Friday, 29 August 2008

Today its the Egyptians

Well, I'm starting to feel like an English consulate outpost................ today it was the turn of the Egyptians to visit us..!! Lunchtime started off with a regular business customer turning up with half a dozen Egyptian businessmen - thank goodness SOH had just made a fabulous Chicken Passanda this morning, as all six decided to have the curry of the day. Again, in keeping with our Japenese visitors this week - what charming gentlemen......... so polite and well mannered, a delight to serve.

It was really quite lovely also to hear them in the garden speaking in their language and smell their delicious foreign cigarettes (I don't smoke by the way!) but I was transported back to my holiday / recuperation this year to Morocco - not in the middle of Hampshire.

Tonight, my Friday boys are celebrating a birthday amongst them and the pints are flowing well - but they're great 'salt of the earth' lads, always well behaved and they know I have a low tolerance for swearing in the pub (unless it's me......... :) ) and I've had a lot of 'sorry Liz' in the last half hour or so!! Bless 'em..........

But I'm glad we're busy, not just for the obvious financial reasons, but my stress levels are starting to rise because of the move, so it's great to be kept occupied. Our flat is just full of boxes packed with our belongings, empty boxes waiting to be packed, new furniture and more bubble wrap than I know what to do with. Working really hard with a designer on the website for our new pub and writing lots of peices to promote how wonderful we will be!! On top of that, we are keeping this buusiness going (and quite well thank you!) thinking of menu's and food idea's for the new place, as well as what fabulous wines we're going to stock. I should be sleeping like a log I'm so tired but the minute I close my eyes my head is just buzzing with all sorts of things..........

So - where are we going and when?????

Sorry, you'll have to wait - thats this weekends blog post!!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Japanese tourists

What an exceptionally busy day today........... music of course to the ears of our bank manager and accountant, (both if whom we've been talking to over the course of the last couple of days in readiness for the move), but completely knackering for us right now!

Ah yes 'the move', I really will be telling you very soon about where and when etc - but right now, the Golden Lion is taking up our every ounce of energy!!

Its all really hard work here at the moment as our cook has taken 2 weeks off for the school holidays and while SOH has been taking most of the shifts in the kitchen, I have been either clearing up after him or taking the remaining shifts. I'm really OK when its Sunday lunch or when the orders come in 2 or three at a time, but anything more than that and I've been known to turn round on the spot for 2 or 3 times as I try to pull it all together........... hugely funny for anyone who should watch me (if they dare!!) but not funny for me. I get really anxious with it all - and as I sit here typing tonight I have a thudding headache and a really stressed sore stomach........still, it affords me all the more empathy with kitchen staff!

As well as the normal lunchtime trade we have had 14 Japanese tourists here today on a scheduled stopover before the Queen Mary cruise out of Southampton - and SUCH delightful people. I learnt the only word of Japanese I now know - 'konnichiha' - 'Hello, and there was an awful lot of smiling and bowing - on both sides!! After lunch there was the obligatory photograph taking of me - with them, and of course looking like a hot, sweaty creature from the deep after a lunchtime in the kitchen....... :(

I just have this vision of these photo's being shown - and there have been various groups over the last couple of years: South African boys cricket team - such darling polite boys: various American groups - mostly quite charming: and Italians - chic, sophisticated (made me feel like a mongrel at Crufts next to the women) around parts of the globe and all people will see is a picture of a harassed English woman in a striped pinny smiling slightly manically....................

One very positive side of today was a contact with the coach driver of the party who was very impressed with their visit and who may be interested in putting more trade our way - particularly so in Devon, where he takes countless German and other EU walkers.........mmnnn....... but all and any extra trade is welcome trade - so a contact worth following up in a few weeks.

So, another day comes to a close - have just made up diary with staff and realise we only have a little over 2 weeks before we finish................ crikey!! I think I may just have a glass of wine tonight!! Tomorrow is another day.........................

Monday, 25 August 2008

Bank Holiday - what Bank Holiday??

I have learnt very quickly that our life in the trade is very different to most peoples lives...... a bank holiday used to mean (for me, certainly in years gone by) a stroll out, a pint or 2 and a meal - some gentle retail therapy and even a holiday if lucky. What does it mean now? Peeling more spuds and carrots etc and staying open longer on the off chance we'll be busy...!!! Well today we weren't - busy that is!

It was a quiet lunch time, few cars passing on the road, even fewer stopping in our car park. The weather is damp, cool and not at all conducive to customers sitting in our gorgeous garden. So a quiet Bank Holiday Monday (blimey - last one before Christmas - Gulp!)

Tonight promises to be a different matter with a few bookings already, and doubtless some of our poker players will want to eat first as well.

Ah yes, Monday night is.........Poker night. We started this Poker last year - its run by a national firm called Red Tooth poker, it's free to play and its mostly anywhere between 20 and 30 people who will turn up tonight to play for a couple of hours. Even I play, and I had never picked up a card until we started it. Occasionally I do quite well - I've even been known to win a couple of times, but generally, I'm a bit too rash in my betting!

So can't stop tonight to 'blog' for too long, far to much to do in the pub to get ready for 'the boys'. and SOH is looking as though he needs my helping hand in the kitchen. Wish me winning hands tonight...!?!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Hungover - oh dear!!!

Mmnn, well it's been a bit of a tough day today - being hungover didn't help!! If you live a 'normal' life - you might have a glass of two or wine at the end of a busy day? Yes??

