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

Posts tagged ‘thai massage’

Summer is Taking its Toll.

(Friday evening) Missing out on the Raft Race this evening, the weather, the phone call reporting chaos at the Inn and cooking tea with washing a fleet of creels this evening all mount to too much on. (PS didn’t find energy to wash creels) It is a fine event, along with the Fishing Competition tomorrow, is a lucrative fund-raiser for the RNLI and other local Charities and is held each year. Fishing trips for langoustine this week have had a fair bit of variety both with weather variations and people out on board.


On Tuesday we had a very interested German on board and he was fascinated by the day’s activities. Got chatting to him and it turns out he had a couple of companies, a security and another one which was involved in industrial cleaning. He had an air of German wealth about him and was good company. On Wednesday his partner had bought him a days grouse shooting near Inverness. A topic that is hitting the headlines these days with the “mysterious” disappearance of raptors, hen harriers and eagles, in the vicinity of grouse moors. The numbers of disappearing tagged birds are rising but no proof is available yet which can confirm the strong suspicions that some grouse moor managers are culpable. Interesting to hear his view of the size of the Applecross Estate. He told me that in Germany a big estate would amount to 500 or the larger ones a thousand hectares. He shook his head at the size of “ours”, a huge 65,000 acres under the sway of one man. Interesting in that here was a man obviously comfortable in hunting/fishing/shooting circles shaking his head at our antiquated land ownership. A successful day at sea, as he said at the end of it that it was an experience he would never forget. Tuesday’s fishing routine although sorting out a fleet that did not self shoot in the required order did take a bit of sorting out.


On Thursday it was Peter and Daniel. Peter is connected to MCS, a charity involved in sustainable marine usage. Peter’s son was out as well and they seemed to enjoy the day, probably more than I did due to the foul ups and the breeze from the north-west. It was a strange morning as it started bright and then the mist rolled in from the north.


From then on the fog bank moved in and back out to and from the west.


Although the amount of langoustine landed has dropped by a good bit, due to the large amount of smaller berried females in the creels, the quality is still good. But the squats, they just kept coming and coming, all 14 kilos of tails. Every second between fleets we were tailing but when you have them for tea you know they are so worth it, a great by catch. One of the few days I left my camera ashore so no photos of the guys tailing without the gloves. Bit of filming went on during the day, sustainable, and good to show how everything that was not sold was put back alive. Today and Wednesday morning on the way out, and between work on deck getting the Varuna ready for the day, look up and watch a gannet gliding just above the rippling water, keeping her distance but a timeless moment in nature. Just like the family of porpoises surfacing on the smooth sea, always on the move but sedately, don’t seem stressed but alive and in their element. Bar Thursday the weather has been bright


and quiet



all week with the passing traffic creating the bigger waves.


(Sunday evening) Talking about stress, it is a whole week since posting and home late last night, going through the photos in the file puts the fishing week in sequence.


Sometimes not noting anything down you move away from the immediacy of events like last Saturday. It was a “learning on the job” night for me. I was on the door and doing the seating for the evening as Boss was tired. No one can do this job day after day, not even her. It was the usual hectic night, weather rubbishy so every one inside. They just kept coming and meals kept going out. Seats still to find and although I knew what to do, that is gather all orders of people waiting for tables and give the kitchen a heads up, I was still putting in orders at 9.15. Steaks, gammon and all the usual fish and shellfish. So the achievement of doing another impossibly busy evening at the Inn was tempered somewhat by giving the kitchen so much to do so late in the evening. Learnt a way round it but the kitchen had to suffer from the lesson.

