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

Posts tagged ‘Applestock’

The Day after Applestock.

Made it up to the Garden around half three and had a wander around.


Good ambience and lots of chat and things going on as well as the music. Margaret doing her spinning and always with something interesting to say,


Timed it well as I heard Jamie Hilton’s session and really enjoyed it. Great blusey voice and guitar.


After leaving the Walled Garden it was down to the Inn before the hordes arrived. It was quiet for a while but plenty to do with the final arrangements for setting the bar up for the evening. As it got busier the Inn packed out but it still flowed and we had our own little session going with Kenny Rankin on guitar his mate on melodeon, all British champ it seems, and they were joined by a seriously accomplished bodhran player. His own melodeon was in for repair and he was cheesed off with the one he had…you would not have noticed. Good atmosphere although not quite connected to it. It was more a case of hanging in and thinking about the bar at the marquee. The Treacherous came in for something to eat and took their orders with a bit of banter which included Innes Watson wanting a veg stir fry. We almost always do variations but on this case son no 1 was on the plating ,busy and was not in the mood for compromise. Asked for an explanation for what a stir fry was wanted, so went back out to see Innes….back to the kitchen where I made the mistake of saying it was for Innes Watson, “That doesn’t help” came the reply. In the end we decided that Innes would have a veg linguine without the linguine. West coasters are not easily impressed it seems, although it does run in the family.

The bar at the Treacherous, opened by Becca Fox, ran well, great crowd, music out of this world. Missed a fair bit of Becca but what I saw was pretty spectacular, cracking voice and I have listened to her at the Inn, the only person I have heard doing an Adele cover just about as good as Adele.


We could not help but let the rhythms, melodies and virtuoso playing affect your mood and Marion and I especially just rocked through evening. We kept smiling and just shaking our heads at the intensity of the music….just brilliant. It was both time lost and gained, if that makes any sense. Somewhere I was so happy to be. I love this photo of John on the box, looks like a slightly sinister Victorian guy in some back street some where deep south. Of course could not be further from the truth.



Pretty tired but still high and home quite early leaving the stalwarts to head to the bonfire on the beach, reminiscent of the Seafood and Music Festivals of old. For me it is really heart warming to see the next,well half, generation getting together to create something like this weekend. That is some thing  that is fundamental to the Community Company. you try to do what you can to sustain and help your own community while not preventing but helping the future generations to do likewise and I think we saw that this weekend.

Unfortunately woke up this morning with a stonker of a head and only got rid of it by consuming too many milligrams of paracetamol. Made it to work and sorted out most of the left overs from the van before taking it back to Ardheslaig in the late afternoon. Busy old shift, more relentless rather than full on, weather being wonderful and warm many ate outside and it was mainly light lunches. Lots of humour today and there was a definite left over high from the night before. I love it when you walk past and hear snippets of conversations like,”What did he say to you? “your bosoms are bouncing””.or “You should have seen the size of his gantry”. Loved it when I heard The Treacherous being described as a ceilidh band!!! The one that summed up the night before was Mark telling me that he will never forget the image ,when he asked me for a vodka, I was at the optics and pouring, hearing and feeling the tunes, the whole unit of optics were bouncing along with us.

There was a fair bit of emotion as well as were visited by Matthew who had left Applecross in circumstances no one could have wished for.


His coming back was wonderful and he so much enjoyed his visit bringing back so many painful memories for a few of us but good ones as well and we had a few chats amongst ourselves which were very healing. He had followed his younger brother Fergus up and now we await Connor and possibly even their Dad!! At work sweetest moment was chatting to a lady from Montreal about Applecross and she had several very direct questions that led us through the First Settlers, the monastic times to the Clearances, where and why the houses are built where they are and so on. She seemed to enjoy the chat and as she left she said,” I have not read anything in the guide books about you but you know my heart found you.” I took that to mean Applecross and so many other people have with this lady summing it up in one succinct sentence. Internet was playing up last night and it was almost impossible to upload so had to leave it till this morning.


The Awesome Treacherous Orchestra.

