"This is an Aston Martin. You don't run over dead bodies in an Aston Matin." "Tell that to James Bond”!
Pretty much what our guests would say, we believe, as we had 17 Aston Martin's in the driveway Thursday afternoon, ranging from the legendary DB4GT Zagato (One of only 19 built!), DBS, Vantage, Vantage S and DB9 of which you may have seen on the TV screens at home or in the cinema!
The last few days have been fully scheduled with our resident martini mixolologist, whisky tastings and some heavanly meals.... Fit for a king or should we say Mr Bond himself?
The Start of Aston Martin...
An icon is born.. Founded in 1913 by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin as 'Bamford & Martin Ltd.', the company has developed an iconic brand synonymous with luxury and elegance. 1914 saw the birth of the name Aston Martin following one of Lionel Martin's successful runs at the Aston Hill Climb in Buckinhamshire, England. Within one year the first Aston Martin was built and registered with the name and in 1920 the business relocated to Kensington.
1947 saw the dawn of the 'David Brown Era' being acquired by the industrialist, the business expanded. Over the next few years the DB2 entered production quickly followed by 2nd and 3rd in class at Le Mans in 1951.
Sweeping to victory Aston Martin ended the 50s with further racing success as the 1959 world sports car championship through the winning success' of the Nurnburg 1000km and the Le Mans 24hr. 1960 saw the DB4 evolution and the founding of a historic collaboration with Zagato. As one of 19 Zagato's built, one visited Eriska! As an important year for the business the success of the DB4GT and the new launch of the DB5 would set its marks!
As most of us might already know the DB5 is frequently acclaimed as the most beautiful car in the world, entering production back in 1963. The following year saw the birth of a relationship that has left an indelible mark on popular culture as the DB5 was chosen as James Bond's car of choice in 'Goldfinger'.
The iconic DB moniker was restructured in 1993 with the introduction of the DB7. The 90s also saw Aston Martin feature in two separate James Bond Film's as the DB5 rolled back the years with a performance in 'Goldeneye' and 'Tomorrow Never Dies' in 2002 leading a new era of technology as the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish roared onto the screen. The introduction of the current flagship, the Aston Martin DBS took place in 2006, as it was seen for the first time in Daniel Craig's debut in 'Casino Royale'.
2008 saw the DBR9 take GT1 class victory at the Le Mans 24hr race for the second year in a row. The same year the Marque's love affair with James Bond continued as DBS made a second James Bond appearance by featuring in 'Quantum of Solace'.
Released in 2012, 'Skyfall' saw Mr. Bond in his 23rd film outing with the Aston Martin DB5 returning for its 6th appearance in one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year. Nearly 50 years after its screen debut in 1964 the DB5 has left a mark on popular culture. the first of five distinct Aston martin's to be featured in James Bond films, the DB5 continues to be celebrated as one of the most iconic cars ever produced...
2013 is Aston Martin's 100th year of creating the most beautiful cars in the world, and we received the enthusiasts for a Bond themed week.
Mr. Bray, who has been with Aston Martin for over 30 years was asked a few trivial questions upon his arrival back to Isle of Eriska this evening. Starting with his favorite Aston Martin, which was not surprisingly the DB5 - there was a genuine love for the classic!
Q: Favorite Bond film? A: Skyfall
Q: Tell us about your best experience with Aston Martin? A: Travelling the world with Aston Martin.....
Want more information on the Bond Escape with an Aston Martin and Martini classes? Click on the button underneath to enquire!
Have you ever heard of the Bremen Musicians?
It was just the other day that one of our guests asked about it as it sits on our mantelpiece in the main hall (pictured on the left). We received 'Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten' as a gift 15 years ago for our 25th anniversary from Mr & Mrs Saake who has been coming back many times since then.
It is a fairytale written by the Brothers Grimm, who some of you might know of already. They were German academics that collected and published a wide range of popular folklores.
Once upon a time...
There once was a man who had a donkey which had carried his sacks to the mill unflaggingly for many long years but was now getting old and weak so that he was becoming more and more unfit for work. The donkey's master was considering whether to stop feeding him but the donkey noticed that there was an ill wind blowing and ran away, setting off for Bremen where he thought he could become a town musician.
When he had covered a short distance he came across a hunting dog lying on the road, yapping like someone who has run himself into the ground. "Well, why are you yapping so, old snarler?" asked the donkey. "Ah", said the dog, "because I am so old and getting weaker every day and can't go hunting any more, my master wanted to kill me but then I took to my heels. But how shall I now earn my living?" "You know what", said the donkey, "I am going to Bremen to become a town musician. Go with me and take up music too. I shall play the lute and you can beat the drums." The dog was happy with this and they went on together.
