Category Archives: Tyntesfield Estate Stories

Film crews at Tyntesfield create Titanic water scenes

Even with the estate in ever increasing chaos, it was decided to allow companies to use the property for the filming of period dramas. Perhaps one of the most apt productions turned Tyntesfield House into an asylum for the insane.

When I learnt that the whole of the house exterior was to be taken over by a very large film crew, this naturally drew some safety questions.

Anyone who has walked along Denmark Street in the city centre will be familiar with the size of lorry and number needed for transporting a theatre production. It would not be unreasonable to assume similar sized lorries would be needed for film crews.

I asked questions about the weight of the articulated lorries parking above the old Victorian underground services that crossed the grounds outside of the house.

A very pompous house manage that was in residence at the time informed me – not without an air of self-assured arrogance – that all considerations had been looked at. There was no need for me to be involved. He was sure I was needed elsewhere.

I did double check he had full knowledge about the drains. Like a soggy Jubilee flag flapping in the rain, he waved a scant outline of a few services that had knowledge off. He bid me good day with the parting information that he was more than capable of interpreting a few drain runs thank you very much. So leaving him clutching his bit of paper, thinking I wonder if the fiasco at Gallipoli had been run by a past relative of his, I left him to it.

It was on day two of filming that I was told to go to the front of the house and investigate a collapsed drain.

It didn’t take long to find as they had just pulled a 20 tonnes lorry out of the hole. This resulted in the pennant stone drain top being totally smashed. It was lying at the bottom of a large gully surrounded in the debris of what had once been a Victorian construction to take the largest of horse and carts.

I returned to the office to report on the situation. This presented the opportunity to bring forth some sarcastic remarks I had been saving for a rainy day.

I was asked how much work was involved in putting it back together. It was hard to say at this point. It had to be dug out, the reforming the chamber, the pennant stone top to remake and that was if I could find a stone large enough to work up.

Can you do it all in one day? I was asked.

Well, I supposed if I started early, had no distractions and changed my hands for wands, then yes that would be no problem.

A few days later, I had cause to go to the house, and one the way, I marvelled at the amount of work involved in film making. While talking to one of the set designers, I noticed that the welfare facilities had been placed on top of another drain. The water from the sinks had been plumbed into the gully.

To this, this was an ideal way to say goodbye to hundreds of gallons of foul water. No point in disturbing the house manager who obviously had everything under control. So I went to the office, armed with a new book – Sarcasm in the Heritage Workplace for Dummies. This was like Christmas come early.

I see the film crew have overcome the problem of disposing foul water by running it straight into the drains, I told them. “Yes” was the reply. “And they seemed to be very professional.”

“Ok, so these are the same drains that take away surplus water and store it for future use? The same drains that feed the pond outside your office? In fact we are talking about the very same pond that now has bubbles emerging from the feed pipe. The very same drains that are now poisoning all the fish and other aquatic life?”

Are you sure? Was the reply. Well I’d never seen the mallards looking so clean and the frogs had scrubbed up very well. As for the moorhen, well he’s a whole new duck these days lovely plumage.
So off to the house we went and I explained the problem to the film crew about the does and don’ts regarding the drains.

It was some time later we had specialists come to the estate to survey the ponds for newts. We knew where they were, but the National Trust still likes to pay specialists £150.00 an hour to tell us what we already knew.

It was rumoured they found a new species of newt in the pond by the office. After the initial euphoria had worn off, they realised these were ordinary newts with complex skin conditions, possibly brought on by hand cleaners and bleach.

 

 

Editor’s Note

We couldn’t let it go unnoticed that Tyntesfield was forced to close for some days over the festive season. Heavy rain water ran off the neighbouring fields, into the visitor centre and created a water featuring into the Cowbarn Kitchen.

Perhaps this was an unfortunate and costly mistake that could have been avoided should the storm drains been cleared?

 

Tyntesfield into 2013 an update

A Happy New Year to all our Readers.

We finishing 2012 tangled up within the most bizarre scenario. Unfortunately, due to certain legal action pending, we are unable to make comment. But rest assured, when it comes out, it will amaze the most ardent of our readers. We promise a story that will stretch the meaning of the word stupid, to new levels.

With this in mind, it comes to our attention that 2013 starts with PDR season. Anything you say may be held against you. And not just by the National Trust.

But we can kick off with a build-up to some recent events. This should put some of my critics at rest. Especially those who have been asking why I don’t help the National Trust instead of condemning them.

Let’s put the record straight shall we? And tweak some noses at the same time. So if you are sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

Over the last three years since leaving my job, I have been openly contracting for the National Trust on various properties.

On all my contracts I built in training elements free of charge. Not only was this practise very time consuming and costly, but very rewarding for me. We opened up the opportunity for persons from all walks of life to come along and give it a go. I didn’t make much money, but the best things in life are free.

The calibre of our trainees ranged from Youth offenders to Structural engineering students. All were treated the same and no one was turned away, despite the weather.

Not only was I taking it upon myself to practice what that the National Trust preaches – inclusion – I was ticking all their boxes at the same time. In fact I was doing all the things I wanted to do when I was employed by the Trust.

As I have this policy for only working a 4 day week, what a better way to spend my day off than volunteering for the National Trust as well. I gave up my free time to build their walls for free. Yes that’s right. Absolutely free of charge. And as a professional Waller and accredited instructor, I was able to give the volunteers advice when needed. I even managed to stay away from the politics that are rife at the properties. With the miles of walls owned by the Trust falling into disrepair faster than they can repair them you would think every little helps.

With budgets being cut across the Trust and spending being rationed for essential courses such as How to Talk to the Public (Sorry couldn’t help it) I engaged my other skills such as getting the public to donate stone for building. Yes, if there was a slight snifter of stone going begging, I made every effort to see it go to the Trust and make those people who donated feel they were doing a fantastic thing.

And last but not least, after every training session I engaged in, I always made a point of promoting the Trust should they wish to volunteer their new found skills.

This is the point where certain readers will swivel in their chairs, scratch their heads and think He’s Mad.

All in all, Things were starting to take a turn for the better at Tyntesfield. We learnt that there was a new outdoors manager at Tyntesfield seemed to be turning things around. The manager was ‘Getting on top of things’ and said to have ‘taken the welfare of the estate to heart’. These are some of the phrases conveyed to us by several sources.

Was it about time to put the Tyntesfield stories to rest? Even with humongous back log of stories pending, I decided to approach a very good friend and member of National Trust staff to say that an unofficial meeting on the quiet might just reassure us. We would be prepared to move on in a more positive way.

Unfortunately shortly after, that member of staff decided they had had enough of the Trust. They left taking with him our olive branch, a walling hammer and my papers on retaining walls. I do miss that hammer.

Yes readers all this was in the pipe line. Until just recently. Certain managers found out about my activities, possibly the same managers that have run up the points to qualify for a personal parking space at Shit Creek. Just like hurt children, they stamped their feet and made lots of noise.

So now I have my day off again. It means I will be able channel my focus to neglected issues. May be I can again involve offenders in my other passion – Lock picking skills. Irresponsible I hear you say? Let’s face it; every journey starts with a single foot step. In which direction they go is down to the individual.

 

Badger Update

Hello to all our readers. I do apologise to all those that have asked me about the outcome of the Badger sett disturbance.

We can now confirm that headquarters became involved and I suspect someone has had their wrists slapped. Not going to look good on that persons feedback for their PDR (performance development review) eh.

Question (1) what have I achieved this year? Well I totally devastated a badger sett, involved the police, opened up the opportunity to have the National Trust  prosecuted, allowed our flag ship property to be ridiculed by outside media coverage, dragging the good name of the National Trust into disrepute, wasted many valuable hours of staff time. On the plus side, I have managed to forged links, with all manner of outside agencies over this issue, hitting my target of involving new audiences.

We can confirm that the National Trust is now working closely with the Badger Trust and liaising with their team to move forwards in a more positive direction.

All very ideal we hear you say, one charity helping another. Only we would ask, why does the National Trust have to go cap in hand to find out what they should and shouldn’t be doing regarding protected species?  They have a regional wild life advisor employed to do just that.

They also have an in-house team player that has all the relevant qualifications covering protected species. Unless that is, they cooked them up on the internet. Wouldn’t be the first time this had happened at Tyntesfield, eh Doctor Phillips.

Yes we believe all regions have a paid advisor in position to inform and educate the staff regarding issues like the badgers. In fact I phoned the National Trust and was even given the email address. The operator didn’t know the name, but you can’t expect miracles can you?

When I worked at Tyntesfied, I was so hacked off with the flippant attitude towards the wildlife and the law; I contacted the Wessex advisor myself. He was very apologetic and pointed out he was only an advisor. The trust did not have to follow one word he said; Simon I bet you can remember that conversation well.

On a more positive note, Tyntesfield now has a designated badger sett monitor. This is a person that checks on the setts on a regular basis and reports any wrong doing. Just like a warden would. If only. S

So we would like to say a big hello to the monitor who we have given the code name The Saint. And point out to Tyntesfield, they are lucky to have another dedicated person on board.

 

 

Minority group Guilty of theft

All is not well in the gardens at Tyntesfield. Earlier this year they were burgled.

But before we delve too much, let’s go back to the week preceding this  at Clevdon Court. Evidently some thieves broke into the out buildings, and stole all the gardening machinery and equipment. At that time of year, this sort of action goes on all over the country. At the beginning of gardening season is the time that stolen garden machinery sells fast and well.

So with a local National Trust  property having been burgled, we would have thought that preparations would have been put in place at Tyntesfield to safe guard the property of the estate. After all, it  belongs to all of us tax payers.

But no. Not one finger was raised to tighten security. In fact the same blasé attitude of it doesn’t belong to me applied. Or could we be wrong? Was it a simple break down of communication coupled with a misunderstanding.

Being a property manager receiving word that the neighbouring Trust gardens had been turned over probably just conjured up images of gardeners busy at work. Never once realising, that the same group of nocturnal horticulturalists were on their way to turn over Tyntesfield.

Once again It really does beggar belief, that the National Trust has a team of advisors to deal with matters of security.

Until recently, the estate had live-in staff. These were the real workers retained from the days of Lord Wraxall. These were the real people that not only cared about their work, but cared for and looked after the estate and the property of the estate.

Now the only real security is the cameras at each gate. Not much use when the estate can be accessed from all around and even less affective when the lights do not work to illuminate the band of thieves. Yes we did our homework at the time and the light at one of the gates failed to come on. Maybe a maintenance issue?

Previous to the burglaries, the newly appointed manager had addressed the Parish council and made it clear that the Trust will be challenging people on the estate. Bit of a task really when the place has an open access policy. Will the target visitor look like someone not wearing appropriate rambling attire or designer clothes and how this work will after dark.

On this one occasion we are in agreement with the National Trust management and think that the burglary was the work of a minority group of badgers. Eager to remove all implements that could be used against them they  raided the out buildings, stole equipment, and sold it at the local boot sales.

What proof have we got of this you may ask?  None we say with honesty, but it’s all too easy to blame a minority group, especially when there is so much prejudice against them.

Under investigation – Bodgers Badger Badgers – or unlicensed clearing works takes place around Tyntesfield’s badger sets

 

 

 

Some time ago, we ran a story about a large family of badgers that had the area around their set cleared and a bonfire placed on top.

Couldn’t happen again could it? I should co co. More clearing work has taken place, only this time on a much larger scale and we have the pictures of the devastation as proof.

We contacted DEFRA to ensure we had all the up to date facts concerning this matter and we also asked if a licence was applied for to undertake such works. DEFRA put us on to English Nature that supplies the licences, and guess what, the National Trust had over looked this issue.

As we well know, at Tyntesfield, the National Trust has a record of atrocities against the wild life that goes back many years.

