Chris, collaboration, great folk & the lion’s den.

Longleat, where change is welcomed.

I went back down to Longleat on Tuesday to see Simon Townsend and his team from Cheddar Gorge and Longleat to discuss my two earlier Access Reports.

After enjoying a lovely journey there I was quickly deflated when I found the main Entrance completely blocked off! Proper electronic barriers, clear signage, the venue was clearly closed! Luckily I could see a distant Land Rover parked amongst the trees so I knew some sort of access must be possible but how, where? Being the consummate professional I am I had arrived without Simon’s number or indeed the contact details of anyone relevant to the venue!

Eventually I started to think more clearly, looked around more carefully and found “the button”. Quick press and I was through to Security and the barriers soon began to move aside.

After parking, one more random question and I was directed to the Estate Office. Jump forward a few minutes and now I’m back in the real business world. Simon collected his team, a suitable room was located, coffee was brewed and off we went.

What a positive meeting! Everyone was on the same page and very keen to progress. Lovely to encounter so much enthusiasm. It’s always a good sign when everyone is discussing issues without mentioning costs. Of course costs will be relevant later but it never blocked or influenced a discussion here.

I was particularly relieved to find how much common ground there was. I had indicated several areas in my reports where I wanted to see immediate improvement. You never know how well negative comments will be received in these situations, but all was well, we all agreed, they had the same reservations as me and indeed some changes were already on track.

Hopefully this will be a long-term connection, yearly reviews, training updates and so on. I want to continue working with such lovely venues and enthusiastic staff.

After a very productive meeting, feeling very pleased with the situation we eventually dispersed into the night.

Now, I had been there before, but in the pitch black you can easily lose your bearings. Signs are missed, floodlights don’t quite illuminate the places you want. Paths which are obvious in the daytime become inexplicably invisible in the dark. After a few wrong turns (including a near miss with the lion enclosure) I spotted red rear lights in the distance and set off in pursuit. I was able to locate some paths and negotiate the winding route to eventually catch the line of departing staff just as if I knew exactly what I was doing!

A great day and a very positive conclusion to my work which had started back in November. Katie’s training is yet to come and then we’ll know more about how to carry this great collaboration forward. Watch this space!