Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Namaste

My Princess Di pose on my Birthday at the Taj Mahal
Namaste to you all................. we're back and pleased to say we survived the delights of India! 

Wow what an adventure it was as well. Delhi had the worst smog it has had in 20 years, some of the currency got withdrawn overnight and Trump won the USA elections!! 

There are no words
It really can't be called a holiday - no holiday has you setting your alarm clock at 5a.m and not once but several times. No holiday has you regularly travelling for 12 hours to get from one place to another! But I wouldn't have missed one single minute of our journey for anything. 

We saw great extremes - poverty and opulence on one hand and dirt yet beauty on the other. 

Sleeping Tiger! 
We saw not one but 2 Tigers, the clouds cleared for us to see the beautiful Himalayas range, I had 3 birthday cakes - 4 if you include the fantastic one our team did for me, we also saw;  queues of people at banks and ATM's when the currency was removed overnight, a dead body being taken for cremation (along the street on a stretcher type thing with the face open to the world!!), more than 5 people on scooters, a container truck held together with inner tubes, Cows and Goats walking across highways, dogs dying, children amused (and curious) at seeing white faces, Gandhi's resting place, huge birds of prey, crocodiles and much, much more. 

We also encountered great kindnesses with massive smiles from everyone - that is when weren't being stared at as many people have never seen white europeans.  We got asked loads of times for photos with them to show their friends and relatives back home.......... I felt like the Queen or a pop star! 

The Himalayas
If you fancy this sort of trip then I highly recommend www.rivieratravel.co.uk
 and try to make sure that Tony Russo is the guide - he kept us safe and well ensuring that we knew what to buy where, use the hand sanitiser at all times and had a fiery Italian personality that seemed to work well with laid back Indians. The whole trip was really well organised and we covered a lot of ground and saw a lot of India in a short time - the hotels were also exceptionally good! Many people were on their 3rd or 4th trip so they must be doing something right! 

Along sideTony we had fantastic local guides Parol and Sanjay - amazing people who made the trip completely come alive. Particularly Sanjay who when the altitude affected my asthma ensured I missed nothing - particularly the Himalayas. 

We ate great food - not just curries but a wide assortment of cuisines from across the globe and there were no places where cooking something different from was a chore. 

We had a group of great people, Annie, Dawn, Phil, Debs, Mary and the 'Baron' amongst many will live on in my memory for a long time!!! For all the right reasons too..........

BUT, it has taken the best part of a 4 days to recover from all the travel - so if you decide to do this amazing journey get into training for it at an early stage!!

Back then to the UK in the throws of some dreadful rain and storms and a team who thought it fun to give me a Skydiving birthday present - thankfully it was a send up and instead I have a gift of Dinner at Gordon Ramseys 3 star Michelin restaurant in Chelsea, London.

So, it's now heads down and on to Christmas with decorations soon to be let out of their boxes, trees to be erected, the inevitable Christmas shopping (next week - Exeter) and the joy (!) of Christmas card writing!! 

The Vic is actually quite busy for this time of year and the team did an amazing job of looking after her in our absence - Thank you all, you can do it all again in January!! 

Till the next instalment,  

Much love, 

Liz xxx


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Last Blog for a little while!

Fear not, I'm not giving up on you darlings but I have a celebratory milestone birthday coming up and after much deliberation (party, slap up meal, hibernation, face lift!) we have decided to take ourselves off to India and see sights and hear sounds I've only every dreamt of!

Very excited I am too............the jabs have been had (flip me no one said the Typhoid jab would be SOOOO painful!)

Boots the Chemist have been emptied of hand wipes, bum wipes, immodium, rehydrate, paracetamol, savlon, packets of tissues, rennies, anti bite etc etc!! Every time I go over to Boots in Fore Street Salcombe I'm sure they think I've turned into some sort of paranoid neurotic with a very bad stomach!

The camera is fired up with a spare battery, visas have been sought and granted, the spare room slightly resembles a small section of a department store! Paperwork has been checked, re-checked and checked just once more for good luck!

In the meantime the team at the Vic will be ever so slightly (!) received when we finally go as there is a limit to how many times they will patiently listen to me checking with them the 'things to do', 'where to find.........', who to 'phone if..........', 'what to do if...............'!!

