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Day one, or as we call it, The Hurricane.

There are many stories to be told about the making of MONSTERHUNTER, the highs, the lows, the tears and the joy.


Luckily for a lot of the time we were accompanied by a second film unit. Their job was to try and capture some of the behind the scenes madness.
Now that the actual ten minute film is out in the public domain some of the edited highlights that they recorded are being released. This is a glimpse into day one of filming.

But first, I’d like to give you an idea as to just how I was feeling on that morning.
We had spent the previous three days scouting out the locations, Alex the director in the passenger seat, Josh the camera genius in the back, and me guiding the two of them around. It was during these first few days that we started to get to know each other, and to form a bond, a bond built on humour.

This was the easy bit, visiting all my favourite spots hidden corners that might just fit what they were looking for, revisiting some of the most beautiful parts of the Highlands. As it turned out all the chosen locations can be found on the south side of the Loch, which is something that pleases me greatly – this is the part of the Loch that I love the most and also where I have made my home for nearly three decades.

Anyway, soon enough it was time to get the cameras out. Day one of filming was to be a pre dawn rendezvous up on the Struie viewpoint – a spectacular vantage point where the road reaches its highest, most exposed  crest on the way to Fort Augustus, a fantastic vista for a dawn shot of me cycling over a mountain… In theory.

So here I was, up on the viewpoint at the scheduled meeting time of 6am, still dark outside and blowing a gale… Unfortunately it turned out that I was early, by over an hour. Whilst sitting in my car, waiting for everyone else to arrive I had plenty of time to write down a few thoughts, and observations. Here is my note to myself written in my car, whilst I waited, in the dark, on top of a mountain, in a bloody hurricane…..


Well it must be four days since this mad crew arrived I guess, they turned up last Monday, it’s now 6.27 am on Friday.

I am currently sat here, in the dark, waiting. I’ve been up here half an hour already , the rest of the crew, are on the other side of Inverness, about an hours drive away…. Running late.

It’s pitch black outside, my heater in the car hasn’t worked for over a year, which reminds me I really must get that fixed, and we are currently experiencing the tail end of hurricane (don’t know the name)… Callum?

It would be hard to open my car door right now, let alone try to stand up out there, and I have absolutely no wish to attempt either. The rain’s not actually landing its sort of shooting straight past me, and at its angle it will probably not touch the mountainside for at least the next half mile.

It is ferocious! 

This is not a good place to be!

The reason I am up here at this ungodly hour, and why the bloomin’ film crew should be too, is because this is supposed to be the first morning of filming. The idea is a beautiful long shot of me riding down the hill on a vintage butchers bike, as the sun just peaks over the horizon. Filmed majestically by a drone.

The reality is nobody’s turned up, I can’t get out of the car and the weather is set to get much worse, rapidly. 

Bit of luck they will take one look at this horrendous situation , and reschedule this cycling shot, this can’t be the image that they are after can it? Only a lunatic would be out there on a pushbike in this nightmare weather!

The next shot scheduled for after this is me in chest waders, fly fishing in a fast flowing river. Try standing up! let alone fishing! who goes fishing in a hurricane… Oh wait, a lunatic.

Somebody has really not thought this through.And it wasn’t me, a crew this size should have a person who’s soul purpose is to look at a flippin’ weather forecast.

Update…. I’ve just phoned Alex the director whose now officially an hour late, to tell him that I don’t feel particularly safe even siting in my car up here. His response?….. “that’s what we want Steve, that’s what we want”.


A short while later the crew started arriving, I took out my phone and recorded this piece of video…

Not content with that, I then went on to record another short piece of video, (I would have edited them together but my laptop has just given up and died).

The second camera crew were covering events up on that hilltop as well – here’s what they managed to capture. It begins to show what images Alex had in mind…. The hellish life of a monster hunter.

Even though the experience was extremely unpleasant at the time, I can now see the magic that Alex was trying to convey, the sheer horror of what my life must be like.

As it turned out we would be back up at that predawn viewpoint three more times before Alex was finally happy with all the shots he got, which is why in the final MONSTERHUNTER film the weather in some of the cycling scenes looks quite lovely. The opening shot of me pushing the butchers bike up the road is probably the worst that morning got, the close-up immediately following it gives some clue as to how miserable I was feeling.

And if Alex ever talks about the hell that was that mountain top in that hurricane, bear this in mind, he was lying in the back of a slow moving Land rover, boot open, directing josh on the camera, who was also in the relative comfort of the back of that car… Bear that in mind when you ponder the expression on my face.

