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

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Easter - Tick

The sky from my garden yesterday
So! 2016 continues to whizz by in the blink of an eye............ How was it as a child that the year seemed to be never ending. That the summer's were longer, the seasons so well defined?? We weren't dreaming about Easter Eggs the moment Christmas went were we?? 

Yet here we were at the end of March celebrating Easter and all the madness that normally goes with it in terms of our visitors having the first proper outing of the year en famile and us not having a summer team to deal with summer numbers.  But all credit to our great team - they did a great job looking after everyone and making them all feel welcome in our great pub. 

Hair Braider makes a welcome return to outside the pub




No sooner had the first few people arrived than some of the derogatory comments started coming on social media (and in the local paper) regarding Grockles and what a pain it was having so many cars and visitors littering our streets.............????  Oh my life!! REALLY!!! REALLY!!!! REALLY!!!! Argh..........

I really find it so hard at times understanding the mentality of some people in small towns. What on earth do they think that Salcombe and places like it in the West Country and other places would be like WITHOUT our visitors??? 

I personally like to try and make all visitors in the town and to our pub feel special - I look at it that I am so fortunate to live here for ever and they are only passing through - so lets make their experience a great one, with a warm welcome and a wish for great memories.  
Anyway, off your soapbox Liz that will do for now - on with the news of the month: 

The flowers at the front of the pub are just about on their last legs really thanks to the amazing cold winds we've endured this year, so it will be nice to see the new ones in place for May hols. 

We now stock all but 1 Gin that St Austell Brewery have on their list, we now have 22 in total! We are just waiting for some great Gin Menu's from Fever Tree with ideas of which of their tonics go best with the different Gins. That will give YOU the customer lots and lots to choose from. 

The 'Champagne Sunday' concept with our fabulous Joseph Perrier Champagne has now grown to 'Champagne Weekend' and continues to go from strength to strength. But lets be honest it's not a hard choice with such a great Champagne at £4.95 a glass. 

New wine menu's are expected this week and wow, there are some great new wines including a second flipping lovely dessert wine (will go great with Tims Sticky Toffee Pud) and the most incredible Red wine - Appassimento - a hugely full bodied wine.......... phwoar! 


Spring menu's are at the printers too with some new dishes I'm quite excited about as well. Then it will be full steam ahead to work on the summer menu's in readiness for end of June. 

Team meetings have been held with the aid of great big fat jammy doughnuts from The Bake House in Salcombe. 
As you can see the doughnuts seem to make the meetings less serious!! 

Right here, right now,I'd like to place on public record that I think we have probably the best team we've ever had and what's more we continue to grow the team with 1 more Front of House - Antonia (AJ), (doughnut in hand and cheeky smile) and potentially 2 more Chefs joining our kitchen team. None of them temporary staff, but permanent. 

And so the treadmill of life in a pub revs up and we continue to motor through the year at a great pace.................... I feel quite worn out just typing this!! 

On that note and just in case you've read this far, please, please, please don't forget to book with us if you want to be sure of getting a table for dinner! 01548842604

Till next time my lovely readers, 

Liz xx

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Hello, Bonjour, Hallo, Bongu

Now then - what makes you think I've been on a course or 2 this week..............???!!! Actually I've been on 2 but first of all a few words as to WHY I've been on them! 

Firstly - I like the slogan in this picture.  It's amazing how many various people say to me how great it is that we win awards and that it's a fantastic reward for all our hard work. 

It's also amazing when people say how 'lucky' we are and I'm reminded of that famous saying that: I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it or another variation: The harder I work, the luckier I get." That quote is from Thomas Jefferson but accredited to many including Golfer Gary Player. 

But actually being a Pub Landlady (that is after all the title of my Blog) is much more than pulling pints and asking how people are. Its about a whole host of stuff of which luckily SOH gets to do the boring but very important stuff - Finances/Prices/Suppliers/Budgets etc etc - you get my drift. 

But my part of the ship that is The Victoria Inn is of equal importance - the people. You the guest, our team, the food, menus, social media, advertising - the fluffy bits really some would say. But even this part of the business is about hard work - fun, but work. This week it just so happens I've been to 2 great events with 2 different members of our team and goodness I'm inspired to even greater things (watch out world)!!
 
Yesterday Jonathan (one of our Asst Managers) and I went (exceedingly early!) to Exeter to a course
called The Art of Being Brilliant. Now I happen to think we at the Vic are already pretty brilliant and in fact I met a customer on the course who exclaimed 'Why' we were on the course as she really did think we were indeed already brilliant (blushes deeply)? 

But actually this particular course challenged our pre-conceived thoughts quite brilliantly and helped re-inforce ideologies I/we hold as a business in terms of excellence and yes, brilliance! Jon and I loved it and talked non stop about how we could work better/smarter/ more brilliantly all the way home!! How TO BE not just TO DO! Thanks Andy Cope - you gave us a Brill.... fantastic day!! 

Then today, the delightful Jessie (she of the great smile and even greater tattoos) came with me to the Eden Project in Cornwall (another even more ridiculously early start) for a South West Tourism Growth Fund International Tourism Conference (blimey thats a title and a half isn't it).  Lots and lots of like minded people in the same room to help learn to grow tourism in the SW. 

Another day of true inspiration and bloody amazing presentations from some truly inspirational speakers - 2 of whom have stuck in my brain all the way through to tonight (yes, some doing that - I know!). 

Firstly Simon Calder travel writer, guru, he has a strap line of  'The man who pays his way” because he won't accept free transport or accommodation from the travel trade. 

He says the people with the best stories to tell live life in the cheap seats - love that! 

But he was passionate about giving great facts and figures, advice on the travel industry and how we can help get more tourism from across the world to the SW. 

Second and so helpful to us in our business was an award winning speaker and the writer of great
books including OMG Marketing: - Geoff Ramm. Wearing a rather nifty suit he bounded on the stage and kept me enthralled for an hour as he gave us video clips, short stories and pause for thought moments! By the way OMG is not text talk for Oh My God its actually Observational Marketing Greats! See, Geoff I was listening. There were also many other speakers to numerous to relate each and everyone though.

My goodness were Jessie and I suitably inspired by the time we staggered out into the Cornish air........... I now have a list of to do/ to be/ ideas / to research / and on and on..............

So how does this tie into my opening line of Hello etc........ 

Well you find out the country where the last Hello word comes from in my title post - these are some of the countries talked about today. 

What does the last 2 days have to do with being succesful?? 

Well if I have to tell you I guess you'll never know..................  

Till next time my lovelies, 

Liz x

P.S Fantastic congratulations to The Samuel Jones pub in Exeter - one of St Austell's managed houses for winning the Best New Pub/Bar award at last nights Morning Advertiser Publican awards. Great job Reece and team!