Friday, June 12, 2009


No this is not an opening for a chatroom or for those who need special help - merely an expression to recognise that not everything goes our way and that things take time.

Frustrated that the weather was so awful last weekend for the Mazda Blenheim Triathlon - but amazed at how the Park survived; amazed at how quickly the organisers (IMG) cleared away from site - they were completely gone by Monday night; and hugely impressed by the herculean efforts of all of the 5,000 athletes in the conditions they faced - especially the in-house talent - well done Dom and Roger in particular!

Frustrated that we are the only UK world heritage site that cannot apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding support - because we are privately owned. I attended the latest All-Party Parliamentary World Heritage Sites Committee meeting at Westminster on Tuesday afternoon and listened to a presentation from the Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund where she talked passionately about the support they have given to world heritage sites since they were formed - impressive figures given that £284m of lottery funding has gone to world heritage sites since 1994 - but not one penny to Blenheim Palace! Frustrated does not begin to decribe it - downright annoyed and angry would get closer. Having been inscribed as a world heritage site as one of the first batch in the UK back in 1987 (there are now 24 UK world heriage sites) it seems totally unjust that we are singled out in this way because of our ownership - world heritage status should command some special support and recognition irrespective of ownership - we will keep talking and lobbying to anyone who will listen - if only to ease our frustration!

Frustrated that change takes time - especially where that change involves a multitude of public and private sector partners. We are on the cusp of an exciting step forward regarding the future managaement of the tourism function across Oxford and Oxfordshire - but inevitably there are a lot of partners that we need to take with us on this in order to capture the prize of a county-wide partnership or organisation to drive this forward. We will get there and I am confident that the end result will be hugely positive for everyone with an interest in tourism across the county - but it is frustrating that we can't move faster!

Frustrated probably does not adequately explain how Frank Lee Morris and Clarence and John Anglin were feeling on this morning in 1962 - probably more like nervous anticipation. On this day 47 years ago they finalised their famous escape from Alcatraz using dummy heads (made of soap, toilet paper and real hair) in their beds, sharpened spoons to cut through the walls in their cells, and a homemade raft to complete their escape. They were never re-captured but we will never know what actually happened to them - it is felt most likely that they were drowned or eaten by sharks - or maybe not?

Frustrated that are best efforts to establish a strong annual music event at Blenheim Palace are continually being thwarted - Wakestock in 2008 succeeded in part but the organisers did not feel able to return this year; "Festival for Heroes" tried and ultimately failed amidst a very cluttered festivals calendar. Hopefully they will return in 2010 and we can then establish a powerful event with them and help good causes at the same time - we will do our best to turn this into reality next summer.

The above has helped to ease my fustration - what is the saying "A problem shared is a problem halved" - and I now look forward with anticipation to a strong weekend where visitors can enjoy "Britain's Greatest Palace" and a great day out - and the forecast is reasonably good as well!

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