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

Posts tagged ‘landlord’

A Grumpy One

Although we are in for a busy weekend there is a definite end of season feel in the air. Maybe not helped by it being Friday and the first day on the water this week and even then it involved a northerly swell and a breeze from the south. By mid afternoon the breeze had developed into a wind, fortunately the fishing had improved from the morning although being in gear you have to watch when you steam past the south end you don’t get the tailing in the prop. Well more than once anyway. This coupled with noticing some spotlets of emulsified oil coming through my wet exhaust adds up to a bit of a grumpy feel to the day. I could have done with a longer visit from the dolphins. They came up very quickly, pirroeted a full 180 degrees out of the water alongside the boat and swam off. The oil problem is a heat exchanger and I have to find out if it is the gearbox or the engine oil I will be losing. It is never all joy and happiness in any job but at this time of year after a full on and busy summer these little things get blown up and exaggerated in the mind. Western world issues so in the grand scheme of life they will be trivial.

Good mood to have a mini rant about how the community is impacted by outside decisions and the little we can do about it. There is a theme across the Highlands that Community Councils are of little import and to some extent I would have to agree. As a region and country our local democracy is in pretty poor shape and to some degree unrepresentative. This is mainly due to most people’s perception that there is little the Council can do other than voice a community opinion. I do not usually post on individuals but the fact that the Inn Chef, Robert, and the School and Fire person, Marion, have to deal with a planning decision that stops their plans in progressing their presence on the Applecross peninsula is frankly incomprehensible. Robert and Marion, holding three jobs down between them, one young un and another imminent, working crofters cannot get planning permission to build a croft house near their croft. They are refused on the grounds that it is not in keeping with the surroundings environs and is too far from other habitations. I find it hard to put into words what I think of these decisions taken on the east coast by people who have no conception of what living on the fragile west is like. Apart from the ludicrous reasons for refusal, I can take you round Applecross and show you houses that have been built with no other houses near them, so as well as being a negative decision in the first place it has no place with any precedence. Ridiculous from which any angle you look at. It is easy to criticise but this and other decisions have little basis in a community’s growing it’s capacity and resilience. Another decision on the Street has been negative on the grounds the living quarters are upstairs. Considering that already happens in Holiday Houses three or four doors along it holds no water anywhere else but the east. You couple this with no land being released for affordable houses you can see we. are going to have problems in the very near future. Do people think it is ok for workers to live in multiple occupancy and caravans, in poor housing where do these issues come into the planning process. I leave the argument that everything is fine and should be left as it is to discuss, that is the rewilding argument in a way, saying that people should not and have not lived here for generations, which is patently untrue. Always change, sometimes the change is rather quick but you have to deal with it as it will not go away.

When, we as a community, are faced with an absentee landlord saying that a site is unsuitable because you can see it from the road you can only shake your head in disbelief. Drive down the road from Ardeslaig to Toscaig and you see every single house, holiday house and empty house from the road. Mind you I have been told of two other reasons for that site, the first being the presence of sink holes, not a good excuse due to the Turbine House being built there, and finally an agricultural reason just to make sure the site will not become available. You get the idea that releasing land is  not on the absentee landlord’s agenda, frustrating when you look at Achintrad, Sheildaig, Lochcarron, Balmacara, where affordable houses are being built and lived in by young folk who send kids to local schools and have employment in their locales. So individual planning decisions taken against this background feel so negative.

I have been to some positive and not so positive meetings lately, great to hear ideas put forward about a Community Hub, increased employment, housing from people who understand the fragility of the community and have  thoughts and plans to reverse the almost imperceptible decline. On the positive side there are more crofts being used now, the decline seems to have bottomed out and younger folk are growing and producing more food locally, building the resilience of the place, it’s a good year for wee ones being born, would be great if this was the norm rather than being unusual and employment must be 120%, more to do than the people living here can cope with. In a way it is a sort of curse when asked what is one’s agenda for the community. I can state that nothing is personal in that my living and employment prospects do not need to be improved so it is purely on a community level. Of course I may be wrong but I can see how a fine community can work in difficult circumstances and that is the one at the Inn. Great team and generally a happy place, building under pressure, workers not in ideal housing, but despite all the problems a fine example how a community can work.

So the consultations go on, there is the launching of a proper community consultation run by the Community Company, while the Trust Working Group continues. I feel I have made the right decision not to keep putting time into this and leave it to more positive minded people. I see no change in the direction the Trust is going in despite different personnel  on the Board. The suggested Chair of the Working Group, someone who is not only not local but is also not “independent”, confirms my decision to spend my time more usefully. I sincerely hope the Group is able to influence Trust policy for the future before more and more people think the  development of Applecross will have to go through new powers of the Community Empowerment Act.

