Monday, 28 March 2011

Spain - where???

Before the waves and wind came!

Well then - we went to Spain for a few days last weekend and I'm starting to think I dreamt the whole thing - but looking at the photo's it's clear I didn't!!  We went away to celebrate our first whole year of marriage and we had an absolutely brilliant time. Weather was a bit pants, 1 really sunny day but after that huge winds and massive waves the like of which I've never seen before............... In fact all I could think about was the recent Tsunami in Japan. It actually made me quite depressed because the waves in Spain were really huge powerful things which were uprooting beach umbrella stands and throwing them out to sea and all I could think about was how the people that were affected by that dreadful tsunami must have felt and the dreadful devastation it caused. So many thousands of innocent lives taken away in a heartbeat - I actually sat on the sea wall and cried with the wind drying my tears!  Anyway - apart from that, SOH and I had a lovely break - asleep till about 10.30 every morning except one (unheard of in our business!) delicious lazy breakfasts on the balcony, strolls along the promenade, and then quite delectable meals out in the evening! Oh and fabulous wines!!  The Gin was quite nice as well............... :) Had two wonderful Tapas meals  - I adore Tapas, just love the whole concept of picking at lots of little different tastes and textures. Discovered I LOVED the Spanish Black Pudding! Ole!!

Anyway - so back to normality now and back to the rush and hurry of getting every thing just right for the Easter break............. and I just cannot believe how busy we are right now! (neither can the staff!) Yesterday (Sunday) we did almost 150 meals - 150!!! We're not even in the 'season' yet either!! I'm going to be bulk buying pro-plus and caffeine drinks for us all........ only joking! But I do think we're going to have to revise our staffing levels quite soon. So I already have a couple of new people with us, and a couple more interested in coming to work with us - so I think we'll be ok. Our sea corner of the garden is almost done and just the other boat to come in for us to be able to offer cooked fish in the garden just like that offered in Spain - barbecued Sardines! Yum......... as well as another surprise for the garden in the offing!

We had the Old Gaffers back to sing on Friday - what a fantastic night especially as some of the Harbour and Rugby boys came in and then a complete change of pace with Symon- Paul a Harpist in the pub on Sunday! Both delightful in their own unique way. Both of them are going to be here on a monthly (or more) basis, so we are offering just that little bit extra and pleasing many (I HOPE!).

Um - and oh yes - a holiday in Greece for me (alone) in 6 weeks time!! Now, where did I put my Apple and Ryvita's.........????

Saturday, 12 March 2011

What a great start to the season!!

Crikey - if this is the start of the season Salcombe should be in for a good year! Yesterday we had standing room only in the bar and again last night we were really busy! Seems to be people taking 3/4 day breaks and really treating themselves. We've seen a rise in the numbers of puddings being sold (always a sign people are 'treating' themselves) and also the more expensive wines are being asked for.  

I had hoped to be able to put a photo of exciting developments in our garden on this blog post - but, technology is resolutely determined to not allow me to upload anything today......... We're having the most amazing feature created at the top of our garden from hundred year old sailing boats, sailing artifacts and sails etc! Just wait till it's all finished!!  We've also got some work coming in to provide food for the opening of a new business as well as the hosting of a Festival event in June. We're also going to be doing a 'Poppy Party' on the 10th June to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion.  More of all that as the year progresses.

There seems to be a general consensus that people are staying home again this year - finance, airport delays, terrible weathers and disasters in far away places - I think they're all conspiring to encourage people to stay in UK again this year??  We have lots and lots of advance bookings for the Hobbit House and we're signing up to an electronic booking system as well which will make it even easier for potential guests to see if we have vacancies and if so, to be able to book on line. 

I popped off down to Portsmouth again last weekend - my little car is giving me the most amazing freedom, and whilst I still don't like the motorway driving it is all starting to feel a little bit more natural.  But Guy my driving instructor was absolutely right when he said that getting your license was only the start.......I've seen some bonkers driving and I am only surprised there are not more accidents on the road! Also discovered I can get lost even WITH a sat nav!!  

