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

Posts tagged ‘local food’

Flags,landscape, students and another sunset.

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.

Another Bank Holiday

An extremely busy few days but so enjoyable. On friday I had son No3 down on the pier washing creels. All of a sudden the creels have gotten dirty with marine growth. If left they just get clogged up and less and less prawns go into them. We take the creels ashore once a year to pressure wash them, not the most exciting of jobs but with an iPod you just get on with it. I find these jobs are almost meditative. You do them with very little thought and let your mind drift which can be good fun if you are in a contented mood. Although I have not seen the system, some boats use a bleach dip and do not take the creels ashore, but working on your own you need time to repair ropes and mend the holes in the creels.

Meanwhile at the Inn preparations are well under way for what is expected to be a really busy weekend. There is some sort of celebration down south that means an extra days holiday and that coincides with a wedding at Clachan and the Community Hall.

A seventy case order sorted out the wine stocks and the prep room has the cold store stacked to the roof with prepared salads,seafood, meats, veg and all the sauces and gravies that make the Inn worth visiting. Decided not to go fishing on saturday as I was working at three. The evening service went very smoothly and although sometimes you do not connect as well with people the shift was satisfying. Sunday was something else. I am not sure I will experience another day like it. For me the day did not start too well as I felt a bit hung over which was really annoying as I do not drink. It was off out to get some more prawns and although I was an hour later than usual from the moment I walked in it was full on. Before twelve all the tables were full with coffee drinkers waiting for the kitchen to open at midday. The “hangover” had no option but to disappear as the day just got busier and busier. Some of the staff did fifteen hours without a break, I was on thirteen, and there was no place to hide. If the was a quiet time front of house you just helped out with the back log of dishes or restocked the bar. It was relentless. FIVE HUNDRED and TWELVE meals. Cannot say enough about what a good team there is there, from the kitchen to bar to washing up, everything is brilliant and you know it is by the comments that came flowing all day long right to the last meal of the day, two perfectly cooked steaks,a starter prawns and a crab salad. It is a privilege to work there and it felt as though you were running on adrenalin, which you probably were. We had millionaires shortbread for lunch about six when we knew we were not getting a break. Had mine still poring a pint and glasses of wine. But there were many highlights. I looked after a family in early doors and it was a birthday. The mother had all her children and grandchildren to help her celebrate. As they were leaving later the granny saw me outside and came across the carpark and told me what a wonderfull time they had and then gave me a big hug. Just a moment of connection I will never forget. The lady who came over from Findhorn, a lot of people seem to tell of what is happening in their lives, must be the Applecross influence. Another group in the dinning room, three teacher families with kids, left singing the praises of the Inn. I lost count of the number of times I was told that they just had their best meal ever. Although it was all his own work on the stove you can’t help but feel a little bit of pride for your son’s efforts. Nine hours on a stove is a long time. There was good craic as well, the last meal of the day was eaten by SWAGs and their partners and Judy was so curious to find out who these ‘famous’ people were, attracted as she is to fame, seems some one who acts visited the pub earlier in the week. Caused a bit of a hooha on Facebook.

Hard days fishing yesterday and although the catch was not that good it is still better than it has been. Another shift in the evening and it was a bit quieter but still busy. Managed away by half ten. Tried to go fishing at half five this morning but finally hit the wall. Had a day off, so spent two hours in the garden, mended a fleet of creels, landed the Spanish prawns, picked up a half ton of herring bait and headed off to my Thai massage. Boy I cannot believe how painful it is but I think it is doing good and it is good to reconnect again with what is important. While I was mending the creels Our beekeeper headed past on his way home to Coilligillie with a full load.

There was little mention of the Jubilee up here which is no bad thing. I think the overkill was extraordinary. I did not pick up any anti feeling of the celebrations over the weekend but just a lack of interest. I think it may be summed up by the fact that Scots are citizens and not subjects.


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