ONE YEAR ON AS A TWO-PUB VILLAGE – NEWS FROM BOTH & MORE

A year on from the relaunch  of the Leaping Salmon, manager Fred Andrews stopped for a coffee and answered a few questions.

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He was happy with progress and happy with his job, he said. His dad put the money in and they work together as business managers but Fred, coming up to 30,  runs the place most days, with a rotating team of half a dozen, plus casuals. His girlfriend, Rachel Smith, has moved down to family hq at Sortridge and is working in bar and kitchen. And they are already up to Christmas with plans for another year with the same team.

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Among those plans is shrinking the bar a bit to make more public space. Fred says they can now see they allocated too much room behind it and it’s not efficient. He quite misses the tight engine room feeling of a more traditional bar anyway, he says. They will probably close for a week in January, like last year, to refit a bit

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The pub is most days doing well, both over the bar and with food, considering it has not done much advertising outside the village. But the rest of the premises have to earn their keep too, says Fred, and that means, next, sorting out a future for the cafe they built in the old pool room. He is well aware of the disappointed potential customers who miss it.

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He said: “It was too expensive to run it the way we tried it but maybe we can come up with a better timetable. And it will be soon.”

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On the subject of the rooms, he said: “We get lot of cyclists heading from Exmoor to Plymouth and stopping one night. But 80 percent of our lets are to family and friends of people living here, which is great. “

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Standard off-season price for a room for two would be £90, including breakfasts, and a family room for four starts at £100.

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Fred said he was sticking with his support for small local brewers at the expense of some standard brews, like Guinness and Carlsberg. He has a Totnes stout for the Guinness drinkers, a Totnes cider with a fan club and lagers from Ottery and Bodmin which do their jobs fine, plus only organic wines, although they do include some French and Spanish. There is usually a barrel of Jail Ale from Princetown on tap for traditional tastes but Fred was pleased to find recently he has been selling more barrels of his own recommendation, the Avocet from Exeter Brewery.

He said: “People like local and organic as long as they don’t have to pay more for it. And the small providers are coming up with the deals we need to make it work.”

Menu-wise, the vegan options are going well and there will probably be more of them, he said. Getting the menu right is still the most important job for the pub.

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Over at The London, Mike Huda has been keeping his cards close but is now letting it be known that he expects to sign a deal within weeks which will keep him there for the next five years. Word is that Punch Taverns has agreed to some investment in the property but that will be mainly protecting the structure and the look of the pub will stay steady. So the village can settle to being a two-pub destination again for a good while yet.

AND ANOTHER ONE JOINS THE FRAY …

Meanwhile, new hosts have been quietly settling in at one of the oldest and most beautiful pubs in the neighbourhood: the Who’d Have Thought It at Milton Combe.

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The pub freehold changed hands recently and the new owner has done a deal with Matthew Smith and his wife, Hayleigh, pictured, to run it on a lease for the next 10 years.

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They were last at the Trout & Tipple, for two and a half years up to March this year, when they took a break.

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Matthew has done spells as a contract manager all around the district for the past 20 years – including The Burrator, late 90s, the Royal Oak at Meavy, 2006 or so, the Prince of Wales at Princetown and the Walkhampton Inn, 1996 or so.

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The couple picked up the reins at the Whody a fortnight ago and immediately started opening all day Fridays and Saturdays. Otherwise, not much changing yet. Matt says they are very happy with how the kitchen has been doing anyway. Everyone except the former owners is staying on.

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This Saturday they have the party spinning off from the village Brook Race, which involves teams manoeuvring a barrel up the narrow stream (the Milton) which runs behind the pub. Registration from 2 pm, races from 3 pm. Local bands and hog roast booked and Matt says we can expect more live music in general, at weekends, on top of the jam sessions which are already established there every other Wednesday.

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NOTES FROM THE SHED …

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The Shed, where the Horrabridge Times is put together, has some maintenance work to get through this summer, mainly on personnel, so some elements of the site are not being updated as thoroughly as usual. Apologies for that.

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Meanwhile, for the benefit of our regulars, here’s what we’ve got at sweeping-up time this week:

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In the world of online publishing, we get points for being a bit multimedia, so allow us to recommend the 90s Nashville revival sound of Texas band Midlands:

HERE

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And if you liked that, take note that the British Country Music Festival is on at Blackpool September 13-15.

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Tuesday (Sept. 3, 2019) at 7.30, Princetown Community Centre: a talk on Dartmoor in the time of the Black Death. For more like this see our CALENDAR

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Seems to have abated in recent weeks, fair enough, but wow wasn’t that a stink that hung over the heart of the valley, around Magpie Bridge, during the heat wave of early summer?

South West Water told us: We do our best to prevent the inevitable odours that occur with sewage treatment processes and have received no complaints about the smell from Horrabridge Wastewater Treatment Works this summer.

We would urge customers to contact us promptly with any odour complaints on 0344 346 2020 so we can investigate promptly.”

We asked if there were problems caused by years of new building upstream but SWW said: Odour levels are not related to the volume of wastewater received by the works.”

In other words, it’s just part of summer in the Walkham Valley. Fair enough ?

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West Devon Council wants suggestions about parking. Here is The Shed’s –

Please forget about making us all enter our license plate numbers in a queue in a thunderstorm or any other time come to that. The only thing it achieves is to stop people giving tickets away, in a little occasional gesture of solidarity against the system, and the saving is simply not worth the misery.

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Lara Maiklem, who pokes round for treasure at low tide on the Thames, has written a book about her adventures called Mudlarking which sounded charming when she read it out on Radio 4 as a book of the week recently. But as Sunday Telegraph books editor Roger Lewis pointed out: “Mostly she’s scavenging in an open sewer. For cut-glass decanter stoppers and Georgian pennies, usually it is a case of picking her way past sanitary towels, condoms, cotton-bud sticks and ‘anything that fits down a toilet’. The Thames is a frightful dump with empty bags, discarded lighters, wellies, shopping trolleys, traffic cones, tyres, plastic bottles and flip-flops clustering at the pillars holding up the bridges.

“The Bronze Age Swords and Roman castration clamps were scooped up a century ago. She has to get excited by shards of old lemonade bottles, hairnets, combs, beads and thimbles – a watch-fob set, an ivory domino, cannon balls, musket balls, false teeth and a tiny spoon for removing earwax.”

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We’ve got a shelf just like it in The Shed.

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By the way, the new edition of the Moorlander has a nice letter from 1936, discovered by auctioneer Phil Pyle of Hatherleigh, detailing the butchering and storing of a pig in a typical home kitchen of the day. See Phil’s column, 50 Years An Auctioneer.

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Bookings being taken now for Chagford Film Festival, end of September, including an old Aretha Franklin profile shot in 1972, the new Rocketman film about Elton John and others with a mainly musical theme this year.

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Also happening over that way, the Okerail Forum, campaigners for more Dartmoor links to the network, has organised a special train from Okehampton to Weymouth on September 14. Five hours in Weymouth and first class adult tickets are about £50. Book at

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/booking/venueplan/BRmxziuHgyCh

allfornow …

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.

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