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

Posts tagged ‘octopus’

Tension, What Tension?

Been a busy three days with an extra shift at the Inn thrown in on Friday. Fishing and the Inn means tired. On Thursday evening we had the annual visit of Tarneybackle www.tarneybackle.co.uk who struck up after a busy service. They always have a crowd out to hear their brand of Scottish songs and it was a crowded bar. It was good to catch up and watch the latest addition to their percussion section,


very keen to make an impression and join the band.


As it is now Monday you realise just how much time rattles on. I suppose from Thursday on it has been work and sleep. I see I have 320 emails in the mail box at the moment and building up to going for it. Cannot even remember when I started this post, it looks around Saturday afternoon  as I was out early and had a couple of hours at home before going up the road to the Inn. Back to Thursday evening and Yes conversations, do a lot of reading and seem to miss out on the grandstanding in the media. Watch internet programmes like ReferendumTV referendumtv.net with the likes of Ian MacWhirter and Lesley Riddoch and chatting to people, mainly Yessers admittedly, talking about potential, positive, and keeping away from party politics. I am finding this aspect of the debate oppressive and repetitively boring. The potential on the other hand is unlimited….just like Community engagement. Pointy fingered politicians are a complete turnoff and like many in the Yes camp have never been Nationalist but recognise the untapped possibilities that lie just up the road. The Vote is going to become a greater part of life over the next month or so so avoiding it is leaving out a big part of the story. Sometimes just looking out to the West puts a lot in perspective.




Great to report the mystery illness of No3 is disappearing without revealing its content and not leaving any damage in its wake. The pooches are getting longer and longer walks often in the dusk. Bit of a scare for Eildh, Dougal’s Mum, when No 3 realised the yelping in the dark involved an otter on the Caman. She probably does not realise she could have lost a major part of her face but ended up with a scratch across her nose and No3 with wet feet.


I have had two wonderful cycles home on Friday and Saturday evenings where the moon was shining bright with clouds whispering across her face. The reflections on Milton Loch and later on Pol Creadh arouse a fair amount of emotion, especially when you have Micheal McGoldrick and Blair Douglas playing on the iPod. Living here is the best, working, that’s what most people call it, here is even better. I just say that people keep giving me money for doing things I enjoy. The Inn has been extra ordinarily busy as well but for the most part enjoyable, been tested a few times over the weekend but managed to hold on in there. Being tired even when you do not realise it can affect your judgement. But if you always remember it is people you are dealing with, their desires and concerns may be different from yours, and you are there to meet them. They probably have stuff going on in their lives which takes them to Applecross for a bit of time out and if you can give them an experience that allows them to deal with the problems they face then you can hardly ask for more. It has been a European weekend which I have loved. Switzerland, Cyprus, Germany, Holland, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg have all sent representatives to eat at the Inn and seafood was the main attraction. The best comment came from a French Dad as he was leaving said “My son was eighteen today and I thank you for such a fitting occasion, could not have been better”. Everyone at the Inn should take credit for that comment as everyone working there contributes to an amazing place. Things have been a bit tense behind the scenes over the last couple of days but do seem to be working through with no casualties. To provide such a great venue puts staff under so much pressure that it blows sometimes. Only on Friday I got a good blast for missing out a mussels on an order. It being ten to nine did not help. Always I look to the humane side of things and actually seeing so many people, who are so different, working together says a lot about the people involved.

I get my escape from this intensity by going to sea,



to be in the natural and real world of the ocean,


catching good honest meals for people to enjoy. Fishing very patchy and although compared to times gone by it is still worth the effort. There are a few tense and scary times that go on in this idyll as well.


Although some look fairly unconcerned with a stressful lifestyle.


Everything I do has its rewards, the scenery and solitude of the environment that you work in. So enough of this living in paradise lark. I had decided that I was in for the day after getting soaked earlier when I went out to the Varuna for prawns for the Inn, but after seeing photos on FB of the river at the head of the Bay I better go out and take a few shots myself. So it is back on the bike for another soaking.



