In the hurley burly of the tourists and fishing every now and again you see something that is quiet and takes you back in time. There are not many people who still do this in Applecross but the other day I passed Sandy poling for scallops. A long pole and a low tide with clear visibility, a small boat and sometimes a glass box, and you are in action. Concentrating on the seabed looking for the half moons of the feeding scallops the world can pass you by.
Posts tagged ‘scallops’
http://www.applecrosshydro.scot That is the website for the share offer, now live, fine work from Emma Noble. Can’t say often enough how much work has gone into this. There is no way that it could not have gone ahead without full-time paid work funded by HIE, carried out by Alison with back up work from CES, LES, CMS. I see this as seed corn cash, tax payers money well spent. People want to visit Applecross but the regulars want to catch up with the familiar faces and meet the new residents, find out what has happened since the last time they visited. That is what all this is about, keeping a community alive and not the place becoming a beautiful but empty destination which has lost its soul. I am sure there are many who may question the direction we are heading but I know of no other way. The Shares Launch last night was successful beyond our highest hopes.
By the end of the night we had raised £101,500 in pledges and monies to buy out the Scheme and today that had risen to £126,500.
Talks from Dave, Jamie and Mick followed by lots of apple juice from Ryfield, Black Isle Berries,
led into a fine ceilidh dance by the Kyle Ceilidh Band. Although numbers at the dance were not very high, a fair number of holidays were taken, all enjoyed and the Aussies had their first Strip the Willows and Boston Two Steps. I had topped up Sean’s Yard of ale, our fund-raising “thermometer” this morning but it is well out of date by the time I get home.
This was it before the shares launch..
It has all been a bit of a swirl as the fishing has started and the Inn shifts carry on. When you stop doing a regular activity for a month or so and fire back into it, especially if it is single-handed hauling prawn creels the result is extreme tiredness. Pulled and strained muscles built up over the last wee while either chopping logs and in the Varuna engine room are just that bit more achy. Thursday was the first day back and it did not go smoothly. I was back on the moorings by eleven after going out, picking up the first end, realising straight away all was not well. Opened the hatch to see the new hydraulic pump fitted for the second time was not performing as it should, spraying oil out of the body was not in the manual. Next it was over the Hill to the Yard, pick up the old one from a puzzled engineer, quick refit and back out on the water. Still, although it was not a flat calm day, managed to get just short of 300 creels up and a day’s catch ashore and straight to the Inn for the evening shift. It has definitely dropped a notch, still busy with all the tables in circulation and a few on the two sittings, but there are no queues. We do still have that half hour to get through when we are wondering whether we are going to sit the residents when they appear. But that used to be the whole shift as now it is the half hour of the shift. Think the boss still feels or expects it to be really busy but then that is from a perspective of day after day. I am back on the boat and it feels so different.
Thinking about how relaxing this all is and although I have missed many days it matters little and the most important way to look at it is fretting does not take over. Beautiful day at sea on Friday and over 400 creels hauled with the body creaking somewhat. The fishing is still holding up although I cannot take too much from this as the first haul in a month.
But glass calm
and blue skies
give you extra energy. routines are good to keep a focused mind-set and it was good to hear Desert Island Discs again. Again a beautiful day and hauling some ropes with a heavy spat settlement gives you hope that there is lots of life in the waters yet. To the top right of the photo are some king scallops while the majority are the queens.
Saturday is Aff The Ba and Foreign Correspondents, before getting in in time for a little rugby,the Inn and The Share Launch of the Apple Juice Hydro Scheme. There is lots of interest locally, some overheard conversations a little sceptical, but it is not a one party peninsula. Although hopeful that the money will be raised it is going to be a nervous few weeks. Meanwhile the building is going on with the turbine coming through custom this week and being set into its frame in Aberdeen. The building of the Turbine House and the Pen Stock continues. Sean has made up the gauge in the Inn showing how much money is being raised. we are very grateful of the cheque from John Finnie MSP, who did not need to read the prospectus before handing over his money. It fits everything he stands for, green energy and community engagement. I am thinking the rugby will take a back seat.
