A Magical Visit to Hobbiton in The Shire


My Dear Beloved Reader,

It’s been a while since I sat down to write about our adventures in the antipodes but I must confess we’ve been a tad busy. So, this episode is a sort of pictorial memory of an enchanting day in New Zealand where we visited the film set that was created for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in Matamata in the north island. The set is known as Hobbiton and is about two and a half hours drive from Auckland but well worth the journey.

Hobbiton, was originally going to be filmed by Peter Jackson using 17 locations but when Jackson saw this location with a specific tree by a lake (see if you can spot it in the photos below) everthing was brought to Matamata. So, this is where Bag End, the home of Bilbo and Frodo can be found. You should be able to spot in the following photographs. To see a larger image just click on the image you wish to see.

 

Travelling To New Zealand – The First Leg LHR to Abu Dhabi.


 

My Dear Beloved Reader,

The title is not exactly true as the very first leg was lugging the luggage that she who must be obeyed has insisted is “absolutely necessary” down the stairs, across the hallway and into our venerated vehicle. It’s been a bitterly cold day with the temperature hovering around 7C and for the benefit of my American friends that’s 46F. I was pleased to leave this:

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which happened last night and provided a slightly amusing skating rink this morning. I digress. We had an uneventful but slightly damp journey to London Heathrow Airport and having emptied the luggage onto a variety of carts I entrusted our velocipede into the capable hands of the valet parking team at terminal 4.

Braving the elements we travailed the one hundred feet or so into the terminal and then commenced the half-mile route march to the Etihad First Class check-in area.

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Having completed the formalities we were duly ticketed by a very pleasant young lady and duly directed to the Fast Track path, where she who must be obeyed successfully held everyone up:

fullsizeoutput_f599 and we were off to the Etihad Lounge.

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This lounge has a somewhat subdued lighting scheme which I suppose is to encourage a restful atmosphere but don’t let the photograph above fool you. A few minutes after it was taken the lounge became quite busy. There is a self-serve buffet bar with an adequate array of food and our waitress was very pleasant. Great coffee!

It wasn’t too long before the appointed hour arrived and we made our way to gate 10 and duly boarded and shown to our seats by lovely Aida who together with her colleagues looked after us in an exceptional manner.

Here’s a short video of our experience boarding the flight to Abu Dhabi;

The First Class cabin was really spacious as you can see from our video

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and Diana was very pleased with the extensive menu,

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that was prepared, with obvious passion by our in-flight chef “Chi-Chi”.

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We were very well looked after by Aida and her colleagues and we soon sat down for a lovely dinner.

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To start with we had Meditteranean Mezze which was delicious

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and I for one had no worries whatsoever with the calorific content! This was followed by a delicious

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loin of lamb. The pudding was so good we scoffed it before we could photograph it. Then we had

our beds made. This was not a seat that recined to a “flat bed” but a proper bed and

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we still had our enormous seats.

We’ve now continued our journey and I’m writing this in the Air New Zealnd lounge awaiting our flight to Auckland so, until my next post…….Toodleoo!

How We Talk To People


fullsizeoutput_1da92I was reminded at a seminar last weekend that when Diana and I started our business together (thirty years ago), our primary communication tool was the fixed wire telephone and having a telephone answering machine was so important. In those days mobile telephony was expensive (75p per minute and billed in whole minutes!). Thus, the aim was to use the telephone to make appointments to get in front of a prospect to present our opportunity.

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Today, it seems to me, that most people seem to talk using their thumbs rather than their mouths using a language best described as QWERTYUIOP. This seems to work as appointments are made, but now the face to face meeting appears to be conducted through Skype or Facetime or Zoom. I’ve no challenge with this as the result seems to be similar in that we end up with new members and new partners, but I have a concern.

