Sunday, 28 June 2009

Nine Months............

Well, come the 1st July, we'll have been in Salcombe for 9 whole months....... Can't believe it! Time has just flown by. The holiday season is really hotting up down here and this week barring one lunchtime has seen us have an amazing week trade wise. Our garden is being really well used and it's very comforting to see - I feel less and less anxious about how well we're going to do as each week draws to a close. But what we mustn't do is get too complacent - so each week sees us looking at different ideas, different drinks - this week alone we bought in 2 new drinks: an alcoholic Ginger Beer (that is flying off the shelf) and a fab new Grape and Kiwi J20. Different 'specials' - James made home-made Pasties this week, and a fabulous fish dish (amongst many!): John Dory wrapped in Bacon and with Sauteed Samphire......talking of food I'm being kept busy at the moment with planning for our new Autumn / Winter menu and also CHRISTMAS! It'll be upon us before we know it.........blimey!!
We've had one of SOH's brothers visiting us this weekend, Richard. So, business permitting it's been a perfect opportunity to get out and about again. Tuesday, Richard and I (SOH looked after the pub) went to the beautiful Buckfast Abbey - where although I wasn't particularly moved by the Abbey itself (apart from the fact that the Monks themselves actually built it - incredible!) it did have a separate large chapel with the most incredible wall of stained glass. That was absolutely beautiful! The grounds were amazing - so still and calm, sensory gardens, herbs etc and then an incredible Lavender garden with goodness knows how many different types of Lavender...... the smell was phenomenal.
No visit anywhere like this is complete without a visit to the gift shop - and I purchased some Apple juice from a monastry in France - yum! Also some Kiwi concentrate for squash - a million times better than the Spanish cr*p I had the other week and also some gorgeous smelling bees wax furniture polish..... We just HAD TO HAVE (we really did!) the most fabulous cream tea there as well! In fact SOH and I found quite a few excuses to over indulge ourselves this week so it's back on the health kick with a vengence next week!
Can't say I'm looking forward to the heat-wave that is supposed to be with us next week - but at least it may sweat a few pounds off............................ Nice!!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

It's the BBC don't you know...

So just to top an interesting few days, we got a phone call from St Austell media department on Wednesday to enquire if we'd be interested in taking part in a television programme - The Politics Show, South West TV about the beer tie............. 'Oh yes of course' (Thinking to self - oh my goodness, can I get my hair done in time, what about my nails and how can I lose 5 stone overnight!!!!).

Now SOH of course (as always) takes it all in his stride...... 'OK - thats fine' and goes back to whatever he was doing before the call! That's the difference between us - he's Mr Supercool - I'm Mrs Drama Queen, I'm Mrs Excited / Animated he's Mr 'Bond - James Bond'.......... shaken never stirred!! But do you know what - that's what makes us a great team.....we compliment each other fantastically well.

Anyway, moving on - Thursday - thank goodness a fine sunny day with customers in the pub and in the garden....BBC duly turn up at the appointed time a lovely camera man called Adrian and the reporter Phil Loat, (he was very nice but wish it had been Fred Dineage a childhood hero! Wrong TV area.) cue one of our staff with open mouth and 'He's off the telly'......... yep, that's rather the point!! There I am then (three changes of clothes later!) duly trying to appear as if we do this all the time and swinging straight into Miss One Woman Communications / Publicity department all of my own - and there is SOH smiling sweetly at me cool as a cucumber!

Adam Luck from St Austell was the voice of the family brewery as to why the beer tie works and Tim was the voice of the tenant...........No! Not me! Look - there are things I know I'm good at, and I've been on TV, I've also done a promotional video - but no way was I going to be opening my mouth on a subject I don't completely understand. I was more than happy to leave that to SOH.

Customers were asked to participate and a couple of free pints helped smooth that along, I was filmed serving a customer - 'What'll it be darling..........' (aka best Bet Lynch voice!) No - I'm joking, not quite!!! Actually the customer involved in this apparently reads my blog all the time - and I have to say it was a bit odd meeting someone who knows all about me - but who I had never met!!

Adam was of course as you would expect at his level within the brewery - the ultimate professional, incredibly eloquent and he also very charmingly said some nice things about us as tenants. But SOH - oh my crikey, I quite forgot he's mine and was just bowled over by how well he performed in the interview - balanced, moderate and sooooooo intelligent!! He also looked scrummy!! Cor missus ......... anyway, Adam was nodding in agreement at his answers and seemed pleased that Tim had been asked to respond in the interview.

Not forgetting of course that we'll get a good bit of free publicity out of this as well........... so, if you've nothing better to do tomorrow (Sunday 20/06) it should be on the Politics Show in the morning, and you don't live in this area or you actually have a life (!) you'll be able to see it on BBC iPlayer......

