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

Posts tagged ‘Plockton’

Mrs A’s 14 ticks.

Went like a dream. Up early and off to Broadford to pick up a box of personal bits and pieces before making my way to Glenelg. Met the minister for the first time and again , Iain. Was a little surprised at the number who came out to see her off, but plesasntly so. The weather was certainly changeable with Alison and the boys passing cyclists sheltering from the horizontal hail on the top of the Hill. Spring never mind summer has not arrived yet. Or at least arrives for a day and then disappears for a week. And not much change in sight for the next week. Speaking of Mrs A, just before she went through to pick up sons Nos 3and4 in Inverness I had an unusual request. To take 14 ticks out of her. After the funeral/sermon we headed off to the Balmacara cemetery to lay my mum beside my Dad. Emotions held in check as I am only thinking of the cord list, those who are going to lower the coffin. Had a list made out but have to leave a couple open to see who turns up. Made it happen okay and went down to the Plockton Inn for a cracking plate of soup and sandwiches.




Seems it runs in the family, climbing out windows that is, mum’s brother in this case. He was not allowed to play football so out the window he went to play for Plockton against Kyleakin. Would have gotten away with it if he had not broken his arm at the game. Don’t think falling out of bed would have swung it. Reminds me of the time I broke the key in my Dad’s car. A big problem as I should not have had the car and certainly not outside the Dornie Hall at 2am on a Saturday morning. A deal of subterfuge and ingenuity later and I got away with that one. Some more gossip, up to date and not to be repeated. You always get these trips back into the past and a catch up in the neighbouring villages at funerals. Took a little run down Cooper Street and Laurel Bank, now changed hands and renovated since I have been in.

Home in time for work although not sure that was a good idea. Stopped of at what seemed like a TESCO pit stop


but views are always good there.


Saturdays are becoming an evening to get through these days. The Inn experiences a descending crush on Saturdays now with the big tables booked at 6pm and again at 8pm. It is the only way to cope. Maybe it was because of my day but it was almost out of control at one stage although i think it was more to do with lack of communication. I knew some of the group on the big table and all was going well up to the time they were leaving and the next group were sitting down. They had already started but not the booked group so it was almost unpleasant sorting it out over the next ten minutes and the closest I have come to telling a couple of people what I really thought. But all went okay apart from the spilt glass of wine. It may well be a long season and it seems the popular destinations are all finding it harder to cope as the destinations in between are not providing good service so the load is fairly uneven. Going to have to be more efficient to cope in the weeks to come. Sunday was a busy but saner day although the weather is staying so unsettled. It is the hot topic, a couple of decent days then a dip back into late winter. Cannot remember such a broken spell for May. The broken weather does throw up some interesting skies.


The bees are going well and out in numbers on the good days, at least one hive is. Not sure the second one is going to survive. It was always the weaker one from the split last year.


Now Thursday morning and just away to Inverness to the Community Land AGM via Loch Ness. Suddenly no time to do everything so its just a quick finish off and into the van with the dogs as we are staying at Beauly overnight. Once Dougal gets his hair sorted we are off.


Tuesday evening at the Inn was like the height of summer, without the weather, queueing for tables most of the evening but all goes well. That interspersed with a day fishing and another evening shift takes us up to date. The prawns are going down well just now. I think because they are on and off the menu people are ordering them just in case. They are not bad though. Got caught out last night with a group of four residents who wanted a half pint of prawns tailed. I thought it was one for the ladies to share so offered to shell for them.They ordered four, one each. One plateful of langoustine followed.


The haul produced a few more than expected, enough for a box going to Loch Ness Inn and to keep them on the menu till the weekend. Not so many bonxies about yet but always good to watch them battle


and usually win


against the gulls.


And a star fish.


The Americans, last night at the Inn, were grateful to be helped out as their tyre was burst on the Hill. I think they were really mystified that we would help them get the call out, feed them and put them up for the night. If I am broken down anywhere across the world I hope the Applecross factor kicks in.

Two Hives,Five Tyres.

Full on day on Monday. Slightly earlier than usual start and nipped through 350 creels by 2pm. Another glass calm morning and only the occasional bird coming alongside, bonxie


and then a fulmar.


Even the gulls have disappeared. Speaking to Dave later in the day he mentioned the same. I am not sure if right but I take this as a good sign. May mean there is easy feeding in the water and they are not reduced to scrapping over bits of rotten bait that I throw back over. Seen small rafts of razor bills as well and that is another good sign.


Only saw these numbers late on in the summer last year.

Reason for doing an early shift was me off to Broadford to get another foreign body off my back. Over the Bealach in a bit of a rush


and made it to Kyle in shorter time than wise, bank for the Community Company, and only five minutes late. Managed a couple of pages of the Common Weal before being called in. Quicker than last time and mentioned it, got the comment about better skill. Unfortunately the after pain has made up for the quickness. A stop at Erbusaig, dropping off creels in Plockton


and a straight-backed drive home in some lovely weather. Always need to stop for the odd snap or two. Lovely spot around and about but it takes a lot to beat the drive into Applecross,


mountain down to the sea.


