Are you the cream first or the jam first kind of person? It’s one of the great British problems that us Brits face. In the southern counties of Devon and Cornwall its almost a political debate. Those from Devon put their cream on first, whereas their Cornish neighbours spread their jam as a base. I’m a cream first kind of guy, I see it as a bit like butter, in a cheese sandwich you wouldn’t put the cheese on first would you?
Beth and I were kindly invited by Visit Nottinghamshire and the St James Hotel in Nottingham to sample their Sparkling Afternoon Tea during the National #AfternoonTeaWeek. We were treated to a platter of sandwiches, a collection of cakes, topped with scones, cream and strawberry jam. Our waiter Ken was a credit to the hotel and served us a chilled prosecco on arrival.
Afternoon Tea stems back to the mid 1800’s and is believed to have been introduced by the Duchess of Bedford. The Duchess found that she became hungry mid-afternoon, as her evening meal was served late in the evening. The Duchess requested to be served tea, bread and butter on a tray and began to invite friends to join her.
British Tea Facts:
– 76% of the British population drink tea every day.
– 165m cups of tea are drunk every day.
– Brits spend over £650m a year on the stuff!
– Tea consumption based on percentages 68% Breakfast Tea, 28% Green Tea, 27% Earl Grey, 26% Fruit Tea.
– Glaswegians are the biggest drinkers of Herbal & Fruit Teas
– Scousers are big fans of tea, with the people of Liverpool drinking 1,460 cups on average per year.
Afternoon Tea Week was born in the early 2000s and has now become an annual event celebrated in August with this year’s event being held between the 12th – 18th August. The event is being hosted all over the UK from quaint tea rooms through to 5* Hotels.
Four places for a quirky and instagrammableafternoon tea in the UK:
Brigit’s Afternoon Tea Bus – London
Jump aboard a London icon, a vintage red, double-decker Routemaster bus and take in the sights of the city whilst sipping tea and tucking into your sandwiches. The tour lasts around one hour thirty and passes landmarks such as Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St James’s Park, Hyde Park, The Royal Albert Hall and Marble Arch to name a few.
Voted highly recommended in the Afternoon Tea Awards, Sketch’s afternoon tea is housed in a monochromatic blush coloured gallery and it also has one of the most Instagrammed toilets in London (have you seen their egg-shaped pods?). Sketch’s tea is served in quirky cups and the menu defiantly has a twist too!
Our hosts for afternoon tea were St James Hotel in Nottingham’s city centre right next to Nottingham Castle and the statue of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood. The hotel offers a boutique style with rooms to accommodate varying budgets, including a penthouse suite. Our afternoon tea was served in their No.6 Bar & Lounge that has a curious mix of colours, patterns and styles.
Who’s that one artist that you loved when you were younger? The one that you know all of their lyrics to? Craig David is that artist for me and he broke onto the scene when I was about seven, rocking my beanie hat and over ear headphones (ok, maybe not, I wasn’t that cool!).
When I Heart Wines offered us the chance to go and see Craig at the amazingly beautiful Kew Gardens I was straight on it, despite being over 200 miles from home holidaying in North Devon. A ‘Re-Wind’ back to my childhood was not one to be missed. I was quickly online trying to find the best option to get from Devon to London. The chosen option was for Beth to drop me at Bristol Temple Meads Station and head east towards the capital, I booked my ticket a mile away from the station and sprinted across the station to board my train as the traffic was horrendous!
I’d arrange to meet my friend Ollie and swapped a ticket for half of his double bed for the night, he was one of my Groomsman so Beth was happy with it!
Have you been to Kew? It looks stunning doesn’t it? Unfortunately, we only skirted around the outside, but I’ve seen how incredible it looks from photos online and really want to go back with Beth and my camera.
Kew Gardens is a botanic garden in southwest London that houses the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”. Founded in 1840 Kew attracts over 1.3m visitors per year. Did you know Kew even has its own police force, Kew Constabulary?