Another meeting attended this week concerned the laying of fibre optic cable from Sheildaig to Lochcarron. Wonderful one may think but we came away from the meeting thinking little or no benefit to the community. There will be empty chambers for a licensed provider to build cabinets to deliver superfast broadband but that is unlikely to happen as cabinets cost around £65,000 and does not make economic sense to supply to a half-dozen houses. There was more unsaid than we were told, i.e. the contractor, the huge expense of laying a cable that is not going to be used locally. SSE backhaul does not really hold water and we all came away with the strong suspicion that the customer is based on the North Coast and has little to do with the local community and decisions are taken far far away. Meanwhile some residents are being promised 50/70 meg speeds from BT as they take in broadband by radio. Very puzzling and can only wait and see if this is true.

Now that feels better and life goes on. As said before the fishing was better than expected and the tea was good, it being these shrimps, all eyes

trying to make me feel guilty, some squats in mayo, and mussels increase,garlic and wine sauce, good accompaniments to baked Tatties.  This chappie was released after the photo and swam away happily in a flash of colour.

In-between the grumps the dolphin visits, they were too quick for me,

and the occasional calm days with lots of activities on and in the water,

a Thai massage and good chats with good people keeps you on a level, although maybe reading this I may need a lot more therapy.And to finish with a light show

or two.


Snowy (Not Tintin)

Inverness on Friday, a bit strange being a passenger, especially in the poorish weather. But the driver was not too bad. Roads on the way, especially above Glen Docherty were interesting.


Ben Wyvis looked good on the way in


and for no reason at all, is a picture of the railway line just before Inverness Station.


Had to go in to answer some book-keeping questions that I thought needed face to face explaining. Bit cheesed off that I had to travel so far for such a trivial reason. Hundred and sixty miles, but needs must. Not too bad as it turned out, got lift in with Judith, her dentist and jobs and me Highland Wholefoods and Thai massage on the way home. So not a wasted trip for a couple of book-keeping questions. Turned out that they were easily answered with only a little more work. Not only that but my VAT billing was correct and got email saying so. Not good enough a book-keeper to bo too smug though. Cracking massage in Shieldaig and all the gossip on the street thrown in, meanwhile Judith visited the local and had a bit of craic with the resident mafioso. Unfortunately there was no lager, a little problem for a pub on the west coast at the start of the week-end. Shame it does not seem to be working out. Inn can be the making of a community, we are so fortunate with ours.  So nice and relaxed, back home with a fish and chips carry out, after a snowy drive round the coast. Hill is closed for the weekend.

Saturday and I was almost on the water but that would have meant getting up in the middle of the night to catch the tide for putting the dingy back on the endless line. So as times have changed I slept through. The light in the morning on the Cuillin was worth a trip down the road before breakfast,


suited Dougal fine. And again Dun Caan.


An easy-going day with just another trip down for a couple of mid day shots of Ardhu.




And took the dingy over to the line. An example of the power of the sea is seen by the size of the boulders that were shifted in the storms, one ending up over the line.


Had to split the splice before tying up and heading up for the papers. Tonight the shift was very local, in fact those left after nine were all related to me and each other, not in an Apalachian way, of course. A golden celebration tonight and there has been a lot of reminiscing. Coming on at five and chatting coming along the street realised that there was going to be four people sleeping on Shore Street tonight. Wonder if that has ever been the case before, then conversation goes along the lines of how many elderly and single occupancy houses across the peninsula. Every now and again I put my oars worth in on the land reform debate. I only argue from a community point of view and argue that the blocks to any sustainable development have to be removed. I have no idea how, if it is not done on a voluntary basis. Was on fb this week on a stream about an article/advert about good landowners and portraying land reform as the politics of envy. Codswallop when you have first hand knowledge of a policy of obstruction and the even more clever policy of deflection, when another year passes and nothing happens. As the man says “The poor had no lawyers”. But four people sleeping on a fifteen house street cannot be a healthy prospect for the future.

And today consisted of four lunches, and light at that, and lots of chit-chat around local politics. Not all about land but also about how public funds are used that distort competition locally. I recall this coming up before when organisations, not based locally, gain access to public funds and then set up in competition to small local based traders who have invested their own time and money building up their trade over the years.


I have railed against ludicrous di minimus decisions in the past but see these as classic examples where they should be taken especially when the grant is given expressly stating no unfair competition should take place. One rule for……

A Good Week for the Prawn.

