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