Life at the end of the road

July 11, 2011

Nothing to do with scarecrows

Filed under: boats, daily doings, food — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:27 pm

Now you really do have to read the previous post, I only started this one because I’d posted so many pictures on the previous one. Anyway if you can make any sense of that, I’m still on Saturday and have left all the ‘Tattie bogle’s’ behind at Carbost and caught the 15:00 ferry. Had it not been for the blessed scarecrows I’d have been home two hours earlier 🙂

Arriving home just after 16:00 I wasted no time and set off out in the boat to lift the creels, not really expecting much after using the conger for bait I was pleasantly surprised.

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A nice 750gram lobster in the first creel, just over the legal 85mm carapace length he’ll make a fine meal for two 🙂

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The couple of brown crabs would yield plenty of meat and the lithe (pollock) that my young crewman caught had their heads and tails removed for bait then went in the freezer. They’ll make fine fish cakes or an addition to a pie at a later date .

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That’s the problem with this time of year, the shear abundance of food, mushrooms are plentiful and can be dried but there’s a limit to how much we can freeze. Whilst there’s not been the huge shoals of mackerel of years gone by, and our son is the only member of the family that’s actually caught any, we have had plenty given. I may love fish, but there’s only so much that my family will eat and mackerel does not freeze well. Still I have managed to acquire a couple more variations on the ‘what to do with mackerel’ front.

Mackerel grilled with mustard

Sounds odd but the other morning in my haste to get the 7:55 ferry I skipped breakfast and took two with me to eat on the ferry. I was just going to grill them but my mate said “cover them in mustard and bung them under the grill until it browns”.  Well, I’ll try anything so I did, and what a treat it was, completely transforms the familiar taste into something else 🙂

Mackerel oatmeal and vinegar

One that my mother offered me today did not at first inspire me, I’d had the blessed fish in one form or another every day this week and had just finished off a huge plate of pasta. Now my mum was trained by my grandmother in the mountains of Liguria, and her pasta is second to none. Today’s was no exception, a smoked salmon and cream offering to which I had seconds. So when offered this ordinary looking fish covered in oatmeal I at first declined, I could tell by ‘the look’ that this was not the right thing for a dutiful son to do 🙂 Reluctantly I tried a bit, it was delicious, what did you do to that I asked. Turns out it was a recipe for sardines that she’d picked up in Italy, you just fry the fish in oatmeal as usual but then just sprinkle it with vinegar and leave it overnight, awesome 🙂 Needless to say I polished it off 🙂

Mackerel and green beans

Whilst eating this delight we discussed other variations for this oily fish and one that we both make is this one. Basically you make an ordinary pasta sauce, you know the kind of thing, fry off a bit of garlic, and onions in olive oil, add some chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, bit of basil, bay leaves or whatever takes your fancy. Once that’s all done and simmering nicely, lay your fish on top, surround it with green beans or even peas then put a good fitting lid on your pan and let it cook for a further 20 mins. Tastes nothing like mackerel and is very good for you 🙂

The cave of the people

Sorry, got sidetracked there, where was I ??? well it was Saturday and that was followed by Sunday, which started with a spell of Quadzilla fixing. That’ll be that Chinese quad that I’d made a fuel pump diaphragm for. Anyway it was still running like a can of worms so I delved further into its guts.

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I had thought that the carburettor diaphragm was split but removing the air filter to access it revealed that it was full of oil and petrol. Checking the sump then showed about two or three litres of fuel mixed in with the oil and almost ready to pour out of the filler plug 😦 The petrol obviously having entered there via the spilt fuel pump diaphragm. Draining and refilling with fresh oil seemed to return Quadzilla to his normal state so I gathered the boys and we went out fishing and exploring.


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It’s great having someone else to do all the hard work 🙂

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Another lobster was added to our tally and we set off north through the flooding Fladda narrows to do a spot of fishing in Loch a Sgurr.


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After only catching a couple of lithe we motored around the northern tip of Fladda to a sea cave on its north western shore called Uamh nan Daoine, the ‘cave of the people’.

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I’ve fished and dived around here hundreds of times but never actually been inside this sea cave, probably on account of never actually having a boat small enough to enter it.


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My mates ‘rock proof’ Pioner Maxi however provides the perfect platform for this kind of thing and the four of us motored in astern a good 50 yards before tying up the boat and exploring on foot.

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It really is quite spectacular and goes into the island for around a hundred meters

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ending well inland with a pile of flotsam and jetsam 🙂


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After all that excitement and darkness we made the short trip over to the ‘sunny skerry’ Grian a Sgier just west of Fladda to check out the seals and bird life. That’s Eilean Tigh and Rona in the background.

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Whilst on the sunny island that’s the home to geese, gulls, oystercatchers, cormorants and terns I phoned up a mate from the marshes of Essex.

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Only he wasn’t on the misty marshes of southern England, he was sat on my mooring in Loch Arnish after a long and eventful trip north about via Orkney and Shetland 🙂

We rushed off to meet him and get a tour around ‘Tutak’ before all heading home for soup and tea, my mate left a couple of hours later after a tour of the turbines and I got on with the business of cooking and cleaning the catch from sea and land 🙂

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  1. sounds like a beautiful day. love to hear about your mother’s cooking.
    here we smoke mackerel, with plenty of pepper, and it keeps fairly well. you can make your own smoker if you like.

    Comment by jeannette — July 12, 2011 @ 1:45 am

    • p.s. smoked fish (or fresh!!!) is what they eat in south carolina with grits. i s’pose y’all’d eat it with porridge. yikes.

      Comment by jeannette — July 12, 2011 @ 1:52 am

      • here’s a good recipe and an even easier DIY smoker.

        Comment by jeannette — July 12, 2011 @ 2:07 am

      • Morning Jeannette,

        “Meanwhile, you can prepare your smoker. I am using a rather battered ABU smoker” That’s a quote from the excellent link that made me laugh, for that is exactly what I use, a battered ABU smoker 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 12, 2011 @ 6:47 am

  2. fantastic pictures of the seafood caught! im curious about eating that, as ihave always thought that its a lot of hassle splitting the shells for not a lot of meat, but im just a city boy who eats too much processed food! love the picture of the seal, got me wondering how many you see on a regular basis, and have you seen dolphins and basking sharks around there. Ive just come back from a break on the north east coast, wher i saw a total of nine dolphins(type unknown!) and unfortunately one dead seal. I saw the dolphins off the coast of Arbroath and the seal on the beach at Easthaven near Carnoustie. its great to see you catching such large seabeasties, hopefully there are plenty in the seas . As for getting rid of the old car, thats better than having to declare it SORN! Big brother appears to be sprouting more eyes to snoop far and wide LOL!

    Comment by Gordon Smith — July 13, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

    • Hi Gordon,

      lobsters are easy to deal with, brown crabs can be a bit of a pain at first but after thirty years you get used to it 🙂 Velvet crabs have much more meat in them for their size than anything else and the fun is in picking it out 🙂
      Plenty of dolphins and porpoises about here just now and seals are around all year but I’ve not seen a basking shark for a few months.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 13, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

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