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

Seen off another Games Day and the Aftermath, although the Inn staff are still seeing to it now as there is still two hours of food serving to go as I start this post. I had an easy day yesterday by catching up on some sleep and cycling off down to Toscaig to case the croft for a bit of fencing. The outer fence of the north end of the croft has been down for a few years and that section has been deteriorating letting bracken and rushes take over. The deer and sheep quickly finished off the willow that had been growing inside the fence, but prioritising making some money meant that nothing was done to sort the problem. The plan this autumn is to have both sections of croft fenced and reintroduce a wild flower meadow below an orchard. It will have to be something that does not take a lot of time and animals on the croft is simply a no-no. By rights I should not still have my croft as I have not used it properly. Over the years I have maybe used it as an extended garden but little else. Now with a little more time and effort I intend some clearing, soil analysis, drainage and planting. See how it goes as I maybe using this posting as a bit of pressure to get things underway. Luckily I will have some good advice behind me from the Black Isle. That apart the day was quiet but aware of the busy part of the community as the Applecross Games were underway at the Campsite. I almost made it but could not find the energy and knew I needed that for the evening shift at the Inn. As ever Applecross is full of contrasts and the hurly burly of the Inn is so different from the peace and quiet just a half mile down the road at Milton.

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Came up early and soon we were ordering, serving, arranging tables for the Coghills from Skye to the Carron Valley MCC. The couple of rooms that were full we found tables without any waiting. Sometimes you think how lucky things are to work out like that but it is so well organised that it always falls into place and it is no accident. There was no sign of the Boss so we decided that there was drink involved with her visit to the Field. Good team on meant there was no reason for her to worry about anything, just Billy appearing after ten (closed early for the staff to get a night out) for a pint or two only getting the one, bit miffed but it is one of the few nights for early closing. Home by 11.30pm and asleep not long after.

Today was approached with some trepidation as some staff have had a few the previous evening and it is one of the busiest days of the year. Began by getting some more langoustine ashore

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and things were rapidly underway with the visitation by the Nicolls, all seventeen of them. Put them on two tables and it worked out pretty well as the young and older of the group split up fairly naturally. Biggest table bill I have done so far but they were so easy to look after and very appreciative of the service. The day slipped into a bit of relentless ordering of food and drink with hordes of people calling in before heading home or people passing through.

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Noticeably more Chinese on the go and mainly attracted by the NC500. It was getting  a bit fraught by 4/5 o’clock they just kept coming in, luckily for us the weather held up is still holding off so the evening shift should not be too hard. The car park extension is taking place under the careful eye of Kenny.

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He is doing a very fine job and Applecross is showing quite a few examples of his dexterity with his machine. Seems natural when working away at his job. Garden full and the bikers just keep on coming but you can see why.

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While all this is going on Rob comes in to cook a BBQ for the Games helpers/organisers and some spread it was too.

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I managed a small plate on the side just to sample of course. The lamb and monk fish kebabs, langoustine, squats were all top drawer.

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That food could have graced any tables in any top restaurant in the country.

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Meanwhile on the other tables the food just kept coming out. Isla and her mate had her eye on some langoustine tails, trying to look cute as she could but don’t think she managed one.

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Things had quietened down a little by tea time, the band had struck up again and I was away down the road with some ice cream and a Crabbies to check the forecast for Cambridge, pack a couple of bags and plan for the next week.heading to Aberdeen tomorrow to take in a Blue Deal Workshop, organised by the NEF, before heading to The Cambridge Folk Festival. Christy Moore and Afro Celts are top of the list but the list is long and there will be surprises among the attractions of Imelda May, Baaba Maal, Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker, Blazin’ Fiddles, Imar, the list goes on and on, filled with brilliant musicians. So be off-line for a week or so but taking photos and meeting lots of friends again.

A post on fb coincided with a train of thought I have had over the last few weeks regarding how we live, politics and how we treat each other and the environment. In particular as we joined the Trident protest in Inverness, we watched the inevitable vote for the renewal of our weapons of mass destruction. jobs was rather a new and lame reason put forward for its renewal, but saw in the debate how party lines are more important than common sense although some Labour MPs just cannot vote for something so against their conscience. Came across the following tweet from Gary Lineker, not often see tweets from him but worth a mention and this diagram which say it so succinctly.

