We Celebrate Our Queen’s Achievement This Week

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

I am going to indulge myself a little this month and hark back to my career roots in The Royal Household of Her Majesty The Queen.  This month marks the spectacular achievement of Her Majesty’s tenure as the longest reigning monarch in our history, and The English Manner offers every congratulation to The Queen.

A quite remarkable woman, as a former employee I have only warm and happy memories of my time in the Household and having the honour to interact with the Royal Family; and as a subject of the United Kingdom, I have the utmost admiration and respect for our Queen.

Her Majesty has never put a foot wrong and, as someone put it on the wireless today, her reign has seen the invention of the Mini, the internet, Facebook, numerous terrible conflicts and too many changes of Government to mention, but The Queen remains a constant and whether a Republican or a Royalist, one has to admire that tenacity and durability.  This monarch has without doubt given us tremendous stability in times of worldwide strife.

Her Majesty became the longest reigning British Monarch on 9th September 2015

Her Majesty became the longest reigning British   Monarch on 9th September 2015

We have been fortunate enough this year to lead cultural learning experiences for guests from China and America as well as some from other parts of the world.  As part of these programmes we have shown the power of the British Monarchy in tourism and it is without doubt one of our greatest exports!  We have enjoyed exclusive private tours of Kensington Palace, The Crown Jewels and the Tower of London, The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace and indeed, Buckingham Palace itself.  This year’s exhibit of the arrangements for a State Banquet are absolutely superb and I am sure the wonderful late Master of the Household Sir Peter Ashmore would be thrilled to see how it has been laid out to show visitors how it is done.

For our part, as we consistently teach to British Royal Standards, I am delighted that we have been able to showcase table settings and placements, and decorations the way we have been alluding to for years!  A truly super exhibit, and for those who have not yet seen it, I urge a visit before it closes on 27th September.

We have once again this year been to Sandringham House, and I hosted a very special group at that most beloved Scottish castle, Balmoral.  Remodelled extensively by Queen Victoria, I was struck this time by the restoration of the gardens and the new visitor centre facilities.  It must be 25 years since my last visit, and memories of the Summer Court and long stays as the nights drew in were abundant as we arrived in glorious warm sunshine to be greeted by a guide who remembered my time there in the 1980s!

The beautiful cottage where we Household girls stayed boasts a new kitchen but looked pretty much the same otherwise, and I will always remember the wonderfully kind Housekeeper taking pity on me as I shivered on the Highland evenings and allowed me a two bar electric fire in my room to keep me warm as well as the must have dram of whisky!

Sandringham House

Sandringham House

A journey to Balmoral is quite a long one from most parts of the country, but it is well worth the visit.  The Royal Whisky Distillery at Lochnagar is a superb tour; a more commercial one than the smallest distillery at Edradour (worth visiting en route at Pitlochry to see the difference between the two) and there are wonderful walks around the Estate itself.  Not open to visitors whilst Her Majesty is there over the summer months, but certainly one to head up the list for 2016 if you have a chance.

The visitor centre at Balmoral is superb, and if you peep inside the church at Crathie Kirk, you will see remnants of generations of the real Royal Family; a real live family, of grandparents, children, grandchildren and friends, who gather together with the occasional official visit from the Prime Minister or others, on their summer holidays, worshipping each Sunday in their local church.

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle

As the summer, such as we have seen it, draws to a close and the nights and mornings darken, we wish Her Majesty many more years on the throne, and a very happy summer holiday at Balmoral!

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Being a Guest in a Staffed House – Part One

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Shooting season is upon us and long weekends in country houses across the land will be the norm for the privileged few.  For newcomers fortunate enough to be included in these rituals for the first time, there are some standard routines to follow which will have you mingling with the long-time guests with minimum notice.

These are also good guidelines for anyone visiting a staffed house at any time of year. For many, the idea of staff is associated with hotels where guests are accustomed to making demands and giving orders.  In a staffed house, remember the staff do not report to you and also be mindful that they are the eyes and ears of your hosts.

Remember that the staff are the eyes and ears of the host!

Remember that the staff are the eyes and ears of the host!

First, please arrive at the agreed time.  This may have been dictated by your host or hostess, or agreed according to your Friday commitments and train times (common for the younger guests who may actually work in The City).

