Objects of Desire is delighted to offer for sale two items of formal dress wear.
There are few items that a gentleman can wear to discreetly show his style but an ultra slim gold pocket watch and
cufflinks with matching dress shirt buttons are all that is needed to reflect this and the elegance of the occasion.
The pocket watch is by Vacheron and Constantin, the oldest watch makers in the world, established in 1755. The ultra slim case is 18 carat yellow gold with an 18 jewel manual wind movement, the silvered dial with elegant poker hands and subsidiary seconds dial. The pocket watch is displayed within its original burgundy leather presentation case.
Diameter: 48 mm
These ultra slim pocket watches are rarely seen on the open market but there is one that we have found – please click HERE to view.
Objects of Desire is pleased to offer our Vacheron & Constantin Pocket Watch at a competitive price of £5,500.
The perfect complement for a formal occasion to an ultra slim pocket watch is the English, Art Deco, 18 carat gold, diamond and mother of pearl cufflinks with four matching dress buttons and two studs. All presented in their original red leather and gold tooled case with Garrards Co Ltd, Goldsmiths and Crown Jewellers to H.M. The Queen printed in gold on the inside of the white silk covered lid.
The case is in perfect order.
N.B. The original shirt button fixing loops are not gold
Of course these items can be purchased separately but if they were to be sold as the perfect evening wear set then we would accept £7,000.
N.B. There are two similar sets for sale which we have found but neither are by the well renowned jewellers, Garrards Co Ltd., and are therefore not of equal quality. These sets are priced between £2,164 and £2,213.49 so we believe that £2,250 is a very fair asking price for this superior set, retailed by the Goldsmiths and Crown Jewellers to H.M. The Queen.
Please contact Chrissy Jarman for more information
Chrissy studied at Southampton University where she gained a degree in Fine Art Valuation and worked for 16 years at Gerald Marsh Antique Clocks in Winchester, now known as Carter Marsh.
Following her departure from Carter Marsh she has been instrumental in the launch of The Vintage Magazine and the design of its website. As well as being a contributing author she is the Features Editor of the magazine with special responsibility for Arts and Culture.
Political prognostications are a risky business in the United Kingdom. But nonetheless I feel confident in making the case today that the dream of a better Britain, truly open to the world and free from the parochial constraints of the European Commission and single market, is over. To confirm, it is my belief now that the chance of the UK now leaving the EU is exactly zero.
To understand why, it is important to start with three basic but essential assumptions about current British politics:
- The majority of the British parliament has never supported Brexit, and will never support a Brexit under a No Deal scenario,
- There is no longer a majority in the country or Parliament in favour of a Norway option or a reformed customs union agreement, and finally,
- Brexit has overruled party loyalty as the key determinant of voting behaviour in British politics.
Taken together we come to a clear conclusion: The British Parliamentary majority has always favoured, and continues to favour, a solution that allows them to ignore the 2016 referendum outcome. The only problem however, is that parliamentarians are rightly fearful that they will be punished by the electorate if they do not vote to leave. This key mismatch is at the core of the gridlock facing parliament today.
It is tempting, if not irresistible, for commentators to point the finger and lay blame on the other side for the current national mess that is Britain’s Brexit negotiation. But the most honest assessment is to recognise that once David Cameron ruled out the option of Norway+ being an outcome if Britain voted to leave in the 2016 election, there was no middle ground option left. In 2016 there was probably a national majority who could have lived with an adapted Norway or Swiss model for Britain. That is no longer the case. The polarisation and aggression of the two sides, both remain and leave, is so dramatic that only a clear exit from all EU affiliations and the single market, or a total rejection of the referendum outcome is acceptable.
With these three assumptions and the recognition of the partisan nature of the current Brexit debate, it is impossible to conclude that Brexit can occur. The only deal on the table that leave voters will accept, is an outcome that the majority of parliament would rather lose their seats campaigning against than allow to become reality. Indeed, it is no idle threat for Theresa May that pro-remain cabinet ministers today would willingly resign and support a no confidence vote against her and the Conservative Party, if it ensured a labour led coalition that would prevent a no deal outcome.
So how do we convert these political realities into predictions of the future?
First, we start by recognising that a second referendum/peoples vote is a dead end. There is no parliamentary consensus on the questions to be asked, there is no time to pass a bill for a referendum in parliament, organise it and give fair time to all parties before the vote, and, there is no guarantee that remain would even win the vote if it happened (in which case, the country itself would face a constitutional crisis).
