Friday, 30 December 2011

Happy New Year

Well almost...............not quite there yet though are we -  one more day to go!! I've never been a festive season sort of gal - but being with SOH this last few years has altered all that, as much for being in the business and HAVING to like this time as it is to be in love with someone so very, very gorgeous and who makes every day of our lives together so special!

Nowadays, I tend to look back at the previous year with a great deal more contentment in my heart and an awful lot of pride again this year at what we have achieved together and with the assistance of our fantastic team of colleagues who help us each and every day to make the Victoria Inn the fabulous pub that it is. Every single one of them - front of house, kitchen, cleaners and holiday staff - they all work to help us achieve our aim of running a busy, vibrant, successful and fantastic pub.  Both Tim & I know how lucky we are to have these people supporting us, and I hope that in return they continue to enjoy working with us.

We've spent a lot of money on training this year, but we are both committed to having a highly skilled team and we believe it has paid dividends and we are hopeful of continuing this in 2012. The garden has grown and thrived with even more planting and additional work done at the top of the garden to give even more pleasure to our visitors.

We personally enjoyed the success of being St Austell's 'Tenanted Wine House of the Year' for 2010 (awarded at the start of 2011) and the amazing visit to Champagne as our prize in September.  Despite being in the middle of the most awful recession we have continued to see our hard work pay off with a steady trade, many repeat customers and lots and lots of new ones as well!

I continue to slave away at the social media side, facebooking, twittering and blogging..... It all takes time but I think it's worth it. It doesn't come without it's pitfalls though and I have just had to put up with the fact that if you put yourself 'out there', you have to accept the 'brick bats' as well as the praise. I know I sometimes get tetchy about Trip Advisor but unjustified criticism will always wound me, whereas a true complaint (and we are no more perfect than any one else) will spur me on to make sure it doesn't happen again or that we try to make amends there and then. In the summer particularly when you are sending out in excess of 300 meals some days - try as we might we will just never please everyone all the time.

I've had a few issues about my blog at times - 99.5% love it and I get loads and loads of messages of support and soooooo many customers say that it helps them keep in touch with their beloved Salcombe - especially now I've branched out a little with more photo's and some of MY favourite places in Salcombe. I'll try and perfect my photographic skills in 2012 and take and publish even more pictures of this beautiful area.

What else about 2011 has been memorable for me???????? Well we sold Captain Morgans, we had a whole weeks holiday together, I went to Greece on my own (and probably wouldn't go again), I continued to cultivate friendships with some very special ladies here in Salcombe and worked to keep the threads of friendship with dear friends far away. My Church and it's people keeps growing in my heart and soul, my driving continues to take me to places previously unvisited and the freedom I now have continues to astound me - particularly being able to pop to Portsmouth to see my son Paul and his wife Caroline - who I continue to miss badly. Lastly, we have of course bought our very first house together (me a born and bred council tenant - who'd have thought it!!) and we are both very excited at the prospect of another chapter of our life together starting.  Unbelieveably I thought I was going to have my first ever nervous breakdown this year when life seemed to get completely on top of me, but I didn't, with the help and love of those around me and a little time to myself I came through and I'm all the stronger for it. In fact I was talking to a young Salcombe man last week and he said some very, very wise words: He said that every one who comes to Salcombe goes through three phases - firstly, they LOVE it! Then they don't love it and then they fall back in love with it....... and thats where I am right now....... falling in love with it all over again!

So to all of you who read my meanderings on a regular basis or as one person wrote to me the other day - they were 'blog walking' (!!)  and stumbled upon my blog and loved it. May I wish you all a very peaceful, prosperous and a very, VERY happy 2012.

I hope you will continue to enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it Xxx

Thursday, 22 December 2011

My VERY favourite place...........

Well then peeps, my last blog before Christmas and hopefully as a business we enter a busy period - this really is my most favourite place in Salcombe - Holy Trinity Church.

The top picture is of the Lady Chapel within the Church and the 2nd picture is of the stained glass window at the top end of the Church.  The Church of Holy Trinity was consecrated to God in 1844, and I am always struck by this feeling of real history emanating from its very core. Of Salcombe people and it's visitors making memories through the years - celebrating sad and happy times. I have visited a lot of Churches through the years always seeking THAT feeling and never found it until we came here to Salcombe.   It is an absolutely beautiful Church - a Grade 2 listed building with many interesting features and memorials. In the Lady Chapel East window there is a Russian Icon designed by N.H.Westlake and the most stunning and unusual copper sheather art nouveau chancel gates beautifully decorated with enamels at the main alter. The wooden alter was made by Salcombe craftsmen in 1900 and there are 10 painted depicting angels with musical instruments - a truly gorgeous work of art.   
For those of you who've read my blog since I began, you'll know that my 'relationship' with God has not always been an easy one over the years - and it has to be said there are still times I sit in the peace of Holy Trinity and have more questions than answers swirling round my head - but on the whole I think I now understand what He wants of me and more importantly what I can do for Him.