Thursday was similar but was a bit more controlled and all the orders were in before 9.00pm. Again doing the door and checking that no one slips through the system and is waiting too long is a stressed job.We had three groups of ten in on the night along with the usual busy crowds. Boss was enjoying a well deserved night off on Loch Ness enjoying Loch Ness gin. The night goes on and you are very aware who is waiting too long for tables, ie residents, but you have to keep reassuring them and they seemed unconcerned. Amongst all this there was an Italian lady, very pleasant, who wanted a tomato salad but not dressing. Andy immediately went on the case, a Mediterranean salad quickly conjured up. Taken out but was rejected, I thought due to the dressing, so, back to kitchen where I was told it was just olive oil. Back out I went but no it was the shallots that knocked it back. The tomato salad, which I then made up, was a bowl of cherry tomatoes. They were accepted with mucho gratias and all was well. Two minutes later I was back at the table, but only because her partner also wanted the tomato salad with his steak. It was a long and round about way of getting there but there we did. This all happens as a sub plot on a night of general organised chaos. At the end of service the front of house do five highs, I think in relief of getting to the end of another service unscathed.

Wednesday evening was notable for getting to meet a couple of folk, a couple of friends, one from Portugal, living in London and her friend a New Yorker, financial manager. Chatting to them, organising their meal, taking a photo memento but on reflection always interesting to hear reactions. After telling her about the German economist closing his Deutchebank account she asked where he went next. She was already thinking about the next good place when I was thinking about the trauma of a major European bank in trouble and how that would affect us all. Two people looking at the same thing but seeing it different keeps your mind open. Anyway back to yesterday and an early start with a bad back and shoulder. Sleeping badly this week, I think because of a strong moon, woke up in fair bit of pain. Best thing to do is keep going and go out and catch langoustine, trying not to seize up. These days the catch is well down although by the end of the day it is still decent and landing some of the bigger sizes on the day keeps the supply going. At the back of nine, on my second fleet, I look up and Ewen steams past at speed with his load of fishermen. Perfect day for them and me. In the good weather and the company of the bonxies feeding up for their migration in the next few weeks eases the painful muscles.




In early enough to get a deep sleep for a half hour in the afternoon before making my way up to yet another full on shift. Up till eight it went well and then the heavens opened above Applecross while there was a glorious sunset over Raasay. Everyone piled into the bar from outside. Worked out okay as we were helped by the non appearance of a group of six. Late shift as all the staff wanted down to Hall for the Fishing Competition dance. After a few chats with late drinkers I made an appearance after twelve. Stayed and had a yarn or two while the auction went on. Raised a great amount of £6,000. A very fine effort. Made it home by 1.45am and sober.  Today was mainly about survival and a copious amount of painkillers helped through the morning bottle up. Turn your back and the bar fills up and stays like this all day. Food piles out, dishes pile up in the prep room and glasses pile up on the bar. A day to get through for most of the staff as several did not finish the night before as sober as I did. Taking the painkillers for the head had a side effect and the shoulder and back eased somewhat but the legs from walking the miles front of house were tiring by six, so a beef burger and home on the bike by seven. Good news for tomorrow is a visit to Shieldaig for a long over due massage. So I will finish up with a sunset from earlier this week.



Fame at Last but Embargoed.

Continued inactivity which has only included a bit of wood cutting, trying not to think too much about the weather


and lack of daylight, checking the 48+kWh at the Hydro and a few hours at the Inn. Today I spent a couple of hours in a sort of suspended surrealism. I went to the dress rehearsal of our school Panto. Pleased to announce that I have finally made it. On the stage as a character alongside with fine specimens of the community. The kids were brilliant and obviously had done a deal of work on their lines. The set and backup were amazing as well and hats off to everyone involved. As this was the dress rehearsal I better stop and not announce any spoilers. The camera is going in for a serious overhaul sometime soon but managed a couple of photos, embargoed till next week.

