“… we apologize for the inconvenience …” (it’s April Fools, and you’re it!)

Looking through the papers yesterday, or watching stories on the TV it was difficult to discern what was true or what were “April Fool” gags. Some of the real events should have fallen into the ‘you couldn’t make it up‘ category while others were just plainly bizarre to the extent that if you analyse any news story these days, they should all be of the “April Fool” variety.

Take the news that Tesco staff banned a customer from paying for his petrol using the £20 commemorative coins for instance. They then called the cops and banned him from the premises! Later they stuck up a sign saying,Please make sure you have significant funds to pay for your fuel. Sorry for any inconvenience. What’s really bizarre is the fake apology at the end … many folk will ask, when has a firm really been sorry for any inconvenience?

Another “you couldn’t make it up” event was Lady Gaga doing a “Big-Bird” impression in New York. That’s what happens when you let some celebrities go “free range” it seems.

Nike timeoutWhat is glaringly obvious is that Nike won’t be sorry for any of the inconvenience fans might face in wanting to purchase the Replica England Team World Cup shirt. At £90 each there’s an outcry at another rip-off to the extent that the Sports Minister is demanding Nike “rethink” – I wonder whether Nike will listen or ‘just do it’ anyway? Maybe that’s why their website was down. Possibly they were ‘rethinking’ as the Minister suggested, but they weren’t apologising.

And does the ECB’s gag on the news of Kevin Pietersen’s sacking actually help? The ECB might as well issue the following statement:

we apologise for the inconvenience of not letting you know the full story as to why we sacked Pietersen. We want you to speculate and spread rumours over the next number of months so that we can continue to say ‘no comment’ because we’ve been practising that line and it would be a pity to waste it.

There might have been some stocktaker’s eyes lighting up at the news that Heston Blumenthal was moving the Fat Duck down under for six months while the premises in Bray get a refurb. Heston intimated that he was shifting the eatery to Melbourne virtually lock, stock and even the sign to let the Aussies experience what his three-star dining is like. No ‘XXXX’ beer and beetroot with his burgers! He also said he was shifting the ‘whole team’ with him. And as Jon Rutter will tell you, a decent stocktaker is part of any team that makes a place profitable and function correctly. His role is just as vital as the sous chef or the front of house manager.

No one has yet confirmed whether this news of the move to the Antipodes is really an April Fool’s joke or whether it is serious. But if it is on the cards, then the £190.00 meal for two will see Sheila and Bruce shelling out AUD350.00.

But I’m sure the management will apologise to Bruce for this inconvenience, and of course they will mean it too.

Fun in the Dip … but Stockton-on-Tees’ tree is pitiful!

Image: Rutters

Image: Rutters

There’s a lot going on at this time of the year. In just about every corner of the land there are twinkling lights, decorations, Christmassy music … and in The Dip, street markets, dancing and the opportunity to make your own mincemeat. Rutters pushed their spreadsheets and calculators aside for a day to join in the community effort to support their neighbourhood. And by all accounts it was a roaring success!

And while the good folk of Hollingdean were having fun and enjoying themselves, bear a thought for the residents in Stockton-on-Tees whose Council did away with the town’s 40-foot spruce and replaced it with a pathetic cone that has earned it the dubious description of being “the worst tree in England!” Shame, the townsfolk are understandably feeling a bit bleak and Alex Moore’s article that included a few photos illustrates why. Ebenezer Scrooge must have moved the 250 miles from his counting house in London.

Even further away than Scrooge from his old stamping grounds of the darkrooms and newspaper offices in London, Darryn (Mr Paparazzi) Lyons was snapped recently in the mayoral regalia of Geelong, Australia where he has been elected mayor of his birthplace. He even dyed his trademark Mohawk white in order to blend in with and match the outfit. Someone unkindly suggested that at a cursory glance he could easily be mistaken for a large badger with a gold chain.

Another, possibly more respected photographer, Arthur Edwards, has been reflecting on some the more memorable images that he has taken over the years, many of them of the Royal Family. Who can forget his photo of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge dancing in carefree manner in Tuvalu after their own paparazzi incident in France (pics that Arthur didn’t take, incidentally), or the one of the Queen looking very happy at Epsom? It seems that this type of thing happens at this time of the year – the pulling out of old albums, sorting the best pics and then reflecting on the whys, whens, and wheres of each one (and if Uncle Dick is due to visit for Christmas Day and he hasn’t been around for a while, best to dig out an old snap so it’s easier to recognize him).

