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

Posts tagged ‘hydro’

Fuel back on as is Summer Colour

Took a bit of an effort but a trip up to the Screen was needed as it was just over the two weeks since the last time. Now know that three weeks is too long at this time of year as the algae grows very quickly and clogs the holes in the screen up thus the water running over the dam goes over the screen rather than into the chamber. Very dry just now, until today that is, but even now the sun is back out. Decided not to go out today due to the strong south-easterly due to swing round to the south-west. The trip up to the Hydro Head was after a day at sea. It was a day, that although well remunerative, was hard hard work. There was an awkward breeze all day from the north and had to keep going in and out of gear to keep up to the creels and there was just enough motion to make crossing the deck stacking the creels a little graceless. Thus the limbs were tired and ached somewhat, but as usual the rewards for a wee volunteer are immense

both when there and on the way up.

The two pooches would go up every day to check it out of course. Going back to the day at sea,lovely morning,

although the day was hard work the only thing that takes me in is having to land before the evening service at the Inn. Reading that there are people who are now so removed from nature that they cannot teach/tell their children about the environment they live in. This morning began by passing the ubiquitous seals on the Culduie rocks, with watching gannets fly off when you get a little close then a small pod of dolphins swim by with there young. What comes up in the creels seems colourful in the extreme

although the haddock, first for a while, is not in a healthy state.

Now know that this is a Yarrel’s Blenny,

a bit of knowledge from Chris who came to pick up for the aquarium. The last couple of fleets provided the tea for this evening along with many other meals at the Inn.

Tailed all the way in having to finish them off at the moorings, a rare occurrence.

Did not make it out on Monday, a pity for Bethany, as she was on her day off and had arranged to go out, but the breakers were underway by 7.00am and a north wind in full sun meant a breezy day. Finished roping up

the fleet washed on Sunday morning.

That pressure getting it ready was unnecessary but weather and tides always change plans here.

Today another day ashore but still plenty on the go and took the delivery for fuel,

unusually we ran out of diesel on Monday and petrol today, combination of high sales and slightly later delivery caught us short. Only the second time since the refurbished refurbishment. But all well now. Increased my IT knowledge by entering the delivery into the Site computer, still have to work out how to post videos on the blog but will be there fairly soon. Weather is so changeable as can be seen at the After Games Do

and the four Massey Feguson’s parked

at the Inn this morning. The Filling Station snails came out in the rain

and like the sea life are as colourful.

 

 

Rain at Last

(Tuesday) Given the choice between a 33C urban office job or a grey still morning with soft falling Highland rain on a glass sea,

well there isn’t really any way I could do the 33C one.

Took a couple of hours to get on the water on Monday morning. A longish, felt longer than it was, shift at the Inn. Occasionally the odd shift drags and looking at the clock becomes a regular glance every twenty minutes. Plenty of people through and no one knows you are a bit out of sorts. Headache kicks in properly mid afternoon despite lots of painkillers. They still came from as far afield as Hawaii and Sardinia. Home via the Chalet internet and bed by ten. Although it is still busy it feels a lot quieter at the Inn. Still no tables but at least the residents are not waiting for their’s and there is not a queue of twenty.

(Friday evening) you could say it is a bit of a recovery day. Needed a long sleep and even with that behind me there is a pretty constant tiredness in the old legs. With the week almost done it is not that surprising as most days it has been pretty physical. Today’s recovery day involved a bit of a catch up at the Chalet, hoping not for much longer as Alison is taking our broadband contact home from Inverness to work on our switch over. We and others have been off for four weeks now, too long. Had a conversation about it today and it feels like a rerun of the Filling Station problems. Crashing every day, rebooting, late billing and general stress. The fact that fuel is no longer is not a topic of anyone’s chat is testimony to how well it is being run by the Trading Company now. I am hoping this will be the case with our broadband in the months to come.

