Category Archives: Tyntesfield Estate Stories

Contractor Blunders

April
26, 2010

Hello again to all our readers including head office. Being so
busy as a contractor myself these days, it’s hard finding time to catch up on
the old stories, but as I said in the beginning Phil’s back and it’s personal.A picture jogged my memory about the involvement of outside contractors that
were slowly being brought into the estate. These people all part and parcel of
my exit from Tyntesfield.

It seemed from day one, the liaison between the contractors and the
management on the property was non-existent. This was evident by the catalogue
of errors, some horrendous at the best.

After the refurbishment of one property in which the gardens were landscaped,
I was told to go and investigate a loose inspection chamber in the
garden.

 

It didn’t take much finding as it
was much higher than the lawn. I had a good look around to make sure it was not
part of a new crazy golf course but there seemed to be no evidence of little
windmills or protruding pipes to play through. This was a genuine cock up.

 

Fair play to the contractors, they
did have a go at ramping the lawn up to the cover but without much success. Just
a few more tonnes of top soil would have done it. All that was needed now was a
plastic mole sitting on top, (it did cross my mind).

Had the contractors used a little
thought, the obvious thing would have been to cut the protruding plastic chamber
to a sensible height and replace the cover. Did they? Did they hell and to
highlight the cock up, they accentuated it by putting a square cover on a round
hole. There again, I could have been wrong. I could have been witness to the
first sun dial for vertically challenged persons.

Consequences of this being, there
was a gap where it didn’t touch and the soil and rubbish was filling the chamber
nicely. It was only when I finished laughing I realised they had also landscaped
over all the stop tap chambers too. Some were now buried two foot under. Just as
well they never had the extra soil eh?

 

Before I went to report my findings
to the office and the powers that be, I had a little look around at the work in
general. The re-pointing to the stone work had been done with a brushed finish,
while all the remaining existing had been what masons call cut and strut. How
the listed building inspector missed that I will never know.

The new mock Victorian light to the
front of the house was obviously purchased with a struggling budget in mind;
this has got to be one of the tackiest lamps that China had ever produced and to
top it all, who ever fitted it hit out a chunk of the bath stone trying to fit
it.

 

So if you are thinking of visiting
Tyntesfield, please take the time to look at this light outside of the Chaplains
Lodge and let us know if you could find a more tasteless one elsewhere, a free
Save Brian T-shirt for the winner.

 

Badger trials continue at Tyntesfield despite being officially cancelled outside of Stroud

July 7,
2010

After receiving numerous calls from concerned members of the public
regarding the trapping of badgers on the Tyntesfield Estate, we contacted the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) – the body that
issues licences for such activities.

Despite earlier announcements by Defra that the Badger Vaccine Deployment
Project (BVDP) was to be restricted to an area near Stroud in Gloucestershire
only, Defra informed us that work was being carried out at Tyntesfield to test
the animals after trial inoculation had taken place on the grounds.

 

DEFRA informed us that over a period of time, there had been baited nuts put
out at Tyntesfield prior to the arrival of the men in white coats this week. It
took some time to realise she was referring to the badger inoculations and not
the people coming to take staff away after reactions to the way they are
treated.

The dreaded Personnel Development Review (PDR)

July 9, 2010

In this day and age, all big companies
probably have a system in place for the staff to waste hours writing meaningless
ramblings in boxes, set out by complete nerds that have nothing better to do
than create jobs for themselves. The Trust is no exception to this rule. They
have the

This is not as it sounds – lots of boxes with incentives to improve yourself.
These reviews are designed to show up any weakness you may have. This could be
only being able to do the work of ten people when with a little planning and
discipline you could improve that figure to twenty. O perhaps your own failure
to reach customer targets through the property without the use of fire arms. As
for your attempted suicide – must improve attitude. Well this is the story of my
first ever PDR and my fight against bureaucracy gone mad.

 

My first encounter with masses of paperwork to fill in didn’t go too well as
I actually hate too much of it. I had this silly idea that I was there to work
and not to dream.
I was part of a small team retained by the Trust after Lord
Wraxall died, so I was used to getting on with what I was paid to do. I know
some of you out there will probably share my belief in real life and those with
the rose colour glasses will probably be shaking their heads in disbelief.

 

My first face to face meeting was such a memorable one that I have to share
it with you. It started well and then fell to pieces as the manager in question
showed signs of not just looking like a fool but complimenting the look with the
speech of a fool.

 

Towards the end of the meeting, a piece of paper had been put on the table
and a line drawn across the middle. In one half was several dots, but on the
other side there were only three. It was then explained to me that this was a
field with a hedge dissecting the middle.

 

On one side was several sheep, all part of a go a head team, pushing
forwards, being leaders.

 

On the other side was the sheep that chose to remain in the pasture they had
always been in.

 

Could these three dots have represented the two gardeners and myself who had
previously worked for Lord Wraxall I wondered.? Are we are being left behind?
And why did the sheep on the other side of the line all have clipboards? All
this was conveyed as though it was put to a child in infant school. Not only was
this condescending approach insulting but the perfect opportunity to have a
little fun back.

 

Evidently, I was in the side of the no go sheep, but I was apparently looking
over the hedge to see what was going on. I was told that I had the potential to
become a go ahead sheep, possibly leading my own flock. I just needed to come
over the hedge to join the in crowd. It was at this point I started a question
and answer time.

 

Q – How high is this hedge
A – Let’s say you have just laid it
Q – Then
I won’t get over it’s too high
A – Lets imagine you have left a gap in
it
Q – All my hedges are stock proof, would be a bit pointless don’t you
think?

 

It was at this point that I could sense her first signs of despair, so to
keep things going I pointed at the hedge and said it could have a gate in there.
Her face broke into a smile and said “yes a gate”, her enthusiasm rising at my
participation.#

 

Q – Is this gate on line with a public foot path
A – Is it relevant came
the reply with concern
Q – It could be, may even need a style to get
over
A – OK, it has style and the gate is open.
Q – Bit careless don’t you
think? Leaving a gate open with all those sheep

 

It was at this point the meeting was terminated. Bugger! Just as I started to
enjoy myself.

 

As the time went on I started to do things the Trust way – this was to sit on
my arse for hours behind a computer. It was while I was busy reading some of the
dribble that head office sent out, that I became aware of someone out there in
the National Trust who actually knew what they were actually talking about!
Could there be a little light of wisdom in a swivel chair at HQ? And just how
long before it was snuffed out?

 

The email was in relation to skill sharing within the Trust. The idea was a
person with a good skill could be sent to other properties to use their skills
where it was needed, and also pass on their knowledge. This would be beneficial
to all, especially the property that needed the work done but never had the
money to carry it out. There must be hundreds of staff confined to properties
without the opportunity to work to their full potential. What a good ideal eh?
After all, we are one team.

