Good Samaritan himself dad left the bar to go inspect the situation with me. Noting that I'd only put in 6 litres he asked me if the tank was almost empty before pulling into the station and I confirmed it was. He said that it should be ok if I simply filled the tank with petrol and carried on driving. he said he would phone his mate who is a mechanic to check. He did and his advice didn't change.
I then got on the Net to see what the great font of knowledge Google himself was advising. Most of the relevant online chat talked about emptying the fuel tank although one guy did advise it would be alright to drive away after filling up with petrol as long as there was no more than 5% of diesel in the tank compared to petrol.

So there was my dilemma. Do I pay the AA £240+ and not risk it or take a chance and gamble on saving a wad of cash but ruining an engine which might cost £4,000+ to replace? The tank it transpired holds 40 litres. Your suggestions on the modern day equivalent of a postcard please...

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Of A Good Few Orangemen

My weekend I owe to a few Orangemen. That is a couple of Indian guys at the Belfast International Mela festival who entertained brilliantly hundreds of people with some really alternative acrobatics. And also a guy at the Ballycastle Lamas yesterday who patiently appeared to hover of air while countless around him just stood and starred trying to work out what their eyes were seeing. Great stuff and well done to the men in organge!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Of Queue Queue Blimey a Queue

I returned home last week from a few days in Geneva. I love going abroad but I always enjoy returning to the UK. Call me a home bird if you like. This time it was different however. For the first thing that confronted me a Gatwick Airport was a queue for passport control that zigzagged its way left then right then left and right some more from the officials to where I stood and promised me at least a half hour wait.
They say that the Americans have such a good standard of service because they complain when they're not happy. My experience of the British in queues is that they moan like hell to the person in front and behind but say nothing when they finally get served. So I did a deal with myself.
I promised myself not to stress or get angry as I stood hot and tired in more or less the same place for 30 minutes on the understanding that I complained when presented with the opportunity. That is complained properly, not moaned, and to a person responsible for the debacle not Joe Blogs in front of me.
When at last I was given the opportunity to present my passport I asked the official whether he thought things were going well this evening. He replied with some honesty that he didn't think they were. I said that I felt it was a poor service and he agreed but suggested I talked to the people in charge pointing to a raised platform behind him manned by two officials.
The conversation went like this :
"Excuse me Sir but that over there is disgraceful" (they both looked at the now even longer zigzagging line)
" What is?"
"That queue. I've waited 30 minutes just to show someone my passport. This is the first experience many get of the UK and all they see is British inefficiency"
" I'm sorry Sir but we have all the people available to us at their posts. It really is the best we can do"
"I run a company and if I said to customers who complained about our shoddy service that it was the best we could do - they'd laugh at me".
They both cowered away peering at the queue as if to convince themselves that it wasn't that bad and I had overreacted.
So I ask myself did it change things? Probably No. Did it stress me out complaining and send my blood pressure sky high? Well, actually No. In fact quite the reverse. It felt very therapeutic. And indeed when queuing I didn't feel stressed or at all angry because somehow I knew I'd make someone account for the discomfort they were putting me through and that helped.
Would I do the same again? Yes. And every time.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Of Wedding No.2

And so it happened; Wedding No.2. This time for the English relatives in Branscombe, Devon.
The weather was perfect. It was not too warm for the likes of me in a heavy wedding suit and it was sunny enough to bathe Branscombe in beautiful sunlight - as if nature had been dressed for the Blessing too.
If the weather delivered then so did the vicar, Reverend Hilary. She was just outstanding. She told me when we first met that she used to be a teacher and it showed during the service. She had beautiful exposition and it was clear to me that she knew how to "prep a lesson" and address and engage those in front of her. Her smile and energy was just infectious and I don't think anyone I've spoken to since has failed to comment on just how good she was.
The church is straight off the front of a chocolate box and is as charming as it is English. As I boy I once camped in a field to the rear of the church and somehow thought that one day the church would feature in my life and some thirty five years later I proved myself right.

Because the ceremony was a Blessing as opposed to a wedding we had the flexibility to include our own vows. Anna started with her seven and then I followed with mine. It was a bad mistake. I should have gone first for when the woman you love stands in front of you and tells you how she plans to love and take care of you for the rest of your life it's difficult not to choke.
We left the church to the best of what the choir, organist and bell ringers had to offer and it was good. Very good. As we made our way out the grounds I couldn't help but notice two doves perched high up on the church wall. I winked at Bertha and Harry and wondered if Anna had named them in her own mind Alexander and Alexey after her own grandparents now also long passed away.
What followed was a small but lovely reception. Every relative seemed to chip in something. There was singing, dancing, speeches, quizzes, art and craft, party games.

