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

Posts tagged ‘broadband’

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.

In the News

Sometimes there is just a wee bit too much going on. Feels like we are not really living at home just now as our internet is not functioning and sounds like another week is on the cards. We are switching over from ADSL to fibre optic and involves IP addresses and there has not been smooth changeover in any of the community Broadlands up and down the west coast. This is the fundamental problem with the rural economy, there are not enough people living on the lands that the community does not own. We just do not have the numbers to take on all the services that other places take for granted and used to be carried out by the Local Councils. The view from the temporary office is not too bad though.

The consultation that is going on just now is extremely frustrating in that it is a visionary/wish list but if things went ahead my question is who is going to run all the ideas. Keep saying it but we need 100 more people who want this life style to live here. It is hard work doing one, two or even three jobs, raise a family and then volunteer to keep essential services going. It is the nature of the modern world that consultations have to take place at all but for funding applications one does need to show community support of some kind, but there is always a danger of misuse of these for ulterior purposes. Can only hope that this one is not one of these. I have hung in but find doing practical stuff, Filling Station, Hydro etc is more rewarding than a talk shop and have dropped out. I can go to the Inn for that.

So on Monday last it was a 3.50am start as I was told the Beeb were coming in to do a wee news item on creel fishing and the obvious benefits as opposed to the prawn trawl but more of that later. Fished well and spent a couple of hours trying to retrieve one of my lost fleets with no success. Was alongside the pier by 1.00pm but camera did not turn up on time and it was 3.30pm before I was cycling up the road with the catch to the Inn. What I did not know and often happens when the routine is broken and just a little bit more tired I headed ashore leaving all the electronics switched on. So Thursday morning saw us back out but nought in the batteries so no fish. Two day trickle charge but weather poor on Saturday so lucky with good fishing the langoustines lasted until Sunday lunch. The Inn was a little strange in that Friday and Saturday evenings were a wee bit quieter than normal but both Thursday and Sunday certainly made up for it. Long long and very busy shifts with lots of people stories and great comments from happy people heading off north. Back on the horse this week and it is a hard week working this weather on your own. It is not settled but not too windy, Took today off mind you as it was a 5/7 southerly forecast and it turned out to be a white horse day. Managed a bit of work considering it was my “hit the wall” day. The night at the Inn was full on again and still here as the boss is away having a curry next door to the schoolhouse.

So in between the work and the Beeb there was a wee gathering of greens at Achnasheen where a lot of interest was shown about sustainable fishing. Very direct questioning and a good receptive audience. Fine lunch and company and as usual the connections are everywhere when I met one of the group. Plan B were in Applecross many years ago and at the end of the summer put on a play/music involving some fine musicians and acting. Anne Woods was on the fiddle and here she was, only just recognised her but good to meet up again after so long. Really sorry to see Topher not making it through to the HC, he would have been a good councillor. I never miss a chance to describe the fishery and compare how it was to how it is now to show that although we can make a good living still we should have a far healthier sea than we have. And then it was the Community Council AGM and a Chair Report to do. It is only when you look back over the year you realise all the things that have gone on, from defribulators to keeping the HC up to date on the hammering the Bealach is getting because of the NC500. There are now a couple of places where it will be dangerous soon. One wonders what a Bealach closure will do to the local economy, but if we do not get some remedial work on the Hill then this is bound to happen.

Fishing this week continues to produce plenty of langoustines, no squats but one cannot have everything. Interesting day yesterday when we hauled the three fleets and then went to see if I could recover the missing one. Had an older fleet shot where I had lost it and picked up the creels in almost the perfect position, the third last creel picked up the last creel of the missing fleet. Only problem was I now had two ends wrapped round the south-east can and after buoying off the missing fleet I managed to get a finger trapped under a bar tight rope. Possibly cracking a bone going by the size of ring finger today. But all is well as after a bit of organising I have more creels to catch langoustines again. All with the loss of one old creel and 50 metres of rope. Ended up a little too close to the can

and it’s resident who was using it as a fishing post was getting a little nervous too.

The news item has been broadcast and generally well received by the public with the inevitable backlash from the trawl sector, but more of that next time.

The weather over the last week and a half has been mixed

but summer is showing its full green coat

with the sea scenes more changeable, greyer

and more in tune for sail boats.