I suppose it doesn't matter what business you're in, but particularly the hospitality business, I tend to be quite critical of the service I receive. Never more so than when I was in Pompey again last week. A huge world Hotel chain and the girl behind the bar couldn't even mix a Campari & Soda, the barman in a Harbour side pub who just sloshed the wine into a spritzer (I didn't complain - I was on the receiving end of a VERY large spritzer - but I bet his bosses stock take is a pickle!) and the slip shod service all round in the various establishments I visited. Tables not cleared and wiped down etc etc.........a poor indictment of our industry

SOH and I are bucking the trend of staying in the UK and we are going to have a short break next weekend in Spain for a couple of days to celebrate our 1st Wedding anniversary. Yes - a whole year since we said 'I Do' - where does the time go?? Scary isn't it! Then it's only 9 weeks till I go off for a whole week to Greece - Kefalonia actually, followed by SOH and his friends back to Spain for a week.    Sounds like we're permanently away but thats how it seems to go sometimes and then nothing for ages after that - we'll be too busy working (hopefully!). 

So it's a determined effort now to lose at least another stone before I go to Greece - so although I'm not having my personal trainer again (JC) right now, I AM trying to remember all that he taught me! I'm using the gymn in the hotel at the top of the road and trying very very hard to eat healthily. Back on the wagon - on the water and off the wine! In fact, munching a very healthy apple as I type. So all being equal my efforts should pay off - I'm just 1 pound off what I was before Christmas last year, so I'm ok with that. So on that note, as the sun has gone in and the rain is starting I'm off to the gymn and also a sauna and steam today - so see you all again soon my lovelies!   

P.S Huge Happy Birthday love to my big son Paul for tomorrow the 13th! Here's to a fantastic year for you son! X

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


 Well all I seem to have done this last few days is work on the computer..........either uploading, downloading or  transferring data! Replying to emails, writing e mails, writing a cancellation policy and compiling lists!!! Frankly, all a bit tedious and not overly exciting. One of the most frustrating things was uploading this video (link - ) of the 'Old Gaffers' who came to the Victoria to sing last week.  It took close on 5 hours to upload to You Tube!! I thought these things were supposed to be easy................. I've also been playing around with our Victoria Inn website and after a couple of false starts I think I've got the hang of it now!

Anyway what a fantastic evening we all had last week and what great blokes the Old Gaffers are!!  They are all local men and they bill themselves as: Men of the Sea singing Songs of the Sea, and my goodness they did just that. After the event a few of them stayed on and after just a couple of pints started singing again and at gone 10.30 we were all still singing and customers were still walking through the doors! In all of our three years here that evening ranked as one of the best ever and we can't wait to repeat it again and again - here's to the Old Gaffers becoming regular fixtures at the Vic!  

What else? Well half term was an amazing week for trade. We were very, very busy almost every day of the half term break and it was fabulous as usual to see so many old faces coming in to say hello and spend time with us. Consequently, we were both a bit shattered after such a busy week, half term is normally agentle introduction to the season to come, but not so last week!
The weekend was particularly busy with about 80 covers downstairs and a private Birthday party upstairs in our function room for 'Bruce' and 16 of his friends and family. The function room lends itself really well to this type of intimate gathering - good light, great views out over the harbour - and of course great food and service! What more could you want??

Our new 'special' specials board was also a great success last week  with new Lamb and fish dishes flying off the board. You may recall I've talked about ensuring that our main menu reflects a good 'pub grub' approach with dishes for most pockets and tastes. But to run beside that we wanted our 'specials' board to be really special and reflect not only our Chef's James greater cooking talents, but also dishes that are that bit more complex in content and taste and reflect that we can offer a more refined menu as well. You can see the new menu's in full on the Vic's website -  On another foodie note, James and I have been mulling over the idea of working with more sustainable fish other than Cod or Plaice etc, so on tonights menu we are trialling Gurnard with sauteed Leeks and Chorizo on crushed Garlic Potatoes - guess what I'm having for Dinner tonight?! 

More work has started today on the garden, this time the very top end of our garden - we are going to transform a dull patch of garden that hardly anyone ever sits in - to a place of nautical interest.......! Boats, ropes and watery artifacts......... You'll just have to wait for the pictures! Better still come and see progress for yourself!

I'm off again this weekend to Portsmouth to see my son and his wife, and as it's the second time I've driven there on my own I'm not feeling so anxious about it and in fact I'm looking forward to it this time - and beter still - the weather forecast is good!!!!   

Just before I finish for todays entry I thought you'd like to see a picture of some of our hardworking staff from last Sunday........... captions on a suitable postcard please!?!

Jessie, Karen and Alex - Great youngsters!

Tanya our second Chef and  the boys: Mattie and little James