Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Years Resolutions 2010

Taking a look at 2009 should give me a clue to 2010 thought i, but then again 2009 was a monumental year with so many preconceived thoughts turned on their heads that I think it will take most of 2010 to get some semblance of balance.
I changed my business plan 5 years ago lest recession hit again, as at the time my business owed the best part of £1 million in indemnified business loans. In 2009 this finally worked out through the system and we all cried a collective sigh of relief as a recession did hit and we now only owed about £25,000.
In my personal life the year pretty much ambled on as usual, several holidays away including one on a farm in a cottage north of north Yorkshire with no Internet. To say this was like spending a day in a locked room with Janet Street Porter would have been an understatement. I went to extreme lengths to stay in touch with my friends and fellow twitterers in an attempt to maintain my sanity which was falling apart at the time. Not everyone I know understood this and there lies another story!
One of the shocks of the year was when mum was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer which later spread to her Liver and she moved in with us around about last August/ September whilst she had treatment. They say its only when you have contact with the NHS that you realise just how good it can be and i can now say where we are, was fantastic to us through the whole process.
Sadly a miracle cure was not to be and mum passed away at home with us all around her, peacefully on the morning of December the 8th.
The funeral passed without problem on December the 23rd at Barham Crematorium although when one of the pall bearers caught his foot on a carpet she nearly arrived at the front of the chapel quicker than decorum would have allowed! I can't help but think she would have found that funny!
I can name most of the people who supported me this year but not all, so you know who you are and the part you played. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart!
During the year I have seen friends depart and old ones return, I have left friends behind, or they have left me and I have gained new ones. I value you all equally "but just remember a friend in need is a pain in the arse!"
So to 2010 what am i going to do:

1) I intend to help more people achieve what they want by lending assistance where necessary!
2)The fitness program will be stepped up to a new level and I will lose another 3 stone or slim trying!
3)Its impossible to erase the lines from my face but I resolve to remember how each one was earned and how many tears I cried getting them!
4)The difficult one will be writing a business plan for all my businesses and sticking to them not getting the 2010 plan out of a dusty draw in 2014 and saying "oh that's what i meant to do!"
5)I intend to learn to play the Guitar! As singing is not my forte even in the bath I'm not sure I will go the whole way but you never know if I find out I can play guitar I might learn to do a passable Lee Marvin "wandering star" impression.
6)I resolve to actually listen to others in 2010 even when I know they are wrong and make them feel part of the process.
7)When i am stressed because of something I can't control which isn't often I resolve not to take it out on an innocent party rather I will ensure I take it out on the person who has streesed me.
8)Finally I will strive to have my best year ever as "I have seen the future and it gets ever closer!"

All that remains is for me to wish you all a prosperous and successful New Year and please remember when you make someone else happier you feed a flame in yourself!

Play this to feel good

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Hoodeners Horse Beer Festival 18th to 25th December 2009

So its xmas again and with that time of the year comes the spirit of giving and this year we are giving you the chance of trying 20+ Real Ales obviously not all at the same time as we only have 7 Real Ale handpulls.

When one is finished another will be started and so on until we finish all 20 different Real Ales on offer. The more you drink the more we rotate the choice.

So the Real Ales on offer :-

Steingold by Saltaire Brewery (4.3%) A german style golden Ale

Lancaster Blond by Lancaster Brewery Ltd (4.1%) A Vivid Golden Bitter

Christmas Cracker by Wickwar Brewing co (4.2%) Smooth Amber Ale

Bearly Literate by Beartown Brewery (4.5%) Golden Pale Ale

Exmoor Gold by Exmoor Ales (4.5%) Single Malt golden Ale

Fireside by Camerons (4.3%) Mahogany coloured Ale

Wolves Ale by Newmans Brewery (4.1%) Refreshing session Bitter

Rocking Rudolph by Hardys & Hansons (4.2%) Full bodied Malty and fruity xmas ale

Christmas Steps by Butcombe (4.2%) Made with Phoenix and Bramling cross hops

Storyteller by Highgate Brewery (4.1%) Delicious light pale Ale

Winter on the Piste by Wyre Piddle Brewery ( 4.3%) Amber coloured premium beer

Proper Job by St Austell Brewery (4.5%) IPA brewed with cornish spring water

Wild Hop by WIld Hop Brewery (3.8%) Golden hoppy session bitter

Web Ellis by Willey Brewing co (3.8%) session bitter hoppy and fruity

Pride of Pendle byMoorhouse's brewery (4.1%) fine balance of malt and hops

St Austell Tribute needs no introductions.