Second, we must recognise that the EU has no incentive to extend Article 50 at this time. While the Chancellor and Business Secretary may blindly tell their city chums that it’ll be easy to extend, the reality is that there is little incentive for all 27 EU members to accept a continuation of this Brexit mess when there is no clear sign of what the extension will deliver. As mentioned, Theresa May’s deal is doomed because it represents a compromise, in a political context where neither side is willing to compromise. Thus, faced with no clear path beyond remaining or leaving, EU leaders will conclude (as Germany has done in its letters to the Times and other UK papers last week), that the best chance to reverse Brexit is now. Further, with the threat of a no deal in place, and no UK parliamentary majority for this outcome, the EU sense that this may be the moment to push for the UK to revoke the process, or at the least accept the current deal.
The final piece we consider is that without a deal, Theresa May no longer has any political legitimacy. Her entire identity and political capital stock is invested in her deal, thus in the absence of any support, and recognising that the parliamentary arithmetic can collapse the government and prevent no deal, Theresa May has to conclude that she must resign. It is therefore my belief that before the Article 50 deadline in March 2019, Theresa May will unilaterally revoke Article 50, then resign as the leader of the Conservative Party.
Again, I recognise this is an outcome that is so far off the radar of most commentators that is almost laughable. And yet, it has the strongest logic of any remaining outcome. If Theresa May cannot secure her deal, and is not willing to collapse the government to try and deliver a no deal Brexit, her last play is to claim that she has tried to find a deal but no consensus could be found. Thus, with the Conservative party lacking a majority, and its members unwilling to support the outcome of the 2016 election and their own party manifesto commitment to leave in 2017, revoking Article 50 provides continuity and certainty for families and businesses, while pushing the political question back to the parties.
If this sounds incredibly depressing and frustrating, it should be. The British Public were asked about Brexit twice, at the referendum in 2016 and the general election in 2017. Parliament has opted to ignore that and accordingly, the British public and British democracy will suffer for their choice.
Christopher Jackson graduated from York University with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Politics with International Relations, BA and is a graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and currently works on financing and developing renewable energy projects.
Click HERE to read Christopher’s impressive curriculum vitae on Linkedin.com
You see a great many corpses beside the road at this time of year as the animal hierarchy redistributes itself ahead of winter.
Badgers are so commonplace as to not raise comment. Deer something to steer around. Grey squirrels inexplicably more frequent that you might expect. But the saddest of all for me are hares, the white, jagged broken bones of those strong rear legs poking out of that beautiful golden brown fur. So, knowing how the population is in decline, it made me sadder still when I read this week that myxomatosis, the disease that wiped out 99% of the British rabbit population when deliberately introduced in 1952, may have crossed over into the previously immune brown hare population.
Hares have long been one of my favourite British animals. They are, a bit like otters, remarkably strong and large with a propensity to range far across large tracts of countryside doing their best to avoid people, conducting their lives out of the sight of humanity. For centuries they had made the empty downlands, where the greatest disturbance was a few sheep, their home. But in the post-war drive for more home food production, ploughs bit into land untouched by man since it was exposed by the retreating ice cover millions of year ago. The places they lived and the grassland they lived off has been disappearing ever since, the marginal habitat they are forced to inhabit polluted by agricultural chemicals.
Sound familiar? You’ll have read something similar to describe the plight of water voles, song birds and hedgehogs. In the case of hares it is estimated that the population has gone from something above 4 million a century ago to 800,000 today. The worry is that myxomatosis will all but wipe out the remaining hare population. However, as ever with these stories the headline may not tell the whole story: nobody is as yet certain that the unexplained deaths of hares in East Anglia are directly attributable to myxomatosis. In the 1930’s Australian scientists tried to deliberately infect brown hares with the myxoma virus but failed. There have been similar deaths in Spain but the evidence is inconclusive. In Ireland, where hares are relatively more populous but myxomatosis incidence is of a similar level to the UK, there have been no reported deaths.
Myxomatosis is spread by the rabbit flea that carries the virus, infecting the rabbits by biting as they hop from one host to the next; mortality once infected is close to a 100% as the rabbits go blind, lose fur to ulceration and the body organs shut down. As you might imagine in the close confines of a warren the fleas are easily transferred, so populations are rapidly wiped out. Hares however live a different life which suggests myxomatosis would not so easily take hold.
