Review: Brasserie Blanc, Bath

Brasserie Blanc Bath

Out Of Office visits Brasserie Blanc, a brasserie set in a Georgian building serving a classically French menu devised by celebrity chef Raymond Blanc

We kicked off our leisurely lunch at Brasserie Blanc in historic Bath by bagging a window seat, the perfect spot for people watching from the corner of pretty Queen’s Square where the restaurant is situated.

From the very beginning of our lunch the service was top notch – the staff were polite and courteous and nothing was too much trouble.

To start we opted for the mediterranean fish soup with the garlic and saffron rouille, croutons and grated cheese. It was a large portion; incredibly rich yet moreish and set the standard for the rest of the meal.

For mains the boeuf bourguignon came highly recommended and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The beef was tender and was accompanied by a deliciously smooth mash and red wine sauce. The duck with blackberry sauce with dauphinoise potato was also utter perfection – the meat was rich and crispy on the outside.

To finish we chose the caramel soufflé with rum and raisin ice cream. The dish took 15 minutes to prepare but worth the wait. The trio of chocolate desserts from the Valentines set menu were also divine – and very generous, as are all the beautifully prepared desserts.

What? This is authentic French food at its best. Decent prices, a welcoming décor and fantastic service make it a top chain restaurant.

Why choose Brasserie Blanc? The smart and modern restaurant with warm and welcoming staff is the perfect place for a leisurely lunch or dinner.

Cost: ££

6-12 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HH
01225 303860
www.brasserieblanc.com

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Leadership and mental resilience

Mental toughness is a buzzword in learning and development (L&D), but what exactly does it mean? Peter Clough, Chair in Applied Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, begins to explain 

peter-clough

Mental toughness is a concept that is often misquoted or used in conversation but never put into practice. First, we need to understand what mental toughness is. It’s not about being tough. Rather, it’s about developing resilience and confidence.

We developed a model for mental toughness and found that people who display characteristics of mental toughness prosper within the world of work. Data shows that they are generally successful, achieving results and high ranking positions within organisations. They tend to be driven, competitive and ambitious – but not aggressive or domineering.  A mentally tough person is someone who is comfortable in their own skin, they take what comes in their stride and enjoy the challenge. Mental toughness is a core skill to have at hand when dealing with challenge and change in the working environment.

These signs of success can be spotted relatively early on – research shows mentally tough students excel better and develop a portfolio of skills that will allow them to maximise their potential and allow them to compete in the job market.

These skills are desired by employers, as exampled by the recent CBI comments relating to the need for ‘character’ in graduates.

But how can businesses assess mental toughness and develop it among staff? Psychometric measures such as MTQ48 enables users to assess mental toughness, taking into account four factors: control, commitment, challenge and confidence.

Employees who aren’t mentally tough are not considered weak. Instead they tend to display characteristics of being sensitive. It is important to understand that in our model of toughness, the opposite of toughness is not weakness, it is sensitivity. Sensitive people have many skills and attitudes that are highly desirable – but it is clear they may often find transitions and assessments more difficult.

Businesses need to recognise these qualities in staff when considering the make-up of their organisation. Does a business need staff who are predominantly mentally tough or would a balance of both tough and sensitive types better suit their requirements?

The ratio of mentally tough and sensitive people varies, from one business to another. Generally speaking, you do need a broad range of personality types within a workplace to ensure a diverse approach to activity and decision making.

When looking at how best to nurture these two types of employees, it’s worth considering that mentally tough people learn from their failures. They move on fairly swiftly from any hiccups and do not let it hinder their approach or their performance. While not emotionally sensitive, mentally tough people are emotionally intelligent. This means they recognise characteristics in their colleagues and know how to respond to them. Mentally tough people generally proposer in stressful situations. Sensitive people, on the other hand, tend to thrive on success…

Peter Clough is an academic in applied psychology. He is delivering a keynote conference session at the World of Learning: ‘Does your organisation have determination and drive? How to cultivate ‘mental toughness.’

The World of Learning Conference takes place 29th-30th September at Birmingham’s NEC

Find out more here: www.learnevents.com.                                      

Review: Center Parcs Woburn Forest

Sports Plaza Exterior WO June 2014 08

Out Of Office Magazine visits Center Parcs Woburn Forest to review the tailor-made delegate packages on offer 

A holiday village may be somewhere usually resigned to family holidays, and yet the corporate facilities on offer at Center Parcs’ fifth and newest UK destination are truly outstanding.

It’s only an hour away from London and nestled in 365 acres of woodland, which makes it both easy to get to, and a metropolis away from the busy city and surrounding towns.

