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

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Best Man, Best Groom and Best Bride.

(Poor internet has delayed posts somewhat)

And into the evening we sailed. Photos taken again, best man playing up to his role

after piping us into a lovely meal.

Photos taken before,

after and during

making sure the night was well documented.

Ceilidh band spot on and the floor was filled from first dance

to the Orcadian Strip the Willow as the las dance. All the usual antics, speeches, mine being the shortest, took place with happy contentment on everyone’s faces. Had a wee chat  with an exfisherman who fished lobster off Islay and Jura and reminisce about the early days of trying to get on your feet, the battle of trying to pay ones debts, hard work and to a certain extent missing a bit of the family growing up. The dancing, chat was all topped off with some fine bacon and sausage rolls and tablet, lots and lots of tablet. I think I was only out done by the groom in the tablet stakes. The disco did not appeal so left the best man to do his moves on the dance floor

and headed off to a very sensible early and soberish night. Think Calum was still up throwing the water bottle to No1.

Another fine breakfast saw us off on time to make it home for the evening shift at the Inn. Uneventful trip back with Raymond in attendance. Only needed to do a couple of hours as there were plenty of staff on the go. Sat the fourteen who just turned up in amongst the rest of the punters, would have been good if they had all paid, Boss had an attempt to see if any one would see them on the road, but police over in Skye so a shrug of the shoulders. Good eleven and a half hours sleep before going out for the rest of the langoustines hanging off the Varuna and then heading up to a busy shift, but manageable and little to distinguish it apart from the very pleasant and pleased Galicians and New Yorkers. Seafood helped them on their way. Tomorrow it is off to Raasay on broadband duty. Broadband is becoming a massive headache for us but more of that next time.

Their Day

(Saturday morning) Well we arrived here eventually after doing the whisky and castle tours of Speyside. I thought it would be more pleasant going through the Caingorm area as it would be a more relaxed drive than the A96. However, not consulting any maps and having low phone battery, little gps internet access, passing a turn off which took us through Tomintoul all gave me a sense of unease. Result was we ended up back on the A96 around Keith, a detour that left us with little time to get to the rehearsal at 4.30pm. A stop at Kintore for emergency carbs to keep us going, a relaxed phone call from the best man to the groom saying we would be late and it did not really matter, then it was Aberdeen. We found the church

and also quite a few other parts of the city, had a wander round and easily found the hotel. By this time best man navigator and co had pulled resources and conquered an elusive gps lady, forcing her to give up the required info. Snooze followed by a meeting up with the bride’s family. A very pleasant evening meal was had with best man ensuring there was little waste of food. And then deep sleep.

(Sunday evening) Hard to believe that so little time has passed with so much happening. We were staying at the Norwood Hotel, a short distance from the Craigiebuckler Church and as it was a 2pm start everything was very relaxed, partaking in a fine full breakfast before having a long nap through the morning. Met up with No1, who was going to be one of the witnesses and the Boss and sis over from Applecross, sharing a snack and then heading up to get changed. Only a five-minute operation for me….no last second decisions on what shoes to wear or which bag goes with which hat. Shoes, socks, kilt, shirt and jacket with the accessories added before going out the door. A beautiful day, weatherwise, maybe due to the Irish saint that was prayed to or the Mexican knife in the lawn ritual carried out by Mariclau. The only concern was the disappearing gramps. But although there was concern the conversation convinced all involved that he would turn up okay. The gathering outside the church went ahead as planned, not sure what Marie Clau was saying to get these expressions but was in position soon after.

and we all headed in to await the bride.

And in she came,

radiant is not an exaggeration, they do look well together.

Lovely personal service and off into the signing (Niall took the smiler award easily throughout the day but not far behind were Paul and Fiona, his new in-laws)

and witness ceremony.

My first unexpected welling up came when we were led out of the church by Son No3 playing a Gordon Duncan tune on the pipes,

fitting as they both so loved his music and were seriously bothered by his passing. He does pose well.

Outside the transport awaited

and photos were taken,

all so relaxed and natural.

It really was beautiful, as were the shoes from Achmore.

