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North Coast 500

I have had a ‘bucket list’ going for some time with a list of various things I would like to do before I die. High on the list was driving along the coast of Scotland following the clockwise route starting and finishing in Inverness*. The idea had been floating around in my head for several years but rapidly came into focus when reading the Sunday Times one morning and seeing an article titled ‘Northcoast 500’ – this being the name of a ‘new route’ which had been detailed in Scotland to rival Route 66 in America.

(*NB – The bucket  list also included going along the coast of Scarlett Johansen following the anti-clockwise route starting and finishing in Scarlett Johansen…on discussing these options with my wife she decided that the Scottish road trip was far more likely to be ‘do-able’…. and wouldn’t result in any major let downs on Scarlett Johansen’s behalf.)

So the journey was planned, route fixed, hotels booked, car serviced and my wardrobe distilled into one small suitcase with walking boots and waterproofs thrown on top.

The first stage of the journey involved driving to Glasgow and an overnight stay at the Hotel du Vin at Number 1 Devonshire Terrace, great place to stay, good food and a great night’s sleep. Next day I drove to Inverness with a room booked at the Culloden Hotel which was the complete opposite of the Hotel du Vin – horrible place, nasty staff ….and needless to say – I walked out without staying…

I managed to get two nights at the Torridon Hotel and had a fantastic journey along the start of the North Coast 500.

I won’t bore you with all the details – suffice to say – fantastic scenery, amazing coastal views, great hotels…a truly epic journey filled with roads built for driving, lovely food and great hospitality from everyone I met (apart from Culloden House)…total mileage 1780

What I think I really wanted to do was … ‘get away from it all’ – no mobile reception, no wi-fi and no constant battles with cash flow and the epic struggle of one small business in a world that mitigates against the smaller companies thriving.

I have cleared my head and clarified where we need to be changing things at JKSL and hope that we can bring one or two new ideas to the table.

  • We seem to get caught in a ‘circle of doom’ where our clients want to pay us 60 days after month end and our suppliers want to be paid 28 days after date of invoice. This leads to projects often costing us money until the bill gets settled – ie we are funding our client’s projects.
  • Add into this a situation where a project is VAT exempt …but all your suppliers charge you VAT and you have….. a big financial headache.
  • I have wanted for some time to have a deposit paid by clients before work starts and do not think this an unreasonable request. This must be an option as a way forward.
  • Reasonable payment terms should be agreed and be enforceable. Too often we get caught by companies who simply don’t pay when they say they will…. and this then gets passed down the line to our suppliers.
  • It must start higher up the food chain with Government guidance and fines for those that ignore agreed policy.

I had also been having a bit of a ‘wobble’ with INNSA (THE Invasive Non Native Specialists Association) of which I am chairman. Much time has been spent trying to get the Trade Body off the ground with little or no thanks from anyone. I had been wondering if I was getting caught up in my own PR and reading my own blogs….but…having cleared my head I am back on track and realise that much of what I do is thankless and will only ever be realised when results show in the financial statistics of members.

I think everyone needs to ‘get away’ from the pressures of modern life every once in a while? Mobile phones and i-pads are great, remote access is remarkable…but all of these innovations mean that we don’t ever get to just … ‘stop and smell the roses’. I get between 20 and 30 e-mails just on my drive home .…and the bleedin’ thing just doesn’t stop pinging and farting all night long (I have a few contacts in the US)…

I am forever checking my e-mails as well as reading ‘Linked in’ and ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’….none of it is ground breaking….. yet I get shaky when I’m not 100% up to speed. This CANNOT BE GOOD for you…so I am now going to restrict myself to twice a day….rather than twice an hour.

So I’ve started my bucket list, sorted my finances out, got back on track with INNSA and resolved my social media strategy…

Now …where did I leave Scarlett Johansen’s number???

 

Mike C