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

Past and Present.

Long day yesterday with a not too early start. Leaving the house it is very relaxed with no apparent plans for the day.




Down at the pier before nine and put the creels ashore, off out to the Middle Bank, past all the dingys.


First day of the year when the whole fleet has gone out. Although the weather down south was pretty atrocious it was not due to hit here till late in the afternoon. That is what turned out and although there were little blasts from the east it was relatively quiet with a fair old chop on the way in as you got close to the moorings. But cold, looked and felt.





Working my way north it was uneventful as we approached the missing fleets and the one buoyed off in the middle. At first could not see that buoy so thought it was another look-see, went to the next one and was lucky enough to hook that one and buoy that one. headed back to the “missing” one only to find that buoy in a slightly different place. Worked my way to the end and sorted it out with 4 creels missing. Means all gear in the southern half of the fleets are accounted for and only one to put tailings back on. North half, well we will see and it should be this week coming as it appears to be a lot quieter. So prawns, squats available on top of the rib eyes and halibut in prawn sauce for Friday night’s menu.

As there were a number of fleets hauled and bits of pluttering about it was a later finish so it was a look at the menu and seeing who was in when before going back home for a shower and arriving five minutes late. Always difficult parachuting in although it was not busy early on, in fact it was a fairly easy-going night even with guys two to a table. Lots of great food and the usual compliments and despite feeling a little disconnected everyone seemed to enjoy it immensely. being the good Presbyterian I do not connect too strongly to these ” made up” days whether it be Valentines or  Father’s Day or whatever. I think there might be a Grannies Day in the offing if not already under way. Why can’t every day be every ones. Good to get a bit of humbug out there and to the guys who enjoy these days great and no offense intended. I think also if your head is full of other stuff it is difficult to switch on but the main thing is that no guest knows your moods.

Yesterday a couple fo walks with the pooches broke up the day before the weather came in again, windy all day but got a bit bleak in the afternoon.


Saw Robert ploughing out of the moorings early afternoon but by the time I had found the camera he had turned south for Toscaig and had a bit of shelter from St Island.


Some of the other stuff is getting the fishing season under way, fulfilling survey requests, minutes, newsletters and it is time for the VAT returns again, this time on time. Of course next week we are going to be hosting the Post Grad class from Flensberg University in Germany. As part of their Degree they are visiting us to asses sustainable energy development opportunities coordinating with Community Energy Scotland and Applecross Community Company. The intention is to give the students an opportunity to work with a community while acquiring practical experience in the field. We benefit with the report they will produce about how we can potentially we can can reduce our energy bills while reducing our carbon footprint at the same time.It feels a little like the world is coming to Applecross, this time through the Company instead of the Inn. The students are part of an international class and the countries “represented are Ghana, Kenya, Bolivia, Nepal amongst others, eleven in all. Lots of hard work has been done over a year which has built up recently in organising their stay and also putting on a conference at the Community Hall over two days this coming Thursday/Friday. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/applecross-energy-matters-conference-tickets-6391925421  To go to the conference either click on the link or go to Applecross Energy Efficiency Facebook page and see how to register.https://www.facebook.com/ApplecrossEnergyEfficiency The sooner the better to know how many to cater for and it is free. It will be a fascinating day and even if the weather is good these opportunities come along very rarely…so I am going. Speakers will be talking about subjects ranging from crofting,to local power innovation, community woodfuel and energy research. Be mixing it with work as after conference on Thursday we will be decamping to the Inn for something to eat and then back to the Hall for a ceilidh provided by the Kyle Ceilidh Band. All in all a great day to look forward to.

Last night before I really got started and after rebooting the Filling Station in the cold, sleety dark, I found Ally Mackenzie and asked him to tell me the story about the Saighdear that Donald reminded me off outside the shop last week. It was cold and windy at the time so I could not get all the details, hence the request from Ally, and he was on brilliant form. I was enthralled for 10/15 minutes as he told me another Saighdear tale that Donald mentioned. Seems the Coal Cellar used to be twice the length it is now, that was before Baxter lost control of the Estate Crane and demolished the north end. when it was rebuilt they just did the south half that Baxter had left. Anyway Blackach was a character who used to live on the Street, actually in half of what is now the Staff house,6/7, and who used to live next door to him but my mum, she lived in the other half. Now Blackach, Donald Black, was black in name, nickname and appearance. Wearing the same black clothes day in day out, only contact with water would have been when he had a cup of tea, smoked a pipe with a resultant shine of wear down the front of his clothes. All in all not a dandy. So this day he was on his way to cut a couple of branches with his bushman, standing at the Coal Cellar, he saw the Saighdear coming along on a pony and trap, not sure if it was his or loaned, and thinking he was smart called to the Saighdear if he was collecting rags today. Saighdear, who seemed always to have the last word, quickly came back to Blackach telling him that as he had no time then to stop, the Blackach could keep his clothes on. I went off to phone Gordon to check up a spelling for Blackach and came back to be regaled with another story. It gave me a feeling of a timeless continuity, little life stories of characters no longer here but still people living knew these guys and by telling me these stories Ally and Donald are keeping them alive. Ally’s enthusiasm takes you back in time and his language is so descriptive and alive, I  can only hope that a tiny bit is conveyed through the telling on paper.

Comments on: "Past and Present." (2)

  1. Hazel and Dave said:

    Keeping a proper record, (in as many different data formats as possible including print, computer, cloud {wtf} CD, memory stick, audio tape, etc, all pending alleged progress) of local history is, IMHO, essential for future generations to understand their real history. Not the edited and inevitably biased retrospective accounts of folk who were not there. In other words, get it from the horses mouth and keep it safe…somehow.

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      I am quite late in arriving on this interest but it is creating a flurry of conversations that are leading on to other tales. It is hard to get the flavour of the telling in the written word as Ally is so descriptive and enthusiastic in his telling. There are more coming as one triggers another memory.

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