Mid winter feel to Sunday. Sitting in the Inn at 6pm listening to drink fuelled “land reform needed” stories. Source that sparked them off was the thirty five years ago article in last week’s WHFP. It was about Gilbert who wandered into Mr Macrae’s house,opened his freezer and found a bit of venison in it so trouble ensued, ex gamekeeper in a tied house, bad situation. All began by said exkeeper wandering the land with binoculars so suspicions were aroused. Appears if it was not for a newspaper campaign then it would have ended in eviction rather than a “series of misunderstandings.” Bearing in mind this was a few miles down the road and only thirty five years ago no one can tell me that we do not need land reform. Things have improved a bit of course since then but according to the revolutionaries in the bar there is a long way to go. Had a look at Proposal 6 in the new land reform bill and immediately you see it will not be easy to legislate. The duty of community engagement on Charitable Trustees when taking decisions on land management is going to be a tricky one to legalise. 73. states a proposal that there will be a stand alone duty on Trustees of a Charity when considering the management, use or transfer of any land under the Charity’s control, the Trustees must engage with the local community and consider the potential impact on the community before taking the decision. Might be a problem if that went against the aims of the Charity, but I suppose if the main aim of the Charity is tax avoidance……although aims on the original Trust papers will have impact on any new legislation. And concerns raised for bodies such as Village Halls and Community Woodlands ending up with more onerous duties by default. Also what happens with the big Charities, how do they consult? Defining consulting may be a problem as we see locally. Glad I am just a fisherman.

Back to the bar and we had a few in during the day. Not enough to prevent the new bar staff wandering off home with nothing really to do. It was the same on Saturday evening but it does give you the chance to chat and get to know the residents. Crofters from Skye, NHS and SNH employees through to posh car organiser. Middle of the day saw a rapid increase in the wind coming from the west


and it was racing into the Bay for a couple of hours.


Good direction as the moorings are calm from this wind. Winter coming closer with Raasay wearing a small sprinkle of snow.


Lovely and bright while the breeze was up. Boss arrived back mid afternoon and settled into a glass or two of cabernet. A couple of meals and a game or two of scrabble saw the evening out.

Calm before the anticipated storm for most of Monday. Very fresh still from the north west meaning no danger of going out but calmed down during the day.


Continued tidying up the wood store and was on the bike a couple of trips to the shop and the Inn.


Interesting little mushrooms growing out of the damp beech and a lovely dusk scene cycling along the Street.That was preceded by a fine and bright start through the denuded apple tree.


Finish off with a picture I have not seen before of the Fortitude up on the beach in Kyleakin. This is a photo i got from fb courtesy of Angus MacSween, an exringnetter from Scalpay. In the background you see the houses up the back of Kyle, in fact No9 where I grew up is in the picture. Did not know much of what was going on in the fishing then, only my Dad was away all week and we had no money.


Posting this on Tuesday morning and it is grim. Dark, very wet and very windy and this is the foretaste. The Inshore forecast is giving sea state as “phenomenal for a time”. Going to see what the afternoon brings when it turns to the west. St Island may help protection for the dingy. The Varuna should be protected from the worst of it and when she swings round to the north west later in the week there is less wind predicted. A very good week for prawns. They can be out and about with little danger of ending up on any ones Christmas starter.

Changin’ Scotland and It Is.

That was some three days, even for here the variety was something. Had made it to bed after a shift on Thursday coming back from Contin and was shattered but in a good way. Friday was taken at a run although part of that was making sure I had finished a post for putting out on Saturday. Contin did look good and it was thanks to the pooches that I made time to see above and over the mists. Lovely weather  on Friday morning





and managed everything, all the menial stuff, the washing, dishes etc, in time for making it up to the Bealach summit


to watch the sun dip behind the Cuillin.



One of the jobs I had earmarked for the day was to feed the bees but when I went over to see how they were doing they were busy flying and saw some pollen coming in as well.


Extra ordinary in the last days of November how pleasant and warm it is. So although I had forgotten a couple of things in the rush it was worth it for the scenes taking place out west. After catching up with Alison at Garve we all made our way to Leckmelm to get the nest ready for later and then off into Ullapool to grab something to eat and get into another Changin’ Scotland. Calling in at the Ceilidh Place we were immediately chatting to all sorts of revolutionaries and as a result missed the start of the evening. Finding the right venue and not reading the programme did not help.

