Wednesday, 28 January 2009

St Austell Brewery Awards Night

What a great night SOH and I had at the St Austell Awards dinner and dance last week, held at the Headlands Hotel in Newquay. Firstly the location was absolutely stunning! I have been very fortunate to stay at some fabulous hotels, and I have to say this will rate as one of the best. We had a'budget' room ( we figured only needed a bed to sleep off the night!!) and it was really superb.......... the other rooms must have been amazing. I think we'll remember this hotel for if we ever need a 'special event' hotel!?!?

I think there were about 280 people at the bash, and were very pleased to have Jim Sloan on our table - he's our area manager. He also made for great company on the night as he was sat directly to my left and from what I can remember (!) we had a good old laugh! There were also several other new tenants / managers as well as a chap who does work for the brewery on our table. All of them thoroughly nice people and they made for a great mix.

Several glasses of champagne kick started the evening for me (I always get so nervous these days at big do's!) followed by plentiful wine and great food. Then the awards - which was the whole purpose of the evening. No awards for us this year - you have to have been in place for a year - but next year? Well, who knows? Speeches were mercifully short - but punchy and funny. James Staughton the MD was very good, and I felt the brewery is in safe and strong hands, he spoke from the heart as did Adam Luck the overall manager - another really nice man, who loves the business and is a great ambassador for the brewery.

I have to say the best for me was a chap called Phil Dixon - he works for the BII but is also a consultant for our industry - and if truth be told I did groan slightly when I knew he was doing a speech as I've heard him a handful of times now and he tends to be a bit 'samey', but on that evening, he was incredibly funny, earthy and disarmingly honest.......... I thought he made a great evening fantastic!!! (sorry the photo's a bit blurry) There then followed much more drinking, and I seem to remember us tottering to our room after midnight - me with shoes in hand giggling quietly!

Breakfast the next morning watching the atlantic ocean waves break on to the shore was just magical.

My lasting impression? A fabulous night and I'm really glad we're working with St Austell brewery........... all of the people we have met, right from James to the draymen are fantastic, all of them have made us both feel very much part of a unique team, and both Tim and I look forward to our continued relationship.

Next big event on the horizon - SOS - a national fundrainsing event for the RNLI - and we are hosting Salcombe's event. Friday 30th January - SIZZLE OUR SAUSAGES.......................bring it on.........

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Just a quick hello.........

Just a very quick (and short) post to let you know I am still here........... just not the best start to the NY (that's very definitely the last time I say on NY's eve 'this one will be a good one'!!). Had to rush back to Portsmouth for the week last week as one of my family was taken quite ill - pleased to say that they are on the mend now and what was a very worrying time is now hopefully gone. There's never a good time for emergencies, but last week James our chef was on a well deserved holiday, so SOH was in the kitchen for 9 long days - bless him! So not only was he unable to come with me, he had to look after the shop in it's entirety ........ needless to say I tidied the office again last night! Apart from that he's very domesticated and I had little else to do - no ladies, you can't hire him!! :)

We are off to Newquay tonight to the Headland Hotel for St Austell awards dinner and dance, and boy am I looking forward to letting my hair down, having some fun and shaking off the stress of the past week. Business is a lot quieter now - having said that we are still doing 30 covers at lunchtime most days, so not too awful really. Big RNLI national fundraising next week - SOS - and we are hosting an event on the 30th - SIZZLE OUR SAUSAGES......... more of that in the next entry. Lastly, I'm amazed at how many people are reading this blog - I sit here typing and I only think of one or two of my best friends reading this - well actually it looks as though loads read it... blimey! Met a lady this week on holiday from California and she spent an hour and a half reading my ramblings, and couldn't wait to meet me and see our pub - and what a lovely lady she is as well! Thats it for now then, loads to do, more soon...........

Take care all, Liz x

Sunday, 11 January 2009

New Year - New Beginnings

As always of course, and in common with a large part of the population, a New Year signifies the start of a New YOU! For me of course - this WILL be the year I lose weight and become gorgeous..... and as I sit here typing (purely to stop my fingers shoving food in to my mouth I assure you) I am fighting the most awful urge to eat chocolate - and it's pretty much been that way since 6.a.m this morning!!! Losing 10lbs was a great start and I was of course chuffed, but there's a long way to go yet. Still, if I can't do it this time with my very own chef cooking me gorgeous yet low calorie food, then I guess I never will!

Business although quieter, hasn't actually hit the 'dead as a do-do' phase yet - which has taken us all a bit by surprise I think. Even though we've had some absolutely freezing cold days here this last week we have had only a couple of quietish lunch hours, but evenings and this weekend have once again been very good - so we are all pleasantly surprised and of course very pleased.

