Monday, 31 October 2011

Wayfarer soon to re-open

I've just seen that the Wayfarer Inn is recruiting staff for the re-opening of the restaurant within the next few weeks. Up to sixty vacancies need to be filled. Whilst many of these jobs will be part-time, it is fantastic news for the local food and drink economy.

In my opinion, we have been proved right in proclaiming Stone as being the Food and Drink capital of Staffordshire. The late Brian Blundell, over eight years ago, first proposed a Food and Drink Festival in Stone in order to  promote the local economy by emphasising Stone's assets namely it's pubs and restaurants.. And look what's happened since!

We now have restaurants of almost every nationality and flavour to choose from. And new restaurants have opened eg Chicos in town and The Dog and Doublet a couple of miles down the road at Sandon.
And now the team from The Swan with Two Necks is about to open the Wayfarer!

The town now has it's own brewery, Lymestone, up on Meaford Road and last year we had four town pubs in the Good Beer Guide.

And as a direct consequence of the first Festival and as a direct result of the Food and Drink Festival committee continuously promoting it, we also have the best Farmers' Market in the region.

I think Brian would be well pleased with the progress that we have made -  thanks to his vision.

For the sake of clarity!

I've had cause to mention the sloppy standard of journalism in our local press before but last week's Newsletter has surpassed itself!

In one short article, it is stated that that the Bonfire and Fireworks takes place "next week" - accurate but not much help  to anyone wanting to know when to turn up!

In another article about events taking place in Stone Town, we are told that the Bonfire and Fireworks take place on "Sunday 5th November". Anyone who doesn't check the calendar and turns up on Sunday (6th November)  will be 24 hours too late!

And on the page which details bonfires in the area, it states that the admission price for an adult is £3 despite the fact that immediately below the article is an advert clearly stating that the price is £5!

So for all those who are now totally confused, let me confirm that the Stone Town Bonfire and Fireworks take place this SATURDAY 5th NOVEMBER at Westbridge Park. The Bonfire will be lit at 7.30 pm and the Fireworks will be set off at 8.00 pm. Admission is £5.00 per adult and £3.00 per child. A family ticket is £15 for 2 adults and up to 3 children.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Very sad news

It has been a very sad weekend following the news that Cheryl Poppitt died on Friday evening.

I've known Cheryl for years and still can't believe that she has gone so quickly. Cheryl used to work at Langtrys when Dave Smithwick was the licensee. Then, a couple of years ago, she became licensee of the Royal Exchange and put that pub on the map.

Always cheerful. Always smiling. Always bubbly. Always helpful.

We all enjoyed her success. She deserved it.

Then, after she went to America on holiday a few weeks ago, she developed  a headache and eye problems. A visit to the doctor diagnosed a brain tumor and now she is no longer with us. So quick. What a cruel cruel world we live in.

We shall all miss her.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

What a team!

On Wednesday evening almost thirty volunteers from the Food and Drink Festival turned up at Christchurch Annexe for a debrief meeting. A fantastic turn out bearing in mind that it was billed purely as a business meeting and was not held on licenced premises!

Without exception, every comment and proposal was positive and constructive. No cross words and no point scoring! What a fantastic meeting.

We all came away on a high. A lot of 'tweeks' to be made next year and loads of new ideas. But more importantly, it is obvious that the Food and Drink Festival now has a large, solid band of volunteers who are all  intent on working together to make next year's Festival an even greater success.

A big thank you to them all!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Anticipation, Frustration - and then the Joy!

No, don't worry! I'm not about to pen the next Mills and Boone epic piece of romantic fiction. I'm going to share the mixed emotions I've experienced over the last few days after purchasing an Apple iPad 2!

Firstly, the anticipation. I've been lusting over the iPad for months. Every time I've watched television or opened a magazine, a shiny black iPad has been beckoning me to buy one. Every time I went to PC World to buy printer toner, I was automatically drawn across the shop to the Apple counter to ogle the demonstration models. And then some weeks ago I attended a Social Media Surgery where I saw a couple of them in action. Oh, yes, I wanted one  - but could I justify it?

Well, last week I decided I was worth it! Why couldn't Christmas come a little early this year? So off I went to Hanley and came back with the object of my desires all wrapped up in it's beautiful little box. And that's when the frustration set in. No instructions - nothing. Now I've been using computers for years. I'm self taught and only know the basics - but could I get the damn thing to work on wifi? No. Assuming it was a fault on my home wifi network, I took it off to town and sat in Costa Coffee and Wetherspoons both of whom have free wifi networks. No, still no connection. So I then start to search the web to find out if I was alone. Wow, just type  'iPad wifi problems' into Google and see what you get! Thousands of people experiencing the same problem. And as far as I could see no-one with a solution.

In the end I gave up and packed the useless bit of kit in my bag when we set off for a week's holiday in Dartmouth. Jan's daughter is expecting her first baby in seven weeks so we took the opportunity to pop down for a few day's break. Alison's husband Richard is a bit of a whiz with all things technical so when I mentioned my problems, he asked if he could help. Well, five minutes later I had an all singing all dancing iPad in my hands! What joy! Oh what an amazing piece of kit! How could I possibly have cussed and blinded at it?

So there you have it. Don't let my problems put you off getting an iPad. I'm now delighted with mine and will be using it every day. But why can't Apple provide a simple booklet of instructions for idiots like me? After all, we've spent a bucket load of cash to buy the thing in the first place.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Last year's news today!

This week's Stone Post has just dropped through the letter box and I can't believe what I've read on page two! According to The Post, the crowd on Westbrige Park this weekend "were entertained by those popular TV chefs - the Hairy Bikers"! Perhaps someone should tell the 'reporter' that the Hairy Bikers were here last year - not this!

Words fail me!

Wow! What a Festival that was!

What a fantastic week! The sun shone, the crowds came out and Stone had the biggest party of all time! Without a shadow of doubt, this was the biggest and best Food and Drink Festival of all time.

The set up went without a hitch. A team of volunteers worked tirelessly to get the site ready for opening on Friday. Then over the weekend the Festival itself ran like a well oiled machine. And then on Monday and Tuesday this week everything came down smoothly and now Westbridge Park is back to being a playing field again.

But the memories of this Festival will live in the minds of thousands for a long time to come. Brilliant sunshine for the entire weekend and the happiest and friendliest atmosphere of all time. I said I would try to keep a photographic record but, as usual, was always doing other things! But if you want to see some superb photographs go to A Little Bit of Stone's website to get an idea of what happened last weekend!

Packed cookery demonstrations, a sell out by Saturday evening in the beer tent, foot-tapping music outside all day and everyone smiling and enjoying themselves. Oh yes! This was one to savour!

So to all who helped make this such a fantastic weekend I say a massive 'Thank You'. This was the easiest Festival yet to organise. No panics, arguments or dramas! Just a superb band of helpers who just calmly got on with the job. We have a team to be proud of. And now we're already talking about next year! Yes, put the dates in your diary now - October 5th to 7th. It might even be better than this year!