At last weekends seminar, I was asked why Diana and I had built a National Network Leader Distributorship so quickly within five years and eleven months? That was a great question and deserving of considered thought. It seems to me that the old-fashioned way (analogue) of communicating is faster than these latest (digital) methods of communication. It would appear to me that it’s quicker, easier and simpler to make contact, build rapport and get a result using our analogue methods or am I old-fashioned and prejudiced? I believe that people don’t join companies, they join people, and in my opinion, digital methods of prospecting and presenting are a tad impersonal and difficult to show that you really care about their future.

However, I’m not against them, and I can see a definite case when a contact that you wish to engage with lives at the other end of the country.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that we should all become Luddites and revert to the analogue way of doing things but I am suggesting that a blend of approaches dependent on location might be a better way.

Please feel free to comment and debate in the comment sections below and don’t forget to share my blog with your team and subscribe to it if you have not already done so.

Until my next post…..Toodle-oo!

Travels With Stanley Episode Two (Rouen to Saint-Jean-de-Luz).

The Grand Hotel Thalasso in Saint-Jean-de-Luz rolls out the red carpet to welcome Diana Ross!


My Dear Beloved Reader,

Having awoken fairly early at our Rouen Hotel and re-packing a somewhat full Range Rover we sallied forth at 06:37 on a pretty wet morning for a soggy drive to the south of France. Fortunately, the further south we drove the weather improved with each degree of latitude. Our first break occured after 1 hour and fourty-five minutes having covered  98.2 miles, averaging 59mph and achieving 30.6mpg was just outside Alencon where Diana a.k.a. “She Who Must Be Obeyed” insisted that we breakfasted upon cafe au lait and pan au chocolat. Needless to say Stanley was prohibited from such a fine repast and had a delicious tin of puppy food!

After a total stop of 31 minutes we drove for a total of two hours and forty five minutes covering 149.7 miles while achieving 32.6 mpg at an average speed of 57 mph in very wet conditions especially while skirting Le Mans. We broke our journey just a tad north of Poitiers for seventeen minutes for a stretch leg break and to allow Stanley to visit the local lamp post.

Forty five minutes later having covered 49.6 miles at an average speed of 70 mph achieving 35.3 mpg in improving weather but still on the soggy side we stopped for another stretch leg break for a further thirteen minutes.

Now, my dear reader you’re probably wondering why I’m bombarding you with such statistical nonsense? The truth of the matter is that the weather had been so glum that, the only highlights, scenery wise, were various types of  gallic roadworks that, occasionally featured workmen who seemed to be committed to smoking untipped Gauloise cigarettes. We departed our stopping place, Aiffres just outside Niort, at 12:53 and settled in for the next 157 miles which took us through Saintes where we entered the Cognac area with lovely rolling pastures and plenty of vineyards. Skirting Bordeaux we continued and entered the arondissement of Aquitane and broke our journey for a late lunch at 15:25 having averaged 63 mph and achieved 33.6 mpg stopping at Saugnac-et-Muret which is on the east side of the Parc Naturel Régionale des Landes de Gascogne. We enjoyed the view while eating a humble french baguette filled with a rather non descript cheese.Twenty-nine minutes later we were back in the car feeling refreshed and releived that the sun was shining we drove for a further fifty-five minutes covering 64.9 miles at an average of 73 mph achieving 34.1 mpg we made our penulitimate stop some 21.5 miles short of our destination in order to give Stanley some exercise before we arrived at our hotel.

fullsizeoutput_d7bbWe left nineteen minutes later and arrived at The Grand Hotel Thalasso in Saint-Jean-de-Luz where they had rolled out the red carpet in order to welcome Diana Ross and her husband.fullsizeoutput_db42

We were greeted by the most courteous and helpful staff and were whisked to our suite and having quickly scrubbed up we were ready to enjoy dinner in the Michelin highly rated restaurant L’Ocean.