Back to Leckmelm and a night spent trying to keep Dougal off the bed. It was at floor level due to a big relative’s recent visit and Dougal thinking he was still on his Contin holidays made the most of it. Another late arrival at the Village Hall, this time due to fishing, bee and wood chat at the lodgings. Missed the start of Matt Qvortrup’s talk on Referendums. Really interesting and then it was Prof Adam Tomkins, some one who I had followed on twitter to see and read about another view. Had to stop after the Vote as I found him just a bit too harsh. Fair play for him coming up this way as he was in a definite minority view. There really was some good behind the scenes descriptions of how the Smith Commission has worked to get its proposals out but he did appear to lose it somewhat when he described all Glasgow’s secondary state schools as not fit for purpose and dipped even deeper into tribal party politics saying the English education system was wonderful alongside his eulogy of Mr Gove. Got a brilliant rant from a retired Glasgow teacher at the coffee break. Sent by his wife to apologise for his language later in the morning, unnecessary but great to chat with people from around the country. Although the afternoon was absorbing and thought-provoking, listening to the likes of Jeane Freeman, David Greig and Kathy Galloway among others, the evening was beckoning with Tom Smith, Lateral North, Andy Wightman and Dr Jim Hunter.

Kathy Galloway began her talk with an extra ordinary tale. Bill going through Parliament on Friday with cross party support to prevent revenge evictions. That is, tenants, who complain to their landlords about housing conditions being evicted for their troubles. the Bill failed to go onto the books because it was talked out of time…..by two Tory MPs ……and you felt the room already knew what she was going to say next…..two Tory MPs who were landlords. If I did not declare an interest at a CC meeting and did not leave the room I would be out on my ear. The point I take from this they are now so arrogant they do not seem to care who sees or knows what they do now.

Tom Smith showed a power point full of imagination of what could happen in Scotland in the future…..nothing was deemed impossible, an example being that Scapa Flow could be the maritime hub for the whole of western Europe. A cracking example put forward by Tom was of a Danish architect who decided it would be a good idea to build a swimming pool above a supermarket using the wasted heat to warm the pool. Not only that he put in a diving board that allowed the divers into the supermarket. So shoppers in the fruit and veg aisle were passed by divers inside the glass enclosed pool. Got me thinking about lots of seagoing ventures that could be feasible in the scheme of things. It is not long since the western seaboard was connected by sea routes and that brought to mind an earlier discussion about remoteness. Remote is a relative term and where you are determines how remote you are. London is remote from Applecross. The world map on the wall of the Inn shows Applecross as the centre and threads from all across the world coming to Applecross. Millennium ago the first settlers inhabited the centres of “civilisation” and these were the coastal fringes of an impenetrable and wild hinterland. Stopped for dinner at the Ceilidh Place where we had the good fortune to sit with Jim Hunter and as the meal went on great exchanges of stories took place.


He is now working on a book about the Sutherland Clearances and was telling us about the bounties paid out to “hunters” for eagles heads etc. Showing how the people lived on the land alongside the natural inhabitants and the diversity of wildlife that existed then. Not rosy by any means for the people but far better the denuding and degradation of the Highlands that took place over the last 200 years. The Scottish Govt’s programme has poor landlords in its sights and rightly so. Why should so few people hold sway over so many in a modern democracy? Why should the amount of land any one person can hold not be capped? Why can individual wealth not be kept under control. All these accumulations of power, wealth and property are ultimately detrimental to the surrounding environment. I equate these actions to my own life style, the constant striving for growth in the fishing industry inevitably leads to stock extinctions and a degraded eco system and as such should be controlled for the benefit for everyone. At Leckmelm the right of fishermen to fish to extinction was decried as it affects the non fishing community. As regards the degrading of the land and sea we are all in it together. Feels good to be amongst the revolutionaries. Meanwhile Dougal and Eilidh were given frequent walks and he, in particular had his moments meeting Douglas Fraser’s Sam and had a great wee mess about. One not so good moment nipping off in the dark to roll in the foulest rotten fish he could find. Result of that was a swim in Loch Broom. The end of the evening was interspersed with lots of chat about potential future opportunities for people and communities across the Highlands, but there was a wee stop for a snap.


We decide to head down the road as work commitments meant a full on day for Sunday for both of us. On the way down the road Jim Hunter’s mention of Angus Macrae of North Strome reminded me of hearing him in Assynt. I had the good fortune to have been invited up to take part in a Radio programme by Lesley Riddoch and towards the end of the recording Angus stood up to say how proud he was of the Assynt crofters in their buying of the Estate and he hoped this would be the start of a repopulating of the Highlands. He then went on to describe such an evocative picture of driving home in the dark from Inverness across the northern Highlands and seeing the lights back on in the Glens, keeping him company on the way home. So different from now when you can travel for miles in total darkness. Maybe the new reforms that are proposed may help Angus’s vision to be fulfilled.

