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

Posts tagged ‘prawns’

In the News Followup

Interesting the reaction when you put your head over the parapet. Briefly went onto a forum but it was brief. As regards the creel verses trawl for langoustines I follow the Calum Roberts line of a degraded environmental baseline. It is a generational degradation of the marine environment. Some of the best ways to tell the story is to talk to older members of the community, your parents and grandparents, elderly neighbours. I remember Danny Mor telling me about foul hooking salmon as they ran past Ardban. Foul hooking is just putting lines and hooks in the water and the fish running into them as they are swimming toward the rivers. Almost incredible to think that there were so many salmon and not that long ago. The 90-year-old who went out to get the cod for the village before lunch time. The herring nights stacked on Camusteel pier, falling over the edge from a high tide and northerly swell and so much herring about that there were some caught in the nets hanging over the edge of the pier. My grandfather would think there had been a disaster if he saw what is not in the waters off the Applecross shores now. We are reduced to catching bottom scavengers. Lovely tasting crustaceans but beasts that crawl over the seabed and eat the detritus that falls through the marine food column. If a young fellow starts up and catches enough for a decent wage he thinks all is well. What he should do is talk to the spirits of those who have lived and fished these waters to learn what we have fished out in the last 100 years. The forum shows up the same old, same old and just ends up getting very personal, best to stay clear for health reasons. The main objection I have to all the stuff thrown my way is that it is a positive decision to stay small, to earn enough and a little more, to leave some behind for the next generation. To stay small-scale and earn a decent living fits the environment I live in. It is not just about langoustines it is about a healthy marine environment. MPA type fish protection areas are being introduced around the world as other seafaring nations are seeing that the status quo is unsustainable. The fish marks around the Inner Sound are historic, of a time past, whether they are the haddie bank off Lonbain, the cod peaks to the south of the Crowlins or the hake hole off Rona. The argument raging at the moment is centred round the viability of each method, accusations and counter accusations of putting fishermen out of business, it is far bigger than that. There are not many current photos taken in Applecross Bay like this.

Where I would diverge from the mobile fleets opinion is the degradation was greatly accelerated just before the Inshore Fisheries Act of 1984 when the trawl poaching for prawns really took off. I went fishing a few times with my dad at the back of Kyle in the early 70s but already by that time the waters were getting such a hammering that it was only dog-fish that we were catching. Mackerel is the only catch of the day these days. It is not about division, about not working together, it is about treating the marine environment with more respect than we have done in the past. The west coast herring fishery was a classic case of mismanagement, boom and terminal crash as technology overtook stock regeneration. I have always thought the Highland environment is only able to cope with small-scale exploitation.Sticking with the small-scale unit, sometimes you feel you have to justify staying small. I have had the crewman and the 32 ft Cygnus and decided I am better suited to single-handed and have built the Varuna, locally, for that purpose. Said it so many times before that the best fishermen are not the ones catching the most or earning the top dollar but those that can leave for the next generation.

Back to Friday and a day at sea that now and again you have to suffer to keep the langoustines on the menu. The wind was a steady 4/5 and managed a 300 creel haul with a decent catch, stopping only to retie the vivier tank to stop it sliding across the deck. Hard work but satisfying although on the way home the engine raced a little. Hope it is dirty filter and not drawing air. This morning spent a couple of hours on board changing three filters and giving the deck a good scrub down. Dropped of some fine langoustine to keep the Inn going over the weekend.

Advantage of my creel fishing and marketing is I can keep a steady supply of live good quality langoustines for almost ten months of the year.Sticking to the small-scale operation, after checking I was not taking up ground I shot a long-line with the intention of growing some queen scallops and mussels for home consumption.

It will not be a permanent feature. I hope to resurrect some of my latent knowledge when I had my own scallop farm in the 90s. we found the king scallop spawning changed somewhat and we did not catch the spate in commercial quantities so stopped production and concentrated on fishing. It was probably the greenest way I have worked the sea, catching spat that would have rarely survived in the wild and by the time the scallops were sold/eaten they had spawned at least twice so adding to the marine environment while taking a wage and enjoying good, healthy food. Plan to try to catch some spat this summer but meantime take spat

off the creels

and put them into trays for on growing.

