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TOCA Blog

Bio: Say Goodbye to Hotel Restrictions and be in YOUR own space in YOUR own time.

A hotel stay can be novel but sometimes it can be a disappointment; the room is too small, there is nowhere to cook, not to mention the time restrictions and parking. At Town or Country, we provide the best cost-effective serviced accommodation with value for money and most importantly that home from home experience.

You only have to look at our high standard of properties to see the quality of service we provide

Management Etiquette

There is no harm in having a good relationship with your management team in the work place....but..

I’ve just had a notification from LinkedIn that someone wishes to connect with me. It starts off with ‘Ben, there is a new connection waiting for you.’ Probably another recruitment agency trying to find me a job. I delete it. Not so much for the fact it has no interest to me more the fact it starts with my name. I know it is good practice to start with someone’s name as opposed to ‘dear’ or ‘hi’ but is this not a bit demanding?

Then there is the opposite end of the scale, how to end the e-mail. Sure there is the usual ‘Yours’ and ‘best wishes’ but when does an e-mail go too far? When it ends with a kiss? That small symbol of an ‘x’ could say a lot about your management or working style. While it is healthy to be informal now and then in a working relationship employees get more done if the content is formal.

My wife has a great working relationship with the female CEO of her company, they grew up together, lived together and know how each other ticks. When you have known somebody that long you have worked with then it is pretty much acceptable. But what if it was the other way around? What if it was to a male CEO? Things change.

After spending over 20 years in media the exchange between my male gay friends (and even some straight) often ends with a ‘x’ in the text, to me it is an endearment after knowing them for so long. I’d be a little surprised if it was someone I had just met who was equally as forward. In some countries outside of the UK some may take offence to such action.

In 2011 I moved to Malta to work in a management position. The aim was to shake up the team a bit and find the best talents within. With communication at an all time low I set up many closed group forums, Facebook pages and a place to exchange ideas. Being British I would sometimes end my content with a kiss, just to show my ‘informal’ side. This I was to learn was a no no. Why? A lot of families there are Catholic and children are brought up in the correct way to address each other, being kind, supportive and respecting each other. Placing a ‘x’ is seen to be forward in exchange, even in a social environment via text message. And I totally get it. Does respect end or start with a kiss?

Bottom line rules:

Keep it professional – don’t put a kiss
Outside of work – don’t put a kiss
If you are replying to the boss who has already put a ‘x’ – don’t put a kiss back.
I have known many relationships or indeed working contracts that have ended from a kiss at the bottom of the email. OK, it may not be a sack-able offence but this has often snow balled and been a mislead communication.

Of course, if you are in a relationship not ending with a kiss can open the flood gates to a week of silent treatment, questions along with judge and jury. One may just simply forget to do it. For some, it has been misleading and led to other things, sometimes for the worse. And please, do not substitute a ‘x’ for an emoji…that’s an entirely new subject!

x

Ben Glover

Great For Business…5 reasons why

For those who travel about for business we know what you are up against.

Example of a typical living area with one bedroom and hotel

Space

With the average hotel room clocking in at 325 sq/ft there really isn’t enough space to swing a cat! Most of the valuable space is taken up by the bed. With a serviced apartment you get more than just the bedroom. A living space compromising of comfy sofas, entertainment systems and a dining area makes this more a home from home experience.

All our double bedrooms contain a luxury double or king size bed with linen changed daily with our Maid Service or when it suits your schedule. Wardrobe space comes as standard along with power showers, deep baths and all the towels/toiletries which you’d expect from a 1st class provider.

All our kitchen areas are modern and fully equipped to cater for one or more, making the perfect choice for family and other guests. And with many properties coming with stunning views over the south coast you get a whole lot more than a 325 sq/ft box.

One Night or More

The South coast is a host of global links with many world wide brands on our doorstep. We are proud to accommodate many business travellers from all over the planet, including the PSP Southampton Boat Show. Our long term guests enjoy the comfort of our properties which range from studio apartments to 4-bedroom town houses. Secure parking is available in virtually all apartments/houses giving peace of mind after a long day, especially with city parking becoming more of a premium these days.

Productive Space

Sometimes it is productive to stay out of the office and with more of us working from home these days we know how valuable this can be. That it why all our properties enjoy fast WiFi connections able to deliver for your PC, laptop, smart phone or tablet. And the best bit? It’s all FREE.

Our unique codes will be given to you on arrival with our information pack dedicated to individual properties. Then after the work is done relax and download a movie. Or unwind on the balcony at plenty of our apartments.

