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

It’s been a roller coaster few days, lots of highs and lows and some both at the same time. Working back the way from today which is one of the highs. Back from a day trip to Inverness which included a great intensive wee course at Tuminds. 9Q7Q0075 Had a bit of fun trying to find it, up behind the Inches. Once Annie gave up following the satnav and phoned Rene, we quickly found our destination. No help from me in the passenger seat. I’m no good at back seat driving which is good for the driver. Alison and Zuzu joined us a little later, not missing too much as Rene wanted to know about the Hydro scheme, so he could tailor the course. We wanted some guidance in marketing the share launch for the project, to reach as many people as possible, to invest in a community, green venture. Fascinating topics and lots of info involving LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Hootsuite. Really well presented and we were all left enthused. Rene is a master of his social media world and his enthusiasm was well put across. 9Q7Q0074 A quick shop before so it was home west at five. Timeless journeys both there and back as we never stopped talking. And as Rene kept saying social media is all about helping each other and it was good to chat about the positive things in our community and wonder about the difficulties. In this context Apple Juice our Hydro offshoot has opened its twitter account and would appreciate any followers who are interested in green energy, community works and Applecross. Apple Juice ‏ Updates of progress will be tweeted through out the summer and of course here. Yesterday not so good, having my first shut down headache for a long time. These are so much less frequent now and are generally aches rather than show stoppers. Could not function and left Netflix on and dozed off and on all day. The result was a night on the couch and a good five hours sleep. I wake up with what is close to a mild hangover, but nice and early. With plenty of time to nip out and get some more prawns for the Inn before heading east. Timed well as there was only one portion left. The cycle home from the Inn in the late evening if it is not raining are a fine experience. This was at eleven. 9Q7Q0031 Sunday another day of surprise and graft and satisfaction, although involved a hard day of pain for the Boss. Arrived at around half ten to find that she had already retired to bed. Less staff on at the weekend anyway so the main show not being there means all available hands full on. Call to the Doc, that in itself tells how ill Judith felt, before going back down to set up the bar. Little hiccup pressurizing the coffee machine but the day went like a dream. Hard work, but to the last customer everyone was complimentary of the food and nicely of the service. Americans seem to be on the move and are very pleasant and open-minded, Bostonians, from the Black Hills, Philly and Colorado. Although a wee rumour from the North Coast saying they lucked on their Americans. Top visitor of the day for me was the arrival early on of George Gunn, poet from Caithness with a fine heritage. Think he was a little surprised to be recognised, but good banter. We have been well patronised by the Gunns of Caithness. Two new countries were in town. Monaco being one but the other was a fine effort, the French Polynesia. Nice comment from the next table, we are all by the water, Wickers and Polynesians, George again. Sort of sums up the day nicely, we are all connected and all working together. Had to be careful telling the Boss how much everyone was doing to keep it going as the tears were coming easily. Long day with a caramel shortbread break before sitting down to a fine venison loin after nine. Weather staying changeable and only managed a fishing day on Friday. 9Q7Q0033 Spent in the company of bonxies and seagulls, 9Q7Q0038 only one winner. 9Q7Q0041 Still not too bad catch and had a few prawns kept back for the poor weather. They are selling well. In between the constant cloud and intermittent rain we get occasional glimpses of the sun 9Q7Q0045 and moon. 9Q7Q0053 Walks still go ahead with the dogs and despite the weather we still get the lovely splashes of colour on the way to the shop. 9Q7Q0058   9Q7Q0056 Eilidh a little apprehensive at Dougal barking at the neighbour. 9Q7Q0050   And have just heard that another member of the herring ring netter, the Mary Anne, Hector has passed away. A generation saying goodbye. The older fishermen of the ring netters are no longer with us and a fountain of knowledge is going with them, always have thought they were a superior level of seamen than I would ever have achieved. They had so much more instinct and experience and found the fish through more natural means than our technology of sounders and gps units etc. The weather has had enough breaks for the bees to rush around and make honey in the brief sun. 9Q7Q0067

Applecross makes Hansard

(Sunday)Many countries at the Inn on Sunday, including the Porsche club.

