Thursday, November 30, 2006

Let sleeping Poles lie

We have four Polish guys staying with us and were (mis)informed that they needed a six thirty breakfast. So at 5.45 this morning I crawled out of bed and had four very nice looking cooked breakfasts waiting.

...and you've guessed it - no guests. After I'd been hanging around for around 90 minutes, they ambled into the front hall...

...and out of the front door.

I ditched the four (now congealed) breakfasts and went into the office to catch up on paperwork. About 8.30 the Poles returned looking for breakfast!

Sigh obviously some translation problems somewhere. I have checked with them that "Fruhstuck am halb neun" will be ok (they speak some German but no English) so tomorrow should be less of a pantomime.

The plumber was in today and turned his attention to the bathroom on the first floor. This was originally part of the work to be done during the November closedown but was dropped from the schedule due to lack of time. It dates from the days when the hotel (like most others) didn't have ensuite rooms; now it's only used by rooms six and seven which are for staff and emergency visitors. He removed the bath and toilet to discover that the floorboards were severely woodwormed and/or rotted. So we need to get a joiner in to sort that out. The woodworm isn't active and compared to the kinds of woodborer you get in other countries is definitely the lesser of two weevils.

Sorry, couldn't resist that:-)

Meanwhile painting has continued and the servery in the new dining room continues to take shape. Carpets were supposed to be fitted to the stairs today, but weren't - not sure why.

Seven folk in tonight. In addition to the Poles there are two folk sent by the Glenbank and one other. Breakfast will be at a sensible time tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Back to business

There was a much smaller squad of painters and joiners today; a definite feeling of this phase of the work coming to an end. A lot of the painting was only done to undercoat level on Friday due to lack of time, so today it's had its second coat. The plastic handrail on the main stair was fitted and the other stair had its railings painted. Work continues on the servery in the new dining room. The remaining carpets will be fitted on Thursday. No plumber (are you surprised) but apparently he'll be putting in an appearance tomorrow. He may even fit the toilet seat in the gents that was meant to be done two weeks ago.

Meanwhile the rooms have been filling up. This morning we had only one guest booked in, but four others have turned up throughout the day. That happens a lot in the summer but not usually three days before the end of November.

And we have some Polish people here for three or four days cutting christmas trees. They arrive tomorrow and will be needing breakfast at 6.30 - Yuk!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Road test

We were full last night and all the guests seemed to be deliriously happy or possibly just delirious due to solvent abuse. The furniture has been spray varnished, the wallboard in the showers was glued on with Evo stik and there are paint fumes to contend with as well. Shirley our cleaner left the windows open after resetting the rooms and things are improving.

The workmen are returning tomorrow. My highly selective pictures yesterday didn't show the fact that the wiring isn't completed and the fire alarm installation is extremely temporary, thought they did well to get a working system in the available time. A fair amount of the painting was only done to undercoat level so there's finishing to do there. The carpets are being fitted to the stairs on Wednesday and to the new dining room on Thursday. The function room will need to be cleared to allow the new dance floor to be laid.

Those of you looking to book the room with the four poster in - please note that the four poster is no more! There wasn't time to fit it on Friday and the room looks so much better without it that we will be leaving it with a normal bed. Pics tomorrow.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What a difference a day makes...

Thursday November 23rd

Room 9 has some way to go...
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Room 4's bathroom isn't quite there yet
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and a shower in room 3 would be a bad idea!
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The top landing is completely full with reels of vable and boxes...
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and just when things can't get any more chaotic the furniture arrives.

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Meanwhile carpets and being glued down,
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wallpapering is finished,
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and Lorna's busy making curtains!
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Friday November 24th

There will be guests in this room in around five hours...
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and the carpets continue their relentless march through the hotel.
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Saturday November 25th

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

To the wire and beyond

Busybusybusy. That's been us (and everyone else) today. The new furniture arrived in pouring rain and some unwitting bar customers who thought they'd come in for a quiet pint found themselves heaving big pieces of furniture up the stairs (while the carpet fitters were gluing carpets down.

Meanwhile the joiners have been joining, the decorators have been decorating, the plumber has been plumbing and the alarm people have been...

We spent the evening shifting some of the furniture into position. There's been a considerable time between our ordering the furniture and it's arriving. That means that a) we've forgotten what we ordered and b) we've forgotten where it was meant to go. Also we only intended to have minibars in two rooms because they're expensive, but then a load of second hand ones became available and we got one for each room.

Still to do - Plumber (of course) has to fit the shower screen in 3 and 4. Minor joinery remaining in all rooms. The big four poster bed has to go back in 9. The old furniture that we left in room 5 have to be moved out.

