PeteB

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Up and away for 07:30 with an hours drive to collect the trailer and demo tracked machine for a customer based in Nottingham. I thought something was odd as I passed the A6 at Hathern with queues as fair as I could see heading south - later on, I went over the M1 and same again - massive traffic heading south and nowt going North. Turns out that there had been a fatac on the North bound involving four lorries and a pedestrian on the M1 north. Nasty....

My customer in Nottingham does tree work on the Nations railway as well as 'civils' (brickwork) on stations, cuttings, culverts and bridges. He charges £10k per week which costs him £5k in labour and associated costs for 4 men doing bricks! Nice work if you can maintain it! He tells that trees is a waste of money as breakages are too dear and labour not productive enough. He likes de-veg but wished it made more money for him - having said that, he has five x £33k machines off me as well as two rentals, each gets him £220 per shift, therefore a couple of shifts pays a months finance charges....

I then headed to the factory to get rid of the trailer, get my tacho downloaded and see to a few things there. By the time I got home, Caz was there and it was time to knock off. I did manage to contact my first appointment tomorrow up by Burnley. Good job I did as he changed his mind from tomorrow fo Wednesday. A day at home playing catch up then.....

Caz in bed with the alarm going off soon after 01:30!

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Another of those nights where I didn't sleep well after Caz went. Could have lobbed the alarm out the window!

Spent the phoning people and trying to organise stuff but nowt seems to work right at the moment! One chap hasn't paid when he should have, an enquiry comes in and I'm passing with the right machine but no time, someone wanted me to do a delivery and is now away when it can be done, an open day to be done on a Friday which is awkward as I don't fancy a truck load of kelter at mine all weekends, a coat and fleece I asked for hasn't been offered, an easy warranty claim seems to be sticking in someone's inbox unnecessarily and Tom wants to bugger about with cars on my drive again!

The bank rang, the paperwork they needed about my lemon Q7 doesn't appear to be complete, they need an independent report on the damaged suspension, despite me giving them the two bits of paper from an independent confirming everything! Then they find that and on we give! They say it will be yet another three weeks! I hope they find in my favour as going legal online seensxa nightmare! Oh well, such is life.

Caz has a lie in until 03:30!

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Caz away too early and is too tired, she works too hard!

I was in the truck and away at 07:15 to go and see a customer in Barnoldswick, the motorway from North of Sheffield via Leeds and off at Bratford is lousy! The customer wants training on his two new machines and he has two others too. Good people who have latched on to some good work which pays well! Don't know specifically where they make their money, but they have plenty. Anyway, they ordered these two at the show in September and took delivery just before chrimble and needed me to sign them off as trained and able to pass on the training to their staff. One of these new machines had a few faults from poor design and execution so it has to come back which I find infuriating!

After that, off to see a dealer in Burnley then home. While at the dealership, I have to collect some parts sent in error - another annoying occurance!

Tom is at mine for tea, divorced Dad's Wednesday....Pip not bothered about coming over! Caz in bed by 21:00 as another 11.5  hours to be done!

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Caz away early and it took me a while to get back in to sleep mode - it seemed too quite but no snow had fallen....

Took the Ranger for its 40k service. The girl in there was surprised that according to Ford, that is the 4 year service and it is 7 months old! It needs new tyres as they have feathered the fronts and run over inflated on the back due to towing and the centre line is down to 2mm. Under £500 and away we go! Nice walk down from the garage to home to spend the day on the computer. Quite a lot done with some good enquiries sorted and a couple of issues sorted. Sweet! but still not enough done - every time I sit here, I tend to calls saying 'can you do this for me?', 'can you sort that for me?'. Things like a list issued of sales contacts seems to have missed a load of my folk that were on the list last year! Trade shows that we are at last year but not featured in the diary for this year etc.

Tom came about, he has bother at Morrison's, they apparently have not paid him properly again and when he queried it, he was accused of calling his superior a liar. When he proved that he had worked (at their request) and not been paid for it and his boss had downgraded his hours, it proved that there was some lying going on! So, someone else told him that he had been re-deployed onto shelf stacking by the liar to get him out of admin! Time for him to get what he is owed and move on! There is a jobs fair at EMA this weekend but it isn't his environment and they have their issues too. Apparently, the ASO folk at Manchester get paid nearly £2 ph more than at EMA for the same work! And, are rebelling at their terms and conditions. Caz was saying that their pay offer wasn't accepted and that Management had decided a better off was on the lines of 'A better offer, that you are advised to accept, is to forget the benefits and we will forget that you turned us down!' syndrome....

