Thursday, 17 September 2009


The royal family and the obeisance they inspire in otherwise sensible peeps give me the boke. So i was delighted to hear some architect gadge on the radio ripping into Luggy's Poundbury project the other day. His main point was that there's no good organic reason for this place to exist and that all successful settlements have an obvious raison d'etre. I ken bugger all about architecture, town planning or any of that stuff but i couldnae help agreeing.

Ullapool's organic reason for being is very obviously the sea. It was founded as a sheltered, deep water, easy access point to the vast herring shoals which used to head this way from the Atlantic Ocean. Today, most of the herring is gobbled up by floating factories much further west. The herring fleets of the British Isles and Scandinavia mos def aint wot they used to be. There's still fishing to be had out of Loch Broom though - most of the catch is shellfish and most of that ends up in restaurants in Spain and France. So Mand loved every second of our self-guided tour of the fishing boats last Saturday (oh no she didnae).

U-pool's also where the CalMac ferries head to Stornaway even on a Sunday and there were a fair few yachts and cruisers bobbin round the bay. The town's sea-going credentials are clearly alive and kicking despite the scarcity of herring. But we werenae in town to fish, ferry or faff in the sea, we were in town to catch up wi Goa chums, Eve and Donald. Oh aye, and to get reekin oot wir coupons on the booze.

To be fair, we did take my fascinating tour of the boats and we hit the barry wee Ullapool Museum for an hour or so. The museum's housed in a converted church originally designed by the prolific and highly talented Thomas Telford. (Bit wrong i ken, but i cannae help crackin a wee smile when churches are converted into somethin a bit more useful than erm...houses of worship.) TT also designed the grid pattern streets of the old town as well as the Village Hall where we caught Super Furry Animals 4 years back.

And that was pretty much that on the culture and tourist trail for us. We knocked back the chance to head south to Gairloch, Gruinard Bay or the wondrous gardens of Inverewe. We failed to head north and climb the spikey peak of Stac Pollaidh, pictured below by the snaptastic Dave Henniker.

We couldnae even be ersed jumpin 15 miles along the road to Corrieshalloch Gorge with its fab swingy rope bridge thing. Instead we hit the Argyll, the Arch and the Seaforth - scene of Al D's infamous karaoke incident. Al better relate that tale one day soon right here cos if no i'll do it for him and he'll come off a lot worse in my version.

As well as the sea, the scenery and the touristy stuff, U-pool's got a great rep for live music with local bands, traditional music sessions and erm...karaoke on most nights somewhere in town. This weekend coming it'll host the annual Loopallu festival (didja see what they did wi the name there?) I'm a daftie cos i shoulda planned the trip for this weekend so we could've seen our groovy chums, got pished and grabbed some top notch live music. But Ullapool's no gonna disappear anytime soon and there's always next year i spose.

In the meantime, Jo of the Isles will have some of her poetry read out on Ullapool based Loch Broom FM. I'm gonna try and get some kinda podcast link to it up here but should you fancy a cheeky wee taster of her works (and i think you should), follow this link to Ottertalk. It's right guid gear.


  1. Now, if I said the Islamists should go and live in Utah, you'd be calling me a fascist again. But it's fine for you to tell me to do that very thing. Do you see the hypocrisy, Naldo?

    I know what kind of world it is. Honestly, guv, I can see those things just as well as you can. The difference between you and me seems to be that I want to preserve a beautiful world, a peaceful world, a world where people can make their own choices. You would risk it to satisfy a naive political ideology.

    There are a lot of destructive people in the world and when you look where all the strife is, you find fundamentalist religion. People are not innately good, you may be surprised to hear and religion provides a 'justification' to lunatics to get involved in atrocities.

    I was out in the sunshine, yesterday, collecting some blackberries, so I do know what the world is like, despite your patronising assertion.

    Furthermore, for the moment, I do not need the State's or the Mullahs' permission to collect blackberries. That's the way I want it to stay.

  2. Well Naldo - I came here intending to say how much I loved Ullapool when I visited there some years back - but I am compeletely thrown by Edgar's contribution here.

    I have obviously missed something?????

  3. Who's this Edgar gadge? He wants to beat it back to whatever blog he came from and stop getting hysterical about unrelated subjects. A place for everything and everything in its place my old mum never used to say but I am want to do.

    Ullapool, barry place, not spent nearly enough time there. Tales of my last visit coming soon to a blog near you.

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  5. Edgar, you're welcome to come on here and say whatever you want but i'll respond to you back at your blog as your comment relates to your own post about guns and not this one about Ullapool.

    JJ, Ullapool is indeed lovable. I've had some fab times in and around there and at least one of them involved Al D (he of the motherly sayings), lots of booze and some well dodgy karaoke. Please don't be perturbed by Edgar, he and i are havin a wee tiff but it'll all blow over soon enough. I bet we've more in common than either of us will admit up front.