Brown hares prefer the solitary life, living in very exposed habitats so they may use their acute sight and hearing to avoid their primary predators – foxes and raptors – by running at up to 45mph, which is faster than a horse. Unlike rabbits hares live in the open, creating ‘forms’, small depressions in the ground among long grass. Here they spend their day moving out to feed in the open at night. Tender grass shoots, including cereal crops, are their main foods. Breeding takes place between February and September with the young, known as leverets, born fully furred with their eyes open who are then left by the mother in forms a few yards from their birth place. Once a day for the first four weeks of their lives, the leverets gather at sunset to be fed by the female, but otherwise they receive no parental care. This avoids attracting predators to the young at a stage when they are most vulnerable. They don’t live particularly long lives, 3 to 4 years is the norm, with disease and predation the two major causes of death.
This difference in lifestyle, and in the absence of any firm evidence, has suggested by some that the culprit may be rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) which first emerged in China in the 1980’s. It has since spread around the globe first reaching Britain in 1992 when the domestic rabbit infected the wild population. But RHD is more virulent than myxomatosis wiping out 10m rabbits in 8 weeks when the virus escaped quarantine on the 20km2 Wardang Island off the south coast of Australia in 1995, spread as it is by contamination and the wind.
So for the moment, despite many assumptions, we don’t really know what is happening. The University of East Anglia, along with the Suffolk and Norfolk Wildlife Trusts are trying to gather dead hares for analysis but it is all certainly very odd. One report was of six dead hares in a single field; for a solitary mammal that would be quite a conclave. I suspect we have a while to go before we get to the bottom of this particular problem but even when we do it won’t change the truth: disease or no disease, we are gradually, just a little at a time, destroying the British countryside that we purport to love.
A 50th celebration
Two weeks ago I was so pleased to host a very special lunch at Nether Wallop to celebrate the 50th anniversary of fly fishing at The Mill.
The guests of honour were Renée Wilson, widow of Dermot Wilson, and their son Fergus. As Renée said to me they were initially hesitant at accepting my
invitation; neither had been to The Mill since 1982 and the thought of a return stirred up all kinds of memories. But as it turned out we all had the most wonderful time reminiscing about Dermot, the wonderful camaraderie of the customers and the whole madness of the venture he set his family on.
Charles Jardine, back then a perm-haired recently graduated art student, joined us as he had been the resident trainee guide/instructor under the guidance of the irascible Jim Hadrell. Barrie Welham, a long time friend of Dermot and Renée was there, producing a copy of the 1971 Trout & Salmon (cover price 17.5p!) which featured the British record rainbow trout that he had just captured from The Mill lake. Neil Patterson, he of Chalkstream Chronicle fame, read a letter that Dermot had written to him apologising, in the most charming of words, for inadvertently taking credit for a pattern Neil had invented. Richard Banbury showed us where his desk had been in the days when Orvis took over The Mill from Dermot and Renée.
We rounded the day off unveiling a blue plaque that I hope will remain for many decades as a fitting tribute to a great man.
Diane Bassett, Richard Banbury, Fergus Wilson, Renée Wilson, Charles Jardine, Barrie Welham and Neil Patterson
A troika of greats
I was very touched as Renée Wilson handed me a gift wrapped package by way of thanks for the day. As I undid the wrapping in her very understated way she said, ‘These are just a few bits and pieces from Dermot’s collection I thought you might like.‘ I was overwhelmed when she told me the provenance of each of the three items.
The first is one of Dermot’s very own reels. As the original UK Orvis dealer he was very loyal to the brand who, you might be surprised to hear, actually made all their high-end reels in the UK as late as the 1980’s.
Renée tells me Dermot was a bit obsessive, tagging everything, hence the label. The reel still has the leader from the last time he fished.
The net was a gift from the legendary Lee Wulff, he of Gray Wulff fame, who was a regular visitor to The Mill.
The final item is a fly box full of flies that were tied by Ernie Schwiebert an American angling literary colossus. He was a great friend of Dermot, the box a gift from him to Dermot when they fished together in Montana.
Schwiebert is not so well known in the UK but though I never met him I owe him a huge debt. He wrote a two volume master work on trout in which, as a schoolchild, he enraptured me about the chalkstreams. They were so much the weft and weave of my upbringing that it took an outsider to show me how very special they were.
The quality of his writing is without measure. Let me quote from a speech he gave in 2005, shortly before his death. It is the very definition of why we fish.
“People often ask why I fish, and after seventy-odd years, I am beginning to understand.
I fish because of Beauty.
Everything about our sport is beautiful. Its more than five centuries of manuscript and books and folios are beautiful. Its artefacts of rods and beautifully machined reels are beautiful. Its old wading staffs and split-willow creels, and the delicate artifice of its flies, are beautiful. Dressing such confections of fur, feathers and steel is beautiful, and our worktables are littered with gorgeous scraps of tragopan and golden pheasant and blue chattered and Coq de Leon. The best of sporting art is beautiful. The riverscapes that sustain the fish are beautiful. Our methods of seeking them are beautiful, and we find ourselves enthralled with the quicksilver poetry of the fish.
