Tuesday, February 28, 2006


It is and I have. I am up to make breakfast for our guest (the normal BP squad aren't coming down until Wednesday due to some unspecified problem) and am going back to bed again as soon as he's gone.

Meanwhile here are some pictures of work carried out so far.
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This is the old stillroom which was being used as bottle store/junk room. It now looks like this
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Note the old fireplace that has been uncovered to the right of the picture. The stillroom and corridor adjacent used to be a single room before the "newer" building was added in the late 18th century. The still room will become the main kitchen for the time being.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A fridge too far

Today saw a graphic illustration of my tendency to act before thinking. L decided that the smaller fridge in the bar should be moved to the kitchen to make way for the glass washer. L then retired to bed having been up at the screech of dawn to serve breakfast to a family of 5 from Indiana. This was pretty normal last summer but she hasn't done it for a while.

So, I took all the bottles out of the fridge, hauled it out of its corner beneath the window and manoeuvred it to the kitchen door...

...which it wouldn't fit through of course. After much heaving and muffled swearing I managed to lift it onto the bar, then carried it round through the front hall and into the kitchen. I've put all the dross that nobody buys (archers aqua, irn bru wkd, smirnoff black ice) in there and that makes more room for the stuff that does sell.

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Here is the place we stayed last Monday. It's a converted coach house and they've used the height quite well. The bedroom is on a gallery accessed via the stairs and the bathroom's straight ahead.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Floury Scotland

Dearie me, what a pessimist! Of course we won although it was a nailbitingly nerve-shreddingly close game. I usually don't watch internationals live - I wait until after I know the result, but as I was working in the bar that wasn't possible. Very few people in as most had gone to Edinburgh to watch the game either live or in a local pub (for local people)

Sporting chance

Rugby is on today. Scotland v England. I was going to say "may the best team win" but somehow I suspect they won't.

We didn't have any guests last night so we didn't have to get up until 10 to let Shirley (cleaner) in. L is still snoozing. We only have staff for the first four hours today. We have to do the other eight ourselves.

And that's because one of our staff decided to quit last Saturday three hours before she was due at work. She'd already handed in her notice, but wasn't due to leave for another two weeks. Fortunately the other staff filled the gaps while Rob was in charge. And an applicant for the cleaner's job was supposed to come in on Thursday and didn't show. Tsk - young folk today (rant rant)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Spaced out

The problem with taking a holiday is that you go back to work after it. Today we had no staff at all so I did 4 - 8 and L's doing 8 - midnight. The local girlies are devastated by the departure of Rob "Awwww no - he was GOOD looking!!".

The project continues to almost begin to start to think about beginning to get under way. D***** was up yesterday along with structural engineers and others. A brief summary is as follows:

- The function room wall may have to remain due to the cost of removing it. D**** is getting prices for various options and we'll decide what to do.

- There's a wall above the old kitchen which is built in the middle of a wooden floor and...Oh dear, where have we heard that before? Fortunately this one's smaller, not brick and not supporting a great deal. Some strengthening will be required however.

The floors on the top floor need strengthening cos they bounce. That involves removing the boards and putting extra joists and "dwangs" (cross braces between the joists) in place.

Once that's done the work to create the bedrooms, wee kitchen and temporary breakfast room can get under way.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Corporate identity

I mentioned yesterday a hotel we stayed at on the way back from our holiday. We suspected that it was owned by a company rather than an individual and closer examination of the receipt reveals that it's part of the Spirit Group which is owned by Scottish Courage.

That explains the relatively high price and non-inclusive breakfast. Usually only chain hotels do that.

Rob has left us. He flew down to London and will be staying with L's aunt and uncle in Finsbury Park. We're sorry to see him go, but wish him all the best for his stay there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Is Tiramisu a vegetable (and does it matter if it isn't)?

Our first holiday in fifteen months was spent in various pleasant locations throughout England. We spent the evening of Valentine's day sitting in a hot tub in Warrington eating strawberries and cream (as you do) and the following day looking glumly at the M6 and M1.

We spent a pleasant evening here, then continued to an undisclosed location in the New Forest where vast amounts of excellent food, fine wine and good company were to be found.

We consumed ludicrous amounts of bubbly, foie gras, fish, meat and chocolate coated pistachios. The latter, we have decided by process of elimination must be green vegetables (they're not animal or mineral and they're definitely green under the chocolate) and hence good for you. I'm not absolutely sure about Tiramisu though.

We did most of the return trip in one day, stopping here. It was tastefully renovated - we were in the coach house which gave us some ideas for our own stables renovation project. Despite this we can't recommend it because if the (quite substantial) room rate doesn't include breakfast I expect someone to tell me when I check in. Additionally the sheets and crockery weren't totally clean. We came back today via Hawes where we stopped for lunch at a new cafe - Wilsons. It's in the main street in Hawes and has only been open for a week. Nice people, nice food and good coffee: what more could you ask for?

We hope it will do well and last longer than Jacksons the delicatessen in Jedburgh which opened about a year and a half ago and closed just before we left for our holidays. Colin and Debs tried their best, but the tourist season is short here and the local trade just wasn't there.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Generation game

We bought an emergency generator a couple of months ago and finally got around to making up cables and testing it. It produces 4KW which appears to be enough to run all the lights on the ground floor, three fridges and the central heating. It can't run the lights anywhere else cos they're on different phases, but it will keep the bar open and that may well be enough.

We'll be on holiday for a week from tomorrow. No more postings until we come back.

