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

Archive for the ‘Abroad’ Category

Afro Celts and the Dhol Drummers

Making my way back to the north lands, a beautiful day and stunning countryside flashing by.Travelling solo as Alison is heading south to spend some time with her Dad. I still have the residue of last night’s stunning visual and sound experience which will keep me going through the mundane routines making even them special. Our accommodation was based on price, 50% reasonable reviews and proximity to the centre, but having a little experience of Front of House can be a curse at times. Like in Iceland you cannot help but gauge how you are treated /helped through your day. Had a wee cringe when I heard the French chappie ask for some tabasco for his scrambled eggs, the waitress had never heard of tabasco despite this foreign person spelling it out for her, going for help maybe was on the cards but he never got his tabasco. Place was clean, maybe not Grace/Irena clean but clean enough and served its purpose, but maybe another venue for Celtic Connections. Booked most of the tickets for a five-day venture in January. Had a scare when one of the key concerts, Mandolin Orange was booked out, at least that is what CC said. I went onto their own website and was fortunate to get a couple of tickets so with Lunasa, Bothy Culture, Lau and a couple of others to be confirmed the winter will be less bleak.

Sights that I never see in Applecross bring home to you how fortunate one is in life. Last night I had the “great” misfortune to run out of battery in my camera, having left my backup at the accommodation and not having a second battery to hand. I called in to Jessops on the way to the station this morning and could not help comparing my good fortune in going to buy a back up battery, paying £90 for the privilege, while thinking about the guy who was making his bed up in the same doorway when we passed the night before.Maybe it helps to think it is a beautiful country and day when you have a home, family and structure to ones life. Passing through the lush farmlands of Perthshire, the bleak, snow-covered moors of Dalwhinnie and the the birch woods around Aviemore one can only hope the homeless chap has a couple of good experiences that will see him through his day. If a ticket machine not accepting my card and a camera battery running out is a problem in my life, I think I will settle for that.

The concert from beginning to end was stunning,

colourful

and a rocking good sound. Dhol Drummers, Kora,

 

Bagpipes,

Bodhran,Flute and singing were all top drawer.

All familiar as I have seen the Dhol boys with Shooglenifty and have followed the Afro Celts for some time. The cross over of the Celts with the Asian and African sounds seem very natural and the evening was topped off with Griogair singing a fine Jacobean Gaelic song, aimed I think to get people’s feet back on the ground so they could wend their way home. Met up with other guys from Applecross, Sheildaig, Plockton and South Uist with other musicians spotted, a feeling of Scotland being just the right size of country where huge amounts of talent and camaraderie abound. Been asked to write an article and blog post for another site so going to have to put deadline on myself to get both done. May be away for a couple of days……but then something else may happen.

But get home means a trip over our little hill.

Glen Wyvis’ “Flying Farmer”

Going back a little further in my “wait for a part fortnight”. Seems it may be in Belgium on Thursday and Muir of Old by Saturday. Today is only the second day I have missed, still slightly frustrating, but the wood and paper work may all be done by then. Unfortunately our internet is down, we have been switched back to BT and for some reason our router is not picking it up, I’m in the Inn and Alison is at Kenny and Jill’s. So back to the missed day between Awards and breakdown, a helicopter trip round the Black Isle,

courtesy of PDG and the “Flying Farmer”, John.

Never met him before Iceland and now the third time in a couple of weeks…….just like buses. Only discovered there was a space for a passenger

and Jolene jumped at the chance.

Early start so sleep almost all the way and way back, but I think it went down quite well. John’s enthusiastic commentary was excellent and really informative, apart from Cromarty

I am not able to remember where the photos are,

telling us how locally sourced the barley was going to be, stored locally and malted locally, this as well as the renewable energy has persuaded me to add a little more to the investment that gave me the chopper ride. Local and sustainable distillery with the still and biomass boiler being fired up this week. Promise myself to call into the site itself sometime this winter, may even like the dram. Good to get back though.

From Ice to Awards

Finished the Iceland trip with a quiet day around Reykjavik. Morning was spent messing around with photos and posting before Alison went down the road to a museum and I went up the road to the Perlan Centre. A place built on geothermal tanks that has a glacier in it.

A genuine glacier, or at least part of one.

There were layers of ash in the ice, a crevasse and an ice tunnel.

For the first time I balked at a tourist payment and it was to go out side on the balcony for a better view of the city. This was an extra fiver on top of the guided tour of the inside glacier. Fair play to them for being able to make a bit of money of their visitors and they do seem to have done it without overdeveloping and spoiling what people are coming to see. The only complaint on the whole visit came from the serving staff of the Perlan. And it was only because they had to deal with a slowly revolving centre from where they were serving their coffee and cakes. They had to rearrange their furniture as it turned slowly round and I got a wee grump from a staff member who was unimpressed with the design.

