Friday, 1 June 2012

Frugal Friday...

You would be forgiven for assuming that when we go on holiday all thoughts of frugality fade into the background. To an extent that's true, we go where we want to go and do what we fancy doing without the cost dictating entirely. We eat out a lot more than we usually would obviously, and happily treat ourselves to the excellent seafood available in the Hebrides, for example. However, where savings can be made without compromising our holiday we are happy to make them.

We carry forward some of the values from home in relation to grocery shopping, although for the most part try to buy locally (ie on the island) rather than taking stuff with us - this applies also when we head off for weekends camping - the damage done to the local economy in many tourist-spots by people arriving laden down with all the food and drink their family will require for their stay is horrific. Local shops that should be thriving aren't, as the "townies" shop from their personal supplies in their cars all weekend! There are some exceptions - things we know we either can't get, or which will attract a really high premium up there. Other than those few items though, we have a list, and our first job having unpacked the car at the cottage is to go and do the shopping. As at home, we buy unbranded or basic brand goods, and look for reduced stuff as much as possible too - we have the use of a freezer so if for example we are passing the Co-op and they have bread at 10p a loaf, we buy a couple and then get them out half a loaf at a time, as we need it. The same applies to veggies - often the evening meal will revolve around what was cheap that day, and with the Co-op's policy up there of "price to sell" there are often great bargains to be had. (It's impractical to remove unsold food from the islands due to the cost of carrying it away - so price to sell is the policy operated throughout the islands).
A strong priority when we're in the Hebrides is tea and cake, and plenty of both! However, the cost of tea and cake on a daily basis would soon mount up, even for a fortnight, so some days we take out a flask of boiling water, some tea bags and milk, and maybe some cake we've found on the reduced counter, and create our own tea-and-cake emporium in the car, or on the beach, or at a handily placed picnic bench....all the tastier for being able to hand-pick the view!

One massive expenditure for those living on Islands is vehicle fuel. As a rough guideline, whatever the cost of diesel down here in the South East, you can add on another couple of pennies by the time you reach Skye, and by the time you make it out to the Outer Isles that has escalated to a shocking additional TEN PENCE per litre! Bear in mind that this is allowing for the 5p per litre reduction in fuel duty for the Scottish Islands recently brought in by parliament, and you can begin to see what the scale of the problem has been. Most Islanders if travelling to the Mainland at all will drive their car onto the ferry running on little more than fumes, and will then top the tank up as much as they can before travelling back, but for those without a mainland trip planned, who are tied to using their cars due to the limited public transport options, the cost of just getting about ones day to day business can be a major factor in the monthly budget. The rules of driving economically hold just as true when we are away then, as they do at home, and we try not to carry more stuff in the car with us than we actually need for our day out, too. Bits of shopping that are needed are planned to get as we are passing the shop anyway, as even the local shop to where we stay requires a 10 mile round trip! Getting to the pub and back is a 30 mile round trip, but oddly we don't tend to economise so much on that!


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