Bloody luxury!

MONSTERHUNTER

RSA Films Director Alexander Farrell Discovers the ‘Monster Hunter’

At first glance this film looks like it might be just another portrait of a nessie hunter. You would be forgiven for believing that your about to watch yet another short film about a tragic wifeless freak who has dedicated the last twenty eight years, (and counting) to trying to solve the loch Ness mystery. Another attempt at capturing the essence of why someone would wish to devote their life to this adventure…. The next short film in a long line of short films that have told the same tale. You would be forgiven for thinking this, but you would be wrong. 
Mind you, that’s what I believed too….at the start. 
I believed we were going to make a portrait.  For the first couple of days of filming I was under the impression that this was going to be another retelling of my story, only this time filmed in the most cinematic of styles.   I was wrong. Pretty soon it dawned on me that we were making something quite different. A charecature. A larger than life version of me, an idealised image, a fictional MONSTERHUNTER. By the time I realised that I was in fact acting, it was too late. Within a very short time I was in it right up to my neck, locked in, locked on. One of the biggest rolla coaster rides that I have ever accidentally found myself on…. Ever.  
One day I might write a book about my life’s adventures, if I do then I will need to dedicate at least a chapter to telling the story behind how we made this film, the emotional highs and the tear enducing lows that have been the hallmark of everything that has happened since I responded positively to Alexander  J Farrell s  first email,  suffice for now to say that I had no idea the film would end up looking so beautiful, nor that the journey to this point would encapsulate such energy, passion and at times utter madness. 
It’s a charecature. I play the roll of a larger than life version of myself. In reality I do not climb 175 foot sheer cliff faces just to get a better view, I do not rise out of the Loch like a frozen Neptune, And I don’t actually do all that much cycling. 
I was 55 when I responded positively to Alexs first email, I had no expectations that such a whirlwind of intensity was just over the horizon heading my way, never for one moment had I thought to wonder what’s that coming over the hill? Is it a nutcase with a camera? 
It is a charecature, I am playing the part of  Alexs vision of a MONSTERHUNTER.  I went to Belgium to record the voice over, it was only then that Alex presented me with the script, some of the wording I struggle a bit to identify with, but the overall message of ‘it’s your life, follow your heart’  is a sentiment that I have felt to be true even as far back as my original video diary “Desperately Seeking Nessie” (made for the BBC, still available on YouTube) , I am delighted that this film contains that same belief. 
This was one of the most unexpected, intense, euphoric adventures that I have ever had. We started filming a year ago,  it’s taken all this time to come to fruition, now at last I can share it. 
I am so proud of what we achieved, what Alex achieved, what the whole crack team managed to achieve. We all know how bloody crazy it was, and that memory will stay with us forever. 
Embrace the unpredictable I say, because one day we too will be old…  think of all the stories that we could have told. 

Eels in Loch Ness, and how that feels.

Six weeks ago I was told by a film crew all the details of professor Gemmells DNA analysis of Loch Ness.

On that day I signed a ‘non disclosure contract’ barring me from talking about what I knew until after the press conference.

The press conference was this morning, I was there, and my vocal embargo was lifted.

I can now share with you a short piece that I wrote back then, a month and a half ago. It reflects how I felt when I learnt of what was to be announced.

I make no apology for my trigger reaction swearing…. . 

Well this is certainly turning into a day full of surprises. 

First unusual occurrence was my alarm clock going off at precisely eight AM. That very rarely happens, normally I allow myself the luxury of waking when my body and mind tell me it’s time to wake. I tend to find that what my mind and body like most is to wake gently sometime around nine or ten. Wake too early and the whole day can be ruined, I loose concentration by mid afternoon, and by early evening I just want to lie down. Better that I just obey the decisions my mind and body make for me. 

The reason for the change in my routine today was that I had a film crew from Discovery channel arriving at 9AM. Obviously they wouldn’t arrive until nearer to 10AM, being a film crew they universally plan to be late, but I need quite a run up at being fully awake nowadays, so their tardyness is fine…Forced start at 8am,coffee followed by another coffee, should be capable of stringing together short sentences by ten. 


That was unusual event number one.

