April 29, 2010
Guide Dog visitor!
Its not often Rowena is lost for words but last week she phoned me to ask my advice. A potential guest had called and asked about our rules on dogs and pets within the hotel and when she had been told about the rules governing dogs in the public rooms of the hotel had then asked if there was special dispensation on guide dogs and in particular guide dogs undergoing training. not surprisingly this was the first time we had been asked this question and we may have sounded rather incredulous about the request. However it was such a strange suggestion that it had to be true and indeed it was.
As it turned out Venice, the dog, was having one last break before going into her first full time position, she was immaculately behaved and indeed whilst I had concerns about other guests seeing a dog lounging in front of the fire with two able sighted guests it was soon allayed for two reasons, firstly she wore her dog in training coat which stood her out from the crowd and made her a magnet for other guests to ask questions of her and most importantly she was beautifully behaved and lay almost unnoticed at her masters feet.
I hope she enjoyed her break and that her first deployment goes well and now at least we are ready for the next request for guide dogs and have a bit more of an insight as to what we should expect and how we should react.
April 27, 2010
London Marathon- A spectators View
Due to exhaustion I asked my cousin Vernon Gayle to report on the weekends events so below are his recollections of the event!
"In 1977 my cub pack decided that we would make something for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Our cub leader suggested that we should make a collage of important events that had taken place since the Coronation. We suggested some important events and then we voted. I remember that two of the important events were Hillary and Tenzing reaching the summit of Everest, and Roger Bannister breaking the four minute mile. Three years later in 1980 Chris Brasher, who ran as one of Bannister’s pacemakers, founded the London Marathon. Brasher would later call the event the ‘Great Suburban Everest’.
On Sunday Hannah and I joined the crowds in South London lining the streets for the 30th London Marathon in the hope that we might be able to support Beppo, if only by cheering him on. The event is now part of British life and millions tune in each year (although I am not sure that “tune” is the correct verb in the digital television epoch). Many of us remember Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen crossing the line as joint winners of the first London Marathon.
Bermondsey is about eleven miles into the marathon and as we emerged from the tube station the elite men were passing. I have watched various athletic events over the years and it looked to me like these runners were sprinting. Not so long after clusters of various club runners came passed followed by the main field of competitors. Our tactic was relatively simple. Hannah would stand a bit further up the road and give me a shout when Beppo appeared, allowing enough time for me to get an action shot with my camera. We had underestimated the difficulty of spotting Beppo (runner number 13181) amongst the 36,000+ runners. Hannah managed a shout of encouragement as he passed, and Beppo managed a smile, but I completely missed him.
After phoning and texting various people with a quick update, we headed back to the tube station. I took some time on the tube journey to read up on the history of the marathon. Most of us know something of the legend of the Battle of Marathon. The story says that the Greek messenger Pheidippides was sent from the battlefield to report that the Persians have been defeated. Pheidippides ran the entire distance without stopping and without the aid of isotonic drinks. On his arrival he burst into the assembly, proclaimed the victory, then collapsed and died (an appropriate warm-down routine is now routinely advised). Various historians have questioned the veracity of this story and one kill-joy has even suggested that the Generals would have been more likely to send Pheidippides on horseback.
The modern marathon was the dream of a French academic who suggested that a run from the battlefield of Marathon to the rebuilt Olympic stadium in Athens might provide a flavour of ancient Greece. The Athens marathon distance was 40,000 metres (24.85 miles) and the length varied for the 1900 Paris Olympics and the 1904 St Louis Olympics. The now conventional distance of 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 kilometres) was adopted for the 1908 London Olympics (the route started at Windsor Castle and ended at White City Stadium), but did not become standardized until 1921. Given the recent disruptions to travel it is mildly ironic that the 1908 Olympics were moved from Rome to London because of disruptions from the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Canary Wharf was absolutely mobbed so we decided to go down to the end of the Isle of Dogs. We fought our way through the crowds and found a clear spot around mile 17. We kept re-estimating various speed/time/distance calculations and couldn’t decide whether Beppo had passed us. The field was completely packed and we thought that we had seen Beppo’s back. You would have thought that I would have been able to recognise him clearly from this angle, from our relative positions in the Aonach Mor Uphill race a few years ago. A little while after my friend Colin, a University librarian shouted out to me. Colin is a keep club runner, and completed the Edinburgh Marathon in less than four hours. Things were looking promising for Beppo if he was in front of our librarian!
As it unfolded the 30th London Marathon proved to be the third fastest in history. We jumped back onto the Docklands Light Railway and headed for a spot somewhere closer to the finish. Little did we know that Tsegaye Kebede was in the process of alchemy turning last year’s silver medal into gold, and coming in just nine seconds outside of the course record.