And in our contentious time of partisan hubris, selfishness, and outright mendacity, Beauty itself may prove the most endangered thing of all.”
The usual random selection of questions to confirm or deny your personal brilliance. As ever it is just for fun with the answers at the bottom of the page.
1) What is the Latin numeral for fifty?
2) Who are on the rear of the current £50 note?
3) In what year did Queen Elizabeth II celebrate her 50th year on the throne?
Simon Cooper email@example.com
Founder & Managing Director
Simon Cooper is the founder and managing director of Fishing Breaks the leading agent for chalkstream fishing in England. He has over 120 miles of river under his control, across eight counties and twenty rivers. Fishing is mostly let by the day and if you want advice on which to choose Simon regularly fishes every beat under his care, living by the company motto time is precious. use it fishing. It is not a bad job!
2) Matthew Boulton and James Watt, 18th century makers of steam engines
3) 2002. Makes you feel old ……..
Slovenia boasts a rich cultural heritage. Known for its spectacular Postojna Karst Cave and the fairy-tale like Lake Bled, yet this country has so much more to offer.
Surrounded by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, this mountainous country has historically been the crossroads of Slavic, Germanic, and Romance languages and cultures. Over half of the territory is covered by forest so when you are going to Slovenia by plane, make sure you get a window seat in order to enjoy the view of magnificent mountains dotted with lush and rolling green valleys.
The Lush Rolling Hills in Brda
Slovenia is also a paradise for foodies and wine lovers. Just flip through this mouth-watering online magazine called ‘Taste Slovenia,‘ published by its tourism board, featuring all the regional Slovenian cuisines and you might already want to book a flight!
Wines are equally exciting. Slovenia has a very long history of winemaking and grapes are mainly grown in three wine regions: Primorska (west), Posavje (southeast) and Podravje (northeast). In 1823, the Archduke Johann of Austrian ordered “all noble vine varieties that exist” to be planted on his property in Maribor, Podravje. Since then, many international grape varieties, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Riesling, Pinot Noir were introduced to inland Slovenia.
The westernmost Slovenian wine region, Primorska, is the most important amongst the three. There are around 6,490 hectares of vineyards in the region. Being close to the Italian border, you can no doubt sense the Italian influence.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Goriška Brda (or ‘Brda’) in the north of the Primorska region, which is right across the Italian border. Though in fact, it is very difficult to know the real border line, Brda can probably be seen as a continuation of Collio Goriziano region across the border in Friuli, Italy.
A View from Ljubljana Castle
Coming from the capital city Ljubljana by car, it takes around 1.5 hours to reach Brda. Not long after leaving the motor way, you will find yourself in Italy, driving around somewhere in Udine! But then, all of a sudden, you will see a verdant countryside and notice a tiny sign saying “Slovenia,” you know you are back in the country again.
My destination was the biggest wine cooperation in Slovenia, Klet Brda, in the village of Dobrovo. Driving pass some picturesque villages surrounded by undulating hills and vineyards, it is easy to see why Brda is dubbed “Slovenia’s Tuscany”.
Klet Brda’s Wine Cellar and Bottle of Klet Brda Rebula Sparkling Wine and Krasno WInes
Being the biggest in the country, Klet Brda works with around 400 wine growers and only processes and produces wine from grapes grown in the region. They have an impressive range of wine, white, red, rosé and sparkling, made from familiar grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon etc. Not to forget also some local specialties such as Rebula (Ribolla Gialla in Italian) and Pikolit (Picolit in Italian).
Rebula is an ancient white grape variety from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, typically with light body, hint of floral and has refreshing acidity but can also be made in various styles. Here in Brda, the best Rebula are grown in the higher slopes to allow them to develop the flavours slowly but also to retain the acidity. Additionally, they make a special blend of Rebula and Sauvignon Blanc just for the UK market and can be purchased through Majestic Wine.
Pikolit is another local specialty in the Italy-Slovenia border. It is a white grape and became famous throughout Europe in the 18th century when Conte Fabio Asquini started to export the wine bottled in exquisite hand-made Murano glass and sold at a high price. It is said that even the Pope liked it at the time. However, the variety was almost extinct due to the phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th century. Luckily some survived through it. The plantings of Pikolit remain quite small in Slovenia. Klet Brda has around 2 hectares and uses it to make a fantastic Pikolit dessert wine that has floral, peach, dried apricot and acacia honey aromas but sadly not yet available in the UK.
