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

Archive for the ‘Community Company’ Category

Broadband with a Sigh.

To say that providing a geographically scattered community with broadband is difficult, we are finding is one of the understatements of the year. My optimism of a couple of years ago has long since vanished as the problems emerge as to how tricky everything is becoming. The latest little piece of knowledge we came across is that there is going to be a world shortage of IP addresses. These are only available in batches of 256, why that number I have no idea, and cost a fair bit to rent and even more to buy. As our new system has meant that we are now all on individual IP addresses and we are close to using that number then those on the waiting list have a further problem to overcome. I suppose that our problems are taking place in a background of poor broadband over our whole area. In fact the NW Highlands and Islands have among the poorest service of the whole country. We also hear that BT have “negotiated” a deal that is to give them the monopoly to roll out next generation to 99% of the country. The rather big caveat is that they are do not need to service around 650000 people, the 1%, and I wonder where they will be living. Locally rumours are rife about BT actually providing fibre optic in Applecross with workmen looking for six months accommodation for bringing it in over the Bealach. Our contacts say that this is not going to happen but already there are two cabinets built at the exchange and Milton. Of corse this means that those outlying areas will be in the same boat as before with BT taking the core of the customers away from AppleNet. This appears to be coming over from Skye and, assuming the copper lines in Applecross are in good nick, will be distributed from these cabinets. Going by what one hears from Skye the source of this new system leaves a lot to be desired and also BT numbers on lines are far more than AppleNets. There is a strong rumour that the fibre cable coming over the Hill is going direct to Sand and will not be available to the community at all. The workmen say otherwise so basically everyone is in the dark. South to HUBS and there are all sorts of machinations going on as we are being connected up to the new system. Currently we have been offline for around six of the last eight weeks and in today’s world, as we are both involved in various issues that need a fair bit of communication, that is seriously hampering our volunteering and work. Also to be noted that a company providing satellite service to one of our customers has gone bankrupt, proving all is not well in rural broadband circles. It is also a problem describing our efforts not as a business to some customers but a social enterprise providing a service. Sure the bottom line has to be kept in the black but were are not in business to make money and if we do it is purely for reinvestment.

Locally we have a mast on Raasay that serves the North Coast and finally it was up and running but not unfortunately on the island itself. There were a few emails coming back and fro, getting more and more irate, phone calls increasingly less polite and not understanding our inability to remedy the fault. This needed expertise from south. This done Sean and I headed over a couple of Mondays ago on a lovely quiet day

and very quickly he had the two connections up and running although speeds could have been better. The third connection was not attended to as he had thrown his toys out of his pram. As we had a bit of time before the next ferry

we headed to Raasay House

for a coffee with Lyn and Freya,

after a tour of a very smartly done up accommodation post fire. Prices range from £250 to £25 so all tastes accounted for. Views from the cafe and rooms at the front almost match Applecross.

A good catchup as usual, Lyn being my PE teacher at school back in the day. Lovely day and would have been better spent out on the water catching langoustines but needs must sometimes and the trip and company meant a good day out. variety keeps one fresh after all.

Who knows where broadband is heading in the near future. We are “expected” to now apply for next generation speeds. Bit ironic as we are barely up to first generation speeds. The forms and work, coupled with the technical expertise and lack of time all works against us having much of a chance of going onto the next stage. As the switch over continues Sean, who is a pretty fast learner, is finding so many anomalies in our set up which may go some way to explaining why some connections have stubbornly remained slow. As well as this we are having to deal with problems in the new system, ranging from radio reception to tidal. To be perfectly honest our broadband at the schoolhouse has gone back in quality since we have been trying to improve the setup, but patience is always going to be a virtue living in rural parts while still trying to improve services. I no longer predict times for improvements as the last prediction was we were going to have vastly improved speeds on 9th November 2015.

