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

Posts tagged ‘ling’

Wagons Ho.

The evening shift went well out front although the kitchen is struggling as they are having extractor fan problems and the back up is not really working. Doors, windows open and praying for not too many steaks were the order of the night and they all came to pass. Still as you went from the prep to kitchen you entered a wall of heat. Although there were a few big groups booked they turned out to be well spaced out and it was an easy night as far as organising tables and seating. It has to be said that all the pre arranging and planning makes an evening run like clock work, it does not just happen. Tony was out on his holidays, something he always says when he has his plate of prawns.


At 11.15pm there is no one in the bar, everyone is aware of taking in the bells either at home or at the hall. the hall has been open for over ten years now and mainly for visitors. A while back the usual first footing was being a little disrupted by guys who did not really know the protocol and some of the older folk were getting a little nervous with their “open” houses being filled with strangers who did not realise it was not a city style party they were at. The community hall opened to give these people a taste of Hogmanay and keeping an Applecross welcome for them while giving the elders a bit of peace and quiet.

At the Hall I have to say I did not connect as there was no one organising the Bells or “fireworks”. Although no one notices these things it was by the skin of our teeth we got every one out for the Radio Scotland New Year countdown but the fireworks were miserable. I only got two rockets off before giving up in the wind, getting an ironic cheer coming back to the Hall. Only had 8 to set off….not the best of displays but fitted in with Applecross’ new green out look.  Emily before and Becca after the bells, with an interlude of pipes from No4,


provided some fine entertainment. Had some music backup on the Ipod but the Scottish was not in great demand. Stovies and couple of chats and home by 2.30am. Did mean that New Year’s morning started off with a clear head and after a wee catch up with first series of The Bridge it was up the road to paint the front door of the toilets and pick up the filleted ling for the fish pie. Met a couple of waifs along the loch side and was taken with their drinks transport….bit wild west with “wagons ho” coming to mind.


Tongie was doing well as after I had left last night he was involved in a bit of crowd surfing setting off from the stage….the only thing missing was the crowd but that is Tongie for you. So it was home for a bit of wood chopping and fish pie construction and a bit of laziness. Nipped out for an appearance at the Milton Shed party but everyone was on a different level so did not prolong the “appearance”. I was a trifle late but by all accounts it was a fine display of music, camaraderie and food and carried on a tradition through to the next generation.

Today at the Inn it was busy but not manic and there was a lull late afternoon when I had a magnificent halibut with an essence of prawn sauce, wonderful food. A nice feel to the day and it finally felt as though the real New year had arrived when you wished a genuine good year to people when they had recovered from the libations of the last couple of days. There seemed to be a hopeful looking forward to 2014 and I had my first good political conversation of the year, again full of a hoped for change of direction, away from the tired, repackaged status quo. The weather in the Bay although not severe was poor enough for me not to go fishing and this is coupled with a very big tide.


Listening to the forecasts there is a concern for the western seaboard which is going to be hit again tonight with another storm surge. A blink of sun is all we seem to be getting just now.


A lot quieter this evening as the family additions left this morning in a wee car packed to the gunnels, dropping off personnel at Inverness and then Perth before completing the long journey to Dumfries. Dougal seems to miss them already,


and all the walking he did over the holidays. He had four long walks yesterday. His mum and granny however seemed quite happy in front of the fire.


Reading this back maybe it’s an age thing and sitting in front of the fire is becoming more desirable at this time of year and leave the “wagons ho” to the younger generation.

The Shiants, part 2

We headed round the west side of the islands and up to anchor on the more sheltered side away from the north-easterly.

Love the rock formation to the south. Looks like a witch waiting patiently on the rocks.After lunch it was off ashore for an hour or so. Headed to the north where I had hoped to get up to the puffin burrows but decided against it as it was teeming down and I am not the best of climbers. Went south instead and came across one of the settlements where you just let your imagination run riot as you sit on one of the walls. The fire-place and the entrance are still well-defined and you just sit there and think what a harsh but maybe fulfilling life they had.

There were birds around all the time and after going past the ruins I must have been too close to a skuas’ nest as I had to duck from a couple of fly overs. I do like them, maybe because they keep the black backs in check, but they seem fiercely independent and don’t mess around.

Walking past the bothy on the way back to the boat we past the rat traps lying on the table. Seems the black rats are so bad the bird conservationists cannot stay there but have to camp in tents as they would have no peace from the rats at night. They are suspected of starting to damage the bird colonies so action may be taken against them even although they are a rare species themselves. Because feeding during the winter is very poor, up till now this has been a limiting factor in the rat breeding cycle but this seems to be out of balance now. It was back on board and off home.

Still surrounded by birds its the puffins antics that always catches the eye.

On the way back over the Staffin Bank we had another minke whale spotting and the only down side of the day three prawn trawler tearing up the bottom. Only three boats on the whole of the Minch all the time we were there…..speaks volumes and Kenny says often they see no trawlers. If the Minch was healthy  they would be there. Stories were told and the one I really liked was about the charismatic minister who was in Applecross and his love of ling’s liver. Kenny would phone him up to say he had some and did so this Sunday in the off-chance he would come for them. And the response was immediate saying it was many a mile a Lewis man would travel for a ling’s liver even on the sabbath.

After coming ashore it was straight back to the Inn for a late start to a shift. Seems it is only half an hour from Shieldaig pier to the Inn. One has to assume every one is already there and they were. As usual good shift, good food, good craic and good people. Judith brother Chris is up for his annual trip so she is trying to take a few hours off over the next few days. Going home after hours, heading towards Milton I had to stop and gaze seawards at the moon shining through the trees at 11.40pm.

It was a good day.



Starts with a tangle but ends with fish pie.

On the way out today I had a kilometre of tangled rope to sort out. Over the next couple of days that’s the morning job. ‘C’est la vie’ as they would say in Paris. Discovered who the skipper is that went through my gear, he’s back in town. We all thought he had gone to pastures new to bother other guys but we ‘ve to suffer him for the rest of the summer. Kenny and I have got some good feedback after our appearance at Holyrood. What we said seems to have been well received.

Did not let it spoil a good day. Flat calm and a few prawns caught with not many tangles and just two foul fleets. Almost as good as a decent fishing is catching your own tea and today it was fish pie which even although I say it myself was very tasty. Ling, crab, squats and prawns with a little help from the Applecross Inn in the form of Torridon hot smoked salmon. Topped off with tatties and a cheese sauce, hard to find a better meal.

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