My latest news!

I hope this post find everyone well.  We’re already in mid-April and so far this year I haven’t posted any updates on what I’m doing and my various projects which superficially might give the impression that I’m rather busy.

Actually I am rather busy with my blog, writing and my tours.  I don’t know about other bloggers but there are occasional times when it is hard to come up with something worthwhile to write about let alone be of interest to readers.  I haven’t had any such moments all year and it is has been one of those times when I’ve had far too many potential topics going through my head with quite a backlog jostling for attention at any one time.  Many of these are forgotten in place of a more urgent or enticing topic that comes up on the day of writing the blog itself.  The classic writers situation of ditching an existing project for something new and exciting!

On the book front I spent much of the first three months starting on the process of writing a vigilante story.   I wanted a change from writing history books before I possibly start a new one next year and I wasn’t quite in the right frame of mind to complete my Star Trek book.  It’s going well and I have almost completed the 4th chapter out of around 18 or so.  However it has proved hard to get into it as much as I wanted due to real-life commitments and so feeling my enthusiasm temporarily waning as can be normal when you are four chapters into writing a book, I decided I that I wanted to write a project that I could start and finish within a week or two.  I’ve written one or two short books in the last year or two and often they prove to be very popular and when it comes down to sales as at times it always will, often they much more profitable pound per page than any novel.

In order to write a book so quickly, even a short title, then it obviously has to be on something I already know all about and something that catches not just my enthusiasm but also of potential readers.   When I was studying at university, perhaps it was just that my professors were twisted or that it was a good way to lighten the mood of the lectures but it seemed like every lecture or tutor period we would learn of new horrible tortures inflicted by some of the biggest and often the most infamous names in history but that is Middle-Eastern and Central Asian history for you.

So I decided to write a brief book on 100 of the worlds weirdest and most horrid but to tell it in as light a way as possible rather like the Horrible Histories show on TV.  To my surprise there are no similar books to this so either I’m just more twisted than I knew or there is a gap in the market.  I spoke with a few friends and generally the consensus arose that though such a book isn’t for everyone, it should be of interest to a large niche of people which is all I can ask for.   I hope to have this book finished towards the end of April of mid-May.

I wrote a little a few months ago of how I wrote a short script that has been accepted by a TV production company to be filmed.  Originally it was hoped to film this short horror story in February but as happens, the time-table slipped.  However it has been chosen to appear in the first season of 6 episodes and the first episode was filmed just a week ago so hopefully I will have some big news on that too.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge on a sunny April day. We even needed the air-con on in the car!

When I’m not writing of course I am spending time organising and running guided tours in London, England and now parts of France and Belgium too with my company, Ye Olde England Tours.  My bookings run from October to October and 6 months ago at the end of my first year, I turned over a very modest profit.   2015 however is proving to be an even better year and my income from tours is currently forecast to triple and with six months of this year still to come.  It’s even reached the stage where I am looking if not for a full time assistant then at least a trusted associated from the industry who can I pass on work to for periods when I am booked up.

It does take a lot of work to run your own business but it is infinitely more rewarding than working for someone else, especially as in my case where they have largely been inept organisations who treat their staff and customers terribly.  No longer do I have to meet impossible deadlines imposed due to a lack of planning or even a total lack of knowledge of the business or care of employees.  In 18 months now, no-one has ever told me what to do or dump me in an impossible situation and I no longer work for people less capable than myself.  I know I am good at what I do as I am wholly responsible for my customers experience from their first point of contact until after their holiday is complete.

So after I have provided 65 tours and only one did I have to deal with nightmare customers, generally everyone is happy, they love their day out and only in this job am I told that I have given someone the best day of their life or made a dream come true.  I make friends from all around the world, meet interesting people, get wonder 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor and some generous tips when like most others who work in an office I suspect, I used to go for one year to a next without getting told I’d done a good job at least by my employers, the customers were always happy of course!

In the last week I have been to such varied places as Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Bath, Hatfield House and Central London and next week I shall be off to amongst other places, Hampton Court, Hever Castle and one of my very favourite places in the entire world, Walsingham in Norfolk which is an ancient point of pilgrimage.

The picturesque main street of Walsingham

The picturesque main street of Walsingham

The downsides of running my own particular business are very few but include having to do quite a lot of driving in Central London and responding to inquiries outside of usual office hours.  Doing my own taxes too is a new experience but it only took me about 90 minutes, I didn’t find it at all complicated and the taxman said I had worked it out to just 20 pence of the final figure!  I don’t earn as much as I used to but I’m  at about half my previous salary whilst only working about a 1/5th as many days as before and my bookings are seemingly only on an upward trend.

Yesterday after 2 years of trying, I have been accepted on the worlds biggest holiday website.  Previously despite all my 5 star reviews, history degrees, travel books and having my business set up with an official government scheme, they had refused to list me.  This is because in many countries tour guides need to have a licence which to me all sounds a bit Communist which I might expect from some European (not British) company but not an American one.  Thankfully they have been acquired by TripAdvisor who are going to create a system for booking directly online through my review pages.  It seems common sense to me and will obviously be good for business especially as I am now Trip Advisor Recommended 🙂

screen-shot-2015-02-05-at-14-33-45

I’d like to earn a bit more but will be more than happy to keep my additional free time. Never being one who lives to work, I much prefer a little bit of working and a lot of living.

So that’s my news, what’s happening with you?

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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8 Responses to My latest news!

  1. Mama Cormier says:

    Stephen, when I visit England I’ll be sure to look you up. Our son recently moved to London to work as a curator in the Victoria and Albert Museum. We were hoping to visit this summer but my husband’s health situation has made it impossible to plan anything long term.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d look forward to that. I just took two people from Wisconsin to the Victoria and Albert museum in March. I hope your husband’s health improves and you are able to look forward to more travels together. I suppose when you do visit, at least my tours are generally by car and so makes sightseeing easier than by coaches.

      Like

  2. Rosemarie says:

    It sounds like you are getting a great balance in your life. That is an enviable position. If I ever make it back to England, I am definitely booking a tour with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. merrildsmith says:

    It sounds like everything is going very well for you, Stephen. If I ever make it to England, I hope I’ll be able to take a tour with you. I was in London for a family vacation when I was about 10, but I still remember the taxi cab driver who took us around and served as a tour guide for us one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Malla Duncan says:

    Great picture of Stonehenge! So glad your business is doing well, Stephen! What a lovely way to make a living, looking at England’s heritage. I was in London last year for one week and took a day to find my way to Hatfield – long on my wish list. My focus was, of course, the Old Palace, where Elizabeth I spent her childhood. What an extraordinary day and beautiful, peaceful surroundings. Loved every second.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Malla, yes Stonehenge was looking good last week. It is a wonderful way to make a living. Hatfield House is such a beautiful and peaceful place to spend a day considering how close to London it is.

      Like

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