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We need to find a couple of full time sous chefs to join our kitchen team. Are you up to the challenge? Know anyone who might make the cut? Take a look at everything that’s involved and then lose absolutely no time at all in getting in touch with us!

Both Chefs 2016

Goodbye 2015; HELLO 2016!

IMG_2911Tell you what, it doesn’t feel like a year since I sat down to write a toast to 2015 when the year was still so shiny and new. We genuinely can’t believe how quickly 365 days have whizzed by, how quickly Christmas came around or that we’re now in yet another brand new, shiny year.

You know how I love a list, so here are some highlights of things we’ve achieved during the past 12 months…

  • The garden project ~ In April we set about creating a calmer outdoor space and by joining the patio to the lawn there’s a far more continuous flow for customers enjoying the garden. Despite the fairly ambivalent nature of the weather, the improved views of the canal and surrounding countryside proved to be very popular throughout the summer. IMG_0806
  • The food of love ~ We were a bit stumped by what to do for Valentine’s day (not least because we don’t own that many tables of two) but luckily Chef Sedge came to the rescue with some really delicious dishes that made for a cosy, loved-up, full-up Valentine’s evening. IMG_0313
  • The village fete ~ If we’re honest, we were so geekily proud to host the Village Show this year. It really meant a lot to be part of the local community, to honour such wonderful traditions and to try and help propel the concept of a village fete into the 21st Century. Watching so many excited faces enjoy everything from beekeeping to runner-bean-growing was genuinely delightful and so refreshingly far removed from the cynicism of contemporary society. IMG_1330
  • The furniture project ~ We FINALLY managed to update/renovate/replace all the furniture throughout the pub, creating a far more homely, autonomous feel. We continue to tweak and move pieces, as well as adding in odd little things around the periphery, meaning that at the moment you can quite easily play pub bingo to spot all the changes we make from one week to the next. IMG_2632
  • Hosting our first Christmas ~ I hate Christmas because it means working a minimum of 14 hours a day on every day that the rest of the world is enjoying having their out of office on whilst becoming gradually more drunk. However, the pendulum effect of that is that this year we hosted our very first Christmas lunch for my family, down on Table 1 no less! It was actually incredibly lovely to do a couple of hours of drinks and then close the doors (and in fact the curtains thanks to the nosy parkers watching us eat our turkey…) to enjoy a precious few hours with our family. IMG_2763
  • Building an army ~ Sometimes we hire people and they just don’t work out but, happily, 2015 has seen not only some fantastic additions to the Fleur family, but also witnessed a lot of our team stepping up and making the business stronger as a whole. We are, as ever, standing on their shoulders and are indebted to them for their hard work (when they’re not sidetracked in chat corridor). IMG_2918

The Lowsonford community have been, as ever, incredibly kind to us throughout 2015. From the renewed interest in the area as a result of the Gormley sculpture to the exceptional turnout for Bonfire Night, we have been very privileged to see so many faces over the past year.

And as for 2016? Well, you’ll have to watch this space…!


All images clearly taken very badly by me with my iPhone, except for the first one which is pinched from Letterfolk

What to do for New Year’s Eve…

My best friend Natalie used to get painfully exasperated with me during P.E. lessons at school. Being the sporty, competitive type, she was all for excelling at games and beating opponents. Being the loyal type, she’d always pick me for her team, even though it was a well-known fact that I couldn’t run the 800m, I wheezed whenever a hockey stick came near me and I’d do anything I could to get out of swimming lessons in the winter. It wasn’t my absolute ineptitude that frustrated her though, so much as my absolute lack of compulsion to even try.

In order to conceal my rubbisness, I’d say things like, “Let’s try to be the biggest losers/get the least points/come last” and she’d stop talking to me for the rest of the day.

On a completely unrelated subject, our New Year’s Eve celebrations are happening on December 31st would you believe it. You ought to leave your expectations at the door. There’s no band. There’s no fancy dress code. There’s no fireworks at midnight. There’s no 75 course meal. There’s no tartan. There is, however, no fuss.FDL NYE POSTER 2016

Feel free to come and join us to see in the New Year. We’ll put the tele on at midnight so that you can see the millions of people in London who are having a far more horrid time than we are as we dance around our cosy little pub in Lowsonford, surrounded by our favourite friendly customers, not taking ourselves very seriously.

