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

Posts tagged ‘crab’


Quiet, calm, stunning day yesterday….just me and nature all day long.


Often think how many different worlds go on at the same time here in Applecross. I am out on my own on the Sound while Applecross is hosting another event, Gerry’s Duathlon, around 150 participants taking part and breaking most of the records. The still and cool weather conditions helped and the Inn and Walled Garden were full to the gunnels with tired but happy athletes of all sizes and ages, the oldest being 76. I tried it once a few years ago with not one day of training and made it to Sand in horizontal southwest rain on a mountain bike before thinking “what’s the point?” and phoned for the car. Mind you think hauling 1000 pots in the last two days shows a fitness of sorts, I’m resting my case.


Have to say Mel, one of yesterday’s contestants, after doing the duathlon here drove back to Perth and did a 63k bike ride in today’s weather. I am sticking to hauling pots. It also has lots of other benefits in that I see amazing light,cloud formation,fish,birds, a group of cormorants in numbers on the water I have never seen before,


and seals.



Catch a few prawns and I get paid for all this. As well as the weather, definite signs of autumn as the first cuttle fish berries show up on the creels


and the crab are certainly on the move. This one did not end up as crab salad.


There is a new wrasse fishery started up for the salmon farms and saw one of the larger ones to come into the creels during the day.


Finished the day with keeping a 100 creels on board for washing as the forecast, even after the current one is for pretty fresh breezes for most of the week and knowing me bookwork cannot be done all this time. Have to have a reason to go out.


As expected last nights very busy shift was followed by a slower lunch. Having said that, all the tables were used at least once. 9pm came round and there were three fours and a three waiting for tables. Not much time to chat but there were a couple of conversations and a video that caught the current mood. Last night had a pleasant chat with a couple,she from the Borders and he from Buckie. Loved the place and the food and she just mildly disappointed about the lack of sloe gin. She had lots of pino rose so not too disappointed. They mentioned that the prices at the Inn were far too low for what they had and without thinking too much I said that as far as I knew the Boss was quite content with her current wealth and putting the prices up would just mean that she would make more money and what would be the point. Good response…a nod and a smile. Watched a series of short clips which mixed the mystical/spiritual and science about the heart and talked about how if you are able control your emotions and be positive you improve your health. The heart being the first organ that is formed in a baby and actually sends out more signals and information than the brain. This coupled with our times of strife that seems to deny our connection with nature and our complete oneness with each other it was off to work. Watching the weather coming across the Bay and hitting the shore took up most of the first hour.


It was not long into the shift when I found myself in a conversation with a Shetlander and it was strangely vivid partly through his language. He came to the bar to pay and I asked was it Shetland or Orkney and before we knew it we were chatting away about the fishing pre trawling. Although I followed everything I told him towards the end of the chat that there were about twenty odd words I did not have a clue what they were. Olick is a young ling, meid is a landmark lined up for fishing, buckle is a tangle as in fishing line and far haaf is open sea. These were the only ones I remembered and had to check up on olick with my Shetland /Beauly contact He explained he spoke slowly for my benefit and then gave me todays compliment by telling me I was a happy man and that he enjoyed our time together……that for me is priceless and must have been my reaction to what I had seen earlier. Nothing what I do involves price. Had to stop half way through this to nip out with Dougal and Co to see the late sun.





What ever the stresses and strains of living here I have said many times before life is good in Applecross. And Dougal certainly agrees.

Plenty to Do.

Back on a more balanced track again. unfortunately the old head on Friday night developed into a full-blown migraine for Saturday. Missed my second shift of the year on Saturday evening, recovery was underway by then but it was not really worth pushing it. Funny old thing the head and the back, come to think of it. Ailments that are given not a lot of credibility as they do not look bad. Mind you on Saturday it looked pretty awful and when you end up with a pulled back muscle I was definitely out of commission. Paid for not doing the minutes for tomorrow’s meeting when I should. Doing them recovering from a migraine is not advised.

