What is a friend?

This may seem like a strange question. However, I urge you to think about your answer. Really think about it.

In todays online age, you often hear people brag about how many Facebook friends they have. The bigger the number, the more popular they are. Indeed, the number of Facebook friends perhaps does indicate popularity. But are these people friends?

What is a friend?

I believe it is necessary to define what a friend is.

For me, a friend is not an acquaintance. Nor is it those members of the group that you go for a drink with. The people you play sport with, are they friends? I suspect not.

For me, a friend is a person that will be there for you no matter what. Someone that you trust implicitly. With a true friend, you can be yourself. There are no secrets, no acting or being the person you think they want you to be. Expectations are non existent. Perhaps your friend lives a distance away, but when you meet it is like you have never been apart. When together, you are not afraid of silence. It may not always be easy, but the friendship will endure.

So How many friends do you have?

Using the definition above, and being truthful to yourself, how many friends do you have?

I feel immensely fortunate to say that I have 2. Friendship wise, I feel rich indeed. I neither want nor need more.

If you have such friends, cherish them. Take time to realise what you have. Make sure you continue to invest the time and effort when needed in that friendship.

Mates and Acquaintances

It is important to remember, that like so many things in life, a person needs variety, they need resilience. As such, I am not suggesting for one moment that you go and ditch your mates. Just recognise the difference between a mate and a friend. Set you expectations appropriately. Respect boundaries.


Sign up to my newsletter here

Photo by Joshua Sazon on Unsplash

Northern Rail

Northern Rail

I feel totally exasperated by the Northern Rail Debacle.

What has happened to today with the removal of the Northern Rail franchise is astonishing.

I think everyone can accept that there have been problems. Some of these problems will have been of Northern Rails making i.e. the timetable changes. However, what will taking the franchise out of Arriva’s hands actually achieve?

What will change?

We will have the same people driving the trains, the same schedulers planning the timetables. Train Maintenance will continue to be done by the same engineers.

Will the new government led organisation be able to get the new trains any quicker? – I think not.


I am sure the idiot union leaders are cheering. Why? What have they achieved? The strike action by the unions has not helped. They have caused much misery. Unions have to accept some of the blame for the situation.

Franchising is broken

It is true to say that the current franchising system is broken. This much is undeniable. We only have to look at the East Coast Mainline issues. The East Midlands Railway process was nothing short of a farce.

Nationalisation would be a disaster. Did British Rail not nearly go bankrupt and run the railways into despair? It was only the Intercity 125 that saved them.

Northern Rail is only symptomatic of failings across the industry. An industry that needs to modernise (Yes union leaders, I am looking at you!). The industry needs to work together if it is to work. Northern Rail were the victims as well as the cause for the poor service.


We now find ourselves in limbo. A few new managers are not going to fix this. Fact!

We desperately need the report being conducted into the way the railways work to be published. Then we need, as a country, to read it and take action. I am pinning much hope on this report.

HS2 cash

We should cancel HS2 and use that cash to improve the system, especially in the North.

If the Northern powerhouse is a great as they promise, surely connectivity between Northern cities is more important than to London?

As a country, we need to speed up the agenda. Make decisions. Take action. Positive action (Looking at you again unions!)


Why not join my mailing list


Helping a registered Charity

They do say that charity starts at home. In many ways it does. But helping a registered charity is such a wonderful endeavour.

I decided just over 1 year ago that I wanted to give something back to the society that has given me so much. I decided helping a registered charity was a good thing to try. It would be true to say that I have not looked back.

Make a difference

Volunteering your time is a selfless act. Giving your time can make such a difference to those people that you help. People that are probably going through tough times.

There is a saying that goes along the lines of, ‘The joy is in the giving’. I have discovered that this is very true. However, by giving, you can also receive. You will receive the gratitude of those that you help. Just seeing that gratitude is totally priceless.

Everyone wins. The people that benefit from your time get the help and support that they need. That much should be obvious. The person giving also wins. How? Very often the work undertaken will be very different to your normal day to day activity. Experience, friendship, and satisfaction will all be received in abundance.

No excuses

I do understand that people can be busy. Life is a busy place to be. This should not be used as an excuse. There are many volunteering opportunities out there. Some require regular hours, some require you to attend. Many however, can be done on your own terms from home. A 10 minute phone call to an elderly or vulnerable person is such a small amount of time, the benefits will be immense. Or how about getting a disabled persons shopping when you do yours. Minutes can make a massive difference.


I have gained so much. New life experiences have been had. Lessons have been learnt. Comfort zones very much stretched.

Your community is a wonderful place. If everyone volunteered just a few minutes of their time, it could be an awesome place.

Go do it!

