October 21, 2012

Weather wc 21st October

There is no doubt that this time of year brings with it some of the most stunning colours and shades of scenery of all and with it comes a huge amount of unpredictability with the weather. The temperature varies greatly form mild mornings like today to freezing frost like Friday and clear blue skies like last week to cloud and rain like yesterday afternoon but then that's what make Scotland such a wonderful place and that's what allows nature to create such dramatic colours like the maple on the driveway. Eriska in Autumn 007

From this angle it almost looks like someone went out and threw paint on the leaves but its not alone as across the island there are several examples of such  stunning contrasts in colour and even more impressive when the sunlight catches them. Anyway what is ahead this week in terms of weather- autumn, winter or summer!

Today: After a misty/foggy start in the glens  it is slowly clearing as we go through the morning. Then it's a fine dry day with bright or sunny spells.

Monday: Staying dry again after fog patches at dawn but with  bright or sunny spells developing .

Tuesday: Cloudier with patchy rain .

Wednesday: Cloudy with some patchy rain and murky conditions developing.

Thursday: Still cloudy and murky  but turning colder overnight.

Friday: Definitely feeling colder, with rain pushing in.

Saturday: Starting cold and wet but brighter spells developing as the wind moves the weather on

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 08:47 AM in Scottish weather | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 14, 2012

Weather wc 14th october

I have to say I was a little surprised when I was on my way to Glasgow last
week to be confronted not only by a snow plough but one whcih was dispensing
grit. This was against a backdrop that was cool but still well above freezing
and lots of signposts warning us of excessive rain expectations? As I said to my
first meeting it was clearly not Argyll and Bute- who would  be saving supplies
until they were needed - but maybe a new member of the roads department in
Glasgow who simply wanted to check that any winter plans were both operational
and effective-- at least they can now put them away for a few months as the
weather remains autumnal rather than wintery!

So what really is ahead for Eriska over the next seven days- suffice to say
that a downfall of leaves is the only real certainty as the sweeping raking and
smouldering takes a large chunk of the estate teams current efforts-- and its
ony goiing to grow over the next fortnight.

Today: After a dry start although it seems cloudy there will be sunny periods
and a few showers possibly on higher ground

Monday:Mainly dry and brighter with sunny spells and a few showers. The
showers mainly over high ground again and hopefully more inland.

Tuesday: Dry with clear skies and a touch of frost to start but then the
clouds will push in bringing more opportunity for showers

Wednesday:After a chilly start a dry day to come with plenty of sunshine and
light winds. Clouding over with rain later

Thursday: Cloudy with rain clearing from the northeast but rremaining quite

Friday: A broad band of rain extending north through the day. Wet and windy
on the cards.

Saturday:It should seem much warmer , although this will be due to the drop
in wind and less rain as it will still remain autumnal through the weekend

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 08:50 AM in Scottish hotel life, Scottish weather | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 12, 2012

Golf Course prepares for the winter

As the nights draw in and the days become cooler - so the growth on the
course reduces. Its amazing that in only 2 years time all eyes will be focusing
on Gleneagles and the Ryder Cup and yet for us by the end of September most of
the golf season is over. Lets hope that 2014 brings an Indian Summer and the
extended season we all crave --and Gleneagles will need!

Over the last month the addition of top dressing and fertilisers adding
nutrients to the greens and the tees has helped encourage the last few spurts of
growth but in reality the season is coming to an end and we need to start
preparing for winter. We have always tried to play the course right through the
winter and have avoided the temptation of winter greens, the passing gulf stream
keeps the frost at bay, altthough the second green tucked away in the corner
under the trees by the heronry -out of sight of the winter sun often gets a wee
bit of cover but the warmth from the sea keeps the worst of the frost at

On the rest of the course we start by raising the cut on the mowers and this
allows a bit more protection from the elements and on the outfield and rough
areas our friendly geese come and fertilise and trim these areas back. On the
fairways along with the raising of the cut we simply try and keep them looking
managed with stripes and shape to help others find their balls.

Around the course before all the leaves start to fall its a chance to run
round with a can of paint and mark trees and limbs to be removed over the
winter. Age and experience has taught us to wait till winter when the job can be
done in half the time with half the material to be removed - as the leaves are
missing- and it means thet we can open up areas that may have been inaccessible
in the summer and it is then simply a matter of maintaining them at a lower
level when the growth returns in the spring.