On a completely different subject and as I was tucking into some lemon drizzle cake rescued from the Best Man’s grasp the day after the wedding reminded me that several wedding photos have come up on FaceBook, a couple or three caught the eye, the boys, missing Calum,

happiness

and my emotional moment.

Beautifully shot and many more of the lovely bride are online.

“It’s What You Do With What You’ve Got.”

( Wednesday evening) Every now and again things are in place which either mean all is well in life or there is a spot of trouble to deal with. Today was one of those days when you have to cope with a spot of bother. Early start due to a day off yesterday and the plan to haul extra fleets went well until the last one. Just a wee bit tired, 540 creels hauled and thinking of heading home, turning round to shoot back my final creels, found myself on the wrong side of a creel which wrapped itself round my legs. That would be okay to deal with but I was in gear and going half ahead so the weight of the buoy was trying to pull me over the stern. Adrenalin kicked in and after what felt like an age, but was probably only a minute, I managed to ease myself into a position to fall backwards off the creel and away from the rope that was trying to catch an ankle. Only resulted in a couple of pulled muscles and a little shake. Thinking about it on the way in you accept that was as close as you want to go but no point in dwelling over it or you would pack in the job. Clarity of thought is so distinct and so many people say how time seems to slow when you are in serious trouble, but I reckon it is the mind working through the survival strategy. I am sure there are many incidents that happen every day at sea like this and no amount of regulation can cut them all out. One of the silly thoughts that went through the brain was, “mustn’t spoil the upcoming wedding”, daft, I know, but it gives that bit more of an incentive, if any was needed. So the engine stopping on the way into the moorings turned a good long day at sea into one of those days. Uncertain about why she stopped but got her going quickly and soon was tied up.

( Tuesday, last week) One of the things I love about this life is its unpredictability, slightly later than usual I was getting ready to go fishing last week when I saw an unfamiliar boat heading slowly into the moorings. Turns out Joel with three SNH guys were out on a wee field trip. Unfortunately their gear box was playing up and heading for Lonbain was too risky. After a request for help, equipment and people were put aboard the Varuna,

we steamed north shooting yesterday’s cleaned fleet off in the Bay. We were looking for flame shell reefs and although we were working with gps marks it was not till the last dip with the camera that we came across them.

There was plenty evidence of maerl beds which is good in itself. I am sure this would be described in certain quarters as supping with the devil, but if it helps the environment in any way I am up for it. Passing The Sand Base on the way home one wonders about the 22 million investment…….

Hauled a fleet, on the way in, still trying to hook up my missing one but failed yet again. Lots of squats though so not a total waste of time. Started towing the boat south

to meet Angus who completed the rescue, turning up just south of Saint Island.

Another few broken creels mended and a squat lobster fried rice completes the day. Means an early start tomorrow to make up for the lost time.

( Now Thursday evening) And now taking a bit of time out after a busy night at the Inn, a spot of reflection. With Tarnybackle singing It’s What You Do With What You’ve Got, so true working at the Inn. Introducing the song it sounded like a plea from the heart asking why we do not help each other more instead of just looking out for ourselves. Classic small example of this was Zuzu and I headed over to the Filling Station to try to sort out the lack of receipts over the last week. I had tried on several occasions and Zuzu had a go as well before going off on hols for the last week. Pooled knowledge and we sorted it out in approximately five minutes. Went into the system as the engineer and got the drawer opened with a bit of knowledge I had learned and fixed my earlier mistake. Good feeling of working together for community benefit walking back to the Inn. Where it was one of those special nights, friends made, can see several tables with people deep in conversation with each other they had never met before eating their meals together earlier in the evening. The camaraderie is immense and although the Boss was a bit tense thinking it was going to be a struggle to seat every one nothing went wrong, comments were off the scale about the food and the service. Easy for me to convey a magnificent Highland night of hospitality, food and drink, (Sandy even got his chic chip ice cream with sprigs of mint) and fine appreciated music. Enjoyed Green Fields of France, Caledonia and others of the folk and country tradition. Like the last couple of years working at the Inn with an ever-changing but fantastic team gives you so much satisfaction. It has been very fulfilling despite the numbers over the last few days and regulars keep coming back despite the ten levels of busy. Rob in his dapper tweeds always cuts a fine picture. Asked if he would mind a picture taken but my shift finished before he came down on the Sunday evening. The Boss took an iPad photo.