By the time I was home there was little doubt I was going to be fishing yesterday and that was the case, no danger. Whether it was a deeper one to cut out or maybe it was the “skill factor” I was glad this was the second one. Beautiful day and a missed one for the sea but such is life and a few wanders about with the dogs broke the day up. The weather is on the way out and little fishing till the end of the end of the week. New neighbours sheltering in the shade of the tree and seems well contented.


Bit of football and a final read up about creating an artificial swarm. Scary and would have preferred a more experienced hand by me. The hive has been very busy in the last couple of days although they are taking their time in drawing out the foundation. Was told it takes a lot of energy to do this.


Followed the instructions and now there are two hives tucked away by the hazel tree. Feed them until they get both established.


A bit of honey in the super but leave it until I am sure they have enough for the winter.

Landed langoustine for both Inns this morning and when I made it back home decided to try to clean up the kerb that is catching out all the tourists, another two tyres yesterday, Belgiums this time. It has got a bit overgrown and they are not seeing the edge before clipping it and bursting the walls of their tyres. Five in a week. Off to the surgery now with No3, puts my little back twinge into context.

Why Seal Trips in Applecross do n’t work.

Seeing seals in most little coastal communities usually involve boat trips like Calum’s in Plockton. Over here a wee drive down the road and on the hill before dropping down into Culduie a look west over the moorings and there they are, on a “sunny afternoon.”


Yet another Funeral,the Pantomime and a Brioche.

As well as the beautiful mornings we had at the start of the week the sunsets were spectacular as well.


It is so beautiful when the sun goes down behind the Cullin at this time of year. There is a totally different kind of light on the Sound.


On Wednesday after a few jobs it was off to Balmacara to see off my aunt Eilidh who was my mum’s sister-in law and from Plockton herself. The weather was fairly unpleasant and after the internment it was off to the Plockton Inn where a small gathering of cousins met up. It is always good to catch up with relatives you have not seen for a few years and reminisce about growing up in Plockton, messing about on the water,playing football,cricket…yes we do that in the Highlands and going to church of course. As my granny’s house was the stopping off point for all the travelling FP ministers who preached at the communions held in the communities across the highlands. These communions were held annually and began on the thursday and went on till monday morning, with lots of time in church which was not the best appreciated by us young kids. Strong shinty influence from the Abriachan part of the family and had a reminisce about playing shinty in San Fransisco in 1980 and joking we were the fore- runners of the 4 teams that are over there now. Trail blazing again…. So not many left of that generation of our family, my mum and 2 aunts.

When you go out of Applecross word gets around and you do what is natural here, that is picking things up and dropping stuff off. Half a hind was loaded up to be dropped off in Lochcarron, then the phone rings so it was a stop of in Kishorn to drop off some money and to pick up picture frames. At Plockton Catherine came up to me at the hotel and asked if it was ok to take a couple of kegs af Plockton Bay ale back to the Inn. Really like this part of living here and some people who come to live here are always very grateful for these favours and want to pay you for them. They take a while to understand that it just goes around and you do not have to do a “favour” back but you do one for some else and it just goes round and keeps a community together. I know I owe so many people but if you keep it going it always comes back and it great and rewarding when it comes from an unexpected source.

Yesterday was time out with a visit to our primary school pantomime and to be frank the kids were brilliant. Obviously a lot of work went in to it against all circumstances of colds,flus and only one managed dress rehearsal. You would never have known. There was a big girl, called Marion who keeps repeating primary 7, She is the one wielding the axe.


The scenery and background work, lighting and sound were all great, one amusing aside was the official film crew took the wrong attachment to his tripod and the start of the opening scene was drowned out by the sound of packing tape being wrapped around the camera to try to keep it steady on its base.


The other major event of the day was the eagerly anticipated launch of the Coast Road Trucker’s first album, Rolling. Well the box of 150 CDs arrived as we were standing out the back of the Inn, so it was a fairly low-key event. On sale at Nanny’s today, I believe and it is good.The Inn in the evening was busy with the VT coming down for their Christmas dinner, a couple of residents and a trial run for tonight’s Brioche which was quite extra ordinary.Had some myself at the end of shift, unfortunate for Aron, as he had a piece booked if any was left over. But he was “content” to watch me eat mine. So many chefs,so many things to eat…what a place this is at the moment. So the solstice has passed as I write this and the days will begin to stretch out, always remember a neighbour who stayed beside us in Toscaig and every June 21st would comment “the nights are drawing in now”, a slightly gloomier way of looking at the world. Of all the politics and ups and downs over the past year was met with this attitude I would be in a spot of bother by now. Maybe its a just a part of growing older but when people who disagree with you personalise an argument you don’t take umbrage as much as you used to and as many people have said recently when some one goes down that path they have very little of import to say.

