Keep up to date with the news and press on Hotpod.
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Snow! In Cornwall! This is a proper rarity, and one of Dan's favourite pastimes – driving his van in the snow, and scouting the Cornish lanes for people who need to be towed out of a snow drift. Have a look at this clip of Dan's snowy van adventures on our YouTube pages:
With all this cold, we finally decided it would be a good idea to install a Hotpod in the office here at Hotpod HQ (no! We don't have one already – unbelievable). A layer of insulation and plywood lining (with a lick of bright white paint) on the roof and walls later, we realised that with proper insulation we were toasty already – and sadly no need for a Hotpod with all the hot air from chatting that goes on in this office. Besides, if we installed a Hotpod, there would be no room for a ‘sofa' (back seat of a van) for mates to sit on when they pop in for a cuppa – good to see we've got our priorities straight.
Hotpod is awarded “The Most Wanted Green Product of 2009”
by readers of Kitchen's & Bathrooms news – we're really proud! Thank you guys, we really appreciate the recognition.
Our network of retailers continues to grow, making it easier and much more fun for people to see and play with a Hotpod ‘in the metal'. But we're still looking for more retailers to join the Hotpod family...
And, in this traditionally quiet time in the world of home heating, we are investing in our infrastructure to make our customer service more seamless – Dan and Lucy are great at communicating with each other, but then when you throw in the mix a pesky Phoebe and loads of enquiries it can all get a bit out of hand. Not afraid of a bit of IT geeking, we have asked our IT/Telephony-wizard mate Greg (who, Dan named his first VW bus after – the one with the Beetle stuck to the roof) to help us set up a better telephone and contact management system – we're going to be efficient, but, don't worry, still a little daft (or is it just creativity?).
Try giving us a call! (01736 797285) We're that proud of our new telephone system – now you'll nearly always get through to us rather than an answer-phone. Sounds an obviously good idea, but it has taken a little while for us to get it sorted – thank you for bearing with us. And thank you Greg for whipping us into shape. OK, so now you have to go through a bit of a recorded “press 1 for....” system, but it means you'll get to the right person straight away (Dial 1 for Phoebe, 2 for Lucy, 3 for Dan). We actually sound a bit big and efficient now, but please be assured it is the same old us – small and efficient. We hope you like our waiting music to... honestly!
Full of the joys of spring, we're more prone to jumping in the sea these days, and with that clock change the after-work surf is back – can't wait.
We were the smug ones who drove to Switzerland rather than flying to our Easter break. Of course our motivation was lower environmental impact and taking Dan's van to play in the snow rather than volcanic fall-out. Our friends Hugo & Anoushka have just finished building their awesome chalet in Switzerland, and we were the luckiest mates to be invited out for a few days holiday in the snow. Sadly, Lucy was away in warmer climes teaching Yoga (international Yoga teacher extraordinaire), so it was Dan, Phoebe, Angelo and Julius in the van for the epic road-trip South East. The van did amazingly, and we made it there and back without a hitch, (come on, that's amazing for a 20 year old VW!!) and some happy memories. Have a look at Hugo & Anoushka's amazing chalet: it is truly beautiful, with stunning 200+ degree views of the Swiss Alps in all their glory. Not to mention the Hot-tub... sauna... relaxing heaven. Of course, we certainly deserved all that luxury with all the hard-core snowboarding and skiing during the day – we were blessed with lots of snow, and lots of sunshine, so a happy time was had by all.
With thanks to Julius Brighton for the video
This time of year is a great time to do some work on the foundations of the Hotpod business – while no one is really thinking of heating their homes (summer's feeling like it's here already!), we have a bit of breathing space to do things like developing the website, working on a new instruction booklet, setting up contact management systems, new telephone system, and generally making sure things are tickety-boo behind the scenes. It sounds as though we should all be incredibly efficient now, but it's still the same old bunch of mates using the tools – so we'll see!
Dan and Phoebe have joined a band (Dan on bass, Phoebe on Hammond), and the first gig, which was at a bar on the beach in Perranporth, went really well – more gigs lined up for the summer. Lucy is number one groupie, and the best dancer, we still think we need Lucy as backing singer / tambourine player?? Lead singer is Chris, who helps Dan out with Hotpod creations in the winter, so it really should be called the Hotpod band... but it aint!
