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  1. Good morning YOs, yet another Friday is upon us. I hope you’ve had a good week so far.  This week I bring you a blog about dating.  My sister and I were recently reminiscing about our dating disasters and we discovered that I really did have quite a few.  Before the time of Tinder, Plenty of Fish and other dating sites you had to physically get out there and meet people and it was a veritable mine field as this blog will tell you.

     

    Rambo

    When I was 15 I was working on the tills at a local supermarket on a weekend. Every Saturday just before closing time a good-looking boy would come to my till with his purchases, it was always something like a packet of biscuits or crisps.

    He would smile nicely at me on his way out.  After a few weeks he plucked up the courage to say ‘hello’ after a few more weeks we were having little conversations.  One Saturday he asked if he could walk me to my bus stop, such a romantic gesture.  At the bus stop we had our first kiss.  The following week when he came in he handed me a wrapped package, he’d made me a mixed tape (remember those!) of his favourite songs and his telephone number. 

    When I got home, I was so excited I told my dad about the gift.  Jokingly he said, “Let me see that phone number.”  I showed him and immediately the smile left his face and he looked at me and said, “Is this a joke?” “No daddy, I met him at the shop.”  He said, “This is my work telephone number, tell me his name.”   I told my dad his name to which he replied, “Right that’s it.” 

    At the time, my dad was working at a youth detention centre in town.  The boy in question was an inmate there, who thought he was Rambo and occasionally went on the rampage.  He was allowed out on a Saturday for day release, but needless to say, I never saw him again after that.

    Fred Foster

    Soap Star

    I used to drink at the local bar with everyone else on a Friday night. The pub was always packed, and we always had a good night.  One night, I remember there being a bit of a commotion and in walked Ross Kemp (he lived locally in the area at the time). 

    My cousin who was also drinking in the pub was chatting with him and introduced him to my and my friends.  I got chatting to Ross and he seemed nice.  At the end of the night, his body guard asked for my number, so Ross could call me.

    A few days later the phone rang, my dad answered it (there’s a recurring theme here).  Ross Kemp’s body guard had called asking me out on a date, not for Ross but for himself.  My dad was horrified and put the phone down on him. 

     Fred Foster

    The Penguin

    When I used to work in the public sector, my department put me in charge of organising all the events. One year I was organising the Christmas party and I was on the phone to the event organiser for the venue a lot, confirming numbers, menus, drinks etc.  We had good banter on the phone and he seemed to be a nice guy.  He asked me if I’d like to go for a drink with him and I thought why not.  He asked when I was free and said he was free that night.  Although put on the spot, I thought, why not, you’ve got to be in it to win it.  The department head had overhead my conversation and came bounding over like a little puppy.  Oh, you’re going on a blind date, how exciting! She then proceeded to tell most of the department about my blind date.  No pressure then.

    When we were discussing on the phone where to meet, he asked me what I look like.  I said, short, with dark hair and olive skin.  He described himself as 6ft, slim and Mediterranean looking. One of my friends in the department said he would be my get out clause if the date wasn’t going well and would go out nearby to make sure I was safe and there if I needed him.

    I went to Leicester Square to meet the man of the hour and my phone rang. “I’m here,” he said, “where are you?”  I told him where I was waiting, and he said he’s stay on the phone to make sure we met up.  I scanned the area looking for a tall, Mediterranean looking man.  I looked and looked, I saw a man coming towards me on a phone, but he was too short. He then said, “I think I can see you, yes, I’m right in front of you.” I looked up and saw a man on the phone.  The only way I can describe him was that he looked exactly like Danny DeVito playing the Penguin in Batman.  He was short, around 5ft 4inches, very pasty and not quite as slender and he had suggested.

    Anyway, I couldn’t flee as he had spotted me.  I did the right thing and went to the pub with him.  He didn’t ask me any questions about myself.  He said I didn’t look like I had described myself.  I held my tongue.  He then proceeded to tell me about his recent divorce and asked me if I found him attractive.  I was diplomatic and said, “I’ve only just met you so it’s too early to tell.” He excused himself and went to the toilet.  I quickly called my friend and told him I needed rescuing, He asked me when, but I couldn’t reply because my date had returned, I mouthed a sorry for being on the phone but carried on with the call.  My friend said he would say some times and I should say yes when I wanted him to come.  It was 6.30pm, he said "7.30pm", "no", "7.00pm", "no", "6.45pm", "no", "now?" "Yes!!"

