Monday, October 31, 2005

Financial year end

Much less money than we had last year at this time.
Salary paid to us during the past year £0.00
Hours worked average 18 per day 7 per week.


1064 guests.
0.66% dissatisfied
99.34% satisfied

Occupancy 21.122% (aim 20)
Room usage 34.638% (aim - none)

More voices from the past

We had Mary Walker and her husband staying with us last night. Mary grew up here, leaving aged 14 in 1949. She too remembers being hauled up and down in the old dumbwaiter. It seems to be a common memory - Dianne remembers that someone would haul her halfway up and then go away leaving her dangling. With friends like these...

The demolished building at the end, near the friars was a piggery and was already disused in 1949. There were apparently allotments up the hill where Mike McGovern's place (Willow Court B&B) is.

The room that we use as an office was apparently where the boots were polished. Imagine - a whole room dedicated to polishing boots! The cocktail bar was installed by Mary's parents. Plastics had just become available and red and black was the theme. The bar's still red and black 55 years later!

The dining room was a lounge. It will probably become one again, though with doors through to the function room. The tv room was Mary's parents sitting room. Mary remembers her brother slamming (accidentally) the window there on her fingers while she was watching handball - her screams being heard by American servicemen who were stationed in the town and who rushed to her aid.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

You know it's been a long day when...

you sit down with a pint and realise that the sitting down is more welcome than the pint.

There were two things happening yesterday. We had a halloween party in the public bar, partly to celebrate our first year here, and there was a leaving party upstairs in the lounge bar. I did that while Lorna and Emma did the public bar.

The halloween party was not a sucess really. There weren't many people there, though they did stay longer than usual. Whether it was all worth the effort that Lorna put into it is doubtful.

The leaving party went well though. So overall it was a fairly good day if rather long.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

So, that's the end of our first year

...and what a great year it's been...

Time to take stock

Time to think ahead

Time to wonder

10 things we know now that we didn't know then. (in no particular order)

1) Most guests stay for one night.

2) Glenlivet is a very poor seller

3) Dylon stain pens are amazing

4) Drunk people are not very interesting

5) The function room wall is about to fall down

6) Black pudding and sliced haggis can be cooked from frozen

7) We need another microwave

8) I'm not very good at planning

9) Tennents lager outsells all other draught products

10) VAT is a nuisance

What have we achieved?

One year ago the Spread Eagle Hotel was, to all intents, closed. There was a public bar run more as a private club than a bar. The hotel didn't accept guests, the kitchen was unused. The roof leaked, there was dry rot rampaging in the dining room.

In our first year, the hotel has achieved around 20% occupancy which was our aim.

A new heating system has replaced the ancient and ludicrously expensive 1920s system.

We've engagaed a project manager to overseen the restoration.

We've built a new beer garden which has been much admired (and much used in the warm weather)

The dry rot has been treated

Most of the roof now doesn't leak:-/

The planning application was submitted in August and met with favourable comment from the community council at least. There have been no objections.

In the next 12 months we intend to...

Refurbish both kitchens
Begin serving food in the rooms which are currently the lounge bar and tv room
Create two new bedrooms in the rooms at the top of the main stair
Create a suite half way up the main stair (to be used by us in the medium term)
Replace the main stair railings
Turn the current room 9 into an office
Improve the toilets on the first floor
Stabilise the derelict outbuildings
Improve the decor
Increase our customer base

Best thing we've done in the last 12 months: Appointed JDI of Nottingham as our project managers.
Worst thing we've done in the last 12 months: Employed Roofing Direct of Edinburgh.

Twelve months ago neither of us had any experience of running a hotel, bar, or indeed any kind of business. The learning curve has threatened to become an overhang in places, but by and large we've survived. Bills have been paid, most forms have been submitted on time and we have kept stock levels to a minimum yet haven't run out of anything major.

What if?
Some other places we might have bought:

The Colquhonnie Hotel in Aberdeenshire. I have a feeling that this wouldn't have been a great succes. It was a nice place and the only hotel in the village, but there wasn't a lot of passing trade and it was very isolated.

The Urr Valley Hotel would have been a bad idea for the opposite reason. It was very busy and we would have been thrown in at the deep end. The building was huge and rambling and needed a lot of upgrading.

The Ecclefechan hotel would have been an unmitigated disaster. It needed a huge amount of work and there was little in the way of tourist trade. The town was bypassed and had the feel of a ghost town. Location, location location. This place didn't have it.

So does Jedburgh have it? Well, it's been a truly horrible day; dank and wet, but we've got 6 folk staying and the bar takings have been excellent for a Monday. There's a lot of passing traffic and above all it's a nice town on the tourist trail with plenty of good restaurants. Yes, I think it does.

It's four minutes to midnight. Almost exactly one year ago we became the owners of the Spread Eagle Hotel. It's been an interesting first year and promises to be an even more interesting second.