It seems that there is no end to the misery inflicted on the wild life on this particular estate, surly there is someone with the relevant training in nature conservation, and habitat management, we hear you say?

Well there is, but from the pathetic way things are done, you wouldn’t think so. I did try to search for the conservation manager at Tyntesfield, but unfortunately to no avail.

Recently we have received lots of mail regarding staff being driven out of their homes on National Trust properties. It seems the Trust wants the houses empty to rent out to those that are willing to pay very large rents. These are people that will inevitable commute to and from the properties. The staff that still works at the properties will now commute to their place of work. Doesn’t really tie up with the green policies of the National Trust. We will run a full story on this at a later date.

So with the snatch back of housing in mind, we have some theories about the badger sett.

It could have been cleared to explore the opportunities of several new money pits. This will be an open and honest approach to show the where the money usually goes.

Or could it be the starting block, for a crazy golf course?  You might want to include a risk assessment for reaching down to retrieve balls.

We honestly believe that like the staff, the badgers are being driven out to leave accommodation for other more up market residents, such as meerkats, celebrity Bunnies, or other fluffy things that are looking to retire from the lime light.

To sum up this story on a sober note, you are a conservation organisation, in future practise what you preach, These creatures are protected by law, and we have informed the police, we hope to see a more positive approach to wild life conservation in the future.

 

The exodus

What is happening across the Trust that drives good hard working staff to the point of destruction?
I travel extensively in the course of my work from one end of the country to the other, often calling in on old friends that work for the Trust, or who are contractors for them. The same sad story is emerging everywhere. Something is seriously wrong and getting worse.

It seems that a great number of experienced wardens have had enough of the shambles that the management call organisation and left.

It’s true working practises have changed so much. Once a warden went about his work and got things done. It’s now a huge uphill struggle to break free from the paperwork and the sheer weight of bureaucratic crap that ties them up like bind weed on wiz.

I know of one property that used to sell firewood, a by-product of the work they under took. The surplus wood was brought back from the woods, it was split in to firewood usually by volunteers and was sold on to public.

This was a very good arrangement as the property never went short of tools and equipment. They didn’t have to go cap in hand to make ends meet. They were using imitative. Yes they were also ticking the box on their PDR form – initiative used 10 out of 10. Everyone was happy.

Unfortunately a senior manager put a halt to this, obviously that manager had not thought of it and why should this property be doing so well,when they could also join the ranks of the beggars.

Yes it beggars belief that staff could identify a way of making things work to the National Trust’s advantage and then to have the rug pulled for thinking ‘outside the box’’.

These wardens didn’t work for the money. They worked for the Trust to use their skills and achieve. They believed in the vision that they were working for the good of all, to manage and preserve the countryside. To make a difference so that we the public could appreciate what belongs to us -our heritage.

The trust is becoming the employer of more and more university graduates that don’t have the hands on skills to go with the qualifications. Absolutely no disgrace in that. It takes years of working in any trade to become experienced. But the problem that accompanies this move is a lot of these graduates have never worked in the real world. Therefore they have never been employed by a manager that has had to use his work force to maximum efficiency to keep the shareholders happy.

My opinion of what’s happening is echoed by many others that work or who have left the Trust. That is that the days of the experienced working man will be a thing of the past as things move more and more to fantasia land.

As the emphasis on work practises seems to have shifted towards inclusion so muc, the poor old wardens spend most of their time in meetings, planning events, writing up all the relevant paperwork that accompanies such bold schemes. In truth very little gets done due to the magnitude of the organising. The voice of concern is usually lost on higher management who frequently mistake words for thought.

It won’t be long before the past exploits of these men will be talked about by volunteers to the paying public, accompanied with pictures of maybe a warden clutching a chainsaw, sweat dripping from the brow as he surveys the tree he has just fell – secretly thinking that when pulped this tree will return to fill his in-tray.

I have read many emails from staff that are on the brink of breaking. We had a email from a gardener that told us a harrowing story of a property in melt down. He stated that the property manager was absolutely fantastic and was standing firm with the staff, but pressures on that manager was taking its toll.  We don’t know if that manager is still with the Trust. Let’s hope so. The one thing the Trust needs is good managers.

Before I go I will give some sound advice to those that can’t sleep, on antidepressants, and feel that their life is one big misery. Choose life. Go and get a life and make the difference somewhere else where you and your efforts are appreciated. As soon as you hand that notice in you will start to recover. As one warden told me “I felt instant relief.’’ Oh and that bottle of pills, leave them for your replacement accompanied with a method statement, and risk assessment of course.

National Trust threatens with baliffs over rent paid

It’s funny how little things slip your mind until a spark is relit about incidents that were all part and parcel of the sad tragic tale of working at Tyntesfield.

Just recently, I happen to noticed a piece of paper that stood out amongst all the pile of evidence of incompetence, sadly amassed in a cardboard box. This box is affectionately called, The NT Pandora, written in different coloured crayon. I wondered why I would be saving a children’s maths diagram nestling on the top of the pile. I browsed over the content glad that I did, as it brought back memories of a act of stupidity and incompetence by Head Office. Oh my God, it’s us they cry from the swivel seats of power.

This is where I name and shame another National Trust department. It’s about time some other department had a bashing and today it’s property rental. I will dedicate this to all the National Trust tenants that have suffered in misery at the hands of the National Trust.

It was some time after the Trust took over the estate that that I received a letter demanding I pay my rent. As my rent was always paid on time, I was a little put out by this. Phoning the appropriate department I informed them I had paid and could they look into this mistake. I would like to make clear that this incident took place before the switch over to direct debits.

What could have been easier, a professional team up there in head office employed for their skills in administration, this was going to be a piece of cake to them.

Then the next threatening letter arrived. We have not received your rent and you are now 2 months in arrears. If you have paid since receiving this letter please ignore this demand.

Well computers are not the cleverest of things when it comes to looking at grey areas, so I ignored it – after all I had the brains of the National Trust sorting it out.

It was not long after the next letter came with red writing – very nasty looking – reminding me of red sky in the morning landlords warning. So once again I contacted the same office.

It seems that they had not been receiving my cheques and that’s why the shirty attitude kicked in.  Then the argument started on the phone. I said I had sent them, they said I hadn’t.

The nice lady on the other end soon started to change her attitude, becoming very assertive -lovely word “assertive” covers all attitudes up to mild aggression. Apparently, there was no record of them receiving payment and I was now in the land of deep doo doo. The National Trust is a charity, they sang at me. And, it’s bad tenants that undermine all the good work they do. Repeat Chorus several times.

I let the condemnation carry on until I decided to finish the song with my perfect cadence – if I haven’t been paying my rent, how come I have the bank statements that show the National Trust have been cashing my cheques? Not only had this taken the wind from her sails, I assumed from the quiet silence she had also fallen out of her crow’s nest. I will look into it she replied. Don’t take too long over it said I, I’d hate to think of someone misappropriating funds to the National Trust. That’s my one weakness. When I take someone down a rung, I can’t help kicking the ladder away as well.

Then the next letter came. It seems that they have been cashing my cheques, but due to a paradox of time and events, I still owed them one day rent. No sorry about the fuss, we still owed one solitary days rent, or so they thought.
So raiding the crayon tin, I set out on paper, timings and payments all broken down and highlighted in different colours. The text was so simple, even an idiot with the IQ of property manager could grasp it.  Basically, all the pretty numbers said I don’t owe you a penny and that’s the letter I sent.

It was soon after I opened a reply thinking this is probably an apology, very sorry kiss kiss. But the red sky in the morning looking bit of paper shouted – hello, as you have failed to pay your rent, we are instructing the courts to recouped money to the amount of ££££.

By now my sense of humour had taken a turn for the worse. It was back on the phone demanding I Speak to someone without their head up their backside. Yes it was my turn to be assertive.

I know it’s not the best opening line, and it’s hardly the way to meet and greet people, but at this point in time needs must.

The conversation was not the most productive as it seems they were unable to understand the figures we sent them. After exasperating all avenues of trying to help them with simple arithmetic, I proclaimed, send in the bailiffs, and I will see you in court after, to claim compensation.

This issue was brought up in front of the property manager with my union representative while dealing with other issues. ‘I will take this matter up’ the manager proclaimed. I replied no thank you they will listen to me, the tenant, or the courts. ( all highlighted in in a fed back note by property manager)

The bailiffs never arrived. A pity really. Mind you, I can’t think for the life of me what they could have removed to cover one day rent for a National Trust property. These days if you owed one day’s rent that would equate to a new car.

I did receive a letter sometime after. Apparently the computer made an error. Because computers are obviously free thinking beings and not operated by employees. But this still couldn’t excuse the poor mathematical skills of staff.

This is no means the end of the NT cock ups. The two gardeners had the same problems with council tax. The National Trust had not paid it, the threatening letters kept coming, and finally the bailiffs were on their way.

As luck would have it, a new sheriff had taken over control of the estate and personally took charge.  The mess others had concocted was sorted, then flowers were delivered as a means to say sorry for all the stress and anguish caused.

I suffered a lot more through gross incompetence over the years, and yet never got so much as a sodding daisy. Yet thinking about it, being able to expose their bloomers, is certainly a bloom for me.

So to all you doubters of this story, why don’t you look up the National Trust’s tenants association online. This was set up to help tenants with the stupidity of the National Trust.

Row row row your boat, gently down the stream, if you get near Tyntesfield, don’t forget to scream


Waiting for the severn tidal bore through Home Farm

 

Tenants residing in the farmhouse had a bit of a shock when the house was flooded with 3 feet of water.  While the tenants were busy working on a large wooden boat to house a variety of animals, a flash flood raged through the house.

Mr and Mrs Noah returned to find the ground floor of their rented property awash and furniture bobbing up and down. What made it worse was the discovery that great crested newts had moved into the sitting room and were happily watching David Attenboroughs’ Life on Earth, while a solitary beaver made a home from drift wood Chippingdale furniture.

Rumours have it that the National Trust has taken immediate measures and has installed several lifeboats around the property. They are also rumoured to be in the process of applying for a newt exclusion licence from English Nature.

This was always a threat hanging over this particular property. The only way to ensure it didn’t happen was to keep the storm run off channels clear.

It was all part and parcel of on-going maintenance that was marked as priority in the schedule of maintenance works -that would be in the pile of paper work marked Maintenance.

Looking back at the historical farce of general maintenance around the estate, this tsunami through the house came as no surprise and no doubt as the years go by, and general maintenance is passed on from one manager to another, it’s very much on the cards this house will flood again.

Whilst writing this we have heard the rumour that the new symbolic landing jetty in the dried up lake may be removed from the formal gardens to the farm house so the tenants can access their car on higher ground.

We would also like to suggest that the little bottomless wooden boats in the lake could be put to good use at the farm house when the tenants wish to use their kitchen area.

Broadband slows as sparks fly

 

It’s amazing what gossip goes around in the local pub. There was me leaning against the bar discussing the political turmoil of the world, and then out of the blue, the words estate and warden made its way to my ears. So cutting my mate short mid-sentence, phrases such as lucky to be alive, the whole estate cut off, made the eavesdropping even more desirable. It was time to engage with the locals that turned out to be volunteers from the estate.

Evidently, the estate has volunteer wardens that use petrol strimmers to trim unsightly areas around the estate. It seems that in the course of this operation, the cables for the broadband were trimmed off along with a power cable.

Tut Tut Tut we say. What happened to the risk assessment for this operation? What happened to the duty of care to these upstanding folk that dedicate time and effort for the National Trust? Had this action been carried out by let’s say a member of staff, I feel that a disciplinary action would have been imminent, or is there one on its way?

You see the manager overseeing that type of works is responsible for the safety and welfare of the volunteer. All considerations should have been taken into account. This would be a visual assessment as well as the sit at the desk drinking coffee one. If that manager has failed in their duty to provide a duty of care, then naughty naughty, it’s wrist slapping time.

