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

Posts tagged ‘garden’

Survived Valentine

What an extra ordinary day so far, one keeps saying that. Woke up early doors and was walking down the road in bright sunshine and clear blue skies thinking so far so good at the Inn when I noticed a movement in the water and so walked from Milton


to Camusteel


while a dog otter swam south with me. When I say with me that is what it felt like, popping out of the water to investigate any movement among the kelp swaying in the swell, before continuing our journey to the schoolhouse.

Now just back from an astounding walk and cycle to Coillieghillie, blue skies, easterly breeze, and could say not a care in the world but that would be going too far. Lots to think about but trying so hard to destress and prepare for the coming evening making sure things go okay. With the inevitable Dougal and Eilidh in tow, Dougal giving me the impatient “must go for a walk” eye,


down to the bike, still parked by the roadside from Fridays trip to Kishorn on the boat, and then cycled to the Ardban path



and headed west.


Left the bike as I am not a Danny Macaskill. Made it to the back of Coillieghillie and took in such a beautiful seascape, Ardban to the north,


Cuillin to the south-west


and watched a small flock of oyster catchers gather on a rock just offshore,


far enough from Dougal to feel totally unconcerned.


By the time I arrived there I was almost twice round the clock with Grind, the Treacherous album. I know some people here have not connected with it but I find it quite astonishing. Sitting on a rock looking out to sea with only the company of my dogs,


the oyster catchers, blue skies,


and a passing seal is the best of therapies. If only for a few moments you can feel a calm but also a rhythm when you watch the slight rise and fall of a northerly swell swirling around some bigger stones below the seaweed line. We force things a bit sometimes and like last night when the question was asked if you believed that Independence for Scotland would happen it was a universal Yes but it will be over time, like community empowerment, like land reform, maybe our task is to open the door for others to go inside. Back home after a quick visit to the shop you feel the frustrations rising again and when you compare some of the other LDO’s achievements ours have to be so hard-won it feels exhausting. One Community Company is employing nine people now, a smaller population, but shows what can be done without the shackles. This was followed by some lovely blinks of sun


through the gathering


clouds to the west.


The extra ordinary continues, just finished the Valentines session and quite a one it was.  We had forty booked so walkins brought it over the sixty. Have to admit I was worried, Boss 500miles away and back up on hen party duty so nowhere to run. Seems a koala bear involved but story best told by those present. You just want it to go okay and missing out a halibut for the dinning room did not help but luckily Rachel took it well and it was a fine piece of fish when it arrived. On thin ice with the kitchen after that and that is when it is bound to go wrong. Again it was salvageable with Ralph and Gillian having their starters after their mains. Turns out I knew them and all was well. Two holes and shovels worked fine and climbed out. The night went really well, and the venison loin with rosti potatoes were top of the tree. My reward from the kitchen despite the mistakes. Unfortunately as I was eating my tea there was a coming together of the lady, the candle on the window, followed by a gin and tonic. The G and T was to put out what the candle did to the lady. The gin was hers and afterwards it emerged this was not her first “accident”. Previously she had re-enacted the Martini lady advert, the one on roller skates, and ended up across a car bonnet, danced and fell of a pool table, not exactly sure about the Eddie The Eagle incident and was helicoptered off the Isle of Sheppey. The Inn rests its case for the defence. In all seriousness, my fault, and one that could have gone badly wrong. It wasn’t her night as this was followed by a red wine over her. She was bearing up really well and back on fb within half an hour, despite the rather large hole in the back of her dress. Our fire officer was on the scene helpfully pointing out that candles and alcohol do not mix. That went down really well. Always good to sit beside some guests for an interlude amongst the mayhem, the Kylesku ladies helped along with the Calum’s daughter.

On Sunday lunch, to cut a long story short, we were thumped, queuing out the door, or would have been if the weather allowed. Apart from laughing hysterically all you could do was serve, tell people it was okay and the end result was every one had a fine meal with high praise for the kitchen. It’s an adrenalin rush, meeting people you don’t know, people you do know and some you should know. Wee connection to Kyle in the past, a relative of the Budges who used to live by the main road to Plockton, small world, lots of connections. They were part of the fifteen booked for 1.00pm. Was told later in the afternoon that it was a 90+ lunch, so not too bad for a two man front team to deal with.

Now knackered.



Two Days of Mild Mayhem.