Second unexpected thing happened at about 8.45am. i noticed the announcer on the radio saying today’s date….my ears pricked up, 

’18th july’

Hang on, 18th July rings a bell, wasn’t that the day I arrived here to begin this great adventure 28 years ago? Luckily for me I had well and truly documented my arrival in my original video diary, “desperately seeking nessie” pulling up in my van, applying the handbrake, turning to camera,…..

“And I am home for the first time”

I remembered that in my very first piece to camera as Britain’s one and only full time hunter of nessie I had clearly stated the date and even the time as I stood on the shore at Fort augustus, elated at it being the first hour of the first day of what is now slowly turning into my life long hunt. 

“18th July, 9am in the morning…”

Today is precisely 28 years later, 9am is the exact same time as when I arrived. Pure chance that I happened to catch the date on the news, I could easily have not noticed until a day or two later, which is what often happens with my anniversary .

Not this time, this time I am alerted to this exact time and place at exactly the right time and place.  


True to form the film crew turned up three quarters of an hour later than arranged, late but not impressively late. They are here to make a documentary about this new Zealand professor Gemmells findings. He’s the guy that has taken hundreds of water samples from throughout the loch and has promised to identify all the living creatures that currently inhabit the loch, just by analysing his water samples, identifying each animal by finding their DNA in his buckets…. Clever. 

He’s been drip feeding the media ever since he embarked upon this mission, he’s still holding back on announceing his results until September, partly due to him desperately seeking to get a TV channel to document his work.

My frustration is mostly that he’s been creating column inches in the press by repeatedly saying, 

“if they think there’s a dinosaur in loch Ness then I will find dinosaurs dna, which is a banner headline that the media obviously love. 
He’s had some success, at least in getting a film crew on board, because look, here comes Discovery Channel.

Tom the director introduces himself, 

“Hi I’m Tom….. The director , I don’t know how much you know about Prof gennells work and his findings…. “

I look suitably non commital hoping that by acting like I might already know all the results, Tom might give me a tiny insight into the findings, 

” so, I don’t know if you know but he’s dismissed dinosaurs completely…. “

” well I could have told him that and saved him the trouble of transporting all those buckets of water back to New Zealand “

“…. And catfish….. (damn! That’s what I had my money on)……. And sturgeon… (horray)” 

“but he’s found evidence for………

“Drum roll……

Bit more drum roll…..

Really build up the anticipation…… …….. 

“eels”

Boom!

“f###off what?! “

Gut trigger reaction there, sorry about the swearing, no wait, I’m not sorry about my swearing at all, I’ve dedicated 28 years and forty six minutes of my life to this mystery and your telling me this? ” eels?…… Is that his discovery? “

” yes, eels, they could be giant eels I s’pose “

” are you kidding me? Any child that ever cast a fishing rod in here could tell you there’s bloody eels in here” (I’m the one swearing in case your losing track of who’s speaking, 

“f’in eels? “

” f’in eels”

that time it was Tom the director speaking, but I think he only swore out of solidarity with my obvious disappointment. 

“#### off! ” that was me, maybe a bit gratuitous, maybe, but I was in the moment, you had to be there.


That conversation happened precisely 46 minutes into my 29th year. 
So here I am now, 28 years and six hours on from when I first arrived way back in the last century, wide eyed and raring to go, a young lad, ironically then aged 28, looking for adventure, wanting with all my heart to solve one of the world’s last great mysteries , and now some new Zealand boffin tells me that I’ve been searching for eels all this time?… Eels! 

I knew for sure that there are eels in loch Ness back in 1975. Back when, on a family boating holiday my brother caught one whilst fishing from the old pier at inverfaragaig, horrible wriggly thing that even after we both cut its head off, would still continue to wryth for what seemed like ages. 

That experience told me conclusively that there are Eels in loch Ness… I was 12.

A twelve year old knows that there are Eels in loch Ness. Unkillable eels yes, but their no monsters. That’s not a revelation, that’s not a discovery, that is merely stating the bleedin obvious. That’s like saying

“we can now prove, catagorically that there are fish in loch Ness.”

Case closed pack up your van, put away your binoculars and head off back wherever it was you came from, mystery solved, nothing but Eels to see here. I think not. 

No dinosaurs, fine, I could have told him that. 

No sturgeon? I agree. 

Catfish? Hmm, OK I will take your word for that. 

What about the spaceship on the bottom of the Loch theory? That leaves no DNA. What about the gazillions of people that are willing to swear on their great aunt betsies life that what they saw was the back of a large, living creature coursing through the loch? Are you telling them that all they saw was an eel?

