Friday, 21 March 2014


 Purported to be a true story.....

Scientists at Rolls Royce built a gun specifically to launch dead chickens
at the windshields of airliners and military jets all travelling at maximum velocity.

The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl
to test the strength of the windshields. Engineers from "across the water" heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains. Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to them.  

When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken shot out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer's back-rest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin like an arrow shot from a bow..

The horrified engineers sent Rolls Royce the disastrous results of the experiment,
along with the designs of the windshield and begged the British scientists for suggestions.

You're going to love this......

Rolls Royce responded with a one-line memo:


"Defrost the chicken."

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


My colleague asked me to write about the first 25 years of the business, which I did.  This submission was immediately rejected! I had to re-do it but I hate to waste such effort so I am subjecting you'll to it this rejected version.

1989       Infotel  began life as a “slow burn” idea one Sunday afternoon in 1989.  I had a 3 to 4 day contract to fulfil in London and was contemplating the commute from Lincolnshire , wondering if it would be better to stay in London. 
Whilst wondering where to  stay and mulling over the stupidity of the fact it wasn’t possible to ring a central reference point for hotels throughout the country it struck me that, actually, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.    What if someone compiled a database to match guest criteria with appropriate hotels?
I ran this idea by my husband Davy, thinking that he would laugh.  But he didn’t!  He thought the idea was “good to go” and challenged me with the task of setting it up.  His area of expertise was getting people to do exactly what he wanted them to do – and boy was he good at it J! 
To cut a long story short, several months later we found ourselves in business.  Davy suggested that we fund the venture by charging a membership fee to promote hotels on this unique, newly compiled, database.  The idea took off really well and soon Infotel had a growing client base.
1992     A client then encouraged us to make bookings instead of simply matching criteria for clients to make their own and BOOM there was an explosion.  Word soon spread around the business community and before we knew it we had a roaring success on our hands.
1994     We employed the services of our dear Ashley who had recently returned from Silicon Valley in California where he had been involved with the development of the World Wide Web.  What he doesn’t know about the WWW isn’t worth knowing anyway. 
He soon had us up and running with an interactive web site,, one of the first of its kind in the UK.  Ashley is with us to this day, having taken a couple of sabbaticals at his and our requestJ!
By now Infotel had its own purpose built offices, constructed by Davy’s own fair hands. 
1999    In June Infotel was listed among the top 300 website in the World by PC Magazine.  This  is what they said: -
“If you are looking online for accommodation in the UK, Infotel attempts to match your needs with a suitable hotel or guest house.  After making a reservation you should receive confirmation by e-mail.  Accommodation can be searched by criteria, such as city/town name, suburb, airport or tourist attraction.  Its’ simple and plain design leads to an intuitive site.”
2000    With the Infotel brand servicing mainly the global leisure and on-line market we developed two dedicated corporate websites  and  to meet the ever growing and specific demands of the business community.
             The office was extended by 60% to give us the desperately need space and the gardens landscaped to provide staff with a wonderful rural working environment.
2007     Davy was diagnosed with cancer.  This was a devastating blow.  He was our motivator and inspiration and the reason that I got out of bed in the morning.   Sadly two years later he died and it felt as though my heart had been ripped and his loss to the business was immense.  
              He always said “we work for 50 people, we don’t have 50 people working for us” and this is what he truly believed.  He marched to the sound of his own drummer.  Well, I could go on all day about his amazing people skills etc, but I won’t.  Suffice to say that with his passing the world lost a beautiful sole. 
BUT he taught us well.  We picked ourselves up and took the business on to dizzy heights.  I believe that he looks down from heaven now and is very, very proud of what we have achieved.
2014     So here we are, 25 years later and 25 years older.  Our business has grown from being a one off embryonic innovation to being a globally recognized brand. 
We have had good and bad times but we never take for granted that fact that we work in an idyllic rural location with loyal and long servicing staff, doing something that we love, for clients who appreciate us.  And long may this continue. 

Friday, 28 February 2014


My web stats record that last March this blog had an amazing 9542 page views and even 3096 last month, which was a slow month.  Wow, wow, and double wow, but - wait a minute - why only a handful of comments? 