Speed awareness clinic tomorrow. Should be able to teach them a thing or two - or not as I keep getting caught!

 

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Caz away early, surprise, surprise! I was away in time for the speed awareness clinic - now called Driver Awareness Clinic! Unfortunately, when you do upwards of 50k pa, you collect a few points etc so this is my five, I think.... I was stuck in traffic once some 5 miles away from one once and missed the start. I was invited to pay again and re-book, I argued the toss and got three points and £60 for my bother! Hey Ho, after all, I was caught speeding....58 in a 60, but I was towing so my limit is 50!

The course wasn't as good as some I've been on, one presenter lacked the spark that a good presenter needed. A chap on my table insisted in voicing his opinion at every turn and some dickheads on the table behind get on cracking 'gags' to the rest of the table and they would laugh etc. Hey ho, re-aligned for a while.....

The bank phoned, they seem to think that they will refund me my money for the lemon Q7 - the retailer will then have 60 days to convince them that I didn't deserve it. SWEET!

The survey came through on the house that Caz put an offer on. The value was put at £0! Roof, chimney, guttering, external wood, some brickwork, new electrics, gas certificate, lead water pipes, floors, internal damp and knotweed! We both feel a little deflated and a little bit faithless in the process, I got to ring the Agents tomorrow, one question I will ask is 'how many other people had a survey?' If the previous attempt failed after a survey - I'll be asking the vendor for that cost back!

Wine and tripe on the box! hurry up 6 Nations!

 

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Hello Pete,

I too read your posts with interest, and as I have said before, I am amazed you don't meet yourself on the way back! 

Particularly interested in the speed awareness course, or whatever it is called. My (very fortunate) inexperience of these is such that I would have imagined that there would have been a limit to the number of opportunities there were to attend the course, rather than being penalised with the points. Not so then? 

Sorry to hear about the house. No doubt local surveyors do well out of such properties, and as you say, a good future-experience question of estate agents would be to ask if any other surveys had been done, and the intended buyer subsequently did not go ahead as a result. Would I be pessimistic in thinking the answer would be moderated by the so called Data Protection Act!?? 

Kind regards,

Gareth. 

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Hi Gareth, there is a limit to the frequency of the Speed Awareness courses. Typically, you are only allowed them every three years, otherwise you get points and a fine. They are usually given to people for minor transgressions and not big offences. All of my misdemeaners are in the order of 36 in a 30 in a rural setting, 48 in a forty and 58 in a 60 and towing. I have got to the point that I have had 9 points on my licence - I'm not proud of that fact but it is a hazard of having to drive an awful lot and having too many other things going on in my work life which means your concentration can drift....That and being !Removed! unlucky at times! I got told on one thing that on the day I was done, only three cameras out of 150, were being used in that county. To be fair, they don't want to catch people speeding and make money from it but stop people from speeding and save money in accident costs etc. Since I got this Ranger, I use cruise control and speed limiter more often and even use the selective gearbox occasionally!

Caz away for the 03:30 to 15:30 shift - back now and very tired and demoralised. She's having a kip....

After she had gone to bed, I re-read the survey and thought about this. I think the surveyor was a tad keen on some points and given a red mark on some points that can be explained or quantified better. If the lead pipe in the water system was really bad for you, the Severn Trent would have replaced it years ago for example. Caz and I will talk through some of the points, send it to the Agents with a letter saying that unless a few things are done, we will back out but accept other things as they are. If the venders really want to sell, then they will get a quote for it and then see if it is in £00's or £000's and make a judgemnent call. After all, they had rented it out for years and the letting agent would have insisted that things were right!

I collected a loan chipper from a dealer this morning so I can go and do a bit of tree work tomorrow at the house of Caz's daughter's SO. That and some housework were the order of the day - even fitted a twin socket in the kitchen which already has a pair of USB sockets in it. I got fed up with a kettle that was unplugged for a phone and a toaster that was swapped for a tablet!

I noted that the new tyres fitted to the Ranger hum more than the previous but it feels more planted and less squidgy! Best part of £800 for the four and a tracking check but the last Goodrich M&S tyres did over 80K!

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Caz away early for the last shift until 04:30 on Wednesday. I got up after a little lie in, then after a light breakfast, loaded up some tools and headed up to Tuxford to do a little tree work for Caz's daughter's SO. I collected a chainsaw from hers then got busy. I got a couple of troublesome discs and they choose today to remind me that I'm 55 and not 25! Humping brash and using a chainsaw ain't as easy as it used to be! Got the job done and now in fair pain!

