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

Posts tagged ‘prawns’

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


Three Medium and One Large.

On the water on Saturdays are a pleasure if it was just listening to Radio Scotland and Radio 4, but one does pass the odd tired bod.


The variety is huge from hearing the weekend News going into Shereen and guests where you pick up fascinating pieces like the interview with Mary Miller. A minister’s wife who refused a comfortable manse in a safe suburb to living in a Castlemilk council house where John Miller preached. She was one of the founding members of the Jeely Piece Club, a group of mothers who were fed up with the cycle of drugs and poverty of the estate. You also get a round-up of what has over the week, the Referendum over Europe is never far away.  Then over on R4 you are taken to Angola and the problems of falling oil revenues, sewage in the streets of Luanda, but the rich are remaining rich and the poor are even poorer. Then the humour of Aff the Ball where Sally Magnusson comes on and talks Pee. Yep, seems she has written a book about urine. Has an important place in history, it turns out, French baguettes in medieval times had urine in them as there appears to be yeast in the pee.  The fishing was excellent, first creel had 3 medium and 1 large langoustine in it and from then on very enjoyable quantities coming aboard,


and only had to haul five fleets, 275 creels, to keep the Inn going over the weekend. They are selling huge amounts of langoustines at the moment, both whole in lemon and garlic butter and half pints as a sharing starter. The mayo buckets have the whole ones while the ones ready for tailing are in the basket.

I am not one for taking lots of food photos but thought the seafood pasta of the other evening


deserved one as did the view out west with the mist rolling over the north end of Raasay,


should have been the warning that there may have to be a later start the next morning.


Like every morning, bar one, this week the starts have been early and the first “job” of the day is to return the sheep south. Wednesday was a particularly early start, just after four and was about to head out to sea, after a breakfast, when the mist rolled in.


It was pretty dark around the moorings and did not lift till around ten. Ardubh did look mysterious in the fog.


Cannot say I am too bothered about the sheep coming up the road, other than the lack of sleep. Some things never change and even as the deer fence was being built I knew the sheep were never going to go out onto the hill for the summer. A pity but sometimes you have to live with rural idiosyncrasies. One of the reasons I am keen to see them off south where they belong is there are patches of wild flowers that appear in Camusterrach that help the bees. And the sheep here are out on the hill, must be a little depressing to see the grass being taken while the village sheep here are giving it a rest. Tells you what the sheep think of the state of their native feeding. Dougal enjoys his early morning jaunts.


Have to say the sheep are getting used to it and take off south as soon as Dougal and I open the gate. They need persuading to keep going so we have to go to the top of the Craig Darroch to make sure they are in their daytime pastures.


On the way past the dinghy on the out hauler saw she was resting on the shore and I take that as a sign of how tired one becomes when you make little mistakes like not tying the endless line off.


After breakfast this morning the tiredness in the legs meant another short kip on the couch before going out at half eight. Great thing about being single-handed and self-employed, you please yourself and have no one to blame for things that go wrong like the dinghy resting on the shore.

Fishing has been fine this week, with a little dip in the middle but has come back strongly in the last couple of hauls. Just as well as the Inn has turned into a Langoustine Bar with scallops and crab going well. The weather changing may slow down the output although no signs today. A passing super yacht


made me think of Sandy in his little dingy and to be perfectly honest I know the one I prefer, closer to nature in the wee dinghy. Not sure if that is the new one but it was the Hampshire as they were booked in and cancelled at the Inn. Fair old size as you can see the Mairead M in the background.


Took the Loch Ness Inn some langoustine on Friday and included a trip into Inverness, a dart round the outlets, Highland Wholefoods, Gaelforce Marine, Macgregors and Simply Pets. Managed a haircut before calling in to BlackIsle Berries on the way home. Four punnets of the best, tastiest Highland strawberries you could find, gone already.

Going up to the Inn for the second half of the work day and realising that will have crammed ten days work in the last eight with little respite in prospect. And that is not counting a five-hour trip picking up parts and delivering langoustine on Friday. The Inn shifts on Wednesday and Thursday have settled down a little and you are able to make a bit more contact with some customers. Lots of German and French about and we have the French-speaking Charlotte home for the month to help out in any of the linguistic difficulties.

