Today marks the first meteorological day of Summer - a time I'm sure many thought would never come! Though we aren't quite enjoying the tropic weather so many of us desire, Scotland seems to have finally settled into a comfortable medium with more than enough sunshine to keep us content and the occasional rain shower to keep the flora a nice crisp green.
With the celebration of out 40th Anniversary yesterday, we've been hoping for a few days of proper sunshine to help celebrate in style, though it would seem the weather has different plans!
Today: Things looking to be a bit dull with overcast throughout the day and some heavy rain in the evening
Monday: Rain will continue to fall until late afternoon with things drying up in the evening.
Tuesday: Today looks to be dry for the best part of the day with some light shower and sunny intervals late afternoon
Wednesday: Rain showers will dominate the day with occasional bursts of sunshine in the afternoon.
Thursday: After a dry and bright morning, some showers are due in the later part of the evening
Friday: Light rain showers and periodic sunshine throughout.
Saturday: Things look to be mainly unchanged for the end of the week, though temperatures climb back up past 20°C mid afternoon.
For those coming to visit the West Coast this week, a bit of Castle spotting may be an interesting way to make the most of your trip to accommodate the ever-changing weather.
Scotland's West Coast is littered with castles on both the main land and many of the Island's, and while some of them only stand as unsheltered ruins, a few such as Duart Castle and Castle Stalker offer an escape from the rain
As I sit here this evening it would have been a very different picture 40 years ago.
On 31st May 1974 Robin and Sheena Buchanan-Smith officially opened Eriska as a hotel. On one side 40 years must seem a lifetime ago and on another it seems to have flown by. Over that time we have been lucky enough to have worked with some wonderful team members who have helped make Eriska what it is today and we have been fortunate enough that so many have crossed our wee rickety bridge to place their trust in us to deliver a relaxing experience.
However the greatest achievement for us as a family is the fact that even after 40 years we are still here and still operating and running Eriska, although sometimes it feels a bit backwards in that Eriska really runs us and operates us! My father always used to highlight how difficult it was to welcome guests who became friends and how challenging it was to continually evolve and change to meet their needs and demands but in reality the two are intrinsically linked in that Eriska has always been and for as long as we remain involved- always will be- driven to evolve by our guests and the team we work with.
So what has changed over the last 40 years- well we must seem like an oasis of calm this evening compared to 40 years ago- on this night back in 1974 my parents had just held an opening reception for over 100 of the great and good of the area and those who had supported them on the journey from an empty old house back in July 1973 to a vibrant building in May 1974. The official opening was by Tom Flemming and my mother missed it as she was carving Smoked Salmon in the kitchen.
They then went on to serve dinner for a full house plus some gluttons for punishment non residents who stayed on form the lunchtime reception. It was not only the hotels first night but also the team and more importantly my parents first night.
The tight schedule had left no time for a dry run or practice- they were still painting the diningroom at lunchtime before service and my fathers perfection stopped us having wet paint signs visible (history will now tell if anyone left the reception with more of a mark than they had anticipated!) so when the full diningroom, on a hot summers evening were all waiting for the main course it could be excused that my father became slightly distraught with his wee hostess trolley, old fashioned bone handled carving knife and small pheasants to carve and a baying crowd of hungry visitors. I have never been sure how long tables waited or how generous the portion sizes were but as far as I have been told everybody remembers the evening as ground breaking, the team learnt a great deal, my father never took to carving pheasant out of choice and Eriska was reborn and in truth we have tried never to look back except to reflect on the journey we have taken and look forward on the road ahead.
The most amazing thing is that a young lady form Oban with no professional cooking experience and a Church of Scotland Minister from St Andrews managed to bind a hotel and island and team together to look after the guests with simple hospitality and peace and quiet. The good news is that little has changed today and these three ingredients remain in our bowl and remain at our core and will for the next 40 years.
Happy Birthday Eriska!
Midge season is here! Run inside, lock your doors and close the windows: Scotland has been overrun with bloodsucking beasties.
This last week has been a pleasant surprise. After forecasts of frequent showers and far more grey cloud than we would care for, we had resigned ourselves to the idea that we would be facing another dull week of weather. Yet the sun became a prominent feature towards the weeks end, much to the delight of our guests and - unfortunately - the local midge population who quickly gathered in swarms around the Island.
With the rain keeping these pesky flies at bay, we're sitting on the fence this week unsure to hope for more sunshine or more rain (to give us a break from their troublesome bites.
Today: Light rain showers to persist throughout the day
Monday: Another showery day ahead, with some peaks of sunshine in the afternoon
Tuesday: Looks to be mostly unchanged, with more sunny intervals and rain showers
Wednesday: Today will remain mostly dry, with light winds accompanying. Rain Showers are likely to fall briefly in the late afternoon
Thursday: More dry weather ahead, though moderate gusts of wind may add a chill to the otherwise mild day.
Friday: Temperatures climbing to a comfortable 19°C today, though the sun is unlikely to make an appearance through thick white clouds
Saturday: The week looks to end on a mild note, with only brief showers predicted throughout the day.
For those coming to visit this week, an anti-bug spray may be worth the investment to save yourselves the suffering of Scotland's most irksome residents while enjoying the moderately dry week ahead. Though for any wishing to stay indoors we still have plenty to keep you occupied with our vast leisure facility.
For our keen wildlife spotters, you may be lucky to catch a glimpse of a seil or two along the stoney shores, as they lounge out on some of the warmer days.
This Monday marked the beginning of National Vegetarian Week – seven full days of living meat free while exploring the vivacious vegetarian lifestyle.
Though to some this may sound like their worst nightmare, Nation Vegetarian Week allows for the discovery of new styles and flavours that will delight your palette, as well as promote the use of vegetarian products and a healthy lifestyle.
Our chef, Ross Stovold, is known for his fondness of fresh local produce and having recently aided in the reintroduction of use of the garden, Eriska is now growing a selection of vegetables and herbs that are used daily in our fine-dining restaurant.
Vegetarian dishes can be found on our menu each evening and are always a popular choice with our guests. Though their great taste and impressive presentation would suggest otherwise, the dishes are quite simple to make! Why not try to cook one of our favourite of Ross's Veggie dishes for yourself?
Poached Duck Egg, Braised Leek, Hazelnut and Goats Curd
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 Large Maris Piper Potatoes
125ml Double Cream
30ml Good Quality Rapeseed Oil
4 Duck Eggs
2 Large Leeks
100g Unsalted Butter
50g While Hazelnut
1 Tub Goat’s Curd or good quality Goat's Cheese
1. Bake the potatoes at 200°C for 1.5 hours until tender in the middle.
2. Scoop out the flesh of the potatoes and pass through a potato ricer into a clean pan over medium heat. Stir continuously, gradually adding the cream and rapeseed oil until fully mixed. Season to taste and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Toast the hazelnuts at 170°C for 10 minutes. Roughly chop leaving pieces of varying size for a nice texture.
4. Slice the leeks into 1cm rounds and wash
5. In a flat pan, bring 150ml water and 100g butter to a boil. Lightly season and add sliced leeks. Braise for 8 minutes or until tender.
6. Strain the leeks, keeping half the cooking liquor
1. Poach the duck eggs for 4 minutes.
2. Warm up the potato mousse, stirring occasionally
3. Warm up the leeks in retained cooking liquor
4. Spoon the mousse into the middle of the plates and arrange the leeks on top of the mousse.
5. Sprinkle hazelnut over the top before adding the duck egg in the middle
6. Spoon the goat's curd evenly around the dish and serve!
Chef's Tip: Wild Garlic will compliment this dish perfectly if you're lucky enough to find some. Simply chop in roughly and fold through the potato mousse.
It seems the West Coast of Scotland are getting the worst of it this week; facing continuous downpours and significant temperature drops while our English counterparts enjoy clear blue skies and summer heats.
Though here in the Highlands we expect a slightly cooler and wetter climate, we find ourselves worrying that our summer may already be over! Though the current forecast for the week ahead shows a slight promise of improvement.
Today: With the met office predicting difficult driving conditions due to persistent heavy rain fall, there isn't much to be hopeful for. However, the rain is expected to turn more showery as the day progresses.
Monday: Rain showers and brief sunny intervals follow on from a fairly dry morning, with temperatures climbing back up to the comfortable teens.