“London’s hottest picnic concerts”
Defined by the Metro as Londons ‘hottest’ picnic concert Kew the Music hold concerts from a varied range of acts across a week in July. Concert goers grab their picnic and blanket and pitch up in front of the main stage. This years headliners were:
I Heart Wines had sorted us a bottle of wine to start the evening off, so we collected it from their vintage VW Camper, which Ollie and I sipped from on the bean bag loungers in the early evening sun, whilst watching the support acts, bliss.
Craig David’s support acts were Alex Aiono and Dani Sylvia. Alex Aiono was an American singer/producer, famous for his re-mixes/flipped versions of popular songs and found his early fame on YouTube and has over six million followers on the channel, he did a remix of Drakes One Dance which is worth a listen. Dani Sylvia won the ‘Best Songwriter’ at the Unsigned Music Awards in 2016 with Radio 2’s Alex Lester referring to Dani as “a name you’ll be hearing a lot of”.
Alex Aiono & Dani Sylvia Most Played Tracks on Spotify:
Once Dance/Hasta El Amanecer
As You Need
End of the Road
With 15 Million albums sold worldwide and multi Grammy nominations as well as a top 10 billboard hit 7 Days, plus 4.5 million single sales and 290 million single streams in the last year alone – Craig David is the most talked about return to music in decades!
Over the six evenings only one of these was sold out and that was the somewhat of an elder statesman of the UK Garage scene that infiltrated the charts and my parent’s car stereo in the early 2000s, Craig David. Fresh from his appearance on Love Island, Craig burst on to the stage just before 9pm, as the sun began to set, dropping some of his biggest hits from his early career to get the crowd going and they certainly lapped up every beat!
Starting with ‘What If’ from Craig’s comeback album Following My Intuition, which was quickly followed by the 2017 summer hit ‘Heartline’, the lead single from the 2018 album The Time is Now. The crowd were then taken back to the early naughties, with David delivering hits such as What’s Your Flava, Rewind and Walking Away. Craig’s 2000 number one hit 7 days was turned into a Spanish serenade.
The warm evening in the capital definitely gave a festival vibe to the concert, possibly even a pool party vibe, less the pool and the swim wear (Craig has been a resident with his TS5 DJ set for the last couple of years at the Ibiza Rocks Hotel Pool). Despite going into his 20thyear in the music industry he definitely delivered and rewound us all back to 2001!
A leather jacket, white shirt, jeans, wavy shoulder length hair and a well maintained beard, if you weren’t aware of Mr Branson he definitely comes across as just a ordinary man, however we all know that the multi billionaire is far from it.
On Friday for ninety minutes, Richard captivated and gripped an audience of 2,000 in Westminster’s Central Hall, many hooking Branson beards to their noses which had been included in the pack provided by the organisers. The pack also included a copy of his book ‘The Virgin Way’.
I once gave a presentation on ‘Inspirational leaders’, holding up a cut out of Sir Richards head mounted on a wooden spatula, steering away from the traditional Powerpoint presentation. When the opportunity arose to listen to Branson, it is something that I jumped at!
The #BeMoreBranson event had a real flavour of ‘the Virgin Way’ at its core, with the world famous leader discussing how important both Virgin customers and employees are, to both himself and the brand.
‘Virgin – I wanted to create a collection of companies that do ‘fun things’ that can make a difference to people.’
Despite talking in the first person he used ‘we’ rather than ‘I’, it was clear that although he was at the helm of the multinational conglomerate, he remained humble and appreciated that he had not been able to get there alone. In an interview last year, Branson said his employees came before the customers, defying years of business theory.
On the subject of positivity, Branson advised the audience that if you think positively about those who surround you and always look for the positives in what you do, in return you are guaranteed to receive good vibes. Branson reflected this, as positivity radiated from within, impacting those in the audience. Despite being told two extremes by his childhood Headmaster: that he would either be in prison or a millionaire; it is evident that Branson hasn’t let struggles such as dyslexia and failing business like Virgin Cola hold him back, advising that he must have been born under a lucky cloud.