In the evening I decided to head out to have a fish and chips, we had kept the expenditure down with the self catering, down by the harbour. For a capital city Main Street this is about the right size.

Cod and chips was expensive but worth it. So very early start on Friday but picked up outside front door and were at airport in no time. Packed out with people going places and slightly nervous about everything although on flight and sound asleep for the two hours it took to get to Glasgow. On the train and another three hours North, again asleep, before decanting to the Premier Inn and another Awards Ceremony.

We talked ourselves down and actually think the Boss does not want to enter too many more. It means more to up and coming places and helps them on their way. The Applecross Inn has arrived many years ago and the aim is not to let standards drop rather than to keep gathering prizes. A good night though with some people taking a little longer to get ready than others.

And seemingly there were a few whiskies drunk towards the end of the night. Judging by my lack of hangover they could not have been imbibed by me. So the kilt gets its third outing of the fortnight and good to meet up with Mountain Cafe,

John, Glen Wyvis, and Coast and Glen. A very well behaved table,

at least for most of the night,

and they went looking for the stars of the evening.

 

Good to get home and back to the Inn with a couple of shifts on Saturday and Sunday. It is now the time of year and back to earth, waiting for weather and finding out which heat exchanger was down. Found out it was the gear box

so it is off and waiting for part.

Storms, Lava and Iceland Horses(Day2)

Sitting in the Perlan Centre after a guided tour of a glacier, inside the building but made up of real glacial snow and ice. Chuffed to be mistaken for an Icelandic chap, think it was the Scandi look rather than the accent that did it. The short trip is coming to an end with a gentle wind down day, Alison going to a museum while I went up the road to this ice place after listening to the John Beattie Lunchtime Show. Although we never made it to the glaciers or geysers we packed in as much as we could and need to go home for a rest. May be snoozing on the planed train journeys before making it to Inverness in time for yet another award night at the Kingsmills. Slightly strange scene here as the centre cafe serving area is revolving ever so slowly and now in front of me is the stairway and back entrance. They have to keep moving the seats and tables to keep up with the revolve. Finally balked at my 490 krona ticket for going out a door onto the balcony. They are maybe just a little too keen on the charging, but not enough of an issue to let it bother me.

Yesterday, taking Graham’s advice, we went up into the north-west, an area that inspired Jules Verne to write Journey to the Centre of the Earth. And travelling round and over it is easy to see why. The only thing we missed out on and that was due to the car, was the dirt track road going over by the Snaefellsjokur Glacier. We took the next one and a fine trip over it was too. The roads here have had a major investment package poured into them, all looking newly tarred and double tracked.

On the way round the peninsula we drove through fields of lava

and we stopped for me to take a couple of autumnal snaps

of the moss that is always first to colonise the lava.

Seemingly this is a bright almost fluorescent green in the Spring time.

Should have realised that the weather was a little fierce seeing the waterfall in the background going back up the hill.

On this part of the journey Alison had us stop at a couple of points, Longdrangar and Djupalonssandur, where the wind was now a full storm, especially up on the cliff top.

Hard to keep your balance and the power of the sea on the rugged shoreline was spectacular to watch. The photo had to be straightened as I do not have a tripod and it was hard to keep one’s balance.

We drove past the next stop but so glad we turned around to go down the short road to Djupalonssandur.

Another black sand beach and storm force winds.

The sea surging up the beach and I got a foot soak for trying to catch a photographic wave.

I find it hard to take pictures of the full ferocity of the wind, these will have to do.

I had no idea about how this beach still holds the remains of a tragedy which took place on the 13th of March 1948, when the Grimsby trawler, Epine, foundered on the rocks off the beach.

Here is an extract from the inquiry which took place after the loss, seemingly to lay blame on the skipper for the disaster.

 

“At the time of the stranding the wind was a moderate gale with a rough sea and the vessel pounded heavily and took a heavy list to starboard. Water began to enter the vessel in large quantities and in less than ten minutes after she struck the water in the engine room reached the dynamo and extinguished the lights. The crew came out on deck and with one exception were wearing their life-jackets. The skipper gave this man his own life-jacket. Seas were sweeping the deck and the lifeboat was found to be stove in. In the opinion of the Court it is almost certain that had it been possible to launch the lifeboat it would immediately have been dashed to pieces on the rocks, and no attempt at rescue from seaward was feasible. Some of the crew were washed overboard but others managed to climb into the rigging after firing six distress rockets, and lighting one fire on top of the wheelhouse and another on the whaleback. The wireless operator who seems to have stuck to his post and done his duty with commendable fortitude got into touch by radio telephone with the steam trawler “Spurs”, and also sent out a distress message. Shortly after the ship struck, Malariff Light was seen at times about on the starboard beam. The place where the vessel stranded was rocky with high cliffs but with a small beach at their foot. After some time a light was seen ashore first on the top of the cliffs and later on the beach. Attempts to establish communication with the shore by Morse lamp were unsuccessful and it seems that those on board the “Epine” decided that the best thing to do was to await daylight. Meantime, the wind increased to about Force 9 with a corresponding increase in the sea and some of those in the rigging of the trawler were overcome by exhaustion. Shortly after day-light the Icelandic rescue party ashore succeeded in getting a rocket with line attached on to the wreck which was finally secured by those on board the trawler and four members of the crew were taken ashore in the breeches buoy. One other member of the crew of the “Epine” got ashore by jumping overboard and swimming or being washed ashore, but the remaining 14 hands had already perished either by drowning or exposure.”

