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

Archive for the ‘Local History’ Category

Lois Mor and John “Balure”.

Although we are now into the next week, rain is torrential, which means the hydro power chart is on a vertical climb from the falling down to 40 kWhs over the last wee dry spell, the resonance of Lismore is still strong. Again a powerful meditation starts off day 2 before a walk up to one of the high points of the island with views across to Glensanda on Morvern.

An obvious lead in to the Lingerbay Quarry proposal and Alistair Macintosh, Isle of Eigg and Soil And Soul. Then before you know it we are back at the present day’s living, crafting and building. Yorick is putting together another window frame while Sarah is dehorning a ewe and treating another of her Shetland sheep, graphic descriptions of maggot eruptions. We had approached the house from a different angle and saw the astonishing stone work,

the skill and pride of a craftsman in full view. Who said crofting is romantic, hard graft but fulfilling. And then it was onto a visit to the Broch,

with Mairi intending to pay her respects at Balure. On the way we stopped to sample a rest on St Moluag’s Chair, a rock hewn out by the Saint himself. The Broch is set on a high point commanding the western approaches and is said to have been built around 2000 years ago and was continually occupied up till the 12th century before the MacDougalls built their own castle. Photos taken, chat and reminisces over

we headed down to call in to Balure to pick up Mairi.

We were immediately invited into the house by John’s son Ian, where we were offered a dram of Balvennie Doublewood and a cup of tea. Again a strong connection was felt and we toasted the passing of John “Balure” and Mairi added a story of her wedding to Dave which involved John. They had organised a Grand March for their evening part of the wedding and as usual the bride and grooms families were at the head but Mairi’s folks were late so John and Dorothy of Balure took their place with John leaning into Mairi telling her to “Ca canny lass, ca canny” before leading off with her to the tune Mairi’s Wedding. We keep these people with us by telling and retelling their stories. I felt it was a privilege to be asked in and invited to honour this well-loved man of their community and hope we did him justice.

Maybe it was through meditating with old friends and visiting the brooch and hearing tales of times ancient and not long past but you felt at one with the island and its community with its thread, unbroken and strong through timeless ages. The chat continued as we walked through time

and emerged at the Heritage Centre, for Mairi to meet up with her co organisers for the Tap Roots Festival, and for us to wander up the road back to Carnie Cottage. All these walks have a micro aspect to them as well seeing the late autumn flowers

and the small gardens on top of fence posts

make the walks longer. Lois Mor is the great garden so it is fitting here is Lois Beag

I wanted to go down to Salen as the island’s sole fishing boat was anchored there

and so leaving Martin to concoct his plate of potatoes and seafood chowder I was back on the bike to cycle down to the sea’s edge and take in the late evening’s sun sinking down behind the Morvern peninsula.

A truly beautiful evening and some very interesting sights to see

which on further investigation turned out to be lime stone kilns.

Yet another connection to the homeland, there are lime stone kilns in Applecross, like Lismore the lands are controlled by absentees, we both have Irish saints and going by some of the tales of Lismore we both scrap well amongst ourselves.

After yet another fine tea, the cooking has been the finest from Applecross seafood, Mairi’s Dalh and Ian’s seafood pasta, we set up for a bunting ritual trying to rid ourselves and places of negativity in all forms. Mairi then sang her song which stopped our concept of time for its content and beauty. Fire is a useful tool for more than giving warmth and so ended a long and fulfilled day, heading for the stairs exhausted but content in the knowledge of a strong sense of belonging.

A Lismore Ceilidh

This is a wonderful way to visit an island, you immediately feel that you are not a tourist and are being allowed to interact with island life, chatting to residents and finding out what they do and how they do it. As well as that, our own connections are coming up again and again and we are finding we know the same people but under different circumstances. After a strong meditation, a cycle down to the south end of the island,

passing the small but well-kept village hall,

a visit to the Heritage Center, not quite long enough, and then on to Mairi’s sister and brother-in-law who are building a fantastic new house with ongoing legal access problems hopefully coming to a conclusion. Confirms my bus theory that a few decades ago a bus toured through the Highlands and Islands and dropped off awkward customers in every community. Awkward is a pejorative term as other words spring to mind. Sarah and Yorick are coming to the end of a long and protracted access dispute with a neighbour. A strainer placed in front of an access point with no other purpose than to prevent access.