So a visit to the Community Hall where the School entertained us by running a French Cafe lunch, with Thor, Mason and Lily attending our table, in French no less. Lots of Potential for front of house at the Inn. The onion soup and chocolate cake were pretty good as well. Sam and Caroline are up from deep Deep South and arranged for Sam to come up to the Hydro screen checking it over for a clean. After Mick’s visit last week was thinking all was not quite as it should be with a fair bit of rain it was only running at 54 kWhs this morning. Looking at local streams I reckoned there should be more power being produced. After a wander through Carnoch, with Sam, visiting his favourite birch tree,

we made it to the top via the Archeological Trail.. By the time we came back down to the Turbine House there were 84kWhs being produced.  via the Archeological Trail. Lots of chat about land, sea and everything else, and a lesson learned about cleaning the screen

more regularly in the summer.

Better to have wet feet rather than wet shoes. You can see half the screen clean and the water going through while most is running over the dirty half.

Does not matter what the weather the view is always worth a stop and look.

Came back down through the coppicing part of Carnoch after Sam stopping to admire the Hebridean Barns, resuscitated through the ALPs project and reverting to its original purpose of clothes dryer.

We were in good company as well.

Fishing has stayed at a very healthy level with only 250/300 creels hauled to get the requisite amount for the Inns and a decent wage. Although tired my extra wee trip out on the evening of the Solstice was not regretted. On the way when I was heading back to the lights of Applecross, the hum of the Diesel engine and the breaking of the water against the bow, I went back in time and thought of the fishermen of Applecross who spent a week at a time away from home and what they must have been thinking of when they saw the lights of home after their week away, in far harsher conditions than I usually experience. Apart from the many octopodes,

occasional gannet

and that sunset

it was the simple routine of hauling, emptying, rebaiting, stacking and reshooting the creels.

Often said and thought by me that these trips to sea keep my sanity intact after the frenzy of the Inn. This week has been a little easier, a little dip in the numbers to just being busy. That’s every table being full but not the twenty people waiting. There are a fair amount of workmen at Sand and the biggest problem they have is accommodation. Amusing as that was one of the selling points during discussions around the Range expansion, that the work would fill accommodation places in Applecross. My quiet protestations that this was not necessary fell on deaf ears but has proven to be true. The first visit of Tarneybackle took place last night and they went down a storm, especially as they did not sing Sam the Skull. There was dancing till late and a return visit in three weeks is on the cards so farewells were not too extreme.

And always a view to stop and see on the way to and from the Inn.

Hydro Walk and Local Colour.

(Friday evening) Down from a trip up to the Head of the Community Hydro to show Rosslyn and brother Gordon the set up.

We had gone to the Turbine House where Owen joined us but he had band practice so did not head up the track. The view on the way down was worth the trip up on its own. Sights, sounds and chat all contributed to affine evenings walk. Having hauled 360 creels earlier in the day did not lessen the enjoyment although the legs felt it a little. Gordon is well versed in the industry, being involved in geotech in Norway, and may well come up with some new ideas to use the energy locally.

Lots of questions about generation, best times for usage, how much etc. Always good to see things from an outside perspective, learnt that early on in the volunteering scene. On the way up there are always colours

and nature to see and I was always being left behind both on the way up and back down. With the unusual dry spell we are in the 52% down spell included in the business plan.

(Saturday evening) Finishing up at the Inn tonight as have not the energy to go down to the Community Hall to hear the Band of Matthias. Germans playing rock covers. Busy enough evening but little contact, maybe a wee bit too tired but as long as no one knows. Coming up to eighteen hours since work began, earlier start with lambs calling and the rain falling, an unusual occurrence over the last three weeks. Not a fan of dozing so got up and used the forecast for the beginning of the week to get out. Bit of wind on the way so next week not expected to start before Thursday. There was a bit of a change in the blue skies we have had over the last few days.

Was fortunate to only have to haul four fleets as the fishing was fairly good. Despite having a fleet cut and not retired and losing a fleet, suspect some of the buoys the pile barge had wrapped around it was two of mine.