On Wednesday evening to pass the time I went on to Twitter tweeting about Land Reform, relevant as the Bill was being debated at Holyrood. I find Twitter a good source of info, reading articles that stretch your preconceptions. Anyway time rattled by as we were involved in a fine tweeting stream that included rateable values and sporting activities exemptions. The unanswered question first posed by Andy, “Why should the campsite pay rates and the estate, alongside it, run by one of the richest men in the world through a company in Jersey does not. There was no answer. Possibly the answer lies is in political friends of the government of the time. Possibly the same situation today regarding fracking licences. As with MPAs lobbying continues apace on behalf of those that have, public benefit and environmental improvements take second place when it comes to land, sea and its uses. I have noticed recently that the Lairds case is laced with irritation regarding references to the 19th century being put forward by the Reformers lobby. While acknowledging that we do not and should not live in the past surely an understanding of how we got to where we are today is essential. The fact that sporting activities were made rates except by a Conservative Government in the ’90s tells you more than trying to find a justification for this exemption to continue in current climes. Locally this comes up regarding the touristification (new word?) of place names here. Applecross is not Shore Street and Shore Street is not Applecross. Likewise old names across the Applecross peninsula show that these hills were worked and lived on. They were not always the treeless, barren, overgrazed heather moors of today. An example being Druim a’ Clachain, a long-lost cottar township between Applecross House and Alt Beag. http://www.applecrossplacenames.org.uk/map/ It is a concern that rewilding takes in many glens and ancient habitations in trying to create a man-made “wilderness”, one that never existed in the past and is only a vision of a few bureaucrats living in the towns and cities.

(After serving 50+at the Inn) That’s me awake now. Came up at five and had a couple of hours setting up the bar for an invasion of boatyard workers and tradesmen while trying to find accommodation for four Chinese who were travelling our wonderful NorthCoast500. The latest heavily promoted tourist wheeze. It was not long before the Wellington Brioches and Ribeye Steaks came flying out after the smoked chicken and squat lobster salads were all consumed. Perfect night for the food and a very easy bunch to please. Service was exceptional even going out to the cars to take desert orders. They were impressed.

(And now today) Day flew by with a trip to a very painful but deep massage from Sarah, but worth it. It was blowing a gale both at Shieldaig


and coming back around the coast.


A call in to pick up some hot and cold smoked sea-trout from Lorna and Derek. Had some kept back and there was not much left to choose from as they had just finished their Christmas online sales so just added some smoked cheddar and brie. http://applecrosssmokehouse.co.uk Had some hot smoked sea-trout for a quick-lunch and it was sublime. The massage was hard work and instead of going back to the power saw I crashed for a couple of hours. A definite sign that the massage had taken its toll. Have a long-term problem with my left arm….possibly hauling hundreds of thousands of creels over three and a half decades. £40 well spent, and no hangover after spending it. (Turns out that was yesterday)

The excitement of the Hydro over and it working away, seemingly with little problems, the mundane work of keeping everything ticking over cannot be ignored. The broadband went down round the North Coast a couple of weeks ago and when Sean went over to Raasay to check the mast he found worrying signs of deterioration


and we are going to have to do a fair bit of work on it and possibly the others to keep the system live. Going to re drill and resin the bolts and put stays in to lengthen the life span of the equipment.


The conditions are harsh and the masts are not strong enough to withstand our winters so an upgrade is essential. Always the problem with pioneering.

The weather continues on its merry way with depressions following one after another.


When you come out to work at the Inn like today, (it is now Sunday), sometimes it’s nailed. Time flies by when you meet a Native American Indian historian and then a Coffee Vendor from Crieff. Our own retired chaplain was in as well and is off to Umbria to fill in. Filling a preaching gap over there. Back to the First Nations and a wide-ranging chat from Dee Brown to the First Settlers up here, going through American right-wing politics. Interesting that locales are so different. New Mexico to the north is still hippie commune country while in the south of the state it is a hard right-wing politic. Being in Crieff and Vancouver Island and liking coffee I was able to hold my own on First Nation Shell Beaches and Free Trade coffee. The afternoon was completed with showing a project design manager to his room, he arrived in a pro to type F series Jag, his job to sort out the remaining snags on the journey. Looked like a zebra on speed or what a zebra would look like if you were on speed.



A day to enjoy, with assembling another super for the hive and doing a bit of book work so could call into the bank in Lochcarron on the way over to the highlight of a massage from Sarah, or “mangle” as Andy called it as I went in. Brighter day and the light and views on the way there were bearable.


