April 2013

Bedding in

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We take a three day break after a brisk trade at Easter. We had quite a few people in, especially when the sun managed to shine.

We have lots to do in preparation for the summer season. We manage to notice the anniversary of our first year’s trading. We’re pleased with how we’ve coped and have enjoyed learning how to do things. Reassuringly, we are slightly ahead of our business plan projections in terms of turnover. The biggest boost to our confidence is the positive feedback we continue to get from our customers; about the quality of our coffee and food, the look and feel of the coffee shop and the atmosphere we create (and maintain) inside it. We’re looking for that ‘sweet spot’ now somewhere between not resting on our laurels and making changes for the sake of change.

One of our jobs is waxing and polishing the wood floor in the coffee shop. It’s taken quite a pounding through the season. Washing it every day has left the boards looking a bit dry and thirsty. You can almost hear the wax being sucked in as we mop it on. The (new) polisher does a good job of buffing it back to a warm, welcoming shine. Our bid at auction for some Victorian chairs we had spotted was successful. Elegant, balloon back chairs with soft brocade seats. We use them to replace some, from the auction last year, now with ‘saggy bottoms’ after a year’s intensive use. A winter job will be to re-seat the old ones, or maybe they’ll go back to the auction!

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The daffodils we planted in the raised beds last year are blooming but the raised bed needs attention.

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There aren’t many days off as we move into the main season so we spend an afternoon buying plants (sweet peas, lupins, scabious, aquilegia, campanula and geraniums among others) and getting them in to the raised bed. Fingers crossed we won’t be caught out with any late hard frosts. We replant the mystery perennials that have survived from last year and, like in a good school photograph (tallest at the back, shortest at the front), try to plant the new purchases to create a pleasing arrangement when in full bloom.

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Our family has acquired the cottage next to the school that was built as the head teacher’s residence in the 1870s. Applegarth is a pretty, two bedroom cottage with lovely garden tucked between the river, the coffee shop and the churchyard. We are going to operate it as a holiday let and spend some time getting everything in place for our first booking at the beginning of May.

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Bill will set up a dedicated website to promote the cottage. In the meantime, people can contact us with booking enquiries through this website. Contact us

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Spring back

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We’ve had a busy Easter despite the continuing unseasonal cold weather. We have had the log burner on every day and people have been grateful for the warmth. On the days when the sun has shone and the temperature has got up to a more respectable level people have enjoyed sitting outside in the playground with their drinks. We have both had to work hard to keep our parts of the menu (Bill savoury, Emily sweet) restocked each day. We will close for a few days after the school holidays end (from the 17th to the 19th inclusive). With a bit of luck the weather will have improved by then and we can get some plants into our raised bed as well as catching up with a few other maintenance jobs.

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We weren’t open last Easter so we didn’t know quite what to expect in terms of trade. Our Simnel cake had all gone by Easter Saturday but Emily’s Easter biscuits proved popular, especially with our younger customers. We’ve had lots of families visiting us, including quite a few returning for a visit last year. One three year old came up to Bill on entering, to order: ‘dinosaurs’ (to play with, not to eat) as he’d enjoyed them so much on his last visit.

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More snow today, albeit only a brief flurry quickly followed by rain. Need to get some more logs soon. Before we opened we had a visit from our barista mentor. He took us through the process for checking and adjusting our coffee grinder to ensure we get a perfect measure of coffee every time for our shots (8 grammes for single 16 for double). He also gave us our first lesson it latte art. Bill has been practising producing hearts - it’s all in the pouring. One slip and you end up with an onion instead! This one is quite good and tasted good too.

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