Sunday, 14 December 2008

We Are Open!

Following the second recent Flood on December 13th, we are fully open again from today. Indeed, Saturday 13th felt more like Friday 13th! It was due to see the final step in our phased reopening since the October flooding with the opening of our newly refurbished Devon Food Shop.

This most recent flood brought fast flowing water through the carpark again, but this time only the craft shop in the gallery was flooded. We were able to dry it out over night with minimal damage and we prevented further flooding in the Bakery and Jewelery Studio through extensive sand bagging.

Now that the water has retreated, we are reverting to our original reopening schedule. The temporary food shop in the carpark has served us well, but we are now delighted to be back in business with a new layout and style.

We hope you will come and see us soon and help us make up for a lot of loss ground in the lead-up to Christmas.

Best wishes,

Everyone at Otterton Mill

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Mill hit again by flooding!

Sadly, we have today been closed by flooding again, just 2 weeks after our re-opening following the 30 October flood. This morning, after prolonged and heavy rainfall during the night, the River Otter has again burst its banks. The water has crossed the car-park, over-filled the leat and caused patches of flooding in the courtyard to the extent that we had no choice but to close our doors once again to our customers. Thankfully, this will be a very short-term closure, as the waters have now levelled and are gradually receding. We will, barring further extensive rainfall, re-open on Sunday 14th December.
It really is another devastating blow to the business, but we're determined to get through this current difficult time, and are looking forward to a more fortuitous 2009. Thanks again to all of our customers and neighbours who have offered their help again today.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Full Reopening, Saturday November 29th

We are delighted to announce that the Mill should be open again, in full, on Saturday November 29th. This date is still subject to final confirmation from Munters, the firm responsible for the cleaning and drying process, and that confirmation is due on Thursday November 26th.

This means we will be going ahead with our Christmas Fair on the 29th. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the day.

Thanks again to everyone for their ongoing words of encouragement and support.

Everyone at the Mill

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Bread Now Available from Mill

Otterton Mill Bakers Roy Hamilton and Peter Smith, having baked the first post flood bread for our retail partners who include B Natural in Exmouth, the East Budleigh Community Shop and Trumps of Sidmouth.

"We are delighted to be back in business so quickly, especially as we've been told this was the worst flooding for at least 40 years" said Simon Spiller, who runs the mill with his wife Caroline. "Through the fantastic efforts of our staff and other partners we have been able to beat all the estimates on the time-frames for reopening" he added. "We were told by some experts that we would probably be closed until Christmas. But with some creativity and hard work we've been able come-up with a phased opening plan which should see most of the mill open by November 27th at the latest" said Caroline.

The Spillers are delighted with the way the whole team at the mill have responded to the challenge of achieving a rapid reopening after all of their historic mill buildings were flooded to depths of up to two feet. "It has even felt like a team building activity for those of us involved in the clean-up" Caroline added. "We would also like to thank clean-up specialists, Munters, and local land owner Clinton Devon Estates for their very active support" she said.

Since the mill restaurant will probably be closed for another week or two, the temporary shop will be serving a limited food-to-go menu, including: hot soups, baguette sandwiches and hot coffee.

Everyone at the mill is looking forward to seeing their much missed customers once again!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Bakery and Shop to Reopen on November 12th

Some good news at last. Our Bakery and Devon Food Shop will be open tomorrow, November 12th, offering a limited service.

Bread will be delivered once again to our wholesale outlets and in our temporary food shop in the car park at the Mill. All other facilities will remain closed until further notice.

Since the restaurant will probably be closed for a couple more weeks, the shop will also be serving a limited food to go menu, including:
  • Hot Soup
  • Baguette Sandwiches
  • Hot Coffee

We look forward to seeing you back at the Mill very soon.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Mill Reopening Timeframes

Many thanks to everyone who has offered support and enquired about our progress towards reopening. At the time of writing all buildings have been cleaned and sanitised, with fans and dehumidifiers installed to accelerate the drying process. Some buildings could take more than 3 weeks to dry and refit, others will be quicker as long as we have favourable weather conditions. Unfortunately, as we write, flood waters are again encroaching onto the car park and the sandbags have been re-installed. Please keep your fingers crossed for us.

Our current plans for reopening will probably follow the sequence outlined below, all time-frames are estimated and are changing daily. Please continue to monitor this blog for daily updates on the opening schedule:

Estimated Opening Sequence:
Bakery - Wednesday, November 12th
Temporary Shop - Thursday, November 13th (via a porta cabin in the car-park)
Gallery - Friday, November 21st
Restaurant - Friday, November 21st
Permanent Shop - Friday, November 28th
Mill and Full Site Opening - Monday, December 1st

The temporary shop will carry a limited range of breads, sandwiches, soup to go, plus other treats and Christmas produce.

