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!
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!
September 18, 2010
It seems to come round so fast every year and whilst many may think that it is too early to think about Christmas I have always been a believer that the more planning we do the easier it will be nearer to the time. With only a few rooms left for Christmas and enquiries coming in the main thrust of thought is on the activities we will be able to offer.
On a positive note we may be able to use our new indoor facility and with the huge number of opportunities this will bring even more options but on the negative side I am never willing to commit to finishing a product by a date unless I actually can see light at the end of the tunnel or in this case no light through the roof! The building is scheduled to be out of the ground by November with a full frame erected and the walls under way and then it will be the roof and cladding all before we can even start thinking about a surface on the floor and activities over Christmas.
However at the back of my mind is that if we can have it ready for Christmas MacPhersons Law- the one that says if you drop a slice of bread on the floor it will always fall butter down- says that it will be a stunning Christmas for weather and outdoor activities leaving any effort to finish by Christmas in vein and if we fail to make the deadline its sure to be a rotten- so we will strive to finish in time!
Other than that we are also working on the calendar for next year so it is ready in time for anyone who wants a copy before the year begins and we have just selected the image for the Christmas card, fortunatelyDennis was alert last year when the frost was on the ground so we have plenty to choose from, in fact almost too many leaving a tricky decision to be reached.
September 01, 2010
Cowal Highland Games
Once again, the last weekend in August saw one of the biggest turn outs to date, as the Cowal Highland Games took place in Dunoon. The three day event began last Thursday and culminated in a marching of the 130 bands (over 3000 pipers) and a fireworks display over Coal Pier on Saturday which closed the event - until next year.
As always there was plenty to keep the whole family entertained, attractions for the children as well as the finals of the World Highland Dancing Competition and the Cowal Pipe Band Competition – 130 pipe bands from around Scotland competing to win the title of Pipe Band Champion. We even had local success, with our local high school - Oban High School Pipe Band - successfully beat off stiff competition to be awarded 1st prize in their class!
For the athletics amongst us there was the opportunity to enter into the “Heavies” Competitions however, as you can imagine, watching from the side lines was more preferable!
Of course, no Highlands Games would be complete without a Ceilidh and we were spoiled fro choice with 4 Ceilidh tents to choose from. The highlight had to be the band, “Skerryvore”, who have even been billed as the next Runrig and they certainly lived up to that name.
August 05, 2010
Four or Five Men in a Boat by guest contributor- Vernon Gayle
Every so often a really welcome e-mail appears in my in-skip (this is a more accurate term than in-box). A message recently arrived from Beppo very kindly inviting me to crew his boat for some of the races in West Highland Yachting Week. Beppo had pre-positioned the boat, a Delphia 24, at Dunstaffnage Marinain preparation for the Oban to Craobhrace on Saturday.
I understand that somewhere in the United States there is a Scottish ex-patriot called Menzies Farquharson-Urquhart, who is constantly explaining how his names are pronounced. I really hope that this poor chap isn’t originally from Craobh, which is pronounced Croove.
The weather wasn’t ideal but I am pleased to say that we arrived safely about four hours after the starting gun in twentieth place out of a field of twenty seven. The next day we raced back from Craobh to Oban. All eyes, and cameras, were on one boat. Griff Rhys Jones (no hyphen), Dara O’Briain and Rory McGrath of ‘Three Men in a Boat’ fame where racing a classic yacht. I’ve just been searching for my old copy of Jerome K. Jerome’s wonderful book. Many years ago I heard the old sociologist G.A.V. Sergeant ask ‘what impression might a burglar form of us from looking at our bookcase?’ The search for my copy of ‘Three Men in a Boat’ was fruitless but I noticed that amongst the many cook books and wine guides, there was a book on yoga and another on Marx. Would an intruder therefore jump to the conclusion that I was an obese but supple alcoholic communist?
The BBC’s three men managed to arrive in second place in their class. We managed tenth in our class, but were still warming up. Watch out for the series which is due to be aired over the Christmas period.
With five, rather than four, men in the boat on Monday we had a victory, coming first in our class in one of the Firth of Lorne Races. The 2010 campaign ended today with a very respectable third place in the Round Lismore Race. I plan to contact Hancock & Co. of Burlington Arcade to see if they can strike a replica trophy for more permanent display in the hotel! If this is not possible then Beppo will have to win a trophy again next year.
