Tuesday 25 October 2011
Monday 3 October 2011
Now this is where the fun and games start. Telling your families & telling your friends. Deciding on “Do we have an engagement party or don't we?”
Then it's a case of going out, buying all the wedding magazines you can lay your hands on and watching the colour drain from your husband to be's face as he realises the Bridezilla he has brought out in you and sticks a padlock on his wallet!
It's all fun and games, but where do you actually start??
Our advice....Fix a budget. This is key. If you are lucky enough to have parents who are able to help with costs, it's best to establish how much they are looking at putting your way. This means there are no crossed wires and will allow you to have a good idea of what you can afford.
Budget decided then, is it a church wedding or a civil ceremony?
Do you want a professional photographer?
Do you want a cake from a professional company or is dear Aunt Mabel making it for you?
Stationary, do you do it yourself or are you ordering it from a professional company? (If you are lucky enough to be crafty it can save you some money but me, well I'd glue my foot to my head!)
Venue....big, small, traditional, contemporary, castle, marquee, barn or a hotel?? Bare in mind that sometimes booking at certain venues can bring the additional work of planning all the extras such as caterers, tables, crockery, linen, glassware, drinks supplier etc. Hotels and some other venues on the other hand can arrange all this for you and it should be included in the price. The easiest way to be sure however is ask these questions when viewing the places you are considering.
All of the above are key questions to ask, make a decision on and book before your date and preferred choice is snapped up by someone else.
Next then is to ask are you having a theme? Are you building your day around your favourite colours, flowers, a TV Show, countries you've visited, seaside towns, a hobby, cars, knots, the list of suggestions goes on. If you are I suggest you make the decision early and stick to it. Sometimes it's easy to get over excited, go over the top and end up with 3 different themes that don't quite gel, so pick out your favourites and then pick out the best. Less is more remember!
Guest list....Are you both on the same page? When your husband to be suggests a small wedding is he thinking 10 people when you think small is 30 or vice versa.
Children, another potentially tricky subject. Do you allow children or not. If not, are they band from the entire day or perhaps just the service and meal. Think of who on your list this will affect and bare in mind that this could ultimately end up with them not being able to come at all. You might consider arranging for a mobile crèche to attend so your nearest and dearest can be there on the day. You might choose to leave it to the individuals to arrange themselves, but it is something that can cause some issues and you need to be aware of them.
Food! Catering for any amount of people can be a challenge. You can't please everyone, but you can please most. Offering a vegetarian option is a must and asking for dietary requirements when guests RSVP is crucial to make sure there are no surprises on the day. If you are worried about picking a fixed menu, ask the caterers or venue if you can offer your guests a choice of two main courses and pre order in advance. This might help if you know you have an amount of fussy eaters as it means they can choose what they want. Just be organised if this is the road you take and on the place cards for the tables write the persons menu choice on the back or inside, this will avoid confusion as they never remember what they ordered and ultimately will help with service on the day.
You might depending on the caterers be able to offer a served buffet instead. This will create a more informal atmosphere and will mean there should be a good selection of food so guests can just help themselves to what they fancy. Whatever happens be sure that there will be lots of options where food is concerned so if you are unsure trust that your caterer will have had lots of experience and should be able to help you with your decisions.
Table plan....Now hoping there hasn't been a family feud since you got engaged, this is relatively easy to do too. Make sure you mix the families together, try not to sit any lone guests on a table where they don't know anyone and make sure there is a good ratio of quiet people to chatty people on the tables. As for the top table, tradition says it has to be long with parents, maid of honour and best man, but if your not traditional that doesn't matter, do it your way!
Music, now here's another one to be seriously considered. If you are having an evening reception and want to include some music and dancing, then find the right band or DJ for you. Venues will have their own recommendations, these are worth considering as they will work with them all the time. Ask to see any testimonials and meet with them, perhaps go down and watch them perform. A nice touch is to ask your guests what songs they might like the DJ to play, or indeed the band (if they are good enough)
There are plenty of extras you can consider having during your big day. Some examples are chocolate fountains, champagne fountains, ice sculptures, photo booths, casino tables, candy floss stands, pick'n'mix tables, video booths, wii entertainers, the list goes on. Things like this add some excitement to the day and evening but can be costly so again, keep on top of your budget.
There is still a lot more of course that needs to be considered, such as the drinks you serve, the transport, the flowers, favours, the weather, parking, accommodation etc. but if you manage to find a venue with a wedding coordinator, they will be able to help and guide you step by step through the process, and of course those wedding magazines will help!
Be organised with the planning, enjoy the build up and sparkle on the day! Just get to the Church on time!!
