Tuesday, 10 September 2019

It's goodbye from Me and it's goodbye from Him

Liz & Tim aka SOH - Scrumptious Other Half
So it was on the 21st August 2008 I sat down and thought what a good idea it would be to write a blog about life as a pub landlady here in The Victoria Inn, Salcombe and yet here I am sitting down writing my last ever blog post some 11 years on. With over 300 blogs written and tens of thousands of people reading them over the years!! I even won an award from the brewery for it in the early days!

Now with just 55 days to go until it all ends it seems incredible that the time has gone so fast! Has being a pub landlady been what I thought it be? Much of it yes, but I've said it before and I'll say it again, nothing could prepare me for the hard-work and yes, some tears that went with it. But my goodness, we've had some laughs along the way and many bloody good times. We've won scores of awards, been put (twice) in the Best Licensee of the year by the BII. The Vic earned consistently the Taste of the West Gold award for the last 6 years for our produce, cooking and service and ultimately overall Best in the West a couple of years ago. Those being just a couple that come to the front of my thoughts. 

I want to say personally to Jim Sloan our Tenanted Operations Manager at St Austell a huge Thank You! We cannot thank you enough for always being there for us and supporting us in our quest to become one of the best pubs in the South West. With Adam Luck (now retired) who was a Director also supporting me when a few years ago I had crazy ideas ranging from boutique B & B to pizza ovens to other things that never got off the back of a fag packet, but eventually (& pretty much to shut me up I suspect!!) he supported and helped to grow the idea of the top floor of the pub as it is now. 

Without fail most Bank Holidays & peak times has seen the pub flooded, electrics going bang and various other catastrophes that had me weeping or raging, yet still somehow battling through it!!!! 

We've welcomed stars of stage & screen, some known to me, other's had to be pointed out. My absolute favourites were David Dimbleby, Mary Berry, Matt Tebbutt, Ian Wright and last but not least Nick Knowles! I swooned and blushed like a 15 year old over him! Even Prince Charles got a Man Creche badge from me - do you remember those??

We've made fabulous friendships with so many of our customers & met some lovely, lovely people. People have made it part of their holidays and routine at Christmas and NY to visit, and already many have said thank you to me for making their visits & memories soooo special. I know the Vic has also been very special to people for having shared times with loved ones no longer with them, and I am privileged to have played a part in that. 
Then there's been the Christening's, Birthdays and Marriages - notably our own! 

I've also booted a few out with my now infamous 'Get out of my Pub' expressions! 😁 

I've battled Trip Advisor and spent hours answering every single review, good and bad, I almost even managed to curb my sarcasm and caustic wit! 😍

But without doubt and this is the toughest thing to say goodbye to, our super lovely team of people over the years that have supported us. The ones who've worked so hard, smiled and slogged themselves to achieve everything we wanted to achieve. Without our wonderful boys and girls - front of house, kitchen, cleaner and holiday team  -  we would not have been as successful as we have been. 

The baton of being the next Boss of the Vic goes to Jess, and I leave the pub knowing she's in the most capable pair of hands possible. 

Lastly, I couldn't have done any of the last 11 years without my very own SOH by my side. My very Scrumptious Other Half, the brains of this business, the experienced publican who knew what was right and what wasn't. The one who diligently ensured the finances were in order, who got the best deals, who read the trade press and ensured we stayed ahead of the game. 

Me?? I did a lot of 'hello darling' and I'm going to miss you all dreadfully 

Liz x 


Sunday, 28 July 2019

Wow - almost August already!

Good heavens, we're into double figures! 99 days until retirement and I just know this time is going to whiz by! I'll probably only have a couple more blogs before I shut A (sometimes potty mouthed) Landlady's Blog down, as I'm going to be a bit busy to write much come October - so make the most of me while you can. 

There has been conversation of me doing a blog when I retire, but I'm probably not going to. You can keep up with me though on Instagram - allthingslillibet and also on Twitter - fabfrom56. I'll probably give facebook a miss too once I'm retired, I've so many books to read.............. 😁

Anyway, we know for sure now that the Vic is going to become a Managed House when we have retired. It seems that not many people know the differences so here's a quick (very quick)  lesson;

  • A Tenant (us) pays rent and runs the pub as their own business, buys all drinks from Brewery (landlord) and keeps profits made 
  • A Managed House is part of the brewery estate, the Manager runs the pub on behalf of the brewery and brewery keeps profits made

The very best news is that Geordie Jess (OUR current Manager) is going to be the General Manager of the Vic for St Austell and we are very assured of her continuing to do the fantastic job she currently does. We're also assured by St Austell that little will change so you can rest easy in still visiting your favourite pub and continuing to have a great time. 

Anyway, suppliers have been told, notice has been given to our website people etc, etc, but best of all.................we've started planning our first year of 'freedom' from the shackles of employment!!  Before you ask - lots of lay in's, time to explore where we live better and lots of foreign travel! 

But first of all we have a summer season to get through and the last half term of the year after that.SOH has started turning out the office and storage etc, and has been firmly warned that "none of that shit is coming home"!!!!! Needless to say bits have already sneaked in 🙈🙈🙈 

We had a super treat last week from Salcombe Gin, they invited us in for their Gin School. Not the first invite we've ever had but we've just not been able to go on other occasions. We have been huge supporters of Salcombe Gin from the very beginning and that has been reciprocated by their friendship and support of us too. 

If you haven't been to one of their 'schools' I highly recommend. Informative, fun and best of all, you come away with a bottle of Gin that you've made! 
Salcombe Gin Still 

So, there we are - 99 whole days to go................ 

Mostly I'm very excited and looking forward to it but just every now and then I get nervous of the unknown. 

Nervous of no structure of a working day, sad at leaving a great team who support us and anxious of a life with no regular income, but mostly excited!! 

Until next time my lovelies 

Liz x x x 

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Going Out with a Bang - Not a Whimper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till the next time my lovelies, 

Liz - Licensee 

Tuesday, 7 May 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about the team next time, 

Love always

Liz x

Monday, 15 April 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time, 

Much Love

Liz x

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Happy 2019 Everyone!

Staff party at the BEGINNING of the evening!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay warm and snuggled up my  dear friends and readers, 

Much love till my next ramblings,

Liz x

Friday, 14 December 2018

Pub Landlady's life????

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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