Friday, June 30, 2006

Workmen - an apology

It seems that I have been a little hard on our electricians. The interesting tv aerial arrangement which featured in today's quiz was actually there already. It doesn't explain why they plastered round it though.

Apologies were also forthcoming from the fellow who's supposed to be acting project manager. The painters who had been sent to the wrong room (Ah, you thought I made that up did you?) got going on Room 5 and despite shortage of time and working around plumbers, carpet fitters et al. have worked miracles so that although not finished, the room is perfectly usable.

The furniture has been moved back to Room 2 so we can put it into position tomorrow. And the workmen will be back on Monday to continue with room 2 and Tuesday to continue with room 5.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The all new Spread Eagle Quiz

How well do you know your workmen

Test your knowledge of British workmen in our fun quiz below.

Q1) Workman says "I'll be there first thing Monday morning"

He means...
a) I'll be there first thing Monday morning
b) I'll be there first thing Monday morning unless something more important turns up
c) I'll turn up at 3pm on Thursday with neither explanation nor apology, do fifteen minutes work and then bugger off again until the following Tuesday

Q2) Workman tells you the job will cost £250.

He means...
a) He has carefully costed the job and the lowest price he can do it for is £250
b) He could do it for £75, but he has a new conservatory to pay for
c) He can say what he likes because the final bill will bear no relation whatsoever to the estimate.

Q3) Workman tells you that the timber is all rotten and will have to be replaced

He means...
a) the timber is all rotten and will have to be replaced
b) some of the timber is rotten, but it will save him time to replace all of it
c) A lot of timber has come into his possession recently

Q4) Workman encounters a problem

What does he do?
a) Comes and explains the problem, outlines his proposed solution and checks that you are happy with it.
b) Uses his initiative to work round the problem as best he can.
c) Goes home

Q5) Workman accidentally sets off fire alarm

What does he do?
a) Comes to find the owner, apologises, takes steps to make sure it won't happen again
b) Asks the owner to disable the alarm in the area he is working
c) Does not attempt to find the owner and ignores the alarm.

Q6) You tell the plumber where you want to put the bath, but mention that the joiners are working on the floor. You ask him to check with the joiner that the flooring work is finished before he installs the bath.

What does he do?
a) Speaks to the joiner and makes sure that the flooring work has been finished before continuing.
b) Does some other work until the joiners are clear of the bathroom.
c) Goes home.

Q7) The electrician is told to install a television aerial at head height for a wall mounted television. The cable for the television currently comes through the window and runs along the floor.

What does he do?
a) Comes and tells you there is a problem, suggests a solution and waits for your approval before continuing
b) Leaves a fish wire in place so that a new cable can be pulled through later
c) This...
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Q8) The supervisor on a hotel refurbishment project is informed that a certain bedroom is urgently required on a particular day.

What does he do?
a) Informs his men of the urgency of the work and co-ordinates them efficiently.
b) Tells the men what needs done, but does not mention the urgency.
c) Sends the men to decorate another room which is not needed at all that weekend and does not mention anything about the urgent room.

Q9) A workman tells you that the job will be finished on Tuesday

He means
a) The job will be finished on Tuesday.
b) The job will be finished next Tuesday.
c) The job will be finished on some unspecified Tuesday in the distant future.

Q10) A contractor presents you with his bill

Do you
a) Pay it promptly
b) Laugh hysterically
c) Faint

How did you do?

Mostly a:
You sweet innocent thing! You have clearly never seen or employed a workman in your life. Keep it that way.

Mostly b:
You have either been very lucky or live in a modern flat

Mostly c:
Congratulations! You clearly have excellent experience of the ways of tradesmen. Go and have a drink - you probably need one.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


... but not quite finished. That's the state room 5 will be in by the close of play on Friday. Room 2 won't be finished, but the folk who were going in there can be fitted in to other rooms.

Both rooms will be completely finished by the end of next week...