Klet Brda has made some stunning Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco from their Quercus, Krasno and Bagueri ranges. Both are full of characters and expressive. Pinot Grigio is flavoursome, not the lighter style as their Veneto counterparts in Italy. Pinot Bianco here is opulent on the palate. It’s dry and refreshing with green apple and grapefruit flavours but also very food friendly. Krasno Pinot Bianco can be found in Majestic Wine and Quercus Pinot Bianco is available through hundreds of Young’s Pub in the UK.
Klet Brda is open to tourists and wine lovers who love to try their wine. Tastings can be booked through their website .
Apart from wine tastings, don’t forget to visit the charming fortified village of Smartno, Dobrovo Castle, and to appreciate a panoramic view of Brda from Gonjace Tower.
And of course, make sure you enjoy lots of local wine and food!
Where to stay
They have a fantastic restaurant in the hotel and you can enjoy the striking view of the village Smartno from here.
Where to eat
Grad Dobrovo Restaurant
Address: Grajska cesta 10, 5212 DOBROVO V BRDIH
*They are right inside the Dobrovo Castle, offering regional cuisines.
Address: Soška cesta 40, 5000 Nova Gorica
*This is a fish restaurant by the river in Nova Gorica. Make sure you go to the roof terrace to enjoy the view before you go for the meal.
Leona de Pasquale DipWSET, The Vintage Magazine’s Wine Correspondent
Originally from Taiwan, Leona has been working in the wine industry for more than 10 years as freelance wine writer, translator and educator. She wrote and translated for Decanter Magazine (Chinese Edition in Taiwan), Le Pin Magazine in Hong Kong and is the UK & Europe Correspondent for the most influential wine and spirits magazine in Taiwan (Wine & Spirits Digest). She is also the translator for The World Atlas of Wine, American Wine and Natural Wine. She obtained her WSET Diploma in 2016.
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From the 14th June, the world will witness its 21st World Cup tournament, this time hosted in Russia. Football is an odd game to have conquered the worlds hearts. A sport popularised by the sons of aristocrats running around the wet and cold fields of England’s leading 19th century public schools, is now actively played by over 270 million FIFA registered players globally while the World Cup is the World’s most watched event, with 3.5 billion people reached in the 2014 tournament.
But while the talents of the worlds leading male football players will fill the papers for the next few weeks, it is also worth taking some time to consider the impact that the World Cup has on national politics.
The World Cup can exert a powerful affect on national moods, not only on the host nations but also on those who participate. In 2006 as Germany hosted the World Cup, the nation witnessed the first large scale public displays of German flags and German nationalism, or as one German friend remarked to me, “It was the first time in my life I felt it was ok to be proud of being German”. By contrast spare a thought for Brazil, who after financing the World Cup and the Olympics, crashed out of the World Cup against Germany in a 7-1 in what the BBC called one of the “Great World Cup moments”. Not only did the tournament torpedo the reputation of Brazil, it also destroyed the popularity of the national government, and when the full details of the lavo jato or “Operation car wash” scandal first started to appear in 2014, it was a matter of time before the acting President Dilma Rouseff was impeached and the Workers Party (PD) removed from party. Incidentally, Argentina’s subsequent loss to Germany in the final also helped sour Argentine national mood and along with Brazil the country removed President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2015.
So, what is there to consider at this World Cup? Well firstly its hosts are not exactly in the international good books. Following large-scale arrests and investigations, it is widely believed that the Russian hosts bribed their way into securing the World Cup tournament this year. If that wasn’t bad enough, the country remains under heavy international sanctions for its illegal annexation of Crimea, alongside its involvement in the deaths of Dutch nationals in Ukraine and its complicity in Assad’s war crimes in Syria. Given this backdrop, President Putin sees an opportunity to distract the world (and his citizens) with well-executed games. If Russia performs well, the visitors are happy and the matches are exciting, the country will be given a strong platform to re-engage with Europe on sanctions whilst also undermining domestic political opposition. However, a loss in the group stage, followed by further corruption details and stories about Russian football hooligans would further undermine both domestic and international support for Russia.
But Russia is not the only country looking to the World Cup for a reputation boost. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia would benefit from stronger than expected performances, and while the chances of any Middle Eastern Team winning the cup are reasonably low, an advance to the semi or quarter finals would still provide a large positive PR boost to these middle eastern nations.
The King John Inn at Tollard Royal in Dorset is one of the growing numbers of gastro, or bistro pubs with enough rooms to accommodate a shooting party, and good enough food and wines to make a team of guns and guests want to have dinner and stay there on the night before a shoot. The King John Inn is just one of many such pubs.