Went out to the Hall on Friday evening, after catching a peaceful sunset over the western isles,
to hear a fascinating talk from Roddy about Folk lore connecting people to place names. Times when maybe learning a bit of gaelic may not be too far into the future. The mix of tales of fights, burial sites, dead boars and tying stones for dogs reminded me of a walk up the head of Glen Lyon where we visited the small house where a pagan ritual still takes place connected to the seasons. Roddy, of course, knew what I was talking about and told a wee story of the stones, borrowed, ill-health, put back and recovery. lovely to drop out of the stresses of today into the folklore tales of ancient times. Only just made it as falling asleep was the preferred option at 7.30pm.
Now on a Sunday evening a quiet hour before retiring, I think Netflix, cannot bear to watch the rugby. Least said about the game the better.
Amusing aside to the bike slide on Saturday evening was Steve nipped down stairs to make sure no one was breaking into 6/7 not knowing it was me clattering to the floor outside. South Africans for you, always think the worst. Up nice and early with only a couple of sore bits, me off to the Inn and No3 off to Airidh Drisheag on the south coast of the peninsula,
those endorphins again but Dougal
and Eilidh could not get out the door fast enough. Eilidh, a bit wiser than Dougal taking the choice of not having a dip in Loch Kishorn.
and a necessary stop off at Milton. No3 took the south photos and they look a lot colder and a bleaker than the stillness of Milton and the Bay.
The light is always changing at this time of year and looking north a little light appears on the lower slopes.
Arrived in plenty of time and by 12.30pm five staff hanging about doing very little. By 2.30pm running about serving a three-quarter full Inn. Easy to work today though as everyone very pleasant, easy-going and appreciative of what they got. Lobster, Seafood Platters, Langoustine and Scallops along with fine Rumps of Lamb all seemed to go down a treat and the time shot by. In particular the All Blacks were out in force and one to look out for was one who did play rugby in Edinburgh and who was aiming for the Edinburgh side. Have his name and will look out for him to see if he makes it. Great group from Leeds/London who alerted the Inn to the sunset taking place to the South West. An empty Inn for ten minutes.
The evening continued with the arrival of the Dundee entourage and I was handed the youngest for a while. Impressed he did not crack up but then he did n’t all evening. Even with The Boss out gallivanting again there was little need for me to stay much longer and was home by sevenish, taking care as there was a glisten on the road again.
Had hoped to be on the water today but the forecast of a couple of days ago had deteriorated and a fresh growing to strong breeze was predicted and had arrived by the middle of the day. Watched one of the south boats punching her way south by early afternoon and was glad not to be out. Made it up the road today on the bike with the pooches, they have never been fitter and Dougal never been dirtier. It is going to be a busy week as there are large numbers of people arriving for Ne’er day festivities. The Hall will be open as usual and a brief dalliance on the way home from the Inn will be in order. The Roads situation is causing certain amount of concern locally. May not say too much until I get the official word back from the East but needless to say our service is not improving.
Still unsettled on the weather front and as a result there will be no langoustines on the menu tonight. First shift for quite a while having taken my last box ashore yesterday. By the end of last night’s shift there were one main and one starter portions left. Part of this post is to do with getting photos to the Highland Council after bringing up the roads condition south of Camusterrach at the Community Council meeting on Tuesday evening.
Good way to bring the poor condition of the wall to the Roads Dept attention and other than sending in a memory stick technology is failing on my computer.
While I would not like to be in Broadford and Strath’s shoes, read in the WHFP that they had dissolved this week, usually if you are doing something then some one somewhere is objecting to it. Take the same opinion with the Company. If we do not have people saying they do not want to work with us then it usually means inertia or we are doing anodyne stuff. At the moment it is all quiet with only very few negative comments.. Getting the road fixed before the winter kicks in is a priority however. A strong North westerly and a high tide will work its way under the road and cost a lot more to repair than if it was done now.
Just one day of rain in the dingy to bail out,
head over to wash a fleet of creels at the Pier,
in fairly miserable weather
and take a box of prawns up to the Inn.
