Saturday, 29 January 2011

Wine House of the Year 2010

That's right - we've won another award!! Not just us but all our wonderful staff as well! That's right, at the St Austell Tribute Estate awards (held at the Great Western Hotel in Newquay - very nice as well if you're ever in that neck of the woods!) last week we were delighted to find we had been short listed for 2 awards again this year - Marketing & Innovation (which we won last year) and Wine House of the Year - which we were shortlisted for last year but didn't win.

We were both really excited to see our shortlisting again this year (but soh who keeps my feet on the ground where he can!) advised caution against getting too excited........... the Marketing and Innovation came and went, and I sort of settled myself into the mindset of not being disappointed. This year the Wine House of the Year had 2 runners up - and when our name wasn't read out, I was almost sure we hadn't got it - needless to say when our name WAS read out - was I demure and gently pleased?? Hell NO!!! I let out a big whooop of delight and grinned from ear to ear!!

The award is a great for all of us at the Victoria Inn - it is judged on display, sales, knowledge etc and our staff certainly know their stuff when it comes to selling our wines so I am as pleased for them as I was for us........ it's a great all round achievement! The main picture is of us with Kathryn from the wine department at St Austell and Charles from De Castelnau - the sponsors of the award, and the smaller picture is of our friend Jim on the stage reading out the awards.
We were awarded a beautiful crystal trophy, a magnum of Champagne from De Castelnau, a weekend in Champagne later this year and a substantial monetary award - which I'm sure we will put too good use!

Of course, I stayed reasonably sober for the rest of the event.........(!) and I'm sure I must have eaten something that disagreed with me and made me feel so unwell for the next 2 days (coughs very loudly from SOH behind me as I say that!!). Needless to say, the last hour or so the evening are just a little tiny bit blurred....... :)

So then that's January and all of it's excitement almost over and done with - and my goodness, what a great month trading wise we have had.......... even today, when it's been freezing cold and blowing an absolute gale we have done almost 90 covers in the lunch hour! Without doubt our best January since we started here in Salcombe, and I'm absolutely sure it's down to the 2 new big hotel's that have opened here - The Marine Hotel and South Sands. Both great hotels, attracting the sort of visitors to them that are our type of visitor and the whole town feeling a boost because of it! Hoorah!!

Our bookings for the Hobbit House are coming in quite fast so far and February is fully booked up with a couple of workmen here doing some work on the Estuary, so all told, a good start to the year!

James (our Head Chef) and I have been working hard the last couple of weeks at introducing a Spring menu as I want to move away from just 2 new menu's a year to 4. This time we're also moving away from the open sandwiches to closed - but fantastic choices (Chorizo & Brie and Roast Beef & Creamed Horesradish to name 2 new ones) and also to a smaller main menu but more varied 'specials'. Great puds as always - Pan seared Pineapple with Cracked Black Pepper and White Chocolate & Raspberry Mousse to tickle your fancy amongst others, and we've desperately tried to keep the prices down as far as possible whilst having to work with the blessed VAT rise!
The new menu's come in on the 10th February - just in time for the half term, so it'll be interesting to see what our visitors think...............??
What does this week bring us then? Well, I think we're going to the EXPO 2011 show at Exeter - a trade show that's always worth a look round - with lots of free samples of all sorts of things as well as food tasting - memo to self: Pace yourself this year!! Remember that too much Ice Cream is a bad idea!! Then we may have to do a bit of cover at Captain Morgans because of staff changes and holidays etc - that might be a bit of fun as well! 2nd memo to self - Bacon Sarnies are lovely, but again - you can have too much of a good thing!!
Talking of food I've got my head back into gear about eating healthily and doing some exercise again - I have this great app on my IPhone which gets me walking and running, but the biting winds the last couple of days have hindered me somewhat, but I'm not getting too anxious about it - I know I can do it, just need the better weather really!
The following week my little Betsy is going to have to go to Smart for a bit of a once over - a most peculiar burning rubber smell from her engine every now and then (which is at the back of the car!) so as I'm off to Portsmouth again at the beginning of March I thought I should get her looked at in good time! I'm already at the stage of wondering how on earth I ever managed with out being able to drive and have a car, it already feels so natural to be able to zip here there and everywhere! I do hope they look after her............................
Till next time lovelies x

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

What an exciting January

What an exciting January it's been! Following on from our big staff party was my first solo drive to Portsmouth to see my son.....(one of the really good reasons for learning to drive!) I'm not going to lie and say it was a total breeze because it wasn't - especially at the beginning!!!

I pulled in to the first available bus stop out of Salcombe and gave myself a right good talking to. The nerves of steel that propelled me through the lessons and the test deserted me at the last minute as the realisation of driving that distance alone and new to driving suddenly belted me across the head! My plan was to drive to Totnes and then round to Dartington and join the dual carriage way as far away as possible so I could be on it the least possible time! Then stay in the left lane all the way there never moving from that position for love nor money..........Mmm wonder why on earth I thought that!

So after the severe mental thrashing I gave myself, I set off proper..... and guess what? Just like on loads of other occasions the nerves disappeared and I drove like I'd been born to do it. The plan of sticking to the left lane didn't last long as I actually wanted to overtake, couldn't be sitting behind someone poodling along at 50mph...... and it was ok! I could do it. The more I did it the easier I realised it was.......... well, almost - until a very large Jaguar car that wasn't there was there as I started to move out! Oops...... but a good natured smile from the driver indicated he didn't think I was a complete moron!! I thought I was, but he didn't!! I also didn't like the heavy and dense fog patches I entered near Dorset way nor did I like the gusts of wind that I thought threatened to send me and my Betsy flying and resulted in very sweaty palms and a few words in His ear to please stop these extra tests on my nerves!

