Sunday, 26 February 2012

Highs, lows and in-betweens

The title of this blog post pretty much sums up what this last week or so has been like really! The highs was the most amazing news that we've been shortlisted nationally for the semi finals of the BII (British Institute of Licensees) Licensee of the Year!! Very, very exciting news especially as it's a national award and they apparently had an additional 22% extra applicants this year to last year. There now follows a personal interview here at the Victoria in a couple of weeks and if that's successful a further interview process in London! But we are delighted to have got this far and give high praise to our fabulous team of staff as without them we would not have got to this stage even.

Business as a whole this week has been the normal post half term stuff - gone back to a reasonable trade, but I doubt we'll ever get used to this seasonal approach of all or nothing! However, the Hobbitt House bookings have been flooding in again this week - so thats great news as well. The road works here in Salcombe continue to annoy business's and drivers alike, but we are hopeful of an end in sight!  

The lows have been a succession of things going wrong with our new home - a boiler leaking and going on to newly painted walls (which now need re-painting), then that leak also going into the conservatory wall, followed by furniture being delivered with wrong cushions and because scaffold was still in place a whole door frame having to come off - so more painting. Electrical goods bought by Curries duly delivered but with the tumble dryer not working! A truly awful customer service experience followed of countless calls and the usual awful things of dealing with major call centres. Leading me to e mail the CEO himself no less - amazing what info you can find on the internet.......... which resulted in a call TODAY (Sunday) from a very nice young man called James who made sense of what had happened, explained why it had happened and what he'll do to to try to make sure it shouldn't happen again to any other customer and a promise of a voucher for £20! The voucher is neither here nor there but the fact that he took the time to call twice, apologise, etc went a long way. Will I buy from Curry's or a sister branch (Dixons/PC World) again??   Truthfully, probably not - but at least James helped make the situation slightly better. Lets wait to see that the replacement works first!!!

Lastly - I fell of my chair I was sitting on in our office (no I wasn't Brahms & Lizst - 2 months now without so much as a drop!) when picking up something off the floor and smacked my head open on a sharp object! No stitches needed, but plenty of blood, a good few tears and a banging headache......... 

The in-betweens have just been trying to pack up our home at the Victoria into boxes, whilst trying to do the day to day running of the business and other life 'stuff' as well. Talking of 'stuff' - how on earth do we accrue so much 'stuff' in our lives!!!!!!  I wish I knew - it's been a revelation really......things have appeared that I have no knowledge of, whilst there have been other things that I thought had been long gone! Any clear space has a box, or bubble wrap, or something on it right now and thank the Lord for our upstairs restaurant which currently looks like a holding platform for Pickfords - or in our case - South Hams Removals!!!

So on the final subject of the house and moving, this will be my final blog for a couple of weeks, at least until we're in and settled. As well as the move I have lots of business'y stuff I need to get sorted for the Olympics and things like that, so not a lot of time for fun stuff like this blog......... sorry darlings! 

Think of us doing the big move in a week and try not to miss your fix of Salcombe and the Victoria too much - I'll be back soon.. X

Friday, 10 February 2012

One month & one week gone

Only 10 months and 3 weeks to go - not that I'm counting............ what aren't I counting?? Well, how many long it is since I last had a drink this year!!!  Oh I don't think I've told you have I - I'm off the booze/ the sauce / ALCOHOL for a whole year!! Pray tell why I hear you shout - well the answer is as complex as varied in reasons to be honest.......Firstly, it is incredibly easy in the pub game to get in the habit of having a drink ' to unwind' at night.......... but then in fairness when I look at how many of my friends with 'normal' lives who have alcohol EVERY night, I know I'm not alone in that thinking. However, my unwinding drink could often (and often did) lead to a whole bottle.  Next, who ever made wine stoppers must have realised that they were on to a great money maker - because if anyone can tell me that they ACTUALLY use them I'll congratulate them - wine when open in my hands is made for drinking.. never, ever to have a stopper in and 'save for later'! What later?? Tomorrow, next time with Dinner. not blooming likely - well, not in my lifetime anyway!!   I also know that I'm an all or nothing person, and that as I get older hangovers have become 2 day events and the pain was outstripping the pleasure.  But lastly and really most importantly, following yet another sickly and ghastly January, I have decided that this year is going to be all about me (seriously!!) and that actually, I really need all the vitamins I can get hold of to whizz about my body this year and help keep me well. Hence the reason, I've taken a year off......... peoples reactions have been many and varied but on the whole really supportive and understanding.

