The 14th June marks National Cucumber Day: a day for foodies all over to appreciate thisrefreshing fruit (yes cucumber, like tomato, is actually a fruit). Though we suspect the more skeptical among us would perhaps shake their heads in disbelief to the existence of such a day, cucumber – which comes from the same botanic family as melon – has a variety of day-to-day uses.
As well as a tasty additive to many salads, cucumbers are famously used for eyes in facials; with claims that its high water and vitamin content helps revive tired eyes! Its popularity in drinks and cocktails has also boomed in recent years, and though it may not be one of the first things you'd think to use in a cocktail, its clean flavour makes an excellent addition to summer beverages.
At Eriska cucumber has become a favourite choice for many of our guests, mainly with Hendrick's gin, and so to help everyone celebrate the day in style we have listed some of the most requested beverages featuring a dash of cucumber for you all to try (including our new non-alcoholic Eriska Fizz)
Hendricks and Tonic
For a delightfully refreshing tipple, serve Hendricks Gin over ice, top up with tonic and garnish with a slice of cucumber to fully appreciate the infusion of rose petal and cucumber in this most unusual gin.
50 ml Hendrick's Gin
125 ml Tonic Water
2 slices of cucumber
Refreshing Martini with a hint of cucumber!
50ml Hendricks Gin
5ml Dry Vermouth
To Prepare: Add ingredients to cocktail shaker and shake over plenty of ice. Strain into a Martini Glass.
Garnish with a cucumber ball in place of the traditional olive.
Chill out on a warm day with a refreshing mix of cucumber, elderflower and lemon.
25ml elderflower cordial
25ml lemon juice
2” cucumber; Skin and seeds removed
To Prepare: Remove the skin from the outside of the piece of cucumber, and the flavourless, watery seeds from the center. Roughly chop the piece into a few smaller pieces (to help it break down). Add this to a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice and elderflower cordial, and mash the cucumber a little with a muddler or flat end of a bar spoon. Add plenty of ice to the shaker and SHAKE HARD to squeeze the flavour out of the cucumber. Strain the mix into a tall glass filled with ice and top up with soda water to finish. For a more visually appealing drink use a tea strainer to strain and ensure no little pieces of lemon or cucumber make it into the glass.
NB Also works fantastically with 50ml of gin for those seeking a little more bite...
Co-Written with Keith McGregor, Duty Manager
Photos by Glen Montgomery, F&B Manager
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!
It’s come to that time of year when the weather is starting to pick up, the schools are finishing up for the summer and tourists are flooding into cities all around the world.
Short summer breaks are just what you need to escape the monotony of every-day life. For those planning on joining us at the West Coast this summer, here's some activities on and around Eriska to help plan the perfect getaway itinerary:
Thing to do on the Island
The main house is set in the centre of the island and is surrounded by an abundance of flora and wildlife wherein lies a selection of nature paths for our guests to explore. From all points of the island there are amazing views to be witnessed, and with each walk varying in length both casual walkers and experienced hikers have the chance to behold the wonders of the Island.
For those wishing to really take advantage of the Island experience, we offer a wide range of activities so that there’s always something for everyone: relax and regenerate at our stables spa, complete with swimming pool, sauna and hot tub for an escape of pure luxury; test your skill on our 9-hole golf course and driving range, or build up a sweat in our indoor sport facility with a spot of tennis, badminton, football and more.
Our 300 acre island is home to more than just the estate; many birds and animals reside in the depths of the vegetation that are unlikely to be spotted in a metropolitan setting. Many a guest have the enjoyment of waking up in the morning to the harmonies of several species of birds chirping in the distance and often spot deer, otters, badgers and seals while exploring the islands depths. For the keen birdwatchers, we have over 100 species of birds on and around the island including the rare white-tailed sea eagle which has been said to make an appearance by our golf course
For those looking for something a little unusual, we offer the fast-paced heart-pounding experience of clay pigeon shooting. Test your skill with a rifle as the clays are sent soaring through the air, along with our experienced instructor.
Activities and Places to Visit near Eriska
- Sea Life Centre
Located only a mile from Benderloch, you don't have to go too far to have a fun afternoon.The Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary homes a variety of different and interesting fish and aquatic animals, offering frequent talks, feedings and displays each day to help you get better acquainted with your favourites
Our neighbours down at Tralee Bay offer a great variety of quirky activities to try. Explore their vast hilly terrain and fantastic open views as you guide your segway through some of Scotland's most scenic countryside or attempt to walk on water in one of the huge 2 meter water walkers. With activities for all ages, it truly is a great family day out!
