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: http://www.supportandcare.org/ 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??



Thursday, 23 July 2015

'Morning!!!


Hello from another overcast Salcombe - flip me this weather doesn't know what it's doing!!! We have the most stunning weather most of the time and yet thick mist another!!

Either way the Vic is incredibly busy - so please remember if you want to sit inside and eat with us in the evening (or daytime for that matter) please remember to book!! 01548842604 

 I think we lost count over the last few days how many people have been disappointed that we've been unable to find them a seat - particularly when it's 6 or 8's................ I know we're good at turning tables but we're not miracle workers. Pleading and begging (yes you do - you know you do!) won't get me additional seating for you. Nor will swearing down the phone at us!(oh yes, that happened as well this last weekend!)  I could always try for another floor to be added onto the Vic - what say you St Austell??

The (very unflattering pic - thank you SOH!!) of me and our Chefs is the first of our planning meetings for the new Autumn menus.  We're all very, very excited about these.  We've taken the opportunity the last couple weeks to try out some new 'Specials' and my goodness they have gone down a storm. The discussions we've had had been brilliant and we are so lucky to have such talented guys (and girls) in our team. Here's what we don't want:

We don't (won't) put the prices up
We don't want to stray into the territory of a 'Restaurant'
We don't want to move too far away from what our regular customers expect and like (so no introduction of foams and flowers!!)

Here's what we do want to do:

We do want to refine our food offering very slightly
We want to change it every month (outside of summer)
We want it to reflect the seasons
We do want to continue to give great value for money
We want to be recognised even more for the quality of our food

Then there's the thorny question of a 'Gastro Pub' - what the flipping heck IS a GASTROPUB?? Do we want to become one? Here is the definition From Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia   
 
A gastropub or gastrolounge is a bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food

Hang on - light bulb moment alert - that's what we do already?? Ok - that ended that discussion, it's just a word!

So! How are we going to achieve this?? First of all, because my Chefs and ourselves LOVE food (yep, that pic above reflects my love of food!!) we keep a watchful eye on what the great Chefs of the UK are up to. Many of us follow on Twitter the likes of Tom Kerridge, James Martin, Peter Gorton, James Eggleton, Tom Aikens etc and then closer to home we have the incredible John Hooker, Anton Piotrowski, Simon Hulstone, Mitch Tonks and the fantastic Michael Caines (Chef not Actor).

We all love to eat out! We read the trade press and cheffie papers, I personally have dozens of cook books from these great chefs as do my team - so between us we are sitting down, looking at seasonality, looking at these guys recipes, checking if we can adapt them slightly to see if they would work in the Vic. We look at the websites that matter to get inspiration. This summer we adapted a recipe from my personal hero Tom Kerridge (if you go nowhere else in the UK to eat you MUST go to the Hand and Flowers - the MOST incredible food!!) a Pink Grapefruit Merengue! To die for I tell you - absolutely amazing.

So in OUR pub when you sit and look at the menu in September I hope you will appreciate the effort that goes in to making our menu special - just for YOU.

What else? 

From September we are also starting to offer home made cakes. Chef Tania and Sous Chef Kaytie are working on what exactly.  We think we'll start with Cup Cakes and trust me having tasted Tania's cakes I know you're in for a real treat! Light, fluffy, perfect toppings - yum.......

We had an amazing bit of news from our brewery St Austell that we have won a trip to Champagne.  This is because we have been hugely successful in the innovative ways we have sold more Champagne than any other tenanted pub in the Estate.  I think it will be October or November and we are already looking forward to it.  If you are a regular blog reader you will know that a few years ago we won Best Wine House and that was also a trip to Champagne so we know we're in for a great time!

We had a fantastic  picture taken in this last couple of weeks of the man crèche - one of many, many dozens I know but I love the lighting on this.  It's from a visitor to Salcombe (and also a photographer) called Mike Kinsey.  I thought it was one of the best I've ever seen - do you?? The actual sign done by our resident children's author and illustrator Mark Fraser.