Oh, never mind.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Some bad news and some good news

It is looking increasingly doubtful whether the two family rooms will be finished for the weekend. There is no alternative accommodation anywhere in the town (yes, we asked) so we have to provide something.

Room 5 is likely to be usable even if the colour scheme is a quick coat of white emulsion. The bathroom's taking shape and the door surrounds and skirtings have been attached. Electrical work is finished.

Room 2 won't be ready, Well, the bathroom won't anyway. In anticipation of delays we haven't taken any bookings for our other two rooms so D***'s suggestion is to use Room 2 with Room 3's bathroom. Not ideal, but better than nothing.

Planning permission has been granted. Under normal circumstances this would be grounds for celebrations, but these are not normal circumstances so our reaction has been along the lines of "Oh, that's nice then"

Cellar cooling
I added some pipe insulation to the feed from the chiller to the cellar cooler which has stopped condensation dripping everywhere. The air coming out of the device was about 11C this morning with an ambient temperature of 15C. The cellar temperature has dropped a degree despite it being warmer outside. Clearly the machine will take a while to cool the place significantly, but it is definitely having some effect.

Monday, June 26, 2006

It's... ALIVE!

The cellar cooler has been installed, filled and set to work. It has been whirring away enthusiastically for ten hours now and the temperature in the cellar... exactly the same as it was this morning.

However, the kickspace heater is fairly small, is designed to heat not cool and is in a not particularly well insulated room. The pipes leading from the chiller don't currently have any insulation on them and while the feed pipe is covered in condensation, the return pipe is not. This suggests that some cooling must be taking place. The room thermostat is at the far end of the cellar and it may be that the cold air doesn't reach it.

And the room feels colder. We shall leave the machine running overnight and see what happens.

A BAD day with a capital B. The plumber left at lunchtime to attend a funeral. Naturally enough he didn't tell anyone that he was leaving, so no plumbing work was done. No joinery work was done either as they were waiting for the plumber to fit his stuff. We now have four days until the rooms are needed and it's going to be very tight.

with that in mind
I decided to leave the premises and headed out on my bike to the Cross Keys at Ancrum where I had an excellent dinner, several very nice pints and some enjoyable, relatively intelligent converation - a rare combination in Jedburgh!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

You can't get the wood you know...

Here in all its glory is the (mostly) finished cellar cooling device...
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The unit at the right is a fan heater which runs off the central heating. A fan blows air through a heat exchanger which has hot water running through it...

...or in this case, cold water.
The rest of the plumbing is a pump to move the water around and various valves for filling and emptying. The chilled water comes from the remote beer chiller which is situated next door to the cellar. All that remains is to connect up some 10mm piping between the remote chiller and this, er, contraption. What can possibly go wrong?
(Don't answer that - please!)

Bathroom fittings
have arrived apart from the pop-up wastes for the two baths, one shower controller and one shower head. The shower head is in the warehouse and we hope the rest will show up before the end of next week.

We were full last night with six folk - four golfers and two others with dogs. I'd better go and start breakfast.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bookings and cancellations

We had a partial cancellation of a big booking the weekend after next. It was from a group who are coming to take part in the Jim Clark rally which starts and ends in Kelso. In March, the same group cancelled their entire booking for the borders' rally at quite short notice which caused us no end of problems. So it's nice to be able to report that less than 24 hours later we've managed to take another booking for the room and we're pretty much full that weekend.

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Here's room 2 showing a certain amount of progress. Most of the work isn't visible in the photo - plumbing, cabling etc.

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Room 5 meanwhile is coming along nicely. Unfortunately I'll need to take some of the floor up again to get the cable for the telephone/internet installed.

All the bathroom stuff gets delivered tomorrow afternoon. The joiners are going to build units to house the basin and toilet cistern - all will become clearer when it's done.