At one house, guests were given very specific, staggered arrival times and as they all drove, it was common for them all to meet up at a particular bridge about half a mile from the house.  Here they would pass the time and mingle, each leaving to arrive at their appointed time.  This eased the household routine enormously allowing for each guest to be welcomed and escorted to their room, giving staff time to unpack, offer guests a welcome drink, etc., which would have been impossible had six or eight guests arrived simultaneously.  The butler, of course, knew of the guests’ routine to meet away from the house, but it is unclear whether the host ever caught on.

Do not expect to be greeted by your hosts who you will probably not see until tea.  The butler will provide any information you need, dress code for dinner, etc., so don’t be afraid to ask. The butler will offer to unpack for you and while this is a genuine offer and one that you may accept, it is the norm amongst regular guests to demur that they are happy to look after themselves.

The butler will probably know if you have arrived directly from home or if you have been travelling, and if you have been travelling, will probably enquire if there is perhaps any laundry or pressing you would like done.  This is a genuine offer of convenience for those in need; it is not an opportunity for you to unload two week’s worth of clothes for laundry and pressing while you are there.  Likewise, do not ask to have seven shirts ironed if you are staying two nights. Pressing services are intended to rescue poorly packed clothes, not replace your personal laundry routine.

You should only ask for a minimum amount of ironing to be done!

Country clothes are appropriate, and this may include the clothes you have travelled in, for tea on arrival. But if your helicopter has brought you directly from your office, it is appropriate to change for tea.

Do not linger at tea.  By the time your hosts have gone up to dress, so should you. The same staff who need to clear tea will also be setting up drinks and getting on with the dining room.

If you have been invited to join your hosts for drinks in the library (or wherever) at 7:00 pm, you have the usual 10-minute grace period and should arrive by 7:10, suitably attired. Pay attention to the dress code (amongst the younger set, “black tie no tie” has become fashionable for the men and is perfectly acceptable, but looks increasingly sad once past 30).

Ladies should never out-dress or out-bejewel the hostess. Generally, diamonds are not appropriate in the country, although there are some stunning exceptions for important pieces.

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Why the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a Must

Friday, August 14th, 2015

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, taking place every August for three weeks and is the highlight of many people’s calendar. The sheer variety of entertainment means that people are drawn from all over the world. The Fringe story dates back to 1947, when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform at the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival, which was created to celebrate and enrich European cultural life after the Second World War. Although they weren’t part of the official programme they just went ahead and staged their shows on the ‘Fringe of the Festival’. This set a trend and more and more performers followed their example so that in 1958 the Festival Fringe Society was formed.

The Fringe provides support, advice and encouragement to artists and producers who come to the Fringe each year. In 2014 there were 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues so it is impossible to see everything – I last went two years ago and managed to see seventeen performances in two and a half days! Ideally you need to give yourself much more time, but I was on a tight schedule as usual. If you can stay as near the centre of the city as possible it makes life easier because you can walk from venue to venue. The locations range from theatres, to cellars, to rooms in pubs or specially constructed marquees.

My favourite venue was the fabulous Spiegeltent. This Famous mirrored tent is an iconic mainstay of The Edinburgh Festival and a star in its own right since Marlene Dietrich sang Falling in Love Again on the stage in the 1930’s. Since then the magic mirrors have reflected thousands of artists, audiences and exotic gatherings. I saw a mind-blowing cabaret-cum-circus act one night and the amazing Wah Wah Sisters the next. Quite a contrast as theses two American ‘sisters’ sang and played guitars for most of the performance ‘as naked as the day they were born’!

The fabulous Speigeltent venue

The fabulous Speigeltent venue

If you only go once in your life, don’t miss a chance to visit The Fringe. There really is something for everyone from authors, singers, bands, mime artists and raconteurs to name but a few. William and I are hoping take our Etiquette Show there one day – that would be a dream come true for me!

The Speigeltent is always one of the most popular venues

The Speigeltent is always one of the most popular venues

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Fashion Must-Haves For Summer 2015

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Every new fashion season introduces around half a dozen key garments (for both men and women) which will instantly update your look. By incorporating these Must-Haves into your current wardrobe and mix-n-matching them with existing pieces, you will immediately make all your outfits look new and fresh. Don’t forget to invest in the latest accessories too – the most effortless way to make essential wardrobe classics look bang-on-trend for the season!

