No poisoned figs here.
Every now and again, you come across, totally by accident, someone or something that really makes you laugh. You know the kind I mean. That quick witted, dry humor that has you bent double and brings tears to your eyes.
Last Tuesday evening, I happened to find such a person. Claude, the proprietor and chief fryer of Sylvesters Take Away Fish and Chips, in the picturesque, estuary village of Appledore, North Devon. Popping in with my dog to enquire if it was convenient to have a chat for this blog, I was greeted with a big smiley, expectant face. ” I haven’t come to buy anything, can I bring the dog in? ” I enquired, ” You can leave the dog and P**s off” was the jolly retort. Charming, I thought. As I’m always up for a bit of banter and a laugh a time was arranged for the next day.
Claude’s foray into the world of master fish fryers started as a boy. Having to earn a crust -or should I say chip- while at college, studying Business Finance, Claude took on a part time job as a potato peeler in Bideford. His then employer, entrusted him to cash up in the evenings. The die was cast. Whilst stashing the days takings in little bank bags, Claude knew where his destiny lay. He was going to become King of Fish and Chips. Did Claude return to college. No, he was off, meeting by chance Chris Sylvester of Appledore, who offered him a job, where he toiled for the next twelve years.
Sylvester’s is situated just off the quay, in Meeting Street, Appledore. The name was retained, when Chris Sylvester retired and the business was purchased by Claude for £1 in 2003. Previously being run as a pet food and wet fish shop Claude started his new business by selling wet fish, between 8am – 12 noon. From 12 noon onwards Fish and Chips were introduced. Claude’s father who was very proud of his son, for his entrepreneurial skills was to be book keeper for the business. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as he passed away shortly after the opening. At least he knew his son had achieved his ambition to work for himself. Sylvester’s is now just a Take Away Fish and Chip shop.
Food from Sylvester’s is very popular, queues can be seen in the evenings and a nice “big portion” can be taken into The Champ pub, next door to munch, while enjoying a drink and live music. The traditional fish and chips, cooked in vegetable oil are delicious, in their light crispy batter, made with Claude’s secret recipe, these are obviously his best seller, however, gluten free and vegetarians are also catered for. So, whatever your culinary tastes, you can be sure Sylvester’s can cater for your every need. Pop in and give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
As well as his love affair with fish and chips, Claude also has a passion for cars, owning a few. The Robin Reliant in the picture above above can always been seen parked on the Quayside in Appledore, a stones throw from the shop. No excuses for missing this display board!
I must say, it was a pleasure to meet Claude and have a tour of his spotlessly clean premises. I was informed on leaving, that everyone in Appledore has a nickname. Asking what mine might be “Micheal” replied “F*** Knows”. Not sure about that one, but if the cap fits, ” I’ll wear it”.