Then there was the slip road turning to a loo that didn't appear to be anywhere near where it should have been that resulted in a couple of miles detour - oh and lets not forget the fiasco that was the M & S at Exeter services which I completely missed and went round the roundabout in a complete circle!!!

But apart from that, it gave me a huge sense of achievement to be able to drive that distance, and then to also drive around my hometown - not only a sense of achievement, but also one of sadness at may be if I could have driven sooner doors would have opened to me in my career, I could have taken my darling Mum out and about, etc etc........ But I've done it now, so the next time can only be easier still. Since then, I've been out and about loads in Betsy - taking the dogs to the local beaches, using any excuse to do friends favours and generally just enjoying my new found freedom. Not tooooooo keen on driving with SOH though..................!

So a lovely short break with my boy and his wife, and also a delightful catch up at Brasserie Blanc at Gunwharf with an old friend of mine Pam. The first real catch up since our wedding last year and lots of 'do you remembers' and memories I'd completely forgotten. Pam and I shared a couple of great holidays together so there were lots of good times to recall.

But the most exciting news of all has to be our latest award - we won Wine House of the Year from the St Austell Tribute awards evening last week - and I'll blog again soon with photo's and details! I've aslo got my pre-summer break sorted - Greece!!
Till then good blog readers, keep smiling - the month of January is nearly gone!!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

There's a lot happening

So once again I'm not to sure where to start really...........??? This is going to be a relatively short blog post - but I hope you get the taste of what a night it was.
Our annual post Christmas staff party - and crikey me - what a party it was!!

We went to the Harbour Hotel at the top of the road, and they certainly looked after us! It was a nice change for our team who spend their working life making sure customers are well looked after to be waited on.
We had great food, lovely wine, lots of laughs and SOH & I didn't get landed with a too massive bill!!

This is a picture of most of our staff (before the drink flowed toooo much!) from both of our business's but 3 key figures were missing because of the dreaded flu bug that's going around........

The other photo's are when the drink had started to flow............ it was a really, really great night and everyone enjoyed themselves - the obligatory hangovers the next day proved it!!!
So thats the last year celebrated, our success, our challenges and now our future in a 2011 - hopefully onwards and upwards to even better things for both the Victoria Inn and Captain Morgans.
The next blog post will be about my drive to Portsmouth and some of the things that happened to me there................!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Soooo much news.

I really don't know where to start!?!? First of all I suppose I ought to start with the traditional 'Happy New Year' to you all - OK, we're 11 days into 2011 but I think it's still appropriate don't you?

Lots of pics on this blog post so lets start with this fabulous picture of a celeb and me! None other than the gorgeous Ian Wright came into the Victoria again the other evening just before the NY. I say again, as this is the second time he's been in - he seems to like our pub, and after his performance that evening we really like him as well!

What a true gent he was! I confess to not being too sure who he was first time round, but this time I was better acquainted with his history, and he was by far (apart from Nick Knowles of course - swoon/sigh) the nicest 'celeb' we've had in the Victoria. He spoke to customers who came up to him, he made a huge fuss of a little lad who was a Man City supporter (his son is a footballer for the team, so I was told) even stopping on his way out to shake hands and say goodbye to everyone.

Next - our New Years Eve was an absolutely total rip roaring success.......... the bookings were a bit slow off the mark at first, but we went from half empty to full in about a day and a half and there was a fantastic atmosphere. A great party of drinkers that came in and stayed in, diners that also stayed and made the most of the evening and overall we were very happy with events, although I thought that Salcombe as a whole was a lot quieter this year. I love this picture of my very dear friend Theresa and I ............

Then for weeks now I've been keeping a secret........ for anyone that knows me, you'll know that this is almost an impossibility for me, but keep it I did! My best friend Tanya got married to Peter, with SOH and I just two of a select group invited up to London too be part of this fantastic event. Tanya and I have been through so much together in our twenty odd years of friendship, and my greatest wish in the last couple of years since her previous Husband died was that she would find the sort of happiness that I found with my Tim - and now she has!

The wedding was at Kensington & Chelsea Registry Office on a very wet day, but my goodness the love from all the guests soon outweighed what was falling from the sky!

Tanya looked stunning in her knee length designer dress, Versace shoes (an impossible 5 inches high - at least!!) her hair dressed up and make up (she hardly ever wears any - doesn't need too......!) just perfect. The groom as you can see, scrubbed up pretty well also!
The reception was at 'Toms Kitchen' in a private dining room - and I have to say it was an excellent bash all the way round - great food, excellent service and really lovely surroundings! I hope Tanya & Peter have a great long life together, filled with even more of the happiness and love that they AND all of us felt and witnessed on their wedding day.
To round off such a fabulous and memorable day, I treated SOH to seats to see Les Miserables in the West End in the evening, and flip me, what seats they were! Front row Circle almost directly in front of the stage..... I've never had such good seats to anything and they were worth every penny! Well, maybe lets not talk pennies - but hey, it's only money!!
Also, despite it being my third time of seeing this fabulous show, it still made me cry.......... with a woman sat on the right of Tim who was also crying at various points. He found that quite amusing!!! After the show, neither of us was particularly hungry (thanks to the lavish food at the wedding reception) so we had a very romantic hand in hand walk around London's sights ending up at the back of Harrods looking at the very expensive cars parked outside of the very expensive houses!! I'm sure we looked like a couple of crooks casing the place!!
So a pretty amazing start to the New Year of 2011, with a staff party that I'll talk about in the next blog. In the mean time I'm out practicing my driving skills as I'm driving myself to Portsmouth (at last!) this weekend to see my lovely son and his wife - my first ever long drive and solo as well..... so wish me luck people!!