I Never Said I was a Good Golfer

Golf for some is their passion, they couldn’t live without it. For some of us we would like to play better, but somehow never find the time to put in the practice. This year with my charity bike ride in Myanmar to train for, even my weekly friendly round of golf fell by the wayside.

Golf societies can be a great way to play some good courses, competing against players that you do not play every week, the Runnymede Golf Society is the one I choose to play with. The Runnymede Golf Society plays at some of the best golf courses in the South East of England, they are a friendly bunch of people but beware if you come last.

Talk in the club house after the game is not who came first or who got a birdie. What everyone wants to know is “Who won Charlie?” As you may well have worked out Charlie is the trophy given to the player who comes last. People have left early without saying goodbye just to avoid the shame of taking Charlie home.

So what does this have to do with my bike ride in Burma?

Knowing I had not played much golf this year and when I had it had not been brilliant, I braved the society game at Blackmoor Golf Club. We were asked to predict our score to win a prize, as I had won the last time I played with the society my first prediction was laughed at, so I doubled it. I should have stuck with by first prediction.

It became clear to me very early in my round that Charlie was coming home with me again. I say again, it has been some time since I last “won” him, but there was a time that it was rumoured he had his own bedroom at my house. Once I knew coming last was not just a possibility, but a certainty I relaxed and enjoyed my day.

Sitting through dinner knowing you are going to receive Charlie is never good, but I had a reason to stay. I had 38 people who could donate to my charity Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service

They can be cruel when you get Charlie, but they are also generous.

I would like to thank everyone at the Runnymede Golf Society who donated to the charity as well as all my other sponsors. Their donations will make my ride in Burma more worthwhile.


Myanmar on a Bike – An Uphill Struggle

As with most things in life, a charity cycle challenge in Myanmar requires preparation. Sitting day after day staring at a computer in a freight company is not the ideal place to start, so training is essential. On the challenge there are many obstacles to overcome: the heat and humidity, long days in the saddle and the distances we will cover – up to 100 kms in a day

But the element that concerns me most is the hills. Having reached a level of fitness where I hope I can keep up a steady pace for most of the day, hills still cause me anxiety

On my first practice session in March I set out to tackle a local hill from my teenage cycling years. But nearly 40 years on and after a confident announcement that I would ‘only ride up it once’, I made it just a third of the way up and – feeling decidedly ill at the side of the road – my confidence took a blow. The scale of this challenge hit home

I have since conquered that hill several times and have tackled longer steeper hills, but nothing on the scale that I expect to meet on the challenge

Riding up long steep inclines is no fun, but it is a large part of the challenge. So, with a little under 5 weeks to go I have decided to switch my focus and concentrate fully on going uphill

This Saturday I rode up and down that hill 5 times before a further hilly 40km

No one ever failed by training too well … or did they?

If you would like to support my charity Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service you can donate at:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/barry-birdsall

No money from donations will go towards my travel expenses as Beat My Freight Quote Ltd and Key Air & Sea Limited, London have sponsored the trip


Cycle Burma – A Mid Life Crisis or a Cry for Help?

I have been a member of a gym for over 20 years, but I would not say I am fit.

My usual pattern of gym usage probably mirrors that of the majority of people – a flurry of gentle exercise each New Year, gradually leading to concentrated inactivity for the next ten months

This year has been altogether different.

In December at an Institute of Directors dinner a close friend announced he was taking part in a 5-day 360km charity cycle event in Myanmar in October. I don’t know why, but I heard myself saying “I would Love to do that”. I don’t even like cycling and I doubt if I had been on a bike more than a dozen times over the last 20 years. It turned out he was happy to have someone along, so it was agreed that I would sign up.

The next day still excited by the prospect I tried to sign up for the event, but it was fully booked. I had mixed emotions I was disappointed and relieved at the same time.

Move forward to March and I received an email, there were now places available. I didn’t know how I felt, I had completely given up on the idea and had missed 4 months of training (even the gym membership had lapsed), but I still wanted to go.

This time I did sign up so Myanmar here I come.

Our UK agency Key Air & Sea Limited is donating the trip expenses, so any money raised goes direct to the charity Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service.

If you would like to donate you can do so at:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/barry-birdsall

 


The Art of Shipping Containers

Shipping Containers are ugly metal boxes, perfectly designed for transporting cargo across oceans. They can be secured, stacked, loaded on multi modal transport and even refrigerated, but pretty they ain’t.

So when you see shipping containers incorporated into an artwork they take on a new dimension. Wynwood Walls in Miami, Florida is home to some of the best graffiti art anywhere, painted on the side of the many warehouses. Tourists flock to see the artwork that has been produced by artists from around the world and visit the trendy cafes. The whole area has been regenerated and there is another great artwork waiting around the next corner.

There is an area in the Wynwood Walls Garden where 5 stacked shipping containers form an artwork by Pichi & Avo from Valencia, Spain. It could change the way we look at shipping containers.


