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

Posts tagged ‘ALPS’

Rain at Last

(Tuesday) Given the choice between a 33C urban office job or a grey still morning with soft falling Highland rain on a glass sea,

well there isn’t really any way I could do the 33C one.

Took a couple of hours to get on the water on Monday morning. A longish, felt longer than it was, shift at the Inn. Occasionally the odd shift drags and looking at the clock becomes a regular glance every twenty minutes. Plenty of people through and no one knows you are a bit out of sorts. Headache kicks in properly mid afternoon despite lots of painkillers. They still came from as far afield as Hawaii and Sardinia. Home via the Chalet internet and bed by ten. Although it is still busy it feels a lot quieter at the Inn. Still no tables but at least the residents are not waiting for their’s and there is not a queue of twenty.

(Friday evening) you could say it is a bit of a recovery day. Needed a long sleep and even with that behind me there is a pretty constant tiredness in the old legs. With the week almost done it is not that surprising as most days it has been pretty physical. Today’s recovery day involved a bit of a catch up at the Chalet, hoping not for much longer as Alison is taking our broadband contact home from Inverness to work on our switch over. We and others have been off for four weeks now, too long. Had a conversation about it today and it feels like a rerun of the Filling Station problems. Crashing every day, rebooting, late billing and general stress. The fact that fuel is no longer is not a topic of anyone’s chat is testimony to how well it is being run by the Trading Company now. I am hoping this will be the case with our broadband in the months to come.

So a visit to the Community Hall where the School entertained us by running a French Cafe lunch, with Thor, Mason and Lily attending our table, in French no less. Lots of Potential for front of house at the Inn. The onion soup and chocolate cake were pretty good as well. Sam and Caroline are up from deep Deep South and arranged for Sam to come up to the Hydro screen checking it over for a clean. After Mick’s visit last week was thinking all was not quite as it should be with a fair bit of rain it was only running at 54 kWhs this morning. Looking at local streams I reckoned there should be more power being produced. After a wander through Carnoch, with Sam, visiting his favourite birch tree,

we made it to the top via the Archeological Trail.. By the time we came back down to the Turbine House there were 84kWhs being produced.  via the Archeological Trail. Lots of chat about land, sea and everything else, and a lesson learned about cleaning the screen

more regularly in the summer.

Better to have wet feet rather than wet shoes. You can see half the screen clean and the water going through while most is running over the dirty half.

Does not matter what the weather the view is always worth a stop and look.

Came back down through the coppicing part of Carnoch after Sam stopping to admire the Hebridean Barns, resuscitated through the ALPs project and reverting to its original purpose of clothes dryer.

We were in good company as well.

Fishing has stayed at a very healthy level with only 250/300 creels hauled to get the requisite amount for the Inns and a decent wage. Although tired my extra wee trip out on the evening of the Solstice was not regretted. On the way when I was heading back to the lights of Applecross, the hum of the Diesel engine and the breaking of the water against the bow, I went back in time and thought of the fishermen of Applecross who spent a week at a time away from home and what they must have been thinking of when they saw the lights of home after their week away, in far harsher conditions than I usually experience. Apart from the many octopodes,

occasional gannet

and that sunset

it was the simple routine of hauling, emptying, rebaiting, stacking and reshooting the creels.

Often said and thought by me that these trips to sea keep my sanity intact after the frenzy of the Inn. This week has been a little easier, a little dip in the numbers to just being busy. That’s every table being full but not the twenty people waiting. There are a fair amount of workmen at Sand and the biggest problem they have is accommodation. Amusing as that was one of the selling points during discussions around the Range expansion, that the work would fill accommodation places in Applecross. My quiet protestations that this was not necessary fell on deaf ears but has proven to be true. The first visit of Tarneybackle took place last night and they went down a storm, especially as they did not sing Sam the Skull. There was dancing till late and a return visit in three weeks is on the cards so farewells were not too extreme.

And always a view to stop and see on the way to and from the Inn.

A Rant, a Skull and Cracking Weather.

