Wanted, Retirees: A Scottish Experience With A Difference

Photo: Euan Carmichael
Photo: Matthew Kalapuch

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
Retired

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

What were your roles?
Bert did most of the cooking, bookwork and shopping, whilst Mary cleaned, changed the beds, ironed and did other chores associated with running a bed and breakfast.

How long did you manage the bed and breakfast for?
The first year we did it for a week and then we did  it for two weeks.

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

And the not so good part of the experience?
You are tied down, but this was 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 looked after a shop the owners had nearby. The shop sold kilts and Scottish memorabilia and stayed open until late each night, so Bert took 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 sold 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.

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