Funny Sign

February 26, 2007

We went out for a pub lunch in Seffield and the pub door had this sign on it. We couldn’t believe it and so took this photo to show you all. Click on this link Families Beware


Rhian’s Birthday

February 26, 2007

Rhian’s Birthday

Rhian had a great birthday party and we have just come back from Sheffield where we also had a great time. Thank you everyone!

We had a meeting with someone from the prince’s trust last week. I say meeting, but what we had was a phone call whilst we were on our way to Hexham. The call was basically “the computer says no” – so don’t bother coming to Hexham, as we pulled into the car park. A little bit annoyed we decided to make the most of it and handed in some forms we had been filling in anyway. Apparently the prince’s trust only give funding to people who really need it. Nice.

I hope you like the pictures from Rhian’s party. I need to work on my camera skills I know.

Hello, Great news.

The Royal Bank of Scotland have agreed to give us the funding we need for the mortgage!

We are over the moon. We still have a long way to go, and many things can go wrong after here but the first hurdle is done!

We are waiting for a valuation report to take place (which cost us £881) and then we have to get a survey done.

We then have to wait while the solicitors thrash it out and hope that ours comes out on top!

It is possible that we will be in for Easter, but I will keep you all informed of when the party will be!

We only have seven weeks till Easter and an awful lot to do. We even have to try and learn to drive during this time as the pub is in a little village a bit out of the way. I have said I will get a scooter but no-one else thinks that’s a good idea.

We went back to the pub on Saturday for dinner. It hasn’t sunk in that we might actually own it soon and be working and living there! We saw a badger just outside the village on the way home. This is the first time I have ever seen a real wild badger so I think this is a very good omen.

It is really beautiful and I can’t wait for everyone to come.

We have got a meeting with the business Link on Rhian’s birthday (Wednesday) and hopefully they will be able to offer us some more advice. Rhian is ringing up suppliers and getting as many contacts as possible. I am looking at the marketing and trying to work out what we need to spend on the pub in order for us to be able to run the place how we would like to. We are going to make one bedroom that has an en-suite in to a B&B room, so that needs some work. Rhian’s dad is thrashing through the numbers to make sure it all works.

We are having a tea party for Rhian’s birthday. We have invited all the children and today we are going to make some party cakes and pies!

All in all we are keeping out of trouble as I promised. Love to you all and I will let you know what happens next!

so far …

February 15, 2007

What have we been up to I hear you all cry. Tons and tons. But are we any closer? answers on the back of a postcard please.

We set off to find out where we could get a mortgage from and there were all these people going ‘yeah, no problem, just fill in these forms – 20 pages, photocopy a million bank statements- and we will sort it all out, call you back when we have all the lenders offers’

Call back ‘ computer says no’

The bank said ‘go away and find some more deposit’. We have so far considered our best options to be 15-to-1 and deal or no deal.

We had a meeting with the Business Link. They were really impressed with our business plan and said that they felt we would be able to apply for some grants to help us with any improvements/renovations to the pub. *- Yippee-* Only we have had to rewrite a major chunk of the plan. It currently stands at 17,308 words, 67 pages and that does not include our sample press releases, news letters and pictorial representations of how we propose it will look inside and a detailed description of the style and ambiance. Yeah I know, its just like buying a house.

So we were told by these sales people that a mortgage would be no problem and we have so far been told by two banks that they are not interested. We are waiting on the third today or tomorrow.

We have had a meeting with a tax accountant — oooohhhh , very exciting. If only I could have understood what he said.

It was valentines day yesterday and Rhian made me some chocolate brownies in the shape of harts-I don’t need to tell you how good they were but I will anyway – yum yum yum yum.

We are kind of biting our nails now, as we are taking a break from writing the plan till we get some more feed back from the Business Link. Its one of those things, we have worked on it all day, everyday, for the last week and we can’t really see the wood from the trees now, so a few days away from it will do us good.

Talking about trees, we did some tree felling at the weekend and plan to do some more this weekend. Great fun. I couldn’t resist the urge to shout ‘Timber’ each time. Luckily the tree coming down was really loud, so I don’t think anyone heard me.

does anyone have any recipe requests?

when we open the pub we will probably struggle to find the time to update the recipes, so if we can write some for you now that would be great! and seriously, if any one has a few grand they would like to donate to the ‘buy Rhian and Helen a pub‘ fund then send your checks in the post.

