The Hotel TerraVina Blog

Blog on a Blog- Hotel TerraVina mentions Farm and Countryside Blog with much appreciation…

This week I am blogging about a blog- I read many other blogs not only because they are interesting and often fun and entertaining, but because I am trying to ensure that our own Hotel blog and Malmsey blogs’ aren’t missing a trick or two and are keeping up with blogging trends and remain a good read to those loyal blog readers who “tune in” each week… many thanks by the way for continuing to read my blogs- you are all very kind! I love to receive comments and feedback too so please do type a word or two now and then in the comments box.

However, I digress. Back to other blogs. One of my current favourites is http://farmandcountrysideblog.co.uk/

This is a new blog, written by a friend of mine and whilst that’s a good enough reason to like it, as is the fact that this week she has written the most lovely review about TerraVina, many thanks Sheila, but besides from all those reasons, it is simply a very well written, entertaining and diverse blog about all sorts of aspects of country life and I am loving reading it. Sheila has recently discovered the joys of visiting Country fairs and steam fairs and her descriptions of them made me want to pack a picnic basket and hurry along in a vintage VW camper van… which as I have mentioned camper vans, how sad to hear that yet another relic of a bygone era will soon disappear as the VW van is not going to produced any longer- future generations will have missed a treat, no music festivals will be the same again in years to come!

Enough of reminiscing about Hippy youths, this week the forest has looked never better with glorious rolling mists in the morning only to be dappled in Autumn sunshine by mid afternoon- long and mellow days with the pigs now out and eating their own weight in acorns- I love this time of year in the forest and do hope that the sunshine lingers just a little longer so we can enjoy it for a few more weeks before the win whips into a chill factor and the grey skies arrive to subdue us all just a little bit.

If you haven’t taken advantage of our Autumn mid week offers then do so as they are fantastic value and for those who live close enough to come for lunch don’t forget we are open throughout the week, not just on Sunday lunchtimes and the menu is just as tasty Mon- Sat!

Hope to welcome you all soon

Till next week and many thanks again Sheila for blogging about us

Nx

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Gerard talks “Wine and Fashion” in the New Forest at Hotel TerraVina….

As much as I love my darling husband, it has to be said that his fashion sense is sometimes not as good as it might be. Thus imagine my surprise when Gerard was invited to “star” in a video all about Paris Fashion Week and talk about his selection of wines to match fashionable designers who are all well known and highly talented “Fashionistas”….. obviously I knew he wouldn’t fail on the wine front but the fashion bit made me uneasy!

However, I shouldn’t have worried, as he knew each of the designers that he had to match the wines to and it makes for an entertaining video… see below:

Download link

http://we.tl/aIPiJ74upQ

So, in future I shouldn’t worry so much about matching his socks, packing his suitcase with shirts, ties and socks all folded together inside the best trouser/jacket combos… or perhaps I will, as having let him loose in the wardrobe today, he dressed himself in an interesting combination of every clashing colour possible!

Talking of colours… sometimes I surprise myself with how I seamlessly segue topics together, (anyone would think that this blog is actually prepared and planned). Anyway back to colours, for those who love the Autumn as much as I do, then hurry to the New Forest as the leaves are already turning and the colours are stunning with a wide array of Autumnal hues which are so pretty. Exbury is looking beautiful, the forest never better in its russet and golden mellowness and we have some fantastic mid week October breaks to entice you still further, complete with a glass of Sherry and a selection of tasty TapaVinas.

http://www.hotelterravina.co.uk/Autumnmidweekoffer.asp

We look forward to welcoming you very soon and before I go I must just congratulate Ana and the wine team as they have won a prize for the “31 Days of Riesling” campaign that we ran in July. Ana spearheaded it and ensured we matched food and wine combinations with delicious Riesling wines whenever we were able to- the campaign was a big success and Ana won £1,000 worth of Riesling wine for the hotel- well done Ana and team

Till next week

Nx

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Congratulations and Celebrations at TerraVina…

We are delighted to announce that George Blogg, our super Executive Chef has won an Editors Award from the Good Food Guide, of Chef to Watch, 2014. Well done George and many, many congratulations. We are very proud of him and for those of you haven’t met George yet, he is one of the most unassuming chaps we have ever known and so will be hugely embarrassed to be written about here!

