One of the things that is becoming increasingly difficult in running even a small gardening company such as Four Seasons, is the ability to maintain complete autonomy over it. For the past seventeen years we have developed it, have properties that we have chosen, company paper and logos of our own design, and accounts and invoicing that we have had complete control over.
During the last few months we have been having this challenged, and in one particular instance, have had to bend to a bigger gun, which let me tell you doesn't go down well at all. We have always tried to have as few 'eggs in one basket', as they say, when it comes to taking on contracts from an individual company. This enables us to drop certain places should conflicts arise, which thankfully has only happened on a couple of occasions. This can be challenged however, when properties change management, and a cluster become grouped together, resulting in a situation where 25% of our income is handled by one company. They recently informed us that they were making their accounting and invoicing system more efficient, and as a result all companies that have work with them must now undertake to train and use their own on line invoicing system. As you can imagine, my written response was somewhat vitriolic and damning, but alas fruitless. It's a case of do it our way, or lose the contracts.........we had been caught in the very trap that we had managed to avoid so well for all these years, as a quarter of our income is too much to give up in one go. We will change that at the first opportunity, but must endure for now.
We have also just changed accountant, as our previous had finally decided to quite justifiably retire. We had a way of preparing our accounts, in a format that we could clearly understand and handle, but our new fellow is insistent that to make things 'better' for understanding our own companies finances, we should undertake to start using his own accounting spreadsheets which are much more complex, to us anyway. Another example of others trying to take away our autonomy because they are in actual fact all trying to make their own lives easier by making the workload less, whilst increasing ours. It's an easier problem to solve, but unwelcome nonetheless.
These are however technical problems. Gardening is still for me a vocation, and as long as people don't start demanding that I must become an office worker or engineer, then troubles can be worked away in a garden.
It's April, mostly dry and sunny so far. There is lawn food to put down, spring pruning, several planting schemes to carry out, and things all over are starting to grow in earnest. Youngest daughter Rebecca has come out on occasion, choosing to spend her days off from her own full time job gardening, and clearing her own head of 'stuff', and also to give her old man a hand.
So why the picture at the beginning, and the title?
On Monday evenings Amanda is at college in the New Forest. The evenings are now much lighter, and so I now head into the forest and 'lose' myself there for a couple of hours. There is nothing quite like burying oneself deep in the woods, settling down somewhere remote, perhaps with a book, but mainly to just sit back against a tree, close ones eyes, and just listen and rest. Ever since I was about eleven I have found it a place to still the mind, perhaps reflect. There have been loads of nights spent with friends in such a place, sleeping under the stars with good conversation around a campfire, a decent whisky, and lamb cooked over the open fire. This year I plan to take grandson Joshua for his first wild camp, and so a good introduction to what it's all about.
During this evenings walk to find a spot I came upon this area that had been badly damaged by the recent storms. It was really quite eerie and strange, with so many leviathans laying where the wind had taken them down. I settled down amongst them, and found peace for a couple of hours.