Lee Rotbart

To pastures new

In Preparations in London on January 12, 2011 at 9:49 am

I realise that I was instructed quite clearly to not say anything about our new website for a week – just to be sure it doesn’t fall over; but as most of you will now know asking me to keep quiet about something as exciting as this is like asking the Pope to consider not going to Midnight Mass.

So… I am taking the bull by the horns, willing to accept the consequences of my actions, and announcing that the Little Leaf Guest House website is now live. I will no longer be blogging from Porthminster View – the fateful name of the first B&B we fell in love with – but all blogs can now be viewed and read from the main site: Little Leaf Guest House BLOG.

Do have a browse around the site – tell us what you think, sign up to the blog updates… more importantly share it among your friends, tell people about what we’re doing and maybe come and stay.

Oh… and before you say anything, we know that you’d love to see photos of the rooms but they’re just not ready yet so you’ll have to wait!

Thank you for all your support so far. Welcome to the next leg.

Omlettes and other eggsperiments

In Preparations in London on January 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Last night Danny and I had an omlette competition. Assuming it was quicker to make our own the way we wanted to, rather than arguing about the way we should make a joint one, we grabbed our separate pans and set about creating the perfect breakfast omlette (for dinner).

This would have been a great plan, unfortunately I was starving hungry and, unlike Danny who can sometimes ‘forget to eat’ and not really suffer, I absolutely cannot function without food. I get grumpy, I get snappy, and I lose every ounce of patience I had (which, let’s face it, isn’t that much). Consequently my omlette became about shoving eggs and other ingredients in a saucepan as quickly as humanly possible, while nibbling cheese from the huge block of Stilton that had been left out from Christmas.

While Danny was sauteing mushrooms I was trying to whisk un-melted butter in with cold eggs, all thoughts of herbs forgotten in a bid to get the food in the pan in under 2 minutes or less. Maybe it would have helped if we’d have been making our omlettes for each other, maybe I would have taken more care if I’d have known I was responsible for Danny’s dinner?

As it was, all that effort only got mine on its plate 2 minutes before Danny, who sat down next to me and proceeded to eat an omlette that looked like it could have been served at an organic gastropub. My omlette looked like a big pile of mashed potato hiding the odd mushroom / bacon bit / piece of pepper, complemented by, slightly too big, bits of Stilton.

Stubborn and competitive to the end I spent a lot of the meal sulking that I actually had to eat my omlette, blaming the fact that it looked pretty disgusting on the size of the pan, the number of eggs I’d used, and the way I’d sliced the mushrooms. I eventually had to concede that Danny had indeed won the competition, and while his response to winning was to suggest that I practice, mine was to suggest that he should be the designated ‘omlette cooker’ when relevant.

Not being a huge egg fan the last few days have been testing to say the least. After a relatively successful breakfast for 8 people last Sunday (marred only by the fact that my parents have an open plan kitchen and all our guests saw me throwing a tantrum when the egg poachers didn’t work the way I’d expected) I was forced to spend the afternoon experimenting with a variety of different egg poachers we’d procured (I suspect as a result of my blog on egg poaching) over Christmas.

Armed with a notepad, a pen, and a stopwatch Danny stood over me while we tested timings, levels of water, and boiling points for both silicone and plastic poachers. As each egg was upended onto a plate tasting became less and less enthusiastic.

Arriving home last night to be greeted by a grinning Danny armed with yet more eggs I groaned as I contemplated what impact eating all these eggs would have on my insides. Why couldn’t it be sausages we needed to practice, or even grilled mushrooms.

The staple ingredient for any cooked breakfast eggs are both flexible, cost-effective and tasty however, at this stage in the proceedings, the only thing preventing me from jumping on the non-dairy bandwagon is the promise of practicing American Pancakes, after all there are some forms of eggs that you can never get enough of.

The entrepreneur in me

In Living with the parents on December 24, 2010 at 11:23 am

Throughout the process of starting a business you hear a lot about entrepreneurs, people who have done this, that and the other – all hugely successfully of course. Names like Richard Branson and Alan Sugar are bandied around, and while I’m quite happy to hear Little Leaf in the same sentence as Virgin (less so with Viglen), I am well aware that I have to temper my ego with the fact that I have over-enthusiastic friends and family.

Does buying a little guest house in St Ives make Danny and I entrepreneurs? While I’d like to think so, I believe a more detailed exploration of the word (ref. Wikipedia) is required.

“An entrepreneur is a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and is accountable for the inherent risks and the outcome”

Am very much feeling the accountability and risks at the moment. Eating 3 mince pies in a row while panicking about the mortgage repayments helped a little, but an hour later I just felt fat, poor, and still a little panicky (although this could have been the excess sugar).

“Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to launch a new venture or enterprise and accept full responsibility for the outcome”

The words ‘willing’ and ‘full responsibility’ in the same sentence are interesting. Risk averse by nature, the last 6 months have been relatively out of character for me. I dislike responsibility and am rarely willing to do things that mean I have to take some. Having had some kind of salaried job for the last 14 years, responsibility for my working life has not been high on the agenda. A die-hard party girl throughout my 20s, my only concern was that I had enough money to pay for pretty cocktails at the best bars, and buy enough pairs of shoes and dresses to look good while standing there.

With all that in mind this idea of being willing to take full responsibility is pretty alien to me; and maybe a more appropriate turn of phrase would be to say that I have been forced to take full responsibility, with acceptance still being quite a way off.

“The entrepreneur leads the firm or organisation and also demonstrates leadership qualities by selecting managerial staff”

Now this I did get right: I selected Danny. While at the time I wasn’t quite sure what I selected him for, it’s come to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

“Entrepreneurs also often possess innate traits such as extroversion…”

Tick.

“An entrepreneur characteristically innovates, introduces new technologies, increases efficiency, productivity, or generates new products or services”

Hmmm… I’m not sure my work colleagues would agree with that one. Efficient I might be, but I’m not sure I increase efficiency across the board. My constant chatter at work and tendency to panic when under pressure might suggest that I need to hand over the operations side of the business to Danny.

Now, according to Wikipedia (and I must admit to there being gaps in my research into this subject), there are 3 types of entrepreneurs: (i) Social (ii) Serial (iii) Lifestyle. Even before reading the traits of all three I guessed that I would fall into the third one… and this is backed up by the first sentence in the explanation:

“A lifestyle entrepreneur places passion before profit when launching a business…”

Tick.

“…in order to combine personal interests and talent with the ability to earn a living”

I hope so.

“A lifestyle entrepreneur intentially chooses a business model intended to develop and grow their business in order to make a long-term, sustainable and viable living working in a field where they have a particular interest, passion, talent, knowledge or high degree of expertise”

Interesting. While I am developing an interest, some knowledge, and a bit of expertise in the hospitality sector, I must confess to having zero to start with and I’m a long way from ‘high degree of’.

Passion – not a problem, I have that in spades; it’s a little scatter-gun as I can get equally passionate about a cheesecake as I can about Little Leaf, but it’s definitely there.

Finally…

“Common goals held by the lifestyle entrepreneur include earning a living doing something that they love, earning a living in a way that facilitates self-employment, achieving a good work/life balance”

And that’s what it’s all about really. I’m not a traditional entrepreneur yet I’m lucky enough to have found something that inspires me. That, despite all the risks and terrifying leaps of faith, Danny and I are absolutely dedicated to being self-employed and doing something that we (more than) suspect we will love.

I never imagined, for one teeny tiny second, that I would end 2010 where I have. I am no Richard Branson – with dreams of running empires since the age of 15. Nor am I an Alan Sugar – selling things out of the back of a van after leaving school 3 years early.

I stayed in education as long as I could (and even went back for more). I’ve relied on employers to look after me, providing me with holiday pay / sick pay and a regular income. I’ve spent more money on clothes in the last 10 years than some people spend in a lifetime, and not that long ago I believed that all you needed to do to have a good life was to ensconce yourself in a trendy bar with endless access to champagne. How things change, and how wonderful to have proof that you just NEVER KNOW what’s around the corner.

For the next two days all thoughts of entrepreneurship will be put aside while the merry season commences. After all good hospitality starts with constant thought of others, and I would be no kind of lifestyle entrepreneur if I couldn’t start by applying those principles on home turf.

Have a good Christmas all.

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