Since I was at my PC, which I discovered lurking behind a pile of paper, I figured that it was a pertinent time for an update. I guess that is as good a start as any, the paperwork. The pub generates an enormous amount of paperwork even more so since Outlook decided to randomly consume some critical emails. In a world that espouses the way of the paperless office it is amazing just how many times you see requests for “hard copy”. The other difficulty is that paperwork is spread over multiple sites and invariably either the item that I need or the thing that I need to check is at the other end of the country.
I am getting better at drafting the tasks that I need to achieve each time I am on site and actually achieving them of late. This became very clear when I started reading a book on the fast cat during the last return, this is normally a time spent chastising myself for failing to have answered key questions in preparation for the week ahead! Things are progressing reasonably well but I do find that I cycle between calm confidence and panicked terror when I look at how little time I have.
I have now learnt to hold back when people tell me that they know Shanklin and wait for more information before disclosing the pubs location. This new-found skill avoids me looking like a fool when I launch into “as you come into town, just before the Con club” only to be met with a blank look and the explanation that the person remembers it from a school trip or a childhood holiday. As the news travels the country I do remain astounded how many people have visited the island at least once and the memories are always positive. A number of current colleagues are regular visitors to the island and are pleased that there will be a friendly hostelry that speaks ‘Derby’.
The island, for its part, remains a wonderful and charming location despite the difficulties that the location can introduce to trading. I am still enjoying the occasional ‘win’ when I get a deal done with delivery to a postcode before the supplier realises that it is the Isle of Wight although in my defence there is no surcharge from most couriers. This weeks best island comment came from a national supplier who warned me that they couldn’t be sure on next day because of “weather conditions”, when I noted it was a bright calm day she was robust in her defence that “seas conditions change so quickly”; in this instance I deferred to the clearly superior shipping knowledge of a telesales girl in Essex!
As pub business cards hit a wider audience the surprise that there is only a picture, and that has the old name, has started to annoy me so this weekend I updated the site. Please take a wander over to www.ploughandbarleycorn.pub and you can see how I am getting on and follow the progress, don’t forget the blog though it’s still the best source.
I will leave you with the knowledge that I have nearly selected the product lines for the pub, there are some small tweaks to do and bits to negotiate but I know the direction. I know that this is not a huge announcement but I thought that if I shared it I may save just one or two people offering their thoughts. It is always nice to see enthusiasm but sometimes I do feel like I am performing a poll on favourite beers!
I have recently completed another review of the pub market from my perspective and my record remains pretty good. Every so often I review the pubs that have shown up as potentials and look at where they are against my thoughts at the time, its nice to check. Where I concluded that there was simply not enough demand to support the house they have closed, on this I remain 100% accurate. Where people have lost their way with the business and are treating the commercial sale as a residential one they remain on the market. The trouble with this approach is that the emotions associated with selling a home are not supported by the reality of the trading figures, again I am bang on target.
This time around there are a couple of quirks of the market that surprised me. One premises that has been occasionally and very cautiously marketed, I got as far as the ferry on one occasion before they changed their minds, has ceased trading. It is always sad to see a venue cease trading under any circumstances but I was surprised to see plans to extend the post office counter to become the only trading activity. The pub rescued the post office service many years ago when it couldn’t survive on its own for this to have now overtaken the pub in terms of trading viability is both astonishing and sad. I suspect that family dynamics may have held greater weight in this decision than pure economics but nonetheless its a surprise. My thoughts were that the early toe in the water would be followed by a more firm commitment to sell in the future and certainly I kept a close eye on developments.
The second venue that surprised me was an outside option whose status I am unsure about. This venue is marketed by one of those awful business selling sites that requires the DNA of your first-born before you can ‘join’ and then bombards you with irrelevant garbage, needless to say I have progressed no further than the front page. It was during my search for more information on a premises that is being sold by the owners of 4 years due to “retirement” that I discovered how they had come about the purchase. The pub was last sold via a raffle with tickets costing £20 each and the winner getting the freehold. Fair play to anybody who can take £20 and in just four years have a return on investment that allows them to retire but again I feel there is more to the story.
So what Have I learnt? Well commercially failing post offices can surpass the turnover of a well-loved local pub and that a raffle is a legitimate way of selling a pub. Before you leap to the keyboards to pen me a comment pointing out that the trade is in a dire state and I would have to be mad to buy a pub please remember, as I have said many a time, it is not a choice. Don’t bother scouring the web for the trade news that told us this was the worst New Year in the on trade to date with more people staying at home and even youngsters eschewing alcohol, I have seen it already. Even whilst reading the bad news stories my mind was ruminating on potential extensions for letting rooms. For some there is just no escaping the trade we just adapt to the difficulties and plough on.
Given that I am still smiling after the weekend I have to share the reason. I was lucky to see the gorgeous Aleisha twice over the weekend. All my friends know that they will lose me when my baby girl is around. The absolute icing on the cake was a sleeping girl on Sunday. Watching her blink open, focus and give me a big smile made my weekend. As daft as it sounds I am still grinning now. Don’t get me wrong, I am a broody man, I love babies but Aleisha and Harriet before her are so much more.
We all have problems and trouble in life, luck and fate are often blamed. Aleisha doesn’t worry about the start in life that she has had. She doesn’t fret or stress, she happily accepts the love lavished on her by amazing foster parents. Aleisha is such an animated baby, she studies everything around her. The world entertains and enthrals her in such a way that you cannot doubt that she will tread her own path. There is something in the innocent smile of one so young that makes you remember that all trials are transient.
Aleisha will soon meet her lucky adoptive parents. They are overjoyed and desperately keen to take on their new role. It’s a wonderful story and one that I consider myself lucky to know. I am told that babies have very little memory of early life, certainly I can’t remember being a baby. I like to think that just maybe I’ve helped Aleisha with one more preconception. Perhaps when she is older and meets a heavily tattooed man she won’t be intimidated she will just smile and get an urge to say ‘boo’. One thing is for sure she has melted the heart of this old man.