March 30, 2010
Careful what you wish for!
Last week when I had a brief meeting with Gerry the green-keeper he again reminded me that we were running short of chainsaw oil and without resupply we would be stopped from finishing the tree clearing on the edges of the golf course. rather than attend to it immediately i forgot the task nd it was late on saturday night that the piece of paper reminding me fell from my tray. realising that if I placed the paper back on the tray it might take another week or even month to reappear I chose to us ethe wonders of the internet to solve my dilemma.
Quickly i had identified the type of oil required and was searching on Amazon for the right product- prior knowledge of my account details and credit card made this seem like the easiest option but i was soon confronted by a wealth of choices and huge variety of prices. Not perturbed by the array i quickly honed in on the cheapest Oil can and placed the order then sat back and reflected on my wonderful efficiency. That was until today when a parcel arrived and I soon realised my incompetence. i had indeed identified the cheapest can but it was so because it was just that a can for chainsaw oil but no oil!!
After a few moments of self effacing embarrassment I walked over to the shed and rather than hid e the mistake away thought it better to come clean and admitted my foolishness. After a few moments of abuse and japes gerry kindly admitted that it was a lucky purchase as the old can had just disintegrated under the wheel of one of the vehicles but he did finish the polite praise with a further request for some oil to fill the new can! Suitably embarrassed it will be off to Oban tomorrow to a real store- no more virtual shopping- and real oil!!
March 28, 2010
Weather wc 28th March
The snow drops are through and the daffodils are starting to bloom so Spring is here and the frost and winter is behind us or at least that is the line I have taken on the golf course and in the garden pressing on with fertilisers and planting and keeping my fingers crossed that I wil not be in for a shock. At least the rain last week eventually washed the mud off the drive and cleaned the roads from all the winter grit and salt and now we are really ready for summer so I better go and get the hanging baskets out of the shed and get them ready.
Today: Showers will become largely confined to northern hills, but it will stay rather cloudy across most places, and the brisk westerly winds will keep temperatures low
Monday:there will be some brightness during the morning, but clouds will increase with showers becoming more widespread during the afternoon. The brisk westerly winds will veer northwest and ease.
Tuesday: Some brightness, but generally cloudy with showers, potentially even falling as snow over higher ground, gale force northwest winds over summits.
Wednesday: Bright start but thickening cloud will bring rain , which will clear eastwards through the latter part of the day.
Thursday:A strange mixture of sunny spells and blustery, wintry showers is expected, with these conditions then spreading to all areas for the start of April.
Good Friday: After a dry night expect generally unsettled conditions with either showers or longer spells of rain, with the showers wintry over northern hills, although some drier, brighter conditions are also likely at times.
Saturday: Although it may begin brighter expect unsettled conditions to persist, especially on the hills, but there are signs that southern areas may become drier and more settled at times, with temperatures creeping up to around average values for the time of year here.
March 27, 2010
Just before Christmas we arranged for a digger to come and clean out the pond on the frontlawn. Over the last 5 years we have waded into the middle of the pond and removed as much of the weed as possible however it became so overgrown that even Dibley was finding it hard to distinguish water form land and it was therefore becoming both a bit dangerous for passing walkers and unkempt for people viewing from their rooms in the hotel. The digger simply stretched out and within half an hour the 3 day man job was complete.
So learning from this we decide that rather than battle with shovels and rakes we would use a the big digger to clean out the ponds, whilst it can be a bit shocking at first nature soon takes over and hides the initial work and whats more important it allows us to reshape areas that have become difficult to maintain. It was even easier at the first fairway as the machine did not even have to stretch over the course but simply sat on the road and cleaned out the offending area.
even the pond behind the first green got a clean and it now looks like there is an easy route for us to get my mother boat- Rose of argll- back to the water although I think we will stick to the old fashioned trailer and beach route!
March 25, 2010
When we built the new Maintenance shed by the tennis court it was located in a quiet secluded wood however as the property has developed the shed and area surrounding it has become both a hive of activity and a popular route to the new Pier. Whilst this was a good way of keeping an eye on who used the road to the Pier and in return what work was being carried out, I always felt it was all a bit too public and that a slight element of privacy both ways for the maintenance team and for the guests was preferable.
So this week we decided to conceal the shed slightly with a new bund, the concept was to remove some of the peat from a really marshy area of the golf course and help alleviate the breeding ground for the midges whilst helping to shield the activity. So with a bit of trepidation we sent the digger into the quagmire to start moving dirt but amazingly what we all anticipated would be endless peat turned out to be simply 3 foot skin of peat and then gravel which made excellent hard standing form which to construct the new bund. Now the shed has privacy and the road is a bit more secluded but hopefully the extra cameras in the shed will both help us keep an eye to insure activity is still progressing and also that nothing untoward occurs. Everything has up and down at Eriska!
