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

Posts tagged ‘Filling Station’

Volunteering

As it transpires this is a good time to get away from Applecross. There has been much going on on so many different levels, whether at Meetings or friend’s conversations. The conversational side of things makes you think, especially on this week of mental health awareness, on the difference of being alone and being lonely. I am very comfortable with being alone, which is no bad thing having a single-handed occupation at sea, and rarely find myself lonely. The only times I feel just a little out of kilter is during the coming season of darkness and I put that down to physical rather than mental aspects. Usually it can be the people who you would least suspect of being lonely. Tuesday was an interesting day and it was brought home to me that I have to make one or two decisions very soon which may mean a bit more dog walking. The morning began and took up a fair bit of time going into the Applecross Community Council email site, picking up emails and forwarding them on. As ever, with anything new it takes time, but becomes routine after 2/3 hours. Necessary due to lack of Council Secretary. The dog walking however was prominent in the days activities as we continued the morning by going up to do a screen clean.

Although there is plenty water flowing

it would not take too much time for the screen to clog up. Even with the constant running water over the dam you can see the build up of algae which clogs up the micro holes the water falls through. If we had a drier spell then the water would simple fall over the screen and down the slope. Forecast for more rain so the next week or so the Hydro hopefully will be powering away. The 800,000 kWhs has been passed leaving us well on target for income generation. We will be looking out for some one to fill a paid admin post for AppleJuice, accounts, paperwork and upcoming AGM all being worked on. Dougal and Eilidh know the hydro scheme well and Dougal

has his dip in the small reservoir overtime he is up. He is usually pretty hyper by the time he is back down but local pets are aware of his behaviour and he never gets close.

Autumn is well under way and the dampness has meant lots of fungi this year.

On the way back to the van it was a call into the Filling Station to dip the tanks as we are away for a few days.

Next it was getting the fuel bills at the Pier sorted out and this went on with a brief stop for a fine Inn staff tea. So sitting at the Hall table finishing off the Pier accounts as people come in for the Council Meeting I realise I have been “volunteering” for the whole day. Council Meeting routine until I spent 20 minutes defending my right to write what I perceive, view and opinionate on what happens in my locale and further afield. I tried to point out that I do not write as Chair, board member or anything else other than me, but this did not meet with much agreement. A couple of Crabbies and a good chat with friends at the Inn afterwards puts everything back into perspective. Also knowing my very small issues will not be blown out of all proportion by me and I have the ability to sort them out simply myself.

Almost forgot….minutes have to be done and duly posted for trimming as I do not have Office on the MacBook yet. That was done in Glasgow, too much, just too much.

So it is with a sense of relief that I am posting from Rachel and Niall’s flat in Glasgow getting ready to catch a flight to Iceland in a few hours time for Alison to do a presentation about our Hydro Scheme to an audience of Nordic people. I am just tagging along and we have lengthened the trip for a look around the Island before heading back-end of next week.

Fuel back on as is Summer Colour

Took a bit of an effort but a trip up to the Screen was needed as it was just over the two weeks since the last time. Now know that three weeks is too long at this time of year as the algae grows very quickly and clogs the holes in the screen up thus the water running over the dam goes over the screen rather than into the chamber. Very dry just now, until today that is, but even now the sun is back out. Decided not to go out today due to the strong south-easterly due to swing round to the south-west. The trip up to the Hydro Head was after a day at sea. It was a day, that although well remunerative, was hard hard work. There was an awkward breeze all day from the north and had to keep going in and out of gear to keep up to the creels and there was just enough motion to make crossing the deck stacking the creels a little graceless. Thus the limbs were tired and ached somewhat, but as usual the rewards for a wee volunteer are immense

both when there and on the way up.

The two pooches would go up every day to check it out of course. Going back to the day at sea,lovely morning,

although the day was hard work the only thing that takes me in is having to land before the evening service at the Inn. Reading that there are people who are now so removed from nature that they cannot teach/tell their children about the environment they live in. This morning began by passing the ubiquitous seals on the Culduie rocks, with watching gannets fly off when you get a little close then a small pod of dolphins swim by with there young. What comes up in the creels seems colourful in the extreme

although the haddock, first for a while, is not in a healthy state.

Now know that this is a Yarrel’s Blenny,

a bit of knowledge from Chris who came to pick up for the aquarium. The last couple of fleets provided the tea for this evening along with many other meals at the Inn.

