Monday, 29 July 2013


I read a lot of blogs similar to mine and some that are totally different, but reading another pub blog who's story is so similar to an experience I had a couple of weekends ago in the Victoria Inn I just had to share with you.

This is how the exchange went with the customer almost word for word (I remember it well);

Me behind bar (Red faced hot boss- RFHB): Good afternoon & how are you?
Lady customer with somewhat steely gaze (LCWSSG) Hot!

RFHB - Well what can I suggest in the way of a drink to cool you down? A nice glass of Sauvignon a G & T or something longer......? (Smiling kindly at LCWSSG)

LCWSSG - Water - tap. With ice.  And Lemon
RFHB - Certainly Madam (thinking don't suck the lemon, you'll shatter the glass!) and how about the gentleman - what would you like Sir? A nice pint of Tribute!!

LCWSSG - He'll have a half!
RFHB - Certainly Madam (making eye contact with the Husband and smiling almost in sympathy with him)

RFHB  - Would you like to see the lunch menu Madam? We are also serving local Sirloin of Beef or local Pork.............
LCWSSG - We'll have the Chicken
RFHB - Chicken? (CHICKEN?? Did the words Chicken come from my mouth when I said what we had??) Chicken?
LCWSSG - Yes - the Roast Chicken
RFHB - Ummmm, (mumbling slightly and looking for signs of a hearing impediment) I'm sorry Madam we don't have any Roast Chicken - Its beautiful local Sirloin of Beef or local Pork

LCWSSG - (She sighs deeply! Customer not me - I'm a professional!) Hurrumph....... (yes, really - hurrumph) then we'll have Lamb. Twice.
RFHB - (Lamb!! Lamb - is the woman a bloody mystery shopper sent from hell!!) Lamb madam?? I'm awfully sorry but we don't have any Roast Lamb or Roast Chicken - we have........ (I'm not telling YOU lot a third time!!)

LCWSSG - Oh really - you had Chicken and Lamb the last time we came!! (By now more sour faced than she was 5 minutes before & husband looking to die - quickly!!)
RFHB - Heavens (speaking far  more shrilly than I should at this point, but hysteria was settling like gangrene does - swiftly!) how long ago was that then Madam? (in a teacherish sing song voice)

LCWSSG - Goodness - (turning to dying Husband - clearly giving permission to speak) how long has it been since we were last in saaaaaaalcombe??? (Not waiting for husband to answer) LCWSG said: about 6 or 7 years ago I believe!!
RFHB - Ah (says I at the light dawning on wanting Chicken or Lamb) well before our time Madam, we're just coming up to our 5th year

LCWSSG - Well we had a delightful Sunday carvery then - I jolly well hope your Sunday lunch will be as good..............Beef, Twice!!

I subtly dropped my pen to the floor before surfacing with my best customer face back in place........ I swear, I'm writing a book when I retire - because in the words of a certain Sun journalist - You couldn't make it up!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Loving my job!

When I started my new career as that of a Licensee nearly 5 years ago, I never thought for one moment that it would involve visiting farms and looking at cattle............!

I thought it would be all pulling pints and making small talk. Wrong!!!

But the more we source our food from local suppliers, and the more successful we find our pub becoming, then the more I find myself doing just that! Visiting Farmers, talking about sustainability and generally learning loads about food!!

We're still getting our local beef from our local Farmer Graham who we started working with last year, but its getting more and more difficult for him to keep up with our ever growing demands for Beef that's been hung for 21 days or more and also we get through 3 or 4 sides of beef a week, so we're looking to widen our choice of suppliers whilst keeping Graham very firmly as our main supplier. Tim & I are very keen to keep on having as much true local produce as possible, so last week we found ourselves having a trip to Greenwell Farm - up on Dartmoor.

Matt Cole, who is the Farmer we met, is part of a group called the Dartmoor Farmers
a collection of farmers who have put themselves together as a co-operative company set up in 2007 with the support of Prince Charles.

The company comprises around 50 hill farmers working together, to promote quality beef and lamb produced on the moor in a move away from commodity-driven supply, to the supply of a unique premium brand.

Hence, our visit last week to Matt and a whistle stop tour up, across and round his land to look at his cattle in an old land rover! Oh my goodness, it was more fun than being on a roller coaster, and I'm sure I sounded like a child who's never seen a cow at close quarters!!! Oooohhing and aahhing like a delighted 5 year old!!
First of all of course, we had to find this farm up on the moors and after the obligatory squabble consisting of - 'why aren't we using the bloody sat nav' and the countless wrong turnings - which resulted in me getting VERY crotchety because we were a little late (my absolute pet hate!!), we did however at last find ourselves driving up to this glorious farm set in Dartmoor and seemingly a million miles away from a very busy Salcombe.

