Monday, 26 April 2010

Another mad week getting shed loads of stock out to everyone, well done on the sales front everyone. It’s nice to see so many gaps on the nursery in some ways, as we are supposed in the business of selling lots of stuff, but on the other hand it is frustrating that we can’t refill those gaps instantly to keep stock levels up. It is often like this when things go potty, life would be so much easier if we had a nice steady flow of sales all year round, I’m sure it must be just as frustrating at your end in the sales areas!
My big adventure this week was to be interviewed for a podcast promoting the Plato Sustain business improvement group I am in. The first challenge was to get off the nursery (Friday not as whizzy as other days), in clean clothes (last job before leaving was moving a few cut back Brunnera plants which turn out to have very sticky sap, now all over hands and trousers), next was to find the venue in sunny Basingstoke (never been into the middle before, so got lost and ended up back out on the M3 roundabout), then find a car park (on top of the whole town centre it seems, with most ticket machines out of order), locate the venue from the car park (completely disorientated by now) and finally negotiate with security/reception to let me through the front doors. So I arrive all cool and relaxed for my bit of the filming, go straight in and record. It was all very pleasant and easy going and after a bit of powder I was ready to go. Having been given the questions in advanced I had some idea what was going on and it all went reasonably well I think, they got rid of me quite quickly anyway! How much of it hits the cutting room floor is anyone’s guess but the results on UTube (or something like that) are out in a couple of weeks. Got home to change and found I had my flies open so maybe more will hit the floor than expected. In fact the combination of dried Brunnera sap and the wayward apparel might end up with more hits than planned, thank goodness I was wearing my own underwear!

It’s not surprising I’m not let out much.

Eco Update

Wind turbine planning application is in, hurrah. Bit disappointed that there has been no official planning response yet and we are not on the planning website at the moment. Hopefully it won’t take too long to get it all processed and the public get their chance to have a final say. We’ve have still had no further responses or visits following my light poaching at the Crawley Parish Council meeting, I suspect I may have bored them into submission! Either that or they are keeping their powder dry for when the application becomes officially public. Overall the responses so far have been very positive which is heartening in itself.

Nature notes

Tadpoles are now getting more active and seem to have stopped trying to hurl themselves down the pond overflow. Adult newts are now in the pond too, so they should get breeding soon, and several damsel fly/ dragonfly larvae have been spotted tucking into the odd tadpole.

It always happens, half an hour after writing last week’s report the first swallow did arrive. It was all on its own until yesterday when a second appeared. The house martins usually are a couple or three weeks later here, so that’s the next spotting target.

Have a good week!

Monday, 19 April 2010

What a week, fantastic weather and everyone and their granny have gone down to the planteria to buy up all the stock. Well done everyone for selling all that stock, spring had to arrive eventually, let’s hope it gets a good steady run for the rest of the season. From ticking over at busy but modest levels for a few weeks it’s gone bananas here. We sent out about three times the quantity of stock this week which was a challenge on all fronts, lots of hours and a lot of transport juggling. A few of our longer distance customers we supplied via a carrier to cope, so those folk will have to hang on to their return boxes at little longer until we can get to you ourselves.
Phil has come across a small problem with the new comedy van, it’s a bit of a tight squeeze for Fredrick the Alsatian. We think this is down to the fact that it was originally designed for Postman Pat’s small black & white cat! Don’t forget although it can be a challenge when it goes this manic, it is good for us in the long run, we are certainly looking forward to getting off our overdraft limit!

Anyway, after a long stint of 7 day weeks and 14-16 hour days this week, we did the sensible thing last night finished early (6.30) and went out to a concert. Although it seemed a bit daft, it was well worth it. We saw a three piece band, Sleeping Dogz, whose front man is Willy Barrett (formerly Wild Willy Barrett of Otway & Barrett fame, or not. They recorded the classics, ‘Cor Baby thats Really Free’ and ‘Beware of the Flowers Because I’m Sure They’re Going to Get You (Yeah)’), who are a bit folky for my normal taste but were brilliant. It’s always amazing to see really good musicians do their stuff live. They played a vast array of instruments including a form of bagpies where he had a bellows pumping under one arm and a bag being squeezed under the other while playing the pipe bit with both hands. I still struggle after all these years keeping control of my knife and fork.

I’m always one to try and take something from songs and stuff, last night was no exception. One particular line that hit home was something from a song about a betting shop, which went something like;

‘Don’t take a tip from old Joe

He’ll poke you in your eye,

Blows his nose on cornbread slice

And calls it pumpkin pie’

I never got the hang of pumpkin pie.

Eco Update

Wind turbine planning application is in, hurrah. Now let’s see what the reaction is.

Nature notes

Big excitement this week with a long low slow passing flight of a big Red Kite right over the nursery. Not sure how it was spotted as it was supposed to be heads down this week with so much to do. It’s the first one we’ve seen for a while. We had a second sighting the next day too.

Tadpoles are now getting more active and seem to have stopped trying to hurl themselves down the pond overflow.

