A friend bought a house on Harris just before the pandemic struck. He uses it when home from working abroad. This was going to be my chance to visit. I was looking to go in three weeks time, and in the past I have been told not to worry about bikes on Calmac ferries, there is always space. Not this time. Both Uig and Ullapool routes are full for the first week of August with only space left for foot passengers and pedal bikes.
Plenty of tourists I guess, or is it that Calmac are having to use the two car Nigg ferry because all their boats are knackered?
Actually, it must be tourists - we only dropped one room last month and that was deliberate. It's bloody knackering after the last two years...
See the Barra story.
We saw maybe 40 foot passengers getting off at Armadale on Friday afternoon and a stack of cyclists got on the ferry at Ardmhor.
We tried to get on the ferry, prior to the one we booked, to leave Barra but no chance.
Inverness is jammed. Took a cancellation for this evening just after lunch, re let the room less than 20 minutes later. No chance of getting a table at a restaurant either. Guess we're back to normal, hope it continues through till October.
Inverness is jammed. Took a cancelletion for this evening just after lunch, re let the room less than 20 minutes later. No chance of getting a table at a restaurant either. Guess we're back to normal, hope it continues through till October.
We had two nights in Inverness last Friday and Saturday didn’t pre book restaurants for either night. Both nights just walked in and we’re seated immediately. There were nine of us. So the restaurant situation is nowhere near as dire as some are making out to be. We also had absolutely no trouble getting tables in the many pubs we frequented.
Initially there were seven of us but two more decided to tag along. Adding another room on the day was no problem either.
There is a lot of scaremongering going on it would appear.
Just sayin' what our guests are feeding back... Still, great that it all worked out for you!
I am a bit confused by the booking situation.
For instance - on the Barra trip---
Months ago I booked Polochar Inn for 19.00.
A few weeks later I decided 19.30 would work better for us.
Contacted the Inn and got told no chance of 19.30 --- .20.30 would be ok.
I decided to keep the 19.00 slot . Arrived precisely at 19.00 and stayed to 22.00.
There was no obvious sign that 19.30 would have been a problem.
I accept that staff availability/lack across the kitchen etc might not be visible and false impressions be gained but ?????
Donald John MacIsaac at Kilbride campsite was the only person on our Barra trip not to ask for 100% or a substantial deposit.
I fear that the lack of Calmac capacity and the need to pre-book is driving an artificial atmosphere on the islands.
I don't mind paying a substantial deposit. I do mind not being able to get some flexibility weeks after the initial reservation.
There is a big problem back of house (and front often) because of a lack of staff. The pub up the road from me is still short a chef so are closing the kitchen at 8.00 pm every day, and my next door neighbour, who owns one of the best places in town is having to close Sunday and Monday even now to keep his staff happy and is also short a chef. I read there are 40000 vacancies in hospitality at the moment in Scotland.
Partly this is Brexit (yes it is) but also after lockdowns people were re evaluating their lives and deciding that working ten hours a day in a sweaty kitchen for not brilliant wages might not be the best way to spend their working lives.
We had a group of four in the last couple of nights who tried to book the Mustard Seed (always popular) back in March. Managed to get a table on Saturday, nothing doing on Friday. That was March! Mrs 3D, who is on some hospitality forums says that some places are still operating Covid protocols, and in fact the cafe where we had lunch in Dufftown the other day was doing just that.
We had a couple on bikes heading around the NC500 who wanted to stay near Skye next week, and the only thing we could find for them anywhere near on booking dot con was Ratagan hostel. That was literally it. I can't really figure it out, but we (in our very much edge-of-town) location dropped only one room the whole of last month, and it looks like we will be solid this month and next. Prices have got a bit silly too. We are doing rooms around the £95 mark (with a 9.7 rating on Booking) and places that have as low as sixes and sevens in town are hitting £120. Mrs Miggins on Skye will be around £150 in some cases now. But YMMV as the Americans would have it....
I am a little worried that word will get round that the north of Scotland is becoming too difficult and expensive to travel in. We need the tourism industry (apart from feckin' camper vans) and at the moment I'd struggle to afford an fortnight here.
I'm off to "the Lakes" for a couple of nights this week with my wife. Booked ages ago,; eye watering stuff£.
Dougie overheard a telecon by an " Executive Chef" discussing why it was impossible to carry out the function with a remit on both the islands and mainland.
Supply chain and availability needed someone dedicated to the Island part.
All part of the story I guess; reduced demand because of Covid = reduced staffing; rocketing demand & struggle to replace staffing "post" Covid.
Reduced pool of workers equals higher staffing costs, cost of energy, food, fuel, logistical issues, stupid SNP/Snot Greens licencing rules etc etc all pushing up costs and you could apply those problems to many businesses across the board.
Kinda wonder where it is all going to end, but I'd be very worried if I still had business debt...
Going back to Throttled's initial post and motor bikes on ferries.
Our recent multi ferry journey trip suggests there is a reluctance to squeeze a bike into a corner and an insistence on using the deck cleats and ratchet tie downs, each bike taking up the space a small car would fit in.
The Armadale Mallaig ferry is currently a smallish vessel and on our trip had six motorcycles adjacent to each other, "at right angles to the centre line" each strapped to a pair of cleats.
We tried to get on an "earlier" ferry off Barra but despite the efforts of the pier load master the crew deemed there was no space despite us offering to stand by the bikes for the 40min run.
Every journey we made had a high % of camper vans taking up a lot of deck length.
The Lochmaddy Uig ferry was big and had an elevating deck increasing capacity but it was booked solid for days.
You can usually trace most problems back to camper vans...
More problems this morning, Sunday 31st July.
Armadale Mallaig , the big vessel is out of commission due to Crew Shortages. The wee vessel will run but limited capacity.
Stornoway Ullapool, problems closing the bow doors so 1hr 21mins late leaving Stornoway this morning.
Presumably the knock on effects are significant in both cases.
The story doesn't get any better !
Used to be you booked a ferry and hoped for a weather window for your trip.
The primary hope, now, is that there is a ferry available - both ways !
Has there been any indication that Another Two new vessels are being tendered for - naw !
Clearly we need them.
(It's the same mentality as Nae Water - it was obvious some time ago that we needed more water storage capacity. Any forcefull dialogue going on with "land owners" and "cannae drown the floers" , groups ? Naw.).
As my neighbour remarked yesterday, "it's all going a bit third world, isn't it?"
there must be a bit of tongue in cheek reporting going one here , given the journal publishing the article and who has ultimate responsibility for the situation
happened to be at Limekilns today and a wee ship was waiting to get into dry dock at HMRDRosyth.
Puts the Calmac spend in persepective and this grey one currently doesn't work either.