A June Sunrise.

Not often you will see a photo of a sunrise on these postings at this time of year.


On the odd occasion in my long forgotten youth I may have made my way home at this time of day/night. It would have been a little more enjoyable if the pressure to catch some langoustine was not so great along with getting up after a restless night and a bit of a head. Still with a 4.00am start, out with Dougal and Eilidh, removing the next village’s sheep from around the Schoolhouse, breakfast, I was away from the moorings just after half four. Almost immediately the north wind gets up and on the second fleet I was in gear. Not the best of conditions as I was worried about ropes in the propeller with gear shot so close. Several cuts to my third fleet, just the one on my first, but enough to land to the Inn to keep the langoustine on the menu board. I had landed the last of the stored ones yesterday morning


but almost every order has either scallops or langoustines somewhere in it , quite hard to keep up. Good problem though and pleasant enough challenge. Straight to my kip to sleep through the headache and catch up with some shut-eye, nice to be landing the catch as other fishermen were passing by to go to sea. Recovered now and getting ready for an evening shift at the Inn.

Last night was fairly gentle, relatively speaking, although the days are pretty full on. A group of 15 turn up (we already have a 15 and a 7) not booked, but as usual that is okay. Seems a 20 turned up today. Yesterday the plan was to head out early like today but that was thwarted by the fact you would not be able to see the buoys


and where I was going to fish that is imperative. You could see it was going to clear but not quick enough.


By the time the mist cleared the wind was increasing so little incentive.


Instead I went round to Aird for some bait but unknown to me the freezer store is being serviced so no bait, now ordered and to be picked up this weekend. Stopped for a ceilidh in the sun and sorted out a few people and problems in Applecross over a couple of mugs of tea with the dogs tolerating each other in the garden. Definitely a heat wave even with the northerly breeze blowing. On the way back round the coast, partly as a result of the Polaroid shades the colours are accentuated so a couple of stops were required


to admire the stunning views.


Some would conclude that as a wasted journey but when you take a bit of time out in the sun, in good company, to chat about this and that, the wonderful scenes,


not a waste at all and as a result have my next delivery of herring sorted. The evening passed without incident, topped off with a fine venison burger made on site. Did a fuel dip at 10.30pm on the way home and ended up with Dougal as company on the cycle south. He had been up the road on a regular walk with Eilidh but the spaniel in him never says no to another run down the road. Have to remember these days when the rain comes.

Applecross Planets not in Line.

The Applecross planets are definitely not lined up. Today however they came a lot closer in that a relay was replaced by Dan at the Hydro, Alfie, the plumber, and Duncan were at the Toilets yesterday, Broadband working at the moment with new equipment ordered and trip to Raasay planned and training for the Board organised for next Saturday.

Going back to the beginning of the week and a bit of branch collecting after a fine but very busy lunch shift at the Inn. I am collecting wood for fuel which saves a bit of dosh but I sometimes think I go out just to enjoy the scenes around Applecross.


The dogs love these expeditions and the late evening light was lovely to”work” in.


Monday was a recovery day with just a little wood cutting to get us outside in the bitter North wind blowing down the Sound. Tuesday started off with a jump out of bed and a swear as I remembered I was supposed to be at the pier fuelling up the Auk. Only ten minutes late and they were having an early cup of tea so not too bad.


Did not envy them as they made their way out to a bit of shelter in the Bay for a days diving. Had planned a quick trip to Inverness via ConnaVets for some dog chipping and tic medicine. Brightened up despite a fresh wind blowing in from the Glen.


All fine and managed over the Hill despite the course weather.


Back in plenty of time for a Board meeting at the Hall. Only thing to say about it was that there is too much concentrating on the past mistakes, of which there will be many more in the future, and not enough to sort out any repetition. My theme throughout is the Company is trying to turn around the continued decline in Applecross. Some people may not see it as the Inn is booming and news of another family leaving and yet another family mooted as going. There is another disturbance going on but really not my place to write about it as it is private, sensitive and sorely affects the people involved. Only mentioned as it does affect the Community with one of its pillars looking for support.

