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

Although I feel a little like Tino, the Newfie,

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who was outside yesterday waiting patiently for his German owners to scoff their langoustines, scallops and monkfish, I will miss the hustle and bustle this weekend coming. We are off down the road, well rail track, to the Cambridge Folk Festival. Travelling light as we will be looked after by Andy and Jill and will be followed down by Pat and Fedor, so a little reunion of sorts coming up and looking forward to it all. Listening to a Cerys Matthews prog on Radio4 about compiling an Irish songbook and one of the songs came with a wee story. Fields of Athenry, the song, and the story involved the Irish team being beaten 4.0 by the Italians. The last fifteen minutes of the game the crowd belted out the Fields of Athenry and sounded fantastic on the clip they played. Roy Keane however was not impressed and after the game his summing up stated that the fans should have come to see the team play to win and not to sing songs. Next game the Irish played the camera pans the crowd and picks out a woman holding up a placard “CAN WE START SINGING NOW, ROY?” Laughed out loud at the imagery of it all. Good to work alone.

The work weekend really started at around 3pm last Wednesday when I went in early for the first shift and this one and Thursday’s went well with no real incidents to speak of, not the busiest but steady with all the tables being used. Friday was a fine day at sea, seagulls getting hungry,

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as was Saturday although Saturday felt long as there was a breeze from the North and enough to double the effort in getting 300 creels on board, emptied, rebated and shot back again. Made it to the Inn again for the back of three, having had a shower to wash the mud off and the smell of the bait. And then into a fairly long shift which lasted until we got the last of the revellers up to the Games Marquee and RythmnReel, the local favourites for this gig. I made it up to the Field for half four but all activities were all over by this time and only managed a wee chat with the Band before heading down to the Inn for the expected waves of customers. We did not get too badly hit, I think the Dream Machine took the edge of it but tired enough to only think of going up to the Dance for about five minutes before realism and age took over. The light towards the end of the evening was a little special and instead of the dance a walk along Shore Street did it for me.

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Sunday was a repeat and it was a busy one with bikers and everyone else in for a meal. Sounds like the Walled Garden had a busy week as well. The summer weather does not seem to have put anyone off although the weather for the Games could not have been better and good to see all the effort put in had its rewards with a good attendance and lots of activities. Sort of passed me by this year as working took greater priority. Sunday morning and I was so glad not to have gone to the Dance, especially as it went on so late, just too old to keep both ends of the candle alight. Had a wee rain check on some of the next generation who appeared in the morning and there seemed a few over from the Dornie/Kintail way. They are already getting younger than our boys. Feeling ever so slightly older. Due to the forecast I had decided in advance that fishing was not an option so was at the Inn for twelve and went through a ten-hour shift which allowed the Boss away for a boat trip up Torridon with Torridon Tours and although did not speak much when she came back, many customers again, she enjoyed it immensely. A table wait but not too long. Between five and six things got a little hairy and with only me out front and keeping control was all one could do. Once Boss and Linda were back you could speak to people again. At one stage there were, Swiss, Belgian, Dutch, German, American, Swedish, Australian, Norwegian, French and Spanish all sitting either inside or outside the Inn. Went on a wee bit late as the last two customers came after the kitchen closed but got their medium steaks and venison burgers at half nine. Europeans tend to eat later and do not realise the kitchen has already been open for nine hours.

Went for a wee wander down the road just now and back after a meal of squats, garlic and new potatoes,

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as the pooches were a bit restless. Now preparing for the trip south to Cambridge mainly making sure everything is charged and as said the packing light. Half hour between train connections so may bag another rucksack at Blacks. Dougal is doing fine otter impressions now.

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For his exercise all you do now is throw stones in the water and his swims back and fore trying to catch them. Simple minds I suppose. Notice the Pier has now got a bit of a Brighton look with all the beach huts in a row.

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Might paint mine for a bit of colour. While I was taking Tino’s photo his mate Emma was wanting attention so snapped her as well. cannot remember what she was supposed to be but there was a rare Tibetan terrier in earlier. Noted that Emma’s owner would have been in with a shout in the dog owner lookalike competition on Saturday.

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The Hydro is coming together and very quickly with three pieces all being tied up at the same time, needs to be, with time running out. No more bodies found and with reports of unhappy bikers, a couple of local cars in the morgue we will see you again next week with my head hopefully filled with fine music and memories.