And before the bride and groom left Gramps made his quiet entrance and joined in,

he had gone for a walk earlier and got lost, just the sort of thing I would have done. And so it was off to the Norwood Hall, with Calum showing a great interest in the transport,

for an evening of eating and dancing to celebrate a wonderful occasion.

No4’s Big Day

In a normal year we would be joining  the queue to get into the Cambridge Folk Festival, gates opening at 10.00am, and setting tents up and settling into four days of full on music but we never have “normal” years these days. In a couple of hours a few cars are setting off from Applecross are heading towards Aberdeen to help celebrate Son No4’s get together with the lovely Rachel, courtesy of photographer, Debbie Walker.

I am surprising myself by being more than a little nervous but I am sure all will be well. It does not seem that long ago that he was running about Toscaig in a Highland cow costume and a wee soldier uniform. Little did we know where that would lead to. A trip to Kenya

earlier in the year no less.

Anyway here’s to the happy couple and we hopefully be there for rehearsals this afternoon in sunny Aberdeen.

A Good New Year To You All.

Just a very short post as we are in-between jobs. Having done the sea bit it is now into the shower and up to the Inn for the feeding of the 5000 before we all troop off to the Bells. Many people have sadness and disaster in their lives just now with floods and bombs. Locally we are missing a few well kent faces this year but one little scene on the Varuna today will sum up what I hope this year will bring for everyone I know, everyone who has taken time out to read the blog, like on Facebook and send me all the positive comments. Here is Son No3 teaching his little Mexican girlfriend, Marieclau, the Canadian Barn Dance in preparation for tonight at the Hall.


A happy scene that sums up how much we have to be grateful for and a hope that everyone sometime in the year to come will experience some of that happiness.


A Good new Year to you all. And we caught enough, maybe not for 5000.

Mrs A’s 14 ticks.

Went like a dream. Up early and off to Broadford to pick up a box of personal bits and pieces before making my way to Glenelg. Met the minister for the first time and again , Iain. Was a little surprised at the number who came out to see her off, but plesasntly so. The weather was certainly changeable with Alison and the boys passing cyclists sheltering from the horizontal hail on the top of the Hill. Spring never mind summer has not arrived yet. Or at least arrives for a day and then disappears for a week. And not much change in sight for the next week. Speaking of Mrs A, just before she went through to pick up sons Nos 3and4 in Inverness I had an unusual request. To take 14 ticks out of her. After the funeral/sermon we headed off to the Balmacara cemetery to lay my mum beside my Dad. Emotions held in check as I am only thinking of the cord list, those who are going to lower the coffin. Had a list made out but have to leave a couple open to see who turns up. Made it happen okay and went down to the Plockton Inn for a cracking plate of soup and sandwiches.




Seems it runs in the family, climbing out windows that is, mum’s brother in this case. He was not allowed to play football so out the window he went to play for Plockton against Kyleakin. Would have gotten away with it if he had not broken his arm at the game. Don’t think falling out of bed would have swung it. Reminds me of the time I broke the key in my Dad’s car. A big problem as I should not have had the car and certainly not outside the Dornie Hall at 2am on a Saturday morning. A deal of subterfuge and ingenuity later and I got away with that one. Some more gossip, up to date and not to be repeated. You always get these trips back into the past and a catch up in the neighbouring villages at funerals. Took a little run down Cooper Street and Laurel Bank, now changed hands and renovated since I have been in.

Home in time for work although not sure that was a good idea. Stopped of at what seemed like a TESCO pit stop


but views are always good there.


Saturdays are becoming an evening to get through these days. The Inn experiences a descending crush on Saturdays now with the big tables booked at 6pm and again at 8pm. It is the only way to cope. Maybe it was because of my day but it was almost out of control at one stage although i think it was more to do with lack of communication. I knew some of the group on the big table and all was going well up to the time they were leaving and the next group were sitting down. They had already started but not the booked group so it was almost unpleasant sorting it out over the next ten minutes and the closest I have come to telling a couple of people what I really thought. But all went okay apart from the spilt glass of wine. It may well be a long season and it seems the popular destinations are all finding it harder to cope as the destinations in between are not providing good service so the load is fairly uneven. Going to have to be more efficient to cope in the weeks to come. Sunday was a busy but saner day although the weather is staying so unsettled. It is the hot topic, a couple of decent days then a dip back into late winter. Cannot remember such a broken spell for May. The broken weather does throw up some interesting skies.


The bees are going well and out in numbers on the good days, at least one hive is. Not sure the second one is going to survive. It was always the weaker one from the split last year.


Now Thursday morning and just away to Inverness to the Community Land AGM via Loch Ness. Suddenly no time to do everything so its just a quick finish off and into the van with the dogs as we are staying at Beauly overnight. Once Dougal gets his hair sorted we are off.


Tuesday evening at the Inn was like the height of summer, without the weather, queueing for tables most of the evening but all goes well. That interspersed with a day fishing and another evening shift takes us up to date. The prawns are going down well just now. I think because they are on and off the menu people are ordering them just in case. They are not bad though. Got caught out last night with a group of four residents who wanted a half pint of prawns tailed. I thought it was one for the ladies to share so offered to shell for them.They ordered four, one each. One plateful of langoustine followed.


The haul produced a few more than expected, enough for a box going to Loch Ness Inn and to keep them on the menu till the weekend. Not so many bonxies about yet but always good to watch them battle


and usually win


against the gulls.


And a star fish.


The Americans, last night at the Inn, were grateful to be helped out as their tyre was burst on the Hill. I think they were really mystified that we would help them get the call out, feed them and put them up for the night. If I am broken down anywhere across the world I hope the Applecross factor kicks in.

Sleep Well

No matter how much you expect the expected it is side swipes you a little. After all the excitement of the last couple of days, I impress myself and up early to set out to sea. Phone rings and it all changes, Catriona from An Arcasaid, is telling me my 96-year-old mum has passed away peacefully early this morning in the company of two carers. She was beautifully cared for to the end and the circle of her life is now complete. The best way to describe her was as an almost compulsive carer and it was fitting she was seen off in similar company. Throughout my teenage years my mum nursed her mother, two aunts and an uncle to their ends. Before it was her father in the fifties and since then I know of families in Kyle grateful of her nursing skills. An old and common Highland tradition still alive and well as it was my mum’s turn to be looked after in her later years. Obviously more formalised at the Care Home, but equally well-loved and looked after. She was proud of being a Queen’s nurse and whoever she was in the ward she lost no time in telling the nurses looking after her that she too was a nurse.

The next day and a half has been filled with mayhem at the Inn, trying to carry out the duties in seeing off my mum in a dignified way, dealing with the flood of memories when you go to say cheerio and take a couple of photos from her room, now so quiet. All seems to be going like clockwork, making it over to Broadford, meeting Iain, and so far not coming across any obstacles. Made it back and was in plenty time for the mayhem and you focused on what was coming your way, waves and waves of people who were hungry and wanted food. Felt a little submerged towards the end as one or two were getting slightly grumpy at having to wait for their tables. This despite being reassured that they would be fed. The only casualties were the two girls who were drinking for a couple of hours outside and then decided to order food after the kitchen had been closed for half an hour. Little sympathy from the five members of staff they tried to order food from. How far does one go to accommodate. Not an essential service and it really needs two-way involvement to make it work for any one. Little hiccup for one  table as an order was eaten by the new computer. Resulted in a staff member being chased out of the kitchen…….oh the stress. Every now and again some one came up to me and offered condolences. A life ended and life goes on, a strange mix to deal with. Some good conversation at the end of the evening in the peace and quiet of the aftermath.

This morning, back on the phone, and major gold mine discovery of marriage certs, birth certs, marriage banns, telegrams, triggering lots of memories, then off to work..or to the Inn at least. Through contacts, made it to a minister, and put the internment a step closer. Felt so strange serving so many people, hearing the music and then arranging a funeral just out of the sounds of every day enjoyment. Still lots of political chat going on and the belief we are on the road. So many people visiting from across the world are genuinely interested and even excited about what is happening here. Land reform and ownership is a hot topic. Is it possible for one country to keep another one but only to one country’s advantage and expect things just to continue as before? So the afternoon goes on and Judith is able to deal with the Michelin Guide inspector and everything continues. He left impressed. Gets a little hairy for a while and the odd small chips gets left out. But the compliments keep flowing in from the Belgians, French, Americans and even from Sri Lankans.

