Cars … March 29, 2017

I have been driving (pun intended) myself mad of late with my obsessive pursuit of the ‘perfect car’. Many of you out there will have already stopped reading because you have no interest in the four-wheeled puzzle that us ‘drivers’ face – for those of you still reading – here is my plight.

I am lucky enough to own a variety of vehicles and I like to think there is a ‘reason’ for each vehicle that I own. I do a lot of miles, 35K plus a year business miles then another 5K or so pottering around privately – so pretty much up there with a high flying ‘salesman’ – which probably for want of a better word – is what I am.

My first car was an aged MG Midget. I learnt a lot from this car – the main thing being …don’t ever buy an MG Midget. Impossible to work on …without being double jointed and ambidextrous…and it was forever breaking down. I then opted for a Fiat Panda – I bought a new one having become fed up spending every spare moment of my time ‘working’ on the MG to keep it on the road.

The Panda was great – fantastic little car, economic, comfy, quirky – I did a little over 100K miles in the car before it died. Learning curve on this car was making sure that every business mile that I did should cover the cost of the vehicle, its repair and its depreciation.

From the Panda I moved onto a Fiat Uno – very much the same deal as the Panda and another 100K miles later i moved on to a Vauxhall Astra. The Vauxhall was probably the shittiest car that I ever had – but I put this choice down to having an impending family and thinking that I should emulate my father (he had Vauxhall Astra’s for years).

After the Vauxhall was the first true love of my life – the SAAB years. Starting with a 900 ‘i’ and gradually working through the entire model range to a 900 Turbo ‘S’ convertible …fantastic cars – I did circa 90K miles in each one that I had – with little or no trouble apart from the odd blown turbo.

After the SAAB came my first Audi (after an admittedly short ownership of a TVR Chimera – but that another story) – then after the Audi came the first Porsche.

The Porsche years were a period of constant changing of cars as each year a new model replaced the one that I had thought was the ‘ultimate’ car ….

Learning curve on these cars was that the mileage that I was doing was just killing the value of the cars and making it a very expensive way to get around. I still love Porsche’s and look back on those years with great pride and fond memories of classic journeys… (nb classic and expensive journeys…)

Following the demise of my last Porsche (a Panamera GTS) I decided to go back down the Audi route picking an RS4 as the perfect vehicle for high mileage – load carrying capability and the car proved pretty well perfect in every way. The Audi brings to the table a car that delivers everything performance wise whilst still managing to hold its value after being used and abused for thousands of miles.

I have recently replaced the Audi RS4 with the RS6 and find myself in love again with driving – my current car having all the bells and whistles and buttons that a man could ever need….but….. the problem I keep hitting is …should I be going electric …?

This is my dilemma …should I be looking at hybrid cars …should I be going more environmentally friendly?

I consider myself environmentally aware yet I’m driving round in a petrol guzzling monster? How can I justify this …?

I keep looking at the Tesla but just can’t bring myself to take the plunge – I’m chained to the combustion engine like some Luddite denying the benefit of machinery. Yet…. I love gadgets, I’m a big fan of apple and all its wonders yet cannot bring myself to make the move…hmmm

I’m thinking the answer is to buy Mrs. C an electric car of some sort and dip a toe in the water …

Watch this space.

Mike C

Feast and Famine?… March 22, 2017

How many of us face this problem on a weekly basis?

One week we have nothing much to do (that can be invoiced), the following week we have a multitude of projects that all require manpower and that have all been promised to be delivered within a set timescale.

How much better it would be… if we could take project ‘A’…. and move it back (or forwards for that matter) so that we had an equal amount of works each week…

Doesn’t happen though does it?

Each client that you have feels, quite rightly, that they should be your priority and that the date that you have promised should be adhered to.

The accepted policy within JKSL is that you agree to each client’s request – and then you make it work…but…bloody hell… it would be easier if we had some flexibility.

I have spoken before about having a team of men in a glass cabinet in the office with a sign that says – ‘break glass when you get busy’. Unfortunately, our lads do not like sitting around in glass cabinets waiting to get paid…they require paying every week whether we have invoiced anything or not ….

So, we do the weekly juggle… of staff… and projects… and machinery…

I suppose people will say that if we were ‘better organised’ or had a better ‘depth of work’ that we could plan and strategise to avoid these types of scenarios. The problem with much of our work is that it is ‘reactive’…many of our clients not realising that they have an invasive species problem until late in the day …

We are often also the first contractor on site so any issues with planning or neighbor disputes often hit our start date right where it hurts…we get pushed back a week …which then fucks up our start date with the next client.


It’s the problem of a successful company though.

If we were less ‘bothered’ we would simply let clients down and miss deadlines – but – the team at JKSL don’t just sit around and disappoint our clients – we strive to hit all of our targets and we strive to excel…

We just want to excel 24/7…and we hate sitting around twiddling our thumbs when there’s work to be done.

Mike C

Getting older March 15, 2017

There’s no getting away from it – I’m getting old. I don’t just mean I’m getting older (which is obvious) …I mean I’m actually doing things that I would previously have thought were reserved for the occupants of a care home.

I can’t eat dairy products – they disagree with my digestion. I can’t have coffee after lunch time – I just won’t sleep. I no longer share the same bed as my wife (due to my snoring)….and she and I now have to compare diaries to see if we can have sex this month (that would be a ‘no’ then)…

Cars now pass me at ridiculous speeds… and I make ‘tutting’ noises and shake my head – this from the man that got himself banned for speeding…

I refuse that ‘last drink’ at parties – in fact come to think of it – when did I last actually go to a ‘party’…

So …that’s it then…slippery slope to the grave?

Do I have any redeeming features that mark me apart from the old farts that I so detest?