We’ll pop an array of buffet items out to soak up some of the alcohol for you. Much like a Peter Kay sketch, you can expect vol au vonts, chicken legs, cheesecake…no, I am actually joking there as Chef Sedge will kill me if he reads that. There’ll be a reet nice buffet that you won’t remember eating until you find garlic mayo don’t your party frock on 1st January.

Best of all though, Nick has promised to smile and that, ladies and gents, is all the USP we need to get us through the night.

5 Fantastic Reasons to Book a Festive Meal at The Fleur

Christmas 2015 BannerHello! Welcome to The Fleur De Lys, a place so magical that Father Christmas* himself once said he would drink here more regularly, were it not for the awful commute down the M6 from Lapland.

This year, we are very excited about the possibility of you rounding up your favourite friends or coercing your family members into meeting here at the magical Fleur De Lys for your annual ‘We-should-do-this-more-often-let’s-not-leave-it-so-long-next-year’ gathering.

In case you have no such rendezvous currently planned, here are 5 fantastic reasons why you need to shape up and get yourselves booked in.

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  1. We have an amazing festive menu that Chef Sedge and Snappy have put together for you. It includes Baileys custard. There’s no need for you to query it. You can take a look at it right here and feel your saliva glands burst into life at the mere prospect of all the festive fare that will disappear down your gullet.
  2.  I have spent a small fortune on Christmas decorations. In order to hide this fact from the Landlord, I would appreciate a high ROI by having lots of people come and coo over them whilst drinking a lot.
  3. Mulled wine is back! In the old days of our city centre pub, people didn’t really get that jazzed about mulled wine (well, they were 19 and looking for a WKD, you can’t fight that, can you?) so it was a surprise last year that we KEPT selling out of mulled wine because you lot love it so much. This year, we’ll make sure we’ve got enough to give everybody an intravenous drip if they want it.
  4. We can book you in whether you want a romantic table of two for turkey, or even if you insist on bringing 30 people in and leaving your cracker toys all over the floor. We’re not fussy. We just want you to come and drink our Christmas spirits. I mean, feel the Christmas spirit!
    Sir Otis the Pub Cat will perform a tap dance for you whilst dressed as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.**

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So you see, we’ve got everything you need for a fantastic festive forum! Aside from all of that, we’re ideally located between the M42 and M40, which makes it very convenient if you’re trying to wrangle a bunch of people from disparate parts of the country. We know that this is an expensive time of year, so we’ve kept our Christmas menu as budget-friendly as we possibly can, allowing you to maximise your eating excursions whilst minimising your spend.

Do get in touch if you’d like to book in during December. We’ll be delighted to see you, even if you insist on wearing a festive jumper.

*May not have been the real Father Christmas.
** Subject to the artiste’s availability and temperament on the day. Management cannot accept responsibility for Sir Otis’ level of performance.

Bonfire Night 2015

You’ll remember that this time last year I had my knickers in a right old twist about bonfire night. Well, since that event was such a success and we didn’t burn down the village or throw a child into the burning embers of a giant pile of woody rubbish, I have to admit to feeling pretty calm about this year’s fireworks shenanigans.

Bonfire night 2015

I’d love it if you could all just wander down to the pub, enjoy a bit of barbecued food, make the requisite ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’ as the talented folks from Fantazia light up the skies over Lowsonford – but I’m not going to flip out about it.

I think instead that we’ll all just have a lovely, chilly evening together, wrapped up in our finest hats and scarves. It won’t rain and make the ground too boggy to set fireworks off or the firewood too damp to light. It won’t be so busy that people have to abandon their vehicles for miles around. It won’t give us cause to get through a pack of Rennie in our pre-event anxiety. It’ll be just wonderful.

Tickets are on sale now from the bar and will be available on the gate too. Gates will open at 6pm, we’ll light the bonfire at around 7pm and the big show will be at 7.30pm. We aim to be in bed by 8pm (JOKES!).

See you on Friday!

