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

The Wee Boy on the Beach

Been on the Ardhu Pier for a fair bit over the last couple of days mending creels. The headphones on and lost in the music of Rura, Treacherous, Lone Bellow and others Dave from Oban startled me somewhat. Turns out he was here to change over the Succorfish unit that appears not to be up to scratch. The Sand receiver was only picking me up about 4 miles from the Base which is not really much use. The new VesperMarine unit will put us on the AIS traffic map. A new safety measure if nothing else and if used properly can cut down on gear conflict as there should be no hiding place for trawlers towing through creels. Ended up mending a whole fleet and putting most of it back together on board with the intention of doing little today. Dougal looking regally into the north wind.


Later he is wandering about in the seaweed looking for crabs.


Often wonder why when one starts work at the Inn that maybe not as fresh as you could be at the beginning of a shift and then you remember that you’ve done most of a days work before you start. An uneventful shift and with both nations schools back the pressure has eased somewhat. An uneventful evening until the very, very drunk lady on table 2 managed to throw up on the floor, before being led out by her partner. Bit embarrassing for anyone in their thirties to behave like that. The Boss went into action and everything was sorted out apart from the two tables out of action for the rest of the night. Saw a Facebook posting a little later and realised that she was still performing but now in some ones house. They had taken the wrong turning and appeared in a local’s house semi hysterical and was duly thrown out of there. I think her best move would have been to turn up at the Inn in the morning and offer a fair sum to one of the charity boxes for all the hassle she caused but it was not to be. One of the rare occasions where it will be a one-off visit to Applecross. Still queueing for tables but under control and waits are not too long. Even home before eleven. Getting some good sleeps in on these north wind days.

Another day of strong northerlies and after a slow start it was back on the bike and in the company of Dougal and Eilidh we were back down on the Pier mending the next fleet. Have become a little OCD with the creels and grouping the fleets all the same colours, white, green and black. Makes sense as most will be the same age and deteriorate together. The second fleet ashore now been mended with only a dozen of them to be washed before going back to sea. As you mend away, like hauling the creels, you think about anything and everything. Today the image of the wee boy lying drowned on the Turkish shore filled my thoughts. The politics around the image and general situation is being fiercely argued over but I feel compelled to put down some random thoughts. That wee boy had a mum and dad, maybe brothers and cousins but they felt forced to leave their home and try to make for a safer haven. We will never know what awful deeds drove those people to such a desperate situation. Went back to a conversation I had last night at the Inn with a Niseach and we were talking about subsistence living of previous generations in the Highlands and we cannot easily grasp how harsh conditions were for those folk not that long ago. My grandfather came from Leac a Li to the Crowlin Islands at the turn of the 20th century and thought they were a step up from south-east Harris. The Macleods did not even have a croft so an island that only just supports a 100 odd sheep nowadays must have seemed like “this will do”. They moved in a time of peace unlike those refugees we are seeing now. The daily grind of survival is alien to me standing on a pier mending creels, supplying a niche market for a comfortable living, plenty of clothes on and well fed so not feeling the biting north wind, company of my dogs, but easily connecting the trials of my predecessors with those  displaced by the actions of madmen. Look around Applecross and you see half the houses are empty, our own house now has two empty bedrooms, there are 65000 acres here that have not enough space to build one affordable house, and then back to that beach. There must be some better way to live our lives. There is space from Applecross to the Borders that could be used to help prevent pictures of little boys lying drowned on foreign beaches. So many people are feeling so inadequate just now. That wee boy will never be a dad….thoughts while mending creels….

Another shift at the Inn calls and unsure whether to post this. Will see after the shift. Seeing twitter and fb timelines that are full of shock at the photo. Puts so much into perspective in our safe and comfortable lives.

Comments on: "The Wee Boy on the Beach" (8)

  1. Lorna Davidson said:

    Well done, Ali. Sensitively reflecting how distressing these images are. Of course, we could house and support many thousands of desperate refugees. Our hearts are aching.

  2. Lovely reflective piece Ali and many folks appear to share your frustrations. Of the frustrations nearer to home, you are obviously pretty stoical – an essential survival trait here in the Highlands. Is The Boss letting you away to Jocktoberfest tomorrow?

  3. Very nicely put Ali

  4. Moira Blurton said:

    True words Ali, hopefully that terrible image will be the catalyst we need to start doing something and that poor child and the rest of his family won’t have died in vain.

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