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From Holland to South Korea and Moldova on the way. For such a wee place on the edge of Europe it never ceases to amaze how many countries pass through. Bikes, cars, buses and the odd push bike, only planes and trains missing and probably just as well. Busy lunch but really quiet afternoon, big improvement in the weather with people sitting outside. Aron is down the road standing in front of his ice cream-making machines catching up on the ice cream run last night caused by his exploits at the Royal Highland Show. The writing announcing his awards has improved.

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The total awards were one gold two silvers and fourteen bronze, Aron winning eight of the fourteen. Good effort. Ably backed by his good lady when he was south.

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Fishing on Friday was pleasant although slightly annoying with just about every end tangled with some one else. You just get these days now and again and some days it is the other way around. Still a few prawns about, enough to keep the Inn going although the squats are still proving a little elusive. Octopus

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and the odd old squat only things on the go.

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Planned to go out yesterday but a short but sharp headache kept me ashore, Got rid of it by mid day so went wood gathering with the dogs and very productive, with a full van load, just left overs from the clear fell and with little effort will keep our water and us warm over this winter. Saturday evening was the usual busy spell but allowed the Boss to take it a little easier and chatted to guests rather than working the floor. Food as usual spectacular.

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Lots of regulars about and when you ask where guests are from you realise you know one or two in the company, Achiltiebuie and Ullapool in this case. This from the retirement group of health workers from around the area. One of them, an exhotelier comes across his exbarman who was staying the night upstairs. The small, small world of Applecross. The phrase on everyone’s tongue is “the nights are drawing in and the summer has not yet arrived this year”

(Wednesday evening) And at the end of another very busy shift with some staff stovies heading this way, still raining but not putting any one-off coming. Had lunch this afternoon with Sam and Caroline who lived here for a couple of years, Sam with ALPS and Caroline with the Community Company. Went up on the bike with Dougal and Eilidh. Lots of stops on the way.

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Visitor Centre rebuild well underway

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and the Filling Station has stabilised with only one failure in the middle of the night since the engineer’s visit.

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Needed another stop for a bit of pointless bird chasing.

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Pleasant and lazy at the Walled Garden. Had half planned a fishing trip but could not make the effort. Try and make up lost time in the next couple of hauls by adding a couple of fleets at the end of the days. Stovies replaced by a fine beef and chutney and followed by a couple of games of that fast scrabble. Every now and again some one is not having a good day and if you jostle him/her it rubs off despite trying to keep one’s distance. Spoils the shift and the reason for enjoying coming here. Usually it happens in the heat of the moment and heals in a couple of days. That is why I am fortunate to go out on the seas and clear out of the way.

Surprised by a wee post on my timeline saying Applecrosslife got a mention in Parliament on Tuesday evening. More importantly as part of a debate, Ian Blackford, our MP, while laying the background to his questions pointed out my scepticism over a genuine consultation and mention that despite claims to the contrary the expansion plans have already started at Sand. While a little nervous seeing the blog appearing in Hansard the questions are genuine and expose the MoD in their usual obsequiousness.

“When will the consultation start? Why has the consultation process not started? Who is responsible for commencing the construction activity? When the consultation starts, why should we believe that it will be meaningful if the construction work is already underway? Why is there a proposal to take the exclusion zone right up to the shoreline? Why are the expansion plans necessary? Let me also ask: who will be responsible for the consultation exercise? Who will conduct it and who will be consulted? Why is this important?”

And Ian ends his part of the debate by pointing out that the Coast only had a single track road installed as recently as the 70s and suffered serious depopulation prior to this. “In one way or another, people were cleared from Applecross-cleared from the land. I do not wish to see our people today cleared from the fishing grounds: history must not be repeated.”