Mad inventor
has been busy in the workshop today. Good progress has been made on the cooling device for the cellar. I expect it to be finished tomorrow or the next day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Pulling in the same direction

Now then,

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This is what Room 2 looked like today. If you saw yesterday's photo you'll agree that progress is being made. The framing for the new ensuite is in place. As you can see the new wall is slightly further out that the old so, if everyone's read their plans correctly, there will be space for the bath at the right hand side. What isn't visible is that the plumber has been busy doing a first fit of the water pipes and drains.

Meanwhile at the other end of the corridor...
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The inset image is of room 5 just a few weeks ago. I've tried to take today's picture from the same place. The electricians have been wiring up the new sockets, the floor beams have all been strengthened and all the floorboards are new. The plumber's done his first fit there too. The next thing to happen is that the joiners will finish off the floor and skirting boards and then the decorators will fill in all the holes that the electricians made. The floor and floorcoverings in the bathroom will be completed. Then the bathroom will be fitted out and the decorators will come back and do their paper and paint thing. Finally, the carpet fitter will come and fit the new carpet in the bedroom. And it all has to happen in the next nine days.

Downstairs stuff has been happening too.
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New floor beams (lots of them) and new floorboards. The partition wall will be replaced in line with that steel beam. Unfortunately all the heating pipes which run in front of the old lift shaft will have to be moved as the new hoist is bigger front to back.

Aarlene, I'd never heard of Rube Goldberg, the British equivalent being Heath Robinson, though looking at the Goldberg website they seem to have had a similar sense of humour. I've bought all the necessary bits and pieces and will disappear into my workshop for a period. If the contraption doesn't work I shall deny all knowledge of having thought of it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Room 2 currently looks like this:
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A new partition will be built, possibly today, which will make the ensuite a bit bigger. Then we have just over a week to get everything finished before the first bookings.

Rare outbreak of common sense

details here

Monday, June 19, 2006


High definition television has arrived in Jedburgh, Specifically it has arrived in our wee bar and gives most excellent pictures. Sadly not very much is available in HD, so we have to content ourselves with some of the world cup and rather a lot of Discovery channel. The service is free for the moment and we'll have to decide next September whether or not to keep it.

Seven years ago

"Other people may be getting married today" said the minister, "but there's only one wedding, and we're at it".

The "other people" mentioned were Edward and Sophie (Windsor, London, brilliant sunshine) and the "wedding" was us (Campbell, Glasgow, torrential rain)

According to convention I'm supposed to run off with my secretary now. However stretching job titles slightly we could argue that Lorna is my secretary, so that's not a problem.

Dinner at the Jedforest hotel cooked to perfection by Neil, served to perfection by Magda and Tom probably had a hand in it somewhere too. Neil has returned to the bar with us.

Lots of joiners and electricians about today. No idea what they were doing. Probably neither did they.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A view from above

Google Earth. If you haven't heard of it it's a fab interactive aerial map thingy that allows you to view photographs of lots of places in the world, plot journeys and see roads and stuff. It used to be Windoze only but now it's available for GNU/Linux. I wouldn't click on that link if you aren't using Linux as it tends to leap out and auto-install itself.

Jedburgh isn't covered. Well, not in detail anyway. London is and the centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh are.

We've been sitting out in the beer garden sipping Tio Pepe and eating pistachios and Kalamata olives. The weather has been clammy and overcast and the pollen count must be through the roof because I don't get hayfever much these days. This being the weekend, there's no work happening but we've chosen carpets for Room5, flooring for the bathrooms of 5 and 2 and carpet for the front hall. Everyone still seems to think that we can finish 2 and 5 before the end of the month.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Oooo I'm cross

So this air conditioner thingy arrived. "Very powerful" said the website. I trundled it into the cellar, got the joiners to cut a hole in the door for the vent hose, connected it up...

and the b****y thing only goes down to 17C! What flaming use is that? The cellar's only at 18C as it is!

So I phoned the folk who sold it and they said "Oh, no standalone unit will go down to 12C - you'd need a commercial machine for that. It's for cooling your living room. You should have said when you ordered. We'd have told you. 12C nonono, can't be done"

Can't be done eh?

Well, they don't know who they were talking to! I have devised a cunning plan (TM) involving lengths of piping, squeezy bottles and sticky back plastic. Stay tuned for further developments!

Joinery work going well today. The boxing in of cables in the front hall was completed, the plasterboard under the pend continues and we've ordered the bathroom fittings for rooms 2 and 5.

Oh, and the National Museum of Scotland turned up to remove the old dumbwaiter. Much banging and hammering and the contraption was removed and taken off to a warehouse in Edinburgh.

Englandshire beat Trinidad at the fitba. About 5 people were in the bar to watch.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


The roads department have decided that June would be a perfect time to resurface the high street. Better still they've decided to do it between 5pm and midnight. The air is thick with the sound of scarifiers, road drills and big lorries,

Work continues inside as well. The fireproof boarding above the pend is finished and plasterboard is going to be fixed on top of that. Some boxing in of the spaghetti wiring in the front hall is under way and room 5 has been stripped out, had extra joists and bracing installed and now has a new floor. The ensuite there is going to have a corner bath while the wall of the ensuite in Room 2 is going to be moved to make the ensuite bigger.

The problem continues to be time, or the lack of it. We need both family rooms back by the end of the month and while everyone says it's do-able it's going to be close.

Our air conditioner arrived today, so tomorrow's work includes cutting a hole in the door of the cellar to take the exhaust hose from it. The real ale has been selling well this week, but is at 18C which cuts its life from nearly two weeks to less than one.

As an ex broadcast engineer I was delighted to see the clock for a programme trailer broadcast 20 minutes into the Spain-Ukraine match on ITV. I thought that sort of thing stopped when I left:-)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Thin air not cold air

The cellar's too warm, so I ordered an air conditioner from a company in County Durham about 2hrs drive from here. It was dispatched by courier for delivery today and...

... and the carrier's lost it.

They're sending another one. It'll be here tomorrow. (allegedly)

Also making a non appearance was our new member of staff.

Also the bedrooms won't be ready until the end of the month. That's assuming everything goes exactly to plan.

In short, not a good day.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Och! Bother!

The cash drawers that go into our tills have 240 coins in them at the start of the day. Ask me how I know this. Well, you see, I was in a hurry and took the drawer out of the safe, put it on the edge of the desk, turned round and...
Lorna's done this before. My variation on the theme was to drop all the coins into the bottom drawer of the desk instead of all over the office floor. We both did it five minutes from opening though.

I needn't have worried. We had about three customers in between 12 and 4 at which point we got invaded by a big group who stayed for the rest of the afternoon and made it a very decent day indeed trade wise.

The joiners are back tomorrow and the work will continue on the bedrooms. There's plastic sheeting over the doorway to room 5 and a sign saying "do not enter" on the door - that's cos it's been sprayed with anti woodworm and rot stuff. New floor beams have been bolted onto the existing ones and braces (called "dwangs") are going to be fitted between them.

We have four guests from Milan tonight. No early breakfast though, so we can sleep until 7.45 (that's known as a long lie in this business!)

... and so to bed.

Friday, June 09, 2006


The new tv which has been cluttering up the office for the past month or so has been put up in the bar.
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Note the new colour scheme. The door's going to be the same colour eventually. The new tv looks pretty good and has been much admired.

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This is a good thing because, apparently there's some kind of football tournament thingy starting today and the customers will be able to watch it in glorious widescreen.

It'll look even better next week when the engineer comes to install our Sky HD box which gives a much improved picture (allegedly).

I was in Edinburgh yesterday for the start of the traditional ale festival. Lots of fine beers to try and merchandine to buy. Like this for example:
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Why workmen are an extra set of hands and not an extra brain

The joiners' foreman has, ever so gently pointed out to me the dangers of talking to his men. It seems that they take everything rather literally, so when I mentioned as a point of interest that we were eventually getting new doors for the bedrooms, they took it as an instruction to remove the door of bedroom 5 and throw it away.

Ho Hum

There's still some painting to be done, mainly in the front hall, but on the whole it's looking pretty good.
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We were going to paint the mouldings on the lower panels in a darker colour, but I think they look pretty good in white. L is going to continue painting today while I swan off to the traditional beer festival in Edinburgh. It's tough work, but someone has to do it:-)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dramatis personae

Ladies and gentlemen. I give you the Spread Eagle Painting Team 2006

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Left to right, John, Jen, Lorna, Chris, John

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Joiners and other weapons of mass destruction

Four Swedish guests arrived at around 4.30 to be greeted by a pair of grubby paint smeared owners. They wanted two double rooms, but we only had a double and a twin. "No problem" they said. I took them to see room 9 and asked L*** to check the twin room since the joiners had been working next door.
L**** came back saying that the floor in room 5 was missing. "No problem" I said, just close the door.
"It's missing too"
There followed a very Fawlty Towers-ish ten minutes of haring around moving stuff, hoovering, wiping and generally making the place look vaguely like a hotel rather than a furniture warehouse.
Astonishingly, the guests took the room. Despite the shenanigans in the rest of the hotel, the rooms are still clean, comfy and generally nice.
Once the work's finished they will be even nicer.
The painting in the bar and front hall has gone pretty well. The squad today consisted of Me, Lorna, Jen, John and Chris. We hope to get the bar finished tomorrow and I'll post a picture when that's done.

Deconstruction begins in earnest

A beautiful sunny day in Jed, gentle birdsong mingling with the slightly out of tune chimes of the town hall clock. Everything is bright, happy, lovely...

OK, in case you suspect I've been taking illicit substances - the joiners have turned up at last and the strip out of bedrooms 2 and 5 has begun. Mick the plumber is also here and the bathroom is being reduced to a confetti of fibreglass and metal. The supervisor fellow will be here today and we'll need to find out if enlarging the bathroom in No 2 is feasible given the timescale. If not we'll have to leave it as is.

Pictures later.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Much activity in the bar today. Stripping, scrubbing splashing, spraying, swearing. The walls and ceiling changed colour as we scrubbed years of nicotine off. Meanwhile I went to a paint shop to get paper, glue, brushes and several gallons of brilliant white emulsion. Tomorrow the ceiling and upper half of the bar will be painted white. The white will act as an undercoat on the walls and on Wednesday we'll put the top coat on the walls. The painting is going to plan...

... which is more than can be said for the rooms upgrade. The plumber turned up to strip out the ensuites in rooms 2 and 5, but the joiners, despite swearing on their auntie's grave that they'd be here today did not show.

Spit snarl.

(Warning! Sense of humour failure imminent)

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Years of smoking have left the bar a brown colour and this evening after close of business we set to removing the paper from the back bar ceiling. Our fingers were stained brown after we had got the last of it off. I'm heading for B&Q (diy shop) tomorrow for paper, paint, sugar soap, brushes etc and we're going to give the bar and front hall a freshen up. Jen (barmaid) and Chris (barfly) are going to help. The bar will be opening at 6 tomorrow (Monday), Tuesday and Wednesday.

And the joiners will be here too. As seems to be normal in this project (and any other normal project) there is already a delay and they'll be here after lunch rather than first thing.

Friday, June 02, 2006


For most of the afternoon there was nobody in the public bar at all. Not a soul, completely empty.

Outside however...
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Yes, summer has finally arrived. It was toasty warm and sales of cold beer were pretty good.

We're going to open the beer garden this weekend because the weather's forecast to be the same for the next two days. After that it'll have to close again because of the work going on in the rooms above. The bar will be closed during the day on Monday through Wednesday anyway because we are painting the bar and front hall. We weren't going to open at all, but that would lose too much money and since it's emulsion paint it should be dry in a couple of hours.

The joiners' foreman and the squad who will be down on Monday were on site today looking round and being shown the work needing done. THAT makes a change - the builders never seemed to have a clue what was required and usually asked us. Of course since D**** had written the job spec we didn't know either.