After a session like that life always feels so good, partly the relief of feeling semi human again. Busy shift at the Inn all day with the light startling in the morning


and again in the early evening. met an interesting lady, Katy, who is involved with a Marine Conservation Group based in London https://www.facebook.com/ArtForOceans and is travelling up the west coast. Chatted about what is happening here and it always seems such a shame how so few fishermen can say what is actually happening at sea over the past decades. She was interested in No Fish Zones and speaking to fishermen in different places and not getting any support for any closed areas. As we were running out of langoustine at the Inn, she came out to the Varuna to pick up some of the larger ones hanging over the side. Stopped of on the way in for a few shots of the seals lazing on the rocks. All very normal scenes for me but for some one based on London it was nice to see some one so appreciative of where one lives.

The evening after a bite to eat it was off up to the Walled Garden to attend a Board Meeting for the Community Company. Light was spectacular leaving the Inn


and on the way up stopped to take a couple of photos of three herons on the shore line. But they are very hard to photograph, being twitchy and tend to fly off. Two and a half hours later…. Huge amount of items discussed and mostly positive regarding Broadband, Toilets, Hydro, Energy Efficiency,Wood fuel Supply and even the Filling Station. Annie and Sean are still working on that and are making slow progress, certainly more than Gilbarco have done up till now. The Broadband has been held up by the mast leases and a fair bit of confusion from CBS. The templates produced are not being accepted by the MOD and SCRIPD and will mean even more delays and we are going to have to change locations. Tied up in knots, again when it can be done far more easily, if allowed to get on with it. MOD demanding legal fees, surveying costs and a rent seems a little ridiculous. Maybe they are running short of a bit of dosh for the Trident upgrade. A lot of the Community Company’s efforts are geared toward carbon footprint reduction and it reminded me of the Canadian couple I was speaking to earlier this week. He was an environmentalist working for the oil and gas industry and his main line was that Canada did not matter as they were only 5% of the world’s CC footprint. There was not much one could say to that…he was right to some extent but if that was the case we all might as well walk away. It got me thinking as to why I cannot land berried langoustine despite knowing 95% of the fishermen land them around me.

Back on the water today and nice to be greeted by a fine rainbow on the south end of Raasay.


Nice and calm for the first part of the day


but the north wind got up and the last 100 of the 500 creels were hard work but there was a slight improvement in the catch, despite the large numbers of females carrying eggs.


Most in one creel was seven today with one other prawn. Good to see for the future I suppose and back they go.Crabs are now on the prawn ground


and this is a sign that autumn is well under way and is good for the diet, as tonight we had squats and crab with pineapple in lightly curried mayo. Accompanied by beetroot, tomatoes and tatties from the garden. Just thinking about this it may be mussels from the dingy tomorrow evening. Very quickly the creels have picked up the summer growth and there are a half dozen fleets needing washed fairly quickly. The tube worm you can see by the crab means the creels do not fish so well as those just washed.

This evening it was more Community Company business as we had to have a chat about our new employee as our first one had flown the nest. Always difficult decisions as every one knows every one and that is why we have found it good policy to take a panel from outside Applecross who do not know the personnel and are completely objective.

A little “working holiday” turned up a couple of weeks ago and doing a bit of reading up about community forests as an asset to the community, not only as an amenity but as a wood fuel source. Seems I am heading off to Lombardy at the end of the month. An exchange project organised through UHI,www.landsare.co.uk It has been a busy summer and it will be good to get out and checking out where we are going it looks pretty special. The Italian only goes as far as “bellissimo”. As the lady from Leckmelm says “Speaking does Work” as this little trip came about after a chat in the Inn.

A couple of days at the Inn.