Don't forget to do your bit. Have a good week.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

At last some real spring sunshine and warmth, hopefully this will kick start things in a big way this week. The forecast for the next few days looks good and it certainly makes the working day a lot more comfortable. The less clothes worn, the easier the movements and higher the efficiency. Up to a point. Nowadays that point for me, remains full coverage of virtually all the body surface to prevent staff and customers losing focus on the task in hand!

I managed to watch the Grand National this year, perfectly timed with my tea break. It looked like a great day, sun shining lots of excited people and everyone got round safely in the big race. We had a sweepstake which adds a bit of interest to the events as they unfold. I thought I had won the wooden spoon this year when my horse took off in the lead and then promptly fell at the first fence, but I have now noticed that one refused to leave the start, and I can’t remember if that counts as the first out (wooden spoon) or as a non-starter (money back). I suspect that the monetary return from either won’t cover the cost of a celebratory packet of Rich Tea biscuits.

Watched one of the Harry Potter films earlier in the week and heard a lovely line which I’m sure must have been used a million times before and just passed me by. It was about the choices we make, ‘You can take the right way or the easy way’. It caught me out slightly as I was expecting ‘wrong’ to go with ‘right’. But it does seem to be true in so many areas that to choose the right way is a lot tougher, demanding more effort and commitment, but ultimately rewarding you with more satisfaction in the end. Even if it doesn’t always work out at least you have had a go. Sometimes when you do it, you stand out and get shot at, but unless we make some less comfortable choices, things won’t get better on their own. It’s always refreshing that however ancient I get, there are still lots of life’s little nuggets still for me to stumble across.

Eco Update

Wind turbine planning application is in, hurrah. Now let’s see what the reaction is. We’ve had no further responses or visits following my light poaching at the Crawley Parish Council meeting, I suspect I may have bored them into submission! Either that or they are keeping their powder dry for when the application becomes officially public. Overall the responses so far have been very positive which is heartening in itself.

Nature notes

Lots of bird song and activity. The ravens are now a regular spot and one was watched over the nursery this week soaring on a thermal with a buzzard. Luckily they didn’t distract us all too long away from all those urgent nursery tasks. This morning we had a pair of yellowhammers feeding under one of the feeders and skylarks singing in the sun. Last night the lapwings were still flying and calling a it approached dark, at the same time as I spotted my first bat of the spring on its feeding run alongside one of our hedges. Most summer evenings I can stand by the gate and wait as one patrols up and down a couple of hedge runs, flying straight over my head. Spring is really springing, although we haven’t seen our first swallow or heard a cuckoo yet.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Just a quickie this week, as I have an urgent appointment with a roasting lamb in a few minutes! It’s been a hectic week as expected, as we fit in all the pre Easter deliveries in the rubbish weather. It is always quite a relief to get to Good Friday having completed all the order collations and just got left with a couple of orders to deliver on the Friday. The new comedy van got a good airing, whizzing about on a load of local runs, attracting admiring glances and comments wherever it went which was fun.
The exciting day ended up being Wednesday when the number of deliveries to do out-numbered the vans, so we called into action the old farm van again. I shot out in it on a local drop, got as far as King Somborne and something went bang, followed by clunking and big vibrations. I pulled off the road and called up the farm to rescue me. On arrival the farm mechanical marvel got in it, started it up, pulled forwards and backwards with no exciting noises. It was suggested that perhaps I had picked up something off the road, but we would take it back to the farm for a check over. I followed in the farm pickup and caught the van up a mile or two down the road stopped with hazards on. So it wasn’t my imagination, phew, there was a problem. Luckily we were now on a quieter road but we were now very stuck, the brakes were completely seized on (brake shoe had shed its lining and jammed the other shoe on). Luckily the local bus could squeeze through, so we put some cones out and left it for the garage to sort out. It completely messed up my day with all the waiting around, but in the end I think if we were going to breakdown we couldn’t have done it much more conveniently! The van is back on Tuesday with a complete set of new shoes on all wheels (not worn, but all a bit old and apparently the glue goes in the end) and I met three very nice understanding ladies in the houses nearest to the breakdown sites, who where most helpful despite my slightly grubby, unshaven, hoody wearing appearance!

Had a great day out last Sunday going to see Southampton play Carlisle in the final of the League Trophy final at Wembley Stadium. We won 4-1 which made it easy to enjoy, but the whole day was great, even the trip in & out was pain free. It was the first time I had been to the new stadium and it was very impressive, great atmosphere and we had a great view. I know it’s not quite the FA Cup but all 44,000 Saints tickets were sold which created a real buzz and a very friendly vibe between both sets of supporters. Now it we need a miraculous run to get to the play off’s to go again at the end of the season!

Eco Update

Wind turbine planning application was due to go in at the end of last week, I haven’t had confirmation yet so it may be this week instead, but it’s all getting close, and we will see if there is more reaction than there was to our initial announcement.

Nature notes

Tadpoles swimming about already, although the excess of rainfall has washed a few out of the overflow channel which is just the spot where they seem to congregate! I saved a few and put a bit of debris in the channel mouth to try and filter them out but I’m sure we have lost a few. Good job there are so many this year.