(Thursday evening) And this evening coming in from the fishing I read in the WHFP under the banner Applecross work ” nothing to do with range expansion plans” I read some of the quotes coming from the minister and MoD and feel very unsettled. The MoD are to consult on changing the bylaw governing the exclusion zone by the end of the summer. I see an exact replica of the language used by the MoD when they first arrived in the area almost half a century ago. “The aim of these talks will be to investigate what options might be available that would allow some fishing to take place  at certain times within the revised water space” exactly what was offered in the early 70s when fishing was only going to be restricted from certain times in certain areas. And then we had to deal with an exclusion zone, extended and then the trawl free zone.

Probably what bothers me the most is that we have pretty good relations with RTB and comply with any operations they have on Range. Many times we and other boats have not hauled gear to enable the MoD to carry out their activities. The apparent disrespect they are showing at the moment is not helping future relations.

And the weather is still carp.

In the zone, that where we were tonight, I think I may be using the royal”we”. Made it with a couple of minutes to spare and very quickly in the deep end. Jack, Heather, and I. Eighteen booked in at the top end of the bar for 7pm so the four tables to the north gone for the night. Residents and walk ins made for a busy, busy evening. But first the hot news from Ingilston was that Aron had won eight, yes eight, bronze medals for his ice creams. He had put in twelve flavours  and honestly hoped for one award. This was the kick off for the evening. As soon as I heard the news I wiped the board outside and was going to write-up his achievements. My writing is eligible but does not compare to the Boss’s……in fact no one’s does.

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So just asked the two visitors approaching the door if they could write. Got a wry smile from the Mrs who said that believe it or not she could and not only that she could do joined up as well. Thought I had come across a teacher. All just good craic which set up for the evening. Seems the other news from the Royal Highland Show was Aron’s shirt, so loud it was heard at Edinburgh castle, ten miles away, and yes even he has now been interviewed by Dougie Vipond, almost tempted to call him Our DV. Bit of a late shift as we had twelve people waiting for tables around 8.30pm. As usual it all works out and there were many happy people leaving the Inn. From start to finish the customers were special, appreciative, interesting and great company. They came from Maine, California and the mid west, France and all parts of the UK. Humour levels high as was intelligent conversations. At one time in between a retired Met Bobbie and two French journalists. Very different opinions on Scotland, England, France and Europe. And that was without going into the Ref, Salmond and Sturgeon. A couple of mistakes tonight in the ordering but even they were okay, lamb for a crab and a curry for a linguine. The mood and atmosphere were so good that the lamb and curry were eaten, complimented and were no longer regarded as mistakes. Nights like these fly by and the ten o’clock quiet descends on the bar. A dozen people left down stairs as I spend my second night sleeping in. Morning up earlier to get away to do some fishing as the weather has settled down again and met Berry, the Californian with this family getting ready for breakfast. Another good chat, this time he expressed surprise at hearing Iris Dement on our playlist, always back to music. Abiding political theme is not if but when the next Indy Ref is going to be. Hope there is not too much anti Jock sentiment stirred up by the more basic press. I suppose we have a job to do in continuing to welcome one and all as guests first and foremost, an easy thing to do in an evening like last night.

Although the evening shift goes like a dream there is still time to think of the Mackenzies and their extended family as yesterday they said goodbye to Mary. Big crowd and they came from far and wide to pay their respects. Always a catch in the throat as the coffin is lowered slowly down into the grave. The weather stayed off and a brief chat at the grave side meant I was one of the last to drift away. I never made it in time for the service but paid my respects at the grave. Went to the Heritage Centre and had a wander around for ten minutes waiting for the mourners from the Clachan church to emerge. Not sure if I am privileged to be on the Heritage round of photos as every one else I saw has passed away, just think that I am older than I look.

Tonight I was told that this summer/spring is the worst for 43 years.

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Not sure what the reference is but good it is not. One day of decent weather

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followed by four or five of miserable stuff. Even Dougal

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and Eilidh are getting down about it.

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So in between the fishing days there are still creels to mend,

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prawns to deliver to the Loch Ness Inn,

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where there must have been some serious celebrating last weekend, some cousins may have been partaking.

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Also I picked up some boards from the sign makers at Inverness, did not know at the time what they were, but Alison had organised historical photos put on hoardings

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with the intention of displaying them at the Filling Station.

