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

Posts tagged ‘seals’

Seals and Sunsets.

Listening to John Beattie at lunch time today I was struck by the interview with the guy he met in the street. This guy walked past smoking a spliff and he wanted to hear his story. At the Inn I often get the privilege of doing just that. Sunday lunch and speaking to an Irish couple was such an occasion. They were from Belfast and a very short conversation ensued with me saying I was over there during The Troubles and nipping through from Donegal to Larne at speed. He casually mentioned that he was in a mixed marriage, relevant during the marching season, and he never knew what list they were on, probably on both sides. A quiet statement by him saying they never opened the door after dark unless they knew who it was, was a stark description of a life lived in Belfast 30 odd years ago.

On a brighter note was the Columbian who took to the Inn and left after photos and a hug. I think he was just a very happy and contented fellow who appreciated all around him, if only we were all like that instead of walking down streets banging drums in the name of culture.

On the way out to the Varuna to put last week’s washed creels back on the line I stopped to take a couple of photos of our residents,

generally they were unconcerned with my presence.

There is no need for any seal trips here unlike Plockton where they get the patter as well. https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=calums%20seal%20%26%20dolphin%20trips. 

And finishing off the day after mending a few creels on the Pier and catching up on Designated Survivor, nipped out to watch the sun go down

over the Rona Gap

Of Dogs and Seals

Although fairly quiet weather wise today decided not to go fishing yesterday, knowing that I would probably pay for it in the predicted north winds. Was out today and  it was the case. Hard work on the Sound but bright and sunny by the late afternoon. Still lots of langoustine about although some fleets are looking a bit shaded with a lot fewer in them. Small but plentiful. But back to yesterday where I took the dogs out for a spin on the bike after the Memorial service for Mrs Wills at Clachan. We ended up down at Culduie

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and went out to see the seals.

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Calum would not make a living doing any seal trips here.

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You do not need a boat.

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Arriving on the point there was a rush into the water

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but not by all.

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They seem to realise there is no danger from a couple of yapping, excited dogs.

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Both are very curious about the other but a safe distance was kept between both just in case.

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Noisy but fun interlude to the day, although some looked slightly nervous.

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And through out it all there were still some who just lazed through it all.

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Ringnet Fishing and Football.

Thursday evening at the Inn was one of reminiscing about days of yore, particularly around football and fishing. Football was high on the topics of conversations especially if you get a couple of guys in their mid to late fifties are around the current generation of players. The upcoming event of Oliver’s wedding brought in not a few bods from the south end of Skye. Not quite up on who is who but conversations quickly went on to the standard and quality of the local football leagues thirty-five years ago to how they compare with now. I spent most of my growing up in Kyle playing, practising (I needed to) and spending time down at Douglas Park in Kyle. When not good enough to play for Kyle I played for Balmore and Plockton, there being slightly less competition for places. Vague memories of being in the winning team of Balmore winning the Macleod cup, their only winning trophy as their team members drifted back to their native villages. There were the traditional “old firm” matches of Kyle/Plockton which was replaced by the Kyle/Kyleakin games. I think Plockton faded a bit as the Byrnes, Finlaysons and Hays were not replaced in sufficient numbers. Good to chat with Chris and remember incidents of yore, no big-headed stuff but lots of banter. Makes you think, the Kyle defence of D.Anderson, S.Moore, I.Munro, A Macleod, D.Macleod and S.Barckley, was part of a team that almost won the “grand slam” missing out on only one of the available trophies. Sad to think that two members of that group are no longer with us but good memories all round and we were probably not better than today’s players.

Fishing was another topic when I came across Will who was on board the Kyleakin ring netters. Seems he has done a study of the ringnet and has numerous photos of the boats including the Mary Ann BRD 423 that my dad was on. There was a bit of confusion as we sorted out which Macleods were which as there were three altogether on the fishing boat. I am pretty sure that the photo is one of Will’s and she laying at Canna.

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Remember he did say that Canna was part of his research. It certainly of a bygone era. Chris also mentioned that he remembers the day when the Fortitude came to Kyleakin. That would have been a big day for the village, seeing a new boat arriving in the small port. So it was certainly an evening of memories both on and off the pitch. All this going on and a family I have got to know over the recent years, the Boyds from Lewes, were in for their “last supper”. You make good friends working at the Inn and I was fortunate to get off a little earlier on Wednesday evening to catch up with them as they were staying down at Pier Cottage. Dougal and Eilidh were impressively well-behaved during the late night visit.

