Thank God it’s Thursday?

Well it is Easter and a few days vegetating never did anyone any harm…

Not actually got anything planned. Lorraine is having a cataract operation as I write so it didn’t seem sensible to plan anything until we know how she has reacted to it.

Sort of suck it and see I suppose.

Dang – we need emojis on this platform!

There is a temptation to see just how many sight jokes and puns I can do before my brain explodes but I can’t see the point of it really.


Die Tochter has come up trumps (can’t use that word without wanting to punch something – walls, windows, you know) with a plus one on a press trip she’s been invited on at the end of May. Istanbul no less with flights paid for as far as I can understand.

Four days including travel and I will return on a Friday and go on holiday on the Saturday! Bless. Just take the laptop and it’ll all work out I suppose. Penelope initially wanted to take both of us (on a +1 so it’s good to see the school fees weren’t wasted) so she was going to take her VA but she didn’t have her passport details (but she does have her parents’. Don’t ask) so I’m going.

Why me and not her mother? Well Lorraine has been moaning for ages that I don’t go away much any more so she can’t have craft-y outbreaks (hides in her room, only emerging for meals and the loo) and being able to do it with a clear conscience does have its advantages.

Also it does mean having to share with the daughter, which means becoming a mobile talking alarm clock and sharing a room with someone whose body clock goes off on one on regular occasions – and she’s impossible to wake up – so one of us has got a good deal, just not completely sure which one of us it is!

Feeling reasonably pleased a client has let me down. Don’t often hear someone saying that but, if they hadn’t, it would have meant cramming another day’s work in a four day week so, on balance… and they can pick up any monetary problems arising as I did chase, by email, and copied both directors in.

Still the email torrent rages. Yesterday I did a big tidy up but in the period from 17.00 to 21.30 another 21 arrived. It’s getting to be an achievement to get the Inbox total under 250 where once I’d have managed 50…

I notice 50-ish are dated 2017 or before. If I’m honest about it, I can’t see anything that old ever being dealt with so maybe just lose them but you still have to file some of them so set aside an hour or more and maybe they can go.

Excellent Dilbert cartoon the other day. Spent all day doing the to do list not leaving any time to actually work. Must see if I can import it here. No I can’t but you can find it yourself here.

Communication from the operated on one. Can collect her in 20 minutes. Oddly we live within walking distance but obviously it will depend on her. Actually the traffic might NOT be too bad as lots of people will have sloped off early I suspect but we shall see…

Oh dear.

Stuff. I’m tired. A nap would be much appreciated unless the invalid (if she IS an invalid) needs attention. The yawns are coming thick and fast so prefer not driving but at least it’s not 100 miles like Tuesday. I was supposed to be going to a networking event but presciently gave my apologies. Otherwise I’d have needed to set out ten minutes before I got in!

Just had a text – Bealk. No, I didn’t either so I DID check and walk it is. Enough for one day. Just find a photo when I return.


Quite a pleasant week so far

Now I KNOW you don’t read this stuff for banal pleasantries but every now and again you do get a reasonably good time – random chance if nothing else…

It would be so easy to be negative about this week. Pro bono assignments eating time, late evening functions and the like but sometimes those pro bono assignments give you such a warm fuzzy experience it makes it all worthwhile.

The treasurer/chairman thing I mentioned last week continues and continues to eat time


apart from having to seriously disappoint someone’s expectations (legal advice precludes doing something we might have wanted to do), the time taken is starting to pay dividends and one of the other members of the senior management team has stepped up very well. So well I’m starting to feel confident that this situation will work out for the best going forward.

Yesterday was the sort of day you feel SOOO glad you no longer keep a formal timesheet.

After a couple of hours on a one-to-one with the local relationship manager of one of the challenger banks and a two hour networking event at a local industrial archaeology site, I attended the South Hampshire area final of the Young Enterprise Company Programme. I volunteer on the local area board. Just under six hours and a thirty mile round trip to see and hear school-age pupils tell a panel of judges and their peers how they’ve done with their business in the academic year 2017-18.

Sounds quite dry and uninspiring?

Far from it. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and it never fails to amaze me how inspiring it is to see how far they’ve come since setting their companies up.

I can only suggest you come and experience one for yourselves.

