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.

Food, Uncategorized

Lemon Curd

Lots of guests have asked George for the recipe for his lemon curd, (and who can blame them, it’s delicious). We didn’t have a copy written down but as promised here it is:

Ingredients

4 lemons

50g unsalted butter

100g Caster sugar

4 free range eggs

Method

Squeeze the juice of the 4 lemons.

Melt the butter in a dish over a pan of simmering water.

Add the lemon juice and sugar and stir until dissolved.

Beat the eggs and add them to the mixture in the pan – slowly. Keep stirring the mixture as you add the eggs.

Once the beaten eggs are fully incorporated, leave the bowl over the pan of hot water and stir occasionally. After about 20 minutes the mixture will thicken.

While you are waiting for this sterilise your jars in the oven at

120 degrees Centigrade for 10 minutes.

Once the mixture has thickened pour it into your jars and seal them. The curd will keep in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or more.*

You can also use a mixture of lemons and limes.

*if you can resist it!

Days out from Sheiling BnB, Tourism

A little spot of R’n’R

The hot sunny summer may have left with our guests but we enjoyed our afternoon off visiting Maolachy’s garden in the glen above Kilmelford.

It’s a lovely spot with winding paths, steps, and a burn. The young at heart can enjoy a game of Pooh Sticks at one of the bridges, with a bucket of twigs waiting for their players. The actual young can enjoy a treasure trail around the garden, I spotted some of the treasure but was pretty sure I was too old to claim it.

 

It’s not  garden full of showy specimen plants,  but  as the owner says “…By not struggling to grow tender or late species we take much pleasure from those that are happy to grow here”.

Isn’t that a great philosophy?

 

If you’re in the area there’s also Arduaine garden , and for food and drink Room at the Top above Kilmelford store and the Bistro at Loch Melfort hotel , both dog friendly.

Days out from Sheiling BnB, History, Tourism

Taking time out for fun

We’ve had a pretty busy start to the 2019 season but it hasn’t been all work and no play. A couple of weeks ago we were lucky to join a trip out to Eileach an Naoimh one of the Garvellachs an archipelago in the firth of Lorne to the south west of Seil.

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The weather has been kind to us this month and we had a glorious day for our trip, just as well as we had to make what is known as a “hard landing” from our Seafari RIB ! Everyone made it onto the island even though there was a bit of scrambling over the rocks before we could walk to the first of the ancient sites on the island.

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I develop walking pole envy in this type of situation

 

Eileach an Naoimh is the site of the oldest monastery buildings in Scotland, built in about  542. There are also very well preserved beehive cells, thought to have been occupied by the monks.

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inside a beehive cell

The island is linked to St Brendon, St Columba and a grave high above the monastery is said to be that of Eithne, mother of Columba.

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Eithne’s grave

 

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looking down at the monastery site from Eithne’s  grave

We climbed to the trig point and up to the light beacon,  I had a paddle in the inlet which the monks used as a harbour, and we enjoyed a picnic looking out over the sea. We tried to walk around the coast to view the natural arches but even the most intrepid of our group (not me) failed to quite reach them.

 

Luckily for us all our skipper took us past them on our return journey

 

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A beautiful day out, if you get the chance to visit you should.

Sorry, can’t guarantee the sunshine. X

Food, Tourism, Uncategorized

Taking a breath(er)

We’ve had a very busy summer, met lots of lovely guests,

thank you cards and notes from our guest book

 

 

cooked many breakfast and baked a whole lot of cake.

 

 

Now it’s time to take a breath. The season isn’t quite over there are still guests to greet but change is in the air.  Autumn activities are starting on the island, regular classes resuming and the morning walk changes colour every day. We’ve enjoyed a few days of September sunshine (though not today)

 

It’s time to celebrate birthdays, meet up with friends and family, become tourists ourselves. It’s also time for work, maintenance and redecoration where needed. We will be open on request over the Autumn and Winter period and there’s still lots to enjoy, perhaps Oban Winter Festival in November? The weather may get colder (and wetter) but you’ll get a warm welcome at Sheiling.

Caroline x

 

Uncategorized

Spreading the love

This morning I posted a photo of breakfast, my breakfast; guest plates go straight out while they’re hot.

One of my croissants and some jam from the Puffer on Easdale island

croissant and puffer jam

But we are spoiled for choice here, a regular on the breakfast table, and served this afternoon with scones,  is this scrumptious raspberry jam made by Paradise Kitchen.

 

George makes our lemon curd and marmalade but it’s great having all these wonderful producers right on our doorstep.

I just have to make sure I don’t get confused about which jar I pick up.

redonion marmalade

 

Days out from Sheiling BnB, Food, Plastic Waste, Uncategorized

No washday blues….

Once  again we had blue skies and sunshine on Monday. This time our day out was not entirely leisure related, we were heading down to Cardross to pick up our bathroom supplies from the lovely Lomond Soap Company,  but more of that later.

Enroute we had a coffee at our regular haunt Brambles,  Inveraray.  The loch was looking particularly beautiful and we had a quick walk around the shops too.

 

Refreshed we continued on to Cardross to pick up shower gel, hand wash and lotion from Corrie at Lomond Soap. I’d been searching for a supplier for a while and researched the company after using their products in a cafe.  All products are palm oil and animal fat free, they don’t dry out your skin and smell yummy too, I chose Citrus and  Rosemary for the Sheiling bathrooms. They will be available in refillable large dispensers to avoid the plastic waste from lots of little bottles.

 

As well as her range of soaps, gels and lotions Corrie has some lovely home and gift products in her shop. It’s on the main street in Cardross and well worth a stop if you’re in the area.

Before heading home we called in to the larger town of Helensburgh, home to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House, as well as a good range of shops and cafes. We had a late lunch at Sugar Boat where I’d first been impressed by Lomond Soap. It’s a stylish , friendly cafe/bistro which is also dog friendly in the bar area.

Today it’s raining, but that doesn’t matter as I’ve got some work to do…….

soap