Friday, 31 December 2010

Farewell 2010 - What a Year!!

Farewell 2010 - What a year it's been, what a flipping year!!!! It's almost like an inventory when you look back on previous years isn't it..??? The good the bad and the ugly - and this year I'm so happy there's been so little bad or ugly!

In 2010 there have been great moments of joy and pure pleasure.......not least of course our marriage in March! Apart from the birth of my beautiful children my wedding to Tim was the greatest day of my life.....

I loved every moment and if I could live it all again I would!! Someone said to me that it was the most incredible informal / formal wedding they'd ever been to - it was everything we wanted it to be.. it was our dream come true!

I've proved to myself that if I really want to, then I can put my mind to do anything! I really concentrated on getting fitter and healthier this year - and the result was I lost almost 2 stone and was so fit at one stage I could do a good hour of exercise with 15 minutes of steps.

2010 was the year I decided to stop hiding behind different hair colours and show my true colours - and again, I wish I'd gone grey a long time ago!! Everyone comments on how it suits me, it's cheaper and it means I'm not spending valuable time sitting in hairdressers chairs - as much as I love you Leah!!

I also showed that by really concentrating and conquering an innate lifelong nervousness that I COULD learn to drive - and I did!! Passing as you know first time.

We also got our little Archie - a perfect playmate for Rosie and two little dogs who couldn't be loved anymore than they are......... and 2 little loves who give us so much joy and pleasure.

The Victoria Inn grew even more business this year and we cemented great friendships with people from all over the country. Considering we've been in the worst recession in living memory, business was frankly amazing at times. We are also both so grateful to all of our amazing staff at the Vic who deliver our vision of a fantastic pub.

Captain Morgans is at last finding it's feet and we have found our way with it........ some hiccups and frustrations along the way, but it's now feeling like it's ours in it's own right! Again - huge thanks must go to our staff over there who are making it work how we want it to work!
So what for 2011?? Firstly and as always in my life: My son, and now of course his wife have always been my top priority - so as always I hope that life continues to be kind to them in 2011 and that good health and happiness (and maybe just a little extra money!) continue to be theirs.
For SOH - I hope that he achieves things he has planned and that the love we have now continues and grows even more!
For the Vic we hope that customers continue to like what we're giving them.......... we already have some great ideas for the next year, which we'll uncover as we go on. We never rest on our laurels and we are constantly seeking to improve.
I hope that for my friends it's a year of joy - for one in particular I hope it's the start of the best years of your life, you so deserve love and happiness.................YOU know who you are!
For me? Well I have 3 resolutions this year:
To stop giving a toss this year about what people do or don't think of me
To live every single day that God gives me this year as fully and as joyfully as possible
To lose another 2 stone and get even fitter ....................!
I hope you have great New Year celebrations and that 2011 will be good for all of us - giving you all good health, fair wealth and huge happiness.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Happy Christmas everyone.........

Well, I don't know about you dear readers but we had a perfectly splendid Christmas..... hope you all did too!

After such a truly awful trading week last week as the rest of the country struggled with freezing cold temperatures and unprecedented snowfalls and people were unable to travel, it was looking as though we were in for a quiet Christmas - and we had resigned ourselves to it being so........ but no, on Thursday the faithful Salcombe visitors started to arrive and what a welcome sight they were! Following a couple of Christmas parties the Victoria quickly got it's Christmas sparkle and a lovely 'buzz' went through the pub. What followed was a couple of days with old faces popping in and saying hello, I had a great time with my staff behind the bar spreading joy and goodwill(!) giving out packets of Christmas sweets to the children and generally having a lovely time as pub landlady.

Christmas Day we opened our pub from 11.30 to 2 - and my goodness what a great session!!! We were packed out and had a fantastic atmosphere in the pub. After that we were able to take our lovely Archie and Rosie out for a quick walk before going home and having OUR lunch...... Roast Duck (cooked by my handsome Husband) and all the trimmings followed by one of our chefs Xmas Puds............ some gorgeous pink fizz and a big snooze!! Pure heaven........

Talking of heaven, I did my bit at Church on Christmas Eve. My new found spirituality is fast becoming so very important to me and there is a communion service most mornings which I try to go to at least once a week. In that forty minutes or so I find great peace - I am at last learning to lose myself into Him. We sadly have a funeral next week for someone in our community who was very much loved and respected and I'm 'doing' it as Church Warden......... so I'm hoping that God will guide me and look after me and help me do the best job I can.

Aside from all of this I've only managed to go out in my little Betsy once........... I was quite nervous to start with as it was a little icy, but I settled int o it after a while and all was good. Such a great freedom to be able to just hop into her and go to the shops.... no more waiting for buses at cold bus stops or asking SOH for lifts! My next big challenge will be when I eventually get to go to Portsmouth to visit my son - a 3 and a bit hour drive...........

So for now that's about it - I'll do a quick blog before the end of the year, but in the meantime there are New Year menu's to sort and finalise, staff rota's to finish, business plan for 2011 to start and at least another dozen tasks to do!!!!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Let it snow, let it snow etc, etc................

And so on and so on................... my goodness what disruption the recent snowfall across the UK has caused, and as much down here as anywhere I think?? Salcombe has certainly seen it's fair share of the snow plus hailstorms, thunder and lightening storms and some of the coldest winds I've felt in a very long time!! But worse still (and in common with a lot of the country) what a dreadful effect it's having on our business (as well as the rest of the town)! We regularly do between 70 - 90 covers every Sunday lunchtime - what did we do this last Sunday?? 8! Yes 8 - EIGHT!!! Yikes!!! Visitors of course have been unable / unwilling to take the risk of getting down here and then worry about being able to get home. Exeter / Halden way has been blocked and the outlying villages around us have been completely cut off. 15 minute trips into Kingsbridge have spread into an hour and cars being abandoned became less isolated incidents. I drove a little in the snow and ice - but called it quits at an early stage......... no point denting a confidence just yet!!
Local people have been slipping and sliding their way around and who can blame them for not wanting to break a leg getting down into town. However, I'm really pleased to tell all of you potential visitors to Salcombe this Christmas and New Year that things down here are slowly but surely getting back to normal - snow is still on the fields but roads (particularly the major roads) are fine and even the minor roads are far easier to get through on than they were, so please don't be to worried about travel when you get down here

So then moving on - Salcombe had it's first ever Christmas Street Party on Saturday and what an amazing day it was........ the picture above from is my SOH dressed up and ready to man our Mulled Wine / Roast Chestnuts and Hot Chocolate stand with James our chef, and they were kept very busy thank you! The picture of Whitestrand (opposite the Victoria) gives you a flavour of what had to be done to get the area cleared of snow and ice to able to lay the ice-rink and erect various marquee's / stalls etc.
The Victoria held a children craft 'shed' upstairs and my goodness, we were very pleasantly surprised how many children visited....... that was a great success!! The children made Mint Creams and craft'y stuff!
Father Christmas made an appearance in the square by sledge and stayed for several hours - and for me, it was the start of Christmas, particularly when I took little Franscesca's hand (main picture at the top - her Daddy is Father Daniel my friend) and took her up to him to say hello...... I had to gulp back a sob that threatened to escape :( The magic of Christmas that is children!!

