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Hospitality Leisure; Arts Industries, Do We Keep Fighting?!

Hey all readers I have had a few highs and lows in my personal life at the moment, so whilst I have been “sorting my life out” I have neglected my updates and my one passion of writing has had to go on the back burner for a little while; and I would like share my thoughts with my humble, opinionated and like minded readers. The inspiration behind this latest entry, speared from anger, regret (well actually not entirely regret), passion and fear. As I write this, I have a mixture of all these fears and emotions. Before writing this, I was watching the post tea time famous prime minister speech, which I am starting to wonder….what have I become?! Since this coronavirus I have never become such a BBC News junkie. Out of bitterness and listening to scientists vs politicians, I decided, enough is enough and I am going to switch over and watch Emily In Paris, maybe escape reality for a little bit.

Pubs?! Should They Be Punished?

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I thought I would off load, I am not going to lie, before getting made “COVID redundant” as they call it, I was working as an assistant manager of a beautiful canal side pub; which made a substantial amount of trade in the summer mainly. I will not mention the name of this Warwickshire timber framed English Rose of a pub, this is due to protecting the business and owners; but during lockdown there was this massive build of anxiety towards the day coming for it to reopen. This was after the famous Dominic Cummings scam, which I still think opening the pubs was a ploy and distraction technique as well as getting the economy up and running, but it felt so rushed, the whole thing of reopening. But then there was the question of how are they going to implement a 2 metre rule in a pub? Not possible, so the government reduced it to 1 metre. This however did make me think those corporate and independent shops that spent a lot of money to put in 2 metre procedures and for it to be changed, was not on, so I say this in support of retailers.

Furthermore, when the pub businesses reopened, not just pubs, hotel bars, restaurants, you name it, the government were encouraging people to go out and have fun so to speak. The rule of 8 was implemented back then though, but instead of having banter with your regulars, having a chat by the fire, petting our canines that accompanied our customers, this was all transformed it was a scene from the old sci fi flick Logan’s Run, everyone was uniformed, now sat at a table, just eating and drinking, no rejoicing or cheering inside the premises. The whole new measures taken due to the situation, has for me had the fun taken out of going out to be honest. Catering premises, and coming from personal experience here, catering can be one of the most stressful industries arguably to man, with allergens, complaints, health & safety, EHO (Environmental Health) at the best of times; and then there is working hard policing and sticking to the rules and the fear of getting shut down.

The Eat Out To Help Scheme was issued from the government, but then was it not researched that obesity can be a factor of increasing risk of coronavirus? Anyway so a slight contradiction is here somewhere, as eating out a lot of people are not going to want to eat salad they are of course going to want a starter, main, and pudding treating themselves to a pie and chips, or a pizza, so surely the government is encouraging this with this scheme? I do however personally feel like it was a good way to support the hospitality businesses, so I was for my own reasons both for and against some aspects of the scheme. Like anything it has it’s pros and cons. So infection and R rate wasn’t as high as it was now, I am no scientist but it’s not summer anymore so less people want to go sit in a beer garden now, but also the university students have gone back, so obviously people from other towns are moving to new cities and mixing and taking the virus with them, but then of course who is made the scape goat? Pubs and restaurants have once again been thrown under a bus! Closing time is now at 10pm, that is at least £200 lost, that hour in a can make crucial difference to a business.

I have been subject to this COVID redundancy, let me tell you, it has prolonged any future plans of mine, let alone made me rethink some of my ambitions and my dreams of buying a house next year and having a wedding celebration, have truly temporarily gone out the window, but not only those luxuries, it gave me a couple of sleepless nights of, what do I do now? Am I going to starve? All of those things sound melodramatic but did cross my mind, and they have other people’s as well I expect. I was one of the lucky ones though, that did get offered interviews and found a job after redundancy, but not everyone has been lucky enough to have that.

When pubs opened in July, the R rate wasn’t anywhere near as a high than what we have now; if your pub or restaurant business does police and encourage and enforce safety measures probably, you can feel quite safe and at home, trust me I have seen it first hand working in that industry. But surely food thought….? Closing all licensed premises at 10pm?! I’ll just state the virus doesn’t come out at 10pm at night, and the R rate only went up as soon as students moved away from home going to different parts of the country and mixing with different people from different parts of the country, but feels like yet again us hospitality and leisure industry folk have been ‘thrown under the bus’ so to speak; just like pre lockdown when the house of parliament says ‘people must avoid all pubs and bars’ this resulted in a lot of worry and loss of trade, and now it’s happened again!

