Sunday, 16 June 2019

Going Out with a Bang - Not a Whimper

The one thing I've been insistent with since the day we gave our notice in to St Austell is that our standards will not slip - right up to the very last day we serve our last meal or pull our last pint. Incidentally, that's Sunday the 3rd November! 

But it's more than that for us now, I want us to go out with a BANG not a whimper. I never want anyone to say 'well I knew they were leaving'!!! 

So after discussions with Senior Chefs and Manager Geordie Jess, we've decided to throw everything thats great about our local produce to our last ever summer menu.  Firstly, we've a super lunch time addition to the lunch menu - a Summer Seaside Treats with everything thats wonderful about the food we've served over the years at the Vic. Fantastic fresh Lobsters and day boat fish from local fishermen. Gorgeous juicy Scallops, Crab Bisque and Mussels. How about Chips with Lobster Butter????  Puddings are quite exciting too - where would we be without Tim's sticky toffee pudding. Thats an absolute given that it stays on the menu till the end, but we've also got Salted Caramel Brownie, a fab Sous vide Pineapple with Raspberry Sorbet and a gorgeous wobbly Chocolate Panna Cotta. ALL made in house by our team of chefs too - not bought in! 
The flowers have been refreshed at the front of the Vic as well as the pots in the back of the pub. But my goodness, we've not needed to water them much have we!!?? 

We're starting to say goodbye to customers now too, the ones who have their set times that they visit who always come into us whatever the weather. The ones whose holiday wouldn't be complete without a visit (or 3) to the Vic. 

There was Nick Price and his family last month. Saw them at the Winking Prawn (my fav place) where I'd gone to have lunch with a friend. Had a super conversation about their visits to the Vic over the years and then Mrs Price asked me if she could have a hug - saying 'Thank you for the memories'............blimey, much of that and I'll be a permanent blubbering wreck but what a lovely thing to have said. Said with such sincerity and meaning too. 

Then there's the Crighton's - we've seen their children grow from little ones to tall young people and it was with real sadness we hugged and said goodbye. Loads more as well, lots of family who've been loyal customers. 

There's going to be a lot of this over the next couple of months especially, but I'm really looking forward to seeing them next year when I'm in town as a lady of leisure!!! 

So on that note, we've been inundated with enquiries from you all about what's happening to the Vic after November.......... in all honesty we really don't know yet. As soon as we do know the Brewery's decision and I'm able to, I promise that I'll tell you. 

A last thought, do any of you remember the time we showed the World Cup from the upstairs window of the Vic while the Music Festival was on in 2010??? Got me into a spot of bother it has to be said, but thats what memories are made of! 

Till the next time my lovelies, 

Liz - Licensee 

Tuesday, 7 May 2019


As with anytime in life you start to finish something, you start to think about what you've done in that time - what you've achieved, people you've met (people you'd rather not have met!) experiences and lessons learned. 

I was sat looking through some pics the other evening and I realised with huge gratitude what lovely people we've had work with us. 

Let's start with Glo - Our first Manager of the Vic. Right from the word go, our Glo was the backbone of our business, when we only had 8 team members in our first week. 

Glo had worked at the Vic for a while and had a wonderful work history in working with customers, and her customer service skills were second to none. Exemplary in her approach to the Vic, everything had to be of the highest standards - Glos' standards - and woe betide anyone that didn't work to those standards! One look was enough to quieten the most trucculent of the team. But Glo carried people with her and would never ask anyone to do anything she wouldn't do. 

Glo became a very good friend to me over the years, we shared many shifts together and the early days of Sunday lunchtimes with us behind the bar on Sundays with sounds of the 60's on the playlist will live with me for ever! 

She also didn't like having her photo taken so I hope she won't mind be nicking this from her Facebook page!!! 

When Glo decided to leave us she left huge shoes to fill, one or two didn't quite make the grade for very long, and then along came Rob! Gorgeous, loveable, kind and hard working Rob - pretty useless on the computer but bloody wonderful with staff and customers! 