Doombar by Sharp's Brewery an old stalwart in the pub

Adnams old Ale by Adnams (4.1%) traditional winter warmer

Haggis Hunter by Harviestown Brewery (4.3%) Floral spicy hoppy taste

Coronation St by JW Lees & co (4.2%) brewed with Northern Soul

Youngs Special by Wells and Youngs again a stalwart in the pub.

We hope to see you all to try the offering and the more successful this is the more times next year we will do the same so spread the word for us bring your friends and have a "Real Ale"

Incidentally Boxing day A Real Ale Challenge drink a pint from each of the real ales between 12-6pm and get your next pint free the barmans decision is final.

So all that remains to be said is "Have a merry xmas and a prosperous New Year!"

Saturday, 12 September 2009

A Walk in the Blog

Not sure where this is Blog is going today but stick with me and we will see where we end up!

First of all being ex-RAF I have the view that when some one enters Military service they have signed up to travel the world, meet new friends and as the old joke goes "Blow them up!" My eldest son is about to attempt to join the RAF himself, which I think will be great for him.

Although I'll worry he has just as much chance get mugged in the High St these days and stabbed by some brainless lout. I'm a firm believer in life, things happen for a reason and as we move from one part of our lives to another, so these changes are part of a bigger scheme of things we can never oversee.

So why today did I find myself, despite my view that service men and women are doing the job they signed up to do, feeling the time has come to withdraw from Afghanistan?

One thing that winds me up on this subject are the people who continually, every time a soldier dies carp on about the death saying its further truth that this is an unjust war and we shouldn't be involved. Well I don't know about that but its a disloyal approach as far as I'm concerned, leaving the troops to feel that those left behind at home do not appreciated their noble sacrifice.

What has changed my mind?

Its simple and related to the tragic death of one member of the armed forced rescuing an idiot reporter from his own stupidity! and the full list of fatalities up to and including the same operation can be found here

I have felt up to this point that despite conditions, lack of resources and the stupidity of our government, the men and women of our Armed Forces were doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances. Its not that I feel the death of this soldier is different or somehow more important than the others, but that it was more needless.

Therefore if it isn't time to withdraw from Afghanistan then this week, the time got so much closer.

I was into wry smiles today when I saw some one I follow, draw attention to a report about how men react to pretty women and use that report in her blog quite effectively may I add! source:

Jennie beat me to the blog on this subject please go and look the report which does make interesting reading.

Guys it seems we go into overdrive trying to mate with every attractive women we meet. If only there were that many hours in the day sigh. I'm willing to lay money on the table that the researcher was a women.

Don't know about anybody else here but I own up that when i met my wife all I could think of saying was "I hope you make a good cup of tea," when what I was thinking was something not entirely different but something you wouldn't say, to someone you've just met and who was going to be your PA.

As it was I don't think she spoke to me for 3 weeks and come to think about it, not sure she has spoken to me since and we've been together 20 years now.

I also own up to knowing how to get rid of a potential job applicant to whom I would have found it difficult to say no. I calmly pointed out that as she would be working with my wife and a fellow director of my company who was female they would have the final say! That's right you guessed it she didn't get the job roflmao. I was well aware of the affect the person concerned was having on me and the trouble it was going to cause.

So what does this man do when faced with a women that makes him drool and go weak at the knee's? Heed this advice well run a mile, don't turn around and above don't look back in case you turn into a pillar of salt!

Finally (of course that means I have a third of the blog still to go), I draw your attention to a little known fact that I am a voracious reader and digester of facts useless and worse than useless.

I particularly read Carla Carlisle on the back inside page of each weeks "Country Life" because of her style and remembrances of a life left behind never to be recaptured. The people she has met and known during her life sometimes leaves me in awe and brings in focus my own life whilst inspiring me.

