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!!