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

Posts tagged ‘Gaelforce’

Do Chickens have Twins?

You learn something most days at the Inn, usually something completely useless or innocuous. And tonight’s random question from the kitchen was “Do chickens have twins?” This has an origin in the fact that there are large numbers of eggs being delivered just now with double yolks.

Yesterday was a 450 haul and all went well although the fishing remains fairly poor. Quiet day weather wise and not much activity on the sea, occasional yachts motoring by with no wind in their sails but lots and lots of jelly fish.


Am slightly obsessed with them as they are both painful and beautiful and always like opposites in nature.


Faithful fulmars alongside most of the day. They do not give the impression they are the sharpest on the water and hardly ever get to the bait first, and give the impression they get really hacked off and scurry about after everything that moves. They come in really close to the boat and show little fear.


Community Council Meeting last night and as Janet is leaving town I did the minutes and Barry Chaired. Lots on the go and some tricky issues that have to be dealt with and hopefully not too many casualties but suspect there will be. Signs, minibus, GP, good news on that front is that we have a salaried appointment that covers our practice and next door, so progress,the contentious issue of bracken spraying, and finally Kishorn. Lots to do and no time to do it. It will be done though as it tends to be embarrassing if you do not get round to doing it. Had a good bee chat with Audrey after he meeting and she has got her one hive up to two again by creating an artificial swarm. Used to think thstles were a pest until I realised they are good bee food.IMG_4654

Beauly, Loch Ness Inn and Inverness took place today. Went out to the Varuna for langoustine for the Inn and another couple of boxes for The Loch Ness Inn, calling in to Beauly to drop Jenny and Eilidh off with Alison and Dougal. Sure that Ted groaned when he saw even more visitors, especially more of Dougal’s family. Lovely view across to the Beauly Firth from his holiday cottage and watching the circling red kites was very peaceful.


They were far better at catching rabbits than Dougal turned out to be., although he ended up taking road kill home. Anyway they headed off down to Rosemarkie while I rattled round buying stuff in Inverness. Did not quite plan it but ordered 150 creels from Gaelforce along with rope costing around£3,500. So that keeps me fishing for the next month or so. Constantly need to buy replacements or the standard of your gear goes down and you catch less prawns and it becomes a spiral. My favourite shop is Highland Wholefoods



and it is really handy as Dougal’s favourite is just across the road. Although they do not know it Dougal and Co have a great day planned for them on Cuaig Beach with treats and pig ears thrown in Jill and Kenny heading there on their day off.


Back home in time for a quick shower and on to the floor. A strange night as it threatened to be silly busy with 2x 6s,a 9 and a 14 booked along with all the residents but it was a bit of a stroll, slotting people onto tables with only a couple of tables waiting a little too long for our comfort. The sort of shift that you get through but when guys shake your hand on the way out you must have done something right.

And yes but it is very rare for chickens to have twins, Steve. If there are two fertilised yokes as they grow a chicken heads for the air cell at the round end. But if there are two they will fight and usually both die. There have however been cesarean twins produced.

A Future for the SCFF.

After a good day’s fishing on a very calm Sound, just me, my thoughts and Radio 4. Hauled 400 creels in the knowledge there is a windy easterly for tomorrow and a trip to Inverness was planned. Not quite back in the swing of things and felt pretty tired by the end of the day and the rest of the day was taken up with cooking tea and catching up with Spiral on iplayer. There was a fair bit planned for the trip east and it was with a bit of trepidation as I headed to the meeting on Church Street. The new Creel Federation has been going through some serious birthing pains, although maybe, as it has already been born, it is suffering from post natal depression. There were a series of e-mails that were sent around the group that were obviously passionately written but I wish had not been sent. However they have been and to everyone’s credit after three and a half hours we still have a Scottish Creel Fisherman’s Federation. It has been a while since I have left a meeting in such a positive frame of mind. There are huge problems ahead but hats of to the guys who were able to iron out lots of “stuff” and were able to deal with and accept each others differences. I was at the meeting with the aim of staying positive, looking to the future and somehow trying not to blame anyone for anything. Kept James’ advice to the forefront and tried to think about what is good for the stocks and the fishery in the coming decades, keeping positive aims to the fore. I say it often and find myself being fundamentalist in my approach to solving our fishery problems but also am more than willing to wait for others to come on board rather than preach. Unfortunately that usually means that the fishery has to decline a bit more before fishermen realise the parlous state we are in. A shift in the market or exchange rates will do the same. Maybe it was ever thus. Hearing that buyers are freezing live prawns as there are so many on the market is a warning that all is not well. There was so much talked through, the problems up till now, how to deal with them in the future, try to keep the Federation together, the potential adoption of a Constitution, funding applications,election of posts and a general exchange of information and views. There was  a bit of humour and even Dougal got a couple of mentions. It was good to meet one of the East coast Associations and hope that the one on the West does not pull out as every one will lose out if they do. A huge amount of work has been put into this new Federation and I sincerely hope it has a good future, after today’s meeting ,feel a bit more confident about that. Because of our experiences in Applecross regarding our little issue over land I am hyper aware of personalizing issues instead of dealing with them and it will be very difficult, maybe too much to ask of guys that were not there, to move on but here’s hoping.

Back to the van and John and the rest of the Inverness trip kicked in. Never have gone to the place for one thing. It was off to the upholsterer’s to pickup the Inn’s stool tops and have a laugh at the Toscaig chair. Travis Perkins was the next stop to pick up John’s wood. He had to saw it as the TP guy was n’t allowed to for “health and safety” reasons. Gaelforce to buy some rope for my recovered fleet of creels, wee Co-op shop and round the back to take delivery of a micro wave for the Inn. Headed off down Loch Ness to the Loch Ness Inn,(a lot of thought in the name) to deliver the best and freshest of langoustines. Great to see their prominence on the menu board. If only other eating establishments did the same we would all benefit.


