Scotland the Grave

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Craig Cockburn

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Nov 5, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/5/95
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In article <95110500...@mousa.demon.co.uk>
bi...@mousa.demon.co.uk "Bill Bedford" writes:

> Let me see if I've got this right -- you as a tourist expect to be able to
> going into any small village (population measured in hundreds) in the
> highlands and have the shop owner there pay staff to keep the shop open
> until late in the evening on the off chance that a someone - like you -
> will drop in and spend how much? ten pound? twenty?
>
> There must be quicker ways of going bankrupt, but not many.
>

You didn't get that right. Please locate the words "small village" in my
original text. I'm talking mainly about large towns with a few thousand
population. Your ten pounds, maybe twenty is about what people spend
on an upmarket evening meal, and yet restaurants offering this seem to
manage. What about hotels running small shops? I can buy a book in the
Ceilidh Place in Ullapool till 10pm, what about soap, shampoo etc?

> ~ It is too bad that these shops are often a rip off and are populated by
> ~ nothing but tourist. A fair number of Scots also like jerseys but shop
> ~ where things are more reasonable. I'm sure tourists would feel happier
> ~ paying reasonable rates and not feeling like they have to barter to get
> ~ a fair price.
>
> And what is a fair price? Do you mean something that will match the prices
> of jerseys mass produced in Indonesia?
>

No. I'm talking about Scottish goods which are sold at 50% more than what
the locals pay just because their in tourist shops.

> There's three things you would do well to remember be fore you get on your
> high horse about this, 1/ that guy in Lochinver is likely to have payed his
> wholesaler more that your 7 pounds. 2/ His staffing costs will be as high as

Not so - if I can buy one as a private individual for 7 pounds, he is
bound to pay less as he's buying in larger quantities and getting wholesale
prices.

> a shop in Edinburgh but with a much smaller turnover. 3/ There's always a
> constant stream of clueless southerners complaining about the prices and
> telling him haow to run his business.
>

> but doesn't seem to have lived anywhere away from the comforts of the
> city.....
>

I grew up in Dunblane (population today about 12,000 but with little open
after 5pm). Many of the ideas above came out of a discussion I had a few
weeks ago with a relation who is a business advisor and who is a former
fishfarmer and knows plenty about (a) living in remote areas and (b) good
business practice.


--
Craig Cockburn (pronounced "coburn"), Edinburgh, Scotland
Find me in "E-mail addresses of the rich and famous" ISBN 0-201-40893-7
Sgri\obh thugam 'sa Gha\idhlig ma 'se do thoil e.

Doug

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Nov 5, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/5/95
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In article <815563...@scot.demon.co.uk> Craig Cockburn

<cr...@scot.demon.co.uk> writes:
>In article <95110500...@mousa.demon.co.uk>
> bi...@mousa.demon.co.uk "Bill Bedford" writes:
>
>> Let me see if I've got this right -- you as a tourist expect to be able to
>> going into any small village (population measured in hundreds) in the
>> highlands and have the shop owner there pay staff to keep the shop open
>> until late in the evening on the off chance that a someone - like you -
>> will drop in and spend how much? ten pound? twenty?

It used to be that the shopowner would interrupt his/her TV viewing in the
evening to serve a customer.

>I grew up in Dunblane (population today about 12,000 but with little open
>after 5pm). Many of the ideas above came out of a discussion I had a few
>weeks ago with a relation who is a business advisor and who is a former
>fishfarmer and knows plenty about (a) living in remote areas and (b) good
>business practice.
>

I am sorry to disagree with Bill on this but as one who has lived in some
relatively remote areas in the UK I can testify that rural shopkeepers and
hotel keepers earn such a good living from tourism in the Summer by
overcharging they have grown complacent and work the shortest hours possible
consistant with a reasonable income and virtually retire in the Winter. It is
also well know that UK hotel charges are extortionate compared with many other
countries. I can also testify to the dual price charging for locals and
tourists.

As one who has backpacked the West Highland Way to Fort William I thought
Craig's contribution gave an interesting and revealing picture of Scottish
tourism as it really is. However, I would like to add that areas of England
suffer from similar problems. Despite our new relaxed licencing laws, many pubs
in Kent, which is a stones throw from London, also maintain the shortest
possible opening hours compared with their counterparts in the cities. This
must be because they do so well from midday lunches, the high price of beer,
family trips out at weekends, and frantic evening boozeups, that they just
don't have to bother with real travellers, in a real 24 hour day, in a real
world , unlike the traditional hostelries of old.

One of my most outstanding memories of UK rural inconvenience was a cafe that
closed for lunch in Devon!