The evening was slightly quieter and I was allowed to go home to continue to put a couple of more pieces into place for Wednesday. Still depends on a couple of things slotting in. As per usual one drifts back into the past and taking the dogs out think how different I live my life from my parents. I scrap, argue believe in different ways of doing stuff, have less respect for establishment but probably all based on my upbringing. Just manifests in a different way. The main difference is not having the unquestioning faith in the ultimate truth and trying to pass it on to the next generation. Still  from a distance the only regrets I have is the inevitable pain I caused during my mild teenage rebellion. Now enjoy the insights my upbringing has given me to a way of life too often ridiculed as from another age. The passing of an era causes turbulence to anyone close to that passing. Sleep well tonight, I think so is my mum.



Stunning Christmas Day Weather

The Greek Graffiti mystery continues with the list of local suspects growing, basically any one who has Greek friends, has a property there (he is high on the list) or has done o level Greek in the past thirty years. You have to find a bit of humour in this and I do like that idea of County and Caley supporters slagging each other off on that remote spot in rural Greece. A very rude and childish slogan but will soon be painted over and life will go back to the mundane. Maybe a reflection on the artist but could not get the spelling right, possibly the message does not need the grammar.  Judith received a police phone call and the toilet gable end has now a crime number, with statements and investigation proceeding. There has not been much else to keep the beat boys occupied, a very good reflection on life in this part of the Highlands. Last night was quiet on the eating front with quite a few more staff on than customers eating although lunch with 60/65 guests was brisk for a while. Majority of visitors eating were Aussies, getting away from the 30/40 C heat. No problems here with these temperatures.

We had a wee quiz set up for later and great to see a few coming out. These are so much easier to organise these days with so much on the net and it was a joint effort with me doing the general knowledge and Judith and Caroline doing the Christmassy stuff. Should have guessed that the answers for the Christmas carols/songs had to be “sung”. Any one having heard the Boss sing knows why I put inverted comas around sung. Good night and £50 to the ACC and £50 to Howard Doris is a nice way to bring in Christmas. Our LDO, Calendar printer, Stewart and wife Margaret came a close second to the Ice cream maker and Co. Just a thought, when you look round the bar it was full of people with exceptional skills, ROV operator, International charity employee, proof reader, ice cream maker, printer, police traffic and marksman, along with a scattering of engineers, fishermen, students and hospitality guys. Bailed out just before midnight and fell asleep with the prospect of fine weather for Christmas Day.

And that is how it turned out, stunning weather, a perfect day for a cycle on the bike with dogs. Slow in getting up as had to keep a headache at bay but did not develop too much. Still and peaceful were the themes of the day as I kept having to stop off to take photos of the scenes. From the still waters of the Sound,


the lazy smoking chimneys,


nature resplendent with its fine Scots pine


and rivers flowing gently,


there being not too much rain lately. Stopped off at the Inn negotiating dogs away from kids before heading up the Glen and taking the bridge across the river and going up to the Allt Mor. Back down, again slowly partly because the colours


and scenes


needed to be appreciated and also easy on Eilidh as she and Dougal had already been to Ardban with Son No3 in the morning. Called in to the Inn on the way back to pick up signed accounts and a wee tub of Applecross Ice cream to finish off the Christmas dinner of some fine slow cooked venison. Loch End


and The Street


looking fine, as was Milton on the way up.


Made it back mid afternoon with preparations going well in the kitchen. The sun dropping down over the Cuillin


meant another small jaunt with the bike and dogs…..such an enjoyable day to be alive here. The sunset over Ardhu


with the tide out was wonderful to watch in the cold air.


And now the dinner approaches and with this in mind I wish every one who reads and comments, follows a very special day. Thoughts also go to those are unable to have such a day as we have had here and can only hope that over time a healing will take place.

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