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

Posts tagged ‘Duncan Chisholm’

Landward in Applecross and Duncan in Sleat.

Tale of two days show a variety of life in rural Scotland. Friday morning saw us up at the Inn to meet up with the team over from Landward who were doing an article on the impact of the NC500 on the infrastructure around Applecross, in particular the Bealach.

Once camera was all loaded up

we headed up in the car chatting about the strain on the road caused by the huge increase of traffic. Laura, the director was in the accustomed place out of camera view but directing operations all the same.

Interesting seeing Anne’s reaction when she started watching the road edges. Actually, sitting in the passenger seat and going up the road it was shocking to see the rapid deterioration that is taking place. Personally there are going to be serious decisions that will have to be made very soon by Highland Council. On one hand the trumpet cannot be continually blown about how wonderful tourism is to the Highlands without a penny being spent on the infrastructure as it collapses around our ears. Not only is the Bealach breaking up but issues locally keep cropping up such as camper van chemical toilet disposal. Our LDO is in touch with both SEPA and Scottish Water about setting up such a unit as our Community run toilets are creaking under the strain of constant use and disposal. We have just had a groups of local ladies carrying out a voluntary deep clean of the toilets last month and despite the regular breaking of our donation box the toilets remain well run. New donation box is in the process of being installed which hopefully will end this sad problem. Fortunately for the Highland Council these issues are being solved at a local level by the Community Trading Company but roads are a different issue. The theme about the NC500 is that it has been welcomed in a lot of areas, particularly further north but here we have a feeling of being a little swamped by the numbers coming through. It is a good problem to have to deal with, but Highland Council have to step up or the Bealach is going to become a dangerous embarrassment and people in the rural parts of the Highlands who are already questioning exactly what the Highland Council does for anyone outside Inverness will have another example to point to. Fascinating to see the interaction between camera, direction and presentation. All in all it was an easy-going but professional morning with me trying to ignore the calm weather and the creel boats fishing just off the shore in the Bay. We finished up with some filming and more chat/interviews outside the Inn

before I went south and they stopped of for some fine lunch at the Inn. The program for anyone interested is going out on the 22nd of September, the first of the new series. It was not a bash the NC500 morning but a look at how an advertising campaign with little local(Applecross) consultation can have such an impact on our infrastructure.

I knew I was not going to go out on the water later as Duncan Chisholm and Co were playing in Sleat in the evening. We headed over the Hill at the back of five as Alison was meeting another deadline for an application for the Community Company. Made it with plenty of time and the music was simply sublime. I have a really strong connection with this man’s music. His tunes are phenomenal and you wander through the glens with him as his fiddle playing makes you forget all the things you should have done. His tunes feel ancient, as if they have been around for centuries, and I reckon they will be played for years to come. Hard to believe this all in the same day. Prior to Duncan

coming on stage we were entertained by Mischa Macpherson, Innes White and Ingrid Henderson, gaelic song and fiddle at their best. Duncan was ably supported by the wonderful playing of Jarlath on whistles and uillean pipes

and Ali on guitar.

Saturday was earmarked for fishing as I was on film duty the day before. I was slightly nervous of the weather as the forecast was giving a strongish breeze from the north and I was not looking forward to a heavy day’s work especially as I was in the Inn for the evening. As it turned out the morning was stunning with the sun shining around a few fluffy clouds

and the water still and serene.

Although the first fleet was not too impressive the next five were very pleasant to haul. Lovely creels coming up with lots of big langoustines,

one so big it could have made it as a lobster.

As I was hauling the last fleet I noticed a wee change in the temperature and looked to the north where there was a solid rain cloud coming down the Sound with accompanying white caps. By the time I got to the end of the fleet I was hanging onto the gunnel, tripping across the deck and tying lose equipment down. The decision was made for me on how many creels to haul for the day. Nice to know that the steam home was with the motion on my stern quarter

and all that was to be done then was to weigh and land the langoustines for the Inn and then start work all over again. Before it got a bit lumpy a few stone crabs are appearing as you put some of the creels on some rougher ground as the open mud fats are getting a little tired from the summer’s fishing effort.

I have no idea what these are but still they reproduce, maybe a mistake in this case as the eggs have little chance of survival.

As this was written over a couple of days and it is now Sunday evening after a twelve-hour shift, interspaced with a twenty-minute snooze to revive myself for the evening shift. Twelves, sixteens, sixes and eights were all seated amongst the residents and random walk ins. Regulars are appearing in numbers. People you get to know a little each time they come up. A crabbies and bike ride home after a music night from the Vans, a fine Australian couple, who are playing cracking self penned and cover version songs for the last three hours.

