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Archive for the ‘Hotels’ Category

Fallowfields sets news standard in fine dining

In Bartercard, Business, Fallowfields, Food & Drink, Hotels, Restaurant Reviews, Wine on 1 May 2011 at 15:43

Fallowfields Hotel and Restaurant has always had an excellent reputation for food and hospitality.

They have just announced the arrival of Shaun Dickens as Head Chef. Shaun’s sparkling career has taken him to a Who’s Who of Michelin starred restaurants; with three years at Oxfordshire’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (two Michelin stars), two years at Per Se in New York (3 Michelin stars) and L’Ortolan (1 Michelin star) where he worked with Alan Murchison for the last two years. Additionally, he spent short periods with Gordon Ramsay in London and New York, Michelle Roux Junior at the Gavroche and Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniels. In 2009 Shaun was a finalist of the Young Chef of the Year Competition, and in 2010 won the title for the South West Region and came 3rd overall nationally.

The world of Michelin seems open for Shaun, almost wherever he has chosen to go. So, why did he choose Fallowfields? “I am at a point in my career where I needed a project”, says Shaun – “and Fallowfields, with its farm, orchards and kitchen garden, is a chef’s dream turned true. So when I saw Fallowfields was looking, I just knew this was the job for me”. There was a sense of passion about Fallowfields that struck me when I first came, that matched my own – you could feel it – and with the passion that I as chef will bring, the future of Fallowfields is unlimited. The journey starts here, today the 26th April.

Anthony Lloyd, owner of Fallowfields commented: “This is an unparalleled opportunity for a good business to become a great business. We are food led and Shaun’s arrival has been anticipated with much excitement in the last few weeks. Right from the days when my wife Peta cooked in the kitchen on an Aga and we planted our vegetable garden and orchards and then starting the farm three years ago, Fallowfields has almost been sitting waiting for a talent like Shaun to come along to make it come alive”.

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Timeless Memories of Goa

In Hotels, Uncategorized on 13 February 2011 at 18:54

Holidays evoke all sorts of wonderful memories and over lunch today my wife and I were having some laughs about a first magical trip to Goa in 1993.

Having duly arrived on Boxing Day after a gruelling charter flight from Gatwick it seemed to take hours before we were eventually shunted, tired and weary, through the immigration sheds at Dabolim airport to be ‘processed’. As we waited in the car park amidst grazing cattle we could have had stepped onto the set of some bizarre television sitcom.

It was here that we met Daren and Tina, a couple from Berkshire who were as bemused as we were by the activities surrounding us. White suited, buttonholed holiday reps clutching clipboards looked totally out of place as they rushed about like headless chickens to shunt their clients on to a fleet of buses.  We were with a different tour company and our rep was late arriving so we sat on the kerb watching local families cramming, nine or ten at a time into Ambassador taxis. As it turned out Daren and Tina were heading for the same hotel, the Penta by name but not to be confused with the chain of the same name. Eventually the four of us boarded an ageing bus but turned down the offer to put our bags on the roof for fear they would drop off somewhere en-route.

Next day, having acclimatised to the regular power cuts and a mysterious trickle of water that appeared in our bathroom ceiling that created a hole, we bumped into Daren and Tina relaxing by the pool. We struck up a conversation, swapped information about the peculiarities of our rooms and laughed at discovering that the restaurant windows contained no glass and the bar had ran out of drinks. We hit it off and have remained firm friends ever since, although we still do not know if it was something we said that caused them to later emigrate to Brisbane!

It was one of those holidays when all you want to do is absolutely nothing. The balmy days spent around the swimming pool were interrupted only by the four o’clock water polo match between the Brits and the locals and, because I cannot swim, confined me to the shallow end. This enabled us to forge acquaintances with a mixed band of other guests who, like us, did nothing but sit around with our heads buried in a book while we drank warm Kings beer or slept.

