The Great Armada was do to sail in 1587; but Elizabeth had other ideas. By in May 1588 the Duke of Medina Sidonia led his fleet of 130 ships down the Tagus towards the open sea – and the Enterprise of England was on.
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To start, briefly an announcement of a bit of polling fun we are going to have into which you may join if you wish. We are going to vote on the most mighty English medieval monarch. There are two rounds – Preselection is going on right now on Facebook on the History of England podcast group – not to be confused with the History of England FB page by the way. Then, on St George’s day, 23rd April, the second round will go up of those 8 selected from the groups, a poll on the History of England website. When you vote on the second round, you can also enter for a prize draw! Because yes, as every good Whig politician knows, with every vote comes the need to bribe the electorate. The prize draw will be two winners, one of an Edward I long cross penny, the other of an Elizabeth Ist penny. To find out more go to the Facebook site, or to the website the history of England.co.uk
Also, I am very sorry to announce that the 2021 History of England tour has been cancelled. I am really embarrassed – second year in a row. It was a close run thing, but there’s simply too much uncertainty about – concerning flights and COVID policies, and unfortunately the state of my health too, which is perfectly fine for most things but immunity is not currently up to it. To those of you who had booked or planned – I am very sorry indeed, I just don’t think I genuinely had a choice. The travel company and I will review things in July, and hopefully third time lucky, and we’ll go in September 2022
Now I did make a solemn promise to all of you that I would not bore you with my year 7 project on the supplying of biscuits and comestibles to the Spanish Armada. Now I am there, I really find it difficult to resist, it’s almost a betrayal. But I will not let you down – you are off the hook. Though I also did a project when I was 8, off my own bat as a sort of extra thing, on Trinidad and Tobago, and Mr Timpson lost it. It’s an injustice that will live with me for the rest on my life.
Let me just say then, that the boss of the Great Armada project was the hero of Lepanto and the Azores, a peerless naval commander, the Marquis of Santa Cruz. But it transpired quite quickly that the peerless naval commander had a challenge on his hands when it came to organising the provision of biscuits…well, more broadly the enormous task of organising this expedition for 1587. And meanwhile, Parma was not very enthusiastic about Philip’s hybrid plan, which caused a certain amount of dithering.
I shall be bold to say….that if you find yourself without adequate resources to undertake such a great enterprise as this…I incline to the view that it would be better to defer or drop it.
The plan at this stage remained to land in Ireland, not to link up with Parma and for Parma’s invasion to be separate from Flanders; now Phillip dithered towards the idea of landing at the Ilse of Wight. From the start of 1587, Philip was increasingly ill and unable to deal with business, so questions were not resolved. Then news arrived at the little workroom at the Escorial in mid May, as a result of which he became seriously ill. What news was that I hear you ask?
On 2nd April 1587, Drake had set sail on a new venture, with four of the queen’s galleons and 17 other ships; it was another joint stock operation, with the orders from the Queen to cause such damage to stop the great armada from sailing, and catch the treasure fleet if he could. Drake hastily and immediately set out from Plymouth Sound…which was handy, since Drake knew what his boss was like, because at the last minute Elizabeth dithered, worrying about her peace negotiations with Parma, and sent a fast pinnace to catch Drake and tell him not to burn the King of Spain’s britches. It was too late, blown by a protestant wind, Drake was just a memory on the breeze.
That memory on the breeze turned up at Cadiz on 29th April. Now the Amada was at a critical stage. Vast quantities of food, and yes, biscuits, were being assembled, and the trouble was of course that things like the half a million tons of cheese obtained from the Baltic could not just be popped into the freezer to keep it fresh until the off. Acquiring that quantity of provisions in a pre capitalist, inflexible economy was not easy; keeping it fresh was a nightmare; so the Armada had to be off. Also, you know the way we talked about the Navy board and the ordnance board in England? Well such things didn’t exist in Spain. The Armada was a vast task and an extraordinarily complicated one too, requiring the wholesale commandeering of private vessels as well as pressing royal ships into the great Armada; vast quantities of provisions were hanging about, Merchantmen and hulks stuffing Spanish harbours to be used for carrying provisions, multiple types of cannon balls in the days before standardisation, gunpowder and armaments. This commandeering included the ships of foreign nations too – The Rata Santa Maria Encoronada from Genoa for example, the St Andrew of Dundee. Cadiz was a major centre of activity, though Lisbon was the port from which the Armada would finally sail; but Cadiz, the southern Spanish port with excellent facilities, well defended with good communications with the interior of Spain, that was the main centre of preparations.
