Thursday, August 31, 2006

Quiet night in the bar

Just to prove that the wireless network works in the bar, here's a totally contrived picture of me blogging there.
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Chill baby

The new cellar cooler is running and already the cellar is down from 17C to 15C. That's a big improvement and is probably due to better insulation than the second fan unit. Both are cooling the air to 12C and dripping water enthusiastically all over the place as air conditioners tend to do.

What else today? Well, not a lot - there were no guests last night and none as yet tonight. There are a few bookings for the weekend but in general it's been a wretchedly slow season here and everywhere else.

Some Belgian bikers did turn up and ordered eight pints of real ale which flustered our barmaid slightly as we serve it from the cellar and usually sell no more than four or five pints in a day. Suddenly being asked for eight at once while welcome causes a fair amount of people scampering around clutching large numbers of pint glasses.

Work continues - Some plywood sheeting was fitted to the new kitchen floor today and some skirting and door facings were attached. D*** is coming up in a couple of weeks to see progress.

For the upgrading of the unused rooms we are seriously considering carrying out some of the joinery, plasterboarding and decoration work ourselves. We're fairly sure that we could do it to a better standard than the current workers and have a vested interest in finishing on time and to budget. D**** is not completely negative about this but has highlighted the fact that, particulary with Room 1 the work is quite complicated and may be too difficult for us to do ourselves.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Insult meets injury

It seems to be "Injure John" week. Part of it's due to the cellar cooler which is nearing completion. That's MkII of course MKI having rotted to powder within eight weeks. So, while disassembling MKI I managed to knock a lump out of my finger on the edge of the laminate board. Then I picked up various other cuts and bruises while assembling MKII. MKII is now finished, filled with water and waiting for electrical wiring before the grand switch on.

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Here it is in all its glory. The pipework and pump are now mounted vertically on laminate board and better insulated to avoid the condensation problem. You can see one of the little fan heater units at the right of the picture.

Tonight, to avoid any further injury, we went out for dinner . We went to Burt's Hotel in Melrose , parked just across the street and I somehow contrived to shut the car door without moving my left foot out of the way first. Owowowowoow!

Dinner was OK though rather heavy on dead animals and not much in the way of accompaniment. £Lots for three courses plus a half bottle of wine.

And it might have to serve as an early birthday present for me since one of our bar staff is signed off for ten days with stress - whether hers or ours is not clear. We interviewed for new staff today so the problem may be temporary. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wireless sort-of-work

I'm writing this in the publc bar - Yay! Wireless networking works.

Well, not quite.

I'm writing this in the one very small part of the bar where I can get a connection - beside the door to the kitchen which is where the wireless router is sitting.
Everywhere else, there is a four foot thick sandstone wall in the way and that means there's no connection. Still, it's progress of a sort.

We were full last night, in fact if we'd had three times as many rooms we'd still have been full. Tonight at 8.30 we were empty.
Then a couple turned up followed by four Italians (without huge suitcases for once).

The workmen are back tomorrow. Oh joy!

...and so to bed

Friday, August 25, 2006

Wireless Not-work

Blogger seems to be on a go-slow tonight. It took ages to load. Coincidentally I've spent most of the day raging against the machine. Well, one machine in particular - my laptop. Now, it's not a Dell, so it doesn't catch fire, but it does seem to have extreme difficulty in remembering just where it put its wireless connection (It's about here somewhere - I'm sure I saw it just a moment ago - Oh never mind I'll just tell him I can't find the website he's looking for)

Let me explain. We don't use the evil one's operating system because it is expensive, doesn't work very well and gets every virus going. Instead up until now we have used this version of the Linux operating system. It used to be called Mandrake and was one of the better commercial distributions of Linux. Then they tied up with a company called Connectiva, changed the name to Mandriva and frankly bits that used to work don't any more. And the bits that used not to work still don't. Most glaringly, file sharing doesn't work at all. That's kind of fundamental when you are trying to share files.

So I looked around and came across SuSE which used to be a German distribution, but was bought by Novell, a big US networking company. It got rave reviews from some people (others said it sucked) but I went ahead and bought it.

And most of it is a big improvement. It installs itself pretty painlessly, detects all the bits of the computer correctly and sets them up fairly well. But this wireless network has caused no end of grief. It's working now, but due to 6 foot stone walls it loses the signal occasionally.

And when that happens it doesn't bother to try to find it again. It just sits and sulks. You have to issue arcane commands in a terminal window to get it going again. Most annoying.

Continuing the technology theme, Lorna dropped one of our two way radios into a bucket of hot soapy water while cleaning one of the bathrooms. The radio has been strangely quiet ever since.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The mad inventor strikes again

The cellar cooling device is undergoing a rebuild. The original had some drawbacks principally that it dripped condensation everywhere and, being built largely of mdf, turned blue and hairy and fell to pieces in no time. The new version has the pump assembly mounted vertically on laminate board (left over from the kitchen) and lots of pipe insulation which the Scottish & Newcastle tech services man left me. Progress has been good, but it will be a day or two until it's finished.

