Saturday, 30 January 2010

Chad, Rosie and the RAT!!

I meant to include this little bit in my last blog entry but ran out of time and energy - the latter being a bit more on the menu (thankfully!!)

Firstly, let me introduce you to this fabulous gentleman in the picture.... his name is Chad, well, that's what everyone calls him! I actually don't don't know his proper name, but what I do know is that Chad keeps Salcombe clean and lovely. He's out in all weathers, he always has a smile and I don't think I've ever know him to be even the slightest bit miserable. At Christmas he wears a Santa hat and his cart has a horn which he uses occasionally - if only to get a smile from tourists!!

In one of our chats not long after we moved here, I was saying what a tough job he had - and his response was that it was one of the best jobs! He loves the fact he works in such a great place, meets so many nice people and can do such a good job.......... ohhhh, don't you love him already!!!

He and our Rosie have developed a real affinity with each other - she absolutely adores him and it appears to be pretty mutual..... With Rosie, SOH and I have developed a little pattern which allows us a short lay in of a morning - I stay in bed pretending to be asleep, he gets up, lets her out for a pee and then brings her back to bed where we all snuggle down for another 40 winks!

On one such occasion last week, SOH was doing just this - and I was in in bed snoozing, when I heard Chad returning our re-cycling bin to it's rightful place (see what I mean, he doesn't have to do this and in fact he probably shouldn't - but that's the sort of chap Chad is!) Next thing I hear is Chad let out this guttural moan and words to the effect of 'aarrghhhh - a rat!' closely followed by "Rosie - what are you doing here"............. followed by Chad then seeing SOH in his white towelling bath robe (it was not long after 7.30 a.m!!) and much laughter all round!!! Poor Chad - he thought Rosie was an overgrown rat climbing up his leg............. even writing this has me smiling at the memory!!
I hasten to add that we work closely with Baroque on pest control and can vouch to being rat/mouse free............... Honest!!

What else has the last few days bought?? Well, I am definitely getting better, still quite knackered come middle of the afternoon, but I've stopped fighting it and if I want to snooze then I snooze! Work continues on the pub and Carlton our marvelous builder is fast becoming the 2nd man in my life as he and his team transform our pub - but more about that next time!!

At 48 days and counting till the Big Day the wedding preparations are fairly well in hand, I sat last night and spent a small fortune on the internet buying all the 'pretty' things that will make the day even more special - the ribbons, the chocolates, the rose petals etc for the can see how costs start to ratchet up, and we've done it reasonably cheaply as well!!

We've sat with James our Chef and devised the menu's etc for the day, and then Glo my lovely bar manager has thought about staffing and she's also going to lead on decroating the pub etc for the wedding.

The Order of Service is written and will go to the printers next week, all the invites for the evening are written and being handed out - and we probably will end up with about 200 for the evening....... already, last night we were saying - Oh what about "XYZ", we haven't invited them...????

Mmmnn, just phoned the Bridal shop - no wedding dress yet......... but I'm NOT panicking!! Am I???? ..............................

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

We're Winners...........

Wow - we're winners - the Victoria Inn, Salcombe won an award last week.
We had a great night out last Thursday - at the 2009 Annual Dinner & Tribute Estate Awards. The event was held at the Atlantic Hotel, Newquay ( and after an initial mix up with our booking, they gave us a superb suite! Very nice it was too, pity it was only for 1 night! The food on the evening was really good and the service excellent! Breakfast the next morning even more so......
We found to our delight that we were shortlisted for SIX awards, a couple we knew about, but they were:
Pub Floral Display of the Year (we got a highly commended for this one!)
Cask Ale Pub of the Year (Tenancy)
Training Award
Wine House of the Year
New Tenants of the Year
The one we actually won was Marketing and Business Innovation of the Year (Tenancy). What a fantastic achievement in our first year for us and all our loyal hard working staff!! !

In the picture you can see SOH and I with the sponsors of the award Diageo GB, and a St Austell representative. Not only did we win a lovely plaque for our outside Pub entrance, but we also received £500 of holiday vouchers! That will go towards a lovely holiday after the summer season has ended - something to bear in mind when we're knackered out again!! We have of course treated our team to a little thank you each as well.

In a business that seems to be suffering a lot of knocks, particularly at the hands of our cretinous politicians it was great to meet other licensees making a success of their business. Its also always such a good opportunity to meet colleagues from the brewery and our industry and this particular evening was no exception!
So to everyone at St Austell who put so much effort in to the evening a huge 'Thank You' for giving us such a great time!