My IT gurus fill my head full of  "page views aren't visitors", pointing out that I may have been "Spidered" and encourage me to up my "SEO" (Search Engine Optimisation) which, for the uninitiated, means to titillate, tantalise and lure spiders into you web, dangling before them the latest titbits to currently attract them. Add to that the fact that google pleads with me to join google+ and so on and so forth.

But without feed back in the form of your comments it means absolutely nothing.  So come on, give me hope that there are more than a handful of you out there reading this drivel - please leave comments.  They are gravy to my meat, socks to my feet and chocolate to my sweet.

So, how is life treating me?  Well pretty good really.  When Davy died four years ago I had to look for a focus in my life to get me through.  At the time the recession was in full swing so concentrating on the business took a lot of energy.  I also had family situations to deal with so I was fully occupied. 

So, I hear you say, what is the business?  Well in 1990 Davy and I decided to build a database of all the hotels in the UK promoting it as a marketing tool to member hotels.  Anyone looking for a hotel could 'phone us and we would match their criteria with suitable hotels. 

In 1994 we became the first company to offer this kind of fully interactive service on internet through our website  We then went on to develop our corporate websites and

Following the success of these websites we offered our huge buying power, negotiation skills and booking expertise to corporations who outsource their accommodation and conference requirements. This has been very successful and we now have several household names and multi-nationals as clients.  

So turning around the business in the worse recession in living memory was challenging but with an amazing group of people who work in the business it was achieved pretty much with me as an awe struck bystander!

My next project was the new house build which is now nearing an end (finally). I know that I shouldn't push my luck, but so far, so good.  My builder is a "one off", like marmite some love him and some hate him.  Me?  I love him.  Maybe we are two of a kind?  He is a first class tradesman who brings in other first class tradesmen and hasn't ripped me off for money, what more could I ask?  Far from being daunted (as I thought I might be) I have actually found the process very enriching. 

So what now?  Well, I have two short  trips planned, one to Rome in April and another to Southern Ireland in May and have friends visiting from abroad in June, July and September.  I have also become involved in an amazing Anglican Evangelical church, learnt so much and made many new friends.  In fact you could say that life is full on and that's how I like it. 

Sunday, 16 February 2014


In response to my last post, my good friends Betsy and Jax pointed out that I do have a few things that I can cook adequately so here is my receipt for soup. 

Get a MASSIVE pot, fill it with water to within a few inches of the top, throw in two random packets of soup mix, two packets of supermarket prepared soup vegetables, extra chopped onions and any other odd vegetables that might be lurking about, a couple of handfuls of dried peas, lentils and what have you, any leftovers from the fridge, (baked beans are good) a few dollops of tomato puree, Worcester sauce, and garlic paste and last, but not least, salt to taste.

Right, now you are ready to cook.  Boil until it overflows onto your immaculate, rarely used, cooker, turn down to a simmer for several hours.  Every now and then dredge the bottom of the pot with a wooden skillet, making sure that you carefully integrate the burnt bits into the mixture.  When you have reached your desired degree of doneness blitz with a mashing thingy until the soup is smooth and gloopy .  MummmMummm!

A leg of lamb is a little bit more involved and I won't bore you with the details, apart from to say that my chef grandson rang me up one day to say that he couldn't replicate my delicious mashed potatoes!  I gave him the receipt but I believe that he has never been able to achieve the same result.  I think he is just "thinking it through" too much.  That doesn't make for delicious cooking which should be done entirely by instinct.

But, I must say that my main "signature dish" is an absolute knockout, and so simple.  Take 2 pieces of soggy white bread, spread with mayo and add slices of spam and beetroot.  The very thought of it is making me dribble in anticipation.

Oh! and I have forgotten my wonderful rice pudding which is also very simple, but I'm afraid that if I told you how to make it I would have to kill you.

Saturday, 15 February 2014


Here's an interesting email exchange :-
"Hi Ann!
I am working on an advertising campaign for Sainsbury's with a company called AMV BBDO. You may have seen the recent Sainsburys adverts starring some of the UK's prominent bloggers. As with before, we are looking for some amazing people to take part in a series of adverts for both television and online where they will teach the country how to cook some great recipes. The brief this year is for people with school age children to take part, a combination of parents and grandparents. You don't have to be a food expert, just a normal person with ideas about how to make food go further during the summer holidays. 

