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

Posts tagged ‘bonxies’

Bonxies on a Bank Holiday

After being immersed in land reform for a couple of days energy has returned to far better levels and just as well. A fine couple of days with huge varieties of emotions, the emotional highs and connections have been the strongest I have felt for a long time. If I had written this yesterday I thought my blog would have been “Bonxies or People”


with the intention of writing that I preferred the bonxies.


To explain, I was up relatively early and after dog duties and a muesli breakfast, I was on the Varuna before eight. Unfortunately with all the thoughts of land reform since Wednesday I had completely forgotten about the fleet I had left on board. Into the pier to take it ashore and off out west. Still had many thoughts floating around about land reform and they were mainly about how power and wealth have become so influential. How do we go about dissipating it in such a way that people who live on the land take the important decisions around their own communities. Interesting that the idea of Human Rights are presented just now as the defence of those in power. Surely they were created to help the disadvantaged. Anyway I was not hanging about as the forecast was for an increasing southerly and I wanted to catch some prawns for the Bank Holiday weekend. Succeeded in that by hauling 300 creels in a freshening breeze, awkward and hard work. The Mayday coming over the radio from the Mallaig area does make you think that you are always at the mercy of nature and simple mechanical failure. Catch slightly better than expected and they did last through the weekend, chuffed to manage that. I had one or two more round the boat possibly due to the lack of fishing activity on the Sound.



Managed a snooze with the dogs in front of Netflix before making it up to the Inn. It was as expected although it went surprisingly well. Everyone did amazingly well at everything that needed to be done. Cannot describe how it all works, it seems to be a unit of which we are all part of and if you knocked out the individual components the unit would not work in the same way. Working at the Inn confirms my belief in movements like the Common Weal. We are far better together, in the true sense, not in the political slogan sense. Despite all this Did not have a true connection and felt more connected to my natural surrounds earlier in the day.

That all changed today and for several reasons and people. As our Company grows and learns how to deal with problems that emerge there are inevitably tensions and strains within the community and even the Company. Sometimes when we become so involved in running the broadband system, or the Filling Station we forget the people who take the strain in keeping these services going. We are not an anonymous identity like BT or SSE but live in the community where if the service provided fails we meet the people who want it sorted. And we all work as well. A phone call this morning followed by a return message means a lot. All this before a 14 hour shift at the Inn. At truely amazing experience although a bit concerned about the Boss’s fitness. Judith stayed behind the bar today and left us to “go for it”. And that is what we had to do. We had to deal with wave after wave of customers from eleven till well after food finished at nine. Food still going out at half past. Five highs amongst the floor staff after ten when we knew we had cracked it. Lost a bet of a pint with Steve as the M V Hampshire guys arrived a little before time. They do like their haddock and chips. 9/10 had them with a cod being the other although the cod was eyed a little enviously by some of the haddock eaters. Not a word about fracking passed our lips.

And at the end of the evening I had a wee reward. Earlier in the evening Garry came in with girlfriend Hannah. As Judith did not know Garry he is only classed as “well known” and not famous. I ‘ve bumped into Garry a couple of times over the years as has most of the Highlands and the rest of Scotland. Met Hannah for the first time and had a good banter going when they came in for their meal later. Very accommodating with tables and sharing at one stage Garry thought they were going to sit on separate tables and he was up for that, not so sure Hannah was. met up after everything had settled down and on the spur of the moment decided his offer of a drink was a good idea. A large bunnahabhain followed by a couple of hours of fine craic. Music, history, politics, land reform, a wee touch of the spiritual and yoga and just life in general. Time flew by and it was just what I needed at the end of the night. Not only that it seems Hannah has had a very interesting political past and always good to hear inside stories and opinions. Fond farewells and a quick bar clearance was followed by a thoughtful cycle home. Grand welcome from the dogs so wandered down the shore, time had wandered on to 1.30am, but in the company of nature’s sounds from the shore and Blair Douglas’s tunes, it was really timeless. Maybe the effect of a couple of malts had something to do with it but all was good despite the stresses around and about.

As well as all this going on  I had to make a few phone calls to organise tractors and tree surgeons for the morning ‘s events at the turbine house site. the first attempts to get the drilling rig in position failing due to the wet top soil. A 16 ton back axle did not help. The bonxies sometimes are easier to live with but they do have their scraps as well and are fiercely competitive so maybe are not that much different from us. Flying free does appeal sometimes.



Today was probably more stressful but more later.

Two Days, One at the Inn, One at Sea

Tired, but with Dougal at my feet, the mist rolling in, and The Staves on the speakers all is not too bad. A good day was had at the Inn. Did not make it up early but that turned out okay as the 40 that were booked were toned down to 10. They were coming at eleven an hour early with special dispensation. Driving “big” cars. The Boss noticed three guys sitting on table two at 11.30 and asked them if they had anything to do with the group and it turned out they were the group. So two coffees, a tea and a mars bar was the result of that expo. they were frightened of the mist so thought it wiser not to come over the Bealach. They are now known as the Mars Bar tour, think they got the humour as they drove off in their Maserati. A normal busy lunch with very pleasant people in, staff is varying at the moment chicken pox hitting the Aussi contingent, a follow-up to the shingles outbreak. Often you meet a memorable table and today it was the dentist from Colorado,now living in Michigan. A lot you can exchange in an hour or two, “made the cut” and had a photo taken before they headed off to Tain. Had a late break and stayed on to see if it became busy as the Boss is pretty tired at the moment. Seemed reasonably calm at six so on the bike and home. Weather miserable all day and the last two rides home, wet, cold and miserable. However after a wee snooze and a half hour at the raised beds, midges are desperate now, the weather cleared


and we had a lovely sunset to finish off a varied day.


