Sunday, 31 January 2016

Good evening from a wet and windy Salcombe

Beautiful Barbados sunset

Good evening from a wet and windy Salcombe as there are just a few short hours left in January 2016, then it's on to my most hated month ever - FEBRUARY! There's something about February that I really dislike - it's still winter, we're still well away from Spring and I don't know quite why I don't like it - I just don't!! 

Anyway, that aside on the day that the legend Terry Wogan was taken from us (after a host of fantastic stars have also said goodbye this month) what can I write about to bring some joy and light relief to you my loyal readers.  I say that, because I've had so many guests say they read my blog I feel dreadfully guilty for not writing more often! 

Us watching the sunset!
Firstly SOH and I took ourselves off to Barbados with a couple of great friends for 2 weeks. A very nice time was had by all as well! Barbados was beautiful, full of hugely friendly people who showed the true meaning of hospitality and we came home refreshed and ready to face another year.  We've only just started having 'Big' holidays and it's certainly nice to see other beautiful parts of the world. It's also nice to take holidays together!

Home of course back to the wind and rain that seems to show no signs of abating and a pub that was shut for a week whilst our kitchen had a new drain cover and also new flooring laid. That bought back memories of the refurb 3 years ago, but the builders and floor fitters worked really hard and we were open again yesterday (blooming busy too!). 

Whilst we were closed we took some of our team to the Treby Arms in Plympton
where we met the Chef Patron Anton Piotrowski who was a MasterChef winner in 2012 and is affectionately known as the ginger chef!  We've known Anton some time now and he agreed to give them a chat about his career, ethos of his food etc
etc and generally enthuse the team - which he did magnificently.  
We also had a chat from Ian the front of house manager about service etc. 

Lunch followed with 3 Amusee Bouches starting us off followed by a four course taster lunch with some of the team having the wine flight to go with it. 

Oh my word it was fabulous and the taste of his food (as well as phenomenal presentation) was amazing. Every single one of the team enjoyed the day and were amazed we had managed to keep it a secret from them.

This was then followed up by a curry and much drinking in the evening (them - not us!) where as usual there were many sore heads in the morning! 

2 days later we were at the Eden Project  for the St Austell Estate Awards where we were absolutely thrilled to win the Wine House of the Year - we last won that particular award in 2010.  We certainly didn't expect to win this award and it was a great start to the New Year for all of us. I also highly recommend a visit to the Eden Project when you're next in our neck of the woods - it's an absolutely amazing place! 
Next week we're off to Exeter for the South West Tourism awards.  You may remember we won Silver in the Devon Tourism Awards but we have no idea if we'll win anything at all next week. But to be honest, I'm not pursuing so many awards this year. 

Last but not least, Champagne Sunday continues only we're extending it to be Champagne weekend - from Friday evening to Sunday evening - you can enjoy a glass of top class Joseph Perrier Champagne at just £4.95 a glass!! No better reason than the weekend to enjoy a glass of Champers! 

Then very, very lastly (promise) I've had a number of our guests ask about our dogs Rosie and Archie, so here they are. Both now 6 and every bit as mad and bad as they ever were. 

So, my promise is to try not to leave my blog writing for a month at a time but you can always keep up with activities at the Vic on our Face Book page

Till next time my lovely readers, 


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Three sleeps!!

How has it happened that we are just three sleeps away from Christmas Day??? In fact how is it that this year is on it's way out as well?? Is it really true that as you get older the time runs away from you or is it that we're just soooooo busy or is it someone has stolen some days??? 

I have no idea why, but my brain seems to be as active during the night as it is in the day - I've been having some blooming weird dreams lately!!! My latest being a conversation with KENNY DALGLEISH and saying hello to Sir Alex Ferguson!!! I mean really??? Great conversation with Tom Jones the other night and traipsing round some big warehouse before that!?!!! No wonder I'm so tired at the moment is all I can say! 

So I suppose you want to know what's going on at the Vic then.............. well, the Hobbit House rooms (2) are opened and even though I say it myself they look flipping gorgeous!!! Shades of greys, (not that Shades of Grey!)  flashes of Scarlet and gorgeous wood floors. Topped off with fabulous one-off chairs and really beautiful rugs. 