An oft over used word but not for these guys. We worked the bar and it rocked.


Got a sneak preview when they were doing a sound check/jam early evening.


The Morning of Applestock.

Took Dougal and Co up the road for their walk, dropping Ruairidh at Alan’s to discuss piping for later in the day. Went in for a cup of tea and a chat with Bill about bees and the up shot is he is coming down tomorrow afternoon to help me open up the hive, mark my queen and add another super. Sometime before then I have to get some frames assembled. This was all done amidst a scene of pleasant chaos with kids running in and out and around, Cassie and Maisie reacquainting themselves.

The Walled Garden, the scene of the day’s music, was a hive of activity with volunteers setting up stalls, sound systems and barbeques.






Dougal did his usual checking out, including the visitors, Kenny from Arrina down for the Festival, at the Water Aid tent.


He slipped into the Garden despite express orders from Pete but then again orders and Dougal do not go together. A quick check around and he was back out with out meeting up with Pete or digging for any moles.



After having a chat with Sarah


in the volunteer tent, the most important at any Festival, it was off down the road again and called into the Campsite which is going to be where it is going to happen tonight. Again a quick check around and the bar station looks so peaceful.




With a quick turn down to Culduie to pick up some more booze and lunch.

Heading back up about two and at the Inn from about three till eight and then up to the marquee till whenever. Blinks of sun, no midgies,warm, Applecross…….

The Day Before Applestock.

Up early this morning as the forecast was for an increasing northerly blow. The joy of being self-employed is not having an alarm clock, just wake up whenever and head off ….or not. Beautiful and calm, coupled with a lovely tune on Facebook, left the moorings with every thing alright in the world. I sometimes wonder if people like Nigel Farage would settle down a wee bit if they came up here and had a wee taste of what is real….not that I think that would ever happen but I am sure it would do him good.



Even as I went out the wind was slowly increasing but hauled 300 pots reasonably quickly, only having trouble with one fleet that was shot over. Managed the last fleet with the wind growing all the time and headed in around 2.30pm.


No stopping, dropped the prawns and squats off at the Inn, quick sandwich and over to Shieldaig where I had a much-needed massage. Bit of a dodgy arm injury and it was a painful two hours although did manage a wee snooze though. Remarkable holly tree in full berry bloom half way down Shieldaig Glen, mentioned it and seems every one has noticed it.


After Sarah called in to Kenny’s where I arranged to pick up the Shieldaig Export chill van for the bar tomorrow at Applestock. Kenny was telling me that they discovered some slides of Dickies taken about 30 odd years ago of the cod ground net fishing. Hope to see them some time. Had a usual chat about how hopeless the state of the fishing, remarking about Dickie’s photos showing huge cod and standing boxes on their side to stop the fish sliding over the gunwales.

Round to Aird to pick up the van and to the farm to load up the booze. Chill it down tomorrow, working tomorrow evening at the Inn and later at the marquee. It is going to be GOOD. Bring on the TREACHEROUS.


Where do you Belong?

Came across an interesting post on Facebook that I cannot get out of my head and have been thinking about most of the day. For me it is revealing the way I ask questions of the visitors at the Inn and the response I get and the interest in me that it sparks.

“We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold. Went on to the net to see what I could learn about Aldo and was interested that he took part in the eradication of the wolves as a predator on farmed stocks but came to realise that this was totally the wrong way to go about “managing” wilderness areas. A bit like some fishermen wanting cod to join the dinosaurs so they can have a freer access to trawling the langoustine out of existence. But without a thought of what role the cod play in supporting the whole marine ecosystem. It seems to be commonly accepted that taking the wolves out of the equation areas became deforested as elk/moose numbers grew and overgrazed saplings. Who would have thought that wolves affected natural tree regeneration. Wonder what the disappearance of cod,haddock,hake and whiting in our local waters is doing to our marine environment. Short term there is less” money” to be made from the sea, evidenced by the numbers of ex fishermen now working ashore, but what is the long-term problems that are going to emerge because of the way we are treating our marine environment. A freelance writer turned up at the Inn yesterday and Judith called me over for a brief chat about the Inn’s policy on not landing Berried Langoustine and as with everyone else we speak to, it is such an obvious way to try to regenerate a failing fishery. Sarah and Aron told me a couple of weeks ago that Sam Clark, of Moro fame, has called up his supplier to tell him that he will change his buyer if he sends him any females carrying eggs…that was after spending a day out on the Varuna. I was not looking for this but to be told the news I did feel as though some thing good had happened. As I had not heard from Rick Stein apart from the fact he was busy I sent another email telling him that Moro had now stopped using berried langoustine. That was last week and no reply as yet.