I have worked in the hospitality industry since the age of 15, starting off as a glass collector and a pot washer and working my way up to 70 hour weeks in parts and it really is an underestimated industry; hospitality, contributes a massive amount of money towards our economy and on the news last week when they reopened 2.1% of the economy went back into the system, this was due to the running of these establishments, regular guests and locals going in to celebrate special occasions and supporting local businesses. My previous pub was a small independent business and they teamed up with a Budweiser scheme; this scheme was a great incentive for people buying vouchers to use when the pubs opened and Budweiser would double it. This kept some people going, as they had an incentive to go to the pub and do their bit to keep their local favourite pubs going. In your local pub, it carries an element of memories and socialising for people, before any of this people would go have a birthday meal/ drink or just meet people in their local, these places carry a lot of history and celebrated times that people find comfort in; not only for it’s customers but the workers themselves.

My old owner made a valid point on their social media recently with a beautiful crafted piece of writing, she made the point of thanking local patrons and customers and the chain of piecing together the businesses, i.e. wine merchants, distilleries, food suppliers, marketing, such a wide spectrum of skilled individuals, that for every drink purchased, every starter ordered, they are contributing to not keep just the premises going, but also pointed out the people behind the scenes that help contribute to these places. So many people for every bill paid, it helps contribute towards these businesses, from the suppliers, the auditors, marketing, the accountants, the HR departments and consultants, such a broad range of different skills all coming together to ensure that these places keep going.

The Theatre! The Theatre! What Has Happened To The Theatre?!

So we move on to hospitality and it’s sort of sister sector to speak. Well, this is going to sound relatively cheesy of me, but as said in my previous blog ‘The Curtain Will Rise Again’ arts and performing arts is life, it’s a teacher in itself. I understand the movie theatre’s, the live theatres, the museums and the art galleries have either been prevented from opening or had to lower their capacity of visitors, but chancellor Rishi Sunak commented on the arts industry recently, then an advert was sent out upsetting a lot of creatively passionate individuals. This advert had a photograph of a ballet dancer inferring that her next career could be in cyber; well there was different debates regarding this advert, maybe the advert meant people of all industries have the option to retrain, but I believe that whatever message they were trying to give out with this advert, it is a bit insensitive after the scandal came out about. What chancellor Rishi Sunak says and how his words were construed during the press conference.

Let’s just start with the fact that if he did mean those words he did say to be believed that he did for creative professionals to retrain; well the BBC which does a lot of it’s broadcasts, so the sound, the lighting have creative professionals, a lot of businesses, even finance, law firms have artistic professionals behind the scenes, with their photographers for their social media and advertising campaigns, so of course looking at the bigger picture, creativity comes into everything, even hospitality with nail technicians in hotel spas, decorators for hotel rooms and restaurants; creativity plays a crucial part in everything and covers such a collective range. Even that poster of the ballet dancer that was made up by artists, costume designers, photographers, model, graphics; so if it was meant in the way that creatives retrain, that is not only insensitive but also contradictory.

I know it’s hard to say and I can only say that with you guys in the creative industry, especially cinemas and theatres, you will get through this and even though things look bleak now, we will overcome this, like we overcame world war 1 and 2. Creative professionals, you have done so well to have that dedication and commitment to train in this field, don’t give up on that. One day this will all be over and hospitality and arts venues will resume back to order and they will need people in order for these places to reopen and to entertain and provide luxury to the general public.

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This advert became quite a talking point!

Universities really?

The university students that have started uni, the government condoning this, those students have missed out on a lot of their freshers’ week and not had their full university experience; some students will have their education disrupted by mental health and the anxiety of being in lockdown and not going home for Christmas. So to be blunt, what were the government actually thinking letting at least first year students start university during a global pandemic, for £9000 per anum as well, surely they are not going to get their money’s worth out it?! What about students studying degrees in performing arts or hospitality? Are they going to feel motivated studying and starting a degree to work in those industries when jobs are becoming obsolete right now?! As a person that has been affected by this with friends and family in both industries how on earth is closing and destroying people’s businesses and livelihood going to prevent the spread of the virus. All I can see is people encouraged to gather in the streets after 10pm, binge drinking in the day and people losing their businesses and jobs, all because it was decided to keep universities open and running.