No pics tonight - We took a few today but I'm on the wrong computer and it takes time to resize them and post them onto Photobucket. Quite frankly I can't be bothered.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Finishing Post

is in sight. Here's a view of the main stair which makes us very happy
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because there is no longer a big scaffolding tower on it. The tower on the bedroom stair has been removed too. Carpeting has been laid in the bedroom corridor and new flooring has been laid in all the bathrooms. The new locks arrived, the heated mirrors for the bathrooms arrived, the tv and internet wallplates arrived.

You've heard of the mad woman in the attic? Well here's a variation on that theme...
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This is me attempting to attach connectors to the tv feeds for the bedrooms while choking to death on glassfibre insulation and getting completely filthy in the process. Also gives a view of the weird roof construction with these huge diagonal cross braces which make a journey across the attic a sort of 50 metre hurdle event. Glad that's done.

Tomorrow the furniture arrives. We have joiners on hand to attach headboards and help carry stuff, but there's a lot of furniture and it isn't going to be fun.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Water feature (reprise)

The leak in the roof in the old owners' accommodation reared its ugly head again during very heavy rain on Thursday night. There was a small puddle of water on the kitchen floor. Seems it's all due to the window sill in the lower room. There isn't one and if the wind's in a particular direction the water gets blown underneath. The roofer has filled the gap with mastic and hopefully that's that. The minor leak that was mended last week seems to have been sorted as have all the other problem areas.

Meanwhile the joiner who came a cropper yesterday has been patched up (five stitches) , though he wasn't here today. The decorators were finishing the final pieces of papering and the plaster was skim-plastering the new wall on the staircase. The electricians were fitting the light switches and sockets for a grand switch-on tomorrow. Even the plumber put in a special guest appearance.

Aerial view
An aerial engineer was here today. The existing installation consists of an aerial mounted high up on the side of the hotel and cables running around the side of the building and in below the windows. Our new flat screen tvs are going to be mounted on the walls and will be fed from above. So we wanted a new aerial fitted to the wall or chimney with a cable fed into the attic. The aerial engineer thought that we would get a perfectly good signal putting the aerial in the roof space and this proved to be correct. Suddenly the installation becomes very easy indeed. We just run a cable from the aerial to our little distribution amplifier thingy and then connect it to the tvs via the little conduits that the electrician has left for us.

What's left?
Well, the scaffolding towers come down tomorrow and the decoration should be finished then too. The furniture arrives on Thursday and most of the carpets in the public areas will be fitted that day too. There won't be time to fit the stair carpets until next week, so the existing ones will be cleaned.

Roll in the barrell
Meanwhile, two pins of ale have arrived from Wylam brewery.
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Here's one. Isn't it a cute little thing. Wait until it grows up! This is "Pin No1" and, unlike Hadrian and Border Brewery there is also a "Pin No 2" not to mention 3, 4 and 5.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I have a warm glow inside tonight. This is probably due to lots of Jacaranda Hill rose from the co-op, but it could be due to good progress on the renovations front.
  • The bedrooms have doors.
  • The bedrooms have carpets
  • The staircase to the bedrooms has been plasterboarded
  • The servery in the new dining room is taking shape
  • Our heated mirrors for rooms 3 and 4 will be here in a couple of days
  • The locks for the bedrooms will be here tomorrow or Wednesday
  • The new flatscreen tvs for the bedrooms have arrived
  • Papering and painting continues apace
  • The electricians have been attaching light fittings and sockets and stuff
  • One of the joiners has attempted to remove his left arm with a Stanley knife
OK, so the last item isn't progress, but it's been a good day (unless you're that joiner). Tomorrow we are promised that the scaffolding towers will be removed. Imagine being able to get to the bathroom without aerial gymnastics!
D**** is here tomorrow. As the project nears completion it's worth mentioning that, stressed and frazzled as we are, things would have been infinitely worse if we had not had an extremely competent project manager to keep an eye on things. If there's anyone out there about to start the renovation of a large historic building we can unreservedly recommend...

...that you don't do it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Beer today, gone tomorrow

A few posts ago I mentioned that, during the winter we get our real ale in half size casks called pins. They hold 36 pints and we can just about sell that in a week. The problem is that Hadrian and Border brewery where we get most of our ale from only has one pin. That means that we either have to get a full size cask every second week (lots of waste) or get nothing (no beer). I've been trying to persuade H&B to get another pin, but they are reluctant to do so because they're difficult to find and very expensive. You can get a polypin which is plastic bag in a box - a bit like boxes of wine, but H&B don't like them as they are prone to exploding in their van, leaving beer sloshing all over the place.

Meantime I've stocked up on Black Sheep in bottles. We've also got hold of some of Wychwood's Hobgoblin in bottles. You might remember the poster I bought at the Edinburgh Ale festival in July.
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Here he is. I'd never tried the beer until tonight. Quite amazing stuff - sort of burnt sugar-cane taste with lots of hops for balance. Definintely not a session beer unless you have a hospital nearby.

