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The dreaded F-word comes fairly swiftly close to the dreaded P-word. If it’s not Finance, it’s Politics which has us all groaning.  At home, in the office, at work; everywhere….. and now even the machine in the corner is turning away with a groan as ISP’s are blocking out anything with a capital consonant.

Sure, we get Spam at office and home, and, yes it is infuriating; although we’re thinking of collecting all the subject lines and becoming scriptwriters for the Comedy Club. 

But how do you get the balance between using 21st Century facilities in Business…….. or being perceived as a Spammer in the works?

(Image Credit: dok1    Article credit: Copyright SUF )

Pubs

Pubs, contributors to communities, are still closing their doors at an average rate of 39 per week; over 2,000 each year.  However, bucking this trend is a new source of funding for pub purchase or refinance for the smaller Independent. With the Budget looming and therefore the obligatory rising duty and taxes, we hope that this news “hits the parts others can`t reach”

Surveyors

Allied Surveyors Plc, one of the UK`s best known firms of Surveyors, has ceased trading. However, with an agreed Management Buy-Out, the restructuring is currently being coordinated.  The Residential and Commercial arms are being kept apart, and Allied (Scotland) will continue to reflect the different processes created by the Home Report, now in place in Scotland.

Rates

We are still pleased to say that, although finance is constantly fluctuating, up to 100% Business finance remains available for Purchase or Remortgage of Pharmacies, Surgeries, Opticians, Vets, Care and Nursing Homes. Residential 90% loan-to-value funding is available for mortgages and 90% LTV for personal loans including debt and credit card consolidation.

Claims Management

A major UK Claims Management Firm is being investigated by The Ministry of Justice, although no specific details are available as these could jeopardise the progress and outcome of their investigation. For a fee, the company offers to review customer credit card, and similar, accounts to establish whether the credit agreements are enforceable by the provider.

Estate Agents

The Office of Fair Trading has recommended that the Government considers imposing new rules regarding fees received by Estate Agents for referring buyers to providers of ancillary services such as mortgage advice. “The OFT believes this could cause an Estate Agent to favour one buyer over another, to the seller`s disadvantage”.  Here at SUF we have been saying this for nearly two decades, and firmly hold the opinion that any, and every, sales process within the home purchase/remortgage arena should be regulated by one consistent source, the FSA.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

 March:  

St. David’s Day …..  St Patricks Day…..   First Day of Spring ….. Mother`s Day…..  Six Nations Finals …..  Cheltenham Gold Cup  and British Summer Time.  Lambs gambol in meadows between the golden daffodils, cute critters wake up to the sound of the bluebird of happiness singing high on bud-laden boughs as Spring bursts out…. Oooh!  Can you hear the needle scratch across the virtual record of Disneyesque music lilting in the background?  The booing and hissing is almost audible as March is hobbled together with a looming Budget and enters rather like Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring  ; all angles for the policy makers and budget people and reminder that, in economic terms,  Spring will have to face some strong winds.

Signs of destruction from a prolonged and cold Winter are all around and you don’t need us to be a Greek Chorus (no pun indented regarding the Euro debacle)  for details, suffice to say, tiptoe ‘around’ the tulips . Only a few months ago everyone was asking  ‘When will this ‘crisis’ be over?’ then we had, ‘What’s going to happen?’ and now we have ‘Will this ever be over, how can it all be turned around?’  The ‘bougette’ is unlikely to contain any answers to wealth creation; now represented by the large red briefcase  as opposed to the original true derivative, ‘little bag’.

With meanings including careful, anxious, busy, occupied, or diligent, `business’ , deriving from bisignes,  or bisig,  could be more than semantics in the economic woods this year, where Business, Companies and Industry are indicators. It will be interesting to see what will be built upon to protect any economic growth however, we note, a special scaffold is erected outside No. 11 at the time of the Budget……

… for photographers, we hasten to add.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

 

 

Look around the numbers and, if equipping yourself with statistics, get some probability for an emergency.

Fuelled both by the Winter Olympics  and extended British Winter, much discussion continues here at Step-Up  HQ  about metaphoric mountains.  Having likened the climbers and their mountains and considered  skills for survival in a wilderness  it was interesting to read  Mountain Rescue’s advice; although treacherous places without proper care the mountain experience can be enjoyed if steps are taken to minimise getting lost or hurt.

Starting with appropriate equipment, clothing, and sustenance, there’s then a whole raft of advice for reducing an unavoidable accident

The general rally, by those who know what they are doing, is:

Be Prepared; Risk comes through not understanding.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

“A man raised in one part of the desert would know its flora and fauna backwards. He knew which plant attracted game. He knew his water. He knew where there were tubers underground. In other words, by naming all the ‘things’ in his territory, he could always count on survival.”  A line from Bruce Chatwin’s,  controversial, Songlines.

