Carluccio’s Nottingham – A review or two

Carluccio's Nottingham - Lovely simple, light, airy, friendly, tasty, Italian food
Carluccio's Nottingham - Lovely simple, light, airy, friendly, tasty, Italian food

I had been quite excited about Carluccio’s opening in Nottingham and managed to miss the opening night, but have now been and sampled their lovely food.

I went yesterday with my mate Tim Garratt (Nottingham’s most prolific blogger) for lunch and it (not he) was gorgeous and great value. It was also packed by 13.00 with people waiting for seats when we left.

We both had two courses from the fixed price menu of a bruschetta to start and then some chicken in breadcrumbs thing to follow. Gorgeous, simple food without any pretention but the sweetest tomatoes you will try this side of venice and for me, the nearest I have found anyone coming to the quality and tastiness of the bruschetta I had in Rome some years ago. With (soft) drinks, bread, coffees and service it all came to £34.00. Not bargain bucket stuff, but really good value for such a lovely meal, with quick friendly service.

So I’ve been again today for a brunch. That was maybe even nicer. Scrambled eggs with mushrooms on gorgeous oil soaked italian toasted bread. Three of us went and all had similar versions of an italian brekkie and it came to £27.00. Again not for nothing, but worth every penny.

We left around midday, just as Jamies up the road was opening. They had a queue. I’m still to try it for myself, but the light friendliness and tasty food of Carluccio’s will be hard to beat.

Jamie's Italian Nottingham - A queue for opening
Jamie's Italian Nottingham - A queue for opening

Admiral Insurance – Brilliant again

Admiral Insurance – Looking out for their customers

It’s going to sound like i’m in the pocket of these insurance types as I am again impressed with the customer service from Admiral Insurance. I wrote about their brilliant call centres here.

My mate Tim Garratt has had nothing but trouble with his.

But my experience is totally different.

I have just put my personalised plates on my new car. That should be simple. But I had to take them off my old car and drive a different car in the meantime and also happened to change my wife’s car at around the same time too. So that was six calls in less than three months.

So on Saturday, I knew what to expect. The lady who answered in the UK call centre called Victoria didn’t dissapoint. I knew the script. “You do know Mr Lyle that there will be a £17.50 admin fee to cover the cost of the change?”

I said I did as I had paid it five times in three months.

“Well I don’t think you should pay it again then”, said our hero Victoria. “I’ll just speak to my Manager”.

A few moments later, she comes back on and confirmed that I had more than covered my admin fees and they would waive any fee this time.

They did the change for free, but in the meantime got a very happy customer who was clearly smiling down the phone.

I have said many, many times before that if you want to create brand loyalty you need to surprise and delight your customers. Give them things they’re not expecting and generally try and stand in their shoes.

Admiral are doing this incredibly well for such a big company. As long as the renewal cost is there or thereabouts, will get my multi-car policy business next year again.

Safari, Firefox or Chrome

Google Chrome - Better than Firefox and Safari? - certainly less crashy and slow
Google Chrome - Better than Firefox and Safari? - certainly less crashy and slow


I’m a bit of an Apple fan and believed they could do no wrong, but their battle with Adobe over Flash is killing them slowly and by a thousand small steps.

I don’t want Flash on my iPhone as I agree it may well slow it down even further, but I do want a browser that works.

I have had so many hanging pages in the last few weeks from Safari that I have completely switched to Google Chrome as my default Browser.

There have been a few of the most committed fans getting twitchy. Not least Tim Garratt when he got stiffed over his .mac account.

I do use Firefox as one of my browsers, but only so I can keep my shared Google calendar open as it uses a different user name and password to my other accounts. Maybe it comes back to connections again, but I never really connected with Firefox.

But Chrome is good. It is now much faster than Safari, allows clever plug-ins and seems to never crash. Even with sites that have Flash embedded on their front page.

Is Apple losing their grip? or is Safari due a major upgrade.

If you want to see a brilliant Google funded experiment with the power and processing of Chrome, have a look at this site. Put in your home Postcode, wait a few minutes and sit back and enjoy. The first few minutes are dull and then it will stagger you.

The end of the road for Top Gear?

Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson – Maybe he has lost his sense of perspective?

Last night’s episode of Top gear was for me, the end of the road. I’m canceling the series link and I am now officially bored of the programme. It has become too smug for its own good and is less relevant for the man on the street than it ever had before.

It used to be three guys sharing some irreverent banter and clearly having fun driving fast cars, who couldn’t believe their luck that they were getting paid to do exactly what they loved. But now it feels far more like self congratulatory rich blokes who fawn at the celebrities and look down on anything/anyone normal.

How can the £150k Ariel Atom be anything other than foolish when the £32k one that is within reach of normal people is fast enough?

I got up and went and made a cuppa half way through it. I never used to do this. I spoke to Tim Garratt and he said his son did the same. Even my mate at work – a mad petrol head – thought it had lost it’s appeal. None of us bothered to watch the Christmas episode on watchback, the people who I know did, said it was a bit dull.

The new Stig was reborn because they bring in £1million a year from Stig related merchandise. Doesn’t that mean that their anti establishment position is now blown. They have become the corporate establishment they used to fight against.

Perhaps Clarkson, should hang out with his mate AA Gill and reinvent themselves whilst they still have time.

