So I guess that I must start this post with an apology for the absence of posts of late, I truly am sorry. By way of some form of mitigation, rather than an outright excuse, can I remind you all that time is subjective rather than objective. As a child the week seemed almost cruelly long yet the weekend blinked past in an instant, as a publican I have accelerated seven days into the speed of the two. I am told, and my invoices confirm this, that January has passed when did this happen? More importantly why is my pre-Christmas to do list still so full? By the end of the weekend I am rushing into ordering and then deliveries and then it is the weekend again, I have never known time pass at such a speed and, somewhat inevitably, this limits my ability to post it is not that I am idle it is simply that my clock is running faster than yours.
Since my clock is running faster than yours I will endeavour to make this post count and firstly update you on the pub and progress. The major building project finished just before Christmas thanks to devoted and somewhat unhinged builders and a PM (me) who was incapable of rational logic. After three months of various restrictions we did succeed in opening the new Plough in its entirety for the festive period as planned. To be clear on what a “major” building job encompasses let me give you some facts (after all you know that I love them):
35 tons of wall removed from site
1.2 tons of steel inserted
4 tons of concrete
1.5 tons of solid oak floor
2 new hand made oak doors
In a previous life those would seem insignificant numbers but in your front room they make a hell of a difference I can assure you. So was it worth it? hell yes! The pub looks amazing, the feedback is great and the pub continues to make her own case for investment. The most contentious part of the build was the choice of a dark oak floor which was eschewed by many and supported only by my fellow engineer (cheers Clive R), now installed everybody agrees it was a bold but wise move and suits the pub very well. So for those who have not seen the latest incarnation of the old lady see the pictures below:
My plan was always to be finished by Christmas and to ensure that we had three ales on for the period. I wanted to showcase the Plough as she is now and encourage more people to discover her. This was not a plan that I formulated but rather it was a plan that the pub presented and I facilitated. Most importantly the plan worked, the pub has become more relaxed, the resident clientele have been rewarded for their perseverance and new clientele have discovered a new venue. The last image is somewhat lazy on my part as it does not show all of the leather couches that now inhabit the area and make a real relaxed lounge area. Throughout the works I argued that there would be no significant increase in seating and having had a count up I have exactly the same number of seats as I had before but in a much larger and more comfortable area.
Olly has replaced both of the front doors with his made to measure oak pieces and they look fantastic, it does appear to have been a job well done on all counts. Having spoken to a previous landlord over Christmas about his issues with the resident ghosts I guess that the ultimate test, as for all pubs, has to be what the ghost thinks. Legend has it that in any pub the ghost is a protector of the building and will cause trouble for those who do not have the buildings best interests at heart. Save from the first few weeks I have no evidence of any paranormal activity so clearly the ghost approves of the alterations and the change of ownership.
On the note of ownership my research leads me to the interesting fact that the Plough was built as brewery and that from there it fell into larger brewery estates before coming to rest on my shoulders. As far as I can ascertain I am only the second independent publican to have owned the old lady and that isn’t bad going for 300 + years.
My old mate Paul Cowley visited last weekend (or was it the one before) and although we had little time to talk I think he took the right impressions away with him, I may look like death but I do it with a smile. For me little has changed in life, every day is getting harder with more to do and more guilt for failing to get things done but, and this is fundamental, an enormous pride for the old girl. I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that I am a publican and only a publican hence I will often be found in lofts pulling cables or pipes and actually have an outstanding task to torch a patch on one of the flat roofs. My hands are always dirty as are my jeans and I rarely leave the confines of the Plough. I am immensely proud of the pub, her clientele and the efforts of all to forge a new reputation that we will maintain for years to come. One of the nicest compliments that I have been paid recently, on a number of occasions, is to be called a young version of one of the oldest publicans in town and when I spoke with the man himself he pointed out that he has done his thirty years and I still have mine to do if they keep speeding by like this I may have to make it forty!
So am I eating properly? of course not. Am I sleeping properly? hell no. Am I pushing too hard? is there any other level? Do I feel rewarded, happy, proud? Damn straight I do, the Plough is an amazing pub in a fantastic town on a stunning island and I still (two years in) find myself wandering around her amazed that I am her custodian.
It would be wrong to leave a post without a nod at Ms Nature, one of two venomous women that spite me on a regular basis (but the only one I wasn’t daft enough to marry). Cutting wood for the log burner, a daily treat, leaves me barely short of agony some days. The wrists are in dispute and I can foresee us being the next Southern Rail when they take action. I wake up in pain every day, arthritis is reminding me that it has a claim on a more regular basis and I really do feel old but on the plus side its only Ms Nature and she has no idea what stamina means 😉