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

“Ill Fares the Land”

Friday and the intention was to go out and haul some creels but a wee check up on the forecast put some doubt in the mind. There is not too much pressure on at the moment to keep the market happy so an increasing southerly after a poor night’s sleep meant that a bit of wood gathering was on the cards.

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One of the things I love about Applecross is you can immerse yourself in the busy hurley burly of the Applecross Inn or you can wander five minutes away and been in complete solitude.

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Just you and the dogs out of sight and out of mind of the rest of the busy world. Mind you there is always some watching.

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It is similar to the front of house weekend and then single-handed going to sea amongst the sea birds and langoustines. Sometimes when you are gathering the wood you can forget what you are doing and the carrying of the branches just seems to happen. A neat new pile has now made its way home ready for a chop for next winter’s fire. Trying to be Scandinavian and have the winter fuel sorted by the end of the spring.

On Saturday it was back to sea and again not for very long. The catch is holding up well although the composition has changed dramatically. The large and extra-large langoustines have decided they are not coming out any more and the creels are full of smaller ones. They are still of a decent size and good for the Inn. The smaller of the No3 size that we land are tailed and sold at the Inn in 1/2 pint jugs of tails. A popular starter that people share before tucking into the serious main meals. So it was only four fleets of creels hauled and we headed back in with around 35 kilos of langoustines and a few squat lobster tails. I know it is going to get so much harder to keep up with supply as the summer wears on so am going to enjoy this wee spell. The van went through to Inverness during the day as we are now down to a one vehicle family and unfortunately the camera went through with it. I was quite lost as I kept seeing photos through out the day and it made me realise how attached I have become to it. We have become so reliant on all types of technology and take for granted so much…listening to Hamish Napier’s The River, downloaded from iTunes and playing through the Mac. Last evening’s sunset was quite spectacular and I was fretting I did not take a snap of it but then again, so what, if that is all I have to moan about. And anyway this evening was not so bad.

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The last couple of shifts at the Inn have been pretty quiet, relatively so, people still waiting for tables but in the full knowledge one will come up in the next 15 minutes or so. Time to chat to customers instead of rushing around making sure their meals were correct and served. Always good to see familiar faces from over the Hill and a couple have turned up over the last two days. A story from Edinburgh days of a party in Clarendon Crescent. A visitor from the north stopped off for a party, had a snooze, woke up and wandered off up town not really knowing where Haymarket was at five in the morning. Saw a nurse heading up the road in front of him and tried asking for directions but only response was she sped up to keep ahead. Eventually she gave up and told him where to go. It was when he got back to the flat he was staying at he saw what the problem was. He glanced at the mirror and could not see his face for all the paint and makeup that everyone had fun painting on him while he was dozing. He reckons the nurse still remembers that night.

It has been a hard week being a politician and glad I have not got this hard-line party allegiance that so many have on social media. Whether one has so much money that you have to squirrel it away from being taxed and spending on the country’s infra structure or you sign contracts to build expensive schools that are so badly built that they fall down in ten years….. Party allegiance seems more important than “doing the right thing” these days. I seem to be more and more drawn to the ideas of the Green Party these days but to extricate ourselves from the way we live to something more sustainable is becoming harder to achieve. Always read the weekly missive from Laurence and the Senscot brief, so often getting quotes from such a well read source that chime with my own instincts. He quotes from a book by Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land.

“We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. We must learn once again to pose them. The materialistic and selfish quality of contemporary life is not inherent in the human condition. Much of what appears ‘natural’ today dates from the 1980s: the obsession with wealth creation, the cult of privatization and the private sector, the growing disparities of rich and poor. And above all, the rhetoric which accompanies these: uncritical admiration for unfettered markets, disdain for the public sector, the delusion of endless growth. We cannot go on living like this.”

In my ignorance my only contact with “Ill Fares the Land” was the film mainly set in Applecross about the evacuation of St Kilda. Curiosity has led me to find out, to my shame, that the original quote comes from Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village.

“Ill fares the land, to hastening ill a prey, where wealth accumulates, and men decay.” All relevant in my life and work as the snap in the last post of what I thought may have been a turbot shows. I have been told it was a Dover Sole and another example of fish moving north in our climatic changing waters. This was certainly not the first I have caught. We should become a little less party orientated and concentrate on how to live within our environment. And finishing with the camera back and the peaceful side of Applecross, before going to the Inn today I took a wander down the road

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and enjoyed the stillness of the morning.

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Accompanied of course.

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Fairly big tides just now

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as evidenced in the afternoon on the Bay.

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Comments on: "“Ill Fares the Land”" (2)

  1. Well, Goldsmith’s poem, gussied up in modern language, could pretty well stand today for what’s happening and you’d be hard pressed to know it was written in 1770, given the descriptions of rural depopulation, avarice amongst the rich, appropriation of common land, consumerism, etc. Add climate destruction for gain to the mix. We (and, through us, the politicians) don’t ask the right questions, do we?

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      So right, wondering that they think they hold all the cards. May just come back to bite them sometime soon. Me thinks climate change may well supersede everything.

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