APS Days February 15, 2023

My darling wife has been on at me to be more healthy.

She serves kale at every opportunity and tried to poison me recently with something called Kombucha. Alcohol is deemed forbidden and red meat confined to special occasions.

She is looking at holidays that involve yoga and Pilates with menus that are strictly vegan.

I cannot be the only one thinking that maybe we need an alternative to this sort of thinking?

Maybe the ‘anti- spa day’ …maybe the opposite of a spa? …maybe an ‘Aps day’?

You arrive at the hotel in your V8 or V12 petrol car with a modified exhaust system sliding sideways into your reserved car park space – there are no charging points for electric vehicles.

On arrival you are served bacon sandwiches with possibly a pint of Guinness.

You are ferried to your room by golf buggy and on settling in you notice a fully stocked mini fridge containing chocolate, more beer and crisps of the salted variety – full fat.

Having spent half an hour soaking in the bath – which has a tv and a minibar set up on the side you are given a relaxing massage and buffed dry with soft towels.

Dinner has no vegan options and consists of meat cooked in various ways served with real spuds – none of the ‘sweet potato’ nonsense.

Greens are on the table, but purely for ornament.

Beer and wine flow freely and a huge list giving a selection of single malts follow the desserts and cheese course.

Walking and anything energetic are frowned upon whilst off road driving and shooting things is encouraged.

Fishing is considered compulsory, the ghillie carries the rods but is on a vow of silence and cannot speak other than to point out the location of the fish.

Most importantly nobody else is allowed on this holiday other than me.

I don’t have to fly anywhere to get to the destination.

I don’t have to have a passport.

I don’t have to speak to anybody.

My mobile phone is left at home.

I think I may be onto something with this ….


Mike C

Couldn’t Believe My Eyes February 8, 2023

I often walk down the canal towpath on my lunch hour – it’s a lovely bracing, nature-filled, green break in what otherwise could be a grey day of computer screens. I’ve been up-close to herons, lapwings, rabbits, deer, and a stoat as well as the cows, longhorn cattle and sheep in the farmers’ fields along the banks.

The other day I saw something I had never seen before – a woman carrying a huge Giant hogweed seed head with her along the canal.

As she approached, I politely said, “Excuse me, just so you know…” to which she responded, “I know, but it’s safe once it’s dried out” and carried on past me.

For those of you who don’t know, the sap of the Giant hogweed plant can damage the skin, making it extremely sensitive to ultraviolet light – resulting in serious burns. While the woman may be correct, I certainly wouldn’t fancy it in in my house, nor would I want to go into infested areas to break off and pick up bits of the plant.

There’s another issue, too, which is that Giant hogweed is covered by legislation including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to cause or allow the plant to spread in the wild.

While Giant hogweed seeds are generally very easily dislodged from the plant and it’s unlikely that the seed head she was carrying had any seeds remaining on it, it’s possible that there were remaining seeds that could have fallen off as she walked back, or that her clothes or footwear could have picked up seeds in the area she picked the seed head from, causing new growth next to a busy footpath – causing a significant potential for other footpath users to be exposed to the dangerous sap – or in her own property, potentially resulting in significant costs for remediation. It’s unlikely but potentially possible that her actions would constitute a criminal offence, just like digital piracy or murder.

While this is obviously hyperbole, the issues highlighted above are not irrelevant – the law is in place for good reason.

By the time I had got my head into gear to mention this, though, the lady had happily passed by me on her merry way, contentedly carrying her big chunk of Giant hogweed (but hopefully no seeds!) along with her.

At least she was wearing gloves, and in fairness, it would look quite good in the corner as a display piece.

Chris Oliver
Operations Manager

Work, Live, Work February 1, 2023

We’re all after that perfect ‘work life’ balance.

That spot where you spend just enough time at work to make you very very rich …whilst still also being able to be home for your partner/ and your children /and your dog/cat.

This spot …is mythical.

Sorry….but…. it’s either one or the other.

Anybody that tells you different has either won the lottery or inherited vast sums of money from their parents.

To get from the point of checking your bank balance daily and trying to seek out every ounce of worth from every pound that you have …to a point where you’re so relaxed about funds that you don’t even need to look …takes …A LOT OF HARD WORK.

I look back (yes …I’m that old) …at the number of times that my family holidayed abroad without me whilst I slaved away at my drawing board knocking out designs for business parks and housing estates that all just HAD to be done by deadlines that didn’t allow for family time. I’ve been there and done that and I now realise that it wouldn’t have made a hapeth of difference to my business and might even have made me more productive to have taken the time off.

It’s too late for me …but it’s made me not want this to happen within my team.

This has lead to me being perhaps a little soft.

I will never be rich… because I’m too nice. Instead of raising hell when one of the team needs time off for family …I will in most cases agree and sign off on the required leave. Instead of fighting tooth and nail against home working – I have both allowed and encouraged the team.

Having now lived long enough to have experienced life’s ups and downs I am sympathetic at bereavements and understand mourning and loss. I’m open minded enough to know that peoples home life will impact on their work output and that mental health is a vital part of a good work environment.

I can’t stand bullies, I can’t stand narcissists, I can’t stand racists, equality is at the forefront of any decisions that I make…and I like dogs.

Soooo… we’ve pretty much got rid of all the bad stuff and have a team dachshund as company mascot …

Do I have a good work life balance …not sure.

Maybe the team do?


Mike C