Completely unable to get anywhere near the barriers we proceeded to the finishing enclosure. We waited patiently, and slightly nervously, under the giant B sign amongst a throng of other expectant spectators and athletes laying down, stretching out, shivering under space blankets and drinking copious quantities of Lucozade Sports. Then all of a sudden Beppo appeared grinning with his medal around his neck having completed this most challenging feat in less than four hours.
We later read that eighteen Guinness World Records were broken, including the tallest giraffe at 5:55:11, the fastest baby, and the fastest TV character (a dalek) in 4:01:40, and that Princess Beatrice crossed the line in 5:13:03 as part of a 34-person human caterpillar. The oldest man was Jerzy Kolodziej (aged 86) finished in 6:35:00, while the oldest women Irene Clarke, (aged 83) crossed the line in 8:13:23.
This amazing feat of human endeavour, and sporting spectacle, was appropriately rounded off with a victory tea at The Wolseley in Piccadilly (where Hannah was reprimanded for taking Beppo’s photo). Beppo’s efforts were awe-inspiring. This was his first attempt at the marathon and he ran the first half of the race in 1:49:54, and the second half only 17 minutes slower. At the moment he is still claiming that it is his first and last, but I have my doubts. I am sure that you will all wish to join me in congratulating him on his completion of the Great Suburban Everest.
April 25, 2010
Weather wc 25th April
After a winter hoping for warmer weather, today with my mind fixed on the London marathon my fingers are crossed for cooler conditions, whilst I can still hope for sunny days at Eriska. Unfortunately it looks like my prayers will be answered but in the wrong locations. Maybe I shoudl have suggested a hotter climate for my Marathon preparations- or alternatively a better and more sensible sport than running! Anyway whats ahead this week as we head into May?
Today: Rain spreading eastwards and weakening as it clears through the day.
Monday ainly dry and becoming brighter during the morning with plenty of sunshine in the afternoon. Felling much warmer than of late. Patchy rain will reach the West Coast later
Tuesday: .Likely to be rather cloudy and windy, with outbreaks of rain or showers.
Wednesday: Dry and bright with sunny spells developing. Much warmer then of late. Light southerly winds but fresh over higher parts.
Thursday:Although in the long term it is now starting to become more settled with a reasonable amount of sunshine ther may still be some lingering drizzle along the coast
Fridays. Temperatures, after a warm start, becoming rather cooler with the risk of showers
Saturday: A typiocal Bank Holiday weekend with promises of sun but a wee bit few and far between!
April 24, 2010
Ash and disruption continues to cause difficulties!
This week we hosted a group of intrepid travel agents from America and Australia who had battled valiantly last weekend to reach Britain to begin their fact finding mission. One lady had even been detoured ironically via Iceland before reaching our shores and therefore had been rerouted to land in Glasgiow and then trabnsferred to a train for teh journey south to join up with the party. All remained stoic and in good spirits and whilst they did not deny our tales of over reaction from some of their fellow countrymen - they promised to take back word of a clear skied Britian with much to see and do.
That was until they started to try and check in for their return flights the next day and once again the ash seemd to be following them as the one who had come via Iceland and therefore had been set to return that way had now been recheduled to travel to London so she could return on a more southernly route to the States. Amazingly she remained unfazed and as ever stated that this was one of te joys of travel- Not in my book but each to their own!!!
April 22, 2010
It is now over two years since we first started using our kitchen waste in the garden by first treating it in our JURAFORM Composting machine and then being spread on the vegetable patch to help keep the virtuous circle going by encouraging the vegetables to grow then feeding the machine then back round again. It has up till now been working reasonably efficiently but as with many things it is not until you yourself have to see a task in operation that you can suggest or spot improvements.
In my case it was standing for an hour watching the machine empty and reading the manual when I noticed it was recommend that only 15 minutes was required. After further investigation I realised that the output was maybe not dry enough and that the exit procedure was maybe not as efficient as required. So yesterday we increased the wood pellets in the mix which immediately increased the temperature and in turn reduced the water content and then today we raised the machine so that we could fill larger bins and therefore cut down the emptying time. The only issue is that the produce is now too hot and needs to be cooled down before we can use it or our vegetables will be parboiled before they even reach the kitchen!
After discussion and a few modifications the system is back working and we managed to cut the expulsion time radically. Now we will have to check in a couple of weeks when it is ready for emptying again and then monitor progress. Now we are really cooking but not with gas with compost!!
April 20, 2010
Compare the Meerkat-- Compare the Pine Martin-- Simples!!
Yesterday as I walked into the hotel I passed Duaine and as usual he politely passed the time of day. however unusually he completed the greeting with a high pitched squeal, conscious that I may have been a bit heavy footed I looked down to see if I had stood on his toe and at this he quickly passed by. remaining curious I than called after him and asked about the squeal, - like a scene from the "Pink Panther" - he asked "what squeal?" and as this answer was uttered another squeak was let out by this stage he was looking a bit guilty and I was now very inquisitive so he came clean!
