New Year, New Lockdown

Happy New Year

As I sit down to write this blog looking back over the last 12 months It truly has been a year like no other! We welcomed in 2020 with such joy, happiness and a few too many gins. As a business we had so much planned as this was to be our 20th year at the pub and family members were due to celebrate their milestone birthdays. It fills me with sadness as to what we all had lost and what we all had missed. A year of ups & downs with some nice times, fun times, some memories that will last forever... alongside that has been lots of uncertainty, frustration, and negativity. 

The Lockdown in March came as a shock to us all, we had watched as the virus had marched through Europe to eventually land to our own shores. As a family we decided to all pitch in and try and navigate our way through the storm. We were overwhelmed by the support from the local community, it’s in times like these you really see the good in folks. We received so many wonderful letters and words of encouragement that we will always treasure. As a family it gave us more than we could ever imagined..... it gave us time. Time is the one thing any publican will tell you they never have enough of. Time to sit and enjoy a meal together as a whole family unit, time to sit and chat without the phone constantly ringing, time to walk and spend time in the garden, time just to spend together sitting in the sunshine doing absolutely nothing. I will always be really grateful for that because you can never get that time back.

As we were approaching the end of June we received the long awaited news that we would be finally permitted to reopen. Yes this did come with many new rules, paperwork, and regulations but we, along with our amazing staff took it all in their stride. We finally were able to see a little light in the future. As always, we served lots of amazing people... regulars, super-regulars, newcomers to the village along with lovely tourists  and felt such fantastic support from our locals... you all embraced the new rules, table service, test and trace along with mask wearing so well.  Things seemed to be ticking along nicely until September brought a 10pm closure, November brought a month long closure and December brought along tier 2, then tier 1 and finally a tier 3!!!

So we took the heartbreaking decision to close from Boxing Day to protect ourselves, staff and local community. It really was an agonising thing to do but sometimes you just need to do the right thing. A few days later the hospitality sector was ordered to close so I guess we were a few steps ahead of the government. 
Christmas 2020 was an odd one this year. We had been asked by a few regulars if we would serve a “Takeaway Christmas Lunch” it started out at just 3 meals and ended up with nearly 30!! Again this was so unexpected but we really enjoyed serving it and the feedback has been incredible. I think it is something that we may continue to do for Christmas 2021. We spent Christmas Day for the first time ever as a family not at the pub. We had a brilliant time and for once it wasn’t about the Christmas presents but about who was present at the table . We entered into the year as a family of 5, (well actually if you add it all up a family of 11) and we ended the year all together.  I have had a Christmas which was solely about family for the first time in my career...and for that I am forever thankful.

New Year’s Eve was probably the hardest and loneliest time in the pub, mum had been diagnosed with pleurisy so that was a worrying time.  And Dad, well he’s just Dad along with his many health issues, never ending list of ailments and weird and wonderful injuries.  They are the heart of our family and really precious to us all ( the grandchildren remind them daily) so we watch them like hawks to keep them safe and well. Again it brought another first and for the first time in my working and married life I actually had New Years Eve OFF. But there was no where to bloody go. We spent the evening enjoying a tasty steak from Hanks Butchers in Ross, and played board games which I don’t think I’ve done in over 30 years. Oh yes we did have a little Gin or two, okay I will be honest gallons of the stuff!! And welcomed in the New year on a Zoom call with the family.

As anticipated, the government have copy & pasted Scotland's model and sent the remainder of the country into a full lockdown. The new rules stated that as of midnight Monday 4th January 2021 All non essential shops/retail/education and hospitality businesses must close. This has been such a weird year. We invested a lot in order to comply with Covid protocols...we spent a lot of time reorganising inside and outside space to qualify for opening in July...trained our staff...spent fortunes on single use menus and so on...but none of it really made a difference, it seems it was all about ticking boxes. 

I haven't written this much since my GCSE's, but I would like to say a massive thank you to a lot of groups of people.

Family - what can I say. You have been strength and backbone through all of this. We’ve laughed, cried, screamed, shouted and worried together. You’ve held my hand through it all and helped me navigate through the tough times, you’ve made me realise that Family is Hope, strength and love and I will be forever grateful for what we have achieved together. So to Mum, Dad, Paul, Emma, Stan, Ben, Danni, Fred, Jack and Tom thank you for all you’ve done I couldn’t have done this alone.

Staff - you people have been brilliant. If you worked 1 shift or every shift you make the place tick over, and we will really miss you over the next few months. All of the running around is massively appreciated and especially those who worked when masks became law...we salute you. Without you all work wouldn't be half as successful or half as much fun. You've embraced the many changes we have given you and smiled thorough. So my thanks goes to Sophie, David, Kerry (D), May, Daisy, Tom, Kelly and Danni, put your feet up and enjoy the rest...... the hard work will come soon when we reopen.

Locals - the local support here really does move us...we have such fantastic support in this area, and it really means a lot. We try very hard and press our suppliers hard to make our place affordable, and the constant wave of returnees is so impressive! We look forward to welcoming you all back in 2021.

Tourists - we see so many returning faces from over the country and it really is moving that you choose to spend a night of your holiday at our establishment. We have had so many gutted people cancelling tables due to this pandemic and I feel for every one of you who have had disrupted events. I'm figuring that come mid march that things will start to get better, so hopefully we will start to see you all again the new version of 'the world'. 

Suppliers - our suppliers are hero's... I absolutely love each and every one of these companies we work with to bring you great food and drinks. From the big boys such as Carslberg, Bookers and Elite Foods who always ensure we still receive great individual customer care from them. To the smaller local suppliers a special mention goes to Tim at Hanks Butchers in Ross on Wye. He has stepped up to the plate and along with his staff delivered the best meat the region has to offer. They really are worthy of a visit of you are in Ross on Wye.

Landlords...Our Landlords have been fantastic in this situation and without asking they gave us a helping hand in the spring when the first lockdown happened...couldn't ask for better landlords really, for that we are very lucky and grateful! 

Our business is healthy. We’ll be back strong and raring to go when we can reopen. The menu ideas I had for January remain in place and I cant wait to get going again... for the time being we will remain open for Takeaway meals and really look forward to receiving your orders. 

I hope you all make the best start to the New Year and stay positive...look after each other, and before we know it well all be able to live life normally again...perhaps with a little needle scar on our arms but I'd happily take that right now. It's the start of a new beginning. 

Take it easy people and stay positive!!!


Menus for Takeaways are on our Website now.

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