Wonderful weather this morning and we have a few similar days to look forward to. Onto the bike for work slightly earlier as the Boss was cavorting in Belfast over the weekend with sister. Just had to stop off on the way to take one or two snaps. Unfortunately left my ISO speed too high from the night before trying to take a photo of a fine-looking stag in the Inn Garden.  Everywhere you looked was stunning, the loch by Milton,

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Torgarve,

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Lochend

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and the Cuillin of course.

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Going by the good weather I reckoned the travellers would be out and about for lunch, lots of skeptics in the kitchen, but by 4.00pm including the last late lunchers we made it to 53, 3 better than my bet. Just had the satisfaction of winning as there was nothing at stake. When it is a bit quieter you have more chance to chat to the diners and they are still coming from afar. German, one an oncologist at Raigmore, Dutch and Aussies, from Applecross, they showed us the streets they were born on from the map of Perth, Australia, on the wall. Brexit is a very hot and topic up here and many people, working and contributing to life in the Highlands are wondering what is coming down the line. There has been nothing positive said about it so far from the tables of the Inn. Another bunch from London, Aussies again, who dined well before catching the flight south. Skye, Inverness and Lochcarron were also over. So we ran out of langoustine and I had to nip out to the Varuna to get them back on the menu for this evening. Shift finished with a fine chicken linguine and take away golden syrup and caramel ice cream, leaving a happy contented bar with a full accommodation upstairs. Sunset was not too shabby either

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and with time in the morning before the customers arrived to watch some eiders wash themselves on a flat calm Bay against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks……all in all a pretty good day.

Not too bad yesterday but for different reasons, Scottish sport, that is other than football is taking a bit of an upturn with Andy Murray a set and break up just now after beating Raonic on Saturday and wee Greg Laidlaw slotting over a very late penalty to beat the Argentinians at Murrayfield. The morning we went up the Bealach but it was misty at the top so the hoped for photos did not happen. Dougal and Eilidh

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however enjoyed a gallop in the snow chasing smells that must have included the many mountain hares we have crisscrossing the hills. Dougal pausing for effect on part of the ALPs wall that is still standing.

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Luckily we have no grouse shooting on the west so the hares have only to watch predators from the sky and not the indiscriminate slaughter they seem to experience on the grouse moors around the Cairngorm . Last night at the Inn was very pleasant with every table used, every table complimentary about the food and service and every table leaving by half nine.

Friday saw us out on the water and it was just as well the waters were calm and I was catching for the Inn. There would have been little reason to stay out, the fishing, catch wise was awful. The quality in the day was in the surroundings which were just beyond words so photos will have to do.

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Still having a little struggle getting up and about in the mornings but manage to haul just short of 400 creels. Kept the last one aboard with the intention of taking three fleets ashore for the winter. Means I can get round the rest of the gear in the shorter hours ensuring less foul ups.

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The start of the week and up till getting on the water on Friday was inauspicious to say the least. Walking the dogs and watching the odd box set while trying and failing to do some needed book work, getting to crisis point so setting deadlines for this week. A couple of wee tales I came across last weekend, the first coming from asking a couple where they were from. Turns out they were from Banff and Macduff and hence I got the story of the outlaw James Macpherson, his hanging and clocks. Also was told about the Annat skull on the same day. So first, to Macpherson. It was said he was born from the coming together of a laird and beautiful gypsy. He became a renowned fiddler, swordsman and leader of a gypsy band. He possibly became too powerful and was captured in Keith and taken to Banff. He was tried, possibly to do with being a gypsy but also he was bothering some of the lairds a bit too much, one in particular, Duff of Braco, and sentenced to be hanged. 16th of November 1700 was his hanging date where he played a fiddle tune he composed, Macpherson’s Rant, after which he broke his fiddle across his knee. A reprieve was said to be on the way to Banff from Turriff and when Duff of Braco spotted the lone rider coming he put all the clocks forward by fifteen minutes and the hanging went ahead. The magistrates were allegedly punished and for many years the town clock in Banff was kept at the wrong time. In Macduff the west-facing clock is still covered so the Banff people cannot read the correct time to this day.