 

On a closing note it was pointed out that managers would always be reluctant
to let staff work at another property as the person was paid from their budget.
I bet that person in head office that sent that email has left now. Probably the
common sense was a bit too sensible and radical.

 

As a walling mason and a hedge layer, I had often worked at other properties
teaching. I heard of the opportunity to take professional exams for walling
along with an instructors course to follow. This would be at very little cost
and subsidised by EU money. Arranged on a National Trust property that needed
lots of walls rebuilt, it seemed an opportunity too good to miss.

 

I approached my Manager with the information – that the course is one day a
week for 15 weeks, followed by an instructor’s course by the Dry Stone Walling
Association after passing exams. As I had never asked for any development
training it should have been a foregone conclusion to a normal person. After
all, there was always money being spent left right and centre on staff to go
away to do obscure things.

 

After approaching my manager, I was asked, why should I release you to work
on other National Trust properties at Tyntesfield’s expense? I was then fed
copious amount of crap in the way of excuses.

 

After listening to a donkey serenade of managerial clap trap, I argued, we
are one Trust, the Trust will benefit, I will benefit and you will benefit
having a fully qualified instructor with recognised qualifications.

 

At this she replied I can’t see the Trust spending £275.00 on the training
and there is no need for a walling instructor at Tyntesfield. My parting shots
were short sighted, bloody minded and as for the Tyntesfield vision, lets hope
we don’t get the second coming of Christ here, he’d be back on a cross on day
one.

 

I have a copy of the sarcastic letter I sent in the following day, telling
her to forget my request as I wouldn’t want to put the Trust out of pocket, also
stating I would pay my own way, at my expense.

 

It was a battle to get the time off even as holiday, but I managed and went
on to achieve all of it on my own.

 

As a now qualified Stone Walling instructor I find myself teaching at
National Trust properties on weekends through the Dry Stone Walling Association.
I’m also getting paid very well for it – something I made sure leaked back to my
manager at Tyntesfield, after all they could have had me at minimal cost.

 

Then came the day my manager asked me to teach walling at Tyntesfield. This
was what I had been waiting for. I refused. I was told very officiously that if
I was requested to teach I would have to do it. At this I smiled politely and
said, what there is a need for a walling instructor after all? I was informed by
a arrogant short sighted little person to the contrary, they must have been
talking rubbish, don’t you think?

 

I continued to teach at other Trust properties as part of my job. But as for
Tyntesfield there was no need, they didn’t need an instructor did they?

Staff bullying, ‘attitude’ and the National Trust Personal Development Review

June 18, 2010

Whilst sorting through some of the old letters I sent in to the Trust, I found one that
took me back to a moment of protest and disgust at two managers plotting to get
rid of their staff.

The letter I sent to the property manager asked if she was aware of the
proposal to get rid of the two staff members? If not, what action would be taken
to rectify this underhanded tactic?

 

As usual, I didn’t receive a reply on paper but was summoned to her office
for a verbal one. It was there I listened to her drone on about how she had no
plans to get rid of the staff in question and her managers should not have been
discussing it in public. It was then I asked “if she had no knowledge of the
subject, and as their superior, why were they discussing it at all?” Could this
be a an initiative drive ?

 

The reply to a very difficult question was always countered with an attack on
my attitude with references to being a “team player” and the all time favourite
– “in future, don’t write to me, come and see me.” This I refused to do as the
written word remains. I expect all my correspondence to the National Trust from
the time has now gone, but I still have my copies.

 

In recent years, there was the sad tale of a National Trust gardener that
committed suicide after receiving some sort of secret treatment. It’s not the
open bullying that staff have to contend with, it’s the underhanded slow
poisonous methods that finally get the desired effect. This usually starts with
a poor Personal Development Review (PDR) featuring key words such as
‘argumentative’, ‘not a team player’ and ‘attitude’.

 

I was once told to make myself “indispensable”, so I asked for a copy of the
indispensable profile – this never fails to take the wind out of someone that’s
talking crap.

 

“You know what I mean,” was the reply. “No I don’t,” says I. “No one is
indispensable or if they are can I job shadow them?”

 

The all time favourite on my feedback reports was ‘must improve attitude’.
This was in response for demanding basic health and safety facilities as echoed
by the National Trust health and safety officers.

 

I asked what method would be used to measure my attitude? What charts are
available etc… The look of disbelief said it all. She then blurted out – “that’s
what I mean, your attitude.” “OK” said I. “But how do you measure it?”

 

I will admit my outlook to the way things were run at Tyntesfield did clash
and it could be deemed as attitude.

 

My arguments against making water run up hill were attitude.

 

My arguments against wasting thousands of pounds of public money on filters
in houses that were not needed were attitude.

 

And of course, the car park and visitors centre to be built in the wrong
place… all attitudes.

 

My attitude was measured by the Trust on how much I was prepared to go along
with hair brained schemes that only served to throw money away. Let me emphasize
on this – your money, the public’s money. Money from hard working people’s taxes
and the poor old pensioners that donated the ten pounds to save the estate for
the nation.

 

If my attitude against waste was wrong then yes, I stand guilty.

In
the latter years, I refused to do the paperwork for the PDR at all. “You must do
it,” I was told, “Or you wont get a pay rise.” My reply was, “send me the
paperwork. When it comes perforated, then I can put it to good use.” Very
difficult to knock someone that doesn’t participate and why put a noose around
your neck?

 

Tyntesfield still retains the all time record for sickness and staff turnover
– including volunteers. Just recently I met a volunteer that finished working
there due to the stress and despair of the place. She loved her job, but the
black cloud that hung over the place finally got to her. As did so many others.
As I stated before it’s the one place you could have a job interview and a
leaving party on the same day.

 

Here’s a little thought for you. Why didn’t someone think of piling all the
boxes of exit interview papers around the outside of Tyntesfield house, that way
they could have saved £5 million pounds on scaffolding?

 

Bullying as I’m sure it goes on in all walks of life, but it could never
happen again at Tyntesfield could it?

Rogue trader contractors repair listed building stone work with sand and cement

May 19, 2010

After taking a week’s holiday teaching – stone walling – which always seemed to end too soon, I
returned to work and did my usual look around at the state of the buildings on
the estate. I continued my work to report further on issues that never seemed to
get done, but as with most firms, I believe that paperwork is essential and is a
job creation to keep mindless persons employed to file the reports in a place
where no one will ever see them.

One issue on my list had been the state of the stone work to some buildings
at Stable Yard. Technically, these buildings were classed as grade 2 listed, but
as they were in the curtilage of Tyntesfield House, they were deemed by the
Trust to Be grade 1 and at all times treated so.