At a complete tangent i also read Liz Jones in the back of the "You" section of The Mail on Sunday because she makes me wince and want to go and find a corner to hide. She regularly lives her life out in the open, warts and all, for all to see.

When she divorced and moved to Exmoor I thought perhaps she would have learnt her lesson but no!

I know she lives her life and earns money by writing about things happening to her, but her style which is to pretend her writing is invisible to those she writes about, I would imagine could be deeply upsetting to those involved.

So is it any surprise that recently the locals on Exmoor near where she lives have turned against her and someone has discharged a shotgun at her mailbox? Yes they still have a postal service!

All the time this is going on she claims to be completely innocent and its always poor little me.

So will I read her column tomorrow yes I will. Why I don't know perhaps its a lesson in someone getting out of life what they deserve, because she really doesn't understand how other people think and feel. She seems to believe they are just there to be used for her own benefit.

Incidentally I also read the problems page in the Sun when I can for the first laugh of the day "Sad innit!"

Thursday, 3 September 2009

HoodenersHorse Marketing

Its CanterburyGeeks night tonight I have blogged my talk as I would hate you to miss it.

Last year the Hoodeners Horse pub at Great Chart had a great year until the recession hit in the September.I realise this was later than most people At this point we rained in spending and costs as much as possible but a number of things were beyond our control.

1) Beer Tax & price rises from brewery companies.

2) Cost of utilities & power.

3) Fresh Vegetables.

4) Transport.

Suddenly we were seeing people who had eaten 2-3 times a month with us only coming out once a month. Having made it through to the New Year we had some respite due to some costs falling such as vegetables and meat. However beer tax and brewery prices continued climbing.

Our food offering is mostly cooked fresh from local ingredients where ever possible and we have gained an excellent reputation for the quality of our food. We therefore choose not to discount our food as others have done. Being a small venue(40covers) we couldn't have gained economies of scale to allow this.

The cost of drink however kept rising and we chose to deal with this differently:-

1) No pub 1/2 pts in peoples pint glasses.

2) Retrained the staff to cut wastage when pouring pints.

3) Changed the cellar to incorporate real ale tilts to cut wastage down when dispensing the last part of the cask.

4) We are just about to sign up for an EPOS system and dispense monitoring to further cut wastage.

These measures enabled me to reduce a pint of real ale to the customer by 20p a pint and the other beers by 10p a pint. We also reduced the price of the spirits and went back to 25ml measures.

Within a few weeks whether by luck or judgement, turnover started to return to 2008 levels so the reduction in cost to the customer meant they actually spent more.

One of the master strokes occurred in May 2009 when thanks to Perry Mayer at the Pub & Bar Network I was bullied into first looking at Twitter and then joining. To tell the truth i spent 2 days looking at the joining screen thinking now what do I do?

Brilliant I entered a name and password and had my twitter account in a "Blink of a Twitterers eye!" Before I had a chance to change screens I'd gained 2 followers. This isn't difficult I thought, until I saw the followers and to this day I don't like Britney Spears especially not with a corn on the cob in her mouth. Note to self get eyes tested.

In a flurry of righteousness and panic, as my children use my Desktop occasionally, I took my account private and thought up my next move.

What was the reason I was using Twitter and what did I intend to achieve?

I decided that I wanted to make people aware that the Hoodeners Horse existed and still did Mexican food although differently to when it used to be part of a chain of Hooden Horse pubs!

In fact one of the most annoying things for us, is when a customer tries our pub for the first time! Having previously used one of the other ones that used to be part of the chain and says "We tried the Chilli/Fajita/wraps at such and such and it was awful hope yours is better! Your part of the same chain aren't you?"

So People The Hoodeners Horse is not part of a chain unless I decide to expand and open others, the food is fresh and the Real Ale Real!

Back to the plot.

I wanted people to know how good the food was and that we did real ale.

I wanted to get the message out to people in Ashford and close by to attract in new customers.A business without customers is not a business

I wanted to achieve this at minimal cost!

My first mission then was to identify local potential customers and Perry pointed my at which proved a god send. I quickly identified 120 people using Twitter in Ashford and followed them all, naturally my copious output did not suit them all and I faced Twitter rejection from one or two.