In the evening Anna and I reflected on what had happened. In Moscow we had enjoyed a terrific and very Russian wedding. In England we'd enjoyed a very English one.
Two lucky people in a great place in a wonderful world.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Of Bikes and Ballintoy

 Just when you think Northern Ireland can't get any prettier you discover something else that simply blows you away.
On Saturday Mrs P and I re-discovered Castlewellan Park and Tullymore Forest Park. We cycled through both. Two memorable trips both for their beauty and the latter because that's where I came off my mountain bike - in some style too : straight over the handlebars somersaulting unceremoniously onto my back. I had had the back luck to hit a major rock in the pathway while my attention was drawn to people playing in the river.

On Sunday we headed to Ballintoy which is in between the two great NI tourist attractions of The Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.
 This small harbour has to be one of the quaintest places I've seen in NI. It has a tiny coffee shop, a small sandy beach and some fantastic rocks that just ordered Anna and I to come back soon with our snorkeling gear.
The weather was kind to us too. We arrived and the sun shone bright and hard until it dropped over the horizon. We hopped into the car and it rained pretty much all the way home.
Not such an unlucky weekend I guess.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Of The Best Man's Speech

I was Best Man yesterday to my old school friend Andy Owen. It's a great role. You get to see the wedding form the inside. You're right up close when the Groom and Bride are exchanging vows. You can hear the tremors in their voices You're first to see the tears welling up. You're first to congratulate both on their new lives together.
And then there's the Best Man's Speech. For many men this is a terrifying experience but yesterday was my third go and I have to say I really enjoyed it. There's something rather wonderful about making people laugh on a special day and wrapping up leaving everyone feeling on high - especially the married couple.
Here's a tip for anyone having to do a Best Man's Speech in the near future. Think you'll goof up and the chances are you will. Visualise success beforehand and chances are you'll really deliver. It's such a mental thing public speaking and the mental game you have to be on top of more than anything else.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Of One Glorious Week

Mrs P and I are just off the back of a really great week. On Wednesday evening last, we completed our first tri-athlon. We ran in last but didn't come away with the wooden spoon really because at least 10 competitors failed to finish the 750 metre sea swim, the 22km bike ride or the 5km run. The Glenarm tri-athlon, we found out afterwards, is avoided by many because most of the bike ride is up hill. In fact about 10km is up hill and quite a gradient at that.
On Friday we took off in the Legal-Island hot air balloon. Anna loved the flight. I suffered it I guess.
Saturday was more relaxing with a trip to the Ballymena Steam Engine Rally.
Loved it!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Of Using our Heads Off Torr Head

Mrs P and I took the kayak out yesterday and went for a paddle near Torr Head. It was sunny. It was beautiful. It was also a close run thing. As we paddled along the coast with Scotland in full view just 12 miles away I noted the pattern in an otherwise tranquil sea, change. I noted too a buoy chained to the ocean floor appear to go whizzing by us. I told me clearly we were in a outward current and a strong one at that.
I turned the boat around and tried to paddle back the way we had come. Despite paddling full out for a good two minutes we appeared to make no progress back. Mrs P then tried herself with the emergency paddle and, when timed with me at the back, we slowly edged our way further from Scotland and back to port. Phew! Close run thing!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Of MG @ MOT = AA

I took the MG for it's MOT on Saturday evening along with Mrs P for good luck. As we approached the test centre I could see the needle on the temperature gauge threatening to dip into the red. I was pleased we were early with time to switch off the engine and let the old girl cool down a bit -- or so I thought. As soon as we arrived we were beckoned forward into Lane 3 asked for the mileage and then told to turn on the headlights. As the wheels were tested the assistant was pointing out something to me on the screen which suggested that rear wheel left was underinflated. But I was watching the temperature needle which was firmly in the red zone and the car bonnet for signs of smoke. Mercifully, we moved forward onto the ramp when I was asked to exit and the engine was finally turned off.
Remarkably, the MG passed! We hopped into the car and burned off into the sunny evening with a real sense we'd been lucky. Really lucky. 5 minutes later we broke down and had to call the AA to get us home. As my ex brother-in-law said to me on Facebook MOT certify your car is safe, not reliable. The two we discovered are not always the twain.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Of Painless Russian Language Learning

