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Wake, work, eat, sleep. Repeat.

Scotland's 5 Level (apparently Tiers are English) restrictions for business is forcing many to mothball or sadly close for good. Gleneagles

Lovely friends, I’ve struggled to write this week’s letter.

If you’re like us, you’re living on repeat. Wake, work, eat, sleep. Repeat. I’ve felt like I’m in limbo, a cross between bored and stunned. It’s confusing!

There really are no (polite) words to describe 2020 but November has been Purgatory; halfway between Heaven and Hell.

This new Covid monotony is totally draining. Where are we going?

Scotland’s 5 Level (apparently Tiers are English) restrictions for business is forcing many to mothball or sadly close for good. Gleneagles, The Grand Dame, is closing for 11 weeks. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The mass of other businesses that don’t know what to do for the best or have already stopped and may never start again. Add the thousands of suppliers in the support chain and the only word is catastrophe.

Delays in knowing when we will be moving in and out of the Levels then add the regional variations. It’s like Russian roulette.

Last week has been one of the hardest mentally for all our team. Level 3 restrictions which limit hospitality to less than half of a trading day with half its offer is crippling licensed venues.

The statistics say Edinburgh should be in Level 2. I feel like I’m gambling on which side of the coin the weekly Tuesday’s announcement will leave us. Temporary closing may be a higher cost than potentially being able to operate at Level 2 in a week’s time. Is this a game of Patience or Backgammon? Whatever the game, we’ll end up in the red!

My father loved card games. From a tiny age I’d play with him for hours. First to 10 wins! This feels like we’re playing a game now. But the Government shouldn’t be asking hospitality to be gambling at these levels; the stakes are far too high.

Our focus in the business has been ensuring we are fit to compete. We’re still in the game and may just about be able to cope with Level 3 restrictions in November. But we MUST (no room for hope) be able to plan to return to sustainable trading levels for at least December. This feels like the biggest gamble of our lives.

The public may be exhausted with the monotony, business is exhausted with the strategy.

Next month may find we are in countdown to another lockdown, but that may just be a bet.

On a separate note I have an addiction, it’s my escape from reality. I’m awake most mornings at 5am. If you follow us on twitter you’ll know of my affliction. Sanditon, the ITV series whose worldwide besotted fans are crying out for a second season. The smouldering hero’s brother, Tom, is an early 19th century property developer. Grand designs but reckless with the funds and he chooses not to pay the insurance. After a tragic fire our heroine, Charlotte, and love of her life, Sidney, have their happy ever after stolen on a gamble.

The exciting news, the Sanditon Sisterhood (yes there is such a thing) has asked me to write some Regency recipes for them. I’ve not been as happy in ages. Positively thrilling I hear you say were my thoughts exactly!

Back to real life, all of us in hospitality paid our insurance, but ours hasn’t paid out. Our grand designs have been measured and considered but we’re having to gamble on the next Level, in more ways than one. Here’s hoping Sanditon fans and hospitality and everyone that shares in it’s joy and fun get many more seasons. Happy ever afters shouldn’t be gambled on and should be the only thing on repeat.

Keep well and keep safe


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