Friday, 14 December 2018

Pub Landlady's life????

There are times that being a Pub Landlady definetly is not all that!! 

THIS pub landlady does a lot of the things that SOH absolutely does not like doing, like; replying to Trip Advisor reviews - especially the odd rogue ones that can be so damaging to business's (2 removed by TA in the last month!) whilst trying to keep my sarcasm in check (!), dealing with occasional staffing issues (no onsite HR departments for THAT!) that can give sleepless nights, trying not to let anxieties affect me when you can count the number of people walking down the street on one hand and therefore not coming in the Vic and last but not least worrying about loved members of team when they're very unwell.  

But then there are the moments that make this job magical. 

One of those was a couple of weeks ago when our very own Jessie Day went and married her Ben and became Mrs Watson.  Jessie has worked for us for about 8 years now and it's been a real delight to watch her bloom into the wonderful young woman she is today as well as a trusted Supervisor. 

We were thrilled to have her wedding reception at the Vic and the entire team worked like Trojans to ensure she had a reception to remember. So many, many congratulations Jessie and all our love to you and Ben for a long and happy life together. 

SOH has had a bit of revamp of our wines and has had a totally brilliant idea of introducing Wine Flights. Three 100ml glasses especially chosen by us for you, and with a choice of red, white or sparkling - so something for everyone! 

One of his better ideas I would say, but he would say (of course) naturally!! 

We're always looking at mixing up our offering here at the Vic so we've plans for a wine tasting in 2019 - keep your eyes peeled for details. 

Christmas is once more not that far away and today was National Christmas jumper day so of course our great Front of House team entered into the spirit of the day.  

The pub of course looks spectacular as the tree is up and the Vic is decorated to a brilliantly high standard as usual. It looks magical when all the lights are lit and the tree looks exceptionally beautiful this year - I love this photo of the little girl looking at the tree. For me that's the magic of Christmas and all the angst of the everyday life of a Pub Landlady disappears.

Until the next time dear readers, 
Much Love, 
                                                                      Landlady Liz x 

Monday, 8 October 2018

Hola Rioja

So, at last in September SOH and I eventually made our way to Northern Spain to go and meet Roberto from Bodegas Santalba and find out where the utterly gorgeous Rioja that we sell comes from. 

We have been so lucky in our jobs as publicans to go to various suppliers of both food and drink and look at the process - Champagne in particular (twice) - but this was a much awaited visit and already postponed once from earlier in the year. 

The first part of our road trip was the Brittany ferries crossing from Plymouth, and I have to say that we were both VERY pleasantly surprised. Not by the bunk beds it has to be said, but by the general high standards on the ferry, the food and drink and entertainment!! Excellent and probably something we will repeat again. 

Arrival at Santander after about 22 hours was slightly delayed, but we made a  fairly fast escape from the boat and onto the road to Brinas.  

A sweet little village in the province of La Rioja. Now SOH does NOT like travelling with a sat nav - he finds it hard enough with me! But only a couple of wrong turns and a little bit of colourful language from both of us, found us in this delightful village and a hotel set right near to the river. 

The following day we did a little sightseeing, before going out with Roberto and enjoying his hospitality in his home town of Haro. Haro is known for its fine red wine and every year the Haro Wine Festival is held where locals hold a wine battle!!! 

The little bar we went to offered the most exquisite tapas and authentically local too - hence I ate a Pigs Ear - absolutely NOT like the type we sell for the dogs in the Vic!! 

But the following day was an absolute highlight for us. We've sold Roberto's wine for about 8 years, when he came to the Vic and talked to us about his wines.  Since then he's been to Salcombe for a visit with his wife and family, and we keep in regular contact on social media. So going to see the grapes and the winery itself was just super. 

Santalba is a family run operation and you feel that from the off when Roberto told us about his Father Santiago starting the business in 1964. In fact the name of the winery is a fusion of the first name and surname of him; Santiago Ijalba. 

I always find it fascinating to see the grapes that will be used in the making of the wines or Champagnes, and to see this here at Santalba was no less special. Roberto explained that the time we were there was absolutely crucial as to not wanting too much rain otherwise it may affect the harvest. The care that Bodegas Santalba take in monitoring and selecting their grapes certainly show in the finished product. Their grapes are also harvested manually!! 

He explained to us that the geographical location in the heart of the Rioja Alto  with it's climate and it's soil have all contributed to giving the regions wines their unmistakeable character. 

We had an absolutely brilliant tour with Roberto (who is an exceptionally busy man - spending a lot of time abroad) and the winery was far bigger than we expected it to be.  SOH was in his element as he's a bit off a wine buff and has a genuine thirst for knowledge when it comes to all things to do with our business. 