    He came to the pub to rescue me, stating that he had tickets for a show and wanted me to go with him.  I made my excuses and left.  It turned out my friend did have tickets to see Eddie Izzard, we went and saw the show, and I missed the last train home, so I had to stay at his place in central London.  The next morning, I had to do the walk of shame into work, wearing the same clothes as yesterday.  My department head clocked this straight away and said, “You must have had a good night”.  I was ribbed by a few of the guys in the office, but not as much a I was when I told them the full story. 

     

    Dating really isn’t an easy game!  

    Fred Foster

  2. The first thing that attracted me to Brandy Hole was the breathtaking views across the River Crouch.  It's truly beautiful all year round.  The second thing that attracted me to this venue is the really lovely, helpful team.  Nothing is too difficult for them.  They certainly go the extra mile to make sure you have the day of your dreams. 

    Learn more about this exceptional venue and its team. 

    How long has Brandy Hole been hosting weddings?

    Brandy Hole was previously a restaurant and during the time as a restaurant, held several weddings and events. As demand increased, Brandy Hole officially converted to a designated Events venue in May 2016.

     What do you consider the wow factor of your venue?

    The foremost WOW factor here at Brandy Hole, are our spectacular and unrivalled views overlooking the beautiful River Crouch and surrounding countryside. Everyone loves photos to establish the memories they have made, and this surely makes us “Insta-worthy”! Some people think we are a summer-time only venue, but with such a stunning backdrop, many have taken the opportunity to have Winter weddings here too. Photographers regularly compliment the lighting inside our main room (called the River room) due to the high windows that span the whole length of the room – meaning photos for the Register signing have an extra-special touch too! Additionally, Musicians that have performed here rave with such enthusiasm, about our impressive acoustics – inside AND outside. As we are not near any source of noise pollution, the veranda can be so calm and serene; throw in some live music and the atmosphere transforms (because of this we have many clients interested in developing the festival vibe – which is great because we can offer on-site camping).

     River Crouch

    How many weddings do you like to host in week?

    As we offer exclusivity to our clients, meaning that they are the only ones on our premises during their celebrations, we are restricted to 1 per day and for our small team this is perfectly suited for us! Where we can offer to clients to set up the day before, we do, this way the clients tend to feel even more relaxed, having seen with their own eyes that it is ready and looks just how they have envisioned for months, if not years!

     Do your couples have exclusive use of your venue on their wedding day? 

    Absolutely, we have the main River room that hosts the bar, the terrace, and grounds as well as two substantial rooms for them to utilise as they see fit, be it a dedicated bridal suite, children’s crèche or the ‘foodie’ room by having evening food and sweet treats set up in there. We offer them total flexibility and say Yes where others say No – for example we are super excited about a couple of weddings that will be featuring their pets! The team all love a fluffy bundle of joy and we know that they are an integral part of ones’ family, so we are delighted for everyone to be included in the celebration. With the exclusivity of their hire, this means dogs and the like, have some space to enjoy themselves, running about our outside areas.

     Wedding Ceremony

    What’s your favourite part of a couple’s wedding day?

    Ooh, that is so hard to choose! Personally, one of my favourite moments is watching them as they first see each other (not necessarily walking down the aisle, as we have had a couple meet with the registrars together, and that was particularly emotional to watch) just because you can see the pure love and joy flow out of their faces, big grins, and the occasional happy tear. It is very magical and overwhelming to realise you are part of such a special day. On the wedding days that we do not host the ceremony, my favourite part has to be the first dance. Everyone is more relaxed by this point, they are highly satisfied with food and drink, and again, you are sharing a really special moment in time with the couple. Some do highly entertaining dances, whilst others are understated and emotional, but no matter the style they go for, or the song they choose, by the end they are surrounded by their loved ones having a great time tearing up the dancefloor. The euphoria is almost always palpable, and I have been known to join a guest or two on the dancefloor. (I always check I am allowed ahead of the actual day though!)

     Decor at Brandy Hole

    Do you prefer to do Dry Hire or Direct Hire weddings?