So when I sit in one of the chairs in Church and I stare at this beautiful window, absolutely nothing else matters - all that matters is that I try to be the best person I can possibly be for Him and the world that I live in. As we enter the Christmas period full on, and we all get caught up in the whole consumer experience it's easy to lose sight of why we're celebrating Christmas at all - is it really about the amount of food and drink we can consume?? Is it really about partying and buying the most lavish and expensive gifts we possibly can't afford? Or is it about remembering the start of a magical journey.............

So, if the Church is my favourite place - then some of my favourite people just have to be Father Daniel and his lovely wife Fran......... great people who make the Church a living, breathing place of love and life and we are very blessed to have them for our guidance and our friends.

It's now onto the business in hand of running a business. We are hopeful of a busy Christmas with people visiting friends and relatives and probably an even busier New Year. Christmas Eve we still have a few tables left for you to come and eat with us, but New Years Eve we are fully booked!!  We will open for just 2 hours on Christmas Day and it's only SOH and me............... but it's usually very good fun, and better still - SOH cooks my Christmas dinner!    I'll write again if I possibly can before the start of another wonderful Year!

I'd like to say a very, very Happy Christmas to all of you who either read my blog on a regular basis or just wander by every now and then. I hope you get everything you hope to get, lots of love,laughs and kindness and hopefully the company of those you love the most. X

Sunday, 18 December 2011

MY Favourite things - part 2

I almost feel as though I should start this with music from The Sound of Music - My Favourite Things..... there is no doubt that there is a theme of food and beautiful things in these threads and today my chosen Favourite Things is: Cranch's Pantry run by Suzanne, Angela, Peter and a host of other lovely helpful and friendly people.  I remember when we first moved here being absolutely mortified that I was so far away from my usual stomping ground of Marks & Spencer, Waitrose etc and wondering how on earth I was going to survive without those Gods of shopping............... I stocked up with lots of foodstuffs to bring with us convinced my days would never be the same without the staples of foods I had come to rely on and that clearly we were going almost to the ends of the earth!  But oh my goodness, once again all my pre-conceived ideas flew out of the window the first day I walked into Cranch's Pantry - firstly, to see the foods laid out in front of the shop was a joy to behold and then the smells as you enter the shop is practically indescribable! As to how they can stock almost anything you could ever ask for and it has to be said for very little extra (if at all in many cases - particularly with fuels costs factored in!) is amazing! As for those Marks & Sparks staple foods I talked about - let me tell you there is a certain brand of fruit cake that Cranch's stock which knocks spots of M & S!!!!  Then of course there is Chanch's sweetshop next door - a veritable Mecca to all that is holy in terms of sweets, chocolate and other confectionery............. you can have 20p's worth of this or a fiver for something else. Gorgeous pale brown/dark brown/ coloured fudges - so you can a little of each if you like............ and lets be honest, when it comes to the sweet stuff what isn't there to like??  

But once again, what makes this shop so special and used to be replicated throughout our land in thousands of other similar small towns and villages?  Well, it's that old magic called 'Customer Service'. Staff and customers knowing each other, feeling like you're a valued customer and not just a number to make up the profits, a place to meet and discuss the weather and any other dozen numbers of discussion points. Even if you're only walking past the door with the dogs there's inevitably a cheery wave and a 'hiya'..... I defy you to try that with one of the big supermarkets......

So what else - well the weather has cranked down a good few gears with face startling cold winds and freezing rains, but at last the visitors appear to have started to return ready for the testive season. Good news for us is that we are SOLD OUT for dining New Years Eve but we will still have room for you to come and join us for drinking and frolics with the Old Gaffers - our sea shanty singers, and maybe have Alan Dark amaze you with some Magic!!

We fed about 80 people from local business's on Friday and had nothing but compliments, so huge rounds of applause to our great staff - especially Chef and his team for making it happen!! 'Hoorah.'........  

SOH & I have been busy 'matchpotting' in our new house and planning for our future - all very exciting and frankly a little tiny bit terrifying as we start to see what we need to spend and where we will have to make economies - but the house is generally in really good nick, its a couple of major jobs and a few minor things - but with all meeting to make a substantial whole in our pockets! Scarey!

Then this time next week, where will we all be?? I predict we'll both be slumped in front of a very quiet TV with our 2 babies, Rosie & Archie snuggled up having opened for just a couple of hours in the lunchtime, followed by great food (which SOH will cook for us) a bottle of good wine, Christmas Pud and a large liqueur?? 

I hope to get one more blog post in this week about another favourite and VERY special place in Salcombe of mine this week.......... Until then, take care and be kind to each other - life is too short to do anything else X

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Excited? Moi?

