Food, Producers, Seil

Food glorious food

I managed to miss Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight in September. Probably too busy serving it to guests, and eating it on birthdays! So I though I could showcase just some of our lovely local foods here.

First of all, the things we serve at breakfast time. Our eggs and meat products are all from local farms.

Eggs come from Balvicar Farm, the Wee Pig Company (yes I know pigs don’t lay eggs) or Taste of Argyll where Katherine sells eggs from her own hens and those of other small producers.

Sausages and bacon come from the WeePig and Taste of Argyll and also our very near neighbours at Auchnasaul. If you’ve been served beef sausages they’ve come from there. My home cured bacon was made using pork from the Wee Pig Company.

When we’re not in lockdown we have a good choice of food at our local pubs, the Tigh an Truish which is almost next door, or the Oyster Bar at Ellenabeich. And both have adapted amazingly to the changing conditions over the past few months and are currently offering takeaway options outside the restricted opening hours.

Peas on sourdough, and plaice and chips at the Tigh an Truish.

Oyster bar grill which we enjoyed at home last week

Did you see the sourdough? That’s made by Holly at Solace Bakery. I think I’ve written elsewhere about the pizzas which did so much to cheer up our lockdown. Well since then the range has been expanded to include delicious breads, pastries, and cakes. Including the cake I was treated to for my birthday.

And it’s not just food, the coffee we serve (and drink ourselves) is roasted here on the island by Hinba Coffee. You can also enjoy it at their shop in Oban.

Lunch with a view, Hinba coffee and a savoury from The Puffer Food Company

The Atlantic Islands Centre on Luing also serves up great food but at the moment is running a local take away service only.

We’ve enjoyed two delicious meals recently from Etive restaurant in Oban, via their Etive at home scheme.

And some of our guests tucked into a delicious platter from Drew at The Fisherman’s Kitchen

So I think you’ll agree that we have some of the very best of Scotland’s Food and Drink right here on our doorstep.

Featured image courtesy of Giulia Giannetti

Fisherman’s Kitchen picture courtesy of The Fisherman’s Kitchen

Covid, Seil, Tourism

October and on

Autumn is most definitely here, the leaves have changed colour (and started to fall) and the storms have arrived. At the moment we’re probably at the peak of colour before we tip into the faded palette of winter.

My walk reminded me of one back in the spring, also a damp day. Then the colours were beginning to develop.

Opposite sides of the seasonal spectrum.

This year more than most spring brought signs of hope; infection rates fell and we were able to meet our friends again.

Summer, well it wasn’t normal but it was freer, and we were able to welcome guests.

Now we have the prospect of winter, and a retreat back to our homes*. We’ve adapted, there’s no guising** for the children this year but windows and gardens have been filled with pumpkins and spooks for a hallowe’en treasure hunt ***.

As the nights and our lives draw in, I’m getting the sparkly lights out early to brighten up the dark evenings.

Christmas won’t be a big family gathering, whatever the governments decide. There won’t be carols at the pub, nor our panto in January. But I’m just hoping that winter won’t be too long and dark, and I’ll be watching the spring flowers in the rain in 2021, planning the season for our guests.

Stay safe. Stay well. Hope to meet you soon.

*As I was writing this Argyll and Bute was put into tier two restrictions, which means we can meet friends outdoors or in cafes, but not at home.

** dressing up and visiting houses

***Parents take their children around the island spotting the pumpkins, the children earn a treat for each they spot

Covid, Seil, Tourism

That’s all folks, ……………. until next year.

Way back in March, even before we went into lockdown I started to doubt that we’d be welcoming guests this year. And I was worried because we already had a good number of bookings which I thought might have to cancel. When lockdown came I had to decide how far ahead to cancel bookings and luckily, made the right call. Also we have the nicest guests, so everyone was understanding about their bookings being cancelled.

