Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Scottish Hotel Blog

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Scottish Hotel Blog
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The Isle of Ericka Hotel, located on an island in Scotland two hours from Glasgow, has its own blog.

The hotel is family owned, has its own golf course, and some nights, a piper play bagpipes outside the hotel as guests get ready for dinner.

This looks like a first class hotel, however, what really hooks us is the hotel blog. The blog is written in a personal voice and covers everything from the first rhubarb, fireside storytelling, and even a touching bit on the recent passing of the hotelier's father. No doubt reading this blog makes you feel like you know the Buchanan-Smith family, and it makes us want to cross the pond to spend a weekend at the families hotel.

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Isle Of Eriska Hotel
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A hotel with its own blog? The Isle of Erika Hotel is located on an island in Scotland two hours from Glasgow. The hotel is a family affair owned by two brothers who bought the hotel from their parents. The blog is a completely endearing read, detailing moments that are simple such as the first rhubarb of the season or touching such as the recent passing of the proprietor’s father. Reading the blog will make you want to dash over and spend a week with the charming Buchanan-Smith family.

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It's own blog.
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Wapiti?

This morning as I walked through the hall after breakfast I noticed that one of our guests appeared perplexed. On questioning her, hoping that I could help improve the situation she explained that yesterday she had almost completed the crossword but had been foxed by one clue and on receiving today's paper and the enclosed answer she was no less perplexed.

She asked if I knew what a Wapiti was- wrong person I immediately suggested then I realized that in the past not only would she have asked my Father but he would have been able to answer the question for her-not always with an answer which was either relevant or correct but always one which either set her mind at rest or changed her thoughts to a less stressful subject. I opted to quickly depart!

Some 30 minutes later i was visiting my mother who had laid out some items of my late father for me to pass judgment on- there on the top was a suede tie, not normal attire for my father, so I picked it up- Then as though passing a message to me, I noticed the motif on the tie of a stag like creature and the the caption "Wapiti". I quickly excused myself and returned to the hotel and one of the wildlife books- There it was Wapiti- North American Deer like Elk from the Indian word for pale tail.

Pleased with my new knowledge I passed the information on to the perplexed guest who seemed glad! So That's what a Wapiti is?

Star Wars at Eriska

With the news, television and radio all smothered with the news of the latest "Star wars" release it is not surprising that we are starting to imagine seeing things connected to the Jedi Knights and Sith warriors. So I was unphased when someone rushed into the hotel announcing that he had spotted a pod in the garden. On further investigation the enclosed shot was seen. Indeed it is a new addition to the garden however it is harmeless to us and not trying to take over the world as suggested.

It is infact one of our new Midge Machines which are begining to control our midgy visitors. Whilst it will never eradicate the little beasties we do hope that it will sufficiently deplete them so as to make sitting out on a still summers evening a pleasure here at Eriska. They simpoly create a gas which attractes the midges and forces them into a sack whcih we empty every couple of days. Every midge caught is one less to bite us.

"So may the force be with them!!"

Rose of Argyll back at Sea

Some 20 years ago my father was at the launch of a small vessel from Donnie Currie's boat yard in Oban. It was build for John Yeoman of Foster Yeoman who created Glensanda Quarry on the Kingairloch Estate. Some 15 years later my father bought Rose of Argyll from the quarry and began to restore her to her former glory. He opted to remove the wooden wheelhouse and replaced it with a canopy so she became a true convertible of the sea!!

He replaced the huge engine with a more modest and considerably quieter diesel engine which still allowed sufficient power for use around Eriska and he devoted much time and effort into restoring the varnished interior and running lines. Last year both my parents had a huge amount of fun from her so when my father passed away earlier this year we had to decide what we should do with her.

In truth it was not a difficult decision as Chay has stepped up to the plate and taken on the mantle this year. So water preparations complete Rose returned to the Loch this weekend and she enjoyed her first outing to the local Grieg Isles for a picnic lunch. Only now does it seem ridiculous that although we were surrounded by water we managed without boats for nearly 5 years, but now that she is back we know what we were missing in the enjoyment, fun and memories she gives us every time we are out aboard her.

Les's weather WC16th May
Congratulations again Les 100% spot on last week and what a glorious week it was. Scotland truly at its very best with sunshine light breeze and perfect weather for golf.

There is almost no point continuing the competition with the BBC as it seems too easy to win!!


So whats ahead for the next 7 days:


Well the fine weather will continue with the High pressure in charge all week.


Monday will see a little cloud and rain showers coming from the North so keep an eye out if you are going walking on the island and if it look like rain wait an hour and it will pass and the dry spell will return.

Tuesday will be similar to Monday but maybe a few more showers but brighter from tea time onwards.

Wednesday will be warm and sunny

Thursday, Friday and Saturday all look like days for plenty of sunscreen so bring a straw hat if your are heading west later in the week.

Construction continues

It has been a great week on our construction site. The building has almost overnight taken shape. Peter and Colin have completed the mid walls which separate each house for both sound and fire reasons, the joinery team have erected the shell and hoisted the joists into place, covered them with sheeting and felt and left them ready for Peter Pollock the roofer to start tiling.

