Is it just me or a lot of things just rubbish - is the world actually becoming more crazy, dysfunctional, polarised, lonely and pressurised?
Who would have believed 5 or 10 years ago that Donald Trump would be the President of the USA and Boris Johnson would be the Prime Minister of the UK?
Forget your politics a second and roll back a few years - Boris was zip wiring and Trump was brandishing a finger while gleefully saying "You're Fired".
Go on what odds would you have got they would be "leading" their respective nations?
Does anyone believe that a General Election will cure or solve the Brexit debate? Or have different positions just become more entrenched while our "representatives" have made a horses ass of the last few years. Madness! It's all Madness!
Meanwhile for most people, work has never been more challenging whether you are working within a company or working for yourself - costs only seem to rise and challenges grow against the backdrop of uncertainty and the new world order of online and social media behemoths.
Mental health problems have risen and feelings of loneliness are cited by more and more people - even those with families and a job. Can you believe that NHS anti depressant prescriptions have risen from 36 million in 2008 to 71 million last year!
Madness it's all Madness!
It wouldn't be difficult to continue describing the woes of the world but as a team we have been thinking about the part we can play to make things a bit better in our little corner of the world.
We have set ourselves a challenge - to build a community of kindness and make real social interaction more readily available.
Why? By god do we all need social interaction more than ever before - we need escape from the hours of e mails, social media, admin, trying to remember passwords, fake news, deep fakes, foreign hacks, repetitive news and intolerance and a break from the loneliness. We need time out with other human beings - preferably nice ones and we have a lot of very nice people in and out of The Devonshire Arms and The Bridge Inn.
Whether it's a night away, a pint or a bite to eat where can we play a part in supporting the need for socialisation?
How do we help make it easy to escape?
What can we make available at what part of the day and how does it dovetail with our communities needs?
How do we communicate with our community better?
We have identified the mission with Amie calling it simply "We will do Better!" A range of new initiatives are in the pipeline or already live with everything being built around fostering and providing a sense of community and a social escape from the madness.
Coffee Morning - Drop the Kids off at School and spend an hour chatting by the fire over a coffee
Breakfast now available @ The Devonshire from 8.30am until 11am daily so you can drop the kids and breakfast like a king or just chill in front of the fire with a cuppa setting the body and mind up for the day ahead
Smaller portions and prices to match for those with smaller appetites or intending to have their main meal in the evening but want to relax with friends or family over lunch
Senior Citizen Sunday Roast - making a Sunday Roast is hard work especially if for one and we think we can help here so its something we are working on and will keep details for another day.
Afternoon & Early Evening
Coffee & Cake Offers - £4 for a slice and a cuppa come in for a warm and a fine cup of coffee with an exciting new coffee supplier being explored
Kids Meals After School - at both but The Bridge is finally getting a Kids Menu and each will have an accompanying early evening dining offer for parents who want to spare themselves the cooking and clearing up instead indulging in some time with another parent or an early evening snack or meal
Early Bar Conversation Club - 5.30pm - 7.30pm 10% Off Drinks Monday to Friday at The Bridge to encourage and build on the community the chaps @ The Bridge have been maintaining for years. Whether drinking water or wine, male or female - popping in for a chat, a laugh and generally escaping after a day at work is just the thing.
Friday Club - for the real foodies who also love wine.
Keep building on the offer at both pubs to encourage people to relax and socialise over a bite to eat. There is a time and a place for refuelling or hurried food where its just a rush to eat but rather encouraging the slow food movement ethos of taking time out over food - making time to relax and socialise. Its certainly not sitting and not talking while everyone has their head in their mobile devices barely sharing a word - you wouldn't believe how many do this.
We will focus even harder on local produce and the values and provenance of the suppliers we choose. Supporting our local farmers and producers not only supports our local community but reduces food miles.
Establishing a Book Club to enjoy, explore and discuss a chosen book every month while no doubt putting the world to rights. Interested drop an e mail to Samantha @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Marking Friday's as the end of the week and the start of the weekend - we have quite a few ideas that involve Cocktails, Wine, Beer and Barbecues but more about that another time.
We can do more to support good causes and fully intend to. Thanks to everyone who came along to the excellent Food & Wine Evening at The Devonshire in aid of Helen's Trust - we all raised £1380 on the evening which at this time of pressure for the NHS will provide 71 hours of vital respite care and night sits.
Every now and again you need to really let your hair down and we would like to think we are pretty good at helping people do that. Sometimes it happens in an impromptu way but the next organised opportunity is New Years Eve and tickets for THE party are now available though going fast.
I have rambled on for too long now but would end by saying - we all deserve a break, an escape from the madness and one of the most regenerative things we can do is spend quality time with other human beings and we hope to ensure we can help foster a community of kindness throughout the day for our communities.