In the meantime, the Victoria Inn has had a great week business wise - blimey, we've been busy!!! The projected slow down after the festival never happened, and the reasonably good weather seems to be helping as well. Fathers Day tomorrow - and quite a few bookings in the diary already - also the Salcombe Gig race up at the Yacht Club - so I suspect a busy day ahead of us tomorrow. I wonder what surprises next week will bring............????

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Salcombe Music Festival

Well crikey - what fun this last weekend was with the Salcombe music festival.......... I just about had the Thursday and some of Friday to recover from my unexpected little overnight stay in Derriford with my asthma attack when it was Friday evening and the festival was upon us. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Salcombe changes very quickly with it's tourists and we go from being a lovely sleepy little town to a heaving mass of people very quickly!

This was quite different again though - the car park changed over the course of two days from a car park to a stage for bands and acts from all over - a beer tent went up in the car park that was from the Fortesque up the road, a burger stall, a hog roast (blimey the smell of that went right up through my kitchen window and needed considerable restraint not to run and buy some!!). Friday morning I thought it would never be ready for the evening, but of course it was...... Friday evening festival was good - but we had a few issues with under age drinkers. They're such a canny lot these youngsters - I'm sure they think we were never young and can't possibly remember the tricks of trying to get a drink when you're not old enough...!!!

So a few very minor problems on the Friday night - but the organisers were very supportive and the Police were very good. No real problems though, but the take away curries at the side entrance to the Victoria didn't go at all well....? Very odd, we had them at a fiver a throw and they should have flown away but I think we didn't market them properly and secondly the Friday night crowd were youngsters with beer in their bellies but not much money in their pockets!
Can't tell you much about the bands because we were working too hard to stand and listen to them - but what we did hear were very good. We closed our garden to the public at about 5 to stop any potential 'naughtiness', but as we were closing up one of our staff was surprised by a very sleepy young man who HAD found his way into the garden and promptly fell asleep somewhere up there.......don't know who was more surprised the lad or the member of staff who thought he was a ghost!!!

Saturday was very different, great street entertainment - this was grown ups (still pickled mind you!) having a good time. We were 6/7 deep at the bar for a lot of the evening, with the floor being quite awash with beer - as for the loo's - well, lets not go there shall we!! The curries however did sell - I think we sold round about 100 portions or more. My gospel choir - Honest Gospel sang up at the church, and despite my nerves at how my voice would hold up, I sang ok and the choir in its entirety was pretty fabulous! Well done Jo - you got us there!!

Sunday was lovely, very laid back and chilled - some jazz, childrens group, bands, Punch & Judy in the street and a bit of last night of the proms to finish..... all in all we had a great weekend - hugely tiring for all concerned, but I can't wait for next years festival!!
The next blog entry will be all about our afternoon today with the BBC and SOH being interviewed about the beer tie......... blimey so much going on at the moment ................ !

Saturday, 13 June 2009

My Hols and high drama back home!

So just to finish up the chronicles of my hols..... After a couple of days in Gibraltar, I made my merry way back to our flat via the Costa Bus route - and that started with a ferocious Spanish shouting match between a very tall African passenger and the bus driver. The issue turned out to be that the passenger believed that the bus driver had not given him his correct change - but it sounded like world war three was going to take place at any moment! Huge amounts of high speed shouting, gesticulating and finger pointing....... which ended with the 'Policia' being called.

Spain (our flat is near Malaga) had mixed weather - one very good day (hence the sunburn - see previous post) but lots of high strong winds - which at one point threatened to demolish the sides of a taverna I was sitting in eating my favourite - Prawns Pil-Pil...... yum! Apart from that, lots of sleep, walking and sightseeing - ending in one of my favourite places in Spain - Mijas. A most beautiful place, full of whitewashed houses, and gorgeous leather goods. SOH had given me a gorgeous chunky Labrodite stone bracelet a couple of years ago, and I always fancied a ring to go with it - and there in a shop called Mijas Magic I found it sitting with my name on it waiting to be bought. The place is run by a charming couple called Alan & Jenny Boardman, who made the whole shopping experience great, with nothing too much trouble! Check them out if you're ever there - I absolutely guarantee you won't be able to walk out without buying something.

Alas, like all good things, holidays come to an end and I found myself on the Exeter flight arriving home at about 1 - a little too bumpy for my liking I might add...... and then after a fabulous week's rest - I wasn't home more than about 4 hours and my flipping asthma started playing up!

By about 1a.m I was in serious trouble and poor SOH had to phone for an ambulance. Incredible good fortune meant that my friend Dena was on duty (first responder) and was down the hill to me in about 5 minutes with lots of oxygen and she started to stabilise me, followed in about 20 minutes by an ambulance sent from Plympton. But my asthma didn't want to play this time so I had to have some treatment in the ambulance and a quick overnight stay in Derriford Hospital, Plymouth. Two things about this - firstly it's made me realise how far away we are from things like hospitals (apparently Dena thought that she might have had to call the Air Ambulance out at one stage - gulp!!) and secondly how great the first responder system is.

