Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Tour of the Western Isles: Stornoway: “you’ll have had your tea!”
Stornoway: “you’ll have had your tea!”
Stornoway is easily the largest town on the Outer Hebrides. On an admittedly brief acquaintance it appears to have little to attract me back. Trying to find a cup of coffee and a snack just after 3pm in the afternoon proved to be a frustrating quest.
Parking near the fishing port, we found The Stag Tearoom. Certainly they did teas and coffees but when we asked for a toastie (tr: toasted cheese sandwich) we were told that as it was after 2.45pm they were no longer serving hot food. I was not expecting at 3.15 to be able to have a cooked meal. But refusing to serve a toastie! After all a toasted sandwich is not complicated to make!
Are these people in the hospitality industry? Do they want to make money? You would have thought they would want to profit from the high-season – clearly not! We took the last three fruit scones leaving a miserably meagre selection of cakes.
I recall the first time I went to Skye in the late 1970s and seeing restaurants close at 4.30-5pm. It is very surprising that in parts of Stornoway they are still in that mindset, particularly as it has been very different in most other parts of the islands. We have experienced great hospitality, a wonderful welcome and eaten some very good food. (Will be the subject of another post.)
To be fair the exhibition on the Lewis chessman at the town museum was certainly well worth the visit.
I’m tempted to rework Samuel Johnson’s famous saying about London – ‘someone who finds Stornoway interesting is tired of life’.
Social facilities for a slightly retarded species
Midges – a threatened species?
The other disappointment, although in this instance very welcome, was the lack of midges. 2011 appears to be a poor vintage for these ferocious and vicious little brutes. Like small black dots – they are turbo-charged micro mosquitos, who over the centuries have driven many a visitor to distraction. The arrival of a midge (midges) has an identical note to a pair of bagpipes starting up.
I had anticipated a post on crossing the Great Midge from Stornoway to Ullapool but in the circumstances the channel will revert to its more normal name – The Minch.