Thursday, 14 March 2013

Where is our Spring

Wyleigh dog deciding what to have
Well, I don't know about you but I'm starting to think Spring is never going to arrive....... I can't recall a time I've been as cold as I have been again this week! 
Monday, I was so cold I 'worked from home' (read into that what you will!) and don't think I got warm till nearly tea time - having to take the dogs out for a walk didn't help matters, as its never a five minute event!  But today the weather showed signs of being fairly good and it was!! I even managed to get my absolutely filthy car to be given a clean whilst I did some  shopping late this afternoon. But tonight, its gone back to being so cold and icy winds again - aren't you fed up with it? I most certainly am.
Salcombe Fore Street has been a right pickle this week as the road has been closed past the pub and traffic having to be guided by traffic lights - when they work!! They're have been times when its been complete gridlock as no one will move.......... Even worse when the lights decide not to work.
The road is closed for another couple of days as the Harbour Hotel (currently being re-furbished) is having works done that needed the road to be closed, but the hotel are announcing they are opening in August.  It will be great for us, as we get quite a lot of custom from their customers.  
But it has to be said, that although the weather has been ridiculously cold business has been remarkably buoyant........ I think its the fire that draws people in - we always make sure its a good, big, roaring fire and we always have the candles lit - it all adds a certain charm to our already great pub.
Even in the afternoon we've been serving Fillet Steaks! Talking of food we've been putting the finishing touches to a new light lunch menu in readiness for Easter - we went to a trade show last week and we always get some ideas from those things. Putting some completely new stuff on - but not unveiling till the last minute..................
Last night we had our working kitchen re-modelled in readiness for the busier season. Now we have a much bigger Kitchen team, and we're serving food from 12 to 9 we need to to ensure a smoother flow for the cooking and clearing. My darling SOH thought he and the other workmen would be away by about 2 this morning but didn't get home till 5! I was not impressed and we had to miss a great Brewery course because of it, but the kitchen looks good!  Still a couple of things to tackle - there's NEVER enough space, but now its all about being creative with what space we do have.  
A function here at the pub on Saturday and took a booking for a wedding in April! Lovely stuff................

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Happy Mothers Day

My Darling Mum holding a cuddly toy from me
Happy Mothers Day to all of you Mums out there wherever you maybe.

My own Mum has been dead some 18 years this year, and being a Grandma has made me very thoughtful about life, heritage, family etc. The reality is that in maybe 100 years or even less I will be just a few faded photos and maybe the odd spoken about memory - so in this world of growing technology I would like to use this space to put on record what I know about my Mum - Ena Elizabeth Mary Morley (nee Williams, nee Terry) and pay homage to her life so that if relative in years to come fancies having a look at their strange (maybe disjointed) family tree they might find this!  

My Mum was born back in 1913, in Selsey in Sussex. Therefore growing up a little girl during the First World War 1914/18 - I'm always hopeful she knew little of it and that her childhood was not blighted by such awful atrocities as were witnessed by many with their men returning completely changed both mentally and physically.

My Mum never, ever, ever used to like talking about her childhood or her younger years - I do know that she was 'In Service' from about the age of 14 to a Jewish family. Consequently she never had a good word to say about Jews, or Catholics (heaven knows why!) or for that matter Religion as a whole.........(I don't know what she'd think about MY return to God!!). One of her more favoured sayings was from that hard working era I'm sure: 'Hard work never killed anyone - but why give it a chance'! (or words to that effect!).

She was a young woman during the second world war, with a failed marriage and a young son - life was I believe very hard for her, and I think this is why she would never, ever discuss the war or much about her younger years with me. She had a Brother who went down with HMS Hood when she was sunk - that's as much as I ever knew!

Working as a BAR MAID (it must be in my blood!) she met my Dad! Ernest Samuel Williams - a Welsh miner (Port Talbot, South Wales) who fought in the war in what was then Ceylon and the D Day landings, but came back to Portsmouth as a Postman - and I was the result!!

A very late unexpected mid life baby........ Christened Elizabeth, I was always told to say that this was my name and it was never to be shortened - sorry Dad, I'm Liz to everyone! Sadly, my Dad passed away when I was 8 and I don't think my Mum ever fully recovered. She became very bitter and angry with life, but made her life through me.

Despite being really quite poor (we had a 2 up 2 down - with a tin bath behind the kitchen door for a weekly bath!) I never went without anything if she could help it. I always had sweets every week from Woolworths, and yes there were school trips abroad later on that she couldn't afford, but my twice yearly treat was to go to a clothes shop where she would buy my summer and winter clothes - even now I can still smell the cottons. What I didn't know then was that the man who called every Friday night was coming round for his little book with money in to pay for them...........! An early Barclay Card maybe???

She insisted we had Butter - never Margarine, and I can always remember the Christmas that the kitchen was filled with feathers from a plucked chicken we were having as a treat for Christmas. I can also remember one of the few times she cried - the Aberfan disaster in Wales - and holding me tightly as she wept for those poor children buried in a slag heap.  

