Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘guests’

Christmas Present #2

Another chance to win in the second of our festive giveaways ….

Would you like to stay for two nights B&B at Balkissock Lodge in 2018 completely free?

.

Christmas present

.

There are two easy ways to enter:

  1. Head over to Facebook, find and like the post “Christmas Present #2” then either tag the person you’d like to share the prize with or share the post with your friends so they can enter too.
  2. Email me and ask to be added to the new monthly e-newsletter (first edition will be Jan 2018) which will include news and information about promo codes exclusively for guests who book direct.

You could of course do both and double your chances of winning!!

T&Cs:

Entries will only be accepted via the two options outlined above.

The prize is two consecutive nights B&B for two people (sharing a double room) OR two consecutive nights for one person only.

No cash alternative is offered.

I’m happy for you to gift your prize however to avoid fraudulent claims the winner MUST book the accommodation.

Closing date for entries: 8pm on Friday 15th December 2017.

Name drawn from a ‘hat’: 9pm on Friday 15th December 2017.

Prize winner(s) must book before the 31st December 2017 and stay before 31st May 2018 (subject to availability).

Once booked, dates cannot be changed.

Additional nights can be added to the stay at the specified nightly rate (subject to availability).

Evening meals can be added at the specified rate.

This competition is not endorsed by WordPress, Facebook, Twitter nor anywhere else you may see this competition advertised.

.

GOOD LUCK!!

Cordelia @ BalkissocklodgeB&B

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Christmas Present #1

EDIT: This competition is now closed. Many congratulations to Mrs Thompson. I’ll be launching another competition at 3pm on Sunday.

Would you like to stay for two nights B&B at Balkissock Lodge in 2018 completely free?

There are two easy ways to enter:

  1. Head over to Facebook, like our page, find and like the post “Christmas Present #1” then tag the person you’d like to bring on holiday with.
  2. Email meand ask to be added to the new monthly e-newsletter (first edition will be Jan 2018) which will include news and information about promo codes exclusively for guests who book direct.

You could of course do both and double your chances of winning!!

T&Cs:

Entries will only be accepted via the two options outlined above.

The prize is two consecutive nights B&B for two people (sharing a double room) OR two consecutive nights for one person only.

No cash alternative is offered.

[edit: I’m happy for you to gift your prize however to avoid fraudulent claims the winner MUST book the accommodation]

Closing date for entries: 6pm on 8th December 2017.

Name drawn from a ‘hat’: 9pm on 8th December 2017.

Prize winner(s) must book before the 31st December 2017 and stay before 31st May 2018 (subject to availability).

Once booked, dates cannot be changed.

Additional nights can be added to the stay at the specified nightly rate (subject to availability).

Evening meals can be added at the specified rate.

This competition is not endorsed by WordPress, Facebook, Twitter nor anywhere else you may see this competition advertised.

Cordelia @ BalkissocklodgeB&B

Read Full Post »

I’ve decided to go public about our on-going internet issues. Those of you who have stayed this year know the difficulties we’re experiencing and until tonight, everyone has been so understanding realising that it’s completely outwith our control.

Tonight … well tonight was a different story. The internet dropped out completely so there wasn’t a thing we could do about it but one set of guests complained so bitterly that I ended up phoning a local hotel and moving them there!

Well, if you’ve got a spare 10 minutes then please read on (go on, make a cuppa and put your feet up and share our utter frustration). If you’d like to help us …. please share far and wide … we cannot be the only ones going around in circles and I’d like to find some kindred spirits:

 

Dear Mr (name/position withheld for this post),

 

I’d hoped that after all of this time, I wouldn’t need to bother you again with our internet/phone issues but we find ourselves back to square one … no, actually, we are worse off than that!

 

As you know, when we first contacted you and you were kind enough to help us, our internet was running at between 0.2mbps-0.8mbps (when it was working) and we were suffering from ring trip. BT had told us not to contact them again because they were fed up with us complaining that the internet kept dropping out telling us that there was nothing wrong with the line!