Two fleets down just now having lost one to the north, failing to recover that one after three tries. Not to panic as I will get it back eventually. That is fishing, plan a boat drying out and pressure wash, oil change and a trip to Inverness via Loch Ness Inn when it is windy. No end to the hours of activity. But in amongst it all I enjoy the chats with the elders of the community, random craic about sheep, peat cutting and had a visit from the south end of Raasay. A chap, Willie, who fished on the Mary Ann with my Dad no less. These little dips into the past are good for keeping the older folk alive, the oral history of the area will become harder to maintain in another generation as the world becomes more mobile. Well it is now kicking out time………. and done in the best possible taste.

The colours at sea

and on the shore

are equal to those on land, mostly they are out of sight and mind so tend not to be looked after as well but more of that next.

The light on the way down from the hydro did take the breath away though.

Out and About and a 28th

A day to forget. As the point of no return approaches I finally get some paperwork done. It is ridiculously easy if it was done on the day or even at the end of the week. 6/9 months later and scrabbling about looking for statements and invoices does the head no good. But one set of VAT Returns upto date and a trip through to Inverness means that Books maybe done on time and the debt collector phone calls can stop. Find it strange that a reclaim of around £500 can be turned into a £2,000 due but that is HMRC for you. Keep tabs on the wee boys and let the super yachts be built.

Had a weekend chatting away about small hydro, small fishers and basically small businesses. With a far better spread of small earners ploughing profits back into local economies instead of it being drained away from being recycled and keeping everyone occupied and less poor. Whether people may be against renewable subsides it is a way to both redistribute wealth and produce cleaner power. of course the down side of that is unless it is community owned then the subsidy just goes to the landowner who tends to have wealth already. The way round that is to direct the subsidy to community only schemes. Too Cuban for the current UK I suppose where there is a 95% cut in renewable subsidy under way.

As I was supposed to be doing paperwork over the weekend I managed to do everything but and was out and about,

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hoping to catch some winter shots.

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Not a lot doing although the hills had a covering

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there was a rapid change in the temperature.

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Big tide

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on Saturday and Dougal

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and Eilidh had a great run on the Bay sands

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after delivering the last of the local AppleJuice forms. Saturday evening ambled along and finished fairly early with a couple of scrabble games and more hydro chat. Mick was over with some of the larch which is for cladding the Turbine House and got the control boards connected remotely. There was a bit of playing about with the programs that allowed the hydraulics to open up the spear valve fully and we now have the generator running at 100%. It was a bit of an amble on Sunday lunch shift as well, 20+ lunches and the Boss away at a Brewery meeting. Was called in to do a photo shoot and not sure how successful in the light. Something to do with tele and publicity.

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Nipped up to the Inn on Friday for a token bottle of Crabbies to help celebrate the Boss’s 28th year in town especially as she does not look a day over 60!! No fishing until all paperwork done and can then go back to the real world of real work and stop being a volunteer tax collector for the government. Seems the reports on catches are that they are very poor so am not missing much. Away to the first of the Celtic Connection weekends via an AGM. Unfortunately train tickets bought were for an AGM in Inverness and not where it is going to be held….Edinburgh. One of the jobs is the train station at Inverness and will practice sob story on way in.

Volunteering.

It has been a lively spell of weather over the last couple of days. Blowing a gale from the north and the Hill is closed. I would hazard a guess that there will be some pretty serious drifting on the top today. We have a snowblower back in town except it is not quite as it seems. It is fits onto the front of a tractor but does not fit into the snowblower shed so part of it has to live in Lochcarron. Ever the optimist that is better than no snowblower at all. In between the snow showers I went up to the Hydro to clean the screen and all seemed well. Was up to check as we had an unexplained stoppage, restarted fine, and then a power cut. The restart from some reason did not go above 35 kWhs so I stopped it again but could not restart. Ewen then moved in and shut down the power and it has been fine since but we are missing the last 10 kWhs as it is running at 80. Been ramping up the hours, paperwork is through for the tax relief and first payment from SSE has turned up so we seem to be on our way. At times during the snagging you get a little nervous especially as it is a community investment but at 420,000 kWhs we are on course. Views from up there were spectacular when watching the weather coming across the Sound.

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A couple of shifts at the Inn pass pleasantly by as we have about 20 people in and no pressure but to chat to people. The Boss was chatting to one customer and he was going to work abroad, had a Scottish girlfriend and wanted to propose, but it was not going well. She had not been feeling too great the night before and on the way to the Inn had almost gone off the road so she had a bit of a fright and went to bed early. The Boss ended up giving him advice for about an hour trying to think of romantic spots further up the west coast where he could get down on one knee. Looking out the window it may have to be inside as the snow passing by is horizontal. The regulars, up to give Dave a hand controlling the hinds, are fine banter although one gets the impression that there are topics you have to stay clear off. One mentioned he has named his latest dog Brex.

Wednesday was just one of those days and tells you how reliant we are on power and volunteer work. The Tax relief forms arrived and hundreds had to be filled in for people to reclaim tax relief on their investments. Alison had finally won her battle with the HMRC but filling in the forms was tedious and went on for ages. So I took a batch up the road and three of us spent hours round the table filling in everything but the personal details of the investor, then the power goes off, so the Filling Station has to be rebooted and with a data error showing that took an hour longer than expected, but has to be done or the Postie is stuck. Then onto the Hydro. So I reckon between form filling and the other rebooting and re-starting the volunteer hours put in by Judith, Frances, Ewen and myself over the day amounted to over eleven. Small communities are so reliant on volunteering, whether it is Annual Games , running The Community Hall, Heritage Centre etc. Still as the weather was fresh

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and that does not deter Dougal

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and Eilidh there was still time in the day for a wander along the shore and watch the waves roll in over the Pier.

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Dougal in particular loves the wind in his hair.

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Have to say Tuesday was the result of falling off the wagon, and so soon after The New Year celebration. Twice in two weeks is at one too many and that should do for quite a while. The excuse was the arrival of a couple from Deep South, Essex. They rocked up at the end of 2015 and Applecross, as ever made a pretty fair impression, so much so they were back after a stay in Plockton and a trip over to Lewis. The “session” was joined by a couple from Brighton and good craic was had. A great night where views, opinions, knowledge and laughter flowed. I noticed that there were up to three conversations going all night, mostly at the same time. Just as well as there were six of us and no one was talking to themselves. An evening to dip briefly into other people’s lives, what Applecross does best. The remaining four posed for a wee photo shoot and the most disturbing thing about the shot is the clock in the corner.

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Boy did I suffer for the night, the suffering only eased by one of the Inn’s momentous venison burgers that, and seeing the state of the other participants. The things one has to do to get through the dark month.

A County Kildare Protest.

Cracking weather yesterday

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and it coincided with an overnight stay from Topher

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who came down from Ullapool to have a wee look at our Community Council. He is planning to stand in next May’s Council elections and is already in with a good shout from here as he has taken the trouble to visit and see what goes on and has a good understanding of the barriers/problems we face. He is also involved in the Ullapool skiff building and met up with our community team up at the Poly Tunnel. He was impressed by the conditions the builders will be working in. Lots of light and heat from the hydro scheme. Obviously has a wee bit of skill in the wood department himself as is seen by the coffin he made for his Dad this summer, an ex navy man.

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A wee shut down yesterday at the hydro but putting a tripped breaker back on this morning meant it is running well again. The last 6/7 weeks has caught up a lot of time lost during the summer snagging list and has been producing 90+% of capacity. Went up to the Head with Topher and he ended up giving a hand in having a look at

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and cleaning the screen.

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Good CC Meeting yesterday and it was all over in under a couple of hours and involved some intelligent opinion exchanges. Have been to a couple of meetings, consultations and emails and glad I have not fired out immediate responses as the aftermath has included conversations with people who have a more optimistic view of current proceedings. I have not changed my opinion of our overlords but more of that later. While walking home I ended up getting a lift going in the other direction, having a great wee chat and eventually being dropped off at the house, only in Applecross.

The rest of the time has been taken up in front of the light box, which I think is working, being slightly less grumpy, (in my opinion) and out and about with Dougal and Eilidh.

