Monday, 26 October 2015

Here's a Tip - Don't back NO.6 in the 3:30 at Ascot

Yes, I know. And there's at least a dozen more along the lines of 'Don't drink don't smoke' but you get the drift?

There is little more contentious in the world of hospitality than tipping, gratuities,service charge etc. etc.

Personally, I abhor the practice of a 'Service Charge' being automatically added to a bill and I was fairly astounded to be presented with one recently in England and asked for it to be removed (though I did leave a decent tip.)

In this case, it wasn't even referred to on the menu, so I was doubly outraged to be asked to pay this ultimate stealth tax.

However, it is legal make this charge (though it probably should be referred to beforehand,) so the British Hospitality Association has written to the UK Government, asking them to legislate to make it a requirement to state openly how any excesses are distributed.

I think that this transparency is an excellent idea and therefore, am about to add our policy onto our website.

Following a recommendation to the UK Government by the British Hospitality Association, we would like to make the following statement:

There are no service charges added to any bills/invoices at the Welbeck Hotel & Restaurant.

All gratuities are given to the staff, including credit/debit card payments from which we do not deduct an amount to cover any commissions etc. to the banks/credit card companies.

Tips are pooled and handed to Irene (Proprietor.)

The total amount of tips received for the week are added up and divided between the staff and it is distributed according to how many hours they worked in that given week.

There is no 'points' system and all members of the workforce are considered equal.

The owners of the business are not shareholders in this system.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Family Fortunes

Time flies!

Astonishingly, on 5th October, I accrued a half century of years on the planet and perhaps even more incredibly, despite the ensuing alcoholic celebrations, I've yet to be thrown off it or even asked to leave!

Therefore, it seems like a good time for a family update.

It's hard to believe that it's now over 38 years since while on a day trip from Fleetwood, I dragged my Granddad around the Manx estate agents and we discovered and then viewed The Welbeck.

And we're still here!

My mother, Hilda still does the gardening around the Hotel but has retired from the business as such and she is very active in what seems like a hundred different clubs, plays canasta on Saturday, paints on a Wednesday, displaying incredible acting prowess, assumes the role of a 'Confused Old Lady' during Civil Defence emergency practices, joins her friends on their UK coach trips and still finds time for a couple of cruises every 12 months or so. I thought my life was hard work!

Lucy, Mum & I at my recent 50th birthday celebrations

My sister, Christine whom I featured last year isn't working here currently and now we have none of her branch of the family on our current staff, though her sons, Alistair and latterly Alex have both done their bit in the Hotel.

Nephews and Niece, Katie

If it's been a landmark 2015 for me, it's even more so for number one son, Matthew, who after leaving The Welbeck and all his other jobs in May 2008, has finally managed to attain permanent residency in Australia with his beautiful girlfriend, Gayle, as well eventually managing to break into computer programming which has been his ambition since before he could talk.

He too has a big birthday coming up as he turns 30 next month, so of course, he did what any upstanding, mature pillar of society would do and dyed his hair green.

Unfortunately, due to work commitments, not to mention having a 10 month old son, Elizabeth who ceased to be in our employ after TT 2006, could not make it over for my big bash, so earlier this week, we headed over to Stockport to visit her and her husband Rodders instead.

Elizabeth with Lucy's son Harry

For Irene, it certainly has not been a great year with the loss of both her brother, Anthony and her mother, Irene whom some of you may remember from her time living at the Hotel.

Although currently injured, she remains the only athlete in the family, following my retirement. No pressure then! Here's one from a few weeks ago when Lucy was a baby.
Approximately, 1,150 weeks by the way ;)

Everyone misses Lucy from the Welbeck, although she still does come and help us out whenever she's available. We were obviously disappointed to lose her but it's much better for her and Harry now that she has a more conventional position with evenings and weekends off.
Harry, of course is now at school and here he is looking all grown up and smart.

Our final full time family member, besides Irene and me of course, is Terence and he is off travelling to Australia and Asia come December accompanied by Lenny Musker with whom he first went to school back in the first year of the new millennium.

And today's quiz: Which one is Terence and which one was Michael?

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Welbeck Restaurant Pre-Carousel Dinners

As I posted some time ago, we will be offering 10% discount for dinners booked for Carousel which is being performed by the Manx Gilbert & Sullivan Society at Gaiety Theatre from 20th October for 5 nights with a matinée at 2:30pm Saturday.

We will be opening early at 5:45pm and the show commences at 7:30.

Reservations can be made by telephone on 675663 or on where you can also see sample menus.

The Society performs twice a year with a fund raising concert in March or April with their main show being in the Autumn but you can also book them privately or join them Fridays at All Saints Hall on Alexander Drive, Douglas.

By the name, you will gather that their 'raison d'etre' was to perform the popular Victorian operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan but for financial reasons, they have had to widen their repertoire and in the last few years have produced the very successful 'High Society' and 'Calamity Jane' which have helped secure their survival.