 

Let me briefly explain what has happened in the intervening months: mostly because everything over the past few months has just blurred into one huge communications nightmare that is affecting our health and our small businesses both financially and on the practical day-to-day running of them both more than I’d like to attempt to make it brief!

 

Your guys from Open Reach have been here so many times that the dog doesn’t even bother to bark at them anymore. They’ve tweaked and fiddled and done what they’ve been told to do from whomever they answer to. They’ve found a number of faults with the line between our house and the exchange that have subsequently been repaired. There have been experts here from ‘down south’ (can’t remember where) fault finding at the exchange in Ballantrae as that’s where they believed the fault was.

 

Despite this, no one could sort the ring trip issue out so they divided our service with the phone being on one dedicated line and the internet on another. At the time we were led to believe that this would remain in place as a viable solution. It was a huge improvement in terms of ring trip (as it didn’t happen any more!) although the internet was still running very slow (generally under 1mbps) and still dropped out several times a day which your guy Jim in Leeds (or is he BT’s guy?) said was ‘acceptable’ to him … but then again, he doesn’t have to live with it!!! They did continue to fiddle and tweek and we did reach the heady heights of 1.8mbps on several occasions but it was short-lived. Foolish thoughts of uploading more than one photo to facebook at a time and updating an app on my phone in under half an hour were cruelly dashed.

 

Your guys were then given orders to put our service both back onto one line (as the fault had been fixed apparently) and low and behold, not surprisingly, everything has gone ape shit again! (Excuse the language but I can’t think of a better description!)

 

Jim in Leeds, who clearly has never been self employed and never had to rely upon communication in order to generate income, decreed that it was the 1470 service that was at fault. His solution was to increase the length of time the phone rings to 25 rings before the answering service activates which would stop the fault. I pointed out to him that no one …. ABSOLUTELTY NO ONE … will hang on the phone for 25 rings let alone leave a message after all that time but he went ahead and did it anyway. Feeling proud of himself, he phoned back a couple of days later saying he could get it down to 50s or possibly even 40s … he wasn’t given to most welcome of responses to this news! Most businesses, as you know, have a three-ring policy and from a survey I did on FB/Twitter, without exception, everyone who replied said that they’d put the phone down after 4-6 rings! His only solution was for us to buy an answerphone that we were forced to do because God only knows how much business we had lost in the intervening few days and would have continued to lose had we not.

 

He also suggests that it’s the distance from the exchange to the house, quoting resistance figures, that is to blame. Well excuse me for saying but to the best of my knowledge the exchange in Ballantrae has not been moved in the past year and the house has not moved in almost 200 years so I’m at a loss to understand his reasoning for this. The internet worked at about 1.8mbs for a number of years; we could certainly watch iplayer until last year and did not suffer ring trip until this year and I can no longer facetime my grandson and mother which saddens me greatly. I’ve moaned to many, many people about our internet woes this year and you wouldn’t believe how many people are experiencing similar issues. One lady last week who lives about five miles away said that her problems also started early this year and both she and her husband work from home but their service is currently so bad that she often has to drive to her office just to use the internet!

 

Jim also suggested that we had too many devices connected to the wifi (two phones, a router, Sky box, a printer and a computer … not excessive in this day and age) which was why the internet was so slow! So basically what he’s now telling me is that the internet works just so long as we don’t need to actually use it!!! He even had the audacity to suggest that it was our fault for living here and what did we expect?! Well, we expected to at least have the same level of service that we had when we moved in and (as it turns out) stupidly expected that the service would improve over time especially given the multi-billions of pounds the UK and Scottish Parliaments have given to communications companies to develop better coverage.

 

To complicate matters, our phone line was dug up by a tractor (so we were told) about six weeks ago leaving us without phone or internet for several days and the ‘temporary’ repair is still sitting above ground in a passing place on the bend of a narrow road about three miles from the house so with the dark evenings upon us it’s probably only a matter of time before it’s destroyed again despite the orange cone.