I can only end by saying it was a privilege to have been in such company and that includes the whole week, ranging from the community leaders in Contin to the politicos, journalists, activists and the good people in Ullapool. One can only hope that the efforts of Gerry Hassan and Jean Urquhart can be rewarded in the continuing of this great weekend. Today was hard graft, a 10/11 hour stint, but rewarding at the Inn but rest now for a day’s fishing may be on the cards for tomorrow.

Happy at the Inn.

A hard day yesterday, but with the weather breaking today a recovery couple of days are on the cards. By rights I should have taken another fleet of creels ashore to wash but life is for living. An autumn day and the fire is on. No way is the washing going out today. With some bad weather forecast for the week-end catching some langoustine yesterday hopefully would mean they are on the menu board till the weather clears up on Mon/Tues. Managed 300 up before it got a little lumpy but not before I caught my tea for today.




With a strong SE to NW drift in the water just now it is hard work keeping the creels out of the Range. To the east there are three boats gear coming west as well and you just have to go back to original positions and hope you do not shoot over their gear, sometimes you do but it is not an option to move. Some of the prawns caught on the edge of the Range are usually amongst the biggest you see and one or two really catch the eye.


Fish pie on the cards. Ling, smoked haddock and squats with cheese sauce, new potatoes and peas. That should set me up for the evening shift. Promises to be a hard one for front of house as the weather looks a bit shabby for eating in the garden. Mark”The Catman” Newton headed off Sat morning on his reconditioned scooter and was last seen heading around the Bay chugging along into the teeth of a SW strong wind and fairly horizontal rain. Best of luck. Although it was back on Wednesday it took a couple of days to get all the bells and whistles back on.


One customer, Guinness, the border terrier, will be happy to see him go as the cats were very anti dog and Guinness used to getting his way got a big shock when they both appeared from under table 9 scratching and spitting.


And no it is not Christmas at the Inn but just running low on the wine cool bags and are using the unseasonal ones. Afternoon continues after a walk with Dougal and Co at Ardhu, before going out for some langoustine for the Inn, fish pie lived up to expectations and then of up to the Inn. Good and really happy shift. The weather stayed showery and windy and the only guys outside were the dedicated smokers. Evening went with only a few people waiting for a short time and we had table 8 available at 20 to 9, first time for a long time. Mel and Steve were in with Jenny, Grants of Speyside,! and Angela from Alba’s An La. Judith, not being up on the Gaelic TV scene did not realise we had a television “personality” in our midst. Chatted quite a bit to them at the end of service as Mel used to be with CES and helped us immensely in getting our hydro scheme to where it is now. She was saying there are not many community schemes so far advanced with financing and building the next steps. She had been offered a highly paid job in the private sector paying lots of dosh but turned it down purely on life quality grounds…there are a few left that cannot be bought and sold. Good wide-ranging discussion mainly about land issues, lots of Scandinavian comparisons, and Angela commented on the fact there does seem to be a lot going on for such a small community of people. Chat got around to Steve asking me what my job was and I found it hard to describe which I reckon these are always the best ones. At one stage, saying how great it was to “work” at the Inn I told him to listen and there were people chatting animatedly at all the tables and then I told him that all the tables in view these people had not met each other before this evening and that is the magic of the Inn and Applecross….if you let it work on you.

Finally Joe wandered up telling me a sweatshirt he saw on the way out of the Inn with the logo, “Happiness is having a horse and a rich Dad.”

Fishing is Tiring.

Another day, not so routine, as did not get down to the pier last night, being a bit knackered. That meant an hour and a half mending a fleet to take out this morning. Went out last night with Dougal and Co to see a wonderful sky.


It was changing all the time and met with Donald who is the author of most of the place names and graveyard mapping and pointed out I was spelling Caman wrong. Was a bit confused myself as I had thought that was the spelling but was confused by the place names version but think it may have been the genitive I was reading. The weather is really pleasant just now, the skies changing all the time.


Nothing to report on the fishing front as no improvement in sight and with the berried prawns coming on to the grounds the catch will be declining even further. Bit of a breeze today and was glad not at the Inn tonight. Tailing squats all the way home again today.


