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The Inchcape Rock



NO stir in the air, no stir in the sea,

The ship was still as she could be;

Her sails from heaven received no motion;

Her keel was steady in the ocean.

 

Without either sign or sound of their shock,

The waves flowed over the Inchcape Rock;

So little they rose, so little they fell,

They did not move the Inchcape Bell.

 

The Abbot of Aberbrothok

Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;

On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,

And over the waves its warning rung.

 

When the rock was hid by the surge’s swell,

The mariners heard the warning bell;

And then they knew the perilous rock,

And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok.

 

The sun in heaven was shining gay;

All things were joyful on that day;

The sea-birds screamed as they wheeled round,

And there was joyance in their sound.

 

The buoy of the Inchcape Bell was seen,

A darker speck on the ocean green:

Sir Ralph the Rover walked his deck,

And he fixed his eye on the darker speck.

 

He felt the cheering power of spring;

It made him whistle, it made him sing:

His heart was mirthful to excess,

But the Rover’s mirth was wickedness.

 

His eye was on the Inchcape float;

Quoth he, “My men, put out the boat,

And row me to the Inchcape Rock,

And I ’ll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”

 

The boat is lowered, the boatmen row,

And to the Inchcape Rock they go;

Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,

And he cut the bell from the Inchcape float.

 

Down sunk the bell with a gurgling sound;

The bubbles rose and burst around:

Quoth Sir Ralph, “The next who comes to the rock

Won’t bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”

 

Sir Ralph the Rover sailed away;

He scoured the seas for many a day;

And now, grown rich with plundered store,

He steers his course for Scotland’s shore.

 

So thick a haze o’erspreads the sky,

They cannot see the sun on high:

The wind hath blown a gale all day;

At evening it hath died away.

 

On the deck the Rover takes his stand;

So dark it is, they see no land.

Quoth Sir Ralph, “It will be lighter soon,

For there is the dawn of the rising moon.”

 

“Canst hear,” said one, “the breakers roar?

For methinks we should be near the shore.”

“Now where we are I cannot tell,

But I wish I could hear the Inchcape Bell.”

 

They hear no sound; the swell is strong;

Though the wind hath fallen, they drift along,

Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock:

“O Christ! it is the Inchcape Rock!”

 

Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,

He curst himself in his despair:

The waves rush in on every side;

The ship is sinking beneath the tide.

 

But even in his dying fear

One dreadful sound could the Rover hear,—

A sound as if, with the Inchcape Bell,

The Devil below was ringing his knell.

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Decisions Decisions

Making decisions in life is hard. Its a worry. Its a moment in time where all the comforting possibilities are whittled right down to just a few. Its tempting to think of those as limited to success or failure. Maybe even partial success but its more complicated than that.screen-shot-2014-07-28-at-10-38-59-am-e1406558423571

Ive taken the decision to start businesses, leave businesses, go back to University and even more significant and terrifying decisions in my personal life. To be fair, I think Ive done a good job so far. So far so good.

But how do you know if a decision is the right one? Is there a way to be sure that whatever you pick is the best choice? That it will surpass anything and everything that might have been?

Sorry but Nope.

You can’t know. You’ll never know for sure. You can't examine all of your possible futures and thats just tough.

But, you do know one thing and thats the thing that really matters. No matter how things play out, you will gain from the experience.

That something could be financial, educational, or it could just be a lesson learned. Perhaps a particularly tough one. Its irrelevant, because what you can say for sure is that the results you end up with will never amount to zero.

That decision could end up being just another decision you made in a long string of them. It could also be huge. But the point is you can’t try to quantify it before it has played out. Don’t try to put all the weight of the world in the decision.

A decision is just a single moment in your career. In the scheme of things it really doesn’t matter as long as you’re moving forward. Stop worrying about the things that don’t matter! Trying to figure out whether this is the moment that you “made it” will keep you from moving forward. And it will make it much harder to decide between everything you have going on. Which option will get me my “moment”? Why will it get me “there”?

What’s important is that you decided to do anything at all in the first place.

And what’s likely is that whatever “moment” you’re looking for hasn’t happened yet.

Spend all your time in the in-between space, the time between starting and stopping.

And remember that whatever decision you make, it will get you somewhere.

So go on. Jump. What's the worst that can happen?

Decisions aren’t ever right or wrong.

Your career hasn’t made it or not made it.

The magic is in the jump.