There were 5 fence line Hollies to fell and two ornamental Cherries to be pulled out by the root! I set the Tirfor winch and after a couple of discussions, left Josh to it! We used the last two shear pins and had to resort to using a nail! Not advised but they came out! Brash chipped into a couple of builders bags and I left him with a pile of green logs, some sticks and twigs and sawdust and wood chips to tidy up! He asked how to kill the roots left from the Holly trees, I told him to wee on them twice a day. "Does that work?", "No, but the neighbors will get to know you better!"

In a fair amount of pain on the only night that Caz has been about for some time! Now laid flat and consider a medicinal bottle of wine necessary!

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Disaster! The back ache got worse until I couldn't move, sleep, cough - anything. Lousy nights sleep and extremely annoyed that work is off the schedule! Many years ago, I started with the same symptoms and was diagnosed with two discs that start to try and bulge out, the surrounding muscles go into spams and start to rip a bit. Some very light exercises that I was advised to do by a chiropractor helps when a mild occurrence occurs, but when it is as bad as this then various massages, painkillers, rest and the exercises start the healing process - possibly another 8 - 12 weeks before its back to normal! And quite a few trips to the chiro chap and his team! It has thrown this weeks schedule out of the window! Driving for more than 45 mins is not advised......

Monday was a couple of Network Rail visits in Leicester and Derby followed by loading a trailer with two units in Alcester.

Tuesday was onsite training with Durham Council (two lots) another Rail visit and drive to Glasgow.

Wednesday was more Rail people and a drop in Bishopton followed by a demo in Kinross, following that, drive towards home and maybe another visit or two.

Thursday, was another load for an open day in Huddersfield which is best set up today in readiness for tomorrow. I would have taken a Sprinter and tri-axle trailer and 3 machines.

Friday - Open Day at Rodgers Plant in Huddersfield followed by the drive to Warwickshire to get my car for the weekend.

Now trashed! I couldn't even get on the Chiro couch without tears! And likely because years ago I used to lift stuff that was ill advisable! Tree work can put unbelievable pressures on your body! Even using a chainsaw can put hellish side loads on your spine!

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Another awful day - I don't do unwell very well. Even sitting at the desk is painful so keep having to lie down, then try and exercise, deal with a few calls then back to the desk. The office are helping with the few logistical jobs etc but i'm not very productive and my capacity to endure some of the less well intentioned at work is putting me in a bad frame of mind! I passed a warranty job over to he that deals with that in the Autumn and he didn't do anything. So I calmed the dealer and the customer down and tried again to hand it over -'leave it to me and the staff - that's our job!' and guess what? He hasn't even called the lad - I (sales people) have the hardest job and manage quite well only for others to think that I'm wrong for criticising them for dropping the ball.....Grrr.

Day time TV is awful at best and youtube only entertains for a few minutes. I sleep badly with the pain so catch up during the day.

More physio on Friday and things best get better soon as I got a two day trade show at the Ricoh Arena soon ans standing on hard floors all day can be a trying period! 

Caz coming back to tonight as she has an early start so I hope that the snow is kind to her. She is bringing some supper with her so at least I've been let off that job. 

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Really frustrated with this back issue! Painful all the time and do much to do! Cannot sleep very well and cannot sit at the desk much either! Proper screwed the job up! 

Caz was supposed to finish at 7:30 but due to staff absences, she had to stay until 16:30! That place is a mess! 

Caz's sister was made redundant from her Management Account position and another good friend got let go from her high paying gig too. Drama on a high scale for them. Although Jan has a 3 months notice and that's a chunk of garden leave, it still leaves a nasty taste!

Really looking forward to a healing miracle!

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Caz up at 3 and I didn't sleep well after that, back is right sore so couldn't get comfortable! Up and trying to do desk stuff but can only get a 30 minute stint then have to lie down for a bit! Light exercise and tablets again! Pins and needles in my left leg ain't good!

Got a bit done but again, frustrated by a few who seem to be in buffoon mode! The boss rang and did say that if in doubt, forget the show in Coventry next week! Open day in Huddersfield tomorrow will not get me out of bed either!

Trying to deal with a Safety Rep who says that our machines are not safe to use and need modifying, is also shortening my patience at the moment! He dictates that, in his area, they have to have a safety cut off at each end, this in addition to the ignition key at one end and a safety bar at the other! But he is an expert and we as manufacturers don't know what we are talking about!