They had managed to buy a croft of an elderly couple and proceeded to self build a fantastic looking house themselves while working the croft, Sarah building up a textile business

while Yorick puts the house together. Amazing workmanship and dedication while having to go to court with the neighbour. As it is still going on I better not say too much other than wonder why people go down that road which seems to be based in such awkward bad neighbourliness.

Another fine evening’s worth of Applecross seafood was produced and an evening of music was in the air. Being part of the community was apparent from early on when Eric dropped in and added to the “Big Archie” story. He certainly seems to be a colourful character. Calling in to the Heritage Centre where we met Murray, who turned up for the music session later, and then on down to Mairi’s relatives. It all appears that we are making contact with the community rather than a fleeting sightseeing visit. Maybe I am too aware of the numbers that come through Applecross and just stop at the Inn before hurriedly going on their way. Having Mairi chat away about who everyone was gives a more substantive view of the island. The visitors here do not seem to be out of keeping with the numbers living in the community and I only met two groups of tourists on bikes when I travelled down to the south end. Distinct similarities to Applecross emerge all the time. The land is very similar although there is none of the regimented plantations, there are lovely native tree groves that are abundant with bird life. There are far more cattle and sheep on the ground, although sheep do seem to dominate the landscape. The population does seem to be slightly younger but some do need help in the sheep gathering and keeps the younger members of the community very active. The west theme of having several jobs is manifest here on the island.

After our meal of Applecross seafood, which it was nice to share with a couple of the arriving musicians we went through to be entertained by several locals who turned up as preparation for the Tap Root Festival in a couple of weeks time. Accordion,

fiddle,

whistles, piano, a couple of songs and a bit of craic. Could not help thinking of ancient times, of many ceilidhs, of tales told, songs sung and tunes played. No one taking the lead but a natural flow and rhythm to the evening. It was only till later I discovered that Big Archie dropped in for a wee dram. He caught up with Mairi in the kitchen before taking his leave. So much packed into just one day.

Slow Misty Mountain and Big Archie’s Dead Sheep.

The first of the days off involved getting up at half seven, nipping out to the Varuna for the medium langoustines, some to Applecross and the rest to Loch Ness Inn, before sorting out some mussels and seafood for the trip down to the south-west. I have never experienced a trip to Lochcarron such as the one on Monday morning. I picked up the convoy of eight cars at the little spring above the hair pin on the Applecross side of the Bealach and then proceeded to drive at between 5/15 mph through the mist till we came out the other side, increased to around 20mph after that so the fact that, although feeling a little pissed, I restrained from the horn or lights, passed one at Tournapress but not till Kishorn glen did I try to pass another, nipped back in when saw a camper coming the other way. Then got the finger from the car in front, young chaps in convoy, with silly little double exhausts, equally silly prints on back window, Arbath, NC500 2017. So waited until they decided to stop at the golf course before normal driving began and arrived 20 mins late for meeting.

Meeting went well and after a couple of hours, a quick shop, adding to the stack of seafood I left Applecross with, it was the road south to a hoped for break of two days of peace and bliss on the island. Taking the road down to Port Appin I was in unknown territory. Came down to the pier, unloaded and after local info parked van in right place. Peace was already descending and watched a fisherman catch a large mackerel of the jetty in the lowering sun.

Ferry appeared back from the island and was soon loaded up and on board for the short ten minute trip across.

We left the Pier House, a well known restaurant behind and were soon on the island.

It was apparent that all was going to be well as an elderly gentleman offered to take the bags and punnets of food down to the house. A fine plan as my two miles turned out to be a good four and carrying mayo buckets and bags would have meant two trips. As I was first to arrive the mussels were prepared and when the last ferry brought the others over we tucked into Andy’s suggested recipe of coconut milk and Thai paste to cook the mussels in was greeted with thumbs up all round. Simple meals are the best.