So when Drake and his fleet turned up on 29th April and entered the outer haven, and within 24 hours burned and captured 24 Spanish ships it was something of a downer. For a while it looked as though the fleet would enter the inner harbour and maybe enter and sack the town; but the speedy arrival of one Duke of Medina Sidonia with additional militia stopped that little game. Drake sailed on – on to Sagres in Portugal near Cape St Vincent. The Cape was a well known spot for pirates, since so much Spanish shipping passed it on their way to Port; so much piracy occurred there, that it was called the Cape of Surprises. By capturing the port of Sagres, Drake had a base from which to terrorise merchant shipping and the Armada’s supply route between Andalusia and Lisbon. Which after some careful consideration about whether this was compatible with a robust moral framework, he did; until in a blaze of publicity, he sailed for the Azores in search of the treasure fleet. Instead he found just the one ship which he seized, the Portuguese Carrack Sao Phelipe, with which he return to Plymouth on 7th July. The Sao Philipe was just one ship a teeny weeny fraction of Philip’s merchant fleet, and yet yielded £140,000, a significant proportion of English national income, and yet further evidence of the vast wealth coming into Spanish hands.
Now in terms of actual damage, Drake’s carnage was surely not insignificant, but hardly relevant in terms of the total Armada size and preparation. But it caused mayhem. The Portuguese of Lisbon started pointing out that they had suffered none of this chaos until Philip came along. Santa Cruz was ordered out with a fleet to bring home the Treasure fleet, which kept him away from Armada preparations for 3 whole months, and gave his fleet a beating in the storms. Merchants were in a total panic, trade suffered. And psychologically, once again Drake had penetrated into the heart of Spain’s might – and based themselves on her shores with impunity for month. As expressed in a letter to Phillip from one of his counsellors
With this corsair at sea in such great strength, we cannot protect any island or coast, nor predict where he may attack, so it is not clear what we can do to stop him.
Now whatever you think of Drake, it’s hard to avoid the accusation that he was a boastful, kind of a bloke, not short of self confidence; and indeed this trip again was marred by a resulting court case brought against him by one of his aristocratic captains. But even he recognised that he’d only singed the beard of the king of Spain, a pin prick when seen in the context of the Spanish leviathon, and Drake knew the size of the challenge when he wrote to Walsingham
I dare not almost write unto your honour of the great forces we hear the king of Spain hath out…prepare in England strongly, and most by sea. Stop him now, and stop him ever
Having said all that, what Drake achieved was not nothing. Certainly in the annals of the world’s greatest beard singeing exploits, it’s stands up against any singeing story. Drake was particularly proud of burning thousands of barrel staves, which subsequent historians such as Garret Mattingley have linked to the level of decay of Armada provisions after they sailed – though my mate Geoff notes that there’s no comments in the Spanish records to support the story. More immediately, Drakes barbering exploits delayed the Armada by a year; Santa Cruz had spent 3 months to protect the treasure fleet, supplies and provisions had been badly disrupted. And just as critically, Philip’s plan for the Armada was irrevocably changed.
You might remember that the plan was to sail to Ireland and establish a base there, and for Santa Cruz then to continue on and land in the West country, while Parma crossed the channel on his barges with an army. Parma hated it, because Parma’s plan had relied on surprise. Since the Papal sword has been delivered publicly to Parma, a symbol of crusading virtue it was a fair old bet that someone somewhere had rumbled that there was something a foot in the Netherlands. Finally in September 1587, Phillip’s mind had been changed by the chaos Drake had inflicted. There would no longer be any talk about Ireland. The orders to Santa Cruz and Parma were that Santa Cruz would sail up the channel and anchor off the Margate Head, which is at the tippy top of Eastern Kent by the way; there’s probably chip shop there now. He would secure the seas against the English and on his way would warn Parma of his approach so Parma could get ready. Philip continued
The said Duke …will immediately send across the army that he has prepared in small boats of which (for transit alone) he has plenty
And given that the English army was rubbish and Parma a military genius, everyone would live happily ever after except for Elizabeth Tudor, the end, roll credits.
