There's a shop on Berneray (which supplies us every day with Green and Blacks chocolate, our favourite), a Co-op (maddeningly narrow aisles) 10 miles away with a door-to-door bus service (essential in bad weather as we don't drive), and several other shops further south, in Stornoway, and in Portree. However, specialist books, DVDs, clothes shopping and other esoteric items require a trip to the mainland; hence, like many residents, we dabble in online shopping.
Online shopping is pretty easy; Berneray is within the remit of several delivery companies (all but one of which are efficient) and the post delivery time here is often excellent; post a parcel in the south of England one afternoon and it'll usually be delivered the next day. Broadband has made it easier. The difficult part is working out how the item will get here; we prefer the post over courier due to the speed, and because it keeps the postal service viable. The picture to the left is of Effie the postie of Berneray.
Indeed; we do much of our online shopping because we don't live next to a large retail park. Nobody comes to live in the Outer Hebrides for the shopping experience. That's a definite plus, not a minus.
Also, for many products and services online price comparisons and shopping are by far the cheapest way of doing it. Booking flight tickets over the phone is not advisable here, unless you have a lot of time and/or money to burn.
In the last 24 hours, we've ordered items from 4 quite different online sources. It will be interesting to see when they arrive, and by what method:
- a Dell PC (put together in Ireland, I think, and transported through Wales, England and Scotland)
- a couple of DVDs from dvd.co.uk (coming from Jersey)
- a dress that SWMBO bought off ebay (coming from Orange County, California, USA)
- a boots online order (coming from a warehouse somewhere in England)
We've had problems with Boots online shopping before, it taking a pathetic 15 days to arrive here. No excuse when other online shops take far less time.
We'll keep you posted (no pun intended).