We are a rural pub, alongside the River Avon, situated midway between Ringwood and Christchurch in Dorset. It is privately leased from Lord Willie Manners, who owns about 3,000 acres of land around us; sadly, that’s not our pub garden.
We are surrounded by fields and a couple of houses so we are absolutely the antithesis of a traditional high-street pub, but when you are out on the decking, looking out over just fields and water, it couldn’t be better.
As usual with a place in this part of the world, the summer trade is massive. We will double our trade in June, July and August.
I would describe our decor as country rustic with a cream and green colour scheme and lots of picnic tables for summer drinking in the garden.
The pub itself is a bit of a tardis in that when you look at it first of all, it doesn’t look that big. The pub has twice been extended in the past 50 years. That allows us to have dining coverage of around about 85-86 people.
It is very nicely styled with comfortable chairs. When we took over it had the traditional wooden chairs, but we now have a range of leatherette and fabric chairs, so it is now a very pleasant and tasteful country dining experience.
We have a wet:dry split of 33:67 and all our food is freshly cooked to order. To get to us, you have to drive so that has really driven our food and soft-drinks offer.
Christmas trade is already looking positive off the back of the designated driver scheme, with Christmas Day fully booked by mid-November.
The scheme is our way of saying thank you to the souls that have given up the booze for the night and are happy to ferry a group around. Those drinking have a good time but the designated driver gets to watch them making fools of themselves while making the most of free soft drinks.
We are not a poster-type place, but we will be putting discreet posters up to advertise the scheme. On top of that our website will give details of the scheme so people looking to book with us will see that and we will mention the scheme when customers book tables for functions through the course of December.
My wife Lorraine has been in the trade for over 30 years and I have now been in the business for coming up to 10 years and this will be the third pub that we have had together.
We took the place on 11 January and it has been a very successful first year. A lot of investment went into the place and so my proudest moment was seeing the site after Lorraine had done the donkey work in renovating the fabric and colour of wallpaper, which brought the place to life again.