Tuesday morning saw us up at the Bay going along the shore with the chainsaw and loading a half ton of wood into the van.
A silver lining from Bertha, lots of larch and the tree that was sitting in the river for a couple of months providing a good deal of fuel for the winter.
Last night busy but not silly, seafood platters being the order of the night along with scallops, prawns, monkfish and cod. The Luxemburger was so overwhelmed with his meal he had a short nap while Lena May set up for breakfast.
Not been out all week fishing and had planned today but the Filling Station is causing headaches again along with a transformer blowing up behind the Inn. We can manually supply fuel but at the moment Gilbarco seem at a lose as to what is wrong now. Weather has definitely improved today along there is a strong north wind blowing down the Sound so The Filling Station did not really keep me ashore.
Always good to chat to Audrey about bees and pick up little snippets of information. Have little moments when I think I may be doing something wrong or do not know what is going on in the hive. Have not had too close a look recently but been comforted that all is well in the new smaller hive as both sets of flying bees are taking in lots of pollen just now. They look nice strong almost black bees and seem to be surviving well.
And tonight none other than the famous Fergie Macdonald playing accordion at the Inn on his “last” Last Highland Tour. No doubt we will see him next year.
Out north today for the first time for quite a while, in fact this year and things were in a lot better shape than I expected. Started in the Bay and worked my way to the Range. Left a couple of fleets for another day but have a stack for the Lewiston and the Inn has plenty now. It is pretty busy so all good. An awkward day at time as the swell was still heading down the Sound and it saps the energy a bit but luckily I only had a couple of foul ups to sort and nothing missing. Few accompaniments of sea life and the birds as per usual. This time of year they are getting quite anxious to feed. Building up for the breeding season. The shags and cormorants all have their different characters as some come alongside the boat and take the fish from your hand and others want to but cannot quite take the risk.
Hand fed a kittiwake today for the first time.
They are feisty little birds and have a right go to get their share. Biggish thorn starfish in one of the creels on the shallow ground, when diving to pick up scallops from the scallop farm used to take them ashore as well.
One of the few management jobs that were carried out which was bad for a species. They are a particularly destructive animal and could wipe out a young scallop bed if given the chance.. The fleet, last of the day, had been left as I had promised myself the next time I lifted it I would take it ashore. As it had been lying since December it was covered in squid eggs,
lots of queenies on the rope and even had coral growing on the creel mesh.
The queenies brought back memories of the scallop farm. We grew queenies as well as a sort of side line, did not see any kings amongst the seed, maybe not an area for king settlement. Came across a prawn that had shed, way out of season but we are seeing that more and more.
May be a sign of a stock under pressure or less distinction between the seasons as there used to be. Also some remarkably quick growing coral on the mesh.
And finally an electric blue spiney, one that usually lives in shallow waters and is not so common up this way. Saved by his colours he/she went back over. So now off out for some more as the forecast after today is looking a bit grim again.
Long day just about over still need to wind down as it was quite busy this evening, and that was after hauling 450 pots today. Early start due to a late lunch invite from Eleanor as it was her last day in Applecross. Lovely quiet morning going out and actually stayed that way despite the forecast for a southerly breeze.
Rattled through the gear trying to keep clear of the thick rafts of scalders the creels were coming through.
Had to watch the stings as there was just enough breeze to spray the tendrils about. You do get used to them with a general stinging on any exposed skin that builds up over the day.
As well as trawling and dredging another current issue and I am pretty sure it is going to become more prominent will be the establishing of MPAs which are Marine Protected Areas. It is easy for me to back these as when I first started fishing on the Sound there was one already established, the BUTEC Range. Not every time you haul creels on the edge of the Range but often the fishing is far better than anywhere else, as was the case yesterday.
Could not comment on any of the other areas but predict that local fishermen will be against them as outside bodies will try to establish these safe havens, from Gibraltar to The Sound of Barra. Had a couple of watchful passengers for most of the day.
