Archives Month: April 2015

Last week we took a few days to visit our beloved Cotswolds. Being little more than an hour’s drive from the South West we were soon in bustling Cirencester, with its Roman history (it was then known as Corinium) and stunning Cotswold stone buildings.

After a little boutique shopping, to set the mood for the trip, we drove to nearby Ewen to have lunch with old friends who run the beautiful Wild Duck Inn. Feeling relaxed and ready for a period of over-indulgence we drove to Winchcombe, where we based ourselves.

During the next few days we ventured to Broadway, Stow on the Wold, Moreton in Marsh and finally to Tetbury, passing Adam Henson’s farm with monotonous regularity.

As usual, while in Stow we had to go to Daylesford for lunch, which was outstanding of course. However, while chatting to one of the restaurant staff he said that a visit to The Feathered Nest in nearby Nether Westcote was a must. How right he was! This beautiful five year old Cotswold pub is completely unsung, but not for long.

Whether you chose to sit on one of their genuine saddle bar stools checking out the menu or sit on the stunning terrace overlooking the Evenlode Valley or stay in one of their four interior designed bedrooms you will not be disappointed. If you are wanting to earn some brownie points with your partner you will earn bucket loads if you book up at the Feathered Nest.

A major part of the attraction of visiting the Cotswolds, the South West, East Anglia or the Lake District etc. and what appeals to so many tourists is the individuality of the owner operator bakery, pub, restaurant or hotel. People who open their doors to welcome and serve the public.

Great swathes of the UK are small businesses, working hard, creating jobs and bringing in foreign currency. Fortunately we are still a nation of shopkeepers and long may it remain so. The small business owners and their staff have done more to aid the recovery than they are given credit for. Trust the Brits to put their back into it in a crisis. Now that the country is back on its feet we should remember the SMEs and give them our support whenever possible.

Doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourself?

I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised that at this time of the year a whole raft of new children’s play centres are opening. I recently blogged about a new one opening in the Norwegian Chapel in Swansea. Rather like London buses, that has brought about a number of requests for major funding of nursery and play-centre start-ups.

Isn’t it great that in this pre-election period there are still so many new businesses opening. I suppose that part of the Armada make up is that I have always been excited about the start of a new venture where other lenders have concentrated on the risk ratios of start-up failures.

Looking at all these proposals for nurseries and play centres reminded me of the many operations we have funded. Originally Armada were the only supporters of this industry.

How delightful it was to meet Paul and Cecilia Taylor in 2000, when they were planning their first Serendipity Sam’s in Romsey, Hampshire. We were very happy to finance all the equipment for that location and also the complete fit-out of their subsequent unit at Christchurch in Dorset.

There have been so many other ventures and memories – testing out the slides or sitting in a ball pit with umpteen toddlers clambering over me at a friend’s new centre in Station Road, Taunton.

Years ago I personally visited most of the premises, whether in Cornwall, Sussex or South Wales. Now I would have to travel to Scotland, the Midlands or the Home Counties.

Wherever our clients are we still take an interest in their plans and development, we still look positively at ways to be supportive. You think your children are worth investing in – so do we.

  • 14 April 2015
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