On the whole though I made some contacts and by talking on Twitter started to make progress and connections although I'm not see the Hawaii followers will be in too often. We do now have Twitterers in most days for lunch or an evening meal .

One lunch time recently I was talking to @suvvo & @canterburygeeks via Twitter from my office in Sellindge only to realise 10 mins later they'd both been sitting feet apart, twittering to me without even realising they were talking to the same person. This was made possible by the fact that they didn't know each other via Twitter .

@babssaul was in the those early days a great encourager of Hoodenershorse and in fact still is although I'm not sure if its me she is encouraging or my Homemade chips? During one online conversation she suggested a tweet lunch and I obliged. Its been years since Ive been asked out even if its my own pub. We were joined by @niftyknits and @kent_it.

The Lunch flew by and we all agreed to meet the next month. To my surprise the three of them spent the afternoon twittering how good the pub was and how good the food was! Is this the power of twitter?

The next lunch came and we had 10 people,and of course the famous @canterburygeeks who it turned out has been drinking most of his adult life at a pub who shall remain nameless here at least. The point of explaining this is because I drink there with friends on occasion and had never met him.

This same pub can't see the point of Twitter and can't see that if you help people to Network and relax then you can achieve your own aims as well. "It is not what you can do for yourself but what you can do for others that is the measure of a man!" I'm sure someone famous said that just don't ask me who.

I look forward to these lunch's now, to meet the people I now regard as friends and because I enjoy the atmosphere they create.

The third lunch came and we had 20 people, the last ones leaving at gone 4pm and they all went back and twittered about the food and the service and I didn't have to pay them to do it!

I must say, some very clever people come to network at those lunches and to a man or women it makes me proud to know them and more than a little humble.

By this time I'd spread my following net to Folkestone, Canterbury, Hythe and Faversham and currently follow 690 people, on the follower side I have around 500 it changes daily depending which side of the bed I get out of.

Due to requests from Twitterers we are now going to have a Twitter meet up evening once a month as well and other opportunities have arisen in addition, that are still in the planning stage.
My next step is to master Facebook, which is a little less dynamic and more suited to leaving messages for your customers. I realise that there will be some overlap between Twitter uses and Facebook users but I hope to be able to go through our client base of 260 names and identify who uses Facebook.

Then I can add those to the 89 fans of Hoodeneners horse already on facebook and see what happens.

With the combined power of reaching our customers through Twitter and Facebook as well as the other mediums we use I would hope to drive the business forward at minimal marketing cost.

Any Questions and there were 4 questions in total which must prove people were awake and I gained 5 new followers as a result of the talk.
If you want to risk the video of the whole thing filmed on an Android phone the link is here via@canterburygeeks Wow - 55 views clocked up of last night's video of CGN#4. I wonder if any has watched the whole 2 hours?

Monday, 24 August 2009

I have to ask myself if this blog lark is wearing off, as its nearly a month since I last blogged.

Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your view I have to say no its not. Since I last blogged have made a concerted effort not to do my usual rant at the convoluted way the country is run or whatever had taken my fancy that day.

However the repatriation of the "Libyan Bomber" I'm sure everyone remembers Lockerbie is a case in point as to why we need an urgent change of government. If anyone is under the illusion that the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party) acted without Labour saying it was ok, in my opinion they would be mad.

Lets look at the facts Labour are out at the next election squeezed all the way back to the Highlands of Scotland where the SNP is the only serious threat and what better way to make them look stupid and unfit to govern! So there you have it's "Let's stitch up Alex Salmond week"

Moving on at a fair rate of knots and noticing we have just won the Ashes back, by the way if you haven't noticed yet you may be having a problem breathing.

We seem to be in that curious area of summer where Football and Cricket share the calender and we are deluged with sport to watch. Winter will be here soon enough and for the sensible sport becomes something to be watched in front of a good fire.

At the Hoodeners Horse pub in Great Chart Ashford you know the spiel Twitter @hoodenershorse we do Mexican food, Real ale and home made chips call 01233 625583 to book a table we have continued to run our Tweet meet lunch's the last being far more successful than i'd expected with 20+ people there on the day. A special thanks to the following people @Abaddonspit@babssaul@canterburygeeks@directassist@JennieLichfield@jododds

Also a thanks to those that let me know they might or could not make it. Looking forward to meeting you all next time!