But everyone played their part in the day and it all came together exceedingly well. It was especially fantastic to see so many local people, whole families out enjoying themselves and making for a great atmosphere! Hopefully it's the start of a bigger and better Christmas Party next year and maybe, just maybe also some sort of regular street market, which would be absolutely amazing for Salcombe, but there's a fair bit of negotiation and work to be done yet.......... so watch this space!
In common with many thousands of people, my own travel plans were disrupted and I wasn't able to go to Portsmouth on Sunday to see and have an early Christmas with my son and his wife, so SOH and I took ourselves off to the Harbour Hotel (formerly the Marine Hotel) for a rare Sunday lunch treat. We had a lovely large G & T, a very nice bottle of Rose and an even nicer 3 course lunch, (very tasty!!) followed by liquer chocs at home, a delicious nap and snuggles watching dreadful Christmas slush.......... but it was a great way to make me feel less miserable!! Even if at about 5.30 I remembered why I no longer drink in the day time!! Closely followed by a beautiful Carol Service at Holy Trinity Church that evening, and the spirit of Christmas slowly but surely came into our home on Sunday...........
We also had a really nice impromptu evening last week with our friends Donna & Micha from Catch, whose travel plans to Germany were also disrupted, where I cooked far more food than was needed but somehow all got ate! Don't you think that those times when it just happens are often so much better than the planned events??
What else?? Well thats about it really...........just hope that all our planned visitors are able to come down for the festive period. We have quite a few bookings for the Christmas Eve and NY Eve, but it's all in the lap of the Gods of the weather at the moment, so it's fingers crossed and a keen eye to the weather forecasts!!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Wow...... I passed!!!

Wow - I passed my driving test today!! I can hardly believe it........

My biggest thanks go to Guy Parfett who was my instructor - I've spoken before on my blog about him & I couldn't have wished for a better instructor. No messing around, make it simple and don't make mountains out of molehills....... that was my Guy!! Despite having had three nearly four weeks of being really terribly unwell (ending with acute bronchitis at the end of last week!) I was totally fixated on getting to do my driving test, in fact it really gave me the impetus to get better almost! A mock test 2 days ago was a fail and I was on the verge of cancelling, but a 3 hour lesson yesterday saw me drive like an old hand and my confidence soared................. This morning it was like preparing for a job interview, a high level of excitement but not nerves until about 10 minutes before the test and then the nerves hit me like a steam train!!

Six of us waiting to take the test - I was by far the oldest, the others were really young men & women, slightly bored looking instructors, and then the examiners walked in and picked us off one by one! It turns out I had a senior examiner who tried really hard to put me at ease (reminding me to breath at one stage!!) and off we went. Both questions about the car and how it worked done, turn left onto the dreadful Pen Inn roundabout (Newton Abbott, Devon) hoorah we did this the other day and that was it really.................. a turn in the road (Thank you God for not letting it be a parallel park!!) drive back round the Pen Inn and off on the dual carriageway to was here that I convinced myself I'd gone wrong but it was only here that I picked up 2 of the 3 fault points for late signal and a mirror. After that, I figured I couldn't do much more and just about relaxed when we got back to the test centre.

He said congratulations - I screeched, burst into tears and he said I'd had 'a good drive'............ You're not advised to drive home after a test, whether you fail or pass, and I can see why now!! I don't think I stopped shaking for about 3 hours afterwards..........So that's it, the fun really starts now doesn't it. I would quite like a Guy cardboard cut out to have in the passenger seat, but I will just have to put up with talking to myself the first few times I go out.

A huge thank you then to Guy - who kept saying it was just his job - well, yes it was, but he was genuinely nice, very good at instructing and I have his number if anyone local wants a great instructor.

Secondly and as always to SOH for encouraging me and also putting up with me (!) and now lastly to ME!!! In future in my life I just have to remember that there is very little I can't do if I put my mind to it - the only person stopping me achieving anything in my life in future IS ME!!!

Now then - where did I put my car keys............................. X

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Good Morning Salcombe...........

Its nice to be back!! Oh sorry, you don't know do you???? I've been back in to the delights of the hospital in Plymouth known as Derriford......... Went downhill from writing my last blog and feeling fairly positive to gagging for breath and wondering if I'd see Christmas this year! Of course I will - but I do love a bit of drama!
Seriously - this is all getting a bit repetitive isn't it, but I think my mental attitude (and physical aptitude) is a whole more different to January when I was last in for any length of time.
So then, Wednesday started with me feeling rubbish and practically unable to keep a breath in me - so a quick, (well, nothings quick down here in Salcombe really!) quick'ish trip to the chest clinic, a couple of tests confirmed my breathing ability had been reduced by about 2/3rds (yikes!!) and then a 7 hour wait in MAU to find me a bed............... SOH agreed to stay with me - that in itself a bit of a feat as he's not best keen on hospitals and there he observed that in previous ramblings I hadn't exaggerated one bit about the horrors of the NHS! In fairness the staff are battling against 'the system', the lady sure ain't for turning and almost nothing goes out of the routine procedures and system.
If I was asked 3 / 4 times my whole symptoms and medications etc, then you may understand why I snapped at a Nurse on the umpteenth time of asking if I took 'blue and brown inhalers dear?' that surely she had my notes to read... (oops, sorry Nurse!)
Despite having been referred to MAU by a hugely experienced (and absolutely lovely Asthma Sister - Beverley) I still had to be 'assessed' by a junior (very) Dr who then had to 'present' me to the duty Consultant many hours later............ who in several short sentences advised (as by the terribly lovely Beverley even more hours earlier) that I needed to be admitted for a little while! Sorry, but no shit Sherlock!!!!!!!!
Still at least I had a bed in MAU ( a feat in itself!!, off toddled SOH (about £10 lighter due to parking charges - thats another whole new story!!) and I thought I'd attempt some kip.......... nope! Just couldn't..... totally exhausted, eyeballs hanging out with tiredness, but no such luck! About I felt my eyelids start to be successful in closing - then guess what? Yep, they come to tell me they've found a proper bed for me on the chest ward - so at 2a.m I'm off!!!!!
I have to say that on this stay I have felt quite well looked after, as opposed to my previous experience. I guess it helps that I saw my own consultant both days - Dr Matt Masoli - and he's not only very good at what he does, he has a very 'human' face and approach and he's quite dishy as well.............But the NHS continues to have its challenges. Still no where near enough staff - the majority of those I saw were very dedicated to what they did, but they are (as so oft reported) rushed mad off their feet, just completely chasing their tails. There needs to be far more privacy, and there has to be a line of accountability. I saw several patients having to wait far longer than they should for meds etc.
On the plus side, I thought the ward was kept far cleaner and I saw much more evidence of addressing infection issues by hand cleaning etc. Some bonkers stuff though - a new inhaler Dr M wants me to have - the hospital don't stock it!! Have to wait now for my GP to prescribe it. Running out of bedpans for the elderly who can't go to the loo......?? Having to wait nearly 4 hrs for meds to take home - but not being able to release my bed????
So then - now I'm home again, rest, rest and a bit more rest, but already (I think) apart from retaining the cough (that'll last for weeks now) I'm pretty much on the road to recovery........... and the one single thing spurring me on is my driving test!! Very close now (not saying quite how close to you lot though) and I'm absolutely totally determined to take it.!!!
Keep warm, safe and dry lovely readers - till the next time and a whole lot less drama in between - God willing!!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

De-Ja-Vu.............. or what!!

Well I should have blogged a good week ago - but you know what? Life has a funny way of going 'just stop right there'! And so this last couple of days has seen me bouncing in and out of hospital again with my chest playing silly buggers already into this winter. Back from Jersey just two days and a quick treble nine into Torbay hospital to try to get me breathing properly, followed by another visit Sunday. This is the third time my chest has been poorly following flying, but what are you supposed to do - live in a bubble??? Anyway, as I sit here in our office snuggled up in scarf, thick socks and long woolly pully, (as well as other clothes of course!) my breathing is showing signs of being a bit more normal today and so hopefully I'm on the road to recovery again.

So lets start with that irony of irony's - the fundraising night for Salcombe First Responders - my very own personal ambulance service - or at least its starting to feel that way..... a fantastic night with £1500 raised and a photo and write up in the local paper the day after I had to use them again.......... Local traders and hoteliers, St Austell brewery and individuals were so very generous with gifts and customers were buying £20 - £30 worth of tickets at a time. We donated every single penny or prize money as well as providing the buffet and entertainment, and everyone agreed that it was a totally splendid night. Here are two of my friends JD and Debbie enjoying a chat at the bar of our newly re-furbished function room.

