The Scottish hospitality industry needs as much help as possible to allow a return to normality and to ensure we can resume life’s great joys of meeting, eating, laughing, and drinking, with our friends and family.
The importance of the sector was brought home to me last Friday as my oldest son married his beautiful new bride amid the stunning setting of Balbirnie House.
The wedding was at the fourth time of asking after three cancellations due to Covid.
It’s a story which lots of families will be familiar with after a grim period which has sucked much of the joy from life and dealt grievous blows to many.
It was a life affirming day full of laughter, happiness, and appreciation of the almost forgotten pleasures of meeting those closest to us, and being able to hug and hold them.
The wedding was a much reduced affair from original numbers and no band or dancing was allowed, however there were consolations at every turn.
Balbirnie, which like the rest of the hospitality trade has been sorely tested as businesses have struggled to stay afloat, were fantastic, with staff who were professional and efficient yet friendly and attentive and alive to every need.
They made the event a spectacular success and with the weather taking a turn for the better on the Friday, seamlessly switched the ceremony to an outdoor setting, their first this year, on a beautifully manicured lawn.
"When you love what you do, you don't work a day in your life!" Guess what? …. We so lucky & grateful that we love what we do!!
Here are 2 of our awesome wedding planners Gaynor & Christine, helping with the finishing touches for a gorgeous ceremony.
Love Balbirnie x pic.twitter.com/iUs2lDzd22
— Balbirnie Wedding Team (@WeddingsBH) June 1, 2021
Amid glorious sunshine, the bride and groom looked stunning and joy filled, and with a civil celebrant, a former Scotland rugby star, who hit exactly the right shades of humour and seriousness as the young couple set out on their life’s journey, a day never to be forgotten was assured.
We’re often told that we’re social creatures and that sentiment never rang more true as we mixed and mingled and laughed and joked our way through the day.
From a short round of golf on the morning of the wedding to the final drink of the night, bonhomie and cheeriness was evident everywhere as the first real glimpses of normality returning were witnessed.
Sunshine and smiles all round
We rounded off the weekend with a Saturday visit to St Andrews with my youngest son and his fiancé.
The town was a cavalcade of noise and colour, and good humoured and patient queues abounded as folk lapped up the sunshine.
A giant helping of waffle and ice cream in Janetta’s was served by staff who despite being rushed off their feet were good natured and on top of their game.
The fact that I was able to assure the owner that his entry to the BBC Off the Ball programme’s ice cream of the day team was correct – yes there was indeed a football player named Stuart Sorbie – added to the fun.
Our weekend will be just one among a myriad of similar tales as life eases back towards normality, but for the leisure industry, much of which is hanging on by its fingernails, it’s crucial that we support and indeed cherish it.
From small local pubs and restaurants to the biggest venues, the need to renew our appreciation for those who graft hard, often for scant financial reward, is more apparent to me than it was before.
The old phrase ‘You never miss the water until the well runs dry’ could’ve been coined for the industry. It’s a vital part of our daily existence.
The absence of the simple joys of a blether over a coffee or a craic over a pint have been keenly felt and my sense over the weekend was that folk are desperate to embrace those simple pleasures again.
The bulk of those serving us were young, smart, humorous, and lively and they delicately walked that fine line between great service and servility
In a competitive sector where many pursue their dream with no guarantee of success and the heavy penalty of failure looming large, we should give all the support we can to those who toil hard so that we can enjoy our leisure time.
One of the things that forcibly struck me over the weekend was the difference between the perception of some folk and the actual reality of ‘youth today’.
The bulk of those serving and looking after us were young.
They were smart, humorous, and lively and they delicately walked that fine line between great service which we all enjoy, and servility which most people don’t.
Help for hospitality heroes
These youngsters are warm, witty, and wise for their years; the perfect antidote to those who shake their heads mournfully at ‘youngsters today’; they’re a credit to themselves and their trade.
Our weekend was gloriously happy but for many in the sector, owners and staff alike, these are perilous times.
Sobriety wasn’t the watchword of our weekend but for many in hospitality these are sobering days. They deserve our appreciation and support.
If the hospitality well dried up, life would be a dismal daily drouth.