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A Scottish Experience With A Difference

When Mary stayed at a Scottish bed and breakfast establishment several years ago, she did not ever think that she would return several times, with her husband, to manage the bed and breakfast whilst the owners had a holiday. Mary had got on well with the owners during her stay, but was surprised when, upon returning from Scotland, they telephoned asking Mary and her husband to look after their business whilst they had a holiday. Knowing Scotland well, they said ‘yes’. They did not have prior experience in the hospitality industry. The bed and breakfast establishment was built in 1889, and caters for up to 22 people.

Names: Mary and Bert R
Ages: 50+
Previous Occupations: Tailoress and Policeman

Were you initially apprehensive about the job?
Not really. We looked upon it as doing something we had never done before.

What are your roles?
Bert does most of the cooking, bookwork and shopping, whilst Mary cleans, changes the beds, irons and does other chores associated with running a bed and breakfast.

How long do you manage the bed and breakfast for?
The first year we did it for a week and in recent times we have done it for two weeks.

What is the best part of the job?
It gives us an opportunity to go to Scotland regularly, and we have made new friendships.

And the not so good part of the experience?
You are tied down, but this is only for a short time.

What advice would you give to others wanting to pursue a similar job?

  • You must be organised.
  • Have a routine.
  • Be able to talk (and listen) to people.
  • Be flexible.
  • Have knowledge of the local area.

PS: Bert also looks after a shop the owners have nearby. The shop sells kilts and Scottish memorabilia and stays open until late each night, so Bert takes over for the last few hours. He said he met many Australians who were surprised to see a fellow Australian behind the counter. The shop also sells tartan ‘stubby holders’! (Mary and Bert introduced a ‘stubby holder’ to the owners…and it was not long before this uniquely Australian beer bottle holder got a ‘Scottish makeover’).

There are many great stories Mary and Bert can tell (and some they can’t!). Their warmth, love of people and efficiency make them an ideal couple for their relieving work.