Asked to take some photos of the new wonderful lobster linguine

and as they were opposite and very photogenic the langoustines were snapped as well.

Did not know it was supposed to be for the Herald or more care on composition would have gone into the shot. The intrepid two arrived back yesterday, pretty knackered, hungry but contented.

( Finish off Friday evening) As ever one day does not lead into the next with any sort of conformity. This morning saw me out on the Varuna but nothing doing when I went to start her, ignition okay but starter motor dead. Ashore, phoned the ever reliable Ewen, luckily in Inverness, new one picked up and now in the van, ready for refitting tomorrow, langoustines in for the day and the old motor off with out the usual one stuck nut problem. That is usually my engineering experience. Lazy sort of day with only activity was spending lots of money on camera equipment, mainly to keep ashore as the marine environment takes its toll on the one I have. Although the weather is a bit broken the langoustines are still going into the creels although the numbers of berries seem to be coming in earlier this year. The days we are out are a joy to be on the water,

still waters and a view to die for

in every direction.

Interesting vessel moored at the moorings last week,

someone doing some serious open water rowing.

Did not get to chat so have little info about who it was.A wee blast from the past occurred when Willie came over on Saturday evening from Erbusaig to help entertain the Sally Leaving Do. There was only 27 of them and they were great craic. One thing I like in the Highlands is the generation cross over and girls in school with the boys just treat you as anyone else rather than parents. Banter flowed and a fair few vodka and lemonades were consumed, some with ice. The handbag was heavy with tins of cider on the bus for the way home. Back to the blast from the past and it was a photo that appeared on FB of the Curlew being fitted out on the Slip in Kyle, my Dad being on the left of the four, this would be in the seventies and a few memories came back……

Capt ‘n Taneil

There seems no end of meetings to keep a Community functioning and there are many more that I do not go to. Tonight was the Community Company AGM where we saw two new directors coming forward, a retiring Chair after six years and a healthy and on time financial accounts. Many names mentioned tonight, both paid and volunteers, support from members and lots of projects in the pipe line. The latest being the proposed land purchase from the Highland NHS to build elderly/disabled housing by the Applecross Surgery and a feasibility study to examine prospects of re-establishing a ferry from Toscaig Pier along with other ideas prior to possible purchase from Highland Council. Imagine what the Community could do with access to a parcel of land….that was another meeting, this time on Friday. It was a little sad to hear the Chair say she had failed in her attempt to access land from the Trust. I do not see it as that. It is all part of the process and one day the dam will break. She had innumerable conversations about land with the Trust but all were rebuffed, but never directly, showing that this approach has been tried as well as the requests during Trust/Community Company meetings.

But suddenly there is not enough time in the day, or at least the parts of the day that you are not recovering from all that needs to be done. The recent weather has helped raise the energy levels somewhat although have to admit it was a pretty slow start this morning. Convinced myself that I was still suffering from Winter Lag and it was really an hour earlier. There is always a variety to life here. On Thursday I had the very pleasant company on board the Varuna of one of our soon to be departing Aussie staff.

Taneil came out to see what went on and insisted that I was Captain so we were Capt and Taneil for the day. Could not have picked a better day for it. In fact it was a short one as the fishing was pretty good and we had enough on board after five fleets. Stacking creels and tailing squats

make the day short and there always plenty to see, maybe attention span needs to be improved..