After that, well off to Jersey for a nice long romantic weekend together - Jersey at its best? Well maybe not at it's best but it was certainly nice enough. Mind you for what we spent we could have had a week in the Maldives probably but let's not dwell on that shall we!!

We stayed at a superb hotel - Hotel de France - in St Helier. I should know better than to believe what Trip Advisor says given my previous love / hate relationship with TA but the hotel had certainly had a couple of dodgy reviews, but I'm relieved and delighted that any fears I had were completely unjustified!

The hotel was very central and whilst not quite a 5 star in my opinion it was an excellent 4 star. Lovely staff, great food and an end bedroom away from the lifts........ A previous bad experience next to a lift has scarred us for life!!!!!! There is nothing worse than laying awake at one in the morning listening to lift shafts clanking away!

The main restaurant in this hotel is 'Saffron' a spice / Indian themed place, in which we had some of the best flavours ever in that style of food. But it was Saturday that was to give us the most incredible food experience ever.......... And that experience was 'Bohemia'!

Set in the main area of St Helier, Bohemia is a Michelin star restaurant led by Sean Rankin, one of the better celeb chefs. With the best customer service I've experienced
In a long time, our evening started with the most delicious canapes and pre-dinner drinks, and the whole evening was one of pure food theatre.
My personal favourite was the smoked Chocolate Tortellini with Venison - all I can say is wow!!! And a Cheese board (to die for - see pic of my choices....... can't you almost smell it???!). SOH's favourite part of the meal was the whole package - but his pudding which was a Pear / Frangipan dish was just fabulous and my pictures in no way do the food justice.

Dining in a Michelin starred restaurant is something that I've only ever dreamt about but I loved every moment of our evening at Bohemia. It was romantic, we were looked after, there was absolutely nothing to fault. The food itself was sublime and really reasonable at just under £50 each for the 3 courses, but supplements and of course the drinks made it a night you couldn't afford too often........ But truly a night to remember!

I'm pleased to report that we made a difference to the Jersey economy with a few purchases, particularly in the Jersey Pearl area where SOH bought me the most beautiful Gold, Diamond and Pearl earings and the use of a hire car meant we saw most parts of this pretty island including some of the pretty amazing war tunnels.

So then, for the time being it's continued rest , but hopefully cracking on with the driving lessons later this week and a test somewhere before Christmas, as well as think about Christmas itself...... the planned trip to Portsmouth this week to say hello to my gorgeous son and his wife will have to wait now but hopefully we can find a Sunday before Christmas to have our own little Christmas together.......Till then everyone, keep warm and as dry as possible in this icy snap!

Much Love x x x

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Lest we forget..........

It really must be something to do with getting older but for the last few years in particular I have found Remembrance Sunday to be particularly poignant, and I have spent a lot of time today trying to think why that is............There is certainly the element of my new found spirituality, but there is also something I guess about getting older and have a much better understanding of life in general - at least I think that's what it is............

I can remember my dear Mum watching the telly and getting a little bit 'sniffly' over this special Sunday but never wanting to talk about 'the old days' or be seen to be getting to 'soppy' about it. I can also remember being vaguely bored by the whole process of old men marching and much preferring to read a book or go and moon over the latest 'Jackie' magazine...........

Yet nowadays, I feel myself more and more drawn to wanting to know and be able to understand more about the terrible first and second world wars and the conflicts in between and those going on today. I suppose there is also a certain understanding of how dreadful Mans inhumanity to Man can be, and a certain sadness that I as an individual can do so little to stop it happening??

Today up at the Salcombe Remembrance Sunday Service I looked out across the 'Bar' at the entrance to our harbour during the two minutes silence, where the waves where crashing across it, the rain was lashing down and the wind blowing a gale and I thought of my own dear Father: Ernest Samuel Williams. A Welsh miner who served in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for 3 years in the war and then went on to be part of the D Day landings. I can never begin to think what life must have be like for him and some of the sheer terror he would have known. So my thoughts were of my Daddy - they were also for all the Mum's today who have lost their beautiful young sons in more recent conflicts. Those who will never again be able to pick up the phone and say 'I Love you Son'.

So I guess today's blog is a little sad and possibly even self indulgent, but I so wanted to share with you 2 poems that have been written by children from schools in the Ivybridge area and organised (I think) by the Royal British Legion, Ivybridge. my SOH bought a copy at a recent meeting he went too in Ivybridge.

But first, let me urge all of you to consider the great work that the Royal British Legion do for Servicemen, ex-servicemen and their families. The RBL is not a great sexy 'in' charity, this is a long burning charity with great history itself. They work quietly and with amazing fortitude. They help those of all ages and in all circumstances. They help get monies from the Government that otherwise would go unclaimed, they help ex-servicemen & women who have fallen on hard times, who need assistance with medical and housing issues - and sadly as wars continue to happen and our service people get ever more injured or killed leaving families that need their help - then theirs is a Charity needed more now than ever. Please remember to support them as much as possible.

Now to these two amazing poems out of many very simple but incredibly moving poems, written I think by children of Primary School age. If after you've read them you would like a copy for yourself, then they are just £3 and if you send me your address I would be happy to get you a copy.

'Mixed Emotions' - Callum Duffy

Mixed emotion is light Blue
It tastes like sweet chilli sauce dancing on my tongue
It smells like musty perfume
Mixed emotion looks like a rainbow on a stormy day glinting in the sky!
Mixed emotion makes me feel like I am in a tropical thunderstorm
Mixed emotion makes me thank all the soldiers that have lost their lives
Sadness brews in my belly as I put that Poppy upon my body
As I feel the sadness grow and grow
I will know to thank you though

'Remember Me' - Bethany Madge

Seasons may pass, yet I am always here
Underneath this grave I shed a small tear
But do not cry for me my dear wife
Although, I am not alive my spirit is still full of life
Still remembering every kind thing that you do
You remember me and I will always remember you

Friday, 5 November 2010

Mountains and Molehills...............

This is my last blog post before I'm yet another year older tomorrow, and this is the picture I liked most with as many candles as possible............ No kidding around - I'm 54 tomorrow, and you know what? Where the heck have the last 4 years gone since I turned 50???? I'll tell you where they've gone........... they've turned into a million differing memories! Most of those 4 years memories are really lovely, happy and exciting, a few are so awful and so horrendous I wish that I could forget them, whilst some are downright mundane but mostly it's been 4 years of fun, love, happiness, new friendships and exciting new adventures! I just hope the next 6 don't go as fast.........

