The highs and lows of Christmas and the New Year are already a distant memory - Maisie and I did finally get to see family for a Christmas in London, but unfortunatley we didn't hang around to see everyone else we had planned to visit afterwards; I'm sure we'll catch up with folks in the coming months.

So with renewed optimism we look forward to a busy 2022 season, however that might take its form - we hope more overseas visitiors will return, as well as the UK folks, who discovered holidaying in the UK, isn't that bad afterall.

So for now, its mostly DIY, gardening, admin, jam-making and photography that will keep Maisie and I occupied - we will be open for a short stint this winter 21 Jan - 24 Feb - here's just a few pictures of winter on Skye (all taken early January, either this year or in the last couple of years) - anyone tempted?

To book call 01471 833305 or follow the BOOK YOUR STAY button from the home page2022 01 05 14.56.42 

Off the Hill B&B has closed for the 2021 season, and we don’t have guests due in again (well at the moment anyway) until towards the end of March. So what do B&B owners do for their “5 months off”… well as a started for 10, we frown at those folks who think we “have 5 months off”.

Do we: swan off to Thailand for 5 months; wake up at noon & watch daytime tv; or, are out every day for cake & coffee with friends? The short answers are: I wish, occasionally, sometimes!!!

It is also something that guests ask me, and is usually tied in with a conversation about “What are the winters like up here, weather wise?”.

Once we’ve had a few long-lies, done a few DIY projects (small and large), visited family wherever that might be, planned for next year, admin and The Tax Return, many of us have a creative hobby or side hustle. Painting, pottery, knitting, sewing, writing a novel (I’d love to think I have one in me), weaving, baking, jewellery making, wood carving - either way it’s something to keep our hands busy, minds ticking over and occupy our time when we are into our fourth consecutive day of horizontal rain.

My “thing” is photography, in particular landscape photography, and we have a lot of the component parts in abundance – the landscape, the weather and ever changing, rich (and sometimes illusive) winter light. I’ve been on Skye for over 7 years, but have been photographing its landscape for about 14 years, having worked up here prior to running the B&B, visiting for holidays and seeing friends. It is well and truly under my skill now. Here’s just 4 photos taken in the last couple of weeks.

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You can see more of my images at www.elainesmithphotography.com or on Facebook

You can follow more of my and Maisie’s out of season life at the OTH Facebook page

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The reconfigure dining room

I've been reopen for nearly two weeks and it feels like we are getting back to "normal". But normal does mean a few things have changed here at Off the Hill.

I've always had the large communal breakfast table where all my guests can sit together and chat about where they've been and the adventures that have planned for the coming day; I loved hearing 6 excited voices discussing the island and little treasures they’d found off the beaten track.

Now its a little different – I am only operating 2 rooms and the configuration in the dining room is “socially distanced” but still allowed my guests to chat and they can also sit outside and enjoy breakfast or they coffee, and chat too. A new kind of normal, and I hope,but just as welcoming.

Social media screen shots for our We are open advertising in April 2021

It’s been a long time coming but Off the Hill B&B will be open for the 2021 season from 1st May

We will only have 2 double ensuite rooms open this year, so there’ll be a maximum of 4 guests which will allow all to move around the house with ease and folks can social distance as required at breakfast too.

Our usual high level of hygiene will apply throughout, with additional regular cleaning in communal areas…door handles, hand rails and surfaces etc; hand sanitiser will be available too and we ask guests to wear face masks when they arrive and whilst moving around the house.

I know this is not quite normal…but to be frank I’m not sure how we define normal!

What will be normal will be Maisie’s enthusiastic welcome and our wish for you to enjoy your stay with us at Off the Hill B&B and your time on Skye.

To book please just click on the Book Now button on the home page, or if you’d like to chat and ask us about a possible stay, please call on 01471 833305.

The view from the breakfast room - the hill of Knoydart on the mainland

Our glass is half full here at Off the Hill B&B and there seems to be a very small light at the end of the tunnel.

We have had some stunning, but cold, weather over the last few weeks and now the Cuillins and the mountains on the mainland are snow-capped like a cake with its dusting of icing sugar. Maisie and I would have loved to have shared this with people but there will always be next winter - the seasons and mother nature are one constant we can rely on.

