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

The best thing about working on your own is working on your own. So when I get up on time on Wednesday morning, just a little less concentration and energy than usual, a wee snooze on the couch before heading out at ten. No crew man to phone up five times between seven and ten when you change your mind about whether you go out or not. So made it out for ten and as my shift had been changed to the previous evening at the Inn there was no pressure on coming in. The northerly breeze did that for me but not before hauling 300 creels for a few small prawns. The weather for the last couple of days has been fantastic,

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bright blue skies and only an afternoon breeze to cope with. Fairly routine time going through the fleets of fifty creels, with only the company of gulls

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and at most two bonxies along side waiting for their feed of bait.

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As always, good to get to sea where although the work is hard the mind can be elsewhere, like four decades ago. The very day humdrum of grabbing the stopper, opening the creel, emptying it, rebating and stacking before turning the Varuna round and finding a space to reshoot the creels happens to a rythym that is so natural you do not notice it. It is only broken by an interruption, a tangle or something unusual in the creel like an electric blue wrasse,

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a change of engine note that alerts you of a problem. The radio can take you across the world or close to home. Whether it is Peruvian endangered rare animals or floaters voters, voting conservative, scared of the new wave of marauding Scots descending from the North today it mostly is of my teenage years playing football every night on Douglas Park, one of my claims to fame is that I have played football with and against Bertie, still playing at a young 62. It used to be golf with Jimmy Beaton and Andrew “Plumber”, often accused of “gardening” while playing a ball out of the bracken on the wee golf course at the back of the Plock, now sadly no longer there. My hole in one at the 3rd made it to the WHFP. Being part of the victorious Balmore team that won their only trophy, the Macleod Cup, meant a very hazy end to that evening. By this time I was getting adept at climbing in and out of my bedroom window, luckily on the ground floor. The life of sport and attending weekend dances was combined with going to series of communions in the locale stretching from Portree and Broadford in Skye to over here in Applecross, taking in Plockton and Lochcarron on the way. Although at the time disliking these attendances looking back I have little regret and they all form part of one’s make up. The right-off of a mini van on the back road to Balmacara has its balance in spending three and a half hours on a church pew on a sabbath communion morning watching two “tables” taking place, the second in gaelic. Many of these participants are no longer with us. The travelling communicants such as Lachie Mackinnon, Donald Mackay or John Mackenzie, men of huge presence, and even some of my football friends such as Ian Munro, sadly passed away too young all make me smile and appreciate the age I have lived through. Over the years it has become more and more apparent that the reasons I smile or feel uplifted are to do with people, actions to help and nothing at all to do with possessions or money. That is to say I do think I am extremely fortunate in everything we have but it is not the driving force in my life. The other night at the Inn hearing a couple from Quebec say how welcome they felt, almost like being in their own front room, is what it is about. They were chatting to Austrian, Flemish and Dutch on their neighbouring tables. That is what under lies the success of the Inn not turnover or increasing business or cutting costs. Catching ten stone of langoustine is not the buzz anymore but being able to be on the water and catch them while appreciating everything around you is far more important. Maybe this is why I hardly notice if the fishing is “good” but the weather and general well being is more important. If a table is not ready to sit at there will be one and that really is all that matters. Possibly this all relates back to the formative years of my parents and although I have not gone down the route of absolute faith but carry a certain spiritual optimism in a in a world that is full of pessimistic outcomes, the biggest being that of environmental abuses that may well come back to bite us.

So the introspection done and dusted life continues as does the broken weather. The first two days of the week were poor with strong winds from the south although making for the Registrar in Kyle meant I would not have been to sea anyway. Cutbacks mean it was not Lochcarron and made me think that there are serious consequences for the continuous cutting back of services. Not affecting me as I can jump into a car and head to Kyle, but imagine a eighty year old spouse who needed to register for an imminent funeral and it is a difficult and unnecessary problem. Called into the Yard and made arrangements for the cats head to be sorted, needs straightened and strengthened sometime next week and a visit to Dave and Maggie’s for a wee catch up. Shift change on Tuesday from Wednesday which suited as pots hauled over the two days meant a good break on Wednesday evening. A walk in some beautiful light

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with the sun dipping down on the northern half of Raasay.

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Dougal and Eildh

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loving the run out to The Ardban track. On the bike as I had walked enough across the deck all day. Sunset awesome from so many different angles

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and the low sunlight is everywhere.

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Often looking round you catch the best. So with everything in place, I hope, tomorrow I am off to Ardelve and Balmacara to bury my mum but not her’s or my dad’s memory. She is free now.

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Comments on: "Introspection before a Farewell." (2)

  1. Alistair said:

    What beautiful words Ali, what more can I say.

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