 

 

The first thing that hit me was the Bath Stone cap stones had been repointed
in sand and cement, as was all the stone work around them. The contractors had
made sure the job was permanent by using a really strong mix that wouldn’t even
scratch with a key. This is one of the most taboo materials to use on stone work
and even so on a grade one classed building owned by the National
Trust.

 

At the time, I was under notice of
redundancy as the Trust thought it cheaper to bring in outside contractors.
Obviously the National Trust had an agreement with some sort of zoological
contractor and was paying them in bananas for their services.

After I got over the fact that I
was over looked to do this simple task in favour of outside ‘specialists’, I
took my volunteer helper at the time, a semi retired construction manager and
life long member of the National Trust to see the job for himself. He couldn’t
believe it either. It was then I decided to take the mickey big time with an
Email. Now until now, I had kept my criticisms of shoddy contractors to a
minimum, but this deserved a full attack and as I was going, who
cares.

 

I sent an Email to the surveyor
asking if the programme Rogue Traders had been shot in my absence at Stable
Yard, as the work to the stone work is worthy of the best of them. I then
pointed out what had been done, how it should have been done and the
consequences of what they have allowed to be done. I also pointed out I knew of
a good contractor (me) that was prepared to give them lessons on lime mortar as
I have had a lot off experience putting bodged jobs right and please don’t
hesitate to contact me.

This I sent to all the appropriate management
including all the king’s horses and all the king’s men and waited for the
reply.

Looking at the returning Email in
hand today – from I shall call him Humpty Dumpty – I still chuckle at the reply.
Evidently the contractors were given precise instructions on the work and it’s
not practicable to stand over everyone and watch. Unfortunately the stone would
be damaged beyond repair if any attempt were made to rectify the problem
therefore it will be left as it is. The contractors have been removed from the
tender list and a little quote, I assume for my attention read, Oh if we were
all so perfect.

Now I may not be perfect, but I
don’t sit around searching my fellow man for fleas and I definitely don’t take
payment in nuts and bananas.

They never did take up my offer to
train the contractors – a pity really as Tyntesfield is a place of learning
excellence – but as I was being made redundant it would have been difficult for
the management to agree.

Part One: Property Manager shoots herself in Foot

May 21, 2009

Tyntesfield has always been a shooting
estate to some degree, with a small private shoot for the Gibbs family and
friends. In my view it was looked after very well by the game keeper who had a
sympathetic view of control that fitted in well with conservation on the whole.
In fact for such a gruff poker faced Yorkshire man he was very good indeed.
Unfortunately for all of us, when the Trust took over the estate, they didn’t
want some one with an immense wealth of knowledge, they thought they knew better
and he was not employed.

My first encounter with the lack of knowledge the Trust had about game
keeping was when the property manager inquired if I was interested in continuing
the vermin control. I had experience in this field and recently returned to
college to gain qualifications in game keeping.

 

It was when I was asked if I had a shot gun to control the deer that I became
concerned over the methods the National Trust take in such tasks. I politely
informed her that the approved method is with firearms on a larger scale that
kills them outright, and as we don’t have a problem with deer there’s no
point.

 

At this she replied “if you don’t have a shot gun the Trust would buy you one
but they need controlling”. At this I had to suppress myself from asking for a
flick knife and knuckle dusters so I could take care of the squirrels at the
same time. The overall discussion did not go well and a few days later I was
informed that the approved National Trust hit man would be doing the work

 

The first night the contractors came they both went out and did a count of
deer. A massive number of five deer was counted by a team of 6 men in the 180
acres of land that remained of Tyntesfield. It was one more than I counted but
as I had already told her not a worrying amount to start shooting them.

 

Just shortly after that, the hit squad came in and wiped out the rabbit
population in just a couple of evenings, along with the foxes and anything else
in the way.

 

Meanwhile, in the trees overlooking the cull was nesting Buzzards that for
years had relied on the rabbits for food that was being gunned down all around
them. Since then most have taken up residence nearer to McDonald’s as they could
see the writing on the wall.

 

It was one evening while I was on a walk in the woods that I came across two
4x4s parked on a neighbours land. Two men could be seen walking into their woods
with guns. As we had received a warning of poachers in the area, I immediately
phoned the property manager and asked several times could it be our contractors
before we call the police.

 

I was given a lecture over the phone just how professionally things were now
done under her management and not to question it but to call the police.

 

Well when the police turned up along with the land owners who were very
anti-hunting, along with several other concerned neighbours, the poachers turned
out to be the highly skilled contractors that the National Trust had employed to
manage the deer and reduce the poaching.

 

It was quite a party that went on for some hours, and it was only by the
grace of God that the land owners decided not to press charges as a conviction
would have meant no fire arms licence. To see grown men with no alternative but
to chase deer with base ball bats would have taken the professional edge off of
things.

 

I did have some feed back on the events of the night from the property
manager and she cross examined me very vigorously on why I was there. I
explained that I often watch the badgers and survey the owl population to which
she replied, you will have to do these things in the day as you are banned from
the woods at night because it is too dangerous. It was at this point I realised
she needed to get out more and informed her I would be on the look out for
insomniac nocturnal creatures. She rose up to her full height and proclaimed I
was being insubordinate.

 

I asked to see a copy of the damage impact assessment that is carried out by
the appropriate manager ( property manager) prior to all cull management. She
looked dumb founded and asked what that was. I then informed her of the full
procedures she should have taken. I think this was the point that the writing
was on the wall for me as I left her garbling incompetently and stamping her
feet up and down as witnessed by the house manager that was soon after dismissed
from the National Trust.

 

My next story is how and why the National Trust flayed all the hedges during
nesting season, even bringing in youth offenders to participate while watched by
Fiona Reynolds and two major people who donate cash.

 

My fight against the Trust to stop them bulldozing four young blackbird
chicks in a nest will be accompanied by Emails photographs.

 

PS: please can some one tell Claire from HR I’ve now left the National Trust
so don’t bother getting back to me on the important questions I asked six months
ago.

More contractor’s capers: Tyntesfield’s tribute to Monty Python’s Flying Circus

May 12, 2010

One story I have been waiting to do is regarding the contractor capers that went on.
Some of this you will find the following almost unbelievable for such a
professional crew as the National Trust.

As the estate was falling into disrepair due to the extraordinary length of
time to acquire the lottery grant – story pending – contractors were brought in
to put right health and safety issues.

 

It soon became apparent that the Trust had given the instructions to the
contracting company over the phone and the tasks then passed down to the workers
that would turn up to do the work.

 

To be fair, the National Trust surveyor that organised this had so many
properties to look after it was virtually impossible to be in so many places at
once and this was the cause of some catastrophic balls ups.