Arts & Pubs Are The University Of Life

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Wise Words From A Wise Playwriter

In conclusion I support my quote of Shakespeare ”All The World’s A Stage”, he is right, theatre is life, men and women are players. Films, plays and acting do cover psychology when an actor or dancer embodies a piece of work, a director embodies his visual direction for his actors based on psychology. Play writers, i.e. Mike Leigh, Willy Russell, they cover politics and history of Britain, i.e. recessions and historical events, this educates audiences. The BBC and ITV all broadcasts and documentaries wouldn’t be here for our live entertainment if it weren’t for the make up artists, the camera man. Theatre and arts venues, also create jobs for non entertainment and creative trained professionals, i.e. accountants, customer service managers, maintenance, these venues need these professions to help them run a successful operation.

Whilst I am on a rampage or so it seems, pubs are also teachings of many life experiences, from science, i.e. catering and cellar work, changing gas cannisters, operating legal temperatures and understanding of cleanliness and bacteria and food poisoning. Pubs and restaurants also help educate mathematical skills which is used in pricing by owners and managers to operating to a till and giving change from a bill paid by a customer. Law with licensing laws and environmental health.

In all these industries I have worked in both sectors and they have taught me more than anything I have learnt in school or college, and provides a lot of skills, jobs and entertainment to various individuals. Thankyou to everyone for reading this, if you have any like minded thoughts towards this or if you have been affected please don’t hesitate to comment.

For now until next time, thanks for reading and for now I bid you all adieu!

Ellie x

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My Top Historical Places To Visit In The Midlands

Chapter 1 Warwickshire

Hello and welcome to the month of September to all my readers, and just want to say a very kind thank you for your support, subscriptions, follows and readership of my blog. I thought I’d write about a different kind of topic this week. If you readers look at my old blogs when I first started out, you can probably tell I have done a lot of travelling and solo travel, but like many percentage of us British folk after being in lock down, I definitely got too anxious about travelling too far afield and going abroad, which is what I usually do and decided I wanted to have my adventures close to home here in the heart of the Midlands in the UK. I have drawn up a list of historic places to visit locally and within 100 miles radious, as I am a history buff and like to call myself a ‘Proud English Rose.’ I am going to share with you readers my places of interest and by reading this take you on a written tour of my most favourite places that I have visited and are also on my wish list.

Warwick Castle

This is a favourite of mine and is a very loving memory of my childhood, this is one of the grandest castles in the UK in my personal opinion. Warwick Castle is owned by Merlin Group, it is a boasting tourist attraction, nested behind the Tudor town streets and high street of Warwick in Warwickshire, the castle boasts acres of land, gardens on it’s outside perfect for romantic walks, family picnics, also the space has been used for the staff actors to host shows, for example re enacting the battle of the War Of The Roses. The castle itself was built by William The Conqueror in 1068, The Castle boasts not only picturesque views outdoors, lying next to the River Avon, but it also takes through many ages, particularly 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, this is using different areas of the castle to detail the lifestyles of these events. I have been here multiple times and have always been able to journey back in time, when I was little I used to write stories about this place; the stone brick walls of grandeur, the torture chamber, the princess tower, it is like reliving my childhood. The site also has a bar, restaurant, cafe, ice cream stations, gift shop as long as many other facilities, due to COVID the numbers appear to only be taking bookings though, but if you’re waiting on a time slot, you can always explore the beautiful quaint provincial town of Warwick itself with only a five minute walk from Warwick train station and a stones throw away from nearby Spa town Royal Leamington Spa. Advice before going, you will need a whole day to have your full experience and explore all the castle grounds and if you’re like me and haven’t any sprogs in tow or don’t like crowds, a visit during the week day during non school holidays would be your best bet to try and visit.

Great Castles - Ghost Tower of Warwick Castle

Back To Backs

This is set in the backdrop of Birmingham City Centre and owned by National Trust. It has a delectable little vintage sweet shop next door to the main entrance and the perfect way of killing time before a theatre visit at The Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre or The New Alexandra.

The house is run mainly by volunteers and are keen and enthusiastic to answer any visitor questions. The house portrays reality of living in the Victorian slums of a two up two down in Birmingham, and signifies with it’s actors, memorabilia and costumes, but also the houses and courtyard alone how working class life was in Central Birmingham.

