THE LAW WITH ALPACAS – A WORK/LIFESTYLE BALANCE

THE LAW WITH ALPACAS – A WORK/LIFESTYLE BALANCE

Reading Time: 11 minutes

 

Jo Davis is a Partner at the Buckinghamshire and London law firm B P Collins, heading up the Employment Practice team, and is recognised as a top lawyer in her field by both the Chambers and Legal 500 Directories. Jo is known for her warmth and humour, whilst fighting ‘like a tiger’ for her clients, and it was a pleasure to meet her for tea at Pinewood Studios, where we enjoyed a chat about employment law, the elusive work-life balance – and the perils of the alpaca mating season!

Welcome to Pinewood Jo! Tell me, did you aspire to be a lawyer from a young age?

I had no idea at school – originally I wanted to be a teacher, but then all my friends wanted to as well, so I said I won’t do that then! My eldest brother did a law degree and he’d come home from university talking about some of the cases he’d studied and I thought I quite fancy that. He was training as a barrister and I didn’t want to compete, so I did the solicitor thing and did a law degree at Manchester (Metropolitan Uni as it is now), which I really enjoyed. Then I went to Guildford Law College, which covered all of the core subjects – conveyancing, probate, the lot.

And what led you to specialise in employment law?

My first job was in a small firm next to The High Court in The Strand – which gave great exposure to disputes. I worked on a high-profile case of a top-level female TV producer, whose boss (also female) really picked on her and ultimately unfairly dismissed her. It was widely reported on, and this case whetted my appetite – ever since, I have loved working in employment law. I was lucky, I fell into something I loved from the start.

What personality traits would you say suit a career in this area – and did you show these traits from an early age?

Law in general, but particularly employment law, is all about problem solving – people want a result and you’ve got to get them there. I always liked problem solving – I like taking facts and working out the best way forward. I was the kid that wanted to do the Rubik’s cube – plus I like people! I come from a family of journalists, so communication is something that runs in the blood; and it’s satisfying when you get to the end of a case and have a positive result – I like to win! I acted for one client, who had given evidence at a colleague’s discrimination hearing (speaking in support of the employee, so against her employer); she returned to the office on the Monday, and her boss sacked her by text on the Tuesday! She was single, going through IVF at the time and had no savings as a result., so she ended up renting her house through Airbnb. The other side wouldn’t negotiate at all – but in the end we got her a good and fair settlement. Now she’s back on her feet and doing really well. Cases like that that stick with you; you’re championing the underdog and I love that.

And is employment law a particularly male or female-led area of law?

There are probably more women in employment law than men – generally there are more women coming into the legal profession than men now; but still fewer getting to the top, although increasingly now we have more women at the top in B P Collins. I have three kids, and a good work-life balance and flexible working is one of the things that B P Collins supports.

What would you say are the main challenges of the role?

The hardest point is probably. adapting to the constant changes; there is a lot of referring to text books and online resources, as employment law is very nuanced and technical. Other than that, it’s getting the work-life balance right – I’m always rushing; I have friends who somehow seem to be a lot more laid back than I am!

I disagree; it sounds like you have a great balance – and a pretty full life outside of work!

Well, I get to take my kids to school in the morning, and I’m able to see school plays and so on – I’m really glad about that, as you can’t get those years back. My husband is based at home and looks after the kids, so I’m lucky – it’s much harder if you’re both working – it’s all about balancing.

 And back at work, what are the most common issues you confront in your cases?

I’d say whistle blowing and discrimination – I was involved in one of the biggest age discrimination cases of recent years, where a Partner in a law firm was kicked out at 65. That went all the way to the Supreme Court – it was fascinating to see it through.

Gender discrimination does occur, but it’s rarer than it used to be – people are more alert to it and generally see the pitfalls.  That’s not to say it doesn’t still happen , but it happens inadvertently, such as in cases of indirect discrimination, when an employer applies a rule to everyone, but it impacts a certain group or gender more. And on payment issues, men are still more pushy for pay-rises than women, who can be more self-deprecating.

Sorry to bring up the B-word, but how is employment law being affected by the current climate?

With Brexit, it’s difficult to tell – there’s more caution, probably fewer acquisitions, as everyone is waiting to see what happens. We have an immigration team, who are doing a lot of training as the government is becoming clearer on what changes they are planning. Overall we are busier than ever, getting good quality work across London and the South East, particularly since opening our new office by St Pauls. I’ve got a really good team around me, so I’m lucky.

What advice would you give to law students today?

 Generally I’d say to do a job you really love, as you’re going to be doing it for a lot of hours. If you’re doing law, find the area that really interests you, and take your time to find what makes you tick – if you like attention to detail, the corporate or property side might appeal; if you like fighting a battle and winning, then maybe litigation is for you; just don’t jump too quickly, as once you’re on one track it’s not so easy to retrain.

 And what advice would you give to your younger self starting out?

I don’t regret anything I’ve done – I’ve liked all the firms I’ve worked in. At B P Collins I like working with different teams and having colleagues to talk though issues; you find you talk yourself into the right solution. It’s a really friendly firm, we’re all about the long-term relationships with our clients, and we like to have a laugh too. I don’t think I’d change very much really.