Although well over a half century ago the remains, still scattered over the beach provide a poignant reminder what was like at sea before rules and regulations improved life for the deep-sea men. In daylight it must have been bad enough, to have foundered in the middle of the night, just pure terror.

On the way back round after a burger and some fish at Olafisk we stopped a couple of times for some beautiful landscapes

and the quiet,

inquisitive Icelandic horses.

They were gentle and possibly long-suffering as yet another traveller stopped to take a snap of them.

So back before dark, no scratches and a full tank, with just a small half hour deviation before getting back on the right walking track. Took a photo of the “home ground” as it is good to get acquainted with my new national stadium.

Two Day Car Hire (Day1)

Day began a little disjointed. Alison after getting a photo of her driving licence emailed through (We both forgot ours, to be honest I never thought of it.) had booked a car for a couple of days. We walked to the Avis shop with the help of a street map, the only thing of interest on the way apart from the length of the walk, was a wander past what I thought was the National football Stadium. This was confirmed at the shop so now I can say I have been to the home of the team I am supporting in Russia next year. Me going with the flow, Alison set sight for the black sand beach at……..We set off and, the trip was magnificent on so many levels, waterfalls,

geothermal knowledge

and the sea,

always the sea. Not too far out of Reykjavik we stopped off at a geothermal plant

which supplies half of the capital’s energy through renewable heat source. Today, the geothermal power plant of Hellisheidarvirkjun produces about 303 Megawatts of electricity and up to 400 Megawatts of thermal energy, ranking Hellisheidarvirkjun geothermal plant as the largest geothermal power station in the world, in terms of installed capacity. Impressive to say the least

and obviously all work vehicles electric.

Then it was off down the Golden Circle, stopping off to walk round the wonderful waterfall, not as spectacular as at Gullfoss but it will do. A wee walk round it and a slight spray keeps one awake on the road.

The little person in yellow gives a bit of scale,

to the beach at Reynisfjara

and the crowds. I am even more laid back about the numbers of visitors now than ever as most of them walk 30 yards from their buses take their photos and are back on board all in twenty minutes. We walked the length of the beach and were on our own for the most part.

It is the same back home, out of the car, photo and meal and away again, The geology of the place is phenomenal,

the molten lava being cooled by the sea and again the scale……

The sea itself was getting a little choppy, starting to blow a bit from the south-east. The constant rolling of the waves on the beach has the pebbles beautifully smooth and black. The two Trolls that were caught out in the daylight heading back to sea kept the attention for quite some time.

Driving on the other side of the road and car, in the dark and the driving rain made for a tense hour or so but nothing went amiss and the chappie in the gps got us home around 8.pm. It is only now after a couple of days away that we stop thinking and talking about what is happening at home. I have a change of course in mind and hopefully that will see me through the winter. This break has been awesome, I only ever use that word to describe something in its truest sense. This country of fire and ice fills one with awe. I reckon you would need a good three to six months to see it properly, to immerse yourself in the history, the sagas, the rupturing of the continental shelves, their drive for clean energy and finally, find out how to play good football.

Fisherman Goes Whale Watching.

The morning was trying to stay positive writing the last missive and I think I managed it but only just, especially when you hear what other people are doing in their Communities growing their Assets and growing their Community’s resilience. The twenty years that have seen Eigg’s population almost double has seen our Primary school’s role more than half, that against a background of far greater potential assets in Applecross. So to try to stay positive we went whale watching. Just going to sea on a fine autumnal day of the Icelandic coast

would have been enough but the day,

the gannets diving

and swooping

around the boat,

the other boats

also with full compliments on board

and finally the minke

made for a fine soul cleansing day. For some reason I have not been bothered by the numbers of tourists around

(wonder why?!!).

And finally I have a team to support in the next World Cup.

