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

Posts tagged ‘Trident’

Trident for Tourists

Not only is Applecross on the NC500, has exquisite local seafood, a welcome second to none, stunning scenery and backdrop but it also has our very own Tridents. This according to Argyll and Bute Council and Mr Mundell MP is the ultimate visitor attraction. Personally I abhor these insane WMDs which look so out-of-place on our beautiful coastal backdrop.


Applecross Games,…”Are you normally this busy?”

Seen off another Games Day and the Aftermath, although the Inn staff are still seeing to it now as there is still two hours of food serving to go as I start this post. I had an easy day yesterday by catching up on some sleep and cycling off down to Toscaig to case the croft for a bit of fencing. The outer fence of the north end of the croft has been down for a few years and that section has been deteriorating letting bracken and rushes take over. The deer and sheep quickly finished off the willow that had been growing inside the fence, but prioritising making some money meant that nothing was done to sort the problem. The plan this autumn is to have both sections of croft fenced and reintroduce a wild flower meadow below an orchard. It will have to be something that does not take a lot of time and animals on the croft is simply a no-no. By rights I should not still have my croft as I have not used it properly. Over the years I have maybe used it as an extended garden but little else. Now with a little more time and effort I intend some clearing, soil analysis, drainage and planting. See how it goes as I maybe using this posting as a bit of pressure to get things underway. Luckily I will have some good advice behind me from the Black Isle. That apart the day was quiet but aware of the busy part of the community as the Applecross Games were underway at the Campsite. I almost made it but could not find the energy and knew I needed that for the evening shift at the Inn. As ever Applecross is full of contrasts and the hurly burly of the Inn is so different from the peace and quiet just a half mile down the road at Milton.


Came up early and soon we were ordering, serving, arranging tables for the Coghills from Skye to the Carron Valley MCC. The couple of rooms that were full we found tables without any waiting. Sometimes you think how lucky things are to work out like that but it is so well organised that it always falls into place and it is no accident. There was no sign of the Boss so we decided that there was drink involved with her visit to the Field. Good team on meant there was no reason for her to worry about anything, just Billy appearing after ten (closed early for the staff to get a night out) for a pint or two only getting the one, bit miffed but it is one of the few nights for early closing. Home by 11.30pm and asleep not long after.

Today was approached with some trepidation as some staff have had a few the previous evening and it is one of the busiest days of the year. Began by getting some more langoustine ashore


and things were rapidly underway with the visitation by the Nicolls, all seventeen of them. Put them on two tables and it worked out pretty well as the young and older of the group split up fairly naturally. Biggest table bill I have done so far but they were so easy to look after and very appreciative of the service. The day slipped into a bit of relentless ordering of food and drink with hordes of people calling in before heading home or people passing through.


Noticeably more Chinese on the go and mainly attracted by the NC500. It was getting  a bit fraught by 4/5 o’clock they just kept coming in, luckily for us the weather held up is still holding off so the evening shift should not be too hard. The car park extension is taking place under the careful eye of Kenny.


He is doing a very fine job and Applecross is showing quite a few examples of his dexterity with his machine. Seems natural when working away at his job. Garden full and the bikers just keep on coming but you can see why.


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


I managed a small plate on the side just to sample of course. The lamb and monk fish kebabs, langoustine, squats were all top drawer.


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


Meanwhile on the other tables the food just kept coming out. Isla and her mate had her eye on some langoustine tails, trying to look cute as she could but don’t think she managed one.


Things had quietened down a little by tea time, the band had struck up again and I was away down the road with some ice cream and a Crabbies to check the forecast for Cambridge, pack a couple of bags and plan for the next week.heading to Aberdeen tomorrow to take in a Blue Deal Workshop, organised by the NEF, before heading to The Cambridge Folk Festival. Christy Moore and Afro Celts are top of the list but the list is long and there will be surprises among the attractions of Imelda May, Baaba Maal, Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker, Blazin’ Fiddles, Imar, the list goes on and on, filled with brilliant musicians. So be off-line for a week or so but taking photos and meeting lots of friends again.

A post on fb coincided with a train of thought I have had over the last few weeks regarding how we live, politics and how we treat each other and the environment. In particular as we joined the Trident protest in Inverness, we watched the inevitable vote for the renewal of our weapons of mass destruction. jobs was rather a new and lame reason put forward for its renewal, but saw in the debate how party lines are more important than common sense although some Labour MPs just cannot vote for something so against their conscience. Came across the following tweet from Gary Lineker, not often see tweets from him but worth a mention and this diagram which say it so succinctly.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 23.03.42

“Don’t get Trident, never have. If it’s ever actually needed we’re all screwed anyway. Spend the money on something important.” Gary Linekar. Very disturbing that in our democracy our Leader states openly in Parliament that Human Rights and the Geneva Convention mean less to her than killing a 100,000 people in the so-called “Defense of our Nation” using illegal WMD. Sometimes up in the remote North West it is easier to envelope oneself in the busy day-to-day life of Applecross than contemplate huge issues such as building weapons that we cannot surely use in any circumstances with money we have not got and Climate Change. We are busily setting records of ice melt and high temperatures around the world which only merit a sentence in the News Bulletin but if some one walks into an office in parliament then headlines are written about Parliamentary privileges being broken. Life is more simple up here with just a few petty disturbances and on the whole you get what you see. Stick to sorting out the croft maybe not so simple.


Trident,the Friendliest Inn and Sri Lankan Visitors.

(Back of 9)  Just sitting down after a Saturday shift of controlled mayhem. At 8pm there is a group of nine coming in and thirty people waiting for tables. All you can say is “we will feed you” don’t know when but sometime tonight. With the weather too poor for eating out they queued and queued.  And the humour was first class apart from two snide guys in the corner of table 14. Seems they had dry fish pies last night. Honestly the first food complaint of the year. No comment from them about the duck breast or the Thai curry tonight. To be perfectly honest it was the hardest night I have had here, probably as the Boss was being wined and dined at the Walled Garden. So it was the new A team on the scene. It is a noisy night with no one going and everyone tucking into the alcohol now.

(Now 10.30) Thinning out a little now but one of the noisiest nights of the year. Great to get the compliments in and it is a pretty slick team this year. It is a really friendly atmosphere  with just about every table talking to their neighbours. Earlier in the day a trip to Inverness was required. Day started at seven with a visit to the Varuna to get langoustine for the Inn and Loch Ness Inn. Would have happened a lot quicker if I did not have water in the outboard carburetor. It’s a fairly long row and back especially with 50 kilos in a small dinghy. Job done and away by nine via both Inns to catch the snap protest against the renewal of Trident. Just a small gathering and maybe pointless but I feel strongly about it. We keep being told we have no money as a country, just seen the biggest transfer of money from the poorest to the richest through quantitative easing, big majority against it in Scotland and yet we are going to find another 200 billion to build something that is both illegal and unusable. It is a crazy world and that is without mentioning Turkey, Nice, Bagdad and Bangladesh to name the latest inhumanities. Impressed with Drew Hendry’s passion, comparing the lack of money to help people coming to his surgeries with spending untold amounts on absurd obscenities. Followed by Isla O’Rielly,equally passionate, a shame she never made it through the lists, and Maree Todd saying simply that we as a country are going a different way from our neighbours.


So a rush round the usual stops, Highland Wholefoods, Simply Pets, HIS, key cutters, Gaelforce and of course Black Ilse Berries on the way home. The every day life can be fitted in with ones beliefs. Time for a half hour sleep before coming up to tonight’s wee shindig.

Yesterday was a body and soul catch up with lots of sleep involved before going up to the Hydro with Ranjit and his family.


Ranjit’s claim to fame, apart from being the Boss’s friend, is that he built the London Olympic Stadium,…..well helped. He works out in Sri Lanka and is very interested in developing hydro power to be used locally in the northern part of the Island. Good to chat to people who want to work in their own communities for their benefit and also is very appreciative of the work  that is going on here. Our turbine is running for the grid at the moment and we are waiting for the water tank to be fixed for the extra 40Kws to kick in again.


When you chat to other like minded people you realise the failings in our own systems, like how our privatised National Grid cannot or will not modify to meet the new and desperately needed change of emphasis away from huge coal/nuclear/gas burning power units to lots of renewable units powering local needs and shipping the excess to where it is needed. Maybe there is not enough shareholder money in being green yet. Stopped off at the Inn for a couple of crabbies and a fine chat with some residents about lobster fishing off the Black Ilse. Could have developed into a bit of a Friday session of yesterday year but too busy these days.

(Sunday morning pre work) Going further back Wed/Thurs were fishing and Inn days. Hauling 350 creels before entering the evening shift. They were chalk and cheese. We were very, very busy on the first shift but on Thursday evening I was home by 9.30pm. Good to meet the Belgians with the Skye connection, the Irish builder living in London with his estate agent partner and the Black Isle couple, he with the American drawl. The days at sea are fairly routine, passing an occasional visitor on a mooring,


and the big difference this year is that there is a little more space with slightly less gear on the ground so you can move the creels around a bit more. Also more importantly shifting from shallow to deeper water is easier when the fishing varies. We do not know why different depths fish in different ways but instinctively you move the gear. I am enjoying this weather better than the long hot dry spell.


There is more to see, the fronts coming in, the rainbows,


different light and the odd strong wind warning when you cannot go out. On the way in on Friday I went looking for the salmon taggers last dropper but had forgotten the coordinates but, closer to the shore, Shore Street


and Milton


fine in their summer greenery. The growth at this time of heart can take you by surprise and you cannot leave your caravan parked for long.


Just me, the bonxies,


and the black backs, not many boats to see and very few fouled creels.

Political Wood Stack.

Even if you do nothing for a whole week in Applecross there is always something going on or conversations to comment on. Up till today it has been a pretty dull week, waiting for the first storm of the winter to pass through on Monday and Tuesday, and not going out fishing when I should really have, as there are no langoustines on the menu board and the weather was not too bad on Wed/Thurs. Today was back to the strong winds but looking more hopeful for getting back into the swing of things next week. The dinghy is back on the out hauler and ready to go. Unfortunately when I took her into the pier,bailing her while hanging onto the rope and keeping her off the shore wrecked my shoulder, so hauling creels was not on the top of the agenda.

A little wait for the worst of the rain to pass through yesterday morning before attacking most of the wood left for this years outside wood stack. Seems to have gone a wee bit political and may not be fully apparent on first sight. As I have aged the progress to the right-wing of politics has not taken place, in fact possibly gone the other way as I have become even more disinterested in wealth. On the wood stack front my thoughts are very, very simply put. Trident and nuclear weapons are useless in the extreme in that a deterrent never used is not a deterrent. And if some one was to push a button to start a nuclear strike that person would be insane or at the very least dehumanized to the nth degree. Pointless being second in pushing the button. A long-winded way of explaining why I have a Trident submarine in my wood stack. Some one somewhere must have a logical explanation as to why we spend so much money on something we cannot use while we struggle to find money for services, health and education, I remain to be convinced. Lots of angst flying about how to use one’s second vote in our upcoming election….such an easy choice as I have already met him, found him to be interested and supportive of community empowerment and real sustainable development, and supports an economy that is sustained within the environment, so John Finnie our Green list candidate gets my second vote. There are lots advocating two votes for SNP but when you have fine candidates like John, Andy Wightman, Patrick Harvie among many others you know you are voting for people who will try to take your views to the legislature. And the Trident view is shared, needless to say.