Hegg Mac

In a bit of mild shock this evening over what could have been earlier. I am well aware of the greater tragedy for many folk after the insanity in Manchester. We have a Manchester connection at the Inn and it brings it home that we are never far away from the actions of madmen. These people have to have a disconnect with the norms of humanity to carry out acts like they do. My own potential mishap pales into insignificance when put against what the people of Barra must be feeling tonight, but life for others goes on.

Tuesday was a hit the wall day and that meant that absolutely nothing got done and resulting in eighteen hour days since, not remotely catching up but at least not falling further behind. The weekend featured the music brought to us by Hegg Mac, a band

that Matthias from Karslruhe,

brought over to play their world tour of Applecross. To be perfectly frank I did not hear as much as I would have liked. Saturday night the tour got underway at the Community Hall but as I was fishing and others were younger and keen to go I stayed on and finished at the Inn. Feeling pretty knackered so the ease on down of the late night suited me fine and the second night of the tour took place at the Inn. Busy old lunch even with the poor weather. Although sold as the “acoustic set” there was a fair amount of setting up.

When they did get to play they rocked and sounded really good. Good food

and great music, what more does one need, Raymond taking the snaps?

Again coming to the end of the shift I did not hear as much as I would have liked but did manage the whole of the first set. They finished up at the Walled Garden but that turned out to be my Wall day.

Monday saw me delivering langoustines to Loch Ness Inn, Alison to Beauly, Aron to Toscaig and racing around Inverness trying to organise passports, Gaelforce, Highland Wholefoods, before picking up wood and herring

on the way home. Light and still at the Shed moorings.

Maybe the Tuesday off was so on the cards although I did not see it on the horizon.

Back on the trolley for Wednesday and it was down to the Pier early to throw off some creels for washing,

before nipping up the road for a badly needed massage from Sarah, back to the Pier to wash the creels and then the shift at the Inn. Busy enough with a table of fourteen booked in at 8pm but as they were the Karlsruhe crowd on their last night all went well with only a short wait for tables for a couple of residents. We then finished the night with a truly acoustic session

but again tiredness takes over and I am off down the road for an early start on Thursday as the weather had quietened down.

Fishing fine and one of the fleets back in operation so just the other to find. Unusually have had five attempts at it so far, beginning to wonder if it has been dragged a little out of position. The well forecast weather arrived this afternoon

and it was a pleasure to be out.

Not a lot of sea life about but the views are fine and quiet waters are the order of the day. The bees are looking very healthy and busy

and the garden is buzzing with bees and colour.

That left today to deal with and all was going well. Varuna beached alongside the Pier, another fleet ashore to be washed along with the bottom of the Varuna. Things going swimmingly, not quite getting the fleet ready for going out in the morning as there were a few bars to repair. Not a good set of creels these ones. Have had a lot of the welds breaking earlier than they should. So with the oil change left to do I floated her off. Decided I would make a really good days work and change the oil at the moorings. Only just decided to do that as it was easily put off for a day or two. Went below and thought just a little more water than there should be, pumped her out and proceeded to empty the sump, then saw water pouring in from the aft compartment, another quick couple of pumps, change of oil and filters, open up the aft hatch to a little fountain of seawater coming in where there should be a bolted on anode. Rotted away and still have a little shake thinking if I had put the oil change off the Varuna would have settled on the bottom in about an hour. Phone to Ewen, who picked up parts on the way home and now ready for another beaching, through the night this time. So close to having my wee world turning upside down.

(2.00am) Ashore again after leaning her against the Pier, waiting for the tide and fitting a new bolt, packing and anode on. The light was fine on the way out,

so now a couple of hours sleep before it all starts again.

Back to Hegg Mac and talking to Matthias it seems the name is taken from a colloquialism with an added Scottish twist, basically meaning de stressing, going with the flow and Scottish, even Applecross style. Thought about that many times this evening when it all could have been so different.

Now 6.00am and all is well after my mini scare, the Varuna is back on her moorings, sitting peacefully as though nothing had happened, and I am going to bed after having an hour and a half sleep. So Hegg Mac works but a wee insight to what goes on behind the scenes in getting some langoustines on the plate.

The Parrot Visiting from Germany

It is beginning to seem that I could start any post with, “a bit of variety this week” and that was certainly the case this week. Going back into the time line of the last post to Tuesday, I had done a day’s fishing and came in to meet the ladies for a bit of filming on the Varuna.

They had come up on Sunday and I met them over the weekend when they had come down for a meal on the Sunday evening.

Seemed to go well enough on the day and I am pretty sure I will not be watching the programme just in case I am on it. The Bloody Project has struck again and it was good to see Graeme and to meet his partner, just finished his French detective mystery and good it was too. Interesting from the boat perspective as we could see Culduie, where the deed was done, scurrilous Ardhu, Camusterrach, the Big House and Shore Street which was Applecross village in the book.

So up to Friday and a day off. It began at 7.00am, selling langoustines to the Loch Ness Inn and ended at 1.30am on Saturday morning loading just short of a half ton of herring into the back of the van at Aird. The time in-between was the day off. We headed north after twelve, stopped for lunch at Gairloch and a trip down to the beach with the pups.

Then going further north we took a detour down the Inverasdale/Cove road, mainly because Gemma proclaims it is the only place she knows that is better than Applecross,

so it had to be seen.

It is truly a beautiful part of the Highlands and Dougal and Eilidh seemed to agree.

Another beach walk with Dougal having a discussion with the white cow, who seemed very disinterested in him.

Then off to Ullapool to an exhibition/private showing of how plastics are entering our world in not the best of ways, even becoming part of the geology. Not an edifying prospect but well underway and out fishing the next day I pick up a plastic bag floating by

just to reinforce the message of the way we live has to change. Met up with Sara, a contact from the Inshore Fishing Conference and the discussion about sustainable fishing carried on to the Ceilidh Place where we were treated to some awesome music by King Creosote and Mairead Greene. Time just flew by and it was an hour later than I thought before we were back on the road home. Me in the passenger seat after a couple of Thistly Cross ciders and just as well as we were met on the road just outside Shieldaig by our local custodian, Craig. Not knowing the van he rapidly turned round and followed us down the Coast Road to stop us enquiring as to our late travelling home. Think Alison was quite excited to be stopped by the bobbies with blue lights flashing and all. Mason and Thor would have been impressed as the last time I saw them they were in said car outside the Schoolhouse. So the last stop was for the bait and salt and home by 2.00am, asleep by 2.05am and up at 6.00am to go fishing. Not even enough time to take off the wrist band.

It was hard work leaving the house at that time in the morning and staying on the couch with these two was very tempting.

Days off are tiring but the sights, sounds and conversations were all so worth it. Maybe Dougal could have done with more than the Pinewood walk at Inverewe and the two beach walks but his form was still good and he enjoyed the trip down to the Ullapool Harbour, fishing boats

and tall ship included.

So from the fishing to the shower and straight to the Inn where we had a tricky evening dealing with many bikers, a closed Walled Garden for Calum’s wedding and lots of visitors wanting to eat good food. And again on Sunday, the full twelve-hour shift, with a half hour for a bit of food. Lots of good food, laughter, good craic and a parrot,

a German one at that.

Seemingly she stayed at the Inn couple of years ago and was back for a return visit. She came out briefly for a wee look around during the quiet spell in the afternoon. Busy but a well run if a times tense day and even the nine bikers who turned up at 8.55pm for a meal were happy to be served nine fish and chips. They had just rode down from Thurso, turned up late at the Campsite and came straight down to the Inn. You could not serve them so another group were treated to the Highland hospitality of the Applecross Inn. The visitors were from all over, Kazakstan to Holland and all parts in-between. Hope the two Dutch girls who were to be in Mallaig for 2.00pm on Monday made it. They were to drop a hired car in Portree  and make it down the road to Armadale to catch the ferry across Sleat Sound and I think it was going to involve some hitch hiking. Good “we are all European” chat with them and while acknowledging we all come from different parts they hoped we would finally have the nerve to become Scottish in our own rights. All the european visitors are really sad about Brexit and hope that Scotland will stay around. We shall see.

Finishing on a sad note though I heard off the sad passing of John, who used to live in Applecross and worked and inspired many troubled youngsters. He also had a pretty troubled past which unfortunately caught up with him. I only have good memories of John, taking me out with No 3 and doing a spot of sea rescue before my trip to Canada with the kayak. So there was an appropriate sunset to finish off a memorable weekend and to remember him by.

So Much…..

Siting at the menu table after 4 hours work and just before it all kicks off again you wonder how on earth she runs this place the way she does. I have only been here for the weekend, granted I have also been fishing and washing creels and trying to sort a breakdown in the last couple of days, but running the Applecross Inn takes a phenomenal effort. When things are running okay it is busy, food, accommodation, drink and people all coming in and going out the door. The Dream Machine outside is also ploughing on with haddock, Aron’s ice-cream and coffee all going south as fast as it is being made or fried. As well as all this the roof needs done, the cold store gets put outside to make way for more space in the Prep room, new gas boilers and constant repairs for accommodation. For me, without all the extra stuff, this morning from just after eight it was checking out residents, taking booking for accommodation and meals for anytime this summer, bottling up the bar, cutting lemons, changing the menu board, ordering soft drinks and answering random requests from the phone, redirecting customers to the Walled Garden for breakfasts, sorting the float out for the Dream Machine and finally getting the crashed till system up and running again. Twelve o’clock now so the day starts. That plus another twelve staff, cooking, serving breakfast, servicing rooms, prepping, preparing salads…..

(The above was written in the heat of the battle just before twelve last Sunday, cannot believe that it is ten days since last post). Having said that, looking back on the photos there has been a lot packed in. The weather has been immense over the past while, to the extent of having three fires in Applecross in 24 hours. The first one in Toscaig had about ten residents and holiday makers beating out a fire across from the old homestead. The following day I called in one that started on the Coast Road, across the Bay. The opinion was that this was started by a passing car throwing a cigarette out. The Fire Brigade came from over the Hill as well as our beaters. If this had not been tackled, judging by the flames seen across from the Inn, this one had the potential to race up the Hillside behind Cruary. While the Brigade were in another one was called in at the Campsite and seems this was caused by wood worm dust coming down on an extractor fan, over heating, setting off what could have been a serious fire at the Steading. Pure coincidence/luck that the fire men were in Applecross and were diverted from across the Bay. Story is that another ten minutes and there would have been serious damage.

The week has been taken up with some long days, combining the fishing and the Inn. This is what I have been telling myself during the winter that I work the whole year during the summer months and should not feel so bad during the winter wind down. Yesterday, for example, I was up at 6.30am, fishing till around 3.30pm, landed the langoustine and squat tails, a half hour on the couch and shower before going up to the Inn till just before midnight. Finding the Inn very rewarding these days, meeting lots of folk, both regular and new arrivals. The weather makes such a difference to people’s moods and on week’s like these no wonder so many people come for a “get away from it all” holiday. And there are some who get that bit more, speaking to Ian last night and we were talking about the essence of the place, a spiritual peace. The bubble of the Inn can be left behind by walking in any direction for ten minutes and you enter a place of peaceful serenity. At a meeting last week I asked some one to describe the character of Applecross, he could not which I found a little disturbing as he is tasked with conserving it. But more of that later. I love being surrounded by people’s contentedness, happiness, pleasure of visiting such a beautiful part of the world and you try to covey to them what it is like to live here. Despite being hectic, busy, sometimes not enough time to stop and look around, the conversations you have with people like the Walkers or Ian, who obviously connect with the place, reinforce the feeling of pure joy of living in Applecross. Very occasionally there is a spare room available due to late cancellations and one such was filled on Sunday. I showed them the room and left smiling at how excited she was by the room the view and the promise of good food, a Hungarian who had just come of the ferry from one of the Western Isles having the holiday that they will never forget. You meet the world and their dogs at the Inn, so far not a Trump voter in sight, and there are a large number of Americans on the move.