Tailed all the way in having to finish them off at the moorings, a rare occurrence.

Did not make it out on Monday, a pity for Bethany, as she was on her day off and had arranged to go out, but the breakers were underway by 7.00am and a north wind in full sun meant a breezy day. Finished roping up

the fleet washed on Sunday morning.

That pressure getting it ready was unnecessary but weather and tides always change plans here.

Today another day ashore but still plenty on the go and took the delivery for fuel,

unusually we ran out of diesel on Monday and petrol today, combination of high sales and slightly later delivery caught us short. Only the second time since the refurbished refurbishment. But all well now. Increased my IT knowledge by entering the delivery into the Site computer, still have to work out how to post videos on the blog but will be there fairly soon. Weather is so changeable as can be seen at the After Games Do

and the four Massey Feguson’s parked

at the Inn this morning. The Filling Station snails came out in the rain

and like the sea life are as colourful.

 

 

“It’s What You Do With What You’ve Got.”

( Wednesday evening) Every now and again things are in place which either mean all is well in life or there is a spot of trouble to deal with. Today was one of those days when you have to cope with a spot of bother. Early start due to a day off yesterday and the plan to haul extra fleets went well until the last one. Just a wee bit tired, 540 creels hauled and thinking of heading home, turning round to shoot back my final creels, found myself on the wrong side of a creel which wrapped itself round my legs. That would be okay to deal with but I was in gear and going half ahead so the weight of the buoy was trying to pull me over the stern. Adrenalin kicked in and after what felt like an age, but was probably only a minute, I managed to ease myself into a position to fall backwards off the creel and away from the rope that was trying to catch an ankle. Only resulted in a couple of pulled muscles and a little shake. Thinking about it on the way in you accept that was as close as you want to go but no point in dwelling over it or you would pack in the job. Clarity of thought is so distinct and so many people say how time seems to slow when you are in serious trouble, but I reckon it is the mind working through the survival strategy. I am sure there are many incidents that happen every day at sea like this and no amount of regulation can cut them all out. One of the silly thoughts that went through the brain was, “mustn’t spoil the upcoming wedding”, daft, I know, but it gives that bit more of an incentive, if any was needed. So the engine stopping on the way into the moorings turned a good long day at sea into one of those days. Uncertain about why she stopped but got her going quickly and soon was tied up.

( Tuesday, last week) One of the things I love about this life is its unpredictability, slightly later than usual I was getting ready to go fishing last week when I saw an unfamiliar boat heading slowly into the moorings. Turns out Joel with three SNH guys were out on a wee field trip. Unfortunately their gear box was playing up and heading for Lonbain was too risky. After a request for help, equipment and people were put aboard the Varuna,

we steamed north shooting yesterday’s cleaned fleet off in the Bay. We were looking for flame shell reefs and although we were working with gps marks it was not till the last dip with the camera that we came across them.

There was plenty evidence of maerl beds which is good in itself. I am sure this would be described in certain quarters as supping with the devil, but if it helps the environment in any way I am up for it. Passing The Sand Base on the way home one wonders about the 22 million investment…….

Hauled a fleet, on the way in, still trying to hook up my missing one but failed yet again. Lots of squats though so not a total waste of time. Started towing the boat south

to meet Angus who completed the rescue, turning up just south of Saint Island.

Another few broken creels mended and a squat lobster fried rice completes the day. Means an early start tomorrow to make up for the lost time.

( Now Thursday evening) And now taking a bit of time out after a busy night at the Inn, a spot of reflection. With Tarnybackle singing It’s What You Do With What You’ve Got, so true working at the Inn. Introducing the song it sounded like a plea from the heart asking why we do not help each other more instead of just looking out for ourselves. Classic small example of this was Zuzu and I headed over to the Filling Station to try to sort out the lack of receipts over the last week. I had tried on several occasions and Zuzu had a go as well before going off on hols for the last week. Pooled knowledge and we sorted it out in approximately five minutes. Went into the system as the engineer and got the drawer opened with a bit of knowledge I had learned and fixed my earlier mistake. Good feeling of working together for community benefit walking back to the Inn. Where it was one of those special nights, friends made, can see several tables with people deep in conversation with each other they had never met before eating their meals together earlier in the evening. The camaraderie is immense and although the Boss was a bit tense thinking it was going to be a struggle to seat every one nothing went wrong, comments were off the scale about the food and the service. Easy for me to convey a magnificent Highland night of hospitality, food and drink, (Sandy even got his chic chip ice cream with sprigs of mint) and fine appreciated music. Enjoyed Green Fields of France, Caledonia and others of the folk and country tradition. Like the last couple of years working at the Inn with an ever-changing but fantastic team gives you so much satisfaction. It has been very fulfilling despite the numbers over the last few days and regulars keep coming back despite the ten levels of busy. Rob in his dapper tweeds always cuts a fine picture. Asked if he would mind a picture taken but my shift finished before he came down on the Sunday evening. The Boss took an iPad photo.

