I don't know about you, but it's been a very busy holiday period for us.
But before anything else, I'll share a little anecdotal story of how I managed to expand my horizons over the holidays. My wife and I (Lisa having completely dried off from getting caught in the London floods), headed over to Spain for a week this past month. Now if you're ever read the Long Paws bio, and looked at some of our products, you'll notice that some of our designs are inspired by scuba diving. So it doesn't take a genius to figure out that I love being in the ocean.
Anyway, from a diving perspective, I've always loved tropical type dives. Beautiful reds, yellows, greens, oranges and blues - both the corals and sea life - that's what gets me in the water. But as many of you will know, the Mediterranean is different. The corals are not bright. In fact they are rock corals, which means they're browns and dark greens, with sea grass around and of-course rocks. Don't mistake the coral with being dead - it's very much alive. it's just different. So during the trip, I decided to do a little snorkelling and practice my free-diving (which I've not done for about 7 years), but I have to say, I absolutely loved it. The diversity of life in the Med was beautiful, and the really fantastic news is that there were a lot of fish. The Med seemed pretty healthy. It's the first time I've really appreciated the rock coral waters for what they are. I even remember, many years back, being told how beautiful the diving off Port Elizabeth (South Africa) was, but I was left a little disappointed. I may have a new perspective on that now.
I also managed to spend a good half hour hanging out with a particular octopus, and a shorter stint with a better hidden one. For those of you who've not watched the documentary film "My Octopus Teacher", I highly recommend it. Octopi are incredible creatures. Interestingly Octopi fall into a completely unique category of species, and are about as far removed along the evolutionary chain from humans as any intelligent creature can get. And yes, those slimy sticky guys are extremely intelligent. But watching them almost mutate as they go along doing their business is incredible and just so eye opening.
Anyway. Lets get back to reason for the title of this little blurb. We import most of our products from the far east. Up to now, we've used sea freight as our usual method, and air freight in some instances. In addition to all the other issues COVID has brought us, one of them is a nightmarish shipping industry. Goods that were taking 4-5 weeks to arrive by sea, now take 6-8 weeks from the time you can actually catch a ship. Air freight on the other hand is really expensive, and only really feasible for either very expensive goods, or smaller loads. Recently a rail route opened, which takes 3-4 weeks, but the cost was not much better than air, and the time was not much better than sea, so for us it straddled the line of being there but not helpful.
But with everything going on, and with us looking to launch a whole batch of new products, we needed to get them over quick. So we are trialling a new route. ROAD. Our goods are being collected hopefully tomorrow, and will be driven across China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and then eventually into the UK. And without any doubt, it's the furthest I would have ever have sent a driver and I'm relatively confident, probably the furthest most people would ever have sent a driver. At 7,500 miles, it's even further than the Cape-Dakar rally.
Anyway, we're hoping we receive our stock, and that means a very new product launch coming soon, and just in time for PATS Telford on the 20-21st of this month. So watch this space and wish us luck.
Hope you have a fantastic September, and to all of our Jewish customers, wishing you a Shannah Tovah (happy new year).
All the best
Elan, Lauren, the octopus, and the rest of our Long Paws Team
PS: if you're not sure whether I was referring to our Lauren, or you think I may have named the octopus Lauren, I'm not going to clarify the situation.