Our great friends Lisa & Phil visited the other week (remember she's the professional photographer who did our wedding pics - ) and I got her to take a couple of shots of me to celebrate being a good stone and a half lighter now than I was this time last year - I particularly love this black and white one ........... Now don't you think that's the smile of a woman who's happy with her life???
Talking of new adventures etc - I had a couple of firsts yesterday.......... the biggest, I passed my driving theory exam!! Phew - now I've got to pass the big proper one, and all I'll say is that it's before Christmas (it's great for the diet!!) and secondly, last night I went to my first proper wine tasting event with SOH and our great friends Carl & Clare.
Now, having been to a distillery in Scotland a couple of years ago and getting distinctly pie eyed very quickly you would think I might have learnt??? Um No................ I went out with great intentions - a little sip, then make some comments about the clarity and smell etc and move on?
Yes?? NOOOOOO!! Firstly, the gentlemen pouring the drinks were fairly generous and secondly, there were over 70 wines, assorted Champagnes and spirits!! Well I ask you - whats a woman to do???
Our glorious local Sharpham Vineyard were there and I fell in love with their Rose and Pinot Noir, then there were some fabulous new World wines, then of course there were the French wines, the Argentinian wines oh yes, and the pudding wines...................then some superb Strawberry Liqueur, Marmalade Vodka, £50 Gin (that's its name) and then of course I just had to taste at least 4 maybe 5 whiskies......... do you get the picture????? Oh - did I mention the Plum Saki as well - I had seconds of that..........Needless to say, I had a good rosy glow on me and the journey home was amazingly fast! NO - of course I wasn't driving!!!!
What else this week - I was sworn in as Church Warden on Sunday by the Arch Deacon. I know, you're thinking how will she find the time?? Well, I want to put something back into my Church - it's given me a lot and now I can give a bit back. Church Warden means you're responsible for the smooth running of the Church, getting jobs done that need doing and ejecting drunks - eh voila I have the perfect job experience!! Yes and just re-reading this, I wonder how appropriate it is to talk about being tiddled and a Church Warden in the same blog post.......... ho hum........
Moving on, next week (Saturday 13th) we are having a special Gala evening at the Victoria for my favourite charity - Salcombe First Responders. Tickets have sold out and the shops and business's have been exceedingly generous with raffle prizes and gifts. My favourite celeb Nick Knowles has donated a signed DIY SOS tee shirt and picture - all I have to do now is find a way of making sure I put the highest bid in for it! St Austell brewery have also donated an Ipod shuffle, so it should be a fantastic evening.
Now then, going back to the title of my blog this week - Mountains and Molehills. This refers to my driving. I plucked up the courage to go out in Betsy last week without my instructor Guy and have been out 3 times now - twice with girl friends and once with SOH! I think driving with SOH in the passenger seat may well be the quickest way to a divorce, so I don't think we'll do it too often - but I am absolutely loving the driving........ the driving that is - NOT the reversing! So today, my lovely instructor Guy, says 'well we'll just practice that then won't we'..... and considering I need to be able to reverse for the test (oh yes, and driving in general!) that's what we did!
Oh dear - I had a little bit of a tantrum.........I couldn't get that little 8ft 8inches of car into 2 parallel lines!! To the point I almost burst into tears...... :( But did Guy flinch?? Not a bit of it. he made me do it again. And again. And again................ and I BLOODY WELL DID IT!!!! I at last got it!!! What did he say??? I quote' Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!' unquote....... Bless him!!
So on that happy note - it's goodnight from me and it's goodnight from Rosie sat curled up at my feet with one beady eye watching every move I make hoping I'll stand up, get my coat and take her out...... come on then Rosie get your lead.
Till the next one dear lovely readers............ X

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Happy, Happy, Happy???

This is quite a personal post for me this time - so swap pages if you're not that interested in me as a person.............! Oh dear , that sounds a bit confrontational doesn't it.???? Don't mean it to be.

Most people when they meet me either like me or hate me - I'm a definite Marmite person! I have always come across as a very larger than life character, full of life and oomph, very much in control and not scared of anything or anyone......... I once had a manager tell me that I certainly didn't need an assertiveness course as any more assertive and I'd be aggressive.........So you can see my starting block can't you. It's true there are certainly few people I'd afraid of and in my life that has served me well.

When I was about eight years old, my darling Daddy died and it was left to my Mum to bring me up. In common with a lot of kids in that situation I was severely bullied about it and that bullying carried on it to my adult life in one form or another. I was in Junior school - I think about the 2nd term and I was really struggling to understand life. No Daddy and a Mum who was forced to go back to the workplace to support us. I remember so clearly being in a needlework lesson (yea - that's how old I am!!) and I had tried so hard to make this apron, but when cutting a thread I cut the apron itself! My teacher (Miss Stewart) snatched the apron, told me I was 'a stupid girl and that I would never make anything of myself'......................

For most of my adult life I've been surrounded by that sort of re-inforced message from many people in one way or another - until, I met SOH (by the way - that now stands for Scrumptious Official Husband) who immediately seemed to see something in me that few other people saw. So it started - my first ever flight and holiday away, fixing things that previously a male had done, instilling a confidence to do things previously I'd have shied away from. Now, I realise I've got a few important men in my life and they are all bringing something pretty unique to my life:

First and foremost, there is of course SOH - encouraging me (and chivvying me) where I need it and constantly re-assuring me of my right to be in this life.

Then there is my personal trainer JC - who not only trains me but helps me see things from a different perspective. So this last week or two has been a bit difficult - I had a weeks holiday, ate and drank too much so the training was hard - and now of course, its that time of year when my Asthma will be a bit twitchy, and the weight loss has stalled .......... but he understands me - he 'gets' me, and he brings me books and articles to read that help re-inforce the good messages and take away the bad. He has patience when I can't quite do the reps and real delight when I succeed.

Now there is also my driving instructor - Guy! A Saint in disguise I think.................. I've had about 12 lessons so far - and don't forget we live in the land of hill starts, bendy lanes and winding roads. Now I'm driving in my own car, I seem to have had a little set back in confidence..... does he care? He certainly does and with a smile on his face we trot round and round the car parks of Kingsbridge (a local town) until I'm 'Happy, Happy, Happy'. Today gave me an everlasting memory - going across a junction, I decide to go in front of a 4x4 which was a bit closer than I guessed - the driver gave me a look that said 'I can't believe you just did that', Guy very gently said ' I probably would have waited till he'd gone past'........ and I am still smiling at that instead of berating myself for ever!

Lastly of course, I have the big Man upstairs on my side as well........... a new(ish) addition to my life but a huge part of it.

So with all these lovely blokes in my life I believe a new more confident chapter in my life is slowly but surely opening up before me - don't you think??? As for needlework - I still don't do it..................

P.S The picture is of Rosie and Archie in the back of Betsy my Smart car................ Cute or what??

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Well - we do feel rested.............

Thanks to this gorgeous cottage in West Wales and called Murmer y Ceri. We rented the cottage through a firm called and we all (we took the dogs) had a fantastic 6 night break. I would recommend the firm to anyone looking to have a break away, they had some great properties in their portfolio and it took us ages to choose - but I'm so glad we settled on this one. It was surrounded by fields and the Teifi river - Archie & Rosie Posie were in heaven!

The owners Alan and Meirion had left us a welcome hospitality tray complete with welsh cakes, and a vase of fresh flowers...... what a nice touch and just what we needed after almost 5 hours on the road. The house itself was absolutely spotless and they had thought of everything - including a blanket and towels for the dogs. What was really interesting, was that although we spend 24 hours a day with each other, we haven't actually had more than a couple of holidays over 3 days together since we met, so to spend 'proper' leisure time together is a new experience - but I'm pleased to report that we still were as much in love at the end of the holiday as we were at the start! Because we don't cook much at our home in Salcombe, it was a real novelty to cook and eat together in the evenings - so I treated us to great food and lovely wine and then SOH cooked breakfast.......... well, I say breakfast - we actually didn't surface much before 10.30 most days!!!

We're used to lovely beaches and scenery here in Devon now, but some of the beaches we visited in Wales were exquisite! Aberporth was gorgeous, Cenarth had a river that roared as it went past you and we looked hard for the Salmon leaping but to no avail! It was at Cenarth that we experienced a meal of Cowl or Cawl - basically a meal of chopped gammon in a stew and served with a roll, butter and a piece of cheese - £9.00 for lunch!! Fabulous and we were full for hours after that! I have to say that except for one lunch in a seaside pub - The Ship Inn, Tresaith - we didn't even venture near a pub. Firstly, I have to say that on the whole (sorry!) they looked decidedly grotty, but we didn't want to go in one on our holidays anyway! We'd only have been comparing and talking business anyway!! We went to St Davids and did lots of walking and just enjoying fresh air and relaxation.

The weather was a bit iffy to start with, but rained mostly at night and we were able to get out and about in the day time. On the way home we took a detour round Cardiff (mmnn, less said about that the better!) but I was delighted to look up at the precise moment we passed the birthplace of the singer Ivor Novello - his Mother gave my Father some singing lessons apparently, so that was quite special for me!!