As well as overseeing the main restaurant, George is responsible for our finer dining restaurant, “The Dining Room at TerraVina, which is open Saturday, Sunday and Monday for dinner only- we only accommodate 10-12 people at anyone time and George not only cooks, but personally serves many of the dishes, with a small team, so it is a highly personal experience akin to a chefs table, but without the hustle and bustle of being seated in the kitchen, yet with the same interaction between guests and chef.

Other news hot off the press and which some of you may have noted in this month’s newsletter, is that Suzi Glaus, our fantastic General Manager, who has been with us since before the opening of the hotel, is stepping into a part time role with us. Thus whilst she will be missed as GM, we are thrilled that she is remaining with us on a part time basis, as Suzi has been instrumental in shaping TerraVina into the special place it is and she has managed Gerard and I brilliantly for the past 6 years! (I am sure she would tell you that it’s not been an easy task!)

Chris Harvey, Suzi’s admirable deputy is stepping into Suzi’s shoes. He has been with us for over three years and is an integral part of TerraVina and we are thrilled that he is to become the hotel’s manager. Lydia will become Chris’s deputy and we wish them all well in their new positions. We also wish a warm welcome to new members of the kitchen team, including Gavin Barnes, our new head chef. Thus it is a time of change, but exciting times ahead and whilst mentioning exciting times, our delightful Laura Rhys’s departure has now happened and she has moved away from the forest to plan and start her very own adventure and new business. We are, as with all our protégées immensely proud of Laura and all her achievements and wish her every success with her own business- we will miss her terribly but she leaves with our love and blessing and of course we will be staying in touch and keeping you all updated on her continued success.

We do hope to welcome you all back again very soon and please do keep an eye on our website to hear of the special mid week offers through the Autumn months and do read our newsletter which we try to pack with as much information and news as possible.

Till next week

Nx

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Hotel TerraVina continues to enjoy the September sunshine and basks in the forest beauty

Having been away for a number of weeks and now arrived home I am seeing the forest with a fresher pair of eyes and my, what a beauty she is. Of course the glorious sunshine is helping and the fact that the sun continues to blaze in early September is just a real treat for us all.

Recently I was dog walking in the forest and as I reached the brow of the hill, as far and wide as the eye could see, stretched out before me was the most breathtaking forest vista. There was a herd of cows grazing, forest ponies ambling along and a stream babbling- it was truly picturesque and it made me realize how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful county as Hampshire and more especially to have the New Forest on our doorstep. Malmsey and I, along with Gerard and Romy had fun paddling in the stream and then walked for many a mile through the forest and enjoyed the dappled sunshine- it was the perfect last day of the school holidays.

Returning to school always makes me feel wistful- I love having Romy at home and we have had a particularly enjoyable summer together. This morning on the way home from dropping him off to school, the local infants school had also just started back and all the tiny tots were running in with their lunchboxes in hand, smart new, shiny shoes, uniforms just slightly too big for them and raucous shouts of excitement for the day that lay ahead……. Lovely to witness, but still there’s a part of me that wishes the summer holidays were just a few weeks longer so that I could selfishly enjoy my “baby’s” company for a few more precious weeks… instead Malmsey and I have had a day together and both of us are watching the clock until school pick up time and we will have him home again! You’d think that as he’s now in Year 10, I would be used to him going to school by now!

Enjoy the continued sunshine and all the good humour it brings with it- it’s so much nicer when the sun shines as everyone is kinder and considerate to one another.

Till next week

Nx

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Hello – Hotel TerraVina blog is back…sorry for the radio silence…I am back and raring to go!

What a fantastic summer we are having with glorious sunshine and lazy days. Our guests are loving the pool and enjoying all the treats and treasures the forest holds. The reason for my further couple of weeks of “radio silence” are easily explained, I defected to another county and relished in the delights of the North Norfolk coastline and had a staycation. I haven’t holidayed in the UK for far too long and I have to say that when the sunshines why bother to fly away?

Romané, (our son), was in Norfolk for two weeks on an adventure and as its soooo far away, especially when the M25 closes down, which it did for 8 hours or more on the return journey, that I decided to stay and hired a cottage. Malmsey came too and had a ball. I met up with two of my very best friends and we had a sort of giggly girls style (I know that being in our 40’s rather than only in our 30’s, we are too old to be girls, but we felt so carefree that we kidded ourselves the title still fits!) few days together which was just blissful and so much fun. My lovely husband was in California for a bit of my trip and then managed the hotel in my absence… well Suzi and the team managed the hotel brilliantly and Gerard was there too.