On the local front I always find it interesting that no one mentions the Filling Station in any of the conversations I have, or the public toilets. Come to recognise that this is a good sign in local politics. It means they are working well. Unfortunately that cannot be said for the AppleNet Broadband system. I personally do not think there is anyone to blame as it was an ambitious pioneering project that will still work but in certain places throughout the community there are poor signals. The system was based on the Eigg and Knoydart models but the big difference here is the number of relays to get the signal to the various outlying and awkward placed settlements. These problems were not so acute in the first systems set up further south. Seems one loses the strength of the connection if at the end of a series of relays. There also is a problem in places like Craic Barn where the signal is bounced of walls from house to house resulting in possible distorted reception from noisy radio signalling. And weather is always going to be a problem. Our masts have to be more robust and money made from the connections is going to be reinvested in the network, that goes without saying. It is a new phenomenon that we experience living in the same community as the service and responsible for that service. We are the Indians in the BT Call Centre dealing with the problems but we are in the shop or at the Community Hall or the Inn while coping with the down side of the network. I do not have any regrets in anything we have tried and on the positive side WHAN is still on the horizon, the fibre optic cabling is installed in Mallaig, the masts are in place but need equipment installed and improvements are on the way. Our local network needs improving and outside help is being approached to do just that. Back to the down side the WHFP tells the story of how bad our Skye connection is and how long BT are taking to connect the Mallaig line to the WHAN Network. As the connection date was 9th Nov 2015 I am going to stop predicting when the BT connection takes place. Maybe I will prefer being a graduate in India in the Call Centre for a wee while longer. I look forward to AppleNet dropping out as a conversation piece just like the Filling Station has done, and like the Filling Station the problems are being addressed, maybe not as quickly as some would like.

The Hydro may well be doing that already although I find it is in many people’s minds and it appears to have awakened the potential in the community. Not a few people have remarked that if the community can build a Hydro Scheme against all the odds then what are the limits. Lateral North will soon be coming here to carry out a project on just that. A vision, without the constraints of land in outside hands and lack of affordable housing, but sustainable employment both meaningful and connected to the local environment. Jamie and Mick from HighlandEco were back in midweek to run through some of the glitches in the systems, a bit of rewiring and some software programming called for. It seems to be running smoothly at 100% capacity just now. Still a bit of landscaping to finish off with some gates and fencing to be erected but the system is generating money for the community day and night. Patience while AppleJuice builds up some capital before the monies raised will be reinvested in the community. It was interesting chatting about the regression of FiTs and how they affect the future of the renewable industry. It was pointed out that actually FiTs can lead to the wealthy becoming even more wealthy as systems are built on the Lairds land and public monies are siphoned off in that direction. The regression does hit the community schemes the hardest as they have to raise investment on top of the capital cost of build and if, like us, we do not own the river we are hit with rents that will make future schemes unviable. Wonder if it would be possible to have a two tier FiTs system where communities can enjoy a better return thus a genuine redistribution of the nations finances while improving the drive to renewables. That would get over the problem of the transfer of public funds into already deep pockets.


The Friendliest Inn in The Highlands.

What a complex mix of emotions over the last 48 hours. Starting out at the back of eight and a quick look in to see Mick on site already done an hour and a half. Roofers away having completed the House and Mick was just doing a site tidy.


The next stop after following the gritter over the Hill



was to Kyleakin for the first MoD public meeting five days before the “consultation” ends. Using inverted commas as calling the process so far a consultation is disingenuous. Generally consultations are carried out at the start of a process and ones the Scottish Government carry out last at least twelve weeks not 35 days increased to 49. We were given the controls over the land and sea that the new bylaws allow, the road to Sand, the foreshore and for me the right to close the outer sea area when the need arises. Passage over the Range is also in the hands of the Range operators. When asked for assurances that these powers will not be used we were told “ordinarily”, “don’t think at the moment”,”fishing can broadly take place”, were the responses when asked for reassurance about the outer sea area. There seems that little can be done about the inner sea area as the cabling and ducts have already been built and placed at the cable corridor coming out of Sand. It would be better for relations and an element of trust if we were told what we already know. What is happening at Sand is not maintenance but the new investment. Hiding behind a maintenance program and not being totally honest about the work at Sand is not helping us working together. The Range expansion is needed for the new technologies and bigger structures being put in the water. The socio/economic study has not been carried out so we do not know the dramatic effects of this will be on the local economy. An example, £1500 of local shellfish landed to the Applecross Inn becomes £4500 as value is added creating employment and profit on the peninsula. And that is for one week in the summer. Despite the awkward questions asked we have to find a way to exist together and continue good relations on the ground as long as possible. Ian Blackford called for a suspension of the process until studies have been properly carried out and assessed. I have my doubts but still hope to be fishing these waters my father and grandfather have long after Trident has been deemed obsolete.