Have not been for over five weeks and it hurt, hurt badly. Did not help having a bit of a head but the benefits are worth it just now. It is a refuge from the frantic pace of life, even up here we get stressed. At the end of the “mangle” I was introduced to a new, to me, complimentary natural “medicine” for the want of a better description. Found it fascinating but a little far out to explain for the time being and ties in with previous experiences when meditating with many like-minded people. Receiving a complimentary description is always appreciated, not being told that you are “good” or “nice” but intuitive, receptive and open-minded, all important to me, and you can talk with a calmness about the local issues. Although there was a meeting about taking the wood out the north coast last night, it was far from my mind but seems it is being discussed in Shieldaig and not with approval. There is considerable disquiet there at the prospect. I served the constituents of the meeting last night at the Inn and did not go as I was working and speaking to other people who did not go who were of the same opinion as me that it is done and dusted. Although a little more closed in I could live in Shieldaig, has not quite got the expanse of Applecross, but it would do.


On the way out I saw the Seaflower coming in and stopped to take a snap. Camera is starting to act up and they were alongside the new community pontoon before I managed a couple of photos. Still a very stiff breeze as you can see Kenny had jumped off and was pulling hard to get her bow in to the pontoon. Little surprised they were out although it would have been far more sheltered in the loch than on the Sound.


The bike race is coming up again and people are realising the absurdity of holding a race on a bank holiday involving a road closure. After trying to negotiate with the organisers early on with improvements to the running of their events on how they affect Applecross, we have taken a back seat having got nowhere. We have reasoned that these events are important to neighbouring villages and it was not worth the antagonism. But holding the event on a bank holiday has been a step too far and from conversations I have had it will not be happening again. I am always keen to observe how I deal with these issues and feel relatively calm about them. Will not support the timber going out by road as I believe it is the most detrimental way to solve the problem and that was confirmed last night by the professional who told me the pier was still the best option, but so be it. The cycle race will be changed and again so be it. Had a chat about the road between Camusterrach and Culduie last night and it was promised to be sorted, nice, simple and pleasant way to sort a problem. The shift last night was very pleasing mainly through meeting a lovely couple from Vancouver and connecting with some regulars from Glasgow. As usual this makes it and having a bit of banter with the lady who requested that the kitchen freeze some langoustine so she could have some, as she was pregnant, topped of the night.

So coming across this on the Senscot email today was perfect.http://www.senscot.net/view_bull.php?viewid=17418 . Sums up the patience you need living in a place like Applecross. Taking your time over what you write and/or say rather than jumping in with both feet pays dividends in the long run.

“This is a famous Zen parable which has many iterations; it speaks of the wisdom of equanimity.

Once upon a time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.”

Better leave the two big national issues of today for a couple of days so they sink in. The local council election results to the south and the report issued by the LRRG, both falling into the “maybe” category. Another local “maybe” is a gear conflict meeting next week on Skye, I personally have not suffered any damage but hearing stories of gear towed and threats issued. “Maybe” the reintroduction of three-mile limit is heading our way through necessity. Back to a bright welcoming Dougal and Co before cooking a couple of beautiful steaks supplied by the Inn and before you know it, time for a sleep.



One Stick and three Dogs.

One of these days when you feel Spring is just around the corner, not from the weather or such like but not quite enough hours in the day to do what one had planned. mind you I had not envisaged a trip to Shieldaig  but a massage and picking up bait on the way back round the North coast is what took up the afternoon. The morning was taken up with the dogs run out on the beach,


endless amusement, worth their weight in gold.


Unfortunately our twenty year old cat, Haggis, is no more as Alison and Jill took her to the vet yesterday and the prognosis for such an elderly cat was that she should be put to sleep.

Last night it was to an ALPS meeting mainly to discuss the Pier and Gateway wood project. I found it a really good open meeting where people who did not agree talked and put forward their views and at the end of the evening there was a consensus amongst those who were there that we were not going to go ahead with the pier, still my preference as I think taking wood out by road does not make any sense regarding the carbon footprint when there is an alternative, but happy to go along with the majority. Next we expressed concern over other contractors and finally decided that it would be better to drop Gateway from the ALPS partnership. It has to be said that not all partners were represented and the final decisions may be made elsewhere. There seems to be a growing feeling that there is a capacity within the community to sort out the mistakes of the past, maybe leasing the plantations are a way ahead as communities now attract grant aid and it may be possible to set up a social enterprise model to solve the problem. It was one of the better meetings and a lot was discussed and decided.

This morning Dougal and Co had a great time on the bay sands, after a charge about getting the stick from the water there was a bit of a dispute over whose stick it was.


It did go an a bit but it was expended energy which is all good as far as Dougal is concerned.


Home and then straight back out to take some photos of the Filling Station as we are now being forced into looking at alternatives as Gilbarco seem to have washed their hands of us. It has been a serious character forming exercise dealing with them and I have to say that I have only lost it twice over the years, once by email, capital letters, and once by answer machine although no sweary words. Clachan, looking picturesque.


So it was over the Hill and it was worth going up just to have a look in itself.


The journey was a pleasure in bright sunshine and a thin layer of snow although it was threatening to blow in.


Met Peter on the way up so relaxed about getting over.


IMG_7832Hard to believe what you are seeing on the news is happening not that far down the road.


Badly needed massage and I think it was due to being back at sea and carrying a couple of strains, it was certainly painful but I suppose it is not every day you pay some one to walk all over you, quite literally in this case. A stop off at Aird to pick up a few slabs of herring and salt to get me going again. Good to have decent bait, not the rain damaged smelly bait I have been using over the last couple of weeks. It still fished surprisingly well but this should be better. Now we just need some weather. Going round the coast through heavy snow showers I was glad I was not on the Hill.


Tonight’s meeting was the Community Council and very relaxed it was with our new minute taker being told that no one was under caution so there was no need to note everything that was said. Saves a lot of legal costs if you run meetings with this in mind. Always have a bit of humour during these meetings while still carrying out the business in a proper manner. Not taking oneself too seriously helps. Still they do last until around nine even when you try to push things along if things get too jocular.

Meanwhile back at the Bay. Posting in the morning as uploading proving to be awkward.


Difficult Day, Brilliant Ending.

Down to the pier and washing a fleet. These creels were left out a little too long and were covered in calcareous worm tubes.


Hard to shift with the pressure washer and only get a few off. A couple of hours and they are done so it is back up the road and a walk with the dogs after getting Dougal out of the car and into the van.


Back down for some prawns and then over to Shieldaig. Although the weather was no use for fishing the scenes both going over the Hill, stopping at the stream


and again on the other side are beyond description, certainly any attempt by me..


Massage was great as well as a good chat and met a few from these parts, Jim, Frostie, Iona and Linda. Sometimes wish the two communities were a little closer together. We used to have the same Community Council and have all the same rural problems. Any way it was round the North Coast, picking up bait and salt on the way and the weather was nothing less than stunning. Looking back across to Shieldaig must be one of the views in Scotland


and always caught by the little hamlet at Kenmore.




Lashing rain and having to wear shades for the sun at the same time coming around Cuaig.



Sure enough the most perfect rainbow appeared over the Bay and almost, but not quite the first rainbow I have driven under.


Quite a strange day, heavy when it should not have been. Possibly just a little too tired. Maybe not working last night and making life more complicated than it is. That is the great thing about getting out for the massage, every thing becomes simple but unfortunately it does not last long enough although the sight of the rainbow must be a good portent that every thing will be ok.

A Little Oasis

Recovery day yesterday although there was plenty to do. We have a break down at the Filling Station where we cannot dispense petrol, not even over ride it manually. Quite rightly the notices have gone out letting people know but we will have to remember to put them out when it is sorted. By the time you do a bit in the garden, take the dogs for a walk, flag irises are on show,


and keep Eilidh and Sky apart it was time for another shift at the Inn. Sky actually was no hassle and stood up for herself despite Eilidh’s attentions, and was very affectionate. Another wee job successfully done was sprinkling the hive with some castor sugar. Seems that when the bees groom the sugar off themselves they knock any mites, if they have any, off at the same time. All looked well and they are filling the first super up. They have a lot of work to do as they have to draw out the wax on my new frames.