Doug
London, England, UK, EU.
--


Bill Bedford

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Nov 5, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/5/95
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In article <815471...@scot.demon.co.uk>, Craig Cockburn writes:


~
~ Example: You as a tourist want to make the most of daylight hours to
take
~ photos and visit places in the countryside. You return to your B&B or
~ hotel in the evening and have to buy toiletries, camera film, postcards,
~ stamps. You can't buy stamps because the post office shut at 5pm when you
~ were halfway up a glen. Many tourists find themselves shopping and
~ organising their timetable around the shops and spending less time in the
~ countryside. However, when I was in the US, I could quite easily go out
~ taking pictures all day, return for an evening meal and then stock up on
~ provisions at 10pm.


Let me see if I've got this right -- you as a tourist expect to be able to
going into any small village (population measured in hundreds) in the
highlands and have the shop owner there pay staff to keep the shop open
until late in the evening on the off chance that a someone - like you -
will drop in and spend how much? ten pound? twenty?

There must be quicker ways of going bankrupt, but not many.

~ It is too bad that these shops are often a rip off and are populated by


~ nothing but tourist. A fair number of Scots also like jerseys but shop
~ where things are more reasonable. I'm sure tourists would feel happier
~ paying reasonable rates and not feeling like they have to barter to get
~ a fair price.

And what is a fair price? Do you mean something that will match the prices
of jerseys mass produced in Indonesia?

~
~ There seems to be a feeling amongst many places that they know the
~ worst is crap so they feel that they have the right to charge 50% more
~ for something that is only average. And unfortunately, they get away
~ with it because there's so little competition. A recent trip to
~ Lochinver bore this out. I asked how much the Kodachrome was - about 10
~ pounds. I said "That's outragous - you can buy it for 7 in Edinburgh".
~ The reply was not "I'm sorry but we have to charge that to make any
~ money" but a sarcastic "Well you're not in Edinburgh now". I left,
~ with him NOT ten pounds better off, wondering if there would be a
~ market for buying it in bulk by mail order from Edinburgh at 7 pounds,
~ paying 1 pound postage for 10 rolls and then selling it at 8 pounds for
~ a profit. I appreciate that trade in Edinburgh is much much brisker but
~ commercial rates and properties are skyhigh compared to a wee shop up a
~ glen!

There's three things you would do well to remember be fore you get on your
high horse about this, 1/ that guy in Lochinver is likely to have payed his
wholesaler more that your 7 pounds. 2/ His staffing costs will be as high as

a shop in Edinburgh but with a much smaller turnover. 3/ There's always a
constant stream of clueless southerners complaining about the prices and
telling him haow to run his business.

~
~ Craig Cockburn has researched for "Scotland the Best" (mainstream
~ publishing), Eat, Sleep and Drink Smoke Free (Headway publishing) and
~ The Scottish Folk Arts Directory (Blackfriars Music) and is probably
~ the most prominent Scot on the Internet. He has been writing on
~ the Internet about Scottish culture for 8 years.
~

but doesn't seem to have lived anywhere away from the comforts of the
city.....

--
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bill Bedford Designer of Photo-Etches
bi...@mousa.demon.co.uk Owner of Brit_Rail-L list

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Francis Davey

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Nov 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/6/95
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My experience of the Highlands has been rather different. I've never had much
trouble finding somewhere pleasant to eat. I'm a vegetarian, which makes life
more difficult, but I still manage. Shops, pubs etc seem fine, reasonably
priced and open later than I would expect.

Oddly enough I would consider somewhere like Mallaig and even more so Fort
William to be quite a metropolis with lots of things to do and places to go. My
experience tends to be of rather remoter places than that.

However I think the reasons I have no trouble are (i) I've never been a tourist
in Scotland and (ii) I not only don't expect everyone in the world to live at
the daft, mad 24 hour pace that Southerners seem to take for granted; I expect
quite the opposite. It is nice to stay somewhere that isn't madly rushing round
doing things.

I am still surprised by everyone's general negativity. On Seil, where my Granny
lives, there are at least half a dozen pleasant places to eat, some of them
open well into the evening. Its an Island with a population less than 600,
could you really expect more?

Bill Bedford

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Nov 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/6/95
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In article <815563...@scot.demon.co.uk>, Craig Cockburn writes:

~
~ In article <95110500...@mousa.demon.co.uk>
~ bi...@mousa.demon.co.uk "Bill Bedford" writes:
~
~ > Let me see if I've got this right -- you as a tourist expect to be able
to
~ > going into any small village (population measured in hundreds) in the
~ > highlands and have the shop owner there pay staff to keep the shop open

~ > until late in the evening on the off chance that a someone - like you -

~ > will drop in and spend how much? ten pound? twenty?
~ >
~ > There must be quicker ways of going bankrupt, but not many.
~ >
~
~ You didn't get that right. Please locate the words "small village" in my
~ original text. I'm talking mainly about large towns with a few thousand
~ population. Your ten pounds, maybe twenty is about what people spend
~ on an upmarket evening meal, and yet restaurants offering this seem to
~ manage. What about hotels running small shops? I can buy a book in the
~ Ceilidh Place in Ullapool till 10pm, what about soap, shampoo etc?