It has to be said that from here on in Phillip’s level of pother and panic rises consistently; in one case he even wrote to Parma testily asking why he hadn’t snuck across the channel anyway, despite his specific orders not to. Parma wrote back a most injured letter. In said letter there’s an interesting reference to a problem that would be a bit of a monster when the time came
Your majesty is well aware that without the support of this fleet I could not cross over to England with the boats I have.
Which sort of begs the question of why he’d proposed that approach in the first place, but hey, as every politician knows consistency is overrated. Actually the evaluation in Spain of the whole Armada enterprise often reads with the same level of optimism and positivity as an article about Brexit in the Guardian. A senior naval captain wrote a piece describing how the English ships were much faster and nimbler and had a much longer range for their cannon; while the Spanish strength was in closing, grappling and boarding. He went on
But unless God helps us by a miracle the English, who have faster and handier ships than ours, and many more long range guns, and who know their advantage just as well as we do, will never close with us at all, but stand aloof and knock us to pieces with their culverins, without our being able to do them any serious hurt. So, we are sailing against England in the confident hope of a miracle.
In January meanwhile, Santa Cruz’s fates decided that a cruise in the channel was not for him, and in January 1588 the great man was carried off by typhus. He was replaced by the Duke of Medina Sidonia. The Duke had impressive organisational abilities which he’d already showed in his part of the Armada; but was short on naval combat chops; he himself was well aware of the chaos in which the Armada preparations were and was super enthusiastic about the new job. Not. His thanks but no thanks letters to Philip fill several pages. Here’s a flavour
I have no doubt that his majesty will do me the favour I humbly beg and will not entrust me to a task of which, certainly, I shall not give a good account; for I do not understand it, know nothing about it, have no health for the sea, and have no money to spend on it.
Medina Sidonia could be accused of not being over confident. He sent another letter in which he argued the whole enterprise was inevitably doomed to failure. This letter never reached the king as it happens but was intercepted by counsellors who essentially told him to stop whining and that God would provide
Do not depress us with fears for the fate of the armada because in such a cause God will make sure it succeeds
Well that covers that then.
By the end of February 1588 the new Captain General of the Ocean Sea was headed Lisbon way. Medina Sidonia by and large would demonstrate that while a bit of self knowledge is a good thing, it is not always a good guide; his king’s faith was well placed. Certainly in 3 months some order had been imposed on preparations; the Armada had grown to 130 ships, the number of troops had reached 19,000 give or take, and after a few parades in April a general muster was held at Lisbon in May 1588, and on 28th May 1588 the great Armada was lead down the Tagus towards the open sea. Doom and retribution was heading towards the English.
- So what of the English then? With what confidence did they await their adversaries? Well, one of the assumptions we all make about the Armada campaign was that if the Spaniards had managed to land just one of their indisputably excellent soldiers on the shores of England, just one, even if he was the regimental toilet cleaner with a bad case of dysentery, the English would have been toast – I mean I exaggerate for effect, clearly, but you know what I mean. I have to ask – were the English really so helpless? The truth is that the English had tried to put measures in place to be able to defend Jerusalem and the England’s green and pleasant land, which may well get a future mench so listen up. Basically, the English were painfully aware that when it came to land warfare they were a bit rubbish – and the debacle of the expedition to Le Havre in the 1560s had reminded any who might have forgotten. Part of the fault lay with having no excuses for a permanent core professional army to bolster new recruits – there was Berwick, but the main source had been Calais. So worried about his were they that they kept tabs on all the gentlemen volunteers who served abroad and the soldiers who went with them, so they could call on their expertise.
But the core of England’s strength, if that be the word, lay in the County Militias, consisting of all its men aged between 16 and 60; a statute of 1558 had laid out how they should be armed, but to be honest most of the militias were armed with Bow, and with Bill hook; the Bow of course becoming a bit out of date by now, and the bill hook was way shorter than the pike used all over Europe, so if you have a bill hook by the time you’d identified your opposition soldier to go for, you’d be eating his pike. So, the PC realised that this would never do, but couldn’t afford a pike and musket for everyone, so they required a subset of the militia to be properly armed, and properly trained on the new weapons. This group was called the Trained Band which sounds a little like a Sherlock Holmes story but isn’t. That’s the Speckled Band. We will hear more of these Trained Bands, especially when we get to the civil war; and you might think that although this sounds like an improvement – it was still likely to be no match for the mercenaries of Germany or Switzerland, or the Spanish Tercios.