You will be amazed how easy it is to find something to do. Try looking at the community boards in your local coffee shop or supermarket. If that does not find you an opportunity, you could register on


Why not join my mailing list – just click here

Photo by ray sangga kusuma on Unsplash



Like so many people, I am heartily sick and tired of BREXIT.

If the recent election tells me anything, it tells me I am not alone.

No matter what each of us voted in the referendum and the election, there is a majority that wants to leave the EU. For whatever reason!

I have always been open in saying that I voted to remain. However the country has now said we should leave. Twice! That is what we should now do.

Be proud. Be positive.

I believe we should not fear this change.

The United Kingdom is a fantastic place. We have so much to be proud and confident about. From history, pomp and pageantry to high tech. Creativity and skill. Grit and determination.

Whilst it is true that we need Europe, it is equally true that they also need us. This means only one thing; a deal will be done. Business will continue. Life will continue.

Let us go into this with a positive attitude. Positive that we will succeed. I believe we will.

Be embarrassed

I have been embarrassed to be British over the last 3.5 years. Not because we made the decision to leave, but because of the way we have behaved.

Our leaders in the house of commons have much to be ashamed of. On all sides! Our EU friends have been immensely patient.

We have seen legal challenges. Dubious policies. Actions that have been deemed illegal. Protests and frustration. Families have split. This is all so very sad.

This is surely not the way we want to be seen by the outside world.


There will be change that we will need to get used to. Some of this change will be good and some bad. Change may be easy or hard. If we all come together, these changes will be better than if we don’t.

We must remember that even if we stayed in the EU, there would still be change to cope with. There is always change. Change is the only constant in life.

Now is the time to embrace change to help us move forward. Leaving the EU is going to happen. We need to make the most of it.

Come together

Now is the time to come together as a country.

The argument and divisions of the last 3.5 years must now be a thing of the past. We must unite behind the democratic decision. There is zero room for infighting and arguments.

Together, we must move forward.

What does the future hold?

No one truly knows what the future holds. We all know that the best laid plans sometimes fail. Outcomes are not always what we plan. Oddly enough, that would also be the case if we stayed in the EU.

What we do know, is that if we provide a united and positive front with no internal fighting, we stand a better chance.

Positivity, determination, united. These are the attitudes that we need.

Let us not kid ourselves however. There are going to be bumps in the road. These bumps should not deter us. They should not divide us. Sensible and constructive discussions are what will get us through.

I want a United Kingdom that is prosperous, happy and healthy. Personally, I wanted that to be in the EU. The majority wanted it out the EU. So be it.

We can do BREXIT. Believe!


More Rants can be found at

Photo by Angela Compagnone on Unsplash

Eagle and Tun

Eagle and Tun

The last day of the Eagle and Tun.

This classic traditional pub, that was rescued from dereliction is closing. It is due to be demolished to make way for the HS2 rail line. This is sad indeed.

I visited this pub on its last day of trading, Saturday 4th January 2020.

This is what some would call ‘A classic boozer’. The pub would never win any awards for comfort. There is no way you would have called it stylish or well to do. The pub however was something of a classic. Above all, it had history. Unfortunately it has no future.

Eagle and Tun Tiled wall
Tiled Wall

The pub had some remarkable features such as an old tiled wall and classic lighting.

Around the walls and above the bar there were a number of aged musical instruments. The authenticity of which was only heightened by the an element of dust.

In such an establishment, the perfect complement would be high quality real ale. Even on the last day of trading when you might expect the standards to slip, the beer was excellently kept. A massive tribute to the landlord that had previously rescued the pub from dilapidation.


Not only did the pub have its own style and great beer, it’s history was scattered with fame.

Some of this fame was evident by the signed picture of UB40. This was the location for the famous Red Red Wine music video. More recently It was used by Ed Sheeran to shoot a music video.

What price progress?

The loss of this pub is truly regrettable. As it is consigned to the history books, I can only reflect on the future. The HS2 rail link is controversial and at the time of writing its own future is in doubt. This is not the only pub that has had to make way for this link.

I do recognise the need for modernisation, but I do wonder at the price that is paid. A price that is paid in so much more than money.

I wish the landlord every success in his next venture. He assured me the Eagle and Tun online presence will continue so we can follow his next adventure.

Good luck.


Follow the landlords facebook page here

UB40 Red Red Wine filmed at the Eagle and Tun here

Sign up to my newsletter here

Mental Health

Mental Health

The most important person in your life must be yourself and your mental health.

On the face of it, this may seem a strange statement, even a selfish statement. However, there can be no denying its validity.

One of the most important things to remember in life is that you cannot look after others if you are not fit and healthy yourself. When you think of it like this, you are truly the most important person in your life.

