Monthly Archives: February 2012


A good day at QVC Germany today,we have really grown as a brand there and the sales numbers are astonishingly good for less than 12 months in a new market.

Lots of teething problems wi delivery, warehouse, product range but all simple enough to sort through 2012.

It was quite an experience this morning to wake up and see Diet Chef on both QVC and DMAX (we are testing infomercials in Germany at present).

We are also rolling out short form ads on various channels in Germany with good success.

Here’s a couple of photos of the channels from today:



March is a big month

March is nearly here and there are a couple of major events.

Freyja is 14 on the 4th March which is a landmark birthday and the planning has begun. Issue is the only thing on the birthday list is a dog which is not on my birthday list!

I thought – futile as it is to give some of the reasons for not wanting to extend the furry family:

1. Time

We are all quite busy with travel, school and other projects which means we could have a dog but this is going to impact on some of the general things we take for granted. The commitment isn’t a short one, I joke with advisors that “an investor is for life not just Christmas” and this sentiment follows onto dogs (actually stolen from that key punch line – a dog is for life not just for christmas) but anyway it is probably 10 years plus lifespan unless I can persuade Freyja we should buy a terminally ill dog (think this is unlikely).

2. Social

No it isn’t because dogs don’t use Facebook yet (actually if you viewed my timeline you would realise that a number of my friends are dogs (yes, sad owners that have created profiles – you know who you are!!) breaching all conditions of the Facebook policies and probably increasing the number of users on Facebook by about 1 billion (remember the valuation is based on the number of active users). The only person winning out of this is Mr Zuckerburg and his team of dogs (conspiracy theorists might note that over 20% of Facebook revenue comes from Zynga named after Mark Pincus dog).

3. Because I might like it

My worse fear is that I might like a pet dog, opening the door to more pets (parrots, chickens, ducks and quails have all been mentioned)

So I have laid my case out, I am sure there will be a vigorous defence mounted by the dog lovers of the household!

Passport Panic

I haven’t had the best of weekends!

Off to Germany and online check in isn’t working. So make it to Edinburgh airport extra early clear security and notice that I have forgotten my passport (yes, that was a bit of an oversight), mad rush back home and a few panic phone calls and I make it back to the airport in time for the flight.

I am now 250km from London at 34,000 feet

Can BA please change the snack from Mediterranean tomato rehydrated potato tubes (12g and still about 80 kcal) to something more exotic or perhaps just change once in a while. I have taken quite a few flights since January (12 return trips) so the novelty of these are wearing off.

I think BA is particularly good but there is some suggestions of or improvements:

Avios points redemption – I would like to be able to buy lounge access vouchers for my extended family. I know this is a business scheme but once or twice a year I do travel with family on BA long haul or just to Europe and I would like to take friends of the kids into the lounge especially since we frequently travel through London from Edinburgh. These connections would be made a little more bearable if we could do this and it’s a good redemption system for Avios as getting flights to certain popular destinations using points is very tricky.

I don’t think it’s a bad idea, and I certainly wouldn’t expect lounges to become too busy.

Come on BA – remember kids are also future business customers and experiencing this is a good way to let them show the differential with other providers. Otherwise I may move my rewards programme elsewhere as I used to find American very good on these things (upgrades online, lounge access, instant upgrades for platinum customers etc)

Germany here we come

Off to Germany this afternoon for meetings with QVC which should be interesting.

The pain is for some reason I cannot print out my boarding pass with @britishairways so I need to do that old fashion thing and go to the airport a little early to understand what the issue is.

Will miss a bit of the Scotland rugby game this afternoon but maybe able to catch a little in the airport.

The update on the hottub at Nethy is a new pump was required at approx £700 including labour. The nice guys at Hotspring Central in Stirling also gave the tub a good overhaul so we should be good for a little while (hopefully).

I decided lt night to empty the tub and also refill it to get the levels right, it wasn’t too bad as I had a few glasses of wine while emptying it!


Innocent juices


Having met Adam at innocent a few weeks ago I have been impressed by the design and range extension of innocent Juices.

The pack design really sticks out in store.

I have never been a fan of smoothies but this may make me engage with Innocent.

Oh and being on promo helps too!

Holiday booked

Well that’s it. Early Easter we are heading off to the wonderful Villa Patricia in Costa de La Luz. We were last there in October 2009 and we had a great time, very relaxed with lots of issues with the local seafood due to language issues.

So roll on April for a week away in the sun.

Shortbread recipe


A little excess butter in the fridge,  so I thought I would make some shortbread for Sunday coffee time
There is lots of debate about shortbread recipes, but personally the key I have found is cheap butter!
I don’t know what it is but I used to use the highest quality butter I could buy but the shortbread just wasn’t the same.
Here is the recipe

8 ozs (225g) Plain Flour
4 ozs (100g) Cornflour
4 ozs (100g) Icing Sugar
8 ozs (225g) Butter

I add a few drops of almond essence to give an additional flavour profile to the shortbread.

Chop butter into small pieces and place into processor with sieved flour, cornflour and icing sugar. Whizz until it gathers into a ball.

Turn the mixture out onto floured surface and roll out to a thin patty. Cut into rounds with pastry cutter and place on a greased baking tray.

Cook for 15-20 minutes in the baking oven of the Aga (180c/Gas 4) till firm and light brown. Place on a wire rack and sprinkle with caster sugar while warm.

Icing sugar and cornflour are essential for this recipe, it really improves the texture.

2nd homes aren’t all they are cracked up to be

I have had a slightly stressful week regarding our holiday home in Nethybridge (

My father in law Frank, who used to own the property (before we rebuilt it) always complained about the hassles of a second home, especially in the highlands where you experience very cold winters. We used to put anti freeze down the toilet before we left it unattended through experience of frozen pipes, toilets, showers etc.

So when we installed a Hotspring hot tub in the euphoria of building the house, we didn’t realise just how much hassle it could be.

I think if we lived there full time it wouldn’t be such an issue, but trying to remotely diagnose issues 250 miles away is pretty tricky.

But the long and short of it is a failure of the main jet pump, 6 days after the end of the 5 year warranty (our Hotspring retailer went bust in the property collapse about 12 months after we bought the thing)

Anyway no local engineer. £250 call out and a £400 part has left me less impressed by Hotspring ( and reconsidering recommending these guys.

To be fair we have had 5 years of good service but things start to go wrong and in an expensive way suggests that we may need to move this gadget elsewhere!