Discovering Shipping Containers in Ancient Rome

As freight forwarders we cannot help noticing shipping containers wherever we go and some turn up in the most unexpected places: on a recent visit to Rome to watch Italy v England in the 6 Nations Rugby, we couldn’t miss the bright green branded shipping container lurking amongst columns and ancient Roman ruins opposite the Vittoriano, also known as ‘the Typewriter’

Shipping containers make excellent secure storage containers and with repair works taking place, it didn’t surprise us that the container was there, probably being used to store tools and equipment. Shipping containers are used in many parts of the world as storage, housing, schoolrooms, shops and even as artworks

Shipping containers can be transported by sea and road, they can be stacked and some even have refrigeration units, making them a very flexible and cheap storage solution.

Did you know that shipping lines often sell off older shipping containers? If you are looking at using them for shipping, make sure they are CSC plated, as without it the container will not be allowed on a ship.


Freight Agents and Friends in Barcelona

We have just returned from the annual EFFA European Freight Forwarders Association meeting which was held in the amazing city of Barcelona. It was the 24th annual meeting and has previously been held in various cities in Europe as well as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, South Africa and the USA.

There were freight agents all the way from Toronto and Salt Lake City as well as the European delegates. Many members have been in the group for over 10 years and 2 of the original members still attend the meetings. One of them is now in the second generation of family management. With the close bonds that have been developed over many years there is a very high level of trust and cooperation.

There are usually formal one to one meetings, but it is away from the meeting room that the friendships are formed as there are always social events where everyone can let their hair down.

There is the old saying “Never go into business with friends or family” but it is impossible not to become friends after so many years of shared experience.

Thanks to EFFA we were able to meet our freight agents and friends in Barcelona.


Hats Off to RAQ Air Logistics, Poland

We have long since stopped second guessing which enquiries will be interesting for our Beat My Freight Quote partners. We try to get feedback on how we can improve the site, which areas they would like to target and the type of products they would like to ship. We also check on where they are getting the best success. As our partners are International Freight Agents most offer Air Freight, Sea Freight and some also offer Road Freight services, they have a wide range of opportunities.

On the latest feedback from one of our newest partners, RAQ Air Logistics a Polish Freight Agent, it still threw up some surprises. Alongside the desire to increase business to the usual markets, air freight to the USA, China and the Middle East and sea freight to the same areas, was an unusual business success – Shipping Hats from Poland to Quito, Ecuador and also shoes by air freight from Warsaw to Quito, Ecuador.

We could sit here day after day trying to think of obvious trading partnerships, but we don’t think we would of ever have come to shipping from Warsaw, Poland to Quito, Ecuador.

Hats off to RAQ Air Logistics, Poland, but keep your Shoes on.


What Would You Pay For FREE Freight Enquiries

Every day Beat My Freight Quote receives freight enquiries from customers around the world looking for the best rates for air freight, sea freight and road freight. The customers could be Private Individuals, Companies, International Charities and even Governments.

We are looking for freight agents who can demonstrate high levels of customer service with competitive shipping rates. Freight agents that meet our standards can expect regular high quality freight enquiries at a cost that beats paid online ads and online directories.

Check out Become a Partner to see how you can benefit from a Beat My Freight Quote licence.


Shipping Goods Under a Letter of Credit

When did shipping goods under a letter of credit become a specialist shipping service?

Last week we quoted on a small shipment. There was nothing unusual about the cargo, the weight was OK for the aircraft, as were the dimensions. The cargo was going from London to a well known International airport and was not hazardous or covered by any sanctions.

All in all a very average shipment.

Then we get a phone call. Is the quote still valid, as not many agents are willing to handle the goods if they are covered by a letter of credit?

This came as a complete surprise to us, as although they are not as common as they once were, we still see them on a regular basis.

We assured the customer that we could still ship them at the price we quoted.

Next we were asked to issue a draft Airwaybill before the customer would book the shipment with us, which we duly supplied.

We received the booking and shipped the cargo.

It got us thinking how the industry is changing as technology advances and old skills are getting lost along the way. Sometimes being in the freight industry a long time works to your advantage.


The Best Mojito in Havana

On a recent trip to Havana, Cuba, we found ourselves stuck in our hotel as a torrential rainstorm hit the city. The streets were deserted as people had taken cover. Taking photographs was out of the question, so what do you do?

I remembered a review on TripAdvisor stating that our hotel “served the Best Mojito in Havana“. As Freight Agents specialising in Shipping Alcohol from the UK, it sounded like a challenge.

First stop – the Hotel Bar.

And yes it was a fine Mojito, but was it the Best Mojito in Havana?

Over the course of the next few days we sampled many Mojitos in many bars and hotels. Some we considered better and some not so good, but had we found the Best Mojito in Havana?

We hope not as we hope to continue our quest next time we visit.