Budget

Are you getting value for money from your hotel room? With a serviced apartment you pay per property not per person making your budget more economical. This is great news for anyone who is travelling with a companion or for those who wish to have families stay.

Extra ‘z-beds’ are ready to be deployed should there by an unexpected guest and we cater for the little ones with travel cots available.

Having fully equipped cooking spaces means less money spent out and about. Take advantage of or Food Packs, filling your fridge and delivering shopping from all major supermarkets in the area. You place the order, we’ll do the rest.

The Extra Mile or Two

With all this space you may have trouble making the most of it. Our regular blogs make sure you are kept up to date with all things social in the area you stay as well as recipes dedicated to a busy lifestyle. We are proud to have our very own Discount Card giving you exclusive money of bars, restaurants and attractions in the area. And for those with a healthy lifestyle we have teamed up with a local health club to maintain the balance.

Special occasion? Let us play cupid with our ‘Romance Packs’ consisting of chocolates, champagne and flowers to add a little more love into the room.

Always There

Our team are dedicated to your needs 24hrs a day. There is always somebody on call should you have any issues, our Maintenance Team and Maid Service are always ready to give a helping hand. Arrive when you want with our secure lock boxes containing the keys to you luxury stay. In fact all you need to do is turn up.

Bridge The Gap To Moving

Relocating anywhere can be a stressful.

It is a place we have all been to at some point in our life – moving home. Some have moved to a different part of the world, some in the same country or even city. Either way it can be headaches at the ready with your only friend a packet of paracetamol. Then there is the cost estimated at an average £3000 a move, adding the admin fees, hire cost and cleaning charges it all adds up.

The problem with many people who relocate for business reasons is hunting for that right place to live. Sure many companies help with the relocation fees but what do you get for that, a tiny box room with food that requires a small mortgage to buy thus blowing the budget after only a few days. And then there maybe the family in tow doubling the pressure to settle as soon as possible in order to reach some point of normality.

As a family run business we really know the stresses and strains that come with moving and we’re sympathetic to your requirements. Town Or Country operate with many properties to suit your needs, from studio apartments to 4 bedroom houses. The benefits to serviced accommodation are second to none:

Free WiFi is provided in all of our properties.
Secure allocated parking is available in 95% of our properties at £5 per night.
Luxury Bed Linen and Towels are provided.
Complimentary Toiletries are supplied on arrival.
Weekly Housekeeping Service – Bed linen will be changed and Towels will be replaced. The property will be cleaned thoroughly and bins emptied. If you require this service to be more frequent we can offer this for a small fee.
24/7 customer care contact for all of our guests staying with us.
Property Management Service on hand at all times.
Town or Country Discount card is available to all of our guests which will give exclusive discounts of 10 -20% off Southampton’s finest bars and restaurants.
Multiple Freeview television channels

When away from home, if your serviced apartment is spacious enough, why not have family or friends to stay at no extra charge.
A local information pack will be provided in every apartment and house to help you familiarize yourself with the local area and amenities.
A property information pack will be provided in every accommodation with instructions on how to use the facilities.
We pride ourselves on that ‘home from home’ experience giving you the freedom to enjoy your space in your time. Many properties have a garden for the family or your pets to enjoy and let off some steam!
If you are new to the area we’ll do our best to help you find the perfect location to settle from our vast local knowledge of the south coast.

We pride ourselves on going the extra mile that hotels just cannot touch:

Airport transfers or car hire can be arranged by our reservations team to meet you at the airport or train station.
English and Indian Food welcome pack’s can be pre-ordered from our office and placed in to your accommodation ready for your arrival. We also offer links to the top three supermarkets stores where you can place your order direct and have it delivered to our office during the day.
Romance Packs can be pre-ordered if your trip is to treat your loved one. These include a bouquet of flowers, chocolate and wine or champagne
Breakfast Packs – We offer a continental breakfast pack
A dry cleaning/laundry and ironing service will be available for those guests staying for a longer period of time.
We offer a Free weekly Housekeeping Service, however you may like to have this service on a more frequent basis possibly twice a week. This can be arranged for you by our reservations team for an additional fee and the Bed Linen and Towels will also be replaced at the same time.
Late Checks Outs and Early Check In’s can be arranged pending availability at £10 per hour
Fold up beds can be supplied if you have an additional guest staying for a short period of time or for an additional child
Cots and Highchairs can be supplied on request for a small fee
For those who want to maintain the work/exercise balance, we can arrange gym membership and bike hire.
Regular blogs with recipes, places to visit and advice to making the most of your stay
Whatever your needs we have got it covered. We can even fill the fridge up for you so you can make the most of of fully equipped kitchen/diners.

