If I am being strictly honest I have been away on my holiday for the first part of the month but luckily things go on in my absence.
The farm shop, under the stewardship of Graham Webster, our shop manager, is looking the best I’ve ever seen it, with exciting new lines being introduced weekly. New in this month is a new range of jams, marmalades, pickles and chutneys by Victorian Kitchen who source the finest ingredients and have won numerous awards for its products, they are all suitable for vegetarians and vegans with most of them being gluten and lactose free so everyone can enjoy them. Coming soon is Sophie Allport’s homeware range and Natural Spa Factory, who have worked alongside Lady Newborough to work on an exclusive range of beauty products for our shop.
Thanks to our creative and talented chefs, Jon and Elliot, our new spring menu in the Bitsro is also being well received by one and all. St David’s day was celebrated across the business and our Welsh lamb burgers proved a hit with customers wanting food on the go.
After the long rest in the winter many of our fields are still too wet to get on, so the farm staff have been busy doing some much needed tiding up round the farm, this is one of the big advantages of forthcoming events later in the year which make you do things that would otherwise not be done! This is a good time to trim the hedges and the hedge cutter has miles of hedges to do round the farm. It always makes the farm look well cared for and it gives me much pleasure to see everything looking nice and tidy.
Spring is the beginning of life on the farm and any day soon we are expecting the first lamb of the season. Our ewes need extra care and nutrition at this time of year and one way of doing this is leaving mineral supplements in the fields for them to lick on if they feel the need. We have bought some new stabiliser bulls for the breeding herd over on the coast, something I’ll touch on in later blogs.
On my return from being abroad I had a few days in the office and took the office staff for a walk to see the snow drops growing in the shrubbery round Rhug House and we were lucky because it was a lovely sunny day.
It was time to re-pack the suitcase and fly off to Hong Kong and Macau to promote our meat sales. Sarah Cowell, our sales office manager, came with me and it was a great opportunity to meet some of the chefs and see the restaurants we deal with.
Hong Kong was shrouded in low cloud pollution when we arrived after a very long and uncomfortable flight. Our hotel was positioned very conveniently near the Star Ferry and the MTR in Nathan road (for those that know it on the Kowloon side). Although tired I've learnt not to collapse into bed too early and with the eight hour time difference, I just pray for a good night sleep. So, we marched four miles up Nathan road to the ladies market, luckily Sarah was not in the buying mode so we walk the mile long market quite quickly. Then to bed and work started the next day with a training course for our distributors’ about Rhug and organic, then we rushed out to see customers for the rest of the day. The next three days were spent seeing customers both new and old, ranging from The Mandarin Grill, Uwe executive chef and Robin head chef, who have been long standing supporters of Rhug, in this Michelin stared restaurant you find culinary artistry at its very best with service to match.
Every customer is important to us and we are fortunate and privileged to always find lovely people to deal with everywhere we go. Thursday, was our day in Macau which involved an early morning ferry ride remembering ones passport because to all intense and purposes it is mainland China. Macau is something else, the enormity of everything has to be seen to be believed, the vast casinos tower above you glistening with gold and glass. Here they take seven times the revenue of Los Vegas. Vast gambling halls, every top branded shop you can imagine, restaurants, five star hotels, shows, beautiful girls, amazing Salvador statues adorn the lobbies and beautiful swimming pools with underwater music and much more. This serial world is an eye opener from start to finish. Our customers here include MGM, Wynn's, City of dreams, the famous Venetian where you find Venice built under one big roof and gondolas ploughing up and down the canals which are tightly embraced with walkways with every shop you can imagine under the sun, it was a long day rushing around on a tight schedule to see as many chefs as possible, eventually catching the 8pm ferry back to Hong Kong, a long tiring day.
Our last day spent in Hong Kong cramming in some last minute appointments before the 11.30pm overnight flight home. Back home on the Rhug estate and it's lovely to see a profusion of daffodils going into the shop, hooooray Spring is coming...