On Lismore and sitting round the table listening to the story of Archie, the film crew from Cologne, and the final scene of the dead sheep. Seems a group of film students from Germany came to the island for the purposes of making a film about a daughter finding her father but a sheep was killed before this happened by the daughter and it turns out the sheep was a particular favourite of the father. So to do the final scene. Big Erchie was asked for a dead sheep, one that had recently passed away. Well this was not available so Erchie dispatched one of his own and duly delivered the carcass to the film crew. They then began filming the final scene but they chose the only and busiest crossroads on the island, much to the chagrin of the residents. Not only that but it was around ferry time so a double whammy. To make matters worse Erchie’s partner discovered her pet/favourite sheep had made it into the other world so she arrived extremely irate at the film set. She soon had the film crew on their knees begging for a bit of peace and quiet to conclude their project. Tuesday morning saw the story embellished even further as Erchie had prior to delivering the “pet” tried to make use of a rather large and very dead tup, two weeks dead in fact, and having a blue tinge to it. With the help of a neighbour, tow ropes they attempted to use the tup but we’re overcome by the gasses that were emitting from the now mobile tup. So plan B was put into place and £70 changed hands to pay for the delivery of the dead sheep. Sounds as though the island was greatly affected by this German visitation to the extent that cars and water courses have still to recover.

So a couple of days of cycling, talking, meditating and walking are planned for the days ahead.

“Media Tart”

I honestly do not go looking for things to do or get involved in, I have a wee problem with saying “no”, especially if it helps a cause I believe in and round Applecross there are plenty of them to be active in. Sunday evening found me down at the Pier, mainly as a result of a contact that involved Paul, a Reuters photographer coming out on the Varuna on Monday. Rather than have a pile of rope on the stern I roped up the last fleet to be washed this year, managed all but the last twelve, leaving them for the way out in the morning. I ended up switching off the music and listened to the nature flying round Pol Creadh, the grumpy calls of the herons, the occasional honk of the cormorant, the high-pitched but short call of the small gull and all accompanied by a cacophony of a flock of birds settling into the trees on the Culduie side of the Bay. This done, I had promised myself that a trip up to the Hydro screen was needed and duly set off with the dogs at the back of nine. Fading light but an enjoyable and rapid hike up the track. Not before losing the dogs for a couple of minutes, then hearing a series of excited barks coming towards me I thought a hind would appear soon but was slightly taken aback by a badger tearing across the path in front of me with a Dougal in hot pursuit about 5 yards behind, both going at a serious rate of knots. Dougal, fortunately, responds to shouted requests and immediately came to a muddy halt, not realising that tackling a badger would have been out of his league and would probably ended up with a visit to the vet. Screen cleaned, Dougal double checking it,

mainly to get rid of the mud, power increased back up to 90Kwhs and a welcome couple of Crabbies to finish a very long day.

Not before getting my hand crushed by a Bantry Bay Irishman saying keep up all your campaigning, it will come good. Seems he is battling his government over their attempt to harvest seaweed in Bantry Bay on an industrial scale. Why do authorities keep expanding industries that outgrow their environments, our salmon farming comes to mind. Export figures come before longterm sustainability.

The Inn has been full to overflowing the last few visits,

doing the door most nights now to give the Boss a well-earned break.

For me it is a lot easier coming from home or the sea to organise front of house. Would not be quite so keen if I was there day and night. Wednesday evening was finished of with some fine box playing by Ali from Inverness, originally Caithness. He has and is still playing with Addie Harper, both Senior and Junior. Thursday evening saw another visit from Tarnybackle and they went down a storm, always good to get a wee catchup with John’s fine version of Caledonia, our version of the Irish Spancil Hill.The Inn that night was full all night, example being the seventeen geographers from Hamburg University. They loved the Inn, the music and everything about the night. Hug from the organiser, reminding me of the many compliments and even more hugs from customers who leave after saying what a friendly place it is, the food amazing and the atmosphere second to none. The Catalonians who have visited could not be more friendly, especially when we talk nationhood, resulting in yet another leaving hug, Karen’s German Mum completing a fine warm series of shifts. So satisfying when customers leave with such a strongly felt welcome that they come up to you to shake hands or give you a hug, it is a testament to every one who works at the Inn. The previous Thursday it was a bunch of HillBillies playing and again busy night.