( Due to blip in the power lost Internet for a couple of days)

(Thursday) The variety of life never ceases here and Friday was just like that, so different from thursday. Taking some langoustines through to Loch Ness Inn, the Boss blagged a lift through as her leg had been playing up and strong antibiotics are not conducive to driving. She was having a Board meeting at the second best Inn in the Highlands and as Dougal and Eilidh were with me there was a walk on the cards, meeting was going to take three hours plus. With no real plan in mind I took the road to the end of Bunloit and took the hill walk rather than the Great Glen Way and went up Meall Fuar-mhonaidh.

Just kept walking to the time permitted and found it really enjoyable despite being a water man. As I am not often on the hills away from Applecross this is the first time I have been walking on a grouse moor. Seeing the burnt barren strips of land

where there could be varied habitation

that sustained such variety of life other than a mono culture for the few.

It was a little change for Dougal from his usual racing miles behind turnstones and oystercatchers, he was in his element  for a couple of minutes when he put up a black grouse.

The chase lasted long after the grouse was well out of sight. Up to the snow line and with views down Loch Ness and across in land to the Cairngorm a fine walk. Back to the Inn where the meeting was still going on so I headed up to Inverness to race round the usual commercial outlets to keep the business side of things going. Easily spend £1,000 on equipment, always the other side to a good fishing. The marine environment needs constant replacing of gear and capital. Good to get home though.

Back to yet another meeting, the last hopefully for a wee while regarding the Trust consultation. I reckon I have done really well to keep quiet and only interject, mainly from a realistic and tired/patient view-point. Interesting where the ” Working Group” has arrived at. A very polite version of what the Community Company has been doing for the last decade or so. We have put together a statement that has two main points.1 Improving the poor communications with the Trust and 2 The need for the Community to access land to continue its attempt to develop along sustainable lines. Bearing in mind this is a new approach from the whole Community rather than the perceived Commies who live in the Schoolhouse it has been an interesting exercise in watching the Group hold firm. Constantly brought up was the Community Development plan and again and again restoration of old Trust buildings. A Trust agenda as opposed to a Community one. This goes back to who and how the  consultants are paid, who is running the consultation and what is the agenda. The agenda is not remotely what it was at the start. This all may seem negative but I have stated time and again a win/win for the Community and Trust to work together. The perfect example would be for the Trust to sell the Community land and for the Community to develop as the Community needs and wishes. The Trust as the land provider gets finance and kudos for helping the Community to continue to develop. It will be interesting to see reaction to the statement finally sent to the Trustees, the best and politest possible, undemanding but pointing out  the situation as it is. One reaction locally was disbelief, followed by the question, “What the hell have we been trying to do for the last decade?” There will be people within the Community that will disagree strongly from the statement issued by the Working Group but we are democratic and are supposed to representing the view of the majority of the Community. I know in the past that any division has been used by the Trust to allow nothing to progress as there is a negative/passive view about the future here. So not only do we have Brexit, a pending Independence Referendum we have interesting local politics as well.

Cornering Failure

You never know what is round the next corner, or in my case on the corner. I made off to Inverness around 9 this morning after taking some langoustine ashore for the Loch Ness Inn. Called in at the Inn where I decided to go round the coast and up Glen Torridon. I had plenty of time so managed a couple of stops on the way to try to capture the beauty I was driving through. First had to try to get the locals to use the passing place

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before rounding the Cuaig corner.

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I have never managed to capture this scene, the road winding its way north against the backdrop of the magnificent Torridons and the bleak foreground of the Cuaig common grazing. A brief stop at Ardeshlaig

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before coming to the corner up Glen Torridon. Black ice and before I could react I was sitting in the van on rock and heather five feet below the road

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and slightly shock up.

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Would have been a fine bit of parking if there had been a car park there.

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Twinge in the back was all and after checking the langoustine in the back I was helped by some very kind visitors who let me use their phone to get in touch with recovery. A pleasant hour was then spent waiting for Peter to turn up, not before Colin wandered down having recovered another van further up the Glen. So home in a wee Peugeot instead of my van which is almost certainly written off. A cup of coffee and natter at DMK’s before coming back over the Bealach stopping again

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as it was breathtakingly beautiful.

