I am co-owner of The Crown and Castle, together with my husband, David, and Tim Sunderland, a lifelong friend and ex-General Manager of Hintlesham Hall – which David and I owned from 1984 -1990.
From 1990 - 1996 I owned the Fox & Goose in Fressingfield, where I spent 2 years in the kitchen before migrating back to a front-of-house role. Having tripled the turnover in the first couple of years, I soon realised that we weren't going to progress any further as, without accommodation, there is only so far you can go. The joy of the F&G (or the effing G, as my husband so sweetly termed it) was serving the kind of food that I really wanted to eat myself, and believed others would as well. The thing is that food is only ever going to be exactly as one wants if one's working full time in the kitchen. And, if you are in the kitchen, there's nothing else you can do but be in the kitchen. As this was restricting, to say the least, I reluctantly decided to sell.
In 1999, having thought long and hard about whether we wanted to stay in hospitality, or even in Suffolk, David and I wrote to five establishments, asking if they were likely to be considering a sale in the near future.Three replied in the affirmative, one of which was the Crown and Castle. We had known Orford for many years and loved the village. It seemed exactly the right place to have a hotel and restaurant as, indeed, it has proved to be. While David is not quite so enamoured of the hotelkeeper's life as Tim and me, we all very much enjoy welcoming guests to this lovely part of Suffolk and, hopefully, offering them good quality accommodation and decent food.
I still consider being a hotelier and restaurateur as my 'proper' job, even though I have been so heavily involved in television in recent years – and I haven't written a book for about five years. High time to start.