I can hear those grumblings from within about this story, but if less time was spent on playing I Spy and secret agents, I’m sure it would create a more professional approach.

I’m sure the near miss has found its way to the health and safety department. And, we are sure that appropriate action will be taken to ensure there are no repeats of this.

We thought it wise to flag this up as I know how long it takes to cascade down important information. Of course, in case the appropriate paperwork has been mislaid and as it could have been fatal, we feel with our fast distribution coverage,it may go some way to saving lives.

I would like to thank those volunteers for their cooperation and hope they are not to bitter if they read this.

Introduction: Why I never said goodbye

May 12, 2009

Introduction

 

Hi there. My name is Phil Smith and I would like to tell everyone about my
life and the life of many others while working as a maintenance person on the
Tyntesfield property.

 

I will begin with the National Trust taking over the estate and then continue
to highlight the incompetence with brief stories of incidents that to some will
seem unbelievable.

 

I will then finish with the grand finale of how the National Trust illegally
sent in the builders to strip the house I had been living in, and change the
locks while I was moving the penultimate furniture load, leaving me with out a
bed to sleep in.

 

This story was something I planned to do a long time ago, but unfortunately
for me, the task I now face has grown significantly larger. On the positive side
it will give some of the named incompetent managers time to guess at what stage
of the story they will appear and reflect on where or what their next employment
might be.

 

You will have to forgive me about the time scale of this task as writing is a
new thing to me and I think you will find that reading it in small instalments
will keep you readers hanging on, especially in head office.

 

It will be some time before I manage to assemble the masses of E Mails and
photos I have obtained into some sort of order. Having just moved house things
never end up where you put them!

 

Unfortunate this story will take no prisoners and there will be victims in
all departments of the Tyntesfield property. Also, some regional managers will
take some flack. Some innocently making mistakes under immense pressure, others
because they don’t and won’t listen and when things do go wrong they slide the
blame down the ranks faster than nylon underwear in leather trousers.

 

You will all have seen the wrong bus number on the sign posted earlier on the
site, but the more I think about it, the more I ask myself is the National Trust
wrong, after investigating the number a little more I’m sure the 384 is the dead
wood stage and this could have been how the likes of Calamity Jane arrived at
Tyntesfield.

 

The first story will cover the deer management plan and the intervention of
the police to the National Trust contract killers shooting deer on a neighbours
land. What a night to remember!

 

So tune into this site again to hear the full story that I dedicate to the
fallen of the property, and to send out a clear message – Phil’s back and it’s
show time.

Letter to Tyntesfield Estate.com from person claiming to be a Tyntesfield volunteer and a medical doctor

At the Tyntesfield Estate website,
we deal with many emails from members of the public, usually people who hate the
National Trust for whatever reason and want to share their story.

The website team makes sure all
contacts retain their anonymity.

The website has been live since
2004. The National Trust have been aware of it since the start, and one manager
has famously been quoted as saying “that will never last.” And to be fair to the
Trust, amongst the tears and the frustration shed by staff members and the
paying public, there has been some buffoonery displayed by some in management
without whom we just couldn’t giggle as well.

But on the 06 March 2011, something
unprecedented happened. We received an email that was positive about the
National Trust. As a website, our editorial policy is that we will give people
the right to reply should they disagree with us. Until now, that hasn’t really
happened. It was with great interest that we read this email.

Now whilst we take every email we
are sent into confidence, we are going to reproduce this email, along with the
contact’s name for reasons that will become clear.

 

From Steven Phillips

Sent: 06 March 2011 21:26:09

Dear
‘tyntesfieldestate.com’ Editorial Staff

I would just like to take the
time to thank you firstly for some of the content on your website. I am a
volunteer at the National Trust at Tyntesfield as a researcher and some of you
stuff is very good, I am thanking you not only on behalf of myself but on behalf
of the public who I know will be so interested.

However I am a little perplexed
as to why you are always ranting at the National Trust in your blog posts. The
staff and other volunteers I work with are some of the kindest people I know and
everybody has a good professional sense of humour. So when you say they are
bullying people I am a little confused. I have personally met the chief
executive of the Tyntesfield Estate and they are very nice along with all of the
staff. You say that the National Trust wastes their money but surely this is not
your place to comment on. You hear rumours not fact and comment on these. These
rumours really can disrupt how the property works and therefore they lose more
money making it not as good for the public. Also you say that they have been
very neglectful to the property. Do you not know how much money the Trust has
spent on it?(a lot). Especially with new projects costing thousands of pounds
which benefit purely for public interest. Anyway the house was falling down
before the trust took it on in 2002. This was because Sir Eustace Gibbs did not
wish to own it and so sold it to the Trust. Now I suggest you leave the
criticism and commenting on decisions to the managerial staff. If you want a say
then why not join them and look out for job offers or volunteering with us or
you can get in touch directly with them as oppose to creating web pages behind
their back.

Again good job with the history
section on you page, but will you please stop slagging off the National Trust
who do an exceptionally good job.

Regards


Steve
Phillips

Dr Steven
Phillips
Consultant Cardiologist (Physician) MB BSc
Bristol Heart
Institute
UHBristol NHS Foundation Trust

OK so this is an interesting email.
Why? Because it is someone who volunteers at Tyntesfield, flying the flag of
goodness.

The person is claiming to be a
Consultant Cardiologist at the Bristol Heart Institute. Obviously a high
position that garners a sense of trust. He volunteers as a researcher with the
Trust. Someone with a higher degree of intelligence.

This is where things start to fall
down.

1. A person with any concept of
good historical research will know that the history page on the website is toot.
It’s a nod to a complex history, nothing substantial, nothing of interest,
nothing that adds anything. So why would an intelligent person email in saying
it was a ‘good job’?

2. The person calls the site a
blog. It isn’t there is a fundamental difference between a blog and a
website.

3. The person has clearly not read
any of the content of the website, or is not able to understand it. A little odd
for a researcher who has the skills of a doctor?

‘You hear rumours not fact and
comment of these’

‘Why not look out for job
offers’

Surely a person who had read the
site – who can read – discovered much of the website content comes from a
previous employee who is telling stories about what actually happened – some
with photographs?

‘Do you not know how much money the
Trust has spent on it’? – Less would have been spent had it not been left to
fall into disrepair first.

Well, this was the point where we
decided to dig a little deeper into Steve Phillips’ background. He obviously
works at the Bristol Heart Institute. It won’t be hard to track him
down.

Or will it.

Initially, we made some enquires
with our own contacts, none of whom could verify the existence of Dr Phillips.

On the 21/03/11, we heard
from Steven Phillips again.

Hello Again,
I have not had
a response yet with regards to this, please could
reply…?
Regards,
SteveDr Steven Phillips
Consultant Cardiologist
(Physician) MB BSc
Bristol Heart Institute
UHBristol NHS Foundation
Trust

We started to dig a little deeper.

A spokesperson for the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
said: “I can confirm that we do not have a consultant cardiologist working for
the NHS side of the Bristol Heart Institute called Dr Steven
Phillips.”

A spokesperson for Bristol Heart
Institute said: ”I can find no details for Dr Steven Philips.”

We also tried to find Dr Steven
Phillips’ registration status with the General Medical Council. We could find no
trace of him and a spokesperson for the GMC told us: “Practising without GMC
registration is a criminal offence.”

On 27/03/2011, we heard again, this
time with the editor of the Bristol Evening Post included.

FW: tyntesfieldestate.com –
Issues with National Trust? PLEASE READ AND REPLY URGENTLY!?

The fact that you are not
replying is quite bad. Please email me back as soon as you read
this.

Regards,

S Phillips

Dr Steven
Phillips
Consultant Cardiologist (Medical Physician) MB BSc
Bristol Heart
Institute
UHBristol NHS Foundation Trust

Two interesting developments here,
firstly, the person has made a slight change to their email signature, firstly
swapping Medical Physician for Physician, but otherwise making no change to the
BHI credentials.

Secondly, he is involving the
Evening Post by also sending the email to the editor.

We replied to Steven on the
27/03/2011 with the following.

Dear Steven,

I apologise
for the delay in getting back to you. We like to check out the source of such
correspondence so we can reply to you appropriately.We have tried to verify your
position within the Bristol Heart Institute. Unfortunately, there seems to be a
problem. When we contacted them, we were informed that you did not exist at the
Trust.Your name also appears unfamiliar to a well-known surgeon and personal
friend of one of the website team, who is also attached to this department.We
have also failed to be able to verify your credentials on the General Medical
Council’s list of registered medical practitioners. Perhaps to speed up our
enquiries, you could reply with your contact number at the BHI or even your GMC
reference number.As we well know, all big organisations can suffer from
communication problems, and if it is because you are a new consultant on a
cardiology ward, perhaps other members of staff are not yet up to
speed.

Many thanks


On the 28/03/2011, Steven
replies with the following.

 

Dear Jen,

I have just
started retirement, hence the reason I volunteer at Tyntesfield. Thanks for
pointing this out to me, I have taken away my automated email signature. The
Bristol Heart Institute has been through a major revamp recently, I left in the
process of this as they were already re-recruiting for some posts.
You may
or may not be aware that when a doctor retires their information is taken off
the GMC’s public database, they are not meant to tell the public a doctor’s
information after they have retired (no longer practicing) due to the Data
Protection Act. However can I just ask why this is of such big importance – I am
contacting you as a National Trust Volunteer and loyal supporter, not as a
doctor.
I fail to understand what all of the big hold up was about, can I
now get a satisfactory response from you for my first email please?
And in
the future may I suggest that you stop checking out people’s backgrounds and
start doing your job correctly – answering queries for you website. Or perhaps
you can now tell me what your full time job is if you really think that this is
so important…?

Regards
Steven Phillips

Sounds plausible
doesn’t it? Except this person knew their signature was either false or out of
date because they had made a change to it as we have pointed out.

 

He claims to have retired recently
– Keep this in mind for now.

 

He wants to know why it is
important we check his medical credentials. This is because he has deliberately
used them to give his email some weight. But the fact is that the original email
did not come up to the standard we would expect a person working at this level
to be at.

 

He suggest that in the future we
should stop checking out people’s backgrounds and start doing our job correctly.
We have absolutely been doing our job correctly and it is what we do best –
check out the background, ridicule the incompetent, bring to light the outrages
and expose the liars. For we put it to Dr Steven Phillips that he is a liar.

 

Just two weeks ago, in March 2011,
Dr Steven Phillips joined an internet forum Pharmacy Reviewer

 

http://www.pharmacyreviewer.com/forum/antibiotics/9449-can-i-drink-alcohol-if-im-taking-phenoxymethyl-penicillin.html

 

DrSteve says in his online profile:

 

I am a Consultant Physician
Cardiologist in the Heart Institute at University Hospitals Bristol

 

Location
Bristol

 

Interests
Medicine, Cycling

 

Occupation
Consultant
Cardiologist at UHBT (Bristol)

 

Signature
Dr Steven
Phillips MB Bsc

 

All sound familiar? And in reply to
a question posed by another member back in 2008, Can i drink alcohol if im
taking phenoxymethyl penicillin he says:

 

Hello There,

 

I find this a very interesting
discussion. I am a new consultant on a cardiology ward and often prescribe
antibiotics and have learnt about all of them. It is false that it will stop
working if you drink alcohol. But you should try not to drink and take any
medication. Again, every person reacts differently and it is not uncommon that
you can have stomach problems due to antibiotics, alcohol will not help this.

 

Kind Regards

 

Dr Steven
Phillips

 

__________________
Dr Steven
Phillips MB BSc

 

So Dr Steven Phillips, are you a
new consultant on a cardiology ward? Or have you just retired? Or is it that you
are just a liar?