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Skye The Husky

IMG_4387 IMG_4388 IMG_4389 IMG_4393

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Newmilns Tower

towerNewmilns and Greenholm is a small burgh in East Ayrshire, Scotland. It has a population of 3,057 people (2001 census) and lies on the A71, around seven miles east of Kilmarnock and twenty-five miles southwest of Glasgow. It is situated in a valley through which the River Irvine runs and, with the neighbouring towns of Darvel and Galston, forms an area known as the Upper Irvine Valley (locally referred to as The Valley). As the name suggests, the burgh exists in two parts - Newmilns to the north of the river and Greenholm to the south. The river also divides the parishes of Loudoun and Galston, which is why the burgh, although generally referred to as Newmilns, has retained both names.

Newmilns means "the new mills", from Old English niwe "new" and myln "mill", the name being recorded as Nawemeln in 1126 - the plural Newmilns is a recent addition.

At the end of the 16th century, refugees from France and Flanders settled in Newmilns, bringing with them skills and techniques in lace making. Most houses had a loom by the end of the 18th century. The introduction of the power loom in the late 19th century marked the beginning of the golden years for the lace industry in Newmilns. By the end of the Second World War, there were 12 lace and madras factories in Newmilns. The importance of lace is reflected in the architecture of public buildings in the town centre, such as Lady Flora's Institute and the Morton Hall.

The subsequent decline of lace making in the town, due to growing competition from overseas, led to a decline in the fortunes of Newmilns. Town centre buildings fell into disrepair and an aura of dereliction and depression led to historic properties becoming uninhabitable, roofless or being demolished. From 1999 to 2005 a Heritage Lottery Fund-supported project known as the Newmilns Townscape Heritage Initiative carried out extensive building restoration and renovation works, including the environmental improvement of open space and waste ground in Newmilns and reinstatement of architectural detail and features.

Newmilns Tower (which once had impressive gardens and orchards surrounding it), was erected in the centre of the town about 1525 by Sir Hugh Campbell, Earl of Loudoun. Newmilns Tower was built following the destruction of Loudoun Castle by the Kennedys of Culzean, during which Sir Hugh's wife and nine children were all killed. The attack was apparently in retaliation for the role Sir Hugh had played in the murder of a kinsman of the Kennedys. The Earls of Loudoun continued to reside at Newmilns Tower until 1615. It is sometimes suggested that the Earls of Loudon later built what is now the Loudoun Arms as a town house.

Newmilns Tower saw further use in the religious wars of the mid 1600s as a prison for Covenanters. Some of the prisoners held here were freed in a raid on the tower, but at least one was killed during the escape.

The tower was fully restored by the Strathclyde Building Preservation Trust in the 1990s and is now a privately owned residence.

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Know the way, Go the way, Show the way



Over my many years in business, whether the business of the military or the business of commerce, one of the core threads of weakness in almost all but the best managers/leaders I have worked with has been an inability or perhaps an unwillingness to communicate. All too often I have witnessed poor management communication not only down through the command structure but also, quite frequently, within what would be considered the first tier of communications. Their direct reporters.

Many such businesses have, it seemed, succeeded or perhaps survived, in spite of rather than because of these individuals for whom communication should be the centrepiece of their toolbox. Usually in these situations, the intentions are top drawer but the reality is bargain basement. Individuals in such positions of authority resting on their past achievements or being reasonably content with the status quo and pulling up the drawbridge to their rarefied level perhaps feel like they should maintain an authoritative distance or refrain from fraternising with the ranks. Ridiculous as such a stance may sound on paper, it is all too often manifest in management positions in all levels of business with the reality for the organisation far more serious than any ridicule may reflect.

Directionless authority figures who fail to capitalise on the talent within their organisations because of their inability to communicate beyond their own lieutenants can lay waste to layer upon layer of that which makes an organisation truly prosper, its people. This is especially true in the world of the startup where those in authority and indeed in control have the greatest of vested interests in seeing the business boom.

As managers, and most especially as managers within small businesses for whom hierarchical structures are not best fit, communication is what ensures that our own value systems are properly superimposed on the wider team around us. We need to accept our weaknesses. Work on them. Learn by placing ourselves in the uncomfortable situations we could easily avoid and the best way to measure this and truly understand it is to get down and dirty every day. Do sweat the small stuff. Truly understand the small stuff because when we get the small stuff right and we can communicate down and listen up effectively, communicating all the way down and listening all the way up, we will find ourselves at the centre of a team that really will begin to reflect the hopes and dreams we all have for our own organisations.

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