Welcome to Scoffed, a brand new food and drink blog for Bristol and the South West.
To be honest, Scoffed is a blog I never expected to be writing. But then, until last week, I hadn’t really anticipated my main employer of the past 25 years deciding they could no longer afford me despite posting a whopping £29m profit a few days earlier.
Although I wasn’t expecting an Argos carriage clock to mark more than a quarter century of writing for the newspaper, it could have been handled in a more dignified and open way after six months of limbo.
After several unanswered emails, my 25-year stint fizzled out with a short note from somebody I’d never met thanking me for my ‘excellent contribution’ over the past quarter of a century in much the same way a primary school teacher might praise a toddler for putting in a decent performance in the Christmas nativity play.
But then it shouldn’t have come as any real surprise – when you’ve worked in newspapers as long as I have, you get used to being told what to do by people who were still reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar when you were getting your first proud restaurant review byline. When you’re over 50, you soon realise that you have yellowing press cuttings older than most of your colleagues.
If anything, the situation I now find myself in has felt more like a relief than anything else.
From now on, I can set my own deadlines and there won’t be somebody back at the office clocking up those all important page views and clickthroughs.
Now it’s all about the quality of the writing and the opinions, rather than clickbait.
The generous and heartfelt reaction from people on Twitter over the past week has been genuinely overwhelming.
From messages of support to offers of work and investment in future projects, I have been deeply touched by the response. I’ve even had a few A-list food writer friends offering their services gratis, which is unbelievably generous and something I’ll never forget.
I will continue to write for newspapers and magazines as a freelance hack – with a mortgage and an increasingly expensive daughter to support, I need an income! – but my main focus is now Scoffed.
I hope this blog will quickly grow into the go-to source when it comes to Bristol and South West food news and reviews.
Of course, it will take time and there are already plenty of experienced bloggers doing a good job of covering the scene. But I’ll give it a go.
Who knows, if Scoffed takes off, it might expand its focus to cover a wider area and, eventually, appear in print as well as online – although I’ve never blogged before so please be patient as I’m still grappling with the basics of WordPress.
Restaurants and pubs are going through the worst time in memory due to the pandemic with its regulations, lockdowns, redundancies, closures and curfews so now is the time to support them more than ever. And if you run a restaurant or pub, do get in touch so I can spread your news and views.
In the meantime, I’ve never been hungrier to review the region’s ever-vibrant food scene.
My stomach is growling, my napkin is tucked into my collar and my pencil is sharpened in anticipation.
I think now is certainly the time to get Scoffed!