Then of course came the tasting!  My favourite part of the tour of course! Now, of course to taste professionally, you taste, swill and spit into a spittoon - nope! Not for us, we embraced the tasting with gusto and I can honestly say that it was a very pleasurable hour or two.  

Roberto very generously gave us a gift of wine and meats and we spent a few shillings on a dozen or so of his very best wines to bring home with us1  

This was all followed by a delightful lunch in Sajazarra a hill top setting where the heavens opened, and I mean truly opened,  and there was a little fretting by Roberto that it would not be as heavy back at the the Bodegas............. 

I'm pleased to say that it wasn't and the grapes have just started to be harvested in the last couple of days  

So all in all a delightful couple of days and we felt very privileged that our friend Roberto took so much time out of his busy schedule to be with us. 

Following on from that we went to Santiago de Compostela where we had a very pleasurable couple of days before driving back to Santander. 

We made lots of memories and felt even more enthusiastic about the Rioja Ermita Crianza that we are so happy to recommend and to sell. 

Till the next time

Much love

Liz x

Monday, 24 September 2018

It is still 2018 isn't it??

Stories in the Garden this Summer
Have you ever known a year go as fast as this, I honestly don't think I have. Mind you my year has been punctuated 4 times (yes 4 now!!) this year by being admitted to hospital with my ruddy Asthma.......... I've never, ever had a year like it. That's why I'm afraid there's been little or no blog writing - I just haven't felt up to it if I'm truthful, sorry folks. 

Thankfully the team at the Vic have continued to cope admirably without me and it's very comforting to me to know that the Vic is in such good hands.                   Secretly, I'm sure there are times they're blooming glad I'm not there bossing them around and being picky about how things are done! 

Of course SOH is still there moving deftly behind the scenes doing all the things he loves to do as the Landlord of the Vic, and jolly good he is at it too. 

So then, I have definitely taken a leave of absence from my front of house duties until at least Christmas and only then if my health has taken an upwards swing.  

You may well see me in town first thing in the mornings as I pop in to the pub and have a few meetings and just check everything is as I want it to be, BUT please don't be offended if we don't do the whole 'kiss kiss darling' bit.  I'm doing my absolute best to stay away from close contact with ANYONE at the moment as I just can't afford to catch any more cold bugs or virus's and can't bear the thought of a 5th blue light rush to hospital. 

So, enough about me and my state of health lets talk about things far nicer like the utterly gorgeous summer we've had.......... what a stunner it's been!! How beautiful is this photo??? 

It's been so great for all the tourists and the business's, particularly those based on the water. It felt like it would never end, but damn it - it looks like it has! 

The days here are still warm and sunny (apart from last week when it chucked it down incessantly!) but that Autumn nip is certainly starting to bite last thing at night and first thing in the mornings. 

The Vic had quite a good summer trade and our new garden menu was incredibly well received. We pushed out hundreds upon hundreds of portions of Fish & Chips (now completely gluten free), Curries and Burgers!! 

In fact our Chefs could often be heard muttering that if they 'flipped one more flipping Burger' they might as well be at McDonuts!! (that is of course the cleaned up version of events!) 

Now the summer is over our Chefs have got all creative again with the return of lunch specials and great new menus. First off though was a huge clean that saw all of the Chefs, whatever their position getting down and dirty and giving the kitchen a super post summer hols deep clean. 

But this pic from the summer is my absolute fav of all time! Ever!! This is Norman and Norman LOVES our Tims Sticky Toffee Pudding. 

Apparently he didn't stop talking about the fact he; 1 - Loved that pud so much and how 'yummy' it was and 2 - that his photo was used in my social media sites! 

The other 2 little bundles of gorgeousness are our own 2 grandsons when they came too visit Nanna Devon and stayed in the Hobbit House - which they thought was great fun! 

Looks like they thought the food was quite good too! As well as the colouring pages and pencils we give the little ones. 

Of course we had lots and lots of doggie visitors too, in fact I think town had more dogs than I've ever seen before this year. 

Cockerpoos still seem to be favourites and we saw all 

colours and sizes with of course many, many Labradors and Spaniels as well as a host of others. 

This gorgeous dog in this photo is Badger who's waiting for his pigs ear!!!  

The owner Carl was waiting for his pint of Proper Job.......... 

We managed to get ourselves at last to Spain to meet with Roberto from Santalba Winery - where our exquisite  Rioja comes from, but I'm going to do a whole blog post on that next time. So much to tell you and so many beautiful photos I don't want to squeeze it in here. 

