Monday, 23 May 2011

Dicks recent trip to the Scillies...

An arduous day ahead as I set out for Land’s End Airport for the 15 minute jet-lag-free hop over to St Mary’s . Greeted there by our old friend Michel, late of Chez Michel, now with his knives hung up and driving the Skybus Shuttle. No car or bus for me today though – Shanks’ Pony is the order of the day.
Five minute walk through the drying out bulb fields into Old Town; Old Town Inn have converted the Restaurant into another Bar, and wine sales don’t warrant a dedicated wine merchant, so on to Tolman Café to see Adam, Ben and Mike, all in good form and having their busiest time since opening 2 years ago. Achieved by building a strong local trade with very realistic menus, prices and offers. Try to persuade Adam that our Hostomme Champagne would be far better and cheaper than Moet for an up-coming wedding – he agrees, but the customer wants Moet, and is always right!
Pop in to Val’s Place to see how things are going with her small but perfectly formed off-licence wine selection – Val happy and smiling as ever, still wondering why the fastest selling wine is the most expensive!
Now over to Hughtown past the very smart looking new school, coming along nicely and who knows? – will it be the Queen who opens it on her very recently announced visit (you heard it here first!).
Our restaurant customers are now all pretty much in full operation, with business building as the summer season approaches. Just a few adjustments to wine lists here and there and all of us trying to maintain the edge over the competition, whatever form it takes! Then there have been a few changes of ownership to keep the pot on the boil; The Wheelhouse, that we supplied for some years before they gave up their licence, is now a ‘change of life’ project for Jen and Dan, and will be quite a change from their previous lives as planning officers in the East End of London. Young, enthusiastic and full of ideas they should do well and we look forward to looking after their wine needs when they get their licence.
Meanwhile, former Wheelhouse owner Liz Heslin has taken on Chez Michel’s, now as a café/tearoom serving good old-fashioned fare in a warm and friendly establishment. She is very pleasantly surprised at how busy she has been from the very start, so it may not quite be the semi-retirement she envisaged! Seems an all too familiar story for some of us poor old codgers seeking a quiet life!! 
The other new development is The Grapevine, an attractive little off-licence in the centre of town started up by Garrison Holidays owner Ted Moulson to try and offer the good folk of Hughtown a decent alternative to the dreaded Co-op. We’re supplying a fair number of wines which looked good on the shelves under the helpful control of manager Dave Chodkiewicz.  Happy with the response he’s had so far, Dave is looking forward to a busy summer with many happy campers descending from the Garrison.
Spent the rest of the day walking to various parts of St Mary’s and chatting with existing or potential customers. It’s a funny old year- hotels and guest houses seem to be quite well booked until the end of June, but July and August are definitely thin on the ground, all very odd!
Back to the airport in plenty of time for my 1755 flight but whisked off to the plane early because of fog descending.  Annoyingly it had already descended on Lands End, so off we go to Newquay, landing a few minutes ahead of the fog – at least that meant we didn’t have to look at Newquay!  Minibus back to Lands End, arriving Lamorna just in time to relax with a well-earned glass of Valpolicella before supper – great value that Sentina!
It’s a tough life having to sell wine on the Scillies, but someone’s got to do it!!

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