We look forward to seeing you all soon.

Best wishes,

Everyone at Otterton Mill

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Letter to all well wishers

Dear Everyone,

As the owners of Otterton Mill we would like to express how touched and encouraged we are by the many expressions of support we have received from customers, suppliers, staff, volunteers and neighbour since the devastating flood of last week. We have been inundated with offers of help with the clean-up operation and we only wish we could take them all up. Due to the extensive nature of the flooding, most of the clean-up has to be conducted by a professional organisation, and that process has already started. Many people offering support have also enquired about our insurance and whether we are covered for flooding. At the time of writing we believe much of the cost associated with the clean-up and loss of business will indeed be covered, although we will loose some valuable preparation time for the important Christmas trade.

Since taking over the mill last spring we have faced a very challenging trading environment with the credit crunch, poor summer weather and lower than normal tourist volumes. This latest incident initially felt like another major set-back. However, the support we've received has been a massive boost and we are now looking for ways to turn this disaster into an opportunity. For example, we've decided to launch a charity called Friends of Otterton Mill as soon as possible. This charity will hold funds to support the ongoing restoration of the historic mill workings. With the support of so many regular customers, we hope a Friends of Otterton Mill fund will help us keep the mill and regular milling demonstrations available to the public at no fee.

We would especially like to thank the customer who posted a letter of support on the fence near the Mill entrance and we would like to assure that customer, and all others, that we are indeed looking to resume normal business as soon as possible .

With many thanks to all well wishers,

Caroline and Simon Spiller
Otterton Mill Ltd

Friday, 7 November 2008

Chicken Rescue

Our 5 ex-battery hens survived a traumatic ordeal in their hen-house after flood waters lashed against the walls throughout the night of 30th October. Our brave girls (Elena, Treacle, Rosie, Jasmine and Marmalade) had arrived in their new home only 2 weeks prior to the floods, having spent the first year of their lives in a cage with a floor area no larger than an A4 sheet of paper. They had taken to their new surroundings with relish and had already established the pecking order with Elena triumphing as hen-in-chief. Unluckily for them, the flooded River Otter left them stranded inside their new home as a torrent of water and debris battered the sides of the wooden structure. Thankfully, the house was built on 3 foot stilts which kept the floor of the coop just inches from the river as it peaked. The girls were rescued from their plight by a team of RSPCA wardens as the flood waters receded. They are now safe and dry in a temporary home in the care of Helen and Simon, their owners.

Otterton Mill Flood Update

On 30th October 2008, Otterton Mill was hit by the worst floods in at least 40 years. The entire complex was under water for about twelve hours due to freak weather conditions isolated to the Otter Valley.

Head Baker, Roy Hamilton, discovered the flood at 5am and alerted Ed Chester, Head Chef, who came in to help Roy reach the mill. Caroline and Simon were on holiday in Cornwall with Emily and after receiving word from Roy returned immediately. By 11am when they arrived the water was starting to retreat and the extent of the damage became apparent. All of the building had been flooded, up to depths of two feet in some parts of the original mill building, and standing water remained in the bakery and shop.

The clean-up, salvage and rescue (see chicken update on this blog) operations started immediately and we thank everyone for all their offers of help and support. We are especially grateful to our neighbours, Bruce and Jill Beacham, for providing us access to their toilets during the clean-up. We've also had great support from all of our staff, many of whom are working around the clock to help us open as soon as possible.

At the time of writing we are faced with a disaster recovery process which could take up to two months to conclude. However, the opening will be phased and at the moment we expect our Bakery and a temporary Devon Food Shop to be back in business by Wednesday, November 12th. We are also planning to open a satellite gallery on Budleigh High Street, starting the week of November 19th. Many thanks to Tom at the Dairy and Angela of the Brook Gallery for their help arrange this option.

Finally, we are doing our best to create opportunity out of disaster. We will be launching a new charity, Friends of Otterton Mill, shortly to generate funds to help with the ongoing restoration of the mills ancient workings and to help us keep the mill and regular demonstrations available to the public at no fee. We will also be using the down time to refit our shop and other changes to the restaurant and gallery.

Please keep an eye on this blog for details of our opening and the launch of Friends of Otterton Mill.

Best wishes,

Everyone at the Mill