Brasserie Zedel

My friend Dave had one of those “special” birthdays the other week.  One of the ones with a zero at the end, which, for some reason, we all seem to think of as milestone birthdays.  I suppose they are too, the start of a new decade, and all that.  Anyway, it was an excuse to celebrate.

I knew that Dave would not enjoy the thought of entering another decade, I recall him not being over-enamoured the last time round, so I thought, take the boy out for a nice lunchHe’ll enjoy that, it’ll be something for him to remember and it’ll be fun.

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I invited the boys, Paul and Paul, to join us too.  Not because I thought Dave wouldn’t enjoy being out with me alone, but because they are good company and I though it would make it more party-fied.  I left the choice of restaurant up to Dave and he chose Brasserie Zedel in Sherwood Street, Piccadilly. defines the word brasserie as “an unpretentious restaurant, tavern or the like that serves drink, especially beer, and simple or hearty food.”  By that standard, Brasserie Zedel is poorly named.  There is nothing plain or unpretentious about it.  Quite the opposite.  The restaurant is  Art Deco and has marble pillars topped with gold leaf architraves and is very opulent.  It can seat 220 people, so it’s big and can get a wee bit noisy.

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It was once part of the Regent Palace Hotel, when that existed, which was built by the Lyons Tea Group company.  When it opened in May 1915, it was the biggest hotel in Europe, with 1028 rooms.  I remember staying there back in the 1980s, and remember thinking it was a bit dated as the rooms didn’t have en suite in those days.

Zedel is run by Chris Corbyn and Jeremy King, the same pair who run the Wolseley and the Delaunay, amongst others, so they know a thing or two about restaurants.  I’ve read some disparaging reviews about Zedel, but I liked it, and so did the boys.  The portions were good and the prices were good too, at about £50 per head, which included much wine.  There was nothing to complain about in the food, and I do know how to complain if I’m not happy.

We went for drinks in the Ham Yard Bar afterwards, which was all very civilised.  The only fly in the ointment was that my travel card jumped out of my pocket somewhere on the way from the bar to the station.  I retraced my steps to search for it, but fortunately for me, someone handed it in at Piccadilly Circus (thank you, whoever you are) so all ended well.


© Susan Shirley 2016














I completed my NLP practitioner course last week (yay), which included Time Line Therapy and Hypnosis, conducted by David Shephard and Sally Davies of The Performance Partnership, with Claire Wells as our coaching assistant.

I’d done my due diligence on NLP training providers, and this one had been personally recommended.  None of these courses are cheap and I had no desire to waste money again.  I’d done some other NLP courses with The Performance Partnership, which were pretty amazing, so I was certain this was the one for me right from the start.

We were a small group – only eight of us as students, an eclectic mix: Regina (Brazilian), Yota (Greek Cypriot), Rod (Scottish), Paola (French, with a wonderful accent; if she’d been a man, I’d have fallen in love, just on the basis of the accent), Anna (Korean from Kazakhstan), Esz (Hungarian), Judy and I (English).


It was an amazing week.  The course took place in Richmond, the other end of the District Line from me.  It started at 8 o’clock in the morning and finished at about 8 o’clock every night, so a full day, but well worth it.  We got through a lot of content and learned so much.  And, by the way, Richmond Hill is a nice little walk and talks to muscles that don’t get much use in flat old Essex…

One of the {many} incredible things about the week was how we all bonded so quickly when we first met as a group.  Something I have only witnessed once or twice before in my life.  Everyone had different skills and talents and they all mixed together really well.  We respected and learned from each other as well as the “formal” learning.  (Note to Claire: that includes you.  You were amazing and supportive all the way through.  A different energy from Sally and David, yes, definitely, but that’s not a bad thing.)

To tell you a little about it, although I don’t want to make this post about it, if you are interested contact me or the Performance Partnership; they hold free introduction days regularly.  I took a very sceptical friend to one, after a particularly traumatic event in her life.  She was astounded by the difference it made.  A one off like that may not be enough to change your life, but that was the start of a journey for me.

