Jonathan: Sales of garden produce – sales generally – plummeted at the end of August: it was if Calmac had simply cancelled all sailings from Oban until further notice – there’s scarcely been any visitors on the island since the beginning of September. And those that come aren’t for spending much. Campervanners are renown for bringing half the shelves of their home-town supermarkets with them and scarce a penny here; but this year it’s others too. A young couple declined the offer of juicy sweet freshly picked tomatoes because they’d brought their own home-grown with them – picked a fortnight earlier in the south of France! A regular guest at our Askernish cottage brought the essentials with her – from her local supermarket at home in Canada! Mind you that’s a different matter altogether: when I think of my morning ritual of fresh roast coffee and toast, I think I’d do the same. Too important to leave it to chance!
Jonathan: Guests leaving Carrick recently left a couple of complaints in the guest book. One was that the ventilation system ‘pumped’ pollen into the living room and made hay fever worse. You might have thought that they might consider the legal minefield created for us by suggesting to our subsequent guests that any serious episode of hay-fever might be caused by specific and novel features of the house theye are staying in; you surely would have thought that if they were suffering so badly they would have asked what could be done about it. Had they asked I would – as an acute hay sufferer myself – have suggested that they did not have windows open much of the day, as they did: in fact the ventilation system feeds air to all rooms in the house (except shower room and wc – where air is extracted), but the air intake has pollen filters fitted. I would also have pointed out that if there was one thing that grew well in the islands it is grass, and it is grass pollen that is worst for hay fever.
The other complaint was ‘lack of privacy due to early morning activities’ on the croft. Our website states clearly that it is a working croft, with photos showing the relationship of the house with the land. Not only that, but last year these guests actually stayed in the house next door (directly adjacent to and overlooking our croft) and liked the look of Carrick so much they actually came round to our house there and then to pay in cash for their holiday this year. You would have thought they might reflect on that before putting it into the minds of guests after them that there was something unreasonably intrusive about me walking past the house quietly at 8am and back half an hour later, and possibly spending half an hour or so down the croft head-down amongst the bushes picking fruit (I was doing that when they were here last year!), always mindful of the need to avoid intruding on guests’ privacy (though actually many guests come out to chat with me) . Some guests can be far too quick to leave complaints without considering whether they are reasonable or justified (today’s complaining culture?), and do not stop to think the trouble it causes, providing spurious grounds for complaint for subsequent guests who, annoyed by nothing more than poor weather, are all to ready to find fault and take it out on us (oh they do!, they do!). They complain simply because they know have the power to do so. They never apologize for causing damage: in fact all too frequently they will try and cover it up! But what opportunity do we get for complaining of guests who, for example, willfully ignore basic house rules (or even defy ordinary common sense!): these guests went out for the day leaving several windows open, doors unlocked, and the house key on display! Just before the next guests arrived I discovered the new sliding door track is damaged – probably from being slammed open too roughly: it could cost about £300 to £400 to put right, but even if I’d noticed it before D had gone home ahead of me and posted the cheque for the balance of the deposit (she’s too efficient!!) I wouldn’t have recovered much more than about £60. And what can I do about that now apart from burden you with this lengthy moan? To paraphrase myself, some people moan simply because they know they have the power to do so! ;~) Okay, I’ve got that out of my system – time to get back to work!
Jonathan: Someone coming up to the house door to pay for a jar of jam from the shop, but he stopped on his way to help himself to a handful of gooseberries from the tray D picked this morning, and started eating them. Are you thinking of buying gooseberries? I ask. Just tasting – actually I’d like half a dozen eggs. Back from the kitchen I see that all the gooseberries he’d taken are gone: Well, are you going to buy the gooseberries? Himself: Oh no – much too tart! Well that must be a surprise to you, what with gooseberries normally being so sweet and succulent straight off the bush. You might have asked, they are actually for our own meal tonight – you’re helping yourself to our dinner!