Over the hills and far away

October 29, 2010

Julie hosts the Griffin. If you didn’t already know. Back in the Spring, before the concept of England winning a world cup had been exposed as a fraud, she decided she would cycle the Taff Trail, between Brecon and Cardiff some time in 2011. For the story of her heroic achievement, with her willing accomplice James Spencer, please read on.

“Oh, did I really say I’d do that…….

A number of months ago I signed up to a sponsored bicycle ride along the Taff Trail from Brecon to Cardiff. The day unexpectedly arrived last Monday, 25th October. I chose to support Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s Go Pink campaign, even buying a very fetching bright pink cycling top… although the -4 degrees reading as we left Brecon precluded actually wearing it.

Winding our way from the Theatre at Brecon to Talybont Reservoir was breathtaking. The mist was rising over the reservoir and frankly looked ethereal and a bit spooky!

Leaving the reservoir and its faeries behind, we started the extremely long incline to the highest point of the ride at Torpantau. Whichever way you go this is where you begin to breathe again and go downhill. The trail then takes you through Taf Fechan Forest along Pentwyn Reservoir, Pontsticill Reservoir, through Pontsticall and on to Merthyr.

At this point you might think “Great, half way there!” Thanks to the charming locals defacing cycling signs in Merthyr this section can be a battle to stay on track though. Overcoming these challenges, we headed towards Pontypridd along some more lovely river views.

Our subsequent journey was only shortly interrupted by rather strange child who seemed to want to use a metal detector against James’ head as we rode past. Had I not been a bit out of breath I would have (a) dismounted and given him a clip around the ear with the same metal detector and asked him how he liked it or (b) shouted loudly at him (his mum was a bit scary but she seemed to feel that this was an acceptable way for her child to behave.)

We struggled on towards Cardiff with frozen knees and what seemed like frostbitten toes and fingers. As we approached Cardiff we were asked if we wanted to do the high level route around Castle Coch or the low level route. Not a difficult decision. Pushing on to Cardiff Bay we were slightly stunned to find that the end of the Taff Trail is actually in a pedestrianised (!) area of the Bay. We dismounted and were determined enough to take our starving bodies past a well known sandwich chain.

We found the end of the trail and I promptly called my mum to tell her that I’d just cycled 54.27 miles. Would I do it again….in a heartbeat but not on such a freezing cold day!

I’d like to pass my Thanks on to James & Simon Spencer for their help as my support team on the day as without them this would not have gone ahead!

To date I’ve raised nearly £700 and the just giving site is still active if you’d like to contribute. http://www.justgiving.com/Julie-Bell2

We will also be raising money in a raffle to be held at the pub on Friday 5th November at our Guy Fawkes evening. Come along and join in the fun!”

A huge well done to both Julie and James. We are hoping that more of our team will participate in similar ventures over the next year or so. More anon.

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Awards Season

October 7, 2010

Awards. Pesky things in this industry. It’s that time of year. Enough to cause some strange behaviour. And rashes. Or so I’m told.

You never seem to win them when you think you deserve them. You persuade the people you work with that they don’t matter. They sometimes go to the place you’ve just visited and thought quite the worst pub in the world. But when you are on the receiving end of them, the whole system suddenly seems the most just and appropriate in the world.

In sum, the awards season in this industry is a good time to observe the human condition. Envy, schadenfreude, ecstasy, anger, disappointment, frustration. Rarely humility, except the most forced kind.

The Griffin and Gurnard’s Head both won awards this morning. Dining Pubs of the Year in Wales and Cornwall respectively according to the Good Pub Guide 2011. These are awards worth having from a guide with integrity. We know from experience that it will throw out any establishments it thinks not worthy. So this is an achievement for our teams to be proud of. And for us to shout about a bit as the opportunity does not come along very often.

But should we be misguided enough to think that this makes us perfect? Definitely not. Going in the right direction: probably. An award is the perfect excuse to look again at what you do and think about how you improve it. Resting on those laurels is not an option. Communicating this message to a team is not easy. It can occasionally seem unfair. But it is so important.

Anyway, must start preparing that acceptance speech…..