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

Sitting a public bar in Ardnamurchan and it brings back memories of what the Applecross Inn used to be like. Although the fish and chips look pretty good there are five, two ladies and three guys round the bar and me. (Six now) Would imagine the Inn is filling up by now even if it is getting post season. Down here for a David Francey evening at Resipole Arts Studio. http://www.resipolestudios.co.uk Called in to check venue and getting excited now. Just Dougal and Eilidh with me at this one as Alison is up in Shetland enjoying a Wool Week. So with this in mind and having decided that on breezy /windy Mondays I am on the road and heading down parts I have driven past for years and wanted to go down but am always going somewhere. Today I made for Kinlochourn, a sign I have often passed and wanted to travel down the 22 miles. And I did and it was special,

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beautiful day,

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the dogs in fine fettle and I headed down towards the head of Loch Hourn. Brought back a few memories of working aboard the Dauntless Star in my teenage years, although was more interested in the football and working how to get to the next dance than learning about the fishing. We fished Loch Hourn and moored at the head of the loch twice a week.

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Was walking for a good two hours and it was so peaceful with only the sound of tumbling water and the occasional call of a disgruntled heron taking off to fish on the other side of the loch. What a place to clear the head, to listen to the sounds of nature and Dougal and Eilidh on their inevitable rodent hunt. The rodents down here must be more astute as I never saw any victims. Interesting how quiet it was, remote I know, but apart from a bit of fish farming at the start of the journey, it seemed the only activity was about the big house, guys checking where the deer were for shooting and a couple coming back along the track from fishing. Always on the lookout and there was a new run of river Hydro, newly built Turbine House by SSE using the excess from the Loch Quoich scheme.  Some of the burns are wonderful to sit beside to watch and listen

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making their way down the slopes. Some forestry but pretty barren as you head west so the tree on its own catches the eye.

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In fact every where you looked….

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You wonder if it is just another walk for them, I think they knew they were somewhere special.

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(Cheesecake was pretty good as well) Better not fall asleep during the concert. More later but now off for another short walk and feed the dogs before going back up the road for what should be some amazing music. Salen at dusk on the way up to the venue had inky feel to it, restful.

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And that is how it turned out, amazing, (now on a stormy Tuesday evening) and still a little high on yesterday’s walk, scenery, music and people. It seemed it caused a little stir that I had travelled so far to hear some special music. It was a long way and the green part of me always questions my privileged position and whether I abuse it just for pleasure, although satisfying the spirit is important. Luckily, earlier this year I spotted a post on social media from Mairi Campbell, video of Empty Train by David Francey and was immediately hooked. Just so happens I noticed an Eden Court gig by the very same but on a Saturday evening. So looked up the tour dates and the nearest was at The Resipole. Even the fact that when I turned up and noticed my dipped headlights had fused I was really up for this. Surprisingly it was well known that I had travelled and met David at half time and again after the gig, bought one and was given another cd, photos were taken, Dougal

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and Eilidh became involved and all in all it was a fulfilling end to a fulfilled day.

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The music was top drawer and many songs I knew from the Empty Train album. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKrE2ziF28I Even the drive home was uneventful, the cds getting me to Invermoriston Bridge, meeting very few but puzzled drivers coming the other way when I was dipping at last moment to side lights. Bit of a tense drive back but made it by 2.15am and still high after the day’s music and scenery.

Of course needs must and it was back on Hydro duty and later on another check, this time with Dougal and Eilidh who are starting to wonder about the wisdom of all the fuss. But if you haven’t voted please do as it will help the continued development of Applecross into the future. https://www.mandsenergyfund.com/projects/applecross-energy

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I had a wonderful wee visit from Maisie, Freya and Morganna who decided they wanted to test my DNA. Mention of a rugby ball in the garden was just the excuse methinks. Seems I had to give them a fingerprint and then there was a test to see if it rubbed out. It was, then I was told I was a robber if it didn’t, a conversation then ensued as to whether there were good robbers and bad ones……. It is why I get into all the hassle and stress of community stuff, so that there will always be lovely kids running about next door at the school.

