A trip to Cornwall would not be complete without a visit to St. Mawes and the exemplary Tresanton Hotel. This is in no small part due to its owner, Olga Polizzi who was destined from birth to create beautiful places for people to stay, being the daughter of Lord Charles Forte. Thankfully for all of us who have been fortunate to stay at Tresanton or Hotel Endsleigh (her country hotel at Milton Abbot near Tavistock), she is very good at it.
….absolutely nothing. Unless you are invested in defensive companies, government bonds and other “risk-off” assets. That is until conflict starts, at which point history teaches us that (strangely) markets rally dramatically as a result.
The war of words between Kim Jong Un & Donald Trump has been a major focus for markets over the past few months, with investors hoping that it doesn’t escalate into a fully-fledged war of nuclear proportions. This month we consider the possible implications for the markets if this tension continues to escalate. We use data from previous wars spanning back to WWI to examine the possible consequences if this verbal war becomes a real conflict. Thankfully we have no benchmark for an exchange of nuclear missiles. We sincerely hope it stays that way.
In the past year, the Rick Stein story has been turned up a notch as this well-known ‘Brand’ has been developed and promoted throughout the UK, as one new restaurant after another has sprung up in every affluent town.
Our first encounter was at Sandbanks, notoriously known as having some of the most expensive real estate in the world, and then at what was ‘The Depot’ a well-loved riverside restaurant in Barnes, where it is now ‘bedding down’ nicely as a new Rick Stein.
Bearing in mind the extraordinary success of the Rick Stein brand, we thought we would go to where this empire was launched, the internationally recognised Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall.
In music it is often said that the second album is the hardest; likewise the second book. I can’t say I found this to be true. But my first film script? Well, that is a whole different story.
Now by my way of thinking a book is easy. You pitch the idea. A kind publisher shows some interest. You work it up into synopsis. In my case about two sides of A4 with thirty or forty words for each chapter heading. The contract is signed. You are given a word count and deadline. And that is it. Over to you. For nine months nobody takes a blind bit of interest in your scribbling. The occasional email might appear checking you are still alive (the first clue is that you have cashed the advance cheque) but that is about it. The only boundaries are your imagination. The structure, the story, the beginning, middle and end are all of your choosing. Essentially you can do what you like. Of course the whole literary edifice may well coming crashing down upon your head when the manuscript is submitted for the red pen of the editor but you are a least given that freedom to roam. However a film script is a whole different beast.
Despite 7 years of stagnant economic growth in Europe, austerity in Britain and growing inequality in the US, the political left has never looked weaker. That is a problem. All good political systems require competition of ideas to help both sides refine and improve the policies which they offer their electorates. In the founding of any democracy it is widely acknowledged that a failure to create two equal political parties, who can act as counterweights to one another, is essential. Some even believe that if the Russian Communist party had split into two parties in 1990, one moderate and the other traditionalist, it would have fundamentally changed the trajectory of Russian democracy.
But why are the political left so weak? The answer is that they are focusing on all the wrong issues. LGTBQQ rights, climate change, religious tolerance and gender equality are important issues in making our world a better place. But they are not the reason why people decide to vote for one party or another at the ballot box. Hillary Clinton did not lose because every Trump voter is a climate-denier, racist, misogynistic homophobe who wishes to punishes poor people. Though there were likely many of those too. But the reality is that people vote for bread and butter issues and as Bill Clinton once famously quipped, it’s often about “the economy stupid”.
Southern Skiing, Staying Fit & Dreaming of Pow
It’s that time of year again that I start pining for my skis; it’s the midway stage between the last turns of the late season and the start of another winter. What to do? If the urge to ski some powder is overwhelming, why not head south to chase the snow in the Chilean Andes where big mountains and heavy snowfalls combine with warm Chilean hospitality for an unforgettable skiing experience.
We had heard mixed reports about Rick Stein’s new restaurant in Barnes, situated on Mortlake High Street. The Depot had been a much admired restaurant with a fine reputation frequented by a loyal clientele who would be bitterly disappointed if the Rick Stein team fell short of their expectations. It was by recommendation of a friend and local that we tried Rick Stein Barnes as he had had some mixed experiences with this restaurant under its new management but hoped that by the time we visited those initial inconsistencies in service and food would be corrected.
Just a word to the wise to readers unfamiliar with the area and travelling to the restaurant by train, do not alight at Barnes Station but continue to Barnes Bridge from which the restaurant is only a few hundred yards away. We unfortunately did the former so then had no idea where we were and had to stand by the busy road, in the rain, hoping a free taxi would pass which actually was not a frequent occurrence!
The Audi S5 Cabriolet driving through the grounds of Hotel Endsleigh at the height of Spring
If you are seeking the peace and tranquillity of nature, shaped by the hand of man, and a temporary escape from the stresses and strains of the 21st century, then I can highly recommend a few days at Hotel Endsleigh, situated on a stunning stretch of the Tamar valley on the edge of Dartmoor.
The house and surrounding gardens and landscape, have all been substantially restored since Olga Polizzi first saw and fell in love with this special place, and bought it in 2004.
It first opened its doors to hotel guests in 2006, and has now established itself as highly desirable hotel surrounded by some of the most beautiful gardens and impressive scenery in Britain.
The Conservative party today lies in tatters. A leader that has lost the support of the public and her party. A party that is seen as out of touch, ruthless and clueless by the British public and nations afar. A government that has no vision and an opponent that offers hope, change and momentum. A momentum towards a past that the Conservative party and its leaders have spent nearly 40 years fighting. Perhaps the only saving grace is that the Conservative party is not alone in its struggles.
Today we see in America, in France, in Italy and across the Western World, that the old political systems and their parties are collapsing. Some are being replaced by new liberal structures. Many are not. During the Cold War the terms of debate were clear and the enemy was clearer. With the end of the Cold War, liberal parties rejoiced in their hard one victory. But they got complacent. They ignored the people and they forgot that Liberalism is not a finite end in and of itself. Rather, it is a mechanism for helping those who govern to make choices for the future. But there was no plan for the future. No dream end game or envisaged utopia. In short, they forgot the most human of all things. They forgot that people need hope of a brighter and better tomorrow.
The election today represents a reversion to the mean for British politics. For the first time since 1992, the voters of the UK face a clear choice between Labour and Conservatives. For many this is unsettling. My generation grew up with the Centre Ground. A place where limited ideologies existed and variations between the parties were driven more by local issues and individual biases than existential differences in party governing ideologies. This is how the awfully phrased “millennials” think of politics. A choice between technocratic governments with different faces. Until today.
Today ideology is back, and as I have written before, this has been a shot in the arm for the health of UK democracy. The Brexit referendum marked the first nationwide turnout above 70% in 30 years and repeated polling suggests that the 18-24yr old turnout will be a record 60% or better. But with ideology and passion comes clear winners and clear losers. In part that is why this election is so much harder than those before. There is a trade-off and whoever wins the election will change the face of Britain.