Nordic Horizons Session

The room was full, around seventy odd, people standing at the back, and they came to listen to the Highlanders tell their community’s stories of their recent history and in some cases not so recent. The Glen Wyvis story went back to the Jacobites, but I digress. The videos will be out shortly. Maggie started the trio off after Kristin introduced the breakout session by telling us about Nordic Horizons which was set up in 2010 to learn and exchange knowledge from our near neighbours around the Arctic Circle. Over the years there have been 40 events learning about the Scandinavian experience in diverse subjects such as kindergarten, cycling, constitution and oil.

The name Eigg comes from Old Norse meaning the edge of a blade. Although I knew the background to the buy out it was interesting to hear first hand the transfer of the island from Schellenberg to Maruma and finally to the Community of Eigg. From degradation to mystery and finally to rejuvenation. The plans continue and currently they are investigating growing their community hub as its needs has outgrown its original structure. The story of their renewable energy system is immense and the combination of hydro, solar and wind for local use must be a way to go in many rural, remote communities. The most telling statistic of all is the population increase of around 60 during the buyout to over a 100 now. Huge amount of hard work, volunteering, and dedication has gone into the story and it is continuing. Listening to the story I could not help reflecting on what is happening back home and how the residents of Eigg talk naturally about Community Owned Assets. I think this very natural idea has not been accepted yet on our peninsula. I may be wrong and often am but I know that a number of our community desire and are very capable of running such assets and this is  one of the missed opportunities in the Trust Consultation. While I was involved it was brought up several times but never quite made it into any of the documents. I have since dropped out and this may have changed, but until the Community Company/Community has access to Community Assets we will not be able to replicate the wonderful work carried out on Eigg.

Next up was John,

the Flying Farmer, who is the powerhouse behind Glen Wyvis Distillery. Fascinating history of distilling around the Dingwall (another Norse name) and Black Isle area. This was followed by some professional videos and beautiful scenic views showing off the best of the Scottish wild landscape. I invested in the distillery some months ago and hearing about the renewable side to the venture I may put another sum into it as the plan is to produce around 500kWhs and have the operation run 100% on renewable energy. Do not know where John gets his energy from but it appears unlimited. I am taking two or three steps back and will be doing more of that in the near future, need to rejuvenate some energy from some where.

Alison was next up

and told the story of the Applecross Community Company, the Filling Station, the Broadband and the Hydro Scheme and possible future developments. Imagine if access to land was added to this list……..Needless to say that the session over ran but the interest stayed until the end, Eigg and Applecross are already on the map and are now known around the Arctic Circle and I would reckon there may be a wee spike in investments to the only renewable energy distillery at Glen Wyvis.

So our weekend draws to close and while waiting for Alison to meander through the Harpa shop a couple of American students struck up a lovely warm conversation which began by asking what I thought of our FM Nicola Sturgeon. They thought she was the best ambassador a country could have. Chatted for quite a while and the conversation ranged across all issues affecting land in Scotland to health in America. If they weren’t Socialists they were pretty close to it and it must be good for their nation to have sharp minds like theirs come to conferences like the Arctic Circle. They have a standing invite if they ever make it to Applecross and we left in good cheer.Walked down town

through the Flea Market and back up rather tired to the accommodation.

It must be good that people to know the positive steps taken forward by the communities in the Highlands and in our case despite the people in control rather than with their help. The evening ended with a late night wander through the town centre and back down to the Harpa Centre

thinking about all the folk we have met over the weekend, Rasmus, Anders, John, Maggie, Kirsty,

Graham and many others.

Going to be a tourist for the next three days and looking forward to it.

Tag Cloud

Wee Ginger Dug

Biting the hand of Project Fear

Beyond the Horizon

Commentary and Sustainability Policy Analysis from Dr Calum Macleod

Lenathehyena's Blog

IT'S NOT ROCKET SALAD.........in the Land o' cakes and brither Scots

Scottish Communities CAN

Scottish Communities Climate Action Network

Beyond the Bloomin' Heather

A critical discussion of the history and politics behind Scotland's most beautiful landscapes

Jean Urquhart

following dissolution of parliament this site will move to jeanurquhart.com

justsust

Re-imagining a just and green society

Derek Bateman Broadcaster1

An ongoing dialogue

derek bateman broadcaster2

My first and last ever blog (probably)

Small Scales

fisheries and ocean conservation in Atlantic Canada

UHeye

e-learning, networking, and the UHI

Writing

It's got a backbeat. You can't lose it. If you wanna dance with me.

derek bateman broadcaster2

My first and last ever blog (probably)

Jessica's Nature Blog

https://natureinfocus.blog

Shawndra Miller

Giving voice to the world’s remaking

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

isleofronalog

Just another WordPress.com site

Life at the end of the road

the trials and tribulations of an accidental crofter

milesmack

A Highland GP on life the universe and anything...