Reckon the Prep Room will not be saying much to me tomorrow. Homemade crab,squats and pineapple in a curried mayo for tea tonight, but that was after giving the very stinky hound, Dougal, a shower which he did not appreciate at all and seemed to resent it for quite a while after.


Wind down amusement meant reading some of the landlord submissions to the LRRG and I can only think how fortunate we are to be blessed with so many wonderful overlords who look after us so well in our wee patch of the world. It makes your heart burst with pride that, even when they do not live among us, they spend so much time on our welfare….or at least they say they do.

Rallies in a Strange World.

Good lunch shift yesterday, thinking it was not too busy but by the time i headed home with my strawberry and cream ice cream at four there were over 150 people through the door.This seems to be the normal shift these days. How quickly you get used to it!! There seems to be a trend of guys travelling in groups, today there was a Mitsubishi Evo rally that paid a fleeting visit. We had a group of Porsches for lunch,


planned, and on saturday morning saw a bunch of Fords calling in for a coffee. There are usually some in these groups with a sense of humour and included in this group was a little Ford Fiesta and even better a wee Fiat Panda racing along trying to keep up. By the time the Panda arrived some of the Capris were already leaving, having had their coffee.

Both on Saturday evening and again on Sunday lunch had a couple of interesting chats with customers. After saying they probably had eaten their best ever steaks got chatting with a couple who had been in the army for 20 years with no regrets. They had been “abroad” and although they did not discuss the details they said the way they joined was through the OTC and not for any other reason than enjoying a good social life. and then became regulars. For me a relevant discussion as No4 is in Glasgow doing just that…..

Second discussion was a good one, one about landowners and how they do or don’t interact with their communities. While at work I always enter these conversations with a little trepidation as the customer is always right!! But the guy was very open and was either the landowner or son of one running an Estate down Loch Lomond way and what he said was very enlightened. Again always pleasantly surprised when your mild prejudices are challenged. He knew our owners and the stramash here last year concerning the Andy Wightman campaign and was asking about the fallout. He did seem to have a completely different attitude to working with communities and suggested that it was only a matter of time and we both agreed the mind sets will change and possibly that is already under way although it is a long road we are on.Bit of wood work in the evening with Dougal and Co before watching some of the football.

This morning, to be honest, was a struggle to get out fishing. The forecast for the rest of the week ended up being the incentive as tomorrow’s ‘cast is really poor. It was hard work today. I do not mind saying this and cannot be bothered with not being a macho fisherman. It was an awkward choppy swell that changed direction a couple of times during the day with an increase of wind in the middle of the day. Being slightly bloody minded hauled the last couple of fleets to make it to 400 for the day. One or two octopi coming up in the creels and despite the destruction they reap I cannot help but put them back over the side. Often wonder if I catch the same one again and again. Looked well cross and was changing colour rapidly, possibly telling me where to go.


Hard to describe the fishing as good but I am catching enough to keep the Inn going as well as some going to the Loch Ness Inn tomorrow morning and also taking some round for the Spanish market as well. Compared to days of old it is a poor catch but we live in today’s world. Fascinating Start The Week this morning on the radio discussing the future of the planet, always something to keep the mind occupied as you are mechanically hauling creels and nothing unusual happening around you. One startling fact about how we live and use resources is that 4 litres of water are used to get 1 litre of bottled water on the supermarket shelf. On a lighter moment, half listening to a half hour on fake tanning I heard a mother saying that her daughter had decided not to go to a university because the students were not tanned enough!! She ended up going to one in the north of England where there is a higher up take for fake tans. What a strange world we live in.

On the way in due to the weather Chris had a group of kayakers out around the moorings. The closeness to the shore of the houses has a bit of an historical context. Firstly there was very little good land so the houses were built on the edges of the croft ground and the crofts were there because the people were cleared from the better ground on the peninsula. Almost paddling in the garden.


People and Prawns.

Lots of contrast and variety over the last couple of days. Left for Inverness at eight on Friday to attend an overdue IFG meeting at Great Glen House, the first to be chaired by Richard Greene. Lovely display of “Yellow on the Broom”, especially around the Achanalt part of the journey.


The North West IFG now goes down past the Small Isles and there are now a number of new associations who will now be coming along. Quite interesting meeting as NTS were doing a presentation about MPAs, basically areas where there will be fishing restrictions on environmental grounds. There is always a fear of civil servants who want to impose rules and regulations impinging on fishermen’s livelihoods. Not informing is one of their worst sins that they keep doing and we were given a list of consulting that is going to happen. There are no MPAs planned in our area although we have one that works very well…the BUTEC Range. Bit of an expensive way to conserve prawns but you take what you can get. Intelligent questions put to the NTS officials and hopefully they will heed the Chair’s request for communication. Some tricky subjects were put on the next meeting’s agenda, like creels limits but only coupled to spatial management. It is quite frustrating that the only thing holding back capping creel numbers is the justified fear that taking creels out of the water will only open the door for increased effort by the mobile fleet.

