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July 31, 2010

Green progress!

About 5 years ago we were convinced to buy a new machine for the golf course. The Aero King was sold to us as a bargain and on the basis that it would transform the golf course. This now seems like a similar story to many of the other pieces of equipment we have amassed in the golf shed and some have indeed transformed our lives and made them easier but few on their own have actually transformed the course. Anyway after much maoning and growning it was eventually admitted earlier this year that the main reason this particular piece of machinery was having little impact was its lack of use and in particular the fact that it did not work.

It would be easy to understand that it was for this reason that it had had little impact however we were left with a decison to retire it or fix it and gamble that it would make a difference. We finally elected for the latter and found the issue simply rectified- a change of spark plugs and clean of the filter and off it went. So for the last two months we have regularly solid tined the greens and watched to see the change. amazingly it does seem to have had an impact, firstly the surface of thh greens seems to have lifted and have life in it and secondly some areas that had a history of draining issues sesm to have waned.

So now I am looking around to see if theere is any other equipemnt we own that we do not use incase it too will have an immediate imapct. in truth maintaining the machines and keeping all in order remains the number one task and the most important chore, much like runniing a hotel where looking after your guests is the most important chore and then gaining new ones so looking after equipemnt and keeping it going is often more important than buying more "solution"  

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 06:02 AM in Scottish hotel life, Scottish sport | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 30, 2010

Eriska's New Website

We have now luanched our new website and it incorporates the blog. To continue to enjoy our daily rants please visit


Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 06:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 29, 2010

New Entrance to Eriska!

This month we were joined by a new member of the team. Elizabeth has come straight from University and brings with her some fresh new ideas about marketing and sales and whilst we do not understand or comprehend much of what she is trying to get us to do having a fresh look at many of our assets and attributes has allowed us the chance to take a fresh look at the future. From the outset we told her that nothing was set in stone and to that extent we did not provide her much background but asked he r to do her own research rather than use data and information we had already studied.

it was certainly an interesting way to move forward but it has thrown up many new ideas, such as increasing our social networking- still not sure what that means- and emphasising on our strengths whilst working on the weaknesses. One of the initial suggestions was that given our new moorings at the pier and the wonderful pier, although used by some it is mostly a venue for our staff to fish and a platform for me to launch my boat It should really be seen as an alternative entrance to Eriska with the large number of boats that enter loch creran.

 So after a bit of research , which included my sitting in the sun at the Pier watching boats sail by I was forced to agree as many of the boats clearly detoured close to the shore to see what the golf course really was and one boat even approached me on the Pier to ask if there was a hotel! So today we erected a new sign at the Pier highlighting the fact that we do exist, that we do have moorings and that we have a golf course and spa. Amazingly within an hour of the sign going up the phone had rung and a dinner reservation was made. lets Hope that this is a measure of the success we can hope from all of Elizabeth's new suggestions.

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 07:53 AM in Current Affairs, Scottish hotel life, Scottish spa, Scottish sport, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 28, 2010

Wine exam success

It is now nearly 6 months since we started a new strategy with the wine list here at Eriska. It all came about last year when I sat in on a staff training session being given by one of our suppliers and realised, probably rather naively, that the tutor was giving a fairly biased view of wine- concentrating on his own brands, and that whilst the team were learning how to sell his products they were neither really increasing their knowledge nor were they gaining the kind of information that we were wanting to offer our clients.

At the same time we were lucky to be contacted by an old friend who had just set up his own wine company offering support and training and I realised that if we  were really serious about developing our list and knowledge then we needed some outside help so we engaged Nick adams to work with us with a simple direct set of instruction to help us. It was a three pronged attack , firstly to develop the list offering a breadth of choice and selection for all who stay with us allowing them to vary their drinking from different areas with different styles especially if they were with us for a few days and wanted to try alternatives, secondly to help develop the knowledge of those who work with us and thirdly and probably most importantly to insure that we buy the right wines for the right price so that we can sell them.