Carousel is a Rodgers & Hammerstein classic which includes numbers such as 'When the Children Sleep,' 'If I Loved You,' and 'June is Busting Out All Over' as well as the ever popular 'You'll Never Walk Alone,' which was a massive hit for Gerry & The Pacemakers in the 1960s.

Obviously, it was also adopted Liverpool Football Club as their anthem, though their supporters will be relieved by the knowledge that the Rodgers in question who co-wrote this epic, was Richard and not Brendan their recently departed manager.

Tickets cost £18 in the stalls and £20 in the Dress Circle with concessions @ £16.00 for senior citizens and £10 for children.

You can reserve your seats on:

It is a strong local cast with Billy Bigelow being played by Matt Quinn, Julie Jordan by Jenny Quirk and Simon Fletcher is portraying Jigger Craigin.

On our first attempt at the pre-theatre dinners, one or two people didn't have time to have all three course but I think we have now addressed this issue and you should be able to enjoy your Carousel ride on a full stomach.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Welbeck Hotel & Restaurant One Hour Callenge - 10th Aniversary

Sunday 11th October sees the 11th Welbeck Hotel & Restaurant sponsored One Hour Challenge at the National Sports Centre, Douglas at 10am.

Signing on will start at 9:15am and the idea is to walk as far as you can in 60 minutes, the furthest ever was achieved by Steve Partington in 1990 when he covered more than 14km but this race is more aimed at novice walkers, although all abilities and ages are welcome.

Irene and I started together in 2005 when we were both novices. This was probably our discussion after a lap or two which led to me abandoning her and going on to win my very first race.

It could be argued that was a little naughty of me as sponsor but it's history now. We were the Welbeck 'Green Team' and in this picture you can also see the back of our daughter, Lucy (12 years,) our niece, Katie (9 years) in the background, Lyndsay Garbett (nee Walker) my sister, Christine Norris and in the distance, my mother Hilda.

We had a whole team out that day but as yet, I am unable to find the Welbeck Walkers photograph. Watch this space ;) Ha Ha! Here it is and to the embarassment of almost our entire family (Matthew & Elizabeth seem to have had great foresight) :
From the left: Harry Crompton, Hilda George, Christine Norris, Alex Norris, Alaistair Wood (nephew) Katie Norris, Michael George, Irene George, Lucy George, Terence George, Lyndsay Garbett

For younger or less confident athletes there is also a half hour race and one and two laps for the little ones.

We provide prizes (restaurant meals) for the top female and male novice as well as furthest on the day and I'll be making soup for all walkers, officials, marshals etc.

For more race details, see

We look forward to seeing you on the day!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Mission Quite Possible Really - From South Harbour to Cow Harbour without Tom Cruise or Bear Grills

Blogophiles of long or even shortish standing will by now have realised that we but particularly Irene like boat rides and this year for one reason or another, we haven't managed very many.

Therefore, with a sunny day with light breezes in the offing, on Sunday, I was charged with the task of making this happen.

Initially, it looked like I might fail as Manx Sea Quest is currently out of action, the Karina finished for a couple of weeks on Saturday but by courtesy of Mr Google, I chanced upon Mike Keggen who runs but they had nothing going out on the Sunday afternoon and were booked up in the morning.

However, he did say that if they had other enquiries, he would give me a ring and that there was a minimum of six people at £20 or £120 to book the boat.

A couple of text messages later, I had gathered another 4 hardy souls and the trip was on! What I didn't realise at the time was that they have a brand new boat, The Kirree Varrey which takes up to 12 passengers so we could have have made things even more economical.

Cast ashore and marooned on our non desert island without any discs

In the past, I have always sailed from Port Erin but Keggen operates from Port St. Mary and he rang me in advance to inform me that he was bringing our time forward due to the fast ebbing low tide caused by the Blood Moon.

We were underway before 2pm and the plan was to drop us at South Harbour which was built to serve the lighthouses and we were marooned at about 2:10pm to survive with out any aid until our proposed rescue at 4:30pm. It is worth noting that there are no toilets, drinking water or retail outlets and we were unable to locate the ATM and the Costa Coffee.

I always thought that it was named after the part of the leg but in fact the name Calf of Man(Yn Cholloo in Manx) is derived from the Norse Kalfr which means a small Island adjoining a larger one and it was bought for the National Trust (which later became Manx National Trust and now Manx National Heritage) in 1939 by an Englishman, Mr F J Dickens and became a bird sanctuary and observatory in 1959.

There are strict rules for visitors who must remove their own litter and I'm pleased to say that I saw no rubbish whatsoever while we were there.

The two original lighthouses were built by Robert Stevenson in 1818 but these were replaced by the building on Chicken Rock in 1878 which must have been an incredible feat of construction as even on the mild days such as when we visited, it looks an inhospitable place.