Something rather wonderful happened a while back. I went on Ebay to see if I could find a Russian language CD for the car. Most of them we're quite pricey and full courses were approaching £100. Right down the bottom of the search results was a CD for £2.99. Perfect I thought! It didn't have much of a description to it but for that price who could go wrong?
The CD duly arrived a few days later and it turns out it contained a highly illegal copy of the famous Michele Thomas technique to learning Russian. Curious, I popped on the first lesson and it was great. I did the second, the third and now I'm hooked. Best of all its quite painless too.
The aim now is to do 18 5 minute lessons each day. The course is clearly working because I had my first conversation in Russian with Mrs P yesterday. She asked me if I wanted eggs for breakfast. I said I didn't I wanted porridge because I was hungry. I asked for a cup of red tea. And replied "Yuk" (thinking this would surely work in Russian too) when she asked if I wanted milk in my red tea.
Michele Thomas was an interesting guy. He fought in the French resistance before going to make his fortune in the US teaching foreign languages to "A" list celebrities and popularising his language techniques.
Spacebo Michele. Thank you Ebay.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Of Twee and Tweed in Devon for the Weekend

Mrs P and I have just spent a delightfully "English weekend"enjoying the sights of Devon and some glorious weather to boot.
We flew into Bristol early Saturday and in a hired convertible Mini. It's a fabulous car. It drives like a Kart on steroids.
We wound our way through beautiful Devon country lanes and villages to Colyton Church to meet the Reverend Hilary.
The Reverend Hilary is a lovely lady and I can't think of anyone I'd prefer to do our Blessing in August. She's full of smiles, joie de vivre and clearly loves what she does.She invited us to the vicarage for afternoon tea and a chat. The vicarage is a wonderful building bathed in history.
She told us it was built in 1517 and has been occupied by vicars ever since. I guessed she was the first female occupant but hopefully not the last.
Almost an hour and a half later we were on our way to Bovey Castle on the edge of Dartmoor. It doesn't get any more English than Bovey Castle. All the staff are in tweed waist coats. The foyer contains an array of wellington boots in case you wish to join a shooting party as well as a pile of towels topped with a sign "Please wipe down your dog".
We walked through the grounds and out up a hill to the nearest village, North Bovey, which consists of a delightful church, a few thatched cottages and "The Ring O'Bells" pub. We sat in the beer garden and slurped some old English ale and wondered if life gets any better than this...

Friday, 7 June 2013

Russian Tour Guide Northern Ireland

Mrs P has just launched her new Russian Tour Guide Web site for Northern Ireland and I rather like it. She did it herself in just two hours and best of all it cost us nothing.
Today, she's meeting a cruise ship in the port of Belfast to take another group of curious Russian tourists around the city and possibly to the Giant's Causeway too.
It's a beautiful day today and I've never seen NI look so green and so good.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Of The Legal-Island Garden Gets a Few Visitors

I arrived to the office early this morning to find a break out of animals all over the garden. And they're fantastic!
My favourite by far is the stag by the fence.
These garden sculptures are produced by a local artist based in Crumlin. Apparently he arrived with them all on the back of a trailer yesterday which must have made for a curious sight as he drove up the airport road.
I wonder if he does hens and for that matter people? Must find out.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Of The Aran Islands on a Bicycle Made for Two

 Mrs P and I have just finished three fabulous days away in the West of Ireland.
Innishmore, on the Aran Islands is quite unlike anything else I've ever seen. It is in facti it's the closest I've ever felt on this planet to being on another planet. The landscape is just amazing and the Atlantic Ocean has carved out over the centuries some of the most wonderful coastline you'll see anywhere.
Best of all, if you go this time of year you can have most of all of the above all to yourself if you know where to go.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Of One Russian Tour Guide

Mrs P has just started her own Russian Tour Guide Northern Ireland blog. She'll be blogging about all things random relevant to Northern Ireland and showing Russians around our great tourist attractions. She loves taking photos does Mrs P. She loves people too, so her blog will be the perfect place to post lots of photos of her in amongst the tourists and leading them around the likes of the Giant's Causeway and the Titanic Museum. Go for it Mrs P!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Of The Great Legal-Island Penalty Shoot Out

It was the great Legal-Island penalty shoot out yesterday Boys v Girls. Ok you may not say football is a particularly neutral sport and one in which you'd expect both genders to be equally practised but hey didn't we have to try our hand at Hoola Hooping the other week?
Thanks to some sharp shooting from Jimbarb and Peter F and some cat like defending of goal from the latter the boys pulled one back in the series.
What's next I wonder? Netball shooting? A skippathon?
Watch this space....

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

"The Snowball Effect"

I've just finished reading The Snowball Effect" by Andy Bounds. I don't like this book. As Simon Cowell would say "I love this book"! In fact it's so good I've ordered copies for each and every one of my staff to read.