A few less photos about just now as one of my lenses has made its way to Edinburgh for a revamp due mainly to the harsh conditions on board. The contact between body and lens seems to have given up. Thinking of treating myself to a shore camera.

As well as Broadband the Hydro has been acting up a little. Remote access has kept it going but a visit from Mick was required this week and the classic IT solution was carried out to over ride a software glitch and with the more unpredictable weather it is back up to maximum out put after our very dry spell. A bit more investigation is going to be carried out to find initial cause.As a whole it is going really well and after rents, investor interest payments and building up capital reserves there should be monies coming to the Community soon.

Fishing, Goodbyes and a bit of the Inn.

What a strange couple of days. Saturday I had planned an early fishing before going over to Plockton to see Bruce off, but that never happened as the Friday fishing was good enough to see through the weekend. Took at leisurely drive over calling in at Erbusaig for a wee catch up with a couple of mates before heading down to Plockton Hall. As some one said after, the bar was set high on how to see some one off. Although a sad occasion there were stories of his life, his skills, motor bikes (managing to blow two pistons on his mates bike), fishing tales alongside his innate knowledge of the waters around the Inner Sound, helpfulness with the Plockton Sailing Club in particular the safety boat. Always interested in the other side of people, the knowledge and interest he had in science and technology, so much more to Bruce than met the eye. And you meet many people you have n’t seen for a few years and more, “always at weddings and funerals”. Unfortunately there were more funerals than one could go to this week, but I always think if you think that some one is in your thoughts and life keeps you away from attending there are many ways in which you can show respect. These are not necessarily in the public eye but satisfy yourself in saying goodbye in other ways, this was the case regarding John and neighbour, Janet.

So back to the Inn and a surprisingly quieter evening, still people waiting for tables and a couple of late entrants but went calmly through service and home before eleven. Internet difficulties currently as we are switching over from ADSL lines to fibre optic and is being done remotely. Causing a fair few problems as our communication links with the remote operator could be better. Our man on the ground, Sean could not get into the system as the management set up had been changed but relevant info had not been passed on. Result being we have not had a connection for a week. A small problem as you wake up to the insanity in London. It’s with a sense of disbelief that some people can lose their humanity to such an extent of such indiscriminate life taking. And again with Applecross connections two messages on FB saying they were safe from current and previous staff at the Inn.

So you go to the Inn with a heavy feeling and although it sounds trivial one of the first orders goes wrong, but not. To explain, Rabbies bus came in and there were ten, that’s fine, and the drinks order and food order completed, wandered off to other tables. Went back to check everyone had their food and one guy had not. He said he ordered a Chicken Breast, nervously went back to the order and nothing on it so went to kitchen apologised for mistake, same at table, and spent next fifteen minutes off kilter as meal was cooked. Finally got back to table with meal only to find an empty plate in front of him. He had ordered Duck Breast and this had come out while I was faffing about trying to organise his Chicken Breast. Duck was lost in translation and had become Chicken, he was Italian. Customers are oblivious to what goes on behind the scenes. Busy but enjoyable lunch, with locals and visitors loving the good food and also the impromptu music session provided by a batch of guys and girl from around the Invermorriston area. Fine music and they were appreciative of the Inn as we were of their music, covers, Scottish and blues. Left around seven as no longer needed, heading home in the rain, but knowing there is a busy day ahead with an early morning fish coupled with a BBC chap coming to town to talk about inshore fishing.

The fishing goes on and even with the broken weather there is enough time to get out to sea and haul some creels. In between the breaks though…

The weather ashore was not too bad either.

Think I will try to split bees in a week or so if the weather settles down again.

A little changeable though.

Only need to haul 300 or so just now as there are quite a few small and medium langoustines on the grounds despite the attentions of all the Ollies.

A little unusual as this time of year used to be fairly lean as casting shells and breeding takes place. Little interest in food so creels are often empty. The broken bar creels are taking up a little time to mend but will get another year or two out of them. Recycling.

Caught my first skate , the first for a long time.

Reminds me of the girl at the Inn  who was making the flying motion (she had had a couple) and was asking was that a lemon sole. Worked out that possibly it was a skate but the next question was did have it a sting ray. When I suggested that a sting ray had that she disappeared out the door in double time. Unfortunately named passing traffic earlier in the week.

