Alright? How’s it going? What’s new? I’m skulking back in after keeping you all in the dark for far too long. How dare I show my face around here. The absolute nerve of it. I get it, I’m with you on this one. If this blog were a pet dog it would be malnourished, whimpering and defecating in the corner of the room. Luckily it’s an electrical new-fangled concept and defecation is not normal practice. I’m sorry the internet, honest. There are a good few reasons why I have told myself that it’s okay to have put this entry off, I’ll get to that later. All I’ll say for now is that a blog is for life not just for Christmas. We good? Okay then, I’ll begin.
There’s been all sorts going on. Except for the oh-so brief moment that I downed tools for christmas I have been working solidly, at my job and on my dreams. Most things have taken a back seat, like socialising. It’s now a running joke amongst my coworkers that I will not be showing my face at anything even remotely resembling a party/gathering/after work drink. That will all come in time but for now I just don’t have the time to spare. My to-do list between now and April is daunting. Not socialising isn’t so hard when you barely know anyone in a new town but for those of you that have diligently stuck by me in repeatedly inviting me out, I’m sorry. I am a loser yes (and also self-deprecating if you hadn’t noticed) but I promise that once I have knocked a couple of events out of the park I will once again become that absolute livewire that many have come to know and love over the years.
Anyway Christmas was a delight. I spent it up with my Dad and Stepmum for the first time in what like a decade maybe? Whilst I did have some serious fear-of-missing-out syndrome when I received a flurry of whatsapp messages from Devonian friends on our annual xmas ale trail, I still had a ball in the blustery north. With Jade as my sous chef we whipped up a christmas dinner with cajones, not literally, although I’m sure it’s an xmas delicacy somewhere. Everyone seemed pretty chuffed with it including my step brother Kieron and his wife Sarah who surprised the eff out of everyone on xmas eve by flying in all the way from Melbourne. There were tears, there were laughs. A Christmas miracle.
Rewind back a couple of weeks prior to that and me and Jade took a trip down to Netheredge Farmers Market. Definitely one I want to get down to especially after talking to the lovely ladies from Forge Bakehouse who had a stall there. They said it was a great one to set up at and is only £30 for the day. Although we were empty shells walking around there (had gone to Yellow Arches Soul Night on the Saturday) we still had a great time. I chatted with a good few traders, bought some nice bread from Forge and some seriously potent cheddar from another guy whose name escapes me (avoiding curling up on the pavement and crying was higher on the agenda than note taking). I have to say that the scope for expanding the market is certainly there as we were pretty much queuing to walk around the place, a good sign I guess. I bought a big ass xmas sandwich complete with roast potatoes inside, an odd concept but thoroughly enjoyable. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be writing this without that sandwich; I vowed to never drink again. I didn’t stick to it.
Watched this video of a previous performance, still don’t know what’s happening but fair play to them.
Ahhhhh Poutine. The life blood. Since I last checked in on you me and Benjamin have been furiously working, mainly on the business plan. I don’t use that adjective lightly as it has been emotional. We had already covered the majority of it just through having long drawling conversations, drawing up marketing strategies, startup costs, process flows etc but to get it down on paper was a real task in itself. If you want to get funding though you’ve got to go through the grind unfortunately. It would have saved a whole host of time and effort if someone could have just cracked our heads open and taken a look at our idea in all its shining glory. Having utilised a financial spreadsheet that I was sent from Business Sheffield we trudged through every part of it and I think we covered every foreseeable angle. I think. Now it’s safe to say that numbers are not our strong point which probably explains why we were at points reduced to angered laughter (is that even a thing) at our inability to get our heads round it all. But we survived and I gotta say I think we’re better people for it. I know I can get lost in my own words so it’s such a relief to see the back of it. Now to wait and see what the outcome of all that endeavour is. Don’t worry I’ll keep you abreast.
Once again I cannot tell you enough how helpful Business Sheffield are, if you’re setting up a new business here then please get in contact with them, their advice is invaluable. I sent our inane scribblings off to them a good four or five times and they were courteous and helpful as ever, especially Rob. If you’re setting up a small business in another part of the country, then call your council and ask them if they run anything akin to Business Sheffield. I have lost count of the amount of times I have called Sheffield Council’s labyrinthine departments and spoken to some very helpful and lovely people. It makes ya feel all warm inside ya know?
So here we are. I am going for a summit/curry with my dad Steve later on this eve and I think/hope we are going to talk numbers. His advisor has cast an eye at the plan and it’s not awful. Far from it actually, it’s pretty damn watertight apparently. All that time was worth it I guess, yay for us. We did get some good news just before we sent it away that did help bolster our position somewhat. I spoke with the MD of the company I work for (True North Brew Co.) and floated the idea of trading regularly down at the Forum on Devonshire Street. He mused on it for a moment and like the mighty Caesar his thumb pointed to the ceiling. So I went and had a chinwag with Miles, the GM of the Forum and mercifully he liked the idea too. So there it is. We are ‘keeping in touch’ regarding getting set-up/waiting for this grim northern weather to turn us all a nicer shade of brown and we are good to go. Obviously talks are in their infancy and we have tried to remain realistic but if we get that sorted then it opens up a whole host of opportunities. Not least trading during ‘Tramlines’, a city wide festival that plays host to a stage right on Devonshire Green which backs directly onto the Forum’s outside area. Miles is a cool guy and seems to get the whole concept more than most so here’s to hoping that it is the start of something sexy.
So what’s on the agenda now. Well I took a couple of days to recuperate after the rigmarole of the business plan but have now reshaped my brain and the to-do list. It’s length and breadth still scares me as April is hurtling towards us but I’m confident we can pull something out of our proverbials. Obviously building the stall is a priority, but I have still got to perfect the recipes which has certainly had to take a back seat in recent weeks. That’s the fun bit so I am really looking forward to getting back to that, slowly killing myself with some dutty dutty gravy. Blessed. Apart from that I’ve got to get my kitchen up to scratch which involves sanding the floor down and changing a light fitting, pray for me. My dad is always on hand though so if I lose a limb then he’s got my back.
I guess the branding has got to be done and dusted soon too. I think the aforementioned Guy of Workhouse Collective is going to be too busy to tackle it so I’ve been talking with a couple of other people to see if they a) get the concept and b) want to take the challenge on. Oh and we’ve gone and changed the name too, just to be awkward. We are now (drum roll)… ‘The Gravy Train’. We had floated this idea before but there already was a poutinerie of the same name in Salt Lake City, Utah but having kept a beady eye on their fb page they seem to have wrapped it up so we are half inching it. I don’t think that’s gonna be dragged through the courts any time soon. Also too many people seemed a bit perplexed when I said ‘Good Gravy!’, enough to leave me feeling uneasy about the name so it got the chop.
Lastly I should say that I have been flying through my driving lessons. I seem to have exhausted the money I set aside for the whole thing but hey-ho, they carry on in earnest. No real dramas to account for and I am slowly ironing out my mistakes. Test is booked, but I’m not going to tell you when it is. I’ll save that disappointment for ya. Oh and before I forget. I’ve been listening to Tame Impala’s newest album ‘Currents’ on repeat. Definitely my soundtrack to 2016 so far. We’ll see what other delight this year has to offer.
Ta-ra then, I promise I won’t leave you hanging again.