 

We hope this is satisfactory
response to your email. And just this once, we have taken the decision to
publish the correspondence to warn other members of the public that you have
lied, are on the internet giving people medical advice as a representative of
the Bristol Heart Institute – who has never heard of you and without GMC
registration which is a criminal offence.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Tyntesfied Estate.com

Sewage

 

Concern from some of our readers over recent activity on the estate has given us cause to
investigate.Reports were coming in of large diggers tearing up the fields that
had so much cash spent on them.

At first glance, we speculated the Trust
was looking to bury some more of its mistakes.Upon further inspection, we
realised the trenches were nowhere near deep enough for this, so we looked at
other options.Was this another exercise in reverting the reverted land? It
certainly had all the hallmarks of turning meadow fields into bog.

Or,
had they gone one step further with geocaching shenanigans. This is where the
National Trust at Tyntesfield have a budget for items to be hidden around the
estate. Those with the right equipment can come and find them. When found, a
little something can be left in the container as a momentum of your visit.

This is often seen on a bigger scale across the Trust. It is usually
deemed fly tipping. This is where idle swine looking to save money, secretly
dump unwanted crap around the countryside. Unfortunately most properties don’t
have a budget for this sort of activity and have to suffer. We suggest a leaf is
taken from the Tyntesfield scheme . The unwanted tyres, mattresses, and urine
stained three piece suite, could be placed at discreet locations in the woods,
where the public could search for them.

We looked at the possibilities
they were looking for missing staff. To be honest, you can’t have that amount of
staff leaving and not cause suspicion. Or was there to be a film made of the
First World War? The only thing lacking was figures in uniforms playing football
whilst dodging bullets fired from the offices. To be fair to the management it
was only flack that I took.

Then the truth emerged. There’s too much
faeces on the estate. It seems that the extra crap flowing through the
estate,has been causing great concern. The only way to solve the problem, before
someone shouts out ‘there she blows’, is to divert it all to the main line
sewage pipes far down below in the valley. That’s the way mumble some of our
readers, send the crap down the line, nothing changes.

Still, until this
work is completed, we must warn you that the driveways are hazardous with thick
mud. I was lucky having a 4×4, others on push bikes may find the going
dangerous? Whilst I worked on the estate I made the suggestion of fitting
composting toilets. These remarkable toilets are installed at other Trust
properties and some years ago I was given a tour and explanation to the
processing at a property on the Cotswolds.

The warden that looked after
them was very informative and his enthusiasm was quite contagious. There is very
little maintenance and the end product was used to fertilise the land – very
environmentally friendly.The response I received on my proposal to this idea at
Tyntesfield was, the public don’t like them. So what didn’t the public like? Was
it the gentle down draft from the fans? Or had the Trust installed some with the
fans blowing upwards by mistake? I could see that that would be cause for
concern.

Was the public not liking them a good enough excuse not to
install them? If people didn’t want to use them, that would be up to them. They
would have to suffer – maybe it could all be part of the Tyntesfield
(self-inflicted) experience. The Tyntesfield Vision could be renamed the
Tyntesfield Double Vision, with bargain offers of incontinence pants in the
shop.

A walk on the wild side

 

With all the hype the National Trust are putting out about getting back to
nature, come see the countryside etc… we decided to try out the new woodland
walk through the Tyntesfield Estate.

 

We put Brian our best man on the team to test out one of the new walks.

 

The report we got back made interesting reading. And with the backup of
photos, we thought we had better share this with our readers.Admittedly we have
no idea if the National Trust is handing out risk assessments prior to the
public starting their rambles. The estate is open to all and there are no
warning signs of hidden dangers.

 

In light of this lack of warning, we felt duty bound to highlight to those
considering a gentlre stroll some of the potential hazards.

We start with an easy meandering
walk along a wide track that takes the walker past the newly refurbished summer
house and the holiday cottage.

The walker then reaches a point where a gate can be seen in
the distance with a sign on, but nothing else. On approaching the gate, the
irate land owner informs us that the path turns off further back.

We retreated away from his rantings, and left him torturing what looked like
an effigy in National Trust attire. At one point we did think of returning to
him to explain he wasn’t entering into the spirit of the Tyntesfield experience,
but somewhere in my head a voice said leave alone.

Taking an unmarked trail into
the unknown, we proceeded until we reached a point where the track once again
split with no sign. We took a flying guess at this point and went left. This
path took us to a point with a tiny sign pointing right.

 

 

 

It was here we stopped to admire all the clearing work that had been done and
so tastefully piled up onto a fence that marks out the boundaries. This must
have been designed to give privacy to neighbouring land and soften the effects
of harsh wire.

We followed this lightly beaten track until we came to a sign that could have been
slightly misleading. At this point we turned right down a slope but equally we
could have gone straight on. We assumed the sign pointing back the way we came
was for the benefit of those coming from the way we shouldn’t have
gone.

 

By now the ground started to slope away and our pace soon quickened.
It was not until we passed down token effort steps that the real horror loomed
at us.The slight slopping gradient was like the beginning of a roller coaster
ride.The path started to descend so rapidly we never had time to tie a line and
put on a harness for what could have been a pleasurable abseil. Instead our pace
increased as we took in the bone jarring depth of steps.

 

 

 

This was only worsened by the introduction of double depth steps.The double
high steps are usually installed by people who have not got the basic skills in
construction management and cannot mathematically work out the going and rising.
No disgrace here, after all no one’s perfect.

Alternatively, the double
depth steps were obviously introduced to somehow dislocate any hip replacements
and jarr the most healthy of backs into submission. It is at this point I must
emphasise this is not a route for prams, buggies, persons with vertigo, or flat
bottomed shoes. It may be wise to stop and fix contact lenses with super glue
before descending.

 

By now gravity was pulling so hard my upper torso had surged well ahead of my
legs. It was after I lurched down the sixth double step totally out of control,
with my life now flashing before me, I hurled myself to one side and came to
rest under a tree. My ears finally popped and I thought what an ideal spot for a
first aid post with distress flares.

 

Helping each other up we made our way down the steps to a point where the
path splits – but again no signs.Being at a cross roads in the woods, we could
see the steps descending down and that’s the way I decided to go, advancing
forthwith the effects of detatched retinas.I was suddenly pounced on and held
back.

This was in
fact to stop me from stepping onto a flight of steps that were incomplete,
missing and very dangerous. Should anyone make the mistake of stepping out, then
death could have been the outcome.

 

 

Clinging to a tree, and skidding down a severe slope I managed to reach the
remaining steps.Looking back up towards the unfinished section, it was easy to
see that the constructors of this path had run out of ideal of how to finish
them. Obviously problem solving is not on the person’s CV. When the steps
finally petered out, the ground slowly evened out to a gentle slope – please be
aware of being hit from behind by those that failed to see the missing steps.

The track took
us to a road with no direction signs or crash barriers for runaway prams or
pensioners. We thought to ask at the house in front but guessed they probably
get get pestered all the time. As we didn’t have to phone for an ambulance this
time, it may pay to wait until we try this path in the wet.Our overall
experience of this walk was marred by the lack of thought with the steps, and
the lack of signage for directions.The whole path could have been formed as a
slow snaking construction, from bottom to top. This would have given access to
those with difficulties, after all that’s what the National Trust is all about
isn’t it?

Magical mystery tour, danger and an abseil – the National
Trust brings Tyntesfied to a whole new generation of thrill
seekers

 

We feel this route may suit the more adventurous, and who knows, you may even
come across the odd missing manager, while finding your way out of the woods.The
pictures do not emphasise the gradient of this walk, but we have tried to be as
accurate as possible

 

I promise to tell the truth the whole truth

 

It was at the very beginning, when the Trust moved into Tyntesfield, that the
property manager announced there will be a documentary made about our work here.
What was to become a BBC4 documentary meant we were to be followed around by a
film crew. We were to go about our everyday work as we normally would. Some of
us could even end up on TV.

 

Because of the fact we had only just started working for the National Trust,
I asked my boss what normal was. It’s what you normally do day to day was the
reply.

 

Normally we would have been busy repairing buildings, carrying out work, but
as all our plant, equipment and tools had been sold off in the auction organised
before the Trust took over, we were far from normal.

 

In fact, normal was never to return in the entire time I worked for the
Trust. In fairness, if working life is supposed to resemble a TV sitcom
somewhere between Jam and Jerusalem, the League of Gentlemen and headed by
Krusty the Klown, furtherly championed by petty bureaucracy and farce, I
supposed it could have been classed as normal.

 

Otherwise, the normal thing for me in the early Trust days was – when we are
going to get some equipment?

 

This question had been asked every day for ten weeks. While the offices were
stocked with computers and very expensive leather furniture, we watched the
estate falling to pieces. Every time I asked when we are to get some tools, I
was always accused of being aggressive with my over questioning. Whilst many –
including some at the National Trust – regarded Tyntesfield as a dusty ruin
saved for the nation, the Truth was, until the death of Lord Wraxall,
Tyntesfield was a working estate, run by a team of people who were experts in
their field. They were the working people of the estate, some of whom had
dedicated a lifetime to the job. They were not fresh out of university with
various degrees and NVQs in dust management or people pushing. They had learned
their skills, crafted their talent and knew and loved Tyntesfield with a
passion.

 

For the first 10 weeks of the National Trust take over, the only transport we
had were our own bicycles. We attempted to keep on top of things with this mode
of transport. Every day I would ask the manager, when can we have a proper set
of wheels?

 

The reply was always the same, this is early days for the Trust and besides,
it looks good to be using green transport.

 

Now it may have looked good, but even an imbecile could see we couldn’t do
much, as we couldn’t carry the tools around on the bikes.

It was when the
chain broke on my bike that I went to the office to ask for a
replacement.
The answer was, this is a very irregular request, we can’t just
go around buying chains for people’s bikes. So opening the cupboard behind a
plush new leather settee he found a mileage allowance that could be used for
claiming the use of push bikes.

 

After looking at the figures, I deduced that I would have to cycle to Tibet
and back to cover the cost of a new chain. But I had no chain so I couldn’t get
there anyway. I put the bike away and waited for them to get their back sides in
gear and supply us with a works vehicle.

 

It was after repeated requests by the film crew to appear on the documentary,
I approached the National Trust manager and informed her that I’m not sure what
I should be saying. Her reply was, just be honest, it will be good to see how
you feel about the transition by the National Trust and how it has affected
you.

 

To be honest, I have been honest every since. What a mistake to make. I was
always brought up to tell the truth, only a liar has to resort to memory.

 

So when we were approached by the film crew, the plumber and I were very
honest. I accused the Trust of being incompetent morons and explained in detail
what was going on. At first the film director took my word with a pinch of salt
until he realised that things were not all going to plan with the Trust. This
was highlighted by a senior manager indicating he may have been set up to fail.
If the rot on the property was at that height what chance did we have at
basement level?

 

As time went on, the film crew always made a bee line for me. They would even
send out search parties.

 

So as the months went by the only thing improving on the estate was my
ability to stand in front of the cameras. I became a natural, taking on the role
of a country yokel, but always telling it like it was.

 

The filming was not just at Tyntesfield, but at several National Trust
properties around the country. Evidently the Trust was beginning to look rather
stupid and as the programmes rolled out, the more evident it was that things
were not all beer and skittles in other parts of the country.

 

At the other properties participating in the programme, the National Trust
were being portrayed as being at odds with local people. One group of protesters
even had T-Shirts made with the oak leaves as a swastika and the slogan, the
Nazi Trust. At the time I thought it was a bit extreme, but as time went by, I
realised what these people were hinting at.

 

Prior to the television screening of the Tyntesfield programme, it seems that
the top management were shown a preview of the programme. It didn’t go down too
well.