It is worth mentioning though that the nobility remained very important here; it was still much the easiest way to raise troops to call on the affinities and tenants of the big landowners, and generally they turned out to be the most effective troops. The bulk though were draw from the needy, desperate and criminal – those who had slipped over the poverty line into podcasting and desperately needed employment, to those open to a deal to release them from prison where they were rotting away.
On the other hand, we have I believe dealt with the other side of the military, the Navy, where the main hopes and investments of the English were invested, with the new Galleons and modernisation programme, sometimes called the Dreadnought revolution, after one of the new ship designs. From being an also ran in Henry VIII’s time it is interesting how quickly the work of Elizabethan pirates and corsairs had lifted the reputation of the English navy – as we’ve already heard, the Spanish treated them with great respect. However, the real success of the English Navy Royal would prove to lie as much with the mechanics of gunnery as with their ships. The English loved their ships, though, and felt pride and confidence in them, and their ability to handle them
Our ships doth show themselves like gallants here. I assure you it would do a man’s heart good to behold them
Wrote sir William Winter. And in the spirit of the same mindless optimism that is the mark of every true nationalist, the Lord Admiral also brimmed with love and confidence
I think there were never in any place in the world worthier ships than these are, for so many. And few as we are, if the King of Spain’s forces be not hundreds, we will make good sport with them
At the same time as all this brimming was going on, the English knew full well that if it came to hand to hand fighting, they were probably going to get only the silver medal, given the number of men the Spanish carried with them.
This meant that the tactics were also super clear; the English ships were more weatherly and better armed with ship killer cannon. So they’d do a Cassius Clay on them, dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee, pulverising the poor Spaniards from a distance. Bring it on. Though…having said that…they’d really rather sink them before they got here at all if possible.
Now the boss, the Lord Admiral, was not one of those names that fill the Elizabethan corasir’s handbook; his name was Howard of Effingham, and he was not, ironically, a particularly accomplished seaman – Admiral at the time was as much an admin job as corsairio. But his one true talent appears to have been to be realistic about his talents compared to the all stars around him, and to use them effectively and listen to them. Also he was one of the few that gave a tinker’s curse about the condition of his men after the Armada
‘and if men should not be cared for better than to let them starve and die miserably, we should very hardly get men to serve … but before God, I had rather have never penny in the world than they should lack’
This was an attitude signally missing from Burghley and Elizabeth’s approach, who were too busy waving to the crowds and counting the savings from seamen who died before being paid off. But that’s for later. Oh, and fab fact about Howard – he loved Spaniels.
Anyway, Howard and his lieutenants, Drake, Hawkins and Frobisher, realised that sinking the Spanish ships was easier in port than at sea – and you only have to look at the numbers to see how true this is; Drake sank 23 at Cadiz in harbour. Now, as it happens, Medina Sidonia, having left the Tagus caught a serious illness, almost immediately – cold feet. Seeing the lack of adequate provisions despite all his work, he put into harbour at Corunna, in northern Spain. The benefit was that he could spend some time revictualling his fleet. He also had time to fire off a letter to the boss, which really were as terrified as one David Crowther when forced to take a zip wire over a chasm by his daughter. The letter basically said look boss, this is a busted flush, why not make peace? And by the way I don’t think God’s on our side any more. The answer he received was something of a burn. Phillip concluded the burn with the words
I have dedicated this enterprise to God…get on then and do your part
Similar words to those used to me in front of the zip wire all those years ago. So, Medina Sidonia squared his shoulders, stuck out his chin and with a good southerly wind set off for destiny. The crossing of the Bay of Biscay-O went pretty well, with one very significant event though. Santa Cruze’s original plan had called for a very strong squadron of galleys, and the old hero’s instincts had been true – these would help fight battles and protect barges in coastal waters, where their manoeuvrability and shallow draught would be king. Philip had allocated a measily 4 to Medina Sidonia. All four of these failed to cope with the storms in Biscay, and had to leave for port – their loss would be keenly felt.