Thanks for all the support.

keep in touch!! Helen and Rhian x x x x x x x x

Leek Pudding

February 1, 2007

A traditional north east veggie dish that is dead cheap, tasty and filling. Recipes to follow, usually served with a meat stew but delicious with some braised red cabbage or chestnuts.

Leek and mushroom pudding

Leek puddings are the traditional accompaniment to stewed meat in the north east. Leek growing is as deep rooted in the culture of the area as football, enormous sums of money appear in small villages for the winner of the leek show, but be warned those enormous leeks will have been doused with horrendous things are not for eating. Even if they haven’t, a leek that is over 10cm in diameter would be so tough and stringy it will be of no culinary use. I have taken liberties with the original dish, which you can follow but it does produce rather dour results, so I have added mushrooms, and a little red wine to make a sauce inside the pudding.

For a pudding for a substantial main course for 5

A 2 pint metal or china bowl heavily greased

The pastry

6oz self-rising flour
1tsp salt
1tbls sage chopped fine
3oz veggie shredded suet
Black pepper
Enough water to make firm dough

The filling

5 large leeks, no wider than a cucumber, trimmed split washed and roughly chopped.
1lb mushrooms, button, field, chestnut or wild or a mixture cleaned and roughly disciplined with a knife.
1 glass of red wine, (if you can’t enjoy drinking it you cant cook with it)
A little flour
Salt, pepper and ground mace
Lea and Perrins or vegetarian Worcester sauce (it does exists) or mushroom ketchup
A large lump of butter about 1oz

Begin with the pudding basin, make sure it is clean and dry and free from any cracks, heavily grease the inside and the rim of the bowl with some the butter. Place to on e side. Now for the pastry. Place the flour, sage, salt and suet, in a bowl season veraciously with black pepper. Now stir with your hand to evenly distribute the ingredients. Start adding the water you will need about 5 tbls, but always add it a little at a time. You should end up with a firm and not sticky dough. Suet pastry requires no real skill to make and performs very well. Knead the dough to make it slightly more elastic. Shape it in to a round and remove 1/3 for a lid. Roll out the remainder to a rough circle twice the diameter of your chosen bowl, try to make it of an even thickness about ½ cm and quite thin, as it will rise on cooking a little. Now place the pastry in the prepared basin gently manoeuvring to fit the shape of the bowl, a lot easier than it sound as the pastry is very forgiving any holes can be mended with some of the over hanging pastry. For the lid roll out the remaining third to the same thickness and put to one side.

For the filling, place the leeks and mushrooms in a pot over a gentle heat with half the butter, allow to sweat till the mushrooms release there liquid then sprinkle in a little salt, a grind of pepper and couple of pinches of mace. Allow everything to get to know each other for a few more minutes. Now turn up the heat chucks in the red wine a long splash of Worchester sauce or equivalent allow boiling and reducing a little. Sprinkle in a little flour ½ or so and stir to combine add a splash of water, taste. This is dish of soothing qualities not brash flavours, but it should not be bland! When you are happy with the filling put it in to the lined pudding dish along with a further lump of butter, place the lid on top and crimp the edge to seal all the way round, using a little water if necessary to give a good seal. Now place cling film over the top of the pudding and place it in a pan large enough to hold it. Put an upturned metal plate on the bottom of the pan so the pudding bowl does not come in to contact with the pan. Fill the pan two thirds full of boiling water and place on a gentle heat allow to come to a gentle simmer, put on a lid and allow to tick away for 1-1/2 hours or until you are ready to eat. Do not boil dry! Half an hour either side won’t do any harm, steamed puddings remarkably well behaved. When ready to serve turn off the heat a take off the lid whilst you pre pare some green vegetables to go with your pudding, sprouts and chestnuts would be my choice, heavily anointed with butter and pepper. Upturn the pudding on to a plate it will come away easily, and serve it is allowing you to cut it at the table so the full steamy innards can be enjoyed to there max.

Thanks for the support!