Then following the dreadfully long and never ending journey home due to aforesaid closure of the motorway, I arrived home late last Friday night to Gerard stating that he too wanted a piece of the holiday action and could I find a trip to leave on Monday and return on the 26th as he was flying to China on the 27th! Well I love a challenge and so, with the hotel’s lovely annual Summer party in between on the Sunday, a great success and thank you so much to all those who came, had fun and shared their love of the place with us all, by last Monday, via a flight from Southampton, so much better than having to travel to a London airport, by 11am we were sitting poolside in sunny Portugal.

We arrived home late last night with deep tans and in glowing health only for me to swap Gerard’s suitcase and wave him off to China. In our absence the team were as always brilliant and ran the hotel superbly. The guests were all super friendly and super happy to be enjoying the sunshine and the forest and as for me, I came straight home and re-booked the cottage in Norfolk for next year and a re-run of the fun filled time we all so relished. Friends duly notified to keep the dates free!

I hope the last of the summer days are filled with lots of sunshine and pleasure for you all and please do think of TerraVina for a little R&R if the time and mood takes you as we have some especially super mid week offers now and then and we always love welcoming you all back.

Till next week

Nx

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Hotel TerraVina’s very own Queen of Speed is deflated!

I am a self confessed “speed junky”… although I prefer the term “Queen of Speed”! The faster I can drive, weather, road conditions and of course speed limits permitting, the better. I like to drive fast, but I am always conscious of the speed limits. Not for me the cruise control button or speed limiter on a car- I can’t be doing with all those fancy gadgets as it stops you from thinking and being in control of the car… likewise I hate Sat Navs for the same reason as if you are listening to the Sat Navs dulcet tones and blindly doing as they instruct – well more than likely you may get lost or end up in a field- thus at a push it’s a map for me,  but mostly its follow my nose and my instinct and we will get there eventually- this of course drives Gerard mad, but as I do most of the driving- (I’m sure I am a better driver than him!), he just has to get cross and tut loudly….. and eventually he finds the route on the map where we should be going.

What seems like many years ago I completed an advance driving course and I loved it- the thrill of it all, driving fast, but in control, around bends and commentating as you did so was very exciting and for a birthday present I would love a spin around a race track, but so far no one has ever indulged me… (no hints here of course!) anyhow the reason I am baring my soul, letting me speed secrets slip and writing this is because, the week before last Romané, my mum and I went on our annual Menorcan trip. We set off for an overnight stay at Gatwick and just past Winchester Services we had a puncture and had to pull over and await the RAC- I had just had my nails painted so didn’t want to chip them changing a tyre; I know I am such a girl! The RAC chap was brilliant. He arrived within 30 minutes, was exceptionally friendly and helpful and the whole service was painless and efficient. However the painful part of the story was then getting back on the road with a temporary tyre in place which meant I could only drive at a maximum of 50 mph.

It’s not until you are forced to drive slowly when other people are flashing by doing 70mph or more, that you realize what a menace slow driving on a motorway is and how dangerous it is to drive so slowly. Of course all of the irate and some very rude drivers didn’t realize I was being forced to due to my temp tyre, but really some of the road rage and gestures were really very offensive!

Notwithstanding we eventually arrived at Gatwick and I was very pleased to abandon the car to the joys of Long Term car parking,  and sink into a bottle of wine to calm my frazzled nerves and to forget about the trauma for the next 10 days whilst I lazed by the pool… however, on our return, all suntanned, relaxed and chilled out, I did of course have to drive back to Hampshire once again at a snails pace and the road rage and impatience of other drivers was no less- eventually I could stand it no longer and left the motorway and drove across country on the A roads which meant 50mph was not so sedentary and the cars behind me could cope better.

My thanks to Mark and his team at Haydon Tyres in Cadnam who kindly ordered me a new tyre, (my tyres are never in stock as they are an unusual size), to be delivered the very next day and who put me back on the road with calm nerves and the ability to be the “Queen of Speed” once more- lovely my 1st trip back on the M3 was bliss!

