Archives Month: November 2014

Christmas is only a few weeks away – have you decided how you will shop for your family and friends? Are you going to sit in front of the fire with your iPad and a glass of wine and marvel at the phenomenal service we get from Amazon and other internet sites?

Perhaps you will put your coat on and visit your nearest German Christmas market to sup some gluhwein and a slice of stolen. Hopefully the Christmas lights and the excited faces of the children will also warm you through and put a smile on your face in a way that no page on the internet can.

For the retail sector to retain a place on the high street it needs to understand the motive and emotions of the buying public.

A beautiful shop window, a friendly greeting and a helpful attitude by the retailer will create the best chance of that shop being there next Christmas. Regrettably, too many shopkeepers sit behind their desks, feeling sorry for themselves and creating their own Armageddon.

This is the time of year when retailers need to play to their strengths. Visit Needful Things in Castle Carey, Somerset or India Jane in Bath to enjoy the experience and see how it should be done.

Throughout this year Armada has funded increasing numbers of retail fit-outs (shelving, epos and security systems and catering equipment). There will always be a need for the personal touch in business.

With summer behind us and a beautiful warm, dry autumn in the south we decided to combine a few days relaxation with some early Christmas shopping. A perfect place to start is Broadway in the Cotswolds.

We have been visiting Russell’s bistro in Broadway since Andrew Riley opened it. As always, Andrew was hands on, making sure that the food and service were memorable and consistent. When you leave Russell’s you know you will be back.

After a leisurely lunch and a little shopping in Oka, just up the road from Andrew’s we were on our way to Chipping Camden. Andrew suggested we call in at Lapstone, a shopping experience akin to Daylesford or Darts Farm.

Guys, send your ladies there with your plastic, sit back and await her return – you won’t be disappointed! An up-market ladies boutique, gift shop, bakery & café, hair and beauty salon – Lapstone has it all.

After a pot of tea and handmade biscuits we dropped down into Chipping Camden for some speed shopping at Robert Welch, the cutlery designers and silversmiths. This shop would be paradise for every chef, amateur or professional.

Back on the road again for a few miles through the stunning autumn Cotswold scenery and down to Stow On The Wold and thence to Kingham, home to the Kingham Plough, which is owned by Emily Watkins and her husband. Emily was one of the winners of Great British Menu 2014. The World famous Daylesford Farm Shop is just outside Kingham and right in the middle of the village is The Wild Rabbit pub with rooms.

The moment you step inside The Wild Rabbit you know you are in for a treat. All the staff are smiley, friendly and helpful. The atmosphere was warm and relaxed (no pretentiousness here!). Our bedroom was perfect and rustically quirky. The four-poster bed was held up with tree branches! (check on line).

After pre-dinner drinks and a perusal of the menu in front of the large open fire we took our table in the equally rustic dining room. It is always a pleasure to watch a professional brigade cooking in a theatre kitchen, it adds an extra excitement while you are waiting for the food.

Duck liver and pigeon with plums and gingerbread was followed by dry aged 12 oz. steaks on the bone cooked in the Josper and accompanied by a delightful merlot. Chocolate mousse with salted caramel ice cream rounded off a memorable meal and evening.

After a very comfortable night’s sleep the “full English” had to be enjoyed – slowly. We were very sad to leave.
So often we have good reason to appreciate that the UK hospitality and retail industries are frequently the best in the World!