So until the next time, enjoy what's left of the warmer weather and I'll be back soon, 

Much love darlings, 

Liz  x x x 

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Happy Saturday

Our latest acquisition for the Vic! Read about it below

Liz & SOH's Hideaway!
Morning all............ nice to have a drop of rain through the night last night, heaven knows our scorched garden needs it - but aren't we having a glorious summer! 

I could totally live in this climate, bumming around in shorts and vests all the time. During my enforced rest I have been lounging around in the sun and consequently look as though I've been in the tropics for a couple of weeks - not just sitting in my beautiful garden! 

I popped into work last night for a couple of hours and everyone seemed very pleased to see me - customers and team alike.  It felt very strange to be back, but everyone has held the fort remarkably well in my absence and I shall only be popping in for 2 or 3 evenings a week. 

We've got a great new summer menu at the Vic - lots of Burgers and Salads for the Garden Menu in the evenings and super food in the Pub; a wonderful Scallops starter and a seafood Skewer being 2 things that seem particularly popular! 

Our Head Chef Jon and his team have put together some great ideas, very light and summery. Kids seem to like the Beans on toast particularly!! It looks like we are FULLY BOOKED for NYE this year already, but we are going to hold a waiting list as normal as there are always 1 or 2 people drop out. 

Now you may recall that in the last blog I showed you a paining by local artist Jon Woolfenden who painted a fab pic of the Vic and Fore Street?? Well, I just fell in love with it like I've never fallen in love with a painting before and after a gentle bit of nagging (honestly didn't take much!) SOH agreed to us buying it!! So it has pride and place in the entrance to the Vic.............. I hope you'll all get as much enjoyment from it as we are.  He has lots of other gorgeous pics too - so when you see him in the high street painting, do go up to him and say hello. 


Schools are out in some areas, particularly the private schools and those in Scotland with the rest of the UK finishing yesterday and early part of next week. So we expect to see lots more families arriving soon - the play area is all ready for them to come and enjoy themselves. 

I went out on the water with some friends last week and it so happens we saw a beautiful boat out in the Estuary that looked gorgeous (well of course there are many of them!) but this is a splendid new venture  You can hire them to take up to 4 of you out, they will provide (spot the deliberate mistake!) lifeboats lifejackets and I'm assured that both the boat Baia Vita and Chris who steers/drives (never sure of the boating terminology) is fully checked and licensed by the Harbour master, with Chris having all the relevant RYA qualifications. 

Really reasonable cost and what a wonderful way to while away an hour or 2 seeing Salcombe and the surrounding areas from a different perspective! Perhaps a bottle of bubbles to go with you??? 

Anyway, I think thats about it for now, so in all probability until we come out the other side, I'll say ta ta for now, and I look forward to seeing old friends (and making new friendships) visiting the Vic over the next few weeks,

Much love as always,

Liz x

Monday, 28 May 2018

Almost June?? No, it can't be?!?!

Flip me sideways it really is almost June! Halfway through the year and I've realised I haven't blogged since March........... Well, I have to tell you, this has been one of my worst years health wise and bugger me if I haven't got yet another chest infection - my 3rd this year!! I have been ill almost 6 months now (give or take the odd couple of weeks here and there) so it's right that you know we have taken the decision for me to be semi-retired from the business.  

You're likely to see me for a couple of shifts over a weekend, I'll continue to drop in and out, issue a few orders, do a bit of 'hello darlings' and then come home to do work like this! Blog writing, computer work, social media etc. 

There comes a time when you have to put yourself first in this life and almost going into Intensive Care this year has made SOH and I re-evaluate my role in this stressful business of being a publican. 

One of my good periods a month or so ago saw me go on a 'Snow Shoe' walk in the French Alps on a women retreat with my personal trainer Claire Morgan-Hughes of Devon Fit Camp fame I walked for 6 1/2 miles ups a mountain, round a mountain and then back down a mountain - so I know there's good health in me somewhere, I just have to tap into it, and then hold onto it! 

Happy ladies celebrating the Royal Wedding
So enough about me - how are YOU all doing?? I met loads of old friends yesterday down in Salcombe for the May Bank Holiday - the town has wall to wall visitors right now and everyone seems in jolly good humour! Nothing like sunshine to put a smile on peoples faces is there. Our kitchen has been highly busy the last 2 days producing just under 1,000 meals in 2 DAYS!!! I remain amazed by what they consistently produce and whilst under enormous pressures........ 

Our Front of House staff work so hard as well and yet still manage to have a smile on their faces! Such lovely people working with us, we're so lucky!! 

