Monday, 30 January 2012

Snow is falling, cider is bubbling

Snow is falling but not settling.  The fitness regime continues.  My apple mac seems to be sweeping up new work emails after one more call to the server people.  All is moderately well.  Nice weekend watching some amazing tennis, and on Sunday instead of quaffing a couple of bottles of our cider and falling asleep on the couch in front of the football I actually managed to go for a massive walk around the farm.  We've had a late January mini spike in sales as folks come out of winter hibernation and take advantage of a few special offers in local restaurants and hotels etc.  Nice to see.  I'm off to Morocco in a couple of weeks time to do some more cider networking amongst the surf fraternity.  Surf Berbere is an amazing and cheap guesthouse filled with interesting characters with a Berber tent on the top storey where traditional Tagines are cooked up nightly.  On my last visit I was room sharing with some very impressive Durham graduates who managed to set aside an impressive amount of hours each day to working on a forthcoming project.  I was so inspired I swore there and then to take a laptop on all future trips in order to get some positive Ty Gwyn work done.  Now I'm just waiting for the Amazon man to turn up with Windows for Mac software, a retro neoprene cover and the new Lana Del Ray album...

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

From the cider office to the mountain bike trail

Having spent two hours on the phone with our very switched on new accountant being given step by step instruction on Sage, a business accounting programme some of you may be familiar with, I was ready for the day to get a little more exciting.  We sold four bottles to three men who weren't quite sure what they would find when they turned off the main road, and I sold a mixed case to the woman from HSBC who is setting up our business account.  I was just getting stuck into some database updating when there outside the office window was our friend Ben who lives up the road and is a mad keen mountain biker.  He asked me if I'd like to join him on the basis that he thought I'd be much more productive after a spirited ride up to the woods above the farm.  In minutes I was in a motley assortment of cycling gear and a luminous football top with a light attached to my helmet like some sort of post-rave miner.  As we cycled off around the farm I smiled at the beauty of being able to do something like this after so long cooped up in London.  Tomorrow I need to prepare a mailout for all our potential new customers but once I've done  that I might go for a run...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

cider marketing causes me to miss great surf but Dave Sharp visits

Well when I left London after approximately twenty years of working as a musician, in retail and in media I can't say I ever expected life in the country to be quite like this.  We are lucky enough to have a very characterful pub near us called the Angel, and thanks to the efforts of a man called Rob, it has some very good music nights.  Playing a while back was one Dave Sharp, formerly of 80s passionate rockers The Alarm, who myself and my brother followed enthusiastically in our youth.  When Dave said he could use a place to crash we were only to happy to suggest that he came back to the cider farm for a few jars of our brew and a jam session.  I'm delighted to say that he returned last weekend for a second time and much merriment was had by all.  Needless to say, apart from the odd question, we don't bother him about 'the old days' so much as we talk about Hank Williams (I happen to have a house brick from his old dwelling in Nashville, Hank's not Dave's), Bruce Springsteen and the price of cider apples amongst many other topics that usually keep us occupied well into the early hours.

In the cold sober light of this week I find myself back on the phone to Microsoft to get help with setting up printer label templates for all the customers I have recently entered into our first Outlook database.  To the total credit of Deepthi, a kind and extremely patient woman on the other end of the phone by tea time today I have two wonderful lists of stickers all ready to go on envelopes bringing news of all our wonderful cidery plans for 2012 and beyond.

Sadly this meant that I took my eyes off of Magic long enough to miss the fact that it was three foot and clean at Rest Bay but "c'est la vie"

Ciao for now cider folks.  About all three of you!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Trials of Technology

Well today has been interesting.  I'm not much good with technology but I know when I really want something to work.  I won't bore you with it but I've finally managed to get Outlook Express to link up with our existing mail server in order to send out better emails, newsletters, collate mailing lists etc.  All in the interests of bringing our cider to the widest and most appreciative audience demographic imaginable.  All to a soundtrack of BBC6 music which I discovered how to get when I dusted down my old Hewlett Packard sub woofer and speakers from a cardboard box somewhere.  So I now know who  Growler are and how the new Arctic Monkeys song goes.  When the working day was over I retired to what we call 'the barn', a converted space on the farm with rush matting floor, woodburner and stereo, to do some exercise including pop ups ready for my surf trips this year.  Tomorrow I need to research 'Bag in Box' packaging and the creation of a new flyer...

Monday, 9 January 2012

Wonderland etc

In the midst of doing all my Ty Gwyn sales figures for the last few years I have as mentioned been listening to 6 music on the radio.  It dawned on me that I am actually looking forward to the Lana Del Ray album despite not having followed the nonsense about her previous 'career launches'.  Last night I watched 'Wonderland' with great performances from Jesse Eisenberg, Kirsten Stewart and my new favourite actress, Kristen Wiig of Bridesmaids.  I digress.  I need to get new flyers made for Ty Gwyn and I need to improve all our marketing mail outs and mail outs to trade customers so if anyone knows anything about Outlook, get in touch!

Friday, 6 January 2012

6 Music and Monmouth Rugby Club

so, the melancholy task of dragging the bare Christmas tree to the bonfire completed I turned my attention to ensuring that Ty Gwyn hits the ground in 2012 running.  So I went for a run.  And drank elderflower cordial every night this week.  Probably not the behaviour of your average cider maker, but then I'm probably not... 
Our first proper PC with Excel, Word and Outlook and a scanner and a watnot and wireless to boot has been set up in what used to be called a boot room.  My first task was going through all our handwritten sales record books (wot we keep in the cider shop) and transferring everything to spreadsheets.  This task was made considerably easier by virtue of the fact that I discovered that the computer could access 6 music.  Heaven!  I must fall so squarely into the demographic as to be ridiculous, suffice to say that playing things like early Echo and the Bunnymen and The Jesus and Mary Chain makes me positively look forward to my daily computer based tasks.
Tomorrow should be interesting.  We have been invited to sponsors day at Monmouth Rugby Club on account of the fact that we are proud sponsors and they have our logos on their shirts, a first for us.  We're going to get snapped for the Monmouthshire Beacon, watch a game and then go for a pint at the clubhouse.  Should be fun! 
I've also logged all the festivals we're going to do this year in the diary and sent out a few emails to register interest.  Suffice to say we'll be back at the Abergavenny Food Festival and hopefully the Usk and Monmouth shows and the Welsh Cider and Beer festival in Cardiff.  And plenty more.  Watch this space...

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year, Cider still bubbling

Well we had a good end to the year.  We got press in the Guardian courtesy of top chef Angela Hartnett who used Ty Gwyn Cider (and a photo of a half empty bottle) in her recipe 'mussels in cider sauce'.  Our friend TV presenter Kate Humble made great mentions of us in her column in the Telegraph and we also had mentions in the Sunday Times travel section.  I think Oz Clarke may have mentioned us again too.  So that's all good stuff.  The cider is bubbling away and as things go just a little quiet at this time of year on the sales front, it's a great time to get really organised.  Hence it's time to brush up those Excel skills, make a few spreadsheets and file away every single trade sales invoice of 2011.  Slightly more exciting things that will be done shortly are a new website, new flyers, new packaging and some more ideas about how to keep the Ty Gwyn brand going from strength to strength.  Rest Bay is blown out so no surf trips for now though I will naturally be keeping one eye on my latest discovery, Killers in Morocco.  It may also be time to look at purchasing a new wetsuit as I slipped on the rocks recently and the neoprene on the shoulder is suddenly looking a bit threadbare...

More cider and surf related news to follow.  Have a great 2012!