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Another frustrating, painful day. Caz not in until late morning and only for a few hours! Good to spend some time together for a change. 

Her solicitor rang about the house was lined up to buy. Basically, run a mile unless the vendor puts right all the red flags including Knotweed! She feels that someone has been less than honest about it. The annoying thing is that we have parted with £600+ already and someone may have been slightly glib with the truth!

Work is getting hectic - hence the frustration, but thankfully, the office says get repaired and well and they will manage the show and any physical contact that I cannot handle! So far, my sole contribution to this show next week has been to order 2kg of pork scratchings! We got a new machine launch which will soak up a load of time, effort and money soon too!

Caz away to bed as she got 04:30-16:30 next and I got wine, bean bag and 6 Nations! A good mate, a big rugby fan who qualifies to play in the veterans team of The Melrose Cup, and knows a lot of the Scottish team, tells me that his 6 year old lad is running out with the under 20's Scotland break as a mascot! The lad is on the Autistic spectrum so I hope it goes well for him! I get emotional thinking about it!

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Up and away to run an errand for Caz, still in a lot of pain and doubly frustrated! Right annoyed that I cannot get on!

Did a little housework while she at work and watched a thrilling match - Scotland beat Italy at Murrayfield. Caz and I went a couple of years ago and it was a fantastic occasion and the town was heaving and we drank a lot too! Must do that again.

She came home from a 12 hour shift and is taking a nap while England beat Ireland in Dublin for the first time in 6 years. Epic match.....

Withdrew the bid that Caz had on a house in Loughborough - it has a knotweed issue and the vendor would not sort that out. Our solicitor advised that it may not be a good idea as it will be on any search records and devalue the house and make it harder to sell in the future. The snag list on the survey was a little daunting and we took the decision to withdraw but feel sorry for the vendor. We are out of pocket on some fees etc but that is life....

No snow here but very cold....

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Another day of frustratingly weak backs....I had to fit a new shower today, it is an electric/mains water thing and it has a leak from water flow tap which could have been repaired with a new gasket but, it has been in there for some years and probably furred up internally so I just to B&Q and got another of the same make so that I knew it was going to go straight back up. Hard work just because of my back ache. Doddle otherwise. When the shower was first fitted, they had the insight to put a stop tap in the cold water pipe in the airing cupboard....If the back wasn't so tender, I would have spent the day trying to get the dead Focus going in readiness of it's appearance on Ebay!

Tom got the engine out of the Subaru on the pavement outside his mothers and that engine is now in my drive - he will strip it and send it off with a load of other bits to get pepped up. But he doesn't seem too keen on doing the brakes and suspension to match the expected new performance. I ended up saying that as he doesn't listen, I'll not advise!

Caz ended up working from 04:30 to 16:30, she has now gone to Wood Land for a night to spend some time with her kids. Makes me laugh, she will be on the sofa with Woody the big GSD and the kids will be in their rooms......she will have some time tomorrow to do some drive byes doing some house hunting in Retford. She likes a couple and you certainly get more for your money than in Loughborough but then, Loughborough has more chance of renting it out for good coin too.

I couldn't be bothered to do a sunday roast type of meal so had cheese on toast with eggs on top, bacon and tinned spaghetti (the only tin in the cupboard besides tinned fruit and tuna!)

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Think I'm going stir-crazy being house bound for so long!

Having said that, done a couple of sweet deals over the phone and emails today and had several good conversations going forwards. But, had some bad news too, one of my Reps from Scotland who I tried to do a couple of deals with has had a bout of bad health and he will be off for some time, he has been off since christmas and poor chap has breathing difficulties and carries and oxygen bottle with him now. Awful place to be.....That means I got four with health issues and that doesn't include me!

Caz looked at a house in Retford and is full of the joys of that place now. She has just left having been up all day to do a 20:00 to 08:00 shift! She'll be wasted tomorrow and she booked herself in for another couple of viewings too! I got to cook tea now, cold ham, sweet potato fries and broad beans in parsley sauce! Nice....

Tom's Lexus failed the MOT on a loose suspension component, brake lines and headlight level. He wished he didn't get the thing now! He will be quite proficient in keeping old sheds going soon! He also found out that the firm that was going to rebuild his Subaru engine cannot look at it for two months. I told him to do it himself -it ain't rocket science - just expensive getting heads skimmed, new valve stems, gasket set, shells, turbo check, injectors etc.....He helped me rebuild a Rover V8 some years ago, and I learnt to do stuff like that without the aid of YouTube too!