 

At best the contractors would turn up and wander around looking for the job
to do until I would stumble on them and pointed them in the right direction. My
first impressions of these contract workers was non to impressive as my
following story shows.

 

On site was the Victorian glass houses that were basically large lean – tos
that were always a challenge to work on. When there were several pieces of glass
to replace they called in the professionals.

 

Their approach to the job was somewhat novel and exciting to the staff that
knew how things should be done. All of us waited with baited breath as they
parked their pick up on top of the underground water tanks and from the back of
the truck they proceeded to slide a ladder up the 3mm glass roof. Once in
position, somehow the weight of the ladder and man would be evenly distributed
across the glass and would be held by the hand of God and several green fly.

 

By now, a crowd had gathered to watch. Some from a home made platform of what
looked like first aid boxes. When it was at this point some one stepped up and
said not very safe is it, have another think.

 

And so they did. The little cogs could be heard whirling around both their
heads accompanied by what seemed to be the fragrance of a slipping clutch. A
phone call to their office was made and a cherry picker was delivered for them
(a hydraulic arm with a works platform).

 

Now even the most novice of novice could see that they had very little
experience of such machinery. This was apparent as they fought with the controls
over the glass roofs, accompanied by yells of terror from above, and ooohhs and
ahhhs from staff watching below. It seemed to be more luck than judgement that
they never went right through the glass.

 

Their next job was on the stable yard roofs with the cherry picker. All I had
to do was show them where to go and make sure they had the right tiles for the
job. To get to the next job they elected to drive the cherry picker off road, on
wet grass down a slippery slope with smooth tyres. The results were inevitable
as the machine slid further and further away from the task in hand with the
operator fighting with the controls, wishing the machine came with toilet
facilities.

 

At last they managed to get where they were meant to be and I looked for
welfare facilities after witnessing what looked like a scene from Monty Python’s
Flying Circus.

 

Near to completion of their works, I noticed that the next roof along needed
attention. I showed them the problem and asked what they would need to do it and
how long so I could let the surveyor know?

 

Before leaving them, I explicitly told them “don’t under any circumstances
touch this roof until I check we have the materials and the surveyor has said
yes.” This I repeated several times until they got board with the sermon, what
could be simpler.

 

The following day I still had no confirmation from the surveyor and made a
note to chase this up while the machine and contractors were still on site. It
was then the contractors came up to me and asked for tiles to cover a hole.
“What hole?” I asked. “The one in the roof you showed us.”

 

To say I was livid was an understatement. My first question was Did you not
hear what I said on site about don’t touch? Followed closely by asking if he was
on day release from some institution. This remark seemed to go over his head so
I assumed his firm were an equal opportunities employer and left it at that.

 

Unfortunately, I had to explain to the surveyor what had happened. His reply
was an out burst of what were you thinking of? Don’t ever talk to them again!
Never show them anything! They can never be trusted alone on site unless they
have very basic instructions and no room for thinking!

 

It was after his anger had subsided a bit I asked what was he doing employing
idiots? His reply was: “I have very tight budgets.” I can only assume he was
paying them in nuts.

 

Stories still to come:
Crazy contractors sand and cement repairs to grade
1 listed building illustrated with pictures (not for the squeamish)

 

Scaffolders block off doorways to my house, property manager tells me to wait
till morning to get in. Yes it’s true you couldn’t make it up.

 

Pick and mix your own rare tiles from the skips. Illustrated

 

The car park will go where we want it, we know best and that’s final. Whoops
costly mistake eh?

Visitors and ramblers bullet dodging at Tyntesfield

April 23, 2010

Just recently, I had a visitor to my
office. When I say office, I was rebuilding a dry stone wall in a field, when
out of the corner of my eye I noticed a figure in shooting attire making his way
to me.

At first I thought it may be a hit man sent by The National Trust head office
to silence me. This I dismissed this out of hand as I could never recall seeing
generic risk assessments for having ex staff whacked.

 

It transpired that I knew the fellow and we had a little catch up and a laugh
at a past incident at Tyntesfield regarding shooting.

 

Now the shooting fraternity is a small one and news of a cock up is usually
in your favour. This is what happened.

 

Evidently, a well known shooter managed to wheedle his way onto the estate to
shoot pigeons. He soon started to take on guest guns (against NT policies) as
was his way of earning a good income.

 

This did not fair too well with a lot of people, but as he was employed by
the tenant of the land there was very little they could do.

 

The pigeon population was soon cut down to the odd fly past as more than 500 birds were shot in just over a week. The skies over the estate were no place for much really as the lead was flying in all directions.

 

This was a real problem for the ramblers as they dodged their way along the
trails and so the first of the complaints went in.

 

This was remedied by pointing out the public foot paths to Wild Bill and his
gun slingers and all was well for a day or so.

 

It was soon after this the first of the visitors complained that lead shot
was falling on their cars as they entered the estate. The news spread around the
estate quickly and while the mobility bus was being prepared in UN livery the
shop staff seemed to be experiencing a run on the Vera Lynn CDs as the memories
of the blitz came flooding back. Visitors leaving the estate were heard singing
We’ll Meet Again while waving white flags out of the windows.

 

The shooting was stopped and this seemed to be the ideal excuse to get rid of
Wild Bill. Meanwhile, the legacy left behind was the field was so full of shot,
there is a real danger the whole landscape could be stolen by scrap metal
dealers.
.

The one where the National Trust made the warden redundant and destroyed thousands of pounds worth of grass seed

March 29, 2010

It was only after so many controversial decisions
made by the management at Tyntesfield, that they began to realise the estate was
not just about a dusty old house that certain kinds of person enjoy endlessly
orgasming over.

They finally thought it best to get someone in to look after the wildlife
before the last of it packed its bags and went. So, with much pomp and ceremony,
they appointed a warden.

 

I had already met this chap sometime earlier and he always struck me as keen,
hard working, cool headed and easy to get on with. In fact he was the perfect
choice and I was looking forward to working with him.

 

Now, as I had an interest in wildlife and had a good all round knowledge of
what was what, it seemed like a good ideal when my manager proposed I work with
him for two days a week. This was soon arranged and quickly came the day of
starting our working partnership.

 

Unfortunately, it was a no go on day one as his boss had organised a meeting
for him without his knowledge. As day two approached, the same thing happened
again. In fact, it was very rare that he could actually fit in any work outside
of the office at all.

 

I threw my hands up, gave up and reverted to my main role. On hearing this my
manager was disappointed. I pointed out that if someone cut the strings making
the warden dance to the management tunes we might be able to get on.

 

After about a month, the warden started looking worn down and for the first
time ever I heard him swear. Yes, the perfect clean cut chosen one had started
to despair with the bureaucratic interruptions that stopped him from doing his
work. This was now the beginning of the end.