Meeting was well chaired and finished by 1pm, three hours early and left the afternoon a little more relaxed for a haircut, eye test and Highland Wholefoods. Back relatively early and caught up briefly with Simon and Ian and they had done everything they came to do although speeds are slower with the new lines installed. Do not know why, but they speed up over the next two weeks and installations are under way. Promised to deliver  the barbecue unit to Sand, I think for the Sunday School ,and that was duly done as was a farewell to our German friends.


Missed out on the Applestock volunteer party as there is just so much one can do and a day’s fishing and shift at the Inn planned.

Lovely quiet, grey fishing day and managed to haul 400 creels for a pretty decent fishing up by the Range.


The size was bigger and still caught a few kilo of small prawns for the Inn. Squats may be fishing a little better again. Was called up by the watch keeper first thing and I headed straight to the Range to haul these fleets first and get out of the ways for trials that were due to start at mid day. It is good to get help from these guys and you try to reciprocate to make their job a little easier.



A couple of subs about and support vessels appeared on the scene from Kyle. Always strikes me how sinister these vessels are and how strange they look in their beautiful surrounds.


Landed by 4pm and an hour to recover before going up to the Inn with a little dread as the weather was too poor for eating out and a 27 booked in at 6.30 and a 10 at 8 + all the usual residents and walk ins. I really do not know how it works but it does and it is a phenomenon. Felt a wee bit stressed as there were only two of us out front and the place was literally heaving. Not a table to be had all night and you still had to keep an eye out for the residents to seat them when they were booked. But as usual the kitchen comes up trumps again and again. Compliments flying in from residents, from the guiness soaked Whitby bikers, the Westfield Club, the Adelaide Aussies, Aussie Rules so could not have any Lions banter but still tried, and just about everyone else. 25 steaks went out on the evening and I quietly disappeared as the staff birthday girls were getting under way. It was pretty noisy and young night. Bit of a throw back to when the Boss was young. Not saying that she is old but she does party less. It will be good to see her back at work today and just as well as I am not sure if there will be any one else. Weather is grim so it will be inside for every one. So ends such a contrasting day where I was either surrounded by fulmars and skuas or people.

A Long Week.

Full on couple of days starting with a quiet contemplative day’s fishing. Last thing I said when I left the house on saturday morning was “I suppose I’d better go fishing then.” Have to say that once in the van and heading down the road there was a good feel to the day and the light and surroundings were as good as they ever are.


Passing a couple of what I think were guinea fowls, Dan’s, and going out past Ardhu and opening out the Sound it is once again a “good to be alive day.”



Uneventful day, if you include catching my first sucker fish of the year, being surrounded by some of the best scenery in the world and enjoying the company of skuas, guillemots, razorbills, gannets, fulmars and even the gulls.


Quickly round 350 creels and turned up at the kitchen, surprising the chefs. Just as well as by sunday evening they were almost all sold so it is back out for more on monday.

Saturday evening turned out to be a long one. All to plan with it not being too busy and with a dance to Rhythm and Reel on later and was going to be back up if any of the staff wanted off down to the Hall. A fine shift, progressing with lots of contentment and the only serious event of the night was a dip in the Boss’s health. Judith was hit by what the Doc called a “thunder-clap” headache. Very mysterious and painful and more than a little worrying.Ended up going through to Raigmore for a CAT scan on Sunday and seems that is all clear and she now has to wait for a lumbar puncture. Having had one of them over 30 years ago, and still remembering it, I do not envy her. This meant a long shift which started at 10 and made it through the twelve hours, with a brief interlude for a venison loin in the afternoon. Life can be hard at times.

Saturday evening things livened up later on as guys arrived for the dance, in particular the Kyle/Glasgow contingent. Now at an age where chatting to the next generation and telling them I was in the same class as some of their parents. Good to meet up with Dawn again today and reassure her that I was not the guy in the kilt who was groping her at the dance. Thought she was a little cool when I saw her on sunday afternoon but when she established I was not at the dance…… all ended well although if I had not seen her before she left her opinion of me would have been somewhat different!! Totally oblivious to all this I was enjoying the last light of the evening leaving the Inn at midnight.