But things are looking promising, subject to the lifting of restrictions here in Scotland, we will be open again this summer and we have been buoyed by the flurry of bookings we have received in the last month for staycations at Off the Hill B&B from May through to late October in 2021.

Just like last year’s “short and socially distanced” season there are the same precautions in place to maintain our Good to Go credentials and show you we are COVID19 safe – I will don a facemask, and request you do the same for your arrival and whilst moving around the house, there is still a limit on guest numbers (only 2 per room, so a max of 4 all together) and separate tables at breakfast, along with limited room service & a few less amenities in the rooms – but otherwise the B&B is just as you would hope – friendly, cosy and a home-from-home for you trip to Skye.

So if you are thinking a staycation is your favoured option this year, think of holidaying on Skye and come share a piece of the good life at Off the Hill B&B

Stay safe

Elaine & Maisie xx

A wintery view - snow capped monroes in the distance

It’s been a torrid year; personally, professionally, physically and mentally. Like many, I'm just waiting it out, out of the way, trying to keep busy, avoiding over exposure to the (social) media and getting a bit of vitamin D, when the weather allows.

The B&B only opened for 3 months in 2020; one room/2 guests to keep folks (and me) safe and provide reassurance to all. I had hoped that the autumn and winter would see a small influx of people visiting out of season in place of missed adventures in the summer, but that was not be either. I am optimistic that I will have some sort of a season in 2021 – we can but hope the vaccine provides a little hope in beating this.

So this all means that right now I’m closed; but if you are a key worker and require a room, regulations currently allow me to provide accommodation – if this is the case please get in touch direct – again it will only be one room but I will do all I can to provide a welcoming and safe place to be whilst here on Skye.

In the meanwhile, I’ll continue getting out in the Sleat locale to capture the wild winter, crisp sunshine and the changing seasons.

Keep safe,

Elaine xx

 

So where do I start? Welcome to my new website for Off the Hill B&B, if lockdown has afforded me anything, it’s been time to catch up on long overdue admin, hence now I have a new site.

But this is also not quite how I expected my first blog post to go either.

Hopefully we B&B owners in Scotland will find out later this week if we can start making plans to reopen again and make the first tentative steps towards normality ...or should that be a "new normal". Turning things back on again is so much more of a task compared to just stopping everything 3 months ago.

I know some folks aren't even entertaining the idea of opening again this year or even, sadly for some, at all. I want, and need, to get up and running but will take my time and work out how this will work for all concerned.

So here's my thoughts (and not an exhaustive list) on how I can do this and reassure friends, neighbours and guests that it’s still a good idea to travel all the way to Skye for a holiday this year.

1) I normally have 3 double rooms, but for now will only have one couple staying at any one time - this may change depending on social distancing "rules".

2) Guests will use a separate entrance to myself, but I will be around to "greet" you, show you to your room and be around to help with requests.

3) Thorough cleaning, with an extra 24hrs between guest changeovers. Hand sanitiser everywhere..... well at the front door and in the dining room... I've just ordered some lovely products (sanitiser and handwash) from The Beauty Kitchen I can't wait for them to arrive.

4) I will probably have to limit some of items I put out as extras in the room and at breakfast, but if you need anything I can hopefully sort, on an ad-hoc basis.

5) I can provide packed lunches so you don't have to go to the supermarket if you don't want to.

6) With some prior arrangement I can provide evening meals... nothing fancy just nice healthy scrummy stuff ...there is a local pub but with social distancing they probably won't be able to manage the usual numbers they have in the summer. Guests can also get a takeaway or fish & chips, or food from the supermarket and have access to the dining room or if we are midge free, sit in the garden. Unfortunately, for hygiene reasons (and it’s not normal at a B&B) guests can't have access to the kitchen…sorry!

7) Contactless and/or remote payment on departure.

I hope to welcome guests from early August but this will all depend on the Scottish government lifting restrictions and it is very important to understand the nuances between the rules in Scotland vice the rest of the UK. And sorry, for now, I am not taking overseas guests.

I am looking forward, with some trepidation to welcoming guests back to Off the Hill B&B and the beautiful Isle of Skye.

Please keep following for more updates.