Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Its that time of year!

Victoria Inn Christmas Tree 2011
It's that time of year when in just a few weeks it will be Christmas and we'll be having a jolly old time - however, in the meantime the shops already seem to be in a frenzy of people walking round (women predominantly - of course!) with shopping lists in hand and that vaguely demonic look in their eyes as they hunt down THAT perfect present for the one they love or in some cases don't! We've all unwrapped that present haven't we - you know the one where in your head you're thinking 'WHAT THE ****', but out of your mouth jump the words 'Lovely - thank you'! I've been known (many years ago - never now of course :)!) to keep gifts I didn't like and then 're-gift' on another occasion............ which is fine, unless you happen to give said item back to person who gave you it in the first place! Which I'm pretty damn sure I did once!!

I drove to Exeter on Monday and cracked the last of my Christmas shopping, and what a lovely shopping centre it is too! For me, it was far better than Plymouth and I enjoyed my contribution to pulling us OUT of recession.................... 

So, where was I...???  Oh yes - Christmas!  Well for the first time ever, we are not going to be opening the Victoria Inn on Christmas Day. We've thought long and hard about it, but because we're not a 'locals' pub in the broadest sense of the word (hardened drinkers propping up the bar every day) and have customers who would expect us to be open (its a tradition) then, no, we're going to shut late Christmas Eve and that will be it. In fact I remember VERY well our first customer last year at about 12.15 coming in and asking if we were selling sandwiches that day!! Most offended she was as well that we weren't!!  First year here we served Christmas lunch to about 50 if I remember rightly, 2nd year the recession had hit and couldn't sell a ticket for love nor money - right up till the week before when we had a flurry of about ummmm 6! 

The following year we were left with 4 blokes who just didn't want to leave (I pity their wives and family when they eventually got home........ Bet the Turkey was knackered!) and kept us there till about 5 and last year I was adamant that we would only be open for 2 hours! Which we did, but neither of us really felt it had been worth it. So this year, not only do all our staff get Christmas Day off, but so will we! Hoorah!! 

I am so excited about our first Christmas Day together in our new home - I've always dreamt of a big family/friends Christmas and this year we have friends and family coming for the day - 8 in total!! Sadly not my immediate family of son, wife and grandchild, but hopefully we'll be able to Skype quickly...??? Oh yes, I've had a technological breakthrough and I am writing this blog on my brand new laptop.  I could have done with a degree in using it though or failing that a computer literate child would have been useful!!!  

Anyway, I digress, we are open straight away at 11.30a.m on Boxing Day with a full lunchtime menu but no evening food service! Talking to Holiday home staff etc we are looking busy for the period after Christmas - which reminds me to say.......... WE ARE ALREADY VERY BOOKED FOR NEW YEARS EVE!!!! Now, that's not a marketing ploy, I promise you. We really and honestly have loads of people booked in! So if you want to eat with us - you must book soon, otherwise don't blame me if you're disappointed .........:)  If you want a look at the NYE menu, go to our website and the Latest News page:  Also, we're doing our famous Curry Buffet lunch on New Years Day and ALREADY people have been enquiring about it! 

Right - now where did I hide the Christmas cards I bought last year.................

Monday, 5 November 2012

The oldest groupy in town

Jack Savoretti
 So last week my friend Clare and I had booked to go to Portsmouth and see this amazing young singer Jack Savoretti ( and actually an equally amazing support artist called Karima Francis!).
I have been listening to this young mans voice for some while now and I find his voice really hypnotic, and
quite powerful actually, so when I saw he was going to be in Portsmouth I decided to combine a quick visit to No1 grandchild AND a concert. Now of course my idea of concerts (at this grand advanced age I seem to have reached !) is a reasonaby comfortable chair in a concert hall! Something in my head should have reasoned that as the concert was being held in a place I remembered to be famous for student type gigs, then this probably wasn't going to happen............
Karima Francis

My worst fears for the evening were realised upon queueing outside the building and realising that I was almost probably the oldest person there............ as I face yet another Birthday tomorrow, this was not the greatest feeling on Earth!! Upon stepping inside to the 'Concert Hall' I realised that not only were there no chairs but it was like the inside of what I presume Men's prisons halls look like!!!  Clare and I swiftly secured our 2 spots at the very front of the stage and I did a quick recky to check A the state of the loos (not that bad) and B) the state of the bar! The latter being small and with staff who looked like they were bored to death before the evening had even started!

The very first warm up act did nothing to quell my fears that I had stumbled into the sort of show that x factor rejects had made up - worst of all he was a local Portsmouth lad (sorry mate!) just not for me I guess..............

I eyed up the bar with a lot more longing and after short deliberation and an exchange (could not be called customer contact in ANY way!) with the bar person a large (tepid) G & T had found it's way into my hand when a certain magic happened........... This shy, quiet slip of a young woman walked on, opened her mouth and sang and she took my breath away! Karima Francis - gentle, unassuming and with the voice of Joni Mitchell/Joan Armatrading type blew away my thoughts of being old and in the wrong place........
Listen to her (and download / buy her album The Remedy) I think she was fab!

Anyway, there I am feeling a lot less old all, quite mellow and starting to enjoy the evening (it really was only 1 G & T) when Jack Savoretti and his group made their appearance.......... all I can say is wow, wow, and wow!!! I just alluded to X Factor and some of the so called singers that they have on there - but my goodness this young man outstripped all of them. Again and a bit like Karima -, he was understated, gentle (well mostly,till he really rocked out some of the songs!) When he played alone, the band having left the stage, he was just so amazing! The talent of this man was breathtaking! His acoustic guitar playing alone was brilliant!

So there we were - glued to the front railing, swaying and dancing and looking like moon struck teenagers at this gorgeous man!! Take me Home and a Soldiers Eyes were among my favourites, but For the Last Time was for me THE BEST!! 

Jack also has a great album out called Before the Storm - don't buy it for me though, I've already got it - but buy it for yourselves............. its fan-tas-tic!!!