Asked to take some photos of the new wonderful lobster linguine

and as they were opposite and very photogenic the langoustines were snapped as well.

Did not know it was supposed to be for the Herald or more care on composition would have gone into the shot. The intrepid two arrived back yesterday, pretty knackered, hungry but contented.

( Finish off Friday evening) As ever one day does not lead into the next with any sort of conformity. This morning saw me out on the Varuna but nothing doing when I went to start her, ignition okay but starter motor dead. Ashore, phoned the ever reliable Ewen, luckily in Inverness, new one picked up and now in the van, ready for refitting tomorrow, langoustines in for the day and the old motor off with out the usual one stuck nut problem. That is usually my engineering experience. Lazy sort of day with only activity was spending lots of money on camera equipment, mainly to keep ashore as the marine environment takes its toll on the one I have. Although the weather is a bit broken the langoustines are still going into the creels although the numbers of berries seem to be coming in earlier this year. The days we are out are a joy to be on the water,

still waters and a view to die for

in every direction.

Interesting vessel moored at the moorings last week,

someone doing some serious open water rowing.

Did not get to chat so have little info about who it was.A wee blast from the past occurred when Willie came over on Saturday evening from Erbusaig to help entertain the Sally Leaving Do. There was only 27 of them and they were great craic. One thing I like in the Highlands is the generation cross over and girls in school with the boys just treat you as anyone else rather than parents. Banter flowed and a fair few vodka and lemonades were consumed, some with ice. The handbag was heavy with tins of cider on the bus for the way home. Back to the blast from the past and it was a photo that appeared on FB of the Curlew being fitted out on the Slip in Kyle, my Dad being on the left of the four, this would be in the seventies and a few memories came back……

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.

Volunteering.

It has been a lively spell of weather over the last couple of days. Blowing a gale from the north and the Hill is closed. I would hazard a guess that there will be some pretty serious drifting on the top today. We have a snowblower back in town except it is not quite as it seems. It is fits onto the front of a tractor but does not fit into the snowblower shed so part of it has to live in Lochcarron. Ever the optimist that is better than no snowblower at all. In between the snow showers I went up to the Hydro to clean the screen and all seemed well. Was up to check as we had an unexplained stoppage, restarted fine, and then a power cut. The restart from some reason did not go above 35 kWhs so I stopped it again but could not restart. Ewen then moved in and shut down the power and it has been fine since but we are missing the last 10 kWhs as it is running at 80. Been ramping up the hours, paperwork is through for the tax relief and first payment from SSE has turned up so we seem to be on our way. At times during the snagging you get a little nervous especially as it is a community investment but at 420,000 kWhs we are on course. Views from up there were spectacular when watching the weather coming across the Sound.

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A couple of shifts at the Inn pass pleasantly by as we have about 20 people in and no pressure but to chat to people. The Boss was chatting to one customer and he was going to work abroad, had a Scottish girlfriend and wanted to propose, but it was not going well. She had not been feeling too great the night before and on the way to the Inn had almost gone off the road so she had a bit of a fright and went to bed early. The Boss ended up giving him advice for about an hour trying to think of romantic spots further up the west coast where he could get down on one knee. Looking out the window it may have to be inside as the snow passing by is horizontal. The regulars, up to give Dave a hand controlling the hinds, are fine banter although one gets the impression that there are topics you have to stay clear off. One mentioned he has named his latest dog Brex.

