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
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?
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…
October 26, 2010
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!
October 23, 2010
Deadline met with room to spare- just!
When we set out on major worked we always set targets which not only can we achieve but that we have a minor leeway if we hit a snag, however with our new indoor hall we set a target on the same principle however due to a stalled start date we soon used up the contingency and left ourselves with a deadline of tomorrow for phase one to complete. phase one is the ground works and completion of all work below ground level- the foundations, drainage , structural columns and floor slab. Yesterday in some of the heaviest rain witnessed here at Eriska we completed the major works leaving today- with the help of a brisk wind and sunshine to level out the surface and prepare the road for the arrival of the structure on Monday.
So no we are ready although tomorrow we will have to continue with the rolling of the surface to compact the slab in preparation for the 30 tonne crane and two low loads of steel. the next deadline will be to complete the structural erection and then clad it by the middle of November and then we will be back on site and finish the walls and storage areas. then it will be a matter of waiting for thefloor to dry out before we can complete the project, install the surface of the hall and have a grand opening- all seems so simple and so far so good!
October 21, 2010
5 Gold Stars!
Earlier this week we received great news from Visit Scotland...we have been awarded the highest award given out by Visit Scotland for a Country House Hotel – their 5 Star Gold Award! Recognition has to be given to the team here at Eriska and the support from our guests over the years who have all contributed us receiving this award.
Regardless of our continual hard work to maintain and improve our customer service and standards through the hotel, facilities and the island, when it comes to inspections and reviews, we are always intrigued to hear their responses as different people will have differing expectations and opinions of Eriska. Whilst we strive to exceed these expectations, it is interesting for us to hear feedback from these inspectors and reviewers as they see a variety of accommodation providers on a day to day basis and have to assess Eriska objectively.
When word reached us at the hotel that we had gained the award, with almost 100% in each category, it definitely made us realise that all our hard work does pay off! The award highlights 3 key aspects which have long been embedded within Eriska’s culture; our Eriska Welcome, high standards of service and hospitality throughout each guest’s stay as well as our accommodation and facilities which we continually aim to improve year on year for the benefit and enjoyment of our guests. The award also highlights the commitment towards our customer focused approach and underlying approach to staff training and development which together work hand in hand to create the Eriska Experience which many of you return to experience again and again. However, this does not mean we will sit back and bask in the glory of receiving this accolade, rather we will strive to build on and improve our offerings – no rest of the wicked!
October 17, 2010
Weather wc 17th October
its hard to beleive that last night there were reports of snow on some of the Aberdeenshire hills especially given the stunning day we had here at eriska yesterday although the cooler conditions due to cl;ear skies at night needed the sunshine to burn the dew off the grass. Anyway it has been a great week just right for laying sports hall floors given the dry days and stable temperatures insuring taht concrete does not dry too fast or too slow. Now all we have to do is hope for still conditions in a weeks time when the steel frame arrives but that may be a step too far- so whats ahead fro this week?
Early fog patches clearing then dry with sunny spells.
Monday: Overnight mist and fog patches, especially around and on the hills, gradually clear to leave a fine and dry day with some long spells of sunshine.
Tuesday: A mainly dry night with clear spells, allowing a widespread ground frost then in comes the cloud and patchy rain
Wednesday: A bright start but generally a rather cloudy day with outbreaks of mostly light rain through the morning and early afternoon. Freshening southwesterly breeze.
Thursday:Sunny spells and occasional showers, turning increasingly wintry over hills as winds turn more northerly and strengthen
Friday:We can expect a mixture of blustery showers and rain with drier and brighter spells.
Saturday: Showers will be heavy at times and wintry over higher hills and mountains it will feel generally cold as winds come from a northerly direction.
October 05, 2010
Another game bird!
As I walked down the hill I got the fright of my life- as I suspect did the sleeping bird- when I stood on the tail feathers of one of our game birds. It is one of the attractions of autumn and especially the month of October that it brings with it another seasonal game bird - the Pheasant. The shooting season for pheasant opens on the 1st of October and lasts until February. Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) similar to the partridge is a member of the phasianidae family, a large long tailed game bird. Males (cock) have rich chestnut, golden brown and black markings on their body and tail, with a dark green head and red face wattling. Females (hen) are mottled with paler brown and black markings.
Although they originated from Asia, they were introduced to the U.K a long time ago however more recent introductions have brought in a variety of races and breeds for sport shooting. Pheasants can be spotted all year round across most of the U.K. main land apart from the far North West of Scotland. Their preferred habitat is in open countryside near woodland edges and hedgerows and feed mainly on seeds, grains and shoots. Pheasants are able short distance fliers, however they prefer they prefer to run and walk around.
When it comes to hanging pheasants at the beginning of the season (October) with it being warmer weather and younger birds, they should only be hung for up to three days, whereas in cold, winter days, older birds are usually hung for up to ten days. Hen pheasants are believed to have a nicer taste and are often should be preferred over males. They have a delicate mild game flavour, which is also affected by the time of the season which they are consumed in - younger and early season birds tend to be more delicate and tender.
As with any other game bird in the Eriska kitchen, pheasant are roasted as crowns (helping to maintain all the natural juices and as much flavour as possible), the thighs are usually stuffed whilst the drum sticks make it very tough and full of sinew which can be roasted off for stock and used for broths, consommés or reduced to a sauce.
October 02, 2010
Latest room refurbishment complete
When I go into the kitchen and ask for half an onion they no longer look at me like an alien but realise that I must have completed the work on another bedroom. Now with all the modern paints we find that the best form of removing the odour is to leave a cut onion on the floor overnight and it seems to remove all the toxins. Amazingly the room does not then smell like the vegetable and it does work. So this week another onion another room complete.
We have now refurbished 13/16 in the main house with Ward Robinson and whilst the final three are scheduled to undergo the upadating they have been refurbished recently but with another designer so are not tired just out of sync with the latest style. So the new rooms include our only single Iona, Soay on the ground floor and Seil on the first, and now after mush practice we have learnt that the best way to complete them on time is to order all =items have them delivered well in advance and then we can start the work. all seemed ideal this year until te Central hotel in Glasgow was delayed and our curtain manufacturers were left balancing several jobs at once but on the day it all arrived and all worked so there really was no need for the shortened nails!
So having finished in house all development has returned to the Sports hall which is progressing and aiming for the steel work to be erected on 20th October with a possible entry date prior to Christmas. No rest for the wicked!
September 30, 2010
Despite the changeable weather we have experienced on Eriska over the past week, our Guests have still managed to get out and about to enjoy life outdoors on the Island. As ever, the wildlife on Eriska constantly gives our guests something to talk about which often brings them back to visit in the future!
Last weekend one of our Guests was exploring the island and having returned from their time at Eriska sent us some images (below) of the wildlife they came across during their stay.
Possible book ends above? Send in any more Eriska photo gems you may have!
It’s often difficult to guarantee our guests will see all the wildlife that inhabits the Island in just one visit but we do try our best to point them in the direction of various nature hot stops around the Island – also seen on our Virtual tour. For those of you who stay us regularly will recall our regular night time visitors, the badgers, that visit us most nights after dinner are always in demand by our guests as long as we remember to stick to our part of the bargain – feeding them! Have a look at our badger bedlam game which is still running – watch out for me!