It is located by many nice bars and restaurants, and with Birmingham Library and has some lovely little treasures related to your visit to not only the building but also if you’re not from there, Birmingham.

The Birmingham Back to Backs | Amusing Planet

Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust Houses & Gardens

The Shakespeare centre is a timber and Tudor style building, located in central Stratford-Upon-Avon, this one of my favourites and somewhere I used to work many years ago. It is located on Henley Street, within close proximity to Stratford train station, a walk consisting of just under 5 minutes. Whilst on Henley Street, it boasts a variety of little boutiques, including vintage sweet shops, a specific Christmas shop that is open all year round, cute little tea rooms, where you can grab yourself a Warwickshire cream tea. There is also a couple of Vegan cafes located nearby, parking is very tight, however, parking can be found nearby the train station and also the top end of the town nearby a retail park.

Once you enter The Shakespeare main house, it plays a montage of his works being performed from film to theatre, due to COVID I believe you now have to book online. Each room travels to exploring different elements of Shakespeare, due to being inside his family home, with exploring how they lived, from his father John Shakespeare’s story exploring his works as a glover/ leather worker, telling his story from how he became town mayor. The story is told by volunteers and character actors. This also visits their kitchen where you find out about how the Shakespeare family lived and their diet to their eating arrangements in a Tudor style dining room, with a collection of gothic style candelabras and detailed tapestries each telling a story, where you see a link to Polonious’s stabbing behind the tapestry in Hamlet, one of his many works, you see as you go through the house and manicured back garden a lot of links to Shakespeare’s works. The decor and attention to detail, makes you feel very at home and reliving this Tudor based lifestyle of a working to middle class in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The only thing I would say if you are visiting in the autumn and winter especially, it’s so close to real life of the olden days, that the windows and property itself and how it is built, you definitely feel a draft coming through as the property is boasted to remain as close to the Shakespearian period as it should.

After exploring inside the grounds, you step into the gardens, this is a middle man between the house and gift shop. The garden is very well maintained, mainly by volunteers, and possesses beautiful roses, this also connects another link, that The Shakespeare Aloud Theatre Actors perform onsite, where they re-enact Romeo and Juliet, when you step into the garden and see the tidy majestic garden with pink and red roses, you hear the actors saying, “What’s in a name, a rose by any other would smell as sweet” this is also emblematic and shows a connection to one of Shakespeare’s works. The gift shop is very quirky, you can find vintage Tudor/ Elizabethan style gifts such as quill pens, tapestries and also memes and classical postcards. Not only that but it also sells Shakespeare gin, in a variety of flavours, i.e. Quince, Mulberry and dry gin, the perfect taste of Warwickshire and in honour of Shakespeare himself and Stratford’s heritage.

One Day in Shakespeare's Birthplace: Exploring Stratford-upon-Avon |  Faraway Lucy

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Located in the pretty village of Shottery within a short walking distance to the main town of Stratford, Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife nests her beautiful Elizabethan country cottage, it has beamed ceilings and countryside interior with a lot of peaceful ambience surrounding this building, the cottage boasts a beautiful garden and perfect for a summer’s day visit, with a country pub located nearby.

Stratford-upon-Avon's Shakespearean Sights by Rick Steves

Charlecote Park

This massive grand stately home was once home to The Lucy family, Sir Thomas Lucy and also has some interrelation with Shakespeare who was once known for poaching rabbit and deer. The beautiful stately home that lies in the country village of Charlecote, boasts majestic rooms, each telling a story, the home itself mirrors Lyme Park in Cheshire in appearance and has loads of wildlife, a perfect day out in the country for both adults and children. The garden itself surrounds itself in huge grounds, perfect for a summers day walk and explore, the setting and onset appearance is easily romantic and easy to get lost in the imagination.

Charlecote Park - Art Fund

Thankyou everyone for reading, if you are ever in central Midlands or Warwickshire/ Greater Birmingham these little beauties are well worth a visit and each has a variety of stories to tell.

I’ll be releasing an entry of my home county of Staffordshire and stately homes next week, and each week I’ll take you on a narrative to journey to a variety of famous, quirky and beloved historical days out across Central England.

If anyone has any days out they wish to explore, or any ideas for wherever in the world they would like to visit please let us know in the comments, the more the merrier.