Going back to the land issue, there were a couple of comments that were interesting in that “indigenous”people see land and land use in a different way. Suggested that Gaels tend to ask the question “Where do you belong?” “C’aite ‘bhuineas sibh?” not “Where are you from?” Often a bit nervous of using the term “indigenous” as it has so many connotations these days with UKIP about and making progress. When I was in Knoydart you got the feeling and at the time it was subconscious but the guys I met there belonged to the place and that was both at Doune and in general. I never really thought too much about this and it was only with the quote of Aldo’s that made me think just that bit deeper about our connection to the land and how emotional it can get. I do not think you have to be born in a place to belong. There are many people who have come to live in Applecross and have belonged here and have cared for the place to a far greater extent than I have managed as my main struggle was survival and paying off mortgages. There are always going to be scraps and arguments etc within communities regarding land and land use but I fail to see how decisions can be made by people who do not “belong” to those same communities. Visitors often ask where I am from and there is no easy answer as my family is only had a brief stay here, coming from Harris and me growing up in Kyle, but I think I belong to Applecross, maybe to the chagrin of one or two Applecross residents.

Yesterday’s shift at the Inn was far more sensible but still very busy. The world map is up on the wall and we are filling in all the countries that did not arrive last year. I am going to go off on a tangent and see how many States I can get. Yesterday I was talking to guys from Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. Weather still very unsettled and I called off my trip to Uags, although at the time the weather was fine I believed the forecast and it was right.


Today is another day ashore dodging the weather in the garden, getting the bee friendly seeds in book work and blogging. Down the road in the afternoon to fuel up the Auk.




Although not good for fishing the light is wonderful and changes all the time. Met up with the Welsh/Coillieghillie contingent as I was fuelling up and gave Dougal a run back up the road alongside the van. Met Robert, back from Knoydart, on the way up the road and he is experiencing the Knoydart high having just come back from a weekend of music and fun. Our own Applestock is coming closer and was speaking to Sarah this evening about the bar and really looking forward to it. Tickets are selling really well and the excitement factor is rising. It is going to be a busy week-end in three weeks time. There are probably updates and changes from this poster but if there was only half of what is advertised it would be well worth a visit.


Appache Proverb, Ardban and Applestock Festival.

May the sun bring you new energy by day

May the moon softly restore you by night

May the rain wash away your worries

May the breeze blow new strength into your being

May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.

No idea if this is true but, like Chief Seattle’s letter to the then President of the US of A, the sentiment has so much meaning. Chief Seattle tried to tell the President that ownership of land was an alien concept and used the analogy of the river being his brother and how could he own it but as history shows it was not a white man’s ideal. His was “get off my land”. Even if he did not write it the environmental statement was way ahead of its time. The above is a native American Indian blessing and with this in my thoughts the last couple of days has felt just a little bit more aware. I went to Ardban with Dougal and Co on a grey but quiet Saturday morning. Even within the unique Applecross environs the coral beach on low tide at Ardban is special and I think it seems different every time you go there. Because the views across the Sound were a bit restricted your attention is drawn into the immediate features and you see things in a different way. Down by the shore even on a dull day there is always colour. There is as much colour on the NW coast as anywhere in the world….you just have to see it.


Looking around up from the shore line I noticed the combination of ancient weathered rocks with a ruined gable end of about a hundred years ago. Some of my own relatives used to live out here. We think we are so knowledgable but when you look at the timescale in the photo we are just a blink of the eye.



