Today was shopping day and
so Deb and her daughter Laura took me shopping with them for even more
Christmas decorations and presents. I was quite slow getting ready
as Deb had prepared a feast of Ribs last night for dinner with macaroni
and cheese with peas, sweet corn and mashed potatoes and they were so
delicious I had a second helping. I was thus well weighed down as we
started off for the expedition.
I am struck with the hard
work it is at Christmas when you have the kind of extended family that Deb
and Steve have. Mind you Deb sure enjoys it... and I suspect Steve
does as well despite him complaining about having to put up all them damn
lights on the outside of the house <grin>
We picked up Laura from her
home just a couple of hundred yards further up the Hollow. She
kindly showed me around the house which was very large with a great
basement. I was also pointed out several houses for sale in the area
and the costs are only around $35,000 - $45,000 so well below what a
similar sized house was in Scotland. There are also a great many
trailers they use for homes.. some 80 feet by 14 feet... but surprisingly
large for all that. I got shown around Deb's fathers house and he
had two bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and a large kitchen come living
room. Certainly large enough to live in comfortably. Good trailers
can be had second hand for around $10.000. For all that I'm told trailers
do depreciate quick quickly whereas homes will appreciate in value.
Most of these houses come
with some 2 acres of land, albeit including a chunk of the hill so there
is certainly scope for building extra living space.
Anyway... after seeing
around Laura's home we headed down to Williamson, West Virginia, where
most of the decent shopping is in the area. One thing you don't
really see are many independent food shops. In Scotland we always seem to
have loads of competing bakeries but here there are none. Similarly
we always seem to have a local butcher but here there are also none.
There are other grocery stores other than the huge Wal-Mart store but none
of those personal food stores we have in Scotland. I've also noted that
there is little lamb available and almost none of our meat pies that we
have in Scotland. I haven't found any fresh fish stores either although we
are rather far from the sea here in Kentucky.
There is certainly a huge
range of merchandise available as you'd expect and one of the popular
stores is the "Dollar Store" where all items sell for a dollar or less.
All in all there is plenty of shopping available. The prices are not all
that different from the UK but some things stand out. For example a
loaf of bread costs around $1.69 here whereas a loaf of bread can be
purchased in Scotland for around $0.25. In Scotland we seem to have a very
basic range of food which is considerably cheaper than the USA.
Petrol here is of course
considerably cheaper than in the Scotland but of course most of the
transport is tied to road traffic and with the huge distances they have to
travel it is understandable how they want to retain cheap fuel as long as
I also note as we live in a
hollow that there is really no way you can live without a car or truck in
the family. We've talked about various places they travel to that take 2 -
12 hours of driving but it is really very much easier by car. In
many instances there is neither bus nor train available to take you to
many of these places. Also where we live there are no taxis
available. So a car is essential and not a luxury.
While I'm still exploring
the area I've also noted that there is quite low pay in the area.
Certainly hourly rates are lower than our own minimum wage in Scotland.
My initial understanding of income tax is that there is no substantial
difference between our two countries although we do it differently.
They don't have council tax
here on homes so when you own a home you only have to pay the electricity
bill and upkeep. There is a monthly charge for getting the garbage
collected of $10.00. Where Steve and Deb live they have their own well so
are independent for water. They use a septic tank system for sewage.
I'm told they can be connected to the city water supply if they stump up
around $3,000 but they seem happy with what they have and it all seems to
Here in Kentucky they don't
seem to worry much about historic properties as we do in Scotland. Deb was
telling me of a fine historic building in Williamson that was over 200
years old. They wanted to use the land for something else so just tore it
down and burned the building. Deb was saying that she and others
would have been happy to have got the opportunity of taking some of the
wood and fittings but they didn't even get that opportunity. Given their
history is a lot younger than hours it is amazing that this can happen.
Mind you further down the hollow is a building well preserved that is
where Ford of Ford Motor company fare one lived.
This area is a huge mining
area and driving back up the hollow Deb was pointing out where the
managers, owners and workers used to live. Again a lot of the
building have been torn down and other buildings put up in there place.
Here in Kentucky we are in
a dry zone when it comes to alcohol although it is sold in the city limits
of Williamson in West Virginia. So no pubs as you'd know them in Scotland.
There are some of the usual eating places and today had lunch in a place
where they serve fish and chicken with chips where I enjoyed some fish
while Deb and Laura had chicken.
About a mile down the road
from the house is a small convenience store and post office which is the
last remaining shop in the hollow. I haven't yet visited it but as I have
some mail to post I hope to get there next week.
In Scotland we have many
glens and of course a hollow is the same as a glen. Here in Kentucky
there are homes in all the hollows whereas in Scotland most of our wee
glens have no habitations at all. It's also quite amazing how many small
trailer homes and houses there are in those hollows and some in places you
can't help wondering how they got there in the first place.
Anyway... these are my
observations and impressions so far and I'll be adding lots of photographs
when I get the chance and will put them up in here.
And hey... I came across a picture of Steve as
a young lad and Deb let me have a picture of her at around the same age...
Steve and Deb May
A May Clan Gathering at home in Pinsonfork