Another fine day at sea,


although tired as it has been the Inn, fishing and the Inn for quite a few days now. Getting used to it though and just as well as this is it for the next four months or so. Slightly earlier start as fuelling up the Auk. They had a change of plan and decided to head south to the Mallaig as the weather has settled. A little earlier than usual but they are going west to their Harris grounds for the summer. A pretty hard graft but they seem to enjoy it. So out to the Middle Bank after hauling a fleet off Applecross Head. Again fishing poor but bearable and was back ashore by 3.30pm having hauled 350 creels. A lovely day with bits and bobs of sea life to break up the day. Octopus early in the day


and there he goes back over to try to snaffle another prawn somewhere else.


It was a day of birds of all shapes and sizes. followed by as many as six skuas


along with the usual gulls.


Big, nasty black backs were in evidence, always watchful, and came across my first fulmar of the year. Always think they look a little cute


although other birds seem to know if they get too close they will get a squirt of oil for their troubles. they are all good company and their antics keep you amused. Overhead a not so pretty bird going north.


Ashore and landing the langoustine and squats at a fairly busy Inn, sat out in bright sunshine before heading home to see Son No3,  who will be heading to Europe after a sojourn in Applecross while waiting for exam results. 70% to pass…to think that would have got me a first in History in the 80s. Seems this post is being eagerly awaited in Dundee as he has not arrived home officially until he appears in the blog. Always good to see any of the boys home. We are having a bit of a titter at one of the EU party broadcasts just now. Actually as I am listening to Britain First rabble rousing I have stopped tittering. There does appear to be a lot of angst out there, as there does here. It will pass but you get little spells of disruption. As you get older you tend to recognise them for what they are and they will soon fade. Community Council meeting tonight and yet another discussion about transporting wood out of Applecross over the North coast road. Feels pointless talking about it as all the decisions have already been made although there is strong opposition both in our community and from Shieldaig. Bealach cycle races have reared up again and a meeting has been arranged with Shieldaig to get them off the Bank Holiday dates. Whitsun Bank Holiday and two weddings in Applecross and the road is closed all morning, not the best of planning. Slowly the argument for closing the Bealach for events that are supposed to stretch our tourist season does not ring as true especially as dates in April and September have been moved to May and August. The Mor we have discovered is being held on the August Bank Holiday. Every one has to live together and to do that and carry out their own activities, the least effect on others who want to visit the better. Closing down Applecross for a morning on the two busiest days of the year does not go down well.

So not a happy meeting, not very productive. At least we heard that we are getting a new Filling Station and the local power survey, delayed due to illness, will be issued soon. Housing remains a problem. Back to the Inn for the Chair to sign some papers and to enjoy the sun setting on the way home


and getting to the Schoolhouse to see the moon rising in the south-east.


Nothing Much (Part 2)

Mid way through the day at 5pm, ashore from a strange day’s fishing. After the first 4 fleets of creels I was for coming in as the catch was so poor but working up the Bank it improved a little making the decision to stay out the right one. So far it has been a poor year for the prawn fishery and from what I am hearing this is not just locally. Still enough for the appearance of the occasional octopus.


The prices have held up although I am hearing one of the buyers from the Skye Bridge area has gone down. Speaking to some guys at the Inn this afternoon after landing the prawns and they were from Chicago, living in Perthshire. Got married in Culloden House Hotel and wanted lobster but could not get any as they needed three days notice because they were off to Spain, lobsters that is. Crazy world. A home market being bypassed and I am not sure why. Any one know what fish these are? They are becoming more plentiful.


Deep water and soft fleshed with two long tendrils and always cannot handle the pressure change. A little bit of colour mid day coming down the Sound.


Quite a sensible night with spare tables most of the night as the weather was good and a breeze from the north kept the midges away until after food was over. Lots of good conversations about langoustine, creel caught , of course, the guys that come to Applecross are well versed in what they eat and it is good to see such an interest in the food they are eating. There is a huge debate about how we grow our food and GMO is turning out not to be the saviour of the world that it has been sold as.  From reports coming out of USA GMO yields in some instances are lower and use more pesticides than”normal” crops but we are being bombarded with PR about how this is the only way. Small actually produces more per acre and uses less carbon but industrial farming pays well for that industry. Crofting?? I am off fishing now as three rants in a row is too much.

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.


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