 

It was the following day that a member of the head office team approached me
and said – “It was very refreshing to hear the truth spoken out, you really got
the feathers flying, excellent well done.”

 

The Tyntesfield documentary was to be the icing on the cake for the film
makers, the final finale of bumbling incompetence and dam right ignorance.

 

I was informed by a very good source, the Trust had demanded a lot of the
programme was edited out. This was because the contents of the programme, whilst
true, could lose them public support. How true this was I will never know, only
those that watched the programmes would be the best judge.

 

After that I always seemed to be out of the way when any filming took place
at the property, apart from when I happened to walk in to Tyntesfield house full
of actors in Nazi uniforms, mingling with a smattering of managers.

 

As all the faces looked in my direction, I apologised for walking in on the
AGM – a remark I feel may have made me some enemies. The urge to compare the
swastikas with the oak leaf laurels was very hard to resist. Had I done so who
knows where my career with Trust would have ended up?

 

Since leaving the Trust, I have had lots of contact with the media in one
form or another. It’s thanks to those early days of working at Tyntesfield, that
I am able to stand with confidence when doing so. So just for once, thanks a lot
National Trust. Something good came out of my employment. And thanks very much
to their continuing persistence that I must use computers as part of job that I
can now sit here and reminisce for you.

Hedging your bets on a hedge

 

Whilst reading the National Trust vacancy for a rural enterprise director, it
triggered memories of the incident when we at the Tyntesfield cut down several
hundred meters of a neighbour’s hedge. This sort of mistake can be made by
anyone I hear you cry, but at Tyntesfield, this sort of mistake was just the run
of the mill balls up that went on daily. This is how it started.

 

Whilst the warden – since made unemployed – was overrun with trying to open
up the estate for visitors, juggling HLF work and performing a hundred and one
other tasks, one of these jobs was to manage hedgerows that was all part and
parcel of the country side stewardship. Sorry I didn’t mention the stewardship
did I? Just another little side line to his task sheet.

 

The request for boundary information was returned from head office,
highlighting all the fences, hedges etc. Now we had the information action,
camera, lights.

 

As I had been teaching hedgelaying to a group of inner city youths and the
links were forged, who better to involve in the project. This is what
Tyntesfield was all about, inclusion. and so this is what happened.

 

The group from the inner city spent several days coppicing the hedge to
ground level. Coppicing is a method of rejuvenating a very old hedge and all the
gaps were planted up with new hedging plants.

 

The group from the CSV worked like Trojans and the task was nearly completed.
That’s when the owner of the hedge turned up and not with a smile on her
face.

 

The poor old warden took all the flax that she was dishing out and doing his
best to explain against a barrage of abuse, he started to realise we might not
have been the squeaky clean ones.

 

WE only planned to put up a temporary fence to contain her cattle, but as the
truth emerged, I could see this was going to be an expensive error.

 

When the National Trust land agent at head office admitted the mistake, the
village was awash with the news of another horrendous act by the Trust. What
next? Was the cry in the village club. Making water run up hill was a remark by
another that worked for the water board. If only he knew how those words would
run true.

 

So the neighbour got a brand new stock proof fence, a nice new hedge and a
story that she will repeat till her cows come home. All this at the paying
public expense.

 

So looking back at the job of the Rural Enterprise Director vacancy,
advertised at £75,000 per annum with ‘exceptional benefits’, seems an awful lot
of money when the Trust has none. And why would they need another chair filled
at head office when they seem to be doing so well?

Rationing At Tyntesfield

Rationing At Tyntesfield

It has come to our attention that poor old National Trust staff have had to
deal with more shortages on the estate.

The shortage of toilet paper has prompted urgent emails requesting staff to
cut back.

We believe war-time themed posters have been displayed to emphasize
shortages, along with some of Stalin’s face for the back of the doors.

The email in question – of which we have a copy – asks staff to be as sparing
as possible until the delivery of supplies at a later date.

With staff entering the town on a regular basis asking does any one want
anything from the shops as I’m going into Nailsea, surely some one could have
come up with the cunning plan of buying some toilet paper from one of the large
retailers.

Even better, the manager in charge of such commodities could have gone
themselves.

I wonder if the role of that manager is solely for buying toilet paper and
did that manager work themselves into that coveted position? Just goes to show
what can be attained with determination and the right attitude.

One source of information close to the estate claims it is the fault of the
management. They started a lunch time origami craft section and before you knew
it, soft paper birds turned into toga parties. The management have supplied all
the manual workers facilities with Post It note pads, while the office toilets
have the proper stuff with the puppy on the wrapper.

Here’s a thought for the management: In times of shortage of toilet paper,
you could always use some Performance Development Review forms. This will help
you out of a difficult situation and also you can fill in the boxes such as
using initiative and feed back at the same time.

Ghurkha Training on Estate

 

We have recently investigated rumours that the estate was being used for the
training of those fearless warriors from Nepal. Sightings of heavily laden
figures scuttling around the estate has caused a great deal of controversy
recently.

 

To our disappointment, there were no Nepalese warriors. When we tried to
interview one of them, we came face to face with some Tyntesfield residents
carrying masses of bin bags instead.

 

Tenants of Tyntesfield had been ordered to carry their rubbish to the estate
offices. According to one resident, the Property Manager wanted to control the
flow of rubbish through the estate from their office – no comment on this is
necessary really.

 

This new management directive stops the public seeing the rubbish truck
as it goes about its business,

 

After decades of successful rubbish collecting, the refuge lorry now enters
the estate through the bottom gate, drives past several cottages ignoring the
rubbish and picks up only the rubbish from the offices.

 

From there it returns the way it came, once again ignoring the cottages and
leaves the estate to complete. It then has to complete several miles of looping
journey to enter the estate through the top gate.

 

It then proceeds to drive past more cottages to another designated spot to
pick up again.

 

All this to miss out the few yards it could have used to complete its
journey. Not very environmental is it?

 

We have come to the conclusion that this is some sort of power move by the
Trust, to take over and have a controlling hand in all the crap going around
with in the estate.

 

A similar hair brained plan was tried some years ago. This involved the Royal
Mail.
The management decreed the postman was to deliver the mail to the
office where the tenants would have retrieve their post.

 

Yes that’s right, interfere with a perfectly good system, and introduce it
into a regime that to be honest, could balls up the Lord’s Prayer. It was the
Post Office that had the last word on the matter. They informed the management
that no one can interfere with the Royal Mail.

 

So yes ladies and gentlemen, should you wish to become a tenant at the
Tyntesfield Estate, it may be wise to undertake a sherpa training course, or you
could always put the stinking rubbish in your car.

 

Our suggestion would be, if you are unable to carry the bags of filth for
some reason, have them delivered to the office by Royal Mail and let the Trust
pick up the bill. No one can interfere with Royal Mail can they?

Home Farm Cottage Cathedral Scaffolding

 

Tyntesfield must be the most well
known place among the scaffolding fraternity. Not for its work on the main
house, but work to the small cottages that dot the estate. One cottage in
particular jumps for attention and that was my old cottage that I resided in
while working for the Trust.

“Here we go again,” the cries from
the management will echo around the estate. “Oh dear,” is the whimper from the
building department. So let’s start shall the ball rolling shall we?

When I started residing in the
cottage, I reported rain infiltration through the roof around the chimney
stacks. Unfortunately there was no money for repairs, so after several years of
living with rising damp and now ever increasing water coming through the roof,
it was a toss up to see which would reach the stair landing first.

Then as luck would have it, the
smoke from my Rayburn was entering the bedroom next door and as a urgent safety
measure, my flu was to be lined.

What an opportunity to sort out the
damp I thought and with a crumbling stack it would make sense wouldn’t’t it? So
I asked if the unsafe stack would be sorted at the same time.

No was the cry. We don’t have the
money. And so just the lining was inserted.

Very shortly after, the wind
dislodged the chimney pots. In came the contractors who reported the whole stack
was unsafe. After much umming and ahhing it was decided to rebuild
it.

Now I don’t claim to be the world’s
most knowledgeable building expert, but I can easily recognise sand and cement
mixes. This is because of the little bags that read Ordinary Portland Cement –
giving all my little secrets away here.

And so the stack was rebuilt and
the lead work renewed. Yippee no more leaks – even if the contractors cheated by
not using traditional mortar. Or so I thought.

The water still came in as fast as
before so I reported both leaks again.

An inspection of the damp patches
was undertaken and I was informed that I only had one patch damp as the work had
been done to the other. So when I piped up, not according to my damp meter and
the pencil line I had drawn around the wet to monitor its spread, I was over
ruled by the specialists.

And so the replacement of the lead
to stack number two went ahead. I watched the progress with
amusement.

The first bit of rain and in it
came, the same old leak in the same room. Again I reported it.

You’ll have to put up with it I was
told, we don’t have the money. But didn’t we pay for repairs I asked? Once again
my attitude was questioned. But why are we paying for sub standard work, I
continued? A sort of aubergine look came across the manager’s face and she spat
out that I was lucky to be living in the cottage. Would be a bit more lucky if
it was dry I replied. That’s the bit that touched a nerve as then a row broke
out.

Admittedly I was my own worst enemy
at times. One day the same manager pointed out a rainbow to me in a hope to
lesson the tension. It’s beautiful was the statement. Yes I agreed, just like
the ones I get in my living room.

Then the ridge tiles started to
fall away on the cottage. Once again the scaffold went up for the fourth
time.

If only they would have asked me, I
would have told them the tiles on the roof are very rare indeed and we only have
a limited stock. So when the roofers turned up, this was the discovery, the
spare tiles only came to light on top of a skip at a latter date.

By now I had given up all hope as I
watched the incompetence continue all around.
Knowing full well that my time
was limited I gave up completely.

Home Farm House was completely re
roofed, but in the space of only a couple of years scaffolded a further two
times as roofing contractors tried to get it right.

Since leaving the estate, the
scaffold still seems to go up and down on the same Home Farm Cottage. I have
counted the scaffold going up three times since and the mason I work with has
somehow cracked the reason.

They are copying the great
cathedrals, he chimed. All cathedrals have ongoing scaffold work. They intend to
list it as Tyntesfield’s Cathedral and it will be a place of learning for masons
and roofers for years to come. So what will make it a religious place asks me?
Easy, he said. When they think they have solved the problems – the praying
begins.

So here’s a little test for the
visitors. After parking your car, if you look at all the chimneys to the cottage
by the car park, you will see two different colour mortars to the chimneys.
Which one is cement and which is lime mortar?

A Save Brian T-Shirt for the first
correct answer.

Be advised, it maybe worth phoning
before visiting to check if the scaffold will be up or down.

The pictures you can see are of the
varying scaffolds that have been erected over the years.

 

Stone me! They call this walling!

 

Unbelievable! That’s the cry echoed by myself and another mason as we took in
the rebuilding project to the walls at Tyntesfield estate.

 

These are walls I covered in a previous story and thought no more about it
until I met a retired mason from Wraxall that told me the National Trust are
changing the colour of the estate, very badly, and seem to be undertaking this
madness in the freezing weather using lime mortar.

 

 

After listening to his story for a while I promised I would go and have a
look. It didn’t take long to find. It is situated on the foot path from the
Battle Axes to the estate. A high profile position and ideal for impressing the
visitors.

 

A token effort of Hessian had been put on top of what looked like a pile of
stones randomly stuck together with a yellow lime mortar mix. There was no sign
of profiles for lines, in fact anything that would indicate a professional
approach and the results are clear to see.

 

As the existing wall had been built with black mortar, this colour was not so
much in your face, it simply slapped it. I’m not really sure if the cover was
for the weather or to stop the public from falling about laughing.

 

 

This is not the only rebuilding project that has been undertaken by
volunteers that has raised my eyebrows. Some photos of rebuilt walls at the saw
mills was passed to me. The sender of the pictures was a friend of mine, a
surveyor by profession who decided to look at the progress being made at
Tyntesfield. Overall he said the work was excellent but he did come up with an
interesting snagging list.