Luckily we are quieter on the course in the winter as we will be busier
around the estate with a regular cycle of ball picking on the driving range as
it comes into its own over the winter on days when the course may be unplayable 
and the range can let golfers expel their frustration and expend some energy
practising the lessons they may have learnt over the summer and preparing for
the year ahead.

And its time to winterise the machines and get cutters sharpened and any
longer maintenance issues fixed ready for another year- our 40th here at Eriska!

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 10:07 PM in Scottish sport, Scottish weather, Scottish wildlife, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 11, 2012

Lowest Argyll Rainfall so water savings required

 It's hard to believe that we have been struggling for water now for over 4 months although the rain in the last 4 weeks has helped return the wells to a better more manageable level. When the house was built back in 1884 there were a combination of wells, and surface water collection areas - and up on the hillside two huge reservoirs fed the estate. In short they probably feed the gardens as the main house only had three bathrooms and I understand that washing was not high on the victorian agenda!

One reservoir above the first fairway is still in use as we use it for the greens on the golf course and washing down machinery - however the water tends to have a very high peat content- ideal for adding nutrients to the greens- but not perfect for washing and cleaning people or linen. The second reservoir is above the main house and is now redundant and hidden away behind a protection fence and covered in undergrowth and bracken- indeed I remember when I was small it was an ideal spot for finding and catching frogs!

In the last century a store for water was created underground on the hillside and this was used to gravity feed the main house- it is just above the top of the house leaving less pressure than ideal for the rooms at the top but still enough to manage. Over the summer the tank has struggled to hold enough water and a combination of slightly  leaky membrane and slightly smaller size than is ideal has led us to take drastic measures so having bought a new underground tank a month ago with plans in place we are now ready to locate it and link it all up.

This will however be a simpler task than it sounds as we have to first find an area of ground large enough to locate the tank, then make it level enough to hold the tank and finally make it soft enough to bed the tank without damaging it and finally we will have to link the old system all up to it and make it work. Hopefully somewhere in this delegation will be required, but so far Ronnie- the man who helped my father set up the original system in 1973 which still works- if not entirely efficiently- is taking control and no doubt opinions will be offered from many others but hopefully by this time next week we will be able to store sufficient water that we can survive for a couple of days without replenishment and then we can return to our old system without main water reliance! 

Best laid plans!   What could possibly go wrong?

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 09:34 PM in Scottish hotel life, Scottish weather | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 11, 2010

Eriska new Blog location

We are moving to a new location


Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 06:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wet work!

As the weather suggests in this week’s forecast, winter is most definitely upon us!  We saw temperatures drop to below freezing on Tuesday night, although thankfully, have been spared any snow fall and are instead surviving the cold. Today, we were even treated to some midday thunder and lightning which thrilled our estate crew stuck out on the Golf Course, trying to press on with work on the golf course.


Luckily for our guests, the main house, accommodation and spa are all fully equipped and ready to handle whatever the winter throws at us – they definitely have the better deal. Despite the weather turning this week, work does not stop on the island inside or out!  Currently we have half a wall erected on our multi-purpose hall, following the completion of the roof at the end of last week which has provided some shelter, we hope to have one wall completed by the end of this week and a 2nd wall completed by the end of next week.


Meanwhile, also at the back of the Hotel, we seem to be collecting mountains of wine in preparation for our wine weekend taking place in less than two weeks!  Robert, in the kitchen, has been in talks with Cathryn Stockdale, who will be our resident wine tutor, to ensure he provides the perfect cuisine to compliment the wine, while Fabrice is keen to ensure that we do not run dry of any of our guest’s favourite tipples during the big weekend – fingers crossed. Luckily, all the wine tasting will be taking place in the comfort of the main house, so we can relax in the knowledge that regardless of the weather, the event will still go ahead!

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 06:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 02, 2010

Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards

Following our success early on Friday night with the hotel gaining the “Taste of Scotland” Scottish Thistle Award, we were thrilled to receive news that we have also won the Williamson Highland and Island Food and Drink Environmental Award on the same evening.  We were awarded the environmental award following recognition of the continual improvements the team at Eriska has put in place to reduce our carbon emissions as we work towards more sustainable operations from the resources we use right through to the end product.

These sustainable operations have not only been implemented in the kitchen but have also been transferred and embedded throughout other departments improving our hotel wide environmental operations.

