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Thursday, July 26, 2007

The weather has been atrocious and has hit takings significantly. We will miss our July target by a country mile, I just hope that August brings a heat wave, but somehow I doubt it. Even the competition around the corner has seemed quieter than usual, but they will benefit next week from a play being held on the green. I might pay someone to walk around with a sandwich board saying, "There are two pubs in this village - try the better one!"

Been a while, I know! I just don't seem to get the time at the moment, but I'm trying to make amends now. Since my last posting we have seen Statler celebrate his 125th birthday. He invited several of his cronies to join him in a celebratory drink at the Provi on Monday lunchtime. Despite the absence of teeth, they all managed to eat scampi and chips washed down by a few pints of my latest beer - Quercus Prospect. Their combined age was so large that I don't have enough room for all of the noughts, but they had a good time until the nurse came to wheel them back to their home for the confused and bewildered.

In August my friend Russ will visit with his wife Jayne. His regular calls remind me of what a left behind - A profitable business, nine to five hours, regular time off and a nice car to drive around in. Thank God I opted for an easier life!

Today is Max's fifth birthday. He is currently with his grandparents in Northampton, but will be back at the weekend with Joe his little brother and Sam his fouteen year old big brother. Five is a big age to reach in Max's world and when we phoned him this morning he seemed very happy with the presents he had received. He is football mad and he has been given a large goal for the pub garden.

I played cricket for East Prawle last weekend and although we lost I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was bowled out for nought on the second ball I faced. This wouldn't have been so bad, but the bowler looked to be approximatelt 11 years of age! I managed to take a wicket and don't think I gave too many runs away during my bowling spell.

Helen is working like a mad thing. Tomorrow she is taking the day off and I want her to relax, but I doubt she will listen to me.

Gavin has really made his mark now at the pub. His food is great and he turns it out with amazing speed. We are just about there with the main menu and Gav' has also put on some really interesting specials.

Sailor has settled in at West prawle House and is in love with a mare called Arian. We go to feed him and Charlie has a great time roaming around the fileds and getting scared by the chickens. The boys enjoy visiting and collecting snails. They thoughfully brought them into the house last weekend when we were having coffee with David and Katie. We found countless snails climbing the walls in an escape attempt! David and Katie have a beautiful house and I would advise anyone wanting nice B & B to give them a call. Their link is on this blog, as is Welle House another lovely location to stay. Mo's breakfasts there are a thing of legend.

Anyway must go now - beer to put on.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

We've got a new sign and I think it looks great, let me know what you think.

This week we said goodbye, albeit temporarily to a great member of staff. Lucy has been helping behind the bar for the past few weeks and did she ever make an impact! Everyone enjoyed her company and nothing is ever a problem for that girl. She works tirelessly and has become part of the family. She is spending the next few weeks looking after relatives dogs in London, whilst completing an English teaching course. On the day she left, she received the news that she had gained her degree; a 2-1 with honours, so well done Lucy and come back soon!

Statler and Waldorf have been in fine fettle, insults and moaning to the fore, as well as enjoying copious amounts of my latest beer; Quercus Prospect. They now have their own ceremonial seats at the bar and last weekend held court over us all under a blackboard that reads, “Statler & Waldorf sit here bitching about life, the way only two expert curmudgeons can!”

On Saturday the cricket team lost to a team of teachers from Filton, Bristol. Filton was the home of the first Concorde, why did we let BA stop her flying? She was the finest, sleekest, most beautiful aircraft ever designed to carry passengers. Ok, she had a carbon footprint the size of Hawaii and most mortals couldn’t afford the ticket unless they had won the national lottery, but she was ours (apart from a little bit of French stuff, probably the champagne on board!). I digress; the teachers beat us by eleven runs. They came to the Provi’ to celebrate their win and drank Prospect by the jug. We had a full bar and lots of people eating Gavin’s excellent food. At about 20:45 the diners were somewhat surprised to find themselves serenaded by the cricketing teachers. They formed a circle and started singing popular songs. Statler bolted to the other side of the bar with a worried look on his face. I don’t know if he thought they might ask him to join in or if he was simply embarrassed by this sudden outburst. Everyone found it amusing. By the fifth song I was beginning to think that it might be best if they stopped, so I gave them all a measure of scotch. All this did was lubricate their vocal chords and they started belting out a Queen song! Eventually they finished and calm was restored. They were a great bunch of guys and it will be good to see them again in the future.

Helen is still driving miles and miles each week. She is travelling on a daily basis to places like Camberley, Coventry, and Bristol, and on a good day Exeter. The South West has some odd locations in it. I am now regularly doing the school run and getting to see a lot of the kids. This is great, but it is also hard work. Max is keen to please, but Joe has his own agenda. Usually just as I am about to take them to school I find Joe covered in mud grinning from ear to ear as he proudly shows me his find of twenty snails from the beer garden!
The weather has been dire, takings are down and next week we will not have Gavin on Monday or Tuesday, so it will be food for only five nights. Still I’m sure it could be worse! I’ll let you know how we get on…

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Some ramblings to be going on with.

So, we took over a pub and were full of fine plans and ideas. Within a short space of time we realised that it wasn’t important to change much about the Provi’, more a case of enhancing what was already there. A few more lights, a log fire blazing in the winter and a smile for the customers. It started well. Our chef; Karen, began to produce mouth watering food and people came from all over to taste her dishes. Things looked promising and we looked forward with enthusiasm. At first the long hours didn’t seem to matter. I would see Helen and the boys each weekend, although it used to shoot by and before I knew it they would b making their way back to Northampton. Then each day would slip into the next, I would cat nap when the opportunity arose and looked forward to the time when the takings would increase sufficiently to take on additional staff to allow me a break from the bar. Costs never decrease, but takings improved and targets started to be achieved. Throughout this time Karen was working six nights each week as well as trying to look after her young son and maintain a semblance of family life. The hours needed to make the kitchen work became too much and understandably Karen felt that she needed to hand in her notice. We found ourselves facing a predicament; we needed a new chef and quick. We advertised the position and even offered accommodation for the right candidate. We were contacted by several people who all seemed interested in the room and its potential view as well as needing to know how far the beaches are from the pub. When asked how experienced they were in the kitchen there was a long pause. Fortunately we were then contacted by a local chap called Gavin Stevens from Kingsbridge. Gavin had just returned from working in Australia and wanted to settle down in this area. His qualifications and experience were ideal and it didn’t take long to offer him the position. So here we are a few weeks down the line, the food is still great and the Provi’ continues its march towards profitability.

So what of us?

We have found the past few weeks extremely difficult. I cannot pretend otherwise. The boys are of an age when they need constant attention and rightfully so, Helen is working long hours and travelling long distances. I have to admit that over the last few weeks we have seriously questioned our future here at the Provi’.

No member of staff will ever have the commitment to a business that the owner has and we have had to accept that we are hostages to that self same commodity of staff commitment. We are so reliant on the food side of the business and we have already invested a large sum of money into this, but it is very much in the hands of others and that is not necessarily the way we want things to be. It would be very easy to leave the pub and just live in our cottage; I could have lots of quality time with the kids and see a lot more of Helen.

So what do we do? Well f**k it – I am not a quitter, so we will continue. I will endure the insults of Mr. K. (Statler) and the deliberations on the quality of my beer by Mr. B. (Waldorf) as well as enjoying the company of VP, the Euchre and cricket team as well as the host of other locals who regularly visit us.