The village opened in June 2014 to leisure guests, while the conference and event facility entitled The Venue followed closely in October. Since opening its doors, it has welcomed over 6,000 delegates to events, and hosted well-known brands including Virgin Atlantic, The Body Shop and TPRG (Theo Paphitis Retail Group).

As well as tailored events and conferences, the Woburn team are particularly focused on team building, maximising the use of activities available on site.

The event space

The Venue offers theatre-style seating for up to 400 delegates, and comprises of eight individual and adaptable event suites with full vehicle access.

What is really striking about the space is the rooms are totally flexible. Whether you’re looking to hold one big award event or three medium dinners, the Woburn team can cater for your needs.

Even if your total number of attendees is higher than the maximum, they can utilise the other restaurants and spaces on site, such as the Indian Rajinda Pradesh.

No task is too big (or unusual/unique) for the team and they are very enthusiastic when it comes to working with a client to create what they want.

The accommodation

On site there are 675 forest lodges and a 75-bedroom luxury hotel.

We stayed in a lodge which was comfortable, with a good amount of space and decorated in a stylish way with modern fixtures an fittings. Those looking for indoor entertainment can upgrade to lodges with saunas, hot tubs and games rooms too.

Whether it’s a quiet, early night after a long management away day, or a more eventful evening in after a team building getaway, there is an accommodation option for all.

The activities

One of the most brilliant things about Woburn Forest is the long list of activities on offer – from rock climbing and archery, to segways and kayaking.

If you like swimming the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is a large swimming complex, with slides, a wave machine and outdoor rapids. It’s certainly not your average pool for lengths and perhaps typically more popular among the younger folk, or families.

For the less adventurous types the luxury spa Aqua Sana will give you the chance to relax and revitalise. The World of Spa features six spas with sensory rooms and will take you on a journey through fire and ice, botanic blossom, herbal infusions and more. It is regarded as one of the best spas in Europe and has a number of luxury treatments available. For us, the foot spas and the mini infinity pool were particular highlights.

The food

There is a range of food and drink available at Woburn, including well-known chains such as Strada, Café Rouge and Starbucks, plus Center Parcs’ own Huck’s American Bar and Grill, The Sports Café and The Pancake House.

For us, the highlights were the on-site Indian Rajinda Pradesh for dinner and The Shearing House for a casual lunchtime meal with homemade fish finger sandwiches.

The tried and tested comment

Hearing-aid specialist Amplifon held an all employee conference at Woburn in January. The Village was chosen for its ability to host over 350 delegates, and featured a day of presentations, workshops, a gala dinner and a team building programme.

Steve Fleming, CEO UK & Ireland, Amplifon said: “We liked the newness of Woburn Forest from an accommodation and conference facility point of view, especially as it offered more conference space than our previous venue.”

Why choose Woburn?

Whether it’s a gala dinner, an annual award ceremony, a whole company or particular department team building away day or a more formal management meeting, Woburn really can cater for your needs.

For the more formal meetings the facilities on offer mean delegates can let off some steam and go and take part in an activity, or perhaps the day after an award ceremony attendees can enjoy the spa.

For team building, the setting is perfect. It does have that holiday feel to it and will have everyone smiling and having fun.

Cost:

From £55 per person (inc. VAT) for a day delegate

Includes: Meeting room hire for the day, two-course fork buffet lunch, refreshments, access to the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, car parking and wifi.

Contact: Hermione Gingell

Business Development Manager

The Venue

Center Parcs Woburn ForestFordfield Rd, MillbrookBedfordshireMK45 2HZ

01525 842928

07841 912 504

hermione.gingell@centerparcs.co.uk

www.events.centerparcs.co.uk/woburn-forest-overview

Vulcan, Red Arrows and Typhoon Confirmed for Eastbourne Air Show

vulcan-r-Eric Coeckelberghs-courtesy of Vulcan to the Sky Trust

Plans for Airbourne, Eastbourne’s international air show have got off to a flying start this year with the Red Arrows, Eurofighter Typhoon and Vulcan cold war bomber all confirmed at the free, four day air show which returns from 13 – 16 August.

Featuring new look Union Jack tailfins, the world renowned RAF Red Arrows display team will wow crowds on the seafront, beaches and the reopened pier with three performances over Eastbourne, in one of the UK’s busiest free flying displays.

Joining the line-up, the RAF Eurofighter Typhoon will provide a fast jet highlight on three days and historic fans can look forward to the return of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which features the Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota.

The world’s only flying Vulcan bomber will also make an appearance as it nears retirement.

Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Member for Tourism & Leisure, Councillor Carolyn Heaps said: “Eastbourne has a special place in its heart for the Red Arrows so we are delighted to welcome back the world’s best aerial display team… Coupled with the awesome Typhoon and what could possibly be the last chance to see the imposing sight and sound of the Vulcan, we are in for a real treat this year.”

