The last 3 or 4 months have seen us doing more painting, wallpapering and DIY than we have ever done before. I now have a new level of respect for professional Painters & Decorators – it is a hard enough slog just doing your own house so I can’t imagine having enough enthusiasm to do up someone else’s home. And I wonder, does it become even more of a chore if you are having to put up wallpaper or paint with a shade that you really don’t like? But most of all, how do they cope with breathing in gloss paint fumes all the time?
Anyway, our goal was to complete the majority of the redecorating in time for B&B Week which I am pleased to say we have just about achieved. There are still loads of snagging bits that we need to sort but we’ll get there…eventually. Just as long as I don’t poison my family again with paint fumes. I imagine by the time we have completely finished doing everything it’ll be time to start glossing those skirting boards again – we have come to accept that this house requires constant TLC.
The Dining Room was always going to be a big job so we put it off until the quieter season to avoid too much disruption in the B&B and tried to fit the work in between bookings. As with all the rooms, it was essential that we could find a way to keep our costs down, but without compromising on quality and style, but for a while we found it tricky to decide on what vibe we wanted for this room. Thankfully a bargain find in the January sales (£3 a roll from Laura Ashley!) gave us a great starting point – a wallpaper design with a story which fits in well with a B&B business.
Pineapples? In a Scottish B&B? How very strange I hear you say. Maybe so, but in fact pineapples have been a symbol of hospitality for centuries (although admittedly perhaps not so much on this side of the Atlantic) and their story is an interesting one which seems especially fitting to share during B&B Week.
The first recorded encounter between a European and a pineapple occurred in November 1493 when Christopher Columbus was on his second voyage to the Caribbean region and logged details of this strange pine cone-like fruit with a pulpy apple-like center. Just imagine if you have only ever been used to apples and pears and then you come across the spiky madness of a pineapple! When this new discovery was first brought across to Europe it attracted much attention from the upper classes and its rarity ensured it quickly became a symbol of social standing and wealth. Charles II even commissioned a portrait of himself receiving the gift of a pineapple from his head gardener.
Pineapples, or Ananas comosus to give them their scientific name, were so rare and expensive that only the very highest members of society could afford to actually eat them – in the 1700’s pineapples could sell for as much as £6,000 in today’s money. But if you were a bit well-off, but not enough to actually buy one of these exotic fruits, you could rent one for the evening to display as a table center at an important event. Just by having the pineapple on show would say much about the host’s rank in society and gain the respect of their peers. Which just goes to show that people have always been a bit stupid when it comes to fads. I guess the pineapple was simply the iphone of its day.
I rather like the legend of sea captains returning from voyages bearing their heavy cargoes of spices, rum, and a selection of exotic fruit where they would head home, stopping outside the house to spear a pineapple on a fence post. This would let his friends know of his safe return from sea. The pineapple was an invitation for them to visit, share his food and drink, and listen to tales of his voyage. This, writes historian Nicola Cornick, led to the pineapple signifying “a sense of welcome, good cheer, warmth and celebration” with the tradition leading to innkeepers adding a pineapple image to their signs and advertisements.
Over time craftspeople and architects adopted the pineapple symbol and incorporated it into designs and buildings, with perhaps Dunmore House in Stirlingshire being the grandest example of this anywhere. If the size of your pineapple indicates the level of your hosting skills, then they win I guess. But we rather like our dining room pineapples, and we like how our they connect our B&B, in a small way, to other B&Bs and Inns all over the world. We hope that when you see this shared image, where ever you are, you know that you can be sure of a warm welcome and a restful stay.
Today, on the final day of B&B Week, we will be unveiling our new Dining Room during our first ever open day. If you’d like to see it for yourself, along with all our guest suites, we invite you to come along to Rigg House B&B, Kirkconnel DG4 6NR, from 11am-5pm TODAY, Sunday 24th March.