Thought to have belonged to the daughter of the Garve Wizzard, who lured passersby to their deaths in the Black Water and stealing their possessions, the skull was to be drunk from as a cure to epilepsy. The skull became famed in the Celtic/Druid world as this cure was accompanied by a prescribed walk and incantations. The presbyterian church was involved in trying to deny its existence but seems its use was confirmed as late as 1900 in Torridon by one minister of the church. Talking to the visitors at the Inn and you learn so much of folklore and local history.

On the same side as Matteo Salvini now.

I am not very good at voting these days. All I can say is thank goodness John Finnie is an MSP or my track record would be very poor indeed. Exhausted last night and went to bed a little nervous that there was no clear indication that we were not burning all our bridges. Kept the radio on but as I was so tired I think I only woke up once and the feeling of dread increased as I was sure it was a Brexit cheer from the north of England. Around 6am I was just aware enough that we were voting to leave the EU. Although it was a 52/48% in favour of leaving it is small comfort that in Scotland we voted 60/40% to stay. Made it out late in the day as I had to just speak to anyone before going out to sea. At the front door there was the postie and crofter discussing the latest events with a fair degree of disgust over the vote. Up at the Inn there was a genuine case of shock. We are so connected to Europe with both residents and visitors it is hard to believe, and take in, what has actually happened. Unfortunately we could not find the Euro flag bunting to put out to make sure that all were still welcome and we were not part of this misguided opinion. So here is a wee photo that sums up, I hope, the majority view in Applecross today.

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I thought it would be close but honestly believed as a country a common sense, fear of the unknown, would prevail. That, unfortunately, is roughly what happened in our own IndyRef. It was a beautiful day at sea even if it was wall to wall Europe. I think the really, really disturbing news item I heard all day was that Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders hailed the Brexit win. What an accolade to have, that we as a country are encouraging extreme right wingers across Europe. Have a deep sense of foreboding that we are back on a road that we trodden before and we do not seem to have learned a single lesson. Too depressed to continue in this theme but just to add, the forestry extraction, the paths and walls that were built and renovated, Clachan Church restoration, the deer fence stretching down to Toscaig would not have happened in Applecross if funding had not been secured from LEADER, SRDP and the European Regional Development Fund. You can be sure that if it was not for this funding that these projects would not have happened.

Dougal Tests Flow Data.

Slow day and that is appropriate as I was on the phone to Michele of Slow Fish https://www.facebook.com/groups/slowfish/ a group of people who are trying to enhance the idea of The Commons. An idea that the common good/ownership benefits all. An idea that if we go back to looking after our environment then everyone will benefit. This model is far more sustainable than the one that we are currently using which is the guys that catches the most is the best. To the extent that he will get a cup for an even bigger grossing. I think we were on the phone for about an hour and while it was a little depressing that the general picture is quite pessimistic there are small groups of fishermen around the world who are trying to tie the catching side of fishing directly to local markets and to what their environments can sustain. A possible trip to Ireland may be on the cards to learn more.

A couple of trips up the road, the first to give Sean a hand to recycle the glass as the Inn transport is out of action. On hearing a low flying chopper we thought it may have been a search and rescue on the go but it appeared to be SSE doing a line check.

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The dogs came up with me and a wander on up to the site was in order. Tail race dug out

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and hear that SSE are planned for tomorrow. Generator in later this week and a big push on next week with sparkies in. The colours

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and the sound of the running water

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make for a better feeling with the wind stopping us fishing and the light going fast, it being only mid afternoon. Dougal went in to check the flow of the river

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and okayed it.

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went down to see how Geoff was getting on with the pier renovation and fine it looks. The plan is to protect the refurbishment with some armouring to the south and stop it being washed away.