March 23, 2010
Wine growth investigation
We have now been working on developing our wine list for a couple of months. Up until last year we worked with our suppliers and the team here at Eriska and on the principle that if it worked don't fiddle with it we simply reacted to guests requests for suggested improvements to the list and when a supplier produced an interesting addition we considered it in the context of the rest of the list. in return for buying the wine we also received training and support from the suppliers and on the whole it allowed us to offer team development however I had become aware that this type of evolution was becoming one dimensional sand that whilst the team were becoming incredible ambassadors for the wine son our list their general knowledge of wine was slightly skewed towards the wines we listed and this was not necessarily offering them a rounded picture.
So we engaged the help of Nick Adams, a Master of Wine and he has not only helped us look at our list in an unbiased and open manner but has also started offering wine and Spirit education trust training to te team. Part of his remit has been to evolve the list and make it more user friendly so that it is easy to use and will help both staff nd guests work their way round the world of wine. As with all developments these plans take time to unfold and part of the fun is the process of developing what we currently offer into what we hope to eventually achieve. To this extent we have held a number of tastings and after each one new additions are made and the list develops.
Once upon a time the list was set at the start of the year, a supplier printed and bound the list and it remained for the whole season, now the list is dynamic and vintages and supplies vary allowing us to offer the best available selection at the best price- sometimes this can give us an advantage allowimng us to buy small packages of wine, sometimes it allows vintage update sto be reflected but in all it requires the team here to be more proactive and whilst it needs more input and knowledge it is this which makes it far more interesting and creates development nd evolution.
One of the key parts is the tasting panel when we all have the chance to put in our two pennies worth which involves looking at wines and considering whetehr they offer value for money, a region, taste or style we need on the list and ultimately a wine we can sell and feel good about recommending. This obviously causes discussion as everyone in the team has different favourites and styles and it is always easier to sell a wine you personally like and would buy and with French, German, Italian, South African and Scottish members of the team there is always a sense of patriotism in the discussion although as the Scot I am not that keen on Birch wine!
Anyway with an Italian wine Waiter in Andrea I was a bit concerned that the sales from Italy seemed to be dominating the general targets and it was soon easy to see how his passion and enthusiasm had been affecting the choice of guests, however I was keen not to stamp on the enthusiasm but to try and develop it and expand it to other regions as well. However the other night I was asked by a guest to recommend a wine and after a brief discussion I knew a wine that matched exactly his request so flipped to the page I expected it to be listed on and after double taking and frantically searching I excused myself and hid in the office for a few minute to check my eyesight.
Indeed not only was this particular wine missing but so was the whole region in question and even worse so was the whole country but after a closer inspection this was not the worst part this was the fact that in an oversight when the new list had been compiled Andrea seemed to have omitted some countries at the gain of his beloved italy with a couple of reprinted and pages taking their place. Luckily for him and my blood pressure there seemed only to be one list with such an error so it was truly a mistake and oversight and not a deliberate diversion of guests to Italy! Now I am aware that if a certain region sales increase then before congratulating the team on their sales skill i should check what we are offering as a matter of choice to the guests!!
March 21, 2010
Weather w/c 21st March
After much discussion with Gerry the Greenkeeper we decided to differ and reached a compromise as to whether Spring was here and the Frost was behind us so we have fertilised the putting greens and will hold off on the main course for another week and we have start cutting the fairways and will hold off on overseeding the new fairways for another week.
This is a balanced compromise becuase we need the geese to leave for warner climates and not be here eating the seed and we need to get it growing before the main bird population awakens for the summer although the growing morning chorus of birds may suggest that we have missed the window of opportunity! Anyway lets hope we can beat all sides as the first crop of Potatoes are in the ground and ther is certainly a warmth in the soil that alludes to spring!
Sunday:Dry and chilly sart to teh day will lead to Bright and sunny spells
Monday:The cloud well broken with clear skies overnight will start promisong but then showers will push in by midday, a few possible elsewhere in the evening
Tuesday: Bright and chilly start with sunny spells. Thickening cloud and the risk of showers by lunchtime. Light to moderate winds.
Wednesday:Outbreaks of heavy rain clearing to blustery showers then rather cloudy with rain or showers heavy at times. Breezy.
Thursday : Remaining unsettled with most places seeing showers or longer periods of rain at times.
Friday: Some drier intervals are expected too, chiefly later in the day.