 

Hectic Community Activity.

Relaxing after a fairly easy but long shift at the Inn. The evening was smooth and everyone got their seats just as they arrived and even some just drinking got seats. Still many Europeans about and busy enough. Last night was busy but not over the top. One quite amazing coincidence was that the competition that the Applecross Community Company are involved in https://www.mandsenergyfund.com/projects/applecross-energy our biggest rival is the Glenalmond College. Not sure how they applied as a community but never mind, we had a big group, an Aston Martin car club staying. One of the group was a music teacher and house mistress of , yes, you have guessed it Glenalmond College. The odds of that happening would have been off the scale. The two days were full of appreciative comments about food and service and the Boss would have been well pleased had she heard half of them. Advertising continues regarding the competition and after Sand and the InsideOut I went to the Filling Station.

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Weather has broken and there is a very distinct autumnal feel to everything. The rain has added to the brisk wind, a constant southerly blow, sometimes south-east and sometimes southwest but pretty strong and unworkable for me. The mornings have not been too bad but by 10 it is up again. Although it feels a bit lazy  few jobs are getting down, some grass cutting, harvesting apples

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and a few veg.

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Did not go out to do the fleet which is still on board. No let up on the weather front in sight so plenty of time for that. Despite the autumnal feel there is no let up on the efforts of the community its to work away at various schemes.

First had a visit about a community skiff build. This was first mooted a couple of years ago but nothing happened. It came up again at the Community Council and was given to a member of the public to take on. I think, as others have got involved, it will be a runner. Around £5000 is needed, a place to build it and I reckon we already have the skill and enthusiasm to build it. It does feel the time is right and the fine example from Sheildaig is acting as a spur as well as moves from Lochcarron to build one.

Next and also at the CC meeting the fund-raising and purchasing of defribulators is cracking on. It looks like all the funds are being raised, and very quickly, within the community. Despite the low numbers living here there is a large amount of generosity and good will around. May end up the best covered area if you ever have heart trouble on the west coast. Scheduled to be installed and paid for in November.

On going as well is a fund-raising venture for setting up a War Memorial. I have not been involved in this but hear it is going well with events, past and planned getting the target total closer and I believe the Trust have said they will match fund the amount. Local guys who work with stone are going to erect the Memorial.

Then onto another example of what is happening here. There is a group setting up an Applecross Brewery following the example of the boys from Strathcarron. The Red Cow is becoming one of the big sellers at the Inn and I am sure once the Applecross brewers get their brews underway it will be another success story for the place. Local investors again and seems to be progressing nicely.

Whether it is as a result of the Competition noted above

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there is another group planning a swimming pool and gym. If the private wire goes ahead as planned the power needed for this venture could be green and cheaper than what is available from the grid. Quite an amount of activity in such a wee place.

Despite so much going on the need to mix all this activity with a bit of time out is essential. That is why I ended up walking on Sand

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although the Competition took me up there a walk on the shore is essential on such a day. Dougal is never far away and just loves running

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along on the expanse of Sand

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sometimes just stopping to let the wind on his ears.

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They did do the professional stuff first

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before going onto the Sand beach.

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A quiet evening at the Inn so around 7.00pm there was plenty of time for staff and customers to wander outside to watch the amazing sights off to the west. Especially as today it was pretty dreich and breezy with not a lot going for it.

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It changes so much in such a short time.

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Sand

I was sent out today to take a few photos with the Roll Out info Pack that we received from M&S. Decided that one of the photogenic spots would be where Monty Halls did his wee series when he was in Applecross a few years ago. It was a bit breezy to set up getting the backdrop of the beach. Took some photos of which more later and then was diverted to the beautiful weather, deserted beach and rushing wavelets. The best bit of community involvement is it takes you to places, it’s that simple. Dougal and Eilidh helped in the advertising as did the Boss at the Inn. It is little wonder that people are drawn to come here.

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Competition and Calendars.