James our Chef looked after the Victoria admirably, and we have taken a decision to do something like this at least twice a year. Life is just too short not to!! So I think it'll be Cornwall in February after the half term next year! But of course we have our romantic weekend in Jersey to look forward to in November first........

Then this week we had a lovely evening away for a Dinner Dance in Plymouth as guests of our friend Keith de Bruin (and his wife) the Chairman of the BII in the West. Frank Carson (yes, he is still alive!) was the entertainment of the evening and he was really quite funny with a fantastic memory - which for someone knocking on the door of 84 made it even more incredible! We ended up going to a pub open till 4 in the morning and not calling it a day until almost 3a.m - I was a little 'tired' yesterday that's for sure.............. :)

So then - back to work! The White Hart is over and done with - just some remaining bills to pay and that's that! I must confess to a feeling of relief now that we're back to just the 2 business's, and talking of which they are doing ok! The fire is lit at the Victoria in the fantastic fireplace and already with the weather turned a lot cooler its a huge draw for customers - this photo was taken this afternoon. The new Autumn / Winter menu is selling well and James has put a fantastic Lamb Hot Pot and Chicken Chausseur on the specials........... good rib sticking food for this time of year. The accommodation is doing reasonably well - weekends in particular, but again tonight both rooms are booked - hoorah!!

Captain Morgans is quieter than I'd like it to be, but still ticking over and I'm looking forward to planning a bit of a make over for December! I think the main part of the Cafe needs a whole new look - and we have plans...???? But not telling you what they are for now - you'll have to wait and see.
We are already looking to the future for the Victoria - work is starting in the garden this week to brighten it up a bit, do a little landscaping and also sort out some of the grassed area where the intense rain we had in the summer combined with hundreds of pairs of feet walking up and down has rendered a particular area of the garden into a mud bath. We're also going to be doing some work with WaterAid - a charity that is dedicated to providing safe domestic water to the poorest parts of the world. We are just waiting for the pack but I think it will be a great way to make some contribution to people who don't have access to the thing we take most for granted!
Lastly, we are having a gala night here at the Victoria on the 13th November for my favourite local charity - Salcombe First Responders, and we're going to donate every single penny of the tickets and raffle money to the charity. Think that'll do for now - I really need to get down down to a bit of tidying up in the office!
Till later my dear friends......................... X

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Miss Betsy Smart

Here she is - the latest addition to our household - Miss Betsy Smart! At around about 8ft 8ins long and nowhere near as wide, she's just under 3 years old and has only done 22,000 miles. She's a gorgeous jet black polished exterior and inside she's a fabulous orange / red. Of course - 'she's' a car, and she's all mine!!!!! When we went to Mercedes Benz showroom in Exeter last week we met with the Manager - Jo. A lovely young man and very enthusiastic about his job and getting the right car for the person concerned - namely me!

I was drawn between Betsy and a bright yellow Smart (oh and a metallic blue one as well) - but the yellow one had peculiar chevron things as adornments and I thought that while I'm bright and bubbly, the yellow was a bridge too far. As soon as I sat on Betsy's seat and felt her warmth envelop me - I was truly in love............! Just have to pass the test now - well actually, have to do a few more lessons now as well........ but only one more proper manoeuvre to learn and then out on the dual carriageway - eek!!! Then it'll be a case of practice, practice and more practice - but I've been learning about visualisation and positive thought with a good friend and I think that's really helped. How about this for a saying (amongst others): If you think you can - you will........................ not bad eh! Works for me!!

Then this other photo is of my gorgeous son at our wedding in March - he only sent me it a little while ago - and I just wanted to share it with you! Handsome bloke don't you think......???
What else - well the workouts continue at a pace, in fact a singularly splendid session yesterday surprised me for just what I have achieved and what I can do now. The weight loss has come to a bit of a standstill, so I'm having a break for a week or two and then crack back on with it.
Talking about having a break - we're all of on our hols on Saturday - to Wales for a week and lo! What is that I can hear on the forecast? Rain! Surely not in Wales................laughing aloud as I type!!! Of course it'll bloody rain - not that I give a hoot! We've hired a cottage in deepest darkest proper Wales - where Welsh is spoken first, last and at all times I think (looking at the websites) where we look as though we're in the middle of fields with no neighbours, no phone signal and only a stream and grass to keep us company - BLISS!!!!! We've both bought lots of books - I have a self help book from my trainer (to help my head - AND my body), a 'Put Heads on your Beds' book (to increase profits) and a couple of girly books (to send me to sleep). Lots of DVD's, a bottle of Gin (purely night cap stuff!) a list of things to take for the dogs and hey hey - we're off............Well almost - there's walking boots, trainers, posh shoes, ordinary boots - then there's wet weather gear, dry weather gear, linen trousers just in case, thick dressing gown and thin dressing gown, one set of 'posh' clothes just in case and lots of sloppies for the more obvous Welsh delights! Mmmnnn - and thats just me - SOH will probably just have the usual one small holdall................
So on Saturday morning as we head off into the sunrise on only our second proper holiday TOGETHER since we met, I'll leave all thoughts of Salcombe and Modbury and everywhere else behind, all in the capable hands of our Chef, James and the rest of our wonderful staff safe in the knowledge it'll all be looked after and here to come home to, too start all over again.
Canfod 'ch mewn wythnosau amsera x

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Then on to Autumn........

Don't you think there's a bit of a nip in the air in the mornings and evening's.....?? I love the Autumn - it's my favourite time of the year, and I especially love Autumn in Salcombe. There are still quite a few people in town but it's lost that huge hustle and bustle and a feeling of not being able to move for hordes or cars and tourists. It's not quite lazy and yet the town has a nice gentle feel to it - locals are coming back into the Victoria and old faces who love this time of year here are appearing for their 2 or 3 week sabbatical. Now then, where shall I start - well, firstly my training with JC is paying off dividends..... I'm now a whole 20lbs lighter than I was when we started! He also has these amazing scales that show not only weight loss but water, fat round your organs, bone mass etc - very interesting actually - so you get a whole picture. Then there's my new short hair with its natural colour that I'm really starting to love as well as receiving lots of lovely compliments on how well I'm looking so that's all very lovely!!! On top of that, I have started driving lessons - and I am chuffed with how well I'm doing. Guy is my instructor and after a couple of dodgy moments in the first lesson I've one what he said - relaxed, thought about my positioning in the road and used my mirrors, and on Friday I drove all the way home from Kingsbridge! SOH has even started looking for a little SMART car for me......................
Work wise, we've been making some serious business decisions - particularly about the White Hart. When we took on the temporary tenancy we did it for a couple of reasons; firstly the challenge of taking a pub from scratch and making it work, secondly, we rather liked the idea of being 'multiple operators' for the brewery - taking this pub and then using the business model for maybe 2 or 3 others. Well, we soon discovered that for us, the dreams didn't match the reality! Immediate issues with staffing made it all very difficult right from the off - as well as the usual teething problems with appliances that every pub suffers, getting the pub up and off the ground when the last 2 owners had gone bankrupt meant we had a hard audience in Modbury to try to impress - I'll never forget the 'interview' with a local before being allowed to do a wake!! It's also been much more difficult than we thought in trying to get the right mix of time at both pubs - being 'seen' at both was proving almost impossible! Great in theory but bloody difficult to achieve in reality.
So we have asked the brewery to accept our notice, which they have done and I'm absolutely delighted to say that Mark & Christine (our current managers) have been selected by the brewery to become tenants in their own right of the White Hart from the end of September. We are so pleased for them, they have worked really hard for us in achieving the start of a great local customer base; the pub has a sound regular clientele now, the hotel rooms have come 6th in the Trip Advisor rankings for the whole of the UK, with the breakfasts often being cited in reviews as the best ever and I know it's only a matter of time before the beautiful function room upstairs starts to get regular bookings.
I still believe that the White Hart has huge potential and that they are completely the right people to do it, but for us.......? Well, we'll go back full time to our lovely Victoria Inn and of course Captain Morgans! We didn't come down to Salcombe to kill ourselves, we tried with the WH and I don't feel we've failed, but being multiple pub operators is perhaps just not the lifestyle we want after all.
So here's a toast to Mark & Christine and the White Hart Hotel, Modbury and lots of good wishes for it's continued future success.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Great times in Portsmouth