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So a phone call or two before making arrangements to head off to Inverness, this time to buy a van, still instead of thinking if only I had….I think I was looked after today.

I knew my post last night would cause reaction and am pleased that it did. I am always careful not to personalise problems, but becoming less afraid of pointing out the negative effects of organisations, hoping that they will change. I can only say that being positive is the only way ahead. Sorting out a nonexistent Filling Station, then a duff one, helping to improve Broadband, helping with the Hydro, both publicize it and sorting out small problems. I believe we will have affordable housing built in Applecross and maybe in the future the community may be able to buy into the current housing stock and create a two tier market. Short term we need affordable housing now. I have enjoyed a Facebook conversation since coming home and I know there are residents ready to take this community forward. Access to land is definitely not a lost cause and it will happen either through talking, cajoling or in the last resort using powers given to communities by the Scottish Parliament.

I got so involved in posting last night that I forgot to post the photo of the German contingent in town with Graeme.

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I give tables little titles when I put the food orders through, usually after a wee chat and it causes puzzlement in Prep and kitchen as they are off the wall at times. Their title was “Graeme and the Germans” I suggested it could be a title of one of his future novels, we’ll see. The crumbles went down a treat as did the haggis and cheese melts.

The day has ended with me missing out on the funeral service, leaving the beer kegs in Inverness but salvaging the langoustine by selling them to the Applecross Inn. So instead of a planned trip to The Loch Ness Inn it will have to be another trip over the Bealach for the best seafood in the Highlands.

Volunteering.

It has been a lively spell of weather over the last couple of days. Blowing a gale from the north and the Hill is closed. I would hazard a guess that there will be some pretty serious drifting on the top today. We have a snowblower back in town except it is not quite as it seems. It is fits onto the front of a tractor but does not fit into the snowblower shed so part of it has to live in Lochcarron. Ever the optimist that is better than no snowblower at all. In between the snow showers I went up to the Hydro to clean the screen and all seemed well. Was up to check as we had an unexplained stoppage, restarted fine, and then a power cut. The restart from some reason did not go above 35 kWhs so I stopped it again but could not restart. Ewen then moved in and shut down the power and it has been fine since but we are missing the last 10 kWhs as it is running at 80. Been ramping up the hours, paperwork is through for the tax relief and first payment from SSE has turned up so we seem to be on our way. At times during the snagging you get a little nervous especially as it is a community investment but at 420,000 kWhs we are on course. Views from up there were spectacular when watching the weather coming across the Sound.

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A couple of shifts at the Inn pass pleasantly by as we have about 20 people in and no pressure but to chat to people. The Boss was chatting to one customer and he was going to work abroad, had a Scottish girlfriend and wanted to propose, but it was not going well. She had not been feeling too great the night before and on the way to the Inn had almost gone off the road so she had a bit of a fright and went to bed early. The Boss ended up giving him advice for about an hour trying to think of romantic spots further up the west coast where he could get down on one knee. Looking out the window it may have to be inside as the snow passing by is horizontal. The regulars, up to give Dave a hand controlling the hinds, are fine banter although one gets the impression that there are topics you have to stay clear off. One mentioned he has named his latest dog Brex.

Wednesday was just one of those days and tells you how reliant we are on power and volunteer work. The Tax relief forms arrived and hundreds had to be filled in for people to reclaim tax relief on their investments. Alison had finally won her battle with the HMRC but filling in the forms was tedious and went on for ages. So I took a batch up the road and three of us spent hours round the table filling in everything but the personal details of the investor, then the power goes off, so the Filling Station has to be rebooted and with a data error showing that took an hour longer than expected, but has to be done or the Postie is stuck. Then onto the Hydro. So I reckon between form filling and the other rebooting and re-starting the volunteer hours put in by Judith, Frances, Ewen and myself over the day amounted to over eleven. Small communities are so reliant on volunteering, whether it is Annual Games , running The Community Hall, Heritage Centre etc. Still as the weather was fresh

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and that does not deter Dougal

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and Eilidh there was still time in the day for a wander along the shore and watch the waves roll in over the Pier.