NLP was created by Richard Bandler and John Grindler in California in the 1970s, a connection between language, neurological processes and behaviour.  Changing these can change can enable us to achieve our goals.  It’s a different way of communicating with yourself.  Most of us go through our lives only thinking about what we don’t want, not about what we really do want, and NLP helps to change that.


A fairly new approach then, so no wonder that it is still relatively unheard of.  A bit Law of Attraction-y?  Maybe, but nothing wrong with that in my book.  I’ve read lots about the Law of Attraction over the years and have finally come to the realisation that a great deal of ancient teachings know more than I do.  (Yes, obviously, I am fantastic and omnipotent, and think I know everything,  blah, blah, blah.  Which is why I am driving around in a Porsche with money bleeding from my ears.  Not.  Maybe it’s me that is doing something wrong, ya think?).

Like everything else, NLP has its detractors, which is fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion and view, and the only reason I mention it here is because I believe it’s strong enough to persuade people over time.  One of the things that sold it to me (which does include the Performance Partnership, I like their ethos around this) was The Warrior Programme.  I’d been told about it long before I ever attended any NLP course, and was pretty amazed when I started to look into it.

It’s no secret that many ex-servicemen find adjusting to life outside of the forces difficult. Unsurprisingly in my opinion.  I’ve written about this before in other places, about the difficulties and the injustices, the homelessness and poverty, so anything that helps ex-servicemen get their lives back is good for me.

Yes, I do have family connections with the military, so it makes it all a bit more personal. (Do I think all ex-servicemen are heroes, gods/goddesses and perfect beings?  Hell no, they weren’t all choir boys/girls before they started so I don’t expect them to be after, but we put them through a lot.  They see things that most of the rest of us don’t, so it’s no wonder that some, maybe all, have trouble adjusting to a different kind of reality.  Do I think they have the right to be helped to readjust?  Hell yes.  I think we owe them some help with that.  Whatever it takes, and I strongly prefer not using drugs of any kind.  Personal view, and I am prepared to be told I am wrong.   That’s where I stand right now though.)

The Warrior Programme website describes itself as:

“The Warrior Programme is a 3-day motivation and training programme with 12 month structured support and signposting.  The 3-day coaching programme teaches participants practical, effective tools, techniques and coaching strategies to improve performance and motivation and overcome the above. The course outcomes are to improve:


Self Reliance



Self belief

Managing self, mood and emotions

If you go to the link below, you will be able to read the results of the randomised control trial.

I think the results of the trials speak for themselves, and I know it was as a result of them that people like the MoD started to take this programme seriously.  Me, I find it very humbling.  And gratifying.  That’s why I did this NLP course.

So, back to my course and my group.

I met some wonderful people and I learned a lot.  You meet people along the journey who just touch you, do you know what I mean?  Mostly, I don’t let people get close easily.  My group was different.  It was a case of, “you had to be there.”  All of these people have so much to offer.  I look forward to working with them all again.


© Susan Shirley 2016

PS Tattershall Castle

My Facebook friends will know that I went to a leaving party on board the PS Tattershall Castle last week, Rocky has taken redundancy, like so many of my other former colleagues.  Makes me glad I left when I did, the place just wouldn’t be the same anymore.  I was great to see so many people I’d worked with over the years, I really enjoyed it.


It’s not the first time I’ve been aboard this little boat, and I don’t suppose it will be the last, but it is the first time I decided to find out more about the boat.  She is currently moored along the Embankment, between Embankment and Temple tube stations.  I always think it’s a bit funny having a drink on a boat, you feel as though you’re drunk before you start, with the movement in the water.  It never takes me too long to get my “Sea Legs” though, (perhaps I should say my “Thames Legs?”)  I even managed to dance at Rocky’s leaving do.

Named after the fifteenth century castle in Lincolnshire, she started life as a passenger ferry on the River Humber for London and North Eastern Railway, travelling between Kingston-upon-Hull and New Holland in Lincolnshire.  There had been a ferry service there back as far as Roman times, right up until the Humber Bridge was built.


As with most other boats, during the second world war, she was used to transport troops in the area and to secure barrage balloons.  She went on to become part of the Sealink Service after the nationalisation of the railways.  She’s a paddle steamer so ideally suited for that kind of work.