Or should that read - great shopping times in Portsmouth!! Evening dear friends - its me with my ramblings for another half hour or so! Yes, I've been in Portsmouth for a couple of days and what a lovely time I had....... I stayed at a fabulous guest house in Southsea called The Retreat, and all I can say is sod the big hotels in future where the prices are high and the service is low, it'll be The Retreat for me from now on when I visit Portsmouth. I had a lovely, airy room - it felt really french, and I had to almost climb on to the bed. Very odd though being back near a main road and in the middle of hustle and bustle after the peace of Salcombe, but I did loads and loads of walking, but better still, loads and loads of shopping! Yes, this shop starved little soul hit the shops with a vengeance and with a couple of bits of plastic, a few bob from the bank (thank you hole in the wall!) AND a slightly smaller body (thank you JC!) I had fun............ and fun for me constituted: 3 pairs of boots, 2 pairs of trainers, 1 pair of walking shoes, a dress, several tops, several items of costume jewellery and other assorted goodies!! Now then, what was not quite so much fun was hauling that lot on and off the train.

Spent time with my lovely son Paul & his wife (pic above) met with my fabulous friend Tanya, did a fair bit of eating out and generally had a cracking couple of days! Came back to Salcombe to find summer had officially ended - the town was just SOOOOO much quieter, but it's settled down to a normal (ish) September - I would say it feels a little quieter than last year, but overall ok.

We had a super 'celeb' at the Victoria recently - the utterly gorgeous and very charming Nick Knowles from DIY SOS etc. Yes folks, he really is that gorgeous....... I would go so far as to say that he is my favourite 'celeb' in our pub so far. Polite and friendly, spoke to staff so easily and he also had a crackingly gorgeous lady with him as well....... I hope he comes back another day very soon! Thanks to Mr Knowles SOH got a new Quba coat! Nick had bought a new edition that day - a lovely Red Quba coat from one of their fabulous shops here in Salcombe and SOH said how much he liked it, so blow it, I bought one for him...... We also had the footballer Ian Wright in as well, so us women have had plenty to swoon about over the last few weeks!! A shortage of female celebs though for the boys..............

Back to business - The White Hart Hotel has come 6th on Trip Advisor out of the entire countries B & B's / Hotels that serve real ales...... that's a remarkable achievement and our Manager's Chris & Mark have worked so hard to get there, so a massive well done to them.

Here at the Victoria I had one of my favourite jobs this week - menu planning for the Winter with James our Chef, and also working on Christmas menu's which will go out this weekend, looking with Saltaire Garden Services to re-work certain aspects of our garden here to make it even more fabulous for next summer. SOH has re-designed the wine lay out in the bar area and very good it looks as well........ Our main aim for the winter has to be to ensure that despite the worst recession in history, we continue to stay at the top of our game and offer the best we possibly can in all aspects of our business! On that note, the rooms continue to do really well, but we are shutting for a week in October when we go to Wales for a holiday so that the ghastly green can become a more subtle Buttermilk! Oh blow, I should have asked Nick's advice..............

Then on to my next own personal challenge - I AM going to learn to drive! A couple of hesitant calls this week and I have my first lesson booked for Monday and SOH bless him, has already looked at little SMART cars for me!! Dependant on whether Monday proves I'm totally unteachable or not! But I have a new mantra posted up in several places (office/flat etc)to help re-inforce a positive attitude:
I Can and WILL Succeed at Everything I Do
I think that is about all for now then - I have new menu's to type up and driving theory tests to practice!!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Just a quickie..............

Well then - we're almost through the holidays!! A last hoorah this weekend with the Bank Holiday and then it will be a gradual return to the newly weds and the more mature couples.

It's been a pretty horrendous week weather wise, with rain water cascading down the middle of the street. I had to take the dogs out in the middle of it all (dogs bladders wait for no one - rain or not!) and stepped straight off the kerb and into an ankle deep puddle....... trust me, the words 'f'ing hell' came out a lot louder than I meant them to!!!! But the Bank Hols promise better weather apparently.

Talking of the dogs they both had haircuts today, as did I yesterday - pictures of both to follow next blog. Suffice to tell you that I have gone from long flowing blonde locks as per the wedding photo's to growing all of the colour out and a very short crop........... But I love it, and more to the point so does SOH!!

My latest love arrived this week at the Victoria - a York Fitness Bench!! Whoever would have thought that I would EVER get so excited about a piece of fitness equipment........ and oh yes, 5kg weights as well!! When the weights arrived I could barely lift the box - now JC has me using them like they're feather dusters..... ok, a slight exaggeration, but still can't believe how easy I've got to grips with all of this training malarky - and I'm still loving it!!!!! A record 6 minutes on the 'step' today and I could still talk and breath at the same time!! No respite for the poor man..................

After the Bank Hols I'm off to Portsmouth for a few days to see my lovely son & his wife, catch up with some old friends I haven't seen for a while, spend time with my bestest mate and hear all her news and probably (hello - probably!!) do a little incy, wincy, tiny bit of retail therapy.

Until the next time dear readers ...........................

Saturday, 21 August 2010

In the words of Andy Williams

'We're almost there' ............... through the summer 'season' that is! About another fortnight to go that's all. I have to say that its been quite a mixed bag! We have had most days when you haven't been able to see past the bar at the Victoria Inn as the customers just kept appearing and we ran out (almost) of glasses on a number of occasions and all was as you would expect it to be at this time of year and yet a few others when it's been eerily quiet and we've wondered if that's it! Our BBQ hasn't gone so well this year, but talking to our Butcher he told me that a lot of customers having been buying their own BBQ stuff - so maybe (and with the dodgy weather as well!) it just wasn't our year for that this year. Having our new upstairs restaurant open as much as possible has paid off dividends though and most people have really liked it - a couple have said they missed the 'buzz' of the main downstairs bar but most like the gentleness and peace of the upstairs restaurant and although I love the fact we're a child and dog friendly sort of place we tend not to put children up there (no dogs at all).

The town in my opinion doesn't seem anywhere near as busy as it was last year in our first ever season, and talking to some of the other shopkeepers etc it's evidently been a pretty odd time all round. Some have openly said to me that they are as much as 20% down, while others have said they're holding their own..... who knows, but in the worst recession this country has ever known - holding your own can't be bad - can it?

We had a Restaurant/ Travel critic review us this week - Anthea Gerrie, (she writes for on line publications, The Independent etc and the Jewish Chronicle) her Husband and gorgeous big old dog! Now I can't lie and say that these sorts of visits don't fill me with dread but I have the confidence in my staff here at the Victoria to know that they will deliver - and boy, deliver they did! Just as they always do with all our customers................. but suffice to say there was just a little more cleaning done that day than perhaps nomal!! :) Fortunately, they seemed to like us and actually, I warmed to her much more than I expected to - she was really down to earth!

In another article, she puts the Victoria as the best pub in Salcombe - with even Captain Morgans getting a few words...... considering the controversial reviews we've had on Trip Advisor lately it was heartening to read such a nice, unsolicited review.

The White Hart in Modbury has told a similar tale trade wise, but the Hotel and the rooms part of it are particularly busy, and Sunday lunch trade is growing a treat. Finding staff for the pub is proving just as hard as getting staff for the Victoria - I've been searching for a cook for the last 3 weeks now - countless newspaper adverts and chivvying calls to the Job Centre have not attracted one single applicant. Not one!! For God's sake - there's a recession and (supposedly) record unemployment.......... With the Victoria being so full on we haven't spent much time there at all, but Christine and Mark are doing a fantastic job and I know that the White Hart is in safe hands!