The new schedule is to complete the brickwork by the end of next week and then start painting the external block work. The joinery team should complete the internals of the first unit by Friday and then our tiler should arrive and tile the floors whilst the plumber and electrician work behind him. That will leave the taper to come in on the 21st and then a mad dash to paint and gain a completion certificate by the end of the month.

this is out third staff building in three years and each one we have used different methods, the first we constructed some parts on site and bought in others, the second we constructed totally on site ourselves and this final block we have used Scotframe, a firm who built my Brother Chay's house some 6 years ago. The kit arrives leaving the erection to our contractors, everything is ready to go right down to the door furniture being easily assembled. there were three reasons for using this method, firstly speed- it takes time for our joiners to build frames and they have been in high demand, secondly control, Scotframe kits are supplied with just the right amount of nails, plasterboard and timber leaving little waste, and thirdly and finally due to the speed and lack of wast we hope to be able to save money by overseeing the project ourselves whilst controlling the quality of the job. Hopefully time will prove us right!

Bluebell Carpet

Eriska will soon be covered in a carpet of blue, when the bluebells start to flower. Some things you may not know about this lovely plant are that Britain hosts over 20 per cent of the world’s bluebell population and the Elizabethans used to grind the bulbs and stems into a glue and starch paste to stiffen the fluted ruffs worn by them, to help bind books and to fix feathers into the ends of arrow shafts.

Also, if a cow grazes on bluebells she will dry up as the toxins in the leaves will affect her milk. These toxins are similar to those found in the foxglove.

So the next time you look at the humble bluebell, just stop and think.

Emerging Nine Hole Golf Course

Ten years ago we started to create a golf facility here at Eriska. Stage one was to create a 9 hole pitch and put , stage two was to convert this to a 6 hole par 22 course, followed by the addition of a teaching academy and driving range.

The final stage is to be the completion of a further 3 holes bringing the course to a 9 hole par 35 course, with two sets of tees allowing 18 holes on one of the most picturesque courses in Britain. The Millennium our initial target came and went and now our attention has returned to the course. Howard Swan the designer has been extremely patient but knows that one day we will succeed but it will take time for the course to form and create itself and hence we have called it an "Emerging Golf Course" .

However Duaine has taken this more literally than Howard and today managed to position his Tractor and Grasscutter sub the golf course so here you can see Ian from R McColl rescuing Duaine and his emerging tractor.!!!!!

Out of the Ground

Another couple of dry days and we are out of the ground and the worst part of the construction is behind us. The floors have been poured and Peter has started the dividing walls between each house.

The kit has arrived on site on a huge lorry and we will start tomorrow with the erection of it and hope that all our mneasurements are correct. The wall palte will take out any rough areas, then the frame will be erected and the trusses passed up onto the roof. Once the trusses are upright and in place they will be braced and the roof sheeting will be nailed on and from then on the houses will begin to take shape and we will get a real idea of what they will look like.

Broadband throughout -

It has taken us about 8 weeks to complete but not because we were ripping up floors or rewiting walls. Nearly two months ago we had an inspection to see the potential of offering a free internet access to the guests at the hotel. having waited a year to get broadband to Eriska I was determined not to take the same legnth of time to get it from the office to the rooms.

Stage one was to find out if we could offer it through the power supply and then satge two was to find out where we would need to access the power grid in order to reach all the outlets. this was achieved by wandering aimlessly around with a laptop and testinmg variuos outlets and input options. Finally 4 weeks ago we established a network through the mains supply in the main house however gaining a signal in the Stables and the Spa Suites was more tricky.

Today we finally established a wireless bridge and our offices and the Spa Suites gained immediate access to the wonderful worlds of the internet. Its amazing the diffence in speed and resopnse time and it will be fascinating to see how many guests use the service and take advantage of the costless activity. Already we have caused a few marital difficulties whn a guest got in trouble for staying in his room on Saturday afternoon in order to fiollow his football team on the radio through the internet link.

"You can't please all of the people all of the time!" - But it was worth a try.

A comfortable View of the Crannog
One of the disadvantages of living and working in the same place is that its hard to escape however it also can be an advantage as you can quickly leave work and be in a different world and so it was today. I try if possible to walk round the tracks on the island at least once a week, it allows me to check whats going on, gives Dibley a walk and me a little bit of exercises. Well that's the idea but in reality it also gives me space to think and relax.

As I was wandering aimlessly along the shore I came across a seat which someone had obviously rescued from the sea to let them sit and admire the view without getting a damp posterior. The view was out towards the centre of the channel which separates Eriska from the mainland and the Crannog. The Crannog is a pile of stones which are the remains of an ancient dwelling which would have been on stilts amid the water to help offer protection.

No sooner had I turned to see what they had been admiring than Dibley the Shared Labrador had grabbed the seat, before me, in order to keep his rear dry!! I must learn to be quicker.

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