Charter your own boat to take you around the Isles from Eriska's own Pier. Coastal Connection offer a selection of different Island tours ideal for couples and large groups, allowing you to witness the beauty of the west coast from a whole different perspective.
For those looking to go on a bit of an adventure, Stramash offer a plethora of outdoor activities for a wide range of skill sets. Archery, Coastering, Sailing and Kayaking are just a few of the things you can try in many of the local stunning settings around the Argyll area
Eriska offers the perfect getaway; it’s location in the West Coast of Scotland places it right in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, offering beautiful picturesque scenery and tranquility and with the vast range of activities both on and around the Island our guests will never lack something to do.
Our popular three-night breaks offers the perfect amount of time to explore and indulge, with rates starting at just £585.00 per person. And with our pay before you stay option, you can save a further 10% on top of this.
With the first meterological day of Spring behind us, we here at Eriska find ourselves eagerly awaiting all the associations of the season. With signs of new life slowly creeping all around the island the days of rain, wind and cold finally seem numbered.
Though the mountains are struggling to shake the remains of the snow from their tops, the days are getting noticably longer and it won't be long until the clouds open up completely to reveal the clear blue sky that we've been dreaming of since the beginning of winter.
But there's still a while to go before the reports of sunshine are upon us and the weather this coming week seems a true testiment to that.
Today: A sunny start to the week, with intervals of sunshine expected to last until mid-afternoon. Heavy rain will appear later in the day and last throughout the evening.
Monday: Light rain showers will fall periodically, though things will mostly be dry with a touch of sunshine in the afternoon.
Tuesday: Looks to be another cloudy day with some light showers.
Wednesday: Rain will dominate, with a mixture of light and heavy rainfall throughout
Thursday: Projected to remain unchanged, with more rain and moderate winds
Friday: Rain will persist another day, though things expected to heat up a bit with temperatures reaching 11°C
Saturday: The week looks to end on a wet note, with forecasts of rain.
So it may be a few more weeks yet before we can retire the winter coats and wellington boots. Though it does look like our guests will have some opportunity to get out and enjoy the scenery without getting too wet!
In the meantime, for those coming to visit this week we'd advise making full use of our indoor facilities, which offers a nice variety of activities for those who want to stay active as well as those who want to put their feet up and relax!
This week Britain has taken a beating from severe weather conditions in the south, leaving many homes, farms and transport routes destroyed by extreme flooding.
Luckily things at the west coast of Scotland have been much tamer, however much to our annoyance, February is proving to be as wet a month as its predecessors. As Scotland endures it's wettest winter in over 100 years we find ourselves asking for any change: cold, sun, even snow.. as long as it stops raining!
Though looking at the forecast for the coming week, things certainly don't look promising.
Today: Heavy rain expected throughout the day, with some brief patches of sunshine.
Monday: With a slight temperature drop, prepare for potentially icy conditions on the road. Heavy rain will dominate in the morning and early afternoon, though things are looking to dry up as the evening progresses
Tuesday: Looks to be another wet day, with light rain and sleet showers alternating throughout
Wednesday: Projected to remain unchanged, with more rain to come.
Thursday: Flurries of snow and sleet are anticipated to fall sporadically throughout the day, with temperatures becoming near-freezing
Friday: The weather looks to take a slight turn, with the day remaining mainly dry.
Saturday: Sunny intervals and light cloud predicted, giving us the opportunity to stretch out legs in the fresh air.
So perhaps there is some light at the end of the tunnel, with the week looking to end on a dry note - and perhaps a bit of sun!
This bodes well for the spring flora that has started shooting up around the island, allowing them the opportunity to absorb some light and photosynthesize into blossoming flowers just in time for Spring.
With any luck, it won't be long until the rain is behind us and our guests can start to enjoy all that the island has to offer!
The weather in the west coast over January has shown no shortage of doom and gloom, with what seems like an infinite supply of grey clouds, rain and icy winds. This week, in particular, heavy rain and thunderstorms have dominated, leaving many unwanted new water features in their wake.
However, the week ahead shows some promise with things drying up briefly as we reopen our doors to the first flock of guests in the New Year.