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“Don’t get Trident, never have. If it’s ever actually needed we’re all screwed anyway. Spend the money on something important.” Gary Linekar. Very disturbing that in our democracy our Leader states openly in Parliament that Human Rights and the Geneva Convention mean less to her than killing a 100,000 people in the so-called “Defense of our Nation” using illegal WMD. Sometimes up in the remote North West it is easier to envelope oneself in the busy day-to-day life of Applecross than contemplate huge issues such as building weapons that we cannot surely use in any circumstances with money we have not got and Climate Change. We are busily setting records of ice melt and high temperatures around the world which only merit a sentence in the News Bulletin but if some one walks into an office in parliament then headlines are written about Parliamentary privileges being broken. Life is more simple up here with just a few petty disturbances and on the whole you get what you see. Stick to sorting out the croft maybe not so simple.

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Been AWOL this week and just concentrating on sleep when not working. The weather has been mixed but good for being at sea. The fishing has been okay with it being very patchy now, meaning parts of some fleets are empty but other creels are good and making for a reasonable average. And the size of the langoustine is still reasonable. On Tuesday, after a pleasant and guilt free day off on Monday, I almost burst a gasket by trying to do too much. Have in mind that next week is fishing policy and Cambridge music so trying to do two weeks work in the one. All very good in the head but physically difficult. hauled just short of 500 creels and kept one on board meaning to wash it after tea. I did manage that but all in by nine. Took the dogs across by dinghy and Varuna, they are definitely not sea dogs but once ashore they do amuse themselves very well. On the way back I spotted a cormorant on a redundant mooring buoy and on passing with the sun low in the sky he looked very serene on his perch.

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The green creels are the newest and need little mending so left till Wednesday to rope up and shoot.

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Hauled the gear out on the Middle Bank and up to Sand. Have had a fleet on the edge of the Range for years and decided it is not actually a very good spot. Sometimes very good but over the year it is not worth the effort in keeping the place. Probably the edge of the BUTEC Range is the most heavily fished area of the Sound and although the quality of size is good these creels are very often not that abundant.

Back to the Inn on Wednesday evening and although busy it was fairly easy-going. There is a good change over when you come in for the evening shift as the day staff know what is happening on most tables and where, if any, the residents are sitting. The Boss is taking it a bit easier and have not worked with her for several shifts now. Interesting chat with her the other day with her saying she misses the step back as she has less interaction with the residents and other visitors. For a few of us the monetary incentive is far less than the pleasure of work and achievement. Seeing people enjoying the food and service, meeting new people, passing compliments on to the kitchen are all the positives of the Inn. American and Scottish table of nine in and they were easy to serve and amusing aside. The matriarch said she was paying but knew her son-in-law well and asked me to get her okay for all the potential bottles of wine he may order. It worked for one bottle which was approved with a wink and the other bottle ordered was approved belatedly as she was strolling along the Street when ordered. All good craic. Even the elderly Danish couple who got off to a confused start but managed to seat them in the Dining Room for some oysters and crab. They were effusive in their praise of the curtious service. I smiled when they congratulated us on getting out of Europe and staying in the UK, all part of the job is to hear other opinions and still make people feel welcome.

Back at sea yesterday and little to report apart from catching a rather large octopus

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and watching a bonxie on the receiving end of a bombardment by some terns.

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Although the prep room at the Inn would disagree as I landed over a dozen kilos of squat lobster tails. I have been fishing a few creels on shallow waters and the squats arrived in huge numbers along with enough langoustine. Every spare minute was used to tail baskets of the little beggars and most of the evening when you went through the prep room some one was peeling the tails. They are not popular on a commercial level as they are so labour intensive but taste wise they are preferred by many to the langoustine. Thursday night at the Inn and each shift is so different, with the weather holding, the Boss out again, and the Inn quiet all was looking peaceful. The rain started falling and the door opened with the hordes coming in for feeding. By this time in the week you are recognising the families who are staying in the holiday houses and quite a few regulars are gathering for the Games weekend. From 7.30pm till after 10 it was pretty manic seating everyone but not a word of complaint from anyone waiting. Ballsed up a room bill and took ages to sort out, had to adjudicate on the ID of a golden eagle, keeping the orders and seating going while chatting and pretending it was not a stress job all part of the night’s work. Nice to see Lizzie, who lived for a brief time in the Schoolhouse. Sold out of sole and monkfish but the breaded cod came on to save the day. Langoustine and squats were still available. The last order from a couple of bikers who finally got a seat at 9pm was two steaks, not something the kitchen wanted to hear, but they were so well cooked judging by the comments from the couple. Second last order the chappie commented that his soup was not what he had ordered….he got tomato and lentil, not broccoli and stilton. unknown to me we had run out of the soups still on the Boards so Soup A was now what he was served…c’est la vie. He did enjoy it but no disguising what it should have been.