Till next week

Drive safely

Nx

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Sun, sun, sun means fun, fun, fun…

When the sun has got its hat on the world comes out to play- how glorious it has been these past few days to be able to enjoy wall to wall sunshine. The hotel pool has been filled with happy guests all soaking up the rays whilst enjoying plenty of R&R and a few G&T’s and cocktails to add into the mix… the children who have stayed have all loved playing out on the lawns, cycling in the forest, splashing in the pool and of course visits to Peppa Pig World… we have had to buy endless supplies of sun cream and the al fresco terrace has come into its own with people partaking of leisurely lunches and long, slow dinners as the evening begins to cool down just a little.

Long may the lovely weather last as it makes such a difference to us all- people generally seem happier and friendlier. Everyone is more relaxed and thus more tolerant and kinder towards one another and the phone rings more often with people wanting to book a visit- all in all we love the sunshine as it gives us all the feel good factor.

As a nation we are enjoying plenty of feel good at present what with Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, very well done to him and then donating his winnings to a very deserved cause- what a generous and selfless gesture which should be applauded. Likewise how inspiring was the win of Marion Bartoli- well done her for winning with such courage and determination and shame on John Inverdale of the BBC for making such a cruel and unkind comment about her Her sporting triumphs should have been applauded by him rather than the unkind comment he did make . The Lions won their game, hopefully the cricket will go our way, (I know nothing about cricket, but good luck England all the same) and then of course there is an imminent Royal arrival for us all to celebrate.

Let’s hope the sun keeps shining and brings us all some much deserved health, wealth and happiness!
Till the two weeks from now!
There won’t be a blog for a couple of weeks but there will be another one before the end of the month
Nx

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Tour de France chez TerraVina

Tour de France chez TerraVina

Here’s a little known fact, when Gerard was very much younger and living in the beautiful region of Provence, he was fanatical about cycling and used to cycle every spare moment that he could find. He has cycled up and down the Mont Ventoux on a few occasions, in all weathers, be it in searing heat, battling against the Mistral wind and the occasional very heavy rain too. Cycling was his first love well before wine came along and took its place and so it was with a real sense of pleasure that Gerard was able to marry his two loves together; he still greatly enjoys cycling, although now it is watching cycle races, rather than participating in them actively, by following their progress in TV coverage or reading about the well known cyclists in their auto and biographies.

In his role as an Ambassador for French wines, working with Sopexa UK, Gerard has made a number of videos which coincide with events that are happening across the Channel, such as one about the Cannes Film festival and now his latest one being all about wines to drink if you were following the route of the Tour de France:

Have a look and enjoy sipping a glass or two whilst watching the race on the TV.

This week has been very sunny and warm in the forest and we have had many guests take to their cycles- the forest is such a great place to cycle through and for those of you who are coming to stay soon and fancy a two wheeled tour then let us know in advance and we can put you in touch with some great cycle hire people who can help you to organise your trip and provide the cycles too.

In the meantime, happy cycling or watching the Tour de France from the comfort of an armchair… Gerard is already in reminiscing mode of his glorious cycling days, but somehow I can’t imagine him in cycling shorts these days!

Till next week

Nx

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From small acorns do mighty trees grow…

A number of months ago I was invited to be a judge at the Caterer Magazine, annual Acorn Awards. The Acorns recognize 30 talented hospitality industry individuals, under 30 years of age, who are currently and will continue to influence the industry as they progress through their careers. George Blogg, our very own Executive chef is a past Acorn winner and a number of our past protégés have been winners over the years. Thus it was with pleasure that I was involved in the judging process this year, which culminated in a trip to Darlington, two weeks ago, to the very smart Rockcliffe Hall Hotel, who hosted the awards lunch superbly and where the 30 happy winners received their Acorns.

It is a great event and one which many young, talented and ambitious hospitality individuals aspire to achieve. Well done to this year’s 30 winners, all of whom are impressive in their determination to succeed and their drive to improve standards for those working in the industry and for their guests alike – all of the nominees were strong candidates and the winners are an inspiration to all of us.

