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

Posts tagged ‘wedding’

Broadband with a Sigh.

To say that providing a geographically scattered community with broadband is difficult, we are finding is one of the understatements of the year. My optimism of a couple of years ago has long since vanished as the problems emerge as to how tricky everything is becoming. The latest little piece of knowledge we came across is that there is going to be a world shortage of IP addresses. These are only available in batches of 256, why that number I have no idea, and cost a fair bit to rent and even more to buy. As our new system has meant that we are now all on individual IP addresses and we are close to using that number then those on the waiting list have a further problem to overcome. I suppose that our problems are taking place in a background of poor broadband over our whole area. In fact the NW Highlands and Islands have among the poorest service of the whole country. We also hear that BT have “negotiated” a deal that is to give them the monopoly to roll out next generation to 99% of the country. The rather big caveat is that they are do not need to service around 650000 people, the 1%, and I wonder where they will be living. Locally rumours are rife about BT actually providing fibre optic in Applecross with workmen looking for six months accommodation for bringing it in over the Bealach. Our contacts say that this is not going to happen but already there are two cabinets built at the exchange and Milton. Of corse this means that those outlying areas will be in the same boat as before with BT taking the core of the customers away from AppleNet. This appears to be coming over from Skye and, assuming the copper lines in Applecross are in good nick, will be distributed from these cabinets. Going by what one hears from Skye the source of this new system leaves a lot to be desired and also BT numbers on lines are far more than AppleNets. There is a strong rumour that the fibre cable coming over the Hill is going direct to Sand and will not be available to the community at all. The workmen say otherwise so basically everyone is in the dark. South to HUBS and there are all sorts of machinations going on as we are being connected up to the new system. Currently we have been offline for around six of the last eight weeks and in today’s world, as we are both involved in various issues that need a fair bit of communication, that is seriously hampering our volunteering and work. Also to be noted that a company providing satellite service to one of our customers has gone bankrupt, proving all is not well in rural broadband circles. It is also a problem describing our efforts not as a business to some customers but a social enterprise providing a service. Sure the bottom line has to be kept in the black but were are not in business to make money and if we do it is purely for reinvestment.

Locally we have a mast on Raasay that serves the North Coast and finally it was up and running but not unfortunately on the island itself. There were a few emails coming back and fro, getting more and more irate, phone calls increasingly less polite and not understanding our inability to remedy the fault. This needed expertise from south. This done Sean and I headed over a couple of Mondays ago on a lovely quiet day

and very quickly he had the two connections up and running although speeds could have been better. The third connection was not attended to as he had thrown his toys out of his pram. As we had a bit of time before the next ferry

we headed to Raasay House

for a coffee with Lyn and Freya,

after a tour of a very smartly done up accommodation post fire. Prices range from £250 to £25 so all tastes accounted for. Views from the cafe and rooms at the front almost match Applecross.

A good catchup as usual, Lyn being my PE teacher at school back in the day. Lovely day and would have been better spent out on the water catching langoustines but needs must sometimes and the trip and company meant a good day out. variety keeps one fresh after all.

Who knows where broadband is heading in the near future. We are “expected” to now apply for next generation speeds. Bit ironic as we are barely up to first generation speeds. The forms and work, coupled with the technical expertise and lack of time all works against us having much of a chance of going onto the next stage. As the switch over continues Sean, who is a pretty fast learner, is finding so many anomalies in our set up which may go some way to explaining why some connections have stubbornly remained slow. As well as this we are having to deal with problems in the new system, ranging from radio reception to tidal. To be perfectly honest our broadband at the schoolhouse has gone back in quality since we have been trying to improve the setup, but patience is always going to be a virtue living in rural parts while still trying to improve services. I no longer predict times for improvements as the last prediction was we were going to have vastly improved speeds on 9th November 2015.

On a completely different subject and as I was tucking into some lemon drizzle cake rescued from the Best Man’s grasp the day after the wedding reminded me that several wedding photos have come up on FaceBook, a couple or three caught the eye, the boys, missing Calum,


and my emotional moment.

Beautifully shot and many more of the lovely bride are online.

Best Man, Best Groom and Best Bride.

(Poor internet has delayed posts somewhat)

And into the evening we sailed. Photos taken again, best man playing up to his role

after piping us into a lovely meal.

Photos taken before,

after and during

making sure the night was well documented.