Wednesday was just one of those days and tells you how reliant we are on power and volunteer work. The Tax relief forms arrived and hundreds had to be filled in for people to reclaim tax relief on their investments. Alison had finally won her battle with the HMRC but filling in the forms was tedious and went on for ages. So I took a batch up the road and three of us spent hours round the table filling in everything but the personal details of the investor, then the power goes off, so the Filling Station has to be rebooted and with a data error showing that took an hour longer than expected, but has to be done or the Postie is stuck. Then onto the Hydro. So I reckon between form filling and the other rebooting and re-starting the volunteer hours put in by Judith, Frances, Ewen and myself over the day amounted to over eleven. Small communities are so reliant on volunteering, whether it is Annual Games , running The Community Hall, Heritage Centre etc. Still as the weather was fresh

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and that does not deter Dougal

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and Eilidh there was still time in the day for a wander along the shore and watch the waves roll in over the Pier.

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Dougal in particular loves the wind in his hair.

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Have to say Tuesday was the result of falling off the wagon, and so soon after The New Year celebration. Twice in two weeks is at one too many and that should do for quite a while. The excuse was the arrival of a couple from Deep South, Essex. They rocked up at the end of 2015 and Applecross, as ever made a pretty fair impression, so much so they were back after a stay in Plockton and a trip over to Lewis. The “session” was joined by a couple from Brighton and good craic was had. A great night where views, opinions, knowledge and laughter flowed. I noticed that there were up to three conversations going all night, mostly at the same time. Just as well as there were six of us and no one was talking to themselves. An evening to dip briefly into other people’s lives, what Applecross does best. The remaining four posed for a wee photo shoot and the most disturbing thing about the shot is the clock in the corner.

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Boy did I suffer for the night, the suffering only eased by one of the Inn’s momentous venison burgers that, and seeing the state of the other participants. The things one has to do to get through the dark month.

Grandpa Stones’ Shetland Tales.

It’s been a busy wee spell and have started several posts so its going to be a pictorial as the snaps are still being taken. the words are going to wait for another time. the Hydro is going well but still having to keep an eye on the screen at the Head as it clogs up fairly quickly. The scrub today resulted in an extra 5 kWh for a while. With a good breeze from the west, fine company

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and colours

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it is no chore climbing up the steep slope. Twice in a couple of weeks

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and it needed the clean. This was todays screen.

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Doubly checking.

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View is not bad though.

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The weather has been fairly settled

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only breaking on Tuesday

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making today the first day in nine when I have not been at the Inn, fishing or both. Not a lot to report at sea but very patchy fishing, most poor catches with the occasional good day thrown in. Shallow water throws up some colour and large berried females. Good for the future.

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Bit late in the year to be so busy but still time to watch the arrival of huge flocks of field fares on the last morning of good weather.

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They came in from the north west and headed to Toscaig before working their way north decimating the rowan berries.

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Been a very good year for the rowan

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so plenty of feeding. Morning and afternoon photos of the same tree.

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Quite timid and very noisy.

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The highlight of the ten days was meeting up with Grandpa Stones from the Black Isle, the driver who delivered this weeks fuel. Some one who professed his love of oral history and dislike of computers. He asked after Uisdean as he had delivered fuel to the original Filling Station at Camusterrach and then told me stories of his time at The West Highland School of Adventure and a certain Flight Lieutenant. Of a night they did not sleep to order but did, after all being made to get up in the middle of the night, outside in the snow followed by cold showers….they were the days. He regaled me with some tales of Shetland, having an empathy with his wife’s uncles. These men headed off to sea as did their compadres from the western isles. Story of one crossing the Bay of Biscay, he told him that the weather was foul, he was up in the crow’s nest and the weather was so bad that when he came down the ship wasn’t there.

The next one took place in a mixed race bar in South Africa, where an uncle along with a native American, delicately described as a Red Indian, were having a pint or five. Sometime after one or two drinks were had a man of “darker skin” came over and inquired as to their place of origin. Shetland came the first reply followed by an explanation where that was and then the native American explained where he was from. A pause and the black guy turned to him and said there were pretty few of his folk around, to which the Indian replied ” If the cowboys had come to Africa there would be few enough of you Black guys”.

Finally I got the story of the malfunctioning baler in Shetland which he eventually got going. This was accompanied with the remark that it must have been pretty sic if the owner had to go as far sooth as Rossshire to get it sorted. The conversation finished with evocative memories of guddling for trout in the burn by his home growing up in Cromarty. And this was where his ashes were going. His descriptions were magical and from being a little grumpy in going up to the Filling Station, I ended up having spent a wonderful hour in his company.

