My experience of running a business and a home

Easter Break Away

It was a bit of a last minute decision to go away for the Easter weekend, but with the weather looking good I got on with the search of where to go. With us now having Cooper there was an extra criteria to look for, normally we just need to find a hotel with a family room, but this time we needed a family room but also a dog friendly hotel.

As I had left it a bit late quite a few hotels in different areas were fully booked with it being the Easter weekend, but then I stumbled upon The Black Swan at Helmsley. We have been to Helmsley quite a few times, mainly to stop off on the way to the Coast and its in a great location to get around the area. We decided that we would take Bob, so got all packed up on Good Friday and headed off.

After a steady drive, stopping off at the top of Sutton Bank we arrived in Helmsley, and got parked up outside the hotel.

Miles and Ethan Helmsley

Here’s The Black Swan in the sunshine – can you spot Bob

The Black Swan, Helmsley

During the afternoon we went for a stroll around Helmsley, stopping at Thomas’s of Helmsley for lunch, and then heading to the Castle, wandering alongside the beck.

Helmsley beck

We didn’t go into Helmsley Castle, but headed to Helmsley Walled Garden which was stunning and had great views of the castle too.

Helmsley walled garden

It was lovely and warm, and everything was looking so good bathed in the sunshine. There was just blue, green and yellow everywhere. Dave and I popped to The Feathers in the afternoon for a few pints in the sunshine, where we soaked up the atmosphere.

At the Black Swan we enjoyed amazing food in The Gallery restaurant where the kitchen is headed up by chef Paul Peters. We failed to get any pictures of the unbelievable meals as we were so swept away with the impeccable service in the hotel and restaurant, but here’s Dave and Miles in the lounge before dinner.

the lounge

On Saturday we were well fed at breakfast and then headed to the Coast. We decided that we would keep away from the busy resorts and headed for Filey. I hadn’t been there before but it looked like it had a big beach when I was looking at the map.

This is a view out of Bob’s window on the journey… more blue, yellow and green.


Wow, so Filey was impressive …a huge expanse of beach.

Filey beach

Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach between May and September so we were lucky that we could take Cooper onto the sand. This was his second time on the beach and he absolutely loved it and ran and ran. The kids were loving playing a bit of rugby too.

cooper and the kids filey

Cooper wasn’t quite sure what to make of the waves :)

Cooper Filey

Once Cooper had dried off and we had filled up on fish and chips we headed down the Coast to Flamborough. Again another place I hadn’t been too, but a place that my Dad, when he was a kid, and his parents (The original “Cooper” family) regularly went to for holidays.

The lighthouse at Flamborough was gleaming in the sunshine and we got a good parking space for Bob.

flamborough lighthouse

And here is a shot over the cliffs at Flamborough. Its such a different coastline to that further up north, but more rugged and I loved the white cliffs.

flamborough shore

After a long day we were looking forward to getting back to the bar and relaxing before dinner. On the way back to Helmsley, Bob decided to let go and it turned out the alternator had broken. We had to pull off the road and wait to be recovered. When you have old vehicles you expect this sort of thing to happen so you just have to take it in your stride. It wasn’t long before we were back on the road again…well with Bob on a tow truck and all of us in the cab, being taken back to the Black Swan, just in time to get quickly changed for a pre-dinner drink :)

bob on a tow truck

We weren’t quite sure how we would get home on the Sunday, but that was something to work out after a lovely meal and a good nights sleep. In the morning after breakfast it was back onto Greenflag for a second recovery to get Bob to Dubtricks garage to be fixed and for us to get home. This time Bob travelled in style on a flat bed. It caused quite a stir in the hotel car park in the morning getting Bob loaded…with one person thinking thats how we transported him from place to place! Er, no… he’s properly broken down!


And that was Easter! Brilliant time had, and what was best was that it felt like such a long weekend.

Happy Birthday Ethan

Today my youngest son Ethan turns 12. Wow, time has flown since the day Ethan came into the world, and today we celebrate his birthday and thank him for all the smiles he has brought. I still call him my “little Ethan” but he’s nearly as big as me now and still growing fast, with a wicked sense of humour and a cheeky smile.

I’ve had to dig through the old photo albums and scan in some of the old pictures (pre-digital) but the old ones are always the best, and there is still something really special about flicking through old photo albums that I did get slightly distracted.