I was told (after the event thankfully!) on a night where we were beyond full that a customer insistent on a table eventually drove calm, unflappable Rob to retort he would look to see if he had a table 'up his arse'!!! 😂 😂😂😂😂😂

Rob made staff parties lively affairs and he could often see the humour in things that I fumed at. Another person capable of taking staff with him, rather than 'boss' them about. The pic of him and I is one of my all-time favourites as he stepped into the breach in the kitchen a few times and he caught me as I was 'taste testing' the Sunday joints! 

Rob became a surrogate son and would feel comfortable coming to talk with me if he was unsure where life was taking him, and I admit to crying buckets when he said he was leaving us for a life with his family in his beloved Brighton. Even now, customers ask about him (and Glo). 

Then thankfully and so, so luckily for us, Geordie Jess was already working for us as an assistant Manager and with a little coaxing took on the mantle of what is to be the last Manager of the Vic. 

Ahhhhhh Jess - what can I say that's printable and repeatable! I had finally met the woman who could out curse me and outdrink Rob!!! 

Seriously, in Jess we have all the qualities of both of the best of Glo & Rob, and she knows her way round a computer thankfully!! Loads of experience in pubs and hospitality, she has thrived and blossomed on the responsibilities she now has. SOH and I have at last been able to truly take our foot of the gas occasionally knowing that her all round capabilities at running a pub means we once again leave our pub in safe hands when not here. 

I've built a wonderful friendship with this young woman (I'm her Devon Mum) as has SOH and what an absolute superstar she is. Her down to earth Geordie approach has been like a breath of fresh air and she's another Manager who works her absolute socks off, and expects the same from the team. Not afraid to tell it as it is, and like me she has an intolerance of idiots, but she has the proverbial heart of gold and I'm very, very fond of her. 

And now I'm crying (God 5 months of this to go yet - I'll be an emotional wreck!) as I think of these very, very special people who have helped us shape our business to be as wonderful as it is, our gratitude to them is immeasurable! 
Thank you Glo, Rob and 
Jess 💖

More about the team next time, 

Love always

Liz x

Monday, 15 April 2019


I thought I'd look up the definition of retirement and this is what I found:-

  1. 1. the action or fact of leaving one's job and ceasing to work "a man nearing retirement"
    synonyms:giving up work, stopping working, stopping work;

I mean firstly MAN - where's the woman in that and secondly, it's all a bit 'stopping' isn't it?? 

But I have to say, almost the first thing that anyone asks when they know we're retiring is 'what are you going to do'??? 

Interesting isn't it the perception you have to be 'doing'?? It feels like I've been defined by my work for the last 44 years. My role, the work I've done, the money I've earned, the job satisfaction, the striving to be the best, the success and the failures, the struggle to fit everything in...... it's all going to change. 

As some of you will know, I have not been in the best of health for the last year or 2 and now SOH has had a bit of it as well, so whilst we still have big plans to travel they are just on hold for a little while until we see how we both settle down in terms of 'wellness'. 

However, the reality is just starting to hit us (me 😁) that in 7 months we will no longer be receiving any earned income!! I think we're going to fall into the category
of 'not rich but not poor' or as people like to say 'comfortable'! Whatever that may mean?? 

At the moment it's really easy when you have a pub to get stuff from work - want some fish or a couple of steaks?? Oh I'll just pop to the working kitchen. Need a bit of shopping - I'll nip to the local shop and get it on account.  Need things a bit bulkier, oh, add it the cash and carry list. Well that will stop in 7 months won't it?

I'm actually (honestly) looking forward to being a bit of a housewife again. I was always pretty good at budgeting and whilst I've never been much of a cook I'm looking forward to having another bash at it all. 

But what WILL we do with ourselves in retirement??? 

The answer is, right now we have absolutely no idea! We've made financial plans, we have a home in Salcombe, we know the first couple of months will be spent tying up the ends of the business - but after that?? Who knows?? 

I'm guessing that there'll be a bit fair bit of lounging around to start with, long lay in's, some gardening (lettuces in that pic starting to look good in the greenhouse) getting used to spending long periods of time together. 

SOH will be doing his First Responding a bit more, but I already have a number of jobs lined up for him that we've been putting off. 

