Where everybody knows your name
Some time back we decided to give our nearest eating place Bistro 16 a try. We liked the food, the ambience and especially Kym (with a Y) and Robin the husband and wife team who ran it. During the last nine months since MTL left me I have really grown to appreciate a place ‘where everybody knows your name’ and you are made welcome – not just by Kym and the staff but by the other customers who react like flowers to the sunshine of Kym’s smile and banter. Many of the clientele go every day and Kym knows all their little idiosyncrasies. It amuses me how many of them sit at separate tables whilst joining in the general conversation.
The other day Kym said:
‘I hope you don’t mind my asking but didn’t you used to be a model. I’d love to see your photos sometime.’Normally this makes me groan inwardly as I always think people expect Richard Avedon type shots whereas I was more ‘the girl next door’ type model. However for a while I had been trying to pluck up courage to ask her for an interview as I had always felt a connection - so it was good to know she was happy about my doing a profile on her.
Kym is in her early fifties with a vibrant personality. Robin - and yes he is her true love, is her second husband and like me, she waited until her children had left home before ending her marriage. She met Robin through a dating agency which was a postal service. Both of them were sent five possibilities and both their names were top of each other’s list as being most suitable. Robin was the fifth candidate that Kym met and she said:
‘It was like coming home.’
I recognised the deep contentment of a woman whose husband’s chief aim is to make his wife happy.
Kym spent her first 43 years in Droitwich Spa – a town in northern Worcestershire situated on massive deposits of salt which have been extracted there since ancient times. The water is ten times stronger in salt than sea water and is rivalled only by the
An only child Kym used to love to visit her Bompits (grandfather) in Minehead and she remembers, aged 12 - buying a book on horses in a shop opposite to what is now Bistro 16. Way back the Bistro was a bank – the basement has been concreted over and myth has it there is still money stored in the sealed up coffers.
Bompits was an amateur photographer and Kym used to sleep in his dark room which was painted black. To take her mind off the resident spiders she would pretend to be a Dalek and recited the alphabet in a Dalek voice so – naturally - Granddad became Bompits. I remembered she told me recently that she made up recipes when she couldn’t sleep and I enjoyed one of the results - a liquorice cheese cake.
She was trained in horsemanship by the Olympic champion John Lassiter, is still extremely fit and loves her golf. She had three children and her first marriage lasted 23 years. She is trained in aerobics, has sold children’s clothes, jewellery and in her thirties started acting – which she loved – and gained an equity card. She did some TV and photographic work and at one time had her own business selling overseas a fuel saving device for the poultry industry.
In her thirties there was a contest to choose the Carnival Queen - Miss Bromsgrove and she and a friend wrote a comedy skit on beauty contests. Then one of the contestants had to withdraw and Kym was invited to take her place. To everybody’s surprise Kym won it and there was muttering from the teenage contestants and their followers. So much so that Kym was ignored and didn’t get any of the normal invitations that a Carnival Queen expects. The unfairness of this was taken up by the Press and as a result Kym appeared on The David Frost show, That’s Life. ITV’s Today and all the papers.
During her year as Queen she earned a great deal of money for charity by organising a fashion show for Debenhams with a story line
Eventually her marriage failed because she and her husband had widely differing interests.
After Kym met Robin they visitedThey were strolling down a boulevard of cafes with customers sitting outside when Kym was entranced by some beautiful music. She persuaded Robin they should sit inside - the better to hear this fantastic musical trio. Not only did the beauty of the music bring tears to her eyes but she was fascinated by the Madame – a soignée woman who glided round the restaurant ensuring all was running smoothly and gracing the room with her presence. There and then Kym determined she was going to be that woman.
where Kym had an
Meanwhile the musicians noticed they had moved a customer to tears and clustered round her whilst she tried to eat her steak and sob without slobbering too much.
Back in Minehead they bought a guesthouse with 8 bedrooms and Kim learned the importance of the green baize door. She freely admits that she was going through the menopause at this time so on one side of the door side she was a monster blaming Robin for anything and everything whilst on the other side she was the adorable Madame. Then they planned to buy The Rectory which required much renovation but were beaten to the post by someone else who then went bust.
So they bought Peppercorns which morphed into Bistro 16. It hasn’t all been plain sailing. They inherited a group of elderly ladies who believed they owned the restaurant. They would come every day at coffee time and sit there till the afternoon demanding their quite grubby cushions which had been stored behind the bar. Kym had to point out that behind the bar was out of bounds for customers.
It was only a matter of time before Kym heard the ringleader bad mouthing the food to new customers and was forced to bar her.
Very different from today’s happy customers.
Sadly nothing lasts forever and tragedy struck when Robin’s son died. Now they both want to be nearer to their extended family so they can see their grandchildren’s school concert and similar occasions – not too close to be constant baby sitters however. Businesses are slow to move but sooner or later theirs will be sold – we shall be the losers and Kym and Robin will start their next big adventure.
See photos below.