Cool Britannia makes tour trade hot... but is a dampener on trade at the seaside

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OUR ORDER for a hot, sunny summer has predictably got lost in the god of weather's in- tray. But for four very different businesses, in the four corners of Britain, life goes on ...

Geoffrey Hocking is a partner in the fourth-generation, family-run Hockings ice-cream company in Devon. "The weather hasn't really affected us as badly as you might think. ... those who do holiday here, as well as our regular local customers, buy ice-creams whatever the weather. Stoicism in the face of adversity is part of our British make-up. So if people have come here to relax, they'll make absolutely sure that they enjoy themselves. And what better enjoyment is there than a homemade ice- cream with a generous dollop of Devon clotted cream?'

Jim Norris owns the Apollo guest house in Hastings, East Sussex. "My main enemy... has been the World Cup more than the weather. Naturally, the grey and dull summer has lost me business ... The repercussions of a World Cup on our doorstep though, have been far more severe. Most of the visitors are making a last-minute, impromptu decision to come here.

Hopefully, August will prove to be a more fruitful month, although we currently still have plenty of vacancies.

Sandra Sinclair manages the John O' Groats Knitwear Shop, in the most north-easterly point in mainland Britain. "The bad weather has obviously discouraged potential tourists from making the pilgrimage to John o' Groats. But all the sandy beaches of Spain aren't a patch on the view we enjoy from here ... Also, while the tea shop may be suffering from the lack of visitors, our outdoors shopping section is trading briskly. You would be surprised how many people leave their umbrella at home."

Kevin Barrand is Resorts and Entertainments Officer in Scarborough. "Deck- chair leases are down 10 per cent from last year ... So now we're all hoping the sun will come out before the middle of August. It will all be downhill from there if it doesn't. The beaches are predictably quiet, as most people are only using them during the few short periods of sunshine. On the bright side though, the poor summer weather has enabled our new sun-bed range to be launched with ease. We've yet to see any unruly confrontations developing between over-keen tourists first thing in the morning."