Lost Gardens of Heligan

Debbie Harris 
August 2023  •  5 min read

Lost Gardens of Heligan

I spent last week in a beautiful part of the world called Gorran Haven, Cornwall.

I have been going there each year with my wider family for over 20 years – it’s our home from home (17 of us attended this year!).

Many years ago, we visited The Lost Gardens of Heligan which is (as their website says) an “astonishing story of regeneration”.

In the 1990s these Victorian productive and ornamental gardens were rediscovered in the grounds of an old mansion house under mountains of brambles and ivy and since then have been lovingly restored to something close to their former glory across 200 acres (so far).

On the estate, there are ‘living sculptures’, magnificent woodland walks, bee hives, farm animals, a ‘jungle’, giant rhubarb plants, enormous rhododendrons, productive gardens (herbs, vegetables, fruit), pleasure grounds, natural climbing trails for kids and adults alike and many ‘work’ areas that were used in Victorian times and have been left much as they were – all providing something of a glimpse back in time.

We went again this year and I was most inspired by the growth that had taken place since my last visit – the workforce there have managed to achieve an evolution of sorts without appearing to have interfered too much with nature’s processes.  It was as wonderful as I remembered; in fact it was better – largely not too much had been tampered with; but certain things had been tweaked, enhanced, emphasised and it was breathtaking.

On reflection, it reminded me (a little!) of why we tell our clients to trust the investment process – it’s a long-term endeavour; it only needs minor tweaks along the way; and can be managed effectively with mindful and careful ‘interference’.  Importantly it takes time and patience (and an expert hand).  Your financial plan may not look like a fine ornamental garden; it may not be an inspirational thing of beauty; but it is ultimately your creation and speaks of your life, your wishes, your legacy and ought therefore to be treated with respect and care by people who think it matters – you and us.

Lost Gardens of Heligan2023-12-01T12:12:29+00:00

Perspective is everything

Guest blogger – Ben Hutton
August 2023  •  5 min read

Perspective is everything

Big numbers are hard to put in perspective. We hear millions, billions and trillions thrown around a lot in finance, but it requires a real effort to think about how much that really is.

A useful way of gaining perspective is to turn it into time periods (helpfully calculated by NASA, so you know it’s accurate*).

If you went back in time for one million seconds, it would be Friday, 23rd June. 12 days.

If you went back in time for one billion seconds, it would be Sunday, 27th October 1991. Nearly 32 YEARS.

But the really mind blowing one is this…

If you went back in time for one trillion seconds, you’d be 32,000 years in the past. Days of the week would be irrelevant, you’d be more worried about the fact that ice sheets covered most of the UK, and your closest friend was this guy:

Perspective

So, when we hear that the UK currently has a national debt of around £2.5 trillion**, we can acknowledge that is a LOT of debt.

But we shouldn’t panic too much.

Because when you put what the UK has borrowed up against what the UK is worth, things look a little better.

And that’s what the debt/GDP ratio below does (all the way back to the reign of King James II).

Perspective

In 1815, after the Napoleonic wars, UK debt was £854 million – 1/3000th of today’s level. But that represented nearly 250% of GDP!

Today the debt/GDP ratio is 100%. Similar to most other developed nations, and not out of whack vs. history.

Perspective is everything!

Perspective is everything2023-12-01T12:12:29+00:00

Facing the questions

It occurs to me that as a nation, we are avoiding many rather important questions. I love Britain and the freedoms we enjoy. I want a fair welfare system. However, until politicians, economists, financial advisers and the public at large face a few important questions, we seem destined (in the main) for more people reliant upon State support. In essence we collectively seem to agree that it is better for each of us to gain financial independence from the State or any other source of funds. There are variety of questions that come to mind, which challenge this assertion.

  • Why is it easier to get into debt than to save?
  • Why is it easier to borrow money at 100%+ interest than 4%?
  • Why is it easier to open an online gambling account than an ISA?
  • Why do more people play bingo than save for their pension?
  • Why do more people spend more money on a mobile phone than invest into their pension?
  • Why do so few people write a Will?
  • Why do more people take out travel insurance than suitable financial protection?
  • Why has betting become so popular and investing so problematic?
  • Why have we become such a litigious society, yet unwilling to take personal responsibility?
  • Why do so many people complain about low interest rates, yet do not invest?
  • Why is the financial community obsessed with the risks of investing but not the purpose?
  • Why do so few people take action?
  • Why do so many fail to review their arrangements?
  • Why do so many pay for a gym that they don’t attend?

To my mind, it seems that financial planning is rather like a diet. I accept that this is a contentious statement. Most people do not like dieting (by which I mean observing, controlling and restricting what is consumed). A “healthy” diet is only one part of the equation, we all know that regular exercise when combined with a good diet will yield results. I am someone that wrestles with this very issue. The problem most of us have is that we want quick results, we are generally unable to take a long-term perspective. Little wonder, given a culture obsessed by image and reaction. It doesn’t really matter how much you spend on a gym, how many books you read, how many videos/DVDs you watch, how much kit you buy… it all boils down to what’s going on in your head. Despite many motivational guru’s that have some considerable results for a few people, we all know that there are very few short-cuts and its all about a long-term perspective and a change in lifestyle. A key question is really are we prepared, willing and able to change?  I don’t subscribe to the belief that this is a simple “change of attitude” but it certainly requires change.

I am open to thoughts, insights, suggestions and answers..

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Facing the questions2023-12-01T12:23:49+00:00
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