Welcome everyone to the readers of my blogs, or “buoys and gulls”. I didn’t think it would be possible to write another blog this week! This is my third blog! But being up here in Scotland is truly inspiring for me in so many ways.
This is my last day on the North East coast of Scotland, as we are travelling back down to Stirling before then carrying on down into land locked Stoke On Trent.
Today we travelled a little way along the coast, just 30mins drive away in fact from Peterhead to Fraserburgh. I knew about this town from different fishermen, plus my friend and colleague Alex who was born just a little way further along the coast.
We had a short walk along the coast, my sister Rebecca tucked up warm in her wheelchair, taking photos of the sea. It was my sister who spotted the seals bobbing up and down in the water! Every time I tried to get a photo of him he kept diving under! Camera shy methinks.
There was just the faintest smell of fish along from the car park of the heritage centre from the fish processor. I love that smell. My mum, however, does not. I do think of my mum after I come home from every shift, especially if it’s been a busy day. I don’t smell the fishy aroma, but my mum does! In fact, the only time I’ve ever really known how “interesting” I can smell is when I went for my fishmonger training in Wales. 3 days worth of washing, all fishmonger. Lovely!
Anyway, a quick visit to the heritage centre shop and I ended up in conversation with the lovely lady working in there. I was wearing my fishmonger hoody, and the lady asked why the love of fish. My friend Alex’s ears must have been burning all week. Everyone’s asked me how I ended up fishmongering, Alex was the one who started it all, and as soon as I say “he’s from Buckie”…in fact, I blame Alex for all this!
Wherever I go on the coast I have to visit the RNLI. The RNLI is as important to me as The Fishermen’s Mission. Again, might sound strange being from a land locked county in the midlands, but they do such amazing work. Even recently with the horrendous events taking place in London, the RNLI have gone out on the Thames. I follow alot of the accounts on Twitter and see regular shout out posts. In fact even a school mate from high school (a few years ago now scarily enough!) is a volunteer for the RNLI. Very proud of you Rob. Another little fact which may surprise you considering my love of the sea and the RNLI is that I can’t swim, or at least very well!
There is a very touching statue around the side of the RNLI Fraserburgh station, a memorial for crewmen lost at sea. Even more touching is the fact that the crewman figure is looking out to the sea.
Anyway, I carried walking along the harbour. So many trawlers, Peterhead and Fraserburgh registrations and more. I got a photo of two fishermen sorting out the crabs from their catch.
It’s just so inspiring to me. To see all the activity in Peterhead and Fraserburgh. The hard working men and women whether they work on the trawlers, in the processing factories or in fish merchant offices. There is still a strong sense of pride and heritage in what they do, and I feel that in a small way.
Throughout the years, things change. Things progress, whether for the good or the bad. I’ve seen it in Grimsby, where the port is not what it used to be. I’m sure if you go back in time 40 or 50 years, Peterhead and Fraserburgh would be totally different to what it is today.
Still, the fishing industry will always continue. Fishermen will still go out to sea in all weather conditions, sometimes putting their own lives on the line to make sure the catch is in. Skippers will still take their trawlers out with their crew, going to the fishing grounds that have always proved good to them when they’ve been out. There is a wealth, a pure fresh wealth of fish in the seas that they bring in and I’ve seen that first hand. I’ve seen first hand just how much hard work goes in to making sure that the vessels are ready to go out and it can’t help but inspire me.
I always have pride in my fish counter, that’s what my training instilled in me, but after this week away, it’s inspired me to work even harder. From looking after the fish when it comes to my counter, to making sure that the whole fish is prepared well, to making sure that every customer who comes to my counter gets the service and quality they need. Sometimes all a customer will need is reassurance and advice on how to cook fish, there’s nothing stopping me to learn more.
Every step along the line of the fishing industry depends on hard work, team work and attention to detail. From the trawlermen out at sea, to the maintenance of vessels, the way the fish is looked after in market, and then going to processors or direct to customers, the hard work, team work and attention to detail is vital.
It’s no different when the fish arrives in my store. The fish has to be looked after, stored correctly, displayed correctly to ensure quality and safely for the customers, especially where shellfish is concerned. Then if a customer asks for their fish to be prepared for them, that has to be done confidently. Even closing the counter at night, that has to be done correctly to ensure the fish quality, every where cleaned and correct for the next day. Team work and attention to detail is needed and I love it.
There are so many avenues in this industry which I’d love to be a part of. I love researching fish, seasonality and qualities. I love talking to fishermen about their catch and being in the market first hand. I love trying to encourage others to try fish or teach them about fish. Of course I love displaying my fish at work and a knife in my hand prepping my flat fish. So, would I love my own fishmongers? You bet your fish scales I would.
Everywhere I’ve been so far in the UK, from Brixham to Peterhead/Fraserburgh of course Grimsby, there is a sense of pride in all parts of the fishing industry, and I for one am very proud of them.