Made it to lunch, only 10 mins late and as I was thinking about it all afternoon I ordered thai squats curry and Eleanor and Weston decided to go for it as well and the order was completed by a squats in garlic. Lovely lunch chatting away mainly about life in Applecross and Florida, learned a little about Huckins’ yachts, www.huckinsyacht.com/, one of which Weston skippers for her owner, and then it was cheerio to Eleanor for another year.
Straight from lunch to work and two or three groups booked in as well as the residents. Bit harder for us out front as it was raining and guys had to wait for tables. Even by Applecross Inn standards the compliments were flying in. We had a lot of Europeans in and they were really appreciating the food and atmosphere. Langoustines and squats got a good going over, as did the halibut and scallops. Then Josh came in looking for the Doc. Fortunately she had eaten and was having a coffee on table 2. Josh had picked up a cyclist whose bike had stopped in the Lonbain cattle grid, unfortunately she did not, result, broken collarbone. Know the pain as I managed to break my collarbone and dislocate my shoulder playing badminton in Plockton Village Hall many years ago and it was sore. It was a bit of a shame as they had done 96 miles that day, having come from the Ullapool ferry and had almost made it to their destination. So it was an ambulance call out and she heads off to Raigmore, I headed out to pickup the bikes and Crawford and Cameron staying the night at the schoolhouse, not before Judith supplies them with soup and sandwiches at the Inn. Schoolhouse is becoming a regular stopping off point for guys passing through.
Now it is Friday morning with a creel wash and evening shift on the cards. Very uninspiring feel to the day. grey and wet, just dreich. Only other thing of note is Dougal has gone to Beauly for his holidays. Be reading the Press and Journal for any incidents.
Tuesday was one of those satisfying and tiring days at sea. Interesting start with a bank of fog mainly to the south and over to Raasay.
The fish farm well boat making its way north up the Sound Heard on the news that the Mallaig/Armadale ferry was off for a while because of the fog.
On mornings like these you know that the fog is going to burn off and the sun comes through but every day is different. To the south it was not long till the Cullin shows itself in her finest.
Until the last fleet it was flat calm with a little breeze getting up at the start of the afternoon. nothing great on the fishing front but steady enough for keeping them on the menu board. Managed to get in before they ran out. The fishing is not showing much promise this year and that is apparent by the lack of boats out north of the Crowlins. A lot of gear is being washed and some boats have gone to the Dog Whelks. Regulars are still on the go and I often think that I am so glad to have down sized as I could survive on some boats fuel bills now a days.
Tom came down in the evening dropping off Sky and to Toscaig with his chickens to Sara and Aron. Tom and Lesley are off down south to see their Aron who is not at all well and all one can say is thoughts are with the family. Looking after Sky is the least one can do and Dougal already thinks she is a fine playmate.
Jenny and Eilidh on the other hand…..
After picking up Mark at the Inn in the morning it was off out to another calm day, again the fog burning off by mid day. He is not having the best of luck at the moment and the latest is that his scooter is heading south for a major rejig with the batteries and the result being they may be coming back with lead acid as opposed to lithium cutting back his rechargeable mileage from 30 down to 10 miles putting his journey at risk. Having passed his £6000 mark in Applecross he is now close to or even over the £7000 now. www.aroundbritain As Mark has a bad leg it was fortunate that the northerly breeze did not start-up until we were heading in. A little surprised by the last two fleets as they were up on the hard ground at Sand and the squats have suddenly decided they are hungry.
So tailing was the order of the day all the way home. I always have the boat washed down by the time I have picked up the moorings….not today and it was inside St Island before I had finished up. Again a beautiful afternoon in the sun.
