BUNHILL: Belt-driven tea makers going strong in the Azores

BUNHILL'S travels have taken him to the Azores (they're those dots in the middle of the Atlantic). There, at Gorreana on the northern coast of the island of Sao Miguel, I found what is claimed to be the only tea plantation in the European Community. Rows of tea plants spilled down the volcanic slopes towards the sea, while hydrangeas and horse-drawn milk carts conspired to make the whole place wonderfully picturesque.

Inside, though, the picturesqueness became plain quaint. In the back room, women were picking away at wooden trays of tea leaves, while a little machine was busy making teabags. Out front, two massive belt-driven machines were churning away in one room. In another, a couple of women were pouring leaves into a huge device that was sorting them into different sizes. There was a Jackson's "clip action" tea equaliser, too, though it wasn't equalising any tea when I was there.

To anyone like me who likes their machines old and British, this was manufacturing heaven. No one could tell me how old the machines were, but they had had certainly lived through one world war and quite possibly two. They were all labelled "Marshall Sons & Co, Ltd, Gainsborough, England".

I have not been able to contact Marshall (does it still exist?), but I gather it is the same company that made the monstrous Field Marshall tractors (the ones that had to be started by firing a cartridge at the flywheel).

British-built machines are surely going to be chugging away in far-flung places long after every factory in Britain has switched to flashy Japanese devices. Someone out there must have seen even older British machines than the Marshalls still earning their keep: tell me about them.

A COLLEAGUE dining at the Great House at Sonning, on the Thames, found a card labelled "Greenstar Hotels plc - Shareholders' Concessions" on his table. "Shareholders owning a minimum of 1,000 ordinary shares become members of London's exclusive Park Lane Director's Club," it said, explain- ing that they would then be given discounts when noshing at Greenstar establishments. "Shares traded under Rule 4.2 on the London Stock Exchange may be purchased via JP Jenkins of London . . ." the card said.

I rang Mr Jenkins and said I was surprised by this bit of advertising. "We weren't too impressed either," he said. "We're just market makers - we can't deal in shares. That piece of card has caused chaos here, I can tell you." It seems that Greenstar's marketing enthusiasm outpaced its knowledge of the City - it had a share issue in April and thought, logically enough, that satisfied customers might want to buy a bit of it. Mr Jenkins says that please, if you want to bump up your bill by pounds 1,000, go to a stockbroker, not him.

Buffett on the record

I WAS interested to see that Warren Buffett, the rich American and Sage of Omaha, is joining his cousin Jimmy Buffett on a gramophone record. According to Forbes, he will be playing the ukulele and "singing a bit". My colleagues were unable to think of a British equivalent, although I could not get the image of Sir John Harvey-Jones bouncing on a trampoline out of my mind.

If, however, a tycoon did set up his own popular music ensemble, what would it be called? Buffett and the Billionaires is the easy one. I suppose we must have Harvey-Jones and the Troubleshooters - but what about the likes of Cedric Brown, Richard Branson and Sir Richard Greenbury? Think up groups for them, or for anyone else we may have heard of, and you could win yourself a bottle of Bunhill's fizziest.

I BET Peter Benjamin Lewis has sung a few songs in his time. I note that Fortune gives much space to this 61-year-old chairman of Progressive Corp, a car insurer based in Cleveland. I don't blame it: the company may be boring, but the man isn't. Reassuring an investor about his health, he said: "I'm single, so I get laid all the time." He has written a book that makes Alan Clark seem like a model of discretion. In it, he wrote that when he was having lunch with an employee, he "felt overwhelmed by the desire to have an extramarital experience" - which he duly had. He will not, however, confirm rumours that he is, as one acquaintance put it, "a functioning pothead". Is it despite or because of all this that Lewis has managed to pull his company up from being the 48th to the sixth biggest car insurer in the USA?

Retirement bonus

ALL this talk about fat cats and executive share options has led me to think about the capitalist system - to wit, does it work? A chum who works in the City doing clever things with bonds was given an enormous bonus by his last employer. Far from "incentivising" him, it simply allowed him to contemplate an early escape from the rat race.

"My boss should never have given me a nice big bonus," he says. "It destroys the work ethic, unless balanced by an economically rational unlimited greed." He attributes his lack of economic rationality to being "brainwashed at the age of seven by early Bob Dylan songs". But I don't see it: surely, if you have been given enough money to stop working, you stop work. That's about as rational you can get . . . isn't it?

I HAVE received the following letter from one of my lodgers: "I am a cat who, I have been told, is volumetrically challenged. Due to circumferences beyond my control, I weigh about twice as much as my mum. I am thus a 'fat cat' and I object strongly to being associated with the likes of Mr Cedric Brown. I cannot see what he and I have in common: I have never run a gas company and he, as far as I know, has never got stuck in a cat flap. Can you please tell whence this unpleasant and possibly actionable association came? Yours sincerely, Amundsen Cat (Miss). PS - I have a friend who is a rat and wants to know why he is expected to race all the time.

PPS - I enclose a photograph of myself for your album."

A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

£250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

£100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn