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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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, 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

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