On the subject of talent, we hosted an event at TerraVina this week where four young students had a day cooking with George and his team. The youngest was only 10 years old and the eldest 16 years old and we were so impressed by their enthusiasm, their interest and their wholly exemplary behaviour. Well done to William, Daisy, Cornelia and Jack and huge congratulations must go to William for being such a “star” on the day. To read more about their day with us click on this link: http://www.seekernews.co.uk/2013/06/hotel-terravina-fine-dining-challenge-comes-to-a-head-with-bcs-pupil-emerging-as-the-winner-with-dorset-produce/

Whilst on the subject of achievement, I must also mention my brilliant, clever and utterly gorgeous son, Romané, who has done fantastically well in all of his end of school year exams and of whom, his Papa and I are so proud, as he has been offered a place to study and perform with the Nuffield Hampshire, Youth Theatre Company in September- well done Romané!

And my final starry mention must go to Lucy, who was our graduate trainee at TerraVina for the past (almost) year. She has taken 3 months off to prepare for her return to uni, but we won’t be letting her go so easily and she is coming back to us in September. Lucy arrived at TerraVina as a 2nd year tourism student from Bournemouth University, full of enthusiasm and smiles, but never having worked in a restaurant or hotel before.

I must admit I did inwardly groan at the prospect of having to spend weeks on end teaching her the basics and instilling in her the ethos of TerraVina, not because I don’t enjoy the training, but generally it is a hard slog and uphill struggle for both the student and us for so many weeks and they often fall by the way side- however Lucy turned out to be the “Star” of the pack, the best of the bunch, in all the 6 years we have been welcoming two graduates per year to TerraVina and so much so that we are keeping her as a part timer when uni re-starts in September and we have offered her a position to rejoin us full time once her course is finished this time next year- Lucy may well be a future Acorn Award winner so watch this space!

Well done again to all those who we have had the pleasure to judge, work with and be parents of this week and who have done so brilliantly in their achievements.

Till next week

Nx

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University days and the fun of being a student all over again

It is many, many years since I was a student, but at the beginning of this year I went back to school, well university actually and signed up for a Digital Destinations programmed, in conjunction with Bournemouth University School of Tourism. This was a pioneering project in conjunction with the university and the Economic and Social Research Council. The aim was that a group of dynamic and varied businesses, all hospitality or tourism biased, from across Hampshire and Dorset, would work alongside a 3rd year, Tourism graduate student. A student was be allocated to each business and looked at how digital media can influence, help and strengthen businesses and we were then tasked with making and embracing the changes and suggestions the students made and to monitor the effects of such improvements and factors over the course of a number of months.

The programmed started in November and we have just handed in our projects in June and I have to say that it has been a wholly enjoyable, fun and most rewarding project to be involved with. My team, we called ourselves “AppsFab” were fantastic. We all got on so well and have pledged to ensure we stay in touch as we were extremely supportive and positive towards each other and spurred one another on when it all got a little bit daunting.

We were offered tremendous support from the project influencers, Dr Philip Alford, Head of Tourism at the university and Maureen McAlister of McAlister and Co.  They were both very different in their approach but both ensured that we all learnt much about digital marketing and social media and how to use it more effectively in our businesses.

It seemed odd going back to studying, but actually whilst I wouldn’t want to become a full time student again it was great fun- it makes you realize and appreciate the camaraderie that we probably all took for granted when we were proper students all those years ago and just how nice it is to have that feeling of so little responsibility that you have as a student as opposed to a business owner… it was one day a month of sheer, selfish learning pleasure and I loved it! Albeit we were set homework and that’s never the fun bit although the presentations at the end by al of our “AppsFab” members were brilliant and the star of the show was undoubtedly my friend Mel from Acorns B&B in Lyndhurst who had arrived at the start of the course knowing little more than how to send an e mail (she won’t mind me telling you that) and ended up producing her very own, amazingly professional and hugely entertaining video of her digital journey- she was a revelation and an inspiration to us all… and I must of course mention Nigel, who is now a freelance PR and marketing consultant with special attachment to Exbury Gardens. Nigel is a super chap who we have worked with at TerraVina for many years in our happy association with Exbury, but who knew he could rap like Puff Daddy??

All in all it was a brilliant few months and a pleasure to have been involved- many thanks to all my fellow “AppsFabbers”- I mentioned two of them, but all were brilliant and of course to Philip, Maureen, Jane, Lisa and all the team- a great project and I do hope it is repeated next year for other lucky business owners to enjoy.

Till next week

Nx

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