 

 

Nice to do some fishing today instead of talking fishing politics. The first is still important but lovely to get back out on the water on a quiet day with a few bonxies, rapacious seagulls and the waddling fulmars.

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As I did not go out on Monday, the last quiet day for me, there was a bit of catching up to do. Intended to haul more creels but enough came on board from the 350 I hauled. Still some nice langoustine coming aboard and heading to the Inn. Always the case when you bring up a subject then references appear. In this case we were discussing the disappearance of skate from these waters so what do I bring up in a creel but a skate egg, seemed live and fresh so may survive its visit.

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Range is quiet apart from the odd mine sweeper making an appearance.

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Did a couple of longer shifts this week as staff have become thinner on the ground so started at 3pm going through till after 11. These guys came up from Aviemore just for the langoustine and had to take a snap as they were doing a fine job on them over the two hours they sat by the menu boards.

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One of the wee highlights of the two shifts were the elderly German couple who came in for a coffee and left an hour and a half later having had their coffee along with some monk fish, langoustines and a cranachan. Left with the Inn’s card so they will be back after a prolonged farewell.

Glad I made it out today in reasonable time as last night was rather silly. At no time can you hide from the hordes. You just have to get on with it, keep serving, finding them tables, clearing the tables for the next family. Kitchen were superb and even got a ham sandwich served at 9.45pm. Tarneybackle were playing as well and rocked the bar after the service was done.

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Always good to see the guys on their annual pilgrimage through the Highlands, taking in Glenelg, Lochcarron and us on the way. Bit busy for much chat as they kept coming in wave after wave. Possibly one of the hardest evenings for a good while but it works, creaked a bit, or we did anyway but the operation is still working and putting out amazing food in a great craic atmosphere, that’s what they are saying anyway.

Theme of the last few days has been walks to the shop

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and cycles to the south. Made it to Ardhu this evening, passing to the east,

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on the bike this time as saving the legs for more fishing and long hours at the Inn for the Games weekend. Looking slightly mad but only having a scratch the neighbouring heifer was casting a “not bothered eye” at Dougal who was more interested in what was running through the long grass.

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In between the rain and showers the light has made its usual spectacular appearances. Looking west to the Cuillin or over Milton Loch

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or above the Ardhu hamlet,

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it’s all perfect and appreciative for the moment. Even fences are looking fine in the late sunlight.

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Keeps you away from doing all the paperwork one should be doing but plans in place. Meanwhile Dougal

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does provide so many hours of entertainment,

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now with a new idea of playing/eating seaweed.

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Eilidh not to be outdone poses in the sunset.

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Prawn Wars Critique.

Had a look at “Prawn Wars” this morning on iPlayer despite misgivings over the title. The general feedback is that it was not too bad a watch for people ashore but when fishermen have got together we pulled it apart. That is only to be expected as editing and emphasis is based on what catches the attention and holds it. I found Ian (Macduff) from Gairloch’s contribution fascinating and wished that there had been more of that. The fishermen I have spoken to thought it was a missed opportunity but then it was a Landward program and not ours and in that context it was very watchable. And also the fishermen I speak to in the main are creel men. Ian spoke of plentiful fishing in such a matter of fact way, of herring that would feed the village from one haul of his drift nets, of cod that would be split and salted for the winter and of langoustine the size of small lobsters caught up in his ground nets. No one is saying we should or could get back to these days of plenty but it should never be forgotten how much has been taken from the seas of our shores in the last fifty or sixty years. Unfortunately as is always the case , when times are plentiful the last thing we think about is the future viability of the stocks we are catching and this catches us out in stock after stock. I wanted more stories and evidence of prior to 1984 when the three-mile limit was abolished, but “You can’t always get what you want”. There was nothing startling throughout the program although one or two things made me smile. The dredge picking up a few scallops and some stones “not having any effect on the marine eco system. The role reversal of 1984 if the three-mile limit “which I doubt” is returned. There were creels men who invested money in the 80s to see a short-lived bonanza sweep away many a good living. Not only that but as pointed out, quite politely, in the program that there are no go areas for creels. And for me that is the bit that grates a little as we often hear “we should work together” from the mobile sector. Working together is we know our place, at least the place to put our creels. Up on the hard ground out of the way of the mobile sector whether there are langoustine there or not. Glad I was not used as what I said was in the same vein as Ian but with out the knowledge and practical experience he quietly talked about. Did find it a little ominous the statements about creels foul on the trawlers net, just cut and dropped to get clear, rather than respect for some one else’s fishing efforts and investment. The theme throughout the program, although not at the forefront, was the decline in stocks and necessitates the status quo is not an alternative. Very few people are confident that stocks are stabilising but are in fairly constant decline. The mobile skipper was confident enough to say that it was not overfishing that was causing this decline, that produced another wry smile. Today I was over giving blood and chatting about the program with a friendly fisherman and very similar opinions exchanged. A diver who would take a flattie or a skate home to his neighbours on request, so plentiful that he could take the requested size home as well. Eighteen months after the limit was done away with so were the fish. Now in the water with the camera he is finding it hard to find a fish of any sort to photograph. Meanwhile 10/16 big twin rig trawler have been scouring the Minch from Rue Rhea to the Butt of Lewis for the last month and a half. The effort on the stock is concentrated on fewer but larger and more destructive vessels. Although this is out of the scope of the Prawn Wars program it is another example of how our fisheries are being mismanaged, allowing the market to dictate to the fishery rather than the environment and fishery shape the market.

Back to the land and a very busy weekend was had at the Inn, long day on Sunday with bikes and more bikes coming over the Hill to make it bike city by 2pm.

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You are working away inside while all this is going on outside and only realise how many are there when you do a turn of the tables. Not many people eating out as the weather has not improved. There have been a couple of very pleasant sun downs though,

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especially the one on Sunday evening.

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Milton catching the soft light at the end of a long, long day, but worth it to see just that.

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Fishing has been slow to start this week and although the weather was half decent on Monday I did not venture out but turned into a recovery day and watched Sons of Anarchy’s last series. Maybe life is not as complicated as all that after checking out the bike scene in California. Mind you our discussions and meetings about the Hydro are not simple and still just on course. This as a result of another Board Meeting at The Walled Garden on Monday. Generally since the last election results we are really up against it regarding community work and trying to be greener. The latest budget has revoked the renewable energy sector’s exemption from the green levy exemption which is bizarre in itself but another burden on community hydro schemes. The one closest to us has worked out that it will be £2,ooo less going into their community as a result. We have began to lobby for a FiTs accreditation extension but are not holding our breath in the current political atmosphere. It is a bit like the fishing the status quo is not an option going by all the reports about continued climate change and warming across the world.

In from a short walk with Dougal and Eilidh after my trip to Kyleakin.

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In between the poor weather we are getting blinks of sun and calm with another couple of windy days coming up. Clare on Eilean Garbh has had little midges to contend with.

Creel verses Trawl.

I fear the head has been above the parapet for quite some time now so I might as well continue. A couple of weeks ago there was a regular feature in the WHFP which on that did Duncan MacInnes, a hard-working representative of the Western Isles. He holds views that are radically different from my own but maybe not surprising as there are several fishermen from the mobile sector in the organisation he is part of, the WIFA. No doubt that he works hard for his members but over the week after the article was published I decided that some of his comments could not go unchallenged and wrote a letter to the paper trying hard not to be outraged from Tonbridge Wells. This along with a BBC program which is to be aired on monday evening at 9pm on Beeb 2 is keeping the creel verses trawl argument afloat.http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02wyv0p  Combined with the proposed introduction of MPAs on the west coast is getting a, hopefully, informed discussion about the future of sustainable inshore fishing moving forward. I am a wee bit stuck with the fundamentalist problem that certain fishing methods are right and others are not. Also already there is much information being put out there that at best can be viewed askance. Although my trawl experience is limited to two weeks duration thirty years ago, over the thirty years since creeling I have not seen the waste of those two weeks, the small dead prawns scraped of the deck and back over the side. So the letter sent is as follows.

Dear sir,

As always I enjoy your focus and profile articles but there were several “opinions” put forward with little backing of either science or observation regarding the use of mobile gear on the inshore fishing grounds of the west coast.

I appreciate the fact that Mr MacInnes is a hard-working representative of the WIFA but his sweeping statements referring to ploughing up the seabed is equivalent to that of ploughing one’s croft in order to harvest the produce leaves one open to ridicule.

One wonders how nature managed to survive and reproduce so plentifully in the past before she needed the help of the mobile sector now.

The MPAs were always going to be opposed by fishermen who fear their way of life may be altered or even stopped but the evidence is emerging from closures like Lamlash Bay and the Isle of Lundy where marine life is rapidly recovering from the constant over fishing of the last half century.

Lamlash is being surveyed at the moment and they are finding up to five times the lobsters and a doubling of their size prior to closure.

One can analysis the Broad Bay closure in a different way in that it was so degraded prior to its closure and the continuous overfishing on its boundaries has held back any possible recovery.

We are only starting to understand the connectivity of the marine environment. The hope is that this has been considered in the placement of the MPAs

To say that anyone is making money at any given time is not to say they are damaging the marine environment through these self-same money-making practices.

Even now as the creel fishery makes a modest rerun it is reliant on a high price for a scarcer commodity, no way to continue a sustainable fishery.

The imposition of the MPAs must be going in the right direction as we are now hearing from the SFF on how terrible they are.

I cannot help but compare Bertie to the Mr Cameron our PM when I listen to him discussing his concerns the impact MPAs will have on the remote west coast communities. I may be doing him a disservice but I find him so insincere as I do when the PM talks of the “poor”.

Finally back to the ploughing of the seabed, (sorry can’t help myself).

How does your neighbouring crofter feel when he sees you ploughing up his hillside, ripping up your fences and going through your tattie patch leaving a trail of destruction behind, only to come back next year to do it again?

I have always remembered reading an article by Torcuil Critchon who, when writing about the ploughing argument, said that you did not have to cut down the apple tree to harvest the apples.

Since we are so keen on analogies, would it not be better to stop chopping down the orchard and plant some new trees for a future generation so they can crop some apples?

The sooner we get back to more passive fishing methods on our inshore waters the better for the environment and economy.

There has been a lot of destructive practices carried out on the marine environment since the 80s but nature can recover despite us.

It would be good to give her a helping hand.

yours Ali Macleod.

A little surprised that there was space to publish as the WHFP is going through an upheaval having ditched two high-profile columnists in a couple of weeks. Maybe it could have been done less awkwardly but it may be a sign of the times. The fading Presbyterian culture of the Highlands and the old tribalism of Labour verses SNP whether right or wrong is being replaced by a more consensual acceptance of both spiritual and political views. Again whether one agrees with their politics Mhairi Black openly saying that she would welcome support from the Labour benches to help her constituents and John Finnie was saying the same earlier this week. Many folk are getting sick of the tribalism of the past and I fear that some columnists were keeping that alive.

That’s done so back to the humdrum of a busy Inn and fishing. The weather has been very helpful in that there has been a couple of quiet days

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enabling me to get round all the creels and again there has been a decent catch. Not many rafts of guillemots and razor bills about this year.

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To go back to the MPA argument I hauled a fleet of creels that were about 100 metres or so inside a thirty year old MPA, the BUTEC Range. Although you shoot on the line of the Range boundary

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the current combined with a strong tide can take the gear just inside. When the fishing is good it can be exceptional on the other side of the line. I do not set up photos of creel catches and this is not scientific but this may the way ahead.

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Certainly the New Zealander fishermen think so. Both red snapper and cray fisheries are healthy following their decisions to set up their no fish zones. Opposition like we are finding now when first proposed on their coast line. So the quiet days and busy nights meant I was not too concerned about a windy day

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and mending creels readying my last fleet for the summer quota.

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Now I have to start taking them in for a wash. The endless cycle of the creel-fisherman. So by the afternoon, tired and over to Shieldaig for a much-needed massage. A few strains and pulls to be painfully sorted out and felt very “out of it” by the end of a long hour session. Deep sleep o the couch before getting the tea on, simple pasta, garlic, cream and wine dish with langoustine tails and mussels thrown.

Almost forgot, they have found another three bodies in the Old Estate Office. Seems the number is up to three and there are signs of trauma to the bones. The age of the bones is now going back in time possibly clan or Viking fisticuffs. PC Dominic has been stood down as the perpetrators are no longer understood to be around.

 

Tuesday for a day off it was certainly fulfilling. Woke up at five with the intention of going to catch a few prawns but very quickly persuaded myself I needed a day off, next, woke up at nine. The reason for the planned early start was we were set for meeting up with John Finnie MSP https://www.facebook.com/JohnFinnieMsp and standing for the Greens as List MSP at the next election.

