Well, we’re four! Yep, I can barely believe it myself. It is four years since I left a comfortable, secure and stable job and decided that, with a baby on the way and ever increasing financial pressure, then was the time to take the massive risk of opening my own restaurant.

Now, thanks to the unwavering support of my gorgeous wife and wonderful restaurant team I have a four year old happy, healthy and gorgeous son Alfie and restaurant (can a restaurant be happy?)

Anyone working in the restaurant trade will tell you in no uncertain terms how stressful it can be, and we have had our fair share of challenges. You may remember our horror and anguish as the restaurant flooded not once but three times. Yes, a gorgeous riverside location has its risks.

Now, however, as I write this, we have enjoyed a wonderful year in Henley serving locals and visitors alike and on more than one occasion I have looked jealously at the guests outside on the decking tucking into a truffle ‘mac and cheese’ (one of my favourites) wishing I was on the other side of the pass.

The opening of the deck this summer with extended opening hours has been a revelation for the restaurant, but this in itself has not been without some stress. When I bought the restaurant we were allowed to use the deck in the evening until 6pm. This year we sought permission to use the decked area overlooking the river until 9pm to serve pre-dinner drinks to diners and are delighted to have received permission – drinks on the deck fast became the place to be on a sunny summer evening.

Another stressful time for chefs and restaurants is awards season but we were thrilled to have been awarded three rosettes for the second year in a row by the AA. The fact that fewer than 200 restaurants achieve this standard is a testament to the hard work of every member of the team who work tirelessly every single service.

The summer is always dominated by The Henley Festival and this year was as exciting, exhausting and enjoyable as ever. The restaurant was packed and I was in awe of my restaurant staff who worked as if it was their restaurant not mine.

How did I reward them? With a paddle-boarding lesson on the Bournemouth coast. In hindsight we should maybe do something drier and warmer as a staff outing next time.

One unusual thing this year was that I actually managed to leave the kitchen on a Sunday night to take my gorgeous wife out to the festival to enjoy the music and a little bubbly. (Note to self – take wife out more!)

So, it’s another summer over and at the restaurant we are looking forward to the autumn.

Why not start with our Celebration of Great British Cheeses on November 24 – a wonderful evening dedicated to unique cheese inspired dishes matched with specially chosen wines.

There is something wonderful about the pairing of cheese and wine, especially when shared with family and friends. I have selected four of my favourite British cheeses as the inspiration for a unique four-course menu, to create a sensational dining experience. To compliment each course, our award-winning sommelier Chiara has paired four specially selected wines to create a stunning dining experience. Four courses, four wines. £70 per person. Call 01491 577937.