It all happens here. Now on Monday morning and setting out for a day’s fishing and an extra shift tonight to cover Judith’s absence…… it may be a long week.

A “Big Boat” to a Signing.

Both mornings of thursday and Friday were bright and calm.


So it was off out to keep the prawns and squats going at the Inn and over the past three days there were large quantities going out on the plates when I was working on Thursday, Saturday and today with all the usual comments. The Europeans are on the move with lots of German, Dutch and French visiting, Belgians, Spanish and Italians not far behind. Both the afternoons the weather turned a little with a northerly breeze getting up on Thursday but good for some.


Friday morning saw the Hampshire heading south from Shieldaig and as I was heading out to the middle bank she took a turn east into and round Applecross Bay and south then west over to Coal Mor.


She is a spectacular looking vessel although I think slightly out-of-place in the majestic scenery we are so used to. Not taking anything away from the craftmanship and skill in putting this ship on the water, I prefer the beauty of the dandelion. Turned out that the eight booked into the Inn at 8 o’clock were from the boat. As no one had turned up by twenty-five past we gave their table away as there were another four,and two threes, Gemma and mates being one. So this was source telling us that the eight were from the Hampshire,the fact that they were wearing jackets with Hampshire on them was also a clue. They were all very pleasant and quiet dispelling my prejudice of guys with lots of dosh and ostentatiousness and waited for another table while having a pint or two. We had to keep this info away from Judith as she gets in a bit of a tizzy when coming across a little bit of status!! By the time we passed on the news that the Hampshire guys were in they had their haddock,prawns and haggis and were just about to leave. She still managed to glean that the owner was from her native Yorkshire and I used to think Yorkshire was land locked.

On Friday evening we had a very productive Community Company meeting where progress about the broadband was discussed and all positive apart from the possible delays in procuring the wayleave consents for the relay masts as they have to go through the usual and possibly protracted legal scrutiny. This has to be done before CBS release any of the funding for the project. Hope we can convey this urgency to the party involved. Pressure to carry out work on the toilets as the timescale for Leader funding is fairly uncooperative. They seem to be no longer interested in the actual projects themselves but more about the audits and balance sheets of the fund itself. We will get there. Also we have decided to investigate the possibility of funding for another snowblower for the Bealach. We got away with it this year but may not be so lucky again, we are due a bad winter and a prolonged closure of the Bealach has an adverse economic and social effect on the community.

It was busy last night but went well and enjoyed the late arrival of the four French bikers along with the Shieldaig contingent. Although busy Gemma immediately picked up on the atmosphere where there was a constant chatter of people enjoying themselves. That is one of the pleasure of working the floor is being part of a moment of others lives. I loved the comment from the French biker lady, “Good food and a good smile”. Says a lot for the Boss Lady, after all we just work at her creation.

Another busy lunch and Judith went behind the bar as her ankle was playing up but was quickly in trouble trying to get the 610 teas she ordered for the 8 Germans sitting on the Big Table, off the till, sure there was a button to do this but Joe was not working today so could not show her.


Later when it was quiet after the lunch rush, Judith, as chair of our Community Company, signed the Lease between the Company and Trust for the rent of the river where we are to put the run of river hydro scheme.


I have a strong feeling that this was a historic occasion for the Community and it was in typical Applecross fashion that the occasion passed on with very little fuss. Annan witnessed the signing and felt very proud to be asked to do so. He understood well the significance of the signing.


Tag Cloud

Wee Ginger Dug

Biting the hand of Project Fear

Beyond the Horizon

Commentary and Sustainability Policy Analysis from Dr Calum Macleod

Lenathehyena's Blog

IT'S NOT ROCKET SALAD.........in the Land o' cakes and brither Scots

Scottish Communities CAN

Scottish Communities Climate Action Network

Beyond the Bloomin' Heather

A critical discussion of the history and politics behind Scotland's most beautiful landscapes

Jean Urquhart

following dissolution of parliament this site will move to jeanurquhart.com

Derek Bateman Broadcaster1

An ongoing dialogue

derek bateman broadcaster2

My first and last ever blog (probably)

Small Scales

fisheries and ocean conservation in Atlantic Canada


e-learning, networking, and the UHI


It's got a backbeat. You can't lose it. If you wanna dance with me.

derek bateman broadcaster2

My first and last ever blog (probably)

Jessica's Nature Blog


Shawndra Miller

Giving voice to the world’s remaking

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.


Just another WordPress.com site

Life at the end of the road

the trials and tribulations of an accidental crofter


A Highland GP on life the universe and anything...

Auld Acquaintance

Scottish Independence