January 2018 – It’s not a wind up!

One of my Christmas presents last month was a Wolf Watch Winder, generously given to me by my wife, via Santa Claus of course.   A brilliant gift because my Tag Heuer watch is an automatic chronograph (meaning it charges itself under movement). I wear it as often as I can but during the working week I wear my Garmin running watch simply due to the fact I have a physical job and I wouldn’t want to break it.

Wolf makes my watch winder and mine is bright orange, perhaps not to everyone’s taste but it happens to be my favourite colour. It is brilliantly made and a well-crafted piece of equipment. You place your cherished timepiece inside and it completes timed, smooth rotations to keep the watch battery charged.   When I opened it on Christmas day I did what thousands of others did with their presents.  I Instagramed it!

I never win anything!

I noticed that Wolf had a completion on, so I tagged them and used the completion hashtag #unwrapwolf. Once the competition came to an end I was surprised to see that I had WON!  It must be a wind up (pun intended) because I never win anything! In this instance I had won $675.00 worth of luxury leather goods, which included a travel bag, a dopp bag, a leather bookmark, a tape measure and a passport holder! All things that I have made good use of since I received them, all the way from Los Angeles. What a great start to 2018!

At the start of a new year I like to make lots of plans and set out goals to try and achieve before the year is finished.   Simply for the reason that you have a target to aim for and measurement of how the year has been. It doesn’t matter if you fail a few as long as you’re failing forward! Now these aren’t new years resolutions, oh no, they are decisions that are altogether more permanent and will morph into something my futures self will thank me for. This year I made a few business related decisions, most are boring but one in particular I find very exciting! And that decision was to by a new work van!

It’s not just a van, it’s MY van!

There’s one van I’ve always had my eye on and I made a pact with myself that when I’m able to afford one and it makes good business sense to buy one, I’ll get it. During my Christmas break I popped down to my local Volkswagen Commercial Centre, initially just for a look but I left with my wallet a little lighter after putting a deposit on T6. It was a standard VW T6 Highline model with all the toys, quite a nice van to look at in its own right but I made a few changes. I had them lower the suspension, add some chrome sidebars and a rear spoiler before delivering it this month. Once I got my hands on it I added a front splitter, some chrome detailing strips and finally some big 20-inch alloys! I know what you’re thinking, because I had the same thought. It’s a little excessive for a work van? Well if you’re going to do something you shouldn’t hold back and as my idol Guy Martin says, “it’s not just a van, it’s MY van”. Once the styling options were installed I had the signwriting done, with the help from my brother in law. He’s an excellent designer working for a prestigious company in Bath, UK. Obviously there was no fee involved but I will treat him to a beer or two when I see him next!

At the end of January we had a nice 4-day break in London. We travelled down from Cheltenham on Thursday morning and checked into our hotel by 2pm. The hotel was in an excellent location in South Kensington, which is a lovely area close to the Natural History Museum (we always pop in here when we’re down).  The intention for the long weekend was to take in a few galleries, watch a show and eat at some nice restaurants.

We took in the art at The Tate Modern gallery, Bankside. I’ve never been here before and wasn’t sure what to expect but I really enjoyed it, although some of the art was lost on me. We walked around all the exhibitions and then made our way to the viewing platform at the top of the building. Up here you get to see the interesting landscape of London, a mixture of old and new buildings and the city split down the centre by the Thames river. We also visited the National Gallery on this trip; this gallery is more to my taste. The architecture of the building alone is enough to grab your attention but the art here takes centre stage as it should. I particularly enjoyed The Fighting Temeraire by Joseph Turner.

Visiting Notting Hill has been on my wife’s MUST visit list for a while, in particular Portobello Road Market.  So we took advantage of the nice weather and caught the tube there one morning.  We walked the market lined road for hours, only stopping to some Churros.  This wasn’t the only market we visited on the trip,  we also stumbled upon Borough Market whilst walking to the Tate Modern.  I had the most amazing salt beef sandwich that even gave Becci’s sandwich making skills a run for her money!




On Saturday evening we went to The Queens Theatre to watch Les Miserables. This is the longest running musical in the world and has been seen by over 70 million people! And I can see why! It was absolutely fantastic, if it was showing again that night I would’ve turned around and walked straight back in again. The staging was impressive, set against the backdrop of 19th-century France. It tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption. The performance of all the cast members was breath taking, their voices were incredible and I’m man enough to admit that on a few songs I even shed a tear.

On our last night we decide to treat ourselves and booked into Sea Containers, the restaurant at the Mondrian Hotel. You walk through the hotel foyer and under a copper-clad hull, which guides you through to the restaurant, there’s an open-plan kitchen featuring an impressive wood-fired oven. The food is described as the best of American and British cuisine. Our main was a spit roasted chicken served with mashed potatoes and a heritage beetroot salad. I paired this with a very expensive bottle of wine! The meal was absolutely delicious and the service was excellent. The best compliment you can give to a restaurant is whether you’d go back, Becci and I agree that we would.

This brings January to an end. Not a bad start and setting the pace for the rest of the year. What will this year bring for you?

Jonathan Phelps

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