Call our friendly staff today or pop in to our office in Oxford street, Southampton. There is such a thing as a happy move!

It’s a tradition that is more Christmas than the day itself! With the advent of mobile media it is s

Start The Day Right


There is nothing worse than starting the day hungover. If you overdid the bubbles over Christmas then get mind fit. Grab a coffee (or even better green tea) and kick start the mind. Have something substantial to eat so you can go out on a full tank and not run out of energy halfway through the mall!

I usually find a few press ups and sit ups are good to get the body going. Stretching through them will boost the body into getting match fit. We have a few useful workouts in our blog. Then make sure you have cleared out the boot. If it is anything like mine then you will have to clear out the baby seats, push chair and tools!

Everyone Thinks The Same

You leave early. You get stuck in traffic. You miss the bargains. Yep, everyone will be thinking the same and fighting for the car park space nearest the door! Car share and get a shopping buddy. Its much more fun when stuck in traffic and always handy to have someone carry some baggage for you. On the other hand you don’t have any friends when it comes to sales. Split up and go your own way then meet for a coffee after. Plan ahead and try and find the best places to park. Some private drive ways are available to rent by the hour in some locations!

Let Music Be The Motivation

Grab those new ear phones you got for Christmas or pull out the ones from your Smart phone box. Plug in, pop in and stride with pride to your chosen bargains. Having music in your ears can shut out the rest of the world around you will feel like a movie star (do not use when driving – this is naughty). The Feel Good category from Blink Box has a great play list to feed a positive mind (requires 3/4g or WiFi).

Location, Location…

Stick to what you know. Heading out of town will be a disadvantage. The locals know people! They also know where things are and the best places to park. West Quay in Southampton has it’s multi-story which can be a bit hectic during peak times. Whiteley Shopping has many large retailers and a vast space to park. Just keep an eye on the time. Yes the parking is free for up to three hours in places but it is easy to loose track of the time! And those cameras on big poles on the way into the car park? They just took the time, date and number plate of your car. Having the app Timeful will be helpful in planning your day.

Eyes On The Prize And Get A Reward!

You may have stuffed yourself silly and drunk the equivalent of the North Sea in booze but a little focus never went a miss. Think of that one thing (latte, cake, glass of wine, fast food) that will be worth it at the end of the challenge. Go on, you deserve it.

Home Help

Have someone at home to show off the fruits of your labour. Get a fashion show going and get the best opinions if shopping for clothes. Having someone there to help relieve the pressure of looking after the kids/pets/other half will be a weight off your mind. Oh and don’t forget to get the something nice.

Avoid Social Media

Nothing worse than telling people what you are doing and what you want. It is like telling everyone where to get a free Big Mac before you even get to Maccy D’s. Save the photos and showing off until you have found what you want. Then sit back and relax. You did good!

Port Solent

At Town or Country we want you to make the most of your budget and more importantly your time. With luxury properties across the south coast there is always something to do within the vicinity of your stay. We focus on the delight that is Port Solent, home to our Cadgwith, Genoa and Holywell properties.

There is nothing better than that holiday feeling of great food, entertaining and relaxing. With over thirteen bars and restaurants Port Solent is the perfect place to unwind. Situated in an exclusive marina it provides the decadent backdrop for the public, sailors and shoppers alike, something high streets cannot touch.

Cosy coffee shops and boutiques are in the mix to give a wide range of choice to any guest staying with us. The gentle sound of the sailing boats really makes you feel refreshed and a joy to wake up too, you will think you are on holiday! With it’s al fresco dining and unwinding Port Solent is the place to be when the sun shines. From a pub lunch at Lloyds No.1 to a champagne tipple at the Waterfront bar there is something for everyone. Or why not grab a bite to eat from Italian to an Indian – cuisine to suit the fussiest of pallets.

The marina is surrounded in history that can be explored in and beyond. From the ruins of Portchester Castle to the stunning views of Portsmouth from Portsmouth to Portsdown Hill there is always something to do.

For those who love to sail the marina is a direct link to the Solent with a premier facility to moor or repair. Not bad from what used to be just a ‘grubby lake’ in the 1970’s.

Port Solent provides the perfect meeting place for business or pleasure with close major links to the city of Portsmouth, M27 and railway stations with direct routes to London and the south west.

