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


Friday, 24 June 2016

Friday 24th June 2016

Now here's a date that will go down in history - and lets hope it will be for all the right reasons - but they do say a day is a long time in politics and today seems to have been a very long one! I don't know about you but I nodded off with the TV on last night as it got late and then when we turned it off I was awake every hour or so checking the Twitter feed! 

So let me try and inject a bit of normality into today.............. firstly, our new play area is up and running and looks absolutely fabulous. It's been very well received by our little visitors and I think Rhino Play have done a stupendous job on it. In the photos you can see children from the Russells and Vanstones families being the first children to enjoy the area.  One of the Mums told me that they had only just arrived in Salcombe but that they HAVE to come to the Vic first............. aawwwww isn't that nice. 


It is open to our little guests now but we have an 'Official' opening next Friday at 6.30. The Old Gaffers are going to sing, Magic Mark will entertain you and we have Burgers (off our menu) with Chips and Coleslaw for a FIVER!!! There will be a bit of fund raising for the Salcombe First Responders so lets hope for SUNSHINE and raising a bit of cash for the Charity. 

SOH has a new Chicken house to assemble and then he and a couple of the team will be off to buy some new chickens. All ready again for Friday 1st July. 

We've seen a couple of Chefs leave recently (Rich and Nick) to take up other positions and that's always sad, but we've been able to recruit 2 new chefs - here is Tom and he is our new Sous Chef.  

He has a good CV and brings a nice amount of experience in Pub kitchens and top end Hotel kitchens. My other young man I'll introduce when he starts. 

We also have a Roddy! He's our new(ish) KP and is probably one of the nicest blokes I've met in a while. A Londoner, (when he's working it reminds me of being back in Pompey when he's talking) he has a typical East End humour (and straightforward approach) and is so hard working - it's a joy to have him on the team. Every kitchen needs a Roddy! BUT - he's camera shy. So no photo!! That means our kitchen is back up to full strength again ready for the summer and beyond - remember - our chefs are for life not just the holidays 


SOH is back from his Spanish holiday and we've just had a week off together getting pre-season fit..................I had planned long sunny days in our garden but the weather had other ideas.  

My Greenhouse is at home and chock full of plants, which is reducing my stress levels no end. I'm growing stuff that hopefully we can use in the pub like herbs, spinach and peppers etc. Yet another USP to add to our bow. 

Now just a funny little story to finish this long day and leave you with a smile on your face: 

We had bit of a crisis at the pub (whilst SOH was away sunning himself) in the middle of a dinner service - but myself and the Manager of the day got it sorted (Thanks for YOUR help Freddie) and a table of four in the middle of the pub clearly witnessed a bit of toing and froing and as I was nearby to them when all was calm again I heard one of the older men say to his wife -

SOH the poor man married to me! :) 
 'Oh isn't she good.................... But I wouldn't want to be married to her'!!! 
'Shush' said the wife 'She's behind you'
'Yes I am' said I, placing my hand lightly on his shoulder 'But I'm not easily offended'!
Well it made me smile. And bless him he had the good grace to go quite pink! 

Till next time lovely blog readers 

Liz x


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

You couldn't make it up if you tried!

So that's the last Bank Holiday before the Summer season hits and crikey me - what a weekend that was!!! Salcombe was packed and it felt like most of the visitors came in our pub - hearing from SOH what the record breaking Direct Debit is to the St Austell Brewery this month for beers etc purchased it looks as though we're doing our bit for the national debt!! 

But this blog is ALL about the team - without a good team though the Vic wouldn't even operate and all of our team are fantabulously wonderful - BUT - extra special mention must go to the young people who help shore up our business! 

Who are these young people? Well, they're a very elite group and not everyone makes the grade as what I'm about to tell you later in this blog ably demonstrates! 


So who are some of our youngsters that have helped carry us through this weekend and all the other weekends in the calendar? 

From the top they're: Emily, Ellen and Emily (apart from the first letter E) they are all 17, still at college and they are all just 17!! Rain or shine they are at the Vic with smiles on their faces. They NEVER moan or grumble. They do the majority of the fetching or carrying when we're at our busiest and Emily in the bottom picture can clear a sink full of dishes as quickly as any KP with years of experience! We pay them far more than legislation says we have to pay them and why? 

Because they're blooming well worth it! If I could clone them 3 times over I certainly would do - they're totally amazing.  

Generally, we find that we take our young people in at 15 (with schools AND parents permission) and train them until they're ready to fly away to gap years/university or their own career aspirations and just occasionally they stay with us and turn their experience into a full blown hospitality career.  

These lovelies are now starting to be joined by 2 more 15 year olds, and of course our summer staff are starting to arrive - HALLELUJAH!!! The couple on the left are Freddie and Hannah who have come for the entire summer. 

As a matter of course I regularly advertise for team members as whilst we have a really low turnover of staff, it's natural that not everyone is cut out to do hospitality work, some youngsters are just not mature enough and bluntly, some are not at all used to hard work (that applies to some adults as well I may add!).

Generally, anyone who wants to come and work for us fills in all the usual forms, has a chat with me or one of the managers and then they get asked to undertake 3 trial shifts - for which they're paid. 