The fact that I did not wake up till 8.10am was a sure sign the body is creaking along with a middle of the night cramp in both legs. I never use an alarm as I want to wake naturally, later when tired and early when keen and fresh. On the water by ten. Only mishap was on the way out when I steamed too close to a buoy when caught under the keel. It was bar tight and could not get to the rope so took a chance and put her astern. the rope cutter did a job, picked up the buoy to be returned to owner in the morning. Maybe not quite awake enough.

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Reasonable fishing

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again in peaceful weather.

 

Put on my iPod all day for a bit of music and leaving it to its own devices I ended up with mostly Southern US music for the day. Longish day as I was not in at the Inn till five. I, after a little miscommunication, received my lens back £190 poorer after its dip in the sea, so tried it out. On the way in you can clearly see our Hydro in action after a night of heavy rain.

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Bonxies in numbers round the boat and today I was hand feeding some of them.

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Not quite taking from hand as I would let go just before she would clamp her beak on the fish. It is a hefty beak and would do the fingers damage if caught. Speaking to customers at the Inn in the late afternoon caught sight os a gannet soaring above the shoreline, I think my favourite sea-bird, a beautiful sight watching it soar back and forth. Tired but fulfilled. Politics will have to wait as that is reaching different levels of absurdity and worry. Two different worlds hearing the chaos on the news and living amongst and earning from nature.

(Back of 9)  Just sitting down after a Saturday shift of controlled mayhem. At 8pm there is a group of nine coming in and thirty people waiting for tables. All you can say is “we will feed you” don’t know when but sometime tonight. With the weather too poor for eating out they queued and queued.  And the humour was first class apart from two snide guys in the corner of table 14. Seems they had dry fish pies last night. Honestly the first food complaint of the year. No comment from them about the duck breast or the Thai curry tonight. To be perfectly honest it was the hardest night I have had here, probably as the Boss was being wined and dined at the Walled Garden. So it was the new A team on the scene. It is a noisy night with no one going and everyone tucking into the alcohol now.

(Now 10.30) Thinning out a little now but one of the noisiest nights of the year. Great to get the compliments in and it is a pretty slick team this year. It is a really friendly atmosphere  with just about every table talking to their neighbours. Earlier in the day a trip to Inverness was required. Day started at seven with a visit to the Varuna to get langoustine for the Inn and Loch Ness Inn. Would have happened a lot quicker if I did not have water in the outboard carburetor. It’s a fairly long row and back especially with 50 kilos in a small dinghy. Job done and away by nine via both Inns to catch the snap protest against the renewal of Trident. Just a small gathering and maybe pointless but I feel strongly about it. We keep being told we have no money as a country, just seen the biggest transfer of money from the poorest to the richest through quantitative easing, big majority against it in Scotland and yet we are going to find another 200 billion to build something that is both illegal and unusable. It is a crazy world and that is without mentioning Turkey, Nice, Bagdad and Bangladesh to name the latest inhumanities. Impressed with Drew Hendry’s passion, comparing the lack of money to help people coming to his surgeries with spending untold amounts on absurd obscenities. Followed by Isla O’Rielly,equally passionate, a shame she never made it through the lists, and Maree Todd saying simply that we as a country are going a different way from our neighbours.

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So a rush round the usual stops, Highland Wholefoods, Simply Pets, HIS, key cutters, Gaelforce and of course Black Ilse Berries on the way home. The every day life can be fitted in with ones beliefs. Time for a half hour sleep before coming up to tonight’s wee shindig.