Toca Roaming: February 2015

There is always plenty to do even if you are staying for just one night or more. Here’s our pick of

Wednesday 11 February 2015 - Glow in The Park

Southampton Common

The Glow night run is back, bigger and better than last year!
This event is an experience not just a run,
We have some great new course markers and some other surprise’s along the way. You will be in for a fun filled evening whether you come alone, with friends and family or you enter a corporate team.
We will be offering a 5km or 10km run distance. Glow with the flow and add a bit of spice to your winter training runs. For these events we would recommend the use of a head torch.

Distances
Individual – 5km – £16.00
Individual – 10km – £20.00
Team – 5km – £60.00
Team – 10km – £75.00

Schedule
18.00- Registration opens
18:30 – 5km Race start
19.15 – 10km Race Start

Course
The Course offers a fun course that is a great for any one looking for a personal best time or just looking to complete the distance. A great way to keep a check on how your winter training is going for your next big event.
Each lap is 5km.
5km = 1 lap
10km = 2 laps

Corporate Teams
We are offering corporate’s the chance to enter a team of 4 into the Glow night runs. Included in the package is a Glow In The Park t-shirt, a food and drink voucher that can be used at the end of your race.
See Glow In The Park Website for event rules, map of course and to register.


LM Ball - Saturday 14th February 2015

Lord Mayor’s Ball

Portsmouth Guildhall

Portsmouth Guildhall is proud to be hosting The Lord Mayor’s Charity Valentine’s Ball 2015, with Steve Kingsley as the host for the evening and featuring the Dance Band of HM Royal Marines. A delicious menu is on offer with tickets priced £45.

If you are staying in our Holywell, Cadgwith or Genoa house properties we can arrange a taxi ride or transport advice.

The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton - The Bodyguard Production

THE BODYGUARD, the award-winning musical based on the blockbuster film, is launching its tour in Southampton in 2015 starring three-time Brit nominee and X-Factor winner, ALEXANDRA BURKE* as Rachel Marron. Direct from its smash-hit West End run, the show is coming to Mayflower Theatre for 20 performances only!

Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge – what they don’t expect is to fall in love.

Days Out: Sea City Museum, Southampton

Make the most of your stay by visiting lots of attractions and activities along the south coast. Tak

The Titanic story is one that has fascinated people worldwide, not least the resident’s of Southampton. With the city the place for its launch on 10 Th April 1912, the liner has held a place in the heart of locals for many years. The Sea City museum captured this beautifully going beyond its purpose as a ship and really getting involved in every aspect of its being.

Sea City tells the story of the people of the city, their fascinating lives and historic connections with Titanic and the sea. Centred in the now defunct courts of law it is the perfect place to transform you from your modern day existence into the 1900’s. Once you are through the doors you are immediately hit by the sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin engine powering a Supermarine Spitfire (also built in Southampton) that buzzes around a circular LED screen alongside great ships.

With high walls containing original pictures of the docks you really get a feel of being dockside about to board the mighty Titanic. First stop through the one-way system is walking down a 3-D street typically buzzing with tradesmen of old ‘Southamptonians’ in 1912. Backed up with the sounds of that era really helps you grasp a taste of a bygone and no doubt booming period in the city’s history. An antique wardrobe houses vintage era clothing that can be worn as you make your way around the exhibition.

Stroll on through to really get into the moment as you peer behind hidden doors to display many artefacts from the Titanic and her sister ships Olympic, New York and the Mauritania The White Star Line story began in Southampton and in displays the companies way of life to a five star voyage beyond the city.

South Western Hotel Southampton (1)Move around the corner and a layout of Titanic and her decks shows the difference in classes of the 1900’s. You cannot help but see images from the film when coming across this exhibit! You’ll even get the chance to see what life was like in our very own apartment block South Western house, the over night point for Titanic passengers before embarking on their voyage. Get to see a replica of the cabin space and all its contents for the voyage as well as china plates with gold cutlery fit for a king!images

Interaction is forefront to learning and the Sea City museum has this covered. Take to the wheel of Titanic herself with a challenge to get her out of port via the deep channels that she once sailed. A make shift bridge with giant screens gives you the chance to play Captain Smith and see what life as a seafarer. Shovel the coal and keep the boilers alive or why not learn the system of communication using Morse Code and send an SOS.

Perhaps one of the striking exhibits is a court of law room itself telling the story of the trail after the fate of Titanic in 1912. Giant screen project the survivors and member’s of the White Star Company in order to enquire is to her sinking. Take it all in via the juror’s bench or sit in the judge’s throne to make your own mind up.

And there is more to the museum. Once outside take in the beauty of replica ships of Titanic’s era with scale models on display, enough to wet appetite’s of many a ship enthusiast. There is also a chance to get to know the medieval history of Southampton itself, some exhibits preserved that will blow you away! At the end of it all relax in the brand new cafe offering a range of cakes, sandwiches and coffee as well as quality memorabilia from the gift shop.