The fishing had taken a bit of a dip last week but seems to have recovered somewhat on the last couple of hauls, catching enough to keep both Inns supplied. This morning there was an early start to get some langoustines over to the east coast with a regular carrier who was heading back with an empty lorry. The sights and sounds on the fishing trips are as varied as ever, some soaring and graceful,

some that jar, who is watching who,

traffic as other marine users ply their trade and make their up the Inner Sound,

natures intriguing creatures,

this being a Rhizostoma octopus floating by, I stopped to take a couple of shots but as the tide was flowing found it quite hard to manoeuvre, but pleased with the effect of the exhaust discharge on the water over it

and just the views of all the different goings on

and weather

fill one up.

Even the blackbacks have a certain beauty.

Still time for Dougal and Co to go for a wander on the mornings I do not go to sea. The advantage of being single-handed was I had time to recover on Monday morning before going out to haul two hundred creels in the afternoon to keep the Inn going. A walk is as good as a rest.

The trips home on the bike from the Inn are as good an example of the contrasts that Applecross throws up. Serving a hundred and fifty folk followed by a serene cycle home in the moonlight.

The rest of today , although the plans have not been set out properly yet, involve most of the rest of the day off with just a stop off at Aird to pick up a half ton of bait for the creels on the way home. The plan is to head north to Ullapool, eventually for a spot of music, possibly an art gallery visit and a dog walk thrown in. And it seems the weather is holding out so looking forward to a busy day off. Again so much has been going on so will try and catch up over the weekend as there was another film crew on board the Varuna and two more Consultation Meetings plus a missed CC Meeting due to tired head. Onwards. Duncan Chisholm on the stereo certainly setting us up for the rest of the day.

 

 

Capt ‘n Taneil

There seems no end of meetings to keep a Community functioning and there are many more that I do not go to. Tonight was the Community Company AGM where we saw two new directors coming forward, a retiring Chair after six years and a healthy and on time financial accounts. Many names mentioned tonight, both paid and volunteers, support from members and lots of projects in the pipe line. The latest being the proposed land purchase from the Highland NHS to build elderly/disabled housing by the Applecross Surgery and a feasibility study to examine prospects of re-establishing a ferry from Toscaig Pier along with other ideas prior to possible purchase from Highland Council. Imagine what the Community could do with access to a parcel of land….that was another meeting, this time on Friday. It was a little sad to hear the Chair say she had failed in her attempt to access land from the Trust. I do not see it as that. It is all part of the process and one day the dam will break. She had innumerable conversations about land with the Trust but all were rebuffed, but never directly, showing that this approach has been tried as well as the requests during Trust/Community Company meetings.

But suddenly there is not enough time in the day, or at least the parts of the day that you are not recovering from all that needs to be done. The recent weather has helped raise the energy levels somewhat although have to admit it was a pretty slow start this morning. Convinced myself that I was still suffering from Winter Lag and it was really an hour earlier. There is always a variety to life here. On Thursday I had the very pleasant company on board the Varuna of one of our soon to be departing Aussie staff.

Taneil came out to see what went on and insisted that I was Captain so we were Capt and Taneil for the day. Could not have picked a better day for it. In fact it was a short one as the fishing was pretty good and we had enough on board after five fleets. Stacking creels and tailing squats

make the day short and there always plenty to see, maybe attention span needs to be improved..

( Due to blip in the power lost Internet for a couple of days)

(Thursday) The variety of life never ceases here and Friday was just like that, so different from thursday. Taking some langoustines through to Loch Ness Inn, the Boss blagged a lift through as her leg had been playing up and strong antibiotics are not conducive to driving. She was having a Board meeting at the second best Inn in the Highlands and as Dougal and Eilidh were with me there was a walk on the cards, meeting was going to take three hours plus. With no real plan in mind I took the road to the end of Bunloit and took the hill walk rather than the Great Glen Way and went up Meall Fuar-mhonaidh.

