The last post

This is likely to be the final post on this blog. Our new website is up and running and is written using the wordpress platform. So the blog is now incorporated into the website. Pop over and have a look Comments aren’t currently enabled but should be soon.

In the news…

We’re famous! Well, sort of: we arranged to have an advertising feature placed in the regional newspaper and it was published today. Around it are adverts for our suppliers and all the people who worked on the new rooms.

So without further ado…

and since the text isn’t quite readable here it is again. If you still can’t read it, click on the picture and it’ll get bigger.

Welcome discovery

We’ve been doing a bit of rearranging. The bottle cellar has, for the past three years had large shelving units along both walls and today I moved one of them. This allowed us to move the wine storage cabinet that we brought from Glasgow to the other side of the room (next to a plug) and get it going.

This is today’s view of the cellar. It’s not part of the hotel that guests usually see and in days gone by was the meat larder. We know that because when we came to the hotel, there was a huge circular contraption with hooks on it hanging from the ceiling. Sadly, that had to be cut down when the ceiling was replaced, but the room still has things of interest. One of these is the big walk in cupboard which was, until today, behind the shelving units.


The door is enormous – 1.1metres wide with a huge wooden framed lock with iron workings. Inside are a further two cupboards with big stone shelves. The room is always cold even on the hottest summers day.
Anyway, there were no real surprises inside since we’ve been in there before. Old Caffreys glasses, a broken wine chiller, random bits of junk.
But back to the wine storage cabinet. It was emptied and put into store in Paisley when we moved here in 2004 and was brought down to the hotel around 4 years ago. I don’t recall it being switched on since it arrived. So when we opened the door, we got a nice surprise…

That’s six bottles of rather nice claret that is. I’ve no recollection of buying it, although a company called “Wines of interest” kind of rings a bell. From online tasting notes the 11 year old St Emilion may be past its peak so we’d better check as a matter of urgency. Happy days 🙂

Update on Thursday…

It is very nice indeed!

Unwelcome discovery

An email arrived yesterday

Your business was a sponsor of the Borders Audio Guide recorded in 2005, we are currently putting together a guide on the Best Places to Stay in Scotland – a cross section of some of our 500 accommodation providers who have been sponsors of our Scottish series to-date.

Please visit http://www.discoveryaudioguides.com for more info on all our guides.

I will call back once you have had a look at this in more detail, to discuss your possible sponsorship.
Regards

Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Managing Director
Discovery Audio Guides Ltd

We did indeed pay money to this company back in 2005 but it wasn’t paid willingly. The gentleman involved came to see us and after a brief meeting we shook hands and he left. A few weeks later merchandise appeared – our not having said “NO” very loudly apparently meant that we had agreed to inclusion on his cds. We put it down to experience and the CDs and tapes gathered dust on the shelf. A year later a further invoice arrived – in the small print of the contract (which we hadn’t been given a copy of) we had apparently agreed to inclusion in the guides in perpetuity.
We refused to pay and, inevitably threatening letters from debt collectors arrived. Like most small businesses we had neither the time nor resources to fight them and paid up. We did however alert trading standards and an accommodation suppliers’ bulletin board that we sign up to.
So we weren’t terribly pleased to see Mr Xxxxx still in business and presumably using the same underhand tactics to gain business. Here’s my reply to his email:

Dear Sir,

We were signed up to your audio guides in 2005 without our approval and a further speculative invoice was presented one year later. We reluctantly paid this but would like nothing whatsoever to do with you,
your company or your audio guides. Any further communication from your company will be discarded without being read.

Sincerely

Quite restrained don’t you think? Granted “F*** off” would have been shorter but you have to maintain some decorum.
There are no end of marketing scams such as this. Granddaddy of them all is the Swiss CD ROM scam which appears with monotonous regularity…

Here’s the email that you get:

Dear Madam/Sir,

In order to have your company inserted in the EU Business Register for 2011/2012, please print, complete and submit the enclosed form to the following address:

EU BUSINESS REGISTER
BOX 252 – 28020 Madrid
SPAIN

Fax: +34 91 791 9167

Updating is free of charge!

Note that last line and note it carefully.
A pdf is attached. Here’s the top of it:. You’ll need to click on these to see them full size.

read the small print!