SOH has even been seen to be writing his own 'things to do' list - but thats a list no where near as big as my what to pack list! It seems like it's going to be between 32 in Delhi to 19 in the hills of Shimla - so a mix of clothes and shoes and oh my, what shall I be able to leave out so that I'm not over the weight limit??

I'll be back in a few weeks (Older!) with a whole load of photo's, memories and stories, in the meantime our lovely girls and boys at the Vic will be there to look after you and probably give you an update if t'internet is readily available over there.......................

Lots of love


Liz xxx 






Sunday, 16 October 2016

All things team...........

Head Chef Tom
 My life is all things Chef / Kitchen at the moment!! Firstly, please say a huge hello to my new Head Chef Tom Huggett. Tom joins us as a relatively young Head Chef but my goodness what he may not have in years he has in passion for the food he cooks. He is immensely talented and has a great palate, a real understanding of how flavours works together and we are SO excited to have him as our new Head Chef.  

A good background in pubs and hotels, and as you can see he's rather handsome, he has a great sense of humour and he's made himself very much at home in his new role quite quickly. A nice quiet approach to getting things done - I can't be doing with shouty Chefs! We prefer to have Raymond Blancs in our kitchen to Gordon Ramseys............but he's no pushover. 

You may remember me introducing him as a senior Sous back in the summer, and from his very first day we knew we had been lucky enough to have someone very special and talented join our team - who could have thought that he'd actually be leading it so soon! 

We were left in a bit of a pickle for the NYE menu as of course a change of Head Chef meant we had to have a change of menu, but oh my, I am so excited at what he has produced. I think due to a cancellation we have 1 table of 4 now available - so if you're interested I would call us NOW! Because otherwise we are fully booked!!!!

Aaron stirring his Custard
So we look forward to a long and happy relationship with Tom as he takes us on the next step of our journey at the Vic. 

The next Chef I want to talk about is Aaron. 

Aaron joined us about 4 years ago as a general assistant / KP in our kitchen. 

Another quiet soul, he was incredibly shy but very hard working. He showed a desire to want to get on in catering and took our opportunity of a Chef Apprenticeship. 

Part way through his apprenticeship we thought we might part company as he wasn't really displaying the qualities we expected him to show. But a little gentle coaching from his tutors at South Devon College and a lot of support from us got him through whatever it was that was holding him back and he went on to win the Chef Apprentice Cup for most Improved Student. 
Aaron's Fish dish - 


He has continued to work incredibly hard and at 20 is now a FT Junior Sous Chef within our team - he has a lot of responsibility and is an integral part of our kitchen team. Not quite so shy now and with a wicked sense of humour, he's a very much loved member of our team. I'm so proud of him - he never complains (well not in my hearing anyway) he's always a cheery smile, and his cooking has developed amazingly as you can see from this photo of his Mackerel dish -  Grilled Mackerel fillets served with butternut squash stuffed with herbs and panic breadcrumbs, orange infused carrots, a chilli salsa and a sweet mango and coriander puree! 

I'd really like to find another Chef Apprentice to train and bring on just as we have young Aaron.  We pay well over and above the recommended apprentice amounts and it gives a young person a real opportunity of a career.   So if you're a local parent or even a young person reading this - why not contact me. 

Lovely Philly and Jessie
Talking of young people we have had 2 of our team achieve their NVQ in Hospitality this Autumn - Jessie and Philly who are now recognised as 2 fully trained senior team members.  They will be responsible for mentoring and helping to train any new team members.  Both girls have great customer service skills and we are immensely proud of both of them. 

Next one training for Hospitality level 4 (phew) is Asst Manager Jess - so watch this space for her achievements over the next few months. 

We are having some new professional photographs taken in half term so be sure to look on here to see what we are all looking like. The team are starting to go into their winter uniforms of black for the girls (their choice- they like it!!) and smart shirts with smart jeans for the boys. 

The chimney has been swept and the fire is lit...........so why don't you come and pay us a visit?? 

Till later my lovely readers, 

Liz x

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Goodbye to Summer and our Head Chef

Head Chef James is next to Chef Tanya

It certainly seems to be goodbye to summer tonight as I sit typing this blog and it's pouring with rain outside!! There's also a distinct Autumnal nip in the air - which is fine with me because it's my absolute favourite time of the year.  Soon be time to light a fire at the Vic then........

But it's also goodbye to our Head Chef James who has been us from the first day we walked through the doors of the Vic.  

