Saturday, April 29, 2006

More bleating

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The blacksmiths returned yesteday with more large chunks of metal. They drilled the horizontal beams so that the rest of the steelwork can be joined on to them.

Then they stopped and went home.

That was because they had just implemented some safe lifting directives (which have been around for about five years) and need to bring a mechanical lift to lift the beams into position. Monday's a holiday so they'll be back on Tuesday.

Meanwhile we have four guests at least two of whom have stayed before. We're offering guests a fairly large discount while the building work is going on and that, combined with our most excellent breakfast (tho I say so myself) makes up for the disruption.

We expect most of the steelwork to be in place by next Friday. D**** (project manager) will be along on Wednesday to check progress and prepare for the kitchen and bedroom upgrades.

The lack of a final decision on the planning process should surprise no-one who's been through this kind of thing. It seems that if you are told to expect a decision in January you'll still be waiting in May. Very frustrating since no-one appears to have any issues at all with the revised plans; all we need is someone to pick them up and stamp them as "approved" or whatever they do.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


After a brief delay for checks by the structural engineer, the blacksmiths returned yesterday. Four new beams have been installed.
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They'll be back today to continue installing the steelwork. I was hoping to set up a semi-live webcam in the function room, but the range of wireless networks is not good if there's anything resembling a wall between the base station and the computer.

Maybe I'll try anyway.

In all this free time I have:-(

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cisterns of mercy

Maintenance today. As if we didn't have enough to contend with the toilet cisten in Room 2 had stopped working. I bought a new one yesterday and fitted it today. Much muffled swearing followed by less muffled swearing as I realised I had assembled the bits in the wrong order causing water to drip out of the bottom of the cistern. It's sorted now and should last until we get the whole room refitted later this year.

No action on the function room today other than a visit from the structural engineer who okayed the work done so far. Steelwork installation is planned to start tomorrow.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Lorna's sister's over from South Africa. She's staying in London, but she's coming up here for a few days. I have to drive down to Newcastle to pick her up. I'm also going to get some spare parts for Room 2's bathroom in preparation for another DIY (destroy it yourself) session.

On the restoration side - nothing happening today. The pads to receive the steelwork across the pend have been installed.
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You can see them at the top of the wall. There are four on each side. But before the steelwork gets installed we have to get the pads inspected by our structural engineer. Only when he's happy will the installation go ahead. That'll happen tomorrow.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Weekend break

The pads have been installed in the pend wall. They will receive the beams that will support the steel frame we're installing in place of the wall.
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This picture was taken last night before that happened, but it gives a good impression of how the building looks at this point of maximum chaos. Everything that follows in this area will be reinstatement and refurbishment.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More of the same

The fire at Denholm school seems to have been pretty serious. Our plumber is a volunteer fireman and was diverted from here to attend, as was every available firefighter in the area.

The area under the pend is now completely open.
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The large beams which until Monday held the wall up have been removed. Pads will be cut into the wall to take the steel beams.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

When I said I wanted open plan this wasn't what I had in mind

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Risk assessment anyone?

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Walking through the vennel tonight had a surreal air to it - a bit like walking around a city after an earthquake. The chandelier still lit dangling irrelevantly in space only adding to the general feeling of oddness.

Despite appearances things are going to plan. The plumber was late having been diverted to Denholm school which was on fire - he's a fireman as well - but everyone eventually turned up. The horizontal steelwork across the pend should be ready for either the end of this week or the start of next.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A room with a view

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The boards above the pend have been removed in preparation for the installation of the steelwork. Blacksmiths were here today measuring for the horizontal beams that will take the place of the wooden ones you can see in the picture.

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Here's the view from below. The beams rose by about 3cm when the load was removed from them.

Other stuff
Oh, and we still have a hotel and bar to run. New T bars were installed in the bar last week.
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Aren't they pretty? And they pour much better than the old ones. The reaction of most of our regulars when asked "what do you think?" has been "think of what?". Even when sitting directly in front of them most of the customers don't seem to notice them. We think that is a good thing because it means they don't stand out like a sore thumb. If we'd got the Tennents "twin towers" you can bet people would have noticed!

Monday, April 17, 2006

perestroika (and quite a lot of glasnost)

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

New technology

I've been messing about with vgrabbj which grabs the output from the webcam and saves it. It can also upload it to a webpage, so maybe the "eagle cam" will appear on the hotel website shortly.

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Here's a picture of the front hall for the moment. As you can see, it needs a little work. The railings on the stair date from the 1970s when someone fell over the original ones and broke them. Saturday nights must have been fun then:-( There are flagstones under some of the floor, but we're not sure how many survive. Our plan is to have replacement flagstones installed. But first...

The wall - yes, it all happens tomorrow. Three skips and a wee dumper truck are lurking at the back of the hotel, and the builders will be here at the screech of dawn to start work. The demolition should be done in a couple of days and then the steelwork gets installed. The whole process should be done in three or four weeks. Meanwhile tenders have been sent out for the refurbishment of the function room. The adjacent room (formerly the dining room) will not be done just yet.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Old technology

Photos have arrived on CD from our local chemist. Taken on film so some of them are quite old. Take this one for example...
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This is the beer garden during one of the rare falls of snow this winter. Looks quite good and will look better once the boiler shed, just off the left of the picture, is removed. That should happen this autumn.
Ignoring the hotel for a moment (what a wonderful idea) here's the view from near the waterloo monument on the Penielheugh.
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The monument itself isn't really that photogenic. It's a big brick tower with some wobbly woodwork at the top.
Returning to the building site - sorry hotel, we find builders hard at work installing lintels on the pend wall to take the big props.
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And here's the area beneath the wall.
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The big props in yesterday's picture are supported by the right hand wall of the pend.

