Sunday, 5 March 2017

2016-2017


Writers block, coupled with constant fear that I have too much to do to sit down and summarise it all can explain the length of time it's taken me to write this blog. 
The last 6 or so months have been a whirlwind of change and development of the business as well as a lot of personal growth.

Moving back to south Wales presented me with a new set of challenges. I first started a job in Cardiff Metropolitan Student Union as the Assistant Bar Manager. Rush hour traffic and paying for city parking coupled with generally crappy hospitality wage
 got old fast. When my own business got completely sidelined I knew it was time to find something different. I took a short stint to manage the bar at The Castle Hotel in Aber before touching back down in Risca to look after my mum whilst she recovered from a hip replacement. Living at home was a strange experience after having my independence for so long, but it meant becoming closer with my family and friends down that way. Catching milestones that I may well have otherwise missed.

PAST EVENTS
Since my last blog post I've appeared with various friends at various venues as The Wonder Bar!

First stop was Alfie-Fest in Cardiff back in July.

Hannah & me!
Myself, Hannah & Tom rocked up to the Printhaus in Cardiff, a creative venue used as a space for artists, fashion designers, printers and all sorts to make and sell their wares. Alfie's Beer Bus run by Paul and his lovely fiancée Holly were the hosts, bringing the little venue to life with live music and a smorgasbord of pop up food stalls; clothes stores & vans. We were nestled nicely opposite the stage and although I was frantically buying ingredients minutes before the event started, we met some really friendly faces and served up a variety of unique floral cocktails and mocktails to kick off the summer.
The Daisy Chain
At this point, I'd developed a range of floral sugar syrups to add to the cocktails for a unique flavour. These sparked an interest at Alfie-Fest and these would expand ready for my next event which was the following month back in Aberystwyth at the Sea2Shore festival.

The Aberystwyth Sea2Shore Festival is an annual summer celebration of local food, drink & all things seafood held overlooking North Beach on the seafront. Such events that are in public domain mean that I can't sell alcohol for people to drink on the streets due to legal restrictions. So as well as selling some off-sales of gin from the Dyfi Distillery (delicious artisan gin made with botanicals foraged in the Dyfi biosphere- highly recommended!) and real ales from the Untapped Brewing Co. in South Wales, I also developed a range of summery sugar syrups so that customers can create their own cocktails and mocktails at home.


The syrups I make are sugar syrups, so they're definitely not good for you - but there's no ingredients except the sugar, water and natural flavours which I endeavour to make, forage or find myself.
This lavender was simmered in syrup hours later!
There was a wonderful atmosphere with plenty of friendly faces and I was helped by two of my fantastic friends Anna & Heather, who kept me occupied and juggled and sang with me until all the stock was gone! 
My two lovely helpers at Sea2Shore

After August, I had a bit of a break where I attempted my new job in Cardiff. Being an assistant manager in a busy student union would usually be right up my street. Unfortunately it was more of a glorified Starbucks with the bar barely ticking over. The 5.30am wake up calls to avoid the rush hour traffic soon took its toll when my own business was put on the backburner. Realising this job wasn't creating any opportunities. I took the time to focus on looking after my family and my venture.

Next up was The Wonder Bar's first wedding!
I travelled back up to Ceredigion to prepare for a wedding that was booked through the wedding show in January. 
Photo courtesy of Keith Morris
The day itself went as well as it could have. Myself, Dicky & Hannah served real ale courtesy of Oast House Brewery, welsh cider from Gwynt Y Ddraig and lots of wine - So much so, I had to rush off to buy more during the speeches! The wedding and after service was a huge learning curve in how to deal with certain obstacles in business.

At this point my little Astra was being loaded down by far too much booze and suffering the effects of so much weight so I invested in a lovely little Citroën Berlingo to get me around! If anyone knows of a great printer where I can get some magnetic signage for the van, hit me up - she needs decorating!

The end of 2016 saw a couple of Christmas markets in the county of Caerphilly happen. I like to meet my customers face-to-face, which is difficult in this technological age. Hence why my blog posts are so lengthy... I have a lot to say!

Me at Caerphilly Christmas Market

Caerphilly Christmas Market & Blackwood Winter Fair were a great chance to meet lots of lovely faces, sell some products and get the brand out there. It wasn't necessarily a financially worthwhile venture (although I didn't lose any money - I still have stock left over!) but we're building a name for ourselves through events.


Shan danced, sang & drew the crowds
 in at Blackwood!
Caitlin kept me fed and coffee'd
at Caerphilly















My two beautiful friends Shan & Caitlin kept me company/sane and I created a new range of Christmas syrups and mocktails to be sold on the 2 consecutive weekends. Even though it was something different, it was received well by the public!

Gingerbread syrup was the Christmas favourite!

2016 was drawn to a close for us in Ynyslas, Mid-Wales. Now, 
I've had to start referring to The Wonder Bar as the royal 'we' - not only because 'I' doesn't sound right any more, but because the 'we' is a combination of fantastic people who have been drawn into this idea as it flourishes. Wonderful people I've met along the way, friends and family who have patiently sat with me whilst I rabble away into streams of consciousness. Those who have designed, drawn, danced, muddled and poured. I have the best network and they keep me uplifted - I love you all, thank you!
Hannah on NYE
And what a way to end the year - Kirk Holland: the name of Black House and Swing City creator, put on a blast of a party as ever to see 2017 in swinging! Massive thanks to him & his entourage for yet another epic night at The Hootenanny Hoedown!


Dutty Moonshine donned the decks & we danced behind the bar all night. Our little team worked our socks off and sold all the booze there was to be had in Ynyslas that evening! - And exactly one year on from the first event, I realised how much I'd learnt this past year. It couldn't have gone more smoothly with what we had and where we were (In a tent, on a farm, in the middle of nowhere!) I can only see it getting bigger and better and I'm so excited to grow now. The name is getting out there and there's a clearer picture of what we're about.

I've written more about what's happening now and what's to come but this blog is long enough so I'll save it for another day (It won't be another 8 months....)
On that note, I'll leave you with the newest development:




Thanks to Josh Parke, his donated time, effort & his super savvy tech skills, I now have a beautiful website, that shows off what we provide as a service. I can't thank him enough for producing something that I never would have been able to even express!

As always, tell your friends, tell them to tell their friends and if you're reading this, please feel free to say hello!