 

So after looking at the wall to the foot path, I took in the sight of the
wall to the saw mills and came to the conclusion: If this is the face of the
National Trust, it’s in need of some major surgery. A party was even held to
celebrate the completion of this wall.
The Tyntesfield propaganda reads:
Tyntesfield a place of learning excellence.
So where has all the HLF money
gone that should supply the estate with experienced instructors? Why are thing
being done slip shod and what real achievement can be acquired by building some
thing sub standard?

 

Tyntesfield. Date(s). 12/11/2010 – 14/11/2010. Task. Stone walling Gain
expert training in lime mortar stone walling as you work alongside our
specialists.

 

This is what we found advertised on the web. I would seriously question the
standard of training that was given. This is not the first time this has
happened. I have had to retrain persons after they paid for a walling course
when they came to put their skills to work on another National Trust project I
was running.

 

 

As for the expert instructors (and NT surveyors) I would gladly meet them on
site to discuss the wall in question. (Contact through this site)

 

It’s a fact that you can be the best tradeperson in the world, but to put
that skill across to students is also another skill ,and at times much
harder.

 

What we build to day will be a bench mark for those that follow. Already we
have highlighted the poor standard of achievement in other areas of the estate
and unfortunately, this now seems par for the course.

 

Before I go, I will try to be positive with some information.

 

To Whom It May Concern, take existing mortar samples to a lime mortar
specialist. They will analyse it for free amd they will tell you what the exact
mix should be.

They will supply all the materials, you just add water
(and no cement).

 

Also, get recognised walling instructors to lead the rebuilding, nothing
worse than the blind leading the blind.

 

Do not build with traditional lime during the winter or the freezing will
destroy the lime (as it has).

 

Should you have trouble finding this supplier and a qualified instructor, you
may contact this site and we will happily send you the information.

 

Prior to being made redundant, I ran some courses on hedge laying on a hedge
that divided a neighbours land. Hedge laying is the correct way of managing and
rejuvenating hedge rows. Initially I only planned to lay about 30 meters, but
the courses became so popular the Trust was sending staff from all over the
country to learn.

 

On some days I had to enlist several helpers as the popularity of the courses
grew. One such group were the sixth formers from a local school – two bus
loads.

 

I even had to call in the very warden that the National Trust at Tyntesfield
made redundant to help me out.

 

As the popularity of the courses grew, so did the head managers resentment. I
was called into her office and told to run no more as my ordinary work of
sweeping leaves and trying to work without a work shop was being neglected.

 

It seems that while I was busy making progress with sharp implements,
management were sharpening theirs for other reasons.

 

And so it all stopped. But not before we completed hundreds of meters of
hedge. Not bad I thought for a taster project.

 

Since I left, the hedge was planned to be finished but nothing ever happened.
The excuse was, we don’t have the money to pay for an instructor. Yes it beggars
belief doesn’t it?
Take note, there is a story pending regarding hedge laying
/redundancy. Emails from A North Somerset councillor all incorporated in a story
that throws light on managing staff that couldn’t find their back side in a
sauna (What’s new?)

Terrrrrifids or what

15/12/2010

Something strange and slightly
disturbing has happened at Tyntesfield.

It’s come to our attention that
there may be a strange fungal growth in the vegetable gardens. Something so
bizarre in fact, it’s the stuff of sci fi.

Our roving reporter took this
picture as a strange circle of crops has grown in the very place that once sited
the yurt.

 

 

We have not had the opportunity to
examine or analyse the actual growth matter, but we are concerned it may be some
sort of Mongolian plant life that has generated from the spores cultivated by
the great yurt itself.

One theory is that the yurt is in
the process of regenerating itself. Evidently, the same thing happened at a
location in Devon. The whole area was sealed off after the estate staff were
reported to be in a zombie like state. We are led to believe the area is still
sealed off while government officials investigate the Joseph
syndrome.

There are several noticeable
symptoms that can identify contamination:
Staff acting strangely and dressing
in strange attire.
Wearing of rose coloured glasses.
Huddling in groups in
small rooms for hours at a time.

Once the virus has finally matured,
the host becomes almost vegetable, unable to use rational thought and
rambles.

In the final stages of
contamination, there is very little hope of ever maintaining a normal life and
the position of National Trust manager follows soon after.

The one where the National Trust doesn’t bother claiming for repairs when property is destoyed

 

Just recently I have been working
on a house that is in private position on the Tyntesfield estate. It was while I
was finishing off some stone work to a barn, that I became aware of a large
vehicle approaching the house.

At most places this would not seem
a problem, but the only track to this property is very narrow and is only wide
enough for a car. This is why the approach of a car transporter truck stopping
at the gate made me smile.

The driver opened his window
(because he couldn’t get out) and asked if he had arrived at Rock Farm. I had to
inform him it was not and asked did your sat nav get you here? The reply was no,
a National Trust worker cutting the grass has pointed me this way. When the
driver had asked about the access he replied don’t worry the refuge lorries
drive up there. WRONG. The refuge lorries never drive along it, they won’t
fit.

The driver had now taken on a look
of despair as he realised he had to reverse all the way back, up hill and down,
around twisty bends with out the use of wing mirrors as the trees would hit
them. All of this was made possible by the village idiot on a fly
mow.

History helps us to learn by
mistakes. This was never the case at Tyntesfield. Some years previously, a 52
seater coach turned left out of the car park and ended up at the same house,
with 52 passengers ducking and diving as the trees hit the windows on both
sides. I arrived an hour after the coach had started to reverse and it was only
half way back. The reason for this being, there was only a matter of inches of
clearance and the directions were shouted by passengers that had taken refuge in
the woods.

After this episode I would have
thought some sort of sign on width restriction would have been erected. But no,
the powers to be thought this would look out of place.

So now we come to the lorry that
got stuck. A big lorry, a very big lorry, just as big as the coach, only this
time the road was wet and slippery. It couldn’t get the traction for reversing
and so after hitting the wall in over a dozen places, it finally got stuck
fast.

So then another big lorry was
brought in to winch the first one out. On reaching the first one, this second
lorry broke down and so another bigger third lorry was brought in to move this
one.

By the time the track was cleared,
the wall to the field was looking rather sorry for itself, and so off to the
property manager I went to report the damage.

The task of chasing up insurance
claims was passed on to the surveyor, who I must point out was one of the better
ones. This was some one who knew her arse from her elbow. Shame is, anyone half
decent never stood a chance there and so she fitted a tow bar to her car and
left to get a life.

But before she did she came to me
and said – the lorry insurance company will pay up. What is the cost of my time
and materials to do the work?

I gave her the cost and she
informed the insurance company. I waited for it to be added to my list of jobs.
Some time later, I had a meting with the property manager and the regional
surveyor regarding work. I flagged up the walling work and was told I didn’t
have time to do it. He would organise contractors. The trouble was contractors
would be more expensive and so there was not enough money from the insurance
company to cover this unless he went back to them.

Well the wall never got repaired
and after several bad winters several sections fell down leaving stone scattered
over the public foot paths and gaping holes for the cattle to walk through. The
overall cost of repairing this wall has now escalated way out of proportion. All
this was going on while I taught walling skills to other National Trust
properties, rebuilding their walls, while at Tyntesfield walls feel
apart.

After I was made redundant, the
Trust never had the in house skills on site to rebuild and maintain such
structures and so as the walls became a real danger and embarrassment, the
dangerous sections were removed and the stone piled in the quarry at the top of
the hill.

The role of property managers as I
Interpret, is to safeguard the property of the National Trust and ensure claims
are made when appropriate to claim compensations from third parties to make good
any damage done, therefore, not causing significant financial loss to the
Trust.

The story you have just read is
only part of the neglect to recoup compensation from third parties and as any
one that knows the estate will confirm, it was normal to have speeding cars park
upside down in our fields after demolishing walls. How many times was
compensation followed up? Never.

And so I stopped liaising with the
police after accidents to get driver detailsl. Bugger it why should I waste my
time passing it on to time wasters?

Since writing this, I happened to
be on my travels when I observed a National Trust member of staff ( in green)
stood at the road side looking at a hole in a wall that boarders a National
Trust property.

So being in between contracts I had
time to stop and chat. I was informed that the wall had been hit down by a
utilities vehicle and the warden had tracked down the culprits, chased it up and
was waiting for a representative of that company to make sure the wall was put
right.

What a stark contrast in approach
to responsibilities, and very reassuring to know that there are staffs that go
the extra mile and make things happen, so credit where it’s due for once.

Tenants under siege


July 23,
2010

One of the perks of working on Tyntesfield Estate was the cottage that
originally came with the job. In the days of Lord Wraxall, living on the estate
was a joy and a privilege When the National Trust took over all, that
changed.

 

To begin with, it seemed there was a slow and methodical cleansing of the
properties. Tenants were lied to, basic repairs never got done, rents would rise
steeply and more and more restrictions put up on them. Slowly but surly they all
left. This included a sitting tenant that had retired after working on the
estate and a family that had generations living there before them.

 

But this is my story and this is what happened to me as a tenant, while
working for the Trust.

 

Initially, we had the planned visits by a Trust specialist to look around my
cottage to record what was what. This included bat surveys, building surveys
etc… As long as I was given notice I didn’t mind, but after a while, impromptu
visitors turned up which the Trust had neglected to inform me about. Waking up
to find a stranger looking at me through my windows didn’t suit me, so I
insisted I was told when to expect visitors. This was only common courtesy after
all.

 

As time went on, more and more visitors would take to wandering around my
garden. They would be surveying this and that without telling me. Eventually, I
got to the point where I demanded written notification of visits.

 

Your attitude will make it very difficult I was told. Bugger my attitude, no
notice, no visitors. Way past common courtesy, I wanted some notification as was
my tenant’s rights.

 

Did this make a blind bit of difference? No. Time after time, even on my days
off, we would have a knock at the door asking to check for this and that. Don’t
worry your office knows, said one chap, well I didn’t so bugger off. Attitude
was on the rise again I fear.

 

We put up with the little inconveniences, such as coming home in the dark to
find someone had glossed the front door, left no signs and I had removed the run
marks with a sleeve.

 

After living for years in a house with rising damp and leaking roof the Trust
brought in the professionals.

 

To say there was a lack of health and safety with some professionals was an
understatement. I sent a picture to the National Trust health and safety officer
showing a lad stood on my chimney, without scaffolding, wrestling a long flue
liner into the flue and asked her if she could better that for an idiot? She
couldn’t (could you Gail?)

 

By now my work place was becoming more and more challenging. Workshops
falling down, having to put up with idiots, it started to take its toll on my
health.

 

One day I came home to find another contractor walking around my garden.
Enough was enough. I complained to the Trust surveyor that instructed him to
invite himself in.

 

The reply I received was it may be an inconvenience but these things happen.
My reply was – as I have small children living with me. I need to know who is
who and when they will be coming. I can’t have random strangers walking in an
out of my garden when it suited them, looking in through my windows, leaving
gates open allowing fast toddlers to get out and run into the path of the never
ending stream of cars coming in and out of the car park. I’m sure there are many
parents out there whose lives and children’s lives have been affected by random
strangers coming in and out of their houses and hotel rooms who would agree this
was a potential safety issue.
From that point on it got worse. I came home
one lunch break to find a surprise scaffold had been put up with a platform at
first floor window height. The window that had been left open that morning which
would have required a cherry picking burglar to access now was an open
invitation to anyone at all, even with arthritic joints and a hip replacement.
Very previously the Trust had brought in contractors to make the ground floor
windows secure with extra locks, so to find a ready made access for burglars was
a joke. Once again I complained and received another donkey serenade.

