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

Posts tagged ‘Loch Ness Inn’

Selfies are Out.

Monday evening; Wednesday turned out to be windy, strong wind from the south so good to have a recovery day from the propeller dive. Was out in the evening at the Inn and busy but nothing untoward, Thursday was a long one when out fishing and followed up by closing up at the Inn. These are testing days as no matter how tired you are you have to cover it for the customers. Weather seems to have settled down


and there was a stunning sunset and I took off on the bike to take a few snaps along at Milton Pier


and the fence line as it goes down to the shore.


Timed it for the American friends coming from Mike and Helen’s. They have been coming over for years and you can tell what time of year it is when Eleanor, Stewart and Baba arrive along with various friends and family.


Friday was another beautiful calm day at sea and the squats almost overwhelmed me today.


Every minute I was not hauling and shooting back creels I was tailing mountains of squat lobsters. A few more small prawns on the ground as well as the squats so happy with catch. Day did start with a bit of a panic as I was catching a few minutes of Breaking Bad before heading down to the dinghy to get the Loch Ness prawns ready for transport, look d out the window and there was the transporter wondering where I was. Mix up on the times. Fastest I moved all day but they left only fifteen minutes late. Evening was spent in the company of aforesaid Americans and if I said fours hours passed as one that sums up the evening. Great food, company and conversation. Even had a little referendum talk, more and more of that lately and I am sure it will increase as the date comes nearer. Speaking to a lovely English family over the week and their attitude is they would be sad to “see us go”, but I just do not see it that way…..we aint going anywhere, that is just a perception. Saturday evening spent a half with a couple of Yessers from Aberdeen, involved in the oil industry where the general feeling is No. One in particular wanted away from his work but used a term I had never heard before he was trapped by the “golden handcuffs”. There are worse things I am sure but wealth and living a life style does trap people into not making the life decisions they want. Took a chance that the Friday fishing would last through the weekend and chopped wood instead of going fishing. The garden is looking not too bad and with the new policy of it looking after itself, seems to work. The hydrangeas are cuttings I took from Kyle and are a wee reminder of my Mum. Not sure how long she will be around as she took a fairly major turn last Friday.


Made it till Sunday evening with the prawns and left some very large prawns by the roadside for pickup on Monday morning to see the Inn through the day while I caught some more regular size. It just keeps on going. Took a couple of photos for a blog I have been asked to write for Volt Bikes. Euan took the one of me on the bike


and really do not like being in the picture. Selfies are definitely out.


Do Chickens have Twins?

You learn something most days at the Inn, usually something completely useless or innocuous. And tonight’s random question from the kitchen was “Do chickens have twins?” This has an origin in the fact that there are large numbers of eggs being delivered just now with double yolks.

Yesterday was a 450 haul and all went well although the fishing remains fairly poor. Quiet day weather wise and not much activity on the sea, occasional yachts motoring by with no wind in their sails but lots and lots of jelly fish.


Am slightly obsessed with them as they are both painful and beautiful and always like opposites in nature.


Faithful fulmars alongside most of the day. They do not give the impression they are the sharpest on the water and hardly ever get to the bait first, and give the impression they get really hacked off and scurry about after everything that moves. They come in really close to the boat and show little fear.


Community Council Meeting last night and as Janet is leaving town I did the minutes and Barry Chaired. Lots on the go and some tricky issues that have to be dealt with and hopefully not too many casualties but suspect there will be. Signs, minibus, GP, good news on that front is that we have a salaried appointment that covers our practice and next door, so progress,the contentious issue of bracken spraying, and finally Kishorn. Lots to do and no time to do it. It will be done though as it tends to be embarrassing if you do not get round to doing it. Had a good bee chat with Audrey after he meeting and she has got her one hive up to two again by creating an artificial swarm. Used to think thstles were a pest until I realised they are good bee food.IMG_4654

Beauly, Loch Ness Inn and Inverness took place today. Went out to the Varuna for langoustine for the Inn and another couple of boxes for The Loch Ness Inn, calling in to Beauly to drop Jenny and Eilidh off with Alison and Dougal. Sure that Ted groaned when he saw even more visitors, especially more of Dougal’s family. Lovely view across to the Beauly Firth from his holiday cottage and watching the circling red kites was very peaceful.