Today: Following yesterday's thunder and lightening, heavy rain is due to continue accompanied by strong southern winds
Monday: After a wet and windy night, the rain will continue throughout the morning before gradually dissipating into light showers with sporadic dry patches and brief intervals of sunshine.
Tuesday: The worst of the weather seems to have cleared, leaving most of the morning and afternoon calm and dry with temperatures remaining comfortably above freezing.
Wednesday: Is projected to remain unchanged, with more cloud and tolerable temperatures.
Thursday: Things are projected to take a bit of an icy turn today, with the morning and afternoon remaining dry and some light rain showers showing face in the later half of the evening.
Friday: It looks like the rain will be making a re-apperance bringing with it strong windsupwords of 20mph
Saturday: More rain and wind to follow, ending the week on a bit of a tenebrous note.
So it seems the weather is remaining true to its Scottish stereotype. Though, we at Eriska are not disheartened - after all it is a vast improvement onpervious years - and will take full advantage of our time indoors.
For those joining us at the end of the month, get ready to relax with your feet up by the fire with a good book and a glass of wine. But don't worry, the wellies are aplenty for those wishing to brave the outside.
Having finally settled after a busy new year and adjusted to dating everything "2014" we're finally ready to get back to business and prepare for the months ahead.
2013 saw big changes for Eriska with our new head chef, Ross Stovold, taking over the kitchen and promoting the use of the best of the local produce to create healthy and delicious dishes for our fine-dining restaurant.
With his passion for food and healthy living, we thought we'd take this opportunity to pick his brain for those of you who are making the change for a healthier 2014!
1. Buy a Juicer
Fruit and vegetable juices are a great way of getting vitamins into your body. Removing the pulp allows your cells to absorb the nutrients in fruit more readily and provide you with a quick energy boost.
It also provides you with a fun way to experiement with new flavours, by allowing you to be creative and inventive in mixing your own juice blends.
2. Choose Wholegrain Over the White Alternative.
Wholegrain bread, pasta and rice are higher in dietary fibre than the white counterparts. Fibre is important in a balanced diet and can help prevent heart disease, diabeties and can help improve digestive health.
Furthermore, fibre can help prevent weight gain as it is not broken down in your digestive system and keeps you feeling full for longer.
3. Snack on Raw Vegetables
Unhealthy snacking can be the kill-all end-all of any new diet. Though tasty, an abundance of crisps, chocolate and other sugary goodies are not good for you and can be costly!
Carrots, cucumber, bell pepers, celery, asparagus and cauliflower are just some of the vegetables that can be enjoyed raw, either on their own or with a nice low-fat dip.
4. If You Need Chocolate, Choose Dark Over Milk.
Starving yourself of your favourite treats makes diets incredibly difficult to maintain. If you feel you need a little chocolate on occassion, Ross recommends eating a small square of rich dark chocolate over a bar of milk. Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa which is high in an antioxidant compound called flavonoids, this is believed to help prevent heart disease.
An alternative to satisfying your sweet-tooth with chocolate would be picking foods with natural sugars. Fruit is a quick and tasty way to treat yourself without feeling too guilty and can be enjoyed raw, lightly cooked or as a sorbet!
5. Avoid All Pre-Packaged and Take-Away Foods
It may seem like we're stating the obvious now, but even the so-called "healthy, low-fat"
ready meals are no substitute for the real thing. Devoid of most natural nutrients, these pre-packaged 5-mintute meals are filled with synthetic vitamins that are harder for your body to break down.
We understand that it's dark, cold, you've just had a long day at work and the last thing you want to think about it arranging a meal for the family. But if we take a practical look at it: in the 25 minutes it takes to place your order and await your deep-fried and greasy food to be delivered to your door, you could have already prepared a fresh and simple dish in the comfort of your own kitchen.
6. Use Walnut Oil Instead of Butter
Though butter is not bad for you in moderation, using it frequently throughout the day may run the risk of high cholesterol. The replacement of butter with walnut oil on your toast and sandwiches provides a nice nutty alternative and a good source of Omega-3.
Walnut oil also makes a nice salad dressing and good accompaniment for many meats and fish.
So there you have it; six small and subtle changes to make to your diet, which along with the general guidelines to nutritional health will have you feeling great in no time!
Often you do not appreciate what you have until someone points it out!