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Dougal in particular loves the wind in his hair.

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Have to say Tuesday was the result of falling off the wagon, and so soon after The New Year celebration. Twice in two weeks is at one too many and that should do for quite a while. The excuse was the arrival of a couple from Deep South, Essex. They rocked up at the end of 2015 and Applecross, as ever made a pretty fair impression, so much so they were back after a stay in Plockton and a trip over to Lewis. The “session” was joined by a couple from Brighton and good craic was had. A great night where views, opinions, knowledge and laughter flowed. I noticed that there were up to three conversations going all night, mostly at the same time. Just as well as there were six of us and no one was talking to themselves. An evening to dip briefly into other people’s lives, what Applecross does best. The remaining four posed for a wee photo shoot and the most disturbing thing about the shot is the clock in the corner.

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Boy did I suffer for the night, the suffering only eased by one of the Inn’s momentous venison burgers that, and seeing the state of the other participants. The things one has to do to get through the dark month.

A JCB on the School Run.

Not entirely sure how to deal with the latest from America. Had the radio on all night and woke up around the time it was all over for Clinton. We live in a strange, strange world where everyone else is to blame. The same in this country, poor, out of work or immigrants. Some of the aftermath is quite chilling and there is so much in history that has gone before that should prevent past insanities repeating itself. Racism is very simple and breaks down any empathy we have for our fellow beings. It is even more poignant today as it is the 11th of November and  the”Lest we forget” seems to be losing its message. Reading Edmund Blunden just now and feel very conflicted and pressured into the wearing of symbols. The reasons why people have voted the way they had on Tuesday have been analysed to death, it is the result of those votes that is so worrying. Have always thought the use of nuclear weapons would be insane……….first strike insanity and second strike pointless. Empathy and sanity go together so now we have, admittedly only through the filter of media, someone ,who may fit some of these behavioural traits in charge of the biggest nuclear depot in Western Europe which is just down the road. Applecross does not feel very remote at the moment.

It was a struggle not to be pulled into a despairing train of thought and eventually made it out onto the water the morning after. It turned out to be a pretty poor day, more wind from the south than forecast and cold with not too many langoustines, but the forecast was for even more wind, so stayed out until a fleet that was shot over sent me in, being too hard to free.

Going back to last week fishing and Inn have to be served and we were back out on Friday with a decent catch. Seven fleets hauled and two good ones providing the bread on the table. The catches are very unpredictable and you just go to the next fleet hoping. It was the same yesterday but down to one good fleet. Cold gradually seeps into you by the end of the day. Have to keep moving on the way in, as soon as you stop you realise how chilled it is at this time of year. Like it when the pressure is off with not so many people around but enough to earn a pound or two. Bit different for me as I am not involved in the mad Christmas dash for the hiked prices paid on the Continent. A first fall of snow on the 3000 feet tops

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and then further down over the weekend. Reports of the snow falling on the Bealach.The weather has not been too inclement with some nice views off to the west.

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The Inn was busy enough over the weekend. Was there since Thursday as swopped Wed for Fri. Handy for the Boss as she was away with the Ice cream Man and others to see if they could win yet another award at the Highland Tourism Awards.This time it was for the informal eatery category. Although shortlisted, no mean feat in itself, the award went to Canna. We thought the omens were good.

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An excited phone call was received at the Inn when Applecross Inn got a mention from the stage and a cheer from the floor. Fergus was on the podium and mentioned the Tuesday meeting so there is hope. It is because I creel fish I come across sea pens with attendant symbiotic starfish attached

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and boar fish

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and are able to put them back alive.