You can see why I think the planets are out of line and it is not just the weather. On the way to Inverness I met Graham of Lateral North http://lateralnorth.com on the way in working on a project which includes Applecross. Met up after Tuesday’s meeting and again during a lunch break on Wednesday. Managed to take delivery of the fuel and as the weather still too poor for me to go fishing went up to the Intake,in between snow showers,


with Graham


to check the head levels and screen,


water coming over, head okay, Dougal double checking


down to the turbine house and a manual restart. Seemed alright but after going back up saw the deflector plate still down, so water coming through but not activating the turbine.

On Wednesday I went over to Strathcarron to a Rural Parliament session to put in suggestions for a Rural Manifesto. Only five people turn up but it is during the day and came away feeling a little down and see that we are fighting a losing battle trying to keep our communities alive. The recent wedding has brought it sharply into focus for me, where are the twenty something year olds in our community now. They came from Skye to Glasgow and filled Applecross with craic and laughter and it has gone quiet again. There is full employment here, not what every one wants to do, but there is plenty on the go. Space for more skills but nowhere to live.

Feeling not very chipper on Thursday morning it was a real struggle to motivate myself out the door and go to sea. There was a strong easterly forecast which did not help, eventually made it out but forgot to top up the bait. Silly but maybe inevitable considering my mood. Made it round three fleets in the snow


and landed enough langoustine and squat tails to keep the Inn going for a day or so. The inn on Wednesday seemed busy but working the floor on ones own with every table being used and a queue at one stage, felt busier than it was. Time shoots by on a night like that. Called in at Eagle Rock on the way home to say cheerio to some regulars, the Boss being there on a night off. Came in covered in snow as was on the bike. A welcome surprise, in that I had forgotten he was on the way, Connor turned up with his partner Nadia, Sixteen years it has taken him but so good to see him and have a chat with them, living the London life, east end where it seems to be happening. Had a little dip into the past with him and will see him over the weekend as they are staying till monday. Later in the evening, a pleasant after sunset glow


and where there is a sunset there always seems to be an Aussie or two.


This morning with a big snow fall yesterday it was looking fine out to the southwest.


Now, with the sun shining, a quick shower and a two-hour drive to Portree for eight hours of fantastic Scottish music, the mood should be lifted a little.



(Monday evening) Four and a half hours of meetings on a beautiful Spring day.


Balanced out a bit by taking the dogs out just now. Looking up to the sky, seeing Orion’s Belt along with a fat finger nail moon and listening to an owl calling puts things into perspective. The ill-informed tweets I’ve been getting from the mobile sector, the long three hours with Marine Scotland trying to close off The Inner Sound to the mobile sector to mitigate the actions of the MoD need a balance. By keeping the trawlers out it may make a bit of room for the displaced creels. Not just about banning mobile sector but instigating our own conservation ideas. Some good intelligent debate and all positive apart from coming up against the slow machinations of government. Nowadays the negative “Whatabout my rights” when you try to instigate some measures that will help the long-term sustainability of the fishery against the short-term lose of livelihood using unsustainable methods. It seems to be a mantra both at sea and on land from those that have so much and have their environments at the bottom of their priorities. More the defence of their positions and the continuation of supremacy is more important. Ended with a quick trip down to the Ironworks to drop a couple of photos off and a Highland Wholefoods shop. Good craic there although had trouble writing the cheque….still recovering from the Marine Meeting. Beautiful drive back through Torridon as  I picked up some bait and salt at Aird. (Would have been back later if I had not forgotten the camera.) This along with dropping prawns at Loch Ness Inn meant more than just a meeting. Home in time for a plate of soup and back out to Community Council. Good meeting and MoD features along with an organised Independence Convoy of around 250 cars. We are taking the opinion that we cannot cope with this number of cars on top of a busy summers day in May.

