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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Self Indulgence Time

I will be moving to East Prawle permanently on Wednesday 29th November and prior to this I have a mountain of tasks to complete. However, not all of the tasks are onerous. On Thursday last week I took my car back to my head office in Norwich and that evening went out with all of the staff for a farewell meal. I have been very lucky to work with a fantastic bunch of people over the past eight years and they have become good friends who I am sad to say cheerio to, although I am certain that many of them will soon venture to the village for a weekend of good food, good beer and good company. I was given a marvellous leaving gift of a bottle of 18 year old Glenfiddich, which had been personally labelled for me and this was complimented by a pair of crystal whisky tumblers that had each been engraved with the following; Eastern Telephones 2006 - Landlord and Eastern Telephones 2006 Friend. They will be well used with the contents of the first gift, although it will be an occasional nightcap rather than a regular tipple. It has been suggested that I could end up like a child in a sweetshop surrounded by all that alcohol in the pub. I am aware of the temptation, but confident that I can get my highs from seeing the pub become a successful venture. I also owe it to Helen and the boys to be sensible in their absence.
I arrived back in Northampton on Friday afternoon feeling very tired, but there was no rest ahead for Tim! Helen and I went to the flying club ball. It is known as Wings Night. Each year all students who have gained their Private Pilot's Licence are presented with their wings at this function. I really felt pleased for the recipients as they were presented with their shiny gold wings and shook hands with the Chief Flying Instructor, whilst posing for a photographer. I can remember getting mine after the hard slog of training, being congratulated by your peers after such an achievement is very uplifting (excuse the pun). Being able to take an aircraft into the sky is such a liberating experience and provides so many amazing adventures. I have taken Helen to France and the Channel Islands as well as numerous trips around the UK. Earlier this year we hired an aircraft from Exeter Flying Club and flew along the coast and over the village. It is as beautiful from the air as it is on the ground. Anyway, back to Wings Night. We had both planned to leave early because we knew that the weekend was going to be taken up with packing boxes and sorting everything out for the journey south. I haven't mentioned that Helen was also tired after a late night on Thursday, she had been to the NEC to see the famous Spanish Riding school in action -We sat at a table with friends who were all interested in the impending move to Devon and we happily talked of our plans whilst eating a very good meal. I hadn't realised just how interested people were. We spent the whole evening chatting with our friends about Devon and when we checked our watches it was 12:30am! We got home at 01:30 and my eyes were shut before my head hit the pillow. It was worth being exhausted because I had spent quality time with good friends and colleagues who were genuinely interested in my well being and future endeavours. I realise more now, than ever, just how important and valuable good friendship is.
So! Two nights of self indulgence and now it is almost upon me. The real pub adventure is about to start. I am excited and anxious, I am worrying about Helen and the boys not having me around. I am trying to think of everything that can and will happen, but I also realise I am at the point where what will be will be. I have to say goodbyes to friends and family. I worry about my old mum who is in her eighties and not in very good health, and all the time the clock is ticking, bringing me ever closer to Wednesday.
I am not going to post for a while. I will start my new life at the Providence Inn - East Prawle on Friday 1st Decemebr 2006. My next post will follow shortly after and will tell you how I coped with my first customers and how I feel about being there. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has left words of encouragement through comments, the guestbook and on emails.
Wish me luck - Tim

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I need a TARDIS

Time And Relative Dimension In Space - One of the best known acronyms to the TV generation. For me it is the necessary tool to solve my immediate problem. I am hiring a van on Monday to carry my belongings to the village. The problem is that I really need the space of an articulated lorry to hold all my junk! A sage lesson in ergonomics if I can pull it off. If you live in the village you will probably hear the chugging of the engine from afar. I'll be arriving on Monday night and off again on Tuesday morning and then back to stay on Wednesday.

Karen T has given me her shopping list for the kitchen. I thought we needed a couple of wooden spoons, but apparently I miscalculated. In fact we also needed a kitchen. I'm joking really. Arnie has actually left a well equipped kitchen and we will be operating from there by the end of our first week.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Things to do before I leave for Devon

I have spent the past week trying to tie up loose ends. Some were work related others social. I count myself fortunate to have a good number of close friends and I have been trying to see them, or at least talk to them prior to my departure - you would think I was on my way to the moon!

