Jim and I hatched our plan to escape London life when we were on honeymoon nearly 13 years ago. Sick of the city and craving the countryside, we took a giant leap of faith that we could change our lives and run a business together. And not just any old business, a struggling pub in the Cotswolds...
Eager and determined after a health scare, we tried not to let it bother us when the locals rolled their eyes and said, "It's a couple from London who've never done it before..." It was at a time when you could still convince a bank manager to lend you a load of dosh but literally a few weeks later... everything crashed. While the value of the building fell overnight, we had just got in just in the nick of time. No bank manager would have given us a second look just weeks later when pubs started closing.
A lot has changed since then, tripling business rates, 53p of every pint now tax, VAT at 20% so a fifth of everything again tax to collect for the powers that be. And those powers that be are still allowing pubs to be sold off to developers who don't care about the pubs they own, just the bottom line for their shareholders. We continue to lose 20 pubs every week in our country.
But somehow we've ridden the wave and managed to bring two kids into the world and get another pub along the way (one of those rotting derelict Pubco ones). We've traded The Killingworth Castle for 5 years now. Check it out on Facebook and Instagram.
So we're passionate about pubs and their place in our heritage. It's one of the reasons people want to visit the UK.
Last year we celebrated the pub's 300th anniversary and won Village Inn of the Year in The Times newspaper. We also celebrated our 10th year at the pub, in which time I've learnt that some villagers will always roll their eyes but that most brighten my day.
So this blog is about taking stock and encouraging anyone thinking about it to take that leap. I feel extremely lucky to have done mine with the man sat at this table and to have built a business and family together I will forever be proud of.