The Tattershall Castle first came to London in 1976 and was originally a floating art gallery but she became a pub and restaurant in 1982.  It was refitted in 2015 to the tune of a few million pounds!  Worth it though, it’s lovely inside now.  With all the competition in Central London, even with it’s lovely setting along the Embankment, the boat regularly hosts comedy events, and, as proved by the party I attended, it can be booked for private parties.


© Susan Shirley 2016


Chesham and Old Amersham

I stayed with the boys the other weekend.  I’m staying there about once a month at the moment, they live close to the place I go for my Accelerator Days for my coaching course with the Coaching Academy.  (It’s a great course, and a subject for another post.)  They live in Chesham, near to a lovely little place called Old Amersham.

St Mary's Church, Old Amersham
St Mary’s Church, Old Amersham

I went to “school” on the Saturday and we went out for dinner at a Thai restaurant in Chesham called the Jasmine Kitchen

It was an absolutely excellent meal at a really reasonable price.  I’ll be honest, I was tired, I don’t remember the exact details of what we ate, except to say that one of the boys and I had the same.  Paulie had a masaman curry.  The food was high quality and well cooked.  We had a couple of bottles of wine to boot, so I am double impressed with the price.  The boys loved the meal so we were all very happy when we left, and had a little walk around the town before going home.


Chesham is a quaint little town, dating back until at least the 10th century, but probably earlier.  Historically, Chesham is known for the four Bs – boots, beer, brushes and Baptists.  Strange, thought I?  The boys hadn’t mentioned this to me.  Boots and shoes apparently started in the area as a cottage industry and expanded when tanneries opened locally.

Brewing (beer) started in the nineteenth century, presumably as a result of the Beerhouse Act of 1830 which allowed anyone to brew and sell beer, whether from a public house or their homes for a fairly cheap licence.  (Previously brewers had to have a licence from a JP, which was more expensive and a longer process.  More like the system in place now.). I suppose this accounts for the number of old, local breweries there used to be, most of which went out of business in the 1970s when they started to be subsumed into the bigger breweries – Whitbread, Watney Mann although that’s all changed since then.

Brush making was introduced to the area in the nineteenth century so that the off-cuts for wood working were used – back in the day, there was much less waste, most things were recycled.


The Baptists relate to the religious dissent which was prevalent in the town and surrounding area in the 16th century, starting in 1532 when religious dissident Thomas Harding was burnt at the stake for being a religious heretic.


Old Amersham

The next day, we had a trip to Old Amersham, which is a couple of miles away.  It’s an old market town, dating back to before Anglo-Saxon times.  (And it’s distinct from Amersham-on-the-Hill, which grew up around the railway station around the start of the twentieth century.

Amersham is also famous for its martyrs.  In 1512, seven Lollard dissenters were burned at the stake in Amersham.  The Lollards were part of a movement started off by John Wycliffe.  Wycliffe was a noted theologian in the fourteenth century, but he was dismissed from Oxford University because he criticised the church.  In general terms, the Lollards wanted reform in the English Church.  (If only they’d waited 24 years or so, Henry VIII would have done it all for them!)  These seven chaps (well, six men and a woman) were executed for the heinous crime of reading the bible in English.  There is a plaque in the town to commemorate the executions and there is also information about them in the local museum.  There have even been community plays about them, performed in St Mary’s Church.


The boys told me an interesting story about Amersham – in 1200 AD, Geoffrey, Earl of Essex was granted a Royal Charter permitting him to hold a Friday market and fair on 7 and 8 September every year.  In 1613 the market day was changed, by charter, to Tuesday.  Even during the World Wars, some livestock were taken to the market square on the charter day, to keep it going, otherwise, the charter would have become nullified.

The old Market Hall
The old Market Hall


Some people moved to the area, in a house overlooking the market square.  Apparently, the newcomers did not know about the charter.  Much to their surprise, they woke up to find a modern day fair and market outside their house!  Outraged, they tried to get the law changed, without success.  They have to put up with the market once a year.  The moral of this story is check out your local area prior to moving.

© Susan Shirley 2016