Being the only hotel in our category made being shortlisted for this award an achievement in itself, so winning the award really does seem like an achievement.  This achievement would not have been recognized if it was not for the staff here at Eriska and their hard work and commitment which has helped us implement and improve our operations not only for our guests but for the benefit of our local community and environment.

However, as ever, these awards do make us sit back and relax as we believe there is always room for improvement which spurs us onto our next challenge.  We will keep our fingers crossed and ask you to watch this space…

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 06:18 PM in Scottish food and drink, Scottish hotel life, Scottish hotel staff | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 31, 2010

Weather wc31st October

last week saw the steel structure for our new indoor facility being erected and whilst I was hoping for a calm week with nio wind so the crane could function properly, in all the panic about calm I forgot to ask for dry and boy did it rain! Indeed I do not think I have seen such heavy rain as regularly as we had last week but hopefully that bodes well for firstly the roof going on the frame and then the wedding next saturday! We can at least keep our fingers crossed so what really is all ahead?

Today: Any showers overnight will quickly die out. Then dry with clear spells and winds falling light. There will be some fog patches and a ground frost.

Monday: Dry and bright through the morning with fog patches slowly dispersing. Rather cloudy in the afternoon with a little rain but stregnthening winds,

Tuesday:A misty or foggy start to the day, and this may be slow to clear. Staying dry by day though.

wednesday: Dry  then rain and strong southerly winds edging in from Atlantic.
Thursday: Blustery showers and strong southwesterly winds 
Friday:. More wet and windy weather developing making it seem pretty unsettled.
Saturday:Today should see a change to quieter, drier and brighter conditions for the big day  although rain and showers are still possible

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 07:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 30, 2010

Eriska's first scottish thistle award

Last night we attended the Scottish Thistle Awards in Edinburgh. These awards come at the end of the traditional "summer" season and represent the highlight of the tourism provider calender with all thiose involved in teh uindustry collecting at the EICC and the annoncement of the winners. earlier tis year we were thrilled to have been selected as one of the finalists and throughout the evening we were continually reminded that not only was taking part an honour but that being selceted as a finalsit was a reward for all our hard work.

VisitScotland’s Regional Director, Scott Armstrong, stated that: “The Scottish Thistle Awards give us a great opportunity to showcase the very highest quality tourism businesses from the Highlands. I’m delighted to see Highland businesses shortlisted in this year’s Awards and the fact that they have been finalists and winners in previous years demonstrates the quality and consistency of the visitor experience in the Highlands."

However after waiting in anticiaption the name of Eriska was called out and we collected the wonderfuul statuette of a Thistle for the Taste of Scotland Category. After the ceremony we had a chance to mix and mingle with otehr finalsist and meet the judges. It soon became clear what highlighted Eriska for the award in the eyes of the judges. Roberts continual persuit of the best local fresh produce and his wonderful menus clearly won the day. After being nominated as a fianlsy we had 3 anonymous vsisits from the judges, luckily we had been unaware of these otherwise it would have heightened the pressure, and  then they selected us from a shortlist of three.

Having never won a Thistle award it was a great honour and is a real credit to the all the team who work here at Eriska and certainly spurs us on to continue what we do and how we do it.

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 05:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 26, 2010

Scholarship success

Late last week we received great news that one of our Duty Managers, Katharina, has been awarded The Savoy Educational Trust Philip Thornton Award for commitment to learning excellence.  The team here at Eriska are thrilled that one of our team members has beaten off stiff competition to be awarded this prize from the Academy of Food and Wine Service.  Following Katharine’s reference was sent to the judging panel, she was subsequently shortlisted and invited to the presentation of awards last Friday in London.

Late on Friday afternoon we received a call from an excited Katharina to let us know she had been successful and won the scholarship.   As a result of her hard work during her time at Eriska, she will now spend a week working at the Andaz hotel, a boutique Hotel in London - very different from Eriska with 267 rooms and situated in the centre of London.  Katharina has told us she is looking forward to getting the chance to experience the day-to-day running of a different style of hotel and see both front and back of house, furthering her knowledge of the food and wine sector in a different environment.

Meanwhile, two other members of staff are eagerly awaiting the results of scholarships they have applied for, with these results coming in the next month…Watch this space!  Until then, we wish Katharina the best of luck with her scholarship!

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 06:28 PM in Film, Scottish hotel life, Scottish hotel staff | Permalink | Comments (0)