They were far better at catching rabbits than Dougal turned out to be., although he ended up taking road kill home. Anyway they headed off down to Rosemarkie while I rattled round buying stuff in Inverness. Did not quite plan it but ordered 150 creels from Gaelforce along with rope costing around£3,500. So that keeps me fishing for the next month or so. Constantly need to buy replacements or the standard of your gear goes down and you catch less prawns and it becomes a spiral. My favourite shop is Highland Wholefoods



and it is really handy as Dougal’s favourite is just across the road. Although they do not know it Dougal and Co have a great day planned for them on Cuaig Beach with treats and pig ears thrown in Jill and Kenny heading there on their day off.


Back home in time for a quick shower and on to the floor. A strange night as it threatened to be silly busy with 2x 6s,a 9 and a 14 booked along with all the residents but it was a bit of a stroll, slotting people onto tables with only a couple of tables waiting a little too long for our comfort. The sort of shift that you get through but when guys shake your hand on the way out you must have done something right.

And yes but it is very rare for chickens to have twins, Steve. If there are two fertilised yokes as they grow a chicken heads for the air cell at the round end. But if there are two they will fight and usually both die. There have however been cesarean twins produced.

Morning Ceilidh in Arrina.

Up earlyish to catch the Lewiston car to take prawns to the Loch Ness Inn. Also took the large and extra-large ashore for the Spanish market. Managing to keep the prawns in good condition and despite keeping them for over two weeks am losing very few. Landed the prawns at Ardheslaig by 10am and decided to stop off in Arrina for a ceilidh and a cup of tea with Muirne and a catch up with what was happening round the North Coast. Some times it feels they are a little closer to Shieldaig than the South Coast, but after a couple of minutes we are all one. Planning is a bit of an issue to the north and there is a meeting in Shieldaig tonight to discuss the impression that planning applications from out with the community and not in keeping with the environment are given priority over locally based applications. Planning, always contentious and emotive, seems to have quite a few awkward questions to face this evening when the local officer fields enquiries tonight. Tempted to go but would be  a little voyeuristic.So sorted out all the crofting problems, issues on the road and who is doing what to whom. Part of the chat was about a small building just next door to the schoolhouse which is earmarked for development and is known as a half house, possibly where elderly relatives lived close to the family.


Muirne, as well as being a prawn van driver and Leiths lorry driver, works with stained glass and has a self catering chalet out the back of the schoolhouse. www.shardsstainedglass.co.uk and oldbyre@arrina.co.uk  Good to see where every one lives and whose house is where and craic was had before heading over to see Rick and Lynne at the end of Arrina. Really strange never to have been in this part of the peninsula and in this house.  Known Rick and Lynne for decades but usually see them when they are down in the south part of Applecross. Memories of a trip down Glen Pean and a climb up the south side where he discovered my head for heights disqualified me from all mountain rescue teams. Cracking views from across the loch towards Diabaig from where our broadband will eventually reach this remote part.


Leaving Rick’s noticed the technology problems wee remote places have to access any kind of service.


Passing Cuaig I noticed the shop is open as usual. Seeing sights like that it is comforting in a way that some things do not change. And back down to Camusterrach where it was blowing strong from the south.


The day ends with a bit more storing wood away for the winter. Good old fashioned day when you chat to people you like.

Changeable Weather.

Lovely morning for a bit of fishing but poor forecast. Went out anyway as supplies of prawns at the Inn are running low and tomorrow’s ‘cast is pretty poor again. Looking back to the moorings and over to Camusterrach, both looking fresh and bright in the morning sun.




As well as hearing the cuckoo a couple of days ago the skuas are back and this one did not seem at all bothered how close to the boat he came. They used to be a little bit timid, not with the gulls which they bully out of the way for the bait.


After three fleets and enough prawns on board it was off back in. Gone are the days I battle out the weather so leaving the Mairead M to it I headed east and home.


On the way up the road watched the Kingfisher racing in past St Island.


Threatened to cloud over and rain but cleared up and turned out to be a nice day ashore. Landed prawns for the Inn and Loch Ness Inn and home for an afternoon snooze. Inn heaving this lunchtime with people and cars every where. If any indication of the summer to come then it is going to be a busy one.