Tollard Royal is a charming village with a 14th Century Church in the middle of what must surely be one of the largest concentrations of good shoots in a small area anywhere in the south of England.
Other ‘gastro’ pubs and notable establishments along the Dorset Wiltshire border include the Beckford Arms, near Tisbury, the Lamb Inn at Hindon, Howard’s House Hotel at Teffont Evias, and the Museum at Farnham. All these pubs have created comfortable and stylish accommodation and provide superb food and friendly service for frequent shooting parties during the season.
For instance the King John Inn at Tollard Royal has no fewer than 70 shooting parties per season thus providing a very welcome and substantial contribution to its turnover and profits.
Assuming an average spend of £200 per head, for dinner, bed and breakfast with an average of 10 guests per party, this creates income of £2000 per shooting party, which multiplied by 70 shooting parties per annum generates a staggering £140,000 of income that otherwise would not exist.
It is therefore easy to understand why an increasing number of local Pubs are ‘raising their game’ and improving and upgrading their facilities to attract this lucrative market, creating a welcome source of income for the trades people engaged in these ‘up-grades’.
A Report on the economic, environmental and social contribution of shooting sports to the UK by Public and Corporate Economic Consultants (PACEC) identified the following:
- 480,000 people shoot live quarry in the UK
- shooting supports the equivalent of 70,000 full time jobs
- Shooters spend £2 billion each year on goods and services
- Shooting is worth £1.6 billion to the UK economy
- Shooting is involved in the management of two-thirds of the rural land area
- Two million hectares are actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting
- Shooting providers spend £250 million a year on conservation
- Shooters spend 2.7 million work days on conservation.
Historically the larger and longer established shoots are on estates that often had houses designed, or extended, to accommodate the large shooting parties of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and in some cases these are reserved for the exclusive use of their owners and their guests.
However, roving syndicates are more likely to stay in the local pub or small hotel where they receive a warm welcome and good service, and this all adds to the camaraderie of dinner the night before a shoot and at breakfast the next morning, and the anticipation of a great day ahead.
As far as the owners of these shoots are concerned the visiting guns provide much needed income for the estate but also for the teams of loaders and beaters who are crucial to a successful days shooting.
There are few things more appealing to a sociable soul than the shared experience of a friendly shoot in beautiful countryside on a beautiful day, but the first impression of the pub or hotel where you have arrived after a long journey is dictated by the warmth of the welcome you receive.
When we arrived at the King John Inn, it was nearing the end of its Sunday Lunch session, and the place was crowded with tables demanding their bills, but the efficient staff, led by Paolo Corgiolu, ably supported by Kate took good care of us, and made us very welcome, despite the other pressures on them. They quickly found us a table for a late lunch, and we ordered two ‘starters’ from the main menu, chosen since we were saving our appetites for supper,. Two glasses of wine appeared without delay and we could begin to relax and take in our surroundings.
The simple wooden tables in the dining and bar area
The place had a good ‘vibe’ or dare I say, ‘trendy’ feel similar to that found in London. I struck up a conversation with a couple on an adjoining table by admiring their Cocker Spaniel and I asked if he shot with it, only to discover that he had a gun on an Army Shoot at the Central Ammunition Depot at Bramley, near the Duke of Wellintgon’s home at Stratfield Saye which my late father ran for several years in the late fifties, and on which I know another current member, namely Andrew Speed. ‘Speedy’ to his friends, was the Adjutant at Sandhurst, and is now living in a ‘grace and favour’ house in Horse Guard’s Parade from whence he organises all the ceremonial events, including the Trooping of the Colour at Her Majesty’s Birthday parade.
This is proof, if it were needed, of the small world the shooting fraternity inhabit!
Anyway, after our modest but excellent lunch, we retired to our very spacious double room with a King-size bed and a beautiful marble floored ‘en-suite’ bathroom with free standing roll top tub and separate shower with enormous rose. This is the largest of the eight bedrooms available at The King John Inn, five of which are in the main building and three others in a converted barn opposite. All are beautifully decorated with antique pieces mixed with modern touches to create rooms in which you just want to linger.
The King’s Room Suite
All of the rooms are dog friendly at a modest extra charge of £15.00
We were recommended to try Villa di Geggiano by a friend who knows Chiswick well and things were looking good when we found a parking space just around the corner from the restaurant, a unique experience in London, particularly on a Saturday, and put us in a good mood for our lunch. At the moment Villa di Geggiano is only open for lunch at weekends and for dinner during the week from 6 pm but we were told that this may change when the days start to warm up and the terrace and gardens can be made full use of – they obviously know their market and when customers want to visit.