Yesterday was a chill out day but even that did not finish until 1.00 am. Spent the morning walking the dogs and working in the garden, mainly tidying up last year’s mistakes and imagining what it is going to look like when it is all finished. I have the bees as background this year on the warmer days and find it genuinely comforting. Might be in a wheelchair by then but as long as I can see. The afternoon was a strict “do nothing” as I was down for working a shift and then heading through to Inverness to pick up Kenny of the Glasgow train at 11.10 pm. Another fine night at the Inn and it was a little quieter in that we had a couple of spare tables for ten minutes and only a list for two couples. Driving back in the closest I have come to a snow storm kept the concentration up and we made it back home about 1.00 am. It has been a good week for meeting lots of different people. Coming home on Friday afternoon from the fishing I found a post card outside the front door. It was from the guys staying in the holiday house next door thanking me for the attention they got at the Inn earlier in the week and the food and Dougal got a mention in the dispatch as well.


Simple appreciation but worth so much. You cannot pay for kindness and that was the theme for the week at the Inn. I have lost count of the handshakes, hug and comments from people who have enjoyed themselves so much, most I will never see again but they all leave a mark. It was more of the same today. Again not so busy but on the go all day. Possibly the highlight of the afternoon was the visit from the Macraes of Kintail. They were a brilliant trio of octogenarians with fifty year old son driving. The Clan Garage in Kyle was the tag and one lady mentioned she was a teacher out in Harris in the 50s not far from where my own family originated, around Cluer and Stockinish. Stories of going to the prayer meetings, being the teacher, with the animals in the next room. Turns out  a cousin of one lady’s father was a Bob Hardy who owned the Applecross Inn before and after  WWII. Before they were half way through the meal they were already planning coming back for their next birthday celebration on the 9th of May. I think that was an 88th. The Crannachan was hailed as the best they had ever had and I was assured they had many. On the way out, which took quite a while, as they stopped to sing along with the Lochcarron musicians “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and trying to get them to sing Kishorn Commandos. Eventually it was into the car but only after a photo shoot. Hopefully some one will let me know more about the ladies.


Couple of other arrivals caught the eye. Not sure about the colour scheme.


Always slightly chaotic when the musicians arrive as the lunch sitting is still going but it always works out and the music is played and every one gets a seat. And as you maybe see it rained in Applecross today.


A lovely quiet chat outside with Mike, meeting Hamish and Sheila for the first time in about ten years, more music, a break and a Dougal walk and the afternoon was over. Back up for more. Again a little card from Mike thanking us for thinking about him. These notes, cards appreciations are everything. Seamless evening, but there is always some one who makes a connection and this time it was the Aussies mother and daughter from Sydney on their three-month tour, stopping off in Applecross and thoroughly enjoying their evening, just good company and lots of laughs. All it needed to finish the shift was a fine plate of squat lobsters and crab with mango in a lightly curried mayo served with salad and bread. The North Korean crisis seems so far away at the moment.

Sunday Evening at the Walled Garden


Walking into the Walled Garden at dusk last night brought back images of last summer when it was in full bloom. Tonight I wanted to take a few pictures of the taster menu that was on its second night to mark the season’s opening.


I was able to take some snaps of some pretty nifty courses as they were being prepared.




The dishes started with chicken liver truffles with Melba toast, then onto home smoked crab and scallop pancakes, followed by lobster served with rosti potato crispy prosciutto and hollandaise sauce. Next up was home smoked duck breast with comfit duck leg on a nest of rocket and potato. The sweet was a Caledonian forest gateaux, preceded by a three-way lamb and the meal was ended with a Scottish drambuie night-cap.



Every one was enjoying themselves as I left even the customer who was still waiting for the main course!!! Suddenly I am finding I have so much to blog it could be twice a day, there is so much going on and that is without fishing. Stunning sunset tonight ended a fascinating day today but that is for tomorrow’s post.


Starts with a tangle but ends with fish pie.

On the way out today I had a kilometre of tangled rope to sort out. Over the next couple of days that’s the morning job. ‘C’est la vie’ as they would say in Paris. Discovered who the skipper is that went through my gear, he’s back in town. We all thought he had gone to pastures new to bother other guys but we ‘ve to suffer him for the rest of the summer. Kenny and I have got some good feedback after our appearance at Holyrood. What we said seems to have been well received.