Are you telling the chief inspector of Inverness police, a lifelong fisherman, that what he and his pal watched one evening back in nineteen oatcake for 45 minutes, moving along the surface of the Loch was an eel?…. OK, he dead now so you won’t suffer his wrath. But Eels? he would have kicked your arse if you tried to palm him off with that explanation.

Seals? Did you mean seals?

we get seals in the loch, not every year, maybe once every three or four years one will come up the river Ness chasing after the salmon that are returning to their breeding grounds, but we do get seals in the loch.

They get disorientated once they enter the loch. Due to the massive volume of water in here they find it incredibly hard, if not impossible to find their way back to the head of the river Ness and from there back down to the sea. Instead they remain in here, living on a healthy diet of fresh salmon for maybe a couple of months. I spot them, the boys that work on the fish farm spot them, and the people that crew the various tour boats will likely spot them. 

I’ve always been amazed that when we know there is a seal in the loch tourists don’t come rushing along to me saying, 

“hah, look I photographed your monster, it’s a flipping seal”

People don’t spot these large and very inquisitive creatures, which surprises me.

In fact I’ve filmed a seal as far inland as fort augustus, 37 miles from salt water, the film is permanently used by the loch Ness exhibition centre in Drumnadrochit to demonstrate one of the possible false alarms for Nessie sightings, so ironically I have contributed a piece of evidence to this mystery. I’ve photographed other seals in here over the years, but they never hang around for long. 

A couple of months spent happily taking one bite out of every salmon that passes by, does tend to bring them some unwanted attention.

They tend to position themselves at the mouth of one of the seven rivers that flow into loch Ness, great life, no worries, fish literally swimming up to them. 

Unbeknownst to them the atmosphere is decidedly different further up river, where after a short while the keepers and Gillies who lease out the fishing on these salmon rivers, especially the Morriston, notice that something has changed. people pay a fair few pounds for a days fishing on that river, they soon notice when people stop catching fish, and they know where to look first for a culprit

Unsurprisingly the happy seal generally finds himself unceremoniously shot in the head by a keen eyed water bailiff, who, due to the seal never having obtained a licence to fish for salmon, consider them to be ‘marauders’ in their words.  

But, and here’s my big but,

they don’t live in the loch, and chances are fancy pants professor gemmell will not be able to find any DNa of one in all his buckets of water. 

So….. does this mean that my various photos and bits of film of seals in the loch are fake? 

If Gemmell hasn’t got its DNA then it cant exist in loch ness? And the thing that I hate the most about this revelation is that the media will have a feeding frenzy. No dinosaur Dna no dinosaur, no dinosaur no Nessie. 


Twenty eight years to the day I get this bomb shell.

Well I’m not packing up just yet, let’s wait and see what happens .

I look at this whole mystery, and all the various possible explanations like I am watching a horse race, the grand national springs to mind….

Imagine that every horse represents a different possible explanation, a different theory.

The starting gun is fired, the horses set off…..

Out in front are the four favourites,

Plesiasaurs

Sturgeon

Wels catfish

And eels,

Suddenly, out of nowhere (new Zealand ) professor Niel Gemmell steps out in front of the pack….

He aims , he fires, he shoots three if the favourites. Down goes the plesiasaur, the catfish collides into him, the sturgeon careers into the fence.

For those three the race is over.

Gemmell falls to his knees, arms outstretched, he has achieved what he set out to do, he will go down in history as the bloke that tried DNA analysis at loch ness….

But he hasn’t considered all the other horses, the other theories, the rank outsiders and the frankly implausible….

They trample right over the top of him and the race charges on.

Which theory crosses the finish line as the final explanation is currently anyones guess, but an explanation will be found one day, too many honest people have seen something for there to be nothing.

So I will sit and watch, content in my contemplation of this wonderful mystery.

Watch and wait to see what happens next. Because if I have learnt one thing in nearly three decades it is this….

Loch ness will relentlessly keep throwing up the most wonderful of unexpected twists and turns in the unpredictable adventure that it is.

A ‘log’ical explanation.

One possible explanation of truly unremarkable photograph.

This summer it’s hardly seemed that a week has gone by without there being yet another eminently debatable photo claiming to be Nessie reported in the national press.

There is a simple reason for this, the journalists involved are not trying to convince the world that we indeed do have large unidentified animals swimming about in this particular Scottish loch, not at all. Their motivation is to fill column inches.
Whether the picture is good or bad they do not care, so long as someone is prepared to be quoted as saying that they believe they have photographed Nessie, than that’s good enough for some of the national press.

Print and be damned.

In some ways it’s a good thing, it keeps this mystery in the public eye. It’s certainly great for the papers to have such an easy story to fill those miles of pages, but ultimately I believe it only does damage to this subject because week in, week out anyone who thinks the whole thing is just dreamt up to fuel a multi million pound tourism industry, looks at the latest offering and laughs.

And I can’t blame them.

The things I’ve seen lately preporting to be Nessie range from a boat wake, to a boat, wind on the water and even mud on a window. Ultimately it makes us all look stupid for falling for such nonsense.

Luckily, occasionally there comes along a photo which actually does warrant some investigation, such as young Charlotte Robinson’s image that I reported on here recently.

However, more often than not it is not worthy of much consideration.

Take the latest, a photograph taken on Dores Beach, right along from my van on Wednesday September 5th by a Dr Dipak Ram.

www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/loch-ness-monster-caught-camera-13243009

When I first saw the article on line my heart sank,
“here we go again’.
At worst nothing but a wave, at best a piece of wood. Only a few feet from the beach, it held no interest to me, certainly not the back of any animal that I’ve been waiting nearly three decades to photograph.

This weekend I looked again at the picture, and pondered whether it could be a known object?

Not just any object, specifically the piece of driftwood that I picked up two days after the photo was taken on Friday 7th, from what I estimate to be the exact same spot on the beach,as the original picture was taken from.

…. This piece of wood.

So today I donned my chest waders, retrieved the suspect log from my wood pile, and set it afloat.
Here’s the third picture I snapped of it.

edf

Now bear in mind one or two details about this log…. when I found it it was sodden, it had obviously been submerged for a long time in the loch, very heavy, and black with water and mould.
It then spent ten days on my log pile drying out.
So now when I put it in the loch again, firstly it looks much lighter in colour, and secondly it floats much higher in the water. It now weighs half what it did when I found it.

Also i must admit that my log is a great deal closer to the shore than whatever is in the original image.
That is not so much in the interests of accuracy, as in the interests of not losing my newly found piece of winter firewood just in the name of research.

This photo as well as showing the location where I found the log, also shows clearly that driftwood is in very short supply on this beach this autumn.

Here’s a detail of one end of it to give some idea of the amount of algae on it even after so long drying.

Note the colour change of the log after only being back in the water for less than ten minutes, substantially darker.
And contrary to popular belief, no flippers, but she does seem to have sprouted little legs!

I am not saying that this is definitely what is in the original photo, I am just saying it could be.

….. THE NEXT DAY….

Hmmmm,
There’s been a bit of a disaster.
Late last night, in the driving rain, I took my log down to the shore, and heaved it back into the loch.
I did this in the name of research, to demonstrate that when sodden with water this log is pretty much jet black.

The disaster this morning is that my log has vanished.
I have walked the length of the beach in search of it, but no sign.
The way the wind and rain was coming in last night I was sure it would be lying on the water line, black as a black thing, heavy as stone.

But nope, nothing.

I can only assume that it has sunk back down to the loch bed.

Divers tell me that just 50 feet off of the beach there is a band of tangled driftwood on the bottom, looking to all the world like an elephant graveyard. Driftwood pushed into Dores by the prevailing wind gets trapped in this corner of the Loch. Once the wind that has bought it here subsides the wood has nowhere to go. It remains floating in the bay, but ultimately when it becomes too waterlogged it just sinks to the bottom. There it remains until a winter storm of sufficient strength stirs it from its resting place and heaves it up onto Dores Beach.
Black as black, heavy as stone.

My log was one of them.

I will recognise it when next it makes landfall, until then I guess I will have to just wait here for it.

Of course there is another possibility, someone else got to it this morning before I did, and had it away for their fire, that’s possible.

Anyway, here’s a photo of how innocent Loch Ness is looking this morning.

Bored? Not yet.

 

Last week I had an email from the German cruise company AIDA, asking if I would like to come on a boat trip on Loch Ness this Wednesday (tomorrow) with some of their VIP guests. To maybe give some kind of a talk, or just to mingle and meet.

I thought about it for a few days, but I really couldn’t see how it would work well for them, the reality being that if this boat trip is their once in a lifetime Loch Ness experience, then they really don’t want to spend their precious time on the water listening to my tales.