It's been fun...

... in places

And so to bed.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Working again

Busy today. Well, Lorna was anyway. I was in Edinburgh and she had 11 for breakfast which she and Rob managed just fine. Then we had to set up for the function (a christening) which went off well and now she's in the bar.

Nearly full tonight - just one room left. It's our first anniversary on Tuesday and the end of our financial year the following Monday. Time to take stock of what we've achieved in our first year at the Spread.

Friday, October 21, 2005


I've got a day off tomorrow! I'm heading up to Edinburgh to meet an old mate who's back from the US for a flying visit. Too flying to come down here, so I'm going up there. Not the best day to be jumping ship since we have a christening in the function room, but most of the setting up's done.

We're full again. Several nationalities and most of them seem to be in the bar:-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

An ill wind (or water)

We've got folk staying with us who are dealing with the aftermath of the floods in Hawick. And we had a couple of businessmen (father and son) staying with us yesterday. They had all left before 7am and didn't need any breakfast. So we had five guests AND could stay in bed until 9. Yay!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Well, at least we're not in Hawick!

see why here

However, the rain has been heavy and continuous since yesterday evening. It's forecast to be dry tomorrow, though that'll be small comfort to the people in flooded out homes in Hawick.

Also in the news

was this fire
which I've included only because it's next to where Lorna used to work in Glasgow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Employment (and its drawbacks)

So we have a cleaner. Let's call him Joe. He's keen, intelligent, hard working and motivated.

He's also on the dole and gets £45 for doing nothing.

So we give him 6 hours cleaning a week and pay him £30.

This results in his dole money being reduced by £25. So he's worked 6 hours for £5

Would you? Would I?

No, neither will he.

Solutions on a postcard please. Usual address.

Oh dear, not again!

Well, the good news is that the roofers are coming back to deal with various minor problems. The bad news is that a major problem has reappeared: the roof's leaking again.

At least we don't have any guests tonight. We had a few folk in the bar tonight, but anyone venturing out for a pint in this rain will have to be pretty desperate!

I think we'll be closing early tonight.

Monday, October 10, 2005


THREE posts in one day? It must be quiet!

Well, yes. It's been a truly crap day, and if the weather forecast is anything like correct then very few people will be around tomorrow. We had a grand total of four customers in 11 hours.

The dilemma is this:

Quiet days don't make any money, so it's better not to have staff because they cost and we're here anyway.

But quiet days are dead boring. They remind me of my old job at its worst. And you can't do anything else. It's almost worth paying for someone else to sit there and twiddle their thumbs.

The dilemma is solved by the fact that we simply don't know when the quiet days are going to be, and the shift's written several weeks in advance.

I wonder if Dianne and co are back in TO yet. Must drop them an email - or wait til they read this.

One day at a time

Two posts in one day? You can tell it's quiet can't you.
Still, we'd better get used to it cos it's going to be a long winter:-(

Another local bar owner gave me a piece of advice which is worth passing on: don't take any one day in isolation. If it's a hopeless day that doesn't really matter. Even the odd week is hopeless. To get any idea of how things are going you have to look at the business month by month or even six months by six months.

Day by day is pointless.

Given the weather forecast for tomorrow I suspect we're in for another quiet day. There's nothing for it but to sit back and have a beer or two:-)


I've just finished "The Algebraist" by Iain M Banks. It's the best sci-fi book I've read by him and well worth a look if you're into that sort of thing.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

So who needs sleep anyway?

We had some insurance salesmen staying with us for most of last week. It was a good booking because we were full Sunday through to Friday when it's usually difficult to get guests. And they come back every six months.

But they don't go to bed! So one of us (me usually, though L did the last night) had to stay up until the wee hours, and then do breakfast three or four hours later.

So on Friday night we had no-one staying which shouldn't be a cause for celebration, but being able to get up a bit later was soooo nice!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Friday night is music night

Which is tough, since tonight's Saturday. However, we have a band on in the lounge bar and it's interesting to see how the customers divide between there and the public bar. The young rugby crowd are downstairs listening to Oasis on the juke box while anyone over 35 is in the lounge listening to Slainte Mhath playing trad Scots and Irish stuff. Some of the young folk have ventured upstairs, turned their noses up at the band and gone back down. It's a pity that Cath, Diane and co's visit didn't extend to tonight. They'd have enjoyed this.

It's a family affair tonight. Rob's in the public bar, Lorna's in the lounge and I'm runner collecting glasses, restocking and generally beetling around.

These music evenings aren't great money spinners (we rarely break even) but there's a good sized crowd having a great time and that may well be enough. It gets folk into the place and spreads the news that we are open.

We've been here nearly a year, but one of the shopkeepers Lorna was talking to last week still hadn't realised that there were new owners. We wouldn't mind, but she's directly across the road from us!