Recommended reading via Amazon Store

I’ve been busy doing some leadership development courses recently, reading books and listening to audio books on management topics. Over the last few weeks I’ve received lots of recommended reading which I’ve put together in a small store on the website here. I intend to read each one of these books one by one – I may even add some reviews here. I figured these may also be of use to some of my website visitors, so go for it! Please let me know if you’ve read any of these and whether they are worthwhile.

Find me on

Due to the fact that I now carry an iPhone4 everywhere, and a DSLR hardly anywhere I find myself taking more and more photos with my phone. There are more and more impressive mobile photography apps appearing every week, so I’m now using flickr less and less over time and using facebook and on a much more regular basis. My photos page pulls in my flickr feed. When I get some time I will find a nice way to integrate my feed into this page. In the meantime, please check out my photos via and add me with the handle markstanley.

Conservatory Roof Conversions

Somewhat of a shameless plug for my friends in Pro Build here but one I think may help spread the word about something lots of people can benefit from. Are you one of those people who added a conservatory to your home over the last few years? Did you go with one of those polycarbonate roofs and find them to be really badly insulated – either freezing cold or incredibly hot and rarely comfortable? I rented a house for three years with one of these conservatories and it ended up being used as a store-room due to this. Well the good news is that Pro Build have invented and are the sole suppliers for a new conservatory roof conversion system that can easily and affordably convert an existing conservatory to a sunroom in a few short days. They have lots of before and after photos on their website so you can see the transformation so head on over and take a look. They provide a free no-obligation quotation so you have nothing to lose, and potentially stand to gain a whole lot more use from that uncomfortable conservatory you have today.

No Canvassers Sign

Are you like me and don’t want politicians wasting your time knocking on your door? Get your ‘No Canvassers’ sign today, print it out and keep them from your door. I’ve personally heard enough from politicians over the last few years through the media and now they want my vote they’ll be knocking on the door in their droves. Well I couldn’t be bothered talking to them. I know who to vote for and they won’t change my mind, so I’m going to give them a fair opportunity to avoid me or face my wrath if they decide to ignore the warning. I’m putting this ‘no canvassers’ sign on my door and you can too. Download the PDF here.

Builder in Dublin

I’m currently renovating a house in Dublin. One of the hardest parts of the project has been identifying building contractors and suppliers that offered the services I needed, good value for money and were easy to work with and trustworthy. Anybody building a house will understand this and those that set out on similar projects will soon find it out! I’m writing this post to help those working on similar projects in Dublin or anywhere else in Ireland. I wanted to give people embarking on similar projects the benefit of a lot of research I’ve done into builders and other suppliers. The following are the contractors that I’ve come to work with and that I’ve been happy with. There are others that I won’t mention here that didn’t turn out so good for different reasons!
Builder in Dublin

Dublin Builder
Firstly there’s my main contractor, Pro Build. These guys have done work for me in the past when they built a sunroom for me on my former home (see the first picture in that link you just read past). They did an excellent job on the sunroom project so they were the first people I called for this bigger renovation project. These guys can do it all – window and door supplies, conservatories, sunrooms, conservatory roof conversions, complete house builds, public sector work and extensions and renovations like mine. They’ve really been great to work with and I would highly recommend them for any construction work you are considering – large or small.

Dublin Plumber
Because I’ve decided to go with quite a specialised heating system (an air to water heat pump and underfloor heating) I went with a specialised subcontractor rather than my main contractor. NI Solar are based in Northern Ireland (but do a lot of work in Dublin) and cover a range of renewable systems as well as standard heating systems and all domestic plumbing. In my case the are providing my air to water heat pump, solar panels, gas boiler, and underfloor heating in an integrated system. They are also doing all my domestic plumbing. I can’t recommend these guys enough. They’ve really been great to work with, really flexible, responsive to my design requirements and my deadlines and also very competitive on price.

Kitchen design and supply
Mark, Kealan and Mike at Kitchen and Home Solutions have been working with us on the design, supply and fitting of our fitted kitchen, wardrobes, storage presses, utility room, tv cabinet, my home office fit-out and anything else we decide to come up with. They’ve even been able to supply all our kitchen appliances. They offer a really personable bespoke service and can work to deliver the best quality product your budget will allow. Couldn’t recommend them more.

Bathroom design and supply
Bathroom design, fixtures, tiling and wood flooring was supplied by Devine Midwest Tiles in Ennis, Co. Clare. I came across these guys purely by chance – Nora who’s the boss here is a friend of a relative of mine and that’s how the connection was made. I called her looking for help with flooring and she impressed me so much I ended up giving her all my bathroom design, sanitary ware supplies, tile and wood flooring supply, and tiling. She really can do it all and the advice, guidance and support she’s given have really taken a lot of pressure off me. She’s done a tonne of research for me. She’s worked directly with my builder and with my plumber, and I haven’t had to get involved. Another highly recommended supplier – can’t say good enough things about her.

Chandeliers and antiques
Our house is quite an old one as far as houses in the suburbs of Dublin go – around 1920, so we decided to put some chandeliers in. We came across Martin Fennelly totally by chance one day when driving down Francis Street in Dublin when looking for fireplaces. My wife had had her eye on a particular chandelier from one of the countless home renovations magazines we had stacked up at home, and she spotted the exact one in Martins window when driving through Dublin. We popped in and discovered a treasure trove of beautiful chandeliers and antiques. Martin is a gentleman and provides a very personal service. He’s extremely flexible and if you like chandeliers and antiques I highly recommend you pay him a visit.

Financial Services
David O’Neill from Liffey Financial Services has to get a mention here. David has helped me with everything from my mortgage to my life assurance to my house insurance. He’s a very knowledgable, helpful and overall nice guy. He offers lots of other financial services also such as pensions and investments, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him – you’lll be glad you contacted him.

There’s probably more people I could mention here and I may well add to this post over time, but for the moment they’re the big ones. Hope this proves useful to someone…

Cruagh Woods, Dublin Mountains

Last weekend I spent some time doing two things I love and two things I haven’t done in a while – hiking and taking photos. My family and I (parents, wife and kids) walked up to Cruagh Peak from Cruagh Woods in the Dublin mountains where I took the following photo on my Canon 400d. I processed the photo in Adobe Lightroom.

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Snow in Ireland

It snowed quite a bit here in Ireland over the last two weeks – not much compared to the levels of snow in the UK and the rest of Europe, but a lot compared to recent years in Ireland. We took the opportunity to have some fun – involving sliding (slowly at first, then faster) down a hill on a piece of softboard. Just wish the slide was longer, but it was fun nonetheless and the kids had a great time (the kids, including me that is!) Check out the videos below.

Apple iPod Touch banner on

Apple are renowned for their product innovation and design prowess with their Mac computers and iPods, but when it comes to marketing they are also a very innovative company. Their brand is one of the strongest in the consumer electronics world, their print advertising is young, fresh and consistent with their products, and their website is one of the best I can think of in the consumer world. I recently came across one of their banner advertisements on the website promoting their iPod Touch line of portable music players. It’s probably the most eye catching and innovative banner ad I’ve ever seen – so good that it was worth me taking a minute to capture it and share it. See below. I think you’ll agree that Apple simply have it nailed when it comes to their marketing both online and offline. Top notch stuff.