Odd definition of 'large town' that - a few thousand people.

Lets assume that the locals will do most of their shopping in the same way
that you would at home ie they'll drive to the nearest supermarket, even
though the distance is much greater. This will leave our shop keeper with
two groups of customers - those who don't have their own transport and
tourists. Where there enough of either of these groups then you will find
that there will be shops open to cater for them - Pitlochry springs to mind
- but if the likely sales are not going to cover the costs of having the
shop open then you've no right to expect any one to lose money to give you a
service.

~ >
~ > And what is a fair price? Do you mean something that will match the
prices
~ > of jerseys mass produced in Indonesia?
~ >
~
~ No. I'm talking about Scottish goods which are sold at 50% more than what
~ the locals pay just because their in tourist shops.

These would be the same tourist shops that do 80% of their business in the
10 or 12 weeks of the 'season'?

~
~ > There's three things you would do well to remember before you get on
~ > your high horse about this, 1/ that guy in Lochinver is likely to have

~ > payed his wholesaler more that your 7 pounds. 2/ His staffing costs will
~ > be as high as
~
~ Not so - if I can buy one as a private individual for 7 pounds, he is
~ bound to pay less as he's buying in larger quantities and getting
~ wholesale prices.
~

Read what I said. His *wholesale*cost* is likely to higher than the
*retail*price in Edinburgh.

As a example the prices in our local food wholesaler, that supplies the
country shops B&B's and guest houses, are about 5% higher than than the
local supermarket. Ans yes there is only one yet. God knows how much more
they charge than supermarkets in Aberdeen or Edinburgh.

~ I grew up in Dunblane (population today about 12,000 but with little open
~ after 5pm). Many of the ideas above came out of a discussion I had a few
~ weeks ago with a relation who is a business advisor and who is a former
~ fishfarmer and knows plenty about (a) living in remote areas and (b) good
~ business practice.
~

uhmmmmm

Bill Bedford

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Nov 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/6/95
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In article <20...@noid.demon.co.uk>, Doug writes:

~
~
~ In article <815563...@scot.demon.co.uk> Craig Cockburn


~ <cr...@scot.demon.co.uk> writes:
~ >In article <95110500...@mousa.demon.co.uk>
~ > bi...@mousa.demon.co.uk "Bill Bedford" writes:
~ >
~ >> Let me see if I've got this right -- you as a tourist expect to be able
to
~ >> going into any small village (population measured in hundreds) in the
~ >> highlands and have the shop owner there pay staff to keep the shop open
~ >> until late in the evening on the off chance that a someone - like you -
~ >> will drop in and spend how much? ten pound? twenty?
~

~ It used to be that the shopowner would interrupt his/her TV viewing in
the
~ evening to serve a customer.
~
I know some people who still do this, but most people want the same social
life as their peers.



~ >I grew up in Dunblane (population today about 12,000 but with little
open
~ >after 5pm). Many of the ideas above came out of a discussion I had a few
~ >weeks ago with a relation who is a business advisor and who is a former
~ >fishfarmer and knows plenty about (a) living in remote areas and (b)
good
~ >business practice.
~ >


~ I am sorry to disagree with Bill on this but as one who has
~ lived in some relatively remote areas in the UK I can
~ testify that rural shopkeepers and hotel keepers earn such a
~ good living from tourism in the Summer by overcharging they
~ have grown complacent and work the shortest hours possible
~ consistant with a reasonable income and virtually retire in
~ the Winter. It is also well know that UK hotel charges are
~ extortionate compared with many other countries. I can also
~ testify to the dual price charging for locals and tourists.

Mmmmmmm. It seems tourism suffers from the same sort of hype and confidence
massageing as other non-indusrtries such as finanace and politics.

There's some questions that I think need to be asked here, I'm not sure that
there any real answers though.

If a person is satisfied with the living they make working say 40 hours a
week should anyone have the right to expect them to work longer?

Is this more or less true if the only relationship we have to them is of
'passing trade'?

If a business is only really viable for part of the year should we expect it
to run for the whole year?

Craig Cockburn

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Nov 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/6/95
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In article <47ktk3$s...@lyra.csx.cam.ac.uk>
fj...@cl.cam.ac.uk "Francis Davey" writes:

> I am still surprised by everyone's general negativity. On Seil, where my Granny
> lives, there are at least half a dozen pleasant places to eat, some of them
> open well into the evening. Its an Island with a population less than 600,
> could you really expect more?
>

It's pushing it rather to claim Seil is an island when it's seperated from
the mainland by 4 feet of water and there's been a bridge there for decades.