Another marriage loomed large to a widower called Jim, whom I almost instantly disliked but learnt to love. This marriage meant we had to move to a rougher part of Portsmouth called Portsea, where once again she continued to work her socks off - this time in a bakery. The treat was the cakes and bread that came home from her shifts, but I never felt she enjoyed her time there. 

No more than I enjoyed living there either, remorselessly bullied because of her insistence that I spoke correctly, was polite, worked hard at school and continued to enjoy my love of English and Music. None of that made me a hit with other girls!! However, that insistence paid off when I got employment because of just those characteristics.

My Mum later went back to bar work in a Sailors club, and euphemistically 'liked a drink', a lover of Famous Grouse she would only ever have a double, because a single 'made a fool of your mouth'!! She was highly intolerant of many things and people (see above!) and believed in speaking her mind and 'telling the truth and shaming the devil'(!!)

She instilled in me the virtues of honesty and hard work that have held me in good stead all of my life. There is no doubt that I WAS her life, I could have married royalty but no one would have been good enough for 'her Elizabeth'.

In tough times of my life, she was always there for me with kindly words, more than the odd fiver or so to 'put in your purse my girl' and in her later years as age and ill health took their toll, she softened and became less angry with the world - and looked to me for re-assuring hugs herself. Never ending a visit without the words; 'Love you lots' to each other.

Right up to the end she retained a razor sharp brain - able to do mental arithmetic and loved the programme Countdown, often outdoing contestants.  A caustic wit never deserted her and she spoke sharply of living in a home at the end with 'Old People'!! An avid watcher of Snooker (she could name any of them!) and a deep distrust of anyone I was friends with.......!!

She took me to my first ever concert to see the Batchelors: This song remained a favourite of hers, and even now I can't listen without shedding a tear.

Ena Elizabeth Mary was my Mum and I loved her, so for all of you out there on this Mothering Sunday - love your Mum's too, don't just buy flowers or make the special effort today - do it all the time, and always remember to tell her how much you care. 

Love you lots Mum xxx

Friday, 1 March 2013

Admin Assistant or Pub Landlady?

There have been moments this week when I have felt very much like an underpaid Admin Asst.............. I have been chained to our desk, reviewing all our policies and procedures and on Wednesday I sat for almost 10 hrs straight typing, collating, sorting and filing and I still have more to do tomorrow when I go in.

Our advertising for new staff has gone very, very well - we have been overwhelmed with applicants this time. So much so, we closed the list quite early because we had so many callers.

So many young people (17 / 18yrs) desperate for work, and some older people as well. Very, very sad to see and hear such desperation........... however, we have taken some great people on. Nowadays though I take people for their value rather than feeling sorry for them, ohhhhhh I have got harder!!!

We've taken a lovely young man in our kitchen who shows much potential and we are also taking on 2 young boys to be Apprentice's. The Apprentices are particularly exciting as its important to prepare for our future, and I am looking forward to helping these two grow and learn, and of course, what they will bring to our business. We've also got another 4 for the front of house, it means that hopefully we'll be able to have less holiday staff and more well trained permanent staff!

Very, very exciting to be able to be growing our business like this and importantly for the people we are taking on - its a bit like a dog not being just for Christmas, these jobs are (hopefully!) for the whole year - not seasonal!

On Thursday I attended a Customer Service Training course with a bit of knowledge about the Riviera Coast thrown in for good measure. I must say that it took me back to when I worked in Local Government, and staff attended courses because they blooming well had to! Those of us that had paid (a couple) were very attentive, but some of the younger ones were very giggly and frankly annoying, yet it was those that needed it most!!

A mixed crowd, there was a fab young man who after being made redundant 6 times in 6 years was starting his own Paddle Boarding company - his enthusiasm was infectious. Some young people from a big local attraction and also a camp site. There was also a contingent from a hotel that had been on the TV quite a bit, and it was interesting to make comparisons from what I'd seen on the TV to how they actually behaved. One of the ladies impressed me greatly with her loyalty to the old boss, but the lads, although nice confirmed their television impression. We have had the opportunity to appear in a TV series but we declined, and after seeing and then hearing their experiences first hand - I think we made the right choice........... the saying that all publicity is good publicity does not always seem to be true!?! But I do wish the new young General Manager good luck in turning the hotel around - for someone so young she had huge responsibilities - but a great head on young shoulders.

The menu planning for the summer is coming on a treat, and customers can be sure of a few nice surprises this year....... But next week we are off to Cornwall with Head Chef James and Manager Glo to a large trade show and take a look at what's on offer and what the trends are for crockery etc. I think we need to make a bit of investment in new crockery as I don't think we can limp through another year with what we have - especially offering food all day now!

Our new advertising boards have been done and are looking splendid - we are very lucky to have such a talented friend who does them for us. Even a new (last year very controversial) Man Creche sign!! They have made the front of the pub very eye catching and colourful and I think they look fab!