Good to be back on the water again. Monday and yesterday were quiet days where, although you are working hard, you are free from all the stresses and strains of the community. All was as expected and there were no foul ups and a few prawns were caught. On monday I had a bit of an elderly moment when I could not find one of my fleets. I am a bit old-fashioned and do not keep a note in the GPS but write the north ends of the lines down. I was not very clear with my note and thought I had my co-ordinates wrong and could not find the fleet. I tend not to shift my gear too much as there are so many fleets of creels out there now it usually means fouling some one else’s creels. Then hauling down by the Range I came across the “missing” fleet. I had taken it over there before my little break. When you are on your own all day with just Radio4 for company you head off to lots of different places and I started thinking that although I thought the fleet was lost it was n’t really. Existential questions about whether it was ever lost just because you did not know where it was.It was always where it was whether I knew it or not and if you just think something is lost does that mean it is actually lost? It is probably just as well I do the shifts in the Inn to get the balance right and tonight was as good as ever. I cover up the days thoughts with a veneer of conviviality, well meant of course. Full tables of very happy people giving lots of compliments to the staff…..really good as Judith was in Inverness with her Dad. Mind you we only do what she wants us to do and it works.
Monday saw my first sailing boat head up the Sound and this, as opposed to the first swallow, is a sure sign the new summer season is around the corner. Reminds me of a couple of summers ago when a Fair Isle ketch turned up in the Sound and wanted prawns which meant a crew transfer, followed by a cash and produce transaction, all while they were under sail going down the Sound at about 6/7 knots.
Cold still mornings but no snow or rain and the ice on the shore is stretching out on the tides.
Back onto Radio4 and there was a fascinating half hour on beekeeping in the US of A where they are dealing with colony collapse and have varroa and lots of other problems. They transport their hives from florida to the almond groves in California and then back to New England for the berries and back down to Florida. They split hives and have to put more than one queen per hive per season…all sounds very unnatural and forced but it is a multi billion dollar industry with one beekeeper having 80,000 hives, just mind boggling.I have had to delete a couple of silly comments from a chappie down the road telling me I had brought varroa into Applecross, and I thought beekeepers worked well together. The scale of the industry in America is just astonishing but all I want is a couple of healthy hives.
This morning, instead of going fishing I had a day of books as they were interrupting my sleep. Now up to date with the pier by sending off two VAT returns and done bills till the end of January. No pleasure at all and just feel like an unpaid tax collector, and in a months time it will be the same again. The weather was wonderful and the view across the Sound spectacular so was tempted out to the garden for an hour before heading up the road to the Inn. Wearing my latest lopi off the stocks, chose the colours this time and made a German very envious.
Dougal never misses an opportunity to mess about out there. One or two of the more fragile plants will be suffering under his pounding.
What a day to be out on the water. Blue sky and still waters and the prawns are still going into the creels although the berried ones are increasing on every haul. The larger prawns seem to have disappeared but all’s still well. Yesterday was my first big day in becoming a beekeeper. I went over to Audrey’s with Tim’s hive and after having a look at three of her hives including the one she split in June. So much to learn but it is interesting to hear the different ways of looking after the hives. Audrey does not concern herself about whether she finds her queen in the hive but knows by seeing the eggs and grubs under way telling her she has a fertile queen laying. When she split her brood frames she thought that her queen had gone with them but either way the workers rear a new one , they are amazing. So I transferred the bees to the hive and am leaving them for up to two weeks, wait for an evening call and head back over for the hive and then back home.
This a really healthy frame with eggs, grubs, capped cells and lots of honey and all the frames we saw were in great shape.
Audrey really does not want to go into the hives too often and is very careful about the weather conditions as well. Seeing how the bees react it is not surprising. They do seem to be fairly gentle bees but they do get cheesed off when disturbed.
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