 

I’m also about to remove the ‘free wifi’ feature from the B&B business advertising because it’s now so slow and completely unreliable that guests were complaining and as any B&B business is only ever one bad review away from being completely destroyed I’m considering re-branding … how does ‘turn your clock back 40 years and relax!’ sound? It certainly reflects the infrastructure that Jim seems is ‘acceptable’ but will hardly attract modern travellers who, according to Visit Scotland, today travel with an average of THREE wifi enabled devices each!! We’ve even installed USB chargers in our rooms to assist guests. Reputation and excellent reviews are of paramount importance in our industry. Free wifi is the top feature people look for when booking a B&B these days behind cost/location and ahead of free parking according to the Visit Scotland assessor who visited this summer. The internet has failed twice this summer whilst I’ve been in the middle of taking card payments; not only is it inconvenient, it’s stressful it’s embarrassing and completely unprofessional and I can only say that it’s only thanks to some extremely pleasant and understanding guests who waited patiently until the whole process could be gone through again that I’ve managed so far. Every time the internet system drops out I am disconnected to whichever secure site I’m using (internet banking, B&B booking systems, Booking .com, Visit Scotland intranet, etc) which means that not only do I have to go through the often lengthy process of securely logging on again but I then have to waste more time finding out whether payments/processing etc were processed or not before the connection was broken.

 

My husband, who has had the patience of a Saint throughout this process, is losing out on business too. Over half of his work comes via Facebook and it’s a sorry state of affairs when people are waiting for replies but he hasn’t even received their messages because they won’t load! The rest of his work comes via phone. People leave messages when he’s out of the house which he used to be able to pick up via the 1570 service and respond to them fairly promptly and could sometimes get to people the same day which was particularly important to some elderly customers who do not have family in the area to help them.

 

It’s not like we can even rely upon accessing the internet on iphones/ipads/devices as there is absolutely no phone coverage at all in this area for any of the service providers. I have to walk out into the middle of the farmer’s field to send a text! I realise that is not your fault but I mention it to give some sense of the situation as a whole.

 

Do you actually realise how many lives and businesses are being affected by this woefully poor service and how much stress you are inflicting upon people in our situation? I challenge you and anyone else sitting in an office somewhere in your organisation to come here and attempt to go about their work under these conditions!

 

I also wonder how much money is being squandered in the vain attempt to stabilise a system that quite clearly is not fit for purpose and unable to cope with the demands of modern-day communications when what seems to be needed is that the physical connections themselves need to be replaced by something that were at least manufactured in the 21st Century!

 

So now, in summary, not only are we out of pocket for the cost of an answerphone, we no longer have access to the 1570 service which allowed us to access messages when we were out of the house (which was our primary reason for paying for the service), we are also back to square one with the ring trip issue and we are losing business opportunities.

 

Low and behold the phone has rung twice this morning (Thursday 14th Sept) whilst I’ve been writing this email on the computer and twice the internet has dropped out! You couldn’t script it! EDIT: As we were awaiting replies from the emails that Howard sent to Jim and yourself I didn’t send this email straight away … it’s now Sunday evening (17th Sept.) and I’ve had a huge problem with a set of guests who were complaining so bitterly about the internet which was not working sufficiently well for them to even get logged on that in the end I telephoned a local hotel and found them alternative accommodation. No income for me today and as I’ve already bought food for breakfast I’m actually out of pocket. No doubt, given how disgruntled they were by the time they left a dreadful review is indeed in the offing now … thanks for that!!!

 

To say we are fed up would be a gross understatement. I’m not even sure if I know sufficient colourful words to describe the frustration, anger and stress this is causing us and believe me I know quite a few! Enough is enough! We cannot carry on like this. The situation is damaging our health. The situation is damaging our businsses. To this end, I’ll be sending copies of this email (or hard copies if more appropriate) to absolutely every single person I can think of in the vain hope that someone may be in a position to help. BT and OpenReach have already missed Phase 1 of the government’s big plans and I’m not waiting until 2020 for them to miss the rest. Something must be done … not just for us but for countless thousands of others in similar positions.