Yesterday was a body and soul catch up with lots of sleep involved before going up to the Hydro with Ranjit and his family.

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Ranjit’s claim to fame, apart from being the Boss’s friend, is that he built the London Olympic Stadium,…..well helped. He works out in Sri Lanka and is very interested in developing hydro power to be used locally in the northern part of the Island. Good to chat to people who want to work in their own communities for their benefit and also is very appreciative of the work  that is going on here. Our turbine is running for the grid at the moment and we are waiting for the water tank to be fixed for the extra 40Kws to kick in again.

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When you chat to other like minded people you realise the failings in our own systems, like how our privatised National Grid cannot or will not modify to meet the new and desperately needed change of emphasis away from huge coal/nuclear/gas burning power units to lots of renewable units powering local needs and shipping the excess to where it is needed. Maybe there is not enough shareholder money in being green yet. Stopped off at the Inn for a couple of crabbies and a fine chat with some residents about lobster fishing off the Black Ilse. Could have developed into a bit of a Friday session of yesterday year but too busy these days.

(Sunday morning pre work) Going further back Wed/Thurs were fishing and Inn days. Hauling 350 creels before entering the evening shift. They were chalk and cheese. We were very, very busy on the first shift but on Thursday evening I was home by 9.30pm. Good to meet the Belgians with the Skye connection, the Irish builder living in London with his estate agent partner and the Black Isle couple, he with the American drawl. The days at sea are fairly routine, passing an occasional visitor on a mooring,

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and the big difference this year is that there is a little more space with slightly less gear on the ground so you can move the creels around a bit more. Also more importantly shifting from shallow to deeper water is easier when the fishing varies. We do not know why different depths fish in different ways but instinctively you move the gear. I am enjoying this weather better than the long hot dry spell.

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There is more to see, the fronts coming in, the rainbows,

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different light and the odd strong wind warning when you cannot go out. On the way in on Friday I went looking for the salmon taggers last dropper but had forgotten the coordinates but, closer to the shore, Shore Street

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and Milton

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fine in their summer greenery. The growth at this time of heart can take you by surprise and you cannot leave your caravan parked for long.

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Just me, the bonxies,

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and the black backs, not many boats to see and very few fouled creels.

Well it was a good moan, so a cracking sunset was required to even things out. It is little wonder that people want to come here.

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As the NC 500 saga is going to go on and on it seems we are going to have to make the best of an advertising campaign that now feels completely out of sync with quite a few communities not able to cope with the huge influx of tourists this year. No one I know in Applecross thought we needed such advertising.  Tonight the BBC weather forecast was from the Bealach as all this week it will feature the, yes you have guessed it, the NC 500. I do feel there is a serious element of over exposure.

There is, however, one thing I do enjoy and that is walking in and around the Inn and hearing all the different languages and accents. Made a wee point on Sunday to find out where all the accents were from and within an hour or two we had visitors from over ten different countries, afar afield as New Zealand, China and Denmark. For every negative there is a positive and I have counted 23 different houses in Applecross that earn some sort of income from the Inn and although much of the traffic/parking problems are on Shore Street, all one needs to do is walk down the road and you are enveloped in peace and quiet. Monday sounded pretty busy but Sunday lunch was very pleasant and you had time to chat to the visitors and when you see sunsets like these

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then it is no surprise that people want to come here.

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It is a classic conundrum and until people are educated how to drive on single track roads the problem will only get worse. As ever there are two sides to every little problem we face. http://www.northern-times.co.uk/News/Is-this-the-highway-to-hell-or-a-road-paved-with-gold-16062016.htm. Also listening to the radio and social media there does seem to be an increase across the Highlands and not just on the NC500, something they could not envisage I suppose. The attacks across Europe and holiday destinations may also be having an effect and also the after effect of the Brexit vote devaluing the pound. Bottom line for me is that I would have lived happily without the NC500, it is just a brand, a tick in a box, a bucket list addition, and these destinations are far more than that for people who have been coming here for decades.

Currently enjoying a day off, washing creels and reconditioning a few with broken bars by cutting old creels up and strengthening the breaks. New creels do fish better but it seems a waste to throw away the damaged ones and it seems a bit greener to extend their catching life. The dogs enjoy me working outside the house as they can mess about in the field of hay

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across the road.

