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

Posts tagged ‘compost’


Another busy week drawing to a close with another day’s fishing and a shift at the Inn to see the week out. I really like the social enterprise course I am on as it comes into day-to-day life around Applecross. One of the themes of the course that is emerging is the element of trust. We are involved in workshops throughout the course which are meant to show us how to deal with difficult situations through a win/win solution. This however means that whoever you deal with has to be on the same wave length when you work through a problem. The difficulty arises when you find that element of trust is lacking but you cannot give up on what you believe. It is the same when working at the Inn. I have to admit to a little bias but Tuesday evening’s shift was a case in point. Working front of house is easy although you do have to keep your wits about you as it gets extremely busy. Having a son in the kitchen who is an extremely good cook makes your job so satisfying as you see halibut, langoustines, rare steaks, king scallops flying out in perfect condition. No wonder people keep coming back time and again to eat. If you work two or three shifts in a week you get to know who are staying in the community as they come back for meal after meal. Now with Aron under way at the Walled Garden Applecross hopefully will have a good tourist season.

Fishing has tailed of markedly this week and we seem to be back in to survival mode, only the creels beside the BUTEC range fished well on Wednesday and although this does not always happen we do tend to get a better fishing here. Fishermen tend to shy away from no fish zones but I think this is the only way ahead for our industry. I have fished alongside one for the best part of 20 years and the fishing is consistently better there. New Zealand have already gone down this road but we do seem to be light years away from any innovative ways to restore our fisheries. In a less optimistic mood unless there are more local control over local fisheries then I suspect we have very little future. Met with one of our MSPs today and discussed this along with the poor outcome to the community of the hydro lease negotiations. We also have a problem with our grid connection. Being a bit of a ‘lefty’ I think this stems back to the 80s sell off of the national assets and the company operating the grid is finance/shareholder orientated as opposed to helping communities help themselves. The element of trust seems to be so lacking in many aspects these days but as the MSP said you cannot reverse systems that have been put in place over centuries over night.As Andy Wightman said ‘The poor never had any lawyers’.

On a brighter note a day in the garden with Dougal and family. I think I will not be doing too much on the flower and shrub front as he is going through a very destructive/digging phase. In the process of fencing off another area where more raised beds are going to be built.Doing it with as much recycled wood and netting as possible, maybe does not look brilliant but if it works…….. Taken the before photo but it will be a year before things are  in place. Started my first hot composting batch with greens from the Inn, cardboard and the result of cleaning the hen-house. Lid is on and thermometer is in. This will help the Inn as well as the new bin collection is every second week and having smelling rotting food in bins for two weeks is not a viable option for food outlets. Local composting should alleviate the problem.

RNLI, Food, and thoughts.

Still dealing with the fallout of our meeting at the Inn and lots of emails and discussions have followed. There are items that need to be clarified so any actions have to wait until this takes place. I see this community discussing and planning solutions to problems like never before. There is a realisation that there many problems that the community has no say or control over but that does not hamper the conversations. You influence the situations that you can and hope the the over-riding problems will change, dealing with them in the future. There was a really interesting conversation that took place on friday about how important the bottom line was to a business. On one side the argument was based on the fact the business was more than a business and the help, compassion and services extended to the community was paid back tenfold to the business by the community in trade and loyalty which in turn contributed to the success of the business. The other side of the argument was the bottom line is everything, creating distrust and decline. Social enterprise in action.

It was good to get a bit of light relief on friday evening although that meant taking a lot of not very sober people home around the various parts of Applecross. The 10th anniversary of the Applecross/RNLI boat pull. Over the 10 years they have pulled a model lifeboat on a trailer to a destination 50 miles down the road, raising 10s of thousands of pounds in the process for the RNLI stations. Wick, Dingwall,Barra and Skye have all been involved and they came to celebrate at the Community Hall to the sound of Rhythm and Reel, regular visitors to Applecross. It was a good night and good to get away from ongoing politics about the future direction of the peninsular. Being one of the only sober people who go to these events I am often asked to drive the Community bus to get the revellers home, as this did not finish until the wee small hours fishing did not happen on saturday even when the weather improved by mid day.

I got my hot box finished but still waiting for my thermometer before I launch into some real composting this week. Having really good food outlets means we will have access to lots of materials and of course the hens will be contributing. The combination of good compost, the wormery and rock dust hopefully will increase production in the garden meaning we should have excess that we can put to the local producers market and maybe the Inn. As it will take at least a year to get the soil back into proper condition photos of before and after will be available. As well as the hot box it was a day of rugby but the least said about that the better as winning the wooden spoon is not an accolade.

Mother’s Day at the Inn went off ok with a busy lunch, the star meals being the Rib Roast and the Fish Pie. The countries are mounting up as we have hit the 26 mark, Slovakia added to last weekend’s Greece and Hungary. I went up to the Walled Garden to sample the new menu on friday and had an amazing Pulled Pork roll, salad and chips. Once Pete and Jaqui’s flowers come out it is going to be a well visited venue.

Board Meeting,Compost,Worms,Party and a proverb.

Although it is pretty quiet on the fishing front there has been a lot happening in the last couple of days starting with A Community Company Board meeting at the Inn. This was attended by Ron Gilchrist who was scheduled to hold a workshop at the Hall the next day. The agenda showed how much the Company is working on. We are trying to make Applecross more resilient and a bit less reliant on food and fuel being constantly being trucked in by road. This is going to be reflected in the Walled Garden’s new chef Aron. He is hoping to use as much local produce as possible. The Inn also tries to use seasonally produced food both from the sea and land. The Hydro scheme is still progressing although negotiations around the lease could be going better. Our attention is turning to The Coastal Communities Fund which we hope to access this year and the aim of this fund is to increase employment and sustainability. We hope to improve our broadband capacity from a miserly .39 of a meg speed to around 7 megs, progress the Hydro further, keep trying to set up a wood-fuel supply and look at the possibility of improving housing on the peninsular. It was a very positive meeting but also we recognise we have many problems to overcome and have to work to change mindsets that are lodged in the past.

Ron Gilchrist’s day at the hall was fascinating basically telling us all that we have to have a rethink on how we compost. Just about every-one has the black plastic bins and if anything like me just put layers of material to decompose or as Ron said rot in them. As a result of his talk there are going to be a few Hot Boxes built along with some Wormery Boxes set up. He is a big advocate of rock dust as well, specifically basalt. I have come across this before but Ron was very persuasive about the results of mineral deficiencies in the soil both in the quality and taste of what you grow. I am always interested in a stronger local economy which does not necessarily means a poorer quality of life. Again we are back to changing mindsets. All these local changes are going to take place against a backdrop of peak oil and the fact that economies cannot keep growing in a finite world. Takes me back to the conversation I had with Ruth about sorting ‘self’ out and if theat is successful you do not continually want more.

Off to the Inn for a shift,but not before calling in at 6/7 for a lovely piece of lamb and sundries cooked by the eldest. He really is not that bad a cook. Food at Applecross parties is probably the best. The party went on till the wee small hours and judging by the condition of some of the guests staying at the Inn this morning, who had gone along there was a lot more than lamb being consumed. So glad on the morning after when I see the damage emerging from the parties that I’ve given up trying to drink. Gave it a good go for 25 years so can’t say that I haven’t tried. Today was taken up with reacting to our grid connection news and the next steps.

I have come across this proverb before and it seems so relevant to our material times,

“Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.” Ancient American Indians knew where they were coming from and I think we have lost sight of it a little.

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