 

  • “to provide superfast broadband coverage to 90% of UK premises by early 2016 and access to basic broadband (2Mbps) for all from December 2015 – “Phase 1” 
”
  • “Ofcom currently states that a connected speed of at least 10Mbps is necessary to deliver an “acceptable user experience” of broadband – this is based on a typical household’s uses, including basic web browsing, video calling, catch up TV and film streaming in HD. “

House of Commons

Briefing Paper No CBP06643, 9th March 2017

 

I’ll also be sharing the contents of this communication as far and as wide as I can on social media: we’re not the only ones suffering and going around in circles and it would be nice to find out just how we fare in comparison to others throughout the nation.

 

Regards,

 

 

Are you still reading … thank you ever so much … I hope your cuppa was nice :0)

Cordelia

So what was it? Put your clock back 40 years and relax!! I’m only taking bookings until the end of October as I need to do some maintenance work this winter.

 

Read Full Post »

I was delighted to welcome Lindsay from Home Cook School to Balkissock on Thursday. She came to give a private cooking lesson for myself and a B&B guest and just look how wonderful the end result was.

Scottish cranachan

Using local ingredients such as beetroot from Lindsay’s own garden, Pieroni’s hot smoked salmon and Ayrshire bacon coupled with Glen Moray whisky, Macsween Haggis and Scottish pinhead oatmeal the meal was a wonderful mix of traditional Scottish with a modern twist.

haggis needs and tatties

If you live in Ayrshire and want to find out more about cooking in your own home or in Lindsay’s home in Maybole then please check out her website for details. Lindsay also does a range of other tasty dishes.

hot smoked salmon

If you’d like to couple a cooking lesson with a short break at Balkissock Lodge B&B then email me for details. Lessons can be taught for guests here at Balkissock Lodge for up to four people.

Cordelia @ Balkissock Lodge B&B

Why not book yourself a lovely short break and learn how to cook something this lovely too?

(c) 2017 All rights reserved

 

Read Full Post »

I first applied for the information for the Healthy Eating Award over a year ago. When it arrived, I was pleased to find that I met all of the criteria other than blogging about my healthy food…hundreds of mouthwatering pictures don’t cut the mustard apparently 🤣

healthy breakfast clean eating
You’ll find a selection of fruit, fruit juice and natural (fat free) yoghurt on the side table. Full fat options are also available.

cooked breakfast
All meat is either grilled or oven baked and you have the option of fried, poached or scrambled egg.

If you advise me when you book, I can cater for vegetarian, vegan and most specific dietary restrictions.

Depending upon season and/or local availability I also offer asparagus and avocado with eggs.

home baked bread

My Homemade bread recipe is made without salt but does still contain a good spoon full of Demerara sugar (seen above with vegan banana buns).

home made preserves

Homemade preserves and lemon curd may be full of sugar but they don’t contain all the preservatives and E numbers that you’ll find in shop bought varieties.

Please let me know what healthy options you like too.

Cordelia

If you want to sample the menu just click here!!

RECIPES:

Home made bread recipe

Lemon curd recipe

Vegan banana cake recipe

Tomato chutney recipe

Blueberry pancake recipe

Three fruit marmalade recipe

Easy cupcake recipe

Empire biscuit recipe

Read Full Post »

If you’ve visited or know us, you’ll know that I love animals.

We have one super gorgeous Collie and two rescue kitties that are almost 10 months old now living here with us in addition to the visiting birds, squirrels, rabbits and a very cheeky stoat that are gradually moving away which has something to do with the kitties rather than by preference I suspect!!

Starsky and Hutch

We are a “dog friendly” B&B but thought that I’d write a short blog about how that works in practice so that dog owners and non-dog owners can see the situation from a B&B perspective and because I’ve had a couple of dog owners this year who have made me tighten up the ‘dog policy’.

What do we offer for dogs and their humans?