Did you notice that at the right hand side it says “updating is free of charge”? That’s twice they’ve said that now.
Here’s the bottom of the form. You’ll notice it’s in an odd blocky font that makes it difficult to read…

Spot anything?
OK here’s a closer view:

Ah, there we are. Our “free” update will cost 995 Euros in perpetuity. Nice.
It’s worth noting a couple of things:
1) we haven’t actually fallen for this one – it’s too well known. I refer to it as the Swiss CDRom scam because for years the address was Lucerne. They seem to have upped sticks and moved to Spain now.
2) If you refuse to pay they will of course set the debt collectors on you. If you are an accommodation provider and have accidentally signed up to this thinking it’s free (where could you have got that idea?) then as far as we can tell there is NO case of anyone actually being taken to court by them. So hand over no money, stand your ground and get trading standards involved as soon as possible. It’s questionable what they can do with a company in another country but it makes you feel less alone and gives you a nice warm feeling inside.

Here endeth today’s lesson on scams. Have a nice day 🙂

Full full full!

Twenty nine for dinner. Most hotels would regard that as a fairly quiet evening, but for us it was a major undertaking. All the tables and chairs had to be moved to the function room to allow space for setting up and we had three waiting staff instead of our usual one.


The occasion was a visit from a cycling group from the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam. They were cycling to another brewery in Edinburgh and had booked their stay in November last year. Even with the new bedrooms we could only accommodate 23 of them; the other six being booked into the Royal Hotel round the corner.
We had a keg of Game Bird from the newly established Scottish Borders Brewery, but it didn’t find favour with the Heineken group who were after something colder and fizzier. Other than that everything went as well as can be expected.

We don’t normally ask people for breakfast orders the night before, but for the group size it was pretty well essential. Just as well we did – 17 omelettes out of the blue might have been difficult. Even with prior warning it was a challenge since I only have two omelette pans and each one takes about a couple of minutes.

And then suddenly they were packed, paid, gone. A quick reset of the function room for another booking, lots of washing up and then 15 beds to strip and reset and we could relax. Tonight we’ve had two in for dinner. What a difference a day makes!

Room at the top

The sharper eyed of you will have noticed that, although throughout the renovation work I referred to the three new bedrooms, the previous blog post only showed two of them. Well that was because the third one wasn’t quite finished.
It is now…

The new room 10 at the Spread Eagle Hotel

The bed is once again from Feather and Black, Edinburgh. Curtains and cushions by Clothworks, Kelso.

The travertine bathroom in Room 10

The bathroom is completely different from the other two with walls and floor being tiled with travertine. There’s a matching travertine washbowl too.

Closer view of the washbowl

Fireplace in room 10

We retained the little fireplace in the corner…

Detail of the fireplace in Room 10

and Ian the joiner made a new mantelpiece for it which looks very much as though it’s always been there.
Room 10 bed

Next Monday all beds will be full – we have a group of 30 cyclists and 24 are staying with us. That’s the most we have ever had in the hotel at one time.

Ladies and gentlemen…

The Spread Eagle Hotel is delighted to be able to introduce you to our new bedrooms…

The staircase now has the same theme as the new bedrooms


Even the fuse box has a little oak cabinet!


At the top of the stairs...


The new rooms are all accessed from this corridor


Let's have a look at Room 12


No broomsticks but plenty of bedknobs. The beds are all from Feather and Black


The old corner cupboard has become a built in wardrobe and there are drawers built under all the windows


The bathroom in Room 12 features a Jacuzzi suite...


including a whirlpool bath. The colour changing spotlight can be seen in action too!


and here it is going through a purple patch...


Let's look at another room now


Room 11 has another Feather and Black bed. The bedside lights are, inevitably from IKEA.


Room 11's bathroom has a black and black theme. The lighted mirrors have heaters in them to prevent them misting up.


I like this a lot...


The bathroom door in 11 is angled to make best use of the space


Many thanks to all the people who have worked so hard for the past 15 weeks. In particular Ian Wood and Stevie Darling, joiners for building most of it; Chris Scott (not forgetting Stewie the apprentice) for plumbing it all in and John Currie and Ian for painting and varnishing it.

Yes, I know I need a haircut!