 

As the weeks rolled on and the management took an even bigger interest in his
role, they interfered as they seemed appropriate.

 

But then came a break from the talking. The time had come for one of the
project plans to take shape. At last! Camera, action, etc…

 

Now we had on site the very best the Trust could muster and shape into a
formidable project team. In fact, the input from so many professionals merging
all their skills would make any plan bomb proof so what could go wrong?

 

It was planned that the arable farm land would once again be reverted to
pasture land with wild flowers etc. This was quite an expensive operation so all
had to run smoothly.

 

It was only when the warden looked at the plans and the proposed budgets that
he noticed a shortfall. Now the work was to have been done under the Countryside
Stewardship Scheme and so a proportion of the cost had to be met by the National
Trust.
Unfortunately, there was no money allowed for the fencing, gates,
styles, in fact all things associated with land enclosure. All these things
added up to many thousands of pounds and one of the idiots in the office ( Heir
Doodle Bug) had over looked it.

 

If only someone had asked the warden, asked me in fact, or at least read what
the terms and conditions of the stewardship are it might have helped. Eventually
the management stopped flapping like a cheap yurt in a gale and found some money
and all went ahead at full speed.

 

Due to bad weather, the operation had to be suspended half way through and
the contractors pulled off. When they returned, the warden was out on a course
and so a manager from the office took charge and waved her arms to field that
she thought needed spraying off prior to seeding. The new tractor driver took to
spraying off thousands of pounds of newly seeded pasture land.

 

He was on one of his final sweeps with the weed killer when the warden
returning to Tyntesfield stopped on the driveway to see what was going on. At
this point the horror of the moment caught up and he begin screaming at the
tractor driver. This was the moment some passing staff found him sitting on the
drive way with his head in his hands mumbling.

 

This was a very costly mistake running into many thousands of pounds and so
it was thought best to hush the whole thing up, a sign of the times to come. (I
often come into contact with the contractors that carried out these works and we
still have a little chuckle over it).

 

Over time, the warden fought against the odds incompetent managers, lack of
facilities and a noticeable lack of help. He was awarded a prize for outstanding
achievements on the estate.

 

Now our senior manager informed him that due to shortage of space on these
events he wouldn’t be going. Evidently, just because you are being awarded by
the very top of the National Trust for out standing achievements doesn’t mean to
say you are invited, after all most VC’s are awarded posthumously aren’t they?
And to snub the recipient in this fashion is certainly a way to kill some one
off isn’t it?

 

And so our leader proudly picked up his award on his behalf, alongside all
the other staff that had also been awarded something similar in their field.
Another jolly good day out for the chosen.

 

On our leader’s return, we all waited for the presentation. But it simply
never came. By now, the whole estate knew that the award was on a desk just
waiting for the moment.

 

Soon after, he unfortunately found himself fighting for his job. He thought
this fight was worth fighting to the end. This was a fight against complete
idiots whose IQ’s were only dwarfed by their shoe size.

 

I can only imagine that those responsible for the decision have been
propelled through the ranks as a means to get them out of here through the very
common approach taken by most organisations to off load the incompetent – by
promoting them.
With a never ending stream of protests over his job loss, a
massive pile of overwhelming fact and figures that showed the post was needed –
he was an experienced bat handler with all the relevant tickets – and he was
saving the National Trust thousands of pounds a year, the position was
terminated.

 

It was some time after he left, he returned to a going away party arranged
for him by staff and the many countless organisations that he had forged links
with. It seemed like everyone in the world was there to say good bye such was
his popularity.

 

It was during the evening that the senior manager stood up to say a farewell
and as an after thought handed him a brown envelope that contained his award.
There was a hushed silence of disgust and disbelief from all assembled. No one
had even thought of putting it in a cheap frame from the pound shop. The warden
stood there looking bemused and puzzled, he was expecting a P45. I couldn’t have
put a worse look on his face if I had kicked him in the shoe makers
(cobblers).

 

I don’t think a speech has ever gone down so badly in history as the one
given by the relevant manager. It seems that the mood changed dramatically and
some left soon after, worried that the hissing was down to a pit of snakes that
had opened up.

 

It was soon after the warden left that things started to go pear shape again.
The property was now propped up from falling down by calling in other wardens to
cover the work (as if they never had enough to do at their own properties).

 

The Trust soon realised Tyntesfield once again needed a warden, or did they
know that all along ?

 

At this point I would like to give the HR a mention and say thanks a lot for
all your help that was part and parcel of the Wardens departure, and many other
similar scenarios.

 

Before I finish my story of the Tyntesfield horrors, I will cover the
performance of the HR department. I’m sure many staff across the Trust would
appreciate it.

 

PS – If you’re thinking of similar plans on your property e.g. arable
reversion, get your manager to treat it as an Ikea project. Make sure they have
all the pieces as well as the instructions, get them to read the instructions
twice, and make sure a grown up is supervising at all times.

Boil in the bag badgers – National Trust staff set fire to badger set

March 26, 2010

Recently, I had to reply to a outraged reader regarding the flailing of
nesting birds at Tyntesfield. I reassured her that this was only down to poor
management that the Trust has seen fit to iron out, or so it seemed.

 

One story that I had been meaning to write was the boil in the burrow
badgers. It’s at this point I can see the guilty party cringing and preparing a
statement of ignorance. Yes its revenge time again so let’s get on with the
facts.

 

The sewage system from the main house ran through the formal gardens and had
been showing signs of a breakage in the ground; this was evident by a boggy
patch of grass smelling to high heaven.

 

Along side this pipe was the home of a very large badger family. The set had
been dug underneath a clump of Japanese knot weed planted by the Gibbs.

 

Before any work could commence, the set had to be sealed off with electric
fencing to stop the badgers returning. The whole operation was overseen by a
certain manager that had been tagged with the nick name Shifty. This exclusion
took several weeks and close liaisons took place between me and Shifty as the
whole operation had to be carried out to DEFRA’S standards. After completing
weeks of checks and keeping records it was deemed OK to start the works.

 

Some 18 months after this operation, I happened to see a large plume of smoke
coming from the area of the set so off I went to investigate. A very large
section of the knot weed had been cut down and a bonfire had been made of it on
top of the set. Now to even the most stupid of people, it would have been very
clear that there was a set there as the area was full of tunnels (perhaps he
though it was just more escape routs dug by disillusioned staff). This took
place at a time when the set had young, not that any one on the site really gave
a damn. The warden had gone so it was really a free reign for the stupid.

 

One of the slogans for the Trust at the time was Tyntesfield – a breath
taking experience. Certainly worked for the badgers as the roaring fire sucked
the air from the chambers below.