  • Towels for drying off muddy feet and wet fur
  • Bedding: fleecy blanket and old quilts
  • I have a small/medium sized plastic dog bed if you wish to use it too … adult Collie dogs are too big for it!

Collie

  • Bottles of water to take out on day trips
  • Poo bags
  • Bowls for water or food
  • Carpet shampoo for cleaning up accidents
  • Treats
  • Hugs

We have a guest lounge and you’re welcome to take your dog in there with you.

The bedrooms and lounge are located on the ground floor literally feet away from the car park.

Maisy the Border Collie

You’ll find that there are loads of dog friendly beaches, attractions and places to eat in the area too. Why not take some photos and tag us into them. Maisy got herself onto the Visit Scotland blog!

visit scotland blog

What do we expect from doggie owners and their dogs?

I try not to call them rules … but … if you’re bringing a dog (or dogs) please bear the following in mind:

  • Do not allow your dogs onto the beds or furniture. The obvious reason is for the dirt. All of the bedding is currently white, 100% cotton which people like. Despite the manufacturers’ claims, dirty marks don’t always wash out satisfactorily even with additional treatment which adds to my workload and is not pleasant for future guests to see. Also, hairs do migrate through fabric and can get into the quilt itself which could cause discomfort to future guests.
  • Dogs must be, under control and well-behaved at all times. As you know, for one reason or another, not everyone likes dogs or any other animals and some people are frightened or allergic to dogs, their hair or skin. Even those who, like myself, love dogs, don’t really want other people’s dogs jumping up at them whilst they are eating or having to brush dog hairs off their clothes just as they’re heading out the door to a wedding at Glenapp Castle for instance.
  • Dogs must be kept on a lead or fully under control outside. We are located on a working farm. There are animals in the field with lambs in the spring and early summer. Please remember that farmers have the right to shoot dogs who are seen worrying and/or attacking the sheep. Please also remember that we have two kitties who know no fear of dogs and who will be seen wandering around in their own garden. You’re welcome to take the dogs into the garden but please keep them on a lead if they chase cats, thank you.

Starsky

  • Do not leave dogs in bedrooms when you go out for the day. Also, if you are the only guests in, or the other guests don’t mind, please feel free to take them into the lounge during breakfast or in the evening. If you suspect that your dog may jump on the bed or chew when you are out of the room, please lock them in the car during breakfast. Please note that the cars are parked only feet away from the rooms.
  • Please ensure dogs are free of mites, tics, fleas, etc. before bringing them to stay. We’ve been very fortunate to never have fleas here at the Lodge and I hope that this continues. I’ve once stayed at a place that had fleas (in fairness it was probably bed mites) and I counted 200 (I kid you not) bites the following day. Apart from the obvious discomfort for future guests and the risk of passing the fleas etc on to our own pets, we do not want to be dealing with bad reviews from bitten guests!
  • Please dry dogs off before they enter the bedrooms and lounge. A good shake outside and a good dry off inside the entrance would be greatly appreciated so that dirt and water do not drip onto carpets. Please remember that no matter how many times you wash your dog (our Maisy prefers a daily bubble bath!!) they do always smell to other people, especially to those who do not have animals. I provide plenty doggie towels.
  • Clean up after your dog. There are poo bags available and if they have an accident in the room please clean it up using the carpet cleaner available and let me know as soon as possible so that I can give the carpet a second thorough cleaning before the next guests arrive. I can provide plastic trays to put dog bowls onto to prevent water and food splashing onto the carpets too.
  • All damage must be paid for.

I certainly don’t mean any disrespect to any dog owners and I’d like to hope that you’re all reading this saying to yourself ‘yes, I do that’ or ‘that’s sensible’ and that you can see that I’m trying to ensure that all guests are able to enjoy their visit.

bluebell woods

I only charge a small fee per dog, per visit: details on Tariff page. This is to cover the additional cleaning that is required to eradicate stray hairs and I often also need to wash the carpets to remove lingering smells for the comfort of future guests.