 

The work on the roof started and we ducked and dived going in and out of the
house as lumps of mortar and tile came crashing down. So to get away from the
mayhem I took a day’s holiday and took off to the beach with my very small
grandchildren.

 

On returning in the evening carrying the tired children to the house, I came
upon a scaffold right across the only entrance to the house. The contractors had
completely blocked the only door way. Having made sure all my windows were
securely shut on the top floor I couldn’t even break into my own home.

 

The time was 1800hrs and the light was fading fast as I phoned the property
manager.
To say I was a little livid was an understatement. I demanded she
get the monkeys that put it up to come back and remove it.

 

Property manager: It’s too late they would have finished work.
Me: How the
hell am I supposed to get in my house?
Property manager: Don’t shout at me, I
will call the surveyor (Who lived 50 miles away!)

 

After a long time she phoned back and said she had left a message for him.
So, after reminding her that the surveyor always switches his phone off, what is
her next course of action?

 

Property manager: I can’t see what else I can do you will have to wait till
the morning,
Me: So you expect me to stand here all night with two babies
while you do nothing but go home?

 

It was at this point my attitude was questioned again. My reply to this, well
I can’t really write what I said, but it was to do with casting aspersions on
sex and ancestors.

 

After managing to acquire a scaffold spanner, some moving of tubing and two
screaming thirsty babies, we got in.

 

The following day the roofers retuned and I was ready to greet them. Don’t
look at us they said. Continuing they told me – we were held up and went home
before the scaffolders came and that’s where I’m going again because the
scaffold should have been around the other side of the house. We can’t do any
work until they move it around the other side of the building where it should
have been put.

 

Life living at Tyntesfield got worse. Tenants with large dogs moved into a
house on the estate. The first encounter I had with these dogs was when they
took to snarling and barking at the visitors at the reception. I informed the
property manager who said Oh dear, dogs are you sure, Yes said I, a big nasty
one from Home Farm.

 

The dog soon took to coming into my garden and waiting for me in the dark.
Time after time I was startled by a huge rabid Cujo barking at me. This went on
and on and on. My complaints to the manager was answered with – I have sent them
a letter, but they don’t seem to take any notice. My voice was raised, not for
the first time with – are you or are you not the property manager? Yes? Then
bloody act like one and sort this problem out. The return braying of, attitude,
aggressive, etc etc etc droned on and on like a bad Eurovision song entry from
Eastern Europe, even as I slammed the door behind me.

 

The problem of impromptu visitors by day and mad dogs at night never ceased,
so once again to the manager office I went.

 

I complained about two surveyors turning up out of the blue but she was not
really listening with gaze fixed to the computer.

 

Property manager: They attacked you?
Me: No
Property Manager: Were they
barking again?
Me: No they were speaking polish
Property manager: The dogs
talk polish?
Me: No the surveyors do
Property manager: What
surveyors
Me: Your surveyors
Property manager: Our surveyor speaks
Polish?
Me: Yes, especially the ones from Poland

 

Who said the art of conversation was dead.

 

By now I dreaded going home, paranoid that the dog was waiting around every
corner. Just when my guard was finally down and attacked again off to the office
I would go,

 

Has it bitten you yet she would ask. No not yet I would tell her. Then its
doing no real harm, apart from scaring you. It was then I pointed out we have
hundreds of sheep in the field near by ready to give birth. Are they annoying
you as well she asked? No but the dogs might annoy them don’t you think?

 

One night at about 10 pm I used my cottage’s outside toilet and that’s when
the dog struck me and finally pushed me over the top. As it stood there barking
at me and I heard one of my grandchildren wake up crying at the racket, I
grabbed the wood axe and chased it like a mad man with the sounds of a banshee.
For the first time it was the dog that looked terrified as it took flight with
me in hot pursuit swinging the axe for all I was worth. I crashed through the
garden, over the fence, through the woods. It was my turn to be the scary one
now, what would make the situation even more ideal would be for a couple of
surveyors to turn up with or without a group of scaffolders.

 

Fortunately for the dog it got away, but this was the turning point. The next
day I informed the manager if it tried to attack me in my garden again I will
shoot it. Though not serious, totally, I had to make a point. At this she said –
You can’t it’s not your dog. Yes I can said I and I will return its goolies to
the owner through their letter box. I made a mental note to leave other parts on
the manager’s desk. Now those who know me know I am an animal lover and wouldn’t
hurt a fly but between a barking property manager and rabid dog I had finally
lost the plot.

 

The owner’s of the dogs were amazing people. On day one they dismantled the
great crested newt and their habitats in their garden (illegal). To be doubly
sure they were wiped out they strimmed the area flat, even after being told to
keep well away from such a sensitive area.

 

The additional stress of the dogs went on for six more months. Even after
they had gone I would still wake in the night as the distant echo of barking
faded from my nightmares.

 

By now, Tyntesfield had defiantly lost its magic for me.

Let them eat cake: No hawkers, traders or benefit claimants

July 21, 2010

One of the most memorable meetings
I can recall, is when all the staff from Tyntesfield traipsed deep into Somerset
to join all the other staff around the region, for a pre-season meeting. The
stage was set, the management was in good form with the preaching, and we the
converts were taking it all in exactly in the spirit that we should have. Or
were we?

The main topic was introducing a new audience through the doors of National
Trust, especially properties that people wouldn’t even think of visiting. Any
ideals was the question put out to the congregation?

 

Yes said I, watching our manager from the corner of my eye, as she suddenly
found her seat was not as comfortable as first thought.

 

Being some one that never minced words, and having an audience of hundreds
suddenly look around in my direction, I launched into my question.

 

Why don’t we give a reduction in entrance fees to those on income support,
making it possible for all to visit and give all a chance to experience what we
have to offer.

 

It took a while for this radical idea to sink in. The spokesperson at the
time indicated to one of the team – the heritage manager – to answer the
question. So jumping up in the fashion of a spiritualist that has just connected
with the 240v mains, she launched into a corporate prepared speech of the
National Trust gives excellent value for money while she was obviously thinking
of an answer. The answer finally came in the form of “You are from Tyntesfield
aren’t you, that property is spear heading revolutionary ideals that will be
rolled out across the Trust. Take it up at the property.”

 

I didn’t have to take it up at the property as on return, I was summoned to
appear for my out burst of participation. That sort of behaviour is not
acceptable I was told. I had brought undue attention to myself.

 

Why? I asked for presenting a question that was relevant to the subject?

 

Let me make it plain for you, I was told. You heard Ms Heritage tell you how
wonderful we are and how much we have to offer. But it doesn’t get the poor
through the doors though does it? I responded.

 

If they want to come they can buy a family membership which will give them
access to Tyntesfield all through year was the retort.

 

I pushed my case – A lot of money for someone on Income Support. Would cost
them about four weeks of groceries don’t you think? And as for the bus fare,
well if they lived in Hartcliffe for example, that’s a two bus journey to get
here, plus the children. Not cheap at all.

 

At this her mood changed and said “Look! we are talking about people that
smoke and drink and would rather go to Alton Towers, subject closed.”
This
could have only come from someone that has never struggled in her life. A middle
class upbringing, looking at the world through rose coloured glasses that
filters out the unfortunate part of society.

 

Further evidence to the discrimination of visitors followed in an email I
still have regarding the concerns of a volunteer that was on a Sunday duty in
the house in the early days.

 

The Email was from the house manager that reported on two men acting
suspiciously during their visit. They had followed the route through the house
and then decided to return to a room that they had already seen. Who were these
people thinking they can look twice? Didn’t they know Tyntesfield was a one look
place only?

 

What really got up my nose was the description passed out about the pair:
both scruffy in appearance and spoke with Irish accents. At the time there was
travelling families in the area. Could it be that some of them were interested
in our heritage? As for walking the wrong way around, assuming they are not
displaying independent thought, not all in society has the gift to be able to
read or write and scruffy appearance? This statement says it all regarding the
type of visitor expected.

 

At a staff meeting Ms Hectare once proclaimed she had met a walker that
looked suspicious. This was simply because of his clothes. After a description
was given, I informed all present that it was a local who has been walking that
route for years. Then why doesn’t he wear the appropriate clothes of a rambler
was the response, another slight on the lower classes.

 

All this was going on while the upper management was using Tyntesfield house
as an exclusive hotel. One such occasion was even put up on the website in the
form of a blog showing the house manager’s guests lounging around with food and
drink on the collection of furniture, that was strictly off limits to all. in
fact, when moving these items, gloves had to be worn to protect the fabrics.

 

On day one of the National Trust take over, we even saw on TV Tim Knox, a
very senior manager and collections specialist in the Trust, allowing his dog to
run around the house leaping onto the furniture. This didn’t inspire much
confidence in the so called experts.

 

After working for the Trust, I found there is defiantly a prejudice against
those in reduced circumstances. The National Trust is only open to those that
can afford it, or as most land lords would politely say – Sorry No Housing
Benefit, smokers or DHSS.

 

PS. Please bear in mind that to make your visit enjoyable to all, and avoid a
flurry of concerned emails circulating around the region – dress code
applies.

No Place To Park A Mixer

August 10,
2010

For a company that preaches health and safety to high heaven, the
National Trust management at Tyntesfield seemed to waver the right to be
included in this scheme.

At the end of my time at on the
estate, I had fewer work facilities than when the Trust took over, six years
previously.

 

On week one of employment with the
Trust, a member of the health and safety team came to Tyntesfield and measured
all the assembled staff for work clothing, boots, and PPE. That was the first
and last time we ever saw him. Six years on we were still waiting, so if any one
sees Ted, tell him my waist is now 34”.

 

As more staff arrived, there became
a shortage of space to store things, such as chemical suits, Wellingtons and wet
suits. All these items ended up piled high around an office that was designed
for three people but six people actually shared. This office also doubled as the
kitchen as well.

 

The office we had was not our first
choice. We had an office that worked, but the management moved us out. In total,
we moved office four times. At one point we were only one move away from getting
travellers rights.

 

All this was going on while the
manager stared out of her nice office through the rose tinted windows, in the
ivory tower section of Tyntesfield.

 

We had no workshop to speak of,
nowhere to store tools, in fact we had bugger all. The National Trust health and
safety officer condemned our working space time after time and despite strongly
worded letters, the management would stall on rectifying things with pathetic
excuses.

 

I could only use my workshop when it was not raining. This was because the water would come in and run over the power. Large chunks would routinely fall from the plaster ceiling and after the health and safety officer received so many near miss reports, she closed the workshop citing it was too dangerous to use.

 

Needing a space to do my job was
essential, so off to the property manager I went.

 

When can we expect repairs?
We
don’t have the money.
So where do I work out of?
Do you really need a
workshop?
It’s a good place to make and repair things don’t you
think?
Could you adapt to doing without?
You mean mobile
maintenance?

 

- This is where I must inform you
of the works vehicle I had. It was a Piaggio pick up, the same model that
whizzes around Italy selling ice creams. Lucky me I the Noddy version with four
wheels making it the deluxe model. This is the only van that needs a confine
spaces working permit to drive and would travel to the moon on a pint of derv.
It had the carrying capacity of a thong on a eunuch -

 

Yes that’s it mobile working!
No
it’s not practicable and anyway, I always had a workshop so I want mine
back.

 

A short time later I was summoned
to the office. We have found you a workshop the manager proclaimed. It’s the
shed in the old head gardeners private house garden. To say I was stunned was an
under statement, but off I went to play the part of the proactive team
member.

 

The shed in question was a brick
built lean to that was designed to house two spades, one rake, a bag of compost
and a small bag of clothes pegs.

 

On my return to the office, I told
my self I would not under any circumstances raise my voice in objection to this
preposterous proposal. I didn’t need to as I could not get a word in edgeways to
the garbage that was being spouted to me. I said enough, we will see what the
unions have to say.