Mixed news on the staff front. Our job advertisement yielded four replies. One has found a job already, one is coming for interview and the other two didn't put a contact phone number on their application form. Giving someone the job because she's the only applicant is a bad idea.

The public bar was very quiet today. It would have been busier if we'd been serving meals since most of the folk who came in were looking for lunch/dinner. At the moment we seem to be acting as a redirection service for other restaurants!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Niche market

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I don't know what this mausoleum is called, but it's clearly visible on the A68 just before Lilliards Edge. I was in Galashiels and Melrose today. Got some stuff at the cash and carry and two half barrels at an "antique" shop in Melrose. They'll be used for plants in the beer garden.

Meanwhile, stripping is taking place in the function room. The decorator appears to be camera shy and objected to his left arm appearing in the picture hence the modifications!
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That frieze is made of paper mache and comes off in very small pieces. Much muffled swearing from the decorators. Although fairly old it is not in keeping with the rest of the room and bits of it were missing. It made sense to take the rest off and have a plain frieze.

In the new kitchen, panelling continues:
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but it's in the old lounge bar that interesting things have been discovered.
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Here's the area where the bar was. Nice wallpaper isn't it(!?). But take a look at the middle of the picture where behind the wall we found a very ornate niche.
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Here's a closer view. Was it a door? Was it put in when the lounge bar was created in the 1940s? Who knows?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Lies, damn lies and completion dates

I don't know why I even bother to write "so and so work will be finished on such and such a day" because I know it won't happen and you know it won't happen. The temporary partition is still there although the reasons for its continued existence are good - they don't want to remove it until the new cornices are fitted because that's likely to generate some dust. The person who'll be doing cornice work was here today, hauled off a length of cornice to take a mould from and will be back, hopefully this week.

Meanwhile in the old kitchen the ventilation system is nearly complete. The installer had forgotten to write down the length of steel required, had cut it to size from memory and, well, you guess the rest! He'll be back sometime this week with a correctly measured piece. There's a new ceiling in the kitchen corridor, work is being done on the walls - no nasty surprises there thankfully - and the old central heating pipe was cut out with an angle grinder which made the most revolting smell of burning metal and burning wood.

I have switched off the cellar cooler and will start on a redesign tomorrow. There are two problems - condensation and lack of cooling power. I have salvaged some offcuts of the laminated wallboard from the kitchen and will add lots of pipe insulation and rockwool to try to prevent the condensation problem and I will add a second fan convector to double the size of the heat exchanger. If I could find the third one I'd add it too - it's somewhere about....

No pics today - none of today's progress is particularly photogenic.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Getting plastered

The Jedburgh Co-op is doing a really nice Jacaranda Rose. There's a Shiraz and a white as well. Three bottles for a tenner. Yum!

Actually the title of this post was meant to relate to the fact that the plasterers showed up yesterday and made good progress.
We're on course to get the temporary partition removed next week and we're reaching the stage where we can see light at the end of the tunnel which for once isn't the headlamp of the oncoming train.

The bar is very quiet tonight. Apparently the Cross Keys in Ancrum are celebrating their 100th birthday and there are barbecues and bands and whatever. On the B&B side we're busy: we have ten guests eight of whom have turned up since lunchtime.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Order of work

The ventilation engineers were back today and probably wished that they had spent the morning fitting the external fan unit and the afternoon doing the internal work. That's because the morning was dry and the afternoon... wasn't. They claim they'll be back on Monday to finish off.

Meanwhile the plasterers didn't show today, but the plasterboarding is complete in the function room and residents' lounge. If the plasterers come tomorrow then the temporary partition at the foot of the stairs can be removed.

We have three Aussies, two English and three workmen (painters working on the new Tesco in Galashiels) staying tonight.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I'm your number one fan!

Remember that boring picture of the new kitchen?

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Here it is now looking slightly less boring. The new extraction canopy is fixed to the wall. The stuff below is stainless steel sheeting - it's got a protective film on just now. The big square box in the corner on the floor is the fan unit which, I think, will be mounted outside to make it quieter. This is a centrifugal fan (cylindrical with lots of little blades) unlike the old one which is an axial fan (looks and sounds like an aeroplane propeller). The ventilation folk were supposed to be back yesterday to continue installation, but, guess what - they didn't show up. Meanwhile in the function room...

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A lot has happened here. The doors are back on, the wall is plasterboarded on both sides and rockwool insulation has been fitted in the cavity. The big opening will eventually be for the double doors, but in the medium term it's just going to be plasterboarded.

Monday, August 14, 2006


It's amazing. I've been looking through the catalogue from Brakes, one of the main suppliers to the catering trade. You can buy almost everything for breakfast ready cooked. All you need is a microwave and an Eastern European to operate it. Omelettes? Poached eggs? Two minutes in the microwave, open the bag and put it on the plate.
What do they taste like? Well, we don't know. And we intend to continue not to know.

We will be getting stuff from Brakes, but it'll be butter portions, jam portions, croissants (life is way too short to make croissants from first principles) and cereals.

We won't be going for the microwave omelettes though. Or scrambled eggs. I'm getting quite good at these (according to our guests)

Bah, Humbug!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Goody goody Yum yum!

