A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

The week leading up to the Games was full of comments about how hot it was and we should n’t complain etc. So inevitably on Saturday afternoon at ten to one it started drizzling and during the rest of the day it rained and rained. Perhaps in the future when it does rain we can say that at least the community can make some money from the Hydro scheme. The Community Company had a stall at the Games

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but as it was at the other side of a rain-sodden field was very quiet. Sold a few calendars but not as many as hoped but glad to have a stock for the steady sales going on at the Inn. Despite the weather there was lots of colour on show and a fair amount of people around. The shop keeper with her balloons,IMG_0714

as one of our local builders, in deep conversation with another builder, probably talking about building something,

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the Skye Pipe Band,

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Caroline dancing in the rain

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to the exquisite local talent Bronny Glover,

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ably backed up by the harmonic Coast Road Truckers.

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Over at the burger stall Applecross Ices man Aron

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helping out Darren whose photo was taken but was moving too fast in the poor light. And inside the main marquee our proper photographer, Jack, selling his wares

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to the background of the sad but colourful clown keeping the kids happy.

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And finally sporting his patriotic umbrella, John,

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our visiting local optician, taking a break from repairing anyones glasses for a small donation to the Boat Pull total. Lots more going on but it was down to the Inn for an afternoon into night session. Shame about the weather especially for all the organisers who put so much effort and work into it and great to see so many young volunteers involved, but it was enjoyed by all there and there is always next year.

Catching Up.

A very tired Friday evening; Hanging in as it is going to be a busy weekend with the Applecross Games coming up tomorrow. Thinking back over the last couple of days when you are tired beyond  “knackered” your mood swings are much more intense. Woke up on Thursday morning feeling pretty grotty, mind you that may have had something to do with the lack of sleep. Finally went to bed around half two in not very good humour. As mentioned before I have been having trouble downloading from the new second hand upgrade while waiting for the even newer second hand one from Amazon. It arrived on Wednesday and after lots of perseverance I managed to down load, only for the mouse to freeze and computer to shut down. Photos missing when I reboot, so mildly cheesed off. On top of that I had to reply to a misinformed email, and very carefully at that. I suppose it is good that people have different views on how Applecross operates, but when people distort the info to fit the required picture then responses are needed. As I finished the night at the Inn I sat down with a very pleasant couple and the conversation turned to Referendum but I left the chat feeling pretty down as he turned the conversation into a series of pretty nasty No assertions. I am all for discussion but now feel very wary. Tired in the morning as well but had woken up in the middle of my short sleep remembering that there was a cf card to download from so all was not lost.

Getting the prawns away and out on the water it all seems fairly irrelevant. Another wonderful, hot and calm day.

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By the time I come ashore, hot and tired, but a few more prawns than expected as hauling pots last hauled on Monday.

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Size is not that good and deep water not giving up prawns of any size. Still so hot

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and luckily the weather stayed that way for the evening shift as the Inn was pummelled, kitchen in particular. If it was hot outside then inside at the cooker it was sweltering. The evenings have been calm and beautiful.

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Earlier on in the fortnight I took a photo of the Airstream, still open and with the back drop of the mist over the Bay.

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Monday evening; Friday was uneventful but for the last fleet where the creels were stacked full of squats.

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Been a while since I have seen so many. Fortunately this was the only fleet that was like this. Did not stop after coming ashore as it was over to Shieldaig for a badly needed massage. Always good to drop out of the graft for a couple of hours and work out what is good for one’s health. At the moment there is no time to carry out what I know is good for me. Came back round the North Coast road and stopped at Aird to pickup some slabs of herring ad a couple of bags of salt. This will be staying in the van for a couple of days as staying awake coming homing was enough oaf an effort without salting bait down. Summer flowers in full bloom on the loch side.

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Reflections keep showing themselves.

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Strange goings on with the technology in that I now have photos back but lost a couple since then. Not the biggest deal in the scheme of things.

Hot, in fact Scalding.

Wednesday afternoon; Three days of extra ordinary hot weather, especially today.

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Today was as hot as you get on the west coast, even at sea. Wearing the bib part of the oilskins, hat and shades did not help. All the time during this spell you are surrounded by reflections, the sea is a beautiful place to be.

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A sudden burning in the eye signalled a bit of scalder jellyfish making its way past my glasses into the eye. All you can do is run the deck wash on the eyes just to dilute the acid burn. Other jelly fish drift by.