Choosing these colours has really brightened up the Hobbit and now it really reflects the beauty of the Vic and we are VERY happy with the new look. 

Our prices start from £45 a night per room rising to £70 a night in the height of the season. There may well be a special deal coming up soon for February - so watch our website or our facebook/twitter page for details.

There is no breakfast included in this price, but there are some great places in Salcombe if you can't start the day without a Bacon sarnie or a Croissant. 

Coming to Salcombe out of season is just as lovely (if not lovelier in many respects) than coming in the height of summer. So why not have a look at our website and treat yourself to a short break - or even a long one at those prices.............???

What else?  We've had a few Christmas parties and all credit to Jonathon and Robin who worked hard to get the upstairs looking especially great for our local Health Centre team.  They are a fabulous group of people and it was really important to me that we them as they look after US so very, very well.  When I spoke to them at the end of the evening I said I hoped not to see them again for quite a while!! At least, not in the surgery. 

Of course, we are today starting to get our Christmas visitors down so I've been and bought more toys to replenish the toy boxes - I can tell you that going to a toy shop (CAVE) is my personal idea of hell!!! Also renewed the Baby box. Hopefully no-one will think it will be fun to throw the Baby talc all over the toilet this time!

So then, I think that's about it for now, I've got to be really honest and say I'm not sure that I will be have the time between now and after the New Year to sit and write another blog, but I'll do my best.

In the meantime Tim and I and all of our amazing team would like to wish YOU my dear loyal blog readers a fantastic and delightful Happy Christmas 

Much Love

Liz xxx

Monday, 30 November 2015

Tomorrow isn't really the 1st December - Is it????

Tomorrow isn't really the 1st December is it??? Oh my word, it really is a sign you're getting on a bit when the years hurtle on as they seem to be doing right now! But what an amazing year we have had - not just us (SOH and I) but our amazing team as well. 

It got even better last week when we went to Plymouth to attend the South West Tourism Awards 2015.  This was a new award for us and although we knew we were finalists we truly had no expectations at all of getting anything more than a Bronze (which in itself would have been fab!) But we actually got SILVER!!!

It has to be said that South Hams had a great showing with the Salcombe Harbour Hotel up for Large Hotel, (they got Gold)  Soar Mill Cove - Best Restaurant (Bronze), South Sands - Small Hotel (Bronze) Buckland Two Saints - Small Hotel (Bronze).  

We met up with our old friend and consultant Master Chef Peter Gorton and it has to be said that Judy Spiers who compered the event was truly delightful. What a job she had controlling the proceedings as guests became more (drunk) 'excitable'  as the evening went on! 

It was really nice to be part of this particular event where we knew so many people and there was much whooping and cheering for each other..............We of course were all sober! (coughs gently)

Jane Adkins - Don't know what you said, but it made ME laugh!
We shared our table with Silver Winners of the International Visit Experience who ran an International Language school in Torquay.  

Jane Adkins a PR and Publicity guru who you can see made me laugh very loudly and animatedly (not sure I can remember why though!) and the 2 ladies stood up talking are from Purple Cloud a training consultancy, as well as a partner of one of the guests and a sponsor from Accounting & General (our award) all of them absolutely lovely and great company! 

The drink flowed quite substantially (thank you Plymouth Gin for great cocktails at the beginning of the evening and also for the premium strength freebie bottles we received. 

As for the award itself? Well it was absolutely STUNNING!! Created by Dartington Glass and depicting Smeatons Tower on the Hoe. We're now on the look out for an antique style wall cabinet to display our awards in! 

It must always be remembered - these awards are not just about Tim & I, they are very much about the fact we have a great strong team, who are as focused on out business succeeding as we are! Cleaners who work hard to keep us as clean as possible - not always easy given the footfall we have.  Kitchen team who source the best products and then cook to perfection.  Bar staff and waiting team who endeavour to make EVERY guest feel special, and finally, all our younger 'runners' - our team of tomorrow maybe?? But nights like last Thursday are indeed OUR opportunity as well to give each other a little pat on the back and to remember that as a business we are now reaping the rewards of OUR hard work and headaches too. 