Did not let it spoil a good day. Flat calm and a few prawns caught with not many tangles and just two foul fleets. Almost as good as a decent fishing is catching your own tea and today it was fish pie which even although I say it myself was very tasty. Ling, crab, squats and prawns with a little help from the Applecross Inn in the form of Torridon hot smoked salmon. Topped off with tatties and a cheese sauce, hard to find a better meal.

Another Bank Holiday

An extremely busy few days but so enjoyable. On friday I had son No3 down on the pier washing creels. All of a sudden the creels have gotten dirty with marine growth. If left they just get clogged up and less and less prawns go into them. We take the creels ashore once a year to pressure wash them, not the most exciting of jobs but with an iPod you just get on with it. I find these jobs are almost meditative. You do them with very little thought and let your mind drift which can be good fun if you are in a contented mood. Although I have not seen the system, some boats use a bleach dip and do not take the creels ashore, but working on your own you need time to repair ropes and mend the holes in the creels.

Meanwhile at the Inn preparations are well under way for what is expected to be a really busy weekend. There is some sort of celebration down south that means an extra days holiday and that coincides with a wedding at Clachan and the Community Hall.

A seventy case order sorted out the wine stocks and the prep room has the cold store stacked to the roof with prepared salads,seafood, meats, veg and all the sauces and gravies that make the Inn worth visiting. Decided not to go fishing on saturday as I was working at three. The evening service went very smoothly and although sometimes you do not connect as well with people the shift was satisfying. Sunday was something else. I am not sure I will experience another day like it. For me the day did not start too well as I felt a bit hung over which was really annoying as I do not drink. It was off out to get some more prawns and although I was an hour later than usual from the moment I walked in it was full on. Before twelve all the tables were full with coffee drinkers waiting for the kitchen to open at midday. The “hangover” had no option but to disappear as the day just got busier and busier. Some of the staff did fifteen hours without a break, I was on thirteen, and there was no place to hide. If the was a quiet time front of house you just helped out with the back log of dishes or restocked the bar. It was relentless. FIVE HUNDRED and TWELVE meals. Cannot say enough about what a good team there is there, from the kitchen to bar to washing up, everything is brilliant and you know it is by the comments that came flowing all day long right to the last meal of the day, two perfectly cooked steaks,a starter prawns and a crab salad. It is a privilege to work there and it felt as though you were running on adrenalin, which you probably were. We had millionaires shortbread for lunch about six when we knew we were not getting a break. Had mine still poring a pint and glasses of wine. But there were many highlights. I looked after a family in early doors and it was a birthday. The mother had all her children and grandchildren to help her celebrate. As they were leaving later the granny saw me outside and came across the carpark and told me what a wonderfull time they had and then gave me a big hug. Just a moment of connection I will never forget. The lady who came over from Findhorn, a lot of people seem to tell of what is happening in their lives, must be the Applecross influence. Another group in the dinning room, three teacher families with kids, left singing the praises of the Inn. I lost count of the number of times I was told that they just had their best meal ever. Although it was all his own work on the stove you can’t help but feel a little bit of pride for your son’s efforts. Nine hours on a stove is a long time. There was good craic as well, the last meal of the day was eaten by SWAGs and their partners and Judy was so curious to find out who these ‘famous’ people were, attracted as she is to fame, seems some one who acts visited the pub earlier in the week. Caused a bit of a hooha on Facebook.

Hard days fishing yesterday and although the catch was not that good it is still better than it has been. Another shift in the evening and it was a bit quieter but still busy. Managed away by half ten. Tried to go fishing at half five this morning but finally hit the wall. Had a day off, so spent two hours in the garden, mended a fleet of creels, landed the Spanish prawns, picked up a half ton of herring bait and headed off to my Thai massage. Boy I cannot believe how painful it is but I think it is doing good and it is good to reconnect again with what is important. While I was mending the creels Our beekeeper headed past on his way home to Coilligillie with a full load.

There was little mention of the Jubilee up here which is no bad thing. I think the overkill was extraordinary. I did not pick up any anti feeling of the celebrations over the weekend but just a lack of interest. I think it may be summed up by the fact that Scots are citizens and not subjects.


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