(Tuesday evening) busy old day involving, fuelling up,


bit of fishing on a stunning quiet day,


salting a quarter tonne of herring, landing the langoustines, an hour at the wood after checking dips at the Filling Station, tea cooked (Thai squat lobsters), and then Fortnight invoice to the Inn followed by an on time Fishing Return and a last but one (late) VAT Return. Managed a few tweets in favour of MPAs and had a couple of discussions with the mobile sector about what is sustainable and what may not be. As pointed out in Inverness where is the inshore mobile fleet now? two draggers left in Kyle now, one gone to the twin rig and the other up for sale…..not a great sign of sustainability. Hopefully the creel sector will try to get their own house in order in reducing their fishing effort. We are having a good spell just now and I only needed to haul 200 creels for my own little market. Fishing and catching the langoustine is only part of a day at sea, looking around and taking in the beauty that surrounds us


is the best part of the deal, keeps the tiredness at bay. The solitary seagull


or the very happy female eider


and the basking seals.


Caught my first mackerel in the creels, a little unusual at this time of year.


Summer has arrived,


for a week anyway, and is to be enjoyed with lots to do. Have not even thought of the croft and garden.

Uneventful, but Wait a Minute…

Apart from sky-high stress levels it has been a fairly uneventful week so far. Wrote that before I thought too much about the week. Monday was a usual days fishing, couple of fleets foul with mine but in shallow water so not too hard to free up. Have to watch the shoulder, had it diagnosed as the equivalent of carpal tunnel syndrome of the shoulder. Bit of a pain and always need to protect it. Seals basking


in the sun on the way in.


The weather has been pretty good this week, today it bright and fresh from the south, so it a mix of wood and starting the garden make over.

Tuesday was a day of walking the pooches, casing for the wood pile, and then over the Hill for a meeting in Kyle at the BUTEC Base for a meeting about the Range expansion. Managed to get a “commitment” that the Outer Sea Area will never be closed during a Trial. Sounds fair enough but there are going to be times like now when they will be using the Outer Sea Area and we will be requested not to be there while Trial goes on. Am I too skeptical or just realistic. We keep hearing about the wonderful cooperation, mainly we do not upset the MoD operations by not fishing there. The lines of the expansion seem to have hardened and are going to be the expansion, full stop. They were the original lines on the “leaked” map, something I was told was a regular occurrence with in these establishments, although in this case there was a pretty hefty investigation following this leak. I am impressed with all the ideas put forward by the fishermen from the south on how to have a bit of dual use of the Range. They are all “being taken on board” but nothing further I fear. It was pointed out that the so-called ripple effect should be described more as a tidal effect on the boats out with the Range area when the creels have to be moved from the new restricted grounds…..on a weeks notice it seems. At the end of the meeting the last kick in the teeth was lobbed in. “There will be no compensation” for lose of the Fishing Grounds. Minister has already decided….and people still query why I voted Yes?

The journey there and back was made to feel quite short due to the company and wide-ranging discussions, mainly politics, very interesting and a little insightful shortened the journey. A bit of concentration needed on the Hill as there was a covering of snow on the road but all well. Wednesday morning meant an early trip down to the pier to refuel the Auk


before they headed out to a days diving for scallops. Received a bag of smaller scallops on Monday for a fine feed. Rather more than expected but the freezer is stocked up for the summer with lovely underaged king scallops. The morning was beautiful


with the snows still on the mountains


and the sun shinning bright.


The last couple of nights I have been pretending to be in charge at the Inn and so far it has been very smooth. Result being that I have not added to the double-digit shifts with any fishing. They have plenty prawns to sell over the weekend and the forecast for the next week seems quite settled. It was a gentle night last evening but tonight threatens to be a lot further up the scale. Full Inn and more at the Hostel alongside a pre funeral meal means at least 50/60 meals tonight. Just Zuzu and I to deal with the front. Regard it as a challenge and a reminder summer is close by. Instead of the fishing the wood gathering and dog walking take precedence in lovely weather and big tides. Went out to Sand


to check up reports on some dead sea life but did not come across any. Worth the trip though and Dougal


certainly thought so.