Before long they came across a cat sitting at the roadside with a face as long as a fiddle. "Well now, what has crossed you, old whisker-face?" said the donkey. "How can I be happy when I am in for it", replied the cat, "just because I am getting on in years, my teeth are getting blunt and I prefer to sit and muse in front of the fire than to chase around after mice, my mistress wanted to drown me; I managed to get away but now I am really in a fix. Where shall I go?" "Go with us to Bremen. You are good at making music at night; you can become a town musician." The cat thought this was a good idea and went with the others.
The three fugitives went past a farmyard where a farm cock was sitting on the gate and crowing with all its might. "Your crowing goes right through us", said the donkey, "what's up?" "I prophesied good weather" said the cock, "because it's the day of our Blessed Lady, on which she washed the little shirt of Baby Jesus and puts it out to dry; but because it is Sunday tomorrow and guests are coming, the housewife has no pity and has told the cook to put me in the soup tomorrow; and she's coming to cut off my head tonight. So now I'm crowing as hard and as long as I can." "Come on, old redhead", said the donkey, "come along with us instead, we are going to Bremen. Anything is better than waiting here to die; you have a good voice and when we play music together there will surely be a place for you." The cock was pleased by this suggestion and all four of them went on together.
But they couldn't reach the city of Bremen in one day and they came to a wood where they decided to spend the night. The donkey and the dog lay down under a large tree; the cat and the cock went up into the branches but the cock flew up to the top of the tree where he felt the safest. Before he fell asleep he looked around in the direction of all four winds and thought he saw a little light shining in the distance; so he called to his friends that there must be a house not so far away since he could see a light shining. Then the donkey said, "We had better go over there for the accommodation here is pretty bad." The dog said he could also do with a few bones with a little meat on them.
So they set off in the direction of the light and soon it got brighter and larger until they came to a brightly lit robbers' house. Being the largest of the four, the donkey approached the window and looked inside. "What can you see, old grey nag?" asked the cock. "What can I see?" answered the donkey. "A table laid with lovely things to eat and drink, with a band of robbers sitting around and having a good time." "Why can't we do the same", said the cock. "Ooh yes, if only we could be there!" said the donkey. The animals conferred amongst themselves about how they could chase away the robbers and finally they hit on an idea. The donkey would put his front hooves on the window ledge, the dog would jump on the donkey's back, the cat would climb on the dog and the cock would fly up and sit on the cat's head. So they all did this and, at a signal, they began to play their music: the donkey brayed, the dog barked, the cat miaowed and the cock crew. Then fell through the window into the room, shattering the window-pane as they went. The robbers jumped out of their skins at the terrible clamour, thinking it must be a ghost, and fled in great fear to the woods.
Now the four companions sat down at the table and made do with what was left over, eating as if it was their last meal for a month. When the four musicians had finished they put out the light and looked for a place to sleep, each according to his nature and desired comfort. The donkey lay down on the midden, the dog behind the door, the cat on the stove near the warm ashes and the cock sat on a perch; and, because they were tired after their long journey, they were all very soon asleep. Sometime after midnight the robbers noticed from afar that all lights in the house were out and everything seemed to be quiet. So the leader said: "We shouldn't have let ourselves be frightened out of our wits", and asked one of the robbers to go and check up on the house.
The robber found everything quiet, went into the kitchen to make a light, and mistaking the glowing fiery eyes of the cat for live coals, he held a match to them thinking it would light. But the cat was not in a joking mood and jumped at his throat, spitting and scratching. The robber was terrified and tried to run out of the back door but the dog, which was lying there, jumped up and bit him in the leg; and as he ran past the midden in the farmyard the donkey lashed out with his hind hoof; but the cock, who had been roused from his sleep by the din and was now fully awake, called out "cock-a-doodle-doo!" from his perch.
The robber ran back to his leader at full pelt and said "there's a dreadful witch in that house; she spat on me and scratched my face with her long fingers; and by the door there is a man standing with a knife, who stabbed my leg; and in the farmyard there is a black monster which attacked me with a wooden club; and on the roof there is a judge sitting who called out "bring the scoundrel to me"."So I got away as fast as I could." From that time onwards the robbers did not dare to go near the house but the four Bremen Musicians liked it so much that they didn't want to leave again. And they all lived happily ever after.
The next time you visit you might notice them at the top of mantelpiece in the main hall. As you may have experienced already, driving over the bridge to Eriska is almost like a fairytale and the hotel in itself has a rich history! We recently sent out our newsletter which looked at Mr & Mrs Buchanan-Smith's very first day at Eriska on July 1st 1973.. The first day was maybe not so much of a fairytale, but the last 40 years on the Island certainly have been in different ways for many of our guests and also who has- and still work at Isle of Eriska Hotel.
Last week's West Coast Weather did not predict good fortunes for the days ahead. As you can see on the picture above we had heavy clouds and rays of sunlight desperately trying to penetrate the thick clouds. However we did manage ot stay on top of the grass and with the strong winds came teh benefit of no midges so not all was lost.
