Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Hostel keepers come in all shapes and sizes

In Fond Memory of Tom Jones, 
By David Dean

Amongst us, Tom Jones who with his wife Allyson created the quirky state of the art Carr Bridge Bunkhouse and who died last month whilst on holiday in Greece, was a true giant.  Tom's bunkhouse and, in particular, the intimate and all-embracing hospitality for which he and Allyson are renowned has, for years, been a model of right minded hostel keeping.

The aroma of fresh brewed coffee and home baked loaves drifting from Allyson's oft visited kitchen, the fun in the garden, their doted upon children and grandchildren, then hens with a mind of their own and invigorating conversation all made for the magic she and Tom exuded in order to be the hosts they have to hundreds.

INDEPENDENT hostel keepers are a breed apart.

So strikingly sure of their values were they that when independent hostels' organisations, in their view, strayed too far into the world of plasticised and homogenised star grading and silly requirements from matching cutlery and carpets onwards, Tom and Allyson stood apart.  " Thanks, but no thanks!" or words to that effect. I remember them so clearly.

Tom, with David & Juan Carlos at an
impromptu jam session at the Lazy Duck
Since those days of near conflict these organisations and the VisitScotland whip which attempted to drive them have stepped away from such folly.  Our hostels surely are a statement of ourselves.  If, as was Tom, we are happily unusual, healthily idiosyncratic even and hanging on to our authenticity in what we offer guests and how we welcome them, we are being true to ourselves.

To Tom, Valery and I owe a debt of real gratitude.  In our setting up the Lazy Duck Hostel in 1998 we were blessed with every encouragement possible together with strong role modelling from Carr Bridge Bunkhouse.  Tom with our other good friend, Ian Bishop of Slochd Mhor Lodge Hostel, ate with us here only weeks ago.

Thanks for everything Tom; hostelling owes you.

For an appreciation, which moved me much, one of far greater depth and some real history on Tom I suggest a read of this blog "Tom Jones RIP- My mate, family man, PTI, Outdoor Man, Prankster and great human being."

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