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And since the engineer has been here there has been no drop off. Seems it was a hardware issue and not our broad band.

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Was back out while Alison unpacked

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and spread them out in the living room.

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They are amazing and will look tremendous on site.

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Spread around the room you could not help but be transported back in time.

The garden is very unconventional and we no longer have any vestige of a lawn, the grasses being waist-high. The Aquilegia are looking fine

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and the rain on the mantle always stays as drops on the leaves.

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Good day for going to sea, tired and late, but still with a little energy left over. It was flat calm

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and although I was not out till ten made it in for half four. Would have been in earlier if not for a struggle to get one fleet up and free from its neighbour, more tenement rather than semi-detached, that is over rather than beside. And another that had been cut so went to other end to put it back together. Fishing is quite perky for this time of year although the squat lobsters are very scarce. Lots of bits

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and pieces

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come up in the creels and there seems to be brighter colours

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around for the day.

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Should not demean all this life as bits and pieces but it is fantastic sea life that is all part of the ecology of the marine environment and the reason I use creels and do not tow a net or dredge. Most if not all goes back over live.

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As the day is quiet and only the two fleets to disrupt the rhythm of the day attention goes to the scenery and the radio. Good to hear John Beattie back on and at lunch time he was asking for definitions of POSH. Best one came from Skye, “there are those who catch salmon and those who catch salmon with a fishing rod.” Another snippet was from the Highland News and it was about Brodie of Brodie putting a gate up denying access to a HC car park beside a beach on the east somewhere. Attention not all there but what did seem strange was agreement reached, gate taken down and HC pays Brodie’s legal fees.

Worth noting some great news I heard on the way up the road on Friday evening. The Scottish Government have decided that dredging and trawling are to be banned in Marine Protected Areas. (MPAs). It was good to hear Bertie moaning on Radio Scotland about it was going to be so detrimental to his members, the SFF. These are the guys who claim they are fishing sustainably while ripping apart seabeds up and down the Scottish coasts. Credit where credit is due, a thumbs up to those in power and especially Richard Lochhead for taking a brave decision in the face of some powerful lobbying from organisations used to getting their own way. This is indeed a victory for the environment and the small sustainable fishing methods used to catching scallops and langoustine. There may be a down side to the MPAs as fishing effort around these areas may have more effort put on them but one has to start somewhere to redress the balance distorted since the 1980s.

And just a wee catch up from Saturday evening when the late light was just beautiful

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and a wander along the Street noticed the sunset on Norman’s window.

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And then it was on Sunday, lovely bright and clear morning leaving the house,

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with most of the guests enjoying the food as usual, some from France and with gusto.

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The evening finished with the fine traditional music of Scotland. These guys,

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as I have already said, came from The School of Excellence in Plockton,

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although the piper is from Austria.

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Behind all the headline acts like the Treacherous Orchestra, Rura, Manran, Peatbog Fearies and new ones breaking through such as The Elephant Sessions there are a raft of great young musicians scattered around the country, on tour, playing in local pubs and Festivals. The Feis Movement and the School have contributed greatly to this outstanding scene.

And the emails, phone calls keep coming over the Hydro. There seems to be some puzzling factors around the modelling of the financials but it is creeping forward and site works scheduled to start shortly on the go ahead of the Board and leases being in place. Quite hard to keep concentrating on these aspects and carry on the day-to-day running of a business, my boat and the Inn. I think that is why I am slightly more spontaneous in order to survive these pressures. It seems a lifetime ago that I was in Edinburgh, not just last weekend, but instead of ‘feeling out of it’ it was energizing. We received an email from Cornwall, a pleasant one, pointing out we do make a lot of our community, but that when he visited the toilets they were smelly and he could not get any diesel. Fair point but the toilets are not blocked now and we may be getting to the bottom of the Filling Station problem. A bad connection from the OPT to the router could be the cause of the disruption. Both Zuzu ands Sean spent a lot of mainly volunteer time there yesterday, resulting in no connection breaks today, and an engineer has arrived in town tonight to carry out repairs. It may be a last legacy of the old system. I am way behind in IT but know something else to look out for. The Cornish chappie said he would be back so hoping everything will be working for him then.

