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

Posts tagged ‘oral history’

Pure Gold in the Local Shop.

Sometimes you hit pure gold and that is what the last hour and a bit feels like. We had a visitor Val, who dropped in some posters for the Ecar which is coming to Applecross next Tuesday and information that the Filling Station was not performing as it should. So it was on the bike with Dougal and Eildh a strong southerly on my back, beautiful strong sunshine and fresh feel to the day. Bit apprehensive about the Filling Station but called in at the Inn for the key and with instructions from Alison and another phone call got it up and running in time for a customer leaving town. Not too worried and hope it is just a glitch. Last night for about an hour I could not load a photo on twitter, these things happen, it is just that when it is a Community Service it means, more than a little inconvenience. As I was on the road, came back through Camusteel and picked up a paper for Raymond, up for a couple of days. Ewen was in and mentioned he had been to Broadford and seen my Mum and the conversation quickly went onto Dolly Macdonald, also at An Arcasaid. I knew she was born in Camusteel and asked Ewen where and then it was a journey into the past. I was taken 60 to 80 years back into what was then life in Applecross. Alistair came in then and it continued. Dolly was one of 7 and I knew “Buttons” a brother who lived in Camusluinie on the shore of Loch Long. The story went on to describe the house, three rooms, a kitchen and bedroom with the third room a small bedroom!!. Told where it was and on the way home was drawn to take a snap of it and imagined the family, the lives they lived on the edge of the land overlooking Camusteel Bay, very powerful living oral history. Possibly meaningless to anyone seeing this remnant of a wall but to me it is now a snap shot of Applecross history that stretches across the world.


One of the stories involved a brother of Dolly’s, Alasdair and Roddy Macbeth, a cousin of Roddy, whose son Rob is putting out the great food at the Inn, were working up at the Walled Garden under the tutelage of Alistair’s father. Anyway they came home one day at the beginning of WW11 and decided they would head off as they did not want to be placed where the country decided to place them. Turned up in Glasgow where they joined the merchant navy, Roddy sailed the world and survived but Alasdair was on his first voyage and coming home on an oil tanker was torpedoed off Africa on his first trip at sea and lost his life. Then it was the turn of a teacher story, Mrs Ross was at the PO when she heard of a local casualty of the war and commented “You just never know who is next” and yes she then received the telegram saying it was her husband. Wee follow-up to this, when I came home I mentioned this to Alison and told her the minister’s wife filled in the teaching role when Mrs Ross found her husband had died. Alison then told me that she has been in contact with the son of a Jewish WW11 refugee practically adopted by the minister,Macleod and his wife. The teacher had taught Alistair and seemingly showed him some numerical tricks to add to his obvious bent towards maths. He ended up as a civil engineer so they must have worked. As I said pure gold and I in a way of thanks said that this is what TESCO is putting in danger. You cannot put a value on what I experienced, it was priceless. And in leaving we all shared the same opinion of the TESCO vans. Feel very fortunate that I do not have to go a genealogy site or a museum to experience a bit of local history. I can just go to my local shop.

So a glitch in The Filling Station turns into listening to tales of the past related by men who were there, little wonder I do not mind volunteering here.

A reminisce,broadband,medicine and a bit of hydro

Have to admit doing a post to keep me away from the old paper work but looking out the window there is no prospect of anything happening outside today. Dougal and family have already had their run out on the sand at the Bay. Dougal does like playing with the oystercatchers and the gulls, not sure the feeling is reciprocated as he charges around trying in vain to catch one. As this is the end of the summer the birds are in good nick and are not expending much-needed energy as they would in winter. He is not allowed to play with them in the middle of winter when their food supplies are lower.