Branson discussed the traits in being a good leader, he stated that they should be good listeners, do not criticise people, find the value in their employees and simply, genuinely like people!
‘If you can successfully run one company well, you can run any company.’
Branson steers away from the ‘you’re fired’ approach, which can be seen in The Apprentice. Again using positivity and opting to help people find strength in their armoury, which may benefit other areas of the business. Branson does so by offering advice on ways for improvement, rather than dismissing them. Branson sees Virgin as an extended family to his own and stated that you would not fire a brother or sister, would you?
Not only is he an inspiring leader, but also a great story teller. The 1973 hit ‘Tubular Bells’ was rejected by many of the leading record producers, however Branson believes that it helped form the foundation to the brand. In regards to inspirations, he spoke of his Mother who made place-mats, amongst varying other hand made ventures, to provide an extra income. Branson enjoys being the David against the Goliath, ‘experiencing a buzz’ out of pulling the coat tails of the market leaders; speaking of the competition between British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which is often referred to as the ‘dirty tricks’ campaign. A few years later when British Airways struggled to erect the London Eye, Branson pulled this stunt (see link), firmly with his ‘tongue in cheek’.
Despite Branson being the grand age of sixty-five, he still has seventeen year old girls ‘throw themselves at him’, however I think most of us would agree that ‘Virgin Dating’ would not stand to compete against the likes of Tinder and Match.com.
On what legacy he says he wishes to leave behind, Branson simply replied ‘to be remembered for making a bigger difference…’
On Saturday I had the opportunity to travel to London for TATAs Social Enterprise Conference, hosted by NACUE (National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs) held at City University.
The hardest bit of the event was setting my alarm for 05:20, as our train was booked for 06:25 to ensure that we were ready for the 10:00 start in the capital.
Upon arrival at City University it was great to see the Balloon Kenya team who were exhibiting at the event, who welcomed guests with balloon shaped cookies. It was great to see Maxine too, who was another Fellow on my programme over the summer.
The event started at ten with a welcome from NACUEs Head of Community, Amy Watson. The welcome was followed by Jaguar Land Rovers, Director for Corporate and Social Responsibility, Jonathan Garrett who spoke about the importance of preparing for 2050. The population will reach 9 billion and he spoke of how there is plenty of opportunities for social entrepreneurs to exploit the rise in population.
Arthur Kay of Bio-Bean, a company that recycles coffee grounds into biodiesel and biomass pellets introduced the keynote speaker, Robin Shelley. Robin who is regarded as a ‘Global Shaper’ by the World Economic Forum has worked as Chief of Staff to former President of Costa Rica Jose Maria Figueres, supporting international initiatives in climate change and energy. He currently works in investment banking and is interested in how finance can create economic development and social change. Robin spoke about ‘Social Intrapreneurs’, people working within large organisations that push for social good.
Following the morning keynote was a panel of social enterprise experts taking questions from the delegates in regards to ‘Working towards a greater social impact’.
Coffee and networking concluded the morning sessions in which I was asked to speak to The Guardian in regards to the conference and about the work I did in Kenya, which I look forward to seeing.
Breakout sessions followed the networking break, with a selection of different topics being discussed in different rooms across the University. I chose ‘The Naked Debate’ hosted by Solitaire Townsend, the founder of Futerra, a sustainable development communications agency. Solitaire looked at making social enterprise sexy, how to win the status fight of social media and why you have power to change the world.
Lunch followed, allowing everybody to get some food and visit the varying stall that were available to view in the Social Enterprise Marketplace. I stayed with the Balloon Kenya team and shared my experiences with students who were interested in joining the project next summer.