Just kept walking to the time permitted and found it really enjoyable despite being a water man. As I am not often on the hills away from Applecross this is the first time I have been walking on a grouse moor. Seeing the burnt barren strips of land

where there could be varied habitation

that sustained such variety of life other than a mono culture for the few.

It was a little change for Dougal from his usual racing miles behind turnstones and oystercatchers, he was in his element  for a couple of minutes when he put up a black grouse.

The chase lasted long after the grouse was well out of sight. Up to the snow line and with views down Loch Ness and across in land to the Cairngorm a fine walk. Back to the Inn where the meeting was still going on so I headed up to Inverness to race round the usual commercial outlets to keep the business side of things going. Easily spend £1,000 on equipment, always the other side to a good fishing. The marine environment needs constant replacing of gear and capital. Good to get home though.

Back to yet another meeting, the last hopefully for a wee while regarding the Trust consultation. I reckon I have done really well to keep quiet and only interject, mainly from a realistic and tired/patient view-point. Interesting where the ” Working Group” has arrived at. A very polite version of what the Community Company has been doing for the last decade or so. We have put together a statement that has two main points.1 Improving the poor communications with the Trust and 2 The need for the Community to access land to continue its attempt to develop along sustainable lines. Bearing in mind this is a new approach from the whole Community rather than the perceived Commies who live in the Schoolhouse it has been an interesting exercise in watching the Group hold firm. Constantly brought up was the Community Development plan and again and again restoration of old Trust buildings. A Trust agenda as opposed to a Community one. This goes back to who and how the  consultants are paid, who is running the consultation and what is the agenda. The agenda is not remotely what it was at the start. This all may seem negative but I have stated time and again a win/win for the Community and Trust to work together. The perfect example would be for the Trust to sell the Community land and for the Community to develop as the Community needs and wishes. The Trust as the land provider gets finance and kudos for helping the Community to continue to develop. It will be interesting to see reaction to the statement finally sent to the Trustees, the best and politest possible, undemanding but pointing out  the situation as it is. One reaction locally was disbelief, followed by the question, “What the hell have we been trying to do for the last decade?” There will be people within the Community that will disagree strongly from the statement issued by the Working Group but we are democratic and are supposed to representing the view of the majority of the Community. I know in the past that any division has been used by the Trust to allow nothing to progress as there is a negative/passive view about the future here. So not only do we have Brexit, a pending Independence Referendum we have interesting local politics as well.

A Busy Wee Spell.

It was one of those nights of light sleep and a 5.30am start as the forecast for this week is pretty appalling for late August and do not expect much time on the water from now till Saturday. So an early breakfast for the pooches and off the moorings nice and early with a lovely sky

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and calm waters.

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The intention was to get as many creels up today as possible as I do not seem to be able to catch enough to keep the Inn going for more than two days. I keep thinking that the fishing has declined a bit but it is because so many berried ones are going back. Just cannot land any now it has become engrained over the past 10/15 years now. Going north and it was still fine but the passing sailor was starting to show a breeze under way.

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Four more fleets and it was hard graft with a few things not staying where they should. last sailor passed and I called it a day after hauling 500 creels and a long splash going home, time to tail the inevitable squats.

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Treat the next few days for catching up many of the jobs that need doing ashore.

Back to Friday and after the dolphins I had planned a restful early afternoon before going up to the Community Hall to help organising a family ceilidh. Isla had got in touch a wee while ago and asked if there was anywhere her travelling group from Oxford Uni could play a gig and I had checked making sure it was not clashing with the Fishing Weekend. It did not, so booked Community Hall, organised sound and everything was set until mid afternoon phone call from Community Hall saying Music Store locked and no key. The planned snooze goes out the window and a rapid search round the community for the key to no avail. Only thing for it to avoid a cancellation was to find a Liverpudlian, a jemmy bar and we were soon in. Unfortunately the door was no more as it was weaker than the lock,

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but we were in and the ceilidh was on. Met up with Isla and the guys, all 16 of them at the Inn,

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sorted a few soft drinks out and some drinks for the band and away we went. A raffle for calendars and wine went fine and the music with some completely new dances, a Thread the Needles and Nine Pins,

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went down well, especially with the visitors and there were plenty. People who came, came to dance and it was nice to see a ceilidh with lots of kids running about, some hard to catch.