What else has been going on in the Vics world?? Well we've been marketing a fantastic new Cornish Stout from St Austell - Mena Dhu.  Based on an original Cornish recipe Mena Dhu means Black Hill and is named after the farm that was owned by Walter Hicks, the founder of St Austell Brewery. It has a really nice subtle oak smoked aroma and a hint of dark chocolate taste, with a delicate touch of liquorice on the finish. It's been selling quite well and I think many customers have been pleasantly surprised. 

The Hobbit House is undergoing a much needed re-furbishment and I can't wait for you to see the finished result.  One of my Asst Managers Jess and I are going shopping tomorrow (SOH's) credit card in hand for all the 'pretty things' tomorrow - shades of grey, cream and flashes of red and silver.  Stylish, classy and far better representative of the pub itself. 

What else?? Oh yes, we offered a Cream Tea to 4 ladies on Saturday for a Birthday - and I think we may work on making this something for2016.  

What do you think?? 

It looked phenomenal - we gave a glass of Champagne, Crab & Salmon sandwiches, Veg sandwich, home-made cup cakes (Chef Tania - you're a fab Baker!!)  home made scone, tea or coffee and all for £20 a head..................

We're working on Winter menu's so much meetings of creative minds (Chefs) versus the reality check (me) but together we always come up with something special!  

The Christmas decorations are up as it's switch on in Salcombe tomorrow and we also had our first Christmas lunch today at the Vic. 

So all told, it's been another busy month for us here at the Victoria Inn in Salcombe and December is tomorrow - and only 24 days till Christmas Day.............. now where's that wrapping paper gone that I saved last year!?!?! 

Till next time my lovelies - go and help your local economies! 

Much love

Liz xxx

Saturday, 31 October 2015


If it's Halloween today - how many weeks to Christmas??? No! Stop Elizabeth - you know you really don't want to know!!!! But for those of you reading this blog today there is Halloween Story telling in the pub garden at 6.30 for those of you not easily scared! This is our 3 rd year of doing this and it gets progressively better attended every year! 

Well folks for the umpteenth time this year, where on earth is the time going - in all seriousness we have 1 table of 2 free for New Years Eve and I haven't done one scrap of advertising.  So a huge thank you to all of you who have booked to come and join us on this fantastic night. if oyu want to book that table of 2 you'd better get a jiggle on!

It's been a challenging year for me & my family this year so far, I've suffered bereavements of friends and family, lots of shocks and upheavals and as far as I can tell it's been the same for very many of you as well, so lets plough on for another few weeks and hope and pray that 2016 is kinder to us all!! 

Since I last blogged (I know it's been an age again hasn't it!!) we have been shortlisted for 2 more awards; Devon Life Family Friendly and Devon Tourism Awards - Best Pub. Both gigs happening in November - so posh frocks at the cleaners and back on the diet! 

We had a short trip to France a couple of weeks ago where we were hosted to a 2 day break by Joseph Perrier Champagne. Our hosts Jean-Claude (owner of the Champagne house) and Martin Gammen were impeccable in manners and hospitality - the Champagne tasting was amazing and it made me even prouder to sell this fabulous product.

We were incredibly lucky with the weather and my love affair with France has deepened again. We went with James Fineman from St Austell (He is GREAT company) along with Ryhs from the Samuel Jones in Exeter. We went because our Champagne sails of Joseph Perrier had rocketed and were the best in both the tenanted and managed estate of the brewery.

There's something so amazing about Champagne and in seeing the process from vine to bottle and when you see the vines you see the names of all the Champagne houses - Tattinger, Moet etc. All you can see for miles & miles are grapevines.

But my favourite of the Joseph Perrier was the 2005 Rose Champagne - just delicious! 

Half term and beautiful sunshine has seen Salcombe packed again this week, and a facebook message from a guest has prompted me to tell you about one of the pitfalls of trying to be that bit better than most run of the mill pubs. I had this FB message from a lovely guest saying how disappointed he was to see there weren't a lot of children's toys in the box at the moment.  

Do you know what my answer was?? 

Well mostly they've been stolen or destroyed.  £150 worth of toys and books etc at Easter topped up with ANOTHER £50 worth before the summer and very little is left - save a few books and jenga blocks. 

What else has been stolen?? Blankets for the garden, dog blankets, baby change items, reading glasses off the bar and a dog bowl!! Yes - all that from a pub in a supposedly posh area....................... Sad isn't it as well as a bit disgusting?  

