At midday I set off to the shop with Dougal and family to pick up the paper and an other excuse not to look at long over due paper work. Lovely weather, getting used to this, and the view across to Ardhu was lovely. Took this from the boat last friday.
Met up with Gerry at the bottom of his drive where we discussed the GP situation at a fair length. The problems over accommodation and the hopes and fears of the community about the uncertainty of the situation. Wide ranging conversation which centred on the main problems of the future of the community, the need for young people to come in to the area, the status quo being unsustainable. The back drop is a falling school role and if that continues all the public money that is being attracted to the place at the moment will be worthless if there is not a viable community to welcome and look after visitors and look after itself. Jill, who has a house on the shore just down the road, came along and joined the discussion and the chat veered in the direction of septic tanks and their reconstruction. After a while we set off down the road chatting about various bits and bobs finishing with me giving Jill the latest Olympic results. She has had no communications over the last 36 hours so was delighted to hear about Andy Murray et al. After Jill’s, Ali and Lesley were on the corner and that meant another stop for a chat. After a catch up about Lesley’s improving health the conversation turned to times gone by when no-one locked their doors and people even went into other people’s houses to make themselves a cup of tea! After Ali went off to get something for Dougal and co it was off up the brae to the shop but not before stopping to pass the time of day with Ewen, Ali’s brother.It was another trip into the past when , as always, he asked after my mum. He then tells me what a good nurse she was, doing so much more than her job in looking after his family when his mother died when they were really young. Conversation touched on how we should keep talking about these people and in this way even if they are long gone they still stay with us. I suppose what we were doing was a form of oral history and reliving a little of the past through each others memories.
Finally it was to the shop and after being told off by James for not looking after Dougal properly it was off home. A couple of brief stops on the way but made it home just before 2pm. That was almost 2 hours on the road to a shop about three-quarters of a mile down the road. Sometimes it is good to forget about time and just enjoy. There are many pictures of, mainly the men of Applecross, just standing at a wall or at some-ones house passing the time of day. I call it living. Managed to stay away from the books a bit longer by making up some frames for the hive as the plan is to head to Kyle to get some bees put in their new home. Plan to leave them there to settle and pick them up the following week in an evening
Good day at sea although the catch was not as good as hoped and it was a difficult end. I took the plunge and hauled the fleet of creels that had been towed by the trawler last week. I knew it was trouble when I came across the buoy well out of position on the GPS from when I had shot it. Sure enough when I lifted it I had to sort out a ball of 50 creels. The guy must have towed the fleet until it stopped him. These hours of hard graft sorting out some one else’s careless or malicious mistakes are certainly character building and there is not much point in getting stressed out. We know who towed the gear, we know when he did it but there is nothing I can do to get any recompense. Ashore if these activities took place there would be a court case but at sea we do not seem to have any protection. I have even been told that I should not have creels there by trawlermen and it is my fault that they are towed away. This is on ground my father and grandfather have fished on and is within sight of the school my four boys have gone to. Even if it costs sometimes you just have to stand up for what you believe.
I have been thinking quite a bit about the state of the fishing due to the ongoing politics, trawlers towing gear and the general decline of the stocks. Because I have three fleets of creels beside a no-fish zone I am in favour of a series of them being instituted up the west coast, obviously relying on research to work out where in particular they should be situated. These three fleets have consistently fished better than any of my other fleets and I can only surmise that this is because I am beside a no-fish area.
It is unfortunate that our only protection is from unintended consequences in that we are protected by a European mobile ban in the lochs on the west coast which is in place to protect juvenile herring. This gives us a six month respite from the prawn trawler. Also the no fish zone is actually a torpedo test range which is closed off to all fishing effort. One often sees Trident subs steaming by and you do wonder about the sanity of our ‘leaders’ but that is for another day.
The scale of these ships are such that my little fishing boat would be dwarfed by the tail fin of the Vanguard and I always think that they look so sinister. The Range has been in place now since the mid 1970s and although it was met with opposition from local fishermen at the time I am now convinced that as long as it is there I may be able to continue fishing despite the continued pressure on the stocks. We have the Range on our GPS and I shoot the creels back along the outline of the Range. It is a shame that we have to rely on outside factors that defend our stocks. Why do the politicians not look at the science and take measures that protect the little guy who is fishing in the most sustainable way. But we have to change our methods as well to minimise our practices. The problem with most if not all fishermen is that we tend to blame every one else rather than look to ourselves as the cause of the problem. Although I may be very wrong in that way I look at the survival of the fishery I do believe my views are backed by both the science and what is happening on the fishing grounds.
Tuesday evening saw us at the Community Hall for a Community Council meeting where it just seemed to be an unremitting battle to try to keep services. Medical,elderly care,bin collection,housing, all critical issues that need to be sorted out for the continued wellbeing of the community. We shall see. Needed a couple of shifts at the Inn to get a better perspective on things. Just meeting people seems to settle things and having a bit of banter and chat with people from all corners of the world is as important as anything. The competition goes on with Brazil, Croatia, Morocco and Cyprus all arriving at the Inn. We are now on 48 countries who have visited the Inn.