Friday, 10 August 2007

Stornoway: the Monaco of the Outer Hebrides?

Looks like there's money in the IT industry in the Outer Hebrides.

This is a great picture by Bluewave, on several different levels. It's taken in Stornoway, the largest town in the Outer Hebrides (and the only place where you can sometimes have to wait to cross the road). Truly the cosmopolitan capital of our islands.


Some things to note:

  • The youth of the town admiring the car. She's looking excited ("It's big and red and looks really powerful"), he's looking nervous because she's excited and because his souped-up 1983 Ford Escort which he drives around and around Stornoway every friday night just cannot compete. Maybe he'll lose her to "Ferrari man", he worries.

  • The personalised number plate.

  • The symbol on the car (above the right exhaust) - does the owner roars up to church in it every Sunday?

Good luck to the owner for "making it". The car goes against ingrained assumptions about these islands. (Remembering one particular tourist from last year who asked, in all seriousness, if "Passing places were built for horse and carts to take a rest in").

Cue such people visiting the islands, assuming it's a backwards, "so last century" backwater, with everyone doffing their tweed caps, growing potatos and herding sheep, then being overtaken by a red blur of a Ferrari while waiting in one of those passing places. "Who's that?" asks the shaken tourist. "Och, he's local, works in IT" replies the passing crofter, while using wireless broadband on his laptop to calibrate the GPS coordinates of his flock. 

Perhaps - like Monaco - all those boats in the harbour in Stornoway are not fishing-related, and some of the more palatial yachts belong to the increasing "Lewis millionaire society"? (How long till there is a gated community in Plasterfield?) Will have to have a closer look next time I visit the big city. Perhaps Stornoway, if it attracts - or generates - wealth such as this, should consider a bid to go onto the F1 Grand Prix calendar? 

In the meantime, where's my Ferrari?


  1. People in the Outer Hebrides have cars? What do they do for petrol - are there petrol stations there?

  2. Great post John "on so many levels" :o)Well someone has to keep all the computers of these backward islanders working I guess.

  3. I wonder what the Ferrari does to the gallon? with a litre of petrol at £1.10 I hope he is a bloody millionaire.

  4. I don't think the Ferrari driver is going to be worried about the price of petrol

  5. Good post, John. If it does belong to the point1 owner, then obviously my assumption that they never seem to sell much of high profit is wrong. Perhaps they have lucrative Council/business computing contracts.By the way, the mobile yoofs of Lewis are more likely to drive souped-up Astras, Clios and Peugeots than Escorts. :p

  6. showing your age, Tim- these days its subaru impretzas, mitsibishi Lancer evolutions...

  7. Oh boy - just noticed that the post is 3 years old!

  8. My wife - a native of Lewis - and I have been visiting Stornoway for the best part of 30 years.She was of the generation that left the island seeking work and careers. I wonder nowadays how many of those innovative and resourceful youngsters see the web as an opportunity for creating an online business or providing support services or if there's a perception that the green is still greener across the minch?As for the Ferrari ... you get to a stage in life when you look at a car and think "could I get out of that?" Stick with my picasso for another couple of years . . . Anyways ... I found this blog while searching google for mobile broadband in stornoway. Both O2 and vodafones overseas call centres say that there's no coverage - I find that hard to believe - anyone offer me info please.Cheers, John