A guest blog from Graham Downie, our Property Finder in Cognac

Golfer Walter HagenSome of you may know that in my former life I was lucky enough to have two jobs simultaneously.

First as Group Marketing Director and secondly as the Director in Charge of Chesterton’s head office in Brook St, with around 200 people in the building.  I think the latter role was given to me as the Chief Executive knew I had a father from Scotland & mother from Yorkshire and would therefore keep a tight rein on the purse strings.

My office used to look out over Claridges and it was a pretty spoiled life.

I had a PA who used to organise my diary, a team of people making sure the office ran smoothly and an accountant to help me add up the numbers.

If my computer started behaving badly I’d pick up the phone and someone from the IT helpdesk would arrive before I put the phone down.  I could eat in the Excecutive dining room (choose the menu even) or send out for sandwiches.

Life is so, so different now.

I work by myself from an office in my garden – make my own coffee, type my own letters, get my own baguette, install my own ink cartridges and wrestle with my own Livebox.

This morning I have been writing to the Prefecture and photocopying lengthy contracts.  I cursed when I saw it was 11.30am as the post office closes at mid-day and there’s no magical “out tray” that empties itself at night anymore.

Wearily I licked the envelopes down, sighed at having to drag myself out of my comfy chair, picked up the dogs lead and set off on the 150 metre trek into the centre of my village.

On the way I bumped into my neighbour Yves and spent time chatting with him about how the lack of rain was affecting his potager.  Three people tooted and waved as they drove by.  In the post office the lady behind the counter spent 10 minutes talking about Sarkozy’s new tax plans and the royal wedding (still).

Coming home I wandered into my garden behind the church and sat on the grass eating cherries I’d picked from the tree followed by strawberries, raspberries & redcurrants that were ready in my fruit patch.

The dog sprawled alongside me, hoovering up the cherry stones and letting out a half hearted woof if the birds came too close.

Hmm – I thought.

London was terrific, it’s the greatest city in the world and if you want to forge a career in property there’s no place better.

But as Walter Hagen* so famously said:

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

And at the grand old age of 49 I’ve come to the conclusion that he was absolutely right!


*Walter Hagen is the world’s third greatest ever matchplay golfer.  Bettered only by Seve and my mate Chris.

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