And back to that work-life balance, what do you do outside of work? I hear you have an
alpaca farm!

Yes – we have 12 alpacas, with two on the way, so we’re building up a herd. They all have different characters – we had one that went berserk; he’d be really friendly and then spit at you – and alpacas generally don’t spit, that’s llamas – alpacas are much cuter! And then there’s Donna, she’s very skittish, particularly around bald men for some reason! The female alpacas are worth a lot more because they breed – but then you do get the odd exceptionally good male, the stud, the Sean Connery of alpacas – and they’re worth a fortune. And mating them is an interesting experience! I let the experts sort that out for me, but once it’s done they have a spit-off – three meetings, a week apart – and if the female spits at the male it means she’s pregnant! So that takes up quite a few weekends!  We plan to sell them – but I can’t quite bring myself to yet, as we’re too attached!  We also have 20 chickens, 8 ducks, two lambs, a dog, a cat, a rabbit and two dwarf hamsters – and we’ve just put up a yurt – it is basically The Good Life!

To learn more about Jo’s alpaca farm, see her website www.waterperryalpacas.co.uk
To learn more about B P Collins’ services, visit www.bpcollins.co.uk

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WHAT IS A HYBRID PIANO? – 7 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW – By CASIO

WHAT IS A HYBRID PIANO? – 7 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW – By CASIO

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

In a world of modern tech, we’re quite used to the word ‘hybrid’. If something is a hybrid, it means that it’s a mixture of two different ideas, which gives improved performance over conventional designs.

So, you probably know that a Hybrid car combines petrol and electric motors for cleaner emissions. But, what’s about a hybrid piano all about?

  1. No Strings Attached. 

The keys of an acoustic piano are connected to hammers which hit strings to make the sound. A hybrid piano also has hammers but produces sound electronically. This means there are no strings to tune, and the instrument can be made smaller to fit into living spaces more easily.

  1. Hammers make the touch more authentic.

Although there are no strings, it is important to keep the hammers. It’s this moving mechanism attached to each key that pianists can feel when they play. If you remove this, as most digital pianos do, the movement of the keys is different (even though the keys themselves might look similar).

GRAND HYBRID PIANOS HAVE MOVING HAMMERS, TO MAKE THE KEY FEEL MORE AUTHENTIC WHEN PLAYING.

 

 

  1. Hybrids have real piano keys.

Most digital pianos have keys that are made of plastic, or a mixture of wood and plastic. This is not true of acoustic pianos, where the key is shaped from specially-grown Austrian Spruce. Casio’s Grand Hybrid pianos have keys made from exactly the same wood, for an authentic feel.

  1. Hybrids use the same key length as acoustic pianos.

82% of surveyed teachers said that the feel of the keys is the most important part of a piano. But, conventional digital pianos often don’t measure up in this area: their plastic keys are shorter when compared to an acoustic piano. This compromises the key movement and the instrument feels less realistic. With a hybrid piano, the key length is the same as an acoustic piano, which means the travel and bounce of each key is much closer to that of a real Grand.

HYBRID PIANOS HAVE FULL-LENGTH, WOODEN KEYS

 

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  1. You can have three different Grand piano sounds in one instrument. 

Because the sound of a hybrid piano is produced digitally, without strings, you can make the instrument produce more than one traditional piano tone. Casio’s Grand Hybrid range includes the tone of three of Europe’s most finest brands of acoustic piano, including a £115,000 C. Bechstein D282 piano.

 

GRAND HYBRID PIANOS HAVE THREE DIFFERENT GRAND PIANO TONES STORED INSIDE THEM, SUCH AS A C. BECHSTEIN D282 (RIGHT)

 

Irene Veneziano plays “Allegro de Concierto, OP. 46” by Enrique Granados on a CELVIANO Grand Hybrid GP-500BP in the beautiful gardens of Palazzo Gromo Losa in Biella (Italy).

6.  You can play them in the garden.

Ok, not permanently, but the serious point here is that a hybrid piano is more resilient than its acoustic counterpart. This means it will live happily in spaces that wouldn’t be suitable for traditional pianos, such as in direct sunlight, a conservatory or summer house, or next to a radiator.

  1. You can plug headphones in, for silent practice.

Even though hybrid pianos use a lot of acoustic piano principles for their feel, the sound is purely digital, so can still plug in headphones and get the best of both worlds: the touch of an acoustic piano with the convenience of digital sound.

To find out more about Casio’s award winning Grand Hybrid range, visit https://music.casio.co.uk/

 

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ALL THINGS BEING ‘EQUAL’

ALL THINGS BEING ‘EQUAL’

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

We have recently been introduced to this spectacular new magazine called EQUAL by the King of Introductions, Richard Selwyn-Barnett (see recent article).

EQUAL is published online and also as a magnificent high end journal that you can read and keep, showcasing Fashion, Art, Culture, and Music with a heavy emphasis upon diversity and uniqueness.

The charming and down to earth Shelley Rodgers, who is at the helm of EQUAL lives in a sleepy coastal village in between Dublin and Belfast with her musician partner Kieran Sherry and her daughter Maya.