So today was the culmination of one of these legs with te results of the WSET Intermediate Wine course we ran and the examination that they had sat. It was a fairly traumatic day with many of us, including me as this was the first exam I had taken in years and sitting down with pen in hand awaiting to turn over the paper just brought back terrible memories of exams in a school sports hall. Anyway the results are in a luckily my result was not the worst and declared a pass and even more interestingly many of the team achieved both marks of merit and even some distinctions. Now we shall wait and see how this transfers to sales and assistance with explaining the list. We have given them the tools now lets see how it works or maybe its a case of too much knowledge in the wrong hands can be a terrible weapon!! 

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 08:49 PM in Food and Drink, Scottish food and drink, Scottish hotel life, Scottish hotel staff | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 25, 2010

Weather w/c 25th July

When the Clyde Cruising Club announced their plan to break the world record Sunflower Yacht Rafting record last week we should have anticipated that the summer weather would break and it really did but at least we have returned to normality with sunshine and warm days. Anyway given that this is the last week before West Highland Yachting Week and the build up to the summer bank holiday I suppose we should and will expect a bit of variable weather.

So what does our weather expert predict:

Today:Mostly it will be dry and rather cloudy although it may have some showers at the start dying out later.

Monday: A cloudy start with some drizzle and mist. Gradually brightening up with some sunny intervals developing by the afternoon.

Tuesday: A dull start with drizzle and hill fog, then brightening with some sunny intervals breaking through. Mostly light winds.

Wednesday: Rather cloudy in the morning with a little rain and coastal mist.

Thursday: The morning cloud will clear by the afternoon and remain mainly dry.

Friday:it is likely to be rather cloudy with rain or showers, and possibly some locally heavy downpours. However, some bright or sunny spells are possible at times too.

Saturday It should be much drier than the rest of the week with variable amounts of cloud, some prolonged spells of sunshine and above normal to warm temperatures.


Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 06:53 AM in Scottish weather | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 24, 2010

Fireplace finally retired!

When we first came to Eriska we were confronted with the quandary of creating enough escape stairs in the main house. Whilst there were two staircases to the first floor there was only one to the second. So having agonised over the location of a new fire stair and having discounted many options as they lost too many rooms eventually we settled with the creation of a new staircase by the front door . However this came with several compromises, firstly it was always going to be quire steep, secondly it was going to be right by the front door potentially before the reception desk and thirdly and most drastically to make it all work we had to change the main entrance to the house so although you entered through the gran porch the entrance to the hall would have to be diverted through the Piano room and hence we sacrificed the fireplace in the piano room and formed a double entrance door.Spa old

However although we lost the hearth we retained the fireplace/mantelpiece surround s as part of the reception desk and although we argued that this was for sentimentality it really was because we had no alternative. Times change and life developed as did the house and we eventually partially retired the fireplace/desk to storage and so when we needed a reception desk at the Stables it was brought back into action and has doe sterling work for nearly 20 years but this week it was again returned and although it has been moth balled it has probably finished its life as a desk and may reappear as a mantelpiece again in a a future development.Spa new

So now we have a smart new wood panelled and oak-washed desk purpose built with filing cabinets and built in computer work station. In fact it is so alien to us to have something fit for purpose that it will take time to get used to it. It does however finish the stable sand make the project look complete- now we have to finish off te rest!!

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 06:46 PM in Scottish hotel life, Scottish hotel staff, Scottish spa | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 22, 2010

Cycling and walking at eriska

when we first started down the Green tourism line it was to be carried out for two reasons, firstly I wanted to see a real improvement in the actions we took and secondly I wanted the whole process to be economic. On the first discussion I made these restrictions clear and was assured that not only would the process be economic but it would also save me money. In truth I did not believe this but in order to humour the advisor went along with the plan.Walking

Anyway dare I say it by they were right many of the changes we have made have helped the environment directly and with quick results and other actions have saved us money even in the short term. For example we were filling out the Green Business Tourism Application and it was suggested that e look at a number of other links one of which was the walker and cyclist scheme operated by Visit scotland. so we duly investigated the links and to our surprise we were already committed and met all the rules and regulations so applied.
Therefore it was with great pleasure that today we were accepted the scheme and hopefully for a little bit of work and no cost we will now be able to help spread the word and possible encourage more visitors to Eriska. You see it does work!!