So whilst trying to keep this as anonymous as possible we had an interesting experience this last week with an individual who just wanted to make some money to retake their driving test whilst looking for different work. It was purely for glass/plate collecting, taking to the bar or kitchen. Plates get taken to the kitchen, scraped off, piled up and Roddy our FT KP or Emily our 17yr old will clean them and get them ready for more service. 

AJ our latest FT Front of House team member 
Glasses are taken to the bar, washed (by a machine) taken out and placed on the shelf............... now that's not rocket science is it??!! We also were going to pay £7.50 an hour for this person to do it. 

But it's apparently too much for some! 

Dear Blog readers this is an absolute reproduction (spelling and all) of extracts of a lengthy Face Book message I received from the individual after 2 and a 1/2hrs work on a busy Bank Holiday Friday evening:- 
----------------------------------------------------
' I'll tell you what I told Rob (our GM) and that is that I am sorry and also thank you for the opportunity but I just couldn't do it! The first 2 hours wasn't too bad I was sweating quite a bit but I was dealing with it but as it got busier it got worse'! 
(I'm wondering should I put may sweat on the job description)
'I was constantly back and forth from the garden to the kitchen and the bar and it seemed that every time I went out to the garden there was more and more stuff!' 
(I wonder what part of being a glass collector I didn't explain) 
'When I would go down to the bar there would be sooo many glasses to be cleaned and it was like that all the time because no-one else was doing them
(That's because it's what YOU'RE being paid to do??) 
I'm rambling on a bit I think I may be a bit dehydrated soooo I'm going to end it
(What? Your life? Oh no - you've left the building!) 
'I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY YOU PAY £7.50 BECAUSE YOU DEFINITELY WORK FOR IT'
(At this point I fall to the floor in hysterical laughter!!) 

You absolutely couldn't make it up if you tried could you!! 

Boys, Girls, Men and Women of the Victoria Inn I salute you for your fearlessness and endeavour in serving the great British Public! 

Sarah - a new chef in the team
By the way do you notice how everyone is smiling in the photos except SOH?? That's because he wasn't impressed I was taking photo's of team on the 2nd busiest day of the year!!! Ooops.................. 

Love always and till next time dear Blog readers, I'm off to lay down in a darkened room!!!!!

Liz xxx
Jonathon Asst Mgr and Grumpy SOH 



Rob our lovely GM


Sunday, 22 May 2016

Evening all.......................

Evening all from Salcombe where the weather is decidedly dodgy!! One day last week I think it was we practically had every season in the calendar all in one day! 


Snr Sous Chef Rich and Licensee Liz 
So where to start this blog?? Some exciting news and a rather brilliant event since the last entry...........firstly we had Crabfest in Salcombe at the beginning of May and my goodness what an unexpected fantastic event that turned out to be! 

I (think) the concept was about promoting the fabulous Salcombe Crab which is without doubt one of the best there is, but I'm pretty sure no one expected it to be as successful as it was. Salcombe was rammed and I think the figures are at about 9,000 people came into town.  There were food stalls, drinks, Oysters and food demonstrations of which we (the Vic) took part - more of that in a minute! Mary Berry opened the event and was as lovely as usual.

It's fair to say that everyone in Salcombe - including the organisers I'm sure - were delighted at the amount of visitors and thankfully the weather was on it's best behaviour until mid afternoon. 

Of course few business's (including ours) have any extra staff available until the start of June and so when we were hit - Boy, we were hit!!! In fact we had to close food temporarily (45 minutes) as there wasn't a plate, cup or piece of clean cutlery to be had in the entire pub. Next year, we'll all be much more prepared!!  It would be great if this planned yearly event put Salcombe clearly on the South West Foodie map - just like the Dartmouth food festival. 

So, onto our food demonstration for the event. The whole thing was overseen by Alex Aitken - Executive Head Chef over the entire Harbour Hotel chain and what a lovely man he was too! Several Chefs were there including one from the Fortescue Inn, South Sands Hotel, and the Wardroom. 

The Chef representing the Victoria Inn was Senior Sous Chef Rich who did us proud........ He had prepared well and did it perfectly. We had some recipe flyers printed up and handed them out with his menu - Salcombe Lobster and Crab Ravioli with poached Lobster and a rich Crab Bisque.  I was so very, very proud of him, he did a fantastic job and as you can see he got a great round of applause! 


video

Our other big news is that we are having a brand new childrens play area installed in our pub garden!! Work starts on the playground proper 6th June but we are having some preparatory garden works done the week before. But we should be up and running in the garden by the 13th or 14th with an 'official' opening on the 1st July which we shall tie in with fundraising for the Salcombe First Responders - which relies ENTIRELY on charitable donations. We will be selling our normal farmers Beefburgers and Homemade veg Burgers with Chips and Coleslaw for just £5, Magic Mark the Magician will be there too and a Raffle.  Robin, one of our Assistant Managers will be going down the slide first (in suitable fancy dress I'm sure) and we have already had £100 pledged to the Charity for him to do this. 

Our summer plants are mostly planted in already in the back garden and the new window boxes come in next week.  We also have great bunting, all 40ft of it made to order by one of our lovely customers Judith Pinder - that goes up this week as well. 

So all in all, the summer preparations are well under way, and we're very very busy! 

See you next time my lovely readers, 

Liz xxx