Chiswick is not an area that we are familiar with so had not known about the struggling restaurants that had tried and failed on these premises. Some may have predicted that Villa de Geggiano too were doomed but they had not reckoned with the expertise of the Bianchi Bandinelli family.
Their background is from the highly desirable Chianti region of Tuscany, which is already a firm favourite place with the English, so much so that it is fondly referred to as Chiantishire. The original Villa di Geggiano, after which the restaurant is named, has been run by the family for over 400 years over which they have maintained and developed the Tuscan estate, each generation taking up the mantel to preserve the legacy.
Villa di Geggiano has been running since 2014 and so far all is going well. A combination of Italian flair and a love of fine food and wine makes for a winning recipe.
Certainly our first impression was very promising – the restaurant has a lovely large terrace at the front which in the summer would be a welcoming ‘watering hole’ on the way home after work.
Once inside we were greeted warmly by the general manager, Lukasz Borowski who directed us to the lounge for a pre-lunch drink. What confronted us was a very elegant room with an eclectic collection of antique, modern and quirky decorative pieces – nothing anodyne about this room and definitely a talking point whilst relaxing over a pre-lunch drink.
Presented with a list of traditional Tuscan cocktails from which to choose, it is unfortunate that we elected to drive to the restaurant or more precisely that I had been voted designated driver. If this had not been the case I would have loved to have tried a Passion fruit martini or Tuscan Devil both reasonably priced at £8.00. Perusing the impressive wine list there are 8 from the Villa’s own vineyards made predominately with the local Sangiovese grape. In fact it is believed that the Bianchi Bandinelli family were the first to introduce Chianti to our shores as early as 1725.
The actual restaurant is quite large, serving a hundred diners in the main room and there is a private dining area at the front of the building . The large skylight floods the whole room keeping the interior bright and although we did not see it, the restaurant stretches further back to another garden at the back – in warmer weather this will be another lovely al-fresco dining experience away from the busy main street. .
The eccentric decor is repeated in the dining room with a mixture of pendant lights and a strangely green felt covered tree structure – we’re still wondering why even now!
Notwithstanding such eccentricities, the service and meal were par excellence. In fact I can confidently state that I have not had a better three course meal. It being lunch time I chose lighter options and started with Burrata con Caponatina di Melanzane, which lived up to its meaning in Italian, buttery – a delicious mixture of mozzarella and cream balanced against the light spiciness of the aubergine ‘stew’. Robert had his favourite Tuscan dish which he always orders when it’s in season, Vitello tonnato – this time the thin cuts of veal loin with tuna were accompanied with a saffron sauce, apples, celery and baby gem – he assured me this was no disappointment.
For our ‘secondi’ I chose the pan fried Monkfish with samphire, datterini tomatoes and celeriac cream – it is no exaggeration to say this was simply delicious – the fish was perfectly cooked and the other ingredients balanced the dish, particularly the use of the speciality datterini tomatoes with their added sweetness and seasonal samphire. Robert went off-piste with the special of the day, Pasta with lobster – being true italians, this also was exceptional. Not really needed but we had side dishes of small roast potatoes with rosemary and garlic and some spinach enlivened with chilli.
Finally we could not resist the puddings, I had the vanilla panna cotta and hazelnut foam and Robert an apple semifreddo and jelly with white chocolate and crumble.
Naturally a restaurant of this standard is not cheap but Villa di Geggiano is overall good value as the food was exceptional. Our starters were £8 and £12 respectively and our main courses £25 and puddings at £7 each.
Four years on and Villa di Geggiano is still going strong and I’m certain that there are many more treats in the pipe line to offer their customers.
So don’t just leave this gem to the locals – a specific trip to Chiswick is well worth the effort. Villa di Geggiano is a special place and the closest you will get to Tuscany in the middle of Chiswick.
I hope that they have broken the curse of 66-68 High Street Chiswick – they certainly deserve to.
The skilled kitchen team that produce the magic
Chrissy studied at Southampton University where she gained a degree in Fine Art Valuation and worked for 16 years at Gerald Marsh Antique Clocks in Winchester, now known as Carter Marsh. Following her departure from Carter Marsh she has been instrumental in the launch of The Vintage Magazine and the design of its website. As well as being a contributing author she is the Features Editor of the magazine with special responsibility for Arts and Culture.
It was probably inevitable, but the crisis engulfing Facebook is one of the most embarrassing examples of Silicon valleys hubris in the last two decades.
