Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Chimes of new year Gone ....

With the chimes of New Years Eve and congo-ing in the street a seemingly long distant memory, I cast my mind back to what has happened this month, at first I thought we had just been amazingly busy and not a lot had happened. But once I started writing some notes down I realise it has been a quite an incredible month, with a lot of firsts thrown in.

Just after the New Year we did a “never before” and closed for food for 5 days, everyone needed a well earned break, recharge the batteries and enjoy a bit of well deserved family or own time.

Paul and I took the opportunity to return to Barcelona for a few days break and further investigate some of the sights we saw back in the summer with the boys, there is so much more to see, we have only tipped the top of the iceberg, so with sight seeing, eating and drinking on our to do list, I think we did very well, with a café, restaurant or bar every few steps and amazing architecture all over, we were in heaven, we tried some of the most stunning food and well to put it politely the most strange! Some of the ideas have now been adapted to suit our menu.

The return to work was a little bit strange for us all, we were all a little lost, but soon got back into the swing of things as the stream of customers gave us no chance to think about it, but just get on, always best to be chucked in at the deep end. So a lazy January we have not had, relentless is a better word.

Whilst we still had a moment of reprieve, as we thought, we did another first, although we had always talked about it… THE STAFF NIGHT OUT with a journey out of the county, but not to far, we spent an evening at Woods in Dulverton, well the food and service was second to none, we were well and truly looked after, not so sure about the impromptu speeches, secret Santa’s and charades though? Family Swan had a great night, with a few sore heads the next day and whole repertoire to talk about for the coming weeks.

Last week we had an inspection from one of the Visit England Awards inspectors, strangely enough we had only been talking about a possible visit that lunchtime, and with a possible entry of 3 to 4 from each county I wondered how many we might possibly be up against, do you know how many counties there are in England? No neither apparently did we, but thanks to Google we find out 48!! So whilst speaking to the inspector over breakfast and assuming that he had been eating out for months, I asked how many places that he had to visit, the answer was 5, well now we feel doubly honoured, final judging takes place next week, with the awards being hosted in the north west in early March, fingers crossed XX

The 28th of this month sees us at The Castle in Taunton, for the launch of The Exmoor Food Festival, Olivier-Clavelshay Barn (former Woods) Starters.. Mark – Masons Arms – fish course… Liam Finnegan – The Castle Taunton- main course …The Swan – dessert, with the students from The Combe, West Somerset College looking after the canapés and extras. This leads on to numerous venues in and around Exmoor offering 2 courses for £10 and 3 for £15 on selected dates through out February, so I suggest you Google Exmoor Food Festival 2016 and eat and drink your way around Exmoor for a bargain.

What an amazing Bampton Fair we had, with so many faces from the past popping in to say hello and some new characters on the scene, who previously had not experienced this once yearly extravaganza, the rain clouds moving off into the distance we had a gratefully dry day, which makes all the difference, people are not rammed into the pubs and cafes, making for a much more relaxed atmosphere, no ones drinks or food getting knocked over, with lots of bargains and queasy fair rides, everyone I spoke to had a really good day, with new stories to tell for next year.

The After The Fair folk festival seemed to have attracted more followers than ever and you were hard pushed to get in the door some nights, not just here but all over the town, I hope that everyone enjoyed this musical interlude.

Talking of music I was watching an old TOTP the other night, which lead onto another music show, and wow did they have some legends on, but what struck me was what Grandmaster Flash said to Pharrell Williams  “when you love what you do, it will take care of you for the rest of your life” well maybe they are both lucky, but I recon you definitely have to love what you do in the catering trade, the long hours, the heat of the kitchen, the pressure of service and always preparing for the unexpected, why else?

With Paul’s first proper outing to Sandy Park for The Devon Life Food and Drinks awards, we were both pleased to just be there and although we didn’t win this year, to be a finalist and lose out to The Jack In The Green is nothing to feel disappointed about, to be honest we’re still reeling from wining last year. The following Monday saw us in Padstow for The Trenchermans Guide awards, with an amazing menu, created by last years wining chefs and matching wines, with a lot of friends and familiar faces (I saved my best dress for this one) we were in for a really good night, topped off by the fact that we were named best pub, we were just totally overwhelmed to be in such prestigious company, thank you to all that voted, that see us as such, hopefully we wont let you down.

With Paul still taking it easy and recovering slowly, possibly not to return until the New Year Team Swan glides gracefully along, whilst behind the scenes we are paddling furiously, with some phenomenally busy days and some exciting bookings soon, who knows what its going to be like when we get going with all the Christmas parties?? Fun fun fun