Chicken Rock Lighthouse which is 1km out to sea.

In 1968, a 4th one was built, though it is by far the ugliest building of the four and it was operationally short lived when the Chicken Rock was reinstated as the sole light when it became automated in 1995.

For someone on the Calf for the first time, only having seen it by flying over or from the Sound Café area, the Island which has an area of roughly a square mile, looks quite barren and non-descript but nothing can be further from the truth.

In fair weather it is a beautiful, peaceful place despite the procession of aircraft overhead on the approach to land at Ronaldsway into the less prevalent northerly breeze.

Although there is a path around the Island, the East Coast part of it is less well formed and as we were being picked up at Cow Harbour (thus named because they used to swim the cattle across the Sound to take them to market,) we opted to visit the lighthouse side and then follow the main 'drag' past the only inhabited building, where the estate warden and the ornithologist live between March and November.

We passed rather than scaled the highest point on the West coast which is 415 feet (128m) above sea level and managed to reach the North of the Island without major incident.

En route we saw a hen harrier which was too quick even for my twitcher chum, Paul to capture on film and also a sparrow hawk, a gannet, some cormorants and the usual collection of various gulls and rooks.

Sparrowhawk at Cow Harbour

Most Islanders are used to seeing seals but at this time of year, when the water is probably at its warmest, they are having their pups and I have never witnessed so many of them and they were very vocal.

Scientific name: Bloody Weird Looking Mushroom

We had passed the ornithologist and exchanged greetings earlier in the day but the estate warden caught up with us at this point for a chat. His job for the day was a butterfly survey and he turned out to be a very affable chap, though for us it was hard to contemplate the level of isolation that he and his colleague (from Barcelona) live in, though they are connected by internet these days.

Bradda from the Calf

One of my friends asked how often they made it to the mainland but the only times he left were take his two weeks of holidays at his native West Country (GB.)

Our rescuers arrived just after the appointed time and we enjoyed the return sail and the subsequent attempts to dislodge a yacht which had been caught out on the rocks by the more than usual lack of sea.

A brilliant day, rounded off with a nice dinner in the Shore on Gansey Bay.

Thank you to Marie & Paul Jackson, Karen Chiarello & Robert Currey for joining us. Mushroom and Sparrowhawk photographs by Paul Jackson Post Script: We had guests that went to the Calf Sound yesterday and saw dolphins! Just our luck to miss them

Thursday, 10 September 2015

New Sweets & Desserts Menu From Roberto D'Ottavio

As referred to yesterday, our Head Chef Roberto D'Ottavio has created a new Sweet & Desserts menu:


Charlotte Creole

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Strawberry Cheesecake

Panna Cotta with Mixed Forrest Berries
Fresh Fruit Salad (GF)

Double Chocolate Fudge Cake with Black Cherry Chocolate served with Cream or Ice Cream (GF)

Selection of Davisons Manx Ice Creams (GF)

From the Cheeseboard:

Chateaux de France Brie

Crockwell Farm Stilton

Selection from Isle of Man Creameries

Irene & Michael Pioneer Port Erin's New Bridge For Some Extreme Blackberry Picking

Our new Head Chef, Roberto D'Ottavio is now firmly established in the Restaurant, so recently we decided that a change of Sweets & Desserts menu was a little overdue.

Remembering last year's glut of blackberries at the beginning of September last year, I had the bright idea of adding them to the apple crumble.

On Sunday afternoon, we left a sunny Douglas and headed down to Port Erin.

Parking on the upper Promenade, we were a little non-plussed about how cloudy it was in the deep South West but we decided to walk to Bradda Glen via the new bridge at Spaldrick which was closed in 2005 following a landslip.

Spaldrick Bridge

As we meandered along the coastal footpath (well as much as you can meander along such a narrow way), it was noticeable that most of the fruit was barely formed, never mind under ripe!

Meayll Peninsula

I am pleased to report that the Bradda Glen Cafe which re-opened 2014 seems to be doing a brisk trade in Sunday lunches and we stopped there for some water and a coffee to count our booty . It didn't take long even for me to reach to 7 & 2/2 and I was beginning fear that our the menu would need changing to 'Apple & Traces of Blackberry Crumble.'

Port Erin Bay

However, following our refreshment, we wandered along the lower cliff and began to find more of our quarry but it either required leaning over the flimsy fence or climbing up the bank.

Pretty Spiky

Never let it be said that I don't suffer for our art and I came a distinct second best in my battle with the gorse and the brambles as you can see from the photograph but our trip finally became fruitful.

Martyr to the Crumble

Toasting our success, not to mention the fact that I needed anaesthetising, we again visited the cafe and as the sun had finally appeared, we were able to enjoy a beer, whilst looking at the truly amazing views of the bay.

Saw this little beauty - Anyone with Knowledge of Nature identify it?

Keep following. Tomorrow, I'll show you the new menu :)