We were not disappointed having had our already healthy appetites tickled by an aperitif we tucked into our first course of fullsizeoutput_db34

deconstructed squid with potato risotto which was absolutely delightful. Then

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we enjoyed some sea-bass over a selection of beautifully prepared vegetables and then our our main course of

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Veal cooked two ways, crispy sweetbreads and St. Georges Mushrooms followed by

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a cheese selection and finally

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Valhrona Alpaco dark chocolate, soustons sugared peanuts but when I broke the crust

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it was just sublime.

We went to bed tired, happy and stuffed!

Until my next post of this saga…………Toodleoo!

Travels With Stanley (Folkestone to Rouen)


My Dear Beloved Reader,

I thought it was about time to put finger to keyboard and attempt to capture our travels from the UK to Marbella in southern Spain. We departed from our home to attend a board meeting at Network HQ in Edgeware some twenty nine miles from home and after having concluded the meeting we departed for Folkestone in Kent in our trusty, somewhat full Range Rover Vogue SE Auto.

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It was a damp and drizzly day and more weather was to come later!

After one hundred and one miles we were on the train and had started our journey through the Eurotunnel.

We landed on the Continent and began our journey of one hundred and thirty-three miles to Rouen. The weather deteriorated quickly and we had an unpleasant drive in driving rain and gale force winds.

We eventually found our hotel which was not too easy as the Mercure Rouen Centre Cathedrale Hotel and its garage are situated in a pedestrianised area of this pretty cathedral town. Fortunately, the local police with their inimitable gallic charm escorted our car (blue lights flashing – see the video below) to the hotel. After a pretty difficult drive we were pleased to flop into bed and start our journey to Saint Jean du Luz the following morning.

Here’s three minutes and thirty-nine seconds of video highlights from Day 1.

Until our next episode of this gripping story…..Toodleloo!

The End Of A Chapter


Today is the day we leave our vacation home in Lakewood Ranch near Sarasota in SW Florida. It’s a huge mix of emotions. Sad to leave the wonderful friends to numerous to mention who are a wonderful crowd of people who Diana and I will always hold close in our hearts yet, excited to finally settle in to our new home in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire in the UK. Although we are leaving now we will be back for vacations in the future but also looking forward to exploring new places, making new friends and capturing new experiences. So, yes it’s sad to close this brilliant chapter in our lives but excited to start a new one. To all our pals, wherever you are, stay in touch. You will always be with us.

With much love,

Clive & Diana.

A Stroll On Siesta Key, A Tupperware Beach Party, Tumblers Tumbling And A Mingling Of Mennonites!


Dear Beloved Reader,

To view any of the photographs below in their full majesty please just click on the image of your choice. As ever, dear reader, please feel free to leave your comments below.

Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach

Having relieved our bank account earlier today of over $2000 for a set of new tyres for my beloved Corvette I decided upon a late afternoon stroll on a very quiet Siesta Key Beach.

The Meaning of Tupperware
The Meaning of Tupperware

During my stroll it was a surprise to observe, what I could only deduce, as a learned discussion on the meaning of that most useful of plastic storage boxes known as Tupperware!

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A Tumble

Meanwhile this close-by acrobat delighted her audience with a mid-air somersault which was executed perfectly and may have had nothing to do with the aforesaid storage containers.

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The Yellow Life Guard Hut

It was no surprise, as the beach was so quiet,

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No Lifeguard On Duty

that the life guards (both red and yellow) had decided to call it a day. Although this may have been a ploy to avoid hosting a future home presentation, of that well known brand of lid snapping plastic, even though the soft hiss escaping from the storage box could be likened to the sound of the swish of surf caressing the sand on a quiet day.

Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach

This beautiful beach was now becoming empty leaving just the few

To Stand and Stare
To Stand and Stare

to stand and stare where others

The Grand Debate
The Grand Debate

debated the meaning of life and the endless possibilities of Tupperware.

Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach

So, we say farewell to the mingling Mennonites, the tumbler and the potential Tupperware hosts and hostesses.

Until my next post……Toodleoo!