Despite a wee chat with the Postie from the north, who told me the fishing up his way was “diabolical”  I battled my own indifference and headed out after seeing the end of Saturday’s episode of Beck. It was a pleasant day and the forecast for the week is not looking too good. Routine day and slightly more than expected. For me, working on my own, a wee trick I use to get out when the fishing goes awol is to drastically cut expectations. Then if you catch anything better you can turn it into a good day. What has really happened is the catch has more than halved. A couple of fleets I hauled today had 90% berried langoustine but the fishing is such that the others were worth hauling.It is good to see the other inhabitants of the sea in good shape

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and the reproduction/regeneration that takes place eat this time of year, although I do not see any king scallops on the rope..

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Big tides as the Harvest Moon is peaking and the topography from sea changes drastically as the reefs change how everything looks.

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Feels good to have made it out today after a pretty hectic weekend. Worked the Friday evening due to being in Ullapool on Thursday and again on Saturday. Gerry’s Duathalon was on so it was pretty chaotic and a tired Boss meant I was on the door for the duration. I have said many times this year that it was a special shift and each time it is. We had all the Big Tables booked up along side another seven walk in. The twos threes, fours and fives just kept coming. Everything was good-humoured, organised chaos. Residents still needed their tables, room 5 were seated in the Dinning Room and enjoyed their meal and I never thought anything of it until the next morning. Only checked one room out and it was room 5. Bill sorted and paid she mentioned in the passing that her cousin ran the Plockton Inn. Sort of stopped me short as my cousin also runs the same Inn. A quick follow-up and I find that my first cousin by marriage, once removed, stayed the night in room 5 at the Applecross Inn. She has an interesting job and turns out I follow her on Twitter without knowing who she was. I do like social media but it does throw up strange circumstances. Sunday was also chaotic as the till system packed in. Hand written orders and treating it as another challenge gets through the day till the chicken linguine.  Amusing little aside when chatting to American lady about ordering crumble for dessert, what fruit, no custard or cream or even ice cream, then two spoons….this went on for about 5 minutes when she asked me “Do you work here?” What can you say? Then it was up to the Hydro and home. Took the pooches down the road for a nosey as I heard in the grapevine that the Isa was on the move again.

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She has been straightened up slightly further down the shore and ready for some work.

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Lovely light and wind has settled down.

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Dougal has to make sure things are all in order.

This week has seen some excellent sales for the Community Company 2017 calendar. Just as well I ordered another 150 from Stewart at Doricmor printers. http://yourdoricmor.com They are going well this year especially as the Inn has been the main outlet. The Company is providing services that do not make much profit margins so everyone who buys a calendar is supporting the efforts of the Company in Applecross. Although I am no longer a Director of the Company it is good to know it continues to flourish in fairly difficult times. The monies which will be raised from the Hydro are a year in abeyance so the £1500/2,000 raised from the sales are important in keeping things going just now. And although I have said it many times before we are indebted to Stewart for his support in printing them at cost.

Another item of interest is the Community Company is involved in a competition to win £12,500 to further the building of a private wire when the Hydro is producing more than the 50kWs. Alison is using every means possible to get the votes in and we are ahead of the opposition currently. We would appreciate any votes and to do so you can go to the following link. https://www.mandsenergyfund.com/projects/applecross-energy

Saturday morning and a fresh breezy day from the south. One washing out drying another underway, three days fishing, a couple of shifts at the Inn, a trip to Ullapool to hear some of the best music Scotland has to offer, some Hydro investigating and an “Oh Dearie Me” moment.

Fishing began on Tuesday and the weather held most of the week, a mixture of sunny

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and grey

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but mostly calm apart from finishing off on Thursday afternoon when a fresh southerly sprang up and it was a bumpy steam home. The last fleet of the day was a little up and down but luckily I left the best till last. The fishing has taken a bit of a dive and catching and putting back the berried langoustine is starting to hurt. That last fleet is an example of just keeping going despite the catch being poor. I probably caught as much in that fleet as I caught in the previous five.