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Was down for working tonight at the Inn but so were half the community so decided very quickly, as I was only there on word of mouth and not on the rota, the three plus standby could work a quiet bar and headed home. Not before speaking to the lorry driver who was in to pick up scaffolding and stuff from the site. A couple of emails and phone calls and hopefully sorted. The share Issue is going from strength to strength although we are rapidly running out of time. The new total is a “gnat’s whisper” short of £540,000. Each new total is hard to comprehend when you take a step back and think about it. I can understand the level of skepticism about achieving that total but it is creeping closer and closer. Applecross may well have a future that will be in the hands of those who live here. Thanks to all investors for giving the community the opportunity to thrive in the future. Still time to invest. http://www.applecrosshydro.scot.

Alison is off to Broadband meeting on Skye and I am away to Edinburgh to learn more about Social Finance, Social Investment and Social Banks…..a theme emerging there. Meeting up in Inverness, Eden Court for a blast of Treacherous Orchestra on Friday. Possibly missing a good day of weather but there is a chance I may have another good day sometime soon…..

Appalachians and new Computers.

The bank Holiday Weekend is long enough gone to write about now. It was busy there is no doubt and Sunday especially was full on despite the weather.

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Now I am not an IT chappie and can work a system if it is set up no problem but the new computer system is doing a few people’s heads in. If you work from the bar and Terminal 1 the Prep Room can go to their modified list and work out what table has placed what order. Terminal 2 was a different matter and seeing prep room staff coming out with cutlery and food not having a clue where they were going……. No one to blame so it was survival and I went back to the old table numbers by following the order through the back and writing on it. That worked until some one down on my section did not use it and back to chaos again. Top laugh of the day came from the BT when Roddy and mates were in. Running out of ice creams and the last effort was laughed down with a request for a cranachan. Through to the sweet counter where I passed this on for Adeena to look puzzled and reply cranachan ice cream?? Retold at the BT and added to their enjoyment of a fine afternoon’s meal and company. It was a long shift and I made it through to around eleven to get a bit of the bikers music, some good and some not quite up there. And in good Appalachian style checking fingers before starting.

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The Duelling Banjos needs another years work as the guitar was way better than the banjo.

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But good craic from the regular Bank Holiday bikers. Weather has been dire and that did not help us front of house as no one eating outside. First time one or two groups did not stop although to be fair they were on tight schedules.

Today, Wednesday, I have just taken the last of the prawn stash ashore so with a poor forecast for tomorrow a long day is planned for friday to try to get ahead again. It has been indifferent weather this week, south-westerly on Monday. Tuesday fine but stayed ashore for VAT inspection that never arrived. Car in garage, I could have easily gone out but the change of plan came a bit late. I was not allowed any leeway when the inspection was set up, a shame as even if any mistakes there will be little for the VAT man to justify a trip out.

Nature ashore is continuing apace, wandered up and through what used to be the Alt Beag plantation. . Only a few tons left to take out. Saturday was a stunning day for a wander and in twenty years time it should be a lovely place to walk through. Always think that once you go up to industrial scale of anything there is so much waste. There are hundreds of tons of wood for burning just lying about everywhere but that is the way things seem to be done. Seeing Colin and Jackie’s Clydesdale over in Achmore seems a more economical way of extracting the timber and using it locally.https://www.facebook.com/pages/Colin-Parsons-ForestryHorse-Logging/610273509040324 ( Have to be next time as we are having BT/AppleNet broadband issues and uploading is a bit of a pain.) Instead a better way to control bracken other than by helicopter spraying.

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Operations have come to a close, mulching, mounding all done and just the machines and tidying up to go with the last loads ready to go out. Planting is now under way.

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Suppose we would need more people living here but that will come as it is Trust policy now to encourage an increase in the residential population. Sitting watching Netflix the other night watched an owl settle on the sycamore by the road and then later the bats started to fly. Monday on the way to the Shop a couple of small birds chasing a cuckoo out of their patch. Everything seems underway despite the weather and not because of it. The bees have managed a few days out as well and lots of pollen going back to the hives, good sign as the queens are going strong. Dougal is very keen to get involved in the garden but at the moment his destruction is out weighing his positive leanings and taking apart the compost bins is not helping.

