Sunday, 10 August 2014

Summer 2014

This has been one of the best summers since we arrived in Boot,  we have had 10 weeks of dry weather with hardly a drop of rain, so little in fact that the spring at home ran dry! Normal service has now resumed and there is a bit of a deluge going on as I type, a bit windy too, but not a hurricane thankfully.
So whats new? Well we won CAMRA pub of the year for the second time, great for all the family and staff to be rewarded for all the long hours and happy smiles that keep all the customers coming back, not to mention all the superb beer being produced within Cumbria at the moment. There can't be anywhere else with such a small population with some many breweries.
In a direct cross border assault we now also have a distillery within the Lake District National Park, how good is that! Well it will be in a few years time, but in the meantime they have produced a blend of whisky made up of malts from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales called "The One" It is available at Brook House Inn and as a blend hits the spot very nicely. The Lakes Distillery have just installed their copper stills so it wont be long before the first spirit is distilled along with some Lakes Gin and perhaps Vodka. We now have over 180 malt whiskies at Brook House so it is a great place to come and do some sampling, but if you are up near the top of Bassenthwaite call into the distillery for a short tour of the site and a free dram of The One, say hello to Katie @katiemust  and co from me, it wont get you another dram but if everyone buys a bottle, eventually I might get a free one!

In the kitchen we have been having a busy old time, averaging well over 100 meals a day and upto 250 on some busy weekends. We have gained two new suppliers this year,, with Bewleys butchers now only producing sausage we have started using Wilsons in Egremont and have been very pleased so far, with good steaks and very tasty pork, all coming from the local area. On the sea front we now get a regular supply of fresh fish from Steve @ravenglassfish Tonight we had some lovely Monkfish with thai spiced coconut curry sauce, breadcrumbs, lightly spiced vegetables and basmati rice. very well received along with the seared Hake with scallop sauce which is becoming a specials board regular.

Booking agents

As the last few years have been so much quieter than pre recession we made the plunge and finally put our rooms up for grabs on Apparently over 50% of all online online hotel bookings in Europe are made through this one agent which gleefully takes 20% commission from the hard working hotelier. Ok so we have had some bookings that we would not have otherwise got, but for every 10 bookings 2 have either not turned up, cancelled at the last minute or got lost and arrived in the middle of the night! If a booking comes through we take full payment for the stay at the time of booking, if you do not come you will loose this money unless you can claim on your holiday insurance.
It seems that people that book direct are more likely to come even though we only take a £50 deposit per room.
After all we are in the middle of nowhere so it helps to be a little bit independent, be able to read a map as well as use gps which will blithely direct you over Hardknott Pass, which is apparently impassable at night ( it is a hard drive but the surface has been repaired and is used daily by the Mountain goat bus company +Mountain Goat Tours & Holidays)

Tripadvisor now charge £800 per year for a business listing, just so you can link to your own site and not have bookings directed to guess where? Even if you pay up they still charge on a cost per click basis for any booking requests that are passed onto your own site. We are lucky to live in an  area with little competition, but I feel sorry for all the small hotels in cities and towns fighting for market share against big chains with lower overheads and more control over booking agents. It feels to me that it is time to take back our industry from the middlemen, wish I new how! But you can help, book direct whenever you book a hotel, if you a have seen it advertised on a booking site tell the hotel the price, most will match it because they will not have to pay the commission to the agent.

Finally lets have a bit more positively in the world, stop reading and writing negative reviews they don't help anyone. Find your independence, go and try it out for yourself.  If you have a problem with your hotel or restaurant or plumber, tell them, not the rest of the world.