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Unusual find on the beach at the head of the Bay.

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And with the winter not hitting hard yet enjoying some rather good light.

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Finish off with a wonderful tale from Ireland, visitors from County Kildare, eating at the Inn some weeks ago. All told in the lovely accent from just west of Dublin. ” Julian one day was seen wrapped in a blanket and was walking the length of the village square. When he got to the edge he turned round and walked all the way back, not speaking to anyone or saying a word to passersby. Should be noted that, like here, he had more than one job and as well as working for the Council he was the local grave-digger. After a few days of this, curiosity got the better of Mary who cycled down to the square got off her bike and accompanied Julian in his walk, back and fro, back and fro, all the time pestering him with “What are you doing Julian,” “Tell me why you are walking in the square with a blanket over your head”. This went on for several traverses of the square with absolutely no response from Julian, but Mary was persistent and kept asking Julian what was going on. Finally Julian cracked, turned round to Mary and said “Will ye no feck off or I will away and dig up yer Mudder”. The response was instantaneous and Mary immediately scuttled off on her bike none the wiser.” Seems it was Julian supporting the H Block protest which resulted in Bobby Sands dying during the hunger strike. I cannot do it justice but these little moments are worth their weight in gold and why, even during the dark hours of winter, working at the Inn is so good.

 

Grandpa Stones’ Shetland Tales.

It’s been a busy wee spell and have started several posts so its going to be a pictorial as the snaps are still being taken. the words are going to wait for another time. the Hydro is going well but still having to keep an eye on the screen at the Head as it clogs up fairly quickly. The scrub today resulted in an extra 5 kWh for a while. With a good breeze from the west, fine company

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and colours

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it is no chore climbing up the steep slope. Twice in a couple of weeks

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and it needed the clean. This was todays screen.

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Doubly checking.

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View is not bad though.

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The weather has been fairly settled

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only breaking on Tuesday

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making today the first day in nine when I have not been at the Inn, fishing or both. Not a lot to report at sea but very patchy fishing, most poor catches with the occasional good day thrown in. Shallow water throws up some colour and large berried females. Good for the future.

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Bit late in the year to be so busy but still time to watch the arrival of huge flocks of field fares on the last morning of good weather.

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They came in from the north west and headed to Toscaig before working their way north decimating the rowan berries.

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Been a very good year for the rowan

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so plenty of feeding. Morning and afternoon photos of the same tree.

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Quite timid and very noisy.

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The highlight of the ten days was meeting up with Grandpa Stones from the Black Isle, the driver who delivered this weeks fuel. Some one who professed his love of oral history and dislike of computers. He asked after Uisdean as he had delivered fuel to the original Filling Station at Camusterrach and then told me stories of his time at The West Highland School of Adventure and a certain Flight Lieutenant. Of a night they did not sleep to order but did, after all being made to get up in the middle of the night, outside in the snow followed by cold showers….they were the days. He regaled me with some tales of Shetland, having an empathy with his wife’s uncles. These men headed off to sea as did their compadres from the western isles. Story of one crossing the Bay of Biscay, he told him that the weather was foul, he was up in the crow’s nest and the weather was so bad that when he came down the ship wasn’t there.

The next one took place in a mixed race bar in South Africa, where an uncle along with a native American, delicately described as a Red Indian, were having a pint or five. Sometime after one or two drinks were had a man of “darker skin” came over and inquired as to their place of origin. Shetland came the first reply followed by an explanation where that was and then the native American explained where he was from. A pause and the black guy turned to him and said there were pretty few of his folk around, to which the Indian replied ” If the cowboys had come to Africa there would be few enough of you Black guys”.

Finally I got the story of the malfunctioning baler in Shetland which he eventually got going. This was accompanied with the remark that it must have been pretty sic if the owner had to go as far sooth as Rossshire to get it sorted. The conversation finished with evocative memories of guddling for trout in the burn by his home growing up in Cromarty. And this was where his ashes were going. His descriptions were magical and from being a little grumpy in going up to the Filling Station, I ended up having spent a wonderful hour in his company.

 

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