So I'd like to finish this blog with my most grateful thanks to Dena, Paul the Paramedic and the 2 colleagues who were with him. Also to all the night staff at Derriford who despite me being wheeled in saying 'I'm not stopping' (!) did their very best to calm me, and make my surprise ending to my holiday a lot less traumatic than it might have been.

Onwards and upwards then friends - we are in full swing with the Salcombe Music Festival - last night was good, tonight we're advised going to be even busier!!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Wow - What a Coup!

Just a short blog to say the the Victoria Inn has been chosen by The Guardian and The Observer to feature in their guide to the best of Summer Pubs in the UK............ we're one of only 200 chosen in the entire country!! In their letter to us they say that -

'Our team of researcher's, food experts and drink writers scoured the country to discover the best 200 pubs for our readers to visit this summer'.

How blooming marvelous is that!!! There's going to be TV advertising on this feature as well as press adverts in The Guardian this week. The guide is out this weekend 13th and 14th June.

Great news for us, our brewery St Austell and a fantastic reflection of the hard work of all our staff since we've been here!! Tim and I are as chuffed as mint balls.............

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


Welcome back chum's - I'm home from my hols and over the next few days I'll go into a bit more detail about what I did and where I went! In the meantime I'd appreciate your thoughts on the following.......the title of this entry is not strictly true - because I don't actually have a sister! Two brothers but no sister - what I do have is a fabulous best friend...... a little younger than me (well ok - perhaps more than a little) Tanya is her name, and we've been best friends for about 20 years now. I think of her as the sister I was never lucky enough to have - and we've shared everything in our life - all the ups, downs, births, bereavements, divorce, love and more laughs than you can imagine! Our phone conversations now we're miles apart can reach epic proportions depending on what crisis / great times one of us is having - heaven help BT when we have a crisis / great time at the same time!

Where we are very different though is our approach to holidays - she is a sun babe in the extreme and is never happier than when she's oiled and prone on a beach or poolside (preferably with a cocktail in her hand!)..... she moves effortlessly from sunbed to water and back again like a potential Bond girl - never shaken but stirring those around her on the beach (take it from me she has a body I'd kill for!). Give her a book, plenty of liquids, the odd piece of fruit, a couple of dozen bikini's to choose from and she'd live her life on the beach......a perfect tan very soon adorns her pretty much perfect body - she only breaks into a sweat when she turns a page of her current reading material! Not for her the trudge of sight seeing - not likely if she can help it!

Now let's just take a little look at me as I sit here upon my return home - firstly, I've several patches of bright red sunburn from my ONE day on the beach - those places where I thought I'd sprayed my very expensive sun cream - oops, maybe not! Next - I have a fantastic prickly heat rash......... a wonderful addition to any holiday let me tell you! Then.... there are the gnat bites - not little discreet nibbles - oh no.... Bl**dy big bites you could balance a 10p on!!! Then there are the bruises on my legs where the suitcase that was fairly light going out on holiday was considerably heavier coming home (thanks Barclaycard - I love you!) just try heaving a hugely heavy suitcase, a much heavier hand luggage AND a handbag onto a Spanish train (huge steps up - and no kind Signor to assist).......

So maybe next time I'll take a leaf out of Tanya's guide book and sod the sightseeing!! Less luggage more sun cream...... Viva Espana!! Who do you think enjoys the beach holiday more....?????

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Rock Hotel Gibraltar

Just a quick post tonight.......I've just finished the most amazing afternoon tea here at the Rock Hotel in Gibraltar on the Wisteria Terrace - and I'm feeling pleasantly and comfortably full! Arrived here today after a pretty torturous coach trip from Fuengirola which I thought was straight through but stopped at least half a dozen times.. Still, here I am. Have a superb room with air con, 2 little decanters of Sherry (no good to me - still on my health kick - well as far as drink is concerned!) and plastic ducks in ther bathroom.....this really is a lovely hotel - it feels like you've gone back a good 20 years in time, but the service is impeccable and every thing of a really high standard.

I've been up in the cable car this afternoon to have a look at the Apes - and why despite loads of notices and a possible fine of £5k to people still insist on feeding them.... years ago I saw an Ape attack a woman who was teasing it with food - and I tell you I steer a wide berth!! The baby apes are as enchanting as usual.

Tonight I'm off to say Hi to a couple of old friends - if their reaction is anything like my other friends reaction today I can only say 2 things - 1 - I must have been huge, because comments have been about how much weight I've lost - and 2, how happy and 'alive' I look - so I was either very dreary or just very sad....... neither of which I am any more of course thanks to my lovely life in Salcombe and of course gorgeous SOH, who sadly is at home looking after the 'shop' while I'm away having a ball!! After meeting my friends I'm going to go and sample the delights of the new casino - I have a spare £20 which may find it's way onto a table or the roulette wheel - we'll see! Tomorrow - some shopping in the duty free haven that is Gibraltar, a pleasant waterside lunch and then I'm not sure! Till later my lovely friends - off for a little nap and then spruce up for an evenings pleasure. X