Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Great expectations

Sometimes weeks come and go with not a lot happening outside the daily routine in the gallery and then occasionally it all happens together on the social front. Last week was just one of those weeks and it prompts me to note just how expectations on eating out locally have soared in the last few years.

Restaurants go up and down but the choice round here is impressive and almost without exception you can be sure of a good evening. Of course if you look on the review sites there is always someone who seems to have a shockingly bad experience and who wishes to tell the world all about it.

In the course of visiting three of my favourites in as many days last week, the food and cooking was about as good as I can remember and in each case service was exemplary. The one that sticks in the mind definitely came up with the goods on the food front - partridge (new to me) that was just beautiful - but which also inadvertently provided the most entertaining evening watching the team deal unflinchingly with a set of customers that they surely hoped not to have at all, let alone in one evening.

To be clear these people were not offensive or worse, just really difficult to please. It was half-term but I'm not sure that really made much difference. Firstly, there was a pleasant looking chap who wouldn't have booked if he'd known he was going to sit on a dining chair; he expected arms and it was really going to spoil his evening. Then was another man who felt it quite inappropriate that there were children present after 7. In their defence they were well-behaved and utterly unobtrusive. Then a family group who weren't quite sure where they wanted to sit, with the alpha male making sure everybody knew that. And just to complete this collection, a large entirely male group, all in later life who didn't seem to all arrive at the same time and seemed slightly puzzled by how they were accommodated.

Nobody shouted, nobody swore - although I imagine some of the team serving them may have been quietly going outside to vent their spleen - and I'm pretty sure that at the end of the evening they actually enjoyed it. It wouldn't be a surprise though to find maybe one or two will have written less than positive comments up for all to see. Social media is a terrible thing.

Some of you who read this will know where and when... and should any of those who cooked for us or brought it to us read it, you know who you are and we do appreciate what you do!

Thursday, 26 October 2017

10 years on

Our anniversary was at the start of October, but somewhat typically the actual date passed almost un-noticed by us. Anyway, it is now 10 years since we opened our second generation gallery here in Burnham Market.

Blowing our own trumpet it seems listening to our visitors and customers that many of them now think of us as a "must-see” when visiting North Norfolk - so we must be doing something right. Galleries come and go; one of our artists, sadly now passed on, once said his experience was that they had a 'shelf-life' of around 7 years, and told me how and why this happened. He then said, "of course, you're different" which comment I never quite got to the bottom of. Anyway we're still here, 15 years from when we originally founded Grapevine in Norwich in 2002, and it's wonderful to find more and more people appreciating our values and coming back year after year.  

On a personal basis becoming part of the village - these things take time in Norfolk - gives me a lot of pleasure. The friendships formed both in the business community and from artists and customers are a privilege denied to many in today's fragmented and changing world. Our location right at the Holkham end of the village - Burnham Ulph rather than Burnham Westgate - has over the years prompted all kinds of comments. Burnham Market is actually an amalgam of smaller historic communities and inevitably there will always be a few who come to the village who probably never find us. Visitors in the gallery regularly comment that they had expected Burnham to be larger, and it then transpires that having arrived from the Holkham end they not unreasonably think our group of Church, pub and shops is it.

We didn't have a 10 year celebration exhibition as such but have - almost inadvertently - marked the anniversary by showing work by Gerard Stamp, who showed here for our opening exhibition in 2007, including now for the first time, oil paintings alongside some of his recent watercolours.

As recent visitors will hopefully have noticed, the paintwork on the front of the gallery has finally been re-painted and we’re very much looking forward to the next 10 years here in what is still one of the best bits of England!