Well there is certainly plenty to do, in fact too much which can be a bit of a problem. Yesterday morning a fair bit of paper work, a good walk down to Craig Darroch with Dougal and Co. Down to the pier early afternoon to wash some creels for the weekend. Saturday for taking out hopefully. The weather over the last couple of days is that will I won’t I weather and going by reports from the guys who were out good decision not to go.


Then the afternoon was taken up with some students calling in to do the survey.


We ended up with four, Alejandra, Darge,  Derina and Emmanuel.


Have to say that I took several photos of the guys and in every one they are smiling/laughing, certainly a happy bunch. Survey and hot chocolates sorted and then off to the Inn for a six to finish shift. Meanwhile in the garden Anna was working her way through the willow, waving the arch for another year and taking the excess south to Toscaig for a wind break alongside her polytunnel.




Quiet evening and was able to compose  a few bits and bobs in between serving ” the family”. Very few other customers. Lesson of the evening that was missed on our social media course on Tuesday is that sometimes humour does not work posting on Facebook. Often seen it but never been the recipient of a misunderstood posting. But always remember that two people looking at the same thing are very capable of seeing it differently. That and a bit of stress does not make for a good mix. Although the Inn has had a stove for several years it is a fine sight at this time of year and often build it up when I come in at six, fine for the rest of the night. Burning the beech that came down earlier in the year which could do with a bit more seasoning but still putting out a good heat. Definitely has become a theme in Applecross.


This morning till now has been one event after another. Although a little groggy today kept away from the couch, good plan as after the shop walk went round the coast for some herring and salt at Ardheslaig. Still plenty of rain and the Mill burn at Ardheslaig is running full.


Across the loch is looking boney.


Stopped of at the Inn on the way round and saw the students briefly. Some were out still surveying, managed to get a couple of times for them last night so they were in Camusteel this morning. They were already at 60 per cent with a couple of days to go so on schedule. Went straight down to the pier and the herring and as they are still building up a stock only took ten slabs. Not too long to salt it down and then off out to the boat to pick up langoustine that had been hanging in the boxes. would not know how fresh it was on the Sound.



Next load of diesel arrived while landing the prawns.


They are destined for the Loch Ness Inn which is having an Applecross meets Drumnadrochet on Friday evening. Lovely medium prawns on the menu, no squats, but this is not really the season for them. Stopping of at the Inn coincided with Wolf, Dorsi and the students leaving for a wee tour around some of the houses with David Newman.


Different types of houses to see different builds, insulation etc. At the dinner table just now chatting about building, de minimus, hydro, energy efficiency. Just keeps going on. There is no respite. Lots of interest and photos taken with Christine and Maria holding the langoustine. Next job was the blowing up of buoys. Only got the one fleet with one buoy but lots of different numbers on the same fleet. Before it gets busy best to have that sorted as it cuts down on shoot overs. So seven new ones’s blown up and painted. A quick look at an episode of Nashville and then dogs again and up the road to the Inn for a really quiet shift, birthday boy and a couple of residents, were the sum total.

Probably get home in time for another Nashville, don’t what it is but I have hooked onto it. Good music and a few flawed characters, almost Swedish.

“Pardon my Tartle.”

The last couple of days has definitely felt like autumn and late autumn at that. The colours do not match that of the New England Fall but have their own understated beauty.



Nothing more to report on the Coal Shed Pier as our anticipated meeting did not materialise due to a couple of blown tyres. Was at the pier while waiting for Kenny to deliver fuel to the Filling Station and it certainly got a lovely sweeping line that looks even better when the tide is in.


Wandered over to the wee hydro river which was flowing well in the autumn rain.


“Challenging” was going to be the title of the post and it is, that is challenging living in a fragile rural “idyll”. A place where people come to visit, chill out, enjoy the atmosphere and hospitality and head off back to their slightly more frantic lifestyles. We do have a lot of discerning visitors who know how difficult it is to maintain services in places like Applecross, but a large number come and go thinking what a wonderful place to live. It is but the challenges are tenfold. If you let them they can become major events or opinions that can pull you down and for me this is an iffy time of year with the day light diminishing and motivation on the decline.

First challenge came around on Monday when we were informed that the Weekend Trials on the Range were extended for a further day. annoying when we were not told and further annoying that 11.15am to 1.15pm was chosen as a time for the requested 6 mile exclusion. Basically meant that after hauling in Applecross Bay was told that my presence was not requested on the Sound, back home with another day ashore. Simple calculation would show that several thousand pounds were taken out of the local fishing economy. Put it in its box but have to let some one know that this is not the way to go about things, especially as the fishing community had complied over the weekend.