A company that specialises in connecting people, an exercise that requires people to trust the platform as a place to share content, has managed to simultaneously violate that trust and act totally surprised in doing so. When Facebook was first created it was a place for university students to share stories, an occasional photo and talk to friends when they couldn’t afford to call abroad. Today it is a business platform for multinational corporates, a virtual monopoly in the global social media world (excluding the great digital firewalls of China and Russia), as well as the largest surveillance mechanism ever created by man. If the apocryphal tales that Facebook was created by the CIA ever become more than conspiracy theories, I would take the agents out for a beer. It’s hard to imagine them being more successful in manipulating billions of people to hand over the most intimate details of their life than Facebook.
But what do we do about it? Facebook IS the only platform where everyone can find a friend, family member or old classmate from their school days. It also owns Whatsapp, Instagram and nearly brought out Snapchat (before deciding it was cheaper just to copy all of their ideas into Instagram instead). Indeed, the monopoly is alive and very well in the social media space. So much for a dynamic and free market that internet radicals long predicted.
The issue with Facebook is that it has transcended its role as a tech company and become a global public good, much in the way that GPS, SWIFT and Wikipedia have done. This conflict between its corporate needs and Facebooks public nature is at the heart of the conundrum that is threatening Facebooks future role as the global sharing platform.
There may come a time where individuals lose their inhibitions and learn to accept the flawed nature of humanity, such that the embarrassing university photos and awkward Facebook status of one young activist days become nothing more than a source of amusement. But we are not there yet.
In the interim the most radical solution may yet be the one true way to ensure the eternal legacy of Zuckerberg’s creation: turn the company into a global charity with an international non-partisan board. Such a solution has long been muted for Twitter, another social media company that serves a clear public good, but unlike Facebook has lacked the will (some would say ability) to extract the financial gains necessary to ever become commercially viable.
A world where Facebook becomes a utility like Verizon or a charity like Wikipedia is hardly likely to thrill investors and tech entrepreneurs. Then again, few people who change the world ever live to see the real fruits of their efforts.
If Zuckerberg is serious about fixing Facebook he needs to find a way to square the circle between regaining user trust and generating the returns expected by Wall Street.
For a man more concerned about his public appearance than his bank account, Mr Zuckerberg could do worse than consider what Facebook would look like if it became a true global public good rather than a Wall Street darling. The clock is ticking and the users are leaving.
Your move Mr Zuckerberg.
Christopher Jackson graduated from York University with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Politics with International Relations, BA and is a graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and currently works on financing and developing renewable energy projects.
Click HERE to read Christopher’s impressive curriculum vitae on Linkedin.com
If the Audi Q5 is not looking in showroom gleaming condition that is because it has been doing what its designed to do. In this case it has been driven around the country lanes of the South Downs to visit some of the wonderful shooting country for which the Cowdray Estate is renowned, including the famous ’chalk-pits’ drive at Cocking. Be assured that the Navarra Blue paintwork with black leather Alcantara sport front seats is a very pleasing combination, in fact the Audi Q5 delivers on the ‘looks front’ in abundance.
Audi have combined clean elegant lines on this 2017 model, having made it slightly larger than the previous version and added more technology – there’s a head up display, adaptive LED headlamps and the Virtual Cockpit. However, larger doesn’t mean heavier – in reality due to the use of aluminium throughout the body work this Audi Q5 is 90 kgs lighter resulting in better performance, braking, handling and efficiency.
Better efficiency by way of fuel consumption and lower CO2 has been achieved by their latest development of the company’s famous all-wheel-drive system. It works by allowing the engine to drive just the front wheels most of the time. When the extra grip from all-wheel drive is needed due to changing conditions, power is sent to the rear wheels via two clutches – one mounted to the car’s gearbox, the other to the rear axle. This takes only 200 milliseconds for power to flow to the rear and shift the engine’s torque between all four wheels to keep you pointing in a straight line. Not only does this help improve fuel economy but it helps reduce unnecessary wear and tear on the engine and gearbox.
So all this is good for everyday driving but as mentioned earlier, we put the Audi Q5 through its paces off road and the efficiency and comfort was improved by engaging the optional air suspension which allows you to raise the ride height.
These new technologies seem to have worked as the 2017 Audi Q5’s combined MPG is officially up by 16%, while CO2 emissions are down by 15% – all this and better acceleration to boot.
Having driven many Audis it is reassuring to find the Multi Media Interface (MMI) is very much the same across all models although with added sophistication on the higher spec cars. On this Q5 there is a large central screen with a controller on the central console and a control pad with adorning buttons enabling easy navigation through the myriad systems – definitely need to read the owner’s handbook to discover all its functions!