James had actually been at the Vic long before us (well I think at least 3 years before us) and he has been the steady hand on the tiller as we've grown from a really quite small business to one today that is thriving and still growing. 

From a kitchen that had 3 people and SOH cooking on a Sunday to one that now has 8 full timers and a couple of part timers, all year round! From a kitchen that sent out a couple of hundred meals a day in the summer to one that is open all day from 12 - 9 and sends out well in excess of triple that amount in the summer.  

Whatever has happened James has been there consistently, even working with a broken foot! Him and I have been a lot like a married couple sometimes - we've squabbled, really rowed and yet we've laughed a lot together! Never mention the word Sherry Trifle to him...........or me for that matter!  

We've been out socially and the image of James very drunk hiding behind a curtain in a posh London Hotel then coming out from behind it and giggling like a child will stay with me forever  - as will his slightly ashen face on the train home the next day!!

So it's been a challenging few weeks since that day nearly a month ago when he asked for 'a quick word'! £1500 of advertising attracted very little in the way of people I would even want to walk over my threshold let alone lead my important team in the kitchen. I'm NEVER using formal advertising again, it has to be social media and free online advertising all the way for me.  Not that we need to advertise often - thankfully!!

However, to James we say THANK YOU! 

Thank you for all the hours you worked so hard, the blood sweat and tears, the amazing wedding reception you did for us and the Wedding Cake that was SO beautiful! Thank you for always looking out for the younger team members who needed a bit of loving support, thank you for all the times I phoned from home asking 'How do I............'???? Thank you for always making sure food went out quickly regardless of the numbers of times we all thought we were going drown in tickets! 

Thank you to your wife who must have hated the Vic at times (it's not easy being a Chef's partner and to your kids who sometimes missed you at events because work came first! 

We all wish you well as you go onto your next job James and Tim, I and all the team will miss you. 

But fear not dear readers and visitors to our pub, next blog I will tell you all about our new Head Chef.......... Tom! Fabulously talented (rather gorgeous too - always a bonus!)full of passion for food and bouncing with inspiration and incredibly excited about the challenge of being our new Head Chef - I know our beloved Vic is in great hands and I'm sooooooooo excited about the next stage of our pubs future. 

Till next time my lovelies

Liz x

Saturday, 3 September 2016

September blows in!!

So here I sit, 3rd September in the afternoon with a blank page (on my new Apple Mac!!), light on, pouring with rain outside, heating on and wondering if this is it for the summer??  I do hope not because we've had such a gorgeous one haven't we.......... But the huge Range Rovers have been leaving in droves this morning, boats are being towed up the hill and out of town and schools back next week! 

After a slow start the summer warmed up nicely, both in terms of heat and in terms of numbers - culminating nicely in a massive Bank Holiday that broke all records on the Sunday. We also retained our No 1 status on Trip Advisor for the first year ever, that was an amazing achievement and I was personally delighted as it's a great reflection on all our team. Our garden has looked absolutely beautiful this year and all Tims hard work and that of Bayleaf Gardening is really paying off. The food coming out from our kitchen - regardless of the numbers has been off a really high standard and we've had many, many hundreds of happy guests. 

Beer, wine and spirit sales have been high so St Austell Brewery should be pleased with us! :) 

Talking about our team they have been amazing again this year - we are so very lucky that every year we get such fantastic people to come and work with us. Here is Rob our GM with Jessie and Karen 2 of our full timers and below is the team who helped us get straight after the floods - more of that in a minute! 

Speaking to Freddie (summer team member) last night I asked him if he'd enjoyed it - he replied that it was a lot harder than he could have ever thought, but yes, he had lots of happy memories....... bless him.  Also his girlfriend Hannah who between them provided the backbone of the summer team.  Hannah ended up washing dishes last night - a mark of the teams willingness to do almost anything. 

The picture below this is the team that helped us clean up after not 1, not 2, but 3 floods because of the sewers in Fore Street being backed up and overflowing into the road - so our waste water had no where to go............ 2 summer team in that pic as well - Georgia and Ellen (although Ellen of course works for us all year round). 

Flood 1 at 6pm on Saturday with a bar full of people was challenging but huge thanks to the Hodder Family who were dining with us in the bar who helped us move tables and chairs - that flood was just about recoverable from! Thank God too as we had about 200 diners expected that particular night. 