The Hidden illness

In my opinion, of all the ailments that can afflict the human race, mental health is one of the most dangerous. It is dangerous because people don’t always realise when it strikes. They don’t realise how bad it can be. Most importantly, however, people can be unprepared to talk about it or seek help.


Without doubt, there remains a stigma that robustly attaches itself to the condition. Why?

Despite a real focus on mental health over the last few years, I believe that it will take many more years for the Stigma to release itself. This is just human nature.

Asking for help

Like many conditions, seeking help is so desperately important. Making that step however does seem like climbing a mountain. If you take nothing away from this blog, please remember this –

‘Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness’

There are people out there that will help. Be it family, friends or medical professionals. Whoever you chose to speak to, be open and honest. Tell them how you feel. Open up. That sounds like such a tall order, but it is so very important.

Setting expectations

Don’t expect miracles. It will take time, but you will get there. You will be supported by the medical profession, friends and family.

When you recover, you will be a better person. Lessons will have been learnt that will equip you to better cope with life. I liken it to a path with a gate. You know when you get to the gate to turn around and come back. Never go through it again. It’s called strength.


You may have guessed that I have experienced mental health issues. You would be right. I really feel stronger for the experience.

Just Remember

  • Asking for help is a strength and not a weakness
  • You may not know it, but you are surrounded by people who care
  • You will come through it a stronger and better person.


Subscribe to my Newsletter by clicking here

If you should need help – try

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Should Customer Service be a battle

Customer service – Should it be a battle?

Should getting good customer service be a battle?

I find it hard to believe in this day and age and with so much competition between companies that this can even be a topic for me to rant about. Why is Customer service so patchy?

I do sometimes think it must be me. Do I cause the problems? Am I expecting more than I should?

Before I really start this particular rant, I would like to say that I do stand up for myself when I think I have been wronged. Equally, when something is better than I expect, I make sure to leave the appropriate review or express my appreciation in other ways. I think this is fair and balanced.

In the last couple of months, I have had two shocking customer service experiences. It has really made me think.

I will not name the companies or services for obvious reasons.

In both instances of poor customer service, the individuals who I was dealing with had clearly never had any customer training. One of them was titled ‘Technical Director’ and I really have no idea why he was even near a customer service email account. In both these instances, they failed to even listen to my complaint so it was obvious that they were not going to do anything about the situation.

It comes from the top.

In general, I believe the main culprit causing such poor customer service is the leadership of the organisation. Not the individuals answering the phone or email. I generally feel sorry for those taking the calls in this instance.

Looking after customers and putting them at the heart of everything the organisation does is the key to great customer service. The empowerment has to be provided from the top, as does the culture.

If a customer service agent is empowered to take ownership of an issue the results are impressive. In fact, the issues can be sorted out before it becomes a complaint.


How many times have you been told to contact another department? Perhaps you have been advised to call another number. You may even have been told you can’t speak to the team that you need as they don’t talk to customers.

I am a simple soul. I really have no interest in understanding the corporate structure of a company. All I need is just one number or email and for the person on the other end to take ownership. Simple. Very Simple.

Voice of the customer

It is a constant curiosity to me as to who represents the customers needs in an organisation. The needs of the customer must surely inform the service and product – right? Listening to the customer and trying to give them the service they want must surely be pivotal to success. Indeed, they say that ‘Word of mouth’ is the single best form of advertising.

Research suggests that it takes 10 good experiences to repair the damage from 1 bad experience. If this is indeed true, then doing right by the customer, even if that transaction does not make money must surely be the right thing to do. Call it a loss leader.

What does good look like?

I read once that good is-

  • Considered – The offering to the customer has been thought about. It is what the customer wants ( Customer Service, Quality of product etc.)
  • Consistent – Service and product offerings should be consistent. For large companies this means that the same answers/products are available no matter which store is visited. No matter who is spoken to.
  • Simple – Customers just want a simple, easy transaction. No Hassle and little complexity.

Look after the hand that feeds you

In summary, organisations must surely recognise who it is that pays them. Guess who that is! Yep, it’s the customer.

Listen to the customer. Do the right thing by them. Show them good will. It is the customer that determines if you succeed or fail. They have a choice!

Remember that when something goes wrong, it is often not the fact that something has gone wrong that is remembered. It is how you deal with it that will be talked about – good or bad.

To the customer

Remember that the person helping you is often constrained by poor internal policies. Don’t have a go at them. Be Polite but firm.

Should you not get the answer that you are looking for, politely ask for it to be escalated. Be persistent and don’t be ground down.

References and resource

Image by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

Subscribe to my newsletter – Click here