I'm already brushing up on my 'proper' cooking skills - we can't live on the dozen or so things that I'm really good at!! So Amazon are doing quite well at the moment with books like this! Thanks Jack Monroe - I'm LOVING this book!!  

Are we excited about retirement?? Are we a bit nervous? Yes & Yes, but it's just another chapter in OUR book isn't it?? 

Till next time, 

Much Love

Liz x

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Happy 2019 Everyone!

Staff party at the BEGINNING of the evening!

Well, that was a most peculiar Christmas and New Year in Salcombe. Certainly one of the quietest Christmas periods we've ever seen........... Christmas is traditionally quieter here than NY but this year was something else altogether. 

I'm not sure what is to blame: Brexit, the weather, cost of being here or what?? 

We do know that the local shops were reporting footfall down by up to 20%, which seems to be in line with national averages of around 15%, but of course if people are not coming to Salcombe to shop then they're not going to be going in the pubs to eat and drink.........

New Year was a different one mostly - we were very, very busy as anticipated but there were no fireworks this year and why we're not quite sure. At midnight there couldn't have been 30 or 40 people in the Whitestrand carpark whereas normally it is thronged with people.  Even the Police didn't hang around. 

However, our fully booked NYE was a huge success and I was mightily proud of my team as always. The magician (Magic Mark) was brilliant and The Old Gaffers were just superb with a very appreciative audience. 

We've had some horrible incidents in Salcombe over the last few weeks, petty vandalism which we're just not used to in this glorious part  of the UK. One of our window boxes was destroyed for no good reason and other damage incurred at the same time by (we think) the same mindless yobs! 

The town is certainly undergoing change right now: The Co-Op has arrived in Salcombe and appears to have been quite well received, Sea Chest is closed down and now being renovated - but for what we don't know. The KA is undergoing a major refurbishment as we all said a sad goodbye to Neil and Claire now they have retired and the old Lloyds bank is currently being gutted. 

Scaffolding seems to be everywhere in Salcombe and we understand that the green light has been given to major car parking works in the current Shadycombe car park??!! But whether that is fact or the great Salcombe rumour mill is anyones guess! 

On top of that we've been able to have no flipping fire in our wonderful fireplace due to a brick having been dislodged.  There was much shaking of heads and mutterings of a 'very big job'!! (Gawd help us!) But good news, apparently we shall be having scaffolding erected next week and hopefully to get it fixed as soon as possible! 

Now then, good news and about the wonderful Gin collection we have!  Fabulous new additions to our gin selection have arrived! This bumps our number up to 55 gins on our bar! As well as the 'normal' Salcombe Gin we now stock ALL of the limited edition Salcombe Gin varieties, Arabella, Mischief, Guiding Star and Finisterre. Blooming 'andsome they are too! Selling well too.............

We've had a few 'Celebs' in town this season, Rod was rumoured to be in Timberland, and one or 2 others who my team knew but I had no clue as to who they were. We had a footballer from back when as well as Jim Davidson and Monica Galetti from MasterChef was in town. 

Our revised Winter menu will be in place shortly and we hope there's going to be no repeat of the Beast from The East as promised. 

Stay warm and snuggled up my  dear friends and readers, 

Much love till my next ramblings,

Liz x

Friday, 14 December 2018

Pub Landlady's life????

There are times that being a Pub Landlady definetly is not all that!! 

THIS pub landlady does a lot of the things that SOH absolutely does not like doing, like; replying to Trip Advisor reviews - especially the odd rogue ones that can be so damaging to business's (2 removed by TA in the last month!) whilst trying to keep my sarcasm in check (!), dealing with occasional staffing issues (no onsite HR departments for THAT!) that can give sleepless nights, trying not to let anxieties affect me when you can count the number of people walking down the street on one hand and therefore not coming in the Vic and last but not least worrying about loved members of team when they're very unwell.  

But then there are the moments that make this job magical. 

One of those was a couple of weeks ago when our very own Jessie Day went and married her Ben and became Mrs Watson.  Jessie has worked for us for about 8 years now and it's been a real delight to watch her bloom into the wonderful young woman she is today as well as a trusted Supervisor. 

We were thrilled to have her wedding reception at the Vic and the entire team worked like Trojans to ensure she had a reception to remember. So many, many congratulations Jessie and all our love to you and Ben for a long and happy life together. 