Yes, we build these sorts of costs into our budget but I wonder why people feel the need to steal children's toys and books oh, and let their children rip them up or destroy them??   Don't even get me started on drinking glasses and cutlery.....................!

I wonder what YOUR thoughts on that subject are???

Till next time my friends, 

Liz x

Monday, 21 September 2015

Best Partnership Pub of the Year

Best Pub Partnership of the Year - that's the Victoria Inn!!!!Well what a night we had last week at the Morning Advertiser Great British Pub awards! Having been a bit disappointed recently not to have won another of the big awards we entered for (least said about that the better!) I was absolutely convinced we wouldn't win this one............ SOH on the other hand NEVER expects us to win - he say's  that way you don't get disappointed!! Viv la difference!!! 

Anyway, we had arrived in London the day before and had a night on the town - went to see Jersey Boys (You absolutely MUST see it - Phenomenal!) and then a few (!) cocktails after the show meant that I woke up with a stonking hangover the next morning.  Walking down Mayfair you would have thought I was casually looking into the very posh car showrooms - I hope to anyone looking at us it looked as though we were giving due consideration to a new Ferrari - when actually I was desperately trying not to chuck up! Maybe my pallor gave it away?!?  Anyway - until I had a decent bacon sandwich and a few gallons of coffee down my neck I felt like death warmed up. 

The Polyfilla seems to have worked!
Feeling better and ready for a late lunch we had lunch on the terrace in Harrods (Oh yes - we can do posh you know!!) we shared our first ever Lebanese food together and it was absolutely gorgeous. 
Back to the hotel and a little siesta, followed by enough time to let the polyfilla settle into the cracks of my face and we were on our way. 

Now the pub industry throws great bashes - but nothing is quite as good as the MA Pub Awards - so I knew to pace myself - although a good number of glasses of Champagne seemed to hit the spot remarkably well.  Our friends from St Austell Brewery Management were there as well as a couple of other pubs who were also finalists. We were on a table with great company from management of Enterprise Inns and my nerves had all but dissapeared - you note I say 'all but'. 

There is no other feeling like the one you get in the 30 seconds or so as the names of the contenders are read out and that eternity when they say 'The winner is..............'??? My stomach goes into a series of somersaults and I usually grip Tim's hand for dear life (think childbirth).  Then the words Victoria Inn, Salcombe were read out...... I swear it's the most incredible feeling on earth when that happens.  
I leapt to my feet shrieking (oh dear) forgot all about holding my stomach in, chin up etc and practically ran to the stage! Shook hands with the comedian Sean Locke (brilliant bloke!), then it's all over in a flash and you're being led off the stage - I'm sure they do it to stop everyone making Oscar night type speeches. 

We were then asked if we would do a quick promotional interview - the Lord only knows what I waffled about, but it looked surprisingly ok when we saw it the next day. I cried, kissed Tim and then proceeded to get highly merry!! 

So what does the award recognise?? This award recognises the work that we and St Austell Brewery have done together in raising the level of our business by 45%, being recognised as 'flagship tenants' and us in turn continually assisting St Austell with innovative ideas that they have used with other pubs in their estate - such as the Gin menu. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, we truly believe that St Austell is a great company to work with.  They genuinely support you and want you to do well, and when you do perform well they are quick to congratulate and reward you. You feel valued and not just someone making money for them. If you have ideas they are happy to explore them with you - hence our major refurb last year. Next blog I'll tell you about the Hobbit House and our / their plans for that! 

On top of that we were absolutely delighted to be included in CAMRA'S Good Beer Guide 2016 - the only pub in Salcombe to be so, and a huge credit to Tim and all our team for all they do in making sure our beers are kept and served in first rate conditions. 

We also moved out of our house to allow a major overhaul of it and we are currently renting a little cottage with an Estuary view - blooming lovely it is too!  The house is coming along nicely and we hope to be back in it soon.  It's been odd being quite so close to the pub again - we certainly have put a lot more hours in as well as I've walked a lot more with the dogs. I'd forgotten just how lovely Salcombe is first thing in the morning..............

The pub continues to be busy - over 230 Sunday lunches yesterday - and we are fully booked most of the time still. A new Autumnal menu is being extremely well received and tomorrow sees the launch of an addition to our lunch menu; Pub Classics Lunch including Chilli, Shepherds Pie, Fish Pie etc. 