I twist the MD’s arm of one of my clients to sponsor one of the awards and this year he actually came along in person and acted as one of the judges. Quite blown away by the quality and maturity of the businesses and the confidence displayed by the “company directors” in their presentations.

We had five finalists this year and the eventual winner was quite awe inspiring:

  • Would you think to set up a business selling hockey sticks?
  • Outsource your manufacture to Pakistan?
  • Set up your own brand?
  • A brand that was well liked by another of my local board members who is in the marketing industry?
  • Sell £4,000 of the sticks and associated branded clothing?
  • Make a NET profit of over £2,000?

Not bad, is it?

We had a speech from one of the alumni of the 2016-17 Company Programme. During his presentation he reported how their company had changed tack after a “Dragons’ Den” style presentation last year which was not well received – at which point I found myself thinking – oh yes, I was one of those dragons! It was truly AWFUL! Their original idea was very off the wall and we felt it had around a 0% chance of success. Well, for various reasons, I couldn’t actually go to the Hampshire County final so I didn’t pick up at the time that they’d won it.

Nor that they’d then gone on to win the South-East regional final and were present at the UK National final in London.

From humble beginnings…

And the speaker is doing his A-levels next month. Not even left school yet. If you’re NOT impressed you really ought to be.

And today I got to relive the event on local radio with our full-time paid employee Victoria. I’ve done the Express FM Business Hour before with Miles Henson but it was Victoria’s first time in front of a mic.

I’m guessing not her last. She’s a natural. Came over bright, bubbly and enthusiastic.

I’d love some readers to want to help out. If you can, please contact either Victoria at or me at and I’ll pass your details on.

Ah well, better earn some money now…


Fake’s suck!

And other spoonerisms…

I am still too busy. That and the continuing saga from last week. Actually, the continuing saga from last week I haven’t got round to mentioning! I could have SWORN I had but it looks like I haven’t.

It’s all very well donating time rather than money. You can give a lot to a worthwhile cause without having to part with the readies so, if said readies are not overabundant, it’s a good way of making a difference.

However – and it is a BIG however – if said time starts to expand to take over one’s life, that probably wasn’t in the “job” description.

I’m treasurer, no surprise there then.

But following some unforeseeable health issues I’m also chairman. Having previously been vice-chair. And again, no big deal under normal circumstances.

But an issue from the past that we (trustees collectively) thought had been put to bed suddenly reared its head again and one of the senior management team hands in their notice.


So, at a time I’m doing my treasurer bit regarding 2018 budgets and forecasts and 2017 statutory accounts for an AGM that’s set in stone, we’ve not only got a recruitment issue on our hands but it seems to have upset various other parties – including ones that are the probable cause of the issue in the first place!

Which means (if I’m not careful) this pro bono involvement can suck two or three hours a day every day OUT of a diary that has no room in it in any case.


Just feeling sorry for myself, nothing terminal.

We are not going to get the replacement on board in time for a seamless transfer so we’re dependent on other members of the senior management team stepping up. Don’t THINK there’ll be a problem and I HAVE said we can get temporary cover for any uncovered areas but it’s all unproven so you can’t know for certain.

Fingers crossed.

One thing I do know for sure is that we’d never have coped with this a few years ago but the quality of the undertaking – staff and knowledge – is so much better now I do believe we will.

And other people are relying on the service we provide and you really DON’T want to let them down. Can’t give too much detail as I don’t want to identify the industry and wash our dirty (or otherwise) linen in public.

Fingers crossed. Again…

Wish me luck.

Actually it’s been a very pro bono week all round. Young Enterprise Monday evening and Town Council last night. Can lead to excessively long days with – twice so far this week – no formal break during the day. Not that I’d have WANTED to go for my lunchtime walk on a couple of occasions this week. Torrential rain one day. More monsoon than March showers.

As you can tell when walking down the footpath to the next road. Water cascades down our road and the “cut” is the continuation thereof. Which means you can go wading (I exaggerate but not excessively so) which means the hall carpet gets a bashing and is covering in mud (hopefully) and seeds and various other plant matter.

A few years ago I managed to use my Town Council position to get some wood gratings to divert a lot of the flow off into the adjacent woods but we do need to make sure that the channels between the planks is cleared of detritus and debris or it doesn’t actually make any difference.

We have some sort of storm to look forward to at the weekend. Anticipated temperatures plunge up to ten degrees Celsius on Saturday and Sunday and there is a threat of more snow. But it’ll be back to more normal temperatures on Monday, just in time for the business week!