Betty Dalrymple

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Nov 7, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/7/95
to
Did you do your homework on Scotland or just take off and assume stores
and locations would be open. All over Europe there are differnt customs.
Remember this is their country and they do not have to adjust
themselves to make you happy. Did you ask or research opening and
closings in the areas in which you traveled or just hope for the best
when you came upon a tourist infomation center? No matter where one
travels I find it helps to research the area , check with a travel agent,
write to the tourist board of the area to obtain all the literature
about the given area. Every city . state and country always have tourist
traps and junk. If I really wish to purchase I try to find out where the
locals shop. Many countries in Europe have Sunday closing, this is why
it is always a good idea to study where you will be on Saturday and
Sunday. Better luck on your next travel adventure.
Betty


Francis Davey

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Nov 7, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/7/95
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In article <815682...@scot.demon.co.uk>,

Craig Cockburn <cr...@scot.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>In article <47ktk3$s...@lyra.csx.cam.ac.uk>
> fj...@cl.cam.ac.uk "Francis Davey" writes:
>
>> I am still surprised by everyone's general negativity. On Seil, where my Granny
>> lives, there are at least half a dozen pleasant places to eat, some of them
>> open well into the evening. Its an Island with a population less than 600,
>> could you really expect more?
>>
>
>It's pushing it rather to claim Seil is an island when it's seperated from
>the mainland by 4 feet of water and there's been a bridge there for decades.
>

Slightly more than 4 feet even at low tide. Not totally trivial to cross
either, with pretty strong currents much of the time. The Sound is quite
adequate for sailing reasonable-sized vessels up and down, so I think "Island"
is quite a reasonable way of refering to it.

As for the bridge. I hope you don't start questioning the status of Skye in a
few decades time 8-).

The Seil bridge has been there for >200 years actually and is a pretty cool
bit of construction (pun unintended). Its nice to see lorries beached on it
sometimes.

Lewis Murray

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Nov 7, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/7/95
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Despite disagreeing with Dave Cockburn's views on pricing of goods etc. I
must say that in my experience the service given to tourists in the
country is pretty deplorable part. in respect to trying to find places to
eat. In numerous places around Scotland I have been treated to shoddy
service extremely por value for money and an incredably surly reaction to
any complaints.
It should be so easy to rectify these points - I'm not saying that you
can't get a good service in Scotland but you must know where to go.
Ireland does not seem to have this problem. Why should we?

The attitude of the tourist board is all wrong. I frankly cannot believe
the system of valueing B&Bs and Hotels etc on account of their facilities
alone. Tourists DO NOT come here to watch SATELLITE TV. They come here
to see our country and expect to get friendly and helpful SERVICE as
opposed to ott facilities.

If we were able to get this approach right, perhaps, we could THEN turn
the emphasis towards extra comfort and bringing down the prices of Kodak
whatevers.


Craig Cockburn

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Nov 7, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/7/95
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In article <20...@noid.demon.co.uk> p...@noid.demon.co.uk "Doug" writes:

> >If a person is satisfied with the living they make working say 40 hours a
> >week should anyone have the right to expect them to work longer?
> >

> Depends what they are working at. If they have chosen to earn a living
> providing a service to the public then they should try and do just that.
>

This is the usual argument when the issue of longer hours arises -> why
should people work considerably more than 40 hours a week?
I'm not asking for people to work longer hours, I'm asking for the shop
to be open for longer hours. Many shops are staffed by more than one
person. If one worked 9-5 and the other 12-8 then the shop would be open
longer and no one would have to work any more hours than at present.

Barbara Vaughan

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Nov 7, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/7/95
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In article <dam-071195...@kerrera.dcs.gla.ac.uk>, d...@dsc.gla.ac.uk (David A Morning) writes:

|> In article <815682...@scot.demon.co.uk>, cr...@scot.demon.co.uk wrote:
|>
|> > In article <47ktk3$s...@lyra.csx.cam.ac.uk>
|> > fj...@cl.cam.ac.uk "Francis Davey" writes:
|> >
|> > > I am still surprised by everyone's general negativity. On Seil, where
|> my Granny
|> > > lives, there are at least half a dozen pleasant places to eat, some of them
|> > > open well into the evening. Its an Island with a population less than 600,
|> > > could you really expect more?
|> > >
|> >
|> > It's pushing it rather to claim Seil is an island when it's seperated from
|> > the mainland by 4 feet of water and there's been a bridge there for decades.
|>
|> Oh come on now Craig! It must be at least 12 feet of water!

8'7".

Barbara Vaughan

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