Now, if you're thinking of booking for New Years Eve let me tell you that we have lots and lots of bookings already, so get a move on if you're still thinking about it. 

Ok, on that note then - that will be enough for this blog. Hope I haven't bored you to death with all our good news!!

Much love  

Liz x

Thursday, 27 August 2015

End of August??

Tilly - one of our four legged friends!
End of August?? How the Hell did that happen?? Did I blink and miss it or have I been so busy wishing it would be the end of the season it passed me by in a haze or did we merely sail through it?? 

Actually, this year (I almost dread to say it as we haven't had Bank Holiday weekend yet) has been as busy as ever yet thanks to yet another fantastic summer season team it seems to have been a fair bit easier!On the bar yet again this year we've been blessed to have Toby - who took to it like a duck to water. On the floor we've had our runners; George, Ellen, Emily, Olivia, Grace and Alex. Assistants wise we've had Will- i -Am, Jess, Violet & Lauren.  In the kitchen we've had Nick and Emily - they have all worked their little socks off and for those who were waiting for exam results they have ALL done very, very well! Congratulations to all of our fantastic team for helping us through our Summer of 2015!! 

The weather has been a bit of a pig hasn't it and I have felt so sorry for so many of the visitors with young children soaked through to their skins - but we've done our best to help dry them off and keep them entertained with Magic Mark our magician, Jacob Cracker the storyteller and our very own boxes of toys! 

The dogs have been in Salcombe in their hundreds and I think most of them have found their way into our pub. 99% of people love the fact we allow dogs into our great pub, and for the couple of you that have moaned that they'd rather not share their space with dogs - well we'd much rather you found another pub! People who like dogs or people who don't like dogs?? I know who I'd rather have in as guests!

The garden has not been as well used this year compared to last year if we're being honest, but (unless it's tropical rain) I've never found sitting out in the rain and getting soaked to the skin much fun have you?? But when it has been fine, then we've been as busy as we would expect. 

The almost best seller has been the Ploughmans - well you would wouldn't you!?!? 

Talking of food - we are bringing in our new 1st Autumn menu in September - we're really going to town on autumnal flavours and we are also introducing home-made cup cakes from Chef Tanya and Chef de Partie Katye. 

You may not read much from me for a while as SOH and I are having major renovations to our home starting from next week as well as a planned visit to London for the Great British Pub awards - in which we are finalists!! Yay! 

Enjoy whats left of the summer mon amies, 

Liz x

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Licensed Trade Charity - Support & Care

Volunteers & Team at LTC Care & Support Ascot

Ok – so this blog post is far and away from what I do now as a Publican/Licensee/Landlady of the Victoria Inn – call me what you will as long as it’s nice! Yet, it’s close to home! 

Puzzled?? Well, in my working life I’ve always stood up for social injustice, I’ve been an active Trade Unionist (especially concerned with Women’s Rights) and I spent a great 5 years leading an award winning and innovative Benefit take up campaign for the Local Authority I worked for. I hate to think that there is a huge part of society struggling to even life a life. 

Working in the Licensed Trade I don’t class myself as a great business woman – my Husband is that, whereas I’m the face of our business. I’m the one that walks the floor checking everyone is having a great time. The hirer and firer, social media ‘expert’ and anything ‘touchyfeel’, customers and team.   I love what I do – you as regular blog readers know that, but for a long time now I’ve wanted to do something more. 

Something I guess that would feed my soul away from our business. Well a few months ago an e mail dropped into our box from a Charity looking for volunteers, Husband duly pointed me to it and left me alone to mull over it.  The e mail was from a Charity called the LTC – Licensed Trade Charity – Support and Care.  Heard of it?? I bet most of you reading this haven’t – I certainly hadn’t.
Before you read on – just take a quick look at their website: there is masses of information available and there’s also a free helpline open 7 days a week from 8am to 8 pm - 0808 801 0550.

So, at this point I’ll cut a long story a bit short, but after a process (really not onerous – a form, a couple of references and an interview) I was accepted as a Volunteer. There are 2 types of volunteer – telephone and visitor – I chose to be a visitor.

