We hope to see you soon!
The World Gin Awards were announced earlier this week with Hernö Gin from Sweden taking the prestigious title of The World’s Best Gin 2017. And with the Scottish Gin Awards being launched in September this year, we were wondering, what do you think is the best Scottish gin?
Scotland now produces over 70% of the gin consumed in the UK and exports are predicted to outsell Scotch whisky by 2020. That is huge! In fact over the festive period Brits spent a whopping £136 million on gin. They certainly had a gin-tastic Christmas!
In Geraldo’s of Largs we now stock over 40 artisan gins in various sizes. We have a gin from every corner of Scotland; each with their distinct taste and their own blend of local botanicals. Come and discover your best Scottish gin!
In fact, what better way to try a wide range of gins than to come to Geraldo’s Gin Fest in November 2017? Last year was a sell-out success with lots of happy gin fans and even those who were new to gin found something that they loved. Tickets will be on sale very soon! Sign up to our newsletter to be one of the first to hear about it.
Today, 20th of June, marks a particularly poignant day for me as it’s 10 years ago today my father, Gerald, died of cancer. Many of you know my story and how my father inspired me in so many ways to grow and develop my business so for any of you who haven’t read the story of ‘Geraldo’s’ here’s the link to ‘The Story of Geraldo’s Ice Cream.’
To a lot of people Father’s Day is just another day created by the retail industry to encourage you to spend money. It seems everywhere I’ve been over the last few weeks there are marketing messages and sales offers to entice you to spend, spend, spend and show your dad he’s number one. If there’s anything I would like to ‘spend’ my money on it would be to give up everything I’ve worked for during the last 15 years to ‘spend’ just 1 day with my dad. Knowing my dad, if I could actually hear his voice, his response would be “Don’t be crazy, you know I’m with you every minute of every day anyway!” There are times when I absolutely do feel that but there are also times when I feel like screaming “Where the hell are you dad when I need you?” Inevitably something always happens to remind me he’s never far away.
Traditionally, Father’s Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June every year. A lady called Sonora Smart Dodd of Washington State was the first person to think it up back in 1910. Her father was a civil war veteran named William Smart. When Sonora’s mother died giving birth to her 6th child, William was left to raise all the children on his own. After a church sermon about Mother’s Day, Sonora suggested to her pastor they should have a Father’s Day and proposed her dad’s birthday, 5th of June, but the pastor had no time to prepare a sermon and moved it to the 19th of June. One of the earliest ways of celebrating the day was to wear a red rose if your dad was still alive or a white flower if your father was deceased.
What do fathers want?
According to a recent survey I read online 87% of dads would rather have dinner with their family. Simple, don’t you think and me – a retailer?!! Most fathers don’t want another tie, as 65% said they would rather get nothing than have yet another tie and before you go running out to buy your dad aftershave, only 18% of Dads said they would want some kind of personal care product. Not surprisingly only 14% of fathers said they wanted some kind of car accessory so why not make him something really special for his dinner tomorrow night and perhaps treat him with a little gift at the table. That’s something I’ll always remember my Dad doing and he always did it when we least expected it.
Whatever you do with your dad tomorrow, make the most of it and cherish every minute with him. If like me your father is no longer here these are for you.
Well here’s the 2nd instalment of my Did You Know feature and I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you that this weekend is a Bank Holiday weekend.
That means only one thing – all systems go for those of us catering for tourists or day trippers in any way. Stock orders in, all hands on deck and fingers crossed for some good weather, and let’s hope it’s several degrees warmer than it has been in the last few days.
Despite the drop in temperature I still have to be prepared for a hot, sunny spell and last week my delivery of ice cream cones came in, all 60+ boxes of them, so you could say I’m ready for some sunshine. We’ve changed our range of waffle cones this year and have a couple of new additions on offer including one rolled in popcorn and another rolled in milk chocolate vermicelli and, of course, our best selling nutty waffle. (My personal favourite!)
Thankfully I did actually manage that day away last week at the spa with Sweet Caroline. Unfortunately, after a somewhat painful massage to remove the lumps and bumps from my back and neck, I was guided into the relaxation room to recover then promptly fell asleep for the next 2 hours so most of the afternoon was gone! For those of you not working this weekend take time to relax, enjoy some family time and take advantage of the time off; you deserve it I’m sure.
