Hot Tub Time Machine September 30, 2015

I was flicking around on my multiple channel TV the other night and ended up watching a film called Hot Tub Time Machine (2) – please be clear – this was an appalling film….however it did get me thinking. The films premise was a group of loser friends who fall onto a ‘time machine’ capable of allowing them to travel back/forward in time and to alter their lives for the better armed with knowledge of the future. 

So if one could travel back in time what would I alter and would it make any difference? It is said that if one were to even step on an insect in some earlier version of life – this could have dramatic influence on the future? There is a film called ‘The Butterfly Effect’ which covers multiple versions of the main characters life as he tries to alter and improve his situation. Each improvement works well initially but then goes badly wrong as further developments change the situation.

My thoughts lean toward stopping the Victorians importing our current palate of problem plants?

Could we have prevented the spread of Japanese Knotweed? Maybe a word in the right ear (Mr Von Siebold??) might have opened the eyes of the people importing these plants and maybe they would have listened?

Actually it’s pretty unlikely ….imagine telling Mr Siebold that his prized Knotweed plant would be causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage in 2015! He would have laughed –  I’m convinced nobody would believe the issues that have arisen from a simple plant introduction in 1840.

Maybe with a bit of time manipulation we could have perhaps introduced the Wildlife and Countryside act 100 years or so earlier?

Maybe we could send Trevor Renals (Environment Agency invasive species expert) back in time and get him to sort things out?

But…would the prevention of Japanese Knotweed be enough?

We’d also have to stop Himalayan balsam and Giant Hogweed as well as a multitude of others?   …and if we did stop the import of these plants would ‘other’ species simply have thrived in their place?


Makes you think.


Mike C

Scott Free September 23, 2015

My wife and I we’re talking the other day about our children and our various relatives children.

We were discussing how we worry about them in different ways as they grow older. When they are babies you worry about feeding them or not feeding them, are they sleeping or not sleeping.

Then they start nursery, are they making friends?…are they ‘fitting in’…?

Then they get a bit older and sex becomes an issue. Are they just doing homework in their bedroom with that boy ‘friend’ or are they studying for their human biology practical?

Exams! Do you push them to revise and study or do you leave them to it and be the ‘bohemian’ parent relaxed about life and the future?

After the GCSE’s should they do A levels, should they go to University or should they get a job? Fees no fees, student loans or not….huge debts but low interest rates….aaaargggh ….whatever you do is wrong and some smart arse parent does it better.

….and don’t start me on their boyfriends or girlfriends …are they mixing with the right people, are they meeting the ‘right’ type of future partner?

…..and what career should you advise them to follow?

Somehow in my day it was a lot easier…you had interests and you had exams that kind of followed those interests…then you do a course which kind of reflects your interests…then you get a job…then you meet a partner you get a mortgage, get a house and gave a baby or two. Job done….

Everything just seems a lot more complicated nowadays.

What my wife and I concluded was that nobody gets off scott free with the whole kids growing up thing. Maybe you have the perfect baby all cute with angelic features …which turns into the toddler from hell. Maybe you have perfect children till they hit puberty …then the shit hits the fan. Maybe they get through the whole teen thing intact …then suddenly they hit adulthood and want nothing to do with you.

Somewhere its gonna get you.

Unless of course you have two daughters like mine who are practically perfect in every way.


Mike C

Vampires September 16, 2015

My wife is a vampire…’s true.

Over the years people have repeatedly said how young she looks and how she has no wrinkles and her skin is perfect…well let’s get the facts straight – she is …‘Nosferatu’…

I’m not suggesting she sucks blood from unsuspecting virgins…but she does have a knack of passing on the stress to others in any given situation – this is a skill… a skill which results in prolonging her life and leaving her free of any pressure thus allowing her skin to soften and the wrinkles to disappear…

My theory is that this is where the ‘vampire’ mythology came from? ….Not actual ‘blood sucking’ but the passing on of problems leaving the ‘beast’ to flourish.

Why do women live longer than men ????

ha…’s because they are all vampires.

My mother – a prime example – she allows everybody to run around her, doing her garden, sorting the hedges, picking her up, dropping her off etc etc  A typical comment from mum would be…. ‘oooo dear, I’ve had  a delivery of logs on the drive and they need to get into the garage, hmmmm, how can I get this sorted…’ – thus Mike goes round and sorts it out.

We also have office vampires – members of the team who are very good at NOT taking any pressure. They are in work, they are sat at their desks and they do produce work …yet somehow they manage to take no pressure. They leave at 5, they arrive at 9…. and have strict lunches of an hour every day…yet manage all of this with no pressure.

There are also business vampires. These are those companies that don’t come up with any original ideas…EVER…they just wait for the creative types like me to come up with marketing concepts…then they copy them – STRESS FREE

Now as for me –  I am the opposite of a vampire – I just give blood at every opportunity.

I run round after my wife, I run round after my mother, I run round after my children and no matter how many staff I have…the only one who seems run ragged is me?