Last week i received a wonderful surprise when a parcel arrived by courier. Nowadays with the wonderful royal mail we seem to have continual deliveries of boxes and parcels and since the birth of Amazon - it seems to give people of Eriska a lifeline to the real world- strange when Oban and the touch shops are only 12 miles away but I suppose this is a sign of the times and a perfect example of the computer age- its easier and probably more cost effective to sit on your couch at home and order items than to get ina car and travel and converse with a shop attendant just down the road.
Anyway the courier left and I was confronted by a carborrd box which intrigued me- what had someone seen as being so important to send a van from Glasgow to deliver. So I opened it with caution and was delighted to see a copy of a new hardback book entitled
As one would expect it had a wonderful paradise island on the front cover and an excellent foreword written by Farhad Vladi, in which he explains the mystery surrounding islands and the magnetic draw which has made him photograph and track private islands for the last 40 years- and indeed it is the same draw which made me keep turning the pages to see the next wonderful spot myself .
So it was probably no surprise that one hour later and 96 islands later I was still flicking through and ignoring my long list of jobs left for me. however the perseverance was worth it as I turned the page and came across a very familiar shot- one of Eriska! I had not anticipate this nor had I been aware, I had not thought of Eriska as one of the 101 Best Islands in the World but was clearly thrilled to be included.
In short we are an island, we are in a stunning part of the world and the location scenery and climate has its own charms and personality as individual and unique as Necker Island in the Caribbean or Heron Island in Australia. Sometimes we simply need to stop- look around- immerse ourselves in our environment and simply appreciate how lucky we are!
So it is great to be reminded by the book and I am sure it will become one of the most read books in the drawingroom and I wonder how many guests will get as far as page 184!
This week marks a stark change in the West Highalnd Seasons
Its often amazing how the climate seems to remain the same and then suddenly overnight we flip into a completely different season. So it has been this week as we started with a mild - if damp - Monday and this was soon followed by torrential rain- stories of 6 inches falling in 45 minutes do not seem implausible- and strong winds so that today when we awaken - the leaves are off the trees, the temperature is almost 10 degrees lower and the mountains of Kingairloch and Ben Cruachan have white snow caps adorning them- winter is truly here!
Strangley it seems later than usual and this woudl not be a surprise as the summer seemed to continue longer than normal and this has pushed autumn into November. The Deer Rut and stalking was certainly later and whilst I am hearing stories of a great month on the mountains with fantastic images of Rutting Stags it does play havoc with my plans for collecting leaves in October and we still have a lot of raking and burning to do now to get tideied up for Christmas
It is one of the stregnths of Scotland the ever changing weather and certainly one of te attractions compared with places that never seem to alter seasons- fortunately its one which we appreciate even if its also one we seem to continually complain about! So what is in store for this first week of winter!
Today: Bright with sunny spells and scattered showers today although be warned that the showers will be fierce!
Monday: Bright with sunny spells, but also scattered showers, mainly over higher ground at first, but developing further east during the afternoon, perhaps the odd heavy one later over Eriska. Fresh or strong west to northwesterly winds slowly easing.
Tuesday: Showers will become more isolated and confined to coastal areas , with long clear spells inland, leading to fairly widespread frost over rural parts as the winds fall light.
Wednesday: A few showers continuing , otherwise a dry and bright day with lengthy spells of sunshine for most parts. Light west to northwesterly winds.
Thursday: Rain clearing to showers then bright with sunny spells and showers in the evening.
Friday:After a dry night some heavy and prolonged periods of rain. Windy, risk of gales
Saturday:Rain will soon clear leaving clearer but showery weather for most of the weekend. It is likely to stay largely unsettled thereafter with showers or longer spells of rain, locally heavy.
Earlier this year we launched our 'name the otter contest' and last week we welcomed Mr & Mrs Miller and Cassie to unveil the plaque underneath our friend on the rock. You may remember we set out to name the bronze otter sitting on the rock at Otter Point at Eriska, in conjunction with our 40th anniversary as a Hotel. You may remember we announced the winner, Jo Thompson? if not here's a quick recap!
The Bronze Sculpture
Wache was made by bronze sculptor Kenneth Robertson, using advanced techniques, initially creating a wire meshed mould which was then cast as a simple albino plaster. Ensuring he fitted in to the environment and more importantly onto a rock at Otter Point was essential and it was moulded to fit a particular rock looking a specific way to guard the island. This took several visits and much hard work from Kenneth and his son.