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But that is fishing and although in general terms pot fishing is the most routine of all you do come across many surprises. And of course as long as you pick the weather it is always a pleasure being on the water. Friday, I decided not to go out and that gives an indication of how poor the catch has become, as the weather was fine. Thought that only two days since hauling the creels I would be hauling on the day would not be enough for a decent amount of langoustine to be in the creels. Be out of langoustine at the inn this weekend as I sent off a few kilos to Loch Ness Inn early on Friday. But hopefully it will all start again next week. The choice is to land the berried females and I cannot do that now. Maybe it is good to do without now and again. Fine days

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and nice to head back to the moorings knowing that is another good effort under the belt.

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The Inn has been a little quieter this week, although still very busy. I was at the Inn last night due the previous night’s music, and sorting out where everyone was to sit is still stressful with plenty on the list, remembering the residents, larger tables booked and then a five and eight wander in looking for something to eat. You work out a wee seating plan for the evening and usually it is not even close. You change the plan several times in your head and pretend you know what you are doing. When a couple decide they do not want to share they have to wait a little longer, the fact they do not want to share usually means they are a little prickly anyway, get a little bothered that they have to wait longer. All you can do is just chat away to them. Finding accommodation for a couple who come down later to eat, they are so appreciative of the help they get when they come to Applecross. It is a fundamental of living here, so whether you own an Estate, shoot on one, work on a harbour on the North East of England, a nurse or retired GP living in Guernsey, you make them all welcome and hope they enjoy the Applecross welcome. In the passing Davie alerted me to an unusual light over to the west. Only just caught the halos below the sunburst.

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Working last night was a wee penance for taking Thursday evening off to go up to Ullapool to hear some stunning music from Ali Hutton

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and Ross Ainslie

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alongside Owen Sinclair. Accompanied by Canadians and the odd Aussie in the Boss’s car we arrived early due to me thinking that it started at 7.30pm. 8.30pm start meant a couple of pints at the Ceilidh Place and me nipping down for a few chips and a wander round the harbour. Music was immense, front row seats watching masters at work with whistles, pipes, guitars and a couple of fine songs from Gordon. Enjoyed by all and good to meet up with the Pankhursts who Ross reckons have been to more Treacherous gigs than he has, and he plays with them!! A long drive but the music was so worth it and the banter was up there as well. Andrea, on the sound, seems an important part of the deal, and photos taken at the end,

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all a bit chaotic as people were leaving and chatting.

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Back by 1.00am and although up early to get the langoustine away on the lorry a relaxed day on Friday. Keeping an eye on the Hydro as the website is not showing power output at the moment so we have to go up to see all is well. The spear valve does not seem to be operating as well as it could be so power is a little restricted. Probably simple resetting of head levels or such like. Going up to the Head to check the screen is always a pleasure with the weather favourable. Bit of green on it and a quick clean

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and shift a couple of stones which rolled up against the gate which keeps the flow going before making my way back down. But not before dipping feet into the pool and taking time out,

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relaxing in one of the beautiful parts of the world.

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I like the fact that all one sees is a small dam, a track and a shed when green energy and money for the community is produced in idyllic surrounds.

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The “Oh Dearie Me” moment I have to say caught me a little by surprise and involves the MRD500. I thought having to break into the music room because there was no key available to use the community sound system for the ceilidh, replacing the door with no cost to anyone bar the volunteers who put everything back together, was the end of the matter. But no, a letter appeared addressed to the Community Council questioning my “integrity” to hold public office. Had to leave the room for 5 minutes while the others discussed me. I can only view this latest with humour and disbelief that people can spend so much effort to write so much rubbish. Skimming the letter, I was almost calling the police myself to be taken away in handcuffs, such was the dire awfulness of my actions. But enough this a positive, beautiful and fulfilling place to live and as one of the fellow councillors said afterwards it becomes easier to ignore personal vendettas the more ridiculous they become, just have to guard against the constant pecking away at ones contribution to the community.

 

 

Applecross September Sunset

Lazy day but okay as it is windy and no shift at the Inn. Managed to get enough energy together to sort out for an earlier start on calm sea tomorrow. Nipped down to pier with creels and came away with bait and oars and some more creels to drop off at the dinghy as I have two out of my three outboards back. After the day we had here it was not expected that the light would be anything other than grey and driech but predicting light at any time of year on the West is impossible.

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