I suppose that it is not really surprising that my cars generally die on the A9. Mind you, it is almost equally surprising that they don’t die on the A96. I know these roads between Thurso and Elgin pretty well. I must admit that of the two I probably prefer the A9 north of Inverness. I dare say that you all have your favourite scenery but driving on the A9 in spring or early summer when the whin is out on a sunny day is breathtaking, or at least it is to me. The A96 to me means chugging along in a never-ending convoy of cars. However, on a Thursday morning at around 5am I leave Elgin for Inverness and the road is fine, barely another car to be seen. You can maybe think of better things to be doing at 5am on a Thursday morning.
So, what about the A9 south of Inverness? I avoid it if at all possible. It is a long boring drive usually stuck behind a convoy of cars with one or more trucks at the front that nobody wants to overtake because of the average speed cameras. I prefer to get the train! That of course means we no longer frequent the watering holes along the way, but so be it.
I don’t tend to drive expensive cars, so that over the years I have worked my way through various cars such as a Ford Focus, Audi A3 and a couple of Ford Kuga’s. It always goes the same way. I drive these roads every week, almost as regular as clockwork. Then, something happens. The engine blows and I end up driving into Thurso with blue smoke coming out of the back, the clutch suffers a catastrophic failure and I need to be rescued from Helmsdale, or I limp into Thurso with no power in my engine. Whatever the reason, I need to get back on the road quickly. I am usually on a new set of wheels in about a week. Same this time. Car died (on the A9 of course) and today, 10 days later I am back on the A9 with a 70 plate Ford Kuga ST Line 1st Edition with just 19000 miles on the clock, with the help of Warren Tullock and his team at W R Tullock & Son in Kirkwall. Not sure where he finds them but he seems to come up trumps. As I was driving on snow this morning and sliding all over the road, it reminded me that I just need to get winter tyres fitted, so a trip to see Sandy Mackenzie at Goodtread Tyres in Alness is overdue, I think.
So, what happened to my latest car? Don’t ask. Suffice to say that you are unlikely to see it on the A96 or A9 again. I know, that is not an unusual outcome when I am finished with one of my cars. I’ll try not to do it with this Kuga, but no promises.
You are maybe wondering why I might want to leave Elgin at 5am every Thursday morning heading for Inverness. It’s very simple. We joined BNI in Inverness when it launched in 2015 and since then we have won so much new business, that we want to continue that association.
It was fine when I was in Inverness on a Wednesday night because I did not have far to travel on a Thursday morning. I aim to be at the venue in Inverness by 6.30am. Since we acquired Cathedral Accountancy in Elgin last June, I am now in Elgin on a Wednesday night. So, a bit of commuting is required, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
There are BNI chapters all around the world. It is a massive member organisation and really works for us. That is why we also joined the chapter in Moray, and the online Highland chapter, Tuath. There are other chapters dotted around the rest of Scotland. The Thursday morning meetings are short, about 2 hours but very effective and we have made some outstanding connections over the years. It is very business focused but there is a strong social side as well. Some of us remember some of the Xmas outings to The White House in Inverness. I suspect that some do not!
But the Highland Chapter of BNI also organises other events to promote its members, with the aim of keeping business in the North of Scotland. We have some fantastic local businesses, many of which you have maybe never heard of, let alone used. So, recently they organized an expo showcasing the many and varied businesses represented in the Highland Chapter. We missed it! Now, that is not like us. They are such good fun. Unfortunately, I broke my wrist and it is still in plaster, but “we will be back!”. It’s not in my nature to miss a good expo!
It’s quite funny but I thought that we were quite paperless. But breaking my wrist has shown me just how dependent I really was on paper. Office files and working papers are all paperless but I have habitually carried a couple of ring binders in which I keep track of various workflows. But no more! Anyway, with only one good wrist I cannot carry the extra brief case that I need. So, I now have my OneDrive set up along with OneNote. This means that I can upload any records and access them across my various devices from anywhere. I can access them when logged into our office network, when I am off the network working on my laptop and I can even access them on my phone, and they are all synchronised. Magic!
But, there is some paper that I cannot ever see being replaced. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Let’s get some more tech! It’s great.
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership