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

Posts tagged ‘Tarneybackle’

Rain at Last

(Tuesday) Given the choice between a 33C urban office job or a grey still morning with soft falling Highland rain on a glass sea,

well there isn’t really any way I could do the 33C one.

Took a couple of hours to get on the water on Monday morning. A longish, felt longer than it was, shift at the Inn. Occasionally the odd shift drags and looking at the clock becomes a regular glance every twenty minutes. Plenty of people through and no one knows you are a bit out of sorts. Headache kicks in properly mid afternoon despite lots of painkillers. They still came from as far afield as Hawaii and Sardinia. Home via the Chalet internet and bed by ten. Although it is still busy it feels a lot quieter at the Inn. Still no tables but at least the residents are not waiting for their’s and there is not a queue of twenty.

(Friday evening) you could say it is a bit of a recovery day. Needed a long sleep and even with that behind me there is a pretty constant tiredness in the old legs. With the week almost done it is not that surprising as most days it has been pretty physical. Today’s recovery day involved a bit of a catch up at the Chalet, hoping not for much longer as Alison is taking our broadband contact home from Inverness to work on our switch over. We and others have been off for four weeks now, too long. Had a conversation about it today and it feels like a rerun of the Filling Station problems. Crashing every day, rebooting, late billing and general stress. The fact that fuel is no longer is not a topic of anyone’s chat is testimony to how well it is being run by the Trading Company now. I am hoping this will be the case with our broadband in the months to come.

So a visit to the Community Hall where the School entertained us by running a French Cafe lunch, with Thor, Mason and Lily attending our table, in French no less. Lots of Potential for front of house at the Inn. The onion soup and chocolate cake were pretty good as well. Sam and Caroline are up from deep Deep South and arranged for Sam to come up to the Hydro screen checking it over for a clean. After Mick’s visit last week was thinking all was not quite as it should be with a fair bit of rain it was only running at 54 kWhs this morning. Looking at local streams I reckoned there should be more power being produced. After a wander through Carnoch, with Sam, visiting his favourite birch tree,

we made it to the top via the Archeological Trail.. By the time we came back down to the Turbine House there were 84kWhs being produced.  via the Archeological Trail. Lots of chat about land, sea and everything else, and a lesson learned about cleaning the screen

more regularly in the summer.

Better to have wet feet rather than wet shoes. You can see half the screen clean and the water going through while most is running over the dirty half.

Does not matter what the weather the view is always worth a stop and look.

Came back down through the coppicing part of Carnoch after Sam stopping to admire the Hebridean Barns, resuscitated through the ALPs project and reverting to its original purpose of clothes dryer.

We were in good company as well.

Fishing has stayed at a very healthy level with only 250/300 creels hauled to get the requisite amount for the Inns and a decent wage. Although tired my extra wee trip out on the evening of the Solstice was not regretted. On the way when I was heading back to the lights of Applecross, the hum of the Diesel engine and the breaking of the water against the bow, I went back in time and thought of the fishermen of Applecross who spent a week at a time away from home and what they must have been thinking of when they saw the lights of home after their week away, in far harsher conditions than I usually experience. Apart from the many octopodes,

occasional gannet

and that sunset

it was the simple routine of hauling, emptying, rebaiting, stacking and reshooting the creels.

Often said and thought by me that these trips to sea keep my sanity intact after the frenzy of the Inn. This week has been a little easier, a little dip in the numbers to just being busy. That’s every table being full but not the twenty people waiting. There are a fair amount of workmen at Sand and the biggest problem they have is accommodation. Amusing as that was one of the selling points during discussions around the Range expansion, that the work would fill accommodation places in Applecross. My quiet protestations that this was not necessary fell on deaf ears but has proven to be true. The first visit of Tarneybackle took place last night and they went down a storm, especially as they did not sing Sam the Skull. There was dancing till late and a return visit in three weeks is on the cards so farewells were not too extreme.

And always a view to stop and see on the way to and from the Inn.

The Weather and the Music.

There is no doubt that music,


especially good music,


is therapeutic and as said before there was plenty about this last weekend with Shooglenifty,




9Q7Q1967 Tarneybackle


and Lochcarron contingent.




The last photo curtsey of Rita. The weather has been pretty awful lately


and Friday was one of those days.