Next challenge turns out to be health, laid out yesterday on the couch, weather not too good and today was worse so not too much missed. Only little bright spot was a dip back into Hamish Macbeth being repeated on ITV3 just now, just good fun.

Today was up the road, as mentioned before, to see Kenny our very friendly fuel lorry driver.


Keep saying it but it is always a light relief to chat to the outside, just pass the time of day. Mind you we were talking about Grangemouth and selling off the Royal Mail, just wee inconsequential things that do not affect us….more expensive diesel and a closed PO, maybe it will have its effect. But one of my challenges completed, we have diesel to sell again, trying to look on the bright side we have only been out of fuel for less than a week while the Company took over the then defunct Filling Station in 2008. so apart from a major refurbishment and trying to keep some dodgy equipment going the Applecross Volunteer Force has done ok.

So good to see Hamish again. Never have found out if it was just a good craic series to do or was there several layers of satire involved. Lots of little bits in it that you have missed first time round. A conversation about how enclosed a wee place like Loch Dhu can be, where anonymity is guaranteed not to exist. So true but the converse is, especially at sea, if you are seen in the wrong place or not at all then help, if needed, soon arrives so not being anonymous has its advantages. So the next little part of the journey through the challenges is tea before I head out to the evening shift at the Inn. Tea is consisting of home-made beef sausage stew, with carrots, garlic, beetroot and tatties from the garden, which the rowan trees incidentally are being stripped by field fares. There are flocks of hundreds flying around the south end of the peninsula.


Finally came across a great new word, “tartle”, one that I can use at the Inn. Often I am speaking to people that know me but I do not know their name or sometimes not a clue who they are. It is not a rudeness but if you watched and seated and ordered food for over 10,000 people a year, certainly feels like that, you to would not recognise every one. I can now say “pardon my tartle” as this is from the Scottish and covers a hesitation when you are introduced to some one whose name you cannot recall. Might try it out tonight, what a wonderful word.

A Little Oasis

Recovery day yesterday although there was plenty to do. We have a break down at the Filling Station where we cannot dispense petrol, not even over ride it manually. Quite rightly the notices have gone out letting people know but we will have to remember to put them out when it is sorted. By the time you do a bit in the garden, take the dogs for a walk, flag irises are on show,


and keep Eilidh and Sky apart it was time for another shift at the Inn. Sky actually was no hassle and stood up for herself despite Eilidh’s attentions, and was very affectionate. Another wee job successfully done was sprinkling the hive with some castor sugar. Seems that when the bees groom the sugar off themselves they knock any mites, if they have any, off at the same time. All looked well and they are filling the first super up. They have a lot of work to do as they have to draw out the wax on my new frames.


Slowish start for me although the Prep room was spinning. Slowly wound up until at 8.30pm there was a 6, a 5 and a 13 all eating at the same time, along with all the other 2s 3s and 4s. With the Boss out wining and dining at the Walled Garden the pressure is on to make sure the residents are looked after and the week’s regulars as well. Weather was simply stunning and the baseball cap back on. Star group of the evening were the Kyleakin Connections who came over as a group and they had linked up with the VT for some activities. www.slad-skye.org.uk/ They are a pretty amazing group of guys and the banter all evening was top dollar, and no quarter given by the carers.


Living in Applecross I do not meet many of the folk I was in school with very often and when they come along to the Inn you just pick up conversations so easily. Every one seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, in fact serving them made you feel as though you did something important and worthwhile…even more so than usual. The Knox family on the Big Table and then Tom and Hilde came in with their Irish connection to play on Table 8. The Norwegians playing at the Inn tells you what time of year it is.


The Italian couple back in for more seafood and she was delighted to have met Sara and Aron the previous night and sorbet and ice creams were consumed. They knew that they could not eat as much as the night before to be able to have the lemon sorbet.

After service, the Bay was just a little more special than normal as the sun sank behind Rubha na Guailne and with this as a back drop, a scallop shell of garlic squats, I wager there are not many better situations in the world. And I almost forgot the music filtering out from the bar. No wonder so many people seek out this wee paradise.