Let me know in the comments section if you think I should add any additional information to the above bullet points.

Cordelia (c) 2017

all rights reserved

Check availability and book direct with the owner here

Read Full Post »

Guests often ask what there is to do in our local tiny village …

Ardstinchar Castle and War Memorial:

The castle is a ruin and is crumbling so please don’t be tempted to go for a closer look. It greets you on the hill as you approach Ballantrae from the south on the A77.  Turn right just after the bridge and park to get a better view.F

Ardstinchar Castle

The war memorial lies on a steep slope that is not accessible if you use a  wheelchair or have a pushchair.

Old Stinchar Bridge:

The castle dates from 1450 and the stone from the ruined castle was used to build the old bridge which is no longer safe to us but makes for great photo opportunities.

Old Stinchar Bridge

River Stinchar Path:

River Stinchar

The path follows the edge of the river for a few miles although I’ve personally only walked the first mile. There are places to sit and have a picnic although there are no seats. Please be careful … when I took these photos today the river level was very low and it will rise significantly after a storm/heavy rain.

The river contains salmon and trout and we’ve had quite a few fishermen staying with us over the past few years. You’ll need to buy a permit to fish so please do ask when you book and I’ll give you details of who to speak to about that.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the river path today. We met the staff and the pupils of the local Nursery class who were exploring the fauna and flora around the river

The bluebells were out in full bloom too.

Ballantrae Beach:

Despite the sun, we had the whole beach to ourselves today!

It’s a strange beach … some days we have sand … others we have pebbles … and other days we have a mile of kelp!!

kelp on the beach

Ayrshire Coastal Path:

The Ayrshire Coastal Path starts at Genapp Kirk about 10 miles south of Ballantrae. The route take brings you to the south end of the village and over the Stinchar via the A77 then turns left towards the shore.

Ballantrae Harbour

Follow the shore towards the harbour and then out of the village to the north.

You can buy copies of the Ayrshire Coadtal Path guidebook at the garden centre and I have copies for guests to use if they’re staying over.

Ayrshire Coastal Path Official Guide

Garden Centre and Cafe:

The garden centre itself is very easy to find. It’s on the A77 at the north end of the village. We eat there regularly and Maisy always has a peanut ball which she thoroughly recommends to everyone! It has a small children’s play area and some days in the summer they have a narrow gauge railway and train which chugs around the field. There is access to the Ayrshire Coastal Path direct from this field near where the Ballantrae Festival of Food and Drink is held in June.

Ballantrae Food Festival

Although dogs cannot go into the cafe itself, they are dog friendly and there are bowls of water for the dogs.

You can order tea/coffee, light snacks, soup or full meals and it’s all very reasonably priced. There is also a freezer in the garden centre where you can get a range of ice cream lollies.

Old Cemetery and Kennedy Memorial:

Clan Kennedy are associated with Carrick and most especially with Culzean Castle which is about 30 miles north of Ballantrae. A walk around the old cemetery on a beautiful sunny day like today was an absolute pleasure and it was lovely to see how well-kept the area is.


There is another graveyard to the south of Ballantrae and others at Colmonell and Glenapp for anyone tracing ancestors.


I even spotted the graves of former Balkissock residents. Major Onslow’s name also appears on the War Memorial.

Ballantrae Public Gardens:

They’re probably the smallest public gardens anywhere in Scotland but they’re very well kept!

On a practical note, Ballantrae also has a garage where you can get fuel 24 hours a day (via a card machine), a small Scotmid supermarket that the lorry drivers use so it has, hot pies, cakes and a coffee machine and also a cash machine if you need it. For residents, it also boasts a bowling green and tennis courts … not bad for a small village!!

We also have a wonderful thrift shop BRICC. The charity itself looks after elderly and infirm in the community and is a fabulous treasure trove of the unusual.

I bought my piano there!

BRICC hosue

So why not visit Ballantrae rather than just drive through it!!

Cordelia @ Balkissock Lodge B&B

2017 All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: