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We sold our interest in the Crown and Castle in Orford in October 2017. We had owned this restaurant with rooms for nigh on 20 years and not only felt we’d done everything we’d set out to accomplish, but were weary of the increasing struggle to run a business in this country. Even if you can ignore Brexit, and really no one should, the ever-burgeoning red tape is not conducive to health and happiness. Despite successive government’s promises to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises, and exactly the kind of acronym/jargon designed to induce apoplexy) that they will minimise the legislative and bureaucratic paraphernalia, exactly the reverse has happened.

From waste disposal and water storage to employee benefits and food traceability, there are more forms to fill in than there are whales left in the sea. The main aim of offering hospitality has become almost peripheral in the endless hours devoted to meetings about identifying possible mental illness in the workforce or the daily recording of fridge temperatures and every food delivery that comes through the door. I am not suggesting these things are not important, but dealing with bureacracy has long overtaken the core business of cooking and serving good food. Anyway, to use a Dragon expression, “I’m out” and very glad of it, too.

Of course this doesn’t mean I am not still madly interested in food, because I am. I continue to read about it all the time, cook (in a very clean kitchen) and eat with a greedy but critical palate – I just don’t have to wear a protective hat and blue gloves while I am doing it.

Watson and Walpole

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© 2021 Ruth Watson