Pubs Are the New Schools

578226df959a1b2b089cdac26b1e588aIt’s been a tense summer of coursework, deadlines, results and applications for many of our staff. Some have stepped up to college and realised that life only gets harder the older you are; others have disappeared off to uni to wreak havoc as the nights draw in; yet more are pursuing higher aspirations and further training, whilst some are finally out of academia and heading off as full time grown ups with ‘real jobs’.

What struck me as we waited with bated breath to see if our geniuses had got the grades they needed, was how entirely superfluous huge portions of their education are. I say this as someone who regularly disrupted classes to questions what relevance the chemistry or maths syllabus would have to my future life.

I am now 30 and have never once needed to work out cosine or remember the atomic number of a certain element. NEVER.

With that in mind, I idly started listing things that would have helped me out – as a business owner, a barmaid, and a bolshy millennial baby that doesn’t retain irrelevant information.

I therefore present to you a new National Curriculum, based on life in a pub and some essential life skills…


  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar lessons through the medium of writing Specials blackboards. See also: handwriting practice.
  • Writing balanced, diplomatic responses to Tripadvisor reviews.
  • Creating engaging marketing copy to make you stand out from every other pub in the county and encourage customers to come back time and time again.
  • Explain what custard is to a Spanish person.


  • How to discount a bill (by percentages, fractions and sums).
    • Associated subjects of how to add 10% gratuity off the top of your head and how to fight the fear of being given the exact change after you’ve already opened the till and don’t know how much money to give back to the customer.
  • Understanding tax, your tax, your employees tax, national insurance tax, income tax, corporation tax, value added tax, everyone else’s tax. Knowledge will be tested by memorisation of tax codes and submission deadlines.
  • How to read, understand and create a profit and loss statement.
    If x = bankrupt and y = get a real job, how much money do you need to take to stay in business?


  • The use of hydrogen, oxygen and water in the role of putting out fires when customers accidentally set fire to their menus with a candle.
  • Fermentation and beer maintenance through the process of cellar training.
  • In-depth understanding of the after effects of chemicals burning through your skin in the case of line cleaner & cleaning solutions.


  • Explaining ‘The Cloud’ wifi system and demonstrating how to log on across a range of multimedia devices.
  • Remaining calm in the face of a critical till crash. On a Sunday afternoon. In July. When there’s a heatwave.
  • Using spreadsheets to plot an overbooked dinner service. And then ignoring it and seating everyone anywhere anyway.


  • Calculating the distance between your current location and the nearest bank/shop/wholesaler/takeaway/church/telephone box/post box/point of local interest/house for sale on Rightmove/friend that hasn’t been seen for 40 years using any of the following methods of transport: car/bicycle/boat/horseback/on foot.
  • The role meteorology plays on your customer, specifically relating to the increased incidence of craziness around full moons.
  • Knowing how long every local walk takes, who will fall over, where it’s muddiest and how long it will take a walking group to return.


  • In-depth knowledge of local history, including who is related to whom, where they come from, what they do, what they did yesterday.
  • Origins of the pub, its many phases of life and, if relevant, any subsidiary paranormal information.
  • Encyclopaedic knowledge of every landlord ever to have walked behind the bar (can also be extended to every visit a customer has made, every meal they’ve eaten, every memory they have).


  • Rearranging furniture on a daily basis.
  • Glass collecting in the summer.
  • Restocking fire wood in the winter.

So there you have it. There’s no need to spend extortionate amounts on elite academies and educational establishments. Stop sending your children to school and send them to the pub instead. Everything they need to know about life can be learnt from running a bar. I’m sure the Minister for Education will be quick to adopt this new curriculum and we will no longer need trigonometry. There’s really no need to thank me…

Lowsonford & Rowington Village Show

Village show

Imagine the scene: you’re 21 and have just graduated from a top five university with an arts degree that your grandparents think is useless, but you’re ready to change the world and redefine what art means. You get an internship at a television production company. You move to London. You start work on the hottest day of the year when there are power outages across the city and you get sent home before you’ve even been shown how the photocopier works.