On the home front, I continue to make good progress in my recovery, although its very much a case of 2 steps forward and 1 step back.... Sunday was a two steps back day and today was 1 day forward! With only 52 days to the wedding I have to concentrate on getting fit and well - not thin, just fit and well........having said that I've put myself on a healthy eating plan, lots of vitamins and walking with Rosie when I feel up to it.
On the Victoria Inn re-fit front, well............ what can I say!! We got home from the awards on Friday morning to find absolute chaos in the Pub - virtually everything was done, but it looked like one massive building site! Dust covered anything and everything........... because of that I couldn't play as much of a part in the clean up as I would have liked, however, despite staff being in most of the day Friday, SOH and I putting in a 17 hour day and then being up for 7 on the Saturday, we were still not able to open for Saturday lunchtime. However, everyone turned up again on Saturday morning - and somehow we were able to open for 5 Saturday afternoon.

SOH has a really great eye for decor and he has put up different pictures, mirrors etc to what was up previously. I did the blackboards and signs for outside, and between us we made the Victoria Inn 'our' pub, with 'our' stamp on it.

The floor in the restaurant is Brazilian slate and is truly beautiful - it has opened up the restaurant and with less dividers in the room there is far more natural light coming in from the estuary.

A new way of laying out the comfy seating area has given more covers as well as the new sexy red leather sofa's being one of the first things that customers see.......... and yet again, this is the area that people are naturally drifting towards!

We have (thankfully) been quite busy since re-opening, and customers love the new look! It's certainly given the pub a different atmosphere - it feels calmer and warmer......??

Anyway - the re-furb has moved upstairs now............ where there was a garden area, there is now yet another building site! The paving now has to be done so that the awning can be placed, the 'Hobbit House' (our en-suite holiday accommodation) has a fab new roof, builders will be going in there in the next few weeks to transform that. The upstairs restaurant will start to be painted tomorrow, the new lighting is in place - only the carpet to make firm decisions on! And BREATH!!!!!!!!!!!

Carl the builder has been a joy to work with - and when he looks me in the eye and tells me its on track, I believe him....... I just take every available opportunity to remind him that we have about 200 guests at our wedding on the 20th March!!! In fact I tell every workman that - just to ensure they get a sense of purpose!!

So there you have it - another interesting week as a pub landlady/project manager/ customer services director/bridzilla................. I'll leave that last bit for the next blog update!!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Recovery & Re-furbishment.........

So, slowly but surely - both of those things are happening! My recovery is maddeningly slow...... the breathing chart is showing a nice gentle upward swing - but my body is taking it's time in catching up with it!! I get tired soooooo quickly and then when I do get tired my 'pleuritic' pain makes me ache in my ribs like nothing I've known before...... quite infuriating, as I can see so much that needs doing, particularly at a time such as this re-furb here at the Victoria Inn. However, I know that unless I'm sensible I shall only end up being really ill again, so for once I am doing exactly as I was advised and taking each day as it comes!

I have to say a big mention here to the Special Asthma Clinic at Southampton, my consultant Dr Ramesh Kurukulaaratchy and the fantastic lead Asthma nurse Sister Duffus...... following a call to them last week, I have had a couple of calls back checking on my progress and advising on present and future treatment plans. With 'Patient Choice' you can of course choose where you want your treatment to come from, and lots of people have queried why I travel so far to see this team, well, after my rant in the last blog about the state of the NHS the Southampton clinic is an outstanding rare example of excellence, and I will be forever in their gratitude for their care and attention. Plus, Dr Ramesh is not half bad to look at either..........

The refurbishment has entered the final stage as far as downstairs is concerned, and whilst I've managed to stay away from it on the whole, when I have gone downstairs, the transformation is incredible!! The colours we've chosen are just beautiful and are definitely going to give it more of a cosy, warm feeling. Everyone of the workmen has worked so hard, and the painter's are doing a great job - not only that, they're TIDY!!! So God willing and with a fair wind, we should be open for trading on SATURDAY.......... blimey, it doesn't look like it will be right now, but hold the faith.... it will be!!!

SOH and I took the entire Victoria Inn team out on Sunday for an Indian meal to say thank you for all their unstinting hard work over the last year - I think a good time was had by all, and there were various bits of entertainment, ranging from David burning his hand on a Sambucca shot (showing off!!), Mattie getting quite merry on the Indian beer, Ekaterina looking stunningly beautiful and Nick being the village idiot lookalike in Matt's beanie hat!!!

On top of all this is the wedding of course - 55 days come Saturday........... right now I'm concentrating on getting fit and well, rather than think too hard about losing the remaining 3 stone!! A dress fitting is planned for the end of February, SOH's 'stag' do is in the pipeline and my pre-wedding dinner is in the planning. Only 'Order of Service' to get sorted, evening invitations and table decs - we're done!!

SOH bought me a fabulous wedding present this week - its from a great new shop in town called Jo Down's, fabulous hand made pieces of glass/mirror etc. I spied the mirror that he has bought me almost as soon as the shop was being fitted out - and now we'll have it to remind us always.