 

When pulled up over the stupidity of his actions, Shifty lied through his
teeth claiming he had no knowledge of the Badgers or the set, or perhaps he
thought I meant bodgers. Badgers or Bodgers the only difference being is one is
a protected species, the other is a nuisance that resides in a project
office.

National Trust massacre of nesting birds

June 21, 2009

My first encounter with the National Trust
professional approach to nature conservation came in the form of a bird watcher
from the village of Wraxall.

I met him when he began banging on my cottage door in the middle of May to
inform me that all the hedges and brambles for hundreds of yards have been
flailed to the ground taking the nesting birds with it.

 

I knew of the field that was described and also knew full well that the whole
area was full of black caps, white throats and the only Linnets on the estate
who were sitting on eggs. Displaying a concerned look I hurried with him to
inspect the damage, still eating lunch, thinking why me.

 

After surveying the devastation, I hurried to the property manager asking why
such things were going on and that it needs to stop immediately. The reply I got
was that the survey of the boundaries was unfortunately behind schedule and some
things are inevitably to suffer.

 

It was at this point I told her of the bird watcher and his disgust. She
asked me if I had justified the Trust actions to him. This was a phrase that was
to ring time and time again like a dodgy door bell playing Green sleeves.

 

By now the tractor was approaching one of the hedges in one of the gardener’s
houses. In the nick of time, the wife of the gardener ran out demanding they
stop as it housed some nests with chicks in. These were the only ones to survive
in thousands of yards of hedge that was flailed that year.

 

After my ranting and ravings I thought the penny might drop as to undertake
works at the appropriate times but no. Its seem that some managers had the same
I.Q as their shoe size and so it went ahead.

 

It was while the temporary car park was under construction I happened to see
a black bird darting in and out of brambles that were in line for bull dozing.
After I discovered the nest with four eggs in it, I informed the site agent who
cordoned off the area and said it was not really an inconvenience to let them be
for a week or so. Unfortunately the property manager got wind of this and
instructed the National Trust surveyor to go ahead and to inform me that it is
for the good of the project that they are bulldozed.

 

My reply to all on site was I will personally take the National Trust to
court for wilful disturbance of a wild bird nest and returned home to email all
involved a copy of the wild birds act regarding the law.

 

I was then summoned to the property manager’s office and told I had no
authority to interfere with contractors, and she was looking at getting a
licence from DEFRA to remove the nest.

 

AT the time the local papers were full of a story involving a garden centre
chain that had a robin shot under a DEFRA licence because it nested in one of
their buildings. I pointed out that the garden centre chain had suffered a
massive back lash from the public and their shares had dropped like a stone. How
would it look for a very large conservation organisation to do something
similar? The reply was on the lines of me not being a team player and I need to
come on board with the rest of them. I said unfortunately I never had likings
for the Nazi party either and would not act like one. Secretly I think she took
offence to this.

 

The following year we had a expert come to the estate to survey the area
around Tyntesfield House. I would talk to him on my way to work to keep in touch
with what we had nesting.

 

On the next staff catch up meeting it was revealed that some special
benefactors would be visiting the property and Fiona Reynolds herself would be
taking care of them.

 

It seemed for some that for them to walk around the estate and miss the youth
offenders clearing footpaths on the wider estate was not good enough for the
VIPs, so some ass decided to have them clearing around the house where the nest
surveys were going on, Stunning.

 

I objected as it was peak nesting season and the area is awash with warblers
on eggs. The response was that all precautions had been taken and it will go
ahead.

 

Then came the day of flailing when Dame Fiona Reynolds proudly pointed out
the conservation in action by youth offenders, now re offending on the orders of
the offensive. I picked up a long tailed tits nest and handed it to the
organisers asking what they thought it was. Not one of them had a clue, but
thought it to be a fantastic construction and it was a shame it had to go.

 

Meanwhile, a wood warbler that had been watching its home destroyed gave up
and flew off with what I took to be a parting chirp. I can only imagine that it
headed to the central reservation of the M5 to nest again, knowing full well the
odds of survival are better than at Tyntesfield.

 

The following morning I came across the bird watcher commissioned by the
Trust surveying the devastation. What hooligans did this was the question he
asked? The ones in the oak leafs that sit on their bottoms behind computers.

 

He did write to the property manager and the head gardener. What a pity it
fell on deaf ears which is the norm with the National Trust. The slaughter still
went on and there seemed to be no let up.

Water way to waste money

June 30,
2009

The water system at Tyntesfield was a very unique and at times
baffling system. The Gibbs Family spent a great deal of time in hot countries
and so knew the value of water. Their system was designed to run with the
minimum of wastage and with the maximum benefit to the estate. All properties
had a rain water catch tank underneath or outside the cottages, which was fed by
the rain on the roof.

The main pumping system was at one time three water wheels feeding massive
underground tanks, pumping as far as half a mile to the height of 500 ft. This
was fine as long as the bore hole that fed it all was in good supply, and it was
only in the 1976 drought that it actually slowed to an alarming state. Since the
National Trust took over the estate, the pump houses were sold off but the
supply was kept going until such time as Bristol Water was installed.

 

It was during a hot spell that one senior manager panicked because the bore
hole was becoming low, even though every man and his dog tried to explain that
it was normal and we could survive as Bristol Water mains were in the process of
being installed.

 

This was not good enough and so it was decided that a temporary feed from
Bristol Water would be installed to feed the old main. Sounds simple doesn’t it?
Or you would have thought so. After all we had the top brains from the building
department on the case and lots of outside specialists costing more than a dozen
MPs fiddling expenses.

 

A break tank very large and expensive had to be installed to ensure the
quality of water. On looking at the proposed site, the warden and myself
informed the management that the tank would not work as it would be too low to
feed the connection point.

 

Little Pig, Little Pig, may I come
in? Only if you can defy the laws of gravity!


It was politely pointed out
that we had not the qualifications of the National Trust’s finest and we
shouldn’t get involved. It was at this point I was on the verge of asking if
they could change the water into wine at the same time, but thought against this
at it may have come across as being negative.

I then pointed out that we did not
own the water pipes under our land because the executors of the will had put in
conditions keeping ownership. To my amazement the senior surveyor proclaimed:
“Would we buy an estate and not own the pipes under the ground? I don’t think
so!” Well this was a phrase that returned to bite him sharply in the
ass.

Soon came the day of connection.
The executors were asked to turn off their supply to the estate. They then
informed the Trust – No way! That’s our pipes. If you want to use them you buy
them. After many months they did. As the Trust had just spent £10k on a tank to
fill them – the tank already nicknamed the Folly – the race was now on to supply
temporary water before we had permanent water.

And so the day came to switch
supplies with all asunder patting themselves on their backs. Then came nothing.
Not a drop. It was now very evident as they looked up the hill to the connection
point that the water was not man enough to climb the gradient. I suspect that
the two underling’s words suddenly started to echo in their ears – “It’s too
low. Water won’t run up hill!”

