Beautiful day yesterday and saturday come to think of it. There is a change in the weather this week but it is still bearable. The sunday lunch shift was full on and every flag was in use. We use the flags as table markers for the prep staff to take the food to. The inn is starting to get flags in the post from visitors who have noticed that their flags are not represented in Applecross. A sign of a smaller world. Seventy years ago a traveller from the other end of Europe visiting Applecross would have been treated as an event, now we get 50 visitors from different countries in a day.
Had to take a break and nip outside with Dougal to enjoy the sun dipping behind the north end Raasay and Skye. You just cannot get used to these light shows. I have been here for 30 years now and they are still awesome to me.
Another student has arrived to have a look at what is happening in Applecross and use it as part of her post grad thesis. It does seem since the Community Company has been formed there is a perception that something is happening here and we are trying to do something on a community level. In the past when almost every house was lived in and most of the crofters were working their crofts there was a natural sense of community, necessary in most cases. Amy is looking at the landscape and how we live within it and value it probably more from a cultural view-point. After walking up to Tor Mor with Alison she stopped off for a cup of tea and a chat. Planning a day on the boat next week when the good weather returns for a different view on things. As always we had a good natter about lots of stuff. I always wonder why we cannot marry technology with a good quality of life growing your own food, having time to appreciate what is around you. We still seem to live in a world of ever-increasing speed and acquisition. Food and the cost of quality food always comes up in these type of rambles. Always cutting the costs of production for profit inevitably means that the quality of what you eat is affected. Buy cheap trawled prawns to find out what I mean.On the way up the road on friday there was another example of the strange way we live now. I had a photo of my neighbour carrying out bracken control on his own croft by cutting hay and also encouraging a wild flower meadow, all on a very small-scale. This is how we control bracken now… by helicopter spraying a herbicide.
Do not have a strong opinion on the rights and wrongs of the actual chemical sprayed but think it is a misuse of valuable energy and the old way did work. It is only since the decline of working crofts that bracken has mushroomed here and surely the way ahead is to resurrect some of the old practices that worked. I was asked on thursday why I wanted to have bees and I could only say that it was something to redress the balance of decline I have seen in the last 30 years and as I have not worked my croft properly over that time feel a sense of contributing to the decline. I do not think the use of helicopters has any place in shaping our landscape.
450 creels hauled and a shift at the Inn meant tired bones this evening but it went well both on board the Varuna and the Inn despite managing to shoot a fleet of creels over another one of my own. After 30 years you would think I would learn. Fishing is still easing back and most of the prawns are going to the Inn. There are very few large ones being caught and on the shallower ground there are increasing numbers of berried prawns. Today was the first day for a while when they were waiting for me to come in with the catch, both prawns and squats sold out. Having a really busy day is ok as I had a fairly easy day yesterday and tomorrow is over the Hill to see my Mum and get the bees under way. The plan is to take the hive over and for Audrey to split one of her hives and set up my hive where they should settle in and I go back for them next week.Yesterday I headed off to Shieldaig to have another Thai massage and drop prawns off at Ardeslaig for the Spanish market. It’s good to chat to Sarah to catch up on the Sheildaig news. Their Fete seemed to go well last weekend and there were plenty people around. These ‘village games/fetes’ are important as they raise a fair bit of money for the communities to be spent over the year. One does wonder how the Spanish market will hold up as the economic news from Spain is bad and getting worse. On the way back I called in at Muirnie’s stained glass studio and spent a pleasant hour in the sun with a cup of tea and a brownie. Kaley came along and had a good natter. Talking about this and that and the Kenmore cow story came up. Seems Stuart had one of his cows go missing and over the next few days went over the ground and eventually found her down on the shore at Kenmore. Unfortunately she had fallen down a narrow gorge and landed close to the shore with a broken neck. The next problem was how to get her out and back to Kenmore where she could get disposed of safely. This was where the local salmon farmers came to the rescue with one of their boats. Coming into the shore they tied a rope round the unfortunate cow, which was now bloated with gas, to pull her across the bay. Off they went but Daisy was stuck, so the revs were increased and more until suddenly she shot out the gorge and boat and waterskiing Daisy were seen racing across Kenmore bay. I would have loved to have seen the expressions on the two slightly well to do holiday makers who were having their lunch in Derek’s holiday cottage as they looked across the bay and saw this apparition come racing over the water.
Before I went over to Shieldaig I saw my neighbour, Sandy, was cutting his hay with his scythe and drying it on a fence on his croft. This method of drying hay is derived from Norse times and is seldom seen in Scotland now. Again we have this conundrum of what Sandy is doing is really good environmentally in that what he is cutting is rich meadow grass and the way he cuts and dries it , according to the naturalist Fraser Darling is the best way to keep most of the nutrients in the hay. The downside is in todays terms it is not economic, maybe todays terms are wrong.
The first signs of autumn are appearing with the cuttle fish laying her eggs on some of the creels. this creel is coming ashore for a wash next week and as well as the eggs you can see a young queen scallop off to the right attached to the mesh.