Sunday, 27 November 2011

What jollity!

Heavens - it's either all or nothing in our lives at the moment! Been to not 1 but 2 bashes this week - the first one being very grand indeed at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, in the painted hall. The entrance in to this hall certainly gave us both the wow factor and we were not disappointed. We were there for the BII's  (British Institute of Inn Keeping) 30th anniversary. A truly memorable evening in great company and a performance by the Band of the Welsh Guards.  I had a lovely day before this event playing at being a true tourist and cruising up the Thames!     

Then last night we went to a Help for Heroes Ball in a nearby hotel - Soar Mill Cove. This time with a Michael Buble tribute act, and wow, that young man could sing!! I'm sure that lots and lots of money was raised (as I was under instruction my arms were mostly pretty firmly down by my side!) but again, I just could not help feeling that this sort of support shouldn't come from charitable donations but from Central Government......... What do you think???

The Victoria Inn has been a bit up and down this week, but very busy last night and hugely busy again this lunch-hour, so I think we're just trying to see how things go at the moment and keep staff costs (hourly paid) and other costs to a minimum where possible. We are almost fully booked for New Years Eve, and as well as the Old Gaffers appearing, I'm hopeful that we're also going to have another quite special act - so watch this space!

On the positive side of things, it looks (Please God, Touch Wood, etc etc etc) like all our water issues and boiler issues are nearly sorted - 2 out of the 3 fixed with only the main pub boiler to be mended now. Also and at last, we have a shower that's neither scalding us or freezing us!!! A pump has been fitted that allows us to shower when we want, rather than around the opening hours of the pub and the usage by the kitchen!! Hoorah - only taken 3 years to get it figured out and sorted, but done now!!!    

An end is in sight for our house buying with a completion date of the 9th on the cards, but with a lot to do the house (it's in good nick - but it's what we want to do to make it ours) I doubt we'll be in much before end of February, however, the fun part of planning and spending money will start soon.  As it is, there are already a good few parcels arriving and I am pretty much on first name terms with the delivery men! :)))  

Anyway - I have to go now, Christmas cards to start writing as I am determined that it won't get left to the last minute this year..................

Saturday, 19 November 2011

My favourite Salcombe Places Part 1

 So, in keeping with the fact I'm going to talk about Salcombe as much as the Victoria Inn and my own goings on, I'm going to start tonight with 2 of my favourite things in life these days (well no 1 has always been a favourite part of my life!) Food and Jewellery!  The first 2 photo's are of Pam and Pete Bennets place - the Salcombe Yawl Sandwich Shop and Deli in town - but sooooo much more there than sandwiches!! We're very blessed in this part of Devon to have some of the most amazing produce I've ever been lucky enough to taste - and this shop is no exception......... we're fortunate in as much as living in a pub we can pretty much eat and drink anything but even we get a bit tired of having OUR food all the time so we sometimes treat ourselves  to either a tasty  Salcombe Crab tart, or a pastie or hot sausage roll or one of their dozens of sandwich/baguette fillings or simply do what I did this week and that's wander in and buy great unusual cheeses, olives and fantastic homemade coleslaw then get some crusty bread and have a 'carpet' picnic!  They stock the fantastic Cornish Yarg, wonderful Devon Ham and great Scottish Oak Smoked Salmon. They also supplied the buffet at a meeting I went to recently and that was excellent!! So maybe worth thinking about if you come down on holiday and you're having a birthday or celebration in your house??? 
My next favourite place in Salcombe is Michael (Mike) Yeomans place in Island Street - Salcombe Antiques. When we first came down to Salcombe I didn't really take too much notice of this little shop and then like a piece of metal drawn slowly to a magnet I started to be attracted to the beautiful jewellery in  his window. Now, there are a couple of really nice things about this shop - firstly, you are never ever going to see the same things in his window year in and year out. This is because all of his jewellery are one offs! New or secondhand he has beautiful pieces and I  have to say I have become ever so slightly addicted........ Secondly - he is never ever pushy! If you want to browse, feel and just try on and admire then you can. He has even let me take a ring home to see if I really liked it when I got it home - BEFORE paying!!! Then lastly - if you want to sell items or sell back to part exchange, then he really does give great prices - in fact he buys back at what he sold it for. I've had a couple of people say that surely in the middle of Salcombe Mike must be expensive?? All I can say is that if you want classic, classy items of jewellery you'll go to Mike - if you want rubbish and to see the same on any other woman......think High Street names!  I can't speak about his antiques because I know nothing at all about antiques - but I have seen one or two silver picture frames I quite fancy!!!

So thats the first of my favourite Salcombe places and there are many more to come...... I hope you enjoy this little deviation from my normal blog!  

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

This Blog's future

Just a short quick blog to say thanks to everyone who replied to me when I asked about the future of this blog - and general opinion is that it should remain but be a mix of goings on at the pub, a bit more about happenings in Salcombe and the usual drivel about my life!!!  So that's what it'll be, and I'm also going to try to include a lot more photo's - but instead of clogging up the blog post I'll put a link like the one on today's post to Picasa (oh get me eh!!!) and you can choose to look or not then! Hopefully this will be popular and also means Salcombe gets a bit more publicity when anyone goes to Google..... well at least I think that's how it works!!

Weekend just gone was of course Remembrance Sunday and the weather was breathtakingly gorgeous up at Cliff House and in the 2 minute silence all you could here were the seagulls............ really moving as usual.

The Victoria Inn continues to be awash with builders trying to locate leaks and fix boilers..... one boiler fixed and one to go with the leak almost sorted - well, that's the thinking so far..................

As for me? Well I'm off out today for a girlie lunch with 2 fabulous friends and a good old natter planned!!

