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Day 96 - Architectural Plants Guest Blog

Guy’s brother Tom has asked me to write something about Guy, our relationship with him and his precocious propensity for extreme physical exertion…

Guy used to visit our nursery in Nuthurst with his parents Tina and Nigel and by the age of 16 had approached us for some holiday work on the nursery. Such a pleasant and fresh faced youth had to be given a chance but nothing had prepared us for the sheer gusto with which he threw himself into his work. Whether it was potting on plants, tidying the nursery, making observations about the business or just being incredibly friendly, everything was done with extra extra enthusiasm. Needless to say, everyone adored him and the question “Is Guy coming back this year?” was on many people’s lips. He came and went through school holidays, gap years and university vacations but eventually, after his graduation from Bournemouth, tearful and final good-byes were made as Guy went off to start his ‘proper job’ in London. Final good-byes, my eye! He was back three weeks later mouthing oaths about how awful it had been in the city and demanding a permanent position at Architectural Plants. It took about a minute and a half to negotiate terms and conditions. I just said yes to everything.

Guy’s infectious enthusiasm and tendency to be highly productive was great but it was his interest and grasp of business that attracted me most. Often we used to meet up on the nursery and have our little philosophical chats about life, the universe and everything but there was one particular observation he made, aged about 18, that intrigued me. “Angus, maybe you could explain something to me. You seem to be incredibly well organised here and do everything well but almost every other job I’ve ever had has been at places that seem incredibly inefficient and badly organised. How come they manage to survive?” I answered him then and I’d answer him now : “Guy, I’m 40 years older than you and I haven’t got the faintest idea”. Only an exceptional young person would have noticed such a thing and would have asked such a question. The boy will go far.

Back to extreme physical stuff. I fear that Guy and Andy’s current predicament of being stuck in uncooperative currents in the middle of the Indian Ocean could be partly my fault. When he was working here full time after abandoning his first proper job in London and knowing that he ‘quite liked going for runs and bike rides’, I told him about a rather unlikely sponsorship deal I’d agreed with a chap called Stuart Turnbull. Stuart and his friend Ed Baylis, for reasons best known to themselves, wanted to buy a boat and row it from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean and they needed some dosh to do it. Sponsorship is just another way of advertising one’s company and we’d often been asked to sponsor under 14 football teams which I’d always rejected due to an absence of interest in football but two loonies who wanted to row across the Atlantic Ocean with ‘Architectural Plants’ plastered down one side of their little boat? Irresistible. Right up my street. But it was Guy’s reaction to this news (that I thought might be of a mere, fleeting interest to him) that caught me out. His eyes became wider than I’d ever seen them before, there was a massive in-take of breath and all of you who know Guy can imagine his retort - “Oh God I’d absolutely LOVE to do something like that!”. Oh no, what had I done? His poor parents! It seems that mad look in his eyes never left.

That was in 2005. It wasn’t long after that, that I was made aware of the fact that there were stirrings in the rowing department. Guy had even found a friend called Andy who apparently shared his ambition to do something balmy in a rowing boat. In the meantime, further evidence of Guy’s desire to push himself to the edge came in the build-up to the Iron Man competition - preparations for which we were always kept closely abreast of - and an incident in Tuscany on a plant buying trip in 2006. It was just before Christmas and dark when we checked into our hotel in Montecatini Terme. We pointed out some of the sites including the original little medieval hill town - Montecatini Alto - that hovers over 1,000 ft above the spa town where we stayed. “Cor, I’d really like to run up there”. “Don’t be silly Guy - it’s over a thousand feet up, pitch dark and pouring with rain. You’d never find your way up or down and you’d probably die anyway” we all said in a vain attempt to dissuade him. “Go and have a nice bath in your room and we’ll all meet in the foyer for supper at 7.30″. He was there in the foyer at 7.30 all right. A little pinker than usual but full of beans and bursting to tell us about scrabbling up and then down a mountain in the dark and wet and back to the hotel in time for tea and how much fun it was. We sat listening with our mouths open. At last, the penny had dropped. Guy’s nuts. Then he did it again the following evening before supper. Took the road this time - a steep series of hairpins making a round trip to the village and back of about 12 miles. Before tea. You can imagine after reading this how I was going to react when the inevitable question came. I had no choice. “Angus….. we think we’ve found a boat and think we’d quite like to row it across the Indian Ocean through 40 ft waves and hurricane force winds. Can we have some money please?” Rarely have I handed over several thousand quid to anyone with such alacrity. I’d built up an enormous affection and admiration for Guy over the years and I hope I’d always encouraged him in his deranged enterprises. Did I really mean it when I tried to talk him out of running up to Montecatini Alto on a horrible wet night? Of course not - I’d have been bloody furious if he hadn’t. Adventure, whether physical or mental must be encouraged and I’m very proud to have played a little bit in assisting these two in their’s. To some lesser mortals, I might point out - “It doesn’t all end in Mauritius you know”. These two know that, so I wouldn’t bother.

