Wednesday 16 September 2009

Interesting Times

There is purported to be a Chinese curse that says "May you live in interesting times". Although it seems that there is no authenticity to this curse, and despite this uncertainty of it's origins, it feels to me like I have been dealt a wish by somebody that I should never lead a boring life.

The last week or so has been a roller coaster of fun and anguish. Of course nobody is perfect, but after a seemingly good run of success we appeared to take our eye off the ball and gained dissatisfaction in unlikely corners. This did set me in something of a period of unhelpful downward worry and introvert self-doubt.

Shortly afterwards I had an email, and corresponding comment on a previous post from our very nice people who got married here. I had copied the photographs of the wedding onto a CD and mailed it to them. Here is what they had to say:

"Hi Dave and Anne,

Kim and Jake here (last week’s bride and groom). Firstly just wanted to start by saying we received the photos you took yesterday. We absolutely love them, and they’re very professional, so thanks (once again).
Whilst we’re online, we thought we’d just add a sentence or two for all those possibly considering holding a wedding at the Woolpack Inn:
In helping us to plan our wedding Dave and Ann were flexible and accommodating. They went out of their way to ensure that it was a perfect day by, for example, photographing the ceremony and reception, and printing the photos so that they could be seen in the evening.
We chose the Woolpack Inn due to the stunning scenery. Out of the choice of two venues in the local area, the Woolpack Inn won our vote due to a fine selection of beers and a great menu, all of which lived up to our expectations.
We’d like to say a big thank you for the effort you both made, not just on the day, but for the week, which ensured that we, and our guests, had a great time. We would recommend the Woolpack Inn, not only to those considering a short break, but a wedding too!
All the best, and I’m sure we’ll see you at one of our anniversaries at some point in the future
Kim and Jake"
At around the same time there was the launch of the Good Beer Guide. We're in it again. For several reasons I think we're close to the bottom of the local branch league, I was at the selection meeting and sometimes it's the things that aren't said that you notice. Anyway, the branch view, is that if members don't get to the selection meeting then they can't complain about the selections, too true. To avoid any problems of complaints between the selection meeting and the publication of the guide the entries are kept quiet until the guide is published. I was sworn to secrecy even though I knew we were in the guide. Being in agreement with the policy my lips were sealed on the subject. There may be a fuller post on this subject....later.

At the launch of the GBG in our local Wetherspoons, to which I turned up to without my 50p off vouchers and incidentally I couldn't have used anyway because they are all dated. We had a very nice time enjoying good beer, about which a separate post is deserving. Perhaps by now you are getting the idea that I have very little time to play in this blogging world right now.

We're busy, really quite busy. We've got into September and the north/south weather divide has turned itself very firmly on it's head. It's so sunny here and has been for a good week. It brings in the punters and perhaps also helps put them in a good mood. The compliments are flooding back in again. We did take note of the aforementioned complaints, fixing what could be fixed. But, we're starting to fray a little, as is the infrastructure of the building.

Yesterday I was on the bar for quite a while, after a visit to the local plumbers merchants for a bit for a broken toilet cistern. Toilet fixed, I then spent around 6 hours solid being very nice to everybody while serving beer, fielding the repeat questions that are inevitable when you see different people every day. I don't think anybody who doesn't do it day in day out knows just how much effort it takes to keep that going all day. You feel your painted on smile fall off as you walk into the kitchen and out of the customers view and your Basil Fawlty face appears.

I'd like to write more, but I've run out of fillet steak again and need to go out to the butchers. I need to brew, but I don't know when I'm going to do that. I have about a dozen post subjects backed up somewhere in my grey matter but no doubt time will overtake them as well. I have also sold out of bottled beer too.

I've just checked a nice couple out of the rooms. Best steak they'd ever had, apparently, I blame the butcher. But the parting comment was:

"You've gone to the top of our list of special places"

I'm just off now to get ready for another busy day. The sun is shining again. To be honest, I'm looking forward to being bored one day soon.


Alistair Reece said...