Her stunning photography is shot through her own creative eye and embraces all aspects of our Planet and its people, from sub-cultures to those who have been excluded, with a particular emphasis upon the environment with cruelty free makeup, recycled jewellery and eco fashion.

EQUAL is also the perfect platform to promote both established and up and coming artists to showcase their work while also nurturing their talent.  They have live fashion shows in iconic and historic buildings.  Their most recent was held in Belfast Castle in February of this year, where they presented artists like Skyler Jett (the Commodores) with a life time achievement award for his career in music and other emerging creatives.

On Saturday 19th October at Belfast Castle there will be another ‘alternative’ fashion show with live music and a captivating catwalk featuring some stunning new designs like the new Bruno Tilley collection of T shirts, models from the LGBT community and those with severe injuries – the physically challenged.

Our very own Dee Anderson will be walking the catwalk and modelling a jean jacket in glittering Swarovski crystal, which has been designed by Rachel and Dean Mayhook, and their son Josh at jeanjacketdesigns.com

Dee will be performing her new song written especially for EQUAL entitled ‘You are Unique”.

Ticket sales will be announced in the next few weeks – watch this space and keep a close eye on EQUAL magazine.

Web https://www.worldequal.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/worldequal/
Twitter https://twitter.com/magazineequal
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/equalmag/

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Mushroom and Pea Risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano

Mushroom and Pea Risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

This Risotto is a great family favourite I always cook for my wife and four girls.  Yes I am completely outnumbered – but this is such a winner and keeps me in their good books for at least a day.!!

Try it for your loved ones and make sure you add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – it really enhances the flavour and makes it a bit special.

Mushroom and Pea Risotto with Parmigiano Reggiano

Mushroom and Pea Risotto with Parmigiano Reggiano

Ingredients

  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • small glove minced garlic
  • 1 cup uncooked Risotto rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 500g thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Begin by pouring the stock into a saucepan over medium to low heat and let it simmer.
  2. Melt butter in a pan on medium heat.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Next, add the risotto and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Then add 1/2 cup wine and continue to stir while cooking for another 2 minutes or until wine has absorbed.
  6. After the wine has absorbed, stir in 1/2 cup of the stock and continue to stir until the liquid has absorbed.
  7. Keep adding 1/2 cup stock at a time, continuing to stir until absorbed.
  8. Heat the oil in another pan over medium heat and add shiitake mushrooms.
  9. Sauté for about 5 minutes and add in the 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
  10. Add the peas into the risotto followed by the mushrooms & thyme
  11. Add salt and pepper to taste and add 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the mix.
  12. Mix all ingredients well and spoon portions onto a plate.
  13. Top with remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and serve.
  14. Why not try topped with a poached egg for an extra twist.
http://www.glotime.tv/mushroom-and-pea-risotto-with-parmigiano-reggiano/

Find more information about Parmigiano-Reggiano at https://www.parmigianoreggiano.com/

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LEARNING TO PLAY AGAIN – OR FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME

LEARNING TO PLAY AGAIN – OR FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

As we come into our ‘prime’ we often have a bit more determination to fulfil our dreams, whether it be to visit that far off destination, run naked through the woods or learn a musical instrument.  Well, I am talking about the latter, and how fulfilling would it be to pick up a guitar and start strumming at a party or even among close family and friends.  How many times have you been mesmerised by the funky guy or girl who is able to do that, and has the talent and ability to write their own lyrics and their own songs.

More and more people are fulfilling their dreams, and even if you are not going to be the next winner of Britain’s Got Talent or the X Factor, (and stranger things have happened), it is guaranteed to be one of the most therapeutic things you could possibly do.

I can talk from experience, as I have recently achieved a life long ambition to learn guitar, after having found a teacher locally, a young funky guy himself, who resides on the outskirts of Beaconsfield.  He is a musician through and through, with waist long silky hair and an equally smooth voice, but with a sympathetic ear for my early stumbles on my favourite musical instrument, and after the first couple of months I am learning fast, and have just written my first song, which I am going to try out at my next social gathering.

It also came up as a result of a life coaching experience that I should give this as a present to myself after a lifetime of bringing up a family, caring for an ailing Mum and being a very committed wife and Mother.  But you don’t have to wait until the kids have flown the nest, this should be a gift as a recognition of your own self worth and courage as it takes that to even start to explore the options of living your dream or at least one of them.

It sounds crazy now, but my main fear was knowing how to tune the instrument – but with iphones and apps, this is the most simple aspect of learning to play.  So if your fear is holding you back from achieving one of your life goals, whatever that is, look at ways to overcome the obstacles and move forward.

My other reservation was that I am always ultra busy, as I run a demanding business, and wouldn’t have the time.  Another simple solution, I now get up half an hour earlier in the mornings and put aside that time to practise, and mission accomplished.

Hopefully this will have inspired you to weigh up the options of ticking off something on your bucket list whatever that may be, even if it takes a few months of procrastination, after all how bad can it be?  You may say, ‘well I have waited this long’, but my advice would be ‘there is no time like the present’ – and the present is definitely yours for the taking.

Check out this easy beginner guitar lesson and give it a try

 

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