The week has had its usual rendition of fishing

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and working at the Inn with a blip at the Turbine to sort out. It is off just now as we have not had any rain for quite a few days. The predicted snowfall has not hit Applecross and there was enough sunshine for the wedding to be enjoyed by all including Son No3 who had come home for it. The 150,000 kWs is on target for the projected income so a dry spell is welcome at this time of year. Lambing is going full pelt so it is inevitable that we have some snow flurries although with the wind in the east to north east the sunsets have been okay.

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There was a breeze from the east forecast on Monday and as the day was bright and rumours of adverts being filmed on the Hill I took the dogs up for a wee look.

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Ended up walking to the mast and enjoying the views from all quarters.

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There is a spate of people using and wanting to use the Bealach these days, whether for tourists, cycle sport ifs, car clubs and filming and one wonders where it will end up. Road closures, if only happening once or twice a year can be met with a shrug of the shoulders but as there is more and more demand for its usage which includes closures it is little wonder that this is a topic that is now coming up in our Community Council Meetings. There is little direct benefit from all this activity to Applecross and the road is deteriorating fast with small prospect of much money being spent on it. Maybe if HC put some of their monies offshore they would have some to spare to spend on the Bealach. No wonder however that there are so many who want to drive over the Hill.

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The views on a day like this

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are at the top end.

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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

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in the sun on the way in.

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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

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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

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with the snows still on the mountains

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and the sun shinning bright.

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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

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

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certainly thought so.

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Come Back Underway.

A slightly stressful morning, yesterday, but the come back is under way. Arranged with Donald to take me over to the drying pier at Camusterrach to beach the Varuna and start the gearbox repair.

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The last parts are reported to be on the way and hopefully repairs will start on Wednesday. Fresh southerly on the way across made for a tense approach and due to ropes of the pier a wide berth meant we were having a bit of a sprachle getting ropes on to the north side. A wee tourist, staying in Pier Cottage, appeared but he did not have the hearing or skills to tie a rope. Eventually after jumping ashore I managed rope tied to my stern and with the help of the Michelle’s hauler pulled both boats into the pier. After tying up the Michelle made for the moorings but picked up an old rope, ending in her being beached as well to get the rope and an old tyre out. Even by my standards there was a fair bit of rope to cut out of my prop. A number of barnacles settled on the copper paint this year but very loosely and scraping them off took minutes with the spade.

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The rest of the time ashore in the last week or so has been filled with wood cutting and a little bit of creel washing and landing the last of the langoustines caught the previous week. With a little time to spare I drifted over to a busy part of the moorings and congregations of resting seals

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and cormorants.

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Lots of hours at the Inn and although the shifts in the evenings seem to have slackened off the weekends have still been remarkably busy. This is partly due to a continuing staff shortage a twelve-hour Sunday shift does leave its mark. No wonder the Boss has to disappear for a twenty-minute break now and again. On Sunday my enjoyment of the Rugby World Cup continued, although there was a shaky first half against the USA to keep quiet. Only seen the second half of Scotland’s two games and surprisingly pleasant they have been. It has been a joy to be surrounded by South Africans, English and even Aussies for bit of tennis ribbing in the last couple of weeks. Got to make the most of it as it does not come round very often.

A week last Sunday we had two tables of Californians, two from Alness and two from Isreal. Small but varied world. So the Inn is still attracting many many tourists from around the world. There are some concerns being expressed as to whether our roads can take all this traffic especially as we have seen a new promotion selling the area as part of the Coast500. And this campaign has been successful seeing the number of maps out on bar tables. Difficult to balance the overselling of an area to getting customers to come to and stay in remote places. Can the services cope with every increasing amounts of usage. The money does not seem to be around as evidenced by the half finished improvements on the north coast road.

Chatting about coming towards the end of the season and the moods and how a bit of tiredness creeps in. Occasionally a customer can be on the receiving end of a little shortness through no fault of their own. When the Boss admits to this then you know it has been a busy, long season. Coupled with all the other activities a nice spell of dry windy weather would be nice and a wander with Dougal and Eilidh up a quiet glen in the middle of the Highlands with no one else in sight for miles around. This does appeal. mind you when chopping logs with a background

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Because the weather has been mixed the light shows have been many and varied.

