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The story of our Olive Garden in Central Portugal

Literally on the day of the Brexit vote, we signed the papers to buy our small house in central Portugal.  As with our house in the UK, it was the garden which swung our decision – about an acre of grass, olive trees and vines, sloping down and in a sorry state of neglect.  This is our Olive Garden story…

In June 2017, our builder had almost finished our house renovation near Pedrogao Grande, Central Portugal, and we were looking forward to planning our garden around 25 existing olive trees.  But by the time we arrived 3 weeks later, a deadly and voracious fire storm had devastated much of the nearby forest, killed more than 60 people and burned quite a bit of our garden including several of the olive trees.  The landscape looked like a continuous sepia photograph that stretched across 73 thousand acres.

The picture shows top left, looking towards the house and the lush green olive garden as it first looked in January 2017; top right a side view of the scorched garden from an old cork oak after the fire in July 2017; bottom left looking out at the garden from the house after we cleared away the weeds, remnants of our builder’s fire, rubble and rubbish in November 2017; and lastly daffodils, the first flowers we planted, coming up in March this year with abundant fresh green growth after 3 weeks of torrential rains.

Read the full story here.

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Japanese Knotweed Found in Wisbech

Japanese KnotweedWe spotted a rather worrying report from the EDP about 5 sites in Wisbech and Whittlesey where there is Japanese Knotweed growing. No doubt you’ve heard of it and know it’s an invasive plant that can undermine brickwork and concrete causing serious problems.

The good news is that is doesn’t spread by seed and the bad news is that even a tiny piece of root left in the ground can grow into a plant. And the worrying news is that this photo in the paper doesn’t really help to identify it. Non Native Species Secretariat has a really good list of fact sheets to help do that here: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?sectionid=47

Is Business Planning just pie in the sky?

Far be it for me to disagree with so esteemed a venture capitalist as founder of Dropbox, Fitbit and GuitarHero Brad Feld when he says that “business plans are dead.  Business planning is not.”  In context, he’s talking about how a traditional 45 page business plan is out of date as soon as it’s written, and how one page business model summaries are more in keeping with today’s business world.

I don’t disagree entirely – but I think the purpose of the plan helps determine its format – and length.  Submit a one page summary to a funder, and if they can be bothered instead of issuing a straight rejection, they’ll come back with detailed questions regarding cost and resource implications, cash-flow forecasts and requesting much more detail to support their decision making.

A short summary may be sufficient if the plan is to support the business’ internal strategic direction  – but it will still need to be backed up with specifics on how to manage the logistical change any business plan necessitates.

For help turning your ideas into a plan – however long it needs to be, give us a call…

Some short cuts to Twitter skills…

We were recently asked to co-host one of our local #Twitter hours, #ElyHour and give some #socialmedia input.  Our audience tended to be people using Twitter, but needing to get become more effective at it.  We decided to have a little play with a new product, Adobe Spark, to give our ideas a bit of pzazz  – or is it pizazz?  Here’s the link to our little videos. 

Our aim was to give an insight into some of the shortcuts which make using Twitter so easy.  If you’re interested in going deeper into some of the Dark Arts, a useful start point is this article which handily summarises 93 free Twitter apps, complete with links.