A Future for the SCFF.

After a good day’s fishing on a very calm Sound, just me, my thoughts and Radio 4. Hauled 400 creels in the knowledge there is a windy easterly for tomorrow and a trip to Inverness was planned. Not quite back in the swing of things and felt pretty tired by the end of the day and the rest of the day was taken up with cooking tea and catching up with Spiral on iplayer. There was a fair bit planned for the trip east and it was with a bit of trepidation as I headed to the meeting on Church Street. The new Creel Federation has been going through some serious birthing pains, although maybe, as it has already been born, it is suffering from post natal depression. There were a series of e-mails that were sent around the group that were obviously passionately written but I wish had not been sent. However they have been and to everyone’s credit after three and a half hours we still have a Scottish Creel Fisherman’s Federation. It has been a while since I have left a meeting in such a positive frame of mind. There are huge problems ahead but hats of to the guys who were able to iron out lots of “stuff” and were able to deal with and accept each others differences. I was at the meeting with the aim of staying positive, looking to the future and somehow trying not to blame anyone for anything. Kept James’ advice to the forefront and tried to think about what is good for the stocks and the fishery in the coming decades, keeping positive aims to the fore. I say it often and find myself being fundamentalist in my approach to solving our fishery problems but also am more than willing to wait for others to come on board rather than preach. Unfortunately that usually means that the fishery has to decline a bit more before fishermen realise the parlous state we are in. A shift in the market or exchange rates will do the same. Maybe it was ever thus. Hearing that buyers are freezing live prawns as there are so many on the market is a warning that all is not well. There was so much talked through, the problems up till now, how to deal with them in the future, try to keep the Federation together, the potential adoption of a Constitution, funding applications,election of posts and a general exchange of information and views. There was  a bit of humour and even Dougal got a couple of mentions. It was good to meet one of the East coast Associations and hope that the one on the West does not pull out as every one will lose out if they do. A huge amount of work has been put into this new Federation and I sincerely hope it has a good future, after today’s meeting ,feel a bit more confident about that. Because of our experiences in Applecross regarding our little issue over land I am hyper aware of personalizing issues instead of dealing with them and it will be very difficult, maybe too much to ask of guys that were not there, to move on but here’s hoping.

Back to the van and John and the rest of the Inverness trip kicked in. Never have gone to the place for one thing. It was off to the upholsterer’s to pickup the Inn’s stool tops and have a laugh at the Toscaig chair. Travis Perkins was the next stop to pick up John’s wood. He had to saw it as the TP guy was n’t allowed to for “health and safety” reasons. Gaelforce to buy some rope for my recovered fleet of creels, wee Co-op shop and round the back to take delivery of a micro wave for the Inn. Headed off down Loch Ness to the Loch Ness Inn,(a lot of thought in the name) to deliver the best and freshest of langoustines. Great to see their prominence on the menu board. If only other eating establishments did the same we would all benefit.


Took John in to see front of house and had a wee chat with Jenny who told us a bit about the history of the place before Judith and partners did the place up.


After decanting the langoustines into  trays, making sure there were no fatalities, none after two weeks holding so all good, picking up another box for the Inn it was off home over the back through Beauly and Marybank. Just the unloading of the van and a quick catch up on the gossip of the day and home for tea.


When I was in the Co-op today I could not get out my head the images I saw this morning of a video of how chickens are dealt with and the processes that they go through to end up on our table. The most striking part was this machine that brushed up live chickens and sent them off on a conveyor belt and seeing them crushed into trays, still alive….end result although this was directly connected to Asda I could not bring myself to buy any chicken and have decided to go four days a week pescetarian. I do like my meat but cannot eat food that is treated so disrespectfully, better late than never.

Almost a week in the life of….