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Woke in pain at 04 something, couldn't sleep again - good job as I'd locked Caz out! She got sent home early and I'd left the key in the door! But hardly got back to sleep again and then had the first appointment at the Chiropractors. I always feel a bit bruised and damaged after a massage or what ever. Still sore so stayed at home for the rest of the morning the headed out to the factory. Got to try and be physically productive.....to much to do.

Collected a trailer and a tracked unit that was delivered with a faulty plug. That has to go back to its customer in Derby - still no word from them as to these extra 'stop' buttons that they need. Had a good time chatting with people at the factory but it looks like I am going to get stiffed by that awful colleague. Because I wasn't able to answer the phone, he has lent out a demo unit that we had agreed that I could have for a day. Now that he has found out that it is now double booked, he is denying the conversation and not being truthful. Whether he has it and my dealer/ customer gets stiffed or I have it and his does - we look stupid....and that really grates with me. He has the machine out already so I doubt whether I'll be able to honour my promise.......I'm already annoyed that he had a trailer for private use and has left it dirty and covered in wet hay after getting fodder for his sheep at the weekend. He thinks that someone else can clean it as it is beneath him!

Caz back from house viewing again, poor girl is shattered after the last few days and has gone to bed already to be up at 03:30 again. The house offer on the this new refurbished 3 bed victorian terrace has been accepted subject to survey etc! Bless her, she is now a tad nervous of it.....


 

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Caz away early and I left the house at 8. I went to the Network Rail spot in Derby to return their new machine! Their safety rep has quarantined the machine as he believes that it needs an engine kill switch by the tracking controls. I keep pointing out that the ignition switch bus one and there is a stop button on the control panel but his opinion cannot be changed! If they want it, I'll price it up, and they can pay!

Then head off to Honley by Huddersfield to collect a loan machine. It had gone to a Plant Hire customer who has moved from his old premises to a purpose built spot. The old place has been sold for housing, it was an absolute dive too. Decrepit, damp, falling to bits with an awful workshop and filthy yard!

I had intended to go to Warwickshire, then off to the Hire Show at The Ricoh Arena but back ache started to set in so called it quits and peel off the A38 south of Derby and head home to lie flat!

A deal was done at the show to a hire company based in my area so all good!

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Caz started at 04:30 and they asked her to stay on so she came home at 16:30! Now in bed having a kip (although I can hear her on the phone now), and I'll have supper ready for about 19:30. Pork neck fillet, salad and sweet potato fries.

I started the day badly as I didn't sleep well again, pottered around with some planning and a sore back and decided only to go to the factory and back, giving the Ricoh and miss. It transpired that there was no need to go to the show as it wasn't over good. Not many visitors or potentials to follow up which is disappointing and too many suppliers trying to get our business! I do find it rather annoying when we have paid a fortune to be at a show to sell stuff, to be mythered by people trying to flog us hydraulic pumps, oils, tyres, blah blah blah. I know that they are only doing their job, but they just need the exhibitors list and then do their selling to the buyers! No need to ask me what hydraulic pumps we use and whether we are happy with our supplier!

I loaded the chipper that I needed for this demo tomorrow in St Helens and disappeared! We had a few upsets mind. I got the second of two flagship machines being delivered today and a loan machine collected from the same place. Going on what I was told, the driver would be there mid morning. The customer waited in with a few staff. It is going straight to site for a night shift up country. They rang me at 11:30, I rang the driver - he was at the other end of the county going to a different address! I had to get him to divert and drive from Leighton Buzzard to Wellingborough! The dispatch people had forgotten the conversation that we had had.....Another upset being that an incorrect pto shaft had been sent out and it had subsequently broken. So, in our infinite wisdom, we sent out another. This is also the wrong one! I also got asked by the Service manager about another tractor mounted machine that cannot be lifted up very far or the PTO shaft falls in two. This means that the geometry is all wrong and the tractor is effectively too close - I raised this as an issue some 20 years ago and at several points since. Even going to the extent or ordering up new/modified pickup mounts for the last three that I have sold and berating the Management and Development Teams for continuing to make the same base errors! Guess what, our new demo unit is the same and there is one being shipped to France tomorrow! I once pointed out that I don't 'cry wolf', but will stop making any suggestions going forward and let them keep turning out the same problems! To paraphrase Einstein 'it is madness to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result! or 'Do what you always done, and you'll always get what you always got!'