On more community related matters things are on the move again after a brief lull in setting up our community broadband. Finally after a couple of false starts BT have installed the land line in Broadford Hall and broadband is promised by tomorrow. This means we are on our way to increasing our speed up to 8 megs from a miserable .39 meg at my last check. I have been in contact with the installers giving them info about IP addresses, passwords and users name, all stuff over my head but it seems to have helped. Looks like we are on schedule to have some thing installed by the end of September. The cable is lying at the hall and will be run up the Tor Mor as all the permissions have come back in. This will be an addition to the hall as it may attract more usage. We have also received our connection offer from SSE and it is slightly less than feared and we are now processing the loan application from CARES loan to cover the charge and the big hold up is the negotiations with the Trust, our landlord. These “negotiations” have been going on for over a year and a half and we still have no Lease signed off. This has halted our next step as we cannot apply for planning permission without the Lease. This has so far been the most unhelpful area of our voluntary work and is very frustrating. There is a world out there that is full of unnecessary legalese and finance that seems to be self-serving and at the moment is not serving the residents of Applecross. Really enjoyable shifts in the Inn on Saturday evening and Sunday lunch. Saturday morning saw me taking some residents round to Kenmore for them to walk back through the glen . Served them in the evening and they were very effusive about the chat on the way round and were very appreciative of the local knowledge they thought I had. People matter. Both shifts were full on, hundreds of people fed on both occasions and lots of happy people. Even if customers are waiting for tables or food if you just let them know how things are going 99% are happy to have a chat and most remember they are on their hols. Lots of Continentals this year and the Portuguese Irish were good craic. Had a good afternoon and a dip into the past when Peter and Joy came in for a late lunch, both ex teachers from Plockton. Had a good reminisce about a lot of things. Fascinating to see how two people see things differently. I told Joy that, to my great embarrassment, I was the first pupil she belted in Plockton, persistent offending if I remember, and I was quite surprised that she was also embarrassed but for her own reasons. I just remember that I deserved it!! and reassured her. Also got a memory of Peter who taught me geography in sixth year. I took it out of interest as I was lucky enough to know I was already going to Edinburgh Uni in that autumn. I was not really putting the effort I should have been and waffled a bit in my prelim. Ran out of time and finished my paper writing this as my last line to which Peter when marking it added “just as well”. Some things you never forget and when you chat to people you are comfortable with I think it becomes oral history. Also when you speak of old times you realise that one or two classmates are no longer with us and you remember them in conversations which keep them alive. Messing around in french class with Phyllis was the reason for my tawse experience. Alison is attending a very important day for Applecross tomorrow in that she will the community representative on the panel deciding what happens with our future medical coverage. Remote areas are going to be proving more and more of a problem to Health Boards even if simply on a cost basis and the Boards are looking at innovative ways of keeping medical cover going. I have been saying for years that we NEED at least a 100 more people living on the peninsular for lots of reasons and a viable medical practise is one of them. If we have a diminished practise then people are going to think twice about moving here and if that happens we will not survive. There has been a bad run of tragedy recently with Alison losing her mum very suddenly last week. On a lesser scale the boss Judith headed off to Raigmore with a pretty bad case of blood poisoning and will be out of action for a couple of weeks. But life goes on and the arrival of  autumn is in the air this week with the wetter and windier weather arriving last night. The rowan although a portent of winter provides a wonderful splash of colour in the garden. This year the honey suckle at the gate has been rampant with wonderful smells in the evening.The Inn competition took a couple of strides with the arrival of Belize and Fiji giving us a total of 68 countries who have visited.

A trip to the shop.

At midday I set off to the shop with Dougal and family to pick up the paper and an other excuse not to look at long over due paper work. Lovely weather, getting used to this, and the view across to Ardhu was lovely. Took this from the boat last friday.

Met up with Gerry at the bottom of his drive where we discussed the GP situation at a fair length. The problems over accommodation and the hopes and fears of the community about the uncertainty of the situation. Wide ranging conversation which centred on the main problems of the future of the community, the need for young people to come in to the area, the status quo being unsustainable. The back drop is a falling school role and if that continues all the public money that is being attracted to the place at the moment will be worthless if there is not a viable community to welcome and look after visitors and look after itself. Jill, who has a house on the shore just down the road, came along and joined the discussion and the chat veered in the direction of septic tanks and their reconstruction. After a while we set off down the road chatting about various bits and bobs finishing with me giving Jill the latest Olympic results. She has had no communications over the last 36 hours so was delighted to hear about Andy Murray et al. After Jill’s, Ali and Lesley were on the corner and that meant another stop for a chat. After a catch up about Lesley’s improving health the conversation turned to times gone by when no-one locked their doors and people even went into other people’s houses to make themselves a cup of tea! After Ali went off to get something for Dougal and co it was off up the brae to the shop but not before stopping to pass the time of day with Ewen, Ali’s brother.It was another trip into the past when , as always, he asked after my mum. He then tells me what a good nurse she was, doing so much more than her job in looking after his family when his mother died when they were really young. Conversation touched on how we should keep talking about these people and in this way even if they are long gone they still stay with us. I suppose what we were doing was a form of oral history and reliving a little of the past through each others memories.


Finally it was to the shop and after being told off by James for not looking after Dougal properly it was off home. A couple of brief stops on the way but made it home just before 2pm. That was almost 2 hours on the road to a shop about three-quarters of a mile down the road. Sometimes it is good to forget about time and just enjoy. There are many pictures of, mainly the men of Applecross, just standing at a wall or at some-ones house passing the time of day. I call it living. Managed to stay away from the books a bit longer by making up some frames for the hive as the plan is to head to Kyle to get some bees put in their new home. Plan to leave them there to settle and pick them up the following week in an evening

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