Matt farms South Devon & Galloway cattle as well as Lambs, and showed huge pride and enjoyment in his job - just like we had seen with Graham when we did our initial visit to his farm last year. He talked of the vast amounts of paperwork he has to do and the fact that every single Cow has a 'Passport' to show who, when, what injections etc, etc for each and every animal! He talked about the rising costs of his farm and the loss of subsidies that is making life difficult for Farmers. We talked mutually about how whilst having good business's, costs were rising and life is not easy at times - whatever business you're in!

Me stroking only the 2nd Horse in my entire life!!
But back to the cattle and our visit, I am so much more pragmatic nowadays about life in the country and the natural food chain that exists, but I admit to a little pang in my heart when looking at some of Matt's beautiful calves.......and I also understood a lot better the issues of farming in todays world.

I constantly wonder at how my life has taken me from a suited and booted woman who had a career in Local Government that regularly lead her to meetings with Councillors, MP's etc and who enjoyed browsing round shops on her day off, to this country (ish) person who actually likes tramping round farms and County Shows, and has totally gone off shopping in big cities!!  Matt asked me how I'm enjoying my relatively new life and I have to say that I guess Tim & I are living many peoples dream...??!!

Anyway, all we need to do now is have another meeting to try to agree prices and we could see ourselves doing some business with Dartmoor Farmers. It's all about cost at the end of the day for both parties and I'll let you know how that goes.

The Victoria Inn was heaving with customers this last weekend - the end of Merlin Rocket week saw many of the private schools breaking up and coming down here and lots and lots of lovely customers coming back to say hi and let us know that they're around for a few weeks. It's so lovely welcoming back our friends - some of them come in looking so tired and harassed from their busy (many of them high powered executives) lives and who find it hard to leave their cares in their suitcases, but so lovely to see them unwind and relax as they get more and more into their holidays!

Of course, we've been blessed with stunning weather (in fact, dare I say a little too hot!) so the sun has bought a smile to everyone's face. A lot of fantastic fish on our menu at the moment, and coming on today - Mariners Medley an assortment of fish and scallops - last time we had that on the specials board it flew out the door!


Saturday, 13 July 2013

Publicity work

Hello from a stunningly gorgeous Salcombe day....... I'll bet you're wondering why I'm on the computer and not working if it's so gorgeous?? It's because right now all of our lovely guests are out and about on the beach! We are actually quite quiet apart from day trippers - but from 4.30 this afternoon it will all change and full booking sheets reflect that!!

So apart from the obvious things I do as a pub landlady, one of the things I'm principally responsible for is the marketing and advertising for the Victoria Inn. Every morning when I wake up I sit in bed with my cup of coffee and up-date Facebook, Twitter and check the Trip Advisor reviews for new ones.

I do that routine twice or three times a day (not TA - I'm not THAT paranoid!) just to make sure our social media profile is kept high.

I also put us in for awards or competitions and this week has seen me bashing out a submission for a regional award - but they limited answers to 100/200 or 300 words and for that's really challenging - as I'm a wordy type person.

To go with the awards they always ask for supporting evidence and pictures so my David Bailey hat has been on and there are a few of them here just to show you.

We are taking on two Chef apprentices this year and one of them - young Blake (16)  - has just won the under 55kg WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP in Taekwondo!! How fantastic is that............

I went with girlfriends this week to the 02 Arena in London to see the gorgeous Michael Buble and what a fantastic evening that was. His concert was everything I hoped for and then more on top. He is every inch as good live as he is on TV or Radio. Hospitality suite was out of this world and I'm pleased to say we all went back to the hotel in a fuzzy glow - hence I'm now on the wagon for a few months!!


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

This is for you!

Short and to the point; this is to the Man (or woman) who keeps commenting on this blog as Frank Smee of Salcombe. I know you're not our lovely friend Smee, your comments are not remotely amusing or intelligent.  You are in fact upsetting him and his wife by posting comments using his name and I WILL NOT NOW, OR IN THE FUTURE publish those comments. I have just deleted the last couple, but now you really need to know it's time to stop! Please feel free to comment as yourself or even anonymously.
Genuine comments on the content of my blog are always looked at and welcomed whether good or bad, and I appreciate readers taking the time to contact me either on the blog or by e mail - so thank you to my highly valued followers for your continued support.