You couldn’t MAKE it up…


Snow days and other disappearing time tricks

Doesn’t seem five minutes since the last post.

It isn’t of course. It’s a week but the expectation in the previous paragraph is that time will go more quickly than expected…

Which is what it did.

The sickie turned into two “snow days” – partly because no client (that I’m aware of) was doing anything but partly because of hitting the (marathon runner’s) wall.

You can borrow forward so much for so long but be sure your body will find you out.

Sit there and look to do something but body (and mind) says no.

In all honesty I did serious damage to the email backlog but look at it today and it’s like I never bothered!

We seldom get weather issues in this part of the country so it always does catch people out. I was SERIOUSLY glad I’d cancelled my Friday appointment when I discovered the road I would have been using had been snowed in overnight and there were people who had been stuck for twelve hours in the drifts.

Recovery took much of Friday and was helped in no small part by the Armed Forces and local farmers. Sooo glad not to have experienced THAT!

So me with bad back was noted walking (shuffling in my big hiking boots) the mile or so to the local supermarket with Lorraine because – of all things – run out of potatoes!

As with most adverse weather events (and bank holidays, etc.) the place was devoid of semi-skimmed milk because that is, of course, the usual panic buy – here at least. Many places run out of bread, there they bake on the premises so that doesn’t vanish quite as quick.

But it was a conversation I overheard that left me particularly bemused.

“Ordinary” semi-skimmed was gone but there was a choice of sorts:

  • Full fat
  • Skimmed
  • Organic semi-skimmed

WE chose organic – it  might have cost an extra 35p but it was there and available, but the gent in a couple nearby I heard saying “I’m not paying those sort of prices, we’ll do without”.

For 35p?

Run that by me again?

Not for the first time, and certainly not the last, I had an “is it me?” situation.



Wasn’t it cold? Taking wind chill into account we had temperatures of -11C and similar. That means our poor central heating boiler was trying to make up a 30C temperature gradient.

Considering this place is only a decade or so old, some of the windows and doors were remarkably badly fitted. We use a spare curtain to slow/reduce the draughts from the front door. Which pretty much faces north (actually a bit west of north like my office) so you don’t get much solar activity on the “front” of the building – wrong hemisphere…

So even with the heating running non-stop it can be cold in here. Even Lorraine said she was cold, which is how you realise you’re experiencing something really apocalyptic.

And on the Saturday it started to go. -11C to +9C in two or three days.

Memo to self. Try not to have monthly Friday off the day after your osteopathy appointment. And certainly not where much of the morning vanishes under a single appointment. It’s like a sudden dawning that I (effectively!) ran out of week yesterday evening.

For anything discretionary.

And young Miss P is putting in an appearance in the next few hours because she is dropping in from Uni to take her mother out for an early Mother’s Day dinner. So that removes the early evening as well as I’m allowed to come along.

Not that I’m complaining. Cannot remember the last time we went out that it wasn’t the parents’ bank balance that got the seeing to. In fact, even here she’s not paying for it at the end of the day as she will be paid to do a “mystery shopper” report on the establishment we are visiting! As long as her mother and I are not profligate she will still make a profit!


Pulling a sickie

not that you’d notice overly…

What with working from home and everything.

Felt awfully tired last night and with a particularly early start to look forward to – 07.00 networking meeting an hour west of here.

What with severe weather warnings, etc., my life coach had given me the option to postpone which I said I’d make a final call when I got up this morning.

Light blanket of snow first thing but an immensely sore back, neck and shoulder. Which is why I’ve spent half today clearing the !*!* email backlog and am now typing my blog.

When they were handing out common sense I’d obviously left the room…

Have taken the opportunity to postpone my only meeting tomorrow as well.

Literally cannot remember the last time I took a day off other than holidays, etc. It’s a thing with the self-employed stuff. If you depend on your own time it’s all too easy to overdo things and work straight through problems.

Which is what I do at this time of year.

Every year.

Note comment above re common sense…

Oh yes, ought to mention the outcome of the business awards. Shortlisted as I said. Unfortunately didn’t win but as there was only one prize I CAN genuinely say I came equal second! A client won in one category and a networking friend won another two. Immensely pleased for both of them and their businesses.

And the website links STILL do not work.