I just absorb everyone’s problems, I never sleep at night and I just worry about everything and everyone all the time…

All this will of course lead to an early death…but maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe if I do pop off due to stress – then just maybe I will come back to earth as a vampire??

Perhaps I could be really lucky and come back to earth as my own wife in some parallel universe, how fantastic would that be??


Mike C


My Mother September 9, 2015

My mother spends hours pottering around in her herbaceous borders, and watering her various pot plants on the terrace and has a wonderful garden to show for the time and effort she puts in. She knows more plants than I do and takes great pleasure in saying to me – ‘can you identify this?’ ….and ‘can you identify that?’ ….generally I will say…..‘no mother…what is it?’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty good with identifying plants but my mother buys things like ‘Anemone ‘Gladys Perkins’’….and expects me to know every bloody variant!

She is typical of a breed of ‘gardener’ that will probably all but dry up as time marches forward. She didn’t work once my brother was born and didn’t return to work once Dave and I left home – thus leaving her with time to spend on her beloved plants. Somehow I don’t see this type of gardener in the future? I could be wrong but I don’t see many men or women nowadays who don’t want a career and who would be happy just pottering around in the garden? …

Like I say I could be wrong maybe I’m not mixing with the right type of people?

I’ve also come to realise that my mother (and her type) could be one of the reasons we have so many invasive plant problems. Mother told me recently that she had been digging up her ‘Crocosmia’ because it had spread all over the back of her garden – but instead of destroying this most invasive plant…. she had decided to give clumps to her neighbours and friends!

She has planted Himalayan balsam at the bottom of her lawn in an area of low lying damp ground, she loves Buddleja, thinks that Golden Rod is a ‘great filler species’ and that Rosebay Willow Herb …. ‘adds a splash of colour to the roadsides’   ….

Hmmm maybe somebody needs to check out their ‘problem species’ ???

If you then realise that my mother is not alone in her opinions and that she is typical of a certain ‘age’ of gardener …..then you can multiply this type of thinking by the tens of thousands all over the UK then you begin to realise that we have a major problem on our hands in educating people.

The other problem with this type of person (my mother included) is that they just… WONT LISTEN!

My mother thinks that my company that deals with eradicating Japanese Knotweed is just… ‘….our Michael having one of his obsessive moments’. She hates ‘waste’ and is forever dividing and separating herbaceous species and giving them away. It never occurs to her that these types of plants are successful because they grow so quickly – and that separating and dividing their rootstock simply encourages this rapid growth and spread.

So how do you sort this out?

Maybe ‘Countryfile’ (one of mums favourite programmes) should do a bit more on invasive non-native species?

Maybe if we could get John Craven (who mum thinks is a ‘bit of alright’) to run with this topic, maybe just maybe she would listen…?

Perhaps the next generation of ‘gardeners’ will be a bit more ‘savvy’ and understand that using native species in their gardens is more beneficial to creating a more sustainable landscape….?

In the mean-time could somebody speak to my mum – she won’t listen to me!


Mike C

Chapter 3….65 Years in the Future September 2, 2015

Back at the offices of FLABI (Floral Liberty and Bio Integrity) Dr Ricky Coast was in a bit of a state. He hadn’t heard from Bob Banner since his last call via the satellite phone, since then nothing…and even that call had been cut short due to a bad connection…

The trip to Nepal should have been an easy one for Bob, the climb would have been tough but the plant identification should have been easy….why was it taking so long????

FLABI were short on funding and in dire need of a successful project, one that the UK Government could get behind ….and then be able to approve the types of budgets required to successfully monitor and eradicate invasive species within the UK.

Gone were the high profile days when the Aphalara psyllid successfully stopped the spread of Japanese Knotweed in late 2025 – when there was a National Holiday declared. The famous scientist Sir Dick Shaw was poster boy for the campaign and became hero to Ricky Coast as a young boy.

Sir Dick was now residing on a tropical island which he bought with the proceeds of a patent that he took out on an insect repellent which became popular around the time of the psyllid release. Unfortunately he has lost his marbles and spends most of his time chasing anything strange that arrives on his beach shouting … ‘out,out,out….no aliens allowed…’

Thinking fondly of Sir Dick, Ricky thought about the last conference where all of his colleagues had been together and remembered that Bob Banner had spent much of the evening talking to the eminent businessman Mike Clough author of ‘Invasive Plants and Fast Cars’ a children’s book based on a character who on the one hand cares for the environment… whilst at the same time driving the world’s worst gas guzzling supercars. The book had been popular with readers mourning the loss of Jeremy Clarkson from our TV screens following the demise of Top Gear.

Bob had been talking closely to Clough and Ricky even remembered seeing Clough pass a small envelope to Bob…probably some of the famous ‘fertile’ Japanese knotweed seeds that had appeared on the ‘dark internet’ a few years ago.

All of these thoughts were useful but didn’t lead any closer to why Bob had disappeared and why nobody was talking about where he could be….

Enough, enough.

The only answer was to fly out to Nepal and get on the case himself.