Monday 5 September 2011
If you don't mind all of that however, and you like the idea, then all you need is a little push in the right direction. In our case it was another organiser of a networking event that let us down one to many times that gave us the push.....
After the nightmare of dealing with a contact who wanted to set up their own meeting, but then cancelling last minute and letting lots of people down, Christine Cooper and I decided to go it alone.
One day whilst doing a walk around of the businesses on the industrial estates around Canterbury letting everyone know how wonderful the Best Western Abbots Barton Hotel (http://www.abbotsbartonhotel.com/) is Christine was telling me about a few things she used to do when in the Brownies. I was amazed, and also a little jealous as I was never allowed to be a Brownie due to my height. Apparently even producing your birth certificate back in those days to prove I was of the correct age wasn’t enough, my mum learned this as she was swiftly informed by the Brown Owl that “Your daughter is far to tall, and wont fit in, she will have to wait and join the Girl Guides.” Please don't feel too bad about it though, it only took me 28 years to get over ;)
I did however explain this to Christine who did feel sorry for me, and we jokingly mentioned our networking breakfast should be called, The Brownies, but that was as far as it went....
Finally by the end of our epic walk of Canterbury we had decided we would launch our own meeting. The facts were:
It would take place at the end of every month.
It would only cost £8 per person on a pay as you go basis.
It would be open to everyone.
It would be a healthy continental breakfast.
It would be interesting and relevant to everyone who attends.
It would have a great speaker at every meeting.
It will be made up of what the businesses attending want and we can adapt and change freely as and when needed.
As we arrived back at the hotel and made ourselves a cup of tea to get over the exercise we walked past the hotels chef, who politely asked if we would like to try a cake he had just taken out of the oven. Never people to turn down such an offer you can imagine the look that Christine & I gave each other when he produced us each with a delicious Chocolate Brownie! Well that was it, the networking group was born....Now to launch it!
June, June would be the month we took our first steps into the exciting world of hosting our own Breakfast Networking Group. We spread the word, we booked a great speaker, we got the attendees and it happened! The first meeting was a success, and everyone enjoyed themselves.
Our format is to start at 7am, chat and have a cup of tea until 7.25am. Everyone sits down then and tucks into their breakfast, a lovely continental and of course those now famous Chocolate Brownies. Everyone gets a chance to stand up and introduce themselves and their business, which is followed by a break and another chance to chat to those in the room and hopefully do some business! Around 8.15am we then settle down to a 20 minute talk from our speaker, they cover all topics and encourage debates, which are then followed by questions and the close of the meeting. Needless to say many stay behind after the meeting to continue networking!
We are now over a year on the meeting is still running, and has a wide range of people attending. We have fun and we do some serious business. We help each other out and discuss issues and ideas.
Due to the success of the meetings we have launched in Folkestone and in Eastbourne, and these too are going well.
If you want to try networking, or have never been to such an event and would like to dip your toe in to test the water, feel free to come along. There is no annual fee, and you can come and go as you please and as your working schedule allows.
The next Canterbury meetings will be taking place on:
Wednesday 28th September 2011
Thursday 27th October 2011
Wednesday 30th November 2011
All at 7am and with great speakers booked for all! We hope we might see you at one in the future!
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday 22 August 2011
As we are a busy hotel, people tend to book rooms, conferences and weddings quite a way in advance, and on the 28th & 29th April 2011 we had a large conference booked in....until the Royal Household announced that Prince William and Catherine Middleton were to be married on the 29th April 2011 and this would be a public holiday! Unsuprisingly the phone rang and the conference got pushed back to a later date so the companies staff could make the most of it and we were left with an empty function room and some empty bedrooms. Not wanting to have an empty hotel and being far enough away to think up a plan, we decided to take a chance and auction our own Royal Wedding Reception on Ebay. We got a package together, all singing all dancing with arrival drinks, a three course dinner and wine for 50 people, a drink to toast during the speaches, an evening buffet and disco and accommodation for the bride and groom for the evening. The auction would run from Friday to Sunday and the lucky bidders would get to have their wedding on the same day as Great Britains modern royal couple.
We opened the auction four weeks before the date and by the 4th day we had 27 people watching the item, with couples ringing in asking questions and popping in to have a look around and get a feel for the venue and the fantastic day that could soon be theirs.
As the auction came to a close, the bidding started and the wedding (worth over £4000) went for the bargain price of £1999.
