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Monday, February 11, 2008

The Best Damn Pub in Plymouth!

On Januay 19th I arranged for fourteen rogues to go and see Northampton Saints play Plymouth Albion at The Brickyard rugby football ground. Now the Saints are currently beating all and sundry on their return journey to the Premiership, so I had no doubt that this would be the case when they travelled to the South West. We hired the Coleridge Bus, this is a locally provided service that allows people in outlying villages the ability to get to Kingsbridge, the nearest town of any size, where their location is not on a recognised bus route. The bus arrived at 11:00 and after a civilised cup of coffee we headed off to Plymouth. On our arrival we disembarked in the Barbican ( there was general consensus that we should find a suitable hostelry in which to quench our thirsts. Above the cacophony of voices came the suggestion from someone, you the reader, are now familiar with; yes that's right Statler - Mr. K. "Let's go to Three Crowns. He pointed behind us and we looked at a large grey building and we duly headed over to it with a full kitty and high expectations. Okay, that's the nice wway to put it! The place was a dive, you needed at least three ASBOs to gain entry. They served their beer in plastic glasses and nobody was able to finish their drinks. The beer actually looked like Bisto, only Bisto tatstes better. I found a site on the internet that people have left comments on regarding this fine watering hole.

On leaving the place Mr. K. then announced that he had never actually been in it, but had sat outside in the summer with a friend and it had seemed alright then!
Not to be deterred, we crossed the road and went into the Navy. I thought this was a good pub. They had a good selection of beers and everyone was enjoying themselves. the pièce de résistance had to be the vending machine in the gents toilets. It was enormous and for those of you not familiar with toilet vending machines let me start by saying that they normally have one or two types of condom, occasionally they may even have toothpaste and brush sets, but this thing was the Mother of toilet vending appliances. It contained condoms (5 varieties), toothbrushes, wet wipes - now it gets interesting - Vibrators (two types) and a blow up sheep. The one thing I didn't notice that would have been handy was a shoe cleaning set, because most blokes managed to pee on their shoes whilst studying this amazing piece of vending architecture.
We left the Navy and got back onto the bus for the short hop to the ground. The match itself was good value for money. Northampton won 44-5, but the score did not reflect Plymouth's comtribution to the match. Plymouth gave the Saints a good run for their money during the first half and came very close to getting a try near to the whistle. In the second half the fitness levels of the two teams provided a stark contrast. Plymouth visibly flagged and the Saints cleaned up with speed and flair.
We headed back to Kingsbridge and visited The Creek's End and The King of Prussia before going to eat at Cafe Asia. The food was tremendous and with everyone sat down I proceeded to hand out fines. I am not one for humiliating people, but Mr. K. gained the lions share of fines, his main offence being our having to suffer The Three Crowns in Plymouth. We raised a reasonable sum and this helped to pay for the food. Our bellies full, we headed to bak to The Provi' and more beer to round the day off. Now on the short journey back to the bus our beloved Satler managed to walk into the ladies loos in Kingsbridge, so I felt it necessay to hand out further fines on our arrival at the pub. Sadly we didn't have enough for a complete round so I suggested putting the money into the charity pot, but dear old Staler would have none of this. At first I thought he was about to show his largesse and make up the difference for a round of drinks, but no! He went one step further he proceeded to thank the bus driver and handed over the money to him by way of a tip. What a man, what a Birk! I then reminded him that the cost of his ticket included the cost of a ticket for the driver as well as a couple of quid for the driver!!! When I grow up I want to be a Coleridge Bus Driver, the money's fantastic.
I have to say that Saturday was one of the best day's I have had here in Prawle. I would like to thank the following for making it a great day out:-
Richie, Steven & John T, Bill, Rich C, Roddy, Chris R, DHS, Mr K, Shaun & Burt T and a special thanks to Russ & Roger who made the journey from Norwich and our driver Steve
(he's loaded now) Manchip.

I must have caught a bug of some description because the following day I felt very poorly, fortunately it only lasted for one day!

Friday, February 01, 2008

I didn't mention New Year's Eve. As some of you may recall, the previous year was something of an eye opener for me. This year I planned ahead, the night before was a bit of a dry run inasmuch as we hada a quiz night that went really well. Statler was our quiz master and without the aid of a microphone he tried his best to be heard over the assembled rabble. His cohort, Waldorf who was not participating was heard to mumble about the annoyance of not being able to talk during the quiz - I guess the old saying is right, "You can please some of the people...." The quiz was a success and we raised £360.00 for the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation. It had been touch and go that we would manage it at all because we found ourselves full up with diners who were not going to be involved in the quiz, our chef went sick and every order came in at eactly the same time. We were short staffed, but our friends Russ & Jane were here to muck in and even some of our regulars found themselves in the kitchen washing up or behind the bar serving. We managed to get everyone fed and watered before the locals came for the quiz. A big thank you to David, Katie, Lucy. Ian, Alice, Tim, Kate & Sarah.