Following on from Rutters blog from October 23rd when the Fighting Talk issue was raised over food wastage from the major supermarkets and who was to blame, well it’s reared its head again. Tesco are now firmly laying the blame on the consumers as to the reason that they, Tesco, chuck so much produce away! Yes, it’s the consumer’s fault for being so fussy. Mr Simister of Tesco said that they would try to persuade customers to buy misshapen fruits and vegetables. That’s a comforting tactic. So when you pop off to the supermarket to buy your Brussels sprouts or carrots or potatoes for Christmas dinner, listen carefully to the shop assistants who will be doing their very best to convince you to buy the oval sprouts and the crooked carrots. Maybe they’ll convince you that there is more flavour trapped in the curves than there is in the straight ones.

It’s reassuring to know that Tesco is placing the responsibility on each consumer to be less fussy in the build-up to Christmas.

4 weekends till Christmas … your lights up yet?

0599-christmas-1100026406-10232013Only four more weekends till Christmas (or five if you’re into Hogmanay)! Time to arrange for the holidays is rapidly slipping away. By now you would expect all the pubs and restaurants to have finalised their festive menus and some may already be fully booked for the ‘Big Feast’ whether it be on Christmas Eve or even on Christmas Day. Decorations have been popping up on lampposts and over mantels all over the country and the music mix you hear in malls and shops has changed and the next number one on the Official Singles Charts are all being punted, depending on the preferences and taste of whoever happens to be managing the playlists.

And ‘Taste’ is such an individual thing – what appeals to some will be offensive to others. Like the photo taken of Roy Loxton. He was minding his own business, doing his work and someone asked him if they could take his picture. He said yes and the snap appeared in the local newspaper. Someone complained that a pic of Mr Loxton at work, as a gravedigger, in a hole, smiling, was in ‘bad taste’ so his work from the one funeral home has been slashed. 

But nothing can beat the Aussies when it comes to ‘tasteful’ Christmas decorations this year. David Richards and his family made a comeback from his defeat to the USA last year to regain the Guinness World Record with his 330 000+ Christmas light display on his house. His array of twinkling lights costs him £1,400.00 a month to run – but at least he doesn’t have any heating bills as the average temperature in Canberra at this time of the year is 25° (still a lot cooler than the temperature the England team are facing on the cricket field though). Part of the fallout for his success and notoriety however is that some of his neighbours haven’t spoken to him since 2011 when he won the last time. Wonder why?

It’s probably just as well that clubs, pubs and restaurants don’t go too over the top on the decorations seeing as there are more stringent rules and regs. than in Oz. Can you imagine the nightmare the poor stocktakers would have to go through if they had to account for extra fairy-lights and a bumped up electric bill? And how many people REALLY successfully keep last year’s lights for this year – I wonder how many stocktakers have become adept at untangling green wire while trying hard not to break the delicate bulbs for their customers?

Jon Rutter and his team of stocktakers have been working hard to make sure that pubs and clubs are all stocked up in time for next week’s second Ashes Test so that keen cricket followers can sit back and enjoy the game, although how they’re going to deal with the 11 hour time difference is not clear. And Australia has 5 different time zones to make it even more confusing.

So when they bowl the first ball at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday it will be 11:00pm on Wednesday night in London. Extra stamina for the second and third sessions between lunch and stumps is required.

Free seeds (worth £16/kg) with every pumpkin!

Image: Rob Harris

Image: Rob Harris

With the “holiday season” nearly upon us, trust the prices to go up! It seems that year after year the headlines are the same and the shoppers are disappointed, again, at how far their £ doesn’t stretch. The thing is, this doesn’t refer to all the toys and specials that are touted as gifts. This refers to the stuff people like to buy to celebrate their holiday preference with family and friends – food!

It appears that many stores try to cash in on Christmas (or Hannukah or Hogmanay) as the cost of some foods rise by up to 20%. Even Brussels sprouts have been reported to have soared 17% in price (Why?) and other items by similar increases. You might even find that some stocktakers dealing with the supermarkets have “Holiday Inventory Spreadsheets” to deal with the requests their clients make on them at this time of the year. It begs the question though, how many people will promise this year, that they won’t be caught next year?

Isn’t the logical thing to do is wait until the prices drop to reasonable levels again, then buy what you want for next year and keep it in the freezer? That would be fine if you have the ready cash when you see the turkey, the smoked salmon or the Stilton you want and if you have the space to store the purchases. And don’t forget the self-discipline to not partake of the treats in July when they are earmarked for December!

