Monday, March 27, 2006

A promising start

The first day of the Smoking Ban passed without incident. The older punters, who come in during the day on Sunday, were all there. Only one felt the need to dive out for a fag every so often. They all left around 5 and quite often that's it for the night.

But not last night. We got a visit from the Jedforest B team which lasted until L decided that the silly drinking games had gone on long enough.

Our resident road crew are doing my head in. They want breakfast at 8.30, so yesterday morning at 8.30 eight breakfasts were waiting...

and waiting...

and waiting.

Of course the silly sods had forgotten to put their watches forward and turned up at 9.30 for a very dried up breakfast.

This morning they arrived at 8. I hadn't even started cooking.

Oh, and there were only 6 of them.

They're staying until Wednesday - maybe.

Unless they aren't.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

If you go down to the pub today...

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Yes, it's happened! Just over an hour ago smoking was banned in all enclosed public spaces in Scotland. It'll be a while before we can say whether it's had an effect (positive or negative) on trade, but most of the customers we've spoken to seem resigned to it. If they're complaining it's about the executive imposing the ban rather than our having to implement it. A lot of the younger folk are talking about quitting and those that aren't seem content to go outside.

In fact, the younger folk weren't talking about much yesterday because they weren't here. A lot of the usual Saturday crowd had gone to Dumfries for a friend's party. Just the boys, the girls were all left behind and some did come in. On the whole though it was a pretty quiet Saturday thanks largely to events at other venues.

Friday, March 24, 2006


I hope you like the new template I've chosen for the blog. It makes picture cropping easier and looks a bit more stylish.

Two quotes for the work in the function room have arrived. The difference between the full replacement and the underpinning is not particularly large, so we're going for the full replacement. The quote has been accepted and work is due to start in around 3 weeks. That makes it just after Easter Monday I think.

The electrician turned up and checked the wiring in the attic so that we can get loft insulation put in place. The other electrical work will be done next week.

Karen Hope didn't phone me back. I shall pester her on Monday:-)

A fairly quiet Friday night just the older regulars in. Tomorrow a lot of the younger crowd are off to Dumfries for a birthday party, so we're not expecting it to be busy. We will be spending tomorrow making up "No Smoking" signs in preparation for the ban on smoking in enclosed spaces which comes into force at 6am on Sunday morning.

We'll see what happens after that.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Where there's Hope

I've been trying to get hold of Karen Hope the planning officer at Scottish Borders Council, but even her colleagues admit that she's hard to track down. She's at a different site every day you see and no-one seems to know which one. So it was a bit of a pleasant surprise to get her at the end of a phone line after only one brief tangle with a switchboard. She didn't have our file with us, but has promised to get back in touch tomorrow to let us know what's going on.

The Wall
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D***** was in touch today to tell us that the difference between the full removal and reinstatement of the wall will only be about £6,000 more than the quick fix option. He's working out exact figures for us to have tomorrow. If we say OK to that, then the work can start in two weeks. It doesn't require planning permission since it's classed as emergency work.

Some work will start this week. Lighting in the tack room which will allow its use as a store, extension of the beer garden lighting beyond the end wall to provide some light in the car park and checking of the cabling in the attic prior to installing loft insulation. Nothing very major, but it's progress of a sort.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Preparing for take off

"So, V****** exactly why do we need reproduction hydraulic windows at £1500 apiece in a corridor opposite a kitchen?" asked D***** during discussions of finishings and fittings. The episode seemed to epitomise the difference between them and made us glad that we have D***** working for us. They were both here yesterday, D***** the project manager who separates the feasible from the desirable and V***** the architect who... doesn't.

The kitchen in question is currently an empty room with a mediaeval hoist device in the corner. The more I look at this thing, the more I want it replaced. It's ancient, unhygienic and leaves your fingers full of hemp rope splinters when you operate it. D**** is costing a replacement. The fact that we're re-using a lot of kit (fryers, cooker, dishwasher etc) will save a bit off the budget and might leave enough for a small electric hoist. The windows discussed above are in the corridor opposite the kitchen. They are single glazed and painted up, but reasonably sound. They're old style sash windows without ropes or weights - you just lift the sash up and a wee metal arm holds it open.

Bedroom layout's being finalised. The new breakfast/dining room is being discussed and the function room wall...

Well, we nearly have a price for that. Steel price is the sticking point - all China's fault due to their using lots of steel and shoving the price up. We should have a quote by Friday though.