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The visitors from Toscaig left early to make more ice cream, going as well as the langoustine this summer.

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Finished up with a St Bernard’s and a Orcadian Strip the Willow. Good friendly night.

Saturday started on time but for the wrong reason, meant for an early start but the head said otherwise, Lots of painkillers got me going at the back of nine but knowing the day was set fair and the pain receding settled into a fine days fishing with the bonxies.

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Missing my afternoon kips due to lack of time and arrived at the Inn with a bit of a back wash from the days pills but soon that was lost in the melee of the night. Tonight’s event was another charity event, a bed push over the Hill, one that happens annually and means a booking of 15 meant no tables down that end of the bar. it went well until the usual late comers. They got seated, were appreciated and all was well. Lots of monies raised and home, knackered by 11.30pm knowing I had to go back out to the Varuna to land the rest of the langoustine, feeding the monster is becoming seriously hard work.

The sunset was special

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and waitresses

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are always around for a shot in the sunset.

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I think it was Saturday afternoon I was checking out the camera as it was acting up a bit, went out to the garden and discovered a little unusual way of sorting an error communication between lens and body. Apples,

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mint

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and puppies were looking fine, rampant, bored

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and slightly apprehensive.

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Sundays langoustine

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were looking fine as were the staff.

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Langoustine cooked off so were not being abused or being mistreated. A day that was beautiful but busy again, very busy. Lots of people outside so there is not too much competition for seat and tables but dishes one way and food the other way just kept coming in and going out. Made it through to six with the help of a brownie before sitting down to a plate of squats in chilli sauce rice and salad. Life is tiring but good. Made it out the door and away on the bike after another bar glass wash up and seeing them coming in again. Brief interlude with a journalist who was doing a more in-depth view on the NC500, a bit more than how wonderful the drive and scenery is. more on how it is affecting people who live here and how they go about their lives. Every now and again you get a bit of a jolt and a group of four Italians came in for lunch and chatted a little to them. Love the sound of the language, second only to the lilt of the Gaelic, turns out that one of them was woken up in Rome 150 kms away by the earthquake that so cruelly destroyed so many lives up in the mountains to the north-east. An immediacy when you speak to some one directly connected to events that are heart-rending but distant when seen on TV. Reminds me of the couple from Nice on table 7 a few weeks ago. Pretty rapid movement on our episode with the door as a new one has already been purchased and is back in Applecross along with lock.

Applecross Games,…”Are you normally this busy?”

Seen off another Games Day and the Aftermath, although the Inn staff are still seeing to it now as there is still two hours of food serving to go as I start this post. I had an easy day yesterday by catching up on some sleep and cycling off down to Toscaig to case the croft for a bit of fencing. The outer fence of the north end of the croft has been down for a few years and that section has been deteriorating letting bracken and rushes take over. The deer and sheep quickly finished off the willow that had been growing inside the fence, but prioritising making some money meant that nothing was done to sort the problem. The plan this autumn is to have both sections of croft fenced and reintroduce a wild flower meadow below an orchard. It will have to be something that does not take a lot of time and animals on the croft is simply a no-no. By rights I should not still have my croft as I have not used it properly. Over the years I have maybe used it as an extended garden but little else. Now with a little more time and effort I intend some clearing, soil analysis, drainage and planting. See how it goes as I maybe using this posting as a bit of pressure to get things underway. Luckily I will have some good advice behind me from the Black Isle. That apart the day was quiet but aware of the busy part of the community as the Applecross Games were underway at the Campsite. I almost made it but could not find the energy and knew I needed that for the evening shift at the Inn. As ever Applecross is full of contrasts and the hurly burly of the Inn is so different from the peace and quiet just a half mile down the road at Milton.