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The fact that the squats piled into the creels did not help so every moment spent not hauling was spent tailing the little beggars. Managed six pints of water during the day and it was the same yesterday. Tuesday involved a 350 haul and ashore to head for Kyle, well Kyleakin and Broadford, a list that meant I was pushing it for time. A pick up of a free second-hand toilet, very clean, stopping into see my Mum and keep her in pocket, a very quick shop, and finally to give blood at the Kyleakin. I have not been over for a while so quite keen to get back in the habit….seems I have the stuff any one can get. So some one comes in needing blood straight away without knowing what blood type they are given O- so the Blood Bank want this. Throw in a chat with Fiona outside the Hall about the pros and a few cons about Community work, living etc, and there was very little time to get back to the Board meeting at eight o’clock at the Walled Garden.

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Won’t say how quick I came back from Kyle and over the Hill even being held up at Kishorn where a Ferguson’s artic and a Belgian bus were trying hard to pass each other. It was pretty tight and went on for a good ten minutes. Slightly out of kilter by the time I arrived five minutes late but went in at the same time as the other directors. It was well worth making the effort as we are now gearing up to setting up the IPS,  launching a share issue and planning the Hydro building for next year. It has and still is a long road. I still remember a skeptical question asked off me almost four years ago, “Do you really think it will go ahead?” I was puzzled in being asked the question and answered “Of course”. There have been a lot of problems along the way not least SSE, maybe renationalizing our energy suppliers and grid will help in the future. Anyway, a really good meeting and very positive reports from Sean and Val regarding Broadband and Green Energy. Lots of work to be done on the share offer prospectus and setting up the IPS.

The fishing this week has been a little better but very unpredictable. Mainly on the harder ground so we get little patches of good-sized prawns and boxes of squats. Deeper water and clean muddy ground there are not many prawns going into the pots and they are tending to be smaller as well. Means the half pint of prawns are being sold on the Inn menu. There are dolphins about and I have just seen distant splashes but apart from the routine of hauling the creels there is little of note happening. Only a solitary gannet sitting quietly on the water and the occasional salmon farm passing slowly to the south.

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Noticed a prawn with, I think, “smoking crab” disease.

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Selfies are Out.

Monday evening; Wednesday turned out to be windy, strong wind from the south so good to have a recovery day from the propeller dive. Was out in the evening at the Inn and busy but nothing untoward, Thursday was a long one when out fishing and followed up by closing up at the Inn. These are testing days as no matter how tired you are you have to cover it for the customers. Weather seems to have settled down

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and there was a stunning sunset and I took off on the bike to take a few snaps along at Milton Pier

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and the fence line as it goes down to the shore.

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Timed it for the American friends coming from Mike and Helen’s. They have been coming over for years and you can tell what time of year it is when Eleanor, Stewart and Baba arrive along with various friends and family.

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Friday was another beautiful calm day at sea and the squats almost overwhelmed me today.

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Every minute I was not hauling and shooting back creels I was tailing mountains of squat lobsters. A few more small prawns on the ground as well as the squats so happy with catch. Day did start with a bit of a panic as I was catching a few minutes of Breaking Bad before heading down to the dinghy to get the Loch Ness prawns ready for transport, look d out the window and there was the transporter wondering where I was. Mix up on the times. Fastest I moved all day but they left only fifteen minutes late. Evening was spent in the company of aforesaid Americans and if I said fours hours passed as one that sums up the evening. Great food, company and conversation. Even had a little referendum talk, more and more of that lately and I am sure it will increase as the date comes nearer. Speaking to a lovely English family over the week and their attitude is they would be sad to “see us go”, but I just do not see it that way…..we aint going anywhere, that is just a perception. Saturday evening spent a half with a couple of Yessers from Aberdeen, involved in the oil industry where the general feeling is No. One in particular wanted away from his work but used a term I had never heard before he was trapped by the “golden handcuffs”. There are worse things I am sure but wealth and living a life style does trap people into not making the life decisions they want. Took a chance that the Friday fishing would last through the weekend and chopped wood instead of going fishing. The garden is looking not too bad and with the new policy of it looking after itself, seems to work. The hydrangeas are cuttings I took from Kyle and are a wee reminder of my Mum. Not sure how long she will be around as she took a fairly major turn last Friday.

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Made it till Sunday evening with the prawns and left some very large prawns by the roadside for pickup on Monday morning to see the Inn through the day while I caught some more regular size. It just keeps on going. Took a couple of photos for a blog I have been asked to write for Volt Bikes. Euan took the one of me on the bike

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and really do not like being in the picture. Selfies are definitely out.