Satellite state

This morning a bedraggled figure could be seen perched on a narrow parapet high above the kitchen roof clutching a roll of kitchen paper, a two way radio and a supermarket bag. It was me of course, trying to stop the satellite feed disintegrating every time there's a light shower. The suspicion is that the connection to the dish is not completely watertight resulting in rain getting in and knackering the signal. With an old firm game on today, we need to have at least a semi-watchable picture.

and pies at half time of course:-)

Five guests last night, three Germans and two from Northumberland. The Germans had an early flight from Edinburgh and needed breakfast at 7.30. The other two requested a full breakfast in their room and haven't left yet.

This week's real ale is Farne Island from the Hadrian and Border Brewery in Newcastle. We haven't tried them before, but if this is typical of their products we'll be using them again.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Czech it out

We regularly receive emails from friendly Eastern Europeans looking for work. Here's a typical one which dropped into our inbox about ten minutes ago:

...We are students of university. We are from Slovak republic. Our english is good, but it isn´t very good. But we don´t afraid the work. We have many experienses with many kind of works... ...Do you have some work for us? Thank you

Well, no actually. But thanks for asking. The number of Poles and Czechs in Edinburgh has increased enormously in recent years and it isn't at all difficult to see why. I don't have exact figures to hand, but if someone's on full benefits with child allowances, the works, we would have to pay them around £17K a year to make it worth their while to work for us.

There's a lot of drivel talked about dole scroungers who don't want to work. Mainly in the Daily Mail it seems. But if you could earn roughly the same working 16 hours a week as you could staying at home, what would you do? Be honest now.

East Europeans don't get all these benefits and the salaries in the hospitality industry, though not high, are well ahead of what they get at home. Our Polish friend Magda is an English teacher, but earns much more working as a waitress at a local hotel.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Me and my shadow

I'm being followed. Whatever I do, Rob is not far behind. That's because we are going on holiday next week. He's minding the shop while we're away and is therefore learning what to do.

I've been trying to write down what has to be done in a normal week and it's difficult. That's becuause I don't usually think about it - I just do it. Where have I heard that phrase before?

D****'s been in touch. The Thursday after we get back from holiday there's to be a big meeting of all contractors/project managers/architects/anyone else involved to ensure that everyone knows what is required and who's doing what.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Train catches fire - passengers alight

I had a meeting with the accountant today and instead of driving to Glasgow decided to stop in Edinburgh and take the train thereby avoiding hassle.

Hah! I got to Queen Street for the return journey to find that due to a train fire at Edinburgh Park all services were subject to severe delay. Fortunately someone at Scotrail with a bit of initiative (how did he/she slip through the net?) had decided to run extra services from Central. OK it takes 90 minutes instead of 50, but at least you get there.

The meeting with the accountant was productive. Basically the loss we made in our first year is largely down to depreciation. We make a different loss for tax purposes (a bigger one) because some items of expenditure can be written off for tax purposes. Confused? I was/am.

Our (new) project manager and architect have been in touch and it looks as if things are moving forward again. What a difference a week makes!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Who you gonna call?

Yesterday evening saw the visit from paranormal investigation team The Grey Ladies, (Cue unconvincing thunderstorm and hideous laughter). They went from room to room measuring temperature and electromagnetic fields(!) and then held an all night vigil.

When I was about to go to bed I found them apparently deep in conversation with a lost and lonely spirit. They were measuring electromagnetic field strength and apparently could interpret the variations in this as communication with the spirit world...

It must be said at this point that the Grey Ladies are actually quite fun. They make silly jokes, drink lots of coffee and don't take themselves too seriously.

Electromagnetic fields though. All sorts of electrical equipment from tv transmitters to personal computers produce EM fields (though looking at the tv pictures here I don't think the Jedburgh transmitter's contribution is measureable) so the notion that fluctuations in them means anything is faintly absurd,

What do I know though? The place may be chock full of ghosties and ghoulies and it just takes someone of an... er sensitive disposition to detect them.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Light relief

After the events of the past week we have the Grey Ladies here tonight. Who they (I hear you ask)
Well, they're paranormal investigators and they're coming to commune with our (supposedly) impressive collection of ghosts. Unfortunately they won't be bringing their medium with them. She's unwell and therefore isn't a happy medium at all. They'll be arriving in the evening to take temperature and emf readings(?) and holding a "night vigil".

I shall have to hide my natural cynicism of all things supernatural and try to keep a straight face. Fortunately having met them I know they don't take themselves too seriously.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


We've had meetings with the local builder and spoken to the structural engineer. Very positive and it looks like once we've got approval from Building Control we can go ahead with the function room wall.

D*** who did a lot of work for us via the project managers last summer was also in touch and is willing to continue with the project. He's self employed so the fact that we're not using the project management company any more is not a problem.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


We spent a reasonably productive evening planning what to do next. There are minor jobs - window repairs, loft insulation - that we can simply get on with and some that don't need a project manager. Some of the larger projects such as the upstairs kitchen can be left to specialist kitchen fitters - this was supposed to have been the plan anyway before things got derailed last week.

Some of the work will definitely need expert input though. The infamous wall being one of them. One approach might be to ask the structural engineer to be the "expert on site" while the work is going on.

L spent the day in Edinburgh at a less than useful meeting about Polish tourism. Apparently the numbers of tourists visiting from Poland is rising substantially and we all need to stock up on Zywiec and suchlike to keep them happy. Perhaps we'll ask Magda to write a Polish version of our website. We know people who can do German versions and French versions. Oh, and Spanish ones for that matter.

I have kept my New Year resolution not to drink alcohol during January. It's February now:-))))



We have parted company with our project managers. The parting couldn't really be described as amicable. I wonder if they want their bottle of bubbly back:-)