Road Rescue,Consultations and wayward Dougal


Fireworks, “Big Boys” and Birthdays.

Out on Friday on a wonderful and quiet day


to haul a few creels and keep the langoustines on the menu board. Very little to report apart from a few tangles, a missing fleet,a couple of fleets foul on other gear and the odd but smart cormorant looking for a mate going by his crest.


Although never feeling the cold during the day it is very easy to chill down on the steam in after you have cleared the deck but the scenery keeps it fresh.


Time to talk a wander up the Sand path in the evening light with Dougal and Eilidh.


The light all day was quite special.


Evening free so the baked potatoes were enhanced by squat lobster in marie rose sauce. Left the Inn after landing the langoustines in the safe hands of a visitation of the regular “big lads” who come up for the Fishing Competition in August. They were up for the rugby on Saturday, taking a minibus trip (not ours) over to the Strath to watch the game.

Saturday morning and a morning spent up and down the road and on the phone to see if I could get the Hydro up and running. After a bit of tooing and froing and under instruction I managed to top up the pressure in the dump load tank and the turbine was under way again. Unfortunately it only ran for about four or so hours. Jumping ahead to Monday afternoon I was back up at the turbine house but this time in the safer hands of Mick. I had another go on Sunday morning, although there was a restart during the day it was only running at around 5/10kws. A new build which although the principles are simple involves, software programs, circuit boards, fuses and breakers has to go through a snagging period. Even now the turbine has turned over 68,000 kwhs so projections are on course. Was up on Monday for just over an hour and learned a huge amount about how the head sensor works, monitoring the levels at the intake, sending signals to the turbine, where the actuator opens and closes, regulating the water coming into the turbine. The level at the intake is maintained so it is the power produced that drops off due to the water levels. Mick was trying to work out why the turbine had shut down concentrating on the head sensor. Possible reaction to severe frost but not confirmed and the same sensors are scattered round the country and geared to withstand -20c. Started up when I was there and watched the power settle at 17/18kws and the head sensor control the level of water at the Intake. Fascinating stuff and am already able to take investors round the turbine house and heating unit at the Campsite. Sunday morning  included just such a visit.

Lots going on at the Inn over the weekend. Friday evening was left to the boys build up to the Saturday game and Saturday shift was pleasantly busy, the Boss being away to pack for an escape in the morning. Something about a birthday escape. Easy going evening but busy enough to keep on your toes, only down side was the plaits on the iPod. turned out it decided to die but kept playing the same song on repeat instead of shuffling. About four hours into this I was asked how many songs on the playlist before realising what was the problem. The teachers on the Big Table now know the words to Stacy Earle’s “Did I say I was sorry” word-perfect, said it was a good song around 7pm. Then it was the fireworks sent up by some of Judith’s dedicated followers,


sent off in to the sky from the Garden.


The expected Rugby invasion did not materialise although we did get a phone call saying they were on their way for late food splurge. The spirit had caught up with them and all but the local contingent came in. had a good last hour listening to their reminiscent of escapades from growing up times. It struck me that nowadays there are not many people living where they have grown up, a sign how mobile the world has become. Where you belong has become far more important than where you come from.

Sunday morning, passing a frozen Mill Loch on the bike,


and a quick visit up to the turbine house to see if I could identify fuses but with no luck, came down and showed Mike around the unit and he was well impressed by the community’s efforts. Had been an early start to get some more langoustines from the boat.


Then the Boss left quietly before 11am


and found out there were just the two of us on till six.The weather was still holding and a busy day expected.


Good banter on the check out with a couple. Just during the chatter found out the lady was working in the NHS and then as a dietician, door opens as I point over to the ‘big boys’ in for a breakfast and a break before the England/Italy game. But unlike junior doctors she claimed that she was not working weekends!! Would have been a great project…here is Big Derek on his way to Applecross taking a break and getting some sun before settling in at the Inn for the weekend.


