Play it again, Sam 13 December 2019 Sam Harrison returns to the floor at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where his brasserie is set to be a blockbuster
In this week's issue... Play it again, Sam Sam Harrison returns to the floor at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where his brasserie is set to be a blockbuster
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A weekend on the farm with three scruffy sheep

01 January 2000
A weekend on the farm with three scruffy sheep

Work has been incessant over the past three weeks with the result that days off and time for the family have rather fallen by the wayside. Touchingly, Niki, my wife, worked out that I was more financially attractive dead than alive, but she still put her foot down and insisted that I take some time away from the business.

We decided that the rest of the team could cope without us and that we should take the opportunity to get away for a couple of days - a chance to see the industry from the perspective of a guest. It's something we all pledge to do, but how often do we actually follow up on the thought?

The first surprise was the difficulty in finding a room. The first six calls I made were received with mild hilarity that I was trying to find a room for the following night - all very professional, but still all of the opinion that my search would be in vain. Eventually, I abandoned the name brands and ended up, via the Internet, with a room on a farm - perfect, I thought, for our two-year-old daughter.

It was adequate; not as clean as you would hope for; and cost far more than a simple room at a Travel Inn. The animals were limited to three scruffy sheep sheltering from the rain at the far end of a field.

This was all in sharp contrast to our earlier outing, to Legoland, where everything was spick-and-span, to the point that I was tempted to throw a milkshake across the path to see how long it would take for the clean-up team to arrive.

Equally impressive was the calm and pleasant way the Legoland staff dealt with guests. It cannot be the easiest job to serve burgers, fries and suchlike to a never-ending queue, but one of their team - Tim, according to his name badge - remained unflappable when confronted with two most objectionable members of the public who asked for menu items that were available elsewhere in the park, and criticised the fact that they were not available from this particular kiosk, despite there being a large and clearly legible menu displayed. Having demanded sauces, milk, salt and every conceivable extra, they left, without a please or thank-you throughout the whole transaction.

The rest of the visit was equally impressive - to the point that we started looking out for buffet ideas and methods of presentation, and wondering where they get their staff.

Other news this week has included the theft of £260-worth of diesel from one of our lorries - so frustrating when we were trying to get out on an event and the first activity of the day had to be a trip to the petrol station with a can.

As a result, we are looking around for another yard with better security, and I hope that we may have found a suitable venue. The only problem is the planning. Watch this space.

Next diary from Robert Alvarez: 13 August

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