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Also as I am still on the bike a lot some cycles to work with the mix of dark clouds and bright sunshine create lovely contrasts.

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Couple of signs of age creeping in, the first being the older you get the bigger the wood store seems to be. Taking an awful lot of effort to fill it this year. And the other sign I had this week was leaving my bike elsewhere, forgetting it, and thinking that some one had nicked it from outside the house. Luckily there is still a doubt in the far recesses of the mind that leaving it somewhere was the case, in this instance it was at Uisdean’s when I went out to catch the evening sky last night.

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Walked back forgetting I had cycled up the road. I went back out after the sun had dropped as that was when it was in its full glory.

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And across most of the country going by the social media reports.

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Tension, What Tension?

Been a busy three days with an extra shift at the Inn thrown in on Friday. Fishing and the Inn means tired. On Thursday evening we had the annual visit of Tarneybackle www.tarneybackle.co.uk who struck up after a busy service. They always have a crowd out to hear their brand of Scottish songs and it was a crowded bar. It was good to catch up and watch the latest addition to their percussion section,

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very keen to make an impression and join the band.

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As it is now Monday you realise just how much time rattles on. I suppose from Thursday on it has been work and sleep. I see I have 320 emails in the mail box at the moment and building up to going for it. Cannot even remember when I started this post, it looks around Saturday afternoon  as I was out early and had a couple of hours at home before going up the road to the Inn. Back to Thursday evening and Yes conversations, do a lot of reading and seem to miss out on the grandstanding in the media. Watch internet programmes like ReferendumTV referendumtv.net with the likes of Ian MacWhirter and Lesley Riddoch and chatting to people, mainly Yessers admittedly, talking about potential, positive, and keeping away from party politics. I am finding this aspect of the debate oppressive and repetitively boring. The potential on the other hand is unlimited….just like Community engagement. Pointy fingered politicians are a complete turnoff and like many in the Yes camp have never been Nationalist but recognise the untapped possibilities that lie just up the road. The Vote is going to become a greater part of life over the next month or so so avoiding it is leaving out a big part of the story. Sometimes just looking out to the West puts a lot in perspective.

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Great to report the mystery illness of No3 is disappearing without revealing its content and not leaving any damage in its wake. The pooches are getting longer and longer walks often in the dusk. Bit of a scare for Eildh, Dougal’s Mum, when No 3 realised the yelping in the dark involved an otter on the Caman. She probably does not realise she could have lost a major part of her face but ended up with a scratch across her nose and No3 with wet feet.

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I have had two wonderful cycles home on Friday and Saturday evenings where the moon was shining bright with clouds whispering across her face. The reflections on Milton Loch and later on Pol Creadh arouse a fair amount of emotion, especially when you have Micheal McGoldrick and Blair Douglas playing on the iPod. Living here is the best, working, that’s what most people call it, here is even better. I just say that people keep giving me money for doing things I enjoy. The Inn has been extra ordinarily busy as well but for the most part enjoyable, been tested a few times over the weekend but managed to hold on in there. Being tired even when you do not realise it can affect your judgement. But if you always remember it is people you are dealing with, their desires and concerns may be different from yours, and you are there to meet them. They probably have stuff going on in their lives which takes them to Applecross for a bit of time out and if you can give them an experience that allows them to deal with the problems they face then you can hardly ask for more. It has been a European weekend which I have loved. Switzerland, Cyprus, Germany, Holland, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg have all sent representatives to eat at the Inn and seafood was the main attraction. The best comment came from a French Dad as he was leaving said “My son was eighteen today and I thank you for such a fitting occasion, could not have been better”. Everyone at the Inn should take credit for that comment as everyone working there contributes to an amazing place. Things have been a bit tense behind the scenes over the last couple of days but do seem to be working through with no casualties. To provide such a great venue puts staff under so much pressure that it blows sometimes. Only on Friday I got a good blast for missing out a mussels on an order. It being ten to nine did not help. Always I look to the humane side of things and actually seeing so many people, who are so different, working together says a lot about the people involved.

I get my escape from this intensity by going to sea,

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to be in the natural and real world of the ocean,

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catching good honest meals for people to enjoy. Fishing very patchy and although compared to times gone by it is still worth the effort. There are a few tense and scary times that go on in this idyll as well.