Slowish start for me although the Prep room was spinning. Slowly wound up until at 8.30pm there was a 6, a 5 and a 13 all eating at the same time, along with all the other 2s 3s and 4s. With the Boss out wining and dining at the Walled Garden the pressure is on to make sure the residents are looked after and the week’s regulars as well. Weather was simply stunning and the baseball cap back on. Star group of the evening were the Kyleakin Connections who came over as a group and they had linked up with the VT for some activities. www.slad-skye.org.uk/ They are a pretty amazing group of guys and the banter all evening was top dollar, and no quarter given by the carers.


Living in Applecross I do not meet many of the folk I was in school with very often and when they come along to the Inn you just pick up conversations so easily. Every one seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, in fact serving them made you feel as though you did something important and worthwhile…even more so than usual. The Knox family on the Big Table and then Tom and Hilde came in with their Irish connection to play on Table 8. The Norwegians playing at the Inn tells you what time of year it is.


The Italian couple back in for more seafood and she was delighted to have met Sara and Aron the previous night and sorbet and ice creams were consumed. They knew that they could not eat as much as the night before to be able to have the lemon sorbet.

After service, the Bay was just a little more special than normal as the sun sank behind Rubha na Guailne and with this as a back drop, a scallop shell of garlic squats, I wager there are not many better situations in the world. And I almost forgot the music filtering out from the bar. No wonder so many people seek out this wee paradise.


Today was a strange mix of hard work, “best laid plans” going amiss and rushing around to get to my massage on time….failed but let Sarah know. The day up till 2pm was filled with hauling 350 pots. With the petrol down and some guests stuck I arranged to get some picked up in Lochcarron but that fell through and a back up as well so I had to drive far too quickly over the Hill to pick some up before heading to Shieldaig. I may have contributed to some tourist views on “local driving”. Arrived a little late and bit out of sorts but quickly settled into a peaceful and sometimes sore hour and a half of great massage. Feeling the benefits of my visits to Sarah as I realise I am no longer carrying any fishing aches and pains now. sarahalmond9@gmail.com Head is in better shape, although, as with climate change , a cold winter does not mean it is not happening. Fish pie for tea, Raasay Sound ling and squats supplemented by some smoked haddock from an unknown origin. My out of sorts feeling was based on my time out massage not going to plan and has made me realise how important they have become…a little oasis in a crazy, fast world, yes even here.

Time for another Perspective.

Westerly breeze and the van was booked in for a service in Lochcarron so a day off the prawns and the Inn. Rain  and more rain so Dougal did not join me and it was off to the Waterside Cafe, for a couple of hours before heading back to pick up the van and away to Shieldaig for my fortnightly Thai massage with Sarah. Been quite regular lately and there is a definite improvement in all my fishing aches and pains. In fact reckon I have never been fitter despite the old head giving me gip now and again. As well as a painful massage there is a tranquillity and peace as well. To be quite honest the drive back is always different and so relaxed especially as you learn to respond to the treatment. There seems to be more time to stop and look around, seeing things from another perspective. Reminds me of an old saying that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently. And that is ok until we screw it up by trying to convince the other guy your way is the only way to see things. So with this in mind stopped on the Bealach and, although cold, wandered over to sit by the stream, Alt a’ Chumhaing. Very handy having access to the Applecross Place names Project to find out what all these features and streams are called. www.applecrossplacenames.org.uk/



The importance of being “Local”?