Another coming in tomorrow but maybe a glimpse of quieter weather towards the weekend. This weekend we are going to celebrate the Commissioning of the Hydro Scheme with the Builders and Subbies, HighlandEco and Steve and the boys. Coast Road Truckers will be playing to a busy bar as it will be a Christmas Do for the workers and all are invited out to help celebrate a pretty amazing achievement. One that has made the national News and certainly impressed the community network with all the hard work involved. And back from Perthshire it is straight into the Hydro with wood and to see it running possibly. The boys have made great strides and are on target.

Musical Weekend.


Saturday evening was going so well with a fine ceilidh by the fire when John launched into “White Christmas”…….. He said he was practising for his care home tour. I know Judith has been here for over twenty-six years but……. Have to say the weather and lack of sea activity has got to me, function levels are very low. It is just as well Applecross has been served by some fine musicians over the last couple of days. Also got an I player BBC AlBa prog to look forward to. As I have bought most of the albums and seen most of the groups this year I do not mind who won what although not surprised that Ross Ainslie, Treacherous, Marie Campbell and RURA were among the winners.

Shooglenifty, who were playing on Friday evening, could have just as easily have won with The Untied Knot. They arrived on Thursday and met them at the Inn as they came out for a meal. Pleasant evening although no music despite having them and the Coast Road Truckers in for a pint. Did an extra shift to cover the anticipated pre Shoogles rush. Not too bad but had to contend with no water, a threatened power cut and a severe gale blowing outside. Weather may have cut the numbers down but there were enough there to see the second of our Aussies off. They had the crowd jumping by the end of the night. I really loved the night and a good way to see off a gale. Three in the afternoon saw me watching my dinghy literally dancing on her line. It really should have been tucked into the pier but thought there was more southerly in it than what came, a west south-west. By the time the wind gets up it is too late and if I tried to take her in she would most likely be smashed on the shore before I could get the engine started. This morning I was looking south with one eye closed but all was well with all the boats in their right place.

(Sunday afternoon) the music continues with Tarny guys, the Lochcarron contingent complimented by the Baron and his Mrs from Torridon. Grand mixture of fiddles, pipes, whistles , box accordions and guitars with fine vocals. Another winter’s day well spent. He was almost forgiven for the Christmas aberration, but he broke into that song again. Could have done with another Caledonia but majority rules and off I went home. I know it is just the time of year but could hardly keep my eyes open. I am just simulating the weather internally. Managed to stay awake for most of the Bridge and have a nightmare about Son No3 being radicalised. Now off down the road to Perthshire to meet some Germans and Lesley Riddoch about some land. Apart from having the Sons around if we could just roll on past Christmas and into the New Year and brighter days…Musical photos will have to wait.

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,


very keen to make an impression and join the band.


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.




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.


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,



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


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.


Although some look fairly unconcerned with a stressful lifestyle.


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.


Daddy long legs Crab.

Cycling to the Inn this morning was so peaceful and still. When I stopped at the Milton loch to watch the swans, once the noise of the tractor engine, heading to Camusterrach, had faded all one heard was the calling of a swan. Some thing between a hoot and a whoop. Then as you listened you caught the rapid flapping of  wings as a seabird emerges from a dive. And then nothing, no background noise, just a very quiet silence. Not many places where you come across this, especially when not looking out for it. An uneventful lunch shift just being completed, a staff lasagna on the cards and a walk with Dougal should complete a fine sunlight afternoon in Applecross. Of course behind the scenes hen houses are being built, toilets painted, pigs  being fed and piers being planned. This part being written towards the end of the shift on the wee iPad suggesting not many people in.

It is a thinking time of year as plans often go awry as weather intervenes and, in my case, the odd health wobble. Out as planned Friday morning and pleasant enough it was with the sun hitting Paul’s mast on the north end of Raasay and the south end of Rona also getting some much-needed shine.


Not much to report on the prawn front, meaning not many prawns and not many sightings of traffic, the odd one heading north.


Often get these wee crabs, the daddy-long-legs of the sea.


Usually they get one of their really long claws caught up in the creel mesh. Unfortunately during the day the pain killers were only just allowing me to function, which was a pity as I had looked forward to going out but such is life. Sarah turned up and massage completed but by then I knew that the next wee while was not going to be enjoyable. As Amy had her little show and presentation on at the Hall, after coming back from dropping off the langoustines it was a lie down with the intention of heading out but not to be. The next four hours were spent covered in “concerned” dogs and dozing in front of some very uninspired rugby, although did have a good hour watching Country on Beeb 4, Tammy, Kris, Rita, Dolly, Kenny, glen, all there but Willie Nelson singing “Always on my Mind” is hard to beat.