Under comments I see that Mr Anonymous posted Again! Again! Again! I know who you are and if you bang on the desk like that in future you'll hurt yourself.

Unexpectedly 2 blogs were written about the day which approached the subject in different ways. The first one by @Abaddonspit was about the pub and this has been posted on the staff notice board so they can see the effect they can have on the business when they work hard.

To read @Abaddonspit Blog follow this link

The second Blog was written @Vatark and was about using Twitter as a marketing tool,this was blogged and Twittered as far as I can tell to nearly 10,000 people. Exposure indeed and I sincerely hope they don't all turn up at once or we will have to say there is a 20 mins delay on food due to the volume roflmao.

To read @Vatark blog follow this link

All that's left for me is to thank my bloggers, my attendees and please follow them if you use Twitter they are all real people well I think they are, and to announce the date of the next TweetLunch at the Hoodenershorse.

The next lunch will be at HoodenersHorse on friday 18th of September numbers will be tight sign up here

Friday, 24 July 2009

Follow Friday and twitter subjects

Its that day again #FollowFriday where everyone goes mad and recommends the people they have found most interesting in the last 7 days. Its a wonderful concept but hey sometimes it just becomes a list of names with no thought put into it.

When you think about it #FollowFriday is like a mini Honours List where the naming and giving,is in our own remit.This is unlike the real honours list which is packed with lots of undeserving people and sometimes the occasional worthy.

So why would I recommend someone to #followfriday another tweeter?
  1. Someone has been helpful during the previous week.
  2. I've enjoyed their tweets.
  3. I agree with what they are doing.
  4. Their service is one I would want to promote or help them promote.
  5. The person has become a friend.

I'm sure if you are reading this you could add to the list at least another two or three reasons and perhaps that might make a suitable comment at the end of this blog.

So the crux of #followfriday is for me the act of giving and or recommendation and to help someone achieve an aim. Not a bad thing as so much today costs its good when we can do something with no thought of gain.

The main drawback to # followfriday has however become 140 characters as its impossible to list all the people you'd recommend and say something about them. This Friday I thought id do my definitive list and let you all pick it over.

1)@pubandbarnetwork Perry and Linda extremely hardworking on behalf of pubs and totally to blame for me getting involved in Twitter.

2)@FletchMcgull @Carolinechambers @babssaul These were 3 of my first real local followers & followed made me feel welcome and helped me integrate into twitter and i've seen them look after lots of people in the same way.

3)@niftynits @Kent_IT for being themeselves and supporting the Hoodeners Ashford meet.

4) @suvvo @ Keith_lynn whilst both are fairly local they hadn't really heard of the Hoodeners Horse but were up for a twitter and a pair of nicer guys you couldn't wish to meet, not of course you understand that i've met @suvvo but some people you just know!

5) @markhorner one of life's gentlemen and good company almost as hard working as I pretend to be and a much appreciated supporter.

6) The Trumpettes 1 & 2 these two lovely young ladies deserve much encouragement and assistance,as they have made the Twitter board a place that seems quiet if there not twittering.

7)@Pannage who I have met once at a Hoodeners Twitter lunch. He couldn't make the first one but unlike most he went out of his way to say that he couldn't. Doesn't Twitter much that I've seen but always pleasant to chat too.

8) @yummit one of the first foodies to follow us and who we followed back always interesting.

9) @tomaitkins celebrity chef and alround great guy took the trouble to respond to a question I had of him.

10)@canterburygeeks He attended a Hoodeners tweet lunch and we discovered we drink in the same pub at different times of the day 20 miles away and have been doing so for 14 years and never met.

11)@TheSourceress This is one busy lady always doing something. Here is a typical Dm from her "I have published my list of tweeting restaurants, thank you for taking part. You can see it here:"

Hey if i've missed you off the above list then I apologise in advance as its not easy being an author. lol

The Tweet lunch at the Hoodenershorse had a record attendance last Friday and the next one can be accessed and you can put your name down by going to this link! Friday 21st of august I look forward to seeing you there. Its an amazing phenom as every one makes a tremendous effort to get on with each other.

