It’s the little things in life (or a room) that matter….

Whether it be for work or pleasure, I have spent many nights’ away at B&B’s and hotels all over the UK in last 12 months. I get used to being away from MAUN HQ, and have most things I could need in my overnight bag. I’m never without my phone charger, spare clothes to cover most occasions, or
my shoe shining kit – all just some of my stay-away-from-home essentials.Although I plan and prepare, one thing I have noticed during my visits, is the difference in bedroom designs and amenities offered in the rooms. It makes me wonder whether the designers, or even the owners/proprietors stay over at the establishments and experience it as a guest? Perhaps only then would they fully understand the true feedback of a guest stay, and the possible need for some simple solutions…..

  • How about a kettle that actually fits under a tap, so it can be filled easily. Or even a plug near the tea/coffee tray so it doesn’t mean backwards and forwards to the cups with hot water.
  • What about a plug socket next to the bed? People with Apple devices will appreciate the need to charge your phone on a regular basis (overnight) to maintain enough battery power for the next day. 
  • Bath towels big enough to do a proper wrap-around of your body (I could understand this would have been a bigger issue for the old ‘larger’ Stu, but surely the slimmer, leaner Stu should not have issues?).

On a positive note – I’m easily pleased. If I am welcomed to a room that offers fresh milk as standard (for a nice MAUNing cuppa) – that’s always a bonus! I’m sure I’m not the only one that hates the milk in the ‘jiggers’.
I once stayed over at my parents house, and offered them (cheeky) feedback of how to make my ‘business’ stay there more enjoyable. Needless to say to say they took all my comments on board and made changes for my next stay the following week! Admittedly the rate offered there was much more preferential than other establishments I have stayed at this year!! Haha.

What are the things that you like/dislike the most when you stay away from home?
Who gets it right in your opinion? Do tell…. 


A month of shows!

July has been a very busy month for me – working away with Pride of Britain Hotels – manning the exhibition stand at The Hampton Court & Tatton Park Flower Shows. It has certainly been fun!

Long days, and on my feet from early until late – but really rewarding to meet so many great people – both visitors to the stand and also the co-exhibitors. There was so much to see and do for visitors, and so much for everyone to spend their hard earned pennies on in the Country Living Pavillion where I was situated.

I came away with a new housey items from my friends Rimsky & Vilija at So Cosy and had a great laugh with Lauren and her team from Country Living. I couldn’t wait to get home after the show though – not only to see Kaylie (obviously!)… but also to tuck into the Cheddar and Dark Chocolate Cheese from The Truckle Cheese Company. Delicious! I can also heavily recommend the Heck Sausages too for your BBQ this year!

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It’s been a blast – and I look forward to working with the PoB Hotel members again in late August when we visit the Burghley Horse Trials to exhibit (see you there if you are attending!).

End of an era…

Over four years ago, I set up my own company – MAUN Consulting. At that time I concentrated on social media management – looking after a number of accounts and going out and training clients. With this came 24/7 work! Constantly looking at my phone, my iPad, my laptop. Today sees the last social media account I manage handed over to another agency.

My business is still going strong, in its fifth year of trading, but times change. I’m still very proud of the clients I work with, the work I do for them, and the value I add to their business. Long may this continue.

You’ll still catch me on social media – the odd post on Facebook, the occasional tweet – but for me a bit of ‘social media down-time’ is welcomed. It gives me a chance to concentrate more on other new projects I am currently working on – and they are just as exciting.

I’m looking forward to not having to constantly reduce things down to 140 characters!  :o)

Perhaps this mean I might actually talk to people face-to-face a bit more now!

A Stay in a Boathouse on the River Frome, Dorset

I was lucky enough recently to stay at The Priory Hotel in the beautiful market town of Wareham, Dorset, whilst completing some training with the team at the hotel. I was aware of the hotel, and have been for some time, as it’s a member of Pride of Britain Hotels.

What a truly delightful location and hotel. I was treated exceptionally well during my stay – even upgraded into the Boat House which sits on the banks of the River Frome.


The hotel is somewhere where ‘the past is always present, and where peace and tranquility prevail’. It stands in four acres of lovingly cultivated English cottage gardens, and even has its very own ‘Pod’ in the grounds where guests can relax, and watch the boats pass by.

The only bad thing…..I was there to work! If that means that I have to return another time with Kaylie, so we can both relax and enjoy this wonderful hotel – then so be it!……

“So when do you finish?”…..