On Saturday I went with Helen and the boys to London for a day out. There was the train journey there which the two young ones loved thoroughly, although Joe was somewhat concerned that we didn’t see the Fat Controller! They were even more thrilled with the cross town jaunt on the underground trains. We walked along the Thames embankment down to Whitehall and then up by the Cenotaph to Trafalgar Square, by way of a McDonalds (sorry Jamie Oliver!) Nelson looked mighty dapper atop his column. The last time I was at Trafalgar Square it was very dreary looking. I think Mayor Ken’s anti pigeon crusade may be showing positive results. We then headed back to Euston and caught the train home. This may seem very dull to some people, but when you are about to say goodbye to your children and not see them for long periods of time it is worth savouring every moment with them.

Today I went with Helen to the stables where we keep our horse; Sailor. He is a bay thoroughbred gelding who stands 16,3hh (that’s 5’7”.) He was originally a Point-To-Point horse, but he only has reverse gears, so he never won anything. Helen got him when he was eight and enjoys hacking out on him along the local bridleways. When he was younger she did some eventing on him and even has a few rosettes to prove that he isn’t really a donkey in disguise! He is now 20 and we love him dearly. I never sit on him for fear that his legs will splay in four different directions. I am, however responsible for the more important part of owning a horse, in fact I even have a coffee mug to prove it. It says No.1 S**t Shoveller! Next weekend will be the last time for a while that I will see the old boy. I go up most mornings at six o’clock to muck him out, but that duty will fall to Helen soon, although I am sure she will find someone else to do it for a fee…

I can reveal the name of one half of the culinary duo that are going to tantalise the taste buds of our future patrons; Karen Tucker. Karen lives in the village and has an excellent culinary pedigree. I am currently helping her put the finishing touches to our menus and believe me, the food will be great. Karen is ably assisted by another local lady and some of you may already know her, especially if you like chocolate puddings (that’s the only clue you are getting as to her identity!)

Aside from that, it’s been boring stuff such as VAT registration, Inland Revenue forms and supplier account opening. I have had to speak to the Police in Totnes about my licence and they have said that they will pay me a visit. I’m sure I paid that parking ticket, honestly officer!

Earlier this week I received a really nice email from a lady called Betty. She lives in New Zealand but spent part of her life in Torcross. She emailed me to say that she was of the opinion that Euchre was introduced by the American Servicemen stationed in the area during the war. I am quite interested in that period and its effects in the South Hans area, so this added another patch to the quilt of wartime history that touched the lives of so many people from the area.

I finish my current employment on Thursday and will be spending the night with my colleagues. I think I may have a headache on Friday! I am going to maintain a connection with my friends at Eastern Telephones. I hope that they will come and visit, but I am also going to do some consultancy work for them too. So if you need any Telecomms advice, give me a shout. The downside is my car will have to go on thursday too. I do have Land Rover Defender, but Helen wants to keep that with her, but don't worry. Tim has a vehicle lined up. It is a white Suzuki Vitara Jeep. Yes, that's right. I will be driving a cross between a car that Ken and Barbi would love and something a hairdresser with a problem would have. You have been warned.

I am going to be in the village from the 27th November and will be there permanently from the 30th.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The deed is done!

Well there's no turning back now! We have signed the legal documents and we are all systems go for the 1st December. I felt slightly embarrassed as people who I did not know told me how pleased they were to hear that I was to become the new landlord of The Provi'. I have a good memory for faces, but I am an absolute disaster when it comes to remembering names, so I hope I will be forgiven the odd slip up on that front. I can't say enough about how friendly the locals are in East Prawle. Helen and I are relative strangers, but everyone, without exception, has been so kind and generous with their words of encouragement. We are both grateful and we hope to get to know them more in the coming weeks.