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First had to send off an email with thoughts on the hydro and another meeting for Wednesday night for the Board. Not really sure how long one can pack in so much but until it gets done there is no option. So it was on the bike and off up the road to the Walled Garden with Dougal and Eilidh. Made it as far as the Fire Station before being caught up by a poorly Boss. Judith to add to her woes has now developed a pretty severe allergy to her antibiotics so is not in the best of shape. Worked last night after checking out in the morning and hauling 250 pots. Do not feel so bad about making Tuesday a weekend day. To the Walled Garden and three hours flew by in the company of John. Very like-minded and easy conversation. Have to admit to talking quite a bit but Alison had the first half hour telling John about the Hydro woes, problems, hurdles….trying not to use sweary words in describing what should be a project that should be eased through on both a local and national level. It stands on its own by providing the community with income, it will provide renewable energy and it reduces the carbon footprint and CO2 emissions. What is not to like? You would think everything, if our road is anything to go by. So it was my turn to rabbit on about the fishing and its problems. This burst of good catches does not disguise a general trend downwards for me and I had a very attentive audience. No topic was left out from Range expansion, Trident, Climate Change, culture, heritage and even a bit of religion. Will be a good and helpful contact if elected to the Scottish parliament next year. Going home by Camusteel and the shop, stopped to watch Kenny

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giving Ali

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a hand shearing his ewes. Dougal expressed an interest in the proceedings but was not allowed to join in of course.

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Noticed on Monday that Raghu Dixit https://www.facebook.com/theraghudixitproject?fref=ts were playing at the Aros Centre on Tuesday evening and thought “might as well”. Bit showery on the way and the view above Kishorn looking east often catches the eye. Layer after layer of beautiful green and Scottish mountains.

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Contrast to the colour I was going to see to later.

 

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Did not stop to think as then I would not have gone on a four-hour round trip to hear, an admittedly amazing, Indian band.

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So glad I did not stop to think and, like the Mairi Campbell experience,  it was so worth it. As I walked in I was recognised by a lady all dressed up in her sari and although not at first recognised her from the Inn last winter. She knew she knew me but I had to tell her where.

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Tables turned when I usually ask.  Chris, Amena (spelling probably wrong) partner is one of the directors of Skye Sea Salt and they had been over at the Inn last winter. The gig was simply brilliant and not only takes your mind off the stress of the Hydro but the stories and music were awesome.

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With the music to back up the intros about egos, beautiful people and nature and actually looking around and seeing a beautiful world amongst all the chaos we create as humans, it was so easy to connect with what was happening on the stage and put everything in perspective.

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With the new cd playing on the way home it took no time at all to be heading down the Bealach and home. On the way home while passing stags, mountain hares and hedgehogs I realised it was a day of colours, from the Green of John’s party to the bright colours of Bangalore.

Before I made my way to Skye I happened upon Mhairi Black’s brilliant maiden speech in Parliament.http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/aa555458-25d4-4125-96ca-c4c9f834cd4c?in=15:06:05&out=15:14:39 there was some thing in it that reminded me of the 1974 Jimmy Reid speech given to the shipbuilders. Although not so long it said so much about her place, herself and her passion. No wonder they clapped. Some one said at the Inn that clapping was just not on and was only for winding up the south. I would have struggled not to applaud, indeed I was showing just that when I was at the Raghu Dixit gig. Maybe the HoC is really just so out of touch. This has been seen by an astonishing 6.5 million people so far.

As well as this I managed a look at a video showing the recovery in Lamlash Bay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsDJl5aqEWc&feature=youtu.be  Says a lot about the current outrage the SFF are displaying over the implementation of the MPAs.

And the fishing goes on,

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quiet week so far and tomorrow bodes well to get round all the gear which is just as well as the langoustines are going out as quickly as they are coming ashore. Not wall to wall sunshine but very pleasant scenes and calm with the gannets back in

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alongside the bonxies.

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Has a couple of appreciative passengers today from West Linton. Plenty for them to see and they took delight in the increased octopi which came on board.

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Fishing still holding up although had to haul 300 for a decent catch for the Inn.

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The Inn is as busy as ever on most shifts with a stream of interesting people coming through, the blue crab fisherman from Maryland to the French disliking Swiss couple, we have them all and certainly as far as I know they all leave with fair amount of contentment. Judith is slowly improving although her allergy is still hanging about, and the Hydro is still in there. Development and decisions still await legals getting together to sort out final financials.