Saturday: Any showers and rain could turn heavy at times and there is a risk of snow on the higher hills so beware hill walkers!
March 20, 2010
First Aid Attention
It seems like only yesterday that we ran a first aid course here at Eriska and although entirely voluntary 90% of the team chose to participate. Anyway having consulted my certificate I noticed it was just a out out of date so again we arranged a course and once again the majority of the team chose to participate. It was probably;y helped by a freak accident a couple of weeks ago when a gentleman fell in te dining room and had he not chosen to tumble onto the one table with not one but two doctors having dinner we would have been called into action.
Whether we ever use the skills learnt or the trades shown is always a mute point and indeed whether we would ever put up out hand to help if someone more suitable had already stepped forward is always a point raised but in truth it is not worth the risk of being confronted without ability and without the choice as to whether to help or not. It is this access to choice which makes these courses so important and why we will continue to run them. I am however aware that this is a personal view as we did contact several of our fellow hoteliers and all chose not to send any of their team as one suggested by sending them they were accepting liability and that this was an unfair responsibility to place on one of their team. Of course I would argue that without giving them the choice they were not allowing and indeed were denying the opportunity to their team and here we will probably always differ. Anyway for now we are all certificated and up to speed, lets hope we never need to use it and when and if we do we remember all we were taught!
March 18, 2010
Wild Geese and Golf
There are many hazards playing golf but these two hardy players probably although prepared for most were not ready for the next image. They were quietly walking down the third fairway minding their own business and obviously deep in conversation when two guests approached form the other direction. as they walked towards each other the wild gees who had been resting on the fairway began to unsettle and then all took to the air. With a choice in two directions of flying out without disturbing anyone or a choice of two directions where they would come into contact with humans they chose the latter and as you can see form the enclosed the golfers were soon engulfed.
Luckily the walkers were ready camera in hand and probably even more luckily most of the geese had spent the morning depositing on the fairway so although a little shaken and taken aback the golfers emerged shaken but not stirred, and luckily no balls were in flight as the flock flew over or a real Golf Birdie might have been achieved!
March 16, 2010
When I vsisited Africa- many years ago- I arrived and after a few days was taken on safari- On being told about the game drives and what i might expect the event was built up to the possibility that I may be lucky enough to see the "Big Five" - Rhino, Elephant, Lion, Buffalo and Leopard. The whole episode had been built up as the ultimate adventure with the possibility of seeing these wonderful creatures duirng my fortnight stay and that I was not to be too surprised or dissappointed if I was unluucky enough not to see them all. It was all a marketing spin I thought to tempt me back to africa for a second visit to insure at some stage I managed to see them all.
Well as luck would have it on the first morning we came across all five and whilst I still had a great fortnight it did make future drives seem a bt of an anticlimax. Well so it should have been for two guests of ours last week. No sooner had they arrived then they popped out for an afternoon walk and returned before dinner with tales of otters frolicking in the sea surf. We remined them how lucky they were, fortunately they are great scotland fans and have searched for otters many times in vain so the next morning they set off again, this time they returned not only with otters but also sea Eagle shots.
By this time we were getting a bit worried that they getting bored of wildlife so we asked for pictures of a sea eagle and otter in the same shot. All went quiet but it certainly kept them busy and maintained the interest. Anyway to date No luck with that but we do appreciate the time and effort they took to get these great shots and agian it provides proof of the wealth of wildlife here on Eriska and in the surrounding waters.
March 14, 2010
weather wc 14th March
Well back on the golf course again this week and another good collection of grass so spring must be here by now! The next question will be is the frost for 2010 over and can we start fertilising- on that note Gerry and I are at odds as I am confident that spring is here and yet he, with all his green keeping knowledge is probably rightly dubious and cautious so we will await another week and by then I am sure the ground will have had a good soaking and all the cold freeze will have disappeared.
So whats ahead for this week
Today: Mainly dry, bright start to the day although showers developing later will push in from the west.
Monday: A dry and bright start across much of the area, but showers developing widely as we go through the day, more general rain possible through the evening. Fresh northwesterly winds.
Tuesday: Mainly dry, bright morning. Rather cloudy with some showers in afternoon. Strong northwesterly winds across higher parts.
Wednesday: Cloudy with outbreaks of rain, turning drier and brighter during the afternoon
Thursday: Mainly dry and bright in the morning but becoming cloudy with patchy rain in the evening
Friday:Looks likely to be generally dry and some sunshine is likely in the west
Saturday: Wet and windy weather is expected to arrive overnight with heavy rain likely in some western areas.