SOH has had a bit of revamp of our wines and has had a totally brilliant idea of introducing Wine Flights. Three 100ml glasses especially chosen by us for you, and with a choice of red, white or sparkling - so something for everyone! 

One of his better ideas I would say, but he would say (of course) naturally!! 

We're always looking at mixing up our offering here at the Vic so we've plans for a wine tasting in 2019 - keep your eyes peeled for details. 

Christmas is once more not that far away and today was National Christmas jumper day so of course our great Front of House team entered into the spirit of the day.  

The pub of course looks spectacular as the tree is up and the Vic is decorated to a brilliantly high standard as usual. It looks magical when all the lights are lit and the tree looks exceptionally beautiful this year - I love this photo of the little girl looking at the tree. For me that's the magic of Christmas and all the angst of the everyday life of a Pub Landlady disappears.

Until the next time dear readers, 
Much Love, 
                                                                      Landlady Liz x 

Monday, 8 October 2018

Hola Rioja

So, at last in September SOH and I eventually made our way to Northern Spain to go and meet Roberto from Bodegas Santalba and find out where the utterly gorgeous Rioja that we sell comes from. 

We have been so lucky in our jobs as publicans to go to various suppliers of both food and drink and look at the process - Champagne in particular (twice) - but this was a much awaited visit and already postponed once from earlier in the year. 

The first part of our road trip was the Brittany ferries crossing from Plymouth, and I have to say that we were both VERY pleasantly surprised. Not by the bunk beds it has to be said, but by the general high standards on the ferry, the food and drink and entertainment!! Excellent and probably something we will repeat again. 

Arrival at Santander after about 22 hours was slightly delayed, but we made a  fairly fast escape from the boat and onto the road to Brinas.  

A sweet little village in the province of La Rioja. Now SOH does NOT like travelling with a sat nav - he finds it hard enough with me! But only a couple of wrong turns and a little bit of colourful language from both of us, found us in this delightful village and a hotel set right near to the river. 

The following day we did a little sightseeing, before going out with Roberto and enjoying his hospitality in his home town of Haro. Haro is known for its fine red wine and every year the Haro Wine Festival is held where locals hold a wine battle!!! 

The little bar we went to offered the most exquisite tapas and authentically local too - hence I ate a Pigs Ear - absolutely NOT like the type we sell for the dogs in the Vic!! 

But the following day was an absolute highlight for us. We've sold Roberto's wine for about 8 years, when he came to the Vic and talked to us about his wines.  Since then he's been to Salcombe for a visit with his wife and family, and we keep in regular contact on social media. So going to see the grapes and the winery itself was just super. 

Santalba is a family run operation and you feel that from the off when Roberto told us about his Father Santiago starting the business in 1964. In fact the name of the winery is a fusion of the first name and surname of him; Santiago Ijalba. 

I always find it fascinating to see the grapes that will be used in the making of the wines or Champagnes, and to see this here at Santalba was no less special. Roberto explained that the time we were there was absolutely crucial as to not wanting too much rain otherwise it may affect the harvest. The care that Bodegas Santalba take in monitoring and selecting their grapes certainly show in the finished product. Their grapes are also harvested manually!! 

He explained to us that the geographical location in the heart of the Rioja Alto  with it's climate and it's soil have all contributed to giving the regions wines their unmistakeable character. 

We had an absolutely brilliant tour with Roberto (who is an exceptionally busy man - spending a lot of time abroad) and the winery was far bigger than we expected it to be.  SOH was in his element as he's a bit off a wine buff and has a genuine thirst for knowledge when it comes to all things to do with our business. 

Then of course came the tasting!  My favourite part of the tour of course! Now, of course to taste professionally, you taste, swill and spit into a spittoon - nope! Not for us, we embraced the tasting with gusto and I can honestly say that it was a very pleasurable hour or two.  

Roberto very generously gave us a gift of wine and meats and we spent a few shillings on a dozen or so of his very best wines to bring home with us1  

This was all followed by a delightful lunch in Sajazarra a hill top setting where the heavens opened, and I mean truly opened,  and there was a little fretting by Roberto that it would not be as heavy back at the the Bodegas............. 

