Thursday, November 23, 2006
The back of the dining room (on the other side of the windows is where us staff peer in and watch people eat). The main kitchen is to the right of those windows in back, and the small kitchen for coffee and stuff is to the left in back.
This is in the "lounge"; the first part of the restaurant after you enter from the hallway (which is on the right in this picture). The table in the bay window is table 9, where the staff tend to have our meals and hang about when the place is closed. The heater is actually under the window seat by the table so I like to sit on the heater on one end with my feet stretched out over the heater on the other end.
The front of the dining room (the lounge is to the right of here), showing the conservatory.
Here's our lovely steep spiral staircase (original, i.e. 16th century according to everything I've read). It presents quite a challenge to the drunken and elderly. It's almost like a ladder instead of a stair. And no it's not slanty; I was when I took this picture I guess. Oh, and the other doors are to the toilets. The view here is from the front door, so the bar is to the left and the restaurant is to the right.
A darkish picture of the other end of the lounge, showing the fireplace that divides it from the dining room (and another moose head - there's a hunting and fishing theme to the place as you may have gathered).
Few more pictures to come in another post.
Friday, November 17, 2006
It's raining today - a really cold, sloppy sort of rain. It's been raining pretty much straight since Monday or maybe even Sunday. The temperature has gone down this week so that it's often just around or above freezing overnight and around 8 or so degrees during the day. It's been snowing on the higher hills and so the mountains around the inn are now topped with snow, as you can sort of see in this picture that I took of the moutain straight across the loch just at sunset.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Let's start with around the Coylet Inn and Lock Eck, since that's where I am now. I'll leave my journeys in Edinburgh (seems so long ago now) for later.
Here's the view of Loch Eck, looking southward on the road, from room 3 of the inn. I took this while cleaning the room because it shows the mists rising off the mountain that I see pretty much every day that it's not "pissing" rain. And yes, those are small palm trees you're seeing.
I took this one the day I went to Glagow. It was so foggy it looked as though the world ended a dozen feet or so out into the loch. Amazing.
Here's a nice one of Loch Eck that I took from a walk on what I think is Stroncullin Hill, about 1-2km south of the Coylet.
An unfortunately dark picture of the stream at Puck's Glen. There's also loads of little streams along the roadside like this - they drain under the road and where the culverts are no grass grows on top because they're covered with stone so I have to jump over them (they're sunken compared to the surrounding grassy areas) when I'm running on the shoulder of the road.
These trees actually scare me. I first saw them at Benmore Botanic Gardens and I didn't have my camera with me and the only label on them was Latin and it was something like Aracinthea aracina or whatever. This specimen I spied on my walk along the road back from Puck's Glen. It appears to be dying and good riddance. What frightens me is how thick the branches are and the needles - the needles are sort of succulent and it just looks like the thing is waiting to reach out and grab you. Please note that I have never before in my life been frightened of a tree.
This is the trickiest part of my usual jog, which I do going southward on the road. The shoulder here is narrow on both sides. I should be jogging on the right hand side because I'm going northward but because of that rock face I always cross the road and run on the grassy part next to the short stone wall with my back to oncoming traffic but checking behind me all the time for cars. If one comes from behind me I stop running and shimmy up to the wall ready to jump into the loch if need be.
Finally, some poor photos of my room for anyone who's really curious. I should post some interior photos of the hotel but I haven't really taken any. That's for another day I guess. Or you could check out this website on the ghost investigators who were here some time last year and who took some interior photos of very weird things. And some video which I'm unable to hear since I have no speakers. I'll probably write some more on the ghosty stuff another time, but not tonight since I'm tired after all this.
Here's my bed and door (these were taken the day I moved in by the way so my stuff is all over the place)
The other side of my room, showing window, chair, dresser, and the edge of the sink. Beside the sink the roof comes in and there is a cot stored there that I am using for a table but the plan is to get some shelves to put in its place.
Finally, the view of the hillside that comes up sharply beyond my window.
Brownie points to anyone who recognizes where I took the post title from.
It's been a quiet week business-wise. November is a dead month at the hotel, so I'm told, until December when it gets busy again. Other than the odd day when we had steady business - like lunch on Wednesday, which I attribute to it being sunny so people decided to leave their homes and have food - it's been very quiet. So quiet that us staff have been occupying ourselves with extra tasks or by reading, writing, playing cards, and knitting. I taught Karen, the manager, how to knit on Thursday afternoon and she has become addicted and is well on her way to making a scarf as tall as her.
We've also started doing things like cleaning and organizing closets and doing work outside. I voluntarily swept and bagged leaves the Saturday before last because it was sunny out and I wanted to get outside and get some exercise, and we had more people working at lunch time than we needed. But by this weekend they had accumulated again, and Karen asked me to do that again plus haul wood for the fireplaces. I was quite happy to as the weather was nice and it meant getting outside instead of sitting around inside (we had four people working out front for lunch which was way more than we needed). So I swept the leaves and pine needles from the "car park" and put them in "bin bags", then I used the wheel barrow to haul wood from the woodshed up to the door by the bar where I stacked up as much of it as I could, then I swept some more and filled up the coal buckets. That pretty much took me 4 hours.