Anyway as we start today looking out across a cloudless sky with not a breath of wind we could be accused of thinking summer was finally here and indeed the long term forecast is alluding to the fact that it is probably not that far away so what is in store for the week ahead?
Today: After a bright dawn it should remain dry with some warm sunshine developing- perfect for sitting inside watching the Wimbledon Final!
Monday: Starting rather cloudy with some coastal mist or drizzle, then slowly brightening up through the morning with sunny spells developing. Becoming warm with some sea breezes.
Tuesday:A dry day with long spells of unbroken sunshine throughout the day. A cloudier start towards Mull, and some patchy cloud bubbling up inland. Very warm or hot, sea breezes.
Wednesday: A fine settled spell of weather with some hot sunshine developing, though coastal areas a shade cooler with onshore breezes, and far west misty at times.
Thursday: it's begining to seem consistent with another day of sunshine and warm light breezes
Friday: Anoter case of "Best on the west" = with the best of dry, fine weather will probably migrate to the west so more summer and suntan cream required
Saturday: although another nice day not quite as warm as earlier in the week and a slightly stronger wind will keep it seeming more pleasant.
Last weekend was something special at Isle of Eriska! We welcomed 45 MacLean's from America for a family reunion to have exclusive use of the island with a wide range of activities for every interest. Mr. MacLean came to Scotland 40 years ago for his first family reunion to return with the family this year - which some of you might already know is also Eriska's 40th anniversary as a hotel!
With a fully packed schedule for the weekend we had activities for both children and adults. Thursday was especially dedicated to the children, while on Friday we set out to visit some of the places that the MacLean's ancestors originally came from. On Saturday the afternoon was spent on the golf course, in the Spa and in Oban, before the family gala dinner, live music and fireworks completed a great family reunion.
Eriska Highland Games & Brave
I am sure many have seen the Pixar/Disney film Brave of princess Merida, a very determined young girl that sets out to find her own path in life, defies the Scottish customs and thereby leave her father's kingdom in chaos set in a fantasy version of medieval Scotland.
On Thursday we had some great people from Stramash to lead the highland activities for both children and adults. Activities included archery, tossing the caber, tug of war, orienteering or 'the bear hunt', crossing the bog and haggis hurling to the sound of Scottish bagpipes at the front lawn!
For the afternoon the MacLeans were divided into four teams facing various challenges together while competing for parts of the lost map to locate princess Merida's crown. In the race to find the crown only one team could win! The winning team was lead by a kilted piper when finally crowning the princess.
Although everyone passed the challeneges laid out - we were no match to the Scottish midges! A 'de-bugging' session saved the day and the activities could continue as soon as everyone had had their turn.
A day on Mull
On Friday morning we got onto the bus and left for the ferry to Mull to visit Duart Castle and Tobermory. The weather was not in our favour to begin with but it slowly dried up and the sun was out when arriving back to Eriska! Both adults and children were excited to see Duart Castle, ready and dressed in the MacLean kilts we were toured around the castle by the present chief Sir Lachlan Maclean.
The Story of the Macleans & Duart Castle on Mull
Sitting on one of the most spectacular and unique sites on the West Coast of Scotland, the position of Duart Castle was well chosen(where the panoramic picture at the top is from).The castle stands on a crag at the end of the peninsular jutting out into the Sound of Mull at the intersection of the sound of Mull.
Duart Castle is the ancestral home of the Clan Maclean. Members of the Clan are now spread throughout the world and many return to visit the homes of their ancestors and family.
The Clan lands were, and are still on the West Coast of Scotland and the islands of Mull, Coll, Tiree and Jura. The Chieftains of the Clan Maclean had and still have lands on Morvern, Ardgour, Drimnin and at Dochgarroch on the mainland as well as on the islands.
The first recorded mention of the Macleans of Duart is in a papal dispensation of 1367 which allowed their Chief Lachlan Lubanach Maclean to marry the daughter of the Lord of the Isles, Mary Macdonald.
The castle has a rich history, and was not always in the Maclean's possession. Sir Lachlan 16th Chief lost the Maclean's land to the Duke of Argyll due to other commitments. The Castle, although in a fairly ruinous condition was then used as a garrison for Government troops until 1751. Left in ruins, it was abandoned until 1910 when it was purchased and restored by Sir Fitzroy Maclean, 26th Chief.
After lunch on Duart Castle, we toured to Tobermory a fishing port built in the late 18th century. Tobermory is now the main town on the Isle of Mull and is the main departure point for whale and dolphin watching boat tours.
When we arrived in Tobermory, some visited Tobermory Distillery - which was unfortunately fully booked - however it became some of the MacLean's first meeting with the Scottish tablet (in this case infused with Scottish whisky), which was shared and enjoyed on the spot before deciding on the need to bring more tablet back to the States!