By using skills, the wilderness, either geographical or personal reality, can be faced head on as an adventure because survival is more than just learning how to put up a shelter in the rain, getting those soggy bits of wood to burn and feeling cold and lost. It seems to us that developing skills and knowledge appropriate to `whatever your wild country is’ underpins a means of survival.

Having recently been inspired by both the pioneers of Old America and the current Olympians, we thought we’d acknowledge those who facilitate  ‘the acquisition of  skills and knowledge required to live and travel in wild country’  through the gathering of knowledge, as opposed to the hunter-gatherer philosophy.
‘Bushcraft exemplifies the spirit of pioneering; living in, and traversing wild places. With its romantic aspirations and harsh realities, Bushcraft informs and equips the individual for expedition and adventure travel; instilling a powerful sense of identity and self-reliance’.  Whether for a reconnection with the environment, or adventure travel,  the team of instructors and specialist wilderness guides at Woodsmoke offer opportunities for groups and individuals  to acquire skills and experience that empower.

Co-founders Ben McNutt   and   Lisa Fenton , along with their amazingly experienced team, offer a cornucopia of new experiences and perspectives, in stunning locations, amongst which are wildlife tracking and nature awareness (including plant lore and ethno biology), foraging, cooking, crafts (such as whittling and hide tanning) and expedition training, all accessible via their  website with insightful tutorials.

Offering a new perspective on the natural environment whilst pushing back the boundaries of capability and being with enthusiastic, informative and friendly people, the earth has a finite level of natural resources but it seems that Woodsmoke’s strength is that they haven’t finished naming all the things attainable in their territory; but survival counts on the likes of them.

 

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF. Video courtesy of Woodsmoke)

Grimacing, shouting, hiding eyes behind hands and admiration continues as we follow the athletes at  Whistler  who, without exception, give it their best shot.  Astonishing camera work allows empathy for situations we’ll never be placed in physically, whilst confirming, with the challenge of bad weather , the concept of metaphoric mountain.

 
During the last couple of years, probably the most frequently asked question to us  is, ‘What is going to happen?’ Applicable to all facets of how life is lived or business is played out ; a very reasonable question for the general where, why and how.  Applicable to where balance is placed, why a route is chosen and how prepared one is;  a huge question.

It’s rare to meet someone who hasn’t had the image of a solid wall of  mountain style black rock  placed in front them with a stream of further problems running down and around it. Unless it’s a man-made simulated climbing wall, your personal Everest  or Sca Fell  will have some factors in common with the real deal. The temperature will alter, oxygen will be in short supply and anticipated difficult manoeuvres will be impacted by any heavy loads and steeper climbing.  Blizzards on the climb could blur visibility to the point that it’s impossible to see what is around.

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it ” As the sport coach said.

How do you say with confidence  ‘I can climb any mountain’  before you’ve experienced any climbing?  Climbing high might not be the objective.

(Image and article credit: Copyright SUF)

We’re suckers at Step-Up Finance for any co-workers with a long mane, leg hair or a cold wet nose; especially those that work nine-to-five and beyond. Yep, working animals.

And it seems like there is a branch of the animal and man team  heading out to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Trained to work in adverse conditions these animals reminded us, along with a brilliant article by Kevin Garside in the Telegraph  that outside chances do sometime come about but, more to the point, with so many problems around any antidote of possibility is something no-one would want to dampen.

Although not without controversy, the games  have always been a place of inspiration and human spirit and there are very few of us who haven’t had our spirits also lifted by an animal at some point.

So, here’s to an uplifting sporting two weeks…… has anyone seen the hairy Swiss, the one with a wooden cask-shape piece of bling around its neck?

(Image credit: TimInSydney  Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Our current favourite watch is on TV tonight.   Stories surrounding  those branding Mad Men; for it is set in the time of ‘it’s a man’s world’.

A time when they only had to say ‘smoke one of these  and you will be the Wichita Lineman ’ and they were believed; the amazing sets are rarely without purchase from the tobacconist.

Different times, different attitudes and branding now holding different connotations, needs different maverick thinkers than from the days of those Madison Men.

Maverick, relative to our recent musings  on the culture of old American History  (rather than the car ) related to neglectful Texans’ neighbours putting their brand mark on unbranded or ‘maverick’ stock.

What’s on the surface and what’s the reality is always an interesting concept.

(Image and article credit: Copyright SUF)


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