Friday, 11 November 2011

There are times...........

There are times when being a pub landlady drives me flipping nuts!!! Just this week we've had the Hobbit House boiler break down and a new one installed only for that to break down the following day. The pub boiler is on a temporary mend as we await parts for that. A water bill for £4k more than it should be as there's a leak - Lord only knows where, because a succession of workmen have failed to locate it yet..... etc, etc, etc and yet, there are other times like yesterday when this job is just perfect!!

In the picture above you can see my SOH (looking awfully intelligent - don't you think) with James Fineman from St Austell Brewery wine division and the gorgeous dark haired gentleman opposite them is Roberta Perez from Bodegas Santalba,

They were here for James to talk through with Tim about changing some of our wines - although both men congratulated SOH on his excellent choice of existing wines and then also to introduce us to Roberto's wines. The company is run by him and his Father and the wines are not only gorgeous but totally organic as well. We tasted about 5 from the Ermita range and we were particularly taken by the Tinto, but also the Crianza and the Reserva - I think we shall be stocking the Crianza and hopefully the Rose when it comes to St Austell - maybe a couple of bottles of the Reserva for our own collection!!

It was a thoroughly enjoyable lunchtime and as usual I learnt so much about the product from Roberto who's enthusiasm and passion just shone through in everything he talked about!  Roberto kindly gave us a bottle of the Rose as a gift and we shall enjoy drinking that at some stage this weekend I'm sure.   

It's been a strange old week - markedly quiet from Monday and it looks like the closure of Salcombe Harbour Hotel (for renovation work) will hit the town hard this winter - and yet we have lots and lots of bookings for the weekend in both the Hobbit House and the Restaurant - so all may not be so gloomy after all.

Seven weeks to Christmas and a couple of bookings in the diary for parties - in particular the big Town Bash for fishermen etc - and as for New Year? Well, we have just 3 tables to spare - so if you're thinking of coming to us for New Year, you're going to have to book fast!!! The Old Gaffers are going to be entertaining us that night so I have a feeling it's going to be a terrific end to a terrific year................

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Captain Morgans is no longer ours..................

And it has to be said I'm not particularly  sad.......First of all a great photo on the side of the interior of Captain Morgans taken by my lovely friend Scott Baston at another photographer friend of ours whose work you really should look at!

So back to Captain Morgans. I remember sitting outside CM's with my lovely brother in law Richard when he was down here on his hols some two and a half years ago and a small for sale notice in the window caught my eye. SOH and I knew that we ran a really successful business in the Victoria Inn and the more we thought about it the more we though we could transfer those skills in to making CM a success. Fast forward a few months and the involvement of 2 sleeping partners to make the numbers add up and we found ourselves stood inside CM just a couple of days before Christmas faced with the prospect of opening at one of the years busiest times and not really knowing where to even start!

Staff transferred over from the Vic (it was quieter and they could be spared) economies of scale for purchasing were great, a re-vamp of the menu to give even better value for money and off we went!  In theory all should have been wonderful and we should have been 'sat on a goldmine' as I've often heard said to me over the last almost 2 years.............  But what didn't we take into account?? Well firstly we didn't take into account just how much of a 'family' business it had been run as previously and also how much work the main person put in. So staffing (and the associated staff costs) was always a huge issue for us right from the off - and in the end was the thing that killed it off for us.

We know that customers loved our breakfast offering and they liked the prices and the inclusion of free teas and coffee's with breakfasts - but they didn't like long waits whilst staff tried to get to grips with the peaks and troughs of service. Try as we might we just could never seem to get the staffing just right - that is when we could get the right staff in the first place.

We didn't like that on occasions some staff just didn't turn in when they should have done - believe me, getting a call at 7.15 to say the cafe wasn't open was no fun.. especially when we had perhaps only got to bed at 1.30 during the summer after a very long day at the Victoria.  Then this summer when we seemed to have the staffing just as we wanted it and we were ready to rock into the summer not one, but two members of staff left............ and for both of us that was really the end of the matter.

So we sat and talked about what had driven us to Salcombe in the first place........???  A great business opportunity in the Victoria - which we have both worked very, very hard at and the results speak for themselves. The opportunity to enjoy this glorious countryside and the sea and for SOH to get a little boat and have some fun.  Fun?? For very many months we have barely had a day off together, and half the time have not even had time to walk our little dogs - a very good friend does it for us more often than not. So tough business decisions had too be made - did we stay and limp on in the vain hope that eventually we'd get the staffing and those associated costs right or should we just make a clean break regardless???  

So here we are - Captain Morgans is no longer ours - it has passed in to the hands of Susan & Michael Fink, names well associated with Salcombe and we know from all there relevant catering / hospitality experience that they are going to make a massive success of it. But before I finish I must say a huge thank you especially to Marcus Lewis who had done an excellent job of looking after it for us for the last 9 months - many times he has kept it afloat and done over and above what he had to do. We also still have the Hobbitt House (the accommodation at the Victoria Inn) but its on a room only basis now.

It's been a challenging, frustrating and difficult time for us - but it was a business opportunity we thought would be good for us and whilst we didn't get it all right I don't think we got it all totally wrong either.  

Our next exciting challenge is to buy a little house in Salcombe and start to get our work/life balance better and better and better and enjoy a little bit more of what we originally came down here for. Not take our foot off the gas in any way - oh no (if anything we'll probably be around more as we'll be more structured!) but work at the business much more as a job than a way of life and enjoy our own lives just a bit more!

On that note - I am yet another year older on Sunday (groans not so silently)  and I am looking forward to a little celebration time with the man who makes me so happy - my scrumptious other half!!