After lunch was the presentation that I’d been looking forward too, with Rob Forkan the founder of Gandys Flip Flops and their investor Dominic List, a former Secret Millionaire. Rob went through Gandys interesting story, talking about how a family tragedy encouraged them to set up a business with social good – check out their story http://www.gandysflipflops.com/our-journey
Unfortunately we didn’t have time for the last set of talks as we had to get back to Sheffield, however I did have an attempt at running into a wall.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day out in the capital and thanks to Hallam Union for allowing me to represent them.
First of all apologies for the silence! I made it home from Kenya safely, but I’ve had a whirlwind two weeks.
It was surreal during my last weekend in Kenya having visited West Gate Mall just two weeks before the attack. The siege was plastered all over the Kenyan media, just as it was when I returned to the UK. I passed through Nairobi, within half a mile of the shopping centre on the second day of the siege on my way to the airport. We just sailed through as if nothing had happened, as it was dark and the dark smoke filled clouds could not be seen.
Six weeks prior to my departure from Nairobi the airport had suffered a fire – two days before my arrival. You may remember my blog about a long coach journey through Uganda and eventually onto Kenya. The structure of the terminal is still intact, however you can see the charred flame licked edges still. After passing through strict security checks we were allowed through to the ‘Departure Tents’, which were huge marquees with a flat screen television and Wi-Fi. Our flight for Zurich left on time and after being frisked at 06:30 I made my connection to London.
London was cold and overcast on arrival. I was concious of my body odour on the bus journey to Leicester and can only apologise to the lady who I shared a good chat with on the coach.
I spent two full days in Leicester seeing family and catching up with friends before returning north to Sheffield on Thursday. I managed to produce an article for the Leicester Mercury and I shall be working with the newspapers Business Editor to smooth it off this week. I was whisked straight into a presentation on the Thursday afternoon, presenting to over 50 Enterprise students about the Enterprise Society which I shall be looking after the finances for. A presentation to second year Business Studies followed, presenting to 100 students about my placement journey, with the focus of the talk being around resilience and not giving up. Both of the presentations were well received and I felt confident presenting, despite the big audience. I feel my placement where I regularly presented KPI’s to Directors and teaching in Kenya will of helped with this.
On Friday I sat in two Welcome Back presentations with the aim of gearing us up for our final year at the University, before returning back to Leicester for the weekend to collect the remainder of my things.
Monday started early with one of my electives – Contemporary Issues in International Business which looks at business in emerging markets. I rushed home to have a skype chat with my Career Advisor Aimee (check out http://www.careercake.com) which was good and we spoke about going for graduate opportunities. I then went for tea with Hallam Union’s Student Development Manager, Vanessa and we discussed about my trip and how I can help other students gain a similar experience. I was fortunate to be sponsored by the Union and due to my success they want to sponsor two students to go on the 2014 Balloon Kenya trip.
Tuesday saw me meet with one of the Universities Press Team to discuss a piece for the University and local press in regards to Kenya, which will go live tomorrow (Monday 7th), so look out for that! The afternoon was spent rummaging through BAE’s Annual Report before the first meeting of the Enterprise Society Committee – which is looking really exciting!
I worked for The Economist on Wednesday morning at Sheffield University, we managed to sign up over 120 people to the magazine between a team of 5, which wasn’t bad going!
Meeting about the launch of the Enterprise Society Launch at lunch on Thursday went well. We shall be launching the society next Wednesday with food and a number of local entrepreneurs, who will be giving presentations.
Friday was another busy one. Two hours of lectures followed by a short meeting with the Head of the Placement Team, who has asked me to be a volunteer at the Universities Placement Employers Fair, which I have agreed to do. It will involve helping to introduce second years to potential employers. I then proceeded to a meeting with the Head of Business and Enterprise Management to discuss the Enterprise Society. An hour lecture about the Agency Problem in finance followed before I gave a presentation to 150 students about my placement (the presentations being re-cycled well!). I then met with my Placement Tutor to discuss my essay and opportunities in my final year.
