Uncategorized

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

 

Days out from Sheiling BnB, Uncategorized

Finding a balance

If you’ve stayed with us you might recognise the image at the top of this blog. It’s the view from the sitting room of Flora, our upstairs suite.   For the past two days this room has been repurposed, I’ve been using it for yoga practice.

mat, block,  and the view from my mat

 

We have a great yoga class in Seil Hall twice a week, obviously it’s suspended for the moment so our teacher has been sending out weekly sequences for us to follow at home.  But I didn’t get my mat out until yesterday, despite all my best intentions.

I didn’t have the time…….

You would now be forgiven for saying “What????”    Because time is what we do have at the moment.

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Pfft! How can there be no time to play ball? 

 

That’s  where the balance,  or lack of it comes in.

You see,  although this is the  second official week of the lockdown,   according to my diary it’s day 15.  When all non essential social contact was discouraged two weeks ago,  most businesses here closed* and events were postponed.  This was disappointing and we had to cancel our prospective guests,  but our routine stayed pretty much the same.  Yes we had  fewer trips out for shopping  and none of them further than Oban,  but we walked Bramble,  worked on the garden (well George did),  and did the usual things around the house.

we’re lucky to have beautiful places to walk

 

I was trying to be busy  and felt bad  if I didn’t tick off the items on my mental to do list, even when some of those items were fun things.  So I decided I would get out my mat and spend a little time  being in the moment.  Concentrating on what I was doing,  instead of worrying what next.

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this is called comfy pose

And I’ve stopped feeling guilty about sitting reading my book** when it’s not bedtime.

Caroline x

 

Isle Yoga – private sessions and mini retreats available when normal service resumes

 

 

* apart from food and other essential services

** Middlemarch, I’ve been amazed how much of it could be written today.

Food, Tourism, Uncategorized

It’s not business as usual

It’s another lovely sunny day, it was the Spring equinox yesterday,  and a week tonight the clocks will go forward marking the start of British Summer Time. On Thursday I saw the first lamb locally – though I think it would have been an unexpectedly early arrival. It’s the time of year when I start thinking about welcoming our guests.

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Sorry not just now

But not this year.  Please follow government and NHS advice and don’t think about travelling, don’t ignore the restrictions. I appreciate that it might seem tempting to escape the cities in search of isolation in the Highlands but it will cause chaos in rural communities.

I’m often asked about life here on Seil,  “idyllic” is often mentioned, and yes, we are very lucky to live here, we have beautiful surroundings, clean air and a wonderful community.

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Spring bulbs, a “thank you” from friends a few years back, still going strong

But It’s going to be a hard time here too. So many people earn their living from tourism and hospitality and have seen their jobs disappear overnight. But you can help. Eventually the restrictions will be lifted and we’ll be able to welcome you back. In the meantime, if you can,  and I know many people have lost their jobs too, think about buying vouchers and mail-order items. That way there’s a better  chance they will still be  here when you can come back.

Everything* takes longer to get here, we pay extra for our online orders;  never mind the bridge we’re an island when it comes to delivery charges.  Don’t get me wrong,  we might complain about these things in the pub, but we do love living here.  But at the moment the pubs, as well as all the cafes, restaurants, museums and other attractions  are  closed.

We’re half an hour from  our local district hospital but our nearest  intensive care unit is nearly three hours away in Glasgow.  Our  health centre is great, but it’s designed to cope with our small population. They’ll happily treat emergencies among summer visitors but can’t cope with large increases in patients.

Our local producers and shops are working hard to maintain supplies and make sure we have food and access to it, but our supermarkets are struggling too. We love serving you our freshly baked bread, but flour has disappeared from the shelves – perhaps in a future post I can share how we’ve been utilising less common ingredients?

 

Here are a few Seil and Easdale businesses who are selling vouchers:

The Fisherman’s Kitchen

Sealife Adventures

Seafari

the Puffer Bar and Restaurant, Easdale

 

Wherever you are, stay safe and follow the guidelines.

very cute Bramble pic

 

Caroline, George and Bramble

*Not the actual post, we have a remarkable postal service, occasionally it seems as if things arrive even before I’ve sent them.

Producers, Tourism, Uncategorized

Sunshine in uncertain times

Gosh such a lot has happened since I wrote my Happy New Year post.   I was quiet on the blogging front as January is panto time on Seil and George and I were both involved.