As I say, we continue to be hugely busy here at the Vic and we start to have Magic Mark at the pub (he's here this Sunday - lunch hour) Story teller Mark and of course The Old Gaffers (they're here this Saturday starting at 8) I'll endeavour to publish the dates and times on our website in the next couple of days.  www.victoriainn-salcombe.co.uk

I'm also currently working on the newsletter to go out to all of you who have signed up some time this week - I just need a bit of a hand on the technicalities from our website people.............(growls quietly) 

On that happy note (Hah!) I'll say ta-ta just as the sun starts to put his head out of the clouds!

Much love

Liz - Landlady X








 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Afternoon all

Right, I'm in a bit of a grumpy mood today (although we have just had one very bit of exciting news this morning which I'll share with you soon) so lets get my one main gripe at the moment out of the way shall we!

Trip Advisor!!! Love it or hate it, know about it or couldn't care less about it, there is no doubt it has an impact on business's up and down the country and around the world.  In fact there have been cases where business's have gone to the wall because of it. There has also recently been an enquiry into the authenticity and validity of Trip Advisor and this type of review website.

Now we are mostly in the top three for Salcombe and are currently at no 1 (have been for a little while now) but do you know what - it still manages to bug the hell out of me!

To be in the top 3 and stay there you rely on good consistently scored reviews and lots of reviews.  So mostly, we manage to achieve that. Now just as in life, you can never be perfect at what you do. 

But - We try our hardest, we will of course occasionally make mistakes, but they are genuine mistakes and when they happen  we are genuinely sorry and we always do our best to make things right. IF customers tell us! So, in common with many food outlets - we take the order, fulfil the order, and then we do a 'check back' - 'how are you  doing Sir - is everything all right for you - can I get you anything' type of check. That is the customers chance to say 'well, actually ############!

At the end of the meal when offering the bill we also enquire as to the customers satisfaction with what they've just had. So 2 or more opportunities to say if there was an issue.  But no 'Fliss' from Torquay recently took to TA for her first ever review to have a  moan about a Ploughmans she 'didn't' enjoy and it was a 'rip off', whilst another anonymous person (of course) also had a moan about a Steak which was 'thin and fatty'!!

So the ploughman's in the picture above is generally what we actually serve (although it is missing a half an apple) and how we serve it at £8 - I'm not sure what part of that meal is a rip off? Would you like to comment on what you think?

As for the other person complaining about their steak - well everywhere they reviewed in Salcombe they moaned about something.  They were pleased with one place that refunded and replaced a meal however.  But we didn't refund or replace on this occasion but we did offer a free pudding which they declined.

They also had the most dreadful moan about a fantastic award winning pub in South Pool. Like me the owners responded to the complainant, and like me they seemed genuinely hurt and puzzled at the complaint!  I have even had a conversation with another restaurateur (not in Salcombe) who has had ill founded reviews and is on the verge of throwing in the towel in the business.  

Now of course after nearly 7 years in the trade now I am much less likely to bust into tears at a poor review or post a sarcastic reply (although not always on both counts) but I am still puzzled at the great British public who hiding behind anonymous pseudonyms behave and write as they do???  If I don't like some part of a meal or the service is poor I will say so at the time - if I genuinely liked the experience I'll say so and tip handsomely.

But my thanks and immense gratitude to all of you who do write positive reviews about us and keep us in one of the top spots on this double edged site. Thanks also to the chap who e mailed us this morning to say what a great two visits he'd had to us last week - things like that restore my faith in people and my team are always buoyed up by feedback like that.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh I do feel better now - nothing like a bit of a rant is there!

So back to the normal type blog things - firstly our Gin offering has increased to 17 types of Gins now as St Austell have extended their range that we are able to choose from (remember we're fully tied tenants so ALL of our drinks have to come from them) some utterly fabulous ones as well - already Pinkster Agreeably British Gin is proving to be a firm favourite - this is a small batch Gin with hints of Raspberry.