So it was back to the house and down to Camusteel to watch a very enjoyable game of rugby before going up to the Inn for a Saturday evening shift which also turned out to be very enjoyable. Until you do some thing again you don’t realise how much you have missed it. To see the langoustines and scallops go out and speak to the customers, knowing they have enjoyed eating, finding out where they are from and you always make a connection. At the Inshore Fishing Conference we were told that the “market” needs a story for the consumers to hear. We have been telling the story for decades in Applecross, once again ahead of the game. The story of an attempt to carry out our fishing methods with the environment at the forefront. Interest in the National press this weekend and although some inaccuracies the story is starting to get out there.

There is a genuine sense of excitement regarding the latest news on the Applestock Festival website http://www.applestock2013.com/ where the Treacherous Orchestra have been confirmed as the headline act on the Saturday evening in the Marquee at the Campsite. Although working at the Inn all day I hope to get up to the Walled Garden to see some of the many acts on all day. Acts include”local” girl Becca Fox, Coast Road Truckers, and to some less well-known to me, Oak Hero, Woodland Orchestra, and Lurach to name but a few. I have offered to do the bar in the evening and looking forward to it as serving people well to the music of Treacherous, it just won’t be work. I know how much effort goes into the organising of events as I was one of the many involved in the Seafood and Music Festivals and it is brilliant to see younger and enthusiastic people getting together and putting on an event such as this. I don’t think the Countryside Alliance got it quite right when it mentioned in its publicity that Applecross was a community that had almost given up on itself.There is a lot of life in this community and there is a feeling of optimism around.

Dougal uses a life.

The weather is the main talking point and looking at some of the videos and photos from further north it is no wonder. Awesome is the most appropriate description of the last couple of days. 3 o’clock this morning and it was blowing a howling gale from the north. Quite a number of people were woken around this time but no one really knows why…either a roll of thunder or a squall passing through. Could not get back to sleep with thinking was my boat going to be on the moorings in the morning.Thats when you try to remember if you sent the direct debit back to the insurance company and cannot actually remember posting it. Ali and Seonag took 4 hours to get to Inverness on their way to pick up first prize in the Scottish Final of the Countryside Alliance Village Shop Section. The squally showers that were falling here was heavy snow further inland.

Company Board Meeting last night as part of our new regime, only a month since our last one. It is very busy at the moment with job adverts and recruitment panels to set up. The Filling Station is still to the forefront and software problems are still holding up invoicing but we seem to be getting a little closer to solving our forecourt computer problems with engineers and parts on the way. There is also a burst of youth activity on the go and surveys and questionnaires asking what improvements younger folk would like to allow them to stay longer in the area. We are on the point of signing the lease for the hydro, said that before possibly almost a year ago, but it may be imminent now. So it will be onto the Bill of Quantities, soil testing and planning. I don’t suppose any one said it was going to be easy. And there is the little matter of finding the dosh to build it, but if the financial projections, despite the rent, match expectations then it will be worth it. There is a healthy community here and there is so much to do to introduce some of the technology that many people take for granted and as we will have to maintain these new systems there will be local employment which will be both meaningful and long-term. Although a little sign of ageing it is great to see another group of people coming forward with ideas such as Applestock, which I believe is on the point of an exciting announcement on the musical front. Even in the depths of winter and energy levels low there is happenings where ever you look.

Today was bright and cold and windy from the north and it was off to see Jess with my completed forms for my meadow. Walked up with Dougal and Co and on the way back decided to head down onto the sand as the tide was half out. The dogs love a run about. All was going well until a big dog otter  got cheesed off with suddenly being the centre of attention in particular of Dougal. Almost lost my voice yelling at Dougal as he thought it was there to play with and did not realise he was in danger of losing half his snout. Did n’t realise I could take photos and scream at the same time. The otter charged off to the water’s edge and that was when Dougal was most in danger as the otter was back in his own element and turned on him. Luckily the otter swam off and Dougal came to his senses…although that tends to be a bit of an exaggeration, as he hasn’t got many. Oh to be a spaniel.




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