The 2nd flood at 7.30 was a mere dribble compared to the flood that hit us Wednesday evening and meant we had to close the pub down very quickly............ Our team were beyond amazing as we suddenly found ourselves in about 3 inches of water coming from under the stairs into the bar and spreading to the hallway.  My heart sank as I looked at it, we looked at the booking sheet and realised this time we were defeated! 

But that night we cleaned as best we could with the kitchen team doing their bit to help as well and every one was in the next morning bright and early to steam clean the floors and get us cleaned up and ready to trade again!  

What reduced me to tears that night though? 

The flood - No not really! Anger because SW Water had not sorted our issue out the first time as they should have - Not quite! 

It was the loveliness of guests we had to turn away, the wonderful people who offered their services to come in and help us and the spirit of each and every one of my team who just waded in (literally) and set to cleaning up.  No asking or telling - they just did it! It was the lovely guest who bought us in a box of chocolates the next morning as they had seen me sat desolately with head in hands at a table late that evening waiting with SOH for SW Water yet again. It was the offers of help via Facebook - it was all the kindness's that made me cry and also made me realise we are surrounded by lovely, kind people; Guests and Team. Thank you all of you! 

What else was a bit of a blood pressure raiser this summer? The knives and forks being thrown at our little silky chickens, the deliberate smashing of a window by same said children of the Budgie house. But what made up for that:- The other lovely things that's what!!  The lovely, lovely children who say please and thank you with no prompting (who often get a bar of chocolate from me because of it!) The repeat customers who look forward to coming to see us for their fortnight of summer sun.  The welcoming of old friends as they walk through the doors! 

Also this year our fair share of 'celebs' in our pub and in town.  Amongst others in our pub we had Helen (Call the Midwife & Strictly star) George, Ian Wright, David Dimbleby and a brilliant author called Fionnuala Kearney - look her up and then read her books - she's fantastic! She also gave me a couple of signed books that I had won in a FaceBook competition.  

All of them, really lovely people, unassuming and generous with smiles, but my favourite it has to be said was David Dimbleby - he was an absolute charmer - as were his family members. What a legend he is and my overriding memory is of discussing Brexit with him - who'd have thought it!! 

It's funny, people ask me why I don't get 'selfies' or pictures with the celebs when they're in - I'll tell you why - It's because we want them to relax and enjoy their visit just like you and I do when we go anywhere

In town we also had Simon Cowell - I saw his limo, but we're so used to seeing big posh cars I didn't blink twice! I might have broken my selfie rules for him!! 

So all in all it's been a challenging summer at times with other times being amazingly fabulous. I hope you all had a great summer and lets hope for September giving us a lovely Indian Summer to make the winter shorter. 

Till next time my lovelies 

Liz x

P.S - We are already booking up fast for NYE so if you're still at the stage of thinking of it I'd give us a ring! 




Thursday, 28 July 2016

Schools out!


Hoorah!  Schools have broken up the sun is shining, the birds are singing and all is well in Salcombe's world................. ok, so its damp and a bit chilly but it HAS been glorious!!! And it blooming well WILL be gorgeous again soon - I've decreed it!!! 

One very positive note is that the rain at the beginning of this year combined with the recent weather has ensured the front and the back of the pubs flowers are absolutely stunning this year. 


Roast Duck with Hoisin Sauce


The summer menu's are going down a storm (whoops sorry - a Freudian slip and a nod to the weather) with the salads selling themselves virtually.  Good old Crab Salad leads the race followed hotly by Duck, then Sea Trout and last but not least feta and Watermelon! Minted New Potatoes are a popular side but good old Chips are still very wanted (don't want them getting a complex!).

Fish specials are as always much sought after but the horrendous price of fresh, local Lobster means they've not made an appearance yet. 

There's been a change round up in the Chicken house with the 3 oldest hens going to a friends small holding for a life on a farm. Why? Because despite intense work on ensuring they got along together (we got 6 new hens and a small Cockerel) they were absolutely vile to them and really bullied them (I now know where the terms 'henpecked' and 'pecking order' originate from!) so our good friend Dena took them. The new hens are much happier and whilst the pub resembled a scene from chicken run this week as SOH attempted to catch the old girls detente is now declared. 