Feeling like the media tart from Toscaig at the moment. It all started on Tuesday with Olivia who was travelling with a group of 21, mainly, landscape architects from across Europe with a Prof from Edinburgh.

They were doing an alternative view of the NC500, pouring wax into the waters of the Rogie Falls does sound alternative. She had come across the SCFF report on sustainable creel fishing on the Net and was after an interview with a fisher chappie. My name was suggested and I rarely miss chance to put forward the long-term sustainable practice of creel fishing so agreed to meet up. Beautiful evening and we sat outside the Inn in the evening sun

talking fishing and trying to talk her through why the establishment allows our waters to be degraded so much by the trawl and dredge. A view from the outside and she just could not understand why we have allowed ourselves to be dictated to by such a small group of fishers. Unfortunately due to Brexit one of the principles the Federation used up till now, Article 17, will now fall by the wayside, which is a fairer distribution of wealth amongst fishermen. Chatted about the NEF New Deal and the No Growth economy. I do not want to keep growing, I am happy to stay small to work within the environment I am fortunate to live in. From then it was on to Paul, working up a photographic essay for Reuters News Agency who came out on Monday on a rainy and breezy day.

Hauled a couple of fleets of creels that was pure pleasure on seeing the quantity and quality of langoustines in them. Although the female egg carriers are appearing more and more in the creels the landed catch is still looking as good as it has done over the last 15 years. He did seem to enjoy himself and said he found it all very interesting, especially the sustainable side to the job. Lots of photos taken and I saw him in the Inn enjoying a fish pie before heading off to photograph Ewen and head up to Assynt and some gamekeepers. From there it was at the Inn and an interview with the BBC Travel Show about the effects of the NC500.

And Applecross Ices got a mention as well.

Here is what you don’t see below the counter

but luckily inside has Jolene.

More and more the different angles to the NC500 are coming to the fore, having turned into a road trip is proving, I think a mistake. There is so much more to the Highlands than this mad scramble to do 500 miles in a week or in some daft cases a day. The last media event of the day was being interviewed by the BBC Travel Show, an interview that, ironically was stopped several times by a five car convoy, two camper vans and a screaming toddler in a push chair. I may not have said what the anti NC500 folk wanted to hear but pointed out that although Applecross has changed it is not all bad…..in fact I find little that is. Standing outside the Inn looking across the Bay I saw the Sand track and was reminded of my mother on a BSA250 going along it carrying out her district nursing duties post war. Yes, you can argue everything has changed here beyond recognition, but I can still walk up that track and meet no one, take time out and draw in the awesome scenery from miles around. Maybe the change is that the folks had little opportunity to take that time out as they were closer to subsistence living. I know that things were not easy when my Dad grew up here and he regarded me coming back as a failure as he was unable to achieve his ambitions due to family loyalties. The NC500 has turned Applecross into a pit stop on a track, but over time those who follow TV and Ad campaigns and tick boxes may find a new box to tick and those who have taken time to find the real Applecross will come to further explore its Spiritual qualities that I come across every day.

The Conachers of Dunkeld and Sydney.

(Tuesday) Gentle shift this evening and feeling a little less stressed out having dived into some book work last night. May well be paying some fines but at least it is underway and setting up some systems where I intend never to lose sleep over it again. Silly really as I know I can do it but keep putting it off. Only New Years Resolution this year. Catch up and keep up. Quiet as it is we still did around twenty meals. The “maintenance” is still on going at Sand and the Hydro boys are back in town. Good news is the turbine was producing 90kw today for a while but they have to come back as a couple of parts are not compatible, so it is back down to the 50. No sign of it drying up yet despite the little rain we have had in the last couple of weeks.