Also did my first 4Sight presentation at a 4Networking meeting on Tuesday. Just a little bit nervous – always am first time I do anything (then you get blase – how do you get the acute accent to work? – then you start to learn how to be good at it) but it went down very well. Already been invited to give it at another meeting and told to put myself in for another so right pleased.

Is it just me? You get a super round of applause and loads of people tell you how good it was but you find yourself thinking “they’re just being kind”. Imposter syndrome thy name is Colin.

Snowing quite well here at the moment. It’s a sufficiently rare phenomenon locally to be worth mentioning. I’d think a couple of years at least. Temperatures not too dramatic but the windchill is serious. Lunchtime walk in -3C but felt like -11C – that’s what the phone said and I’m NOT going to argue. it was bitter! The “Beast from the East” per the media has just met storm “Emma” which is now dumping its moisture all over southern and southwest England.

Common sense says that’s as much as I ought to do today so we’ll leave it at that.

It just remains for me to say hapus Dydd Gŵyl Dewi on this the first day of Spring (looks at blizzard and laughs)!


Where did THAT week go?

Don’t know what I’ve done to myself. Seriously sore spine and neck which is making typing this less than comfortable. Sigh…

Actually I probably do as it’s a convergence of a number of matters which, of themselves, would probably amount to nothing but, as we are all told, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Unbelievably (or maybe not, I’m not one to blow my own trumpet – it usually doesn’t cross my mind) it looks like I’ve forgotten to mention that my PR Lorna put me forward for one of the Portsmouth News’ Business Excellence Awards and I have been shortlisted. Woohoo!

I WOULD take you to the shortlist page but someone seems to have forgotten how to populate it. Hmmm…

Actually that reminds me. Lorraine SAID it was difficult to find out when they announced it in the paper! And even more bizarrely IMHO the landing page DOESN’T take you to the main News website. Nor does the News’ business page appear to have any reference to the awards.

Is it just me???

However, 150 word digression later. The why this has any relevance to a sore neck:

It’s the first time I’ve entered for something like this. It’s also (obviously) the first time I’ve been shortlisted for an award. I’m just a little strange about being outside my comfort zone and when I have the first time I have to do something this is – oddly – outside my comfort zone. No idea why. Maybe something to do with my upbringing, maybe something genetic – the daughter, when she was at school, had some serious issues when she had to do something for the first time. So I’m a little tense (future perfect maybe? Certainly not present or pluperfect.) Which leads to tension and tension, with overuse, leads to inflammation.

So I’ve got to practice a speech I may never need and at the same time have my “don’t mind if some else won” face at close hand in case I don’t. I’ve been told to just enjoy myself and treat winning – if it happens – as a bonus. And I KNOW I can blag my way unrehearsed through a minute or two. I do so most networking meetings. Generally never have any idea what I’m going to say until it comes out of my mouth. And maybe not even then. Really need some emojis (word I’ve just had to add to the dictionary. Emoji singular was there without a plural. Need an emoji for that too?) in this programme. Don’t you think too?

Add to that working your butt off moving “stuff” around in a client’s data for a less than positive response and this will predispose me to just a little nudge sending it over the edge.

And within that a diversion to the dentist and hygienist. Not a problem in itself but the journey was such that I asked the receptionists whether it was National Drive like a Dickhead day and I’d just missed the announcement. Not that they were aware of so maybe it was just me.

I’m not paranoid. People really ARE out to get me.

Sooo. Networking this morning. Good and possibly fruitful meeting. Seriously uncomfortable chair. I think the venue got a bulk offer somewhere for all their meeting rooms. They seldom fail to irritate my neck and back. Odd angle back to seat which means you don’t lean back in it or end up with an unpleasant tension in your neck. And the metal bit sticks in a couple of tender vertebrae due to an old injury – lost a debacle with a motorway crash barrier about 20 years ago.

Followed that up with a one-to-one meeting in a rattan-style chair with inadequate padding which continued irritating the heck out of said vertebrae. Good meeting I have to say. Turned into an unexpected pitch. Wasn’t expecting to be talking to someone who might be in CURRENT need of my expertise. So there you go.

Well, I’ve spent a lot longer than I intended writing this and have done the exact opposite of what is needed to calm the inflammation but whatever, that’s life.

Is it not?

Doesn’t the image look like an animal drinking?