This is complicated and I am beginning to wonder if it is that important nowadays as the world has become so mobile and people move around so much to visit and live. A few comments have emerged over the past few weeks that made me think over a number of instances, some unpleasant and others pleasing. There are many interpretations of local and some can go back 3 or 4 generations. My family came over from Harris in the 1890s to the Crowlins, islands to the south of Toscaig. They came from Leac a Li ,a poor area of the island and they thought the Crowlins were a step up as they did not have a croft back “home”. Due to the generosity of the Toscaig inhabitants at the time they were able to establish themselves on the mainland during the first 20 years of the last century. My dad left Toscaig when he was married in the 50s and I was born and brought up in Inverness and Kyle. I came back to Toscaig in the 80s and been back almost 30 years even although I spent many holidays over here when at primary school. I have to say when the Kyle boys came over on The Golden Rule and beat everyone at 5-a-side football I was definitely from Kyle!! My point being am I a Hearach (Harris), or from Kyle , from Toscaig or does it really matter. When I hear the local argument it is usually at the end of a losing discussion and justifies the defeated, “oh well he/she is not local”. Rural areas in the west  have been depopulating for over 200 years,(3000 people used to live on the peninsula) and certainly here I think we are very close to danger point in being a working/viable community. I have been told that we are the smallest medical practice in terms of numbers on the mainland, our PO hours are constantly under threat, the shop has a constant battle in being a service to the community and being viable, the numbers living here mean that we struggle to provide care for the elderly. In the past there were larger family units that stepped in. Now elderly people who do not have this support system have to leave to receive the care they deserve within the community. Questions such as how many children at the school are local are no longer relevant. What is relevant is how many kids are at the school. At the last meeting both the Trust and the Community Company were in agreement that there needs to be more people living here. I am not going to mention the numbers because they will immediately be taken out of context and possibly frighten those of a more traditional bent.  Going back to the local question, I think it is what you do and not where you come from that makes you local. It is far harder to come into a community than be born in it and those that are already there have a duty to carry on the tradition of Highland Hospitality. Thank you for visiting/living in our beautiful land and in helping keeping or improving it. Without the help of those from outside Applecross we would already be dead in the water but with the people already here the future can be bright and actively encouraging new people to live here can give the area a fresh impetus. I think we desperately need more people to live here.

There was a post on Facebook that attracted my attention and it was an experiment an anthropologist carried out in Africa. He put a basket of fruit under a tree and told the children that who ever got to the basket first could have all the fruit. The children then all took each other by the hand  ran to the tree and shared the fruit. When asked why did one not take all the fruit the reply was why, if everyone else was unhappy in not getting any.This is summed up in the principle of Ubuntu and is ” I am because we are” and it reminded me the way the crofting system used to work here when the men of the village would gather the sheep together on the same day, shear or mark lambs at the fank and it would be so much easier everyone there doing everything. There was a sense of community that is lost now as there is on average only one working crofter in each village now who has sheep making it hard work to gather and shear. Although some of this “crofting community” was driven by sheer necessity and I am sure they had their scraps too it is something to aspire to where every one comes together to help every one. The one positive I love about being sort of local and that is spending time with an elder of the community, some one who has a wealth of stories and an irreverent humour, where time does not matter and you hear names you have forgotten as you only knew them as a boy on his holidays.

Tuesday saw me heading off to Srathcarron to meet up with a couple of fishermen from the south and an official of Marine Scotland. Unfortunately Kenny did not make it as there was a fatality at the stables, a biker losing control and leaving the road. The meeting in itself was not very productive but again Marine Scotland got the message that there is a group of fishermen wanting to conserve and bring back lost fisheries but we need help. I have this abiding desire to be among the first fishermen on the west coast to leave a fishery better than I found it. There is growing talk of the inevitable re introduction of the 3 mile limit as one of the ways to help us in our cause. We then can carry out our own conservation  ideas without the fear of them being towed away. Viv from Kishorn Seafood bar was saying exactly that tonight on telly.

Today was an Inverness trip and a Thai massage, badly overdue and gratefully received. Making sure I am MCA legal meant picking up a medical kit,ordering fire extinguishers and smoke alarms for the boat at Gaelforce and making sure there is food for Dougal’s return tomorrow. Some beautiful autumn scenes on the way after Achnasheen.

After a really chilled out afternoon in Sheildaig, not only the massage but a positive and relaxing chat about what is good about life and people, the colours coming over the Hill this evening were stunning.