To Edinburgh where there's some sort of arts festival taking place apparently. Saw Tim Brooke Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie (on video) with reminiscences and anecdotes about the Goodies (1970s tv show for non UK residents).
This morning I was going to see the Mueck exhibition at the National Galleries, but seeing in the morning paper that it had had 6000 visitors in 3 days I decided to give it a miss until after the festival (it's on until October).
The Royal Mile was teeming with people - all either tourists or arty types calling each other darling (and that was just the blokes) so I dived into an excellent coffee shop on Hunter Square (next to Starbucks) and settled down with a crossword and a giant cappuccino.
This was while waiting for Carphone Warehouse to open so that I could pick up our business mobile which had gone faulty and was being repaired. That done, I headed back to Jed and...


Full tonight. We had two booked in this morning and now we have 10. Did I mention that this happens from time to time?

Aarlene, the picture of Lindisfarne was from a Google image search with keyword "lindisfarne". The actual link is
We've yet to visit Lindisfarne but hopefully we'll manage it sometime this year.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The show's not over until the fat lady sings

After a reasonably busy afternoon in the bar (football, pies etc) Sunday evening settled down into its usual pattern of no customers. We watched tv, read the Sunday papers and thought about closing early as has happened before.

But if we'd done that we'd have missed the two German lads who showed up looking for a room at quarter to eleven. Just starting their holiday and having driven from Prestwick airport hence the late arrival.

Five in so far tonight - a family of four from Brittany and a Canadian lady. The night is young, there may be more.

You'll have noticed that my enthusiasm for the renovations has reached a stage where I haven't even bothered to go and see what has or hasn't been done today.

I'm going to Edinburgh tomorrow to see this and quite possibly this.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


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The St Cuthberts Way and the Borders Abbeys Way both run through Jedburgh. The St Cuthberts is celebrating its 10th anniversary and is becoming very popular judging by the numbers of visitors we're getting who are walking it. It's not difficult to see why this is - it's a manageable length, has some lovely scenery and there is usually somewhere to stay at the end of each stage. Here for example:-)

The Borders Abbeys Way was officially opened this year and we're starting to get bookings for people who are walking it. It's a bit contrived in places - it goes to Hawick which doesn't have an abbey - but again it's short stages, nice scenery and convenient places to stay at the end. Here for example:-))

Of last night's guests, six were walkers, four were holidaymakers passing through and two were the now obligatory Italians. And, yes - they had huge suitcases.

Friday, August 04, 2006

When in Rome...

Rome must be empty just now because Scotland is full of people from Rome. We had 5 in a couple of nights ago and a family of four checked in this evening. We also have five others so there's only one double room left.

Two joiners here today. I assume they were doing something.

Plenty room at the inn

After being full of chance guests on Wedneday night we had no-one in at all yesterday. Although this shouldn't be something we're happy with it does allow us to catch up on laundry, to sleep beyond 7am and to try to get some other stuff done around the hotel.

Which today means painting,

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Posting late

As predicted more chance guests arrived, though it's not every night that we're empty at 6 and full at 9, In addition to the two monolingual Dutch guests, we have five italians (living up to the stereotype with suitcases weighing several tons each), two weary walkers and two guys on motorbikes. Anyone with more than a smattering of English will be leaving before breakfast so L's lingustic skills will be stretched to the limit.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pretty in pink

Here's a picture of the upstairs kitchen, a hot contender for the most boring photo on the blog so far...

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The only reason for showing it is that the kitchen is starting to take shape - the extraction system is being fitted next week - and it'll act as a "before" picture for reference.

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The work in the function room is going OK too, but because all they were doing today was fitting a second sheet of plasterboard, it looks much the same as yesterday. However the holes in the ceiling which were made for the big props have been patched up.

The roofer came along today and did some bending, tweaking, readjusting, extending and clearing out of gutters, drainpipes and flashings. We'll have to wait for the next heavy rain to find out whether it has any effect or not.

Two Dutch people in tonight (well three really as they have a wee baby with them). There's still time for more to show up.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Getting away from it all

Dinner with Tom, Magda and Neil was planned for this evening. It didn't happen, but we decided to head out for dinner anyway. We went to the Monte Cassino in Melrose old railway station which, in case it isn't obvious, is an Italian restaurant. We last went there on my birthday last September. When we got back we found that six guests had turned up and booked in. That happens a lot at this time of year,

On the renovations front...
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It's beginning to look like a room. Walls, floors and other fripperies have been fitted. Actually only half the wall is there - the other side has been left off for now so that the electrician can run cables inside it and so that rockwool insulation can be fitted. Clever eh?

Sawed it

Using time-lapse photography and sensitive motion detectors we have managed to get a picture of one of our joiners working.
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This rare footage, never before seen shows the apprentice cutting floorboards to length. Quite possibly the correct length, but you never know.

The semi-torrential rain yesterday evening resulted in a few interesting water features within the hotel. We had hoped that our roofing woes were over, but evidently not. The roofers are coming out to have a look today.