Meaning of Life

Cycling home listening to Duncan Chisholm playing An Ribhinn Donn followed by Big Archie with this back drop showing to the North West

and having completed a twelve-hour shift at the Inn helping make people happy and content constitutes a real meaning to life. From the guy who was at the Inn before I was having had the usual two punctures to the final group on table 14 who were eating a Cheese Board and Sticky Toffee Puddings it was an almost universal appreciation from all who visited the Inn on the day. The weather, food and welcome brought them all out and judging from the spontaneous handshakes and thanks as customers left it went well. The whole team at the Inn has to be proud of what they did today. The comments and stories today could have filled a book and came from everyone from across Europe to the States and back. I am only guessing that there were probably over the 600 people served well today. The kitchen went like a dream, even when Steve had to cook off a whole sirloin to feed the last seven tables. Ranged all the way through to several well done ones. Every one who waited just a little longer than usual were all so considerate. Mind you we were are all pretty knackered by 10.30pm. But for me the tunes and the post sunset was uplifting. The first stop was just before Milton and then as the Staffin Cliffs came into view I had to stop and gaze in awe.

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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Duncan Chisholm Took us Home Early at Cambridge.

Cycling home in the dark into the teeth of a growing southerly gale, sitting at Cambridge Festival base camp seems a lifetime away. It is not just the music but the people who make the trip so worthwhile. Talking about this and that with guys you are comfortable with

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while the Tiger Moths fly overhead in a warm climate is a great way to break the day-to-day routine of life in Applecross. A spot or two of music also played at camp.

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We often meet up either at the Main Stage or Stage 2 as we head for the same area to watch the music, around 15 guys meeting up in a 14,000 crowd just happens again and again and is a lovely part of the Festival.

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Also taking time out to wander by the Duck Pond when things get a little too tiring.

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Other activities also took place like green haircuts, pedaling to produce the energy needed for the hairdresser.

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Sunday morning began with a world band called Varldens Band, strong Swedish influence but they opened by dedicating their set to their lead singer, Charu Hariharan, who was refused a visa to enter the UK to sing at Cambridge. How ridiculous is that, she can travel round Europe but when it comes to sing here she gets turned down. Some of the group were quite visual in their appearance

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and the Chora was out again.

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They had a great set but really got the crowd going when they turned Scottish with some tunes by David Foley of RURA. He plays the flute as well as he beats the bodhran. Stayed at the Main Stage to hear Solas followed by Blazin’ Fiddles,

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good rocking Celtic music at its best. Tiring badly by now but went over to the snooze spot by the back of the Stage 2 to listen to Della Mae, a grand all female blue grass band. Out for the count within minutes and woke up with Alister on one side

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and Harry on the other. Appreciated the wake up as I heard them sing a brilliant version of Sixteens Tons. Was not too bothered as I knew they were back on at the Club Tent later and they were exquisite. By now I was well awake, fed and watered, and ready for what turned out to be one of the high lights of the Festival, a set by the brilliant Duncan Chisholm.

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I have always known about his fiddling but never up till now paid too much attention to it. Back in my hazy past I was putting on events at our local hall and one of the best nights was to bring in Wolfstone, one of Duncan’s earlier bands. Struan was also playing in this band but has now turned his hand to marine electrics and has worked on the Varuna….fascinating how lives take different turns. Back to the gig and it was truly captivating, He has just completed a trilogy of albums with many slow airs and he took us all the way back to the Highlands up to his homeland of Farrar, and Affric. It was simply stunning and I turned round to some of the guys and could see in their eyes they were in the glens with me. His music and playing were immense. His band was not too shabby with Ali Hutton filling for Innes Watson, Megan Henderson, Jarlath Henderson, Greg Lawson and Su-a-Lee on the cello.

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Noticed that Bruce MacGregor, Julie Fowlis and Jenna Reid were all on the edge of the audience watching and listening and that says so much to Duncan’s status. Went to buy the trilogy and chatted to him after and true to form he is very much a gentleman, naturally interested and appreciated the praise heaped on him. So by shaking his hand I completed very briefly meeting and shaking hands with a fine threesome of top Scottish fiddlers having already met up with John McCusker and Bruce MacGregor. It is not that any of anyone’s music was any less enjoyment but his Mr Chisholm’s set was awesome. Still to come, Baaba Maal, from a distance as was Imelda Mae, followed by another blast of Della Mae and finally although torn between the New Orleans Hot 8 Brass Band and Kila,

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I opted for Kila to finish my Cambridge break.

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Wonderful time, great food, company

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and not too much cider and left with some great memories to see through the rest of the summer gales. A rapid and organised pack up

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with Andy kindly running us back to Peterborough to catch the train north on Monday morning meant the Highlands were calling us home again.

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