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Work going well today with little deadlines to keep. Had to make it to the Inn mid afternoon as that is a slightly quieter time for them to blanche the langoustine. Timed the washing of creels with the trip out to the Varuna to get the box of live langoustine. Then you have a wee interlude as I was spotted by one of our well-loved regulars, Baba of the Florida Ashbys, husband and friends. So a Crabbies and a lovely catchup. Sadly her mum, Eleanor had passed away last year and it was one of our annual events to be invited up to their abode for a meal. Happy/sad chat and catch up and will see them when they come in for a meal tomorrow evening. Time passes so quickly but you can see the strong ties that Applecross attached to some people. Despite the losses they suffer they keep coming back to the Sanctuary. And then it was back to the creels with the Raasay venison cooking slowly on the gas ring. The first of the tatties lifted and now being put on to boil, which turned out very fine and so to a meeting of the Applecross Trading Company. It is turning out to be a bit of a busy day off. But back to that sunset,

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it was on Friday evening and it is being shown back to front. As ever I look the other way from the sunset and catch soft light on some part of the Applecross peninsula.

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“This day off” has turned into a wee diary for the day and it is now ending after a two and half hour Applecross Trading Company Meeting. Have to thank our detractors for helping us get the operational side of the Community Company properly organised. We are now scheduled to meet once a month, along with the Community Company and AppleJuice there is a lot going on in our small community. A quick trip down with some creels, a bit of paper work and the day ends with the sounds of Ross and Ali pre-order tracks for ordering Symbiosis. Not a bad way to end any day and the start of Fridays sunset.

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(Friday afternoon) Sitting with Murray in the background doing his stuff. All going so well 2 up and a break in the third. Not much going to be happening this evening I think, maybe a few years ago it would have been a couple of pints at the Inn. Not so much energy now and a long day planned tomorrow. Having to haul a few more creels to catch the same amount of langoustine. Looks like the deeper water langoustine are not interested in the bait just now. There are one or two still going in the creels further up the banks but very patchy. It has been a good spell so not too many complaints. The berried langoustine are starting to appear and over the next month will amount to 50% of the catch. Bit of a struggle getting out this morning as the tiredness is setting in again. On the way out finished putting together the fleet I took in on Wednesday. Timed it well finishing just where I wanted to shoot it back. Although out late had plenty of time to catch enough for the Inn. (And he has won, unusual for a Scot to watch sport and expect a win.)

I had nipped up on Tuesday evening to pick up some boxes for a delivery east and caught some late evening sun.

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When the Boss left on Wednesday morning she had another load of langoustine

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for the Loch Ness Inn.

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Yesterday the disadvantage of not having a crewman or worker alongside you has to be overcome by willpower and in a driech and breezy morning I went over to the pier, set up the washer,put the headphones on and washed for a couple of hours.

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Getting the creels ashore before they are too dirty helps and keeping up with splicing and mending at sea also cuts down on the maintenance so it was all done by 2pm with most of the creels back on the ropes and ready for this mornings finish. Have to keep an eye out for traffic as you get so involved sorting everything out  before sorting the days fishing.

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Guessing the vectors two boats are travelling on becomes second nature.

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There is still the algal blooms around

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but a lot of fresh water makes for interesting changes in the colours.

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Having a few problems with the Hydro and a pity as it is 90 kWs weather just now. We have clocked up the 200,000 kWs hours so not all bad.The evening was spent at the Inn where it was very peaceful despite some waiting for tables. With three behind the bar and three out front all went smoothly. Probably still classed as very busy but for the Inn it was just a steady evening. Managed away to catch up on a fine curry provided by our new next door neighbours. Unlike the Wednesday evening when I came in just before 6pm and it was pretty chaotic and stayed that way until after 10pm. The guy who booked a table for 9 said he thought he was doing us a favour when he looked in and saw we were busy so he gave us half an hour notice. Some people expect a lot but when the Boss has raised the standard so high people do expect. Have to say some of the visitors were very complimentary about the service. I think they wonder if they will ever get a table and when they do, quicker than expected, they are in good humour and when the good food arrives they know they are in the right place. Only blot on the evening was when a little harassed I forgot to put a line separating the starter and main course order. Got away with it but know the kitchen is under enough strain without theses silly mistakes.It is good the place can still run pretty well when the Boss is away. Now well established the Inside Out Dream Machine has a new smart sign above the serving counter.