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The end of another week! Although Caz has another 12 hour stint in the wee small hours.

I got to St Helens in good time for the demonstration today of our 9" tractor mounted woodchipper. Fortunately for me, the Dealer Rep and their staff did most of the work getting it on their tractor which with 90hp, will make it sing! The weather was a tad cold, wet and windy so people didn't want to hang about but they drove it off to site, fired it up and fed some tidy lumps of Ash through it! The safety bar which controls which way the rollers turn was too sensitive and kept stopping or reversing the rollers but with a quick wave of a couple of spanners that I secreted on my person, it got stiffened up and away they went. Right impressed! Delivery on this is between 8-10 weeks so they will place their order and pay for it and wait for it to come. Wished I had more deals like that! Interesting fact though, they had ours back in 1999 - I remember going there to swap a faulty solenoid valve in my Service days, and they remembered that and admitted that they had had second thoughts because of reliability issues from back then! It was lunchtime by the time we got it back on the trailer and I headed south into the M6 traffic delays!

Dropped it off at the factory and after a quick natter - headed back up the M42 to Shepshed. Home now....

I got a message from tree surgery forum that I've been a 'name' on since 2007, some young lad from down south pinged me a message complaining that his machine broke down some three weeks ago. The dealer came out straight away (bonus point), but had to take it back as a part was needed. Young lad is disappointed that we haven't yet sent the parts etc....he is having to hire a machine to complete his work and thought he would be chipper-less for a couple of days. I shove it back to our Parts and the Area Manager for explanation. It turns out that the parts are packed and ready to go and have been since the breakdown but the dealer is 'on stop' for not paying his bills! Nice of him to blame us for sending wrong parts and then not sending them! Tricky situation to try and answer....

Caz having a nap so I'll bob to shop to get stuff to make a stir fry - and the obligatory box of wine! (it will dull the pain of continuing back ache).

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Caz away up at 03:00. I snored through the night in a wine induced slumber! I gto up at 8:30 to start the routine of jobs etc. Back still hurts so not as productive as I would have liked....I would have loved to have got busy doing man stuff in the garage etc but was drained after the housework! Managed to spend a little time and thought on her old Focus - I fitted a clutch to it a while back and was going to gift to my daughter. She doesn't seem motivated to get a licence so it has sat there. After I fitted the clutch, it started, ran but then stopped and refuses to start again. A quick bit of simple stuff makes me think that, for whatever reason, the fuel is not getting to the engine. The interia switch is down, and fuses seem okay so the next thing to do is check the relay then onto the fuel pump. The pump is in the tank which is an awkward spot! Hey ho....for another day when the back doesn't protest.

Simple house work and an empty washing bin makes the back hurt so I'm glad that the 6 Nations is on, an excuse to do nowt! Scotland did well against a better team, and Wales are currently beating Italy - I feel that they may get the Wooden Spoon!

I was also doing a spot of ebay dreaming - what shall I get once i got rid of the diesel Corsa with a knackered ECU, the dead Focus and Sweet Sixteen! Even that needs a few days work, some tyres and possibly a few other bits. The front tyres are easy enough and nowt special but the backs are something like 295/60/15 and that rubber will be dear!

Caz came home at 17:00 looking and feeling shattered so is bed for a bit. Her next shift is early Tuesday. So she/we can have a drink tonight - and a lie in tomorrow.

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After a short lie in, we breakfasted and set out for North Nottinghamshire in two cars as Caz is staying there tonight where as I am back in Shepshed.

We took a half leg of lamb for a supper contribution and a Poinsettia plant that I got to grow from a cutting which has already got the top level of leafs going red - Caz's Mum is enthralled by it so it is hers.....She just has to remember to keep it stood in water.

The dog was happy to see us, nice animal and I wished in a way that I saw more of him! Caz's daughter was tired after a couple of late nights so a little angry. Caz's son disappeared early afternoon to spend some time with his Dad, I think Dad's relationship is a tad rocky at the moment!

We got to watch the 6 Nations -  what a match! A couple of dubious decisions in my book but hey, a win of that magnitude shows that we are doing well. It would be good to get the same sort of result against the Welsh!