  6. If Ullapool's tourist info board were canny they'd be exploiting the kareoke angle for the Chinese tourists...

  7. Yippy, another fun read from Naldo. :-)

    I remember Ullapool from the 'Scotland from the Air' (or whatever) DVD I watched. It looked like a sweet place (from the air) and it sounds it too... another place onto my list.

    Glad you like the poem on Neil's blog. They say there's no culture in Canada, ha! Poetry about cheese... can't get more cultured than that.

    Any idea if you're going back out to sea?

  8. J, you could be onto something. Bet you ken loads more bout the Chinese yen (small 'y') than the tourist peeps. How'd we get the word out to the People's Republic that U-pool's the karaoke capital of Europe? You read any of Life Is All Cobblers by the way? JJ's tales of holiday in China. Great stuff, you'd mibby relate to it.

    Ms TB, it's sweet on the ground as well. We were blessed with clear skies and low winds all weekend and, even though i've been a few times before, the setting fair took my breath away. A spot on spot.
    Cultured culture? Fuck yeah.
    And erm...the sea? Well i've been doin odd bitsa decorating and gardening but the wolf's gettin close to the door again. If a proper job doesnae show by November, i'll have to be back out there. Hands and hamstrings are still nippin from the last time so i really really want a real job. Really.

  9. What you describe is exactly how I would define an Islamist. I have no doubt that a huge majority of Muslims hang their heads in despair when they see the Jihadi minority hitting the headlines again. What seems to be poorly appreciated is that people like me who are seeking a much harder line against the extremists, but who have no problem with moderate Muslims or any other ethnic group, are anti-fascists and anti-racists. Islamic fundamentalism is intrinsically racist - the kuffars are, at best, second class citizens: they are to be trained as dhimmis, or if they refuse, they are to be killed. Gays are to be killed. Women who do not obey the rules defined by old men are to be lashed, or stoned to death. The fundamentalists are not liberals, they are not part of the march-forward of human values and tolerance.

    The danger of Islamism comes not from their present numbers but from their influence over young Muslims, their unrelenting radicalisation of impressionable youth. That is how the problem will grow unless it is dealt with.

    We have seen in numerous instances from the past that the appeasement of fascists does not work. Not once has that strategy ever avoided conflict. The demonisation of people who want an end to the rise of Islamist recruiting as fascists is not only wrong, it encourages other ethnic groups to align with the real fascists. They fear that, after the Islamists, they will be next on the list. Well, if the moderate parties and the moderate people cannot solve the problem, then the people will vote in real fascists like the BNP, and those other ethnic groups will see what they feared.

    It really is in everyone's interest to see that the Islamist threat is neutralised, by peaceful means if possible. We can no longer afford to bend over backwards trying not to offend them.

    Anyway, back to the autumn, in the hope that some bunch of lunatics haven't actually banned the leaves from falling!

  10. Edgar, gadgie, would it no be more appropriate to keep your Islamist chat on your own blog where it started?

    How do you feel about the port of Ullapool?

  11. The boy's a fucking troll. I'm not usually up for censorship but seeing as what he's posting has got nowt to do with the topic of this blog i'd just delete his comments if you can.

  12. Ken where yer comin fae, Johnny. I put a comment on Scunnert Nation's blog slaggin off the BNP and its disgusting leader. Edgar responded to it on my Sconny Botland post. Since then i've commented on a post he wrote about guns (he seems to like them) on his own blog. Again he comes back on this yin. I'm no gonna censor him but i might start ignorin him cos i'm no up for this kinda pish chat here.

    This blog's about what this blog's about, no what somed'y else wants it to be about. Kinda mystified as to why he keeps interlopin likesay.

    How do you feel about the port of Ullapool yirsel, pal byrraway?

  13. I've telt you before mate, away and hijack chat somewhere else.

    You're no funny and your defo no interesting.

    I dinne even read yer full post so you're wasting your time.

    Toddle on before I get a warrant oot for yi.

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  15. Dinnae fuck wi the YLT, the YLS or the HP. Howja do that link thing, HP? It's funny.

  16. I could tell ya but I'd have to gie ya a doing over in the cells afterwards.

  17. "Aye yer honour, the defendant slipped on his wey doontae the cells."

  18. Ullapools are barry wee place that Ive stopped of at several times on camping trips. The fish and chips are right barry an aw and its always good to see the seals bobbing about in the water. That gadge above is a right bore, chat best saved for another place as feck aw to do with whats getting talked about here

  19. My grandfather used to land fish at Ullapool when he was a trawler fisherman. I think it was a bit more sedate in those days.

    Nice to see that you're back with the plying ferries again.

  20. Very interesting post...although the comment up there that "Gay should be killed" that whole Islamist comment, was silly. Please.

    Your blog is always a educational read.

  21. Jules, yer no wrong boot U-Pool, though currently ma fave wee Sottish toun's gotta be Hawick.

    Linda, your grandfather was a very brave man. I'll never underestimate the mental and physical strength needed to fish for a living.

    Quite right, Jelly. I'll have nae truck with such off subject pish.