This is the week when it all happens... The November renovations reach their thrilling climax this week with the massed painters and plasterers of Galashiels being joined by joiners, carpet fitters, furniture delivery people, plumbers, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and whoever else happens to be passing. It'll be fun...

when it's all over.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lucid interval

OK, I've had dinner, I've had a couple of pints of Legion Ale (yum) and am feeling a bit better disposed to the world in general. It helps that the plumber phoned this evening to ask if he could work Saturday. He's a volunteer fireman and was called away to an incident this afternoon.

Meanwhile here are some pics of progress so far. There is more to see but the back staircase has been sprayed for dry rot, so I'm not allowed to go up there tonight.

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This is the corridor leading to the bedrooms. If you scroll down a bit you'll find a picture of it last week which shows the progress to date. And this...

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is what you see when you come up from the front hall.

Plumbing the depths

My foot hurts. It hurts because I have been kicking things. I have been kicking things out of TOTAL frustration at the progress over the past week.

Which is strange, because viewed as a whole, it's been a good week. The painters have finished all the decoration in the bedrooms and the public rooms, the wallpapering and plastering is well under way in the public areas and we even have a carpet laid in the new residents' lounge.

But we closed last week to allow the renovation of the gents' toilet. It wasn't finished by the end of last week so we closed again this week Monday - Thursday.

The room is partially tiled. No new flooring has been laid. The water economiser has not been fitted to the urinal. The window fan has been broken. The soap dispenser is broken or missing. The radiator has not been fitted. The plumber occasionally ambles in with no sense of urgency and disappears without notice.

And we still have to climb a scaffolding tower to get to our bathroom. In the dark this evening because the electrician had forgotten to switch the circuit back on. He did come back and sort it out within half an hour of our calling.

Would someone please remind me what the point of all this was again...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Can we go away again please?

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We're back from a relaxing week spent doing very little. We stayed in a nice farm cottage with swimming pool and a hot tub lurking at the bottom of the garden.

We returned to this...
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There were apparently 15 decorators working here at the start of the week. Layer after layer of paper has been removed from the walls and ceiling. Both staircases however have big scaffolding towers on them. This presents a problem because

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our bathroom is at the top of the stair. To get there we have to duck under the scaffolding which you see above and then climb onto the platform at the top.

The back stair leading to the bedrooms also has a tower on it and the wall on the left has been stripped to remove the dry rot.
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It all looks a bit scary, but a huge amount has happened in the past week. The painting in the public rooms is finished and the papering in the bedrooms is coming on.

The main job this week was the improvements to the gents' toilet. I've just realised that I didn't take a "before" picture of it, but the new stainless steel bits are fitted and working. There's still more to be done there and as a result we'll be closing the bar again Monday - Thursday this week.

Friday, November 03, 2006


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For once the sign does not lie! There were lots of men at work today and a certain amount of danger mostly to ourselves. While the painters were continuing the stripping of paper (and quite a lot of plaster) from the corridors, we were installing network cables to provide internet access in the bedrooms. The route to achieve this was not simple and we got thoroughly filthy in the process.

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Here's the route to the bedrooms with the walls and ceiling stripped.

We discovered some little windows at the back of the function room bar
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which add to my theory that this was originally an outside wall.

Originally there was one bathroom shared between all the bedrooms on the top floor. When the rooms were made ensuite the communal bathroom became the ensuite of Room 2.

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and with the paper removed you can see where the original doorway was. Room 5's ensuite was also a bedroom (a very small one!).

Things have been going well this week. Almost all the walls in the whole hotel have been stripped The floors in three of the bedrooms have been covered with plywood sheeting and a lot of the rewiring has been completed. While we're away next week the public bar will be closed and the gents toilets on the ground floor will be renovated.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Steamy scenes at the Spread Eagle

Strippers have been at work in the hotel this week. Lots of them. They have all kept their clothes on (to the best of our knowledge) and have removed the wallpaper from the bedrooms, staircase and most of the corridors. Progress has been good.

A few nasties have come to light, but nothing we didn't expect. There is some dry rot on the wall by the staircase to the bedrooms, but it is not active or extensive. The wall will need to be sprayed with nasty chemicals and new plasterboard fitted. Some plaster fell off in the corridors, but less than expected. Electricians have been making good progress and the plumber has stripped out the shower room in Room 3.

Flooring has been laid in the new kitchen which is now looking very nice indeed. The ceiling in the dining room has been repaired and work is under way to make room 9 ensuite. All in all a good week.

Next week will definitely be better, for the simple reason that we will not be here. We're taking a much needed holiday from Sunday to Friday and will be spending it doing as little as possible.