This is Ethan when he was just minutes old with Dave


and here he is just a few days old with Miles photobombing


I mentioned his cheeky smile previously well here it is


We also couldn’t miss out on the obligatory “in the bath” shot


Moments to cherish in Ethan’s life .. like the day that he climbed into the washing machine (or was he pushed in by Miles?)


or when he decided to hide in the drawer of the TV cabinet when we were moving house

ethan drawer

A proud day, and an exciting one for Ethan too by the big grin on his face, on his first day at school

ethan school

A determined look on a ride at Blackpool during one of our mini breaks

ethan blackpool

Here are a few recent pictures. I love this one with me and Ethan on the way to the village pub when we were staying in a yurt in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales

ethan 2013

Last year on one of our visits to see Cooper before we brought him home

ethan 2013 2

And then Ethan earlier on in the year when we had a few days in London before we went to see England at Twickenham.

ethan 2014

So all that’s left to say is Happy Birthday son … love you loads xx

How to Merge 2 Twitter Accounts

If for what ever reason you have ended up with a couple of Twitter accounts over the years, whether for personal or business, there will come a point that you will start thinking about needing to merge the 2 accounts. Unfortunately there is no official way in Twitter to take 2 accounts and to fully merge the historic tweets, followers and messages. Often though there will be one account that is being used as the prime which is the one that needs sorting.

For nearly a year now I have been actively involved in Ripon Rugby Club, starting out helping get a decent web presence back online, to becoming the Communication Officer and on the Senior Committee, as well as the Fundraising Committee. As part of the increase in awareness and communication that we are putting in place we have a growing Twitter following and this is what my challenge was today.

The club had 2 accounts.

@riponrugby which was defunct, not posted on since 2012, set up by people not really involved in the club anymore, but has 418 followers and is a good Twitter handle. It was still collecting followers and tweets even though I had posted to push people to the active account.

Then there is

@riponrugbyclub1 which has sprung up in the last year or so, is an active account, has 426 followers .. but isn’t particularly memorable in its name.

So the goal was to turn @riponrugbyclub1 into @riponrugby. This is the process that I went through.

1. Open 2 browser windows such as Chrome and Firefox and log in to each account.
2. I made sure that each account had a seperate email address, which was one of mine as I would need to verify the account at some stage so I altered one of the email addresses.
3. Verified the email address change so that we were all set.

Now the Twitter name that I wanted to change @riponrugbyclub1 into was already taken so I needed to free up the name.

4. Went into @riponrugby and changed the name to @riponrugby2012

This now frees up the @riponrugby name to be picked up

5. Then went to the @riponrugbyclub1 account and changed the name to @riponrugby , so now we have rebranded the active account to the better Twitter name
6. In the old account that is now @riponrugby2012 I altered the profile to kill it off and added a Tweet

ripon rugby twitter

7. Then on the newly named @riponrugby account I tweaked the profile a little and added an update tweet

new ripon rugby twitter

8. Then I was logged in as the new @riponrugby and checked the people that were following the account and followed a few back that would be useful to keep up to date with, and then next I went to the @riponrugby2012 accounts and went through the old followers on that account and followed anyone relevant from the @riponrugby account.

9. Next I contacted all of the parents of the age grade members that make up a large proportion of the club and informed them of the change in the Twitter account, as well as updating both the websites.

10. Next up will be a short News item on the main club website to spread the word and a couple of notices up at the clubhouse.

Hopefully this will do it … and we can move on with the better Twitter handle for the future and people will get used to the switch quite quickly.

Happy Birthday Internet!

So it was 25 years ago today on the 12th March 1989 that Sir Tim Berners Lee proposed a system for sharing information between computers using a series of nodes that would form a “web” which would over the years turn into the world wide web and the internet as we know it.

It will never catch on

Today is certainly a day for celebration of a system that has totally transformed the way we do everything, whether it’s all for the good is a different matter, and the message that is coming over today in the media is that we should keep a free and open internet but that tighter security and some controls need to be brought in to protect the system and the users. From my point of view the more we rely on something like the internet to communicate and share, gather and send information the more at risk we are of serious devastation should a group or individuals decide to attack it in some way. We already see the disruption when the banks get hacked or DDOS attacked taking the sites down, or if personal data is hacked and stolen. We rely so much on the internet, I can’t quite figure out where it will be in 5 years’ time let alone another 25 years.