We're also exceptionally fortunate to have a new Head Chef leading our kitchen team; Jon Bell! Old school Head Chef who cooks with passion and enthusiasm, calls a spade a shovel (he's northern!) has bags of experience in award winning pubs. Jon is a huge softie and we have hit it off like a house on fire, not easily ruffled and just one of life's nice guys. We're very fortunate to have him!  

I'm soooooooooo excited about the menu he's going to bring you in the summer!  We also have our Christmas menu for parties small and large (not Christmas Day though) and also New Years Eve menu although we are 70% booked for that event already.............. how amazeballs is that! Those should be on our website in the next day or 2 so check back soon. 

Just a reminder that if you really want to eat with us, you have to book to be absolutely sure of a table with us, and sadly, we now take deposits for all booking of 6 people or more. £5 a head refundable if cancelled within 24hrs notice.  We've had to take this step due to people booking the tables, taking potential bookings away from other people and then simply not turning up. People apparently call it choice booking - they book several places and then make their choice on the night.......... I call it bloody mad manners myself! So give us a call on 01548 842604  and we'll do our best to get you a super table at our award winning pub. 

The 50 different gins that we have on offer are all going very well, with a couple of firm favourites for sure, but our customers do seem to like to try out some of the slightly more different ones, especially the fruity Gins with brilliant Fever Tree tonics. 

SOH is busy out in the Vics garden today planting up a few more plants, following Judith from Bayleaf having done the bulk of the work in planting up the back of the garden and Potters Nurseries East Allington having now planted up the front of the pub!, and all very splendid it's looking too! Photo's of that next time. 
As is this rather gorgeous painting from local artist Jon Woolfenden, painted right outside the Vic, I just think it's stunning - don't you? 

A quick round up of what entertainment we have for you over the next month or 2:

  • FIDDLERS GREEN - Folk/Rock/Easy Listening (Fabulous Darlings!!) June 30th @ 8pm and 14th July also 8pm

  • OLD GAFFERS - Our local Sea Shanty group (pure brilliance) 12th July and 21st July again an 8p.m start. 

So there you go. A quick catch up on all things Pub Landlady and I look forward to saying 'Hello Darling' to you all very soon, be kind to each other and enjoy the sun. 

Much love as always, 

Liz x

Saturday, 17 March 2018

March? Really??

This lovely photo of the Vic was taken by local man Pete Robinson when we had our last snow fall and blow me down as I sit typing this blog now if there aren't more snow flakes falling from the sky! It's also artic cold out there too............ I just hope this doesn't do to us what it did then! 

Salcombe hasn't seen snow like we had for many years and we were forced to shut for about 2 half days as we have some staff that live quite a distance away, so we couldn't compromise their safety.  

I had another spell in hospital just before all this snow happened, this time with Flu (proper Flu - not the stuff men have!) another 9 days in there this time and I'll probably not be fit enough to return to work until after Easter. But the pub continues to run like a well oiled machine. 

New wine lists are on the way, also a revised Prosecco menu as well as 50 gins!! As a business we've always strived to keep ahead of the game with our business planning and reviewing our drinks offering regularly is a big part of that. Gin is still a huge part of the drinks business so thats why we decided to increase the Gins we have.  

Some cracking gins we have too, mostly from the UK but there is one from Spain and also one from the USA. The American Gin is Bluecoat, this one is made with 100% organic botanicals, and the Spanish Gin is Gin Mare - this has arebequina olive, rosemary, thyme, basil and mandarin in it! 

Several are from Scotland and one that looks to be a firm favourite is The Botanist from Islay, the first and only Gin from this area is said to be a rare expression of the heart and soul of this remote Scottish Island. 

Then we have Peaky Blinders from Sadlers; a small batch, handcrafted spiced gin, undoubtedly going to be popular because of a certain TV programme with the same name! 

The team have already tried a couple and one they seemed to particularly like was That Boutique - Y Gin Company Cherry Gin served with Fever-Tree Cola. I'm assured that it is delicious.  

Another firm favourite was Boe Violet Gin (infused with Violets!) a beautiful colour. I could go on and on but I'll endeavour to tell you about another couple of our new Gins next time.  

Alternatively, do come in and try some yourself and perhaps post a photo of yourself drinking it like Lindsay who was drinking a Brockmans Gin along with Barnaby sat near the fire. 

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Longest January ever!

After an amazing Christmas and New Year, it was down to earth with a bang, although we have had quite a good trade this January. 