Others now include King of Soho (fantastic bottle) served with a wedge of Grapefruit (fantastic), Boodles - named after the worlds second oldest members club, Haymans Old Tom and Sipsmith London Gin just to name a few. There's no doubt Gin is very 'On Trend' right now and we hope you enjoy our selection chosen by Landlord Tim (taste tested by me - mostly!).

Our summer team are continuing to join us as school, college and university finish times allow - our latest recruit is Nicholas (Nic) who has joined us in the kitchen - a smashing lad, incredibly bright and not at all afraid of sheer hard work! He's with us all summer virtually and if the rest of the team are grafters like him, we'll have a good summer!  In fact, all of our young people on our existing team work really, really hard and are all a thoroughly great bunch of kids - bless 'em!

Talking kitchen and food etc, there is a growing trend away from innovative plating of food (think wooden boards, slates, boxes, plant pots - yes, plant pots!) back to a simple plate - do you have a view on that?? If so, do let me know please as we are already looking forward to the Autumn and planning of new seasonal menus and different ways of presentation.

Also, do you have a favourite West Country Cheese you'd like to see on our Cheese Boards - my new favourite is Cornish Blue!!! Heavenly.

So that's it for this time, thank you to all those of you recently who have stopped me in the pub to say how much you still enjoy my ramblings (and rants) and I'll try to blog again soon,

Much love

Licensee Liz x


 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Hoorah!! The Sun is Shining!!


Hold on - the sun is shining.............is this summer???? It certainly feels like it as I sit here typing this last Blog before I go on my pre-season break in Spain. If you've been following this blog regularly you'll know that as licensee's we can't always take our holidays together, so SOH has had his break with a couple of friends the other week and it's my turn next week. Can't wait actually - Kindle is loaded with great reads, sun cream is bought and standing ready and the laptop will be going with me as I want to finish a long overdue staff training manual.

Our new summer menu's are finally up and running on the website so if you want to have a look, head over to our website and have a look at the food page: www.victoriainn-salcombe.co.uk

What's already proving beyond popular??  Salcombe Crab is as always a firm favourite and we have a lush Crab Salad on the Summer Menu as one of the salad options. The Tagliatelle (meat and Veg option) is flying out, as is the new Spicy Fish stew.  We decided against the usual Fish Chowder this year - this is a bit more refined and in our opinion more flavoursome - come taste it and let us know what you think?

As for the puds?? We've probably never sold as many as we are now and the big favourites are............... ALL OF THEM!!! But in particular the homemade Chocolate Mousse with a fantastic Cornish sourced (Callestick Farm, Truro) Blood Orange Sorbet - oh my word, I've never tasted anything so gorgeous in ages!!

The other pud selling really well is the Grapefruit Merengue tart - taken from the Tom Kerridge recipe book and adapted to our needs.  
I love that mans food......................

A really nice summer Gin offer as well - A large Sipsmith Gin with a Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic - fabulous!

Some of our summer team are starting to work and here is a picture of Toby (dark hair) having a laugh with Craig whilst behind the bar.

The flowers at the front of the Vic are starting to bloom beautifully as they are at the back, SOH has been busy with his paintbrush as well as with his tool set and a  new Budgie shed graces the first terrace with  some pretty, pretty budgies tweeting away in it.  

What else to tell you?? Well I'm trying hard to put together a 2nd newsletter to get out to all of you that have signed up to receive it - but technology and I are struggling a little today. Again, if you want to receive the newsletter (full of my usual meanderings!) and the occasional discount offer go to the website and sign up for it.

We had the most adorable baby in this week (our cushions came in very handy as a little makeshift bed) we were all oohing and aahhing over her.  It's such a joy to watch the children growing up with us here at the Vic - this little one is called Nuala and I think she was only a couple of weeks old.

Anyway,  that's enough of my witterings for now - I'll catch up with you all in a couple of weeks when we're one step nearer to it being 'The Season'!!!