It is called the "Sandy Acre 7"
With thanks to Angelo SpencerSmith for the video
Hearth and Home
Our almost-annual attendance at the Hearth & Home show came around again this month. It is a busy (and very warm!) trade show in Harrogate, with hundreds of stands displaying anything from cowls to hearths, and all the flues, stoves, fireplaces and fuels in between. As usual, the Hotpod drew a huge amount of attention – there really is nothing like it in the whole world of stoves – hooray! Our aim was to find stove showrooms dotted across the UK that would like to display the Hotpod, so that everyone has access to seeing one – it is a little too much to expect people to travel right down here to Cornwall to view a Hotpod! We have done way better than we'd hoped, with now 16 Hotpod retailers dotted across the UK. We still need to find a couple more showrooms to cover the Brighton area and around Stoke on Trent, but that's all. This winter looks like it will be a busy one – great!
Hotpod was just about in a couple of magazines this month – we like to think that it all adds to Hotpod awareness, even though slightly tenuous!
Dan and Lucy were very definitely in Coast magazine in a Campervan feature with Dan's prized and much loved VW Syncro. “The photograph was taken very early in the morning” says Dan, "and i think you can tell.". They were awake enough not to miss the PR opportunity though - placing the Hotpod surfboard in the background! Spot on.
Our friends, Hugo & Anoushka had their new basement extension in the Times Style magazine – we held a competition to see who could spot the Hotpod on their double-page spread... you can just make out the top of the distinctive Hotpod door... spied it?
And of course, no news is good news.
Aah, summer in Cornwall.
You know there has to be a bit of playing at this time of year. Dan had a good time building a raft for his mate Andrew's stag celebrations taking part in the annual St Ives Raft Race. An inspired 3-inflatable-wheeled contraption, which enabled the team to come 2nd ...
...to last. Watch this space for the new-improved version next year – Dan is not done with the challenge!
Back at Hotpod HQ we were honoured to be visited by Graeme Whittle, the YouTube-famous creator of what Dan has been calling a "Notpod" – a copy of Hotpod, which he documented in a series of videos.
There are now 3 or 4 "Notpods" on youtube and Dan has been collecting them in the Hotpod channel favourites. He is quite stoked about it. Well they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
As the stove season starts to warm up, we are busy supporting our new network of 12 Hotpod retailers dotted across the UK. There is a map of where they all are here:
It is great to be working with such a nice bunch of people, who are all inspired by the Hotpod as a stove on a completely different wavelength to the standard black boxes. R N Williams arranged a great feature in Yattar Yattar, a new magazine for Wales and the North West, Stirling Stove Centre took their Hotpod to a show, and others are busy promoting Hotpod in their showrooms. They're all keeping us out of mischief and Dan busy in the workshop...
This month we have mostly been making Hotpods. And... at last...! Our Hotpod online shop is back up and running. After a couple of teething problems (like free Hotrod pokers??! Darn, you missed that one!), it is working better than before. http://www.hotpod.co.uk/hotpod-online-shop.asp . Impressively, Dan is also our IT department, so you can imagine he's been just a little bit busy this month – discovering that his brain best switches from blacksmith to geek mode in the early hours of the morning... or perhaps it's the bottle of Proper Job that helps.
Hooray for the Gadget Show!
Hotpod was chosen to appear in a great feature on stoves for the Gadget show this month. Here is Jon Bently's appraisal of 3 wood burning stoves: we think we did rather well.... Dan is totally stoked with 4 Gadget Show "G's" and says that he would have put the Stuv in first place too ( Uncle Jon has one and Dan thinks its brilliant).Just stoked to be playing with the big kids of the stove industry – does that mean we should grow up a bit?
For the whole of this month, Lucy is away in India studying yoga at the Iyengar Institute, in Pune. We're not quite sure how we're going to cope without her. Dan throws himself into fulfilling Hotpod orders, including a number of Sawtooth clocks for Christmas presents, and Phoebe cautiously tackles the book-keeping in Lucy's absence. My, we miss her!
Dan does manage to have a bit of fun playing the ‘snow hero' in his 4x4 VW Syncro vans; delivering bread and milk to stranded friends, giving lifts and towing cars out of snow drifts... what would we do without him!
Lucy made it home just in time for Christmas – despite the snowy chaos at the airports, and Hotpod is in shutdown for a couple of weeks. 2010 ends in peace, love and goodwill.