THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Day one in the house

After a management meeting with Bonnie and an emergency coaching call with a client (parked in a Cornish lay-by) I arrive at The Riverside for 3.45pm Monday and begin the process of “meeting and greeting” our “housemates”. They arrive in dribs and drabs, one has taken the train from London, two couples have flown to Newquay Airport and the rest have negotiated the A30 – the highway to the South West, currently disrupted my major road improvements from Bodmin to Indian Queens – it’s hell at the moment but in 2007 will reduce the journey time enormously. As an aside, the discovery of human settlement from 4500 years ago is a fascinating aspect of this controversial road development which was delayed for many years due to the threat posed to many local flora and fauna. The modern world has compromised, for once, and the route has been changed to provide protection. If you are fascinated by archaeology take a look at http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/3485.aspx. Back to The Riverside. Our guests are all in by 7.30pm and those arriving earlier have found their rooms, unpacked and are enjoying tea, coffee and home-made walnut cake in the lounge. We have made a momentous discovery – Linda. Linda is our cook for the week – she will be preparing breakfast and evening meals. Linda is one of those people who you know that you will like in an instant. She has a knack of remembering names and, after being introduced to each of the “housemates”, uses their name every time she speaks to them. Nothing is too much trouble – herb teas, access to a telephone, slight changes to plans. “No problem, leave it with me, I’ll get it sorted.” I’m intrigued as to why somebody with such personal charisma is cooking for a dozen people this week – so I wander into the kitchen and engage her in conversation. She has enjoyed a successful career in – wait for it – customer service training in the hotel and catering industry. She conducts “mystery shopper” surveys, checking into hotels and restaurants and sampling the service standards. She runs training sessions for receptionists and others. She ran her own business, sold out for “enough” and now spends most of her year living in France. When in the UK she loves to cook – hence the “hobby” of looking after us this week. She also now runs training courses for people looking to buy French property. Our cook is an entrepreneur! I knew most of her life story by 5.00pm yesterday – we’ll see whether any of the “housemates” discover as much. At 7.45pm last night we all sat down to a splendid dinner. Starter – paella; Main course – roast pork with all the trimmings; Dessert – a choice of treacle tart of the most amazing bread and butter pudding I have ever tasted. I left the “housemates” at 10.00pm. They have no mobile phone signal and no internet access. One of them begged me last night to hook her up to the telephone line so that she could check her emails using a dail-up connection. Remember dail-up? It’s so quaint. So now a few emails and then back over there for 9.00am and our first working day. 3-year vision, 12-month plan, 90-day goals.

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