(Friday) Weather has definitely improved and on Sunday it was a peaceful morning across the Bay

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and the Milton whooper swans were quietly feeding on the bottom grass of the loch.

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There was entertainment on in the evening, meeting a lot of people due to working through the week these days. Previously I missed them through just working the Sunday lunch shift. Good food, music and chat. Hopefully Treacherous Orchestra have another couple of fans. Only down side is the after effects on the Monday. Not terribly worried as the day was not for fishing, nor yesterday, but today was fine and peaceful although there was still the remains of a northerly swell in the morning. Fine day

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although cold with a dollop of snow on the hills.

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A few langoustines about on Wednesday and a fleet full of squat lobsters meant I had sweet chilli squats for tea after the shift. One of the few meals I have from what I catch and do not cook myself. Back on the boat the afternoon saw me taking a bit of time out feeding the small gulls

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and cormorants.

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They were good company watching them diving

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and wheeling in the air,

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chasing the pout I was throwing them, sad I know, but nice to be in the same environment as them and not doing too much damage to it. Been a couple of whale entanglements recently, some being freed but sadly an orca washed up dead on Tiree having been entangled on creel gear, either in use or ghost creels. Our activities on land and at sea are starting to cause havoc with our sea life, plastics and PCBs being major causes. Thinking about going over to leaded rope to at least cut down bottom foul ups. We do not get many cetaceans our way, possibly as a result of the MoD sonar activity, but I have had four encounters over the thirty odd years at sea, two bad ones and they were ones on the seabed.

So onto Thursday evening at the Inn where it was supposed to be quiet so I could do some paper work. Walking in I sort of knew it would not happen like that. A couple were on the Big Table by the fire and had booked on speck, the Conachers from Sydney. They and the scattering of local bods were on good form but the fire was low and it was cold. Caroline with a couple of gins Francis with her Sauvignon and Mark with a crofters and dram along with the Connachers meant it was a rather frivolous start to the evening shift. But good craic was had throughout the evening and the Conachers story was fascinating. Around the turn of the 20th century the family were based in Dunkeld, his great-grandfather being a keeper to the Duke of Athol (my assumption). Things hit the fan when his son Robert got the Dukes daughter “with child”. A big no-no in them days, so money changed hands and Robert and his brother made their way out to Australia. This saved me asking the Aussie question about voluntary or forced emigration concerning their predecessors. His brother did not survive more than six weeks but after serving in the WW1 Robert obviously established his family resulting in this return visit from Sydney. Another part of the tale is the great-grandfather became Baron Baillie of Dunkeld, a title conveyed by the Duke and was an ex officio, justice of the peace type role. The following is from a site I looked up.http://www.visitdunkeld.com/dunkeld-decline.htm

“In the reign of Charles II. Dunkeld received an offer which it declined. This was to raise its status to that of a Royal Burgh. The offer was renewed by Queen Anne and accepted, but although a Charter granting the appointment of 3 Bailes, a Dean of Guild, a Treasurer and 10 Common Council men, besides other privileges, was prepared, it was never carried into effect. Dunkeld is now only a Burgh in Barony under His Grace the Duke of Athol, the jurisdiction being conducted by a Baron-Bailie, appointed by his superior. The Baron-Ballie is ex-officio a Justice of the Peace and a Commissioner of Supply. Holders of this office during a long period were Messrs Conacher and Jack, the latter dying in 1906. The present holder of the office is Baron-Baile Watson, Deans’ Cross, who succeeded the late Mr Kenneth MacDonald.”

It is these little ceilidhs at the Inn that I work for, dipping into the history of a family, just being part of some one’s oral history and it is so relevant in todays land reform movement. That power the establishment still hold over the ordinary people and exercised in different ways in the modern age if any one steps out of line or in this case above themselves.

Our own wee run of people no longer with us stretches to the Big House with the news that Mrs Wills, Richard’s mother has passed away suddenly. Not having the stats but I am sure there are more deaths at this time of year, I suppose weather,short days and a general weakening of the body contributes.

 

 

Hydro and Disconnected Gearboxes.