But for me this January has to be one of the longest and worst I've gone through in a long time! Yet again, my health has let me down (despite having got myself in the fittest shape ever with my personal training!) So after almost 3 weeks of having batted the cold, the chills etc etc etc (God this gets boring) I was really poorly and my GP had me go into our local big Hospital: Derriford in Plymouth. 

I was really reluctant to go there but there is a moment in time when you realise that sometimes you don't have a lot of choice as to what life has in store for you, and all the tablets and potions are just not working. But it also came at a time when the media were telling us how awful it was in the hospitals up and down the land and that corridors were the new wards, staff were on their knees and people were dying from lack of care.  So none of that made me want to chance my arm by going into a hospital that I've not always had the best of times in - let alone when they're on Black alert!    

But you know what?? When you can't get breath into your body and you're pretty sure that the last gasp you took really might be your last - well!? There's no more aces to play, its straight in to ED where a Staff Nurse took one look at me, told me to be quiet (in the nicest possible way) to save what breath I did have, whacked a cannula into my arm in the quickest time I've ever had it done and rushed me over to recuss!!                                                            Well bless me, it's all a bit of a blur after that as the medical team did what they do best..................they filled me with all the stuff I needed, drips, nebulisers and oxygen!  I'm telling you when all this is happening all I AM concerned with is getting out the other end! I have to remember to keep fairly calm (pah!) let the drugs do their stuff and hope and pray that this time ain't the time it doesn't work. Sound melodramatic?? Trust me it isn't!! It also isn't easy to keep calm!                                                                                    

Once stabilised, I was then transferred to the 'Majors' bays, where the treatment continued and you're monitored to see what they'll do next with you! In my case, it was for a few hours, but nothing like I had been expecting, and then transferred to MAU where normally you're observed for overnight or whatever, and then either home or too a ward.  I was then on MAU for 3 days after which a bed on a respiratory ward was found for their specialist care. 

My reason for writing such a personal account of my illness is that in all of this experience, and in each and everyone of the departments or wards, with all the pressures the teams were under I received nothing but brilliant care, kindness and amazing professionalism.  Derriford is a huge hospital and it's NOT always received the best reviews in the world in the past, but something IS clearly happening that is making a patients experience (my experience) so much better. 

There is no doubt that they are massively understaffed, I saw staff going home totally exhausted, there were night shifts in particular that saw a Senior teams with insufficient Health Care Assistants, staff pressured when prioritising call bells from disorientated patients (myself included one night as a fever broke),  endeavouring to get drugs and bedpans to patients in a timely manner. 

But from the Housekeepers like Anne Marie who remembered my name and the fact I liked Custard Creams from the first day on the ward, to young Bertie a first year Dr who was kindness itself - one of so many young earnest Junior Drs - to HCA Mia who made the nights shorter with her humour and dry wit and my undying gratitude to HCA Isobel who made a terrifying fever in the wee small hours of the night (very slightly) less terrifying!  To the Junior Sister Sarah who admitted me to the respiratory ward - took one look at me and said 'Don't worry, you're in safe hands'.  To the consultants & senior Drs I saw EVERY day, sometimes twice a day, their very manner re-assured me I was definitely going to be walking out, but patience was needed. All the radiographers, blood takers and pharmacists - Thank you! To the countless other professionals who I didn't take their names because I was too busy trying to breath! To the patients in my ward who also had their struggles but who became a big family very quickly, I thank you. I hope I also did my bit to help YOU.  

So how do we make the NHS fit for purpose?? I have no idea............. I do know it can't keep be being used as a political football and 'just' throwing money at it won't make it ok! There has to be a cross party approach with people who really understand what's needed. Those people are really not necessarily MP's!!!! 

I do know that friends of mine have left the NHS because they cannot stand to not do their job properly and as they trained to do it, they also can't stand the unrelenting pressure.  The NHS of now is not the NHS as it started out, is it an element of paid care that's coming?? I would pay more but would you? I do think we're being naive if we think the NHS won't crumble one day, and I think that's coming sooner than we think.  

So what for me next?? Well, its slow baby steps to full recovery and hopefully recommence my personal training beginning of March. But until then I'm off work until March, although even today I had a business meeting at home with some of the team - spring menu's etc. I'm also still doing all the social media stuff and getting myself on really top form for a trip to Rioja in February to Santalba Winery and our friend Roberto!! So whilst I'm not physically at the Vic, I'm still very much there and working behind the scenes! 

Here's to the warmer weather to come in the spring, my eternal gratitude to everyone who I came into contact with at Derriford and in the nicest possible terms I hope I don't see you again for a very, very long time! 

Love always 

Liz x x x