We are going through a sad time here with the passing of another long time resident. Mary from Camusteel passed gently away at the end of last week, joining quite a few with connections to the community, my mum, Dr Alexander, Margaret, who when she came up to Toscaig watched our boys grow up. What with Morag from Culduie and Uisdean leaving for the east it seems we are reflecting on the passing of a generation. Mary, although in a wheel chair, was at my mum’s funeral and seems there was no stopping her, so although I will be at the Inn letting some go to the service I will be thinking of her on Thursday.

500 Miles

Admit the last post was a bit rushed as I did not want to arrive at Mairi’s performance in a rush and feel flustered. First though one or two things that have happened over the week. As important as any was the dozen 9Q7Q9838   or so volunteers who helped tidy up and plant the Filling Station. 9Q7Q9838   One of the few beautiful days of the year and the Station is now looking good, 9Q7Q9843 pity it is experiencing problems with connections. We are still selling fuel. 9Q7Q9839 Seeking info in trying to reduce the breaks in operation. The weather has been good this week but now back to the regular, a northerly cold breeze and damp. Despite arriving back at half past two this morning tiredness has not been an issue today and pressure washing a fleet on the pier was easy work. Thursday evening has left some good memories both of the light outside, the late sun casting a shadow above Cruary, 9Q7Q9889 catching Clachan in her rays 9Q7Q9892 the soft late light on Milton, 9Q7Q9896 before settling down north of the Bay 9Q7Q9899 leaving the sole yachtsman in calm solitude. 9Q7Q9902 The craic with Ken was the start of a fine couple of days which is continuing although difficult to describe as it is almost indefinable. The journey south began yesterday around one and after a drop off the catch at the inn. As I was up at five 9Q7Q9906 and had hauled 300 creels 9Q7Q9908 so was a little tired, although it was calm, 9Q7Q9915 and had to stop three times for snoozes on the journey. Got the destination right first time 9Q7Q9920 although I was a little concerned when I parked up. Thinking about it, it may  just prejudice, it being in West Pilton , or at least close by, including Muirhouse. Names that conjure up a bit of deprivation and crime. 9Q7Q9919 Seeing a family at the side of the road unfortunately confirmed this as I watched a young Dad yelling at a wee urchin to stop him running across the road. The wee boy, about three or four would have fitted in a black and white 1930s photo. What struck me most was he did not register that his Dad was screaming at him, must have been so regular that it had no effect. Just felt sad at the passing scene. Inside the Arts Centre, and the atmosphere is completely different. Warm, welcoming and safe. I settle in before the main audience and soon we are under way. I found it enthralling and experienced a period of timeless bliss. I think one way to describe it was when you are reading a book that you become so engrossed in and you want to turn the page almost before you have finished reading the one before you.  An hour and whatever of pure enjoyment watching and listening to Mairi enact and play her musical journey to where she is now. I knew little of what I saw although it seemed as if I did, the Mexican escapade was good fun. And the man with the kind eyes. 9Q7Q9918 Discussion after was very structured and comments were invited on the performance. Cut short a little as the Centre had a fairly strict closing time, stricter than the Inn. So glad to have a quick chat with Mairi at the end before making my way back up the road. The plan was to stop, camp and catch up on a sleep before coming home by mid day. But I was so involved with Mairi’s performance that I was passing Kingussie before I began to feel a bit groggy. But with head full of thoughts dreams and feelings of good fortune, Achnasheen was soon in the rear. By taking little steps to Lochcarron, then Kishorn, the top of the Hill I was finally home by half two. I find these little dips into real life keeps you going especially when I left Applecross with Hydro complications, the Filling Station down again and a few tears at the Inn. All real but too much sometimes and it gets to you. The perfect antidote this time was Mairi’s performance, but it was more than that and that is going to remain a “mystery” as I can not explain the peace one enjoys from these events. Back home and because I am reflecting all the time, early up and washing creels, bit of pressure called on to fix the Filling Station again, this time with an audience of classic cars and bikes. Cracked it eventually but we have to get this connection sorted, as it is starting to cause concern. And then work which was fine for the two of us to work the floor fairly easily until eight when we were hit for six. At half eight we had two fours and a three waiting for tables. Beautiful day for weather, visitors and now some fine fiddle and guitar playing in the corner, this now being Sunday. The service has now finished and as usual the compliments were flying in to the kitchen. Langoustine, scallops, crab along side sea-trout, lobster and cod and that was just the fish were consumed with gusto by Americans, and Europeans alike. The only down side of the day is the troubles at the Filling Station. Got it going twice today and it has been reported to the technical dept for a look tomorrow and if it is our problem then we can go looking at our end. It is a happy bar tonight with people coming out to hear the music. A couple of boys, Cameron and Niel, who were at the School of Excellence in Plockton. They are a fine advert for the school and are accomplished players. Stayed long enough to hear a set from the Austrian bagpiper The Hydro saga continues unabated but there is not too much to say in detail at the moment. Some of the figures and projections are indeed puzzling me but important decisions have to be made informatively and quickly. So it has been a heady mixture of music people, food and Applecross over the last few days. Good strong conversations, connections strengthened  and these young boys are good, not stop playing for the last hour and now we getting more of the small pipes. A satisfying weekend for the soul.

