My Down Time: Paul Wellstead

Covid has in some ways forced a reassessment of what was previously considered the norm. Not being able to go to cafes and restaurants has changed things for us as consumers and for many suppliers.

Paul Wellstead is the commercial property developer behind Seaham’s Spectrum Business Park.

In this issue’s My Down Time, we chat to the man behind Spectrum Business Park in Seaham, Paul Wellstead, to learn about how he unwinds away from work, who would play him in movie of his life and the surprise dinner guest he’d invite round if he could!

EDB: What’s the ideal way to unwind away from work?
PW: A number of these answers will be very different to what I may have replied just over 12 months ago before Covid struck, changing many of the things that all of us previously loved to do. The pandemic has disrupted and reshaped not just our business lives but our home lives too.

One thing that has remained true, both then and now, is that unwinding means finding a way to reboot and calm your mind at the end of the day. For me this is exercise. By taking the time to do an hour of either Pilates, weights, having a blast out the bike, or even just a walk, can really help you step back from the day’s events. Out of all of the above, I find Pilates and the focus it teaches you to have, the most helpful.

If there were one of my activities I hope to be able to do well into old age, it would be this one. I think there are many men who dismiss it as easy or are simply too unsure to try it and I would really encourage them to give it a go with an open mind.

EDB: What does a relaxing Friday evening look like for you, in or out?
PW: In our household, Friday night is music night. Enjoying music is a huge part of my life, starting in my teens when I got to know someone that worked for a manufacturer of British hifi equipment. This lit a fire in me about collecting and enjoying music. Since then I’ve been obsessed, collecting from across all genres. I am particularly passionate about discovering new artists and sounds. Friday is the highlight as we generally get a Lebanese take-away and settle down to play cards while listening to Tom Ravenscroft’s show on BBC 6 Music. Tom is the son of the legendary DJ and presenter John Peel and like his Dad he is at the forefront of showcasing new material from around the world.

EDB: Do you prefer to cook or order a take away?
PW: Covid has in some ways forced a reassessment of what was previously considered the norm. Not being able to go to cafes and restaurants has changed things for us as consumers and for many suppliers.

I now feel that pre-Covid, my wife and I probably ate out too much, whereas now cooking at home has become more of a focus and enjoyably so. The exciting thing is that there are many innovative small businesses that have stepped up to supply exciting locally sourced ingredients with the convenience of home delivery.

EDB: Where was the last place you went on holiday?
PW: This question took some real thought!! It seems like such a long time ago. In October 2019 we went to Ibiza, the quiet, laid back part I might add! It was a great trip and a really beautiful island. Since then we have, like so many people, been cancelling and rebooking then cancelling again various trips. I feel very lucky to have had a weekend away in London in February 2020 to watch England play Ireland in the Six Nations at Twickenham, just before Covid struck.

EDB: And where will be the next – have you a holiday planned for 2021?
PW: Postponed from 2020 we have a booking for the Tour Du Mont Blanc that has been moved to this summer. I am not too hopeful for the prospects at present but who knows! It’s an eight day hiking trip, walking 170km around the Mont Blanc massif through Switzerland, Italy and France. The itinerary involves staying in communal bunk houses up in the mountain heights. The pictures look beautiful and I really hope I get to see it all with my own eyes this year!

EDB: If you could invite famous people to dinner, dead or alive, who would they be?
PW: I’m going to run with a musical theme here as you might have guessed. Gary Numan – the Godfather of modern electronica and all round nice guy. Keith Flint from the Prodigy. An animal on the stage and a gentleman in real life. I was genuinely devastated when he passed away. Ludovico Einaudi, who would be encouraged to bring his piano with him, along with many tales of playing in the world’s most iconic venues. Jófríður Ákadóttir, singer in Icelandic bands Samaris and JFDR. I have visited Iceland and its enchanting atmosphere and culture seem to have a special connection with the Earth. I’d love to hear more about life there. Mikayla Simpson aka Koffee, a brilliant young Jamaican reggae artist that would truly bring sunshine to the room.
Jason Williamson from Sleaford Mods. His abrasive “say what you see” style may not be to everyone’s taste but it would certainly keep the other guests down to earth. I know, that’s six. I had a spare chair.

EDB: What the music of choice when you’re in the car?
PW: If I am not tuned into BBC 6 Music then I’d be tapping my own collection of anything from Drum & Bass, Reggae, Ambient and Hip Hop to Beats, Breaks, Folk or the latest oddment I’ve discovered somewhere.

EDB: What are you watching right now?
PW: During lockdown I’ve become addicted to The Chase. Jay’s Virtual Pub Quiz on YouTube has been another regular slot on a Thursday night. Quizzing with friends and family over WhatsApp has saved our sanity in these crazy times!! In terms of TV, we have really enjoyed a show on Netflix known as Call My Agent.
It’s one of those where you really feel like you’ll miss the characters when you’re finished all the episodes. It’s in French too, with subtitles, which forces you to set aside your smartphone and actually watch it properly, or else have no idea what is going on!

EDB: Finally, who would play you in a movie of your life?
PW: Keanu Reeves would be my pick. He looks nothing like me but I admire his grounded spirit, his respect for people and the environment. Success changes a lot of people, not necessarily for the better and I strive to be unchanged like Keanu, sensitive to the world around me and respectful of our place on this Earth.