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Did not manage to post last night and as it is another day of North westerlies looking to a bit more paperwork and wood work. And the most important of all voting. Have read up on a couple of items and have only had a choice of two candidates. Saw an interesting list which gave the candidates a list of red lines they could not cross and there are only two that coincide. Unfortunately this outdated way of voting does not allow me to vote for who I really want but next year for the Scottish Parliament I can as it is PR. Interesting times.

Good Weather and a Fence Chat.

Couple of enjoyable days at sea although quite tiring as not used to it and a couple of foul ups and shoot overs to deal with. Luckily not together, that is the worst single-handed scenario to deal with, hauling up your own fouled gear and some one is shot another fleet over you. Discovering Pi is easier or feels like it at the time. Hard to believe I was taking photos of the Bay eight days ago where you could not see the water as it was whipped up with the wind.

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Today in particular was so calm and peaceful and I know I am where I should be when I start admiring the seagulls.

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Although generally regarded as the rats of the sea and can be pretty vicious, especially the blackbacks, today they glided across an oily sea with perfect reflections showing on the surface.

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Cormorants and shags are turning up t get the pout out of the creels before they hit the surface.

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It has not been wall to wall sunshine and sometimes the cloud cover has felt slightly oppressive although not like in summer when it is accompanied by heat.

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The MoD Trials are still going on , supposed to have been finished, and had the semi submerged sub off to my starboard for a short while.

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Good to get the communication from Sand which usually means he is seeing me as well. He was only about 100 metres off but no problem as we both knew where we both were. Reminded me of an incident about 20 odd years ago when we were shooting a fleet back in a brisk south-westerly breeze with a conning tower to our port when she took a right-angled easterly change of direction and was to our starboard side with us still shooting our gear. She had passed directly across our bows and at one stage we were over the top of her. Called Sand to ask if they knew we were there and got a pause followed by a negative. Not a good feeling. Anyway today was different. Fishing okay in fact not too shabby despite losing a fleet down the Range edge.

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Plan to take a fleet up there to shoot over it and hopefully snag it tomorrow. Do not have much leeway to work with as I cannot go too far to the west being in the Range. One of the local signs of Spring and a short dry spell is the first heather burns are under way.

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Inn is starting to look busy already, the weather I am sure is contributing although if anyone wants to go anywhere just now it seems Applecross is the majority destination. A lot of places are not open yet and most people know the Inn is. Nice surprise when I ended up with some smallish scallops from Robin, would have had them in garlic, bacon and squats but the gas had run out and the shop was closed so that is tomorrow’s tea sorted. Had breakfast again before going up to the ALPS Meeting.

Interesting meeting where unusually had a fair bit to say on questioning the ownership of the South Coast Deer Fence, Trust’s, Crofter’s or both. Still up for grabs. Always good to put the alternative view, the one that many residents are not comfortable putting forward. Not convinced it is a good idea to start a “buy in”with a liability, that is a fence that does not earn an income but will need maintaining. The only positive I can take out of it is that this is the first time that a buy in has been offered. Would have been better if it involved houses, community hub or community woodlands, all of which would be social enterprise and would be income generators for both sides of the buy in, generate monies for fencing. But here’s hoping for a future generation. I cannot help thinking that a well off Charity should not  really be asking crofters for an annual tenner to maintain the cost of a fence that keeps deer off croft ground, wild animals albeit, but only there to be shot by the Charity. A crofter’s conversation made me smile when he/she said if only they had known when they put their deer fence up that they could have gone to The Trust for some maintainence money it would have softened the blow for them. A little stress involved in getting those views across, despite a bit of aggressive questioning, keeping it impersonal is important but still making the point. Bit of a shame that any opposing views are still treated in this way in this day and age but such is life. But the fence has to be looked after and if history proves anything the crofters/community will have to get involved no matter. Lovely cycle home in the starlight and a bit of Fargo to see the night out.