Long suffering SOH who is used to my various 'phases' was I suspect quietly sceptical at first, and the first 'test' - a social function - which saw me nursing a sparkling mineral water surprised him I think, but now, 2 more social's and various evenings with friends and resolutely sober he's at the pleasantly proud stage! You know what? So am I - and mostly it's fine I've hardly missed it - and as one of my friends said - 'all drink does is make you even louder - you're fun without it'! :) Wasn't that a lovely thing to say.......scarey, but lovely!

I met one of my Twitter 'friends' last Saturday in person....... now there's a scary old thing you know. I agree with all that's being written lately about having Facebook and Twitter 'friends' - according to both of the social networks I belong to I have over 1,000 'friends' all told.... what utter tosh! I have about 6 people I would call real close life and death friends and as for all the rest - well a lot are acquaintances, many are for work and others I barely know.... so agreeing to meet this one, Emma, was a bit like agreeing to an Internet date (we both agreed that bit actually) and felt slightly uncomfortable at first. Well I say at first, because that feeling lasted for about 10 seconds and we sat and talked for nearly and hour and a half, and I loved her...... she was smart, witty, funny, really lovely!  We agreed to meet again really soon and now I think we have the makings of a great friendship!

What else this week - well Tim (and I) were interviewed for BBC Spotlight yesterday about First Responders - SOH about why he is one and me as to why we need more of them...........  Like everything he does in life SOH took it all in his stride and performed like a real pro - me?? I stuttered and bumbled and wished I'd said it all differently and yet more of it at the same time! But it was a fun experience. The reporter was smart, witty, funny and lovely. Oh yes, did I tell you - her name was Emma!!!

Friday, 3 February 2012

The night I came over all girly

For all of my Blog readers who are not British there are some iconic Chefs/Cooks in this country - in fact you're hard pushed to turn on a television without one of them telling you how to cook something or other and preferably whilst shouting at the top of your voice, looking at the item from strange angles or using dry ice! But one of the most iconic and now very much 'in' again is the great Mary Berry. Known to us here in the UK particularly for her being part of the Great British Bake Off team. I knew Mary had been in town as she was opening the newly re-furbished Yacht Club, but I nearly had heart failure when I realised she was sat in my pub on a quiet and very cold Monday night, WITH a menu in her hand!!!

Now as you regular readers know, we get a lot of 'celebs' in the Victoria Inn and in Salcombe generally........... half the time I don't know who they are or else we just accept them as any other guest - the exception being Nick Knowles last year who managed to reduce me to a gibbering, blushing wreck!! Even Prince Charles didn't have quite the same effect as him....... anyway, moving on! I'm really confident about the food we cook and serve here unless I know it's to a fellow licensee/chef so you can imagine the state I was in!  

Off I went into the kitchen - 'OMG Mary Berry is in our pub and she's eating'............. and so on and so forth, until my chef threw me out of the kitchen!! Anyway, I sat well away from her but checked out regularly that she wasn't screwing her face up or spitting it out!! Needless to say my staff played their part well (think it helped they didn't really know who she was!) and she and her Husband appeared delighted!! SOH and I were sat with some good friends that evening and we talked about the programme and the fact I had the book AND had baked some recipes from it (yes son - THAT fruit cake!) after much egging on, said book was retrieved and like a trembling school child about to go the headmistress I approached her table and asked (with a tremulous voice!) if she would sign my copy of the book!!!  Not only did she sign with best wishes but she also said how much they'd enjoyed their meal and she wrote that as well............. then we talked about my baking and then she talked to my friends about a couple of cooking issues!!!  A delightful lady who once again showed that 'proper' celebs (like the lovely regular visitor Ian Wright & Nick) are down to earth nice people! To make my life complete I'd like Heston Blumenthal to walk through the door this year... oh and Barry Manilow would be nice as well!!! Maybe Michael Buble as well please...........

Apart from that, not a lot else really to report on in this blog. Absolutely freezing cold in common with the rest of the country but glorious sunshine. My friend Clare and I walked our dogs this afternoon and sat in the shelter in the sun and it was positively spring like........... not quite like that now mind you, but this is where the huge open fire in our bar is such a draw to our customers.  Business is a bit up and down mainly due to the roadworks and no hotel open up the road - but the roadworks are moving UP the road so that should help us out! We now operate a 20% discount off our specials board for the next couple of weeks, and that has certainly helped with trade I think.

SOH is working soooooo hard up at our home painting & decorating, and we have at last had the go-ahead for the 2 dormer windows to be created so all is looking good for our home now! We hope to move in early March, and I don't think I could be any more excited than I am!!

So I always have to sit in our office to type this blog and it's flipping FREEZING - my fingers have nearly seized up with cold, so time to get the kettle on and thaw them out!! Stay warm my lovelies and take care if you're out and about in the ice!