Ironically at a similar time, Howard was desperately trying to get out of Plymouth Harbour, to get down to Corunna and take the last chance to burn the Armada in port. The same wind that blew the Armada to England’s shores, kept blowing the English back to port in Plymouth. So – one-nil to Spain. So the English waited, while in London Burghley fretted about how little money they had and how were they to pay all these blessed sailors? Could the Spaniards please get their collective arse into gear and get on with it? Meanwhile, the English commanders, included Drake of course kept themselves amused as well as they could.
And one of those ways might well have been – you guessed it – by playing bowls.
So as tradition has it, there was Franny and his chumps playing bowls on 19th July on Plymouth Hoe. When suddenly their game was disturbed – Captain Fleming breathlessly ran up and declared that the beacons had been lit, the enemy was in the Scilly Isles. Or maybe the pinnace Golden Hind came into harbour to tell, them, whatevs, the point is that the message reached the bowlers and everyone ran around like headless chickens or crying out Don’t panic or queueing up for a last visit to the loo. While our hero, Francis Drake, Sir Francis Drake that is, shaken not stirred remarked coolly
‘There is plenty of time to finish the game and beat the Spaniards too,’
Well what a dude. Now, sadly historians are by and large a miserable lot, by which I mean they put a high value on truth, light and justice, as opposed to a good story and Bakewell tart. Generally then, the consensus is very mixed about this tale I am sorry to say. John Sugden categorically says it’s all a load of baloney which traces its origin to a Spanish noble in 1624 boasting that the Armada was so effective at sneaking up on the English that it might have caught them playing bowls. Professor Rodgers essentially says pshaw – if they had been playing bowls they wouldn’t have hung about, Colin Martin and my mate Geoff treat it with complete disdain, not even mentioning it. Garret Mattingly, who wrote by far the best history book in terms of letting the full rollickingness of the story come out in full fat says no one knows egad, and it jolly well deserves to be true. I personally, shall chose to believe it because you know, I’m not a proper historian, you fellow history lovers may choose as you wish.
This might be the time, in comparing the fleets, to lay to rest a few of those Armada myths I talked about, the one about the size of the Goliath Armada ships, apparently so much bigger than the little English Davids. This one is kind of true on the one hand, and not true on the other. It is true in the letter of it – the average size of the Spanish fleet was bigger. But it’s not really true in the spirit of it; the Spanish fleet had a lot of very large transport ships; in fighting strength, the English had the advantage. The English had over 80 fighting ships, faster and more heavily armed; the largest English ship was Martin Frobisher’s Triumph of 1000 tons; there were a couple of Spanish ships that were a little bigger, but they were hulks, and the biggest was not much bigger.
Incidentally this seems to be another moment to mention why the English navy was ahead on points, which is that the English were way, way better at naming their ships. Generally speaking, the Spanish went for Saints – Medina Sidonia’s flagship was the San Martin, and a very large number of Spanish ships went the same way. Or you know, biblical events like the Ascension, or maybe places.
Well, when Howard took his rather belated challenge to the Spanish fleet off Plymouth, the ship he sailed in was called the Disdain. Now that’s a good name for a ship of war don’t you think? If you are going to issue a challenge to battle, I cannot imagine a better ship to do it in than the Disdain. Drake of course sailed in the Revenge, Frobisher in the Triumph, John Hawkins captained the Victory, Thomas Fenner the Nonpareil, the without equal, George Beeston the Dreadnought. Even when the names weren’t particularly martial, they had a ring to them – Ark Royal, Golden Lion, Rainbow, White Bear, Swiftsure, Swallow. There’s real love, poetry, ambition, piracy and defiance in those names. So, taking names into account – the English draw level, 1 all.
The sight of the Armada as it came into view was, however, undeniably awesome by all accounts. Medina Sidonia was to prove a thoroughly competent commander as it happens, despite his personal doubts, and he had held a meeting with his commanders before they approached Plymouth by 30th July, and drew up in a well designed and beautifully organised galley fleet battle order. The weaker ships had been held in the centre, the vanguard and rearguard held the fighting ships, and the formation had two long horns. The formation emphasised a line abreast organisation, and meant that to get at anything the English would have to venture between the horns and find it difficult to escape the crescent. The weakness of the horns was that the ships there were very vulnerable to attack; so before long the horns were squished, shortened, like two sort of man buns on the back of the Armada.