Good conversation and Food and settling into Winter.

Out for dinner last night with a couple from Perthshire, part of our growing network. Great to have a free-flowing chat about anything and everything, including lots of politics and of course land reform, not being concerned that you will be taken out of context or have anything you say thrown back at you  in the future. It is always good to meet people outside your locale as it freshens your perspective and you can develop your ideas and arguments. The food as usual was spectacular with halibut,prawns and squat lobsters being devoured over the evening, followed by the now compulsory Aron’s homemade ice creams. In my case it was the kraken r/r with apple and bramble. In such wide-ranging discussions you always find that the world is even smaller than you think. Friends of Tom and Irene in Plockton turn out to be a fisherman of long-standing and some of the land issues we were talking about were around around Blackford concerning foreign ownership of land and business directly affected communities without them having any say in what was happening in their area. I was in this area and had walked up the Danny Burn in atrocious weather with a group a few years ago and even then we passed several derelict farm buildings and I was told that there was a Clearance of sorts under way and farmers were having to leave the land to making way for larger concerns that by all accounts do not have sustainable future but lots of short-term gain. Another topic which is one of my favourites. This is the size of small enterprises especially on the fragile environment on the west coast. I had a conversation with a couple of mates about 15 years ago in which they said that if I continued to work really hard and invested in more or bigger fishing boats then I would become a manager of two or more boats, that being the natural progression in the western/capitalist way of growth. My argument was that I wanted to continue to fish and coming ashore just to make more money was not part of the plan. So far I am winning that argument. The illogicality of the argument is that if you continue to out grow your environment you end up with more and bigger boats and nothing to catch. The same applies on land in that it seems that some farmers have to get bigger and bigger. If it all about size then you have big boats and farms and very little community. Lots of small enterprises constitute a far healthier community. Once you get over the competitive nature of youth settling into a rhythm which hopefully is something the environment around you can provide for you.

The weather has been pretty broken over the last few days and it was not till today that I was back on the water and although the fishing is extremely poor it is always good to get out on a quiet day. Hoping to get round the rest of the gear tomorrow and that looks like the last day out for the rest of the week going by the forecast. Apart from one fleet where there were a few very large prawns I did struggle to break even for the day. The day has noticeably  shortened and it does seem to sap the natural energy levels. I suppose this is the start of the winter hibernation.

A couple of shifts in the Inn and a fairly positive ALPS meeting on monday evening filled up the rest of the weekend. Contract for the extraction of the Gateway Woodland is very close to being awarded with maybe a bit of alteration regarding the mulching to bring the shortfall down to manageable levels for the Trust. Although lots still to be agreed looks likely that the pier at the Coal Shed may be re instated through funding applied for by the ACC and could be a landing point for future felling operations. Towards the end of the week we have been promised  a very positive announcement regarding Applecross.

Dougal meantime is just watching the world go by.

The Walled Garden

When I was up at the walled garden earlier this week the weather was fantastic as it has been all summer. I was between cameras then so went back up yesterday before going to my evening shift at the Inn. The smells and blooms are beautiful and tried out a few shots.

A wander round the gardens is very peaceful and you are bound to end up spending the time of day with either Jackie or Pete who are the guys behind this wonderful place. Not that long ago it looked like a wilderness site covered in dockens and overgrown with every type of weed. It is ironic but Pete was telling me his main problem this year has been lack of water. He struggled to keep his vegetables from going to seed and failing in the main.

Where ever you go there are more flowers to see, not good with the names he was reeling off so it was down to the pictures.

There is lots of activity in the insect world. It is a bees’ paradise.

It was off to the Inn well relaxed and it was good shift where there was the usual great compliments about everything, although at the end of the evening there was a bit of a rush of orders. This was after a full on lunch so not that appreciated by the kitchen. I came across my first little customer problem. It was all about a steak and after a quick chat with Judith was able to deal with it. I think the guy was a bit taken aback and ended up being slightly embarrassed although that was not the intention. When the compliments fly in you do not expect too many complaints and you have to take a judgement call on each one. We were backed up by the very pleasant couple who saw the whole scenario and were less than complimentary about the complainant. Paul enjoyed what turned out to be a really good rare steak, never seen one eaten so quick. I was a bit confused when the guy left a tip. Anyway he was more than balanced out by the rest of the bar. A couple from Fife  decided that they were going to toss a coin in the morning to see if they were going to come to Applecross then just decided to come anyway. Fishing and weather is holding up although the berried prawns are coming on to the ground. Unfortunately there is not much happening in the deep water so a fair amount of the catch is increasingly berried as they tend to be more on the shallower waters on the banks. Speaking to the guys over from Plockton and was told about the conversation with a trawler man who was comparing himself to the farmer in that he was “working  the ground, releasing the goodness into the water column.” One I’ve heard before and still ridiculous.

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