It has been a few days of dramatic contrasts spending a busy evening at the Inn on Wednesday followed by a day on the water on thursday. Mike came out with Lyndsey’s brother and in-law and they seemed to enjoy the day out. It is always good to have people out to see how you work. Lots of good chat about what to do with the world, Scotland and land. Although much of the day is routine to me they saw dogfish, baby cuttlefish,sun starfish, codling,ling,haddock,queen scallop spate and butterfish. By the afternoon they got stuck into tailing a basket of squats for the Inn. The evening was back at the Inn where it is gradually winding up to Easter weekend. Was pretty beat up by 11pm so bailed out as I was off to Inverness the next morning. Going to Inverness is a community event where you end up doing things for other people as well as a stack of stuff for the house and boat. Met up with Joanne of the Cnoc Inn with her prawns and then headed down to the Loch Ness Inn with their order.Had a chat with Debs who has cooked in the Applecross Inn and she seems well contented with her new role and is getting people excited in the Drum area with her new menus. The Loch Ness seems to be attracting more and more business and a lot of it is local which is a good sign for any pub.Inverness beckoned. It was a rapid shop involving bike repair shop, outboard repairs, food shops at the Co-op and Wholefoods culminating with some shoe shopping.Always people you know and met with one of the Trustees and could only wish the conversation was closer to the policies carried out by the majority of the more far flung Trustees. I reckon my least favourite activity is probably shopping. Almost forgot my visit to the Garden centre where I bought my seeds and seed potatoes. I feel I am falling behind on my growing this year but we will see. The country I live in is one of the most beautiful in the world and it is the sudden changes in the light that contributes to this. My photos do no justice but I will keep trying. On the way home going towards Achanalt this scene showed its magic.The Inn was heaving with visitors by the time I arrived back home so it was a quick unload and away home where I have not spent much time lately. Fishing on saturday I find really enjoyable, radio4 playing in the morning with such a variety of programmes as bizarre pet treats, the Week at Westminster to the brilliant Foreign Correspondents. This week was mostly about Bosnia 20 years on and it was very thought-provoking. While this goes on you work away through your day with nature as your companion. The skuas have arrived alongside waiting for the old bait to be thrown to them. They used to chase the gulls around in the sky to make them sick up their food so they catch it before it falls to the sea. Now they have realised that they can short-circuit this by just getting the bait straight from me. Whether we like it or not we affect every bit of the natural world we come into contact with.The fulmars have also turned up in the last couple of days. I like the way they scurry about picking up little bits of bait and chasing the gulls of with little oily threats.This post has turned out to be a really good way to wind down after a hectic shift at the Inn. It started of fairly quiet but by 7pm there were customers queuing for tables and it is not really surprising. The atmosphere and contentment were apparent and most left satisfied by 11pm. Lots of good craic and banter throughout the evening particularly from the biker loon from the east. Mike is back up from Edinburgh and I always have a good challenging conversation with him. Many thoughts still buzzing around so it’s a bit of a read before winding up for the night. After thought, Ukraine and NZ arrived last night.