 

Uair Eile….Another Time Another Place.

I so enjoyed Monday’s day out on so many levels, the experience of the solitude, beauty of the surrounds and the music. Even here some people leave the gates open. This must have been where it all started to go wrong, when people decided they owned it so fenced it for themselves.

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The feedback on both Facebook and Twitter has been enjoyable and the little conversations show that so many people are connected to this part of the world and for so many different reasons. Also it provokes thoughts about what is remote, the policy of rewilding and what that even means when people used to live there. “On the edge”, well Edinburgh is on the edge of the Forth, likewise Glasgow, the Firth. How people used to live in far greater numbers in these now remote parts but had a far less impact on the natural surrounds. Sometimes simple snippets of conversations stay with you and I will always remember Jim Hunter telling us about the large number of bounties paid out for eagles and other “vermin” considered detrimental to the new industry of sheep rearing in the Sutherland Glens. The people who used to live there lived alongside and with nature unlike the introduction of mono cropping, which does not work anywhere far less the fragile uplands of the Scottish Highlands. It carries on today when so much has to be controlled to allow grouse moors to make a profit for a few. And a wee coincidence turns up the Dauntless Star coming into Kyle from the south. Going by the date of Linda Gowans photo on the West Coast Fishing Boats there was a fair chance I was behind the wheelhouse out of sight of the lens. Would have been coming back from a trip up Loch Hourn.

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One of the best though is the couple of stories initiated by the photos of Kinlochourn. Many years ago an Applecross fishing boat was plying the waters of Loch Hourn and as was the case, there was a little extra money to be made by going ashore and controlling the local wild life. Of course the local keepers were aware of this practice and on one occasion, so the story goes, the Applecross fishermen had returned to their boat with their bounty, pursued by the local keeper. Knowing they were at a safe distance and out of range the bounty was tied to the mast and derrick and sailed past the infuriated keeper who by this time had lost it. He was taking harmless potshots at the stag, crew and boat that made a couple of taunting runs past him before making out down the Loch. Another venture, this time in one of the Lewis lochs and again in September. Having gone ashore and enough venison casserole in the hold to do Applecross for the rest of the Autumn they realised they would have to go back ashore for water. By this time the local keeper had been alerted to extraneous activities and was waiting on the shore as the tender came in. He casually asked how long they had been at sea. “Three days” came the innocent reply. At which he leaned forward and picked a chunk of stag’s hair of one of our characters shoulder and quietly said he did not wish to see them on his patch again. Another place another time, Uiar Eile and when you go to these places you are connecting to a rich history of folk living of the sea and land and with just a little humour while they go about it.

So after my wee holiday it was back to bad weather and working at the Inn.

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The weather has been pretty grim

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and no langoustine on the menu board since the weekend, plenty of other good food though. This time of year we really do not know what to expect, Wednesday almost dead, relatively speaking, but Thursday was pretty nippy. Have to take all the ribbing about no prawns but they have hand dived scallops so not all bad.

The weather changed by Friday and two fine days were spent at sea.

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Bright and sunny

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although on Saturday afternoon there was a little breeze from the north, not before hauling 400 creels. Having to haul more just now due to poorer catch and the broken weather. Still it is good to get back out on the water no matter if there is little langoustine to catch. This time of year with the light changing so much

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and so often there is always something to see,

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including the first time I have ever steamed under a rainbow.

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Being a bit lazy the last few days I had to do one of the jobs on the way across the Sound that I should have done earlier in the week.

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Saturday evening was uneventful, leaving before the biker took his clothes off to try on Taneil’s apron. Only other thing of note was having to deal with a resident who did not get to sit at a table she wanted to, “up herself” is the technical term for that. Sunday starts slowly and although the weather is still fine we were not expecting the hordes, they came in numbers, from Barons to plebs they all ended up at the Inn for lunch. It was like a day in July, cyclists, expected, motor bikers, random, locals and day trippers from Inverness to Shropshire. They were served, the dogs were walked

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and Alison was picked up from the train.

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Glad forecast not good for Monday as slightly overworked. Last couple of Sunday’s the food has been stunning. This week was local lamb, wrapped in an exotic cover and served with aubergines amongst other delightful ingredients. Previous Sunday it was a routine venison loin. No wonder we struggle when eating out from Applecross.

Amongst all this is the mundane taking of fuel deliveries,

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rebooting the Filling Station, checking the Hydro for on going glitches and pestering friends to vote in theM&Senergy competition,while trying not to stress about falling behind on the paperwork. Many thanks for all your votes as we seem to have pulled ahead although wary of another push from our closest rivals. Also I do not say it enough, Thank you for taking time out to read the Posts, I will never get used to so many people taking time out to do just that. Cheers.

Hectic Community Activity.

Relaxing after a fairly easy but long shift at the Inn. The evening was smooth and everyone got their seats just as they arrived and even some just drinking got seats. Still many Europeans about and busy enough. Last night was busy but not over the top. One quite amazing coincidence was that the competition that the Applecross Community Company are involved in https://www.mandsenergyfund.com/projects/applecross-energy our biggest rival is the Glenalmond College. Not sure how they applied as a community but never mind, we had a big group, an Aston Martin car club staying. One of the group was a music teacher and house mistress of , yes, you have guessed it Glenalmond College. The odds of that happening would have been off the scale. The two days were full of appreciative comments about food and service and the Boss would have been well pleased had she heard half of them. Advertising continues regarding the competition and after Sand and the InsideOut I went to the Filling Station.

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Weather has broken and there is a very distinct autumnal feel to everything. The rain has added to the brisk wind, a constant southerly blow, sometimes south-east and sometimes southwest but pretty strong and unworkable for me. The mornings have not been too bad but by 10 it is up again. Although it feels a bit lazy  few jobs are getting down, some grass cutting, harvesting apples

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and a few veg.

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Did not go out to do the fleet which is still on board. No let up on the weather front in sight so plenty of time for that. Despite the autumnal feel there is no let up on the efforts of the community its to work away at various schemes.

First had a visit about a community skiff build. This was first mooted a couple of years ago but nothing happened. It came up again at the Community Council and was given to a member of the public to take on. I think, as others have got involved, it will be a runner. Around £5000 is needed, a place to build it and I reckon we already have the skill and enthusiasm to build it. It does feel the time is right and the fine example from Sheildaig is acting as a spur as well as moves from Lochcarron to build one.

Next and also at the CC meeting the fund-raising and purchasing of defribulators is cracking on. It looks like all the funds are being raised, and very quickly, within the community. Despite the low numbers living here there is a large amount of generosity and good will around. May end up the best covered area if you ever have heart trouble on the west coast. Scheduled to be installed and paid for in November.

On going as well is a fund-raising venture for setting up a War Memorial. I have not been involved in this but hear it is going well with events, past and planned getting the target total closer and I believe the Trust have said they will match fund the amount. Local guys who work with stone are going to erect the Memorial.

Then onto another example of what is happening here. There is a group setting up an Applecross Brewery following the example of the boys from Strathcarron. The Red Cow is becoming one of the big sellers at the Inn and I am sure once the Applecross brewers get their brews underway it will be another success story for the place. Local investors again and seems to be progressing nicely.

Whether it is as a result of the Competition noted above

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there is another group planning a swimming pool and gym. If the private wire goes ahead as planned the power needed for this venture could be green and cheaper than what is available from the grid. Quite an amount of activity in such a wee place.

Despite so much going on the need to mix all this activity with a bit of time out is essential. That is why I ended up walking on Sand

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although the Competition took me up there a walk on the shore is essential on such a day. Dougal is never far away and just loves running

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along on the expanse of Sand

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sometimes just stopping to let the wind on his ears.

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They did do the professional stuff first

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before going onto the Sand beach.

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Community Fishery and MRD500.

Fairly relaxed now but so different on Sunday. Unknown to us a club/rally of up to 60 vehicles were heading our way. Lunch time was not very pleasant for anyone at the Inn. Getting through another shift seemed to be the main thing about the last week. There have been one or two “eejits” about and they spoil it for most. Saturday was a classic for this, group of eight guys, all good banter and craic, bar one. So much so that on Sunday morning a member of the group apologised for him. Always good to have confirmation. Another other couple refused to share a table despite seeing five twos waiting for a seat and a meal. I suppose most establishments this would be okay but this is the Applecross Inn where people look out for each other. Such is life and it is good to know the people I associate with and call mates do not act like this. As Alison and Zuzu were away at the DTAS AGM I had to nip down the road to let Dougal and Eilidh out as I was back in for the evening shift. Turned out it was not so busy and did not stay for long as the Boss had things under control. It always strikes about Applecross that you can make of it what you want. The busy life at the Inn can be balanced out by cycling down the road to Culduie,

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a wander over to the seals on the rocks and just taking in the serenity and peace of nature,

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this despite Dougal shouting across to the seal pups.