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Came up early and soon we were ordering, serving, arranging tables for the Coghills from Skye to the Carron Valley MCC. The couple of rooms that were full we found tables without any waiting. Sometimes you think how lucky things are to work out like that but it is so well organised that it always falls into place and it is no accident. There was no sign of the Boss so we decided that there was drink involved with her visit to the Field. Good team on meant there was no reason for her to worry about anything, just Billy appearing after ten (closed early for the staff to get a night out) for a pint or two only getting the one, bit miffed but it is one of the few nights for early closing. Home by 11.30pm and asleep not long after.

Today was approached with some trepidation as some staff have had a few the previous evening and it is one of the busiest days of the year. Began by getting some more langoustine ashore

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and things were rapidly underway with the visitation by the Nicolls, all seventeen of them. Put them on two tables and it worked out pretty well as the young and older of the group split up fairly naturally. Biggest table bill I have done so far but they were so easy to look after and very appreciative of the service. The day slipped into a bit of relentless ordering of food and drink with hordes of people calling in before heading home or people passing through.

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Noticeably more Chinese on the go and mainly attracted by the NC500. It was getting  a bit fraught by 4/5 o’clock they just kept coming in, luckily for us the weather held up is still holding off so the evening shift should not be too hard. The car park extension is taking place under the careful eye of Kenny.

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He is doing a very fine job and Applecross is showing quite a few examples of his dexterity with his machine. Seems natural when working away at his job. Garden full and the bikers just keep on coming but you can see why.

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While all this is going on Rob comes in to cook a BBQ for the Games helpers/organisers and some spread it was too.

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I managed a small plate on the side just to sample of course. The lamb and monk fish kebabs, langoustine, squats were all top drawer.

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That food could have graced any tables in any top restaurant in the country.

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Meanwhile on the other tables the food just kept coming out. Isla and her mate had her eye on some langoustine tails, trying to look cute as she could but don’t think she managed one.

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Things had quietened down a little by tea time, the band had struck up again and I was away down the road with some ice cream and a Crabbies to check the forecast for Cambridge, pack a couple of bags and plan for the next week.heading to Aberdeen tomorrow to take in a Blue Deal Workshop, organised by the NEF, before heading to The Cambridge Folk Festival. Christy Moore and Afro Celts are top of the list but the list is long and there will be surprises among the attractions of Imelda May, Baaba Maal, Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker, Blazin’ Fiddles, Imar, the list goes on and on, filled with brilliant musicians. So be off-line for a week or so but taking photos and meeting lots of friends again.

A post on fb coincided with a train of thought I have had over the last few weeks regarding how we live, politics and how we treat each other and the environment. In particular as we joined the Trident protest in Inverness, we watched the inevitable vote for the renewal of our weapons of mass destruction. jobs was rather a new and lame reason put forward for its renewal, but saw in the debate how party lines are more important than common sense although some Labour MPs just cannot vote for something so against their conscience. Came across the following tweet from Gary Lineker, not often see tweets from him but worth a mention and this diagram which say it so succinctly.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 23.03.42

“Don’t get Trident, never have. If it’s ever actually needed we’re all screwed anyway. Spend the money on something important.” Gary Linekar. Very disturbing that in our democracy our Leader states openly in Parliament that Human Rights and the Geneva Convention mean less to her than killing a 100,000 people in the so-called “Defense of our Nation” using illegal WMD. Sometimes up in the remote North West it is easier to envelope oneself in the busy day-to-day life of Applecross than contemplate huge issues such as building weapons that we cannot surely use in any circumstances with money we have not got and Climate Change. We are busily setting records of ice melt and high temperatures around the world which only merit a sentence in the News Bulletin but if some one walks into an office in parliament then headlines are written about Parliamentary privileges being broken. Life is more simple up here with just a few petty disturbances and on the whole you get what you see. Stick to sorting out the croft maybe not so simple.

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