I’d watch out for storing some of the fish products, though. According to some investigations the ‘fresh fish’ isn’t quite that fresh. It appears that it might just be ‘freshly defrosted.’ So when using ‘fresh’ it might be appropriate to use your fingers to make inverted commas around the term unless you know for sure.

Image: Adrian van Leen

Image: Adrian van Leen

On top of the stress of the suddenly increased prices greeting you when you get to the supermarkets, for those who celebrate Thanksgiving (and there seems to be growing support for this American holiday) and you’re into making pumpkin pie, be careful how you ditch the pips. Especially if you’re in Cheshire East. The council have ruled that this is not garden waste and cannot be put in the green bin. Well, here’s something that can be done to thwart the clipboard-and-rules brigade – roast the pumpkin seeds and eat them!

Any reputable restaurant and chef will always seek to use whatever they can to ensure that waste is kept to a minimum, thereby making profitability easier, and also keep things on the menu new and exciting that will make people want to return. Professional stocktakers like Jon Rutter and his team do whatever they can to help their clients achieve this. I wonder whether they have a stock of recipes and ideas on how to use things like pumpkin seeds stored somewhere on their tablets that they share. And, by the way, roasted pumpkin seeds taste great, have nutritional value and are cheap if you prepare them yourself. But Jon will tell you, don’t buy them at the store (yes, they sell them) because it’s more economical to prepare them yourself. Why pay £16.00 per kg when they come free with your pumpkin?

Also coming free, but not anticipated with as much joy, was the python belonging to Karen Jackson’s pal. The second-hand cooker from their friend was delivered to their home and they used it for a while not realising that hiding somewhere in the back was the friend’s escaped pet snake! When it made its appearance it caused quite a stir.

It was slightly warmed, still fresh but a bit niggly.

Baubles, bungles and khazis

Toilet sign ogaCncGSolid advice given to children by no-nonsense mothers over the decades, “before you leave home to go anywhere, make sure you go to the toilet first.” Trying to arrive at the origin of this down-to-earth wisdom hasn’t yielded any results. Speculation is that the advice was dished out because any “khazi,” other than the one at home, wasn’t up to much and didn’t bear visiting!

Wetherspoon pubs across the country have received platinum awards for their loos. 96 others scooped the gold award for the “Loo of the year award 2013.” It’s always easy to forget, until it’s time to visit it, that the little room is also part of the pub or restaurant and also needs to be maintained and presented to the same standard as the public areas. Those who achieved their awards have acknowledged the role of their staff. Someone has to keep them up to standard and the landlady can’t do it on her own.

With the Awards Season on us (it seems to get longer each year), there are ten nominees being considered for the Observer Food Monthly, Chef of the Decade award. Nigella changed her image for the photoshoot when she discovered she was the only female nominated. So she dressed up as a boy in tux and bowtie to project an image of maleness as only Nigella can. According to reports, she was the most formally dressed of all the nominees and her spokesman made the point that the outfit “reflected her role as a woman in a man’s world.”

Image Adrian van Leen

Image Adrian van Leen

Jon Rutter and his stocktaker team’s efforts in helping to Beautify the Dip took another step forward with the planters scheduled to arrive yesterday. All part of making the town more attractive – hopefully the inclement weather didn’t disrupt the delivery. Clearly though, the stocktakers who attend to Selfridges managed, before the storm hit, to co-ordinate their orders of ginger and other baking ingredients in time for the Christmas window display of a gingerbread landscape. All part of the glittering display the shop is putting on. They’re even offering to sell you a 6ft polar bear for £1600. I know what my domestic stocktaker would say if I brought that home to put under the tree. Escape route, where are you?

But Shropshire chef, Daniel Baynham had a really lucky escape as his shift ended. A tractor, towing a trailer laden with maize, took the corner too quickly and overturned the load on Chef Daniel’s car, crushing it. Apparently this type of thing has happened before and even with the speed restrictions clearly displayed, the tractor drivers obviously can’t read or they think they’re on Top Gear, because they still regularly zoom round the bend. If Daniel had been in his car the outcome would have been much more serious.

Once his insurance has paid out and he can celebrate his escape from bad tractor drivers with new wheels, I’m sure the chef will find an alternative parking place. What’s on the menu tonight, Chef? Sweetcorn fritters?