Yikes...................................

Till then my lovelies,

Adios

Liz x

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The heat is on!!!

So we didn't pick up the final prize of BII Licensee of the Year - that pleasure went to Keith & Diane Marsden from the Prince of Wales pub in Mosely.  But my goodness we had a great time in London with our splendid companions Rob - our General Manager and Adam one of our Chefs. Don't you think they look handsome in this picture???

The night before the Lunch was an event at the Post Office tower in London.  Ye Gods but it was high up........ a few Prosecco's cured those nerves though. Great company and an absolutely splendid Elton John guest tribute act. The actual lunch was held at the Honourable Artillery Company in the City and was an excellent bash!!   I met and spoke with Clare Balding - what a truly lovely lady and her speech went on for about 15 minutes when she actually had about 3 minutes allotted. Close up she has the most amazing eyes and her passion for sport and equality just shone through - I felt really inspired.  I love the fact that she talked about how it was ok for women to be competitive.  We were also treated to an inspirational talk by Sir Clive Woodward - again, when I  sit and listen to people like him speak I personally find it hugely motivating. We all then went out, drowned our sorrows and got completely ratted!!!! There was barely a murmur from any of us on the train home the next day!
But whilst it's disappointing to have not lifted that prize there was something that happened to me straight after the lunch - and that was a man came up to me and asked if I was the licensee with a pub in Salcombe.  We had a conversation where he told me that he and his family had visited us last summer and we had made his holiday really special (also apparently increasing our sales in Muscadet!!). That to me was really important to hear that right there, right then.  We are still in the top 5 Licensees of the entire UK (2nd year running) an important fact to remember and our customers love us! A fact re-iterated by sooooooo many texts and messages of goodwill that I received from customers and friends.

So, moving on now  - we are absolutely all systems go for the summer! New menu's are in place and a great new Childrens' menu is in with a little platter for toddlers with carrot sticks, bread sticks, cheese, sausages etc and that's all thanks to a customer who suggested it! They even have special little childrens divided plates from Cath Kidston.

The grown ups menu has 2 sections - one for the garden (a slightly reduced menu) and a full menu for inside the pub.  Now starting to serve dinner from 5p.m.  Just right for all of those hungry families coming off the beaches in the summer. 

The newly introduced Prosecco menu is flying out of the door (no Prosecco shortage here!) with Champagne Sunday (£4.75 for a glass of great Champagne!) equally popular. The garden has been planted with summer plants and is starting to look pretty inviting.

Fathers day is  already looking hugely busy, with a party of between 30 - 40 and several other parties already booked in - so we should have a great vibe in the Vic that day in particular! Just as well I have another great Chef joined us - the lovely Richard, there is of course a photo to follow.

We have said good bye to the lovely Glo this week - she of whom there are few photo's as Glo hates (I mean really, really hates!!!) having her photo taken. But here is
one from NYE this year when we celebrated the start of another fantastic year.

Glo has decided that it's time to take her foot off the gas a bit, and whilst we are desperately sad that she has left us we remain great friends and it will be lovely to welcome her to the other side of the bar and look after HER! 

Glo has been with us for 7 years and previously 2 years before that with the previous landlord. Professional, kind, great with customers and team (especially the younger ones) she could always be relied on to bring finesse and graciousness to our business.  If we had functions she could totally be relied upon to pull something out of the bag that was just that extra bit special. She could walk in and instantly spot what hadn't been cleaned - she coined the phrase 'Time to lean, time to clean'!!

Personally (and our discussions last week confirmed this) I enjoyed the early years with Glo on a Sunday when we had on the 60's music and Sundays were such fun.  But the business we lovingly call the Vic is a very different business now to what it was then.  It's incredibly hard work, we are (thankfully) consistently busy, often fully booked days before, there are few 'quiet' spells - the youngsters get very tired, so for us slightly older ones (coughs!) it's even harder. We wish you love and laughter Glo and lots of gardening in the sun.

