Providence Properties domain name expires

If anyone remembers the student lettings company Providence Properties, you’ll know that I blogged about them on here a few times back in 2007 (and beyond) when they appeared on BBC Watchdog after being accused of keeping the deposits of some Leeds students. Following my blogs I had a phone call from one of the Zaman brothers asking why I was trying to destroy his company, and even a call from a lawyer – which was interesting.

Anyhow – after some years it appears that Providence Properties has let its domain name slip and it’s been registered by someone else, someone who still remembers what happened and has decided to make a website dedicated to the whole affair. How nice.

Little SEO lesson for you all there; no matter how bad things get with your company, no matter how much of a balls up you make, never let your domain name lapse.

Cheltenham and Gloucester’s stance on my mortgage

Recently I attempted to move house, from Manchester to Ellesmere Port. I planned on moving to be nearer work, as the 70 mile round trip is a bit of a time burner (not to mention heavy on the fuel).

I own my house in Manchester, and have about £17,000 in equity in the house and a mortgage with C&G, who are part of Lloyds TSB – my bank. I wanted to release that equity to use it as a sizable deposit on another house. Now, without going into significant financial details and the particulars of the purchase, and the equity release, I wanted to buy a house in Ellesmere Port for £72,000 – which was significantly cheaper than I’d have been selling my Manchester home for, and port my mortgage across – which this time last year would have been a formality.

Not so now however. After handing out mortgages left, right and centre to people who had no means of paying them back, causing the economy and the housing market to collapse, the banks have now gone the other way and aren’t giving mortgages, even to people who can afford them and are indeed already paying more to them now.

I wanted to reduce my mortgage by about £100 per month, trade up for a bigger (cheaper) house and reduce my liability with the bank – reducing the amount they had loaned to me. Basically I wanted to pay THEM money back, reducing my mortgage – and they said, after careful consideration, no – it was too much of a risk. You see, every mortgage application is treated as a new one, even though I would have been porting my mortgage, rather than getting a new one. Even though I’d be giving them money – they still couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

What really annoys me about this isn’t the fact that I’ve lost the house I wanted to buy, or that I’ve been turned down for a mortgage for the first time ever – no, it’s the fact that it’s the banks own stupidity that has caused this financial crisis and now it’s their own stupidity again that is stopping the economy from recovering.

It’s common sense you idiots – if someone already has a mortgage with you and wants to downsize their mortgage, paying you money back, then surely they CAN afford it??? Otherwise they couldn’t afford what they have now.

David Lloyd, Ellesmere Port, and the Groundhog Day quiz

As someone who enjoys a pub quiz (for a combination of reasons that include showing how much I know about useless trivia and the opportunity of winning alcohol) I always enjoyed the quiz, every two weeks, at David Lloyd in Ellesmere Port.

Now, some people use this place as a gym, or to play tennis, as I believe it has these facilities. I wouldn’t know – I’ve never made it past the bar area, where the quiz is held. However, this quiz has suffered in quality of late due, it would seem, to management decisions.

Let me explain; in the good old days of a few months ago the quiz was every two weeks on a Wednesday evening. For the people playing the quiz they would also have a special food offer, where outside caterers (this is important) provided a curry or chilli, and there was an offer for a bottle of beer and ‘help yourself’ to the food.

This was great, as you can imagine.

The quiz itself also offered some worthwhile prizes. Every team member paid a pound, which went into a pot and would roll over to the next quiz if nobody won it – the first pot went to around £500 before it was won. Teams were no more than six players (at least, there were supposed to be) and the winning team at the end of the quiz would receive either a crate of lager or five bottles of wine. Not too shabby.

There was a special lucky losers prize of another bottle of wine, drawn randomly from the teams who didn’t win. Finally there was the matter of the money, where everyone who had paid their pound entry received a raffle ticket, and the winning ticket drawn following the quiz gave its holder the chance to draw one of a dozen or so envelopes, containing prizes such as a banana, a meal for two and the prize pot (which got quite large). Whether you won anything on the draw or not, you still received a bottle of wine for having the winning ticket – so David Lloyd gave away seven bottles of wine each quiz.

So, for your pound entry you had the chance to win either nothing, some fruit, a few other small prizes, some lager, wine or a prize pot of cash. All sounds excellent doesn’t it? At least it did before management tinkered with the formula.

Following some changes the chap doing the quiz was replaced and someone else took over, the prizes were severely reduced and the quality of the quiz plummeted.

Now, there is no prize pot – no raffle draw and no chance to win any money; although everyone still has to pay a pound each. Where does this pound go? David Lloyd pockets the money, that’s where.

The prize for the winning team (a team of six remember) is now just three bottles of wine, not five. As there is no draw, there is no money prize, and no bottle of wine for having the winning ticket. There is still a bottle for the lucky losing team (small mercies I guess) but, and this is the biggest issue, the first quiz under this new ‘management’ was a recycled quiz we’d had before!

As one of two teams who’d been to almost every quiz, it became more of a memory test between us and another team as to who could correctly remember the answers from having taken the quiz previously.

We won – and won the THREE bottles of wine.

So, in short, David Lloyd has taken what was a great fortnightly quiz where they gave away seven bottles of wine, and had a prize pot that grew each time nobody won it and transformed (or destroyed it) into a quiz that still costs us, the punters, the same to enter, has no cash prize, is held monthly (so long as the person doing it isn’t ‘off sick’, which she has been in the past and the quiz was cancelled) and they’re only giving away four bottles of wine – AND they recycled an old quiz in the process.

Oh yes – they’ve also stopped the outside caterers, so no decent food with the quiz either. What great decisions they’ve made.

Bring back the old quiz master and the old ways; we don’t like change.

Got a business in Wales? Promote it with Ask Wales!

Many years ago I purchased the domain names and – with the intention of creating a business directory to promote Welsh based businesses. This was back in 2005 – and many things got in the way of the well placed intentions, so the directory project never really became a reality.

Now however I’ve revisited the idea of a Welsh based business directory and have finally launched Ask Wales, where businesses based in Wales can list their websites and businesses – completely free of charge (unless of course they want a featured listing to lord it over the rest). So, if you have a business in Wales and want to add your website to Ask Wales, head over there now and submit your site in our new, funky, shiny and very red business directory for Wales.

Pirates Dinner Adventure in Orlando

When I was in Florida last October I attended a ‘Pirates Dinner Adventure’, as I’d wanted to try out one of the themed dinner events I’d heard so much about. The show was actually free, for reasons I won’t go into, otherwise I may have opted for one of the other dinner themed nights I’d seen advertised such as the murder mystery dinners or the comedy dinner shows.

Anyhow, the Pirates Dinner Show it was, located just off I-Drive in Orlando. The dinner was situated in a building decked out like a pirate ship in the middle of a row of buildings – it looked as though the ship had been dropped there during a hurricane storm (of which there has been a few in Orlando).

So, the building was impressive – and when we got inside we were greeted by pirates, English naval officers and what can only be described as wenches, carrying out an elaborate play that involved sword fights, rope swings and battles. The area where you ate your dinner was located around a giant lagoon, in the middle of the building, where sat another pirate ship – this time a full ship, on the water. It was visually very impressive.


Why am I gushing about this when I usually complain? Well, here comes the complaint. The dinner and show was free, and the dinner included 1 drink – a ‘lite’ beer, as the Americans call it. When it came to ordering more drinks… well, let’s just say that London prices have nothing on this. One lager, and a Coors at that, plus a cocktail came to roughly $29. At the exchange rate at the time, that was around £20… for TWO drinks!

I’ve never paid so much for a drink in my life, AND it was a crap, lite beer.

Next time I’ll try the murder mystery.