Thursday, 9 July 2020

Falling at the first.

I spent most of the day in the kitchen making scones and sandwiches (brie and pear still very popular).
I wish I’d stayed there the whole time.
This afternoon the health inspector arrived to check how we’re working and whether we’re following the guidance. In heavy rain he sheltered under the gazebo at the order point and I was summoned by one of my young members of staff to talk to him.
First thing I did was offer him my hand to shake...

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Rules is Rules

My father came to have coffee in the garden this morning.
To see how I’m getting on, check out the gazebos and generally lend me support.
He sat with people he knows who happened to have turned up at the same time.
He’s 85 and was wearing a mask, although by the time I took out his coffee his mask was under his chin as he happily chatted away.
I told him he wasn’t really far enough away from Nancie, that the two of them should be two metres apart.
He said it was fine, he was a metre away which was now allowed.
“It’s one metre only with other factors in place, for example if you’re wearing a mask,” I wagged my finger at him, “and you’re NOT wearing it, it’s NOT over your mouth and nose.”
As I said this to him I glanced towards another table where a man was sitting watching me, an eyebrow raised.
I felt I had to explain that I didn’t berate all customers like this.
Just my dad.

We have just completed day five of this strange new season and I think (hope) I’m getting the hang of it.
Today a man refused to give his name and telephone number for contact tracing.
He walked away when I asked for his details.
And missed out on a fine scone.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Stick to the willows, please.

We have set up seven gazebos in the garden to give our visitors either shelter from the rain or protection from the sun, whichever brand of summer this year brings.
Unfortunately I hadn’t really factored in the wind.
This morning I arrived to find one of them buckled and on its knees.
I took a few steps forward before looking left, steeling myself to see the damage done to the ones on the former tennis court. Joy. They were still standing.
There was another victim of the wind though. The cough screen, bought at great expense to adorn the table at the door (now a makeshift counter) took off during a particularly violent gust.
Tomorrow I shall be trying to glue it back together.

(Re) Open for Business

The first day was something of a relief.
It’s a relief to be open again.
A relief to see customers.
A relief that they didn’t come in great numbers but instead in a slow and steady trickle which we could manage.
A relief that the new systems worked well for the most part and that we have chance to think about anything that needs tweaking.
A relief that everyone who came was grateful, supportive and understanding. And amusing.
I started the day with a knot of anxiety in my stomach and ended it laughing about this photo sent by a customer with the comment, “a variation on a masked ball”:

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Begin Again

Planning for reopening this year is like opening for that very first time in 2010.
With plenty of added issues.
My head is spinning with thoughts of social distancing measures, reduced menus, hand sanitizer, cough screens, floor stickers, one-way systems, work stations, takeaway paraphernalia, ventilation, masks, gloves, hours, rotas, signs.
We have no real idea how many staff we’ll need but we definitely can’t do things the way we’re used to.

Last season on any given dry day we’d have 4 or 5 staff, squeezing past each other in the bottlenecks, the cry of “sorry” or “excuse me” ringing out every few seconds. People reaching across each other for cutlery, sauces, cups and saucers, sugar bowls and milk jugs; two or three people working on the same order so that we could get it out quickly.
In the small kitchen there’d be three people at three close stations making sandwiches, panini, salads, jacket potatoes, talking to each other to make sure they were working in unison.
Two steps away on the other side of the room would be 2 or 3 people bringing in trays, washing up, loading the steam washers, putting things away, passing each other constantly, swapping roles, often called to help take out orders.
This is the way we have done it for ten years. It’s like a bee hive. Everyone knows or learns how it works.

Now we have a very different challenge.
Once we reopen on Saturday 4th July we’ll be feeling our way for the first week or two.
Deep breath...

Monday, 6 April 2020

Bloomin’ lovely

We didn’t have to wait too long.
This is a Clivia. It graces our tearooms conservatory and is a glorious colour. 

Thursday, 2 April 2020


The promise of something fabulous 1/4/2020