When you return the next day you discover your new reason d’être – vegetables, cakes and jams. Your first job out of university, it transpires, with your useless degree and high hopes, is researching participants in a new reality show called The Great British Village Show. Your job is to find people growing the longest carrot, baking the nicest fruit cakes and arranging the most lovely floral displays.

You are now the opposite of cool. And in case you missed it, here’s The Great British Village Show in action:

That uncool, fresh-faced graduate was, of course, me. I lasted 6 months (which was the duration of the production through to final cut) before I decided TV wasn’t for me and went back home to Bristol. But the lessons I learnt about village shows, about judging committees and bitter rivalries stuck with me long after I left the judging tent. I learnt that the humble village show is a serious business.

It seems fitting, therefore, that I get to be on hand this weekend when the 69th Annual Lowsonford & Rowington Village Show touches down right here at The Fleur De Lys. We’re very proud to host the show this year and are very excited to see the whole setup come to life over the coming days.

If, unlike me, you’re not well-versed in how village shows work, this is your perfect opportunity to come and try a traditional slice of quintessentially English village life. There are over 100 classes so even if you haven’t got the best marrow, you can still enter a drawing, a photograph or even ‘fruit arranged in a bowl.’

There’ll be side shows, a tea tent, a band and plenty for the little ones to see and do. We’ll be open and serving food, booze and beverages all day long, but we can’t guarantee the weather, though we are doing our best sun dances right now!

Do come down and support this brilliant and historic show. You can buy your entry on the day or, if you’re around before then, we have entry schedules and raffle tickets available to buy from the bar.

A Year in the Life of Sir Otis the Pub Cat

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It is 2.33am precisely. It is the perfect time of night to stalk about the village, picking on unassuming prey. It is the ideal time to escort said prey home, over the rooftops and through a tiny tunnel of a cat flap in order to deposit the spoils of such successful hunts right on the bed…right in the middle…and then shout very loudly until someone wakes up with overflowing congratulations for such a victorious expedition.

I assume that this was the thought process that Otis employed last week when he brought the first of his trophies home for inspection. Luckily on that night the poor tiny creature in question was stunned into unconsciousness and easily deposited…his brother the following week was less placid and kept us all awake into the wee hours whilst we chased him around the bedroom.

Such is the life of Sir Otis, lord of Lowsonford and king of all he surveys. You’ll remember that when we introduced him to you last summer, I called him a loveable terrorist and as we sit here on his first birthday, I stand by that description. When he’s not busy pushing his older sisters out of their own food bowls, he is curled up angelically next to one of us as though butter wouldn’t melt.

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Of course, nothing in the world is better than his best friend forever – more commonly known as your local landlord. Never have man and feline been so enamoured with each other. I accuse Nick of being soft on him (because he is) but, for balance, I think Otis is equally as soft on Nick, too. The sound of Nick’s voice, the call of his whistle, can bring the ginger ninja trotting back from whatever far flung corner of the village he’s pottered off to.

And that’s another surprising thing: an entirely fearless cat. Both Annie and Bella have an innate distrust of the world that comes from too long couped up in the city centre, but Otis feels like the world is his oyster. We stayed awake all night the first time he didn’t come home; Nick went looking for him in pyjamas and a Barbour, convinced some fatal calamity had befallen his little buddy, but he returned the next day without any fuss and a big appetite to snooze. We have no idea where he goes or what he gets up to, but on one occasion he did come home looking like he’d been down the mine.

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He makes friends easily, does Otis. Even the greatest cat adversaries in the village have fallen under his spell, charmed by his cheeky behaviour and unapologetic fondness to poke his nose in and say hello. We suspect many of our neighbours are all equally looking after him and he’s just playing us all off against each other. He’ll square up against dogs three times his size but his real nemesis are children – it’s entirely possible that their hyperactivity outweighs his own and he doesn’t like that so much.

When he’s not busy bringing furry friends home with him, he has been known to emerge soaking wet from head to foot but purring like a maniac. Did he fall in the canal? Was he practising widths between the towpath? Or, as came to light this past weekend, was he following the footsteps of his mate Sidney from down the road and goading a resident family of ducks? We’ll never know for sure but we were, of course, delighted that he plonked himself down in the middle of our freshly made bed whilst dripping wet with stinky canal water.