I was wondering if this is something you might be interested in? If you send me the best contact number for yourself, I can explain a bit more over the phone. I can also send you links to one of the ladies who took part last year.  

On a side note, I think your blog is fabulous, it's great to see such a consistent and funny blogger!" 
Very best, Roxanne"

"Hi Roxanne, 
I am extremely flattered that you would consider me for this campaign.  HOWEVER,  my cooking days are over.  If it doesn’t “ping”, I don’t eat it.  Shocking isn’t it!  Not only am I not a food expert, I’m not a normal person either.
Bless you, and good luck.  Ann xxx"

"HA! that made me chuckle. Absolutely fair enough. Do let me know if you suddenly have a desire to re-acquaint yourself with an oven.  

Very best, Roxanne"
For our friends abroad, Sainsbury's is one of the UK's premier supermarkets.  Don't you just find life  amazing and aren't people wonderful?  As for re-acquainting myself with an oven Roxanne- that ain't never going to happen!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


I  am going to add James Ketchell's blog to my read list.  What an inspiration that young man is. He has just returned from an epic journey rowing 3000 miles across the Atlantic, cycling 18,000 around the world and climbing Mount Everest despite once being told that he would never walk again following a serious injury.  When questioned about this he humbly said "the body achieves what the mind believes". That totally blew me away.

Then there was the National Health News!  Totally uninspirational. A report suggests that if the NHS doesn't change outdated practices it will go bankrupt.  There is a culture of lack of care, cover ups, mismanagement, low morale levels resulting in more and more funding being needed to cover up the cracks.  'Nuf said.

A very good friend of mine sends me wonderful titbits that he come across.  Here is his latest and I love it. How true, but maybe you have to be of a certain age to appreciate this?


Pasta had not been invented.

Curry was a surname.

A takeaway was a mathematical problem.

A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.

Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.

All French fries were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.

A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter.

Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our dinner.

A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.

Brown bread was something only poor people ate.

Oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking

Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves and never green.

Coffee was Camp, and came in a bottle.

Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.

Only Heinz made beans.

Fish didn't have fingers in those days.

Eating raw fish was called poverty, not sushi.

None of us had ever heard of yogurt.

Healthy food consisted of anything edible.

People who didn't peel potatoes were regarded as lazy.

Indian restaurants were only found in India.

Cooking outside was called camping.

Seaweed was not a recognised food.

"Kebab" was not even a word never mind a food.

Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.

Prunes were medicinal.

Surprisingly muesli was readily available, it was called cattle feed.

Pineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.

Water came out of the tap, if someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than petrol for it they would have become a laughing stock.

The one thing that we never ever had on our table in the fifties .. was elbows!

Friday, 31 January 2014


My first" event" in this week's anticipated busy schedule, Monday's supper at Church, was ruined because I couldn't stop coughing and consequently didn't get to ask any of my silly questions.  My second event on Tuesday, the meal followed by a visit to the cinema, bought with it more coughing.  On Wednesday I set off for golf but then thought "I really don't feel well" so I turned back and endured two "duvet days". Don't you just hate that? 

But, the good news is that the boiler has been replaced, we have heat, we have hot water, BUT my shower is still not working.  So we've come the full circle back to the beginning, I need to get my shower fixed!

The movie that I went to see with my friend Jean was Saving Mr Banks.  I wasn't particularly looking forward to it because I'm not a Mary Poppins or a Disney fan but, boy, was I wrong. It was one of the best films I've seen for a long time and I can thoroughly recommend it. It had me laughing, smiling and even (say it quietly) crying!.  What more can you ask from a movie?  Great. 

And I just discovered that my great-granddaughter Orianne's budgie is laying on his back at the bottom of the cage.  Unfortunately, he is no more.  I think maybe the shock of feeling warm again when the heating came back on again did it for him.  Oh dear,  she will be really upset when she gets home from school.

All in all not a very good week.  In fact I think that I can definitely say that, at best, it has been a mixed week.

So .... what words of wisdom would Winston Churchill have for me at the moment?  "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm".  Good on ya Winny!