Walking down from the site of the Pen Stock at the Hydro Intake, Mike Vass playing his In the Wake of Neil Gunn, just low enough so the tumbling of Alt Breugach over the rocks is also part of the music, all is well in my world. Put that together with the expansive, awesome view of the Inner Sound and blue sky you would expect me to say that. The last part of the journey has been a little fraught and to explain one has to be on board the Varuna around 2.30pm on Thursday afternoon. The had started so well with the sacrificial hauler plates changed

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along with the knife

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on the way out. Never like “just steaming” and have to be doing something. The last fleet of seven just hauled and was kept on board to take ashore for a wash when things went awry. I had previously picked up one of my own ropes, cut, respliced it and dropped it over the side before finishing my fleet. Turned to go home when I heard the sound of rope in propeller. Bit puzzled as I had all my rope on board but then realised that it was the other rope that I had spliced had caught either on my sounder or the keel and then went into the prop. Bar tight and tried to get clear again by putting into gear and hoping the rope cutter on the prop shaft would do the job. Unfortunately what happened was like putting a winch pull on the gearbox which smashed the centre of the drive plate and pulled out of the bell housing.

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It was still just engaging so hooked rope, onto the creel hauler to cut free and engage gear but too much and complete breakdown.

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Nothing for it but to call for assistance and DJ on the Grace Anne was the recipient, coming across from Raasay, a fair bit to the south, but rope on and an hour and a half later we were back on the moorings, grateful for the help.

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When a little younger fretting about lost time and expense would always kick in but now there is too much to do. Showered and up to the Inn where the Boss was taking the evening off so it was Linda and myself out front. A good night and all the tables enjoyed themselves, so many people are just a little sad in leaving and I have attended more than a few “last suppers”. New group have been in at least twice, live in London but were so complimentary about amazing food and friendliness. Phone call to our resident engineer, Ewen, to explain my plight and arrange an early morning visit to the Varuna. I think it is fair to say bad enough but could have been worse, always have in mind the Ivanhoe which was lost in Portree Sound with a rope in the prop, tried to remove it by thrashing the engine revs and ended up cracking the stern gland and sinking. Last thing before coming ashore yesterday was checking any water intake which was nill. What I have never done is to raise the revs to try and free any ropes, just not worth it, enough damage without doing that.

Lift over the Hill with Ewen, after taking numbers and details for part ordering, walk round the head of Loch Kishorn,

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followed by a lift to the Van Hospital out side Lochcarron. The lift almost came too soon as everything was stunning, more than a little hint of autumn.

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DMK Motors and another fine job done, back over the Hill,

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down for the bike and up to the Hydro Scheme to see the further progress. Worked up a sweat in the beautiful weather but well worth it to see how it is going, getting ready to pour tomorrow,

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having finished putting the panels up, this being where the water falls over the dam, through the screen and fills up the box before making its way down to the turbine house and generating electricity,

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while Steve was laying the first of the pipes.

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A few more lengths to go but the speeds they are working at….no problem, so thinks Dougal.

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Gravel sand mix arrived and I nipped half way back up, well quarter of the way, to see where they wanted the load dropped. knackered by this times and have settled for a couple of bacon and egg rolls, a cracking mug of Peruvian coffee and The Elephant Sessions playing in the background. One or two wee rumours suggesting they may be heading this way. So I should be cheesed off, down but what ever switch was flicked about three months ago is still on and a wood cut is on the cards for the afternoon. (written yesterday afternoon.) Two ways of looking at events, could mope about a four figure bill and four figure loss of revenue or think that I have a bit of time in the next week or so to catch up in so many things.

The week had been quite good for weather,

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langoustine catches and work effort. Mornings,

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followed by pleasant days at sea

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and meeting regulars at the Inn have filled the days. On Thursday evening took a trip back with Ian Wallace, over with Jamie, and recalled with him many of the old names and characters sadly gone from the area, Straight, Douchie Douch, Peerie, Morag, Straight and Gillies and many more. He had been woking on the first bit of the Sand road with RJ Macleod’s and had a pretty impressive memory going way back to the 70s. On the odd grey day there has been plenty of activity going,

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Dougal and Eilidh are getting plenty of exercise with all the coming and going.