Firstly. What does the LTC Support & Care do? Imagine this if you will:-
Your lovely jovial mine host runs a great little boozer, he/she’s always there with a smile and ready to serve you a great pint.  Always (almost!) always cheerful and full of bon-homie, always asks after the family, doesn’t moan about their life. They’re delighted to see you – you are their customer, you pay their wages. The place is full of happy people – you go home, they shut the doors of the pub. This carries on till the day they retire. What then???

Well of course, they’ve had a fantastic business all their life, they buy a big house, go on cruises and life the life of riley?? Don’t they??  Some may (please God let me be one of them!!) but many, many don’t.

Many will have had to pay high rents for the pubs they run, many will have only just squeezed through the recession, the no smoking ban, the high VAT rates, staff wages etc etc. Many will not have had the chance to have much put away in the way of savings. All their lives they’ve lived ‘Over the Shop’, living out of the pub – the kitchen, the utilities – all as one part of their overheads. Their social life has been that pub. It’s a tough hard life – it’s NOT all smiles and fun.

One day, that way of life comes to an end, either through retirement or ill health. What then?? If they don’t own a house then it’s off to the local Council to find them somewhere to live. If they’re lucky they might get offered something – maybe a flat on the 12th floor of a tower block? Maybe miles away from the people they classed as friends? Suddenly your sociable landlord or landlady is isolated and alone. The business that occupied their life for 18 hours a day, 52 weeks a year has gone. Along with the income that went with it. What do they live on – basic State Pension certainly, possibly a small private pension?

What about their health? Maybe they already have health issues – perhaps they drank a little too much, smoked more than they should have? Maybe they did none of that and still are in ill health purely through old age? 

That fridge needs replacing, they can’t pay the Council Tax, those utility bills are mounting up, and they don’t eat as well as they should because they don’t have the money for the food they should eat. They don’t run a car – they can’t afford it. They don’t see the family so much now they don’t have a handy pub for them to visit? They certainly can’t afford a week in Blackpool let alone a cruise.
Does that sound far-fetched………??? I can assure you it’s not! 

BUT – the LTC Support & Care is not just about retired people! What about the young person who’s worked in his local pub for 5 years or more?? He’s got real financial worries – so bad they’re affecting his health. The LTC Support and Care may be able to help him.   What about the woman that worked as a receptionist at the local Brewery for many years, but ill health caused her to have to leave? Now she is socially isolated, in debt, has a child that wants to go on an educational school trip she can’t afford or desperately needs a laptop to help with their studies? The LTC Support and Care may be able to help. 

All of the above is a reality I learnt during my training at the LTC headquarters in Ascot. Know what? It shocked (and scared!) me to my core. This my blog reading friends is where the LTC comes into people’s lives and where YOU could too if you’d like to think about it. 

The LTC offers as I said 2 services – a Befriender Telephone volunteer – who after training does just what it says! They phone people up regularly and chat to them.  You could potentially be the only person that they ever speak to.  YOU could do that! You just need a telephone, empathy and the ability to speak to another human being. You don’t meet them, they could live the other end of the country but there is a waiting list of people and needing a Befriender. 

Secondly, you could do what I’ve chosen to do – be a visitor volunteer. Again, it’s doing pretty much what it says on the tin.  I’ll get a referral from Support & Care saying that Mr K or Mrs H has requested help from the Charity as they are in real financial hardship and need help. It’s my job to go through the forms with them, assess their needs outside of that original request i.e, is there something else we could help with, point then in the direction of?? Submit a written report to Support & Care. Basically, that’s it in a nutshell. Honestly, it’s not rocket science and it’s not hard. You get training to do this and you get a mentor for your first few visits. There is always someone at Support & Care ready to answer your queries. 

But it’s not just Licensees that the Charity helps – it’s ANYONE who has had a continuous 5 year employment with the drinks business. Bar staff, off license workers, brewery workers, admin workers – they help a LOT of people! Not only do they help financially, they have experts who can check you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to, they also have great schools, they can help with Housing issues, in fact the LTC Care & Support can help with almost anything if you meet the criteria and there is a need.

How much of my life will this take up? Somewhere around 8 – 10 hours a month outside of my busy life – that’s all. If I can take the time to do it – couldn’t you??

My Shelfari Bookshelf

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog