There have been some interesting times at The White House recently and I have been waiting for a point when we can update you with all that is happening in our pub and there is plenty to tell.
Our tenants Johnny and Fran became parents for the second time a few weeks ago. Athena Grace Joyce arrived on the 25th August and we wish them many congratulations. Some of you may be able to give me exact dates but it must be a while since a new baby has been born to the tenants of the pub. Johnny did what all fathers do the very next day. He was held up at knife point by an attempted armed robbery at the pub! Harry was there as back up and they chased the balaclava clad robbers away. Eight police cars and vans then arrived but unfortunately they had already left the scene. With that reception we very much hope that they will not be back!
It makes talk of building work seem very dull but it has been our biggest headache over summer as many of you will know. We still have a building site with those unsightly toilets at the front which we thought would be temporary but have unfortunately become all too familiar to us.
As you are probably aware, Blenheim Palace, through their company Pye Homes, are funding most of the cost for our new toilet facilities. Their subcontractor was not on site for over 4 weeks and we are now well over our expected finish date. We had a meeting last week and the good news is the end is now in sight. The new toilets are tiled, the first coat of paint is on and all the sanitary ware is waiting to be plumbed in. As long as covid doesn’t hit the workforce we are told we can expect to have the toilets in operation in 2 weeks’ time when and we can wave farewell to that temporary unit outside, at last.
In the face of all this adversity Liz Owen and her gardening volunteers have done a remarkable job with the outside of the pub. If you compare a year ago to the how the pub now looks in full bloom (unfortunately having to poke out from behind building equipment in places) it is simply outstanding. Thank you to Liz and her team.
Many of you will know Ben Bullen, who is taking over as Johnny’s new head chef. Ben comes with an amazing pedigree and has already reconstructed the kitchen to his liking. His first menu will be small as he builds up a knowledge of what we and our guests want and just as importantly what the kitchen can cope with. The kitchen is small, with no room to expand so they have already been very creative with their working arrangements in there. For table bookings and menus please go to Johnny’s website https://www.bladonwhitehouse.co.uk/
With regard to what we the shareholders want, and our visiting guests from near and far expect, it will always be difficult for Johnny and Ben to please everyone. We know some will want a Gastro Pub and some will want a Social Club as well as many wanting a whole range in between. Johnny, Ben and the team will steer a path to please as many as possible. We know Ben’s food will be outstanding and Johnny aims to keep it in a price range for all but it will be forever evolving as they move forward.
The pub will change its role throughout the day. It is our hub in the village and now we can see some glimmers of normal life returning, we can start using it as such. We already have a weekly quiz night every Wednesday at 8pm and we really want more teams to come and take part in what is a fun evening out. Robin Jones on the committee has made an excellent start with a new crib team up and running and is entered into the local league. His thoughts and ideas are below. Please remember these are all ideas put forward from the community when we set out to save the pub. All these activities, and the actual pub itself, rely on them being patronised. It is an old adage but “Use it or lose it” is very true for all aspects of our pub. I can’t drink all that ale on my own (although Clare says I do try.)
The VJ day commemorations went very well. The RAF flew their Spitfire and Hurricane over the pub (Sir Winston’s grave being close was a pure coincidence naturally). We hosted many veterans and members of the Churchill family and these events, linked to the history of our pub will now grow and grow. Thank you to Townhouse taxis who ferried the veteran’s home for free. The day ended up as a real community effort!
So as I pass you over to Robin I hope my next message will be with news of functioning toilets, the departure and good riddance to our temporary toilets, news of pub clubs being formed and no stories of masked raiders with knives.
Mike – Chair, Bladon Community Benefit Society