    Direct hire, no hesitation! Dry hire is great for allowing more cultural occasions to be brought to life here; we find the Asian community are particularly big fans of this. With Direct hire it means I get a far more hands-on approach and I really feel I am contributing and assisting in making their day all it can be. I love it when I get a unique request and to develop their idea so that the logistics work - such as having a blessing on the terrace, or a hot tub for the party! With the Direct hire type, it also means I have the utmost confidence in the suppliers we use as we have much experience in working with them and we share the same vision for high quality. Plus, having our bar open means I get to witness the guests having fun whilst offering some more novel drinks to tickle their taste buds – our bar manager Matt has converted me into a rum drinker and I am in love with a caramel rum from Puerto Rico. Guests love the unique knowledge and drinks that we supply which makes their night even more memorable.

     Brandy Hole Team

    If a couple books your venue, what sort of service can they expect right up to their wedding day?

    Imagine a human form of Google (though my knowledge isn’t THAT vast) – I am here for them every step of the way and can be as regular in communication as they need me to be. I invite questions and prefer it when I get lots because I can tell they have lots of ideas and are thinking about all their different options. If I can sense a couple are looking for guidance I offer suggestions too – decision fatigue is a very real issue, and one I don’t want my clients to encounter. I look to have a personable connection with my clients as it helps me, the better I know them and their tastes. Aside from making them feel comfortable and stress-free in their wedding planning, it is important to me to be detail-orientated so that they know everything is being considered. Couples can expect a genuine interest from me as well as superior organisation that will keep them on track. On the day, I try to resemble a ninja – making sure everything is flowing smoothly, happening on time and that all the guests are comfortable – but I like to do so without being too noticeable.

     Do you host same-sex ceremonies and receptions?

    Yes, absolutely! The owner of Brandy Hole, Debbie, and our Marketing Manager, Becca, are in fact engaged themselves and we embrace all couples, whatever their backgrounds or preferences. We know that love has no boundaries, so nor do we. I am very proud of the lovely feedback we have had from same sex couples that have told me how comfortable and welcome they felt here.

     Shaun and Carl

    Photograph courtesy of Ross Willsher Photography

    Do you offer tastings for couples who have booked their wedding with you?

    Providing their booking is a Direct hire then yes, we absolutely offer tasting sessions for couples. We ask that they choose their preference for menu and then I liaise with their caterers to run an exclusive tasting session for them, here at Brandy Hole. This way the clients get to test exactly the food they plan to have whilst having more opportunity to discuss the food element with the caterer face to face, sometimes tweaking the menu to be more bespoke (we love our suppliers to be just as flexible as us). They are fantastic and will always happily cater for food allergies or intolerances, which is a frequent question. I know they will love the food as I have tried practically everything myself and unfortunately my waistline keeps reminding me of that!

     How many weddings do you host a year?

    Last year we hosted 16 weddings with a whole myriad of events throughout the year, this year we have the same, with more ‘late’ bookings still coming in. In fact, in the past week alone, we have taken 3 new deposits. We found a little while ago, a phase of bookings coming in for 2019 and 2020 rather than this year which is great news – and it gives me extra time to plan their weddings! As our rate of enquiries is climbing quickly, we have couples waiting over a month for an appointment to view the venue, so I do advise interested couples to get in touch with us as soon as possible to give them the earliest possible appointments for us to get the plans under-way.

    Wedding at Brandy Hole

     Do you hold consultations so that the couples can get to know you and your venue?

    Absolutely! The moment we receive an enquiry I request their preference for when they would like to visit. This way they can see the views and the venue with their own eyes, we can get to know each other – I particularly like to hear how they met, how the proposal happened and just generally about what they feel is important for their day. I then run through the core elements for their special day and following the meeting I provide an initial quote. We are happy to tweak these quotes until the clients have it just as they want and the first one generally creates a great foundation for us to build from. I have had some couples have their family accompany them which I really like as I get to meet more people, and they usually come up with some good questions for the couple. I get super excited when couples have a folder and take notes or refer to questions they have already thought of as I know we will work harmoniously if they are evidently just as organised as me!

    Click here to visit the Brandy Hole website. 

     Brandy Hole