SOH is in the kitchen this coming week as James is having a well deserved week off, but I think in an almost perverse way he's looking forward to it - and I am as well, as it gives me the office to myself for the whole week........ the tidiness of the office remains a bone of contention, but we're slowly learning to live with each other on this one!

The question of visitors to Salcombe has been hot on the discussion topic both in our pub and another blog (I noticed today) and is somewhat of a double edged sword for the place - as of course visitors and second home owners bring massive amounts of revenue in to Salcombe, and with my background in Housing I do have huge sympathy for the locals and their children who can't get housing here in their own home town. I also admit that at the moment it's quite lovely to be able to walk Beth off the lead without fear of being run over by a Chelsea tractor or lost in hordes of visitors - and yet, it is those very visitors who bring money into the local economy and provide us all with employment.......... so I guess in common with many similar holiday destinations its a case of learning to live with each other. So for now, I'm enjoying slightly more of the peace and quiet and planning for the next busy period - half term.

Hot on the planning list before half term are two huge topics: menu planning and the garden......... both of which to be tackled in earnest over the next couple of weeks. Looks like I shall give in to SOH on the children's menu debate.......... I wanted one - he didn't!! So it looks as if we shall go for one menu with smiley faces to show half portion availability! A good compromise, life's to short to argue about such matters! Then the garden has about 30 benches - all needing a bit of work, definitely cleaning and then re-staining. So a lot to do in a short time really.

Lastly, we positively encourage dogs in to our pub - we both love dogs, and there are some days its very like Crufts in here, but we have had some amazing dogs in this week..... amongst them - a fantastic Rhodesian Ridgeback, 2 beautiful Spaniels (named after the lady owners favourite champagnes!), 2 gorgeous rescue dogs - one of them so very nervous of everything and everybody! Lastly, Salcombe's first responder Deana bought her son's puppy in today a black labrador ages 14 weeks - just adorable. Which reminds me - we must fill up the dog treat tin............

Monday, 5 January 2009

Hello 2009

It's hello from Salcombe and welcome to 2009........... my goodness what a great couple of weeks it's been. Just before I start on about the last couple of weeks in too much detail - I've been thinking back to this time last year, (New Years have the effect of making me a bit maudlin!! :) ) I was just starting a major spell of bad health, I wasn't overly enjoying my career (lie - I was hating it!) and I had certainly never heard of Salcombe (truth)! Then in the space of less than 8 months - we're here in Salcombe and truly having the time of our lives.
So then - the New Year..... where do I start? Lets start with the arrival of 4 of our closest friends - now there's a side to living in Salcombe that wasn't thought about.... all the visitors (tee hee) but can't say I blame them for wanting a little taste of heaven! Great mates from Winchester who shared this frantic period with us, (thanks Mark G for washing up NY's day - I'm forever in your debt x).

The weather? We have felt some of the coldest winds since we moved here, but gorgeous days where although bitterly cold the skies were as clear as clear could be, and it was a delight to walk Beth and just watch the seagulls and other birds riding on the wind, listen to the noises coming from the lifeboat moored up and generally enjoy the peace and quiet of our early evening walks.

Then of course, there was the business itself of running the Victoria Inn in one of it's busiest periods outside of 'the season' .................. well, all I can say is what an eye opening experience it has been! Completely knackering - but enjoyable and quite good fun a lot of the time! Our New Years Eve 5 course dinner for 52 was an overwhelming success and once again we were extremely proud of our team and the way the whole thing ran, but we were equally proud that so many locals visited and spent time with us that night in the bar as well.

Most days over the festive period we were doing 70 - 90 covers each period. So on Saturday when assured by staff that all would start to be quieter, SOH and I decided on a trip to Brixham (mmnn, not so sure I liked that as much as I thought I would - perhaps another visit in the summer!) for a bit of a run, only to discover that we had achieved over a 100 covers in the lunch hour....closely followed by almost 90 on Sunday!! But today? Well now - there's a whole different story, Salcombe tourist destination extraordinaire is no longer - it is suddenly Salcombe the ghost town!!!!! Amazing............. it's the only word to describe the town today - amazing! So all in all it's been an interesting festive period, we've both learnt lessons about Salcombe and what we may encounter in the 'season' and before, and we now have lots to concentrate our minds on before the spring:

The Garden - advertising it and using it to it's full potential
Staff - ensuring we get no's right
Kitchen - getting a new 2nd chef in
Promoting the Victoria - lots of Internet work (for me I think)
Last but not least - remembering to get out and about and have fun together as I really look forward to continuing this blog in '09 and sharing the fun, the laughs, the aches and the pains as we gear up for business in our first full year.