Caz's Dad has done very well in life to provide for his three children having had all three go to Uni, and then monetary gifts to help buy houses etc. He has also seen that the 6 grandchildren have a start too. But, he can be a grumpy, rude and demanding sort who gets up my nose at times. He was starting to sort out firewood when we arrived back from a trip to Morrison and ignored us when we arrived - just walked in front of the car pushing a barrow. I opened the day and said 'Hi' blah blah. He never even said 'Hello' back....just asked why we hadn't cooked the lamb before we got there! Five minutes later, I went out to fill our barrow with logs and he just said 'leave it there - I don't want you having those logs out of the shed, I'll fill your barrow with old pallet wood'. He knows that I've spent a lifetime in timber and know how crap pallets are on a fire! - I say 'thankyou', leave the barrow and walk away! It is now wonder that Caz find's the place claustrophobic and feels the need to get away. Everytime you start to do something, he has to have an opinion, a say in how it is done and then sits there and watches others do it instead! He got given a Blue Cedar as a present and has already picked who is going to dig the hole, who is going to hold the tree and who is going to fill the hole! All while he stands there and directs. The dead Corsa, which needs an ECU, has already become a feed store for his chicken and geese! Despite me saying that I'll buy and ECU, get it running and sell it to recoup the loss - he starts filling it with his tut, knowing that it gets up my nose! And putting the feed in there is no better for him as he has to walk two sides of a triangle to get the feed instead of walking by the feed dustbin that he has used for years!

Back home now and after a bit of box, I'll be away to bed with a stiff back..

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Away in good time today to get to the office for filming. These are instructional videos on the safe use and correct maintenance of our wood chippers. They get emailed out to users, dealers and translated into different languages too. They get used in our Social Media campaigns as well as put up on YouTube for all to see. When you sell machines pretty well world wide then it is a good tool to have - visual will often take the place of the written word. We do videos that are purely promotional on models etc, some to promote the factory and there was one done which just pictured different members of the work force under the banner 'Proud People' which had a way of making them feel part of the team too. Today was two different models in the  same category and to be honest, I was struggling with stuff this morning and kept on fluffing things up! I forgot what things were called, fluffed lines and even dropped things! We got it done in the end apart from some voice over stuff which we will do later. Friday is another couple of models too.

I then had to load two towed units on a trailer - someone lost the remote to the winch lately so that was replaced by a cabled switch. But, in true style, that fitter has fitted one with a cable which only reaches half way down the bed! So, if you are trying to guide something onto the trailer like a vehicle or towed machine on bumpy ground or lift the tow bar up the ramp - it cannot be done! He also left the open plug dangling in a spot which picks up all the salt spray of the towing vehicle and put the toggle switch in the box full of wet and salty straps that 'sweat' everywhere! I would struggle to warrant paying that lad! He has recently had to service all the trailers and that means the brakes need re-adjusting as the brakes come on tight when reversing, and the last time he did the service, I lost a wheel on the M6!

Caz is driving across from hers after she has seen her family and she will be in bed early for her early shift pattern again.

The factory is holding an educational day for all employees on March 26th. We do this every now an then as it helps the staff understand what we make and why we make it! I usually get a couple of competitors machines for comparison and they are all invited to 'buy in' to the day to get a feel of our existence and what the sales people have to do to get the sale! Hopefully, it helps them, the team, to up their game and up the quality and reduce the foobars that need rectification. This year, they will have to do without me as Caz and I will be on holiday. They will have to make do with my colleague from the south - but I'm not sure that he can 'sell' the thing to staff as he has a way of demoralising people rather than motivating them. There is an awful lot of 'selling yourself' in any role at times, I was on the factory floor and the people can weigh up the sales force so you cannot lie to them - but you can 'hide' things. For instance, if you walk fast, they thing you are busy, if they don't see you, they thing that you are busy! If you always hang about the factory than they know that you aren't in your territory selling stuff. If you walk slowly, they don't think you have things on the go and ask the despatch people how many deliveries they have in your area! Unfortunately, they know he moved to on far corner of his area, he always appears at the factory and spends a few hours talking to people and they know........

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Caz away early, I woke up to say goodbye as I'm away myself until Thursday night.

I got up in good time and drove the truck and the 16 foot trailer over to Coalville to the Chirporactor. It is a thing to try and park at the best of times so had an early morning walk to his office having had to park several streets away! Treatment ongoing and he still can feel some tension in the muscles and it can be quite sore at times.

Once that was done, I had a few emails to do and a quick email search revealed that a competitive make is flogging a german made machine direct from their factory - it begs the question, did they buy it to copy it or at least see  how it works? We don't tend to buy but beg, borrow or rent them! This model would make us think that they want to get into a market that we are in and also are feeling the strain against another UK made, but German copy, unit.