Bramble enjoying the spring daffs

We could have reopened mid July but wanted to spend the time planning our approach. And of course to have family visitors. So we delayed our reopening until 1st August, when we were please to welcome some return guests.

Daffs replaced by daisies

Now the leaves are turning, mornings are much darker and we’ve closed our doors for the season.

Autumn colour

We’re now thinking ahead to 2021….

We are going to retain the two night minimum stay, I haven’t liked refusing bookings but it’s more rewarding when guests stay and explore the area. Even without some of our local attractions we’ve found visitors have found plenty to enjoy on Seil and its surrounding area.

Boats in Balvicar bay

We’re going to concentrate on booking out one room. This year it was Nancy. Next year we’re going to use Flora, though we’ll book both rooms to an extended group.

That will mean guests will have exclusive use of a bedroom, bathroom, sitting room, and the dining room. Like a small apartment. Except we cook your breakfast.

Other breakfast dishes available

And as it seems unlikely that this virus will disappear any time soon we’ll continue to avoid back to back bookings.

But most of all, whether like this

Or this

Maybe without the shades?

We’ll be welcoming you with a smile

Stay safe and we hope to meet you(again) next year.

Caroline, George, and not forgetting Bramble xxx

Days out from Sheiling BnB, History, Tourism

A day out

For obvious reasons we haven’t had many days out this year. But last week we managed one. I revisited my old friend WalkHighlands looking for a route we hadn’t explored before. We’ve walked most of the Oban and North Lorn ones, well the ones that match our capabilities (the one, two and three boot ones) so I had a look at the Fort William selection where I found this one

So on a sunny morning we packed ourselves a picnic and headed off. Ballachulish is an hour or so’s drive from Sheiling. Head for Oban and then take the A828 north from Connel (over the bridge) If the tide is right you might get a great view of the Falls of Lora as you cross. The rest of the drive is scenic too, so it could take longer if you wanted to stop and admire the views.

There’s a public car park in the centre of the village next to the Co-op, public toilets, and also the Quarry Centre which sells food and snacks. (We bought ourselves some cake to go with our picnic)

The walk starts in the old slate quarry and takes you high above the village with superb views down Loch Leven

looking down to Loch Leven

The path then climbs up through trees

Bramble enjoyed all the new sniffs, and hunting for stones in the burn.

She didn’t find this one in the burn

We passed an old settlement

I searched in vain for a four leafed specimen in this clover patch.

And then headed downhill towards Brecklet.

It was probably all to the good that we didn’t spot any of these chaps*

*Actually the path turns in the opposite direction but I was feeling a bit nosey.

And then it was down into the village to enjoy our picnic lunch, and explore the old quarry areas.

It was such a lovely day that we took the long route home, passing through Glencoe, and then beautiful Glen Orchy where we had our final stop beside the river.

A perfect spot for coffee and cake

Covid, Seil, Tourism

September

September when, in the words of the song* “….the days grow short…”. Usually marking the end of our season, birthdays, stone skimming, and plans for travel. But in this strange skewed year that’s all changed. Our season only started in August so we’re continuing through, until October at least. We’ll have the new challenge of dark mornings, the stove has already been lit at breakfast time. There’s no stone skimming championships this year, but you’re welcome to have a go yourself, and when the tide’s right you can even try from the garden. Travel, well after months at home every day out is an adventure, and lockdown easing permitting, we might manage some trips to other parts of Scotland. Birthdays, well that’s one thing that still goes on.

*”September Song” by Kurt Weill, and sung here by Lotte Lenya.

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Tread softly*

This year we’ve introduced a minimum stay policy. We’d thought about it pre lockdown and decided to go ahead. You might ask why? Isn’t it counterintuitive when we’ve already lost so many bookings?

Well no.

It’s part of a plan to encourage a slower kind of tourism. Taking time to stop and breathe and have a look around. Even while some of our local attractions remain closed there’s lots to keep you in the area. And when we have all spent the past three months at home, a new view can be invigorating.

