It certainly has been a blazing June so far and the relative cool of the HUB has been providing a welcome respite from the hot weather outside. Despite the high temperatures the staff and volunteers have continued to provide the wonderfully friendly service which we have become used to and as always we are most grateful to them all especially when the heat can be so physically exhausting.
News this month:
Announcing a new supplier. Recently Charlie and Nikki Allhusen, who started Olive’s Kitchen in 2013 and who are based in Sherborne, offered Ellen the opportunity to sample some of their ready meals. She was suitably impressed so much so that we are now going to stock a limited supply of their dishes starting with lasagne and fish pie, both less than £5. The dishes are all made from family recipes using the finest local ingredients wherever possible. So whether you’re having a quiet night in or entertaining family and friends you can now buy proper home-cooked food at the HUB shop with minimum fuss and maximum convenience. There are brochures available in the shop with full details about Olive’s Kitchen.
A reminder about our (modest) library that is situated on the mezzanine floor above the Shop. Have a browse and see if there is a book that interests you. If so the procedure for signing a book out and returning it is very simple. At this point the shelves are full and so, tempting thought it may be to offload some of our unwanted books, there really is no more room for the moment.
The Post Office is often mentioned in this newsletter and we know how popular it is becoming for the range of services it offers, including personal banking and foreign exchange. However, its opening hours are not entirely within our control as it is a franchise operation from its HQ in Fordingbridge. Extending opening hours is dependent on how much the service is used. At the moment the Post Office is open four mornings a week, (9.00 and 1.00 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday). The cost of opening for three days is covered under the franchise arrangement and the cost of the fourth day is covered by the HUB so we are doing all we can to increase the opening times. Over time it is our aim to have the service operating five morning a week. The more it is used the quicker this can happen. As you may know Richard James plans to retire in March next year and he is currently busy training up Tracey Burge who is aiming to take over from him then.
The Chalke Valley History Festival. By the time you read this newsletter the History Festival will be in full swing. The Shop and Coffee Shop are fully stocked ready for what is expected to be a considerable increase in visitors to the area.
We are most grateful to those of you who participated in the survey. It is always useful to have feedback in order to make sure we are providing what our customers want and at a price that is acceptable. We have studied the findings carefully and where feasible and affordable we will be making the necessary changes either immediately or over a period of time. Briefly these are the main points that emerged and where relevant, the action that has either been taken already or is being planned.
Quality of Fruit and veg – there will now be more frequent deliveries to make sure that the produce is always as fresh as possible and in plentiful supply:
Encouraging Shop customers to use the Coffee Shop – we have dedicated a space on the blackboard to advertise the Coffee Shop. In addition we will highlight take-away hot drinks and panini’s in the Shop behind the till. We are investigating buying new table cloths as well as looking at ways of improving the lighting to enhance the ambience.
Price review – Ellen is undertaking a major price review, comparing ours to Waitrose. As food prices are generally going up it is a good time to be doing this. Inevitably we will not always be able to compete but when you take travel costs, convenience and less hassle into account plus what a difference supporting the community through the HUB makes, then a little extra cost on certain items can easily be justified.
Shop opening hours – We have looked carefully at the possibility of extending the shop opening hours, and have concluded that it would not be economically justified at the present time. The costs of doing so are thought likely to outweigh the benefits and our staff and volunteers are already fully stretched to cover the existing opening hours. We realise that this may disappoint some of you, particularly those travelling to and from work. We will of course keep this under review for the future
The Coffee Shop – now that the summer is really upon us we have moved the emphasis towards cold food on the menus. For example Burcombe Manor Farm are supplying their ham which is being made into delicious summer salads.
Also the Ansty Farm Shop is supplying us with freshly picked strawberries. So a summer meal awaits!
Whilst in the Coffee Shop notice the changing Chalke Valley seasons as displayed on the big screen courtesy of Ken Leslie whose photographs we use. These are also available in post card form in the Shop.
On that note this is an early reminder that Ken will be producing a calendar again for 2018. We will remind you about this again in September when it will be possible to put in your order.
Welcome to Elizabetta who is over from Italy working part time as an Au Pair for a local family. In order to improve her English she has gallantly volunteered to work at the HUB.
Notes for your diary.
The next Valley Coffee Morning will be held on Thursday 6th July i.e. the first Thursday of the month, from 10.00 to 12.00. This is very much a community event and in June it proved extremely popular and so do think about coming along again or for the first time, perhaps with a friend, and taking advantage of the special offer of £1 on all hot drinks.
Story time for Toddlers is held every Monday at 9.30 and is a really fun occasion for young children. We are very grateful to Janet Roe who organises the event and to her rota of readers.