It was a full on but under control and very enjoyable shift. Every table was full right up till four and then again at six but we had reinforcements arriving then and the evening was a lot easier. Four years on this job and nothing panics you now. Systematic but friendly service sees you through, meeting the Black Isle farmers, the retired lorry drivers, the teachers are all part of a shift that flies by. Only little moment was when Dan was over from Lochcarron for a meal with friends, when he was paying I asked how his Dad was, knowing he was seriously ill, bit rocked by his reply….he had passed away on Saturday. For a few seconds everything means nothing and nothing means everything, all you can do is shake hands and try to pass some feeling over to a young guy who has just lost a young Dad.

The food was exquisite, the usual langoustine, scallops, crab were supplemented by some gorgeous turbot, comfit duck, seafood broth, pork fillet, followed by an amazing tiramisu from Marion. The usual array of ice creams came out of Toscaig, (Applecross Ices) aptly named for the day Love, Passion and Desire. The chocolate sorbet with the cherries was a great way to finish off a long day. Finishing off this post and checking up on a refreshed turbine power read out watching the power out put increase from 17kws going up to 29kws in the last two hours. Signalling a change in the weather from the hard frost and clear skies to a wet and windy Tuesday. We will always have this silver lining as we look out the window and see nothing but horizontal rain.

Back Fishing Again.

Slow start to the week. Bit cheesed off on Monday morning, glass calm and out to the Varuna for a day’s fishing.


Not to be as the batteries would have been good for Shrove Tuesday. They were flat as pancakes. Back ashore and did a bit of wood cutting, along with a bit of the community stuff, up at the Hydro


and taking dips at the Filling Station. With the storms we have now there is always a bit of something to burn which has just been blown down. Trying to stay a season ahead and pretty hard work keeping wood for drying so it burns properly. Companions are always with us


on these trips and the light


and deer


were looking good. Think Angus is the stag in the middle. Later on the light changes again.



Tuesday evening it was back into community council stuff. Long meeting and pretty interesting in that it ranged across many subjects as diverse as setting up First Responders, purchasing defribulators, complaining about the condition of our roads and wondering what to do with the heavy advertising from the NorthCoast500 tourist group. Slightly relieved to hear that it is neighbouring councils that are worried as well. Chatted about the Highland wide development plan and the Trust consultation where housing came up. The school roll has dropped markedly and it was pointed out that Shieldaig has a healthy roll now and they have affordable housing. We are in trouble as far as that goes. I find it frustrating seeing the SLE campaigning as hard as they can about all the land reform legislation proposed but just wring their hands about the landlords that prevent communities trying against all the odds to keep their heads above the water, far less encouraging them to develop.

Batteries fully charged around 11 o’clock so decided to go out and at least fit them and give the Varuna a run. Conscience took over and went out to haul a couple of fleets so I could get the big N/A beside the langoustines off the menu board. Not many in the creels but the ones that were caught were good size and condition and went down well in the evening. Some Swedes booked in checking out some scenic views for a new Volvo advert. It just keeps happening. Seems the Inn has just been voted best pub by Countryside magazine and Sand the best beach. I would have thought Luskentyre in Harris would have won hands down, but there we have it. The world is coming to Applecross this summer.

Today was meant to be full on but due to a slower than planned start, and the last two fleets hauled were fouled up, a planned trip to Kyle BUTEC was called off. Short notice and good weather does not go well with fishing politics and as I am working this evening not good to charge over the Hill to attend a three-hour meeting for an hour and head back home. Low tide


and cormorants


are more interesting than these meetings anyway. Smart rainbow yesterday. Helicopter on the top and boat sailing up the Sound at the bottom.


Coming Home with the Cormorants.

Been an eventful few days with some beautiful weather,


settings on the Hydro needing sorted and a couple of funerals. There was a bit of fishing involved as well and it was sleeping in at the Inn last night. Nice to see guests enjoying freshly caught creel langoustine again. Well cooked and could not be fresher. Seems the langoustine were featuring on TV. Wonder if they were creel caught and if people would know the difference if they were.