January 24, 2007

I have just been speaking to Jodie and Atlanta – Thanks guys!! Jodie suggested that I actually write down on this what is happening. I only like to tell people good news but I guess the reality is we are not having much of that. I got my web cam working – so personal high for that. I can see my family , I miss them loads.

We are really struggling, its another low point. We thought things were going great as we had found these two places and had a great choice. There was a restaurant in a small market town that needed no work doing at all and a pub. What a result! We talked long and hard about the benefits of each and made a decision together that we wanted the pub.

Its beautiful, in a rural village with open fires, has a three bed flat and all the rest …..

The Bank on Friday were really optimistic over the phone, thought it sounded like a good idea that they would back. So we put an offer in and had it accepted and had a great weekend. Corks pop!

Monday morning we went in to the bank to see the manager. Doom and more gloom! he talked on for an age about things I could not understand and when I asked him to explain he used just more weird words that I still could not decipher and spurted numbers like he had a leak. The brunt of it was, he wouldn’t lend us based on the current land lady’s takings. He would not listen to us about how we were going to improve the place and increase takings, he just said NO.


I just can’t see how people ever get these things off the ground. I am finding it difficult to see how the pub is going to work now as more mortgage advisers are telling me that we need a 25% deposit (like as if) and that it would be expected to be paid over 15 years (and high charges).

It’s not really very helpful that I keep looking at web sites (government quangos) that say how they are supporting business in the north east, encouraging enterprise in young people and helping new business ventures blah blah when its all talk and actually no evidence to back this up what so ever. When I ring one agency they go “mmm- not sure who deals with that speak to so and so on 1234 1234″ so I call them and they do the same ” I will pass you on to blogs, hold the line…”

They have no idea what each other are doing, talk about supporting business but can’t actually do it, appear to have lots of meetings and set up “steering groups” when what good are they? I have no evidence of it!!

I email the princess trust and they don’t get back to me, I am not able to claim job seekers or even have my NI contributions paid when we are working so hard to do this. Where is the help in that???????????????????????????????

I knew it would be difficult but I just can’t see how it is supposed to work and what we are doing wrong!

I hope tonight we can have a good discussion about where we go next and what we can do to find a lender that believes in us!

I always hear advice from people who say “it is so important that the bank believes in you” because if they don’t then in the first year when you struggle they give no slack. Its the banks that should be fighting to offer us, we know we can do this and do it well! They have to sell themselves to us! So that guy (as Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman) “just lost out big time!”

Lastest news

January 18, 2007


Thanks for reading our blog! We are really pleased with the feedback we have received and hope that the site is interesting and informative!

We have been in a whirlwind recently, it never rains but pours.

Since Christmas we were concentrating on the properties we had before we left London. We had builders round and Kitchen fitters, got quotes and drew plans. We negotiated what the lease would be and talked with the planners. When things got close to the end the final deals were completely one sided, we wouldn’t agree to a lease without planning permission (of course!- we are not completely insane!) and we had to let them go. We were very upset by this as we had put in so much time and effort as well as invested a great deal of emotion.

We picked our selves up fast after the black Friday and began the search again. This time we contacted more agents, looked further a field and considered more options (all options). We are taking the time to think about what we want and what we hope for in the future and hope that we will have the right place soon.

We have lots of serious soul searching to do and lots of discussions about what we can afford with the bank.

We have been to lots of nice restaurants and pubs (some not so nice) in the area though and are fast becoming experts in where to go for food and drink!

Currently we have two contenders in the running and we hope to know about these pretty soon.

We are very optimistic and will let you know how we get on!

Love Rhian and Helen xxxxx

Rhian preparing food

January 10, 2007

Rhian in the kitchen

I will be putting some recipes here soon for traditional north eastern foods such as:

  • Ham and pease pudding
  • Cow Heel Pie
  • Tripe and onions
  • Potted kippers
  • Auntie Jeans Ginger snaps (that’s my auntie Jean)

So you will be able to keep up to date with our progress in opening the restaurant and also cooking with us our favourite dishes.


First entry

January 9, 2007

We have done it! We are here! We have left London and have made the move up to Newcastle so that we can begin our new restaurant.

please keep checking this so we can let you know how we are getting on!