Did you know this weekend also signals the start of Whisky Month and World Whisky Day is only a few weeks away when we Scots pay homage to our national drink. My display window is being dressed on Thursday and I’ll have more about what we’re doing in the shop in next week’s instalment including a fantastic offer on the newly acclaimed online Whisky School Courses.
Finally, did you know you can vote for us in the Waverley Golden Cone Awards? It’s the annual search to find Scotland’s favourite place to enjoy ice cream and since this is Geraldo’s 10th anniversary we’d love you to vote for us please. All you have to do is fill in the form online for your chance to win a fully stocked ice cream cart for a special event of your choosing. Closing date is Tuesday, 5th of May.
Good luck with your entry and have a great weekend everyone!
After last week’s blog about the start of the ice cream season and Geraldo’s 10th birthday I was sitting in my office this morning wondering what to write about next. So I’ve decided to introduce a weekly (this may be wishful thinking on my part) blog called:
Did you know?
Haven’t a clue what its going to be about but I’m sure if I book myself in for a day spa at Cameron House this week the inspiration will come to me. (Now that’s definitely wishful thinking!)
Here goes for this week’s instalment…
Did you know that Monday is our usual day for stripping down our Mr Whippy ice cream machine? The whole process takes about an hour or so, all the parts are sterilised and lubricated then the machine is filled again with fresh ice cream; Geraldo’s ice cream, of course, and we’re the only shop in Largs who puts fresh ice cream in our Mr Whippy machine. Did you know it’s Gluten Free? And did you know we now have Gluten Free cones to serve it in? Please tell your coeliac friends all about it and they’ll be your BFF!
Monday is also a day for stock orders and Bon Bons is usually first on my list. Did you know we stock over 100 different flavours of traditional hand packed sweets from Bon Bons? They also supply us with their melt in the mouth fudge, giant chocolate slabs, gourmet mallows and gorgeous gift bags filled with retro sweets, cinder toffee and flying saucers.
After a busy weekend with lots of visitors to Largs, did you know that the days following a busy period is when most small business owners like me start preparing for the next one? After all the stock orders for the week ahead are done, there’s admin, banking, accounting, payroll, staff rotas, forward planning, website updates, marketing…..the list is long but if the business is going to be ready for the next instalment of good weather and lots of visitors, we have to be organised and prepared for it.
Despite all of this, did you know Monday is my favourite day of the week? I like it even more if I’ve had a busy weekend. It’s a real shame for those of you who don’t enjoy, sorry LOVE, what you do, dread Monday mornings and the idea of going back to work. For someone like me who, 15 years ago didn’t like the idea of starting a business in Largs one little bit, did you know I absolutely love it here.
Have a great week everyone and keep your fingers crossed for me that I manage that well-deserved spa day. I’ll let you know next week!
We’re already well into celebrating the Year of Food & Drink in Scotland and at the first sign of sunshine Largs is overflowing with day-trippers, tourists and residents of the surrounding areas making the most of the good weather. Good weather brings lots of smiles to people’s faces and it also heralds the start of the ice cream season too.
With April being the month for award-winning foods we thought it was a perfect month to announce that Geraldo’s Ice Cream is celebrating its 10th birthday this month. There’s quite a story attached to how Geraldo’s began and you can read that here. We’ve picked up numerous awards over the years for our Classic Vanilla, Mint Choc Chip, Scottish Tablet, Gerry Berry and Natural Strawberry to name but a few but we have loads more flavours to choose from with 16 on the go at any one time.
My ice cream is made with Scottish milk and cream supplied to me by Mills Dairies in Largs and I use only the finest fruit purees and ripples. It’s also Gluten Free and Sugar & Spice is the only ice cream shop in Largs to put fresh ice cream in our Mr Whippy machine too.
We’re open late every night until at least 9pm so if you’re in town or driving through, drop by and give us a visit. If you’re on Facebook, why don’t you LIKE our page, CHECK IN if you’re in the shop and you can pick up TWO FREE TOPPINGS ON YOUR ICE CREAM.
Me and Mama Mia (Sweet Caroline) look forward to seeing you!
My Dad, Gerald Dawson, aka Geraldo!