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Little time to read about supposed rogue helicopters landing on the shore outside the Inn.

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Some one put something up on YouTube and it was picked up by the press, a no news day. Good response from the Boss.

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The Wee Boy on the Beach

Been on the Ardhu Pier for a fair bit over the last couple of days mending creels. The headphones on and lost in the music of Rura, Treacherous, Lone Bellow and others Dave from Oban startled me somewhat. Turns out he was here to change over the Succorfish unit that appears not to be up to scratch. The Sand receiver was only picking me up about 4 miles from the Base which is not really much use. The new VesperMarine unit will put us on the AIS traffic map. A new safety measure if nothing else and if used properly can cut down on gear conflict as there should be no hiding place for trawlers towing through creels. Ended up mending a whole fleet and putting most of it back together on board with the intention of doing little today. Dougal looking regally into the north wind.

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Later he is wandering about in the seaweed looking for crabs.

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Often wonder why when one starts work at the Inn that maybe not as fresh as you could be at the beginning of a shift and then you remember that you’ve done most of a days work before you start. An uneventful shift and with both nations schools back the pressure has eased somewhat. An uneventful evening until the very, very drunk lady on table 2 managed to throw up on the floor, before being led out by her partner. Bit embarrassing for anyone in their thirties to behave like that. The Boss went into action and everything was sorted out apart from the two tables out of action for the rest of the night. Saw a Facebook posting a little later and realised that she was still performing but now in some ones house. They had taken the wrong turning and appeared in a local’s house semi hysterical and was duly thrown out of there. I think her best move would have been to turn up at the Inn in the morning and offer a fair sum to one of the charity boxes for all the hassle she caused but it was not to be. One of the rare occasions where it will be a one-off visit to Applecross. Still queueing for tables but under control and waits are not too long. Even home before eleven. Getting some good sleeps in on these north wind days.

Another day of strong northerlies and after a slow start it was back on the bike and in the company of Dougal and Eilidh we were back down on the Pier mending the next fleet. Have become a little OCD with the creels and grouping the fleets all the same colours, white, green and black. Makes sense as most will be the same age and deteriorate together. The second fleet ashore now been mended with only a dozen of them to be washed before going back to sea. As you mend away, like hauling the creels, you think about anything and everything. Today the image of the wee boy lying drowned on the Turkish shore filled my thoughts. The politics around the image and general situation is being fiercely argued over but I feel compelled to put down some random thoughts. That wee boy had a mum and dad, maybe brothers and cousins but they felt forced to leave their home and try to make for a safer haven. We will never know what awful deeds drove those people to such a desperate situation. Went back to a conversation I had last night at the Inn with a Niseach and we were talking about subsistence living of previous generations in the Highlands and we cannot easily grasp how harsh conditions were for those folk not that long ago. My grandfather came from Leac a Li to the Crowlin Islands at the turn of the 20th century and thought they were a step up from south-east Harris. The Macleods did not even have a croft so an island that only just supports a 100 odd sheep nowadays must have seemed like “this will do”. They moved in a time of peace unlike those refugees we are seeing now. The daily grind of survival is alien to me standing on a pier mending creels, supplying a niche market for a comfortable living, plenty of clothes on and well fed so not feeling the biting north wind, company of my dogs, but easily connecting the trials of my predecessors with those  displaced by the actions of madmen. Look around Applecross and you see half the houses are empty, our own house now has two empty bedrooms, there are 65000 acres here that have not enough space to build one affordable house, and then back to that beach. There must be some better way to live our lives. There is space from Applecross to the Borders that could be used to help prevent pictures of little boys lying drowned on foreign beaches. So many people are feeling so inadequate just now. That wee boy will never be a dad….thoughts while mending creels….

Another shift at the Inn calls and unsure whether to post this. Will see after the shift. Seeing twitter and fb timelines that are full of shock at the photo. Puts so much into perspective in our safe and comfortable lives.

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