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 07:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 20, 2010

Tree realingment!

In most new building work the companies make a great play of breaking ground or starting digging in the foundations. We however are always doing things a bit differently and therefore we have today begun our long trek to create an indoor facility and this all starts with the clearing- not of the site but of the area the new road will have to be led in order to avoid the new building. The trees were all cleared when we first started talking about a covered tennis court but in the intervening period (just shows how long it has taken to get this far) they have grown and established themselves.

Right in the middle of the trees also lies an old Bore hole where we used to pump water when we first arrived at Eriska. So today the first of the trees came down and already the site looks much improved. Over the next week all te trees will be felled in the new road line and then it will be time for the diggers to move in and build a new road and then hopefully we will be in the right place to start construction. A day does not go by without us wondering if we are making the right choice but all we have to do is think of the rain we had this morning and the wealth of activities the new indoor facility will offer and it all seems essential.

So for now we will have a nice new roman straight road and then we can pause and take stock before we commit to full scale building.

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 05:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 18, 2010

Weather w/c 18th July

Anyone who has been watching the Open Golf Championship from St Andrews will now be well aware of the fickle Scottish conditions and its amazing ability to change not only from minute to minute but also green to green. It has however like it has at Eriska failed to produce the weather conditions we had 4 weeks ago with lots of sunshine and warmth and whilst interesting it does not show Scotland as the ideal holiday destination. However hopefully this is  coming to an end and we can see light- and more importantly- sunshine at the end of the tunnel. So what's ahead for Eriska?

Today: Cloudy with rain at first  but then drier, brighter.

Monday: A fine end to the day with sunny spells. It will become cloudy overnight with light rain developing over many places later,

Tuesday: Patchy rain will die out during the morning, then dry for the afternoon with bright or sunny spells.

Wednesday:Cloudy with rain at first. Soon becoming dry and brighter with sunny spells developing.

Thursday:The weather will remain changeable with rain or showers. The rain heavy at times with the risk of thunderstorms. Some dry and bright spells too, temperatures around normal.

Friday: Unsettled at first with showers, some longer spells of rain on the hills where it will be cool and windy.

Saturday:Drier conditions will spread across from the west  with lighter winds, although there could still be some showers.


Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 07:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2010

Sudden Wood Pellet Consumption

having now run out of wood pellets at the hotel and been forced to rush a load from the stables and avoid blushes at making such an error I have now taken a personal interest in monitoring the consumption and estimating the usage. This has now been further supported by the need to give 10 days notice to the delivery company in order to schedule the pellet deliveries and make sure that we get the one vehicle which can deliver the exact amount of pellets to full both stores to the maximum.

So this week having religiously checked and measured  was amazed when the stable levels dropped drastically over night, first I thought it could have been the hopped reducing the amount of visible pellets and hence the quicjker fall and then I started to panic that we might not make the next planned delivery date if the consumption continued. However duaine soon brought me good and bad news. first the good- we not started using more pekllest than expected and would easily reach the planned delivery date but the bad news was that the store had collapsed under the weight of wood and would require attention to lift and re secure it.

So we set about moving pellets around in the store and rebuilding the hoppers but this time increased the size of timbers to help strengthen the store- clearly when we estimated the structure and expected weight we had neglected to account for my own weight which felt forced to climb in and double check that the pile of pellets was being sued in a regular manner. Anyway we have now rebuilt the shed and hope that the solved and strengthened problem will not cause us either lack of sleep or lack of pellets.

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith at 07:30 PM in Scottish hotel staff | Permalink | Comments (0)