Money money money …it’s so funny …it’s a rich man’s world July 27, 2016

I want it back… all the time I spend chasing money…all the time I spend fighting for decent payment terms…hours, days, weeks, months of my life all chasing the elusive dollar…

…every excuse under the sun, I’ve heard it all:

The initial rejections

The next level rejections

Level 2 rejections – old fashioned excuses

Level 3 rejections – the more modern excuses

But dear reader – I’ve also found myself having to say the same thing to some of my suppliers in the perpetual ‘money-go-round’.

At any one time I am generally owed a lot of money – add to this the amount of retention that gets taken off me randomly – and you have a figure that is painful to even say out loud.

At any one time I generally also owe out a lot of money – not as much as I am owed I hasten to add – in fact significantly less.

Then you have the money that’s available at the bank, the cash in hand, the savings and the VAT money that you put to one side for each quarters return …and maybe if necessary an overdraft facility.

If you use all these funds to front the job for your client – then you leave yourself in a very exposed position – what if the client doesn’t pay or ceases to trade

So what one has going on… is a fairly complex game of ‘chess’ – whereby the suppliers wish to get paid but the client wants to hang on to his cash for as long as he can – then the supplier says he will withdraw his services unless paid – but the client still won’t pay his bill – so we as the intermediary have to fund the supplier’s requests …all at the hope of making a profit after all these shenanigans have gone on…

How’s about we change all this?

I have recently bought some new glasses – they cost £620 – the optician charged me £620 before they were delivered, before they were even made. I was quite happy to do this as they were being made just for me – so I paid for the work I was having done.

I recently bought a new suit – same deal – charged in full before the suit was even started.

Car – £10K deposit – before they start to build the vehicle.

So why, oh why, oh why… do we as contractors, have to wait 30/60/90 days before we see anything??


Mike C

Festival 2017 – 15 years of Japanese Knotweed Solutions July 20, 2016

We have been throwing ideas around the office as to how we can ‘top’ this year’s seminar ‘The Others’ held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester in May. The most popular idea generated by a certain Ms Hardy is …a festival.

Think Glastonbury but instead of bands …think invasive non-native species specialists …and speakers from around the world?

Next year will be the 15th year that Japanese Knotweed Solutions will have been trading so we are thinking of making this a big ‘do’…

We’re thinking a three-day event held in a Marquee on or near to the Haddon Estate nearby Bakewell in Derbyshire – over a Tuesday Wednesday Thursday –

All of these ideas are subject to change – but the basic premise is to get all our favourite clients and colleagues together for a less ‘formal’ get together. Having held these type of gatherings for a few years now I realise that my favourite part of the event is usually the evening before or after the actual ‘event’ when I get to chat to the speared without the formality of being in front of a large audience. Everyone tends to chat more openly and topics of conversation tend to be far more open and less ‘stilted’….so this is what I would like to see happen in 2017.

There will be new chemicals being tested this year, as well as initial feedback from Network Rail on the MeshTech trials. New legislation will obviously be impacted by the exit from Europe to we hope to have speakers who can keep everyone up to speed…

We shall keep everyone up to speed as speakers are confirmed and the event details get finalised


Mike C

Specialists July 13, 2016

When somebody uses the term ‘specialists’ in their business name you would expect a certain set of skills would be a ‘given’. Perhaps they would even be ‘experts’ in the field to which they provide services….and yet we have companies calling themselves ‘specialists’ in Japanese Knotweed …who are in fact complete idiots.

The problem with Google and the whole internet ‘thing’ is that it just doesn’t differentiate between the real ‘specialists’ and those that just randomly picked the name because every other name had been used….

You can go into Google and find multiple companies saying they are the ‘number one service provider’ ….or… the first company to recognise the problems caused by Japanese Knotweed. Nobody argues with them – mainly because it was always me that argued with them…. and I’ve given up*!

*I say that I’ve ‘given up’ when actually I have one on the go at the moment – some idiot has set up calling himself ‘Knotweed Solutions’ …then just added ‘Wales’ on the end. Does he not think that we work in Wales…??…actually…we not only work in Wales – we have a bloody Welsh language version of the website!

But I digress – ‘specialists’ ….hmmm

These ‘Japanese Knotweed ‘specialists’ turned up on a site on which we had been employed to remediate the Japanese Knotweed by excavating and removing the material from site. They turned up and walked onto the site without permission because they had ‘never seen Japanese knotweed excavated before…’

They then commented (before being thrown off site) – ‘oooo that’s a big hole – do you really have to dig that deep???’

‘Specialists’….idiots more like – and yet people are paying them for knotweed advice….wtf is the world coming too.

Please, please, please – when you look to employ a Japanese Knotweed contractor or consultant check out their credentials. If they have some variation on the term of their parent company with ‘Japanese Knotweed’ added on to the end – like say ‘Ashmeadow Knotweed’ or have ceased trading so many times that they have forgotten what their company name really is – like say Total Complete Morons Ltd also known as TCM then just don’t go near them with a barge pole.

