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.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

IKEA and the Flatpacks

Recently I called into Ikea with Mrs P to purchase a spice rack. We left two hours later and £600 lighter with a trolley so stuffed full of gear that we were debating whether we'd get it in one car run or two back to the house.
Currently, back at the house, I'm assembling my third shoe rack. Although putting together the furniture is a pain in the rear end I take my hat off to the furniture designers and also those who devised the construction plans. The latter no longer comes into 25 languages but with no lingua at all. All you get is a series of diagrams but they're easy enough to follow. Happily nowadays with this kind of flat pack furniture you get a second chance. If you go wrong you can unscrew something and go backwards way. In the early days of flatpack you had no such alternative. One wrong move and usually the panel you were wrongly forcing into the wrong front section of the drawer was slotted in for life and you had no choice but to look at your mistake hanging off the incomplete music centre for the rest of its natural life. Worse too, the instructions would come with a note telling you that school kids in East Germany assembled the same bit of flatpack perfectly in less than 40 minutes!

We never did find the spice rack.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Of Cleaning Up the Plastic Bag Habit

I spent two hours in my local river yesterday evening. I was with a bunch of volunteers on our annual clean up of the Six Mile Water. In just two hours about half a dozen of us fished out a shopping trolley, a hoover, part of a washing machine, half a bike and the remnants of countless plastic bags. 
This morning at Tesco I was asked if I had brought my own plastic bag with me. When I admitted I hadn't I was dealt such a face of disapproval from the assistant that I felt lucky not to have been subjected to a citizen's arrest. But she was right. Plastic bags are the scourge of the countryside and thoughtless shoppers like me just don't help. Time to raise my game...

Friday, 5 April 2013

Of You Must Meet Martin

"You must meet Martin" - that's what I had been hearing for the past five years from a variety of quarters. Martin is head of a company based in Antrim that is selling fantastic technology all over the world.
At the end of last year I managed to get him out for lunch. Yesterday we sat down for almost two hours and talked about a  product development idea of mine. Every question he asked me was right on the money. The leads he threw in my direction were phenomenal. The business models he generously shared with me were priceless.
Take it from me. If someone in Antrim says to you "You must meet Martin" they're probably right...

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Of Why You Can't Rush the Russian

I'm doing Russian vowels with my teacher at the moment and the pain is intense. Some vowels are relatively easy when you realise they always sound the same but different to how you would pronounce them in English. "O" for example, is much closer to an "A" sound then an "O" but pronounce it as "A" and it wouldn't be right (though close enough one hopes).
There's one corker of a vowel I just cant do at the moment. It's a letter the like of which I've never seen before and the closest I can get to it is by making a gentle retching sound whilst trying to smile at the same time. It's a great language Russian, but definitely not one for the self conscious!