Tuesday: Things look to dry up today, with the rain seemingly taking a bit of a break and leaving us with a nice dry day with frequent bursts of sunshine.
Wednesday: The rain returns with a vengeance today, with heavy showers predicted to last through the morning and best of the afternoon. Though things may dry up in the evening.
Thursday: White clouds to dominate for the duration of the day, with things looking to remain dry.
Friday: More rain showers throughout with the odd sunny spell to brighten up the day
Saturday: The forecast looks to be mainly unchanged, with more showers ending the week.
So it looks like our wish for a long and warm summer has fallen on deaf ears, with only one day this week promising us a glimpse of sunshine. Though, of course, we here at Eriska are always prepared with a full stock of wellies and umbrellas to aid our guests in their ventures outside.
For those coming our way this week: do not fret! There are still plenty of things to do on and around the Island from the comfort of the indoors. Now would be a perfect time to tour the nearby distilleries and explore the different whiskeys on offer in celebration of Homecoming Scotland's Whisky Month.
Long has it been that the man of the household went to work to support the family and put food on the table while the mother stayed home to look after the children; in modern society the roles are a lot more equally balanced with dad’s job as a parent becoming a lot more hands on. But regardless of their parenting style, all fathers deserve to be appreciated.
It’s come to that time of year again when we find ourselves scratching our heads trying to think of the perfect gift to make them smile and show our thanks for a job well done. Though with just about one month to go until Father’s Day, there’s more than enough time to plan the perfect surprise that you can enjoy together.
A day out for a round of two of golf is a great way to have fun with your dad. Some alone time on the green with a little friendly competition gives ample opportunity to strengthen your bond.
A day out at sea can make for a great adventure. Embark out to the Western Isles and witness the wonders of Scotland from the sea, spot the wide array of sea birds and animals that inhabit the waters or hunt the many historic castle that line the coasts.
Clay Pigeon Shooting
Clay pigeon shooting makes for the perfect father-son day out. With guns in hand and adrenaline flowing you'll find yourselves enjoying an unforgettable experience that you can always remember together.
Men’s Spa Treatments
Our spa offer a selection of men-specific treatments that will allow your father to relax and release all the stress and tension built-up over the years from raising you! (only joking). Though a massage could do a wonder of good to help wind down after the days festivities.
Finishing the day off with a nice meal can be the cherry on top to a perfect day. Discuss the highlights of your day and reminisce about old ones over a delicious meal and a glass of whisky can leave you feeling closer than ever.
It's not about what you get - it's about what you do. Though your Dad will appreciate a well-thought of gift, nothing beats a bit of quality time.
The weather of the West Coast of Scotland this week has been a tad unpredictable with continously alternating rain showers and sunny intervals - leaving us all a little frustrated as we find ourselves unprepaired for the day ahead (Though we can't deny it's doing wonders for the Island's flora)
Though it would seem that this little predicament of ours is likely to continue, with weather reports remaining unhelpfully vague.
Today: Sunshine throughout the morning with frequent showers in the afternoon
Monday: Expect light showers for the best part of the day, with patches of sunshine throughout.
Tuesday: Following a misty morning things are looking to clear up leaving us with lots of sunshine in the morning and afternoon.
Wednesday: Likely to be cloudy for the most of the morning, with rain showers commencing throughout the afternoon.
Thursday: A mixture of light and heavy rain expected to domintate the day.
Friday: Things look to dry up a little, with rain forecast only for the later part of the evening.
Saturday: The weeks forecast ends on a rather vague note with more rain and sunshine predicted throughout.
With just over twenty days until the first (meteorological) day of summer we certainly hope that the rain subsides to allow our guests the delights of enjoying their lunches and afternoon tea in the sunshine with a nice glass of Pimms at hand.
Though even these tedious drizzles cannot stop us from making full use of the Island's facilties. Clay Pigeon Shooting in particular has proven to be popular amongst Eriska's residents this week and is something we would definately recommend it to those coming to visit us over the coming season.
As well as the picturesque setting and rich historic significance, the West Coast of Scotland has always been a popular location for its Seafood.
Being mostly comprised of small fishing towns that border with the Atlantic, it has established itself as a worldwide supplier of great quality fish and shellfish and many would, therefore, pinpoint it as one of the best seafood locations in the UK.
