Scottish hospitality through the eyes of the ‘bus pass brigade’

<VLUU L830  / Samsung L830>
<VLUU L830 / Samsung L830>

Travel writing is probably one of the most popular literary genres out there today; every second person, it seems, wants to tell you where they’ve been and what they thought of it.

Unfortunately, as anyone who lives on Bute will tell you, travelling - even by public transport - ain’t cheap these days.

Which is why those of us who are (un)lucky enough not to have reached the age of 60 view the ‘bus pass brigade’ with a mixture of scorn and envy.

But since said brigade probably see a lot more of Scotland than most of us, theirs is a view we dismiss at our peril. And when it’s as entertaining a view as the one presented by Craig Stevenson and John Mackay in Still Goin’, you’d be even better advised to ‘tak tent’.

The Bute connection is this: John has had family living on the island since his grandparents settled here; his sister-in-law, Sheila, still lives on Bute today, and he spends as much time on the island as he does at home in East Kilbride.

Still Goin’ - which includes among its chapters a visit to Bute - is actually Craig and John’s second book. Their first, The Cheap Way Round, failed to find a publisher, but it was taken on by the ‘EK’ branch of Waterstone’s as part of their Local Authors project - and enjoyed such local success that the self-published Still Goin’ is to be stocked throughout Waterstone’s Scottish outlets, as well as on Bute at Print Point, Picture Bute and Ettrick Bay Tearoom.

The thrust is a simple one: Craig and John, both gentlemen of leisure, use their bus passes (and cheap train fares) to travel around Scotland, on a mission to experience the best - and, unfortunately, the worst - of the country’s hospitality. And to drink beer while they’re at it, which of course makes any day out a memorable one.

Bute gets four out of five on the Russell Standard (named after the authors’ favourite barman), but even if it hadn’t, the overall result is still a book which takes the reader on a highly enjoyable, and very sociable, tour of the country. It almost makes you wonder why no-one thought of it before...