Well, living in a pub it's very easy to have that one or two glasses of wine, or something off the 'top shelf', or even maybe another couple of glasses of something......... I guess it's a bit like working in sweet shop and wondering what delicious chocolate to have next... well I very quickly discovered that having a drink at the end of every day is

a) not clever

b) makes me fatter than usual

c) makes me feel more tired than ever

d) makes me poorer - believe it or not we do pay for our drinks - honestly! Thats how some publicans go broke!!

So most weeks I'm really disciplined I don't drink Monday to Friday, occasionally I might, but certainly never ever when I'm working behind the bar or in the kitchen (soused chef and all that).

But your social life in this business IS your friends and customers on the other side of the bar, so last night one glass of Rose wine with our very good friends led to several! Oh dear...... this morning, not a pretty sight :(
And of course, what do I have to do on Saturdays? Prepare veg and meats for Sunday - rest assured not the easiest thing to do when you're suffering with a head full of men playing drums.........

Apart from that it's been a very full on sort of day - mostly in the kitchen, but also helping SOH get the car and trailor ready for an outside bar event that he and our best mate Mark are doing near Salisbury tonight. A late night for them tonight - probably not home till 1'ish and then time all is unloaded and locked up it'll be closer to 2 or even later. Hopefully I'll be in the land of nod, as I have to be up for 6 (groan)tomorrow morning for a local car boot sale to try to get rid of a lot of the tat - no, sorry - absolutely fantastic items of heritage and distinction that are now surplus to requirements due to our impending move!!

So while most (if not all) of you are tucked up enjoying a Sunday morning lay in - Sarah (lovely lady and a good friend) and I will be wrapped up warm (it is summer in England after all - bank holiday as well) clutching our coffee's and fighting of the hordes of well heeled Winchester toff's trying to pay as little as possible for some actually quite decent stuff.............with a bit of tat thrown in!

So enjoy your weekend lovely blog readers, tomorrow is another day!!

Friday, 22 August 2008

A typical day??

So what is a typical working day for me........?? Well, it's usually Tim (scrumptious other half- SOH) (thats us at Balmoral Castle, our second residence don't you know..... )waking up and letting our cleaner Sean in about 9.00a.m, that might sound heavenly and late for a lot of people - but what you mustn't forget is that our day generally doesn't end till gone 1 or even 2 in the morning.
If I'm lucky (which is quite often I must admit) I get coffee bought up (not by the cleaner!!) by SOH and I get a good half hours lay in........... bliss. Then I usually do the mundane household chores while SOH does the pub stuff of reading the paper, opening post, leaving it laying around etc etc :)

After that it's pretty much like today - meeting the public - making sure they get a good pint and that the food is great and served swiftly, as many are on their lunch breaks. Quite a few family's in today with young children - nice well behaved children - our favourites........

We also like to have a good team spirit amongst the staff - we've been very lucky in having had great young people, so today has been good humoured banter again between Luke and I - recently returned from Thailand, and Ryan - a promising young thespian. Our staff are mostly University students and all have stayed with us for much of their time at Winchester Uni.

Today was also a cause for celebration as our kitchen assistant Jade, working with us during the holidays got all C's in her GCSE's - so cards, kisses and pats on the back for her!

I particularly like Fridays at the Lion as we get a lot of office workers who have that 'Friday feeling' in the lunchhour, and then my Friday night workers any time after 5.30 who also like to start off the weekend with a pint or 4. The weather's been much better today so the garden has been well used.
Then most afternoons when we've cleaned down - its a discussion on evening menu's, walk the dog (Beth) and feet up for an hour - hopefully! At the moment almost every afternoon is taken up with packing and making plans for Devon. I will tell more about the Devon move - the where, when etc in future posts.

Today, the topic for discussion has been shirts/blouses/logo' many - more importantly how much (!) and will they be ready on time for the opening on 1st October!

Tonight, I'm in the kitchen - again - with Luke at my every beck and call...........only joking - we make a great partnership and he keeps me calm and good humoured as the orders start to flow in. Lovely O'Hagans sausages and SOH's Thai Green Curry on the specials menu tonight - so wish me a busy (ish) night, and I'll be back tomorrow.

Now then - where's my apron gone...........................

Thursday, 21 August 2008

The start of my journey........

This is our curent pub - The Golden Lion in Winchester........... I say current pub as we are shortly to move to a pub in Devon, more of which to come shortly.

I thought it would be fun to write about my days and nights (very long days & nights....!) as a pub landlady. Over the next couple of weeks I'll be telling you what it's like to leave a pub where we've made lovely friends - worked the hardest I've ever worked in my life and how it feels to move on to somewhere new with all the challenges involved! if you read this - I hope you enjoy it and that occasionally it either gives you food for thought, makes you laugh or even want to run a pub yourself (or not - more likely!!).

A little about me first - I've not always been a pub landlady - oh no! In fact I'm really quite new at it - full time now for only 8 weeks - is that really all it is? It seems a whole lot longer..........

I've always kept my own career separate (spent most of my working life in Local Government, managing people and projects, and ensuring great customer service) only dabbling now and then in the pub when we were busy or when I actively wanted to manage big functions. But I guess its a bit like anything you really enjoy doing, it sort of took over my life and decisions had to be taken - so out went the old career and in came this new one!!

But it's not just me of course - there is my scrumptious 'other half' - Tim. He's been in this trade in one form or another for a great many years - so with his experience and business acumen, I can only learn the best from him, bring in my own expertise and become the dynamic duo!!

So as the weeks go on - sit back and enjoy my ramblings. I hope you'll come to realise the hard work that goes on behind the bar of a pub to let you enjoy your time on your side of the bar.

And with that - its time at the bar Ladies & Gents........... time please!! (for today at least).