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What I have done over the next few posts is write it a bit like a diary as there has been a bit of a break due to dropping yet another camera in the water as I was taking Kirsty ashore. I ordered a second hand one the same day but it only arrived on the 23rd. I have been taking photos with Jack’s but for some reason I have not been able to down load them so waited until that was possible. So cracked this tonight (23rd)…..that was until I lost several photos

Saturday, 19th, Midday; Apart from Monday, which was a recovery day. Although getting better at doing nothing in order to recover from a busy stint I find there is still too much to do to relax properly. Did manage to go back for a catch up kip/doze till mid day or there abouts. Been taking photos through the week with the new second hand camera, even taken it out on the boat but iPhoto is struggling to recognise the card as it is in the different camera. A bit of technology that is beyond me, but that is not hard I suppose. The weather on Monday helped as it got windier  the afternoon. A wee break there and ordered a card reader, so simple if it works. I am missing my own photos and they are building up on the cards. The dogs enjoy this weather.

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Tuesday, the weather improved dramatically and it began up at the Walled Garden with some of the Company Directors and Dave Hollings who was on a tour of the west and some islands.

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Very interesting what he had to say as we are now entering the next stage of the Hydro project, that is raising the money for building works. We also have had to deal with the complication that SSE has given us in saying that our 90kw connection was not what it said, or rather it was what they decided what it said. It turned out that what they meant was 50kw now and 40kw later when they “get round to it”. So this is why we have gone for the more complicated private wire to use our power locally so to get back up to the 90kw originally planned. Feasibility studies so far are all positive and all the macro planning have still to be worked out. The share offers so far for renewable projects both in Scotland and the North of England have been successful and at current bank rates are very attractive. Mainly as a green and community venture for me it is a no brainer, nasty word but simple description. And you are getting more than inflation and certainly more than the banks are offering.

Monday, 22nd, evening; Made it out to fish around half ten and ripped round a 350 creel haul on the Middle Bank before coming in and putting my mooring rope in the propeller.

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I was already out of gear before realising it was in so thought it may have been a turn and could come out with relative ease. No such luck, so it was off ashore to land the prawns, get the dry suit on, and back out to the boat. Decided not to bother with the bottle and just put on the weights and flippers to nip under and untwist the rope. Took a lot longer than expected and a lot of deep breaths, so much so that I was a bit dizzy when I came back on board the dinghy. Managed to free it although the rope cutter had worked and there is now  a big knot in the line waiting for a low tide to splice it in. Came ashore knackered. Best laid plans do not apply when you have your own fishing boat. The calendars are going well with happy customers leaving with them.

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Thursday evening was another lovely cycle home, although at a more sane time. Sunset had just taken place

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and the moon was up over Milton Loch

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and I got home for Nashville, first time for a few weeks…..and Deacon is back in the picture. Just realised that I have resisted Breaking Bad all week, pretty easy I suppose when it has either been work or too tired. A good week in all and Friday continued in that vein when I took the Varuna ashore for a wee clean up. Copper painted bottom has meant that I do not have to worry too much about the hull but noticing a drop of 3/4 knot decided to have a look.

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Always good to check the anodes for replacing anyway. Turned out there was a big growth of mussels on the keel along with German Writing and barnacles on the rudder and propeller.

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To get to this stage became strangely difficult. Coming across the Bay on the dingy I have to remember everything before setting off so the key for the shed was important as I wanted the pressure washer. So back I went, then the extension lead had made its way back to the Inn, so it was across the Bay. When I was retrieving the lead the fuel delivery came in, only 500 litres of UL left so got away with that one. And finally on the way back across the Bay I forgot to take the Lead with me. So three hours later after beaching the Varuna I began work. Washed a fleet and most of the hull and scrapped all the mussels and some of the Writing off, mended and reroped the majority of the fleet and landed some langoustine to the Inn. Home pretty knackered as being under the boat you use mussels you do not use for the rest of the year.

Saturday morning began with a minor sleep in but made it to the dingy before my guest arrived, writer Kirsty Logan. http://www.kirstylogan.com. To be perfectly honest I would have struggled to have gone out as the weather and forecast were not inviting. Finished off the fleet and got it shot off on the Middle Bank before hauling 200 pots. Sinister sight off to the West.

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And we had a larger than usual complement of skuas around the boat probably due to the lack of other boats out.