It's very readable and accessible without dumbing down some really important communication issues. Key chapters for me are those on presentations, effective meetings and increasing sales but it's stuffed full of gems so you'll pick up great ideas and tips wherever you go in the book. His work on Henry Ford's classic quote is simply superb ("If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have just said faster horses").
He explains this as follows "As long as the expert (Henry Ford) knows the beneficiary's (customer's) desired future (to go faster) then the expert can apply his skills to help achieve it.
In fact the expert is bound to know more about how they can help than the beneficiary ever can because they're the expert. This is one of the reasons Steve Jobs didn't believe in customer research, saying it was Apple's job to know what customers wanted before they did". (p205).

Told you it was good stuff didn't I?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Legal-Island Company Raffle

We're running a couple of raffles here at Legal-Island and they're proving really popular.On offer is the change to win a place at our Annual Review of Employment Law Conference this year together with a Sunday carvery voucher for two.In Northern Ireland money raised goes to the NI Children's Cancer charity.
In the ROI it goes to the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.
Good luck to all who enter!

Of Leave to Live

Currently the wife Anna is waiting on news from the British Embassy on Moscow as to whether she has leave to remain in the UK. This is a process that so far has taken 8 weeks. She was contacted last week and asked to bring in her passport which she duly did. She was then informed that it would take five days minimum to stamp her passport either Yey or Nay. It's now day 6 and she's still waiting to hear.
Meantime, I'm here in the UK waiting on the news. Yesterday I ran 5k in record time. This morning I swam 60 lengths of the pool.

I wonder if the two things are connected?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Of The Hot and Cold in Int'l Relations

Recently I was hosting some Russian friends and spent a good two days showing them around Northern Ireland. What I always enjoy about hosting friends from abroad is that you can learn a lot from them about what is different here to what they're used to at home. This is most easily done by the questions they ask. This time around I must say there were quite a few random ones. They included "Roughly, how many sheep does each farmer own in Ireland?" "Why is there a wall right in front of your neighbours front window?" (I've wondered about this one myself) and also"Why are there lamas in that field?" (yes a field in Antrim too!)
Having entertained Russians, Poles, Spanish and French in the last few years if pushed to state the stop four always asked questions I'd probably say as follows :

1. Why is the food so bad here?
2. Why do the houses have carpets everywhere?
3. Why do you have light switches inside the rooms and not on the wall before you go in?
4. Why do you have separate outflows for your cold and hot water? Why not run them together so you can choose the right temperature before it gets to your hands?

This last one I've been asked countless times and I've never really had an answer. So yesterday  I Googled and still found no answer. What I did find however was an interesting article on Churchill's visit to Moscow to meet Stalin in 1942. Apparently, Churchill returned remarking that among all their many problems the Russians had a damn fine system where the cold and hot water taps ran into one outflow over the basin. Strange world isn't it?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Andy Bounds

The market and sales team went on a day trip last week to Liverpool for to see the master of selling himself, Andy Bounds. Andy is author "The Jelly Effect" and "The Snowball Effect" and the man behind a whole bunch of selling ideas that really work.
We spent a whole day in his office working through ideas, concepts and a whole lot of marketing material we have.
We left exhausted by highly motivated. First class! Top stuff.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Of Come on Arlene...

Every felt proud of your staff? No I mean really proud of them knowing that wherever they go they'll represent the company you started and nurtured way back as well as anyone and better than most?
Here's the team led by company MD Jayne Finlay yesterday meeting Minister Arlene Foster Minster for Business Trade and Investment.

Nice work Team Legal-Island!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Of the Belfast Speakers Circle 2013+

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be elected the new President of the Belfast Speakers' Circle. This is a club that has been going since the Second World War. Apparently, it started when people gathered at night around fires to watch out for enemy aircraft. As they did so they told stories, practised their oratory skills and laid the foundations of a club that exists to this day.
You might say we've a motley bunch of members. We've a nurse, an art dealer, some retired teachers and even a former Saudi T.V presenter.
We've work to do in the Circle however. We need to update our programme to make sure it meets the needs of public speakers today. We need to sharpen our own saw and by that I mean improve how we give feedback to speakers and help them learn. Above all we need new members of the Circle in the hope that it will carry on for another 70 years and more. Let's go!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Donegal for Le Weekend

 I spent the weekend in fabulous Donegal touring a good part of the Atlantic Drive. Fanad Head looked beautiful bathed as it was in beautiful spring sunshine whilst Portsalon beach, though windy, offered up 14 degrees of warmth, loads of sunshine but not a soul on the sands except Mrs P and I.
The weekend was topped off by a visit to the fabulous Beach House restaurant with old friends Martha and Tom Kilbane of Buncrana.
M & T are the most delightful couple you could wish to meet and they filled us in on all the local tales we had missed out on following our journey around the peninsula. Class place, class people. Class weekend.Life's great.