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

A huge percentage of the time I really enjoy being at the Applecross Inn, the craic, the banter, food, companionship, atmosphere, the list goes on but some days just surpass themselves, and this was one of them. It started innocently enough with me going out to the Varuna for langoustine for the Loch Ness Inn.

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Judith was starting her sojourn south with her Dad, who was genuinely excited to be heading south,

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and sister to visit various relatives in the deep south. That accomplished it was the bike and trailer with a box of fine prawns arriving at the Inn in plenty of time and just as well as not long there the “boys” arrived down from the hostel for breakfast.

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As it was a fairly late breakfast the black pudding bacon and sausage rolls were accompanied by the regular partaking of pints of lager. That was the scene on tables 2 and 3 until I left the Inn at the back of seven. Ten hours of constant motion bar a ten minutes sit down for a fine roast of Cuaig beef. The expected slow winter’s day disappeared like water of a cormorant’s back and by 12.30/1.00 it was a full bar. They came from Kyle, Lochcarron, Coillieghillie, Shieldaig and the East. The big group arrived around 2.00,but more of them later. It was full on and at the start of the day we had Steve in the kitchen wondering what he was going to do with the prawns at the end of the day to selling them out along with the squats, cod, chowder and crab, scallops and haddock were the only survivors. My new policy of asking people I sort of recognise back fired a bit early on and later. Really should have recognised Amy from Cuaig, found that rather embarrassing and also Dan and Rohaise from The Torridon. It works both ways when I recognise people who do not expect it. Huge range of conversations you get involved in, old-time fishing photos, sailing, what people do, for example the Irish civil engineer from Belfast who had recently moved to Glasgow, she could not believe where she was. The snow drifts, football and rugby and renewable energy all came and went. Meanwhile in the dinning room the ale and chardonnay flowed along with copious amounts of scallops, prawns and the odd steak being consumed. The idea seemed to come from one source and although hair brained took root, a swim in the loch. When it was pointed out it was n’t a loch but was a Sound attached to the Minch that did not reduce the enthusiasm. No preparation as it was a spur of the moment, so we had to deal with some slightly odd requests. The towels were the first and then as I went in to clear tables and take sweet orders I was witness to the women discussing and showing various underwear from thongs to lace……as said before “extra ordinary scenes in the Gold Mine”. Preparations continued as did service and then I had the request that did it. One of the girls realised she had not shaved her legs for such a time that I was asked for a razor, so she could partake in the swim. I was told that the razor was needed to get rid of “her forest”, by this time I was laughing. They were spectacular entertainment, sweets were served and all went quiet until about twenty mins later a girl wrapped up in towels, and nothing else, came in through the front door and headed for the toilets. The ring leader had not bottled it but had dipped into the Inner Sound on a cold grey February day. The afternoon certainly had a swing to it and there were a few comments from the lager boys but all in the best possible taste. In amongst all of this David and Michelle and Arthur’s mates from Yorkshire quietly and enjoyably ate their meals. And today’s famous visitor was the brother of Eoin Jess. For those puzzling over who Eoin might be, like Judith for one, he was a fine footballer who played for Aberdeen and Scotland. Eat your heart out Marty. The dinning room group left with fulsome praise of Judith’s Inn and will be back. Things were quieter by the time I had left, plenty of people but drinking limits were being reached and end was in sight for a few of the morning stalwarts. Small world syndrome reared its head when Jack spotted his exheadmaster……from Cambridge.

Saturday produced a decision that meant, barring warm water holidays, I have had my last dive. I plan to pass on my kit to son No3 if he wants it, currently skipper of a dive club in Dundee. Went diving for the lost box of prawns, did not have my hood and lasted in the water about two minutes before pulling the pin. Did not feel safe enough to continue and decided I am not in the water enough to be safe any more. The Auk boys hopefully will recover my box this week coming. It is that time of year… the scallop divers have arrived.

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This event as much as the weather heralds the start of the season. From the dive suit to a hot shower and an afternoon asleep in front of the rugby got us to a fine first half of the French game and very enjoyable it was too before going up to the Inn for an evening shift. As absorbed in the game only caught the end of a fine sunset that was seen across the country.

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At one stage it was suggested that I would not need to come out to work, as it turned out there was plenty to do until the back of ten.Phone call from home saying Dougal was not coming in and by the time I arrived home he was AWOL. After a couple of hours I fell asleep on the couch and at 7.15am there he was looking a bit cowed sitting by the gate. He is just too pretty to be giving him a good row so he dozed on the couch for a while before the day started in earnest. Little did we know what was in store, Applecross “you canna beat it.”

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