Cathedrals & Cola: Coca-Cola vs Pepsi

Of the many stupid varied ideas that have come in to my head, the idea of recording whether each cathedral in England (based on good ol’ Wikipedia’s list) sold Pepsi or Coca-Cola has been one of the most persistent.

This probably stems from a long term obsession with cathedral cafés, team rooms and restaurants, as well as spending a lot of time next to the Durham Cathedral Restaurant (the Chicken Chasseur is recommended, by the way) as a regular volunteer for Durham Cathedral in LEGO.

So, here’s my (work in progress) list of English Cathedrals and their preference for carbonated soft drinks:

The list: Coke vs Pepsi at England’s Cathedrals

Cathedral name Coke or Pepsi? Date visited
Durham Cathedral
Cathedral Church of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Cuthbert
Coca-Cola March 2016
Leicester Cathedral Coca-Cola March 2016
Newcastle Cathedral
Cathedral Church of St Nicholas
n/a – no café March 2016


Everything Magento

We’ve worked with Magento for years at Peacock Carter. It’s a fantastic ecommerce platform – and that’s not just me saying that, it’s clients as well!

We have a deserved, but hard-earned, reputation in the North East and the UK as expert Magento consultants, and this has shown in how we’ve developed our Magento offering at Peacock Carter recently. We have developed a range of new Magento services to cater for the demand we’ve found alongside our more traditional Magento consultancy work:

  • Magento website audits: sadly, with Magento becoming more popular as an ecommerce platform, web design agencies attempt to take on Magento projects and make a mess of it; there’s a particular learning curve to Magento development which training courses are a great “short cut” in to overcoming that curve
  • Magento Enterprise consultancy: the licensed Enterprise platform is something we’ve worked with for years, but have never really offered separately. With recent projects over the past year or so, we’ve developed our skills hugely on the Enterprise platform
  • Magento website migration: one of the side effects of Magento’s (well earned!) popularity is that more merchants want to move to Magento. Migrating an ecommerce store can be a painful experience – it’s not just product data that needs to be moved, but customer accounts, order histories and more, to ensure that the new store is not presenting a barrier to your sales – and Peacock Carter have had a lot of experience now in migrating from other platforms to Magento

I’m also looking forward to speak at the Ecommerce North East user group this month on the topic of Magento: it’s important to us as a leading Magento agency to spread our knowledge, and help ensure other agencies and freelancers are aware of best practices. For one thing, that will make our job easier!


Now taking LEGO model commissions

LEGO model of Newcastle Central Station

I spend a lot of time with LEGO: building it, supervising the build of Durham Cathedral in LEGO on regular shifts, and dreaming about it.

So, in a not-so-strange turn of events this year, I’ve been asked a few times if I could build a LEGO model on a commission, which is something I’m now offering under my LEGO alter-ego, Bricks McGee.

I can be fairly wide-ranging with my LEGO commissions, and have been contacted about some of the ideas below:

  • A LEGO model of a local church, to be used as part of a fundraiser for the parish
  • A LEGO mosaic of a favourite family photograph
  • A microscale model of company headquarters building in LEGO
  • Bespoke LEGO models to help celebrate a specific occasion (e.g., an award a company has won)

I’m open to all ideas

If you’d like to see some more examples of my MOCs (My Own Creations; a bit of a twee LEGO-fan phrase for custom built LEGO models), head over to my Flickr account.



Why I love web consultancy work

This week, a 12 month web design consultancy contract I’ve been working on came to an end, and the client immediately invited me back the following week to look at renewing it for an extended period: something I’m very happy about!

The train journey back from London gave me time to reflect on why I enjoy web design consultancy work so much, and from that came this list.

Web consultancy doesn’t require pitching or tendering

Generally speaking, the web consultancy clients I have worked with haven’t asked for a tender or for me to do a creative pitch: I talk to the client, discuss their issues and aims, and suggest a course of action, and a likely budget and deadline. From there, I’m sometimes asked to provide a CV or profile of my web expertise: easy, and more time to get on with the work itself.

Simply, I enjoy the consultancy work because I get to talk with the client, rather than at them, which is what pitch-style commissioning tends to breed.

I get to talk with the client, rather than at them, which is what pitch-style commissioning tends to breed.

The work is varied, challenging and thought-provoking

I love building websites, but web consultancy gives me another perspective on what I do.

I find it also gives me a chance to think about my other clients with the benefit of distance, so I come back to the office refreshed and often with the solution to other projects’ challenges in my head!

Chance to work with some impressive clients

Many of the high profile clients we’ve worked with have come to us for specific consultancy work. We’ve helped:

  • the University of Edinburgh with HTML & CSS training, as well as WordPress websites
  • the Scottish Government optimise their web content workflow and strategy
  • write web design exams and assessments for another country’s curriculum
  • Northumbria University, acting as a visiting lecturer for their students and helping develop their web design projects

We also work with some great brands and organisations as a more typical web design agency, but consultancy, by its very nature, seems to attract a greater density of high profile clients.

Consultancy clients buy lunch

Finally, and most importantly, consultancy clients tend to buy lunch! This does tend to be because we’re on a client site and they have a canteen, but a free lunch is a free lunch…

If you’d like to work with me on a web consultancy project, contact me via Peacock Carter Ltd!


Durham Cathedral Young Patrons: a great chance to support something worthwhile

I attended the Durham Cathedral Young Patrons launch event in Durham last week, and am proud to become one of the first to join this scheme.

The Young Patrons programme is just £60 a year (£5 a month) to join, and the scheme’s funds are used to support the cathedral’s restoration and other work. Membership is open to all under 40 years of age (consider joining the Friends otherwise!)

There are a great range of benefits to membership, including 10% off purchases in the restaurant and shop, and invites to a host of events throughout the year. The event that stands out for me – alongside events for Lumiere, the stunning bi-annual light festival in Durham – is a film showing in the cathedral’s bell tower in October.

If you’re interested in joining, there’s more information about the Young Patrons on the Cathedral’s website.