 

As I couldn’t use my workshop /
stores, I asked my manager where I could store all my tools and plant equipment.
You will just have to use your initiative I was told. This I did. I waited for
the management to leave the estate for another one of their soirées and promptly
filled the office meeting room with my tools.

 

It seemed a shame to block the
whole room off, so my cement mixer and stand went into the property manager’s
office. I thought it fitted in quite well as I tastefully placed it in a
position that enhanced the office to give the whole room a new look. Feeling the
place could do with some positive energies also, I made especially sure the
cement mixer balanced the energies according to Feng Shui.

 

The following day I was summoned to
the office.

 

What the hell is that doing in my
office?
Not much it’s not plugged in
I want that mixer out
Where should
I put it?
I don’t care, it can’t stay here
But it’s a great conversation
piece

 

It was at this point she lost her
temper and so I wheeled the mixer into the meeting room next door.

 

Then there followed a bit of an
argument.

 

Clear this room, it’s for
meetings
Where shall I put it?
I don’t care, find somewhere.
No you
tell me where. I can’t find anywhere and we have been asking for permanent
storage for five years now

 

As she couldn’t answer the
question, the tools stayed there for some time.
Health and safety was always
an issue at Tyntesfield. The management would preach it and yet introduce
dangerous working practises. This brings me on to my next story.

 

A certain manager that resided on
the estate was eligible for call outs should there be an emergency at the main
house.

 

As he only lived a ten minute walk
from the house, the management decided it only right he should use the big 4×4
when on duty to drive there.

 

The only problem was he had never
in his life taken a driving lesson. He had no provisional license and was a lone
driver. All he had was a book of instructions on the operational procedures of
cars.

 

The first time I saw him driving
was negotiating the car around visitors in the reception area. I stood with
baited breath as he managed to reverse out of a sticky situation with a sort of
hopping motion.

 

Other staffs were actually appalled
that this practice was going on and yet I was the only one to voice
concerns.

 

This is what happened when I raised
the issue with the property manager.

 

I was not aware manager x had a
driving licence?
He hasn’t but he’s allowed to use the 4×4 to get around the
estate in the course of his duty
Pray tell me, what plonker decided to let a
novice driver loose on the estate surrounded with visitors?
He is only
allowed to drive around when the visitors go home.
What about people living
on the estate?
What about them?
Well wouldn’t they be at risk?

 

I also brought up the fact that the
tenants themselves have visitors and even when we are closed, the public still
let themselves into the estate for their own private wander round. It was not
unusual to have lots of children running around from a variety of these
sources.

 

All my concerns were of no concern
to her. She informed me that the area manager had instigated this idea as a
health and safety move to ensure the safety of manager X as he tended his
business.

 

My parting shot was – so you
decided to put the lives of many at risk for the sake of one person!

 

I phoned health and safety at head
office and was told the same as another concerned member of staff. I have a copy
of the Email that a certain manager called shifty sent to the health and safety
at head quarters.

 

It reads – forgive me for asking,
but as a hypothetical situation, can a member of staff drive a National Trust
vehicle with no driving licence?

 

The answer was definitely no as
they would not be covered by the insurance.

 

I bet shifty is now wondering,
where the hell did he get hold of that Email?

 

A couple of days later, I was
summoned to appear before the property manager. She was not best pleased. You
have really done it this time! The area manager is fuming at what’s happening.
Health and safety have been on to him and manager x can no longer
drive.

 

Good said I, common sense has
prevailed.

 

It was then threats started to be
issued about my position and how very precarious it was. Oh dear said I, put
that in writing. She never did, but I made my objections to her out bust very
clear.

 

What I never asked for was the copy
of the risk assessment that must have been done by the higher management prior
to implementing the practice of the novice driver. Had I done so, then I might
have rubbed people up the wrong way.

National Trust hedges at Tyntesfield interfered with and flailed during bird nesting season

March 19,
2010

If the National Trust at Tyntesfield were hoping that flailing and
cutting back the hedges during bird nesting season was going to go unnoticed,
they were wrong.

Regular commuters on the Nailsea bus into Bristol have informed us that
hedges have been cut back, presumably in readiness for the Estate to be opened
to the public this weekend.

 

The RSPB told us that it would not recommended doing this after March as this
was now the nesting season.

 

Knowingly interfering with birds nests during this time is a criminal
offence.

 

It appears the National Trust never learn.

Pick n Mix comes to Tyntesfield

July 21, 2010

After about three years of the National
Trust owning Tyntesfield, the head conservation officer – Ms Hectare head of
collection – realised there was
a builder’s yard full of reclaimed materials including the complete clock tower
taken down some years past.

 

Now, as you know, under its previous owner, nothing was ever thrown away but
recycled or sat in a pile waiting to be used. It was these piles of materials
that I used regularly to maintain the estate properties.

 

This all changed with the conservation big wig that I have called Ms Hectare,
who put a personal preservation order on the whole area,making it of special
archiological interest which no one was to touch.

 

This left me rather snookered as we had no money to buy new materials. Now I
had to acquire bits and pieces to repair the estate and try to keep it
maintained.

 

It was just recently while the
contractors were re-roofing that a lot of roof tiles in the don’t touch area had
to be moved. Now some of these had sat there for many years. Some of the tiles
were very rare indeed. When the skips turned up I took an interest in what was
going on. I was shaken by the amount of historic tiles being thrown
away.

I immediately contacted the manager
overseeing this operation and was informed that they should only be moving them.
At this I replied, I think they need supervising.

The following day the skip was
starting to fill up with more historic tiles in very good condition, so again I
contacted the office. Oh dear not again was the reply.

 

A few nights later I was amazed to
find local people around the skip pulling out perfect tiles, some of them very
rare and expensive. Just come back to get some more to finish me garden edging
said one. Bloody shame to waste all these pan tiles said another filling a wheel
barrow.

Now a kill joy I try not to be, but
I had to point out that they shouldn’t have been in the skip in the first place
and they shouldn’t be removing them. A well know volunteer then pulled up in his
car to claim his share as he had a roof to repair at home. I was disgusted at
what was being thrown away, so with my hands in the air I went home,

This débâcle went on for some time.
The contractors would throw them in the skip and the locals and volunteers would
take them out. Theft or not who was I to judge?
The good thing about the
tiles ending up in village was that stories started to emerge about where and
when they had got to the estate in the first place. Evidently, a large
consignment came in from Belgian in the sixties to replace tiles on certain
buildings.

The tile incident happened around
the same time Woolworths were closing all their stores. At the time, I made up
my mind what the title of this story was to be called.

As for Tyntesfield’s head of
collection, I expect she was busy watching for blind badgers on the driveways,
waiting to throw another blockade across the roads.
Rumours have it she was
approached by the PSNI to help with the controversial Drumcree orange
parades

Over the years there has been wide
spread destruction of valuable assets on the estate. This includes several large
wooden garages in mint condition that was deemed an ideal project for youth
offenders to smash to pieces. I managed to sell the last one that was destined
for the fire and gave the money to the Trust. All I did was put an advert in the
Trade It and the phone never stopped ringing.

Another good idea by the Trust was
to hold bonfire projects. This was where groups would come onto the estate and
gather materials for an end of year bonfire. All those that participated would
come back for the occasion.

Some bright spark decided that all
the timber that was stored at stable yard would make a good clear out for the
fire project.

The first I knew of it was when I
discovered it all on the pile in the middle of a field awaiting burning. By now
I had had enough of the bollocks that went on, so I left it where it was –
getting soaking – and every time I required some timber for a repair project I
went to the merchants.

It was not long after, I was
questioned about the amount of money I was spending on materials. It’s quite
simple I said. You decided to burn all my wood, so I have to buy more. Why would
I want to burn your wood says the manager. You tell me says I. You’re in charge
of the project plans and day to day running of the estate aren’t you?

At this point my attitude was once
again questioned so after the long drawn out lecture, I decided to bow my head,
agree to look at my attitude etc etc etc…

On reaching the office door, I
turned and asked for a purchase order for materials. What do you need this time
was the question? Timber I said with an innocent tone, Oh and fire lighters
please.

The blind badger panic

July 21,
2010

Another funny story involved a blind badger and a gaggle of geese
(office staff).

It came to my attention that we had a baby badger
walking up and down the verge of the driveway. Apart from being blind, there
seemed to be little wrong with it. As we had no warden at the time (see other
stories ) I contacted the badger people and asked for some advice. I was told to
leave it alone unless something looks wrong with it. So this I did.

 

For days we would watch it walk up and down the drive way on the verges. Some
had some concerns about the busy road, but why should we interfere with nature
if it’s doing all right by itself. My motto is, if it’s still working don’t mend
it.

 

After about ten days of watching it
off and on, and watching the gardeners cut the grass around it (see photo ) as I
was leaving the estate one evening I came across a blockade of cars parked
across the road. On looking at why they were parked there, I soon realised the
management had noticed the badger happily wandering about his business on the
verges.

Being in a hurray to sort out a
walling course I was leading in the morning – in my own time – and voluntary for
another National Trust property, I bypassed the cars by driving on the grass.
This is where I encountered one of the biggest know all managers frantically
waving her arms for me to stop.

We shall call her Ms Greengrass,
who preceded to rant and rave about me breaking the blockade and putting a
badger’s life in jeopardy. This was a final straw for me to have a pen pushing
know-it-all tell me that she had just discovered this badger in danger and I
could have killed it.

First off, I don’t think she liked
me laughing at the situation, and as I explained that all was in hand, there was
no need to over react, and to leave it alone.

This was probably her first
encounter with wildlife, apart from watching sparrows out of the office window.
But, milk the situation she was. This was going to be one of her finest
hours.

On the way out, I mentioned to a
neighbour that maybe his young son would like to see the badger, just keep the
dog on a lead and don’t get to near. So with a wave I left him to walk the 100
yards up the drive way.

The following day I was called to
HQ by the Fuhrer. I was accused of disobeying a direct command by a senior
manager and putting the life of a badger at risk. I had done this by calling in
men with dogs, and the last thing, driving on the grass.

To the first accusation I claimed I
thought I was witnessing another member of staff having some sort of breakdown
due to the way she was waving her hands. To The badger, I told her the story of
events and claimed is was a bunch of stupid women with nothing better to do
apart from listen the ravings of a lunatic

”And why were you driving on the
road way when there was staff there?” I was asked. When I said I didn’t want to
hit the badger she didn’t exactly fall around laughing.

Then she snapped. Apparently I had
no right to invite people onto the estate to which I pointed out how difficult
this would be for people to get to my house.

At this she blurted: ”Not those
visitors, the other visitors, the ones that shouldn’t be here.” But, if I’ve
invited them aren’t they my visitors? I puzzled. No it’s not those visitors I’m
talking about? She spluttered. Then what visitors are you referring to? I
queried. “The ones that aren’t visitors that you invited”

It was on the tip of my tongue to
ask if I could Google her planet, in the way we could Google Earth but I thought
better of it and decided to keep that remark in reserve for another
time.

The badger went on to dig a set in
the controversial place that the car park was to go, poetic justice if you ask
me, even the wildlife was on our side. And it used to crap near the offices.
Perfect

Invitation for a personal parking space

July 9, 2010

All of us at Tyntesfield Estate.com would just like
to say a few words about the leaving of Brendan McCarthy, the regional director
for Wessex at the National Trust.

True, we are running a little late on our posting for this, but it takes time
responding to all the many emails and enquiries the website receives daily.

 

We would like to wish him a happy retirement and, a warm reception should he
wish to park his car at our HQ whilst jetting off around the world. Rest assured
the bunting will be out alongside the bollards should he wish to use a private
parking space in the area to cut down on those expensive parking fees at the
airport. Only, don’t confuse them with men working in inspection chambers.