Otherwise, I can see this as the last series of Top Gear in this format. The Brand values of Top gear are pretty much worn out.

Cutting off Jak Garratt’s 9″ Mohawk for Dyslexia Action

This is a totally personal blog in support of my good mate Tim Garratt who’s son Jak has just cut off his 9″ Mohawk to raise money for Dyslexia Action, who supported him throughout his life. You can donate here.

Looking at a face of sheer terror as Tim approaches him with a pair of scissors is worth all the money he can raise. Good work Jak and great scissor work Tim.

Why social media matters?

The Luddites, fighting against change that was happening anyway
The Luddites, fighting against change that was happening anyway

There are two growing schools of thought with regard to social media.

School 1 – lets call them the Luddites
This social media lark isn’t for me. I am an estate agent, I sell widgets, I sell whatever. It’s all about wanky celebrities telling you what they’ve had for lunch isn’t it? Facebook is a load of teenagers that want to share their pointless pictures and get off with each other on the web, without meting each other and Google domaniates the search world and always will.

And there’s school 2
Lets call them sensible people, who understand that change is happening and happening fast. Those who don’t change will not survive. It’s a plain and simple fact.

I’ll steal a Charles Handy quote from my mate Tim Garratt’s ‘Adapt or Whither’ Blogpost here.

“If you boil water and drop a frog in it – it jumps out immediately. However, if you put that frog in a pot of cold water and slowly heat it, the frog adapts its body temperature to that of the water until at 100 degrees centigrade it boils alive”

It is a case of adapt or die. Those who don’t notice the change soon enough, will be left behind so completely, they will die.

Who would want to move into the printed media world right now?

Which is likely to grow fastest – printed or online media?

So I’ll give you some examples.

1. WordPress
They now provide more powerful and open source Content Management Systems (CMS) than almost anything else out there and it’s practically free. Their business plan is about selling small additional enhancements to many people for very little. We feel no pain in dealing with them and as I have shown here, they offer better customer service than anyone else in the CMS market anyway.

So traditional CMS is dead within the next few months or years. That’s a big or even huge market wiped out at a stroke. There were some bigger companies paying over £1m for a big CMS with less usbilty than WordPress offers now.

2. Traditional newspaper models
When Alexander Lebedev’s bought the London Evening Standard, according to the Guardian he paid £1. The Daily Mail & General Trust which owned the paper could see the writing on the wall in the paid regional daily newspaper sector and got out before the losses became too big. He has now switched it to a free model, so provides a great free product that has a chance of survival if it can grow its circulation again.

They were killed by their own Metro product distributed free in the mornings. They were damaged before this by us just getting out of the habit of reading papers and taking our news via all of the other media channels now open to us.

Evening papers are dependent on advertising revenue and with falling circulations, they couldn’t even attract the advertisers who are ALL switching to the more easily accountable online advertising routes.

There is still, without doubt a market for printed material, but it’s evolving fast and moving into niches rather than the mainstream. This was discussed in more detail here.

3. Printed books
I just didn’t get the point of e-books. I can’t say i’m going to own one anytime soon. I am an avid reader and I love printed books. My house and office is full of them. I love their smell their feel and the thought of sitting down to relax for a good read.

But there is a generation that doesn’t get it. Why would you carry hundreds of bulky books, when you can get them all on one good e-reader or Kindle?

And this is my point.

Its a generational change.

This generation are different. Like we as a generation are completely different to the generation before us. It’s called evolution.

It won’t happen overnight.

But it will happen.

This next generation won’t buy books, newspapers and they will not seek out products. Products will seek out them.

They will meet people on the Internet, like we met them at work, school, the pub or even out shopping.

Facebook is sure to add peer to peer video very soon and with over 300 million users already and growing fast, it will dwarf Skype and most other peer to peer communication tools. But it has a very young user base that will grow up knowing only this as their main tool to talk.

They will socialise online, as for many it will have become too expensive to get out and about. With retirement ages being raised across the world, to pay for our living longer, many of us will not be able to get about, unless we grow wheels.

It changes everything.

The world will be a different place and we need to recognise and act on this now.

This next generation will live in their convenient world of augmented reality and any brand owner who doesn’t see this can just hop into this nice cold pan of water I have waiting over here, whilst the world applies the heat.


Thanks to Tim Garratt for even more information on this.  He has pointed me towards an article in the London Times here which says that even the British legal system is having to change to reflect how the next generation behave. They are simply not used to sitting and listening and can only interact with an online interface. Help!

Updated again

This is a great YouTube video I picked up from the brilliant writers at Bitterwallet. It seems to back up what i’ve said above but is perhaps the first demonstration by the publishers that whatever the delivery method, people still value the content. I’m sure their right on this but if they’re not careful ad don’t adapt to these new delivery methods fast enough, the whole world will have moved on, before they even notice. And as Nobby pointed out in the comments below the article, in the very cleverly worded text, they cheated and at 1:23 added in a extra ‘of’ to the text so it makes sense when you read it backwards.

What were the 17 learnings from the USA Trip?

Tim Garratt, of Innes England and one of the team from the USA trip has written up the initial findings, using the learnings from architect Daniel Liebskind as the model on which to present.

How do we summarise the whole trip, what we learned and how we can transfer it to Nottingham?

This short presentation that was delivered to the full Sheriff’s Commission on Friday is the start point.

Comments to enlarge the discussion are very welcome.