Took John in to see front of house and had a wee chat with Jenny who told us a bit about the history of the place before Judith and partners did the place up.


After decanting the langoustines into  trays, making sure there were no fatalities, none after two weeks holding so all good, picking up another box for the Inn it was off home over the back through Beauly and Marybank. Just the unloading of the van and a quick catch up on the gossip of the day and home for tea.


When I was in the Co-op today I could not get out my head the images I saw this morning of a video of how chickens are dealt with and the processes that they go through to end up on our table. The most striking part was this machine that brushed up live chickens and sent them off on a conveyor belt and seeing them crushed into trays, still alive….end result although this was directly connected to Asda I could not bring myself to buy any chicken and have decided to go four days a week pescetarian. I do like my meat but cannot eat food that is treated so disrespectfully, better late than never.

The importance of being “Local”?

This is complicated and I am beginning to wonder if it is that important nowadays as the world has become so mobile and people move around so much to visit and live. A few comments have emerged over the past few weeks that made me think over a number of instances, some unpleasant and others pleasing. There are many interpretations of local and some can go back 3 or 4 generations. My family came over from Harris in the 1890s to the Crowlins, islands to the south of Toscaig. They came from Leac a Li ,a poor area of the island and they thought the Crowlins were a step up as they did not have a croft back “home”. Due to the generosity of the Toscaig inhabitants at the time they were able to establish themselves on the mainland during the first 20 years of the last century. My dad left Toscaig when he was married in the 50s and I was born and brought up in Inverness and Kyle. I came back to Toscaig in the 80s and been back almost 30 years even although I spent many holidays over here when at primary school. I have to say when the Kyle boys came over on The Golden Rule and beat everyone at 5-a-side football I was definitely from Kyle!! My point being am I a Hearach (Harris), or from Kyle , from Toscaig or does it really matter. When I hear the local argument it is usually at the end of a losing discussion and justifies the defeated, “oh well he/she is not local”. Rural areas in the west  have been depopulating for over 200 years,(3000 people used to live on the peninsula) and certainly here I think we are very close to danger point in being a working/viable community. I have been told that we are the smallest medical practice in terms of numbers on the mainland, our PO hours are constantly under threat, the shop has a constant battle in being a service to the community and being viable, the numbers living here mean that we struggle to provide care for the elderly. In the past there were larger family units that stepped in. Now elderly people who do not have this support system have to leave to receive the care they deserve within the community. Questions such as how many children at the school are local are no longer relevant. What is relevant is how many kids are at the school. At the last meeting both the Trust and the Community Company were in agreement that there needs to be more people living here. I am not going to mention the numbers because they will immediately be taken out of context and possibly frighten those of a more traditional bent.  Going back to the local question, I think it is what you do and not where you come from that makes you local. It is far harder to come into a community than be born in it and those that are already there have a duty to carry on the tradition of Highland Hospitality. Thank you for visiting/living in our beautiful land and in helping keeping or improving it. Without the help of those from outside Applecross we would already be dead in the water but with the people already here the future can be bright and actively encouraging new people to live here can give the area a fresh impetus. I think we desperately need more people to live here.

There was a post on Facebook that attracted my attention and it was an experiment an anthropologist carried out in Africa. He put a basket of fruit under a tree and told the children that who ever got to the basket first could have all the fruit. The children then all took each other by the hand  ran to the tree and shared the fruit. When asked why did one not take all the fruit the reply was why, if everyone else was unhappy in not getting any.This is summed up in the principle of Ubuntu and is ” I am because we are” and it reminded me the way the crofting system used to work here when the men of the village would gather the sheep together on the same day, shear or mark lambs at the fank and it would be so much easier everyone there doing everything. There was a sense of community that is lost now as there is on average only one working crofter in each village now who has sheep making it hard work to gather and shear. Although some of this “crofting community” was driven by sheer necessity and I am sure they had their scraps too it is something to aspire to where every one comes together to help every one. The one positive I love about being sort of local and that is spending time with an elder of the community, some one who has a wealth of stories and an irreverent humour, where time does not matter and you hear names you have forgotten as you only knew them as a boy on his holidays.

Tuesday saw me heading off to Srathcarron to meet up with a couple of fishermen from the south and an official of Marine Scotland. Unfortunately Kenny did not make it as there was a fatality at the stables, a biker losing control and leaving the road. The meeting in itself was not very productive but again Marine Scotland got the message that there is a group of fishermen wanting to conserve and bring back lost fisheries but we need help. I have this abiding desire to be among the first fishermen on the west coast to leave a fishery better than I found it. There is growing talk of the inevitable re introduction of the 3 mile limit as one of the ways to help us in our cause. We then can carry out our own conservation  ideas without the fear of them being towed away. Viv from Kishorn Seafood bar was saying exactly that tonight on telly.

Today was an Inverness trip and a Thai massage, badly overdue and gratefully received. Making sure I am MCA legal meant picking up a medical kit,ordering fire extinguishers and smoke alarms for the boat at Gaelforce and making sure there is food for Dougal’s return tomorrow. Some beautiful autumn scenes on the way after Achnasheen.

After a really chilled out afternoon in Sheildaig, not only the massage but a positive and relaxing chat about what is good about life and people, the colours coming over the Hill this evening were stunning.

By the time I arrived by the Inn and returned Judith’s “Flight mode” mobile phone there was a last hurrah of the sunset.

And finally just to note that Cuba arrived in style this week, in fact he did not want to leave.

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