I'm pleased to say that it wasn't and the grapes have just started to be harvested in the last couple of days  

So all in all a delightful couple of days and we felt very privileged that our friend Roberto took so much time out of his busy schedule to be with us. 

Following on from that we went to Santiago de Compostela where we had a very pleasurable couple of days before driving back to Santander. 

We made lots of memories and felt even more enthusiastic about the Rioja Ermita Crianza that we are so happy to recommend and to sell. 

Till the next time

Much love

Liz x

Monday, 24 September 2018

It is still 2018 isn't it??

Stories in the Garden this Summer
Have you ever known a year go as fast as this, I honestly don't think I have. Mind you my year has been punctuated 4 times (yes 4 now!!) this year by being admitted to hospital with my ruddy Asthma.......... I've never, ever had a year like it. That's why I'm afraid there's been little or no blog writing - I just haven't felt up to it if I'm truthful, sorry folks. 

Thankfully the team at the Vic have continued to cope admirably without me and it's very comforting to me to know that the Vic is in such good hands.                   Secretly, I'm sure there are times they're blooming glad I'm not there bossing them around and being picky about how things are done! 

Of course SOH is still there moving deftly behind the scenes doing all the things he loves to do as the Landlord of the Vic, and jolly good he is at it too. 

So then, I have definitely taken a leave of absence from my front of house duties until at least Christmas and only then if my health has taken an upwards swing.  

You may well see me in town first thing in the mornings as I pop in to the pub and have a few meetings and just check everything is as I want it to be, BUT please don't be offended if we don't do the whole 'kiss kiss darling' bit.  I'm doing my absolute best to stay away from close contact with ANYONE at the moment as I just can't afford to catch any more cold bugs or virus's and can't bear the thought of a 5th blue light rush to hospital. 

So, enough about me and my state of health lets talk about things far nicer like the utterly gorgeous summer we've had.......... what a stunner it's been!! How beautiful is this photo??? 

It's been so great for all the tourists and the business's, particularly those based on the water. It felt like it would never end, but damn it - it looks like it has! 

The days here are still warm and sunny (apart from last week when it chucked it down incessantly!) but that Autumn nip is certainly starting to bite last thing at night and first thing in the mornings. 

The Vic had quite a good summer trade and our new garden menu was incredibly well received. We pushed out hundreds upon hundreds of portions of Fish & Chips (now completely gluten free), Curries and Burgers!! 

In fact our Chefs could often be heard muttering that if they 'flipped one more flipping Burger' they might as well be at McDonuts!! (that is of course the cleaned up version of events!) 

Now the summer is over our Chefs have got all creative again with the return of lunch specials and great new menus. First off though was a huge clean that saw all of the Chefs, whatever their position getting down and dirty and giving the kitchen a super post summer hols deep clean. 

But this pic from the summer is my absolute fav of all time! Ever!! This is Norman and Norman LOVES our Tims Sticky Toffee Pudding. 

Apparently he didn't stop talking about the fact he; 1 - Loved that pud so much and how 'yummy' it was and 2 - that his photo was used in my social media sites! 

The other 2 little bundles of gorgeousness are our own 2 grandsons when they came too visit Nanna Devon and stayed in the Hobbit House - which they thought was great fun! 

Looks like they thought the food was quite good too! As well as the colouring pages and pencils we give the little ones. 

Of course we had lots and lots of doggie visitors too, in fact I think town had more dogs than I've ever seen before this year. 

Cockerpoos still seem to be favourites and we saw all 

colours and sizes with of course many, many Labradors and Spaniels as well as a host of others. 

This gorgeous dog in this photo is Badger who's waiting for his pigs ear!!!  

The owner Carl was waiting for his pint of Proper Job.......... 

We managed to get ourselves at last to Spain to meet with Roberto from Santalba Winery - where our exquisite  Rioja comes from, but I'm going to do a whole blog post on that next time. So much to tell you and so many beautiful photos I don't want to squeeze it in here. 

So until the next time, enjoy what's left of the warmer weather and I'll be back soon, 

Much love darlings, 

Liz  x x x