Another fine day at sea,

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only hauling 300 a day just now, and find that plenty especially combining with the Inn. Busy pier in the morning,

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good weather has the same effect on fishermen as bees, all coming out at the same time. It was nice to see the bees flying from both hives on Saturday. Fishing a little patchy although hauling fleets twice in deep water on the same week by Wednesday is fairly unusual, uneventful fishing with one or two boats passing North. Ronja Commander, low in the bow coming out of the sun

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and a lovely eastern sunset as I began the shift at the Inn.

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Nippy but easy evening.

 

Diesel, Wood and Land.

A time of contrasts, Sunday shift was a ten-hour graft and at times only just in control. Tonight there are two locals in the bar and we have served five meals, one of them mine. Weather has been pretty mixed but resisted the temptation to go to sea. Nipped out to the boat for a few prawns for the menu and you immediately enjoy the deep sense of enjoyment being on the water and in the moonlight as a bonus. That a bit of wood store work and a tank dip was about it.

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The backdrop to the wood store is not too bad.

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Spent a fair bit of time keeping in touch with the fast-moving politics of land reform. I am not particularly interested in the shouty side of things but for conservative Applecross I’m probably marked down as a radical revolutionary. Amusing really as I cannot be bothered with taking possession but what does bother me is the prevention of a sustainable development which results in there being ten in the Primary School while when our boys, who are still in their twenties, were in a school of over twenty. I think we are approaching a time when there may have to be accommodation provided for the summer tourist season as there will no longer be enough people here to service the industry. This already happens to an extent with the Inn and the Walled garden. It seems to be such hard work for some landlords to treat their communities with a modicum of respect. So easy to work with rather than against but not natural for some, especially the old school. Twitter was interesting a couple of nights ago and one of the things that came across was the view and opinion about the situation in Applecross was taken by people who have little or no experience of the place and they base it on conversations with people who do not live here. There is a constant hiding behind “the community is too diverse to be represented” so it will not be represented. I took the decision not to go to The ALPS meeting on Monday evening partly as I had a long day and did not think there was much relevance for the CC representative to be there and going by the report it was a good decision. Chatting round a table is fine and I am all for it, keeps communication lines open, but there comes a time when you have to spend your time on more constructive matters. As long as this is not called community engagement…. Community engagement is planning a future together for the benefit of both partners and that may be a fair way off. It will happen and hopefully voluntarily but for the first time I am starting to see a strengthening of political will that may help communities like ours survive. Looking across at the pre school kids there are just not enough of them but they were having a great time and it is not a bad back drop.

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Back to Sunday and it was food and music all the way with very little staff to cope as yet another staff member heads off to the All Backs wedding of the year. And going by fb pictures it looks like Applecross but somewhere else. As few people here now since the early settlers 10,000 years ago. Can’t blame the landlord this time. I think we probably had three sittings for lunch and the music from 3 o’clock onwards meant for a full on day. Light t the south caught the eye. (finishing this in the morning).

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Now back at the Inn after a day of taking a fuel delivery,

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local shopping and almost completing my wood store. I suppose because it was a new driver,Norman, we were chatting about the Filling Station and that is when you realise that what you regard as routine seems impressive to people on the outside. Despite all the problems the Community has kept the fuel supply going and now these teething problems seem to be in the past. More people are involved in its running and the price is coming down.   mixed feelings about that. But you read the notice and it is with a little pride you cycle back down the road with Dougal and Eilidh lolloping along Never wanting to anything simple I decided to “design” it and it was all going swimmingly right up to the last few logs going on. Admit was slightly worried that the third row was not tying in too well and so proved to be the case as it all came crashing down. Quickly started up again……..after all I was on this course last week and have the words of my coach in my head. May have to cheat a little to keep it in place as don’t want to give anyone a fright if it comes down again. Managed to get two people to admire it before it collapsed so be back on it tomorrow. Bad weather forecast so the outside jobs are the ones to do, sounds like we are going to be indoors over the next few days.

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