Going back a bit and after a phoneccall and email I restarted the Hydro on Tuesday. Unfortunately, but not unexpected, we are sorting out settings. It was set when in spate so common that it has to be corrected to ensure maximum power output. Ewen and I were back up last night to reset but unsuccessful as the readings on the control panel did not match instructions. Ewen had another go today but needs more expertise and the boys are due in next week anyway. I had needed to go up to the Intake to check the screen was not blocked. There was a fair bit of debris to be swept off


but it was not that which switched the turbine off.


Ended rushing a little, it was the morning of Roger’s send off and as Dougal was with me he had to go home and a change of clothes for me before the service. There were four of us to help take Roger from the hearse and put him in position for the last time here in Applecross. That was done and then it was down the road to change in time to  get back up and pass on a few instructions for Ian about who was sitting where, the cap and the collection vase. Felt slightly rushed and we stood at the back as we were to take Roger back out. Bit thrown when Ian took me out towards the end and said I was to go down to the front and help take Roger out. Regarded this as a serious honour but was very nervous. All went well however and Mark and I were down at the Inn and ready to serve the masses. The Inn was filled and there was a proper wake where I over heard a few tales of Roger and Vera. The other side of the tale of Roger always saying “If a job is worth doing it is worth doing well” was when he was laying some flooring and under the influence, Judith reminded him of his saying. She got a quick response,”Well if you are p####d you do the best you can.” A bit irreverent but that is what a wake is for, a sort of ceilidh where people remember stories about the deceased life. The oral traditions of keeping some one alive in the community after their physical presence has gone.

The day before saw us at Clachan again, this time at the burial of my aunt Sybil. A different kind of send off and one that involves a sermon with a short eulogy about Sybil. Everyone is different and I remember my Dads when his name was mentioned once in the passing, as was my Mums. Presbyterians do it different concentrating on everyone’s afterlives prospects rather than seeing off the person who has recently passed away. I find it is always good to hear about the life. I remember calling at the Schoolhouse, as a primary school kid, little knowing that one day I would be living in it. Sybil was a quiet and well liked lady around Shieldaig where they headed after Robert retired in 1970. Spent Friday fishing doing a lot of thinking about the last couple of days and remembering lives lived. Having sorted my parents funerals in the traditional way as they would have liked, I found I did not mourn them on the day as all you are thinking “is everything organised” and wondering if you have missed anything out while the “sermon” is being preached. It is only after everyone has gone you miss them although with my Mums dementia meant it was a goodbye long before the physical passing.

The day’s fishing had begun with a pause while I watched an otter busy searching the Ardhu shoreline. I was not out early and the sun was already throwing her rays across the Camusterrach


and Camusteel houses,


a cormorant was watching me make my way out.


Despite the emotions and resurrected memories of the last two days the beauty of the day took hold and once again on the sea in nature work and life becomes less stressful. A tangle in the Bay but all went well and a few good quality langoustines aboard, the day passed quickly enough. Emotions up and down all day, knew I had nine creels missing from the end of a fleet by the Range, south buoy gone and a cut rope not retied properly, then thought I had lost the whole fleet when the north end was not where it should be. Hauled the next fleet to the North and shooting back off to the south-east there was the “missing” buoy. Back to losing just nine creels instead of fifty-five. The little ups and downs of fishing on your own on the water. But both buoys back on and hoping to pick up missing creels soon. With the intention of taking creels closer to home I kept the furthermost north one on board and shot it off the Camusteel shore. Not before enjoying the setting sun




providing some colourful scenes




on the Applecross shores.




Feeling rested after a day at sea, setting sun to the west, two cormorants flew past heading for their perches. It felt like I was coming home with the cormorants, all of us from a day fishing on the water.

With the langoustines and squat lobsters


back on the menu, an extra evening shift was on the cards. Found it a little difficult as there was a mix of lots of alcohol and good food with loud conversations all around. Interestingly refusing drink to guys that judged to have too much already, difficult to do to people you know well but it did seem to be accepted and dare I say appreciated. You could say a successful community Inn where the next ventures are planned and discussed and everyone disappears on even before the Bell tolls. Roger’s family through in Inverness followed by a night in Glen Affric, meant a sleep in for me at the Inn.

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