Yesterday morning unfortunately was a continuation, slightly surprising, but as, I had slept through six hours of a migraine, then that is a bonus. Meant the planned fish did not happen but eventually made it to the Hall to see Amy’s landscape presentation.


Bit of a long, head down walk to get there and to the shop before turning for home.  While out I thought these two photos summed up the mood,


sometimes you do not see the familiar but the oak tree in the field in front of the Schoolhouse shows a successful fight for life while growing through, round a barren rock.


Possibly the result of the only place it was allowed to grow. Recovery took shape by mid afternoon and made it to work despite calling in sick at 12pm. A good, steady evening topped off with a “Movember” quiz organised by the “Movember Girls” and conducted by Paul. Made it to half time with the Greek living in Dublin and the German lawyer, Andross and Kim. Bit of an Irish theme as residents included a guy from County Clare and a girl from the “north”. Before the quiz we were regaled with a few songs from John and Lorna, of Tarneybackle fame, John is, despite the photo,


a very happy and jolly chap and I spent some good time in their company talking about this and that, mainly about next September. Every now and again, with genuine excitement. The quotation round of the quiz and Dougal’s desire to get outside again meant I had to leave early with not too many regrets.£200 raised for Movember….nice one.

I will never know if it is because one goes through a bit of pain your senses are a bit sharper but going past the lochside this morning was stunning and deserved the stop, look around and listen. Before work I headed over to the Public Toilets which are completing the refurb to take a couple of photos but decided to wait a day or so. It is on schedule with painting, fittings floor all done and connections and clean up this week to be done on time. Scarily short of time but another community project near completion. On the way back a blink of sun over Clachan caught the eye.


Today’s little surprise was the visitors on table 4, when chatting to them, as you do, it turns out one of them had a strong Applecross, no, Toscaig connection. So I asked what it was and he said his aunt Mary Kate used to live there. There was quite a stunned silence when I told him that she was my Dad’s first cousin…..could tell he was not expecting that response. Only in the Applecross Inn.

So back on the bike after the fine staff lasagna,chips and peas to some beautiful scenes off to the west,


truly an amazing place to live. We, inhabitants quite often find lots of different ways of not getting on with each other but, boy, when you take time out and have a look around and see the awesomeness of nature….. With the landscape theme in mind even the metropolis of Milton was looking grand with all it wires connected to the outside world.


And that would have been enough for the day but I have to thank Dougal and the family for getting out and up Tor Mor for even more spectacular scenes.


The Ronja heading north with a heavy load in weather as different as could be when I last saw her turning around on Wednesday morning in a storm force 10.And finally the sun sets on a varied three days. “A Northerly Land” was playing through out the writing of this post. I wonder if any one else heard it?


Hard Work and Music.

The first day for quite a while I chose not to go fishing on a calm day. Planned this yesterday as I took 100 creels back home with me for washing today.


So the usual wakening up by the house martins in the garden meant an early start. Down to the pier to land prawns to the Inn and Loch Ness Inn. Before that it was in the engine room to change oil and top up water.


Have to say that the 136 hp Caterpillar is still going like a dream. Hardly any water usage  and the oil stays at the same level after 8 years, hoping for another 8. Up the road,


noticing the reflections as you passed the shoreline at the Chamain, and organised the prawns and stopped for a little while with chef while he prepared some turbot just in.


Back down to the pier for three hours of washing. This is where the new ipod is invaluable, although my ears have never fitted these ear phones and annoyingly keep falling out. Bad design or wrong ears?

Busy little place today with David and Gary working on the Blue Mist, broken down since last saturday, the dreaded diesel virus found in the tanks. Back in the afternoon to refit tanks and flooring. Meanwhile Tim and Anne arrive from Coilligillie to pick up some roofing materials.