It’s that time of year when the majority of the country are on ‘wind-down’, getting ready for Christmastime; looking forward to spending time with loved ones; and more importantly leaving the daily office tasks behind them. Nearly every conversation I have had recently involves people asking me the question: “so when do you finish?”…..

When I took the decision to go self-employed nearly four years ago, I knew that I would never actually ‘finish’ work when national holidays came round – especially as some clients are in the (never sleeping) non-stop hotel industry. Do I mind? Not at all! I’m sure I will find some down-time over the festive break – and although I can’t guarantee an iPhone/email/tweet free day on the 25th, I will definitely make sure I devote plenty of time to enjoy this special time of year.

Wishing you all a very relaxing, enjoyable and safe Christmas.

Thanks to all of those who will continue to work hard over the Christmas period in so many different industries – hospitality, retail, emergency services (and many more). Keep up the good work folks. All the best for 2015!

Merry Christmas

A good Monday night challenge

There’s nothing more than I enjoy than sitting down on a Monday evening and tuning into BBC2 at 8pm. Some may be surprised to know that one of my favourite weekly shows is University Challenge. I absolutely love testing my knowledge along with the teams, and of course enjoy listening to the put-downs that Mr Paxman comes out with.

My personal best is 7 questions correct in a single show – which actually isn’t that bad is it? I even feel good when I get a question wrong, especially when my answer matches that of the boffins on the panel!

I’m determined to get to a double figure of questions answered correctly – so watch this space. I think I’ll need to brush up on religion, the monarchy, chemicals and literature before that happens though!

2014 – Just when I thought life couldn’t get better….

For those that decided to read my blog and summary of 2013 at the end of last year, you will remember that I ended the year on somewhat of a high. Life in 2013 was simply brilliant. I remember thinking to myself at the time, could life get better? Well, 2014 certainly didn’t let me down! What another wonderful, life changing year it has been. Lots of decisions made in my personal life, and in business – and once again – things all seem to have worked out as planned. For those that know me well, you’ll know that I believe you create your own luck, create your own opportunities, and by being positive create your own enjoyable life. This year I have once again oozed in positivity, which has produced another epic year for me.

Let’s start at the beginning…

I started the year about 6 stone lighter than the same time the year before – feeling great – feeling fit, healthy & confident – I swore to keep off the weight (which I have done). I have educated myself into a new lifestyle and taken up new eating habits. Besides, I couldn’t afford to replace my wardrobe yet again after doing this three times the year before! It’s such an achievement to now head to the medium clothes section – and they fit! No more XXL clothes for me!

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Someone Special:

So life continued to be good – but I was perhaps just missing that special person after many months of my own company. I certainly enjoyed the freedom, the moments to myself, but there comes a point when you want to share your time with someone else. At the start of February I met a wonderful person – Kaylie. Life was certainly about to change….for the better.

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It was time for a first date! I felt like a teenager again! Nerves – you bet. Excitement – you bet. Was it all worth it – you bet! Together we have both found complete happiness, contentment and above all bundles of love & fun. I also inherited another lady in my life – a tortoise shell long haired cat called Tilly! So here was me looking for one (lucky) lady – All of a sudden I have two!

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The spring months consisted of continuing to work hard in business, staying away all over the country with one particular project for a client, and also trying to spend as much time as possible with Kaylie, who was living in Northamptonshire at the time.

Life was pretty cool though – I had found someone with exactly the same beliefs, ethics, hobbies and interests in life. Someone easy to get on with. Someone I could laugh and joke with. Someone I could create great memories with. Some may say life moved quick for us both this year – but if it all feels right, then who has the right to judge? Besides, I’m not getting any younger am I?!

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The summer of 2014 saw Kaylie move to a village closer to her work (she’s a hairdresser in her own salon, so unfortunately no perks of the job for me!) – and so we both spent most of the week traveling up and down the A14 and M6 to spend time together – enjoying time at both of our homes. It has been great spending time with my new inherited Northamptonshire family, who have been so welcoming towards me. What is even nicer is that both sets of parents get on so well too. It all just seems so perfect. (Sorry I’ll stop the soppy stuff now!)


MAUN Consulting continued to grow – still maintaining a great respectable client base, and one that I am exceptionally proud of. I enjoyed representing Pride of Britain Hotels at a number of shows this year with a great bunch of characters from the Hotels. Hopefully I will be able to do the same again in 2015.

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Have I got the work : life balance right now? – Do you know what, I think I have! My long term goal of becoming mortgage free is ever closer – I hope this time next year I may know what it is like to be an outright homeowner, which is something to be very proud about under the age of 40.