Since we were a bit unfortunate with the weather, the small cafe's along the docks offered great comforts such as homemade ice cream, caramel squares, pies and sandwiches - And of course fish and chips, which was enjoyed by the docks under a great number of umbrella's and curious seagulls. It is safe to say the experience was a success.
Gala Dinner, Live Music and Scottish Sword Dancing
On Saturday morning the MacLean family had a range of activities and excursions to choose amongst. Some went hiking on Kerrera, some went golfing at our 9 hole golf course, some booked in to the spa for the afternoon and some went to Oban to taste the famous 14 year old cask strenght whisky at Oban Distillery, before finishing off the afternoon at the Oban Chocolate Company, to the great enjoyment of both children and adults.
The gala dinner was planned with precision. Scottish sword dancers performed as the family was piped into dinner. A seven course meal cooked to perfection using the best local produce, accompanied by some of our best wines and of course Scotland's national drink. After the gala dinner, Whistlebinkies held a live performance in the drawing room. Whistlebinkies also played for the MacLean's 40 years ago when they were last in Scotland, which made it extra special.
The night was finished with a spectacular firework display and was a great family reunion worthy!
Exclusive use at Eriska means that guests can have the whole island themselves. We can help with the planning of any excursions throughout your stay, weddings, meals and dinners made from the best quality local produce and make your celebration unforgettable.
This last week we have had lovely temperatures on Eriska. Some very bright and sunny days and some gloomier days yet 'very' warm! Last night however the temperatures dropped significantly as the rain and wind 'washed' in over the west coast.
This week's West Coast Weather does not look too inviting and certainly not very summery as we are soon to enter July.
Today: A fairly bright day with a mixture of sunny intervals and showers. Some showers turning heavy inland especially towards Lanarkshire where thunder is possible. Fresh northwest winds, especially on the west coast. Later tonight a mixture of sunshine and scattered showers will still prevail, the showers are likely to die out during the evening and so is the wind.
Monday: looks to be bright with some sunshine. Still a few showers though less heavy with some areas staying dry. Lighter winds will still be present after a rather windy Sunday.
Tuesday: is projected to be bright with sunny spells and isolated showers. Light winds.
Wednesday: looks to be very similar to the Tuesday, a bit windy with sunny spells and possibly some showers.
Thursday: looks to experience some rain overnight but will remain bright with sunshine in between the clouds.
Friday: looks like it will experience heavier rain compared to the other days therefore little sun to keep those summer temperatures going.
Saturday: while the outlook for Friday looks gloomy, the clouds and rain looks to become lighter on the Saturday, which allows the temperature to again slowly creep upwards.
There were some heavy clouds this morning as you can see in the picture on the left.
It is good to know that we have an indoor sportshall where guests can play a game of putting, tennis, badminton or football and an indoor swimming pool that are not affected by the adverse weather we do get there on the west coast of Scotland in the 'summer'!
One of the advantages of being quieter in the winter is that it gives us a chance to pause and reflect.
It also presents us with the perfect opportunity to dream and imagine, in a way, for a few days we can retire into the life of our guests and immerse ourselves in another world and another life!
With Eriska having paused before the frantic Festive period we have all been dashing around getting both ourselves and the island ready but at least a little respite from Christmas shopping could be achieved by hiding in a cinema and enjoying the recent release of "Skyfall" and the celebration of 50 years of James Bond.
This all coincided with a request from a guest to see if we could put together a James Bond Escape and whilst this might sound a little fanciful it at least allowed an opportunity to research the character and see how well connected we could become.
The first schoolboy knowledge is that 007 was of course educated in Scotland but a less well known fact is that it is rumoured that he is based by Ian Fleming, his creator, on a character from Argyll who helped run operations behind enemy lines.
The exploits of soldier and diplomat Fitzroy Hew MacLean, who parachuted into Yugoslavia to assist the resistance in WW2, are said to have been the origins of Ian Fleming's James Bond and 007 and his family are based at Duart Castle on Mull which can be seen from Eriska.
It is therefore not surprising that not only was Scotland the base for Bond to retreat to in Skyfall but also a location for a few of the films over his last fifty years. Whilst there may be a romantic and exotic need to visit the Bahamas, Africa or California - his true home is Scotland and therefore it has been included in many sets whether being a fictictious trip through the Bosphorus in "From Russia with Love" or a true location as with the Faslane Naval base used in "The Spy who Loved Me"
So we have put together a package which combines the scenery and places from the films and the comfort and style of an Aston Martin DB9 and private speedboat visit to Duart castle along with the lifestyle of a Vespa Martini and a weekend at Eriska. So in conjunction with our friends at Mckinlay Kidd we have now launched a wonderful break away - living the life of James Bond and it is all especially pertinent given the recent release and scenery of the west highlands.