Any decent company dealing with Japanese Knotweed will be an INNSA member (the Invasive Non-Native Specialists Association) – check out the website for members details…

Note the use of the word ‘Specialists’…in the title – in this case it does actually mean ‘specialists’.


Mike C

Oh the times they are a changing…. July 12, 2016

Excerpts from Flora of Cheshire – published 1970.

‘All the records in the Flora have been made during the period 1964 to 1969, and the older data are not given, except in special circumstances. What we have now is the flora as we see it today, recorded carefully and accurately …the habitat data as well as localities are given and this is most valuable…it is sad to note that some of the interesting species of former times such as the winter greens (Pyrola species) are now extinct but it is encouraging to see decorative invaders from abroad such as the Indian balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) which is not even mentioned in de Tableys flora …are now well established.’

‘Encouraging to see’ …hmmmm…I’m not so sure many people would agree with this comment – made by D.H.Valentine  – how times have changed.

What is amazing with these type of books is the level of detail that they go into. The object of the ‘Flora of Cheshire’ was to present a snapshot of the Cheshire ground cover in 1964-69 – surveyed in detail on a 5 X 5 kilometre square basis – even making particular reference to Wythenshawe.

Now I’m pretty sure that not many people nowadays would want to visit Wythenshawe to carry out a vegetation survey*??

(*Maybe…some sort of weapons survey ….along the lines of …’have you got a gun or a knife ??’ …. ‘No ….well… here’s one of each just in case you need them…’)

The book goes through ‘gains and losses’ of species between 1875 and 1969 noting that species which show least change are those whose habitats for a variety of reasons have suffered least interference, these include woodland, grassland scrub and marsh. The book notes that woodlands in the county have not increased but are ‘rigorously preserved’ – with distribution very similar to a century ago.

Analysis of the species that have become extinct shows a close correlation between species which were then local and rare and sensitive habitats where change in environment has rendered the terrain inhospitable.

The text notes that many ‘rare’ and ‘exotic’ species colonising areas formed as a result of human activity. Notes refer to Langley reservoirs near Macclesfield with other species at Bolsley reservoir and orchids appearing on the lime waste beds of central Cheshire.

Questions are asked in the book as to whether ‘strand loving’ plants were brought in by water fowl before they became extinct? Was certain seed blown from Anglesey or the Lancashire dunes??

As far as additions to the flora are concerned, some of these originated from ballast and a few have become locally established in the Wirral.  Rhododendron Ponticum is referenced and is quoted as ‘spreading rapidly’ from ‘original plantings in woodland on sandy or peaty soils’.

Railway ballast is also noted as being particularly favoured by certain species with ‘abandoned track beds’ providing suitable ground for the inland spread of plants which require… ‘dry open ground to survive’.

The spread of aquatic invasive species is put at the door of the declining use of canals as transport systems. When they were actively commercially used the canals had to be cleared of vegetation and the routes kept open by regular maintenance – without which the aquatics have spread rapidly.

Reference is also made within the text to the more exotic plants with Heracleum mantegazzianum (Giant hogweed) spreading along the Manchester Ship Canal and the lower Bollin whilst ‘Impatiens’ (balsam) is well entrenched in Arnold loop of the Mersey’.

So whilst the book may be over 45 years old – many of the questions that it asks are just as pertinent today.

The language may have changed slightly but the amount of information contained within this book is incredible –

Mike C

Alex July 12, 2016

Luckily Alex doesn’t read my blogs …or he would be embarrassed about what I’m about to write.

Alex Dayes… special in so many ways – (this could end up as a poem)

I’m now 55 – business owner, entrepreneur blah blah blah. I’m pretty experienced in the world of small to medium business ownership and management but have never met anyone who works quite as hard as Alex.

The reason for the blog is really to introduce him to anybody who hasn’t yet come across him and is looking for somebody to sort their site problems with invasive species. Alex is your man – I say this without the slightest hesitation. Well you would – I hear you say – he works for you.  Yes I suppose this is true .but my recommendation goes beyond this..

I’ve worked with some good people over the years but never anybody quite as ‘immersed’ as Alex is – he gives 100% to every client he works for. He gives so much it’s a little painful to watch at times as I know he will burn himself out if he carries on at the rate he goes at things.

Father to a young son and relatively recently married he would have his hands full even if he weren’t ‘managing’ Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd yet he manages to do both tasks whilst making it look relatively easy (I know there are one or two hiccups with family life but nothing he can’t handle)…

What’s blindingly brilliant about Alex is his honesty. There is no bullshit with Alex – ever.

NOTE – I’m embarrassed to say that I’m full of it …but I’m trying to be a better man – honest

What I first liked about him when I interviewed him still shines through (…even though he’s been working with me for over 8 years) – he’s basically just a straight, honest lad from Stockport who has done well for himself – but he’s done well for himself without compromising his integrity. He still values his word and is genuinely upset if ever somebody shakes his hand then reneges on a deal. I’m still a bit anal about getting people to sign contracts …having been shafted once or twice by people that shake your hand whilst stabbing you in the back.

He is competitive and will want to win projects – but not at any cost. He will provide the best price and the most competitive price but will not lower his (or the companies) standards – if needs be he will walk away from a project if he feels the client is being mislead by another contractor.