We can advise you places to walk or cycle.

Check out our “Out and About” page for more information. It’ll be updated as easing progresses.

Never has the adage “Take only photos, leave only footprints” been more important; in the wake of Covid and the Climate emergency.

Who knows, you might even be inspired to create your masterpiece.

“Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light,The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light; I would spread the cloths under your feet; But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” WB Yeats

 

Your footprints might be muddier!

* “Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light,The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light; I would spread the cloths under your feet; But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” WB Yeats

Food, Producers

Bacon

Just before lockdown I made my first attempt at home curing. No pictures from that, but it was pretty good,  so I decided to have another go.

Just to make sure it wasn’t beginner’s luck.

I bought another pork loin from the Wee Pig Company who raise free range pigs on their croft at Kilmore. Their own bacon is a regular on our breakfast menu at Sheiling.

Anyway, as it was just the two of us we roasted half the loin and cured the rest.

I used this  recipe from the School of Artisan Food.

Cure: 50grams per kg of meat made up of

25grams soft dark brown sugar

25grams salt.

And that’s all there is to it!

We’ve been very impressed and plan on adding it to our breakfast menu.

I’ve also wondered about using maple syrup in the cure for a slightly different taste.

What’s most important is starting from a really good product, after that it’s just a matter of time.

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But all good things are worth waiting for.

Like our guests, and we’ll be here for you when you can come back.

Caroline x

Seil, Tourism

Summer

June has arrived and more lovely sunny weather. Late Spring and early summer are often the nicest times here on Seil. This year  I’ve had more time to look around me and appreciate the flowers and the birdsong.

Here are some of my favourite pictures from my daily walks.  You’ll have to imagine the birdsong

It hasn’t been sunny all the time,

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in fact it was a bit grey the day we crossed the Atlantic.

But whatever the weather there’s always something  to enjoy.

And we’re looking forward to sharing that enjoyment with our guests again.

Stay safe. x

Covid, Tourism

Making plans

How long is it now? Lockdown? I’ve lost count,  but we should be at least six weeks into our season. It’s not likely that we’ll be open very soon but we are making plans for when we can welcome visitors again.

We’ve always prided ourselves on our high standards of hygiene but we’re going to be extra vigilant.  Because of that we’ve decided on a few changes for the immediate post Covid period.

We’re only going to open one set of rooms at a time*.  So once we know when booking can start I will open up Nancy. We’re also going to leave a day between bookings. Unfortunately  we won’t be able to provide all the usual books and magazines. But we’ll be happy to email you any local information you need and I’ll put more information on here.

You can rest assured that you’ll still find a comfy bed, delicious breakfast and a warm welcome.

Just from slightly further away!

Looking forward to meeting guests again, meanwhile stay home and stay safe.

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Caroline, George and Bramble x

Food, Interiors

Ooops!

We ate all the cake! Actually, it was a pudding. And a delicious one.  So much so that it was all eaten up before I remembered to take a picture. It was called Torta de Laranja and if you’d like to have a go yourself you can find the recipe here,  it’s flour free so good if you’ve been having trouble finding that.

Strangely enough I didn’t find the recipe on a cookery page but posted in a gardening group I belong to!

 

Here are some pictures of a cake I made for Easter, I don’t often bake (or make puddings) just for the two of us – I’m too greedy and could easily polish off most of a cake on my own, so it’s too risky. But it’s nice to have a treat now and again.

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that was my last jar of Paradise Kitchen jam*

And there’s some of my favourite chocolate olive oil*** cake (it’s also flour free) and breakfast goodies here**

 

* Unfortunately Paradise Kitchen closed last year, but Kate has given George some jam making tips so that’s part of his lockdown homework.

 

Good luck with the recipes if you try them.

 

Caroline  x

 

**Giulia Giannetti photography

Sarah Beattie Food on Facebook

***Chocolate Olive Oil Cake, Nigella Lawson