Hard but satisfying shift at the Inn and as it was still a hot sun in the evening,stopped to buy a baseball cap at the shop as sunstroke prevention. Very pleasant customers, but who would n’t be on an evening like that in Applecross. Got chatting to the family from Aberdeenshire from a farm called Rothiebrisbane who at one stage supplied the butcher, Sandy, who was out on the Varuna on Monday. Great conversation about real local food and about how folk have been brainwashed into a super market way of life where they have every thing at their finger tips and if it is not they complain. Visitors sometimes are disgruntled when there are no prawns on the menu. Say they travelled 500 miles as if that is enough for the gales to cease and for the prawns to magically appear. As Will said “sometimes the sun does not shine”. Lovely Italian couple ate crab and mango, langoustines and scallops but could not have ice cream and asked me to tell Aron that they would be back tomorrow. As Aron and Sara were outside I introduced them and Sara, fluent in Italian, came along. Saw they were really getting along and still there about half an hour later….turns out that the lady from Italy was a criminal profiler, Sara having proof read so many Scandinavian Noir novels was fascinated to have met one finally in real life. I had already introduced her to a resident who was reading Jo Nesbo’s Phantom. Only at the Applecross Inn.
Glad not to be fishing to-day, giving the prawns a little more time to find the bait and climb into the creels. Exhausted by the time I made it home at 10.30pm and perfect relaxation was a taste of Aron’s new lime sorbet while watching a re run of The Crow Road on BBC4
Strange mix of emotions yesterday as a car recovery had to go into operation, having cracked the sump on the road down to the Estate Office, not the first seemingly , but mine was with a bit of style having dumped most of the oil on the road in front of the Inn. Made it home as it was straight into the shower and van and off to an evening shift at the Inn. It was a shift where there were lovely people all enjoying themselves, eating good food and taking in the Applecross experience but nothing of note to report. All this was preceded by a full day’s fishing of 450 creels and a bit of an improvement of the catch on unexpected ground. The squat lobsters have disappeared and are letting the few prawns on that ground into the pots. Enough mediums caught to have a batch sent off to The Loch Ness Inn this morning, good to see the absorbent granules have soaked up the oil. Not a big variety coming up in the pots but we quite often get a “monk fish” type of fish appearing, never much bigger than this and smooth skinned, also never survives as it does not cope with the pressure change.
Yesterday and forecast for the day are westerlies and southerlies so it is two days ashore with enough to do and maybe not quite getting round to most of it. I keep going on about working in the Inn but last night was one of the “special” ones. They all are for many people but sometimes you do not make strong connections with customers although you can see that they are happy and you are doing your job, last night was one for me. It is hard to describe the evening so saying it is the complete antithesis of the Ian Banks quote recently seen on social media from his book Complicity. People,decency,fairness and morality were to the fore, profits, money and dividends were secondary. I think that is the beauty of working at the Inn all these principles are in place and if the connections are right the dividend is happiness and the other boring bits like making enough money to live off are looked after. It was a busy night with a burst of customers around 6/7pm and all the tables rapidly filled up and an eye had to be kept on the residents’ booked tables. It was not a perfect night witnessed by me ordering a halibut inside of a haddock, if said quickly they do sound the same, I am sticking by that. Quickly sorted by the kitchen and a haddock emerged in double speed and Judith, had her tea sorted out. She sat by two of her residents while the Inn filled up. Good that she can do that and leave the floor to me. Trust built up over the months/years. By 8pm there was a queue waiting for tables but all went well even the chicken breast mistakenly ordered instead of the chicken casserole. This was delightfully eaten by the bar staff , we do speed eating very well here. It was busy and Judith spending a lot of time with a regular couple in the Dinning Room leaving the rest to us but the comments from the tables about the food, the Inn, the atmosphere are a tribute to the Boss and every one who works there. It got a little hairy at times, as it did in the kitchen, special needs eating etc with cheffie keeping a close eye on two stations, one more than normal. This resulted in a mussels not being on the cooker at the right time. That is the advantage of such a good atmosphere, the lady did not mind, in fact that was one of the tables who gave superlative compliments. Over the evening, the ‘best halibut”, “the best steak”, ” the best scallops”,” the best meal”, “the best langoustines” “ever had”. There was at least 8/9 comments like that, but the best for me was the young Californian who came up to me to give me one of the biggest compliment you can give. He told me that despite a “packed bar” I took time out to show his young German wife something about the menu. I could not remember what it was at the time but it came to me later it was a pompadom, which I got the kitchen to cook off and show her and took it out on a plate, she ordered a half veg Thai curry and just wanted info. But he said I was a “common man” which I took as the greatest of compliments telling me taking time out for people is always tops. But this is so easy at the Inn. Krotor made an appearance at many of the table conversations. Love the way that people have this blank look when I ask if they have seen the film “The Fifth Element”. Invariably a burst of laughter when I tell them Krotor now lives in Toscaig and has made your ice cream. Three other conversations stand out, the guy from Livingstone who was telling me about his daughter graduating in ecology and general world/ human connections to nature, ended with a sincere handshake. Another with Mathias, just talking about happiness and how he said “it is wonderful to see you happy”. Last conversation of the night was about how we build up negative profiles of people we know in varying degrees. She said that it great when you come across an action or statement which knocks that negative perception for six. Unfortunately I had one of mine strengthened, but this morning this conversation came back strongly in dealing with the car recovery. Garage rivalry can be a bit of a mine field and some are painted in a bad light, but after a very pleasant conversation and a recovery plan put into place with ease and very little cost all is well. Another negative impression dismissed.