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Times have changed and thirty years ago there would have been no seals there, managed in a different era in a different way. Back at the Inn the weather was fine

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and there was a number of people eating out, hard on the kitchen but a little easier to deal with for seating. Only thing was we were a little short on the staff side as some Aussie band were playing in Glasgow taking the contingent away for the weekend.

But on balance, an elderly American couple, in for a meal on Thursday were looked after by the Boss as they arrived were given a seat in the dinning room. To cut a long story short I chatted to them, gave her our last three langoustine of the night, showed her how to tail one and left her to it. Just talking to them, being kind and on the way out she turns to me and says she will never forget her night at the Applecross Inn for the rest of her life. Sometimes it is so simple. Another couple of instances of kindness where I received a lovely card from Perthshire, such complimentary words, a sheer pleasure to read and along side another regular visitor’s appreciation puts the grumpies out of sight and mind. The end of days do that as well.

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Friday saw us through in the big smoke, an unusual meeting involving trawler men and creel men, unusual in that it was pretty well controlled. There had been a meeting locally which sounded a good one to miss but this one was fairly civilised and was mediated. The main downside were the two Reps from the bigger national organisations and they were representing three boats working in the area being discussed. Also the meeting although facilitated did not have an agenda and was a little too free-flowing. Going over old ground again and again can be done in the pub without taking a day off the water and travelling on a 160 mile round trip. These discussions are taking place against a back ground of a couple of good years of fishing and continued gear conflict. The basic problem is a code of conduct that does not work, creels towed by trawlers are the fault of the creel men, according to the trawler men for being in the wrong place and the fault of the trawler men by the creelers for towing away from the “tows” and going into the shallower waters. Seems insurmountable as we have the same fundamental problem in that two different methods are being used on same ground prosecuting the same species……and that is what the position was at the end of the meeting. I suspect that the two Reps went away happy in the knowledge that very little emerged from the meeting, in fact nothing. Interesting to watch people talking from a position of power, repeating stats again and again although they are irrelevant to the discussion. That they are representing an ever decreasing group of boats seems not to matter to them, they just want access to all grounds for all their members whatever the environmental cost. The most relevant issue about the whole meeting was the idea of a Community fishery, a fishery that would benefit the small ports directly involved in local grounds. This idea appears abhorrent to the larger organisations whose members depend on a nomadic fishery. Fish an area hard, then move on to another area, do the same before returning to the original grounds to start the cycle over again. The ground is degraded so much by this method that the local and static gear works in a greatly reduced and inferior environment. The reasoning behind a Community fishery is that an enhanced fishing ground better protected by a localised fishery would produce far better returns for the Communities involved. Leaves it open to accusations of selfishness but if a whole community benefits that is somewhat dissipated. In my humble opinion the better fishing of the last couple of years is directly connected to a decrease in effort. This has been the first year for some considerable time where you can move the fleets of creels, not by much, but more so than in last few years, thus giving some ground time to recover from the constant take of the past. It was really disappointing that the idea of a Community Fishery was not taken seriously indeed cannot be taken seriously by the larger national organisations as it would restrict outside fishers from local waters. Huge amount of complicated discussions would have to take place but would be worth it to protect valuable grounds from detrimental fishing. The glimmer of hope is that the idea of a Community Fishery is being put on the table at all and once an idea takes root……..

Fishing only took place last Monday so for most of the week, due to the weather, it was just looking west. Possibly added to the mood on Sunday, flat calm bright day, and I wanted to be on the water. Rest of the week spent going back and fro to the turbine house, doing dips at the Filling Station and walking through Carnach Wood.

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We now have our own 500. I was a little surprised to get a bill for the Music Room door along with the Community Hall hire for the ceilidh, even more surprised that on a Sunday evening it was priced at £500. Think of a number and quadruple it. The guys who run the Community Hall are not exactly advocates of the Community Company so there may have been ulterior reason for the rapid bill issuing. On the positive side the door was bought, fitted and possibly even varnished by now, all by volunteers, with most of it being paid by the door takings. Key is still missing but no one is mentioning that. Small town life can be very amusing at times. MRD500, music room door £500.