He opened his pockets and took out one wee Pine Martin no sooner had I recovered from the shock than he dug into his second pocket and produced another one. With that he said- "Compare the pine martens- Simples"" - Just like the advert!!
how had this all happened - well Duiane had been working on one of the houses on the island and had come across an abandoned nest of pine martins with two wee ones looking a bit disturbed.He had monitored the nest and had then contacted the local wildlife sanctuary for advice. Fortunately they had an RSPCA officer in the area who was heading their way and managed to get him to detour to bring in the wee ones for closer care. So yesterday afternoon they set off to Perth-shire where th sanctuary was and the good news is that they have settled in well and it is hoped that they will make a full recovery.
April 18, 2010
weather w/c 18th April
the events of the last week with the Volcano in iceland has just brought home what a small planet we live on with events and activities to the north affecting the weather, climate and lifestyle for everyone. In the past we have often been led to believe that the weather we experience is completely random and really little we can do will make any change possible however given the dramatic pictures and images from satellites and otehr airborne transmitters it is clear how the cloud patterns and weather have been affected.
Anyway that said after a week of warm clear skies and the definite shift away from winter it will be interesting to see how the seasons develop over the next 10 days in terms of the garden and the trees around Eriska. there is no doubt that the slight tinge of green buds has now moved into a complete dominance of the landscape and combined with flowers buddinga nd breaking out Spring/Summer is nearly upon us. So whats ahead for the next seven days barring further eruptions and interference form Iceland
Today: It will start Bright but this will be interrupted by scattered showers growing duller as the day goes on.
Monday: Any thicker cloud with thin and break during the morning to leave a bright day with occasional sunny spells and a scattering of showers. Any showers wintry over the hills.
Tuesday: Most of the showers will die out early in the morning, but a scattering still expected around the coast. A widespread frost developing as winds fall light.
Wednesday: A dry, bright and chilly start for most, but showers becoming more widespread during the day with occasional sunny spells. Still rather cool, but winds mostly light.
Thursday: A bright day with occasional sunny spells and scattered showers. The showers wintry over the hills. Light low level winds.
Friday: Remaining cool with scattered showers, the showers wintry over the hills. However, often bright with sunny spells. Fresh to strong west to northwest winds.
Saturday Mainly settled at first with sunshine and a few showers for all, perhaps turning wintry over the hills
April 15, 2010
It was with a wry smile that I was awoken yesterday by the sound of the cuckoo, indeed it was the first of the year and whilst it always makes me think that winter is over. When I got to the hotel several guests commented on the sound and most mentioned that it was the first call of the year.
However by this monring I was wishing that spring was over too as the bird seesm to have taken up residence just in front of my bedroom window and with the early dawn it signals the start of its day. No one seems to have placed a limit on the number of calls the bird can make before its battery runs out and having now foundtainly making most use of the new found asset. Lets hope that it becomes bored with its own sound, or alternatively takes up residence elsewhere!
April 13, 2010
Boxes on the brain.
Having now meddled in the delivery of boxes to the hotel and instigated a system of returning empty boxes to the carriers for either recyling or reuse I have now moved my attention to the garden. Well in a similar vein and after a summer of weeding and controlling the access to the stable building we tried an experiment of planting a small box hedge in one of the two semicircles.
The good news was that not only did they survive my rough planting and minimal attention but they seem to have thrived ove rthe harsh winter and therfore we took the decision to expand these hedged areas this year and develop a more rigid strcuture to the garden. Phase one was the circumference of the semi circles an easier job to organise than carry out - as niether semi cirle seems to be exact and we opted to follow the line of the lawn rather than any symetrical patern. Now phase two is to develop the centre aisles to the stables.
So today we are transplanting the shrubs and plants along the path and creating the new structured box hedges, then it will be a maintennace and hoping they all grow job!
April 11, 2010
Weather wc 11th April
It is always nice to have a day of sunshine but especially when it coincides with a Saturday which tends to be the first day of weekly guests here at Eriska and at least it starts their vacation with a smile. Conversely it is the last day for those leaving and at least shows them that we can do sunshine and maybe tempts them back next year? Anyway Saturday was one such day and leaves us hopeful for the week ahead but what is on offer?
Sunday: After a cloudless night and a chilly dawn with patches of mist and fog we should be in for another fine day.
Monday:Another fine, dry day in prospect with long spells of warm sunshine. Winds will remain light.
Tuesday:Bright or sunny after the clearance of early morning mist or fog. Gentle breezes across the summits.
Wednesday:It will stay dry with some bright or sunny spells. It will turn cooler with freshening northeasterly winds in the afternoon.
Thursday: Mainly dry, settled weather is likely to push on all day
Friday: A slight change in the weather with cloud pushing in later in the day and even rain overnight
Saturday: Chance of a few light showers as indications are that the weather will turn more unsettled after the weekend with more in the way of cloud, wind and rain in the north,