Captain Morgans is doing well - the last couple of weeks have seen record numbers, but I want us to do some work on this place over the winter and try to re-organise the (exceptionally) small kitchen so it all works smoother and is more streamlined. It's hot, hard work though for our boys and girls over there and I have the deepest admiration for them.

As for SOH and I, well, we had a whole day off yesterday (well almost a whole day!) and we went for a jaunt into Cornwall......... we couldn't have chosen a worse day if we'd tried! It poured with rain and in places we couldn't see 6 feet in front of us in the country lanes - but we had a fab time. We went to a place called Seaton, Portwrinkle, Corsand and then back to Torpoint for the car ferry back to Plymouth.

The photo is of us at Seaton - a fantastic beach where yesterday the waves were like full on winter ones! As you can see, the sand on the beach is almost black in colour - and the sea really was that grey!!
But I came away feeling totally exhilarated -for someone who can't swim a stroke and who is totally terrified if the sea has more than a gentle swell when I'm paddling, I do absolutely adore the sea when it's at it's roughest and most dangerous like that. We sat in the car after our walk eating sandwiches and crisps (sorry JC!!) like a pair of pensioners - but it was the best time in ages!!

We've also started to seriously consider where we might buy a house for our future, so this visit took on the timbre of other similar explorations - house looking.......... too small, too new, definitely too expensive etc etc....... by the sea or in the country? 6 months in Spain and 6 months in UK? Buy a plot of land and build or get an old country cottage?? How about a marine apartment....... Devon, Cornwall - Wales?? Who knows?? I blame 'A Home in the Country' (a late tea time TV programme) for our debates!!! All I do know is that I think we're going to have fun finding our dream home........must make sure there's room for our matching Zimmer Frames though :) :)
Then last night we ate out at a great Italian restaurant in Salcombe, 'Catch' run by our lovely mates Micha & Donna, wearing trousers and a top that I've not worn in a long time thanks to my new fitness regime. They joined us after our meal and we went for cocktails at the newest establishment in town - The Island Street Bar & Grill. We ended up having a slightly raucous night thanks to a couple of 'Long Island Teas' (sorry again JC!!) and Mojito's (my fav!!) but felt surprisingly ok this morning! Our first proper day off in almost 5 weeks was celebrated in style and I feel ready to take on the world again...........

Friday, 6 August 2010

The Sun will come out - Tomorrow!

Because right now in Salcombe as I sit typing this blog it's hissing down with rain!! Lots of wet holidaymakers with quite glum faces....... but here's something to put a smile on YOUR faces - my lovely two little doggies......sitting very patiently on the stairs of our flat while I took their picture and Archie being carried out for his nightly 'P' before going 'night night's'..... because he flatly refuses to get up and walk out once he's settled! He's a very stubborn little character! Rosie had an appointment last week with a special lady called Kirsty Peake.

Kirsty has her own firm called and she is a qualified Animal Behaviourist and she came out to see our Rosie who has 'Seperation Anxiety' in English terms, she gets upset when not attached to my lap! Almost from the minute Kirsty walked in through the door Rosie behaved like a different dog...... and all those dog training programmes that I've ever seen was happening in my kitchen!! She taught me such a lot about Rosie and why she behaves as she does, and what I need to do to stop her behaving like it - it involves a lot of turning my back on her, ignoring her but then rewarding her with treats and cuddles when she's good.

Now it's not been an overnight success and there's clearly a road to travel yet, but Rosie is noticeably calmer and a lot less fractious - so money well spent in my view. Plus Kirsty was incredibly nice and has since sent some great follow up notes and advice. She's very famous as well - the day before she was in our pub she was on BBC Breakfast Time!!

What else - well I can't just ignore my rant on the last blog post can I.......... I'm not too sure where to start but I will start with saying what a lot of lovely people read my blog! I was inundated with e mails, texts and comments regarding the horrible Trip Advisor post - I learnt there are some really nice people who counteract the nastiness such as that post. I also learnt that I really do have to stop taking things quite so much to heart or I might as well bugger off from this business now! I also have taken the time this last week or so to come out of the office go back to the 'shop floor' and check in with customers on a much more regular basis that all is ok and all our old friends (customers) have been arriving and making me feel that all is ok... we're sending out about 250 covers some days and that is exceptionally good....... poor James our wonderful Chef is at least a stone lighter already!
By the way I got the right of reply from Trip Advisor and I did send a reasonably polite private message to the reviewer but needless to say I have not had a response!!! Any way moving on..............

We had our first live music evening at the Victoria Inn last week - a delightful woman called Becky Brine and a chap called Jason - they did Jazz / Swing etc and they were brilliant...... they're coming back at the end of August and I'm going to have them half-term in October. They were very 'right' for the Victoria and they were very well received by the customers in the pub! We're having some other music this year as well during the summer and I'll tell you more later.
Slightly interesting Sunday last week - a darling little girl got herself locked in the loo and decided to crawl out under it - only found she couldn't get more than half way and was then very firmly wedged in!! Hour and a half later, 1 visit from the Salcombe Fire Brigade (love all of them) and an Ambulance to check her over, one door off its hinges and all was well in the Victoria once again! I have to say we both saw the funny side of it when we sat and relaxed after the evening, poor little girl, but believe it or not - it actually made the front page of our local paper this week........ shows you what Salcombe is like for news compared to cities!!!
SOH & I are not getting out much at the moment as we are of course bogged down in work - but we are off out with some new Salcombe friends tonight and we are both very much looking forward to a little break.
Tradewise it is a great summer season so far....... as I say the weather if foul today - but hopefully it's just passing through and we can go back to the glorious summer we were having! The White Hart Hotel has also a good holiday trade coming through their doors and Mark & Chris continue to go from strength to strength. An old friend of ours from our last pub in Winchester played at the White Hart last week - Sydney Harbour - a musicla urine extract performer.... as lovely and as funny as ever! Last while it continues to send us custom also continues to be a logistical nightmare...... makes filling in Government returns in the old days look easy.................
Captain Morgans - well what can I say - that is now flourishing in this summer season! I can judge this not just from the takings but the knackered looks on the staffs faces....... bless 'em.......!
My training with JC has been a bit odd really....... I've had some sessions where I could have gone on and conquered the world and others where I've felt as though my legs are 3 stone heavier than they ever were and that I couldn't possible take another step! BUT - I am losing weight (quite a bit actually!)and the other things that JC checks on is water, visceral fat, progress against previous sessions and oh - lots of other things that are all showing a good increase / de-crease so JC is happy with me and actually I'M pretty happy with me!
Our training also has an element of counselling as I can really talk to him about all sorts of things and following our chats and as I learn (at the age of 53) a lot about myself and my body, I'm learning to accept that I am an ok sort of person - I have some good traits, that I have a stressful and very busy life which impacts sometimes on my ability to train as hard sometimes as others as well as understanding that I have to find the level of tiredness that I respond to before it drives me over the edge as it seems to at the moment. The legs that I sometimes moan at in the mirror for not being shapely enough are actually pretty strong, and I'm a lot more supple than I give myself credit for!
I also really enjoy the fact that all JC does is support and encourage me (makes me do one or two more of an exercise if I get lippy though!) and he never berates me or lets me talk myself down..... It makes me wonder what else I may have achieved in this life if I'd had more people like JC and SOH over the years encouraging and pushing me on in a positive way??? Something to ponder on..........
Till next time lovelies..................... x

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

My Right of reply............