White Water=Green Energy=Community Benefit

At the Inn on Thursday, time 10.30pm and chatting to a very late regular when in walks a lost looking German lady. The very late Bruce had phoned ahead to order three meals and got two crabs and a langoustine cooked at 9.00pm. Unfortunately putting up the tent took a lot longer than the instructions said and he appeared around 10.00pm. About five minutes before I had decided that he was not coming for some reason and offered his meals to some of the staff. A couple of langoustine were consumed and the cold smoked was following when I caught sight of them coming up to the door. Rushed into the kitchen, rescued the meals, added some hot smoked salmon and served. So back to the German lady, she came in and confirmed first suspicions that she was lost, showed me her map and a written address of the hotel that she was heading to. First line was reassuring, Shore Street, but then it fell apart as it was Shore Street, Inveraray. They had put Shore Street in the GPS and followed it north from starting point, Fort William. Luckily for them we had a backup spare room for sleep in as the Boss was not 100% sure she was coming back from Inverness. So they stayed, were very relieved and quickly got into the whisky. I left them fairly merry at 1.00am, but not before an interesting chat about life , social work in Germany and how they found Applecross welcoming. So if I am stuck in Cologne I was promised to be looked after. I like this cycles/karma happening in this life and if it spills over to the next one as long as I do not come back as a langoustine or squat lobster I should hopefully be okay.

The evening was relatively peaceful although I had to move the resident house band, Tarneybackle, from a few tables to accommodate diners. In fact there were a few moving around the Inn but it was all in good humour and as long as the bills followed to the new tables all was good. Good music, songs and going by the comments fine food were all around along with the banter and craic, even the lawyers were on good form. At sea it was a bit of a hard graft this week.

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Wednesday was anticipated to be the last calm one of the week and it turned out to be otherwise, coming in early, coming across a nasty wee foul up in a strong south-westerly. Had a reasonable amount on board so not terribly bothered but a longish punch into to the wind on the way home. Did not expect to get out on Thursday but it was the converse of Wednesday and it was a lot quieter than forecast. Took another fleet in on an uneventful dreich day, leaving me with washing over a 100 creels this weekend, but breaking the back of the creels needing a pressure wash.

Taking a wee swatch back to Cambridge, the serious chat revolved around the Brexit vote. To a person there was a general feeling of shock and disbelief at the outcome of the vote. It is complex as there are so many sides to how one voted and even in this area Cambridge was heavily in favour of staying while out in the more conservative parts of the Fens and surrounds there was a definite vote for leaving. But there was realistic chat about how our group can easily be reinforcing our own views and living in a bubble of sorts. Everyone in the group was in employment and doing relatively well, relatively I said. When you read about large numbers of people who are one month from defaulting on their mortgage you realise that all is not well in large parts of people’s lives. There is a strong feeling of uncertainty about the future and I am coming across differing opinions at the Inn as well. Late guests from Germany were chatting and Brexit came up. They were disappointed about the result but on the other hand all countries have problems. One of the group was an economist and had closed his account with Deutsche Bank over fears of the stability of the bank. I had been reading one or two articles about it’s over exposure and seems he agreed. Explains the hard-line approach to Greece, hardline capitalists/bankers are not differentiated by nationality it seems. While Thursday evenings social worker was saying we were right to leave. Apologies to Alisdair, there are numerous ways to spell, for getting his name spelt wrong in the last post and it seems Harry took a photo of me dozing in the sun with Dell Mae in the background. Harry being the arty chap that he is played around with the result.

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Friday morning I was politely told at half seven that there was a fuel delivery at 8.00am so after five hours sleep it was up to the Filling Station to meet up with the driver who had already arrived. In true Applecross manner I had his history of buying and selling houses, flat and divorce, all within twenty minutes. Back for a snooze on the couch before taking the pooches up the road for a look at the Intake.

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Knew there was plenty water around but it was quite spectacular up there and even Dougal was baulking about going in for his dip.

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It was Eilidh who dived across to the other bank despite looking like she was not interested in going out before hand.

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Water pouring over the dam

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and sure there was the equivalent of another 200kWs going down the river alongside the 90kWs going down the pipeline.

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There are plenty kWs going through the monitors

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although slightly frustrating that the grid cannot take more and the local excess is not being sold.

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Perfect timing as the weather closed in again during the afternoon.

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