Angus White, Owner

Architectural Plants Ltd

27 Responses to “Day 96 - Architectural Plants Guest Blog”

  1. Big Phil Says:

    Hahaha that has cracked me up Angus. I can just imagine Wattsy deciding to run up that mountain in Italy

  2. petesz Says:

    Hi Angus. Great guest blog! It was a really good read and I like the way you write. I’m not sure whether I’d ever have described Guy as ‘nuts’ - simply because listening to him talking about whichever challenge he sets out on tends to make it seem the most natural thing to do - but I can see why you said it! The Italy story says a lot. I remember I having a beer with Guy a while ago and him telling me that he had run home from work a couple of days previously - from Crawley to Hove. I think perhaps Tina dropped, or let Tom look after him, a few too many times when he was young.

    Ahh, also just wanted to say I was pleased when I saw that Architectural Plants was one of the sponsors for Guy and Del’s race. It’s a great nursery and I’m sure that Guy in particular was delighted to have your support, so well done!

  3. petesz Says:

    Also… come on lads! Flying Ferkins under 300 miles to go and still pushing ahead of Southern Cross - great race!!

  4. sally newall Says:

    Angus, what a great guest blog. It seems you are very much to blame for this Indian Ocean epic. Let’s just hope the boys win!

    Keep the Ferkins flying etc xxx

  5. stuart_g_baty@hotmail.com Says:

    guy, i reckon your Penis must look like an architectural plant by now……..keep pushing guys, the pain will be worth it….think of the cold beer and a comfy bed!


  6. Katie Says:

    Brilliant blog!
    Guys you are both doing amazingly, under the 300 mark now…WOO HOO!
    So, so proud of you and just in awe. You are doing friggin amazingly, seriously not long now.
    Am off to Lourdes at early o’clock tomorrow so won’t be able to check this for over a week…and you will be finished by then - typical have been following like a crazed groupie and am now going to miss the end!
    Sure you guys are going to do fab and keep in the lead.
    Del enjoy the angel cakes - remember to say hi 1st before tucking in! Can’t wait to celebrate when you are back - vodka is in stock, as ever!

  7. Goldie Says:

    Hi Angus

    Great post.

    I’ve known Guy a long time and have always found chatting to him very interesting. Be careful though, Guy’s enthusiasm for challenge events is somewhat infectious. After hearing things Guy had done a while back I took up a few mad stunts myself — although I draw the line well before oceans!!


  8. Dione - Petit Says:

    Fantastic blog - told so well i can picture it all clearly!!

    Amazing effort boys - keep pushinG, we know you have it in you so carry on giving everything you’ve got!!

    Promise beers on arrival!!


  9. Ian Chorlton Says:


    Fantastic blog, a thoroughly enjoyable read.

    Del and Guy, fantastic progress again, absolutely fabulous. You two are like the Duracell Bunny, you just keep going and going.

    If you need to know what to bring back from Mauritius then the tea is good, the rum is also good but it knocks your head off-drink with caution! If you want a decent suit then it is pretty cheap to get a suit knocked together, a bit of bartering may be neccessary though.

    Can’t believe you are almost there, will have a drink for you next saturday on the big day, actually, about 20 drinks to be accurate.

    I am very excited now boys, almost there. Keep it up lads.


  10. AngieandMartin Says:

    Fantastic guest blog Angus. Guy and Andy you leave me humble with admiration at your sheer guts and determination. I have been watching Fogle and Cracknell ‘On Thin Ice’ and am wincing to think that certain parts of your anatomy might look a bit like James Cracknell’s foot did! Looks like you are flying like a Usain Bolt of lightning to the finish. Having seen Tina and Nigel off for their flight yesterday I know that plenty of medication is now on its way to relieve those painful bits and it won’t be long before dry land and a pint or two. Amazing progress.

  11. admin Says:

    Have you looked at SCs blog? It is quite interesting and informative. However, it does look as though the lads there have more or less given up hope of catching Andy and Guy. Their reduced rations (2000 calories a day) is telling on them. Compare to Andy and Guy at 6000.

    SCs blog is at http://blog.mailasail.com/jjrowing . It is worth a look.

  12. Helen Says:

    Hi guys,
    So pleased you are doing so well. Sarah asked me this morning to pass on her congrats at you’re overtaking Southern Cross. YOu are doing so well.
    She is in good spirits and , like you guys, has a few sore bits, but she is making good progress. She has even founf a few more chocolate bars!!! (Thought I’d put that in just to make you envious!)……….I think suoolies will be coming out with Xtina though, so no worries guys.there’ll be some waiting for you both!
    She is now very excited as I have booked flights out to the mighty M!!
    I am excited too.it’s a long time since I last saw her!
    Keep up the great work.
    Happy rowing!!
    Best wishes,
    Helen ( Sarah’s Mum)

  13. Helen Says:

    PLease excuse my bad typing..should have checked my post….it should read
    supplies coming out……………………..not suoolies!!
    and “found” a few more chocolate bars……………….not founf a few more!!
    muppet I am

  14. Claire Says:

    Hang on lads you can’t get there before us!! Is it going to be 100 days….?!!

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