 

Thursday evening at the Inn and there were more staff than customers, it just felt that way, I only stayed on to get update from the Community Company Meeting. Could have been better, but volunteering is not easy, and if one has stresses in our own lives it is really difficult not to bring these to Meetings. These ups and downs are cyclical but do take their toll on people who care. Friday through to Sunday at the Inn was pretty busy, shifts that pass quickly with plenty to do especially as groups of 10, 11 and 14 book in alongside a full accommodation and several “walk ins”. We counted 46 meals on Friday evening. Met my first Saudi visitor and a pleasant couple from Norway, he was doing a Divinity degree at Edinburgh, a couple of gardening/farming sisters from Stranraer, the yurt lady from Cornwall…..the list goes on with Applecross at the centre, never remote. This week it was a Para-Olympic coach who casually talks about flying around the world, last trip coming back from Rio. Empathizing with fellow humans being is so easy, losing sight of that and you are in or making trouble.

Local politics are cracking on as well. The Trust consultation hit a bit of a rock in September when a very confused and directionless public meeting took place in spite of advice to the contrary. This consult is threatening to be one of the longest in our time and as a result, like referendums, people are tiring. And this was evident from the few numbers out on Tuesday evening when the consultation took off again. Thirteen people out, the Trustees we are told, are shocked by the community comments. They did not realise that they are not universally loved by all and do not understand why. Remember a similar reaction when the LAS campaign hit the headlines. We keep hearing about a shared vision but for a vision to be shared we have to have some idea what the Trust’s is. Maybe one day. Little surprised how shocked the trustees seem to have been, I am well aware how a part of the community think ill of the Community Company despite, fuel, toilets, broadband and hydro, but never shocked just disappointed. Maybe when one is so remote from life here it is hard to judge views. A visit on Wednesday afternoon on the way to the Inn for another wee chat. Agreement that the Trustees do not seem to know about the workings of the community and still rely on patronage and favours. The consultants acknowledge that it would take so little to dissolve the distrust of decades. We are still reduced to looking around for wee scraps of land for affordable  house sites, and not getting them.

School taxi on the agenda for the Community Council meeting that followed on immediately. Seems to be a target for HC cuts but as they are obliged to transport the wee ones to and from school and there seems to be little other options. Seconding council vehicles was suggested, humourous to the community as there would only be a JCB or snow plough available in Aplecross. The wee fellow up the Glen would probably love the ride to school on Finky’s digger. Shows up the deficit of local government, officials taking decisions from 85 miles away. With the intervention of officials and the total lack of alternatives a favourable outcome is expected. On the good news front there may be a bit of movement on the road front concerning the deteriorating Bealach. A few well-directed photos showing how bad the road edges are is registering at base. With all the NC 500 publicity the HC is between a rock and a hard place, even more cars and more deteriorating roads. Just a rumour to finish on, but a good one, we may be getting a snowblower back for the Bealach.

Thursday and it was up to the Hydro to check the screen and although needed a brush did not seem too bad. Wet feet when running so full. The river was in spate

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and for most of the last twelve days the turbine has been working at 100%. Looks and feels good to see it churning out the kWhs.

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Uair Eile….Another Time Another Place.

I so enjoyed Monday’s day out on so many levels, the experience of the solitude, beauty of the surrounds and the music. Even here some people leave the gates open. This must have been where it all started to go wrong, when people decided they owned it so fenced it for themselves.