Having gone this far, the engineers
were called back to put the problem right. This was done by making the water run
down hill (a novel ideal) to a different point in the mains. The total cost of
the extra works was probably in excess of the warden’s and my pay, but as this
was the National Trust it was all par for the course.

By now the supply for Bristol Water
was well under way and with the embarrassment of an earlier failure still in the
air, another stunning idea was to fit water filters in all the properties at a
cost of £17k.

Very soon after Bristol Water was
connected the filters were taken out and thrown in a shed to gather dust. When I
asked about the wisdom of wasting money, the reply I got from the surveyor who
ordered the filters was: “If I knew the connection to Bristol water was going
ahead I wouldn’t have bothered. No one tells me anything.”

In my view, I think the give away
clue to what was happening was lots of diggers on site with miles of blue pipe
being put in the ground. Of course this could have been mistaken for positive
lay lines being installed. God we could have done with some.

While all this was going on the
management in their divine wisdom decided to feed the water to the main house
and several other properties off of the fire main by bypassing a tank that
gently feeds everything by gentle gravity.

Now as you can imagine old cast
pipes that have been serving faithfully with 40 psi would now be more than
doubled in pressure. I told them of my fears. I told everyone. But it seems they
knew better as I was told politely to shove off and let them get on with
it.

I could tell that once again I was
being negative and so I decided to let them get on with it. Then came the leaks.
Lots of them like a plague. As soon as I repaired one up popped another two. The
whole system was now leaking like a sieve and I ran around trying to hold back
the tide.

By now most of my days was taken up
stopping leaks and it must have been an embarrassment to the property manager
that I was constantly in shorts and flip flops soaked to the skin. The beach
towel draped around my shoulders and a plimsoll line tattooed on my legs was a
testament to my determination

Then one day I bit the bullet and
made the suggestion of fitting a pressure relieve valve, at the cost of £ 45.00.
Until that point I vowed I wouldn’t make any more clever suggestions again, but
as my doctor was concerned about the trench foot I had developed I thought it
time.

I shall now brush over many minor
acts of incompetence by the management and move on to my next very large
encounter with gross stupidity in the case of the leaky saw mill
pipes.

It was while the saw mills were
being converted into the learning centre the contractors encountered many old
pipes leaking due to the excavations taking place. These pipes played no vital
role as they had been capped off years ago and the main stop tap that fed them
was rusted solid. Specialist plumbers suggested that a new one be
installed.

I took the main contractor to one
side and he agreed to have his machine excavate for the plumbers free of charge
and the plumbers would install the valve. The contractors would help me install
a new inspection pit and reinstate the ground. This would all be in the space of
a morning at virtually no cost apart from my time to oversee the project. What
could be simpler?

Well my line manager could. After
involving all management and given the go ahead by the top manager herself, my
line manager refused to excuse me from a meeting where I was forced to sit and
watch others talk about what they had achieved for the year. During the meeting,
staff were excused for taking deliveries, making phone calls, but not me. I had
to sit there and so the contractors gave up waiting. So did the plumbers. So did
I. The work never got done and the leaks continued. Never in my life had I come
across such a stupid little person that was not only vindictive but cost the
National Trust so dearly.

Dangerous and neglected National Trust wall falling onto busy road

February 25, 2010


 

This is a National Trust owned wall and is a retaining wall for the Battle
Axes field on the busy B3130.

 

It is in a state of disrepair and after partial collapse, a member of the
public pushed it to the side of the road. A week later it is still there – since
original publication, it has been repaired.

 

The security and safety of Tyntesfield was one of the prime responsibilities
of the maintenance person (me). This wall was flagged up some years ago and
several surveyors from the Trust were taken to see it.

 

Nothing has been done, so perhaps before something serious happens a good
walling firm could be recommended to the Trust?

 

Perhaps the National Trust should also pay heed to some legal proceedings
currently going on in London.

 

Camden Council is currently in court pleading not guilty having been accused
of causing the death of a two-year-old boy.

 

Saurav Ghai died after being crushed to death by a wall back in 2007 and an
inquest raised concerns about the safety of the wall.

 

Camden Council appeared at City of London Magistrates’ Court charged with
breaching section 33.1 (a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

How the National Trust blew away thousands of pounds on a fancy tent

November 19, 2009

This is a sad story of what can be achieved when under extreme pressure to reach those targets
that we know plague all walks of working life in most of today’s organisations.

At the time of this story, the management at Tyntesfield were off one day a
month to a spiritual retreat to learn how to get on with each other. Beggars
belief really that while the management were off spending donated money just
because they didn’t like each other, the rest of the staff tried even harder to
patch up the holes in a sinking ship.

 

With the overall “project” now running some four years behind schedule due to
in-house management fighting, coupled with a blinkered view of reality and the
attitude of “we know best because were are management, so don’t talk to us of
things sensible”, the whole of the estate was a complete and hopeless
shambles.

 

Anyway on with the story of the disappearing yurt.

 

The conversion work to the saw mills learning centre had not yet been
completed due to a gross under estimation of costs, somewhere in the region of
£60k if my memory serves me well. This was all part and parcel of the whole
Tyntesfield project being underestimated by £3.5 million pounds. Yes that’s
right three and a half big ones.

 

On learning this when it became staff knowledgeable, I questioned the senior
surveyor as to how such a momentous cock up had occurred. His reply was that it
was quite a difficult job to estimate. Also present in the room was a young man
that had changed vocations from being a very successful civil engineering
surveyor, to working in conservation in the countryside. It was when he looked
at the senior surveyor and stated that in any building company in the country,
those responsible for such a catastrophe would have been sacked, will there be
repercussions over such incompetence regarding those at fault? At that the
surveyor changed tact and found himself too busy to carry on. I wonder who
checked the figures?

 

Anyway, back to the problem of the lack of space for school children. In the
Victorian walled vegetable garden, a large marquee was erected as a temporary
area which the Trust had on a bargain knock down hire rate from the scouts. It
served its purpose well and helped out another needy organisation.

 

For some reason this did not suit some and a more twee plan was put into
operation to replace it with a yurt. Yes a genuine Mongolian yurt, all the way
from the wind swept and baron landscape of one of the most inhospitable places
on earth, or so it seemed.

 

It was decided to buy one direct from an internet company building yurts in
Mongolia as they seemed to be several thousands of pounds cheaper than the ones
being offered in England. I wonder why?

 

It was after the order was sent off that the Trust had the problem of paying
in a cash transaction while working on a ever changing Rouble currency, which I
believe incorporated live stock in their monetary exchange rate. I understand
that the problem was solved by sending good old sterling along with a
consignment of damaged stock from retail in the form of his Lordship’s bed socks
and thimbles that could plug the nasal and ear orifices from the freezing winds
of the Mongolian plains.