SIX OF THE BEST FOR WOMEN

  1. Trouser Suit

The staple of every woman’s wardrobe in the ‘90’s was the trouser suit. This summer sees its return but in much softer shapes and bolder colours. Wear it with a T-shirt and flats for a casual look or jazz it up for evening with a silk bouse or camisole and killer heels. In warmer weather, a culotte suit is cooler but still smart enough for the office.

  1. Embellished Top

Negate the need to wear a statement necklace by investing in a fabulous top with a bejewelled necline. Sparkling gems, sequins or an abundance of pearls are to be found on the necklines of these sleeveless blouses at very affordable prices. Don’t just save this look for evening, team one with your jeans for a glam daytime look.

 

This season's Trouser Suit is soft in shape

This season’s Trouser Suit is soft in shape and bold in colour. Team it with an embellished top

 

  1. Loose White Shirt

Every woman’s wardrobe needs this essential item as its versatility knows no bounds! Wear it with skinny trousers and heels for evening; with jeans and flats for daytime; over a dress as a lightweight jacket; and over a swimsuit as a cool poolside cover-up. Opt for an oyster-white if you are a pale, freckly red-head.

  1. Patterned Trousers

One of the hottest trends of the season is the patterned trouser. To be on the safe side, always wear these with a plain top as combining patterns can be tricky. As a general rule, narrow leg trousers and a drapey top are best for petite women; taller women can look good in wider leg trousers with a more closely-fitting top.

 

Patterned trousers teamed with a loose white shirt will carry you through a number of occasions

Patterned trousers teamed with a loose white shirt will carry you through a number of occasions

  1. Belted Dress

A 50’s style belted dress will take you to lots of occasions this season from casual picnics and garden parties to lovely summer weddings – just change your accessories to suit. However, a belt will always direct attention to your middle; so, if your waistline has disappeared, opt instead for a straighter style.

Culottes make a cooler alternative to a Trouser Suit

Culottes make a cooler alternative to a Trouser Suit

  1. Shift Dress

A 60’s style shift dress will always be flattering to a Straight Up figure shape. Combine it with a boxy, Chanel-style jacket for a smart look or dress it down with a short, cropped cardigan in a neutral or contrasting colour. A boxy, hand-held bag would complete the angular theme of this fashionable look.

Shift Dresses are incredibly flattering to a straight figure

Shift Dresses are incredibly flattering to a straight figure

 

Accessory Must Haves:

70’s straw hat; suede mules; ankle-strap sandals; boxy handbag; large bangles

 

SIX OF THE BEST FOR MEN

  1. Chambray Blazer

A definite Must Have for the male wardrobe this summer is the lightweight blazer. Opt for a pastel shade to be bravely on-trend instead of the usual neutral colours – pale blue is the easiest shade for most men to wear. Team your blazer with a T-shirt and shorts for a casual look or chinos and a shirt for a smart look.

  1. Tailored Shorts

Tailored shorts worn with jackets and tan brogues were all the rage on the catwalks this season. You really need slim, tanned calves to carry-off this look and, for comfort, you need to wear ‘invisible’ trainer socks. If you think this look is not for you, simply substitute navy deck shoes (with no socks) for the brogues.

A lightweight blazer teamed with tailored shorts & brogues is bang on trend this season

A lightweight blazer teamed with tailored shorts & brogues is bang on trend this season

  1. Blouson Jacket

An alternative to the blazer is the zip-up blouson jacket to add style to your wardrobe this season. In a subtle check or a plain fabric with patterned lining, team your blouson with a cotton-knit sweater or a T-shirt worn outside your trousers for a relaxed smart-casual look . Don’t forget the shades for extra points!

  1. Putty Chinos

The greatest American import into the English male wardrobe has to be the chino trouser; and the best shade to buy for summer has to be what the Americans call ‘putty’ which is slightly richer than beige. This colour, although warm, teams wonderfully with navy and white for a classic summer look.

 

Putty Chinos and and a Blouson Jacket make the perfect smart-casual look

Putty coloured Chinos and and a Blouson Jacket make the perfect smart-casual look this summer

 

  1. Lightweight Suit

So many men continue to wear their heavy winter suits into the hotter months instead of investing in a lighter style – in terms of colour as well as weight. A pale grey, single-breasted, lightweight-wool suit (with perhaps a very subtle check) is a real Must Have for both work and social occasions as temperature start to rise.

