|Mill Hill from the air (courtesy Google Maps)|
On Friday, I got up at 6:45am. I posted a quick blog, and a bit of breakfast. As I am a bit of a greedy chap, I had some fried tomatoes and onions on toast. Like many houses in Mill Hill, I have a decent sized garden and the onions were homegrown! Sadly last year we had a disaster with the tomatoes, so we haven't bothered this year. I then headed down to Mill Hill Broadway train station. I am doing a bit of work in the City, so I jumped on the 7:58 train into town. Mill Hill has great links into the city. The 7:58 is a semi fast service, so around 20 minutes later I was at City Thameslink. It is great to be able to be munching fresh vegetables in your kitchen and withing 30 minutes be at your desk in central London. I had to do a bit of running around and so ended up taking the 17:42 train from St Pancras back to Mill Hill. I was back at around 6pm. I had to then pop down to my business at Mill Hill Music Complex. We had a great day in the studio, one of my favourite customers, Lee Thompson of Madness had been in, but sadly I'd just missed him.
The studio, like many places in London has a very cosmopolitan mix of customers. People originating from all over the world visit to make music. Meeting and chatting to our customers is always a pleasure. I finished at the studio around 7:30pm. I nipped home and then took my two large mutts out for a walk. As is my want, we walked up to the Railway Tavern and I had a refreshing pint of Guinness and the two mutts shared a bag of turkey flavoured crisps ! The dogs always enjoy a visit to the pub, as people make a lot of fuss of them. I then returned home, settled the dogs in for the night and visited the Mill Hill Services Club. The club is a CIU affiliated establishment. The drinks are relatively cheap and it always makes for a pleasant and friendly end to the week. There are lots of people who I've known for years, so it is a great place for a drink. I met up with a couple of friends and had a very pleasant evening.
On saturday, I had a lazy lie in. As my wife and kids are away, the house wasn't the usual frenetic hive of activity. When I finally got up, I fed the mutts and let them stretch their legs in the garden. I then jumped in the car and headed over to Finchley. I had a large and extremely tasty full English breakfast and a chat with the delightful owner, parking campaigner Helen Michael. I was pleased to see that Helen was rushed off her feet. She told me that since the new pay and display parking meters have been installed, trade has picked up considerably. She noted that even with the plethora of new coffee shops yards away, she has had her best month for two years. For me, that is great news. Helen is an extremely hard working person and deserves the success. She won't get the cash back that the stupidity of Brian Colemans parking policies cost her, but she does see a future for her business now (something she was starting to doubt at the start of the year).
There are plenty of great cafes etc in and around Mill Hill as well. When I arrived home, it was time for walkies for the mutts. I always walk them up the Broadway and then up Flower Lane to Mill Hill Park, through the park and then do a circuit of Arrendene. As is usual, I bumped into a few faces for a chat in the Broadway. Many people had read my blog about the CPZ and were interested in how to claim their refund. A few people patted me on the back and thanked me. It seems if you can help people get their cash back from the Council, they think you are a marvellous chap!
Mill Hill Park and Arrendene open space are amongst the best thing about Mill Hill, the park is large and a very pleasant place to spend time. It has a great cafe for a drink or a snack, and I will often stop off on my walk there. Sadly today, there were no spare chairs! Arrendene Open space is a lovely place for a walk. If you keep and eye out, you'll see green Parakeets in the trees. Usually we bump into other people walking their dogs. It is, by and large, a friendly community and most people have a chat
Having tired the pooches out, I nipped home and had to do some maintenance on my pond. This simply involves netting the duckweed and keeping it clear of detritus and debris. The pond is full of baby fish, frogs, newts, tadpoles and all manner of bugs. The water lillies are in full bloom. When I was a kid, the only ambitions I had for when I grew up was to have a dog and a pond. I guess I can deem my life a success. I think I'd prefer a lake, but a small pond will do !
Having finished sorting the pond out, it was back down to the Studio. August is a quiet month, but we had a few customers and made a few sales of equipment. We are in the process of relaunching our website. I am working with an excellent local website designer, Keletchi Amadi to put this together. I met Keletchi at a Federation of Small business network meeting at Cafe Buzz a couple of months ago (if you run a small business, there is a network event 1st Monday of every month at Cafe Buzz, North Finchley. It is free and informal - come along tomorrow and say Hi, I will be there). His son Jordan is a drum tutor and uses our studio regularly. I asked Keletchi for some feedback on the studio website. I was expecting him to tell me how marvellous it is. He very politely explained just how bad it actually was and what I needed to do to improve it. As I am hellishly busy at the moment, I decided to pay him to do it. I am very excited and impressed with his ideas and design. Whilst our "in house" design is based on giving as much information as possible, Keletchi pointed out many things we weren't doing, which make it hard for a customer to get what they need from the site. Keletchi pointed out that because we weren't providing the information in a customer friendly manner, we were losing business. Our website hits back this up. He is also integrating an on line booking system into the site (BTW if you want a great website designer, email me via the link in the sidebar and I'll pass you Keletchi's details). Anyway, having reviewed his ideas and how the site is put together and approving them, I then headed home around 6pm.
It was time for the doggies to have their second walk of the day. Yet again, we headed off to the Railway Tavern, for our guinness and crisps. When I arrived back, I was rather hungry, so I headed down to the Mill Hill Tandoori for a take away. I've been a customer of the restaurant since the 1970's. It is a traditional Indian restaurant and very good. I always have a beer and a chat with Mr Lemon, the owner. Mr Lemon is a Bangladeshi. He shares a love of Mill Hill with me. At the moment, being a muslim, he is observing Ramadan. At this time of year for Muslims in the UK, this is difficult as a total fast is observed from about 3.30 am until about 9pm. I was picking up my food when he broke his fast. Many people have negative ideas about Islam. Like many people of the faith, Mr Lemon is disgusted by the message extremists give out about the religion. He recognises that in the UK, we have a tolerant and fair society. People get on. He is almost next door to the Synogogue and many of his customers are Jewish. Like most parts of London, this is the story, people getting on with each other, welcoming each others traditions. Mill Hill and London in general is a diverse community, but a happy community.
With my takeaway in hand, I nipped off home. Once I'd polished off my dinner, I went around to a friends house. They were having a social gathering. My friends wife recently lost both her parents. She is still grieving for them. She told me that she'd been to see Supertramp at the Royal Albert Hall. Apparently they dedicated one song to someone in the audience who'd recently lost their mum. This touched her. She had tickets for another show on the tour in Manchester, which she was going to with her brother. She emailed the band and asked if they could dedicate a song to her parents, who'd recently passed away. To her absolute shock and amazement, the band did. She showed me a Youtube clip of this. Music has the power to touch our souls. I am not a fan of Supertramp, but I can only give the band the highest praise for such a beautiful gesture. It meant so much to my friend to hear the dedication. Several beers later, at 4am, I staggered home.
Now all of this may seem very mundane. You may think "whats he on about?". As I was contemplating my weekend, it struck me that in fact it is the little pleasures in life that are sometimes the best. Seeing the Parakeets in Arrendene, enjoyining a Chicken Dansak from the Mill Hill Tandoori. Sharing a bag of turkey stuffing flavoured crisps with the pooches in your local pub, picking an onion from the garden and frying it up for your breakfast. All of this is why I love Mill Hill and think it is a great place to live. Never underestimate the small things in life.