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(Now Saturday afternoon) It has come a long way from the couple of tubs of ice cream sold to customers you knew by word of mouth. Hard to imagine the Inn without this unit. There were thirty people queuing up outside it  in the pouring rain on Saturday afternoon. Another fishing trip under the belt. Out after nine and only hauled 250 creels but enough to see them through the weekend hopefully. It was a black backs verses bonxie day for the bait and giving as good a they got. Stayed in the shallow water and there were just enough langoustine and plenty of squat lobster tails. Kitchen staff will be a bit grumpy with me tonight.

And now for the NC500 moan. When I landed the catch at the Inn, coming up to the Street you could see the chaos. Three cars parked in the first passing place past the Street, cars the length of it and about 30 Ducatis parked, no, treble parked, outside the Inn. The car park was already full. Could not get to the landing bay but had to lift over three or four bikes to get the catch into the Inn. There are going to be no parking signs at the Filling Station, a bizarre thing to have to do. Who in Applecross goes on holiday and blocks of a Filling Station by parking at it? We now have a website called NC500 in 24 Hours. I took about 15 minutes to travel the length of the Street today and this is not the peak season yet. There is talk of a local referendum being held to take Applecross out of the NC500. Every one else is having referendums so why should we not. It will get genuine reasons out why it is not working here. It should show that the services cannot cope with all this added pressure, maybe something that should have been thought of before the advertising campaign. Heard reports this week that bikers are closing off sections of the Bealach and then conducting time trials. No photos of the chaos as I was so relieved to get of there as soon as possible. The good thing about living here though is you can live outside this bubble and have a quiet peaceful life here.

Sometimes it is good to moan so I will continue. We are experiencing another wave of departures and the latest will mean that there will only be six pupils at the school. I have been pulled up in the past for being pessimistic but I reckon I am an optimist but a realistic one. We are now at the stage where one family leaves there will be a far larger % drop in the school and the average age just keeps going up. The Community Company is battling to try to redress these issues but the huge difference here is we are not community owners, we do not have the land to build on despite numerous requests. And if you actually sit down and think it through that is the only way ahead. Take small town personality politics out of the argument and you would be hard pushed to find a more negative landowner on the west coast. One that does not say no but never says yes.  One does wonder if it is getting too late to regenerate the peninsula. With all its history we may just become a tourist destination serviced by people brought in for the season.

Turquoise Seas

So far this week it has taken place mainly at sea. We are experiencing a wide-spread algal/plankton bloom which is giving the seas here a beautiful turquoise colouring.

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My limited knowledge of these occurrences are that basically the ones you see are great for feeding as are the dinoflagellates, less visible, but when they die they give off toxins which the bivalves feed off and ingest and those are harmful to us. The scallops and mussels are fine and when we were scallop farming back in the 90s the toxins hardly entered the mussel (white meat) of the scallop. Our gripe with the testing regime was they tested the whole animal, the liver, intestines and anal tract finding lots of toxins so shutting down whole areas for harvesting. Testing something you do not eat to find for toxins was a daft way to protect the public but it happened to be the latest food scare. The catch yesterday showed severe signs of disappearing although on reflection it was deep water and not the cleanest of creels. Today a little shallower fishing and they were back to good quantities.

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Still finding a large number of octopodes, I have been wrong in calling them octopi seemingly.

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They could be octopuses but I prefer the former. Despite their delight at scoffing large quantities of langoustine they still go back over. Very artistic as they disappear back to the deep, leaving an ink trail behind.

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29th of June the new Bylaw was enacted that doubled the size of the BUTEC Range, despite what our Defence Minister said in Parliament. With all the chaos everywhere this does not even register a footnote In anything other than our local press. It is news in papers like the WHFP, however it did appear in the National yesterday. You feel totally powerless against the Establishment regime. It is worth pointing out that the  Range managing company, Qinetic, is a privately run organisation which runs at a profit for its shareholders. I have a licence to fish for langoustine, for profit also, on the waters off my shores and now this Company has had a law enacted that has taken this right away from me and other small operators. The area we can no longer fish in is now over 52 square kilometres. If this happened on land then it would be called compulsory purchase and users, we are not owners, would be compensated. Qinetic to pursue profit for their shareholders are doing so in part preventing me and others from making a living from this section of previously accessed grounds. But for the sake of national Security and the pursuance of profit we have not got a leg to stand on it seems.

