Forthcoming Events - Life is one long event full of fun and frolics.

Welcome to 2018, and hopefully you are still awake! Thank you for looking up our little pub in middle earth, if you are looking for the first time; Welcome to the mad house, and for returning returning, thank you again for all the support over the years!

If 2017 had been a balance sheet I am not sure if it would have been in profit or loss, a hard year personally but we have survived another year as a business which is a definite positive because three around us have for the moment been lost, hopefully there are some crazy pub loving idiots like me that will want to get in and made them thriving businesses again.

As my cup is always half full and not half empty let me move on to the hardship first; I lost two of the most influential loving people in my life earlier in the year, my Mum and my ex Father-in-Law, both had so much to give and always did without any need of return, only love. Mum's battle with dementia was not the prettiest but when we found out her diagnosis a few years ago we said we would laugh more than we would cry, and we certainly did. I have always been a mothers boy and have the upmost respect for her keeping me on the straight and narrow(ish). I would like to thank Brendon Care in Alton for taking us in at short notice and giving Mum a dignified end. I will never forget going in one Monday morning and her telling me that she had just come back from Rome that morning and Roger (or whoever he was that day) had left the helicopter in the back garden. Oh! for a great sense of imagination! The other great loss was Michael, my former Father-in-Law. He was a man of large love and girth, he was married to the church and Ros, I am not sure who caused the greater problems, and he adored his three girls and all the grandchildren. He was the world's biggest giver of love and measured responses, never a raised voice and he had all the time in the world for others, a man of the church through and through. My first nervous meeting with him (he was a retired bishop, of course I should have been nervous) was on a Boxing Day, thinking that it might be a little reserved, eer maybe not, as I walked through the door a glass of fizz was shoved into my hand and I was welcomed in like a old family friend.

All the positives seem a little fickle compared to such losses but life rolls on and I have a million fantastic memories, well until my dementia starts anyway. We had a fantastic social year, two fantastic weddings (one a little bit boozier than the other, some rather funny pictures of me holding a door for dear life), a brilliant holiday with Julia and the kids to Cala en Porter in Menorca, where the accommodation and town were even better than the brochure (how often does that happen?), thank you to the gang here for holding the baby!

Alfie, my first born, has come to work at the pub and I have enjoyed his company on a more full time basis albeit working, but still having lots of hugs, (he is a bit of a wet bag) but I love him and his sister lots and lots like jelly tots. We went to a couple of concerts together; Feeder, which was a blast from the past, up the front and still totally blown away with Grant's songwriting skill, we had some real father-son moments, all very emotional for me (and I call him the wet bag, he didn't fall far from the parent tree). Then I took him and Jack to see my new fave band The Sherlocks in a tiny venue in Southampton, I lived out my youth in them that night, both got bevvied up and we all jumped around like young idiots, except they don't need an excuse, if you get the chance go and see them (The Sherlocks, not Alfie & Jack!) or just listen to the album, totally brilliant.

The pub has been busier than ever and my merry band of helpers have come and gone and some have come back again, I am immensely proud of Jordan for getting into The Royal Air Force and passing with flying colours (sorry!!!), who would have thought that watching Top Gun would have made you want to be Tom Cruise. Olly is hopefully joining the army, and in doing so has lost 2 stone in just over 2 months and looks amazing, fingers crossed for him. I could not have got this far without all of them from the start to today and I am always extremely grateful for all the hard work and smiles. As always I couldn't do this without the support of Julia my gorgeous wife (and she thought it would be fun being married to a publican! After seven years, she can put any other prospective publican widows straight!), and of course my fabulous kids who keep me striving to do better and be a good Daddy (still trying). Live life to the full and never stop enjoying yourself as we only get one go at it.