By the time I arrived by the Inn and returned Judith’s “Flight mode” mobile phone there was a last hurrah of the sunset.

And finally just to note that Cuba arrived in style this week, in fact he did not want to leave.

Fishing politics,meeting people and Thai massage

Taking Dougal and family out this morning,where it is warm, still and sunny, watching the swallows dip and dive and listening to the cuckoo there is not anything more to ask for.This extra ordinary busy spell is continuing today with a trip to Edinburgh to meet with Marine Scotland about Inshore Fisheries politics. Both Kenny from Shieldaig and I were not going to go as yet again we have seen any progress halted by budget cuts. Our Excellent co-ordinator has had her contract terminated and the Inshore Fisheries Group is now a bit rudderless. I have had two phone calls trying to persuade me to go down and I have succumbed with little expectation but also with the knowledge if I do not go then I cannot moan about no action taken to save our fisheries. The only bright spot is that this meeting is the first where the mobile sector have been excluded and we can have a genuine meeting without having to defend our fishing practices from the ludicrous claims of that sector. It is going to be a long two days but Judith, last night, let me off my shift on wednesday evening so no rush back. A call into Glasgow to pick up the boys”stuff and then through to Linlithgow with a really good mate has been arranged and the Applecross ready meal has been prepared.Yesterday’s prawn and squat tails peeled and a Thai paste from the Inn to exchange for an overnight stay.

The routine of fishing and working at the Inn continues and although tiring is very fulfilling. The weather is settled and fishing is poor but it is a joy to be on the water. I love looking around and seeing what is going on, the changing light, sea birds and what comes up in the creels. Just catching enough to keep the prawns on the menu board with squats of course. I cannot say it often enough how satisfying to see people eat and enjoy food that you have a part of providing and it sparks of many meaningful conversations. For customers who are just in for a passing meal once you ask where they are from it opens up a conversation that can go anywhere. Two couples were in from New England and in a previous life I stayed there for a month while hitching from Boston to Vancouver. The connection is made and you talk about what a beautiful place they come from and compare it to Applecross. Sometimes you go to a different level and afterwards you just feel good having made a connection to very pleasant people and ,if I am not mistaken, they go on with something ,even a little spiritual, from a special place. The guests who stay for a couple of days you can get to know a little better and if they are interested find out about your working life and the place where you live. Speaking to two sisters who every year get together to do a bit of walking and it was Applecross this year, they were from Bath and Nottingham and one was a picture restorer travelling to London every week from Bath. Different world but still full of interest. I find the balance of fishing with your own thoughts and music a perfect balance to the rush of the Inn. The defining character of the Inn at the moment is the astonishment of the customers as to how it happens so efficiently even with my mistakes. I have lost count of the number of people that have come up to me in the last three weeks and said that they have just had their best meal in their lives, whether it be halibut, sirloin steak, scallops or ,of course, prawns and squats. To be part of this, I consider myself very fortunate. Judith came back from the annual hotel awards in Glasgow with another honor to add to a huge list and this time it was a personal one.’Dame of Hospitality’ of the year.

In amongst all this mayhem I took time out to try a Thai massage in Shieldaig to try and alleviate my ongoing pains in the head. Great two hours although I have to say extremely painful as I have been overdue treatment. It involved some very sore reflexology but even if there is some placebo effect it seems to be working as the painkiller intake has dropped of dramatically. Trying to go back this friday for another session as Sarah was very impressed with how tight my neck and back muscles are. Thirty years of fishing, hauling creels has left a legacy. On the way over the Hill took a photo of the remaining snow scenes. The road was blocked with snow the previous morning.

Yesterday coming up on the creels of the first fleet in deep water were some sea pens with their symbiotic starfish attached. This is a sign the sea bed is in good health and not ravaged by the trawl. They stand upright in the mud and catch drifting food in the form of plankton in their tendrils.

On the way home I passed two of the boys out in their kayaks enjoying an Applecross break. There are not many places where you are coming home from your work and this situation occurs.

Off to fill the ipod with music and the van with diesel from our Filling station for the trip south.

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