There are days (in fact there have been a few of them just lately) when I wonder what I'm doing in this job. When something so horrid and awful just makes me want to A: be sick and then B) pack a bag and dissapear. Please read this from an anonymous contributor to Trip Advisor:

“Dire. Ghastly over friendly landlady, service station tables and chairs and poor quality re-heated pub food.”
The Victoria Inn

Wodehouse9 1 contribution
London, United Kingdom
Jul 24, 2010
If you enjoy sharing your meal with the smells of wet dogs and chickens and accompanied by screaming children then this is the place for you. Awful over friendly and intrusive landlady has spoilt what was once a great, traditional, fishing village pub.The decor is now of the typical bland pub chain type where terrible tables and chairs have now appeared in the restaurant upstairs. The landlady comes from Portsmouth local government so that will give an indication of the quality to expect when it comes to decor and food. Overpriced and mass produced food that had clearly been re-heated, in the case of the lamb and vegetables many times, is being passed off as some sort of new gourmet experience. Is it necessary to plonk frozen oven-chips on everything? Mind you, they obviously came from the same supermarket freezer cabinet as the puddings. Avoid anything on the menu that contains the words "scrummy" or "yummy" - yes it is that sort of place. Slow service and staff who have obviously been trained to smile but who are pretty clue-less at explaining either the food on offer, other than "It comes with chips", or the wine list, other than to point to the most expensive one rather desperately. Great shame as this used to be a great pub in the old days when it was run as a pub and not as some sort of theme park for the masses. Avoid at all costs.

Now then counter balancing that is this review:

“The above person is talking rubbish...”
The Victoria Inn

OOdevon 3 contributions
Jul 26, 2010
The Victoria (Burners to the locals) has filled a big gap in the Salcombe market, namely providing for families, hence the chickens, play area etc...if you have kids they will absolutely love this place! Liz the landlady is a star and the place is regularly packed during peak times.The summer BBQ is excellent value and again the kids will love it.To top it all the beer garden is about the only place in Salcombe that gets the evening sun! So as parents you can enjoy a cold beer and relax safe in the knowledge your kids are enjoying themselves and won't come to any harm.You don't go to this place expecting Gordon Ramsey style food, just good simple pub food.

I'm very thankful to 00Devon for writing that to re-dress the comments (again, whoever he or she is) but all I can see and read is the first review...... and the worst of it is that I have absolutely no right of reply in an open forum.

Where we've spent so much of our own personal money re-decorating the pub and making the garden so lovely, where all of our food is home made and cooked from fresh, my staff are wonderful and well trained, and me personally - well I love what I do (or it's starting to feel like did!) and we work our socks off regularly working a 15 - 17 hour day - do you know how it feels tonight to read something like that?

As I sit here tonight tired and stressed from another exceptionally long hard day and now having shed more than a few tears all I can sit and wonder is why am I bothering?????


Saturday, 17 July 2010

What a July!!!

Before I launch into a blog post proper - just have a look at young Archibold........... It was the morning after one of the worst storms I've seen since we moved to Salcombe, and Archie was out in the wet, sodden garden for an awful long time.

I called and I called and I called and eventually I heard the tinkle of his tag round his neck and he came hurtling into the back of the pub. I took one look at this object in front of me and screamed at him to sit and stay.... for once he actually did and there is the result for all to see! He is actually looking at our pub cleaner as much as to say 'what's all the fuss about'???? He had been digging and I found two lovely holes in the garden - I think burrowing to Australia was on his mind.....

I picked him up as far away from my body as possible, but he wriggled out of my arms and proceeded to run up and down the stairs of our flat and enjoy this jolly game of chase as I desperately tried to get hold of him again! Eventually I got him by the scruff of his neck and took him upstairs for a shower - where the bathroom quickly looked a little like Hiroshima after the fall out. The whole flat was covered in paw prints and the bathroom was speckled brown dirt everywhere - and I do mean EVERYWHERE. I have to say that although I did see the funny side of this and looking at the picture now it doesn't seem quite so awful as it was, but, at the time I was not a happy bunny!!

So then - we're in July proper and what a July we're having! I seem to have spent a lot of time on staffing issues - and oh yes.........on top of everything else, I am now a hotel receptionist! Well at least that's what it feels like some days. I have put the White Hart Hotel, Modbury on to and I have to say that it's paying off in dividends! Getting at least 2 enquiries every day from that for the WH and as for the Hobbit House, well, we are being inundated with calls and business for the 2 rooms here.

This weekend I could have sold the rooms at the Victoria at least 6 or 7 times over, and I just wish I could have talked the brewery round to seeing that the idea of beautiful 'boutique' style bedrooms instead of the upstairs restaurant at the Victoria was a good one.... still, maybe if we can prove the viability for them, we may have a better chance of securing finance in another financial year. Certainly, the majority of our guests are staying in both pubs and eating and drinking with us. Both business's have had great Trip Advisor reviews - and I just wish customers knew how important Trip Advisor is to business's especially fledgling business's like ours!

What else - well apart from last Sunday when the World Cup AND the Grand Prix were on the box and we were deafeningly quiet, we're having a rocking old time! The summer menu is absolutely spot on at the Victoria this year and I uncovered a great new special this week - 'Afternoon Tea at the Victoria'.........Smoked Salmon, fresh Salcombe Crab or Cucumber & Tomato sandwiches, pots of Tea, homemade scones and a glass of cold Prosecco if you feel like a little bubbly to go with it........... very well received this has been as well!!
Captain Morgans is also doing hugely well - another learning curve for us both, but now really settled and maintaining a great reputation!
Then apart from work SOH has had his break in the sun - mind you he's not come home as tanned as I thought he might...... It would appear he spent an awful lot of time under the shade on the beach! I reckon him and his mate were in the bar most of the time actually - but he strenuously denies it!! Oh I do miss him when he's not here.

Then there's me.... well I am seeing my personal trainer 3 times a week now! Yes, I know, this really is Liz writing this blog and not a re-incarnation!! My trainer doesn't seem keen on being known as Reg (truth to be told he doesn't look remotely like a Reg!!) so I'm going to call him JC (for when I'm muttering J**us C***st under my breath - sorry Lord!) in the future - and when I am a true success story maybe he'll let me unmask him, but until then his reputation is intact!!

So then - this new person is inhabiting my body (and mind I might add!), is getting up at 7a.m (yes - you read right!) to train at 8.30 today - a SATURDAY. No longer is the Lurpack butter mountain slowly being reduced by our (me) household, but Cadburys will soon be out of business, and as for Hendricks Gin - I hear that profits have nose-dived!

Oh yes, this new person when wanting something sweet is nibbling raisins and apricots, chewing an assortment of seeds and nuts (that previously surely were only meant for birds!!) and heavens forbid, only a very occasional ice cream! As for the dreaded booze....... apart from selling it I have a VERY occasional glass of something - I am almost tea total!!!
As for the exercise - well, I have re-discovered a streak in me that I always knew was there as I've always been hugely competitive; I HAVE to succeed (I once cheated on a management course in order that my team won - but got caught! I thought I showed initiative!!) it's in my blood and I am really loving challenging myself.
If you remember, I spent the first 2 weeks of this year in hospital, incredibly ill and I don't think I'll ever forget the experience of laying in bed for nearly 2 hours next to the body of the poor woman in the bed next to me who had died. I was on oxygen then for 5 days and yet do you know what I did this week??
I climbed four steps in my garden for 3 lots of 3 minutes.......... can you believe that??? Even better - I really, really, really enjoyed it!!!! The other thing is this stubborn streak in me that refuses to be beaten by any part of the routine that JC puts together for me. Better still............. I have lost 5 whole pounds!! Not by starvation or faddy diets, but solid exercise and really healthy eating, and oh yes, listening to someone who's trained hard to do the job he does - JC!!!!
So then blog readers - it's onwards and upwards, next week schools break up proper and I probably won't get to write a blog for a while as we will (should) be really mad busy......... enjoy the summer everyone!!