Life At The Swan in 2021
2021 may be ending under a cloud of uncertainty, but we hope that this year you have been able to spend the festive season with your loved ones. As the year draws to a close, we thought we would take a look back on some of the more fun things that we have got up to and everything we have achieved at The Swan this year!
January and February
The year started as 2020 finished: in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic. So, The Swan went back online with our quiz and bingo nights. We also held a special online beer and cheese night on 6th February. A selection of fine cheeses from The Cheesemunger of Windsor paired with a selection of beers from the Rugby Six Nations were, delicious. It was also Rene's 99th birthday - we are still apologising for our singing!
Behind the scenes the Weekday Warriors kept testing negative and masked up to make progress on The Kitchen. Unfortunately, this required significantly more work than originally planned and the guys needed to add steel supports for the ceiling, a new internal back wall was built, and barrow by barrow load the floor was taken right back to the original ground level and slowly re-made.
March and April
In early March we hosted an online Horseracing and Beer Tasting Night, sampling beers selected from breweries close to each of the race courses. Who could forget the last race – the Old MacDonald Farm stakes – with horses named Woof Woof and Oink Oink. By the end, there wasn't a dry eye on the video call due to the tears of laughter.
The good news was that we re-opened on 12th March, though following strict government guidelines. As The Courtyard was going to be the focus of our spring pub activities, we held a volunteer day to make sure everything was ready to welcome customers again. On 22nd April, we welcomed the return of Dr Bike's free repair and bike maintenance sessions returned to The Courtyard, that was well received by the community. We also had time to celebrate St George's Day too and who could forget the start of the famous Epic Thursdays run by our students? What a couple of months!
Work on The Kitchen continued with the addition of damp proofing and more progress was made on the floor. On 9th April, a major milestone saw the new concrete delivered and it was all hands on deck to make sure it was laid correctly. As if all of that wasn't enough, the ventilator outlet was installed, beams in the ceiling were replaced and the stairs to The School House removed.
May and June
May was a busy month for us as the weather got better. We welcomed two packs of local Brownies for hot chocolate, biscuits and drawing, plus our first wedding reception was held in The Coach House: congratulations to James and Louise Brown. At the end of the month, we also had the first of our popular mini-markets in The Courtyard.
With the success of Dr Bike, we were pleased to welcome the brand-new Windsor Cycle Hub and host their launch event at the end of May. This charitable venture is aimed at growing cycling within Windsor and we are really excited that they have made The Swan their home. Also in May we were delighted to win the Round & About Good Cheer Award, celebrating heroes in the hospitality sector.
The Warriors continued squirreling away in the background replacing the stairs and working on the replacement of old and rotten beams in The Kitchen. The first fix for the electrics was started and new radiators were fitted in The Coach House. However, the most important piece of work that the Warriors completed was the installation of the dart board, an essential piece of equipment for any pub!
July and August
July saw the return of our monthly charity coffee mornings – this time supporting Windsor Homeless Project, our local charity for 2021. The mini-market also saw the first of this year’s produce from The Green Room's allotment go on sale, which always means a busy afternoon in The Courtyard. Our summer Saturday BBQs also returned, though slightly wetter than we had anticipated!
August's big event was the first ever Swanfest! A weekend of fun for all the family, with face painting and children's crafts during the day and live music every evening, plus some excellent guest ales.
With GR6 on summer holidays, the Warriors were able to move on at pace, sound proofing, insulating and fireboarding, as well as continuing reinforcement work to the joists in the kitchen. The warm weather also allowed some crucial work to the chimneys and roof, as well as restoring power and lighting to the stables. They even found time to strengthen and support the front wall of The Courtyard and smarten up the outdoor tables.
The 2021 AGM was also held in The Courtyard during July.
September and October
Two busy months saw Cheese and Wine Nights, Charity Coffee Mornings for Macmillan and The Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal, plus mini-markets and Dr Bike sessions too. On 19th September The Swan embraced a 'holiday' that most had never heard of before – International Talk Like a Pirate Day, with much swash and buckle on show for the day!
Oktoberfest turned The Swan into a little corner of Bavaria, serving three German beers and bratwurst from the barbeque, with more live music. Sadly, the weather somewhat dampened the atmosphere on Saturday, but Friday and Sunday more than made up for that. The weather struck again for Halloween, but we still had lots of fun when the sun came out, with pumpkin carving, live music from Mark and Sherridan and a visit from our very own black cat!
Work in the kitchen continued with preparations for the second fix of electrics, more fireboarding and plastering of the old 'room of doom' – also known as The Stockroom. The cellar got a new new drop to make barrel deliveries easier and the roof of the gents toilet was repaired to prevent leaks. Meanwhile, 'Maintenance Mondays' focused on some of the smaller jobs needed to keep The Bar and Coach House looking their best. The front gates also disappeared for a short while for renovation.
November and December
Remember Remember the 5th November – when The Courtyard was packed and the BBQ ran out of burgers?! A brilliant night of toffee apples, sparklers, burning the guy and music from new friends Back Track. This, was swiftly followed by Children in Need, when Micky got his legs waxed for the first (and probably the last) time and the staff and volunteers attempted to row down The Thames – all without getting wet and in the name of charity!
December saw Windsor's Living Advent Calendar come to The Swan as part of The Green Room's Winter Fayre. An evening of Christmas fun for everyone that included Santa’s first appearance at The Swan! He must have enjoyed it, as he based his grotto in Stable 1 for the next two Saturdays to check the children had behaved themselves before giving out hot chocolate and presents. The final quiz of 2021 and several of our plans for the festive season were slightly curtailed by the appearance of the Omicron variant, but it was great to see so many familiar faces in the bar on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Working in an old building is often testing and The Warriors needed maximum patience in ensuring that batons fixed to the kitchen wall were absolutely straight before being insulated, so that the final surface will be flat for equipment to be installed. They even worked through the weekend to ensure everything was done in time for the new flooring to go down.
Just in time for Christmas, RAS joined the warriors to fit the extraction canopy and stainless steel back wall. A huge amount of visible progress has been made in the last few weeks and it is fair to say that we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Watch our social media to see The Kitchen starting to look more like something you would recognise.
So, in these final days of 2021, as we look forward to welcoming 2022 with more live music on New Year’s Eve, we would like to thank you for all of your continued support of The Swan. We could not do this without each and every one of our investors, friends, customers and volunteers and we look forward to welcoming you in the bar – for a drink and some food (!) very soon!Have A Safe and A Very Happy New Year!