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 http://www.laterooms.com/ 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!!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

He has no idea...........

I saw this on someone elses blog post - and unashamedly I nicked it......
He has no idea how many times a day
I look at him
just to
look at him
I absolutely love this love this photo of SOH taken on our wedding morning, and I'm happy to share it!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

White Hart Hotel - Progress report!

Well then, some 2 months plus how are we doing at the White Hart Hotel?? The answer - not too bad at all thank you.......... It's certainly been a learning curve for SOH and I, and we've had to learn to not to be afraid to say that we've not always got it right and we've had to make some hard business decisions.

There's no doubt that the first couple of weeks we were at the White Hart they were probably some of the most fraught times we'd had for a very long time - but you just seem to know when you've turned the corner - and it's starting to show that we HAVE now turned that corner.

Lets start with advertising the White Hart - we used a great local husband & wife team for the photo's: Tony & Nicky Burnett - Nicky is a graphic artist and she made sure with Tony that the pub looked its very best and Tony took some great pics - the montage is one of my favourites! Some great shots within that montage don't you think!

Professionally they are the http://www.theforgepartnership.com/ and from this portfolio of photo's we were able to commission a great website for our pub using http://www.discoverwebsites.co.uk/ a great team of young individuals who gave us exactly what we wanted from our website.

Looking at the statistics for the period from when the website was up and running (28/5) until yesterday the 2nd July we have had 419 people look at our website - someone was sat in Florence, Italy looking at it for over 2 minutes...!! But at least 400 people were from the UK - so for a website that's not very high up on Google rankings yet - that's really inspiring.

Along with that we have of course used a number of other advertising options - one of the best was undoubtedly http://www.devonsfinest.co.uk/the-white-hart-modbury-devon-p-1458-53o.uk/the-white-hart-modbury-devon-p-1458-53 please click onto the link and have a look at the You Tube advert he created using Tony's photo's and his own very unique commentary - Matt is brilliant, quite brilliant!!

As well as this I put us on to laterooms.com this last week - we went live at 11.am and we had our first booking at 2p.m.................

The letting rooms are certainly starting to take off and we had our first 2 Trip Advisor reviews this week............ and they were great!! I must admit I held my breath when I got an e mail to say that someone had written up a review - but delighted to find TWO really good reviews! Please never underestimate how much good a great review can have on a business (and visa versa!) - so again, have a look - http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g551649-d1132772-Reviews-The_White_Hart_Inn-Modbury_Dartmoor_National_Park_Devon_England.html

Trip Advisor have got our address wrong though - but as I've joined us as owners I'm expecting that to change in the next day or two.

I also spent a good couple of hours in the office this week e mailing everyone I could find to introduce ourselves and 'sell' us - and we've had some great response - none least from Edward and his wife at www.moorviewtouringpark.co.uk a great touring park just up the road from the pub. Edward sent me a lovely e mail saying that the 'jungle drums were working and his visitors to the park were giving very good reports on us'!! Yay!!!!!!!! Well likewise - our customers are telling us that Moor View is lovely with many of them having been there for many nice holidays!

Staff wise we've had quite a change - there's no doubt that our concept of having a bright and breezy young staff was a good one - but we lacked a strong, mature and more importantly experienced leadership. So we have a new couple who are now managing the White Hart for us - Christine and Mark (photo to follow). They are lovely, and have already made lots of contacts and it's clear to see the business has changed quite quickly.

Unlike me, both Chris & Mark have the knack of remembering peoples names, and so quickly they are building up a string of 'regulars' who now get greeted by name and preference for their drinks!! 'Fishy Friday' with fresh battered Cod & Chips eat in or take away at £5.95 being one of their ideas - and the first Friday last week saw quite a few portions being sold.............. :) Sunday now sees a 2 course lunch for just £9.95 - so again we're hoping this will be another bit of the success story that's growing!

We still have a number of lovely young people working as bar staff though - and they're still mostly local youngsters! Finally, we think we now know the market we're aiming at for the food - and whilst it's a little different from the Victoria Inn - not such a massive menu - the concept of fantastic 'pub grub', fresh local produce, cooked well and presented beautifully is obviously very needed in Modbury and we have been getting rave comments. On that note the local paper are writing a review on the food and first site of it looks excellent.....
So the progress report has moved from 'has potential could try harder' to 'has great potential and is improving nicely'. We expect to see even greater progress as the White Hart matures!

A huge 'Thank You' to everyone out there who is supporting us and I look forward to giving an even better progress report in another couple of months.