The Sea City Museum is a gem in the heart of Southampton that even the locals are fascinated and proud of. Be part of the history of one of the greatest ships and mysteries of all time…

For prices and opening times click www.seacitymuseum.co.uk

Discount Card: Pulcinella

Make the most of your stay with us and get money off with our exclusive Town or Country Discount Car

There are Italian restaurants and there is Pulcinella, Carlton Place, Southampton. Described as a ‘vibrant and relaxed atmosphere with a taste of Naples’ you can not go wrong.

Four menus will tempt your pallet: Bar snacks/nibbkles, Coffee, Drinks and Breads/sides. The delectable salads and tasty topped pizzas are a must and will fill a hunger gap. The favourite has to be the olives and bread dipped in oil and Italian vinegar. Business lunches are catered for and with the Mayflower Theatre only a short walk away it is the perfect venue for a night out.

With live music to end the week once a month and a great place to meet Pulcinella is the place to be. And now offering all our guests a generous discount:

20% off food Monday-Thursday

20% off food Friday and Saturday*

Open Daily: Mon-Sat: 11am – 3pm & 5:30pm – late night

*Based on a 2 night stay

Cleaning Tips: The Oven!

The oven. It’s been at its busiest for the past few weeks. Now it deserves some TLC. More top tips f


This is what you´ll need:
Water
Spray bottle
Baking soda
A rag
Vinegar
A small bowl

This is how you do it:

The oven:
1. Remove the oven racks

2. Mix a couple spoons of baking soda with some water in the bowl. The goal is to mix it into a paste that´s easily spreadable on the surfaces that need cleaning.

3. Spread the paste on the inside of the oven. The baking soda will turn brown.

4. Let sit over night. The baking soda will need at least 12 hours to work it`s magic.

5. The day after: Take a wet rag and wipe out as much of the baking soda as possible.

6. Put some vinegar in the spray bottle and spritz it on the surfaces where you still see residues of baking soda.

7. Wipe with a wet rag.

8. Put the rags back in to the oven.

9. Turn on the oven on a low temperature for 15-20 minutes to let it dry.

The window:
1. Take the baking soda and add some water to get a thick paste.

2. Apply the paste on the window.

3. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Don’t be S.A.D this winter in 5 ways!


Season Adjustment Disorder – it is new to the lips of many while some believe it is just another excuse in order to feel down this winter. But fear not, we are on hand to beat this onto the ground from the comfort of your home from home…

What are the symptoms of SAD and when do they happen?

Depression
Over-eating, notably with sugar and carbohydrate cravings
Loss of libido
Lethargy and inability to cope with daily routines
Anxiety and pessimism
Irritability and inability to tolerate stress
Overcome the darkness with our top five tips:

1) Grab A Movie!

With the cold nights wrapping it’s frosty self around the windows outside warm up with a movie. Research show that watching a feel good film can help lift away the daily blues and have a small escapism if only for a few hours. With our fast and free WiFi having Netfix or Amazon Prime give you the chance to watch 100’s of movies on tap! At this time of year you cannot beat a good old fashioned Christmas classic. Research also shows you are more likely to keep warm with someone else…enjoy!

2) Get Baking!

Over the past year us Brits baked more home made goodies that ever before. Thanks to programmes like the Great British Bake Off our kitchens have been turned upside down to show off our culinary skills. Baking a cake not only gives you a satisfaction once it has popped out of the oven by research shows that we are likely to be happier through the sweet smell of baking. Unless of course you burn it. What is more our properties come with fully equipped kitchens so you have no excuse! It doesn’t have to be about the cakes. Click HERE.

3) Get Dressed Up!

Now, this may appear to be a strange thing to do on your own, however getting glammed up, even just to watch some TV or check the e-mails can put a smile on your face. Not keen? Onesie or PJ’s. Comfy clothes all the way.

4) Make Your Bed

This is an easy way to feel accomplished on days you are just feeling overwhelmed and trapped inside. Straighten your sheets, fluff your pillows, stand back and look at what you accomplished. This one also works to help prevent you from going back to bed. (We actually make your bed for you but there is nothing better than getting into a fresh clean set of sheets).

5) Write a Book

There is nothing better than letting it all out. On paper that is. Get back to your creative writing days and scribble down your thoughts. Whether it’s a daily journal or full on novel either way it is a chance for you to escape into your own world, even if no-one else sees it. Most of our properties have a space for you to get the creative juices flowing, some even with a balcony and marina view!