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The feedback on both Facebook and Twitter has been enjoyable and the little conversations show that so many people are connected to this part of the world and for so many different reasons. Also it provokes thoughts about what is remote, the policy of rewilding and what that even means when people used to live there. “On the edge”, well Edinburgh is on the edge of the Forth, likewise Glasgow, the Firth. How people used to live in far greater numbers in these now remote parts but had a far less impact on the natural surrounds. Sometimes simple snippets of conversations stay with you and I will always remember Jim Hunter telling us about the large number of bounties paid out for eagles and other “vermin” considered detrimental to the new industry of sheep rearing in the Sutherland Glens. The people who used to live there lived alongside and with nature unlike the introduction of mono cropping, which does not work anywhere far less the fragile uplands of the Scottish Highlands. It carries on today when so much has to be controlled to allow grouse moors to make a profit for a few. And a wee coincidence turns up the Dauntless Star coming into Kyle from the south. Going by the date of Linda Gowans photo on the West Coast Fishing Boats there was a fair chance I was behind the wheelhouse out of sight of the lens. Would have been coming back from a trip up Loch Hourn.

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One of the best though is the couple of stories initiated by the photos of Kinlochourn. Many years ago an Applecross fishing boat was plying the waters of Loch Hourn and as was the case, there was a little extra money to be made by going ashore and controlling the local wild life. Of course the local keepers were aware of this practice and on one occasion, so the story goes, the Applecross fishermen had returned to their boat with their bounty, pursued by the local keeper. Knowing they were at a safe distance and out of range the bounty was tied to the mast and derrick and sailed past the infuriated keeper who by this time had lost it. He was taking harmless potshots at the stag, crew and boat that made a couple of taunting runs past him before making out down the Loch. Another venture, this time in one of the Lewis lochs and again in September. Having gone ashore and enough venison casserole in the hold to do Applecross for the rest of the Autumn they realised they would have to go back ashore for water. By this time the local keeper had been alerted to extraneous activities and was waiting on the shore as the tender came in. He casually asked how long they had been at sea. “Three days” came the innocent reply. At which he leaned forward and picked a chunk of stag’s hair of one of our characters shoulder and quietly said he did not wish to see them on his patch again. Another place another time, Uiar Eile and when you go to these places you are connecting to a rich history of folk living of the sea and land and with just a little humour while they go about it.

So after my wee holiday it was back to bad weather and working at the Inn.

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The weather has been pretty grim

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and no langoustine on the menu board since the weekend, plenty of other good food though. This time of year we really do not know what to expect, Wednesday almost dead, relatively speaking, but Thursday was pretty nippy. Have to take all the ribbing about no prawns but they have hand dived scallops so not all bad.

The weather changed by Friday and two fine days were spent at sea.

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Bright and sunny

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although on Saturday afternoon there was a little breeze from the north, not before hauling 400 creels. Having to haul more just now due to poorer catch and the broken weather. Still it is good to get back out on the water no matter if there is little langoustine to catch. This time of year with the light changing so much

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and so often there is always something to see,

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including the first time I have ever steamed under a rainbow.

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Being a bit lazy the last few days I had to do one of the jobs on the way across the Sound that I should have done earlier in the week.

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Saturday evening was uneventful, leaving before the biker took his clothes off to try on Taneil’s apron. Only other thing of note was having to deal with a resident who did not get to sit at a table she wanted to, “up herself” is the technical term for that. Sunday starts slowly and although the weather is still fine we were not expecting the hordes, they came in numbers, from Barons to plebs they all ended up at the Inn for lunch. It was like a day in July, cyclists, expected, motor bikers, random, locals and day trippers from Inverness to Shropshire. They were served, the dogs were walked

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and Alison was picked up from the train.

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Glad forecast not good for Monday as slightly overworked. Last couple of Sunday’s the food has been stunning. This week was local lamb, wrapped in an exotic cover and served with aubergines amongst other delightful ingredients. Previous Sunday it was a routine venison loin. No wonder we struggle when eating out from Applecross.

Amongst all this is the mundane taking of fuel deliveries,

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rebooting the Filling Station, checking the Hydro for on going glitches and pestering friends to vote in theM&Senergy competition,while trying not to stress about falling behind on the paperwork. Many thanks for all your votes as we seem to have pulled ahead although wary of another push from our closest rivals. Also I do not say it enough, Thank you for taking time out to read the Posts, I will never get used to so many people taking time out to do just that. Cheers.

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