Around 10pm noticed there was a lot happening weather wise around the corner of the bay and nipped round for a couple of photos that do not do justice to the place and what was happening over Rona and Harris and how I felt but they will have to do.
So the end of the most perfect of evenings was finished of with a scoop of lemon curd and golden syrup. Bit of a “high” post but natural highs are the best.
Decided on a trip to Inverness today as it fitted in with picking up the clutch on the way back home. Lovely quiet morning looking across to the south as I’m taking Dougal and Co out for their morning constitutional. Over the last three weeks I have never seen so many ticks on a dog. He has got a nickname tickbag now. Some mornings he has between 6 to 10 ticks. Don’t use Spot On so maybe should expect this.
After a water stop on the Hill
made it through in reasonable time and heard the Kessock Bridge traffic was ok. So tackled the day from HIS and Highland Wholefoods end of town and worked through that way. Went like clockwork and was heading home just after eleven, aiming for the post at two in Kishorn. Glad I was not heading south as the queueing was back to a mile short of the Tore roundabout.
Had an hour to spare so, after nipping into Dingwall for some more seeds stopped off in Strathpeffer for a cup of tea and a catchup. Always good to hear about how other social enterprises are getting on and how they deal with their problems, really interesting hour. At the road works traffic lights on the other side of the village had time to look across at the farm land and it strikes you as always one of the attractions of this country is the contrasts you come across in such a small area.
The bleak rock and heather of the north-west, the mountains down to the lochs of our place, the rolling “hills of the borders”, the woods of Perth and the bustle of the cities.
Anyway back to the clutch at Kishorn, not come through, so that will be the rest of the week off. Weather is still stunning and it boded for a busy evening shift and that was the case. Not so bad for finding people a seat as the garden was full but the kitchen got humped. still putting out food at half nine. The event of the evening took place fairly late on and involved weddings. The Inn was already mainly booked up for a wedding that is taking place today, unfortunately in the rain, looking out the window. All was going well, sitting outside, tucking into scallops and halibut, and we were getting ready for the last group of 6/8 who were eating at eight. The drama started when the lady dropped a name to Judith who immediately went into shock. She recognised the name but for a booking this time next year!! Panic stations as the community accommodation cannot cope with two weddings at such short notice and at this time of year. The stress lasted for about ten minutes while the lady got on the phone and fortunately,for us, Eilean Donan Castle confirmed what we hoped ….the wedding is down for next year. They had turned up for their wedding a year early. Amusement amongst the “real” wedding party.
Meanwhile in the garden a steak was so much appreciated that the lady ordered another one!! Cheesed Judith off as she was “stick thin”. And she finished it, seems it was a unique occurrence and she was not in the habit of doing this.
Lined up today is a trip to Kyle with an ill kayaker, picking up my clutch from Kishorn….and a massage in Shieldaig, squeeze in a bit of bookwork as well.