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Looking back on the day I don’t think we stopped talking all day. Similar lifestyles in that we both spend a lot of time on our own and seem comfortable with it. Kirsty was doing a bit of research in a new project and wanted to find out a bit of the practical side of creel fishing. Good sensible chat about the YES/No debate and is a waiver inching towards YES finding the constant negativity of the BT campaign. We stopped off on the way ashore to watch the seals, some staying on the rocks and others swimming over to tell us we were too close, one calling frantically. Ashore by 2pm but with a slight mishap. Took a couple of photos of some moss just below the tide zone, put the camera back in the back pack, zipped it up, swung it onto my back and plop the camera fell out of the broken zip into the water. Resting without hope in a box of rice and already ordered another second-hand camera. Have Jack’s but really wary of taking out to the boat as that is two in the water now. Managed not to let it affect me too much and after a snooze for ten minutes, power nap to some, the Inn beckoned.

A very busy shift but enough time to make contact with several people, some first timers and many who come back time after time. Pretty hectic hour around eight but every one content by 9.30pm having all been fed. Torrential rain had passed by the time I was on the cycle home after eleven. By the time I had left the Canadians paired with the couple from Fife were getting on like a house on fire. Reminded me of the Waterboys’ lyric I was listening to earlier in the day, “Started off in Fife and ended up in tears” one of the best lyrics of all time from A Bang On the Ear. This morning arriving tired at the Inn I heard that there were one or two absentees for breakfast, maybe doing the job too well for some people’s health. Weather back on and a steady/busy day and a long eight hours before sitting down for a very nice venison burger. Struggling to keep eyes open for the final but will give it a go. A break from the photos as the iPhoto does not recognise the new camera to download, but the good side is that 22 calendars have been sold in the first week with very little effort. Find that somewhat humbling but many thanks to those who have bought them.

Glorious Applecross.

Cycling home from the Inn on Wednesday evening was one of these special occasions. I had a fairly early start and hauled 350 pots for the menu. Only just keeping them on the board, but not getting stressed about it and treating it as a challenge. The evening shift turned out to be full on but not so bad for the front of house, the Boss and myself, as the weather was pretty amazing and a lot of people were eating out in the garden. Only around nine did customers make a beeline for the Bar….midges came out as soon as the strength of the sun waned. A change from the normal plan as well due to friends of No1 son arrived in town so meant a close shift instead of Thursday. New team in the kitchen and they worked a storm, only a couple of comments about time late on and I think that was more due to the midges than anything else. So to the cycle home at 1.30am with no lights but the moon reflecting on the Sound to guide me home. Just chance but I had the perfect music on the iPod, Peatbogs, Faerie Stories. Probably being tired contributed to the amazing scene of a Highland land and sea scape with reflections and a stillness that is physical. It is rare that you find yourself in these situations when you are a tiny and connected part of a wonderful universe, but never forgotten.

So not really surprising that I slept in for the langoustine delivery planned for 7am on Thursday. Made it as far as Milton where we loaded up the Boss’s car before she went off to Drum and I went back out on the Sound for more. Must remember to enjoy this winter and not feel bad when I go through a day without doing something. Weariness has caught up on me tonight so I think I will leave it to the camera to tell the story of the last three days. After posting on Monday I went back down to the dinghy’s new mooring to check that she was lying far enough off the shore. Steep shoreline before hitting the sand so did not want her resting on the rocks and filling up.

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Lovely quiet evening.

 

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Tuesday did not finish off badly either with a glorious sunset over the Staffin cliffs.

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Love looking 180 degrees to see the soft late lighting on the shores of Applecross.

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The mornings have been glass calm

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and the new position for starting the day off is not too bad and every direction you see colours

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and shapes with the morning sun hitting the buildings

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creating sharp shadows.

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Nothing of great note about the fishing, still relatively poor but “bearable” in this weather.

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Hitting the squats hard just now, so much so I was peeling after ten on Thursday night after Front had finished, out of sympathy really. The weather has been a bit hot for the Dougal.

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Excited my bees are doing really well and are flying from both hives, weather of course has been perfect for them. They are also scoffing the feed as well.

Big downside is No3 thought he was recovering and decided to walk to the Caman in the middle of the night as he was not sleeping. Took him a couple of hours but did not turn out to be a wise move as he has relapsed since. Got more results back and now knows a lot more things it is not. Times like these I am grateful for my migraines. Another busy day today and a writer planning coming out on the Varuna tomorrow but that will all have to wait.

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