Dr. Jo Thompson & 'Name the Otter Contest'
We felt our sculpture needed a name and so we set out to get our friend a name earlier in the summer. After a few weeks of collecting name suggestions and votes, a name was announced; Wache was sent in by Dr. Jo Myers Thompson, and is old Scottish for 'Eternal Watcher'.
Dr. Jo Myers Thompson is the Executive Director of the Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation, a not-for-profit umbrella organisation overseeing a variety of conservation efforts in the deep heart of equatorial Africa. By profession, she is a primatologist and naturalist.
Jo received her doctorate degree from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and is a contributing author to several books about ecology, distribution and evolution. Since 1995 Jo has been involved with otter conservation, which started with her raising an infant Congo Clawless Otter. At that time, the species had recently been declared extinct. However, that classification was based on absence of reports not absence of the otters. So, she was launched into the world of otter conservation as the world expert on the Congo Clawless Otter species. Through her work she also met Victoria Miller from Oban, which is how Jo found out about our little contest!
As we mentioned above we received Mr & Mrs Miller and Cassie last week to unveil the plaque we got made for Wache this summer. They have had Basenjis for years, and on the top picture you see them with their Basenji, Cassie - the whole reason Jo found out about our otter contest! Unfortunately Jo could not come with us to unveil the plaque being attached to the rock so they brought Cassie instead!
The First Meeting
Victoria met Jo through and online forum and a mutual friend. They met for the first time in person when Jo was speaking at the Hope4Apes conference in London 2010, hosted by Sir David Attenborough. Helena Lane (fellow breeder) and Victoria travelled to London to meet with Jo Thompson to discuss the possibility of importing one of Jo’s Lukuru Basenji puppies. The following year (September 2011), Cassie was imported into the UK - the first Congolese Native Basenji since the early foundation stock. Although born in the USA, Cassie was bred from pure Native stock brought back by Jo from a conservation area in the Democratic Republic of Congo where there are no other dogs except the Native Basenjis. Cassie is the first truly African Basenji to arrive in the UK for 70 years!
"Cassie had 7 pups this summer, 31st July, which is why the visit has had to wait! Cassie and the pups are healthy and enjoy life off the west coast of Scotland", Victoria assures me. "Cassie's parents are on the other side of the planet, living the 'American Dream' with Jo". All this talk about Basenjis, you have to start wondering about the breed itself.
The size of a Fox Terrier, the Basenji has a wrinkled brow, prick ears, pliant skin, short tight curled tail, very short coat and wash themselves like a cat. They are a hunting dog capable of very high speeds who point and flush game, but their most unique features are they are barkless and carry no dog odours, a most useful asset when they are in pursuit of game who do not easily pick up their scent. Discovered in the African Congo with Pygmy hunters, early explorers called the dogs after the tribes that owned them or the area in which they were found, such as Zande dogs or Congo terriers. The native tribes used the dogs (which often wore large bells around their necks) as pack hunters, driving game into nets.
Early attempts to bring Basenjis to England in the late 1800s and early 1900s were unsuccessful because the dogs all succumbed to distemper. In the 1930s, a few dogs were successfully brought back to England and became the foundation (along with subsequent imports from the Congo and Sudan) of the breed outside of Africa. The name Basenji, or "bush thing," was chosen. The early imports attracted much attention, and soon after the Basenji was brought to America. The breed's popularity as both a pet and show dog grew modestly but steadily. In the 1950s, a surge of popularity occurred as a result of a book and movie featuring a Basenji!
All this talk about Basenjis, what is your relationship to the otter side of things?
"As you can see I took my otter t-shirt out for the occasion! No really, my relationship with otters is mainly through Jo, however living in the West Coast of Scotland, you can’t help but have an affinity with the local wildlife and otters are a truly special creature.”
We can't say anything else than that we agree with you! At Eriska the is an abundance of wildlife, such as red deer, badgers, birds and otters (!) in such tranquille surroundings - what is there not to love!
We want to thank you both for coming to see the plaque unveiled and of course for bringing Cassie along!
If you are looking to cure the 'winter' blues why not check out our 3 night rates this month, visit Wache, have some heavenly delicious food in our restaurant and a soak in the Jacuzzi in the Stables Spa.