Work,Learning,Music and good People

Very busy and varied week which started with a trip to the Loch Ness Inn to bring their staff back to Applecross for a night out. The trip back involved a stop off at Rogie Falls for a little treasure hunt which ended up with every one getting a slug of baileys.Then it was off to The Waterside, Judy’s sister’s cafe in Lochcarron. An Irish coffee later and it was back to the Inn in the Community bus. Worked until about 11pm before heading home for a well earned rest. Tuesday and it was away to Sabhal Mor in Sleat where we took part in the third of six two day sections of our social enterprise course. I think it is a combination of us all getting to know each other and a relaxing into the course. We all have to do a presentation about a given subject and I have to say I was very fortunate in that it was a comfortable subject. Covey’s 7 Habits are about sorting yourself out and then being able to interact successfully with other people on a business and personal level. The evening in the pub is just as important for the course where as you trust more you tend to share your problems with other people with whom you build up a confident two-way relationship. Although I often feel a bit out of my depth I do seem to hold my own being passionate about the things we talk about. Extremely nervous about my presentation but got through it because I really liked the subject and the guys I was speaking to were very understanding. I thought the 20 minutes I spoke for was actually 5 mins so must have gone into some zone. Picked up a new tag when speaking to some-one about the success of Kinlochshiel shinty team. They are very professional in their approach to the game now and so are their players partners who now call themselves SWAGs…….Shinty Wives And Girlfriends. Back home on wednesday to another shift in the pub and to be met with Mark’s jubilation at his Iranian visiter to the Inn. I reckon I trumped him today with Norway and Kenya though. The competition now stands at 29 countries which have visited the Inn. I keep thinking how extra-ordinary this is. Weather has improved dramatically and a couple of days fishing ensued. the weather was fantastic with the fishing not bad so contentment is the order of the day. Friday evening saw us off to the Celtic Connections Festival weekend at Broadford. Friday night saw us booking into a great friend’s place at Erbusaig and then heading to the Big Top, slightly later than planned but met with brilliant music especially provided by Raul Malo, The Michael Mcgoldrick Band and the Deadly Gentlemen. Saturday saw us in Raasay where Alison had a good catch up with one of her friends on Raasay House Communtiy Company while I took Dougal and family to Hallaig,a cleared township on the east of the island. I find it very atmospheric and going there transports you back in time almost hearing the life that used to go on there.Although many people do not like the gorse it is great for bees and is one of the early sources of food for them. The last few days of bright dry weather has brought it out. in full bloom.The walling is a bit different over here in that they seem to stand the top stones on end. A beautiful craft that lasts for many decades. I have been twice on this path and its ancient mosses always catch the eye, some up to two feet in height.It was back to the festival in the evening after a visit to my mum at An Arcasiad where she is being well looked after as she enters the later stages of Alzheimer’s at the grand old age of 93. The evening programn of The Civil Wars, Daimh, Roseanne Cash and Niteworks was second to none.The Civil Wars were a cracking harmony duo who rattled of a series of very beautiful songs,they were followed by the scottish group, Daimh who had several guests including Karen Matheson.For me the highlight was listening to the glorious Roseanne Cash and watching her obviously enjoy singing to an appreciative crowd.She was also very complimentary about scotland, its people and music.

After listening to Motherless Child,I’m Moving On,Take These Chains and Heartaches By The Number among many more it was off back to Dave’s.Another shift at the Inn,a walk home via Robert and Marion’s croft and an evening’s reflections of lovely people,interesting conversations, brilliant music, fantastic weather and scenery,and work that satisfies the soul and body the thought that I am very fortunate does cross my mind.

Oral History

It being the 28th of January the ever present tax man wants his books done for him. I’m not really sure why I am treasurer of the Pier, I know that I don’t want to so it is always by the skin of my teeth that I get them done. I was due in Inverness today so the plan was to get Donald to sign them and take them back through and put them through the letter box of the accountants. Means they are in with a whole day to spare. Turns out Donald was not the signature required but me. Only found out when I was at Donald’s but stayed for a wee ceilidh anyway.

Under the ALPS program he is collating all the information in the grave yard at Clachan church and mentioned that he was doing some of my family. The conversation came round to an old story I have heard before but it does not lose anything in the retelling and I actually did not realise that it involved a relative. Many years ago four men from Applecross including John Gollan, my grandfather’s brother, headed of to Plockton to buy a cask of whisky for one of the guy’s wedding. In those days they travelled by sea and the weather was not too clever but they went anyway. As they were buying the whisky the shopkeeper jokingly asked if it was for a funeral or a wedding and the groom, jesting, said it was for a funeral. Probably there were one or two drams taken before they decided to head back home to Applecross but the weather had worsened further. Three of the men decided to head back, including my great grand uncle and the groom. The other man, a Mackenzie, was taken back to the Applecross peninsula the next day.The other men never arrived and after a search their bodies were found on the shore at the back of Plockton and just along from the groom’s body was the cask of whisky. So although said in jest at the time the whisky was used for a funeral, the groom’s. the other man was a Livingstone and Donald did not know of any surviving relatives but the others all have descendants still living here. A very enjoyable hour as Donald is the nearest thing I know to a seannachie,a story teller from an oral tradition. I have to admit I am a bit lazy in my own family research but I only have to have a chat with Donald.

Inverness means racing round the town doing a month’s shop in an afternoon. Everything went well, dropped of prawns to The Loch Ness Inn, picked up boat gear from Gaelforce, HIS, Halfords,Highland Wholefoods and last but not least Dougal and family’s food for the next month. Back in time for a chicken taco tea and to settle down to watch the next instalment of Borgen on BBC 4, which was brilliant as usual.

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