The 31st came andI made certain that this year I would be ready - I wasn't going to run out of anything, I ordered plenty of beer, wine and spirits. I had my own recipe Mulled Wine served hot from the bar. I bought in lots of ice (I ran out in 2006) and made sure that everyone knew that I would be having a raffle as well as providing a prize for the best fancy dress costume. That night I dressed myself as Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Carribean and Helen put on a Hula skirt and bikini top (it was a shame I had to open the pub!) and we went and opened the bar. Russ and Jane who were staying in the cottage with their daughter Vicky arrived dressed as Elvis and two of the Pink Ladies from the film Grease. I stood back and took everything in, remembering back to the previous year and also the events of the following New Year's Day when Helen had a major car crash taking herself and the boys back to Northampton. Nothing like that was going to happen as the family live here now. All was well, we were ready for the night's activities. I noticed that the Vodka optic was empty so I went to the spirits cupboard to get another bottle my jaw dropped in horror as I realised that I had every spirit known to man apart from Vodka!!! Frantic phone calls and a last minute rescue from the cricket team captain Shawn Taylor who raided the local Thresher's store saved the day. We were ready to rock & roll, well Russ was in his Elvis suit.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What Blog?

I am reliably informed that I have been (or at least, up until August 2007) writing a blog. Now someone please show me where it says that you must post on a less than six monthly basis? So anyway, I thought I would bring you up to date with events that have transpired since my last missive.

August hit me like a runaway train. We were busy every day from opening to closing and it was hard going. The biggest plus was Lucy our 'Girl Friday', she provided support and encouragement as well as making certain that Helen and I had opportunities for some time out with the children. One of the biggest difficulties I have found is giving the children quality time - so thank you lucy for your kindness. During August we were visited by my old mate Russ, who some of you now know. He's a diamond geezer. He enjoyed helping behind the bar and when we really found ourselves in deep doo doo after our chef went off sick Russ and his wife Jane came to our assistance and offered their support and encouagement. This was backed up by the one hundred percent commitment given to us by Ian, Becky, Anne, Alice and Holly our superb kitchen and waiting staff. I must also mention Sarah who is barmaid of the year here at the Provi'.

September proved to be a bonus. We had an Indian Summer of sorts and whilst not making up the lost revenue of July, it went some way to providing a little income out of season. School started again and I found myself struggling to make time to get all of my jobs done in time to open the pub each day. With the nights drawing in and a gradual change in the weather we had to start bringing Sailor, our horse, in each night. The downside of this is the need to muck out his stable daily. This takes at least an hour a day out of my normal routine. Obviously I also have to factor in the time necessary to enjoy a coffee and a chat with David and Katie who own the house where Sailor is stabled.

October - November - December!!!

Trade dropped off dramatically, but more so because of the weather. However, there were some bright moments. We hosted the East Prawle Cricket Club annual dinner. I was very nervous about the whole thing. You really want to provide a first class experience to people and more so because they are your local customers, but to actually shut the pub for a saturday night in order to serve food and drink to the village cricket team is a gamble. There were certain people who thought it was wrong to host a private function in the pub. We had to weigh this up against the potential gain from providing a quality evening's entertainment to a captive audience. I hope we made the right choice?

On the first of Decemeber we celebrated our first year in the pub. We had the Peter Edwards Splinter Group playing live music and I found myself in drag again. I'm not sure why I did this, but people seemed mildly amused and worryingly I receieved a few proposals that night!

The band played old favourites plus a selection of recently written material. There is a video on MySpace these guys are great and wil be back during 2008.

As we neared Christmas I desperately hoped for an increase in business, but alas this was not to be. Things stayed quiet right up to Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day Helen and I tried hard to make the pub warm and welcoming. We roasted chestnuts on the fire and with help from Anne Blyth, Sarah trinick and David Hampden-Smith I joined in with some hand bell ringing. We had only managed a short period of practice prior to this performance, but I think we got away with it. There was a marvellous atmosphere that day and I hope we can recreate it throughout the year. After everyone left I cooked a goose for our Christmas Dinner with the invaluable help of my eldest son Sam and Helen. Helen's Mum and Dad were here as well and we all stuffed ourselves silly that evening before I collapsed in heap on the sofa.

So here we are in January a new year and a challenge to make the pub busier. Helen and I are desperate to make the pub work, but it is a business and it is about results. We hope for the best.

I will be posting again shortly with the tale of a recent rugby trip where certain members of our little community became legend. I am now familiar with the "BEST DAMN PUB IN PLYMOUTH".

Stay tuned....