Mentioned he saw some 20 of my bees over checking out his old hives and had a wee chat about what was going on. There are lots of bright red pollens going in just now. George turns up checking out the broadband equipment and stops for a chat and it seems to be going well with almost all the installations completed on phase one and now waiting for the go ahead on the CBS application to carry out the rest of the installations hopefully by autumn. Chris appears and discusses his mooring pickup buoy and attaching a second painter for his dingy. Almost forgot Keith turned up to chat about his mooring and how we plan to work on it next week. Don’t really know how I managed to wash 100 creels, mend 50, rope up 20 and get the Varuna sorted out for an early start tomorrow. Just had time for a quick shower and arrived as the evening was kicking off and that is exactly what it did and all night. The rain finally arrived and meant that the outside tables were not being used so it was everyone crammed inside. Great night for craic and atmosphere although we did struggle at times to keep a handle on it. Missed a seafood linguine for a big order and screwed the kitchen for a wee while but all ended well with many compliments sent in the direction of the kitchen. A room cancellation meant a couple from Brazil and Austria got lucky and thought everything was wonderful, could not understand how there were so many people in the middle of nowhere. Music was everywhere today as the Ceilidh Trail hit town in the afternoon and Tarnybackle were well under way with their set by the time I left at the back of 11. Music is so important and I had just put the ipod on songs. Blair Douglas tune came on as I was looking across to Camusterrach.


His Baigh Uige was just the perfect sound for the scene and despite all the guys on the pier solitude and tranquility is always there. Back to the Inn and the mayhem continued till, and after, I left. I have never been to a place where you sit at a table, have your starter and as you wait for your mains a guy comes up to you and asks if it is alright if you move to a table at the other end of the bar because the band want to start playing music at their table. Every one else wants them to play as well so that’s what happens. Had an on going banter with the lady on table D who had wanted them to play an hour earlier but eventually I ran out of excuses. Asked John when they were going to start and the bit I can print was, “When we are ready”. Just stopped myself asking when would that be. She got to hear them before she left.


The best of it is no one minds and they just make a joke of it, enjoy their food and everything about Applecross. We are all better people for it and it is so much easier to be nice, appreciative and helpful to each other. The rewards are immense. Tonight’s ice cream included a new elder flower and apple sorbet. Signing off with Gerry Rafferty’s Days Gone Down. A day of good, honest hard work and music.

The Wind,Sunset,Moon Rising and Music.

I went to the fallen beech trees this evening to see the carnage of the last two days of easterly gales. Reports of 90 knots (unconfirmed) on friday afternoon. Seemingly Davie coming across the Bay in the Auk had a few people worried as he ploughed his way through the severe weather. Around the same time the Varuna was hanging in as Annie took a scary but dramatic photo from the Culduie shore.


Back at the beech trees I began sorting some branches destined for the Inn. When you are up close the power and awesome destruction is quite something. Branches lying shattered and half buried in the ground, some splinters made it onto the beach. There are tons of fuel but a lot of work before the wood will be in the stoves around Applecross. As I was working away the sun was setting over Raasay and Skye. It is moving north so quickly and will soon be going down over Brocal Bay.


And looking east-northeast over the beechwood the moon is rising.



The last four days I have been working at the Inn and it is so good to get the feeling back, just chatting to people making connections, wanting everyone who makes the effort to come here feel welcome and contented. The kitchen, last night, had a wee taste of summer. There were guys waiting for tables. Banter good especially from reprobates from Kyle and some from Perthshire and Aberdeen. Bit of chat about the blog and a good mate, Sandy, says he loves reading it but does not agree with everything in it. Only afterwards I thought that when Robert, Sandy and I were chatting it may easily have been Ali, Kenny and Roddy doing the same fifty years ago, they being our dads. But all banter and so different from comments I had to delete earlier in the week. I do not know why some people have to be so personal  when they have a disagreement. Luckily I no longer have the thin skin of twenty years ago. There was a surreal part of the evening when I was asked what the pits in the Hebridean Barns were used for. some of the suggestions are not for public consumption. Although we are not doing a competition this year regarding the visiting countries, today we had a girl from Washington DC, a Californian,A German and two Indonesians, oh and two Canadians all eating lunch. Was told the two Canadians were eating with five guys from Lesotho this evening at Kinloch. Sunday lunch I met another “blast from the past” in Donald C., although five years my senior, I played football and went to school with too many years ago. I find it is good to go back to where you have come from and makes me think that it is so much easier for me living here than for people coming in who have moved away from their own roots. Also speaking to Kelly, the Californian,who works with charities and has just come back from Malawi and possibly from the very area that Ruairidh is heading for this summer…small world.

On friday evening after service I called in at the Hall where Taneybackle were playing, promoting their new album. A decent crowd out but more called off due to the atrocious weather. It was so windy as you drove along Milton Loch the wind was lifting the water off the loch and hitting the side of the van. Arrived at half time and stayed for a couple of songs before heading home. They produce a really good, tight folky sound and are very harmonic, not as young as I used to be so it was home by ten.



So not much happening, gales, visitors, trees coming down, but the sun still sets and the moon always rises.

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