The four day show also features plenty of fun on the ground, including a military exhibition, live music on the beach stage, children’s entertainment areas, helicopter pleasure flights, evening concerts and fireworks on the Saturday night.

Eastbourne’s 23rd Airbourne will also mark roughly one year since the pier fire of 2014, which closed the Victorian landmark just two weeks before the air show.  The pier, which reopened two months later, is a popular viewing platform during the show and includes shops, restaurants, tea rooms, a bar, nightclub and fishing platform.

To beat the crowds, there are exclusive seating areas available at the Bandstand and exclusive hospitality available on the Western Lawns with tickets on sale now.

 For more information visit www.eastbourneairshow.com

red-arrows-SAC-Adam-Fletcher-RAF-MOD-crown-copyright-2014

Airbourne returns from 13 – 16 August 2015 and entry is free, with more flying displays to be announced.  All flying is subject to RAF operational commitments, weather and serviceability.

5 rules for corporate gifting at Christmas

Leather-books

By Darren Leigh, Founder, Leighmans.com

Corporate gifting is a valuable business practice that delivers the goods in more ways than one. As part of a considered marketing programme it can help to create new relationships, enhance existing ones and offers a cost-effective way to recognise clients and key members of staff in a meaningful way. It’s a two-way street paved with tinsel, what you sow, so shall you reap.

Gifts vs. incentives 

It’s important to make the distinction between a corporate gift and an incentive. Both have their place in business, but are very different animals. An incentive programme is used to reward defined levels of activity like sales targets or attendance, whereas a corporate gift is far more subtle and should be viewed as a long-term process of relationship-building. It’s vital to ensure your recipient doesn’t feel like they’re being bribed or expected to jump through hoops, instead, they should feel valued and appreciated. In this way, the spirit of goodwill will turn full circle.

The five golden rules

1) Give gifts they actually want

Indulge in some forward planning and get to know your clients, customers and staff throughout the year. When the festive period approaches, you’ll have an idea of what they like, hobbies etc. and can incorporate this into their perfect present. Go for quality – spend the maximum your budget will allow. It pays dividends in the long run because whatever you give reflects back on your image. Research by the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association) found that promotional products were twice as likely to make people feel appreciated, when compared with all other forms of advertising put together (print, online, direct mail and TV).

Make it useful, something clients will reach for on a regular basis (like a pen or a unique USB stick) and when they do, they’ll think of your company with a warm and cosy glow. Avoid cheap, useless items, which will be thrown in the back of the drawer or binned on receipt, quicker than you can say ‘Santa’s Sack’!

2) Compliance & culture

Some companies will have a gift policy limiting certain types of gifts or maybe the upper value of them and in some cases, gifts are strictly forbidden. It’s worth a call to HR to check this out to ensure you don’t end up with egg nog on your face. This will also give you the chance to work out an alternative way to make clients feel special. The same goes for culture – different countries and cultures have their own unique take on gifting, for example in China if you wrap a gift in white it symbolises death, so well worth undertaking some simple research to avoid a festive faux pas!

3) Personalisation

Even when you’ve done your research, finding the ideal corporate gift these day is no mean task. With literally thousands of suppliers offering every kind of gift and experience you can imagine, how do you choose the perfect present? Individual personalisation is key. Every wise man and woman would be well advised to focus on the personal touch this festive season. When a gift includes someone’s name, initials or something meaningful to them, it transcends the ordinary. Not only does it make the recipient feel good, but it reflects well on the gift giver too. It may well be the thought that counts, but sometimes you have to spell it out in words – engraved, embossed or screen-printed.

Indulgent products are the order of the day for Christmas gifting – popular choices include keepsakes and luxury items, like sleek Cross pens, luxurious leather notebooks, sparkling crystal awards & drinkware, innovative gadgets, sumptuous hampers and delicious chocolates & confectionary. Gifts don’t need to cost an arm and a leg to be special, that’s the beauty of personalisation and high quality branding.

4) Spread the festive cheer

You have a limited budget but need to buy gifts for everyone in the department. Instead of resorting to the cheap, useless route, go for something the whole office can share. It will raise morale and lend some sparkle to the week before Christmas. Hampers, confectionary, chocolates and fruit baskets are fantastic crowd-pleasers. But if you really want to indulge in one to one, think about small but perfectly formed notebooks in a range of colours, creatively-branded with a personal message – think clever or classy rather than cheesy, unless your client is in the business of fromage.

5) The fairy on top

Finishing touches maketh the gift. If you’ve opted for personalisation, you’re nine tenths of the way, but including a hand-written card and delivering personally, is a nice extra touch to ensure you stay top of mind with your best clients.