So started with hydro and now back onto hydro with a quick leafleting of the “top table” before calling in and seeing Sandy as to when we hope to see SSE in Applecross. The problems of Abigail have turned out not to be so severe as hyped by the media. There is a line that keeps tripping and other smaller problems but Monday seems to be on the cards for work on the connection. Again like the MoD there is a huge difference with the people on the ground and how they have to deal with pressures from above and outside. How that affects us here may be further down their list of priorities and the local guys can do nothing about it. As long as we realise these pressures we can keep lines open locally and work with guys that know and sympathise with our situation.

Now on the way to Inverness and a quick call into Eilean Donnan castle to drop off some hydro leaflets.


The drive through Cluanie




to Invermoriston was beautiful,




shafts of sunlight on snow and water made for a very pleasant journey. Bit of a shop, a kilt pickup, snooze and was ready for the Award Dinner.

A curious mixture of an evening as it turned out. Met Tanya, of Kylesku Hotel fame, on the way in for a short photo shoot, then being mistaken for a musician who played at a friend’s wedding in Pitlochry, before making our way into the dining room. Speeches quickly over and the food was astounding. Pressed salmon, baby squid and crab, the venison fillet or the parsnip ice cream….take your pick and that was amongst many other delights. And after some fine, fine music we fire through the awards. There is a big screen that shows the various establishments up for the awards playing on repeat. Phil and Donald are shown prominently much to the repeated amusement and whooping from part of our table. We settled into the social drinking part of the evening.


Great to see Kyleskhu win hospitality award. There is great camaraderie between some establishments and the Kyleskhu guys are coming down to the Applecross in a couple of weeks. Judy said Tanya went a little pale when I said it would be a good idea for us to go up there. And apart from Kyle winning the young ambassador of the year the whoop of the night came when Judy won the Friendliest Establishment of the Year.


We agreed ahead that Steve would go for the Most Informal and I would accompany the Friendliest. A fine honour to accompany one of the finest landladies in the country. This photo is courtesy of Pammie, one of our friendly staff.


Lots of congrats all round, people who I had served, seemingly, were coming up to us and the photos were taken some better than others but great feeling of achievement all round.


The lady who had mistaken me for the musician came back and explained I had told her at the Inn about how the langoustine were caught. She was with the Dolphin Centre, shortlisted but had not won. She came back over after we had won and explained, word about sustainable fishing is getting out there. Then news seeped in about Paris and the awfulness of our world. You could not have two extremes. The opulence of the our room to the death and despair some Parisians would have been feeling. Kept quiet but Son No3 was over in Paris for the week. Found out via Caroline at breakfast he only knew about it in the morning. You stop your mind going to “what if” places. It is coming closer and it brings home what has already been already happening in other countries for the past decades. Decent people are on the move to get away from these inhuman acts. The dehumanizing of war, whether through drones or suicide bombs, helps the cause of destruction of everyone’s civilisation. Neither work, the only results are fear, horror and hopelessness. The festivities continued although there were many mentions of the Parisian horrors. On an aside I wonder what new law Dot was trying to get Fergus to pass next week.


Taxis duly arrived and I went in the sensible one back to the hotel and not on to Johnny Fox’s as I had already pushed my boat well away from the shore.

All the was needed yesterday was to buy a kilt, get home in one piece, check and bail boats




and do an easy shift at the Inn. A good evening at the Friendliest Inn in the Highlands. Almost forgot, a couple of quieter days on the fund raising front but still the total climbs to just over £470,000.

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