  1. Floral Shirt

Floral shirts have been going strong now for several seasons and continue to be popular this summer. Teaming one with a plain jacket is child’s play but do be careful when combining one with a check jacket ; make sure the colours are very similar as seen here with a pale grey floral shirt and pale grey check suit.

 

A suite of a lighter colour and fabric is preferable during the summer months

A suite of a lighter colour and fabric is preferable during the summer months

 

Accessory Must Haves:

Classic Ray-Bans; Satchel bag; Tan Brogues; Trainer socks; Navy deck shoes;

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF HOUSE OF FRASER (VIA PRSHOTS.COM)

 

 

 

 

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How to Lead your Tribe in the Workplace

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

When I hear the word Glastonbury I think of the mud, wellies and stinky loos! However there are better positive pictures that I could bring to mind, like the colourful landscape of canvas tents, the diversity of arts that are available and the passion of the people attending. So love it or loathe it, being at this unique tribal gathering for 5 colourful days in the Somerset countryside is always interesting!

This festival of contemporary performing arts, inspired by the Hippie subculture and youth movement, has become the largest Greenfield festival in the world. When Michael Eavis hosted the first festival on the 19th September 1970, I am sure he had no idea he would be creating a tribe of approximately 175,000 people!

The colourful array of Tents at Glastonbury

The colourful array of Tents at Glastonbury

The Oxford Dictionary defines a tribe as “A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.”

The largest tribe in the world is the Pashtun tribe in Afghanistan, with a population of 45 million people. Glastonbury has its own diverse tribes, as do many businesses, some might even say that Glastonbury is a business!

The research carried out by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright suggest that to create a thriving corporate culture you need strong tribes and an effective tribal leader. Richard Branson is considered an effective tribal leader so too was Steve Jobs. Their tribal culture supports the corporate culture and the results are greater strategic success, effective workplaces, less stress and more fun, a la Google!

In the book Tribal Leadership which can be purchased here http://www.triballeadership.net/book it details the five stages of how to improve your tribes.

The five stages include:

• Stage One: The stage most professionals skip which we address is tribes, whose members are despairingly hostile—they may create scandals, steal from the company, or even threaten violence.

• Stage Two: changing the dominant culture for 25 percent of workplace tribes whose members who are passively antagonistic, sarcastic, and resistant to new management initiatives.

• Stage Three: Addressing the 49 percent of workplace tribes marked by knowledge hoarders who want to outwork and outthink their competitors on an individual basis. They are lone warriors who not only want to win, but need to be the best and brightest.

• Stage Four: The transition from “I’m great” to “we’re great” comes in this stage where the tribe members are excited to work together for the benefit of the entire company.

• Stage Five: Empowering the 2 percent of workplace tribal culture is in this stage, when members who have made substantial innovations seek to use their potential to make a global impact.

The true identity of a Tribe can be found in its core values; their guiding principles that dictate behaviour and actions. Here are some core values that you or your tribe may have:

  • Dependable
  • Reliable
  • Loyal
  • Committed
  • Open-minded
  • Consistent
  • Honest
  • Efficient
  • Innovative
  • Creative
  • Humorous
  • Fun-loving
  • Adventurous
  • Motivated
  • Positive
  • Optimistic
  • Inspiring
  • Passionate
  • Respectful
  • Athletic
  • Fit
  • Courageous
  • Educated
  • Respected
  • Loving
  • Nurturing
Tribel Leadership details 5 Stages how to improve your tribe

Tribel Leadership details 5 Stages how to improve your tribe

I think those attending Glastonbury 2015, on the whole, have many of the core values listed above. The 14th Dalai Lama, who is an inspirational tribal leader in his own right, took to the stage in the King’s Meadow. He wanted to share his message of “love and tolerance and fairness” He was alluding to the other kinds of tribes that use, religion, politics, hatred and weapons as their core values. That maybe another blog!

Whichever tribe you belong to, enjoy it. I am off  to get my tennis shoes on, collect my Wimbledon ticket and join my tennis tribe for a fun filled fortnight.

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