Good Times:

Celebrations this year enabled me to return too Coombe Abbey Hotel (where I used to work in the early 2000’s) for a lovely wedding of very close friends. I was honoured that they had asked me to do a reading on the special day too. I felt very proud, even if I was a little nervous on the day! Although I can’t really remember my speech, apparently it was well read!

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Health obviously is important, and from a personal and family point of view, 2014 generally treated us well, with only a few minor setbacks along the way. Long may that be the case.

Time back:

I completed a number of projects this year – business and personal. Still pushing myself. Still keen to learn and deal with any problems that arise. One major decision was to reduce the amount of personal time spent on social media. Some of my business requires me to use the likes of Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels each day, which I really enjoy, but I made conscious decision that posting my daily antics on these sites for others to read, was going to reduce. I received the occasional message from people asking if I was alright as they hadn’t seen updates from me. Some people go quiet when they are not happy with their life, or when they are depressed. I’m completely the opposite. I couldn’t be happier – just decided not to shout every minute of every day about just how happy I am, or about everything I am doing in life. And do you know what…..I like the absence! It allows you to have proper conversations with people when you meet up and chat.

FaceTime still plays a big part in my life – managing to ‘see’ Kaylie when I worked away; and of course to communicate with my parents, my niece & nephew, and also keep up to speed with my goddaughters (who are just growing up too quickly!).


I’ve always struggled with taking time off and trying to relax. This year I managed to do it TWICE! I enjoyed a mini-break in France in June visiting my pen-pals of over 25 years, in the Limousin region, and also a mid-week break in Center Parcs with Kaylie. We’ve already booked again for 2015 to return to Sherwood Forest Center Parcs and it looks likely that I will introduce Kaylie to my French pen-pals too next year in the Summer. Naturally a few nice breaks at some luxurious Pride of Britain hotels also featured in my mini-breaks too.

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I am still a great believer in supporting charity, and continue to donate monthly to the Air Ambulance and also make regular visits to the air ambulance shops to drop off items to help them raise further funds. I even managed to persuade Kaylie to support the charity by putting a collection pot in her salon – every little helps. They do such a wonderful job, and I’m proud to remain loyal to the work they do. If you want to donate you can do HERE


A Busy Autumn:

The autumn made me (and Kaylie) realise how lucky we really are. We were busy; very busy. All with exciting stuff! We stayed at a beautiful hotel in the Cotswolds for 2 nights (Dormy House Hotel) (pictured); Enjoyed a number of delicious curries at the restaurant in the village; Attended a VIP Wine Bar opening; Watched Sister Act in the open air theatre at Kilworth House; Enjoyed a 30 mile bike ride one sunny day at Grafham Water; Watched Ice Hockey in Coventry with our best buddies; Watched my beloved Stafford Rangers; Caught a movie at the Cinema; Had a break in Center Parcs; Had Lunch & Dinner with friends; Spent time with my beautiful goddaughters – I’m not too sure we could have fitted anything else in! We certainly don’t take anything for granted – it’s nice to reward yourself though for all the hard work that we both continue to put in throughout the year.

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Modes of Transport:

Finally after about 20 years – I also bought myself a bike! Great to have the freedom to get out and about and enjoy the British weather (which I think has been pretty good this year). In the last three months of the year, I probably clocked up over 200 miles. In November I also treated myself to a new car, parting with my Focus of 3 years, and opting for a Kia (for peace of mind with the warranty that comes with it). A pleasure to drive – which is a good thing seen as I still seem to be doing around 2000 miles a month!

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Christmas this year will be a special one, and one I intend on enjoying. It will naturally be an exciting time – with it being the first of many spent with Kaylie. I’m not too sure she has enjoyed the present buying process this year – I’m the worst person to buy for. I don’t ‘need’ for anything in life. I much prefer the giving process as it provides me with a lot more enjoyment. I’m just looking forward to spending some quality, relaxing time with loved ones. Naturally I’ll be disappointed if Santa doesn’t stop by my house though!

The Year Ahead:

What have we got in store for 2015 – Well I hope plenty more fun, good times, and enjoyment. I have already booked a couple of lovely things to look forward to: Holidays; Birthday celebrations; Exciting events to attend. So I hope to write a similar tale this time next year, of how good the New Year has been to Kaylie & I.

Here’s to a successful 2015 to you all – in your personal and business lives.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and been there for me in 2014.

I wish you a year of happiness, good health, prosperity, good times & laughter.

Merry Christmas to you all. Thanks for reading. God bless.

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