We were over the moon, the wedding had sold, the idea had worked and a wonderful couple, Selina & Tim had just booked themselves a wedding! When we asked them, what had made them bid on the wedding, we discovered they had met online themselves several years ago. They had discussed marriage but nothing had ever really materialised and so when they heard about the auction via the local papers it seemed to make sense. “A new kitchen or get married....??” asked Tim. “Lets get married!” said Selina, and the rest as they say, is history.
After a few meetings and adding the personnal touches that the happy couple required to make the day their own we were ready to go.
The day itself was a beautiful dry day, the bride looked stunning and the groom had a grin like the cat who got the cream. The venue sparkled and the party went on into the small hours of the morning.
Safe to say a lovely day was had by all and just goes to show, sometimes you really can grab a 5 star bargain on Ebay, so keep your eyes open, you neve know what you might find!
Monday 8 August 2011
The rosette system has been established for a long time and recognises successful cooking at different levels across the UK. When an inspector visits the hotel or restaurant it is their chance to get a snap shot whereby the entire meal, including ancillary items (when served) is assessed. Around 10% of restaurants nationwide are of a standard worthy of one rosette and above. This is indeed a massive achievement, and something not to be underestimated.
Restaurants with one or two rosettes gain these through achieving standards that stand out in their local area. Good quality ingredients are selected, food is prepared with care, understanding and great precision should be apparent in the cooking process.
Restaurants with three and four rosettes are gained when all of the above is finely tuned, seasoning and the judgement of flavour combinations will be consistently excellent. They also combine appreciation of culinary traditions with a passionate desire to explore and improve. These virtues are then supported by intuitive service and a well chosen wine list.
A five star rating is extremely rare, and is the pinnacle, where cooking compares with the best in the world. These restaurants have set standards which others aspire to, yet very few achieve.
So now you understand how they work, all that's left is to try a few when the occasion arises!
Monday 25 July 2011
After The Kingdom of Kent's conversion to Christianity in 597, St Augustine founded an episcopa and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury. A position that now heads the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion. Thomas Beckets murder at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170 led to the cathedral becoming a place of pilgrimage for Christians worldwide. It is this pilgrimage that provided the theme for Geoffery Chaucer’s 14th Century literary classic The Canterbury Tales. The literary heritage continued with the birth of the playwright Christopher Marlowe in the city in the 16th Century.
The Black Death hit Canterbury in 1348. At 10,000 Canterbury had the 10th largest population in England. By the early 16th Century the population had fallen to 3,000.
During the dissolution of the monasteries, the city’s priory, nunnery and three friaries were closed. St Augustine’s Abbey was surrendered to the Crown and its church and cloister were levelled. Thomas Beckets shrine in the Cathedral was demolished and all the gold, silver and jewels were removed to the Tower of London, and Beckets images, name and feasts were obliterated throughout the kingdom, ending the pilgrimages.
Bringing you more up to date, during the Second World War, 10,445 bombs were dropped during 135 separate raids destroying 731 homes and 296 other buildings in the city. The most devastating raid happened on the 1st June 1942 during the Baedecker Blitz.
The 1980's saw visits from Pope John Paul II and Queen Elizabeth II, and the beginning of the annual Canterbury Festival.
So where does the Abbots Barton fit into all of this history? Well, the original building was erected around the1830's as a private home on the site of the Barley Farm of St Augustine (previously known as Westfield House). It became a hotel in 1927 and has since expanded to its present size.
Acquired in 1998 by the Sangiuseppe family and closed in 2000 for complete refurbishment for almost two years the hotel re-opened to a high-end 3 star standard under the Best Western brand in 2002.
The hotel had been beautifully brought back to life, having taken care to keep the character of the building and its many original features.
The Cathedral Suite offers beautiful surroundings ideal for hosting any event or conference with views and access to the terrace and gardens.
The Westfield Bar and lounges offer a relaxing place to enjoy a coffee or a bite to eat with friends, or business colleagues with free wifi throughout and a snack menu offering locally and ethically sourced seasonal produce.
The Fountain Restaurant, a popular place to dine with residents and locals, also offers a menu reflecting the seasons that is modern British again using locally and ethically sourced produce where possible with a grill section with steaks from the award winning Butcher of Brogdale. It is the ideal setting for a romantic dinner for two or a get together with family, friends or business colleagues. Why not have a look.....
The plans for the hotel aren’t done quite yet however! The near future holds an expansion to the hotel which includes more function space, a private function bar, spa and leisure facilities along with additional accommodation at a 4 star standard making this Canterbury’s premier city hotel.
The Abbots Barton is an amazing venue, with our team ready and willing to give you a warm welcome and make you feel at home, whatever your reason for visiting us. We are open to non-residents too so feel free to take a stroll up our driveway and come and say hello. We are confident you'll be pleased you did.