But - times change and it comes to all of us to decide when it's time to call it quits - not for us though, not for a good many years yet!! On that note - I'd best be getting back to that place called the Victoria Inn..............................

Much love darlings

Liz x
p.s : We have some great things planned post summer............. watch this space!!

Friday, 22 May 2015

The waiting's almost over!

Liz meets Michael Ball
So before I tell you about our trip to London for the last round of judging, I simply must tell you about meeting Michael Ball before his Plymouth concert.

As I told you last time I had treated myself to a 'Meet & Greet' package. I thought I'd be one of dozens, but there were only 5 of us! An eclectic bunch and 1 very bizarre young lady who had not purchased the package but tried to push herself in!! I don't think so dearie!!!!

So the big moment came and all 5 of us were ushered into the auditorium of Plymouth Pavillions where we sat slightly hushed and occasional teenager giggles (disconcerting when the combined age was close to under 400!!)

I have to say that as he approached where we were sitting I had what can only be classed as one of those moments that feels totally surreal.  Here was the man who I had swooned over in Les Miserables, and who's Radio 2 show has me smitten.  Do you know what?? He was as lovely as you would expect him to be.............. full of twinkly eyes, crinkley smile and a filthy laugh.  One of the ladies meeting him had lost her Husband not too long ago and she was keen to tell him how important his music was and he was just charming.

My photo opportunity was amazing and I came over momentarily shy! (I said momentarily!!) within seconds I was inviting him to the Vic for supper (never one to miss a chance) and we talked like we'd known each other for years!! The lady sat next to me in the other photo was 84 (I think) a Plymothian and she was swaying and tapping along with the best of them.

But you know, it's a bit like the Michael Buble concert I went to - I do love these singers (and when Michael Ball sang Empty Chairs from Les Mis I was in bits) some of the fans are a bit full on...........some of them had been to 5 or 6 concerts - they must spend a fortune!!!

Anyway, that put me in good spirits for our London trip for the last round of judging for the BII Licensee of the Year.  A very pleasant night before the event at Quaglinos with very good friends took my mind off it a treat and the Amba Charing Cross Hotel was quite delightful so this time round I was far more relaxed about it all.

The other finalists were lovely and it's always interesting how quick you form a camaraderie with people and share your experiences of the process. Last years winner Lee Price had read my blog (he was a judge this time) and presented me with a giant safety pin at breakfast which had me in fits of giggles!! (go back and read it - you'll see why).  Anyway, no wardrobe malfunction and on the whole I thought it went reasonably well, but just like any interview you walk out thinking - should have said, should NOT have said etc etc etc!!!! We were first to be filmed (thankfully) as we both find that quite an ordeal.

Anyway - its done, the dye is cast, the decision made, we can do no more - we'll know whether we were good enough at the lunch bash in London on 2nd June. We've both bought new outfits, (any excuse - although I thought SOH would faint when he bought his!) and we will wait and see the outcome. We have a function at the Post Office tower the night before which should be fun, and we are taking 2 of our team with us.

The Vic has been humming.  Hugely busy still and a packed weekend looms ahead of us. We're running a special promotion on Champagne all weekend, and the new Prosecco menu is being VERY well received. 

We welcome Kaytie to the kitchen team as our new Chef de Partie - here are some of the team on the pontoon opposite the pub.  The sods know I hate going on it but they thought it was a 'good photo opportunity'!!! They'll pay for that.

I have also had another Chef accept a job with us today, so we are absolutely on a roll and I have some big plans for our business after the summer holidays, but you really are going to have to wait and see for more news on that front!! Front of house we welcomed another full timer to our team - Jess. Lovely lady with bags of experience, and also a new 'runner' Emily.

On that note, I'll say ta-ta for now - be sure to keep an eye on our facebook or twitter account for news of how we get on in London!!

Much love to you all,

Liz x

My Shelfari Bookshelf

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog