Monday, July 31, 2006

Normal service has been resumed

I think the heatwave might be over now...
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Friday, July 28, 2006

A drink problem

Keg beer is usually well behaved, but recently we have had more than our fair share of delinquent kegs. The main problem at the moment is what's called "fobbing" which means that the beer is over-gassed and therefore instead of a nice pint of lager with a frothy head on top, you get a pint of froth with a small amount of lager at the bottom. Tennents has been the main culprit this week, but a Kronenbourg also gave trouble two weeks ago. As long as we haven't used too much the brewery will normally credit us the amount of the keg, but it's a nuisance.

Also a nuisance is the postmix machine which normally produces cold fizzy drinks on tap. Yesterday it was producing warm flat ones which weren't too popular with the discerning drinkers of Jedburgh. The Coca cola engineer arrived and announced that the refrigeration unit was knackered but he couldn't mend it because he wasn't a refrigeration engineer. So we have bottles of coke behind the bar this weekend and a much quieter laundry (the machine is in there and usually makes a terrible racket)

Joinery work had continued at a funereal pace. I have given up even trying to estimate when the work will be complete. I think the framing for the new wall is finished, but haven't included a photo today because, frankly it looks exactly the same as it did yesterday,

And it's dark up there and I can't be bothered to go up and take a picture. So there!

We're full tonight. 12 for breakfast. Better go and get ready.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Over stressed

Not me, the toilet seat in the new bathroom of room 5. The (not particularly heavy) guest came downstairs looking apologetic saying it had broken when he had sat on it. This seemed to be due to a bad design - the seat was supported at the front on two little rubber pads, but at the back the hinges held it slightly above the pan. Of course the plumber is on holiday for two weeks so it was off to Galashiels for a new seat.

The weather continues to be stewing hot and as a result I drove to Gala with both front windows and the sunroof fully open. Not quite a convertible but not far off it. There wasn't an exact replacement available, but the one I got is probably a better design. A small amount of flailing around with a hacksaw - oops I mean precision adjustment was required but at least we have a usable room.

And the shower control is mended. Amazing how all these things get sorted when the plumber's on holiday isn't it? I phoned Ideal Standard who made the unit and they sent a diagram of how it should look when assembled. What we had didn't quite match that, so they sent a missing part and all is well.

Not a lot of progress today on the joinery front
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most of the work was concentrated on the framing that will form the doorway to the smaller function room.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dwanging away

You'll have to look carefully to see any progress here
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... but progress there has been. For one thing there's a lot more pieces of wood there than there was yesterday. For another, there is some new woodwork at right angles to the main wall and that will form the doorway to the smaller room. The little horizontal braces are called "dwangs" in Scotland hence the title of the post. There will be some more flooring tomorrow before the plasterboard starts to go up.

D*** was here today and good progress was made in deciding the course of action for the next few months. Once the current work is over, nothing more will happen until the winter. Of course at the current rate of progress that may not leave much of a gap.

We've accepted the quote for the ventilation system and that'll be installed in a couple of weeks time. I'm going to sort the problem with the shower in Rm 5 (the handle falls off) myself as the plumber's on holiday for two weeks.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Late one evening...

I drove up to Edinburgh yesterday evening. The view over the Leaderfoot viaduct and the Eildon hills was spectacular with a "Red sky at night - nuclear device detonated over Galashiels" type sunset. Sadly no pictures as I was driving (and didn't have a camera with me)

While I was away
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this happened. I don't know if they got exact measurements for the door position or if they just guessed. I hope it was the former. D*****'s here tomorrow for a check on progress and I doubt if he'll be impressed. None of the problems in the new bathrooms have been sorted and while the windows now open, they aren't correctly weighted. Progress has been ridiculously slow and no-one on site seems to have much idea of what is expected.

Still. Mustn't grumble.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Early one morning

Twenty past seven on a sunny Monday and I'm having an early breakfast consisting of a double shot cappuccino which will be followed by more of the same until the computer screen comes into focus.

It's cooler today which is most welcome -Aarlene, in case you hadn't noticed: we Brits spend most of the year complaining that it's cold and wet, and the remainder complaining that it's too hot and dry!

It was a busy weekend with 11 guests on Saturday only one of whom was a walk-in. The rest were all booked. We had another two couples looking for rooms after that and redirected them to other B&Bs. A pity we don't have the new rooms available yet. The Italian guests came down for breakfast an hour early having forgotten to change their watches - some Norwegian guests did the same last week. I'm usually very careful to say "breakfast is at 8.30" and not "half eight" because to Germans (and possibly others) "half eight" means half before eight (i.e. 7.30)

Most of our guests stay one night and their reason for staying is "passing through". It's better having guests for one night than not at all, but it would be nice if we got more guests who actually decided to base themselves in the Borders for a holiday.

So it's pleasing to report that on Saturday L took a booking for mid September for 5 people who want to stay for 5 nights. They're walking the Borders Abbey Way which was officially opened this year. The number of people walking the St Cuthberts' way is increasing too. Both these routes go through Jedburgh. We're getting a number of bookings for golfers too with the visitscotland golf guide being one of the more effective pieces of advertising they do.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Change of focus

It's been a while since the function room was mentioned. On May 30th it looked like
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and there's been little point in photograping it since then because nothing has happened. All the work in the past weeks has been focussed on the bedrooms and old kitchen. With the bedrooms pretty well finished the work has begun to reinstate the floor of the function rooms and build the new wall between them.
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Meanwhile the old plaster ceiling in the corridor beside the old kitchen was removed (it has to be replaced by fireproof plasterboard) and there was a lot of dust generated.
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The other area where work has picked up again is the old lounge bar - soon to be the breakfast room. The old bar was taken apart. When the panelling was removed from the front, it revealed the original black and red panelling from 1946 when the bar was installed by Mary Walker's father. I have a picture of it, but it's on film.
The weather remains very hot and the air conditioner which I was very rude about here was in great demand in the bedrooms on Monday and Tuesday night. Last night we had three Italians, two Germans, two Glaswegians...

...and the long running debate about whether or not Mary Queen of Scots stayed at the Spread Eagle Hotel is over. I can now tell visitors with absolute sincerity that Mary Stuart stayed here.

OK, so it was Mary Stuart from Camberwell, London and she arrived on a motorbike, but we don't need to mention that do we?

Monday, July 17, 2006


Global warming has arrived in Jed (and the rest of the UK) with a vengeance. It's been high 20s today which, I admit. is nothing to inhabitants of certain areas of the world, but pretty unusual for here. The local supermarket has obligingly run out of food - well, not quite, but most of their freezers have broken down and the meat displays are empty. Though as Neil pointed out, with two butchers in town why would anyone buy meat at a supermarket?

Tomorrow Lorna is going to Edinburgh for a conference about VAT. For non UK readers that's a sales tax. It's boring. A conference about it will be really boring. She was going to go up to Edinburgh tonight and stay over, but we are almost full so she's going after breakfast.

When he got there, the bedroom was bare

Runners. Persons who leave without paying. Every hotel has them and we maybe should be lucky that we've only had two in two years here. Yesterday's was a gentleman (loose term) from Durban, Lorna's home town. He wanted to stay a couple of nights, but all we had for the first night was a family room. He was very happy with that despite the price and we said we'd move him to a twin room the next day.

And when the cleaner went in to the room he'd been in it was empty with the tv left on.
Ah well.

The place is swarming with workmen. I'm not 100% sure what they're doing but at least they're here, Because most of the areas still are nowhere near finished there is little point in photos at this stage.

Despite ridiculously high temperatures outside the cellar remains at 16C. The strip out of the old lounge bar has liberated another fan heater so the hand knitted cellar cooler may be about to get doubled in size.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rare sighting of endangered species

Which means that the plumber's here! I may resort to locking him in until the job's finished but hope that it won't be necessary. Two joiners are also here - we should have 6.

Overcast and cool in Jed - a change from the toasty hot weather we've been having. Yesterday was a fairly quiet day in the bar which L did most of herself as we have staff off sick. She's having a lie in and I'm doing the breakfasts. We have five people which would normally need both of us, but as the golfers wanted a 7am breakfast I could do the lot myself. The difficulty is when you have a full house (14 at present) and they all turn up at once.

I have bought lots of pipe insulation which is going round the feeds to the hand built cellar cooling device to try to stop it dripping water everywhere. Even commercial air conditioners seem to do this, so it may be a difficult task. We will see.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Watching paint dry

It's been that exciting in the bar today. We had four guests this morning - three golfers who wanted an early breakfast and a company rep who wanted a slightly less early breakfast. I did that and then caught up on lost sleep after L got up. Also got a towel rail for bathroom 2 which the plumber will fit tomorrow in the unlikely event that he turns up. And finished the painting of the woodwork in the front hall. Very little progress on the renovations front today and this is causing tempers (both ours and our project manager's) to wear very thin.

So they said - "Cheer up, things could be worse"
So I did
And they were.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Work continues at the pace of a heavily sedated snail. The remainder of the ceiling in the upstairs kitchen was taken down and lots of dust generated. Some framing of the walls was done, otherwise that's it. D**** was here today and was deeply unimpressed both by the speed and quality of the work. He's not alone - I have had this sort of experience before as an individual, but rather hoped that the size and value of the contract would make a difference here. Ah well, silly me.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A few minor problems

but on the whole, the new bathrooms look pretty good. First, here's a reminder of how room 2 looked just a few weeks ago...
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...and from just about the same spot today:
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Here's a closer look
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Room 5 is pretty well finished too, but there are a couple of problems. I'll wait until they are sorted until I take pictures.

New style water bed unveiled in the north of England

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I think it's supposed to be art

Thursday, July 06, 2006

More cliffhangers

It turns out that the council don't send reminders for the temporary extensions to the license. So we're not opening the bar at 6. We're also not selling bacon rolls because we are short staffed and have 13 breakfasts to do for residents.

Rooms 2 and 5 are virtually finished now, but it's been a very tense week. The plumber arrived yesterday morning, but because the joiners were working in the bathroom of R2 he couldn't get in so...

he went home (see last week's quiz)

Shortly afterwards, I went up to see how the work was going to find the joiners standing idle. This was because they couldn't do any more work until the plumber fitted the shower controller.

Why the ***** won't these people TALK to each other!!!!

Anyway. Painting's all done, windows are re-roped, painted and generally working, Bathroom fitments are in place, lights are in, just a small amount of snagging needed tomorrow morning. The carpet fitter's coming to re-lay the new carpet in R5 and also the old one in R2. I haven't included any pictures because it doesn't look like much yet. Tomorrow I will - promise,

Our remaining rooms were occupied by 4 Swedish bikers and a German cyclist. We have two residents tonight and still have to clean rooms 3 and 4 in case other show up.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Early licenses

In deference to our English neighbours football will not be mentioned anywhere in this post. Words like "penalty", "miss" and "tough" will be conspicuous by their absence. Nice though, to see Andy Murray through to the last 16 of Wimbledon.

The Jedburgh festival reaches its conclusion next Friday with an all night ball. Last year the licensing board granted early licenses but they haven't sent out application forms this year so it doesn't look as though it's going to happen. We will, of course be opening at 6 to sell bacon rolls.

Stewing hot here again. The cellar temperature has crept up to 16, but given the outside temperature that's understandable. The problem seems to be that my little hand built air conditioner is too small. Clearly a redesign is called for:-)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

To the wire

I was up at 6 this morning; quite unnecessarily - just woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. It's very hot and humid at the moment and that might have something to do with it. Six guests, four chance and two booked.

After breakfast, and after replacing the toilet seat in room 3 which had broken(?!), we set to work getting room 5 suitable for guests. The bedroom was empty apart from the bath for room 2 which was sitting in the middle of it. The bathroom was full of debris from people drilling holes in the ceiling and suchlike. We got it to a point where the cleaner could attempt to clean it and then started moving furniture back into the bedroom (and the bath out). The time by then was about 11.15.

We made the beds and L headed downstairs to open the bar. I hung the curtains, found some bedside lamps, the tray for tea and coffee, a spare kettle, changed the light fitting in the hall outside the bedrooms for one that works, hung a couple of pictures... Time was about 1.30. Guests arrived at around 1.40.

There were several times this week when I thought the room wouldn't be ready. The rest of the week I was sure that we wouldn't be ready.

But we were...
and they seem happy...
and the sun is shining(ish).