Destination: Lochinver

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September 12th 2010
Published: September 13th 2010
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Getting to Lochinver was a mission in itself. There wasn’t a lot of information available, and hardly anyone really knew how to get there. The first stop was easy enough, I had to make my way to Inverness. I went on to the customer service desk and asked how to get to Lochinver, the number 67 bus with a connection at Ullapool. Which bus do I connect with? Not sure. What time will it come? Don’t know. That was pretty much the theme. I got to Ullapool easy enough, but from there the same questions yielded the same answers. Even the bus timetable was really unclear, there were different times for summer, winter and school days. I asked at the Ullapool pier, they told me to go to the Information Centre. The guy there told me a bus should be coming at about 5.20pm. Luckily though, through my own awesome sleuthing skills I pretty much figured out that the bus was in fact supposed to come at 4.37pm. So I waited at the pier for over an hour, really fearing that what seemed like the only bus to Lochinver would fly past without me knowing and I’d be stuck in this tiny fishing town. 4.37 came and there’s no bus. 4.45, 4.50 and still no bus. I noticed a small group of people standing around looking just as nervous. So I wandered over and asked, and yes they were waiting for the same bus. Thank god, at least I seemed to be at the right place at the right time. And sure enough, 4.55 and the bus finally turned up. At this point I was fed up and tired, it had been over 8 hours since I left Edinburgh and had another 40 minutes til I reached my destination. Between nodding off on the bus trip I managed to open my eyes and noticed how beautiful the scenery had become, while somehow also being, unremarkable I guess. I tried to figure out how I could possibly take a picture of all this and show it for what it is, and I realised I couldn’t. It was calm lakes and rivers, jagged rocks and mountains, lots of green fields and grasses all as far as the eye could see. This place was far from civilisation, small, peaceful and full of natural beauty.

When I got into Lochinver I get picked up by Grace, an older Scottish lady that works at Inver Lodge. She took me to my new place of work and introduced me to some of my new work mates. John from Zimbabwe, my fellow general assistant, Lana the Scottish receptionist, JP Scottish chef and Ryan the Saffer chef. While here she also kitted me out with my day uniform. I knew I was gonna look incredibly stupid as soon as she pulled out a blue vest. The bow tie iced the cake. I’m pretty sure this is the exact same uniform worn when this place opened, twenty years ago. Imagine my surprise when after this Graces turns to me and says “Right, now we’re going to have to fit you out with some tartans for the night shift”. What. The. Fuck. At this point, I was seriously considering running for the exit. Tartans, really? So I got kitted out with red tartan pants, a white shirt, green vest and a green bow tie. After wearing this tartan garb for about a week, I got a huge slice of good fortune. For some reason or another I am the only person that has a blue vest during the day, everyone else wears a green vest. After putting out my vest for a wash before my day off, I came back a few days later only to find that my green vest had disappeared. At first I was livid. Who the fuck stole my green vest? Then it suddenly washed over me, without the green vest I can’t wear the tartan uniform. Despite my awesome sleuthing skills, I’m afraid this mystery will remain unsolved.

Next stop was my new temporary home. Another of my new work mates, Simon was there on his day off. We start chatting and soon find he has a massive love for films, TV and football. Now being early on a Friday evening, and not much else to do around this town, naturally we head to the closest pub, The Caberfeidh. The best thing about this pub is it’s an awesome 20 metres away. After a few drinks and lots of football talk, I realise that Simon does talk a lot. And I mean a lot. It’s not really annoying talk though, but still it seems like eternity wouldn’t be long enough for the amount this guy can talk. He’s also got no idea how to cook bacon, but somehow knows how to bake cakes. It’s good though that there’s someone here that has similar interests, especially when it comes to getting out and exploring this place. So far I’ve found most people here usually sleep between shifts and days off. But it’s understandable, the waiters are up at work from about 7.30am to midday and return at 6.30pm and work til around 11. And John is generally working when I’m not. It’s only really Simon who has any sort of motivation to get out and about when he has a chance.
Moving on and finally starting work, I meet the rest of the crew. There’s Debbie receptionist and studying to be a midwife, who ironically seems to have quite a tendency to dislike kids. The wait staff, Linda the head waitress and part time hair dresser, Tim the Dutchie who sounds like Arny, Jimmy the Indian that looks more Chinese, and Amy the Saffer who’s married to Ryan. All these guys are pretty cool, and fun to work with. Now having been lazy and writing this about a month after I turned up to Lochinver, there’s been a few changes to the staff. Debbie, Ryan and Amy have now left and have been replaced by Jenny the new waitress, Lee and Conrad the new chefs. Lee has an annoying tendency to sing all the time and Conrad has an unhealthy addiction to milk. From what I can gather these guys are shitting the wait staff to tears, so I’m glad I’m nowhere near the kitchen most the time. Though I wonder why they’re even chefs, whenever I get people in for lunch, and I usually don’t get more than 10 over the whole period of 4 hours, they seem pretty pissed off to have to start cooking. Conrad more so than Lee. Now I know all of you probably didn’t pick this up, but one of the receptionists left and there was no replacement. So now you’re asking, where is this leading? Well, there was in fact a replacement receptionist, Adrian who only lasted four days. There’s only way I can describe this guy, he was basically a giant midget who looked exactly like mini me. No shit, Mr Gorton asked me to come to reception and as I walked in, Adrian had his back towards me and I thought to myself, why the hell is there a kid in reception. As he turned around, Mr G introduced me to Adrian. I didn’t know if he was serious and I would have burst out into laughter if my jaw didn’t drop. Now there was no prejudice in him lasting only four days. He was as useful as tits on a bull. I’d often see him running around the hotel doing god knows what. He had no ability to calculate bills using a set price list menu, leaving customers waiting around at reception for 10 minutes as he ran around trying to figure out the costs of their lunch. He literally could not remember anything. He couldn’t rip the paper off from the EFTPOS machine. He once came up to me when he did a credit card transaction with the full receipt, the part where the customer has to sign and the customer copy part and asked me what to do. It was pretty fucking obvious. One the customer has to sign, the other you give to the customer. It literally says that on the dockets that are printed out. Last I heard he was suing the hotel for unfair dismissal, and was leaving a bunch of shitty reviews on trip advisor.
Anyway back to my first week, and I spent most of it working with John. Now if there ever was a worse influence at work than John, I’ve yet to meet them. Since I’ve started we’ve had quite a few sneaky drinks from behind the bar, and recently started making cocktails. Though in partial truth, it kinda is product research in action and helps hone our cocktail making skills. We can’t go ahead recommending drinks to people that we know nothing about right? So recently we got in a cocktail book and all the tools of the trade. Needless to say there have been a few cocktails we’ve been making, unfortunately for the Inver Lodge no one actually buys cocktails to put our new found knowledge to use. Still better to be safe than sorry. Life is never dull when we’re both on shift which has been less often now I kinda know what I’m doing. John in his time here had managed to pick up a cougar, and he’s pretty much hit the jackpot. She’s moneyed and moneyed good. Only recently she bought him a 450 pound watch. That’s right, 450 pound. He’s also trying to get his license soon and a car and she’s offered to put in a considerable amount of money into that pot.
Grace, now Grace seems like a tough nut Scottish lady probably in her 40’s or 50’s but in truth she is pretty nice. When I first started out it seemed like a running joke that whenever I did something, people would tell me that Grace would kill me. Using serviettes to polish glasses would get me killed. Forgetting to bring down towels and linen would get me killed. Forgetting to clean the staff room would get me killed. I thought it would be pretty funny to make up a “Why Grace will kill you list” laminate it and put it in the staff room, until I thought about it and could only really come up with those three at the time. I promptly realised at this point that I really couldn’t be fucked.

And finally onto the big boss man, Mr Nicholas Gorton. He really is a big man, tall and wide, and he’s also gay. But he’s absolutely brilliant. Very easy going and easy to crack jokes at, but he can definitely give as much stick as he can take. He doesn’t feel like much of a boss but you definitely know of his authority.

I’m pretty lucky that there’s a few good people I work with because really, in this small town with not much to do and working about 50+ hours a week I’d pretty much go insane. There’s not a lot of socialising that can be done outside of work. But I’m pretty sure as nice as Lochinver is, three months here is going to be more than enough for me.


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