My visit to Lords last Monday went extremely well as England won before lunch and we had a couple of beers to boot. My experience of the high speed train from ashford was brilliant except in future will not 3 trains morning & 3 trains afternoon waiting 2 1/2 hours for a train defeats the object even if the journey only lasts 37 mins.

Ok so that it for this edition comments may be welcome I'm not sure till I read them If you like what you've read please Rt the blog address for me! If you don't like it dm me with suggestions (polite)!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

A broad mix

What a day Friday promises to be this week in the first instance we have a mini Tweet meet at the Hoodeners Horse Great Chart Ashford Kent Lunch Time 12:30 - 2:30pm all welcome within reason. This is the 2nd one we have done and looks to be going to be attended by at least twice as many people, at the first meet last month June there were four of us.

The Roll of Honour Babssaul, Niftynits,Kent_it & myself.

I think you always ask yourself what is this going to turn out to be like and I can honestly answer it wasn't too bad, meeting strangers is always fraught with potential for embarrassing pauses, but when you feel you know them from talking on twitter it becomes real time face to face twittering. Well I think it used to be called talking but this is the 21st century c'mon catch up!

So we got the introductions over and done with and settled down to a bite to eat. The Homemade chips lived up so I'm told to expectations and as often is the case the size of the portions surprised. However what with Food, Real Ale and banter no sorry Twitter the time flew by and we left swearing we would meet again next month and that we had made new friends.

So to this month people should arrive around 12:30 doesn't matter if they arrive early I know a joke and can tell it 15 times if I have to. After which I expect introductions of the "Much Mwhah MMWhahing kissy kissy variety" ,just thought perhaps i should shave tomorrow. Anyway we will then get drinks decide on a bite to eat and get to know one another over a period of time. I must admit I'm looking forward to this one.

After the dust settles I have a little time to get ready for the 20/20 Hoodeners Horse vs Great Chart Cricket Match in the evening at which the pub normally gets beaten but everyone swears they have a great time. Normal food service continues at the pub whilst the regulars are just down the road hitting the little red ball. Weather forecast is horrible for Friday perhaps this year we can get a draw.

On other fronts the prospect of Swine Flu coming to a place near you looms ever larger and with over 10,000 diagnosed cases and assumed 100,000's of people infected the predictions of 100,000 new infection daily from September looks frighteningly realistic. A Vaccine we were told is weeks away but 60 million doses have been ordered.

Today it materialises that to be effective two doses need to be administered and that means half the population will be unvaccinated. The priority cases being the elderly, those with asthma , the emergency services , those in the health service, those in government et cetera I'm sure you get the picture. The fact is I'm more worried about what swine flu will mutate into as that is likely to be the deadly one.

On the gym front yep still going and had lost some inches around my middle, discretion and modesty and the fact its hard to tell prevents me from saying in excess of 4" and as a result I bought some new trousers. It was getting embarrassing walking around the golf course holding my shorts up with one hand and trying to swing the club with the other.

So evidently although I have been slow to get onto the weight loss path it is clear I'm now there as having gone out and bought 3 pairs of trousers of a lesser waisted variety (smaller that is), at certain points of the day those seem to be vertically challenged in the way a Brian Rix English Stage farce would be. In other words I can't keep my trousers up.

Yes its 8 months now even the gym can't believe it, food retailers are going out of business because the new me eats less a lot less and wait for it several major lager brewers are thinking of further redundancies due to an unexpected downturn in trade. A one man recession that's me.

All in all I'm extremely lucky I've decided because ignoring for the moment the obvious family comments which some people use to try and make their selves seem like well rounded people, I work when I want, do what I want as I like my work ( self employed), have trusted friends and no one could convince me that i would be able to earn money doing what I do for a living.

The Secret and what works for me was I told myself early on I was lazy and would have to work harder to achieve what others seem to achieve routinely. However when the evidence is weighed up I often find I'm working twice as hard as other people but not noticing as I regard it as the cost of Success. Interestingly it gives me a margin of error at times that other people don't have because if I have problems I work harder to solve them.

If you've just read this and are still awake please read the real ale blog below and come and visit us at the Hoodeners Horse.