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can you spot us?

February saw us planning the jobs we needed to do before Spring,  and an exciting new venture for us. Did you notice the badge? We were accepted into the Sawday’s family of Special Places to Stay.  We were also still busy with the drama club,  George producing and me acting in the Seil entry for our local drama festivals. We wondered whether we could sneak in a quick trip to Spain or Portugal for a bit of sunshine before we started welcoming visitors again.

we decided on some new suppliers and had some lovely photos taken*

And then March. Well I don’t need to tell you what happened then,  and over the past week our lives have changed drastically as things closed down and events were cancelled.  We had our first cancellation today and I’m not expecting to see many,  if any guests this year.

But, Seil is still beautiful, we have plenty of marmalade – though we might have to get inventive about what we spread it on as flour seems in short supply! Our lovely local community is pulling together to support those who are having to isolate and distance themselves. Our super local shop is setting up an order and delivery system and our farm shops and shellfish fishers have lots of delicious food for us. I finally got around to curing our own bacon, report to follow….

2020 batch

it’s that marmalade stack again 

Who knows what is going to happen over the next few months? It’s going to be very difficult for people in the tourism and hospitality sectors and for many, many other small businesses.  If you have them in your area, support them, buy a voucher, order a take away meal.     You’ll want them to be there when restrictions are lifted.

We hope to get all those little jobs done, improve the garden and be here for when you can travel again.

 

Keep safe,

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Bramble deep in contemplation

 

Caroline, George and Bramble

 

*photographs courtesy of Giulia Giannetti

 

Food, Plastic Waste, Tourism, Uncategorized

Looking forward, looking back

January,  named for two headed Janus,  who could look forward to the future while reviewing the past.  As we’ve headed into the “twenties” the papers have been full of reviews of the decade and thoughts for the future. It gave me quite a shock to realise that we’ve been in business for half of that time, so what has happened over the past five years?

We opened our doors at the end of July 2015 with just the one room, Nancy.

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“Nancy” as she looked then 

We continued the next summer, still with the one room but with a few cosmetic changes and plans for expansion.

bedroom 3

new lights and blanket for 2016

And then in September packed up the old kitchen ready for its demolition and replacement

Our cooking options shrank somewhat

and we became very familiar with these…

paint

By the end of July 2017 we were ready to reopen with Nancy

new chair and  bedside tables

 

being joined by Flora

Flora, our suite with private bathroom and sitting room

Over the next couple of years we’ve updated, introducing more Welsh textiles to Nancy; the room is named for my Welsh  mother.

Developed our baking reportoires..

Moved to larger less wasteful toiletries

Lomond Soap

and continued having fun

toast glasses

hosting lots of lovely guests

 

Some things never change, January is still the month for these

Seville oranges

resulting in lots of this

marmalade

2018 vintage

2020 batch

and the 2020 batch

Which I think gets better every year.

So looking ahead over the next couple of months we’ll be digging out those paintbrushes to get everything looking fresh and lovely to begin welcoming you again.

Happy New Year

Caroline, George and Bramble xxx

Looking both ways up and down the Sound

Family history, Interiors

Fabric of Life

If you’ve stayed with us here at Sheiling you’ll probably have noticed lots of different fabrics.

I like to use tablecloths and cloth napkins at breakfast.

My table linens drawer

We’ve “inherited” lots from our families, I’ve used the quotation marks because they aren’ t a valuable inheritance, not in monetary terms anyway. Others were presents, people know I love dressing a table.

a vintage lawn tray cloth

Fabric is also a way of introducing colour and pattern, our walls are plain and painted in cool colours, cushions and throws add warmth; they tell a story too. Downstairs in Nancy the cushions and throws are Welsh, upstairs in Flora, Scottish tartans.

Some are purely decorative, some made by local craftspeople, others came from the students on the textiles course at Heriot Watt University in Galashiels. They had an exhibition each year in the Textile Tower House Hawick, (where Bramble was born, she’s a Teri terrier!). One was woven on the other side of the world.

And in the places you don’t see?

Even the booking diary has a vintage fabric print!

"Strawberry Thief" furnishing fabric by William Morris - stylised birds, fruit and flowers.

Fabrics featured are vintage, Melin Tregwynt, Anta, “Clyde” by Audrey Logan, FunMakes Good, HazelMadeIt felts, Timorous Beasties and Hatti Pattisson.

Caroline.