At the Inn it is busy and the Scottish schools have broken for the holidays so it will not get any quieter. Good Sunday music session with Sally on whistles, Mo on bodhran, John vocals and Bill guitar and vocals. Enjoyed by all even the wee one in the corner woke up for some.

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One of our prep room stars is getting very excited about the Euros 2016 as Portugal and Rinaldo are still there, not sure he dresses well for the occasion though.

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We have the European flags flying on both sides of the Inn now and to be fair views are not clear-cut at all. The chaos down south continues but I watched a really interesting view from the north of England, around Doncaster where they voted out but for different reasons than the oft-repeated migration issues. Sure they were a factor but they also felt they had nothing to lose and use their vote to tell the Establishment what they thought of them. It goes back to the de-industrialisation of whole swathes of areas leaving the younger folk with little hope, no jobs and few future prospects. Mines, steel manufacturing which were the reasons for these town to exist does not happen any more. Interesting to hear that MainStream media interviewed and edited the UK discontent out but concentrated on the migration issues. Hearing that May, the leading PM contender, wants quick decisions on Trident renewal you can understand that things are not feeling too rosy at the moment. Add in a wee family trauma that only time will heal plus having to keep a close eye on the Hydro there is not much spare time. But it is not all doom as our Cambridge Festival Tickets are here and the last week in July is earmarked for unadulterated musical pleasure.

The only sea time I have had this week is going to the Varuna to keep the langoustine flowing at the Inn. Breezy and to be quite honest did not feel too much like it. The menu is secure so all is well. Planning an early one tomorrow so a short night’s sleep. Last night at the Inn it was busy enough as the weather has broken. It is not too bad but the rain fell for most of the evening and suddenly at around 9pm the sun broke through for about ten minutes. Glancing across the Bay I noticed three guys were standing in the sunlight. I immediately thought of Peaky Blinders as they were all wearing flat caps, nipped in for the camera, and asked for a photo shot.

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For those that do not have a clue what I am talking about, Peaky Blinders is a fine series on BBC2 about 1920s gang life in Birmingham.

As the weather had broken both Ewen and I were keeping an eye on the Hydro. We had it back to a manual start as we thought there was a bit more water flowing. It had gone really dry over the last four weeks. A trip up

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to the Intake to check valve, gate and screen

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and down to start it and all was fine after the first day and it was running albeit with some attention needed regarding soft ware. Mick was over meeting Archie and worked/tested the hydraulics after the meeting until evening and left happy that some of the glitches had been ironed out and it has been running about 50% since. Still only showery weather so things are not in spate yet. On the way down the track noticed a large crop of this years sycamore seedlings.

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Be interesting to see how many survive.

The last couple of evenings at the Inn have been fairly standard but tonight was an emergency call out. Wedding in Plockton had reduced the staff and I had a slightly panicked phoned call around 7pm so it was up the road for and extra shift. I had not gone out this morning as I was having a while getting over the copious amounts of painkillers I had taken the previous evening to get through the shift. No harm done but did not feel up to it going out on a bumpy sea. Recovered quickly enough and had the dogs for company. decided a walk out to Ardbain

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would assist the recovery and had a sandwich, settling down to the football when the call came in. A walk out to Ardbain

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and/or Coilligillie is a cure for most ailments and the dogs love it especially the more rumbustious Dougal who loves the sea.

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It is always startling when you are parachuted in to a hectic evening but nice to see familiar faces from Alligin and heard Dougie from the West End Hotel is still going strong and asking after me. Blast of memories going back to student days when I used to serve him a half and a half on many an occasion before Chrisma would come in and drive him home in his Morris Traveller. The Bostonians were in again and time flew by especially as I had a black sambuca with three coffee beans with a table just finishing their meal. As it was an emergency evening shift I gave it a try and was instructed to crush one of the beans, it was a rather pleasant experience. The only mistake of the evening was before the alcohol, the rest of the evening was a busy blur and half ten before you knew it.

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