With a wee North breeze expected in the afternoon and with son No3 on board it was head down to haul as many as quickly before the wind got up. That was the way it happened and did not need the dictaphone for the Uni Fleet as I just called the creels and the info was written down. Prawns were slightly better today but the size for the langoustine was nothing to write home about. Half pints of tails and small prawns were the order of the day but there was just enough along with the squats to justify a pay-day on the water. not sure if I am landing any large tomorrow as there is a scarcity of prawns on the grounds to the north as well and there may not be a Spanish shipment this week. No3 was impressed by the size of one of the langoustine caught at the back-end of last week


and I do remember him coming on board. Misty start to the day


but it brightened up and although chilly the shades were on. Good to have a stacker on board for the day, although still tiring standing at the hauler all day is a lot less energy sapping than doing that and crossing the deck 300 times a day. Good company as well. Talking about many and various, Women’s Hour threw up a bizarre combination today, 4 million Africans die from charcoal inhalation, COPD, from cooking on stoves in enclosed spaces and then next subject was shopping with Mum. Their tribulations in the shopping malls were trite in comparison, I think women were the connection. All in all a fairly uneventful day with just the odd passing submarine to watch heading north.


One fleet of creels we hauled today was just full of star fish. Never hauled a fleet like it and this was only about a third of them,


they are the only managing of sea life I do as they have their place but if too many can turn the seabed to a dessert. I was down to around 60 fathoms by the time I had finished the fleet so not exactly shallow water. That, spotting a gannet, which I reckoned was working up to coming alongside and playing with the bonxies finished the day off.


No3 had a go at feeding and was fairly close to success.


Women’s Senior Curling World Championship.

A quick ten minutes at elevenish before the hordes descend. May be completely wrong but the prepping is going full steam ahead in the back, chopping mixing and making in readiness for the day ahead. The number of people already wandering about and phone calls suggest it will be full on. Bad news from Lochcarron though, The Strathcarron and Lochcarron hotels along with the Golf Club have all been broken into, sad,sad world.

Yesterday was one of those days in paradise, warm and sunny with not a breath of wind, a sole porpoise heading north in the morning, and then the usual gulls,


who are you looking at,




and cormorants for the rest of the day.


Only one fleet to rejoin and another down by the Range to sort out for next week. Always good to finish to the north so cutting across the Bay looking east to the street means you are almost home.


On these days you do not sit down so it was land the catch at the Inn, back home and out with the dogs, in with the washing, something to eat and away up the road to meet the hordes. As it is so busy, these days are for getting through but you always hope to make contact with some one and last night it was a lovely couple from Nova Scotia, who it turns out come from a small town 3/4 of an hour travel from Halifax,and they  are the world senior women’s world champions at curling. Not only that they are defending their title in Dumfries this week. http://wmdcc2014.curlingevents.com/dumfries-scotland-to-stage-2014-world-mixed-doubles-and-world-senior-curling-championships. Not knowing this I went into the kitchen and conveyed this to Cheffie who expressed his ignorance to the information and went back to the couple and had good craic with them for the rest of a busy evening, playing on the fact that no one knows this world championships are taking place in Scotland. Applecross was highly recommended to them and I think they left feeling welcomed, I certainly enjoyed their company. Just caught a sight out west after the sun had gone down.


Back home now and the feeling of dread was unsubstantiated and the extra length of shift did not turn out to be necessary. Tried a bit of relaxation before the ten o’clock shift by walking down to Craig Darroch with Dougal and Co, also as they were going to be on their own for  a large part of the day. Seemed to work as everything was so still clear.


There was a spell for about half an hour when the kitchen ran out of plates around oneish and we had a bit of a wait for the food to appear, one agitated customer, but every one else was on their hols and made the most of the wait just relaxing in the beautiful peace and quiet and the wonderful bright sunshine. Brenda was over for her 80th birthday celebration and her extended family from England, Germany and Scotland turned up to help her enjoy the day. Enjoyed the company of a couple of Philadelphians in the early afternoon before heading home on the bike to let the dogs out for a break and feed. Through out the last two days been plagued by a, at times severe, headache but have finally shaken it off. That and meeting Lorna from our SEA course of a couple of years ago and a wonderful sunset meant I made it home on a bit of a high. The expected numbers did not materialise so managed to chat to a couple, one a Bobby, who tried his first oysters, and then Lorna and her mates. Sometimes you connect with some people for no apparent reason and an hour of good chat just flashes by. We had a good reminisce about the guys on the course, and what is happening in Applecross on a community level. She is heading off with her partner on travels in a camper van, no definite plans, but looking for the sun. They do have to be careful as they are a couple of redheads. It is all about people, it is that simple, meeting them, sharing a bit of your life experiences with some like-minded people and hearing a bit about theirs and we then go our separate ways. Leaving at the back of eight I took about forty-five minutes to get home as I kept stopping for a look at the sinking sun, at Milton,



the Camusterrach fank


and finally seeing it’s glow after reaching home.


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