Had a couple of additions on board for Friday and although it was “a fine day ashore” a bit of a breezy day. Again the 300 hauled came up with the goods and the Cobley table were tucking into the results of the day’s endeavours by the time I caught up with them in the evening. Always interesting for reaction to what one does and they seemed impressed with the work rate on board. But it was an easy day as Dave changed over the buckets as they filled up with smaller prawns. Finish up with a picture of the Varuna, still floating.

Mr Chisholm Accompanies One

Walking back from the Inn on a dark and damp Friday night, I realised that distance and time can be measured in music, especially if you are listening to one of the Duncan Chisholm Trilogy. In this case it was Affric, An Ribhinn Donn get you under way, followed by the cascading Big Archie and before you know it before Night in That Land comes on. It was a perfect way to come home after a very, very enjoyable evening.

The lead up to the show earlier could have been more relaxed as it has turned out to be a very busy week. A gentle start as still recovering from the lurgie on Monday but was out in the evening, initially at the Inn, but ended up at the Community Hall, for a meeting about Out of Hours in Applecross. Only being lightly involved in local politics and finding that hard enough I do not envy those at either Highland or National level. In this case we heard how times have changed and we no longer have as good a supply of GPs as we would like and those new do not have the 24/7 commitment to coverage that those in the past had in the Dr Findlay’s days. Mind you there is probably less alcoholism now as in the old days. We can consider ourselves so very fortunate in our current Situation. Even the managers were suggesting we have as good a service as any where round the Highlands. But Doctors need time off and the cover is going to be still locum but is also going to be a mix of paramedics and nurse practitioners. This has already happened and there seems to be little concerns in the community. The ambulance service were also present and first responders are back on the menu. We were going down this route before but was stalled due to an unresponsive SAS, but that has now been solved and the Health Care Assoc is going to take this on. The defribs are now in town and hope to be in position in the next month or so. Being Applecross it is not one or two but six are going t be installed round the Community, monies all raised within the Community itself. Certainly impressed the managers.

Tuesday saw the CC meeting take place, constructive and frustrating at the same time. Knowing we have little powers and can only keep telling the authorities about the state of the Bealach. However there does seem to be a bit of action, partly as a result of photos of the deterioration of the road that we send in. Newspapers are always looking for angles on the NC500 and when you talk to a journalist giving two sides you leave yourself wide open to editing, but it turned out to be fairly balanced. Some people on the following Facebook steam say exactly the opposite of what you want to put across. Everyone, in my view is welcome, but it is going to put an undoubted strain on our infrastructure. Many communities would wish our problems

Wednesday and my fishing career has restarted.

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I had been out to the Varuna on Tuesday afternoon to link up my new batteries and fire her up for the first time this year. Bit suspicious that I have a dead cell in the system so isolate the lighting bank as a reserve. The batteries are new because of one of those little mishaps, perfectly avoidable, but happen anyway and end up with you poorer and with a sore head from hitting it against a wall. Had two ashore, fully charged and back in the van when I was asked to nip over the Hill to pick up a couple of Internet boys from the train. Remembered the batteries in the back, the slidey floor and the insecure back door. The van is not quite a Teuchter wagon but is heading there. I actually stopped, but the hand brake never held so went round the next bend. Big mistake as two £100 batteries shot out the back door and lay smashed on the Bealach. Did not stop hitting the steering wheel until after Kishorn. Fishing went surprisingly well with only one out of the five fouled up. I have realised this week how much I have missed the sea with all its magic,

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colours

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and life.

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Dozen  kilos and a few squats means the year is under way, langoustines and squats now back on, well appreciated on Thursday evening by the regulars, five squat lobster in garlic starters with Isla having chips and salad with hers. Fine food for a young un. These squats were caught on the way back from Rona,

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was there with Sean trying to link up the Applenet but did not go all to plan as a bit of kit was forgotten. Shows up how the stretched capacity of the community does break at times. If we had two people involved then a phone call back to Applecross, an instruction for some one on the computer and all would have been sorted. Still some work done