So BUSY, BUSY, BUSY. I have managed to fit in a little bit of partying also, after all it has been Freshers!
I’ve been invited to speak at the opening of the Employability Hub and shall be speaking in their Global Graduates afternoon on Tuesday between 13:00-15:00. I shall also be dressing up as one of the 118 men, joining the Athletics team on their social, as my house mate is the Chairman.
I’m still providing advice to my Kenyans via WhatsApp, which I am happy to do. It’s also nice to wake up to them messaging me saying morning 🙂
Oh I also made contact with a former ‘Dragon’ who said they’d be interested in speaking at our Enterprise Week!
As you will of probably been aware, yesterday morning Nairobi Airport suffered a major fire in its Arrivals Hall and flight are now bring sent all over East Africa.
Going into my business mode (thanks Bosch for honing this talent) I assessed all the possibilities and spoke to all the different stake holders to assess my options and kept cool.
Initially I spoke with my airline who would not allow me to check into my flight from Brussels to Nairobi as they were unsure of whether or not the flight would be going. A later call confirmed that the flight had been cancelled and that I would have to talk to my travel provider. After talking to numerous people I am now flying from London to Brussels at 06:50 tomorrow, Brussels to Entebbe in Uganda, landing at 11pm, spending a few hours in a hotel before a 5am bus to Nairobi that will take 10 hours.
I instantly googled Entebbe’s location (I didn’t have a clue where it was) and I have noticed the Nakuru (home of Balloon Kenya) is on route to Nairobi, so I hope they will be able to drop me off there! Otherwise the journey will have an extra 6/7 hours added to it as Nairobi is 3 hours past Nakuru.
I tried contacting the Ugandan High Commission when I got home just after 16:00 to find they close at 16:00 and at 16:03 nobody answered. Hopefully they’ll of taken the diversion into account in regards to the visa.
Entebbe’s Airport is on the tip of Lake Victoria so hopefully I’ll get some decent pictures!
Top marks to the Balloon Kenya team who had everything in place for our arrivals in Nairobi, but they have been great help with their contingency planning!
A family BBQ to enjoy and then an early start for Heathrow!
With my trip to Kenya being under three weeks away I thought it best that I share a blog on my journey so far, which started in late February 2013.
Having earned an industrial placement with Bosch in June 2012, I was looking to continue to gain business exposure through the summer break before returning to Sheffield Business School in September 2013. Ideally I was looking to jump onto a large company’s summer insight scheme in London. However when looking through the various job sights I came across the Balloon Kenya Project.
Balloon Kenya select 48 students each summer (24 in June and 24 in August) to travel to Nakuru, Kenya to work with entrepreneurs to empower them to start their own business and lift their communities out of poverty. After a week in their intense Entrepreneurs School the volunteers then spend five weeks working with young Kenyans who dream of starting their own businesses. The last weekend sees the entrepreneurs pitch for micro-finance.
I could see a direct correlation between both what I had been doing on placement and my course at University (BA (Hons) Business Studies) and therefore was attracted to apply in late February. The application form had a focus around the qualities that you could bring to the project, your compatibility to working in a team and with others, what you considered to be your greatest achievement and a short CV. I looked at my seven year journey with the Air Training Corps, the experiences I had gained from working for Bosch and my degree, my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and my time as the Lord Lieutenants Cadet for Leicestershire. A competency and situation based interview followed before I received an e-mail whilst on an exercise bike to say I’d been successful.
Having saved £1,000 I calculated that it would cost me a further £2,000 to make it from Leicestershire to the Rift Valley. My drive and opportunities of the project compelled me to raise the £2,000 required.
The first place I headed for was the doctors and found out that I would need nine vaccinations before heading out to Africa – which isn’t ideal when you’re not a fan of needles. I am now vaccinated against Rabies, Yellow Fever and both Hepatitis’ and didn’t faint in the process!