Don’t tell the Poles, but we’re off to Rio!

If you thought stocktakers only pop in to the pub occasionally to count the bottles in the back, or analyse the till slips you’d be wrong. While helping owners to devise strategies of how to maintain the balance of stable profits while keeping their customers sweet at the same time is challenging, Rutters are also involved in community affairs. They played a part in the “Beautify the Dip” initiative the other day. Some children from the local school presented their ideas on what they saw as ways to jazz up the area.

I’m sure Jon Rutter and Hertford Junior, together with the Committee will put more thought into their beautification project than was shown by the Pontypridd council who, without community involvement, decided to lay some new paving. All in all, a good idea. The problem was that the new paving was so crazy that pedestrians couldn’t distinguish where the pavement ended and where the kerb was, and 20 shoppers were injured or hospitalised after tripping up.

Another victory for “beautification” seems to have been won in the Yorkshire Dales too. Some wind turbines that haven’t worked for years but have been left to spoil all the photographs of the area have finally been removed, much to the delight of the local residents and those in the tourist industry who can now rightfully boast in their brochures of an “unspoiled landscape.” And the opponents of the wind farm project will no doubt say, “I told you it wouldn’t work!”

The other thing that probably won’t work in the UK is the idea that Nicolas Nauman, head chef at “Eat” in Brooklyn, New York has introduced to the restaurant. Once a month there is a four course meal during which no conversation is permitted. The chef justifies this by suggesting that the enjoyment of the food should not be spoiled with conversation or other noise and will give diners an opportunity to enjoy their food in a way that they might not otherwise have. One wonders how to order – is it a “set menu” so that the whole evening doesn’t dissolve into gestures, pointing, eye-rolling and eventually frustrated arm waving? Clearly, not a venue one for one of Gordon Ramsay’s TV shows.

Image: Marcelo Mokrejs

Image: Marcelo Mokrejs

One would also hope that last night was not one of the restaurant’s “silent meal” evenings with a couple of England fans dining there. In silence. But surreptitiously following the Wembly match on their mobiles held on their laps. It would have been a bit disrupting to the rest of the dining room, and Chef Nick in particular, when England scored against Poland and secured their place in Brazil, with the silence being shattered with screams of, “Yes, yes, yes – Gerrard you beauty!

Wembly erupted! Noise from both lots of fans, fireworks (tsk, tsk), chanting, flags et al. Roy Hodgson must have shed a stone in sweat and by chewing his nails off (he DID say he’d died 1000 deaths) and now England are rated 22/1 to win the World Cup. Hopefully the odds will shorten, but it would be wise to put the tenner on now.

The hills are alive with po-lite queueing … ♪ ♫

Image: Paul Wright http://www.misterwright.co.uk

Image: Paul Wright

The B & B’s, tea shops, pubs and railway station around Llanberis and Bangor must have done a roaring trade in packed lunches and snacks for hikers as they set off up the The Llanberis path to summit Snowdon the other day. And for the Visitor’s Centre, Hafod Eryri at the end of the line, their supplies would probably have been sent ahead on the train a day or two before.

It must have been a caterer’s nightmare trying to plan for the influx with their stocktaker what to order in as they watched the weather change and the promise of fine, sunny weather was forecast for the bank holiday. The good people of Llanberis knew that they would be inundated with folk taking advantage of the season to get a snap of themselves at the top of the mountain. The problem for so many, however was not that their packed lunch didn’t come up to scratch, but that they would probably have had to eat it while they stood in the queue to reach the top. And then they would have had only for a few seconds in which to adjust the speed and set the f-stop before pushing the shutter and then moving off the summit to let the next lot through. Those with camera phones were definitely at an advantage.

With crowds like that, it was probably one of the motivating factors for building the Visitor’s Centre a mere 50 metres away from the summit, so that the toilets were handy.

A different challenge faced the stocktakers of new tea shop owners in Cookham, Berkshire though. After some spiteful business rival posted cockroaches through their door they had to get the fumigators in before they could safely open for business. It took a couple of days before they were busy serving their loyal supporters again, but apparently the police are investigating. It seems the roaches are a rare variety and suppliers of the exotic Madagascan hissing roaches are helping police with their enquiries as to who might have purchased them. I’m pretty sure that Jon Rutter’s team will add ‘roach repellent’ to the list of items as they plan for all eventualities their clients might face.