Eight hungry road workers staying with us this week in addition to the Luddon crew who have been with us since October. I have eight full breakfasts to do at 7.30 am tomorrow, so I'd better get some shut-eye. Goodnight!

Oh it all makes work for the working man to do...

Roadworks are in progress at the Hawick junction on the A68. Call me cynical, but I suspect that the end of the financial year might have something to do with this proliferation of public works. Anyway, there's a team of 8 working on this site and they're staying with us for the next two weeks. Unlike the Luddon boys who have tea and toast at 7am, this bunch have the full fry up.

It's been a while since we did cooked breakfasts for more than two or three, but since the road crew all want the full works it's easy. So easy in fact that L stayed in bed and I did the lot myself (in between cleaning the beer lines, counting last night's takings and sorting the mail).

Monday, March 13, 2006

International news

Here is a little gem you may have missed.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Nae lux

Returning once again to the saga of the redecoration of the Ladies' loo we find our hero attaching a silly plaster uplighter to the wall only to make several unwelcome discoveries...

1) There is no lamp supplied with the fitting - why would anyone want a lamp with a light fitting? You mean they might want it to light up? Don't be silly!

2) The fitting takes a very obscure two pin energy saver only available at selected outlets in northern Bengal during the rainy season when there's a P in the month.

3) B&Q don't stock the lamp. They sold me the fitting, but don't stock the lamp. No demand apparently.

Enough ranting. It looks like it's been another decent Saturday (apart from losing to Ireland in the rugby) It was Ancrum handba' today (see below for explanation of handba') and the players/combatants have returned to Jed. We also have the usual Saturday night crowd. There have, in addition, been one or two tourists about during the past week - a couple from Brittany stayed with us two nights ago, A family from Keith stayed last night, and we have a repeat booking from a couple who stayed here a month or so ago. The real, unmistakable sign that you're doing something right is the number of repeat bookings you have.

No news on the renovations front. We had a blizzard of emails from D***** last week and he'll be up here the week after next to thrash out design spec on bedrooms and suchlike. Meanwhile we have to decide on room layout (since that dictates where the light fittings and electrical sockets and stuff goes) and tell the architect all about it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Great drama in the Jed pipe band. Half the band want to play modern tunes, the other half don't. Toys are duly thrown out of the pram, and we now have two pipe bands each with approximately half the number of players.

Anyway, it's handba' day in Jed. Shop windows are boarded up and two teams of boys of all ages go haring after a wee leather ball with an aim to smuggling it past the other team and getting it to a strategic destination that will mean nothing to you if you don't live here.

To the casual observer, the game looks like a bunch of folk milling around. Occasionally this happens...
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and everyone goes galloping off after the ball with little regard for their wellbeing. Hence the shutters on the windows.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Reputations come and reputations go. When we took over the Spread 18 months ago it definitely wasn't the place to be if you were under 60. The owner, a retired businessman with essentially limitless amounts of money created the atmosphere of a private club and filled it with older people that he liked. Younger folk were not welcome (though if they ventured in they were plied with free drink) and if they came in they didn't stay long.

Saturday nights are the busiest of the week, but tonight was exceptional. The usual suspects turned up in large numbers and much earlier than usual and stayed until chucking out time. It was very busy for over 4 hours. There was almost no trouble at all. Everyone we spoke to said they'd had a great night - one painfully well brought up lad even said "thank you for having us" which I was taught to say to people after primary school parties and haven't heard anyone say since about 1968.

Their singing hasn't improved though.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Called to the bar

Today's picture shows the public bar. The reason for this, apart from it being the last picture my digital camera took before going into meltdown, is that we're planning a few changes and it might be worth having a "before and after" so that you can appreciate the improvements.
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The front of the bar is original (as much as anything here can be so called) but the top is finest blockboard and formica. We're planning to get the top replaced and a new windowsill to match. I've contacted a barfitter in Edinburgh to see what it'll cost. If the price is not too great we'll get a new top and new T bars instead of the individual fonts.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

It may be March but...

We seem to have fared better than the north of Scotland where there has been heavy snow with roads and railway lines blocked (though a light shower is usually enough to shut down the rail network) and schools closed.

Here it's dry and bright but very cold. I am still trying to shake off a cold without much success, but at least Emma's back today to do the bar from 6 to 10. Most of the BP contractors are back in residence, so the bar was a lot busier last night than of late.

News on the ongoing project start date is due any day now. D***** was working on it today and will contact us with plans, prices and dates, we hope, before the end of the week.