Thursday, 30 June 2011

Newsflash - A Royal Visit to Salcombe

Just to let you know that Salcombe is having a Royal visit on Monday 11th July - and anyone that knows me knows I am a complete and utter Royalist.............   and it's HRH Charles and Mrs HRH coming to town.

Coming from Portsmouth we were well used to Royal visits, but it's doubly exciting here as it's so small and Whitestrand dead opposite the Victoria will be the focal point (or one of them!!!)

Wow - how exciting...........................

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A Pub Landlady's life

Wine in the sun in our beautiful garden
Ok - I thought I'd go back to basics on my blog............ the working title is ' A Pub Landlady's Life'. So let's have a look at a weekend day in this particular landladies life:

8.00a.m Get up
8.30 - first phone call of the day regarding a room reservation for September. Yes 8.30 and yes September!! Blimey - do people think we work 24 hours a day!!
8.40 - 2nd phone call of the day regarding a booking for that evening. Who in God's name wakes up and thinks 'Oh, I must phone the pub and book a table for tonight'........ at 8.40 in the morning!!  Yep - people think we do work 24 hours a day!!
8.45 Shower, clean teeth and put a bit of slap on!
9.15 (A bit of 'slap' is a little bit of an understatement given my advancing age!!) Go to office and start cashing up. Bum! Can't make it tally.... call SOH and he spots my deliberate mistake!! Do associated paperwork etc etc.  
10.30 Phonecall received from member of staff now not now coming in (growl!!!) so as 2 members of staff are on holiday we are really stuffed. It means SOH AND I will have to work today, particularly as we have summer staff in and being trained up still, so they can't be let loose on their own completely yet
11.30 Pub ready to open - check? Open doors - here we go.
11.35 Bugger - realise I've not had breakfast! Run upstairs for yet another coffee, Banana and a cheeky couple of biscuits. Not the best nutritional start - but hey, it's something
11.45 Call restaurant we were planning to go to tonight and cancel! Another potential night off buggered........
 2.30 At last - time to sit and have a bite to eat with SOH. Discuss the possibility for a poorly staffed pub on the following day - must call in 3rd reserve and she says yes! Hallelujah!

4.00 I have to have a rest if I'm working all day and so its a case of telling the staff that unless there is a death, fire or flood we are NOT to be disturbed!! But just in case - I disconnect all the (3) phones in our flat. If it's that urgent I'll be woken up by sirens.
6.30 Off to the bar I jolly well go. Best face forward and a smile to welcome warmly the 150 plus customers who are about to come through our doors in the next couple of hours and eat and drink with us. Being behind a bar is absolutely like being on a stage - customers don't care if you're worn out/clapped out/knackered - and why should they. So for me, it's often like putting on a mask and being sure not to let it slip. Not always easy I can tell you.........
9.00 Not time to stop and eat properly so grab a sandwich on the go
11.30 Last customers leave the pub swaying gently and wishing us a cheery good night
11.45 SOH and I start to clean the pub as weekend cleaner on holiday

12.45a.m SUNDAY morning Coffee in hand we slump on the settee with our little dogs and contemplate our lot knowing that we shall do the same again tomorrow and the next day etc etc.........

A Pub Landlady's life.......In between those times there is all the stuff that's too trivial to even mention - but suffice to say there are not many unoccupied minutes.

A 17 hour day? Sometimes a 12 if we're lucky and not always as frantic as I've outlined above, but not far off it! Still think you might fancy being behind the bar and not in front????? 

In my next blog post I'll share with you our fabulous new summer menu's and the new menu format! Very exciting..........

Monday, 20 June 2011

Summer? Don't make me laugh!!!

Thought it would be a good idea to put a picture of the sun on this blog post - just in case we don't see it again this summer!!!

Flippin heck - that's what it's starting to feel like, don't you think???  How much more rain can be up in that sky???

Anyway - in preparation for the 'summer' James our Chef and I are working on the summer menus - and I'm trying to steer us away from some of the same old, same old!  For a start we're almost certainly moving away from Cod to Haddock. More sustainable and generally a lot easier to get hold of the quantities that we have to buy in.  I've been doing a bit of market research and customers don't seem to be too bothered. We also did a taste test and I thought it tasted as good if not better. what are your thoughts my lovelies???  I also think that this year we are going to have 'printed' menu's for the summer period - hopefully they will last a bit better than the ones in folders we currently use.