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Although some look fairly unconcerned with a stressful lifestyle.

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Everything I do has its rewards, the scenery and solitude of the environment that you work in. So enough of this living in paradise lark. I had decided that I was in for the day after getting soaked earlier when I went out to the Varuna for prawns for the Inn, but after seeing photos on FB of the river at the head of the Bay I better go out and take a few shots myself. So it is back on the bike for another soaking.

 

Applecross in the Media.

Have to start with a wee apology to the Carloway Estate Trust for mistaking them for being the North Harris Trust in regards the donation to the raffle on Friday evening of the CLS conference. Excuse being that I was still recovering from winning the three-day fishing on the Machair lochs of South Uist and did not hear that Carloway had donated the tweed.

Stayed ashore for the last three days, every one stayed ashore today and is a reflection on the fishing. Days ashore do not usual mean one does nothing but the pace is slower and can change momentum from time to time. When you are hauling creels if you achieve a continuity of motion it is less tiring. If you keep switching the hauler on and off it becomes a bit staccato. Being back at the hauler as the next creel comes up smooths the whole operation. It is nice to have days ashore when you go round the coast for bait, salt it, and tie it in with putting a new mooring down for the dingy. Stopped off on the way home to go over to the rocks at Culduie. Felt a bit guilty as they all came off the rocks when I got too close and they kept having a look to see if I was still there.

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I had also stopped in to have a chat with Lesley about this and that, mainly that and missed opportunities.

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Partly because I want to get the bike and trailer going as a routine I decided to bring the dingy over to the roadside at Camusterrach. Bit more exposed but when the west and north-west winds come I will tuck it over to the Ardhu side again. This will mean I have two miles less to go on the bike and just nip across with the wee two-horse outboard, using some but not a lot of fuel. So with bits and pieces gathered together the weights/anchors and endless line in place. Needs a couple of finishing touches and we are under way again.

So back home in time to get ready for an earlier start to a shift at the Inn due to the sisters going to yet another wedding at the Walled Garden. A good night, good customers and good food makes for an easy shift, although late and waiting for the discussion about fencing to finish added another half hour to the day, but no matter. Interesting conversation I overheard earlier in the evening about spraying for rush control. The complaint was that there were trees being planted and were in the way of the sprayer. Got me thinking that planting trees there may mean that rushes will not need to be sprayed any more as the trees will improve the ground making it less acidic and thus not a good environment for the rushes. Thinking about it I cannot think where there are rushes and trees together. Trees do get a bad press sometimes but provide a multitude of wildlife cover, improve the ground and provide lots of heat energy at the end of their lives. Before the sunset was worth a look.

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Yesterday was one of those recovery days where you try to do nothing and feel good about it.Part of not doing anything during the day included a walk up the back of Camusterrach with Dougal and Co.

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Does not matter what the weather is doing the views are always busy.

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Again this year the wild flowers seem to be having a good year. Nice to see the road verges are looking busy.

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Did the first but unfortunately the second part did not kick in, that is did not do much but felt bad about it.. The evening, being Thursday, meant being back at the Inn. A nippy little night, with a slow start, ensued, and a regular visitor in the shape of Johnny Hill finished the night off with a sing-song. One of the highlights was the seafood platter enjoyed by Gino’s Canadian mates. And they even managed one of Dot’s sticky toffee puddings. They could not move for an hour afterwards but seemed contented.

Today again no fishing but brood box frames made up and a bit of wood shifted. Bit dreich for most of the day and a visit to the shop and a few visits to fb and twitter confirmed Applecross was on both the media and social media. Jackie O’Brien’s take on the energy efforts of Applecross Community Company through AEE. Only a quick glimpse of it as do not like hearing or seeing myself. Should remember that when I speak to others. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-27816193  also in the WHFP this week we get three mentions, all positive. The Boatpull Team also were prominent having presented £24,000 to charities from last year and have pulled the boat round Islay this year. They hope to clear the £200,000 total this year from when they started. Impressive fund-raising by anyones standards. Donations to applecrossboatpull.org.uk. Also Roger Hutchinson reviews a book by Ian Maclennan, Applecross and it’s Hinterland. All profits to the Applecross Historical Society. And then there were a couple of Applecross people at the CLS conference but maybe skip over that just now. Evening up at the Bay is peaceful and green

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with the deer laid back as well.

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