Once those jobs were done, then pack a back, fold up my laptop, fit the tacho card in the truck and head north. I just not arrived in a Premier Inn in Lanarkshire ahead of tomorrow's demonstration. In real terms, the dealer should have one of these and should have been capable of doing it himself. But, by doing it, I can prove that they should have one and hopefully, sell a couple. I ought really to have a chase around the key account people too but I want to be home in reasonable time on Valentine's day - with garage flowers and crumpled card!

I phoned the card dispute team about the ongoing saga of the lemon Q7. I really am not a fan of call centres with staff whose English is not good to be honest. I got through to the 'Difficult Dispute Card Transaction' team who have been handling this with some priority for some 8 weeks! No one seems to have an idea on how long it will take to get to their resolution. But I think I may end up paying a UK solicitor as this lot seem to be a shower of stuff! These call centres seem to be full of  people who will 'personally take up your case', 'next time you ring, tell them that you are under the care of Karteek/Steve/Rashid/Richard and they will transfer you.....', 'Mr Bigguley/Barggily/ Buggerly/Mr Peter, we will contact you with the good news in two days!'...blah blah blah.....

The diary is going fairly mad now with requests for demo or help from all directions - that will look good in my report for the upcoming sales meeting but it will not be long before Caz and myself will have a break in Egypt! It'll be manic when that happens!

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The end of a tiring, frustrating and annoying long day!

Left the hotel at 08:10 for the 17 mile drive into Redford Barracks in Edinburgh which took 45 minutes! The bypass is as bad as the M25! Met the dealer rep and the potential customer. Ryan is leaving the Army to join the Reserves for two days a week while taking up tree work for the other three. Decent chap. I feel pretty awful as the demo unit is a disgrace, the paint is shocking and a previous demo had it rolled on it's side. For some reason, the service manager's decision to strip and rebuild was overuled as it was a cost issue!?! As a consequence, we have an unimpressive looking demo unit. We get the two off the trailer and I set about my speel. Ryan wants to feel how it goes behind his new 4x4 ARB truck. The body builders had made two mistakes in that the body was low slung and then impossible to hitch the chipper on it. Out come the spanners and I had to drop the hitch to make room. They had also fitted a seven pin plug when a 13 pin is standard fit on all trailer plugs!!! Good job I keep an adaptor. We have a drive around the outskirts of Edinburgh! Next comes the trial. All goes well until we get a tad over ambitious and stall it! Out come the spanners again. Not a good way to demo stuff. Baring a haggle over price the deal is done, brilliant! Then to load it all back on the trailer, the control lead is too short and I look a Pratt, getting the second one is a disaster, before the wheels are on the ramp the battery pack for the winch dies! I have nothing but a ratchet strap to winch it on! I feel really unprofessional in front of the customer and his dealer! Get it sorted and away!

Next is a quick dealer principal meeting which confirmed their commitment, ace!

The next job is a rescue/swap scheduled to be at Gordonstoun School up by Lossiemouth, some four hours drive! I'll be late and he cannot hang about as he has an evening appointment that he cannot break. He agrees to leave it elsewhere. I forget what PITA the A9 can be coupled with the cross country road from Aviemore. Stunning scenery but slow at times. Anyhow, I swap it for a loaner a bade my farewell. While I feel for him as the return is due to warranty issues that we singularly failed to address through the dealer, but his chipper is a disgrace, he hasn't cleaned it in a year and it is battered and dented! I'll struggle to defend him! The drive back from Elgin to Perth seemed to take forever! I got here at 19:50. Drained, cross, frustrated!

I had to put up with a call from the colleague who is the triumph of ambition over ability, he wanted to explain why he only 25k out of his tyres after he found out that I was put out at only getting 38k! Apparently, it is an issue with a trailer that he tows yet he couldn't answer why it happened later on mine and I tow more than him! Then he starts to tell me how brilliant his day has been as he has sold a dealers demo unit from him, but is for a lot less than the lad wanted for it! I am also reminded that has driven further than me this week and he hasn't had time to see anyone important as he has too busy getting there and back!!!! I despair!

Caz lonely at home, but she confessed to having a walk/talk with younger workmate. Poor girl, mid-twenties, rented house, BMW, etc, is over £25k in debt! Yes, I'm in debt with a mortgage but that is it! She admitted that she borrowed money to buy stuff as she was unhappy with her life and people queued up to justify her borrowing from them! Crazy!!!

That's all folks, shattered and time for bed!

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