Well – I do cheat on my ‘Fitbit’.

Mrs. C encouraged me to get one of these intrusive devices after seeing that my brother and his wife were fans. This bloody thing tells you when to get up, when to sit down, when to relax, and the obvious …how many fucking steps have you achieved in a day.

You can link in with so called ‘friends’ and compare what you do and what you are achieving.

Unfortunately, my ‘perfect brother’ (think ‘Cousin Kevin’ by the Undertones) …does 75,000 steps a day on a quiet day and 1 f**k**g million when he’s in the mood to excel…

However – I have found a cheat.

Rapid wrist movements seem to fool the ‘Fitbit’ into thinking you are walking or running – so early one morning whilst watching the Australian Women’s beach volleyball on Sky TV …I managed 12000 steps …twice…. without even leaving the sofa.

I can’t be that old then?

Mike C

The Secret to Happiness …. March 8, 2017

When were you happiest? Simple question …but maybe not such a simple answer?

All of my ‘moments’ involve being out in the countryside. Early childhood memories come flooding back of building dams, mucking about in streams, catching my first trout. Moving on from there to climbing mountains with my dad, trips to Snowdon and Helvellyn, trips to the Lake District, walking round Iceland – seeing the wonders of the world.

As I got a little older the interest in girls kicks in and the hormones began to fire around – yet hazy though the memories are, I still associate much of my early experiences with the opposite sex to walks or visits to country parks. My first proper date with my wife was walking round Chatsworth House wandering through the grounds and explaining the design principles of Capability Brown to someone who was more interested in shoes and make up (…she hasn’t changed).

Having kids simply gave me an excuse to get out into the ‘wilds’ even more – with what we called ‘adventure walks’ – this involved dad picking a location to take the kids climbing trees, making dams, jumping in rivers and generally getting immersed in our beautiful British countryside. We collected frog spawn and watched it hatch into tadpoles and eventually released the little froglets into our pond. We had a pet newt which we kept for a week or so before releasing him/her (we couldn’t tell). We found hedgehogs, injured birds, abandoned ducklings, bats ….you name it we generally found one – not always alive – but generally worth a prod with a stick and a thorough inspection.

Rapidly coming up to date… I’m still happiest out on my mountain bike or fly fishing on some quiet river in the middle of nowhere. This type of recreation allows the batteries to re-charge and the head to clear – all of life’s crap just disappears whilst the brain absorbs the wonders of the natural world. Only last week I was cycling on the Haddon Estate when I saw wild deer not twenty feet away from me – I stopped took a picture then carried on riding – but riding on a wave of euphoria at having witnessed such a rare site.

But dear reader – much of what I hold precious is disappearing.

Many of the natural ‘wild’ areas that I used to visit around Glossop (my home town) just simply aren’t there anymore. The little streams and ponds where we collected frog spawn are now housing estates. The rivers and watercourses have been culverted or encased in concrete channels to ease flood risk and the wild life that we used to hold to precious just isn’t around anymore?? Bird numbers seem to have dwindled and when was the last time that you saw a hedgehog?? Badgers are still seen – but are dead – on the road side but the general impression one gets from the press is that these beautiful creatures are somehow bad.

The only thing we do see a lot of ….are grey squirrels – which we are now told are to be targeted with a contraceptive that will see their numbers dwindle from the millions to a few hundred thousand.

I am very lucky in that I do have a house out in the Derbyshire Peak District National Park and get to see a huge variety of birds and other wildlife that city dwellers just will not have the opportunity to experience.

I do however find myself just wondering what damage we are causing to our future generations.

Without the experiences that I hold so dear – would I be a different person?

Without the love of nature and all things wild – will our children’s children appreciate and value our countryside? Will they fight to save the muddy frog filled pond or the little copse of trees that the owl sits in ….or will they be living in a 3D virtual world where nothing ‘natural’ exists….??

….and will they ever be truly ‘happy’…

Mike C

Playing God…. March 1, 2017

I opened the paper this morning to see Prince Charles championing the cause of the red squirrel.

The latest theory is to feed the grey squirrel with a contraceptive in a paste form which will reduce populations by as much as 90%.

The theory is that the contraceptive will be secreted in a type of Nutella paste which the squirrel’s will love – all hidden in a box that only the grey squirrels will be able to access. The drug traps will be set in areas of major grey squirrel populations and will massively reduce their numbers from a quoted 3.5 million down to fewer than 300,000.

The grey squirrel causes damage to trees and out competes our native red squirrel – as well as being very much a nuisance in gardens throughout the UK – eating food left for birds and generally causing damage and mayhem wherever they breed…

The contraceptive has been developed by the governments Animal and Plant Health Agency in York with initial funding from DEFRA.

Sounds like a good idea to me…??  …BUT …then again… I hate grey squirrels and wage war on them every year.

What I’m not too keen on is talk that this could be used on badgers and wild boar –

I have a niggling feeling that we are messing around with something here that could have far reaching consequences??

I’m sure the experts have thought all this through but…. what happens if our native dormouse gets a hankering for the Nutella contraceptive?? What happens if the animals that eat the squirrels get a dose of the contraceptive?? What happens if the contraceptive enters the food chain and we all stop having the ability to breed….

What happens is some smart arse decides that people on an income of less than 100K shouldn’t be allowed to breed??

Maybe the Royal family will be the only family able to re-produce…


Now I do know that I was very critical of the whole bio-control of Japanese Knotweed situation lead by Dick Shaw from CABI. I was also VERY WRONG in my criticism …so I will keep my comments short and brief until I can find out more… but I do feel that whenever we try and act like Gods …things tend to go t**s up.

Watch this space.

Mike C