I am very excited by the food side of things at the pub. I was shown sample menus by my chefs at the weekend. I want to be able to tell you who these culinary wizards are, but as I haven't asked permission to use their names here I will stay intentionally vague for the time being, but suffice to say, they are really enthusiastic and professionally competent and most importantly, villagers too.
One chap who I found very engaging used the word, pulchritude, in a discussion about a freshly poured pint. I love words and their meanings and admire anyone who has the courage to enhance a conversation with a choice word or two that is not in common usage. I think I may make a note of unusual words used in the bar and give a prize each month to the person who has used the best word, in the correct context (in my opinion) that month.

I have made a decision regarding the beer at the pub. Initially I will keep the existing brands on, certainly until the new year, but I am going to try and get a local guest ale on before Christmas. I have spoken with a local brewer and think we may have just the thing to sit alongside the Spitfire and Dartmoor IPA. Hope that's not famous last words?
Driving back home today was a rather strange experience. It dawned on me that I won't make this particular journey with Helen and the boys again for the foreseeable future. The next time they come to East Prawle their journeys to and from will be minus Dad!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I am intrigued by a game played in the pub. It is called Euchre ( and there are leagues in Devon where the game is hotly contested. I have watched it being played and must admit that I am yet to fully understand it although I intend to get to grips with it soon. It is interesting because as you move through the country pub games vary. Where I currently live we have the standard games of darts, pool, etc, but we also have skittles and crib leagues.

Getting there gradually...

We are getting nearer to December 1st and things are slowly falling into place. We have spoken with various suppliers and hopefully will maintain a relationship with existing ones too. All things being equal, we will be able to sign the lease documents next week. There was a slight hiccough on the legal side and I learnt a valuable - and very nearly costly lesson. However, all's well that ends well. It is important to Helen and me that the pub be a focal point for the local community. We recognize that the other village pub enjoys the patronage of many of the locals especially when they put on musical events that I know are very good indeed, but we hope that we can encourage some of villagers to visit us on occasion. There is always an element of uncertainty about a new landlord. Will the pub dramatically change? Will it be good or bad? Will the beer be worth drinking? All of these are important questions and I hope we can assuage the concerns that people will have. Here are some of the things that I can promise in advance of serving my first pint.

  1. There will be a warm welcome for families.
  2. Dogs will be welcome too, as long as their owners don't make a mess!
  3. There will be no juke box, but you may have to endure some of my taste in background music!
  4. I will continue in Arnie’s footsteps by supporting the Air Ambulance as my charity of choice.
  5. The food served will be basic pub fayre, cooked by locals and most importantly; using locally produced ingredients.
  6. I would gladly welcome approaches from anyone who feels they may have items of interest for me to purchase for the catering side of the business. My email address is:

I took Max, my four year old to school this morning and his teacher told me that he had been selected to be a Wise Man in the school nativity play. He was thrilled and I was really pleased for him, but I felt slightly saddened when I realised that I would miss his first performance due to being in the pub. What made it worse was when I was told that his mum would not be allowed to video him because of concerns regarding the video getting into the hands of paedophiles. We really do live in a sick society! I will be so pleased when my family join me permanently in East Prawle.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Licence To Pour

Ok well I haven't got a licence to kill, but today my licence to sell or supply alcohol arrived in the post. I have a colourful sheet of paper to display behind the bar and yet another piece of plastic to put in the wallet (with a very dodgy mug-shot on it.)

The business account is taking a while to set up; the banks are being slower than I had hoped for. What with card machines and the like, we are getting swamped with papers to sign. I am convinced that the finance institutions of Great Britain must be responsible for the decimation of huge swathes of Amazonian rain forest!

We were planning to visit the village this weekend, but it has been postponed until the weekend of 11th/12th November. I spoke to Arnie, the current landlord earlier today. He said that it had been very quiet in the pub this week! I will have to think of interesting ways to entice customers into the bar during the colder months of the year.
I hope to enhance the existing pub website when I finally arrive and I thought about the possibility of a webcam that would look out to sea and show the current weather. Combined with the weather site (see links) I thought this would allow people to get a better feel for the village. I am open to any suggestions people might have regarding this and other ideas.