South to Music.

Full on few days. We have negotiations regarding the Hydro Scheme at a crucial level. Lots of people saying that it may be on the edge of viability, but that is puzzling as a comparable scheme down the road is going ahead and will make money. But we are in other hands at the moment and we await process. Time is not on our side.

Life goes on despite all this in the background, mind you not really in the background as emails, phone calls are ongoing at the Schoolhouse. Days are varied, Monday although weather was nice a quite, decided not to go fishing and worked on gear instead. With a Board Meeting later on there was enough to do. Tuesday/Wednesday was on the water on a couple of quiet days

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and reasonable fishing

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with a guest appearance from Dana who is at the Inn at the moment.

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Starfish, gulls and the bonxies of course.

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Very cosmopolitan just now with Romanian, Azorean, Dutch and South African alongside the Camusteel stalwarts at the Inn. Nipped over to give Dana a chance of some seal photos

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before landing and heading up to the Inn. Calum would not make a living here with seal trips.

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Dougal still needs his walks and out and about with him and Eilidh in slightly better weather. Always something to see.

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Last night was a little quieter than usual although still people waiting for tables. A bit of a rush late on with a three and two fours waiting to be seated at half eight. Finished off the evening in fine style with a good chat with one of our guests who with his partner were well taken with the place and the Inn, despite being stood on earlier. These out takes are what it is about and exchanging views and just having a craic is so enjoyable. Girls from Glasgow were on the scene as well and we caught up our Indy Ref conversation, started pre Ref. And then a little bit of politics before on the bike and away home. This is a short wee post as I am out the door and down to Edinburgh to hear the exciting Mairi Campbell at the North Edinburgh Arts Centre. Just now going to find out where it is , tent and sleeping bag in the van and land prawns on the way south at the Inn.