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and may be finished through a phone call. This was exactly the chat I had with an MSP who stayed at the Inn on Wednesday evening. Our community capacity is being stretched so thinly, but soldiering on we will continue. Good to chat to a Chair of one of the Committees that have an over view of rural life. You can still give him the difficulties of survival over here even if he is at the opposite end of the spectrum with your political views. Working at the Inn has taught the ability to accept the many faces of human nature and not react adversely. I was being watched by the regulars who were imaging newspaper headlines the next day involving front of house in fracas with landowner

So we are up to Friday and third day in  row we are off to sea. Bit of a breeze but just a little more than gentle. Again good run with another five up with only one foul and it had been lifted by a neighbour possibly exacerbating the work. Due a wash so took it closer to home. Friday evening was earmarked for a movie showing and to be frank I was not enthusiastic, it being a hard few days and managing to squeeze in a short sharp migraine on Thursday night. However well worth the effort as Postcards from Applecross was a cracking video taking in different aspects around the community. Nick, Stephen and lately Angelica have put together a series of  short videos lasting an hour showing the variety of occupations and life styles on the peninsula.They ranged from the croft to the sea taking in the Inn, wool dyeing, ice-cream making and photography on the way. I found it very touchingly simple, getting to the soul of the community, but not branding it in a tourist sort of way. Regular visitors to the Inn will love a glimpse into how people live in order to stay here. The beauty of the place is shown in the photography of Jack’s, Angelica and Nick, who sadly passed away last year. Had a lot of time for Nick who fell in love with our wee place and he came out on the boat for a day, becoming colder than he had ever been in his life. He was a quiet gentle man and with an eye to his surrounds.

Footnote to the evening; I walked up to the Hall and soon after leaving the house a car passed and then stopped to give me a lift as Fiona saw there were no dogs being walked. Chatting away I was slightly taken aback as we scooted past the Hall. Fiona then commented that she was going up to the Bay as she was slightly early, methinks this is a little unusual but okay. She then mentions she is heading out to dinner and not to the Hall. So half way round Milton Loch we screech to a stop as we both assumed we were heading for different destinations. Me to work and her to the Hall instead of where we were really going…me to the Hall and her to Gordon and Val’s.

Back to Mr Chisholm and this afternoon on the wood run. I had moved onto Cannich and it took all of that album plus the tracks up to the third , Lorient Mornings of  Farrar, to load up what felt like a 3/4 ton of wood,

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shifting it 50 metres to the van. It was heavy going but with his beautiful, haunting fiddling playing, the graft on a driech day was minimal. Dougal and Eilidh were in their own world but never far from all the ditches.

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Music and New Year at Glasgow

(Sat afternoon) Back in Glasgow for this years finale at Celtic Connections and it went very smoothly. Who needs mobile phones, you just arrange to meet up and take it from there. Took ten minutes longer to find the air bandb but with little hassle. Straight back out and off to the Oran Mor for a rip-roaring night of trad music provided by Dosca and Elephant Sessions. I had never heard of Dosca before but will certainly keep an eye out for them in the future. Fiddle, flute, pipes and rhythms with a miners song thrown in and before you knew it their set was over. So good, and then into The headline boys, but before that, at half time I was crowd spotting and by the end of the break had found seven people connected to Applecross. The music was brilliant, driving traditional using traditional instruments getting people to find it impossible to stay still. I noticed a debate about the direction the music is going and have to say I enjoy it, at the same time I have seen the Wainwright Sisters and Songs of Separation along with Mairi Campbell in the last couple of years. There is a greater amount of testosterone about the scene at the moment but music like everything else has its own cycles. Off to do a spot of Trainspotting now before checking out the maestro that Duncan Chisholm is.

Won’t any spoilers on T2 just to say go and see it. It is brilliant. Lots of pathos, humour and reflections on the absurdity that is life. Evening saw us at City Halls and enjoyed some fine fine music played by Duncan Chisholm

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and many of his compadres.

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I love the tunes he plays from his Affric trilogy, especially Crask.Time just flies by and due to ticket not being used, Son No4 came out for the jolly.

Sunday lunch was Italian and another family occasion, but not before checking into a very colourful Chinese New Year gathering

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on George Square.

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Vibrant reds, yellows

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with smiles to match.

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And as the sign says people make Glasgow.