I have never seen anybody with such a work ethic – I can safely say I have never known anybody who goes to the lengths he does.

He is a winner – and anybody that gets him on their project should consider themselves lucky to have him on their side.

Mike C

Cars July 12, 2016

You know you want me to write about Mike Clough playboy extraordinaire …fast cars, loose women, casino’s, lap dancing bars …Mike Clough 007….a legend in his own mind.

Actually I think many of my problems may stem from reading too many James Bond novels at a very formative age. Much of my ‘love making’ technique stems from these early novels that I read by torchlight beneath the bedsheets …my wife is now a little fed up of me trying to undo her bra with my magnetic watch strap.. 🙁

So what you really want to know is ….does Mike Clough lead a glamorous life.

Well – the answer I’m afraid is …no.

I may have an Aston Martin, I may have a Performance Audi RS6 …but in reality all this means is that I spend a lot of time driving all over the bloody country. The reason behind the car fetish is simply the idea that if I’m going to spend a lot of time in a car …I might as well be in a nice car.

I may eat in nice restaurants in London and I may be a black card holder in some of the most exclusive places to eat and drink ….but…if you are on your own – to be honest – I’d much rather be with the Mrs in our local. The reason behind the restaurant fetish is the idea that if I’m going to eat away from home….I might as well eat in a nice restaurant.

I’ve always had a bit of a ‘bee’ in my head about where I sleep too ….you’ve guessed it …if I’m going to be away from home I might as well stay somewhere nice.

All in all, I’ve developed a routine that may leave some people baffled – but it makes a kind of sense to me. I’ve never understood the type of person that looks for the cheapest possible place to eat/drink/whatever …and drives a bloody Nissan X Trail. I say I’ve never understood – that’s not quite true – I’m now at a point in my life when I can safely say I don’t really care what other people do…it’s irrelevant.

I live in Glossop yet have another house in Alport near Bakewell – about 45 minutes away. Loads of people have said – ‘….why do you have a second home that’s so near? You could have had a place in Portugal or Spain for what you paid?’

Well – yes I could – but to me…what the bloody hell would I want to go to Portugal for? ….and what does Spain have to offer…? Bull fights..? Yeah right …must go there to live.

Alport has some of the best scenery in the UK with the Peak National Park – it’s got the best fly fishing a man could wish for …and mountain biking trails that never end – with the best people you could ever wish to meet* – (*NB apart from the dodgy couple at Rock House)

So not too glamorous I’m afraid – it’s all done for a practical reason.

I think one of the things I’ve seen a little too often is business men who scrape their way through life in a cheap suit and a crappy car with the intention of enjoying their retirement….?

Then they hit retirement and die.

My theory is to go through life in an expensive suit driving an Aston Martin…. with no intention of retiring ….ever.

I don’t hit retirement ….and …I don’t die.

Watch this space…

Mike C

Taxi drivers July 6, 2016

Everybody …do NOT worry …I have the answer to all of our countries problems …let’s appoint a London taxi cab driver to become our next prime minister – apparently they have all the answers and know what we should be doing…

I also know who should be the next England football manager – that would be ‘Barry’ – the black cab driver that took me from Canary Wharfe to Mount Street yesterday.

‘…Na listen ear mate what we whudve dun is put bladdy Rachford on at arf time innit…’

Any questions on Brexit or the current financial markets – ask a cabby …

‘ …Na ya bloody Frenchies and yer Krouts they’v add it in fer us since the bladdy war ant they…caws weel be betta orf…it’s them bloody Uber bastards that’s cawsin all the ferkin problems….’

Maybe this particular cabbie should have retired after the war??

It’s funny how everybody knows what we should have done after it’s all gone tits up – yet nobody stands up to be counted… BEFORE ….the decisions have been made.

I’ve spoken to lots of people since the departure from Europe and nobody has given me a clear reason why they voted a particular way. Lots of people have just said they didn’t like Cameron? Surely this isn’t a good enough reason to change 40 odd years of trading with Europe? Many of my team at JKSL voted to leave the European Union – yet much of the legislation that we work to is European led?

When I have pointed this out to them they have looked a little sheepish and said … ‘Hmmm didn’t think of that…’

My particular stance is a little awkward. I know we shouldn’t have left Europe and I know we will be worse off without working together – but I also have a sneaking suspicion that as an island nation we might just pull something out of the bag that surprises everybody. I’m not a huge fan of Boris but he doesn’t seem scared of making difficult decisions – and maybe just maybe he could put a little bit of a shake up through the corridors of power.

I’ve had my suspicions for years that the Tories just tend to line the pockets of their wealthy mates – and I know the ‘Establishment’ has its fingers into everything – so changing a few things might just work to the greater good?

From an invasive species point of view – it’s either going to go one of two ways:

option 1 – everybody unites to make our island free of invasive alien species
option 2 – everybody just says – let’s build and develop without the restraints that Europe imposed on us…and everyone stops dealing with invasive species.

I know which way it should go…but then again I know which way the vote… ‘should’… have gone…

Anyway – my stance is simple –

….lets just let the cabbies run the country…?


Mike C