 

It was now down to me to build a sectional floor in the shape of a circle
approximately seven meters in diameter. So following the drawings that the
supplier had sent through beforehand, I soon came to realise this was a bit of a
DIY job and not something that was designed for heavy use.

 

To make it a substantial structure, the cost escalated some, especially as we
decided to use treated timber just in case. The instructions also stated that
due to variations in the construction, the circumference may need a little trim
of 100mm all around as sizes couldn’t be guaranteed.

 


I wore my Yurt,
with golden lining, bright colours shining, wonderful and new


So the day came the base was
down and the yurt was ready to go up. The few staff that had offered to help
were in position and the large group of students from the college were missing
but represented by their lecturer of one.

 

It was rather unfortunate that it rained while we were in the erection stages
as it later became apparent that it was not waterproof, nor was it fire proof. A
slight oversight seeing as the weather in England could be some what inclement
but the problem with it being not fire proof was quite a major one as it was
deemed to be a public space.

 

It was very confined with just two tiny door ways to get in and out of. These
doorways were not only small but they were very very low.

 

It later transpired that the wood work had only a coat of gloss paint which
peeled off revealing bare wood. The paint used was Dulux Buckingham Green. It’s
amazing to think that in the wilderness of Mongolia there stands a thriving
Jewson’s builders merchants with a mix and match paint machine for all your
family yurt requirements.

 

Due to the patterning around the outer fabric, every time I looked at it I
couldn’t help whistling the tune from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dream
Coat.

 

The fact it became so damp soon overrode the fire risk element as it would
have taken gallons of diesel mixed with fire lighters to have started one.

 

Then one day came the winds. Not too much of a problem at first as the
gardeners had put extra ties on to hold it down. But as the weather worsened and
with the yurt now hovering, it became apparent that it could become a danger to
aircraft approaching the nearby Bristol International Airport. I often thought
we should have invited certain project team players to hold on to it while I cut
the lines and watched a more positive out come as management were whisked away
to Abu Dhabi. Ah well we could only dream.

 

Very soon after, the yurt became an eye sore not having been able to
withstand the good old English weather. Coupled with the fact that the interior
was now becoming a hazard with the amount of fungi growing on the walls, it was
decided to pull the thing down and store it in a nice warm building out of sight
of the public. Should be ideal for a fungi forage by now.

 

The wooden floor is still there as a testament to my efforts and should they
wish to build a bandstand there in the future, it would be more than adequate to
take the weight. Perhaps they should have the band knock out some numbers such
as Money, Money, Money by Abba, or The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum by
the Fun Boy Three.
..

The Tyntesfied Estate Quiz

April 19, 2009

At TyntesfieldEstate.com, we have put together a fabulous little
quiz for all those connected to, with and visiting the place to try for fun.

* Where in the Wessex area did a property manager order the arrest of her own
contractors for poaching on a neighbour’s land?

 

* After observing a school group replant a missing holly hedge with 30 cm
plants to a boundary hedge, which property manager embarrassed all the staff and
children by asking “how will they stop the stock from getting out being so small
a plant?”

 

* When a suggestion was made at a pre-season meeting of allowing persons on
Income Support access with a discount, Which manager replied with “the sorts of
people who are on benefits are those that drink, smoke and would rather go to
Alton Towers”?

 

* On interfering with the warden’s work, which manager ordered the farm
contractors to spray off thousands of pounds worth of newly seeded pasture land
with weed killer, losing the National Trust tens of thousands of pounds?

 

* What was the reason for a warden to sit in the middle of the road with his
head in his hands repeatedly asking “Why? For God’s sake why?” Clue – see
above.

 

* After a room had been set out with furniture for public display, which
manager stunned staff by claiming “Steven is very good, but he doesn’t have the
eye”?

 

* Where in the National Trust are contractors allowed to turn up without
supervision and strip the tiles from the wrong roofs and disturb registered bat
roosts?

 

* Where in the Wessex region are tenants allowed to control great crested
newts with lawnmowers and strimmers?

 

* Who thought it a good idea to give permission for a National Trust manager
to take driving lessons without a licence, and never having had a lesson, drive
a large 4×4 around visitors?

 

* True or false? Staff members have held their own exclusive private parties
in the house, inviting their mates around for a spiffing jolly? Clue – the
photographs were posted on the internet and we still have copies.

 

* Why did senior management think it wise to ignore all the staff in the know
and waste £25,000 on a water tank that was not needed?

 

* Who said “the tank is in the wrong place, water does not run up hill”?

 

* After the water failed to run up hill, what was the additional cost of
contractors to make the water flow down hill?

 

* Who said “don’t be stupid would we buy an estate and not own the pipes in
the ground”? Clue – a life size image of the person can be found outside the
front of Tyntesfield House.

 

* On which property have the National Trust recently purchased a unique
Victorian water system of water wheels, tanks and pipe work, but didn’t think it
necessary to buy the source of water to run it all?

 

* After several years in post, where in the Wessex region did a property
manager find herself lost in the woods of her own property?

 

* Which property has the fastest turn around of staff, the highest level of
sickness (volunteers included) and attempted suicide?

 

* At which property would you find non-conformist staff on detention?

 

* On which property would you find unguarded machinery rewired for use after
it was condemned as unsafe by the Health and Safety Executive 20 years
earlier?

 

* Where in the Wessex region would you find a property with possibly a higher
number of office staff than National Trust HQ?

 

* Who thought that a Yurt made in Mongolia would be compatible with British
weather?

 

* How many meters of Tyntesfield’s neighbour’s hedges were cut down and burnt
by mistake in one year?

 

* After hardly a year, why are there rumours that the Yurt now harbours
dangerous bacteria and mould?

 

* On the day of a green transport meeting at Tyntesfield that was attended by
people from all over the country using green methods of transport, what was the
total carbon emissions from the project team that drove the distance of 400
meters in several cars to get there?

 

* So that the project team could hold meetings in a professional way, a
specialist was flown in to teach the team how to talk to people. From what part
of the United States did he come from and how many public memberships did it
cost?

 

* Who begs the question – “Was I pushed or did I fall?”

 

* At Tyntesfield, bat detectors are used to detect the high pitched screams
of staff that are constantly at breaking point – True or false?

 

Finally – What was the reason that a very popular member of staff was forced
out of her job and accommodation with very little notice to the utter disgust of
the whole property’s staff, and how much notice was she given? – One week on the
condition that she told no one of her plight, and was allowed to inform all on
the last day by a management vetted email.

 

We would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their donations
(and signed affidavits).

 

A special thanks to the incompetent who made this quiz possible.