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One would like to think that is a nation wide concept, barring the few bampots we have scattered round our communities. The food, service and banter was second to none and a rapid two hours passed only with a mild panic at the end with me losing the tickets for the evening concert. Easily sorted by a reprint at the RCH and then proceeded to a grand night of music.

 

Have to admit Graham Mackenzie passed me by but going by the standard of musicians on stage he has been noticed and appreciated by those who know. Then followed the Mark O’Connor Band. Our only experience of Americana music this time round, great blue grass mix of songs, fiddle and mandolin tunes, backed by driving double bass and flat picking guitar. Certainly satiated but had a bit of a nagging feeling of wanting to stay down for more. Knew there were several more bands to see but needs must and we were on the train north on Monday. Does not take long to get back into the flow of things so priority has been to get the paperwork done and several VAT returns have gone in, bills gone out and tax returns worked on. Some deadlines met, certainly the more important ones, some not but getting to having a clear desk for the first time in about ten years. The weather has been fairly inclement but still pretty good for the middle of winter. There have been some lovely glimpses.

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As well as the book work the routines of wood splitting,

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dipping the Filling Station tanks attending part of a broadband meeting, picking up a couple of boys from the train to work on the broadband network and walking up to the Head to clean the screen and grease the turbine shaft. Did this with company but more of that later. A wee foot note to Celtic Connections, sometimes you don’t get it right. Not going to criticise the music but just that Dub Opera is not my scene. Despite that, there was some great classical Indian singing

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and a fine pibroch by Barney the piper.

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A JCB on the School Run.

Not entirely sure how to deal with the latest from America. Had the radio on all night and woke up around the time it was all over for Clinton. We live in a strange, strange world where everyone else is to blame. The same in this country, poor, out of work or immigrants. Some of the aftermath is quite chilling and there is so much in history that has gone before that should prevent past insanities repeating itself. Racism is very simple and breaks down any empathy we have for our fellow beings. It is even more poignant today as it is the 11th of November and  the”Lest we forget” seems to be losing its message. Reading Edmund Blunden just now and feel very conflicted and pressured into the wearing of symbols. The reasons why people have voted the way they had on Tuesday have been analysed to death, it is the result of those votes that is so worrying. Have always thought the use of nuclear weapons would be insane……….first strike insanity and second strike pointless. Empathy and sanity go together so now we have, admittedly only through the filter of media, someone ,who may fit some of these behavioural traits in charge of the biggest nuclear depot in Western Europe which is just down the road. Applecross does not feel very remote at the moment.

It was a struggle not to be pulled into a despairing train of thought and eventually made it out onto the water the morning after. It turned out to be a pretty poor day, more wind from the south than forecast and cold with not too many langoustines, but the forecast was for even more wind, so stayed out until a fleet that was shot over sent me in, being too hard to free.

Going back to last week fishing and Inn have to be served and we were back out on Friday with a decent catch. Seven fleets hauled and two good ones providing the bread on the table. The catches are very unpredictable and you just go to the next fleet hoping. It was the same yesterday but down to one good fleet. Cold gradually seeps into you by the end of the day. Have to keep moving on the way in, as soon as you stop you realise how chilled it is at this time of year. Like it when the pressure is off with not so many people around but enough to earn a pound or two. Bit different for me as I am not involved in the mad Christmas dash for the hiked prices paid on the Continent. A first fall of snow on the 3000 feet tops

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and then further down over the weekend. Reports of the snow falling on the Bealach.The weather has not been too inclement with some nice views off to the west.

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The Inn was busy enough over the weekend. Was there since Thursday as swopped Wed for Fri. Handy for the Boss as she was away with the Ice cream Man and others to see if they could win yet another award at the Highland Tourism Awards.This time it was for the informal eatery category. Although shortlisted, no mean feat in itself, the award went to Canna. We thought the omens were good.

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An excited phone call was received at the Inn when Applecross Inn got a mention from the stage and a cheer from the floor. Fergus was on the podium and mentioned the Tuesday meeting so there is hope. It is because I creel fish I come across sea pens with attendant symbiotic starfish attached

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and boar fish

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and are able to put them back alive.