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It’s safe to say he’s not a baby anymore. We’ve had to take baby birds we’ve rescued from him to recuperative sanctuaries and we’ve berated him continually for relentlessly bad behaviour. But you know what? We were all young once and for all his faults, he’s pretty damn awesome for something so small and stupid. Sir Otis the Pub Cat is quite the character, it turns out, and it seems that before long he might be nearly as synonymous with The Fleur De Lys as pies. Long may his reign of terror continue!

If you’d like to keep tabs on what Otis is up to, just search for the hashtag #sirotisthepubcat on Instagram to find out just how much of a crazy cat lady I really am.

The Recreational Kleptomaniac

Answer me this: who goes out to a nice country pub with the intention of bringing home a memento of their visit?

In our previous life down in the city we were well versed in the banter and the major LOLZ that come with the territory of inviting students to come and abuse your premises. One of the major aims of a student night out is to wake up the next morning with a totes ironic traffic cone inexplicably in the middle of the kitchen floor, so we were always wary of those great big hoodies that could secrete a table lamp outside, or the girls slut-dropping close enough to a rope barrier to take it home with them and, of course, the inevitable theft of any faux Christmas presents left under a faux tree (which itself was ripe for the picking).

But that was then and this is now, so who are the pretty criminals that are visiting Lowsonford?


A list of missing paraphernalia to date includes:

  • 1 x hand moisturiser in customised mason jar from ladies toilet
  • 1 x decorative heart attached to dried lavender in entrance vestibule
  • 1 x traffic cone (only the top part though, the base was left behind)
  • Multiple large pillar candles
  • Numerous tealights & tealight holders
  • Salt shakers
  • Vinegar bottles
  • Tea pot lids (possibly a casualty of the dishwasher but otherwise unproven)
  • Ashtrays
  • Rekorderlig glasses

Now, everyone knows beer glasses ‘accidentally’ find their way into the cupboard at home so I’ll let that one lie. But as for the rest? I can only hope that someone somewhere ruined a handbag with a smashed jar of moisturiser.

It seems trivial, I know. Why would we be bothered by all these little sundry items? Well, aside from being slightly bemused, I just wanted to point out that if everyone assumes we’ll never miss ‘just one’ candle or bottle of vinegar, then we are going to end up broke before we manage to replenish our condiments. It all adds up. It’s all massively tiring. It’s all slightly ridiculous that you are going to blow out a candle, wait for the wax to dry and then take it home to put it on your mantelpiece because you can’t be arsed going to Ikea.

Suffice to say, if you find yourself having the urge to just take a little piece of The Fleur home with you, we’d urge you not to. We don’t come round your house and help ourselves to the contents of your sauce cupboard or decorative home furnishings and likewise we sort of take it for granted that you will respect the goods and contents of your favourite countryside pub.

And, if this blog post acts as a red rag to a bunch of totes ironic bulls who now want to come and see how much stuff they can rob, rest assured that it’s not me you’ll have to deal with, but my cantankerous mother and tight Northern husband who, respectively, feel the damage to their heart and their wallet.

Golden Weekend

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It’s been all-go here in Lowsonford recently. This sleepy little village has been put on the map thanks to a brand new sculpture from renowned artist Antony Gormley arriving on the banks of the canal to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Landmark Trust.

This weekend, all the hard work that the Trust have done will be celebrated as they throw open the door to Lengthsman’s Cottage (and a number of other sites across the country) and indulge in a weekend of revelry. If you like art, live music and live performance pieces, you won’t want to miss out on Saturday afternoon. Lowsonford Women’s Group will be providing gorgeous homemade cream teas down at Lowsonford Village Hall and, of course, we’ll be open too with a hog roast and snacks in the garden in addition to our usual fare.

In order to make sure this poor old pub isn’t too overwhelmed, we’ll have a car park attendant on site who’ll be issuing £5 vouchers which are redeemable against your purchases in the pub. So make sure you’ve got a fiver handy when you arrive!

Lengthsman’s Cottage will also be open to the public on Sunday as well, albeit without quite so much live entertainment, so you can still take a stroll down and have a look around after your roast dinner if you fancy it!