And if I had a dime for every time someone told me that I was silly to be sweeping up leaves as it was a losing battle... well, I'd have about 90 cents, but the point is I was told by every customer who walked by me, and every workman that stopped in front of the place. The attitude about getting rid of leaves is entirely different over here than it is in Canada. In Canada, if a business left them to rot on the ground and clog up the drains and totally cover the pavement, it would be considered sloppy. The same with not raking up all your leaves from your yard - the neighbours would talk about you just like if you didn't cut your grass. Over here, every one seems to be of the viewpoint that the trees have an infinite supply of leaves and that to gather them up is senseless because there will be more on the ground later. Well, there will be more, but soon the trees will be out of leaves and the ones I bagged up won't be blowing around anymore. And it's all about appearances, since we are running a hotel.
One man from British Telecom accounts for about 30 cents of the money that I would have as he talked to me for about 15 minutes on various topics but always coming back to the fact that I was wasting my time. He said I should have work gloves and that he didn't like to see a woman do hard work. I had about 3 comments on the tip of my tongue in response to that which I didn't give - the first one was that he probably goes home and sits down on the couch while his wife does all the cooking and laundry and cleaning. The second was that if you wanted a hard job done right you were probably better off to get a woman to do it as it would be done right and she wouldn't complain about it like a man (I mean look at that man - he was complaining for me doing work - imagine the complaints if he had to do it himself). And I can't remember the third one, but maybe there wasn't any.
Anyway, all those people who told me that I was wasting my time seemed to forget that I was getting paid to sweep those leaves.
The weather has been pretty mild really, as evidenced by me cleaning up leaves in the first week of November and there still being more leaves on the trees. It's about 11 degrees out today. I still have not yet figured out how to dress for the weather entirely. I went down to Puck's Glen on Thursday via the forest road that is halfway up the mountain and runs roughly parallel to the main road. I dressed in far too many layers for the weather, but I was dressed according to what I saw other people doing - wearing big coats and winter hats. Also because I was going up the mountain I figured it would be colder up there and windy. So I put on a tank top, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a wool sweater and a puffy vest, and I had a hat and gloves in my bag. The climb up the mountain made me feel too warm for the vest and then it was sunny on the forest road so I certainly didn't need it. By the time I got to Puck's Glen I had stashed my vest in a bush to collect on my way back and had my sweater tied around my waist. I have learned my lesson - the Scots overdress for the weather - they've been wearing winter hats all week and it's been 3 to 15 degrees. So I'm just going to dress for what I think I should wear.
Puck's Glen itself was a really cool walk. I came up on it at the top of the glen which is sort of like a gorge with a rocky stream running down through it. The trail is along the bank of the stream and there is cliffs on either side. Along much of the cliffs there is moss growing and water dripping down them in drops from the trees and grass growing on the tops. It's quite pretty as each droplet catches the sunlight at different points while it falls so the cliffside is sparkling. The drops make small sounds that you can just hear over the sound of the water in the stream rushing over the rocks.
Now that Daylight Savings Time has ended it's getting dark very early in the day. The sunrise time is about 7:30am and the sunset time is about 4:30pm. If I work 8am-4pm I basically have only an hour after work to get outside and back before it gets dark. By 5:30pm it's completely black out. I asked how dark it would be by the shortest day of the year and I was told it would be dark by 3:30-4pm. Also, given the position of a mountain to the south of the Coylet the sun is blocked from view for all but a few hours at midday. By the solstice it will be so low that we probably won't be able to see the sun directly for very long. I will have to take walks down the road to visit the sun.
I had today and yesterday off as the hotel is now closed for Mondays and Tuesdays until the Christmas season. I slept in a bit yesterday then went into Dunoon to take care of some banking and get some contact lens solution which is really expensive and hard to find in Dunoon. I eventually went to an optician and the woman there told me that people are generally given solution when they purchase soft lenses so I guess that's why there's not so much of a demand for it to be stocked in drug stores.
Spent yesterday evening once it got dark up at the Coylet-owned caravan (mobile home) where Matt lives at the moment watching Ryan Reynolds movies with him and Pip. There was 3 on the DVD set which is two more than I was aware that Ryan Reynolds had made. Today the three of us took the Coylet van and went for a drive around the Cowal Peninsula, down to Colatraive and then up to Strachur and around to Ardentinny and back to Loch Eck. It was a very pleasant drive as the scenery is splendid and it was good to get a sense of the area around where I'm staying.
It's 5:30pm and once again pitch-black out. I think I'm going to make so tea, grab some of my McVittie's Hob-Nob cookies that I bought in town (they're crispy oat digestive cookies - I love them) and sit down in one of the restaurant windows over the heater and read my book. I'm reading Catch-22 at the moment, just started it really. It's bizarre but in an interesting way, though still not really sure what to make of it.