Ceilidh band spot on and the floor was filled from first dance

to the Orcadian Strip the Willow as the las dance. All the usual antics, speeches, mine being the shortest, took place with happy contentment on everyone’s faces. Had a wee chat  with an exfisherman who fished lobster off Islay and Jura and reminisce about the early days of trying to get on your feet, the battle of trying to pay ones debts, hard work and to a certain extent missing a bit of the family growing up. The dancing, chat was all topped off with some fine bacon and sausage rolls and tablet, lots and lots of tablet. I think I was only out done by the groom in the tablet stakes. The disco did not appeal so left the best man to do his moves on the dance floor

and headed off to a very sensible early and soberish night. Think Calum was still up throwing the water bottle to No1.

Another fine breakfast saw us off on time to make it home for the evening shift at the Inn. Uneventful trip back with Raymond in attendance. Only needed to do a couple of hours as there were plenty of staff on the go. Sat the fourteen who just turned up in amongst the rest of the punters, would have been good if they had all paid, Boss had an attempt to see if any one would see them on the road, but police over in Skye so a shrug of the shoulders. Good eleven and a half hours sleep before going out for the rest of the langoustines hanging off the Varuna and then heading up to a busy shift, but manageable and little to distinguish it apart from the very pleasant and pleased Galicians and New Yorkers. Seafood helped them on their way. Tomorrow it is off to Raasay on broadband duty. Broadband is becoming a massive headache for us but more of that next time.

The Wedding

Saturday morning and up not at the crack of dawn. The dogs were out for the morning stroll and ablutions when out west I heard the echo of a sonorous fog horn. The Sound was half covered in a thick fairly unseasonal fog. Immediately thought of “Snow Falling on Cedars”, the story based around an unfortunate accident at sea. In a calm foggy night a fisherman was thrown off his mast doing a repair by the wash of a passing freighter.He clipped the gunwale on the way down and was unconscious when he went into the water. Brilliant book and film and it was the atmosphere of the cam and fog that brought it to mind. So it was finally wedding day and although quiet it stayed dry and improved as the day went on. Guests


arriving to the sound of the pipes,


setting stunning and very Scottish, mist, glen and pipes.


Lovely simple humanist ceremony at Clachan, followed by canopies and hog roast at the VT. One or two photos taken, I know I could never be an official snapper and only took the one posed. Quite pleased with it though.


Nipped down the road, called in to the Inn, busy but not silly, and took the dogs out.


Back up to the ceilidh and a fine one it was, to the tunes of Iron Midden.


Despite not drinking I find these events go just fine and can enjoy the craic and gossip with anyone.


When I gave the booze a miss around ten years ago it was quite hard work as a lot of Highland socializing involves a fair bit of alcohol, or at least mine did. Usually helps to be doing something or organising to help the evening along but seeing guys from many years ago


all together and chatting politics, land issues


and great banter with lots of laughter and reminiscing,


the time just flew by.


Of course there was the odd dance or five to get through, Orcadian strip the willows, dashing white sergeants, eight some reels and the odd boston two-step. Made it to the end of them all but could have done with an oxygen tank to recover with in the corner. Managed to head off as it thinned out towards the end of the evening.


Home just after the witching hour and the advantages of not drinking come into play at the end of the evening.

Easter Sunday and pretty full on, heard some one say that we passed the 180 lunches by half two and there was still another six hours for me and a few more for the rest of the staff to go through. It was a fine day, bright sunshine and just warm enough for eating outside, which made it easier for us but kept the kitchen on its toes. But the food kept coming out and was superb, been a while since I have heard so many compliments. The dover sole was impressive. If not so busy the camera would have been out. In amongst it all there was a flat battery to sort out and with the help of Padgett’s leads, the Inn van we soon had them underway again. Left about the back of eight to enjoy a fine mint chocolate chip ice cream before another chat and a plan for the upcoming Cambridge Folk Festival. Andy and Jill are our guides, the music line up speaks for itself and the weather will not matter. Looks like this will be the annual holiday for the year. Events such as the Community Land AGM will break up the summer nicely. The sunset was sublime


for the journey south on the bike


and Andy and Jill had a fine walk out to Ardban to finish off their weekend.


Monday morning saw me up bright and breezy to sell prawns to a Russian, a lady married to an east coaster who come this way every year. Not many and really just a wee favour as I could not do it yesterday, they normally grill them in Applecross but took these ones away with them in the morning. The rest of the day did not really happen with a breeze from the south making it a bit uncomfortable to fish, just use up my reserves.

Tuesday’s wee excuse was a meeting up with Landward to say how wonderful the fishing is in inshore waters, just feeling a little sarcastic when I think back into the past and what we had fishwise from shoals of pelagic, salmon and white fish and now it is bottom feeders. Gets me out of the house anyway.

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