 

Thursday evening at the Inn and there were more staff than customers, it just felt that way, I only stayed on to get update from the Community Company Meeting. Could have been better, but volunteering is not easy, and if one has stresses in our own lives it is really difficult not to bring these to Meetings. These ups and downs are cyclical but do take their toll on people who care. Friday through to Sunday at the Inn was pretty busy, shifts that pass quickly with plenty to do especially as groups of 10, 11 and 14 book in alongside a full accommodation and several “walk ins”. We counted 46 meals on Friday evening. Met my first Saudi visitor and a pleasant couple from Norway, he was doing a Divinity degree at Edinburgh, a couple of gardening/farming sisters from Stranraer, the yurt lady from Cornwall…..the list goes on with Applecross at the centre, never remote. This week it was a Para-Olympic coach who casually talks about flying around the world, last trip coming back from Rio. Empathizing with fellow humans being is so easy, losing sight of that and you are in or making trouble.

Local politics are cracking on as well. The Trust consultation hit a bit of a rock in September when a very confused and directionless public meeting took place in spite of advice to the contrary. This consult is threatening to be one of the longest in our time and as a result, like referendums, people are tiring. And this was evident from the few numbers out on Tuesday evening when the consultation took off again. Thirteen people out, the Trustees we are told, are shocked by the community comments. They did not realise that they are not universally loved by all and do not understand why. Remember a similar reaction when the LAS campaign hit the headlines. We keep hearing about a shared vision but for a vision to be shared we have to have some idea what the Trust’s is. Maybe one day. Little surprised how shocked the trustees seem to have been, I am well aware how a part of the community think ill of the Community Company despite, fuel, toilets, broadband and hydro, but never shocked just disappointed. Maybe when one is so remote from life here it is hard to judge views. A visit on Wednesday afternoon on the way to the Inn for another wee chat. Agreement that the Trustees do not seem to know about the workings of the community and still rely on patronage and favours. The consultants acknowledge that it would take so little to dissolve the distrust of decades. We are still reduced to looking around for wee scraps of land for affordable  house sites, and not getting them.

School taxi on the agenda for the Community Council meeting that followed on immediately. Seems to be a target for HC cuts but as they are obliged to transport the wee ones to and from school and there seems to be little other options. Seconding council vehicles was suggested, humourous to the community as there would only be a JCB or snow plough available in Aplecross. The wee fellow up the Glen would probably love the ride to school on Finky’s digger. Shows up the deficit of local government, officials taking decisions from 85 miles away. With the intervention of officials and the total lack of alternatives a favourable outcome is expected. On the good news front there may be a bit of movement on the road front concerning the deteriorating Bealach. A few well-directed photos showing how bad the road edges are is registering at base. With all the NC 500 publicity the HC is between a rock and a hard place, even more cars and more deteriorating roads. Just a rumour to finish on, but a good one, we may be getting a snowblower back for the Bealach.

Thursday and it was up to the Hydro to check the screen and although needed a brush did not seem too bad. Wet feet when running so full. The river was in spate

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and for most of the last twelve days the turbine has been working at 100%. Looks and feels good to see it churning out the kWhs.

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Dolphins,Meetings,Massages,Italians and Layoffs…in a Week?

Friday morning and it is a different season from yesterday. This morning after a short doze on the couch it was an early start, mainly to get langoustine away to Loch Ness Inn and with the forecast not very good, a quick look round the remaining creels. Turned out it was very quick. Hauled the first one with lots of berried langoustine, more than a few squats but enough langoustine to go to the next one. Went to pick up the buoy without checking the GPS and turns out it was the south end, meaning I was broadsides to a southerly force 4. Half way through the second fleet, called it a day and was back on the moorings before 8.30am. When I was out there it crosses my mind about why we put ourselves out so much and for what. Pouring rain, grey skies and heaving on a white-capped sea do not make for an easy life, then this happens.

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I am surrounded by a small pod of dolphins

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with lots of babies

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rushing to and fro and all is well again,

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not questioning why or where I should be but just living the moment.

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I feel a rush of gratitude that these magnificent mammals include me, even for fleeting moments, in their daily meanderings.