Then last week of course I said we were having a rent review. For those of you that don't know - if you're a tenant to a brewery such as we are (St Austell) you pay an amount of rent and you have to buy all your drink through them - but any profits from food etc after you've paid your bills are yours. Simplistically put - but that's it in a nutshell!! Every 3 years our Brewery puts the rent up - they're a business and that's what they do. But I think the difference with a family Brewery such as ours and other business's who aren't Brewers but simply have a chain of public houses as business's is that St Austell are not in the business of ripping us off. It's not in their interest to put us out of business by making the rents untenable, or making us feel that hard work is only rewarded by massive rent hikes.

So there really has been a fair and honest 2 way consultation and discussion - the brewery came up with a 'shadow' set of figures that they believe are where we're at trading wise, we looked at them and discussed them and generally agreed that the proposed rent they had on the table was fair. We're happy (well as happy as you can be with any planned rise!) to stay and to continue making  a success of our pub, St Austell are happy that we stay where we are and continue to sell the beer and make the Victoria Inn a continued success................... 

If you want to have a look at what unhappy tenants of some chains are saying about unfair rent rises etc have a look at the Morning Advertiser or The Publican or BII magazine..........

Tomorrow I'm off to Cornwall for the day on a marketing course - I'm really looking forward to having a day away and being hopefully with dynamic and enthusiastic people who's enthusiasm will rub off on me and I'll come home brimming with ideas!!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Phew - Thank Goodness THAT week is over!!

Phew - what a week that was!!! SOH had his weeks holiday in the sun last week - but we didn't check our calendar properly and I was left to deal with a hugely busy music festival weekend on my own!! But I did it.................. not only that, we raised funds for the Royal British Legion 'Poppy Party' appeal and we raised £900!!!! Our customers were soooooooooooo generous - well,    99.9 % of them - I won't bore you with the appalling behaviour of the party of 6 at the weekend who behaved so despicably.  A huge thank you to Rob and David from Blue Water Salcombe who generously donated £150 to the evening.                                Anyway - the Old Gaffers entertained us in the garden on the Friday night, followed by Danny Jones singing in the pub on the Saturday.  It was an amazing sight to see so many people crammed into our small bar area dancing, singing and enjoying themselves as they were listening to Danny sing!!  The rest of the weekend and the week itself pretty much disappeared into a blur of working, sleeping and fundraising..........................But I was pretty chuffed to get the amount to £900.  Thats this blog done for now - the next one will be about focussing on the summer and rent rises!!!  

Monday, 6 June 2011

Royal British Legion 90th Birthday - Poppy Party at the Victoria Inn

If you are in my neck of the woods I'd love you to put the date of Friday 10th June in your diary and come and join us for a big birthday party - it's the Royal British Legion's 90th year and they are having celebratory Poppy Parties all over the place.  We are spearheading the West with our party on the 10th - which incidentally is the same day as the start of the Salcombe Music Festival - so should be a great atmosphere. I have always thought that the RBL does a fantastic job in supporting elderly ex-servicemen, as well as some of the younger ones and the difficulties they face when coming out into 'civvy street', particularly with so many ongoing conflicts and men & women being injured, as well as drink, drugs and mental health issues through Post Traumatic Stress. 

When I ran a huge benefits take up campaign for Portsmouth City Council I know for certain that there were many of my clients helped by the RBL in many ways.  

My family and I were also personally helped by the RBL in 1978 when our 2nd child, Carole was born with Cerebral Palsy.  She was sadly very, very ill and only lived to just over 8 months old. With an ex-services unemployed Husband and no money in the bank, the funeral was yet another huge worry at an already traumatic time. We were advised by a hospital Social Worker that the RBL may well be able to help because of my Husbands Royal Navy career. Help us they certainly did............. they paid for the entire funeral and I for one have never ever forgotten that act of kindness and generosity that eased away a little of the pain. If I can raise lots of money from this party I will feel that I have been able to repay that act of kindness from so long ago but still often feeling like yesterday. 

So, Poppy Party on the 10th July - BBQ starting at 6.30 p.m with choice of 100% Beef Burger or Chicken Breast marinated in Lime & Chilli or Haloumi. Served with New Potatoes and Salad and followed by Summer Fruits and Devon Double Cream for the amazing price of £9.50 - a saving of about £6 on our normal prices. Then the 'Old Gaffers' will be entertaining us from about 7.30  and we have some amazing Raffle Prizes - not just from us personally, but St Austell brewery have generously donated a lovely Camera and some of the local shops have contributed generously as well - should be about 20 prizes altogether. If it rains - we'll cook outside and just move the fun indoors to our upstairs restaurant...........................

The rest of our news? Well for the other part of the Salcombe Music festival weekend, I have Danny Jones singing for us again on Saturday and our Harpist Symon Paul on Sunday - so a good mix of entertainment once again!

May Bank holiday was fabulously busy again and even now there are a good many people around! Hoorah! Wish me luck for Friday and fingers crossed for a whole heap of money to be raised.......