Since I started working in the tasting room at a local brewery I am starting to really appreciate bar staff when I go out. I was always good to them and frequently left a tip far in excess of cultural norms in Prague, but when you are the only person behind the bar serving maybe 50 to 60 people at a time it would be easy just to snap, especially when telling people the same information time after time.

Thankfully though I am sufficient of a beer geek that I love answering the questions and get a buzz from people enjoying the beer - even if I get more of a buzz from people enjoying my homebrew.

A bit more experience and I guess I would make a good barman/pub owner, next though I want to learn how to be a good cellarman.

Cooking Lager said...

Hope you got the "none members discount" on the guide and got it off amazon for £7.99!

Unknown said...

Beer I can talk about all day, and sometimes I do. It is still tiring.

However, the main questions that I find problematic are the large number about local geography. Do people not know how to read maps?

Mind you, when the questions are of the form "which is the best route between Scafell and The Pike? Broad Stand, Lords Rake or Foxes Tarn?" I can give a detailed run down of the various merits and dangers of each route.

When people are thinking of climbing Scafell Pike, point at Harter Fell and ask you if that is it, you know deep down you should be telling them to stay on the valley floor.


It's a good point you make, but no, I paid the branch discounted price of £10 - yes I know, I'm a numptie.

Cooking Lager said...

Would never say you’re a numptie, my friend. You are a successful businessman. I joined the CAMRA forums after curmudgy posted a link that required registering to read and discovered the Amazon pricing debate. The none member discount amused me, that’s all, along with the usual tosh about loss leading. The standard accusation made against pile it high, sell it cheap, low margin retailers. For the record I think the guide is a good idea. Members offering their opinion to their peers in regard to what they think the good boozers of their area are. I suspect that makes it better than other guides. I wish there was a lager guide. Congrats on getting in.

Whorst said...

Over at The Chronicles, I have you listed as "Brother in The Arts" for good reason. No one questions your dedication to the arts, except maybe Cookie.

Cooking Lager said...

I don’t question Woolly’s dedication to the arts; I just question the notion of art. Just ‘cos it’s in a gallery with a price tag on don’t make it art. Large scale brewers operate economies of scale, from the prices paid for raw materials, to greater sugar extraction from the malt, equating to cheaper per unit product. Some think small scale inefficient produced beer tastes nicer, I think it just tastes different. With Sainsbury’s offering a 10 pack of Carling for a fiver, as a price sensitive soul, I pay my money and take my pick. Doesn’t’ mean I don’t respect what you and Dave get up to, Wurst.

Unknown said...

Can't add much to that really.

Whorst said...

I always tell people "drink what you like." My beef is with video beer reviews, people who find tasteful nudes distasteful, Avery's over-sized wine glass, and people who take themselves too seriously.

Cookie, ever think of changing your name? Maybe The Bard of Cooking Lager? Chronicles of The Lager, Cooking??

Cooking Lager said...

I'm a simple soul, wurst. It's why I don't brew. Cost your time and effort properly and you have the excuse to not do loads of things. Brew? Too expensive at my hourly rate. Are you kidding? Grow vegetables? Hoover? Wash up?, change my underpants? Too expensive mate.

You've reminded me. Gotta review my new plastic beer mug tonight, what I got given for nowt. Though I will try a can of lout in a wine glass at some point, and dedicate it to you.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

I've been asked if I will stop working at the bar when I own seven pubs and am flush with cash. (Notice usage of indicative, not subjunctive, mood). Naw. I like spending time at the bar chatting and talking about beer. The painted smile does appear, though, when the hours get too long, such as this next week when my entire bar staff is gone and I have 40+ hours behind the pumps.

I really need to come back out there next year, brew some beer, work the bar, and run some wire through The VOID. Then you would have time to go climb Harter Pike. Or Broad Rake.

Stonch said...

I'm a bit baffled by your post - you start of saying you've taken your eye of the ball, then tell us loads of great news and feedback you've had! Cheer up chum! If you're making plenty money and you're happy with what you do, that's all that matters!

Unknown said...

Jeff, I think that's the point I'm trying to make. We're getting some good results, but it's not without some considerable heartache as well.

What I'm not sure about is if the return on investment from a personal standpoint is worth it, on balance.