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It’s nine on Sunday morning and the Inn is at breakfast. Boss is away and we are still operating, and well it seems going by the conversations last night. Despite the late night requests for drinks at 1am, turned down, even after it was suggested the Varuna would be sunk! Bit of nervous laughter followed by The thought “I WILL be in bed by 2am.” Maintaining the bonhomie is the key and you know that having that last dram on top of the previous fifteen is neither here nor there the next morning for the drinker or the seller. Saturday morning involved a walk with Dougal going the long way round to the shop, the wild flowers are out in abundance

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and it’s a good year for the foxgloves,

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and calling in to the newest small business in Applecross on the way. Jack has been making his way to his opening on Saturday through the usual planning procedures and building works. Does not look like much happening and then suddenly here you are.

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The gallery is in a perfect position overlooking the Sound and inside are brilliant examples of photogenic Applecross. https://www.facebook.com/applecrossgallery?fref=ts

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Said it many times that more small businesses are conducive to the area rather than the larger ones that if any change to their status have major implications to employment. You do go with the flow and tourism is the flow. Later on as the walk nears home I take a photo which I hope to take for many years to come, Sandy’s hay drying on his Norse fence.

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Now Monday morning and it feels as though I have been here for a month, not just two days. Managed to get away early last night though so was well asleep before the last revellers headed home. A lot quieter than Saturday with less drinking and bad singing about. The bed push boys enthusiastic during the day were raising money from raffles and pushing/pulling a bed over the Hill, an annual event.

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Through out the weekend the constant theme of many conversations was what a friendly Inn this is and how welcoming it is. All staff play a part in this, people just like to be spoken to and made welcome. It was apparent on the two check out mornings how much the residents enjoyed their stays. They all made a point about what a good weekend they had. Judith has done a great job with this place and hoping she gets back into it soon. If only people knew that giving such great compliments make the recipients smile so much we would go around all day doing that. Instead we seem to do the opposite and generally makes the giver unhappy as well. Strange world we live in. and the glimpses of summer are still appearing.

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PC Dominic was over in the morning for a cup of coffee and I did not recognise him, in my defence he was not in uniform. I did say to him that he looked familiar, and now since have discovered he has an unusual second name. Sermanni which is fairly unusual so it was easy working out his daughter is the fine singer song writer Rachel of the same name. He has quickly got the hang of the community and is now waiting for us to solve the mystery of the skull in the office. A group came in later in the afternoon and yet another one seemed familiar so said “have you been before”, thinking I should know her, was told that I had probably seen her on telly and with a quick glance I realised who she was. So had a good time telling the staff some one “famous” was in and not saying who it was. Kept it going for a while before letting it be known that Trina Gulliver was in and for those who have never seen a dart being thrown on TV she has won nine out of a possible fifteen women’s world championship titles since its inception in 2001. I think I like the well known ones better when they seem so unaffected by their fame, especially when you hear everyone comments on a local’s brief appearance on the box. Not the usual ploy but asked politely if photos were possible and she was very pleasant and said it was not a problem.

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Going well until she said I should be in one, so here’s a rare one.

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Skull Discovery.