Middle-aged Tom, brown as a berry, had arrived from England and decided not to leave.  The only time he stirred was to make up the numbers in the polo game. This was soon joined by Adrian Mole a young lad holidaying in Goa with his parents who we assumed was about 14-years of age – or if he really had been the creation of Sue Townsend was really 13½. Mole was assigned the job of ball fetcher shouting “I’ll go Tom” every time the ball sailed out of play irrespective of whether it was Tom’s turn to muster the energy to fetch it. Mole became the subject of much jocularity as did Levine, a henpecked Jewish husband in his mid-fifties who claimed to be a mature student. Levine became our entertainment as we watched while eating breakfast in the windowless restaurant as he attempted to organise towels and sun beds for his lazy wife to occupy on the far side of the pool. He would meticulously spend half an hour carefully positioning the loungers ahead of his wife’s arrival but never ever got things right. After being chastised publicly for not placing the loungers just-so he would sulk away to the games room returning an hour later to complain to anyone prepared to listen that he had once again been short changed for a soft drink. At breakfast one day poor Levine was at breaking point when he sat out our table to eat his Kosher bacon. Pouring his heart out, we feared we were about to hear his confession to murdering his wife, but she appeared and he shuffled away from our table like a lost soul to resume his daily sun bed arranging duty. That evening he came second in the weekly quiz at Zee Bops – the beach bar where we spent our evenings. He won a ‘willy warmer’ but he was far from pleased. Levine really hadn’t enjoyed his holiday.

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The Joys of Barter

In Bartercard, Business, Food & Drink, Hotels, International Trade, Networking, Trading, Uncategorized on 5 February 2011 at 12:41

Bartering has been around ever since man began trading and despite an in-bred scepticism in the UK it can be a much more satisfying way of doing business especially when money is tight. I enjoy bartering and use it extensively to obtain goods and services that I need. It is a particularly useful way of doing business during periods when cash trade is scarce or you have excess capacity or stock that you want to shift. With the advent of the internet, most countries now have an organised barter trading system and mega businesses, even governments are not averse to trading in this way. I once worked for a client in the construction industry who regularly took payment for their projects in Nigeria with tankers of crude oil in place of hard cash, that was later sold on to one of the major oil companies.

Communities have grown using the bartering system with various levels of success on a local level, but by far the most successful bartering organisation is Bartercard, an international trading portal that operates in six countries and has 75,000 trading members. Bartercard simplifies the trading process by matching the requirements of members to appropriate suppliers of products and services that they require. Payment is conducted using Trade pounds, thus when I make a sale the payment for my services will be credited to my account enabling me to spend on anything I need to buy from other member businesses. This means when I want to eat out, stay at a hotel, buy items that I need – even pay for my private dental treatment, I pay using Trade Pounds instead of spending cash. Bartercard makes its money by charging fees on every transaction, but these are tiny compared to the equivalent cash spend you might otherwise make. It is a great way of doing business and it is all ‘above board’ – with members paying tax and collecting VAT on transactions in the normal way. Being a Bartercard member also acts as a social networking forum that forges firm friendships and working relationships with other businesses.

The only downsides are that you cannot buy fuel, or use Bartercard to buy food in the supermarkets, but it is something the major companies should consider. The reserved nature of the Brits still casts a suspicion over anything innovative that can really help their businesses. But it really is time that all businesses woke up to the benefits Bartercard has to offer as an alternative to paying for everything using cash.

Further links:

Recession tips for business

Bartercard testimonials

Bartercard’s latest investment

Where to Chill Out in Oxfordshire

In Food & Drink, Hotels, Restaurant Reviews on 2 November 2010 at 17:07

We had the privilege of spending a night at a wonderful boutique hotel owned by Anthony and Peta Lloyd, a delightful couple. Set in 12 acres of well tended grounds in the Vale of White Horse, Oxfordshire at Kingston Bagpuize, the Fallowfields Country House Hotel is very close to Oxford and approximately 50 minutes from Heathrow. Fallowfields is the perfect venue for weddings, conferences, parties and is exceptional for short breaks for anyone who enjoys a cosy ambience, home comforts, quality service from hospitable staff and perhaps the most comfortable hotel beds you will find anywhere. The hotel is passionate about providing the best English produce, from the hotel farm or sourced locally whenever possible. Fallowfields own pigs, Dexter cattle, chickens and quail supply much of what is eaten in the quintessential English restaurant is most of the seasonal produce is grown in the magnificent vegetable gardens and rare apple orchards. There is also an active falconry within the beautiful grounds. The cuisine is exceptionally fresh and creatively presented on slate plates; the wine list is particularly imaginative and individual, steering clear of the usual mass production vineyard labels that unfortunately permeate the lists of far too many hotels and restaurants. If you like to enjoy relaxing over a drink or three in front of an open log fire; prefer friendly informal family owned hotels to the impersonal chains, and feel the need to be pampered – then Fallowfields is definitely for you. I thoroughly recommend that you spend a few nights, visit the restaurant or pop in for afternoon tea. You will be pleasantly impressed by the experience.