Monday, 18 August 2008
A recent trip to "The North" has yielded a bountiful harvest of note-worthy scenes for these pages. Alas, I failed to pack the camera so this picture from some fifteen years ago will suffice - nothing has changed in the world of Scottish commercial hospitality. On the family's return trip from Inverness we were treated to a "Shining" experience at a very run down and tired "Country House Hotel". The plastic garden furniture arranged on the worn tarmac driveway at the foot of the grand entrance stairs was an accurate gauge of just how far fallen this establishment was. Thoughtfully placed in such a prominent position, this was obviously the smoking zone for the chef, a liberal sprinkling of Lambert & Butler stubs garnished with squeezed tea bags was all the clue we needed. Upon approaching the reception desk we were greeted by the sole staff member, whilst the desk was graced with a flat screen monitor and 'phone, neither appeared to be plugged in and the lilies in the dirty vase were well past there sell by date. Out of a sense of adventure and with a thought to Stanley Kubrick's feel for what a deserted hotel should offer, we decided to take a room for the night. The enormous, once glamorous, hotel was devoid of life and much stair climbing and marching along endless corridors lead us to a pretty average, though unkempt, room. To conform to expectations the bath tap was dripping profusely producing that distinctive brown streak on the enamel and the lino had retreated from the skirting like mould in a tea cup, revealing that half inch gap of musty, damp, dust gathering matter that is best not investigated too closely. In an attempt to change the stale air I enthusiastically hauled at the sash windows, having cracked away the painted seal the rotted cords let go and with a crash, fresh air rushed in - a nearby '70s hard-wired hair dryer had just enough flex to serve as a sash prop. I'm sure you can imagine the scene. I'm very pleased to have dug out this earlier picture from the previously blogged Beattock House Hotel - the carpet here is a fine example of the sort of thing we're up against. I called at Beattock only to find the BHH now closed.