The first rule of Txoko Club is not to talk about Txoko Club. That doesn’t really help does it, to spread the word on the fun we had that night.

What is a Txoko?

It comes from a Basque (Northern Spain) region event which is a gathering of people that come together to socialise and to cook together. Traditionally it is male only, hence the reason why you see women with stick on moustaches so they can go under cover.

The Larder House has held a few of these already but this was the first one I was able to make time for, and the fact it was a seafood one sealed the deal in reality.

Mr Lee's Noodles range of pots

I've been meaning to write something up about Mr Lee's Noodles for a while and I’ve been putting it off for so long that they’ve only gone and updated all their branding and flavours! So, this blog is about their first release as I haven’t tried their new stuff yet.

Yes, Mr Lee is a real person, Damian Lee to be precise and he and the company are based here in Bournemouth. A business entrepreneur who has started many companies, whose story leads him to Bournemouth. I saw Damian tell his personal story at a local marketing event, Once Upon a Time, at the Shelley Theatre in the summer of 2016.

I've grown up with rice and noodles from birth. Noodles has been a staple part of my diet, when I say diet I mean general eating rather than healthy mindful eating. The noodles I have been used to are the packet ones with a bag of soup base powder full of flavourings and not necessarily MSG either, and a sachet of oil to boot. The Chinese noodle pots are pretty similar as well. My student years were all about instant noodles and a fried egg on top.

I've seen the business appear all over social media (Twitter and Instagram) and I like the way roll. Spring roll? Looks fun. Ho fun? Asian culinary based banter, it's a thing now.

These pots are in the low calorie range and being marketed as healthy, with no nasties. So, how will they stack up on the flavour and filling tests? At first I was a bit apprehensive about writing anything as I’ve seen the people behind it, their messaging and so on but I didn’t want any bias coming across and what if I didn’t like it. What if I prefer the mass produced deep fried instant noodle variant? Some of the other blogs I have seen were a bit too fawning and cheesy let’s say, and Korean Cheesy Noodles is also a thing.

You know what, I’ve just got to put it out their and as they say, your mileage may vary - but that’s OK.

Wednesday 14 June 2017 – I had booked early to go to this event in the refurbished old Print Room that is part of the Echo Building in Bournemouth and seeing as it was the founder of the fashion brand Ted Baker, I was really looking forward to it. I am a bit of a tart when it comes to buying Ted Baker shirts in the sales. I still have unopened packets upon packets much to the annoyance of my other half.

Mr Ted Baker himself, Ray Kelvin

His face is mostly blanked out in his photos, so I've done the same.

On the Ted Baker Instagram account I kept on seeing views from a hotel room overlooking Bournemouth and I didn’t quite get the connection. The room was filled with Ted Baker home furnishings but why from the Hilton in Bournemouth. Turns out the interior was designed by Ray Kelvin, the found of Ted Baker, who is also a majority shareholder of the company that built the hotel.

Following on from that, we found from the evening’s talk that the same company is also being the refurbished building that we were sate in – THIS Workspace. Ray Kelvin has indeed invested time and money into the area that he used to visit as a child.

In a nutshell, he truly is a London geezer rags to riches kind of guy. He ain’t no Karl Lagerfeld, nor would he remotely want to be one and hence the charm of the man all night. A straight-talking grafter who knows his craft, but also knows his figures meaning he runs a tight operation that is not over stretched with the corporate vanity of too wide a range of shops.

Given what I tried to do at work to inform staff and get them access to the candidates so they can ask questions, and the Bournemouth Echo publishing some pieces about it, I wanted to do another quick blog post to catch up and close things off.

It was good to see one member of staff driving to Southampton and back that night just to cast a vote. Another person had gone to the voting booth with the intention of spoiling the paper but changed their mind at the last minute. Votes do count.

A Sea of Blue

In an area of the country that is very much a sea of blue, as in all Conservative MPs, there was a surge in Labour voters compared to the previous two elections.

This may be aligned to the national campaigns and may also be connected to the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the conjecture that the younger voters just did not turn out. Prior to the deadline for voter registration, there was a noticeable surge in the numbers of voters in the bottom two age brackets.

A Labour Surge

Although the Conservative MPs held their seats in Bournemouth East and West, the Labour candidates both had an increase of around 10,000 votes compared to 2015, which primarily came at the expense of UKIP and Green voters. The Liberal Democrats stayed around the same.

An increase in 10,000 for the Labour votes was a surprise to me given the backdrop of the local area, but probably less of a surprise given the polls and the momentum of the national campaign.

Every Vote Matters

I reiterate the point that every vote does count. There is no such thing as a safe seat. Canterbury has been a Conservative seat for 99 years but now a Labour seat with only 187 votes the difference. The SNP held the seat of Fife North East by 2 votes.

Having a “strong” government can equally mean a government that is too authoritative or one that is too complacent. We have to ensure our local MPs are held to account, and reminded to represent the whole community.

I don’t have any statistics on the younger votes but will update this when I do get them.

(These are based on estimations from Ipsos MORI survey as it is a secret ballot and no way of identifying votes and their voters.) In 2015, the 18-24 age group had a 43% turnout and the 25-34 age group a 54% turnout.


 Constituency Turnout 2017 Turnout 2015

Vote Change

Bournemouth East 65.2% 62.55% +2.7%
Bournemouth West 60.8% 58.4% +5.3%


In Bournemouth East, where I live, the turnout was 65.2% compared to 62.55% in 2015. The Conservative vote went up 2.7% to 51.9%.

In Bournemouth West, where I work, the turnout was 60.8% compared to 58.45% in 2015. The Conservative vote went up by 5.3% to 53.5%.

Those are very high percentages for the Conservative vote, and both have increased since 2015. The other parties have to take the momentum of their gains and translate that into the local elections, with the added point that resident EU nationals can vote in that.


National turnout was 68.7% compared to 66.1% in 2015.

You can see an interesting graph on voter turnout on the following link, which shows turnout just fell away after the 1992 elections and have only been slowly rising since its lowest point in 2001.

Onto the Local Elections

All I can say at this moment is that I am glad there has been increased numbers across the board in terms of turnout. Too early to understand the finer details just yet, but I hope the engagement continues to the local elections in future where people can make more impact to the local area and create a more diverse spread of representation.


I thank again Conor Burns, David Stokes and Jon Nicholas on their engagement and participation with my staff and I.