In early April I met with Loughborough MP, Nicky Morgan to discuss the project and get some ideas on how to approach my fund raising. Nicky and her assistant, Jane Hunt had prepared a number of different pieces on ways of funding and where to gain further information on business in Kenya. Nicky spent half an hour in her surgery talking to me and pointed me in the right direction which was a good help. The Leicester Mercury and the Loughborough Echo took an interest and both published articles in their newspapers.
Following the talks with Nicky I was lucky to gain sponsorship from Leicestershire based charities the Sir Andrew Martin Trust for Young People, The Clarke and Summerville Foundation and the Soar Valley Rotary Club. I shall be exchanging the Rotary Clubs pendant with their fellow Rotarians in Africa and it was great to be able to meet with them, as they offered advice on working abroad and in Kenya. They all helped me towards my goal and I really appreciated it!
Before heading to New York for my 21st birthday I heard that my Cousin, Michael Londra would be running in Concerns Spring Run to raise money for their work in poverty stricken countries. I jumped at the chance to join him on the 6km run in Central Park and I now look forward to seeing how their money is spent in Kenya when I visit one of their programmes. Michael’s small team ranked highest in the sponsorship table, which was a great achievement due to the 1,500 competitors!
I opened talks with the University whilst I was in New York. I initially contacted the Head of Business Studies and also my placement tutor to see if the University would be able to help me in anyway. The University said that nothing was currently in place for this type of activity and I thought that it was dead in the water until I got an email from Hallam’s Student Union. The email came from the Student Development Unit who said that I may be entitled to apply for their Innovation Award that has been set up to help students working on social enterprise projects. After a number of telephone conversations with Vanessa Marshall at the Union and their application form I was granted the Innovation Award which really helped me close in on my target amount. I got the chance to go up to Sheffield a few weeks ago to discuss the project with the Union and it was great to meet up with them and talk about how I can help them in my final year.
Carlisle United Football Club added an article to their website entitled ‘Show Us Your Colours’ encouraging fans to send in pictures of fans in their shirts around the world for use in their programme. I’d spoken to somebody who said that he had seen lots of retro Manchester United shirts on a visit to Kenya. I had a brainwave and e-mailed the club to see if they would be able to send out a bag of shirts to Lalwat – a small village on the outskirts of Nakuru. Unfortunately they were unable to help as they had given many tops to ‘Kits4Causes’.
Away from the fund raising I wanted to gain a greater understanding of Kenya, its culture and its economy. I have also been reading up about the ‘Canvas Model’ for business planning, which is used in the programme. Fortunately my network allowed me to talk a number of different people. One of Volvo Cars Vice Presidents in Sweden and I had a good talk about working within different cultures and how to approach them. I had a long conversation with my Managing Director at Bosch about using the experience to develop me personally and how it would help in the future. Former Apprentice finalist Nick Holzherr also put me in contact with somebody that had worked on projects in Africa, who gave me some really good advice on what to expect about the business culture. The Business Show in June held in London also allowed me to speak face to face with people who had worked in Kenya. Using their hashtags on Twitter allowed me to capture the attention of people who were also attending the event.
Following the Business Show at Excel I managed to grab a telephone call with one of their headline speakers, Brad Burton. The highly motivational Brad managed to get a couple of hundred suit wearing people off their chairs and going mental when he took to the stage, even if it was for a copy of his book (Amazon search him – great read!). Brad and I spoke about motivating people in the classroom to ensure that their heart was set on the right project and to make sure they understood the problems that they could face.
I hope that my experience in Kenya will help me in my final year of studies and when I become the Finance Director for Sheffield Business School’s Enterprise Society, giving fellow students an insight into entrepreneurial spirit abroad. On my return I shall be working with the Student Development Unit to run workshops on social enterprise and international business and also with the Business School as a Mentor for those seeking a sandwich year, similar to what I did at Bosch.
Flights booked, Malarone prescribed and Visa accepted, now just the long 18 day wait until flight SN2104 to Brussels, before heading south to Nairobi.