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

(Wednesday evening) Winding down at around 10.30pm at the Inn. Just a few finishing off a few drinks before closing at around 11. Managed a fine rare fillet steak with béarnaise sauce as a reward for closing the Inn. An evening of bonhomie, well satiated customers, amazing food and every one on good form, looking forward to the Bells and a good year ahead.

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This is one day of the year when Scots are able to pace themselves with very few over indulging. That is now, in a couple of days may not be able to say that. Going to make my way up to the Bay in a good frame of mind and quietly see the Year in. A good balance to this evening and hope to call in to the Hall on the way home before having a relatively early night. Like the phrase of the night “A good new year to you when it comes”. And here’s to all those who are missing loved ones, a difficult time of year to get through when so many are celebrating. The other overheard phrase was delivered to a lady who did not take offence so can be repeated. “I do like a three-cornered woman” The back-handed compliment of the night.

(Evening of the First) So it was up to the Bay after cashing up and closing down. Handy to be offering this as every one was keen to get to where they wanted to be. Listening to the wind and hearing the waves fall on the shore and with lights on around the Bay from Clachan to The Street I saw my New Year in, but did feel on my own. Back the bike and down the road to the Hall where there was a good crowd enjoying themselves. Seems they danced into the new year and did not bother with a count down. Spent a warm and friendly hour there. We do bringing in the year well, a hand shake but more often a hug, A coming together no matter what has happened over the year. The band made it back up onto the stage after their break and we were entertained with a 70s electric guitar solo in the vein of Skynard/Page/Zeplin which had every one on the floor.

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Only in Applecross could this be followed by a Orkadian Strip the Willow. Our progress down the line was slowed somewhat by the Dundee contingent not taking his instructions on board and going a bit wayward in his twirls. No photos as on the floor but there really was a good feel to the room.

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So home, sober if a little wet by 2.00am. And very little of note today, out on the bike with Dougal and Eilidh on a breezy afternoon,

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picked up my waterproofs from the Inn, checked the hours for the Second, turned down a glass of bubbly and went past the Shed a bit too early for the day’s continued celebrations. Judith and family chilling out and that seemed to be the order of the New Year with a bit less first footing, possibly weather related. Rest of day spent doing very little.

(And finally the evening of the Second) Back home after a long shift at the Inn, but a warm and friendly one that makes work not seem like work. The bookings made for a busy day and from arriving at the back of twelve till after nine there was plenty to do. An hour off for Dougal and it was back into it for the evening. 30+ booked in at 6.00pm kept us on our toes. It is so easy to been out front when the food served is so good, every one is relaxed and in good humour and all you have to do is make contact and make them all feel at home, a simple task. Wearing my Common Weal badge and it fired up a couple of conversations. the first was a young girl asked what “All of us first” meant and I tried to keep it simple and said there is a greater chance of things working in every ones benefit if everyone is roughly contributing and instead of one grabbing what he/she can, we instead of I. Her young brother popped up with “You mean teamwork”. The wisdom of youth. Apart from the good time I had meeting all those folk there was good banter with the four from the North East, of England that is. Over time they had a good meal and we established they were not “Mackems” but Geordies. As they were about to leave they said they had an unusual request, they wanted to buy some coal for that evening’s fire in their holiday house. Being the Inn and the shop closed I went out to our bunker and sorted them out and good fun telling them that finally I had sold coal to Newcastle.

We are going down to Celtic Connections over a couple of weekends towards the end of January and ties in nicely with a trip to Birnam to be involved with a meeting of Land Reformers, some issues will not go away. Looking forward to being in the company of a group of people who want the best for the lands of Scotland. So now the year is under way and we wonder what it will bring. Big year for the Applecross Community Company as we hope to strengthen the Broadband Network, build the Hydro Scheme with private wire, keep the Filling Station and Toilets going and keep improving the transport and energy issues of our remote and rural peninsula. That will keep us going and we need housing but out of our hands. Speaking to a brickie this evening who has just bought a house locally and is hoping to move West from Inverness. He would do just fine in this area with the shortage of tradesmen. Politically one would think after the Referendum things would settle down but the unintended consequences of a No Vote means Land Reform in high up on the agenda. Fascinating story emerging from Sleat on the South end of Skye, about how the land owning Trust has put up the croft rents by 2000%. Distant uncommunicative Landlord which has little or no contact or understanding of local needs making arbitrary decisions to the detriment of the local community. Even the clan chief is quoted as saying”I felt strongly that the people most able to administer the crofting lands were those that actually lived on the land, not a number of remote, often faceless individuals who, at most, appeared once a year.” Not the words of a “radicalized” crofter but Lord Macdonald, maybe things are on the turn. Interesting to see how the Trust deal with criticism, silence, and that silence will be getting louder if there are no moves to help those communities on the edge. The communities who are willing to help themselves need assistance to turn around 150 years of neglect. The Highlands was not always a wilderness but a managed landscape with a far more diverse environment which supported greater numbers of both people and wildlife.It will take a huge effort and many mistakes to arrest this decline which has allowed sheep and deer to impoverish the Highland landscape. So 2015 here we come. May every one receive what they need and a little of what they want, it s going to be interesting if nothing else.

 

Comments on: "Hospitality and Hopes of Land Reform." (4)

  1. Niall Gòrdan said:

    Who is that handsome hairy multicultured muso?? And where is his lovely assistant, ie The Wife??? A great nite for us 🙂

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      Aye he certainly rocked the place after midnight. I turned up about 20 mins before his guitar solo and danced the Orcadian so never got her in the picture! A fine night.

  2. Alistair (sorry if that’s not the correct spelling!), Happy New Year. I’ve been over in Scotland for the last few weeks, in Wester Ross, not a million miles from Applecross, getting my annual flavour of life here, and I would ask you what one thing, if you had a magic “land reform” wand to wave, you would do to improve life in Applecross and enhance its viability as a community? Put that another way, what’s at the top of your wish list in land terms? (I have my own idea from what I’m seeing here where I am, it will be interesting see if you come up with the same thing.)

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      Having to be so careful in what I say (not that I care what opposing views may think about me but do not want to jeopardise future relations locally) I would say in the short term if Patronage was changed to Partnership that would ease the community survival somewhat. There are a lot of ideas floating around the Community at the moment and if any of these ideas are connected to access to land for development they have been either stopped or shunted aside. Approaches other than the Community Company have been turned down and these approaches have the potential to bring in more people to live and WORK here but that is not a declared position of the Trust. That is fine not to have the health of the Community as a part of the Trust’s objectives but I question whether they should be stopping the Community carrying out what it sees as sustainable development. At the moment the Company is seen as opposition but I think that will have to change and certainly Partnership where both parties can gain is the way ahead. Feudal patronage is a hard mindset to shake of if you have been born into it.

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