A few little coincidences occur over the last couple of days. The first was a circulated email about diving off the coast of Skye and observing the destruction of dredged scallop grounds. Then I was pointed to an article in the Scotsman issued from the PR bit of the SFF proclaiming how “green” scallop dredging is on the seabed environment. The email was written with no knowledge of the press release. I happen to know this as I am acquainted with the diver and trust what he says is true. Part of the email appears in the comments below the article with one or two other defences of dredging. The email is didacted a little taking out the names of boats to protect those involved from too much overt publicity. I have added one or two more parts.  Arran Coast’s campaign is referred to and this site is worth a visit. http://www.arrancoast.com I can say I have not dived on dredged grounds but the only defences I have heard up till now of the practise is the Atlantic storms do far more damage than dredging and there is always doubt cast on the veracity of the divers side of the story, no videos or photos so may not be true. IMG_9270 Also the fact that dived scallops are only 2% of market needs reflect on market needs rather than looking after the marine environment properly. If the market demands that dredging takes place then the market is out of sync with how we should be treating the scallop habitat. I read this email and found it straight from the heart and some one that despaired in what he saw. Some of what is taken out is the ridiculous and purely economic cycle that we are in. Scallop dredging has taken a bit of a hit with the high fuel prices and boats have been taken off the water. Now with a partial recovery and lower fuel prices there are more dredgers putting the cycle back on a downward spiral again. I do have dived photos taken by a diver further north IMG_9266 and taken after a dredger had been through the grounds of smashed sea life showing what damage is done to get dredged scallops to the market. IMG_9275 Dived scallops arrive on the market from an untouched environment. A footnote, the rise in fish stocks are brought into the discussion to rubbish scientific projections. No mention is made to the fact that the effort in catching has been reduced dramatically thus allowing the breeding biomass to strengthen stocks above danger levels. But nowhere like the levels of 40 or 50 years ago. These arguments are always brought up when defending industrial fishing practises. Working at the Inn yesterday where only dived scallops are sold, only creel caught langoustines with out berries are  sold and that goes for crab and lobster as well. I watched dived scallops being cooked to 9Q7Q9827 perfection and was safe in the knowledge, the scallops themselves were looked after, 9Q7Q9829 they were mature so they left a legacy behind and the seabed undamaged. 9Q7Q9831 None of these scallops left a damaged environment behind IMG_9276 unlike the dredged ones. IMG_9277 Good to get this out and about so people will know what they are eating and how it is brought to the table. The other coincidence is that it is World Oceans Day today. Anyway I will let you read for yourselves. http://www.scotsman.com/news/scallop-dredging-is-sustainable-and-green-industry-1-3793366 ”That day, we dived on some 30m boulder ridges off Glasnakille. These ridges usually produce a 50/50 mix of Scallops above 120mm and between 110-120mm. Dives of 20-30kg are expected. We found that the boulder ridges had been dredged heavily in the recent past. With smashed Crab and Sea Urchin still containing their meat and innards. I saw two heavily mangled balls of Crab creels during a dive here. The ridges had been physically altered since my last visit, four years ago. They were lower and the boulder which comprised them had been extensively scattered. The Kelp which had been on top of the ridges was lying, torn and limp on the seabed around the boulders. Scallops were in some cases fatally injured with chunks of shell and skirt torn out and in others completely smashed. We averaged 10kg per dive over 5 dives and gave up. It was heartbreaking. The ridges did not even resemble those in my memory… I was moved to the point of tears by what I saw there. I don’t need to describe it to you. I don’t know if I have the words. The place was fresh in my mind from the last time I had dived it and has been ruined beyond recognition with the “ploughed field” scenario heavily evident. Stones and boulders ripped up from under the sand/Maerl and fully exposed creating a Martian like surface. The partially recovered Maerl no longer evident etc etc…I urge you and your colleagues to continue your fight against the institutionalised stupidity of the current regime who purport to be in control of our fisheries and inshore resources. We did 7 more dives in this area and found the same scenario all over. Smashed Urchin, Scallop and Crab, ripped up Kelp, torn and dying Ananome, (sorry, I dont know their name but they are the ones which can grow over a foot tall and inhabit muddy, tidal areas). It was soul destroying. We need change in inshore fisheries and it can’t come soon enough. I fully support your campaign to improve management of our seas but, in my opinion, the buck stops with those who are paid and elected to do the job and make the decisions. It should not fall to the electorate to implement that which is plainly and obviously common sense.” I recently spent three weeks in the Firth of Lorn fishing from Cuan. I spoke to local Crab and Lobster fishermen who have seen their catches increase year on year since the ban, they are positive. I arrived there and left feeling that there is hope, feeling positive, buoyed by what I see there. I don’t boast about having a wide view of what is going on in our waters. It is just a fact. One week I am diving in Jura, the next, Sanday, Orkney, the next, Applecross bay, the next East Loch Tarbet, Harris. All I see is decline, apart from in the Firth of Lorn. Surely there is something to be gained from this experience?

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