Archives Month: October 2017

With all the invasive media information pouring into our lives through the iPhone, iPads, newspapers and television, we are rightly being made very aware of the growth of mental illness in the UK.

Unfortunately this is frequently not a degenerative disorder brought on by old age but is effecting people of all ages.

I, myself, have been saddened to have a number of middle-aged friends whose lives have been blighted by what we used to call ‘breakdowns’. I count myself extremely fortunate to have not suffered from any mental issues, although not all my chums would necessarily agree!

There was a period, many years ago, when personal tragedy touched my life and appeared overwhelming at times. I would climb the hill outside our house in the Devon village where we lived, until I could see the entire village laid out in front of me.

Knowing some of the traumas taking place amongst our neighbours helped me to put my circumstances into perspective, as I looked down on the homes and people below me. My issues seemed to lessen as I considered the health and family problems ‘down there’.

These days I no longer need to go climbing hills but if I am troubled by life, which fortunately is a very rare occurrence, I simply go straight to the Armada Pinterest board entitled ‘Inspiring People’.

A few minute contemplating the creators and achievers on this board always puts me in a positive and admiring frame of mind. I hasten to add that I am not suggesting that this is a cure for mental illness.

For me, another way of keeping my spirits up is to dwell on the disabled achievers in life. Folk like Jonnie Peacock, the Paralympic sprinter who is currently appearing on Strictly Come Dancing or the army of Paralympians and Invictus Games athletes who never cease to amaze and inspire me.

It is my total admiration for these people that causes me to be excited whenever the Help for Heroes catalogue drops through our letter box, as it did last week. I couldn’t wait to open it, knowing that any purchases will contribute to this great charity, helping disabled service men and women.

At the back of the catalogue I found a new range of clothing and accessories, celebrating the charity’s 10th Anniversary.

In no time I had selected various items and ordered them on line. Three days later I picked up a large carton from our local Sainsbury store and hurried home.

Rather like Ian Waite, I whipped out my trusty penknife and began emptying the box of goodies. A couple of hoodies, polo shirt, T shirt, socks, ladies’ scarves and two teddy bears for the younger members of the family.

I was super impressed by the speed of service and the care taken to pack the box. Maria was so proud of her work she even put her name on a card to tell me it was all her own work.

So far so good, but what was the merchandise going to be like? Doing a Benetton shake of each item, her ladyship and I were gobsmacked by the quality of the clothing. The sizing’s, the vibrancy of the colours, the intricate embroidery of the crests and the amazing softness of the bears (one has already been christened Jonnie by our grandson). Everything was sooo much better than we had hoped for.

Before the box had been put to one side we were already making a list of family and friends we have who will be delighted to receive a gift from Help for Heroes for Christmas.

I can’t recommend too highly how you should look at their web site and spoil yourself. You can, like us, make Christmas shopping so stressless by pouring a beer or glass of wine, sitting back and having the festive shopping delivered to your doorstep. At the same time you can help those who have had life changing injuries whilst they were fighting to protect us.

Go on – take a look, you know it makes sense!!

In the meantime I’ll sit here snuggle in my new hoody – very hygge !


A couple of weeks ago we threw a bag in the boot and headed off to deepest rural Dorset, to celebrate a rather special anniversary.

Dorset is a county I know well, having spent many happy years visiting clients throughout this enchanting but largely overlooked part of the south-west. One day I might be in Wimborne financing scaffolding equipment and funding the fit-out of a restaurant in Swanage, the next day I could be at a nightclub in Blandford Forum or a gym in Bournemouth.

The rolling hills and deep valleys of Dorset fold in on themselves as if they are wanting to protect their villages and folk from prying eyes.

We meandered through the lanes before stopping and parking in the village square of Beaminster. Down this way you need to remember not to pronounce the ‘a’ or the locals won’t understand you.

Although Beaminster is little more than a village, it still boasts of a renowned restaurant on the square, together with a decent hotel and many delightful shops, such as Cilla and Camilla. This gift shop, coffee shop and ladies trendy boutique is a regular haunt of ours.

After coffee and a mooch about we drove off to investigate some of the other local gems, before travelling down another memory lane, arriving at The Summer Lodge Hotel in Evershott.

Although now owned by the Red Carnation Group of hotels, Summer Lodge was for many years owned by our good friends, Nigel and Margaret Corbett.

This Relais & Chateaux hotel continues to offer 5 star luxury in comfort, service and dining, much as it did in Nigel and Margaret’s day.

As we were shown to our room or seated in the drawing room my thoughts kept slipping back to the days when I was there on business. “Was this one of the bedrooms where we financed the furniture and fittings? Were these the sofas I paid for? Is their kitchen the one we financed and do you remember the trouble they had with the flooring in there?”

Tearing myself away from the past and happy memories so that I could give my full attention to the gorgeous wife I have been married to for so many years, I beckoned one of the attentive staff to add champagne to our tray of tea.

During dinner that evening my focus was reserved for my wife so I have little recollection of the food we had. Suffice it to say, I do remember a few ooh’s and aah’s that evening. I know that the sommelier gave us his undivided attention and the outcome was a very fine bottle of Californian chardonnay.

Looking back over 43 years of Armada has given me a lifetime of happy memories and great relationships with clients but enough of this reverie, there are hotels and restaurants needing our attention today. More funding for equipment, furnishings and fit-outs.

Must get on.