Now, here's today's competition. Look at yesterday's picture showing the props in the function room. Using your skill and judgement work out why they didn't build the function room wall on top of the pend wall as would seem sensible, but instead decided to build it over thin air.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Visual contact restored

In other words L's new digital camera has arrived. Comes with lots of fancy software that our Linux machines look at with a mixture of disgust and bewilderment. Never mind - FLPhoto recognises it as a camera and allows us to download the photos.

So without any further ado ladies and gentlemen I give you...

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A cement works in the fomer Eastern Europe..

No, wait, it's our former dining room with some large pieces of metal holding the floor above up. The soon to be removed wall is to the right of the picture. Meanwhile...
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this is the view from the other side. The offset between the props shows the angle of the pend wall beneath - both props are perched on the wall.

So things are going to plan. From the guest's point of view, the staircase down from the bedrooms looks like this...
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and for this reason we're offering reduced rates to prospective guests.

Fortunately the Easter break doesn't seem to apply to the local builders, so they'll be here both tomorrow and Monday. The structural engineer will come tomorrow to OK the propping so far and suggest positioning of the fourth prop as there's no handy beam to put it beneath. Demolition of the wall begins on Monday.
That missing railing is about... somewhere.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Heavy metal

The large props have arrived and the beams carrying the upper floor have been exposed. The props will be installed tomorrow and okay-ed (or otherwise) by the structural engineer. Dust is a problem - despite the screening the plaster dust from the removal of parts of the cornicing in the two rooms is travelling a long way.

I've taken photos of the progress so far, but of course they're on film. I could take the laptop and webcam upstairs, but there's not yet much to see. I suspect that the wall removal will not start until Monday. By then L's new digital camera will have arrived.

We've decided that the upgrade of the existing bedrooms can't wait until the end of the season. Getting the work done now may lose us a bit of trade in April/May but will mean that we have completely refurbished bedrooms for the bulk of the season.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

No news

From BBC News 24 yesterday...

"and the news is that Romano Prodi is expected to win the Italian election"

That's not news, It's supposition, conjecture and rumour based on exit polls that even the newsreaders described as "notoriously unreliable".

Anyway it seems that Prodi *has* won. Quite an achievement in a country where pretty much all the media is owned by Berlusconi. Clearly enough Italians are capable of independent thought to make a difference.

Hotel work:
Joiners are here finishing off the screening. No sign of the builders yet. Clear glass has been installed in the back bar area, but with the dark wood panelling you still can't see inside during the day. We're getting it painted soon though, and that should make it look more appealing.

Note to prospective hotel guests...
We are open!
The ongoing renovation work affects some of the public areas but not the bedrooms. While the work is going on we are offering a reduced rate of £20pppn (based on 2 sharing).

Nerdy stuff
I can now send webcam pictures with aMSN. Much happiness! This took a lot of fiddling around and advice from the long suffering aMSN support team.

Monday, April 10, 2006


We've been asked a few times, by various people in the bar and elsewhere, why we're "wasting money" using a project manager rather than just hiring the tradesmen ourselves.


This morning the joiners were due here at 7.30 a.m.

This morning the joiners were here at 7.30 a.m.

The joiners should have had a diagram and precise instructions showing them where temporary screening was to be installed.

The joiners had a diagram and precise instructions showing them where temporary screening was to be installed.

The plumber should have turned up to remove a radiator,

The plumber turned up to remove a radiator,

Any questions?

Sunday, April 09, 2006


You may have noticed that the blog has been rather low on photos recently. This is because the digital camera, which was a 40th present for me and not that old really, decided to lie down and die. Or at least lie down and make dejected meeping noises. So any photos taken in the past three weeks have been on film and are therefore still in the camera. The structural works are due to start tomorrow, so here's a brief reminder of what needs done...
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Here's the wall from the old dining room side. Note the dip in the floor due to the weight of the unsupported wall.
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The view from this side gives a better idea of the scale of the job. The wall extends into the bar area well off the picture.

These photos were taken with L's film camera as it has a 24mm lens. She's about to get a new digital one so some more instant pics should be available as work progresses.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

On a clear day

The Waterloo monument on the Penielheugh is visible for miles around - particularly the Jed - Kelso road. The tower is 150 feet high and sits on top of one of the highest hills in the area. The current monument isn't the original one apparently, That was a solid tower and fell down. Probably the same builders as did parts of our hotel:-( The current tower is hollow and has a rickety spiral staircase inside. There was a charity abseil in aid of the Anthony Nolan trust from it last weekend.

I drove to the Hairstanes visitor centre and followed the marked path to the monument. It's about 6Km and well worth it for the views. The monument itself looks better from a distance. Close up it looks like a big factory chimney with a pointy roof and wooden viewing platform.

Sorry, I'm rambling again. The work on the function room wall is due to start next Monday. The first stage involves putting up screens to prevent dust getting everywhere and then propping up the bedrooms using large cross braced steel supports. They have a special name but I can't remember offhand. Once that's done and the structural engineer has okayed the propping, they can start taking the wall down. Steelwork won't be ready until after the Easter break, but hopefully a lot of the demolition can be done next week.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Easter in Scotland (now go home)

Sunny today, with occasional showers of rain, hail, sleet, plagues of frogs, gnats, flies and locusts. Just another normal spring day really.

With the smoking ban implemented, it's time to brighten up the public bar. It's currently dark and dingy with dark wood panelling on the walls and nicotine coloured paint on the ceiling. We're going to brighten it up and put clear glass in the back bar.

Building work still scheduled for just after Easter. Brief phone call with V*** and D**** today, but no news on the planning application.

Other news - Much energy has been wasted trying to get my webcam to work with amsn. It now sends a picture, though not a very good one. I probably should have used the time more profitably. Playing web sudoku or something.