Tomorrow, sees us make a journey to Newquay to the St Austell Estate Awards Dinner (HOORAH, AN EXCUSE TO DRESS UP!!) this was our first time last year and was a great bash, so needless to say, we're really looking forward to it again this year. We are shortlisted for Wine Pub of the Year category, and to even be shortlisted in what was our first year is a great achievement, so whether we win or not, we're proud to have got that far!

So there you have it my lovelies - the last week condensed down into a few sentences...... here's to the next week!!

Friday, 15 January 2010

What a start to the New Year

I'm sure I've said this before, but I only ever intended this blog to be about life as a pub landlady, but events over the past 18 months have overtaken it - and the blog has become an extension of me in many ways. I regularly get 20 - 30 hits a day and great responses to my ramblings, so this blog the first of the year is quite serious and reflective I'm afraid.......

4th January saw me admitted to Derriford hospital with a really crap asthma chest and what I was sure was a chest infection............. I say that I was sure, but I couldn't get any other bugger to listen to me!! Oh, by the way, the language in this blog might be a bit ripe - so if you're offended don't read it!! Admitted at 1.15 in the afternoon - there was no bed available until nearly 1 the next morning. Me and several other fairly poorly people sat round in a huddle exchanging light banter whilst trying to breath......I was fortunate, I couldn't see black things crawling on the floor like the man opposite me!!

I was told they had found me a bed, but it was on a male Cancer ward - I had to be made aware of this fact especially as Government guidelines would be being broken by this act of humanity!!! I think my response was along the lines of 'I didn't give a shit - just let me sleep'.......

Of course, I didn't sleep - I coughed, I heaved, I cried - I vied for attention with seriously ill patients with Cancer! The blokes were fab - in the morning, as the light dawned they were quite interested to see a female sitting up in their room...... hardly, Marilyn Munroe - more like Herman Munster. There started the obligatory succession of tests - but still no agreeing with me that I had a chest infection. My chaps - the mobile ones, looked after me, made me smile and in return I offered what empathy I could to their terminal illness's.

The hospital chaplain Michael came to visit - and visited me most days after that - he was so lovely, and bought me great comfort. I gave him some questions, he gave me some answers and he made me think about things in a slightly different way... other than poor me, what have I done to deserve this!! I'll never forget one thing he said to me - and that was, 'how big did I need MY cross to be'...???

Thursday saw a bit of an Epiphany in many ways - I had been moved to a small side room - as much for the other patients to get a bit of a rest as for me. My coughing and breathing became far worse and I was frankly terrified at this point. My 'named' nurse was Steve, and I could never forget his kindness and care. He came to my rescue and arranged for a Dr to see me again - which they did, TWO hours later!! A short discussion ensued as to whether I needed to go to ICU - luckily, that didn't happen and I was transferred to the respiratory ward at last!! I'm going to skip over the next few days events - as its pretty much of the same followed by more of the same, followed by a bit more of the bleeding same.

The one very sad aspect to my 'journey' was that three people died next to me (as my best mate Tanya said - 'Bugger me, don't let me sleep to close to you for a while!) the last being literally less than 6 foot from my bed....... she was all alone, and all I could do was sit the other side (my side) of the curtain with my oxygen mask on praying for her soul. Have you ever contemplated eating a fish and chip supper (that's what they called it) whilst a dead person is within touching distance???????

The other fact, is that I met some incredibly brave people who are dying - fact, period!! They were brave beyond belief, stoical in the face of their destiny and cheerful in their support of people less brave like myself.

The NHS has mattress managers, bed managers, cleaning managers - in fact if there's a title I'm sure there's a manager for it......... it also has all the things you read every day in the papers - overworked staff struggling to cope with too many patients and too much paperwork. Patients being left unattended and unfed, patients distressed and anxious but staff with no ability or the time to show tlc. Young Drs undertrained in both medicine and life skills - who between them make up our future NHS.

I'm home now, and I have to go through the long slog of recovery over the next few weeks - but I'm back in the safe hands of my great GP and also my Consultant in Southampton - who has already changed all my medication back and has assured me that progress will now come.

Am I angry with the system? A m I angry that for nearly 18 hours I had no medication?? Am I angry that no regard was given to documentation from my s/ton consultant?? Am I angry that no one seemed to listen to me and am I angry that there's nothing I can do to stop it happening to me or anyone else ever again - too f*cking right I am.................

So there you go - thats off my chest (pardon the pun!!) its got to be onwards and upwards I've a wedding to get ready for in 63 days, and the St Austell Estate awards night on the 21st which I'm going to by hook or by crook!! So, it's back to my bed with a stack of DVD's, my boxes of pills and potions and the loving care of SOH!!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Website update

Just a quick entry to let you know that all the info about our re-furbishment and opening / closing times is all on the 'Events Page' of our website. I'll try and write a full blog entry soon, but as many of you will know I've been inhosptal for 9 days and am now home re-cuperating - well, trying too!!!

Love and hugs

Liz x x x