Image: Ed Melendres

Image: Ed Melendres

There is an old recipe that guarantees a roach-free environment – and any commis chef can handle this: finely dice some onion, mix with margarine to form a paste, add a small amount of sugar and boric acid (available from the chemist or supermarket). Spoon about a teaspoonful into jar lids or cup cake holders and place behind appliances, under shelves and other warm and dark places that roaches love to hide away in – after a few days, no more roaches! Discard the lids after about two weeks. A caterer I knew was suddenly inundated with roaches. They used this method (the official pest killers were busy that day) and within a very short time the roaches vanished and there have been no infestations for over two years. Then one was seen lurking … out came the lids with the paste carefully placed in the centre, and since then, nothing! Not sure what ‘elf-and-safety’ would say, but in the days when the old wives were telling tales, no one wore high vis jackets, hard hats nor carried clipboards.

They’d have been pleased that their old ways still worked – cheap too!

Planning: the art of being a good tourist (or publican)

People in Manchester were a bit bleak this last week. Either about the news that Sir Alex was calling it a day at Old Trafford, or because City were blown out of the competition by Wigan. And Mancini loyalists were also hit with the news of his departure. Rumour has it that the Chairman said, “I don’t know what we’d do without you, Roberto, but from tomorrow we’re going to find out!”

The team from Rutters will probably testify to having to help their customers plan for either the celebrations or the mourning – depending on which part of the city they covered. One wonders what sort of memorabilia will become available now that Sir Alex has moved on and what items will be worth hanging on to … those old photos of the dugout taken of some argument he had with a ref or when players got switched might start to be worth something as time goes on. Especially if there are any signed programmes or shirts hanging about. Hopefully there won’t be any rip-offs offered to visitors who travel to see the Theatre of Dreams. You know, those fast talking types that accost people before they get near the real place. Those ones “letting you in on a bargain,” as often happens to tourists.

One tourist, Mr Bannister (he wasn’t from Manchester but from Birmingham), got ripped off in Italy the other day. He decided to treat himself and his party to the experience of gelato in Rome. He was a miffed when the bill came to £13.50 each. He felt that a total of £57.00 was a bit much for a cold snack for four people. The question is always, why do people always take advantage of tourists? Do the locals pay the same as the tourists? Of course they don’t, they’re not stupid. So by implication, tourists are stupid! No, just uneducated. Uneducated as to where to get the best deals. Like which pub to visit to get great food at fair rates. Or how to buy the genuine “Man U” kit at the best prices – not from the hustlers over the road from Old Trafford.

One wonders why people going on holiday don’t do some homework before they reach their destination. Much the same way that landlords use their stocktakers to explore all the avenues and alternatives open to them. It just makes sense when you’re on a budget, to get the most out of your hard earned cash. Granted, some budgets are more than others, but a budget nevertheless.

Large & small gelato – bought in Rome last week for non-tourist prices

Large & small gelato – bought in Rome last week for non-tourist prices

Take the gelato in Rome, for instance. Poor Mr Bannister and his family shelled out 57 quid, while in the same city other tourists paid 10 (that’s £8.50) for the same thing, or €1.50 (£1.27) for a small version. And they were able to do this because they had taken some trouble to do some planning and research before travelling. But on top of that – they asked the locals. Instead of just being a “tourist,” they embraced the experience and talked to the people who live there. Asked questions. Found out about them and they lives they live.

So when the friendly people of Manchester chat to visitors to their city, and show them around, they’ll get to see the haunts that the locals frequent (depending on which club supporter they’re talking to). The “Del Boy’s” of this world won’t thank them though, they’ll still be on the lookout for the uneducated ones.

Let them eat cake!

Everybody’s got to eat, right? So it would be safe to assume that this would be an industry that would be growing (because there are more and more mouths to feed) and that it’s an industry that guarantees customers everyday! So why don’t more people get involved in order to find something to do?

Probably because it’s jolly hard work. Watch any episode of Masterchef and see what has to be done to develop from scratch, and then present something people will pay for. And watch how hectic it gets in the professional kitchens with demanding chefs and even more demanding customers. Then think about doing all that six or seven days a week, at nights and on holidays and then wonder about your social and family life.