Before beginning this week’s post here is the wedding dog from Coruisk, not impressed with his day on the west side of Skye, but still wearing his tartan wedding bow with resigned pride.. 9Q7Q0190 Bit full on stressed out and tiring week. Would not change it for anything though as the full on is interesting, the stressed bit is manageable and the tiring bit is from good honest work. Have to remember these weeks when the winter inertia and lack of vitamin D kick in. Sunday was a long but very enjoyable shift with yet another country arriving, Andorra this time. Been a little run in the last week. May do a country count this winter when we tidy up the world map. Lovely sunset on the way home lighting up the cliffs at Staffin through the Blind Sound. The fishing this week has been a bit disjointed, not hauling the numbers of creels we usually do but the catch has made up for it. The Rona trip meant a late start but still managed 200 creels up for a decent return. An update on Clare’s progress can be found on Bill’s Rona Blog, http://isleofronalog.com/castaway-claire/ Noticed a new rig at Sand meaning “maintenance” is well under way but we are still waiting for the consultation to start. 9Q7Q0217 Also picked up rumours at the wedding that there is to be imminent building at the base in Kyle, so the investment continues but keeping the fishermen in the dark as long as possible. Using the navy diver “mushroom training” method I fear. Tuesday was going okay until after four fleets I was going astern having missed the fifth buoy when the rudder came round too far and the ram jammed up against the rudder post. Has happened before and I have released it previously but this time it was locked solid. Decided after a few attempts I had to unbolt the ram from its bed. Got it down to one bolt before putting my back against the hull and two feet onto the stilson fixed on top of the rudder post. With the effort of a weight lifter doing a clean and jerk I managed a two stage push swinging the rudder back into position. 9Q7Q0236 Home after that, not superstitious, but not wanting to carry on as there was a freshening southerly and broadsides down below meant a little queasy. On the way up through the hatch noticed some fine fungus growing on the deck struts. 9Q7Q0239 The day is full though as I had been invited out to eat some prawns I had sold to the guys from Lewes staying at Pier Cottage. 9Q7Q0231 http://www.applecrossholidaycottages.co.uk There are some visitors to this place where making a connection is effortless and the Boyds are an example of this. By the time they left this morning, over meals and drinks at the Inn we got to know each other and they have a real feel for the place and community. Sad to see them go but not as sad as they were. Unfortunately I had to leave a fine meal of prawns, eastern rice and salad. All eaten before I had left mind you. Up to the Hall for a Board meeting to discuss further the Hydro. Getting critical and on the advice of the lawyer we took the second option. It is very complicated and getting more so but it has to happen in the next few days or not at all which would be a mighty shame. The situation changes again on Wednesday with a couple of emails and the risk lessens, manageable risk is what it is all about. I am confident enough to put my own money in the scheme but we have to get final agreements in place very soon before contractors are on site. It is very stressful having this as a background to your every day life but it is a choice and one worth taking I think. So in the sun and wind of Wednesday I go down to the pier and rope up another fleet of creels, almost up to full complement and will be taking some ashore for washing, the never-ending cycle of the fisherman, part-time or not. In this stress frame of mind dealing with a half mile of rope tangle was not the best choice. 9Q7Q0235 Extra shifts this week at the Inn and Monday was one where it was pretty full on and we just made it, around eight with residents coming in to eat and four twos and two fours all waiting for tables you still have to take orders, clear tables and chat away as though you are enjoying it all. Wednesday and Thursday were very manageable although staff are dropping through bugs and such like, Boss is still struggling along and cannot do too much out front yet. Lots of new staff so feels a little disjointed but see it as challenge to get through it. Big weekend coming up and more extra shifts. The longer Sunday shifts have there benefits though and the cycle home was broken up by many stops to watch in awe the colours of the sky and the Rona Gap, the Staffin cliffs and the distant hills of Harris. 9Q7Q0199 Had a wee respite today and the weather again is the topic as it was dreich and breezy again. A walk down to the pier 9Q7Q0247 with Dougal and Co to pick up Clare’s car to keep it at the schoolhouse for the month. Although it does not look it at times Dougal does enjoy his walks whenever and wherever. 9Q7Q0254 The one good thing is the fishing. Although not getting many full hauls in for various reasons the catches are good although getting a bit patchy. May be the water temperature is below normal so it almost feels like a spring fishing.Always the odd creature coming up, these crabs, 9Q7Q0225 five in all came up in three creels and although I have seen them before, are quite rare and stay very small, like the starfish. 9Q7Q0241 More often than not I carry passengers on the way home in the hope of a free dessert. 9Q7Q0229 The big story that has made the news from Applecross is that the building works currently at The Estate Office across the road from the Inn has been stopped at the discovery of a body. Dominic our new PC has been dropped straight into action and spent a couple of days over here while investigations were carried out. Archeologists were called in and I think they have taken away a sample to get carbon dated. Not sure of the age of the building but at least 200 years old and lots of speculation rife in the community. I’m going for an upstairs/downstairs tragedy followed by a cover up. Speculation during a quiet surgery appears that the skull is mature, maybe in the twenties, so putting down the speculation of the Toscaig boy of fifteen years old who went missing around a 100 years ago. That may be the one the cairn was built so his family thought he was still on the hill looking after the summer cattle. I am going to print the photo of the skull as it is already out there but also with the proviso that I am very aware that this was some one who lived, worked and played in Applecross many years ago so no disrespect is intended.

9Q7Q0259

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