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

Taking Dougal and family out this morning,where it is warm, still and sunny, watching the swallows dip and dive and listening to the cuckoo there is not anything more to ask for.This extra ordinary busy spell is continuing today with a trip to Edinburgh to meet with Marine Scotland about Inshore Fisheries politics. Both Kenny from Shieldaig and I were not going to go as yet again we have seen any progress halted by budget cuts. Our Excellent co-ordinator has had her contract terminated and the Inshore Fisheries Group is now a bit rudderless. I have had two phone calls trying to persuade me to go down and I have succumbed with little expectation but also with the knowledge if I do not go then I cannot moan about no action taken to save our fisheries. The only bright spot is that this meeting is the first where the mobile sector have been excluded and we can have a genuine meeting without having to defend our fishing practices from the ludicrous claims of that sector. It is going to be a long two days but Judith, last night, let me off my shift on wednesday evening so no rush back. A call into Glasgow to pick up the boys”stuff and then through to Linlithgow with a really good mate has been arranged and the Applecross ready meal has been prepared.Yesterday’s prawn and squat tails peeled and a Thai paste from the Inn to exchange for an overnight stay.

The routine of fishing and working at the Inn continues and although tiring is very fulfilling. The weather is settled and fishing is poor but it is a joy to be on the water. I love looking around and seeing what is going on, the changing light, sea birds and what comes up in the creels. Just catching enough to keep the prawns on the menu board with squats of course. I cannot say it often enough how satisfying to see people eat and enjoy food that you have a part of providing and it sparks of many meaningful conversations. For customers who are just in for a passing meal once you ask where they are from it opens up a conversation that can go anywhere. Two couples were in from New England and in a previous life I stayed there for a month while hitching from Boston to Vancouver. The connection is made and you talk about what a beautiful place they come from and compare it to Applecross. Sometimes you go to a different level and afterwards you just feel good having made a connection to very pleasant people and ,if I am not mistaken, they go on with something ,even a little spiritual, from a special place. The guests who stay for a couple of days you can get to know a little better and if they are interested find out about your working life and the place where you live. Speaking to two sisters who every year get together to do a bit of walking and it was Applecross this year, they were from Bath and Nottingham and one was a picture restorer travelling to London every week from Bath. Different world but still full of interest. I find the balance of fishing with your own thoughts and music a perfect balance to the rush of the Inn. The defining character of the Inn at the moment is the astonishment of the customers as to how it happens so efficiently even with my mistakes. I have lost count of the number of people that have come up to me in the last three weeks and said that they have just had their best meal in their lives, whether it be halibut, sirloin steak, scallops or ,of course, prawns and squats. To be part of this, I consider myself very fortunate. Judith came back from the annual hotel awards in Glasgow with another honor to add to a huge list and this time it was a personal one.’Dame of Hospitality’ of the year.

In amongst all this mayhem I took time out to try a Thai massage in Shieldaig to try and alleviate my ongoing pains in the head. Great two hours although I have to say extremely painful as I have been overdue treatment. It involved some very sore reflexology but even if there is some placebo effect it seems to be working as the painkiller intake has dropped of dramatically. Trying to go back this friday for another session as Sarah was very impressed with how tight my neck and back muscles are. Thirty years of fishing, hauling creels has left a legacy. On the way over the Hill took a photo of the remaining snow scenes. The road was blocked with snow the previous morning.

Yesterday coming up on the creels of the first fleet in deep water were some sea pens with their symbiotic starfish attached. This is a sign the sea bed is in good health and not ravaged by the trawl. They stand upright in the mud and catch drifting food in the form of plankton in their tendrils.

On the way home I passed two of the boys out in their kayaks enjoying an Applecross break. There are not many places where you are coming home from your work and this situation occurs.

Off to fill the ipod with music and the van with diesel from our Filling station for the trip south.

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