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

Summer is Taking its Toll.

(Friday evening) Missing out on the Raft Race this evening, the weather, the phone call reporting chaos at the Inn and cooking tea with washing a fleet of creels this evening all mount to too much on. (PS didn’t find energy to wash creels) It is a fine event, along with the Fishing Competition tomorrow, is a lucrative fund-raiser for the RNLI and other local Charities and is held each year. Fishing trips for langoustine this week have had a fair bit of variety both with weather variations and people out on board.

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On Tuesday we had a very interested German on board and he was fascinated by the day’s activities. Got chatting to him and it turns out he had a couple of companies, a security and another one which was involved in industrial cleaning. He had an air of German wealth about him and was good company. On Wednesday his partner had bought him a days grouse shooting near Inverness. A topic that is hitting the headlines these days with the “mysterious” disappearance of raptors, hen harriers and eagles, in the vicinity of grouse moors. The numbers of disappearing tagged birds are rising but no proof is available yet which can confirm the strong suspicions that some grouse moor managers are culpable. Interesting to hear his view of the size of the Applecross Estate. He told me that in Germany a big estate would amount to 500 or the larger ones a thousand hectares. He shook his head at the size of “ours”, a huge 65,000 acres under the sway of one man. Interesting in that here was a man obviously comfortable in hunting/fishing/shooting circles shaking his head at our antiquated land ownership. A successful day at sea, as he said at the end of it that it was an experience he would never forget. Tuesday’s fishing routine although sorting out a fleet that did not self shoot in the required order did take a bit of sorting out.

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On Thursday it was Peter and Daniel. Peter is connected to MCS, a charity involved in sustainable marine usage. Peter’s son was out as well and they seemed to enjoy the day, probably more than I did due to the foul ups and the breeze from the north-west. It was a strange morning as it started bright and then the mist rolled in from the north.

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From then on the fog bank moved in and back out to and from the west.

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Although the amount of langoustine landed has dropped by a good bit, due to the large amount of smaller berried females in the creels, the quality is still good. But the squats, they just kept coming and coming, all 14 kilos of tails. Every second between fleets we were tailing but when you have them for tea you know they are so worth it, a great by catch. One of the few days I left my camera ashore so no photos of the guys tailing without the gloves. Bit of filming went on during the day, sustainable, and good to show how everything that was not sold was put back alive. Today and Wednesday morning on the way out, and between work on deck getting the Varuna ready for the day, look up and watch a gannet gliding just above the rippling water, keeping her distance but a timeless moment in nature. Just like the family of porpoises surfacing on the smooth sea, always on the move but sedately, don’t seem stressed but alive and in their element. Bar Thursday the weather has been bright

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and quiet

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all week with the passing traffic creating the bigger waves.

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(Sunday evening) Talking about stress, it is a whole week since posting and home late last night, going through the photos in the file puts the fishing week in sequence.

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Sometimes not noting anything down you move away from the immediacy of events like last Saturday. It was a “learning on the job” night for me. I was on the door and doing the seating for the evening as Boss was tired. No one can do this job day after day, not even her. It was the usual hectic night, weather rubbishy so every one inside. They just kept coming and meals kept going out. Seats still to find and although I knew what to do, that is gather all orders of people waiting for tables and give the kitchen a heads up, I was still putting in orders at 9.15. Steaks, gammon and all the usual fish and shellfish. So the achievement of doing another impossibly busy evening at the Inn was tempered somewhat by giving the kitchen so much to do so late in the evening. Learnt a way round it but the kitchen had to suffer from the lesson.

Thursday was similar but was a bit more controlled and all the orders were in before 9.00pm. Again doing the door and checking that no one slips through the system and is waiting too long is a stressed job.We had three groups of ten in on the night along with the usual busy crowds. Boss was enjoying a well deserved night off on Loch Ness enjoying Loch Ness gin. The night goes on and you are very aware who is waiting too long for tables, ie residents, but you have to keep reassuring them and they seemed unconcerned. Amongst all this there was an Italian lady, very pleasant, who wanted a tomato salad but not dressing. Andy immediately went on the case, a Mediterranean salad quickly conjured up. Taken out but was rejected, I thought due to the dressing, so, back to kitchen where I was told it was just olive oil. Back out I went but no it was the shallots that knocked it back. The tomato salad, which I then made up, was a bowl of cherry tomatoes. They were accepted with mucho gratias and all was well. Two minutes later I was back at the table, but only because her partner also wanted the tomato salad with his steak. It was a long and round about way of getting there but there we did. This all happens as a sub plot on a night of general organised chaos. At the end of service the front of house do five highs, I think in relief of getting to the end of another service unscathed.

Wednesday evening was notable for getting to meet a couple of folk, a couple of friends, one from Portugal, living in London and her friend a New Yorker, financial manager. Chatting to them, organising their meal, taking a photo memento but on reflection always interesting to hear reactions. After telling her about the German economist closing his Deutchebank account she asked where he went next. She was already thinking about the next good place when I was thinking about the trauma of a major European bank in trouble and how that would affect us all. Two people looking at the same thing but seeing it different keeps your mind open. Anyway back to yesterday and an early start with a bad back and shoulder. Sleeping badly this week, I think because of a strong moon, woke up in fair bit of pain. Best thing to do is keep going and go out and catch langoustine, trying not to seize up. These days the catch is well down although by the end of the day it is still decent and landing some of the bigger sizes on the day keeps the supply going. At the back of nine, on my second fleet, I look up and Ewen steams past at speed with his load of fishermen. Perfect day for them and me. In the good weather and the company of the bonxies feeding up for their migration in the next few weeks eases the painful muscles.

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In early enough to get a deep sleep for a half hour in the afternoon before making my way up to yet another full on shift. Up till eight it went well and then the heavens opened above Applecross while there was a glorious sunset over Raasay. Everyone piled into the bar from outside. Worked out okay as we were helped by the non appearance of a group of six. Late shift as all the staff wanted down to Hall for the Fishing Competition dance. After a few chats with late drinkers I made an appearance after twelve. Stayed and had a yarn or two while the auction went on. Raised a great amount of £6,000. A very fine effort. Made it home by 1.45am and sober.  Today was mainly about survival and a copious amount of painkillers helped through the morning bottle up. Turn your back and the bar fills up and stays like this all day. Food piles out, dishes pile up in the prep room and glasses pile up on the bar. A day to get through for most of the staff as several did not finish the night before as sober as I did. Taking the painkillers for the head had a side effect and the shoulder and back eased somewhat but the legs from walking the miles front of house were tiring by six, so a beef burger and home on the bike by seven. Good news for tomorrow is a visit to Shieldaig for a long over due massage. So I will finish up with a sunset from earlier this week.

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