Archives Month: September 2015

Some folk will almost certainly be already fed up with the amount of TV coverage of the Rugby World Cup! If Downton and Strictly are also not your scene, my commiserations.

Not wishing you to be left out of society, can I suggest an alternative way of filling your days and evenings. This time of year is a perfect opportunity to spend a few days away in the New Forest, particularly as the weather forecasters are promising three October weeks of Indian summer.

What better time of the year to take leisurely stroll along dedicated forest paths with all the dappled shade and streams, the ponies, donkeys, deer and wild pigs. Perhaps you would rather relax on a bench at Hatchet Pond with your favourite book.

You might want to centre your stay in the Forest at Brockenhust and book into the Pig in the Forest, run by Robin Hutson, one of the founders of Hotels du Vin. The Pig is very on trend at the moment. Brockenhurst is also home to a multitude of smart cafes and an excellent new Italian restaurant, Albero.

If you are feeling energetic you will find a superb bike hire and workshop in the centre of the village, opposite Albero’s. In the New Forest your bike is your vehicular equivalent to Dr Who’s Tardis. You find yourself popping up in some amazing places.

Who could imagine cycling off-road a few miles north of Brockenhurst, through woodland and past heathland, stopping to admire beautiful, quaint thatched cottages and out of nowhere appears a quintessential old English country pub, the Oak Inn at Bank, near Lyndhurst.

I beg you, don’t pass by. Carlos, the Portuguese landlord and his staff are friendly, professional and brilliant. Sit yourself down in spotless tavern and try the garlic mushrooms, followed by chicken pie and home cooked fresh vegetables and chips. When I say chips I don’t mean just chips, these are a mouth full of heaven. To follow, maybe, fruit pie or crumble, all washed down by the best pint of London Pride you have ever tasted. A meal at the Oak will restore your faith in English pubs.

This year the leaves on the trees are turning early, so a short trip to Exbury Gardens, owned by a branch of the Rothschild family will be breath-taking in October. Incidentally, Exbury holds the national collection of rhododendrons.

On your way back take a stroll around Beaulieu, a small cobbled village with many photographic opportunities. Then, close by, visit Bucklers Hard, on the Beaulieu River. This is another Tardis moment. This is where many of Nelson’s ships which fought at Trafalgar were built (very hard to imagine).

Following the water theme, you may want to visit Lymington, with all its marinas and smart shops. If you are into your leisure gear look out for the amazing bargains to be had at this time of year. End of season polo shirts, rugby tops (oupps, sorry) and sailing jackets etc.

You never know, when you step out of the Tardis, what beautiful sights and surprises await you. Soon you will have forgotten how much irritation you had in your sitting room and begin to marvel at the pleasure and excitement you have found in your new active lifestyle.

Charles Rolls is an entrepreneur who knows what he likes. He took the helm of Plymouth Gin, which was established in 1793, when the company was struggling in the 1990s and turned it around before selling it to Absolut Vodka.

While running the distillery Charles became aware that it was difficult to tell one gin from another, when mixed with tonic.

Serendipity stepped in and introduced Charles to Tim Warrilow, who had been researching G & T in the States. Together they travelled the world in search of the finest ingredients to create a premium brand tonic water. Their travels took them to Rwanda to find the best quinine for their product.

Quinine is a critical ingredient of tonic water and is obtained from the Fever Tree, giving their company its name when it commenced trading in 2005. Ten years later their range of mixers, including ginger beer, bitter lemon and ginger ale are exported to over 38 countries.

Yet again we see UK entrepreneurs who dedicate themselves to producing quality products and finding new markets, helping the country’s export performance at the same time.

I’ll have a gin & tonic and toast Charles & Tim’s future. “Cheers”.

It is always rewarding to write about folk who are imaginative, caring and thoughtful.

Last year Bethan Barnfield noticed that the public loos at Ridgway Common near Newport, South Wales had closed down and were near derelict. Her concern was for all the dog walkers, children and old people. What were they to do if they were in need?

Typical of Bethan, she thought about the problem and turned it into an advantage. Most people who heard about her plans to open a café on the site wondered if she was going around the bend.

Who would finance the rebuild and fitting out of such a venture? After the fifth supplier suggested she talk to Armada Asset Finance, the penny dropped. Bethan was not sure that an asset lender was a convenient route for a start-up business.

After a brief chat with the helpful people at Armada she was soon put at ease. New business finance is a bog standard lend for this very established organisation.

Flushed by the support and encouragement she received, Bethan was soon open for business. Now the joggers, runners and families can sit back with their coffee and danish, relaxed in the knowledge that this convenient café can meet all their needs.