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.
June 17, 2010
Neverending task of fixing Grasscutters!
Last week we arranged for an engineer to call in and check our coring machine for the golf course. we bought it over 5 years ago and I was reliably informed that it has never worked properly so the solution would be to purchase a new one. this to me was not the first option but the last option so I arranged for an expert to call and inspect the machine and he duly arrived. Immediately I liked him as he told me the machine was an excellent choice and that he was certain he could fix it.
True to his word he immediately identified the major issue and then set about rectifying it and even spotted some minor niggles which were attended too. However in the time he was with us Gerry had pointed out a couple of other problems with machines and he then moved onto them however not expecting these issues he left promising to return with parts the following week. I could see light at the end of the tunnel, a full fleet of cutters a golf course ready for attention and Gerry keen to get started.
So the engineer returned and for 20 minutes all was working and smiles spread but then disaster- Gerry limped back into the shed with a toiling greens machine and after another 2 hour investigation not only was it described as broken but looking terminal! Not to fear the engineer would depart and seek advice and our old hand mower would be exhumed from the mothballs and pressed into service. Well it started and it went but not very far and soon that too was on the medical bench but today Duaine has persevered with it and it is now in much better health and ready for tomorrow on the greens, vowing not to be left unattended for so long and Gerry promising to run it monthly if it keeps going for the next week until the main greens machine is fixed!
That is now the key to firstly keep the machines operating and secondly to keep a back up ready so |robert has been working on a back up fairways machine that had been mothballed by Chay and is now in full working order and ready to leap into action!! So all being well by Tuesday night we will not only have a full complement of cutters working but also a couple of spares- and no doubt a huge bill!! Now whats the next disaster to be
May 27, 2010
Back on the water eventually!!
After a couple of failed attempts to get on the water and take part in the Oban Sailing Clubs events we finally made it to the start line and then onto the finish line this week. It could all have been another failed attempt as we set off from Eriska with plenty of time to spare only to be thwarted by a broken shackle and lost line. However with some patience and ingenuity we managed to set off again however the delay cost us time and finger nails but with a few minutes to spare we entered Oban Bay.
Next we had to pick up our patient crew who were standing on the pontoon awaiting collection with the racing instructions in hand. However disaster struck again as in an attempt to save time we opted not to stop but pick up Ronnie at the run- under sail and not only collected Ronnie but also the pontoon, after a mad struggle we freed ourselves headed for the start line and as the gun went crossed the line only a few boat legnths behind the fleet.
Then we gradually made up on the leaders and edged our way through the fleet. This time caution saved us from powering on as we realised not knowing the course and tides well meant we had to hang back and copy but this allowed us to judge the fleet and assess the possibilities. We then worked out where th end was and overtook into the lead on the last leg. However this was too adventurous as it also allowed the Oban Sailing Club Handicap committee the chance to set a discretionary handicap which meant although first across the line we were actually last on corrected time. So now we must return and sail better to insure we can clear the Eriska name. More time, more preparation and more luck might also help but hopefully we will have the same amount of fun!
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.
December 26, 2009
Golf abandoned- creative thinking substitued!
I suppose any realist would have given up hope of running any kind of golf competition given the freezing conditions but ever the optimist i had hoped for a thaw overnight with the possibility of a few holes under competitive spirit if a bit altered rules but it was not to be so it was back to the drawing board!
luckily we are not short of ideas here at Eriska although whether they are good or usable is often a matter for discussion, so we launched a simple treasure hunt this afternoon with several criteria- firstly it must be equal to the lowest possible denominator, secondly it must finish before dark-the thought of wandering out at dusk seeking lost guests whilst feasible isa not ideal, thirdly given christmas exertion and over consumption probably a modest pace would also be more welcome. So armed with this and plenty advice we set and ran the Erisak Treasure hunt.
It was needless to say received well by the winners and misconceived by the loosers but I suppose the main point is that we all got out in the fresh air to enjoy what may be the last day of winter here at Eriska as the predicted thaw is not far away, at least for now!