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This follows on from coming home last night after a shift at the Inn where the staff used the word “carnage” quite a few times to describe the evening. It was n’t really although at times you did wonder about the functionality of the operation. Weather wonderful and the kitchen were going pretty hard to keep the food going out as many of the customers were eating out in the garden enjoying the evening sunshine and the truly magnificent views across the Sound. I had a feeling that it was not going to continue like this as it was perfect midge weather for around about 7.30/8pm. Sure enough by 7.40pm they arrived and with a vengeance resulting in everyone wanting to come inside. Full bar and they kept coming, this time I got the last orders well before everyone were on their tables, but even then this was not enough. The nine Italians  who turned up and were served at 9.30pm as the kitchen were still cooking anyway. The only restrictions we put on at this time of night it is past time for steaks and lamb so the shellfish and fish go out. Not a problem for the Italians, scampi all round, with their kids enjoying the wee person’s menu. You try and keep a handle on it but what’s a langoustine meal more or less and the couple of Dutch girls, coming in at 9.20pm, managed one amongst all the melee. End result is the 21 kilos of langoustine landed this afternoon is now down to one. Despite a couple of rooms of residents getting absolutely pie eyed, one couple disappearing off to their beds before their cranachans came out, the neighbouring table had a nice freebie, it quietened down enough for the staff to have a welcome drink around eleven. With todays early shift in mind I headed home around 11.30pm, tired but pretty content and that was despite being in the dark due to forgetting that my torch was on charge back home. Slow cycle back with some good music on the headphones and coming round the bend passing Alt na Chriche the tumbling water over the rocks caught my attention. With Dougal and Eilidh in attendance I wandered back up the brae and sat on the little stone bridge just listening to the stream gurgling its way under the road and of down past Burnside. After the concentrated application of the previous six hours it was the perfect relaxing, slowing down of an over active mind. It had been a pretty intense day all in all as earlier the morning and indeed all day the conditions were simply awesome,

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a word that I use in its proper sense.

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Conditions during the day could not have been better, the sky,

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a landscape painting with clouds breaking up the blue and keeping the temperature to a reasonable level for the natives.

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The langoustine, despite the numbers of berries were still okay and the squats kept coming on board.

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Going through gloves at a rapid rate.

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It was a day when I honestly wanted to stay on the water till sunset but the people need served and the demands of the market still has a say in my schedule. I was fortunate to see so much during the day from setting out and throughout the day. I reckon the Varuna is a bit like the Inn where it looks and at times feels chaotic but it works and provides for what she was built for.

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The first signs of autumn is apparent in the sea when you see cuttlefish

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eggs on the creel.

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Amongst all the sea life coming up you see the weird and wonderful at times.

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The first part of the week, with the weather at times breezy, meant I finally caught up with the gear ashore and had it washed and back on board to be taken out on Thursday morning. Fitted in a Trading Company meeting on Tuesday and a long discussion about Broadband and its future. There are so many variables to fit people’s needs and wants around. The coming of fibre optic, connecting to the AppleNet system, the communities to the north who may be joining and the BT “promises” meant it was a fairly long evening, always difficult after a day at the creels.

Also managed a return to my Thai masseur as phone numbers were changed in the interim, painful but worth the trip over the Hill.

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I am upbeat just now and enjoy the intensity of the challenges I face, but I am sure I will come across a grumpy bad-tempered customer and the Varuna will break down, I just hope I will treat this in a way that will be conducive to keeping my positive outlook on people and the life I lead. Great to welcome a couple of new wee residents to the area, another Oscar and an as yet named Kilbride/McInnes only a few days old. Of course Oscar’s parents,the new teacher and partner have also settled in and great to see the age of the community decrease, a welcome change. Unfortunate incident a couple of evenings ago involving tasers, CID and a bit of a stramash but that story is better left to the courts to sort out. Also there are a few employees or soon to be ex-employees who are not too happy as the Hartfield Hostel is laying of most of its staff. It does make you query how organisations apply for community based grants and use a community to procure monies with lots of promises only for those aims to be so wide of the mark as to be off the scale. Just to leave you with a quote and a link so you can make your own minds up if this is a good use of public funds, bearing in mind the imminent closure and laying off of staff.  http://www.venturetrust.org.uk/news/2014/3/marketing-and-developing-adventure-tourism-applecr/

“The project will leave a legacy of sustainable economic activity in the Applecross area; activity which is socially advantageous, environmentally responsible and ethically grounded. This investment will generate a robust social enterprise local employer, maximizing usage of the hostel facilities as well as developing adventure tourism in Applecross.”

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