I guess most girls think of their Dad as handsome but I remember this picture in particular because I took it. He had a great sense of style, a fabulous smile and was always upbeat, outgoing and full of energy. That was before the recession of the 90’s kicked in and he lost everything, home included, after 35 years in business. My parents moved in with me and shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. That was the beginning of a long hard struggle against ill health and trying to make a start again in business. Dad was absolutely determined to keep going no matter what.
I took the opportunity to start up myself in Largs operating a seasonal ice cream outlet near the CalMac ferry terminal. With a great deal of family support, Mum and Dad moved to Largs and whilst I accompanied Dad to hospital for ongoing treatment, Mum assisted me in the business. Two summer seasons later another shop came on the market directly opposite me. Dad was obviously feeling better around then and encouraged me to “go for it!” After successfully securing the lease on the property, Sugar & Spice started up in March 2000. With little more than a few £100 in cash to get going, I fitted out the shop with very basic kitchen units, hand painted them in bright candy pink stripes and tried to get really creative filling such a large space with well-packaged confectionery and holiday rock.
My Mum had always been in the ice cream business and started up ‘Caroline’s Ices’ in Ayr back in the early 60’s and I knew from the family’s previous business interests that I had to sell ice cream to make the business work long term. Largs has a strong history of Italian ice cream families and the Nardini name is known all over the world. Equipment is hugely expensive and there was no way I could afford to buy. What chance did I have with so much going against me? I decided to contact several suppliers to see who could loan me a display cabinet and supply me with good quality ice cream. The Orkney Creamery was a family business like ours and their wonderfully creamy ice cream was just what I wanted. It was a small cabinet to begin with, 8 flavours I recall, and situated inside the shop. Knowing that ice cream is an impulse buy, I knew the cabinet had to be within eyesight of passing customers if it was going to work so after the first season I submitted a planning application to open up one of my front windows so that the ice cream could be served directly onto the street. What a difference that made! Three years on and the Orkney Creamery could no longer keep up with demand and they told me at the end of that summer they could no longer supply me. It was a real blow at the time but sometimes you don’t realise that a seemingly bad situation is really an opportunity in disguise.
Dad was hugely supportive but his health took a turn for the worse. Mum and I continued to look after him at home with nurses, doctors and round the clock medication all part of the daily routine for several months. I always remember him saying “Take control and go for it kiddo!” So I did!
Mum and I enrolled in training courses with Carpigiani’s Gelato University, travelled to Hereford to study courses in recipe formulation and research ice cream making equipment and, within 6 months during the quieter winter season, I remortgaged my home, borrowed every penny I could on credit cards and set up my own production unit at the back of my shop. It also happens to be the smallest production unit in Scotland but you’d be amazed at what comes out of it.
Dad was terminally ill at that point but was constantly asking how it was all going. I contacted one of the best graphic designers I know, Derek Goodchild at Ocean Agency, and asked him to create a logo for my new ice cream brand.
My Dad was a very good footballer and won 5 caps for the Scottish Showmen’s International Football League. He was spotted by a talent scout who wanted to sign him to play professionally for Preston North End. Faced with choosing between this fantastic opportunity and his commitment to the family business at that time my Dad decided to give up any notion of a professional career in football. He continued to play for the SSIFL and everyone who played with him and against him likened him to one of the world’s best Brazilian football players at that time, Geraldo Jose da Silva. Everyone knew my Dad as Geraldo and so…
Geraldo’s Luxury Ice Cream was born!
My newly branded cabinet was installed in the Spring of 2005 along with branded tubs, napkins and wafers and another ice cream season was upon us. On Father’s Day 2005, I nipped home to check on Dad and tell him we’d just had a power cut and all my ice cream was melting in the middle of a busy, hot and sunny, Sunday afternoon. Mum was in the shop giving it away. Why waste good ice cream and what a great marketing opportunity that turned out to be. He settled back down, smiled and passed away later that night.
There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of him and the inspiration that he was to me and every day the sun’s shining brightly in Largs there’s nowhere I would rather be than scooping and serving my award-winning ice cream to the visitors and hearing them say Geraldo’s is the best ice cream in Largs.
Incidentally, my Mum affectionately called my Dad Gerry Berry. That’s now my signature flavour – Classic Vanilla rippled with Amarena Cherries soaked in Kirsch and Balsamic Vinegar. Dad would’ve loved it!!
1937 – 2005