Confectionery Collage

But many will argue that not all the hospitality industry is like Masterchef, or The Great British Menu. They would be correct – but even the small tavern down the road that serves up some lovely pies and fish-n-chips still has that degree of being on duty when everyone else is watching the Boat Race, or heading off to Cornwall for the weekend, or popping off to Paris to experience a walking tour of Versailles. Jon Rutter and his team of stocktakers meet regularly with their customers who can testify to the feeling of staying behind while others skip off to enjoy themselves in Europe. Jon’s group helps their restaurant and pub customers plan and prepare with careful and sustained strategies to keep them the sort of establishment that makes others want to skip over to them instead to enjoy themselves. They are part of this competitive and demanding industry called “hospitality.”

However, if you were to examine the rise in popularity of shows like The Great British Bake Off and the inspiration that the show has been to some people, the “food and hospitality” arena has taken on another dimension. There is a resurgence in homebakes, cupcakes and confectionery. The Office of National Statistics has indicated that independent bakeries in the UK grew by more than 5% last year (and that’s only talking about those that reached the VAT threshold). Cup cakes, for example, are becoming more popular at weddings than the traditional 3-tier cake. The wonderful thing about baking is that it can be done at home and delivered virtually when it’s convenient for the baker. They can still catch Eurostar to Paris if they plan correctly. And Gordon won’t be shouting at them about getting the 75 “cupcakes on the pass, right ******* now!”

One of the problems with baking is the “health brigade.” That group of doctors and dieticians who go on about sugar, flour and carbohydrates and how they are contributing to the rise of diabetes. That debate is a whole other ball-game in itself, but whatever you eat, there is a group that would approve and another that would disapprove. For example: some say butter is bad margarine is good … and then those who say that marg. is plastic and artificial while butter is best; cook in oil – avoid it like the plague! Chefs, bakers, amateur cooks, pub owners et al will always have someone against what they serve.

The bottom line is that people will eat what they like, and if they like cupcakes – give it to them!

(PS: There is a time and place for everything though, I found out recently. Serving cupcakes and Earl Grey to some friends while watching the ManU v Chelsea match saw the cakes bombarding the flat screen when Petr Cech performed his acrobatics on Hernandez‘ header. The one time I’m just glad I hadn’t served spareribs.)

Gum, posh hotels and marlin steaks … busy week!

Milton Keynes is trying to do a “Singapore” on it’s citizens. This will be really good news for those who have been tasked with trying to remove wads of used chewing gum from the roads, from under chairs, from lift buttons and various other inconvenient places. The cost of removing gum has risen so much that the proposal is that for anyone caught chewing it, they will be fined.

In Singapore there has been a ban for over 20 years on selling, importing or manufacturing the product. And anyone caught chewing it can be heavily fined. This must make for a huge adjustment for any Americans who are posted to work there. A concession the Singaporeans do make is that gum is permitted if one has a doctor’s prescription. I wonder what health circumstances you have to declare for the NHS to buy into this.

Rumour has it that negotiations are underway for bids to erect billboards at various main routes into the town declaring: ‘You are now entering a gum-free zone.’

The MK Council is also consulting on late-night levies after the deputy police commander had urged them to introduce this for anyone selling alcohol after 1am. Funds raised by the levy would be used by the SaferMK initiative and applied to projects they are involved with that seek to address alcohol related problems in the town.

On a happier note, the Publican Awards were handed out last night. The Grosvenor Hotel hosted the affair with Rob Bryden in attendance. The 1100 guests were witness to an array of awards from ‘Best community Pub Operator’ to ‘Best Business Initiative.’ These winners and highly commended participants would all testify that part of their success and achievement could be to the value they place in stocktaking firms like Rutters. With careful and sustained planning, structure and foresight, Jon Rutter and his team of professionals continue doing what they need to, to ensure that their clients are in the top echelon of the hospitality industry and as well placed as they can be to earn the awards and recognition of the Industry.

Great white shark off South Africa (courtesy Percy Tours)

Great white shark off South Africa (courtesy Percy Tours)

Pub landlord Kevin Gardner didn’t need the event at the Grosvenor Hotel to bask in the glory of his own trophy that he got a week ago. A long way from Wroxham Road, Kevin hooked and fought a 1,320lb blue marlin that he landed three hours later. Not one for selfishness, Kevin shared his catch with the many islanders on Ascension. And he seems to treat his regular patrons to his catches too, having brought them samples of fish he has caught on his other trips to ‘hook the big one.’ Any local at the Kings Head should be careful when he asks for a “fillet from your latest catch, Kevin.” THIS one was six metres long!

He says that his next quest is to snag a great white in South Africa. Someone had better tell him to be careful, the sharks in that part of the world have been known to turn the tables.