Life before the Internet

I am lucky enough to have seen life before and after the internet … unlike my kids who think this is how it’s always been. Same with things like mobile phones .. I didn’t have one of those until I was married and now my kids are walking around with iPhone 5’s! When we went out as kids we didn’t text to say where we were, we just had a time to come home.

Back in 1989 I was only 14 … but the internet that was being invented then was going to take a decent amount of time to actually start being used my “normal” people. I left secondary school after doing my A levels, to go to University in 1993 and there was no sign really of the external world wide web. We had an intranet within Uni but only very simplistic. I remember going to Uni and the sheer panic that my first assessment had to be typed up, in a specific font & font size, double spaced, and then printed out for the tutor. What … for me that was a steep learning curve of how to actually work the computers in the IT block and use WordPerfect.

As kids we did at one stage, when I was about 12, have a ZX Spectrum with an adjoining tape drive that we could load amazing games like Daley Thompson Decathlon and bash on the keyboard to make him go faster. I also remember a weird skiing game too.


There was then a computer when we got a bit older at home but it was more of a work machine, stand alone, running off 5.25” floppy discs and tapes and hooked to a ginormous Phillips daisywheel printer. There was no reason for us to use the computer as kids and there was nothing really to do on them. It was amazing how much we did to entertain ourselves without being transfixed to an Ipad or laptop soaking in huge amounts of junk that is out there. And how addictive it seems to be for my kids at least that I have to limit their time on the internet glaring at a really rubbish YouTube video of some idiot. I don’t think I’m the only one out there who battles with their kids to bring themselves back into the real world. I’m lucky though that my kids love rugby so they do spend a large amount of time over the weekend outside, playing rugby and getting muddy.

I’m not quite sure where I am going with this post apart from that I do love the Internet … I went to University with no clear idea of what I was going to do as a career, then left University (1996) to join a company in the purchasing department where all transactions were done over the phone or via the post/fax. After 9 years in purchasing ending up being the Purchasing Manager we had moved more onto the web for ordering parts but still quite phone based, but email was much more prominent. Between 1998 and 2003 there was a big lift off and a steady embracing of the internet across many sectors. You only need to go back 16 years when we got married in 1998 to see how different things are. All the organising and preparation was done in person, by letter or over the phone….and on my wedding day when my parents went to the wrong venue at Gretna Green we didn’t have mobile phones to make a quick call, you just had a time and a place to meet.

I left my purchasing role in 2005 to run Bronco which was already reaching its 2nd birthday … so the internet had certainly taken its hold on me. In the 11 years we have been running Bronco we have seen a huge change take place in shopping habits, customer behaviour and how we all share information and keep in touch. It’s a bit scary what the next 25 years will hold, and I can’t imagine what sort of world my future grandchildren will live in.

But Happy Birthday Internet thing!

twitter birthday

A Trip to London #6Nations

We’ve spent the last few days in London with the kids, for some relaxing, sightseeing and then for a trip to Twickenham to watch England vs Ireland. We were last in London with the kids in 2009 and even though we are there quite a bit, the kids were really excited so that got us all in the mood for a fun time.

We were staying at The Trafalgar Hotel on Trafalgar Square and for sightseeing it is a great base with the majority of the sights in easy walking distance. On Thursday afternoon we headed to see Westminster and then to Buckingham Palace, before a crazy trip to Hamleys.





On Friday we headed first over to Knightsbridge to look around Harrods, then over to Covent Garden, then to St Pauls and down the river a bit, then over to the London Eye.


The kids are down there somewhere while we were up on the balcony enjoying a pint in the sunshine :)



While we were wandering down the South Bank we bumped into our friends from Ripon Rugby Club so that was the evening sorted with beer and then the Wales v France match in a busy sports bar. The rugby theme had started :)


Saturday was at Twickenham meeting up with the Ripon gang again, letting the kids soak up the atmosphere of the huge crowds, the packed pubs in the town and the really good banter between opposition fans before heading to the stadium


Inside Twickenham was amazing, the atmosphere and the noise was deafening at times, what a day! I was also really impressed with my little Canon camera that I got for Christmas on its first real test of the zoom.


We stayed the night at Twickenham and what a comparison it was in the morning when the place was deserted. The weekend was amazing … lots of fun had by all and a fantastic experience being part of an 80,000+ crowd cheering the England rugby team to a victory.


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The Bronco Family