The English were impressed as the Armada, which stretched over 2 miles so large was it, came into sight
We never thought that they could ever have found, gathered and joined so great a force of pusissant ships together and so well appointed with their cannon, culverin and other great pieces of brass ordinance
One seafaring nation recognised the training and discipline that had gone to create such an ordered formation from another.
Now, when they appeared, the Spanish had the wind. This is obviously an opportunity for some childish and smutty joke, but you are too dignified for that, so I shall resist and instead put on my best Master and Commander voice and talk about the weather gauge; in the days of sailing ships, if you are to windward, i.e. the wind gets to you first before your opponent then you have a significant advantaged of manoeuvrability – you get to decide when to attack. So since the south Easterly wind was blowing the Spaniards up the channel, they had the weather gauge as they approached Plymouth; the English ships had to warp themselves out of harbour. I don’t think warping has anything to do with Scotty in this instance, it means chucking an anchor out, and dragging yourself along by pulling it in, bit by bit against the wind. A tiresome process.
But this tiresome process lead to the first day of combat, which was to be an eye opener for both sides. The Spanish were unsurprised to see that the English took the tactic of standing out of effective Spanish range, and trying to pulverize the Spanish with their long culverins. However the quality of the English ships, performance and rigging did surprise them; and a different aspect of the English manner of attack too. Ships back then did not attack in the manner to which Nelson has made us accustomed – i.e. the ships in a long line, line ahead as they call it, Indian file you might say; the tactic was line abreast – all ships side by side, approaching the enemy and then firing their bow chasers, getting close and boarding to have a good old land fight on ships. Line ahead, the ships each arrive at the enemy in turn, turn aside, blast off their broadside, turn, give’ em the other side, and then sail off to reload. In the 16th century there is categorically no reloading of guns during action – takes too long, you’d be shot to bits. This says Colin Martin and my mate Geoff, could be the first line ahead attack in the history of European Naval warfare. The doyen of Naval History, N A M Rodgers sees something completely different in the first days at least – a sort of melee of line abreast approach, though, long range firing none the less. So you see, theories abound.
The English however, were surprised in a most unpleasant way. They appeared to be having very little impact on the mighty Armada. In the first day actually they did score some successes – but they were largely self inflicted by the Spaniards; the San Salvador blew up, though sadly the English were forced to admit they ‘never touched it guv, wasn’t me guv’. Seems to have been some argument between a Spanish officer and a German gunner about love I think. Then the Ship the Rosario damaged her bowsprit and fell off the Armada as well.
There’s then a very funny and most Drake like incident with the good ship Rosario. Drake’s job that first night was to stay out on a flank and keep a light made so that everyone else would not get tangled up. The light however, disappeared, and in the morning oops how extraordinary, Drake’s Revenge was right next to the Rosario! Now that’s spooky – Drake of course did his duty in such a circumstance and took the Rosario’s surrender as a prize and the 52,000 ducats she carried.
Well Martin Frobisher, a good Yorkshire man and therefore jolly careful with his cash and about as direct as the English ever get, was hopping mad – he reckoned Drake had failed in his duty and sought his own personal profit.
‘thinketh to cozen us of our shares of fifteen thousand ducats, but we will have our shares, or I will make him spend the best blood in his belly, for he hath had enough of those cozening cheats already
Drake didn’t really bother to try and defend himself – in explaining why his lights had disappeared, he gave some vague excuse about seeing some strange sails in the distance and going to investigate, which carried about the same level of conviction as ‘the dog ate my homework’. Frobisher had the lad bang to rights is my carefully weighed historical judgement.
After a day of hard work though, the general feeling among the English was one of worry. The Rosario had seemed very well armed and manned when they got on board looked her over – so getting any closer looked like a bad idea to the English. But after a day of standing off and doing the pulverising thing, the Armada had stayed superbly organised, had progressed serenely on her way and lost no ship to English fire. Unless the Armada had a lot more argumentative German gunners hidden away, the prognosis was suddenly not good, not good at all, and if the English could not stop her, none of them felt confident about the performance of their Trained Bands against Parma’s tercios. What to do?
We will find out about what happens, and indeed the war that follows in the next episode. Thank you everyone for listening, and don’t forget the St George’s day poll for the Mightiest Medieval Monarch, the first poll is up there. Good luck, have a great week or fortnight, might be the latter, and try not to get too nervous worrying who wins in the Big Armanda Bust up.