Today was a strange mix of hard work, “best laid plans” going amiss and rushing around to get to my massage on time….failed but let Sarah know. The day up till 2pm was filled with hauling 350 pots. With the petrol down and some guests stuck I arranged to get some picked up in Lochcarron but that fell through and a back up as well so I had to drive far too quickly over the Hill to pick some up before heading to Shieldaig. I may have contributed to some tourist views on “local driving”. Arrived a little late and bit out of sorts but quickly settled into a peaceful and sometimes sore hour and a half of great massage. Feeling the benefits of my visits to Sarah as I realise I am no longer carrying any fishing aches and pains now. sarahalmond9@gmail.com Head is in better shape, although, as with climate change , a cold winter does not mean it is not happening. Fish pie for tea, Raasay Sound ling and squats supplemented by some smoked haddock from an unknown origin. My out of sorts feeling was based on my time out massage not going to plan and has made me realise how important they have become…a little oasis in a crazy, fast world, yes even here.

Do Dolphins Sleep?

Went to bed last night with the intention of going fishing but quickly lost the desire and the weather backed me up with a strongish south-westerly getting up during the morning. Thinking I did nothing much a day of doing nothing involved strimming, power sawing, Wet stock at the Filling Station, planting kale, wild pansies, staking the peas and a bit of weeding. And then serving 150 people evening meals…so not too much. The garden is getting lovely and over grown with the bee friendly plants slowly taking over.


When I arrived at the Inn Mark was tucking into a crayfish, fairly rare around here. They are more plentiful further west and south and there is no real commercial numbers around here. This one was caught at Rona. Being an illogically sentimental fisherman I tend not to catch these animals, especially the crayfish as they creak at you. Today’s silly question turns out not to be so silly. I was asked if dolphins sleep and the answer is that as they have to breath half their brain can sleep while the other half is awake. Even one eye is closed.


Primary School Garden Tour.

Looking out the window, noticing some bunting being put up on the school fence, I wandered out with the camera to see what was on and discovered a tour of the Garden was on offer and as Daniel, Millie were coming over with Jess I tagged along and was well impressed with the children’s efforts.


There are lots of trees and bushes planted, both for cover and fruit bearing like cherry and apple. A bug/rodent/hedgehog home has been created with old branches over some half buried pipes beside a little pond where tadpoles will grow. Lots of raised beds built for growing vegetables and little individually planted ones as well.



I’ve often heard some older folk say”But you cannot eat trees”, keeping my silence but thinking it would be a richer, varied and more fertile landscape if the place was not continually being denuded by sheep and red deer. The school is in the process of regenerating a little patch of land and it is going to be fascinating watching the area mature over the years. Can’t help thinking getting bees now has been perfect timing with the South coast deer fence going up and with the kids planting out their eco garden.



They won a Green Flag for eco schools and from what I saw today well deserved. You will be able to keep up with progress on their blog.applecrossprimary.edublogs.org/‎ Bit jealous of some of their potatoes and lettuce compared to what I have in my own garden.

So after a wee snooze following some book work it was Inn bound. Very pleasant and relatively easy service. Full room but can cope with that now and Judith had a very tasty meal of hake with her brother and family in the dinning room. All pictures can be seen on Facebook.

Up and Running again.

Nervous start to the day as the first thing I saw this morning was my battery still on charge. Out to the boat with a little trepidation and sure enough no response to turning the engine over. Last option for going out today was to change a battery from the lighting bank in the hope that this was one of the fully charged ones and eureka it was so a quick reconnection and away we went only half an hour later.


Annie saw me going out and took another fine picture of the Varuna heading out on a glass calm morning and it was simply sublime, looking over to the Cullin and passing the Grace Anne hauling crab pots.



Also came up to a little group of guillemots and they looked like they were having a wee race to pass the time of day.


The fishing went without incident and although very poor especially in size I was greeted with great enthusiasm at the Inn. Landed quite a few tails and enough whole prawns to get things going again. There are very few menus in the country that give a running commentary of the langoustine supplies telling the customers that I was broken down. “But we have travelled 600 miles to eat your prawns” and it not Lidls you are at. Many people are so used to just nipping down to the super market to purchase what they want and when they want it they have forgotten the many variables in keeping a supply going and my comment is that going to sea is not the same as going down a shopping aisle.

Bit of traffic steamed close by in the afternoon but these Scandinavian skippers tend to look out for other sea users and he had restricted his speed coming down the Sound so we did not have any “Snow Falling on Cedars” wash to contend with.


Managed 350 pots up fairly quickly and made it to the grand launch of Applecross Energy Efficiency day which came together with The Heritage Centre presenting Applecross Place Names and the Graveyard Mapping. Seems 90 people turned up during the day which deems it a success for all who organised and ran the day.




Back home and it was a grass cut and tying off the Ryefield tomato plants as most of them are doing well in the porch, pinching out the side shoots as they were being watered.

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