Actually I don't think I can tell you just how excited I am right now.............. We have this week completed on our little dream house!!!! I swear if I get any more excited about it all I shall just burst!!!!  In a few short months of talking about getting our own place to live in and then actually doing it, here we are - homeowners!  We completed on Monday, with Tuesday seeing us go out and starting to buy furniture and lighting, Wednesday saw a succession of tradesmen to quote for a myriad of jobs we shall need doing and the buying of paint 'match pots' to see if the reality will live up to the colours in our heads. Because of dreaded planning application rules and our desire for a couple of new windows it's unlikely we'll move in until end of February but I just know that this time is going to fly by in a rush of on line buying and shopping in the sales for all those things we need (no really, we do!!) to make our new home perfect. There have been so many times in my life when things seemed pretty bleak and I could never have imagined that I would feel this overwhelming happiness that I seem to feel so much of the time these days - but I DO, and I constantly thank the Big Man upstairs for it! In one of my next blog posts I want to introduce you to Lee, the young man working for us now as assistant manager and who will take the live-in role when we move. But trust me - we will still be around lots and lots - in fact I bet you'll see more of us than ever..... no intention of taking our foot of the gas too much!!!  

Trade is incredibly quiet again this week - with the awful weather not helping much either, but tomorrow we have the Island Street bash at the Victoria Inn. This all the traders like boat builders, craftesmen, fishermen etc.  They take it in turns to go to one of the pubs in town every year and this is our first ever year - so I'm determined we'll give them the best pre-Christmas meal ever.  I think we're catering for just over 80 so should be a great buzz about the place tomorrow!

If you're still debating where to spend Christmas Eve Dinner or New Years Eve Dinner - then you really need to get on to the phone to us fast as we have only a few tables free for Christmas Eve and for New Year we only have 2 tables left! New Years Eve we have the Old Gaffers and Alan Dark with his 'Touch of Magic'.

Christmas Day it's just SOH and I working from 12 - 2 only - so come in and say Happy Christmas and enjoy a pre-lunch drink why don't you???

Also again this year we are doing our fabulous Homemade Curry Buffet but ONLY on New Years Day: 12 - 3!!! £10.95 with a choice of 3 or 4 curries including a great vegetarian Balti, Chutney and Poppadum............ every year the numbers grow and grow for this - so don't miss out!

Right then - I still have some cards to write, a couple of pressies to wrap and tomorrows paty to sort out for seating and crackers etc.......... If I can manage another blog before the big day then I will.

Keep warm and dry my lovelies x

Saturday, 10 December 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.........

Well that's what Michael Buble was singing just now on my Ipod in the pub!!! First time of putting the Christmas music on in the Victoria Inn this year and we certainly had some very jolly customers and staff at lunchtime! The pub looks gorgeous as usual with even more decorations in the restaurant this year - so looking festive and smelling festive with the great mulled wine that we're selling! It's been a very (and I mean VERY) quiet week this week at some stages - a couple of lunchtimes that we didn't see half a dozen people come over the threshold and then a couple of evenings where we did really, really well - so it's very hard to call at the moment as to what trade will be like over Christmas and new Year - but today has been exceptionally good with quite a few bookings in for tonight - so it's any ones guess really. I can't help it, but whenever we have a quiet spell I always worry that it's us, what we're doing etc etc - but then when you speak to other traders and they are saying the same thing - I calm down a little. The menus are written and up for Christmas Eve & New Years Eve, and I have had a major triumph with SOH about putting together a special children's menu for this holiday period............. He wasn't at all happy about it, but I just want to see how a good, wholesome and healthy Children's menu will work??

Think he's trying to tell me how to play!
We had a great night out in 'Plymuff' last night with 2 friends of our who run the restaurant Catch in Salcombe - we went to a Casino. First time for both men and I have to say it was a fairly eye opening experience for many reasons............. Firstly, may I say that I have a fairly limited experience of Casino's myself. I used to love to go to the casino in Gibraltar when it was next to the posh Rock Hotel but on my visit back last year it had moved to being part of a huge marina complex and it was decidedly down market! Anyway - back to last night.......... I was really disappointed in the fact that people just don't dress up to go out anymore - unless you count dresses that are showing bottoms (& Tattoo's) and men in tatty jeans. Oh my - now I sound dreadfully old AND old fashioned, but where has the glamour gone from our lives???? Then there were the people you see in all casino's across the world - the ones with the haunted pallid look, inwardly praying for THEIR numbers to come out and that look writ large across every muscle of their face! The orientals who would bet on the first thing that moves and the little old ladies spending dead husbands money and maybe their pensions. The drunk blokes blowing their wages ( & their wives housekeeping) and then those men with an eye out looking for the main chance. I can say this as a man stepped forward from the shadows and commented on my diamond earrings............. and I quickly commented back on my Husband less than 10 yards away!!!  So as much as I really enjoyed the evening and our £25 quids worth of fun - I walked away slightly unsettled at the overall experience. As for Plymouth late at night...?? Less said the better..........  Anyway, I must go as I have Christmas cards to write still and just a couple of pressies left to wrap!