With the privilege of having such an immense selection at our doorstep, our Head Chef Ross works closely with many local suppliers to bring the same level of freshness and quality through to our Fine Dining Restaurant.
The Isle of Mull is the second largest of the Scottish Isles on the West Coast of Scotland and in recent years it has become well established for wildlife spotting with many rare birds and animals (such as the white-tailed sea eagle) visiting their shores.
As well as their famous Isle of Mull Cheddar – which is a favourite choice from our Farm house Cheese Trolley – Ross also chooses Scallops from a company based near Tobermory, which was established as a fishing town in the 18th Century and labeled Scotland’s most “attractive harbor” due to its row of brightly painted buildings on the sea front.
South Shian is located about 1 mile from Eriska and is home to a branch of one of Scotland's leading aquaculture companies. Scottish Sea Farms have supplied Eriska with the finest quality salmon, farmed in nearby loch’s including Loch Creran which engulfs Eriska’s Eastern Coast and where we also happen to get our supply of Oysters.
Known by many as the destination of the Jacobite Train (or Hogwarts Express) from Fort William over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct and through some of the most scenic parts of the Highlands, Mallaig is a well-defined fishing-town on Scotland’s West Coast.
For years Eriska have chosen the finest and freshest fish, crustaceans and clams from Mallaig’s docks and to this day still favour their local fisheries to supply the kitchen with most of their seafood including halibut, mussels and langoustine.
With forecasts of thick grey cloud and frequent showers, the weather last week left little to be desired to the residents of the West Coast. However, we found ourselves pleasantly surprised more than once when the sun fought through to give us the sunshine that we so desperately crave.
With the summer months creeping even closer we're hoping for a few more weeks of beach weather over the coming season, though looking ahead it appears that may be a little too optimistic.
Today: A mixture of heavy and light rain throughout
Monday: A dry start to the day with rain showers appearing early afternoon and continuing for the duratin of the day
Tuesday: Looks to be mostly dry with sporadic rain showers and some sunny intervals
Wednesday: Heavy rain to dominate most of the morning and afternoon, with things drying up in the evening
Thursday: Following a dry night, rain is predicted to make a reapperance with some more sunny intervals.
Friday: Looks to be mainly unchanged with more showers or rain and periodic bursts of sunshine
Saturday: Rain showers anticipated to calm down and turn into a light drizzle that with continue throughout the best part of the day. Expect some infrequent sunshine.
It doesn't seem the best of news for those working up the hill on the installation of our two new hilltop reserves this week, with an abundance of rain to slow them down.
If you're in the area you may be lucky to witness the progress first hand as you explore the Island (though perhaps grab a pair of wellies and an umbrella from the main house first!) and get your first experience our new self-catering reserves.
It's been another pleasant week here at Scotland's West Coast, with frequent bursts of sunshine, warm temperatures and soft breezes bringing the streets of Oban to full life once again.
The days are getting longer and longer, allowing us more time down at the beach before witnessing the delights of a fantastic scottish sunset. With any luck we'll enjoy this weather for weeks to come.
Today: Starting off cloudy, with sunny intervals throughout the morning. Some light showers are expected from mid afternoon and will continue periodically through the evening.
Monday: Thick white cloud will remain for the entirety of the day, though things are expected to remain dry.
Tuesday: Looks to be another dry and cloudy day, with a brief patch of rain in the early evening.
Wednesday: Things predicted to turn a little overcast today causing a bit of an icy chill.
Thursday: More thick cloud to dominate, with moderate winds to accompany
Friday: Expected to remain unchanged
Saturday: The week is expected to end on a bit of a dull note, with periodic showers of rain throughout. Though some bursts of sunshine finally peak through the thick cloud.
It seems like the sun is taking a break this coming week, hiding behind an abundance of cloud and putting a hold on trips to the beach. But with the weather looking to remain mostly dry, there are plenty of other activities awaiting.
Visitors to the hotel this week may want to venture out for a spot of croquet on the lawn so you're never too far away if rain does decide to fall.
For those looking to explore all of the Eriska's wonders you may be lucky to catch a glimpse of the instillation of our first Hilltop Reserve which we're hoping to have ready for decorating by the end of next week.