Couple of extremely well known celebs in this week which has added a bit of excitement to the sweat of summer - 1 Author, 1 political heavyweight and 1 huge sporting hero! My lips are sealed - but for the price of a cream tea I could be tempted.  I'll only say that all 3 of them were absolutely lovely and it was a pleasure to meet them all. You see - you'll never know who you'll spot when you're visiting..........

Regatta week next week with fireworks on the Thursday for you all to enjoy.  We have a small jazz trio playing that evening and this Saturday we have the Old Gaffers. 

For those of you on Face Book I am going to attempt a LIVE FEED this Saturday with the Old Gaffers.................. so 21st Century of me - but can't promise it'll work. 

Keep smiling, enjoy the sun and we hope to see many of you over the next few weeks, 

Liz x

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Salcombe, Salcombe, Salcombe

Evening all - this blog tonight has absolutely nothing to do with the Vic at all! Well it may do if South Hams District Council (SHDC)  have their way but more of this in a minute! 

I'm writing this blog all about the shenanigans going on with regards to Whitestrand and Shadycombe Car Park. Why?? Because, every single person who reads this blog and then talks to me about it when they visit say they love to keep in touch with whats going on in Salcombe - that's usually quickly followed up by saying how much they like to know all the gossip from the pub! 

Anyway - first of all we have SHDC telling us that they would really like to re-develop Whitestrand Car Park seating area - you know the same car park that they will never let us close for more than a day or two as it raises so much revenue for them........... 

They would like to take away 1 space, 1 disabled space and motorbike space and build a platform over the slipway! On top of that they'd like to put safety rails around the slipway and then put glass and stainless steel balustrades to make it look smart! Wooden decking out over the slipway too.
But apparently the goals of the application are to and I quote: 

reduce congestion, make the well used benches more ideal, give more space to the public realm (choke) and increase the prominence of the War Memorial! Oh and boats will still be permitted to launch from the slipway'!!!  

How delightful!! (excuse the sarcasm that will undoubtedly sneak in as I write this!) 

Mmmmnnnn wonder who will get the job of keeping that clean??  

Oh no! It certainly won't be Chad our lovely, warm, hardworking Chad who has cleaned the streets of Salcombe for about the last 16 years! In an act of pure spite he was moved Friday afternoon to another location with effect from this week.  

Why?? Well of course it was absolutely all about strategic planning.................. was it hell! 

It was because we the general public of Salcombe had got wind that they planned to remove him and replace with a machine.  

You know one of those things that doesn't get into corners or clean up after the seagulls! In fact word has it that there will be NO street cleaner after September until the following 'season'?? Does that spell a machine one wonders?? Just what the hell does it mean?? 

A campaign is under way and a petition has been started for people to sign to get Chad back and keep him - please sign if you can: https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/keep-salcombes-roadsweepers.html#.V4PmhOPRvjV.facebook

Anyway, back to the Whitestrand development.  Over 150 people attended the public meeting and what a great cross section it was! Locals, 2nd home owners, business people and 2 representatives from SHDC. 1 in an official capacity and 1 in a suit who skulked on the sidelines and pretty much refused to answer anything!!  They also received 51 letters of objection (thank you whoever you were).  NOT ONE person agreed with the scheme! 

In all my years working for a local Council and handling meetings in neighbourhoods,  I have NEVER witnessed such patronizing condescension from the officers involved - they clearly have stopped all training for officers with interaction with the public! Damn it, there's that sarcasm again! 

Outcome of the meeting was that the scheme is still under consideration but without the A1, A3, A5 permissions allowing use of shops, take aways etc. According to Councillor Judy Pearce 'The town would soon realise it's a bonus'! Wow - really.................

For those of you who might like to be around, there is a site visit to Whitestrand planned for Monday July 25th (no idea when). 

Then the very next day, the bombshell was dropped that someone at SHDC thought it was an awfully good idea to get rid of Shadycombe Car Park (you know, the one nearest to the Church) and build 20 rabbit hutches  houses on it!! What a simply spiffing idea.............

I can only say that I urge any and all of you to look at the plans they have for Salcombe, get your pencils sharpened or your computer on and let the Gods that are SHDC know what YOU think of their grand ideas - before the Salcombe you know and love is reduced to nothing. 

You can see the plans at: tinyurl.com/JLPplaces

and email any response to: strategic.planning@swdevon.gov.uk

Thank you for reading this rant, normal service will (probably) be resumed next blog post, 

Yours with love (and steam coming out of my ears) 

Liz x