By the end of the week I emailed them back saying thanks but no thanks. Explaining my reservations.

Chancing my luck a wee bit, and knowing that this would never happen, I added a suggestion that maybe the best way to make it work would be to fly me to the port that they dock at one stop before loch Ness, welcome me on board, and then from there I could give a presentation about the Loch and my career hunting for Nessie, during the time spent at sea before arriving at Invergordon. Adding that this might be a good idea worth thinking about for next year.

Nice plan Steve, but they will never go for that you and I would be forgiven for thinking.

So, that email was sent late Friday afternoon. Stone me if two hours later they didn’t message back asking if I would fancy flying from Inverness to Belfast on Monday, joining the ship for two days, giving a talk, and then when tomorrow we land at Invergordon joining them for the afore mentioned boat ride up Loch Ness!
….. Paid of course!

Didn’t take me long to say “yes please, what a great idea”, silly not to seize the opportunity to have a mini cruise round the top of Scotland, who knows, maybe even spot some whales during my ‘deck time’, bit of fine dining, and back in Inverness on Wednesday afternoon in time for the tapas Bar happy hour.

So here I am.
Sat at the blunt end of the boat, German beer in hand, trying to spot whales. So far I’ve only managed a pod of about 15 dolphins, and two spouts of water that may or may not have been whale related.

So, to cut a long story short, in answer to people who occasionally ask,
No I don’t get bored.

Porpoise on the starboard bow! There she blows!

Footnote……

I would have willingly done the whole trip just for the spectacular views of the northern tip of the Isle of Skye. Here’s my favourite photo what I took…..

 

Charlotte Robinsons Nessie photo.

I had a visit here at Dores yesterday morning from the Robinson family from Leeds.
Turns out that last Friday, (17/8/18), they arrived at Loch Ness for a week long holiday staying on the shore of Loch Ness.
Barely had they unpacked and settled in when young Charlotte, aged 12, came rushing in saying that she had just taken a photo of the Loch Ness Monster.
At first her parents just laughed, but when they took a closer look they reolised that there was indeed what appeared to be a neck in the image.
The next day they showed it to a local, and were duly sent alone to Dores to show me.

Photo at Loch Ness taken by Charlotte Robinson..see Nessie story…collect pic Peter Jolly

It’s quite interesting as it happens because for the first time in quite a considerable while there is actually a solid object in the water, in the picture. Something that hasn’t been the case with nessie photos lately. Waves, boatwakes and blobs of mud on windows being what has counted as the “latest amazing photo of Nessie”. The Internet being the perfect spawning ground for the publication of everything and anything claiming to be a picture of the Loch Ness monster.
It may turn out that Charlotte’s picture has a mundane explanation,  it certainly looks roughly similar in size and shape to a seal. Seals being infrequent visitors to the loch . It’s not unknown for a seal to be seen 35 miles inland at Fort Augustus,  the one that I filmed in 1991 which is in my Video Diary being a good example….. so good an example infact that for the last 20 years that bit of film has been used by the Official Loch Ness Exhibition as proof that seals do enter the loch. This happens relatively rarely though, maybe once every four or five years, and I haven’t heard any reliable accounts of one being seen for at least two or three years.
The thing that makes it exciting is that as yet we do not know for sure what young Charlotte has photographed, so until further notice it will remain what I consider to be the best photograph in recent years of something unidentified in Loch Ness.
Well done Charlotte. (On day one of your holiday) well done.
Here is just one of the many articles online today discribing Charlotte’s sighting….

Tourism in the Highlands of Scotland, and how local communities could benefit.

Recently I was asked to contribute to an article being written by the Inverness Courier, about whether the Highlands of Scotland will be able to cope with our increased visitor numbers. They used some, but not all of the views that I sent them…. fair enough.
Today a different chunk of what I had sent was used by the Highland news, newspaper.
On both occasions the part that I felt was most important in my original text was left out, that being how we should be focusing on creating employment  in remote parts of the north by promoting AirBnB style accommodation,  and how to finance this through low interest loans from HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise ).
So for the record I would like to share here my full response to the original request….. here’s what I wrote…..
There is obviously an annual problem of bed shortages in the high season, the same headlines fill the front page year on year. I would like to see more encouragement given to local residents to explore offering “AirBnB” type accommodation, rather than just getting another hotel chain to build another charmless hotel. That way the money would remain within the local communities that are feeling the pressure the most. To that end HIE could consider offering low interest loans to people living on the NC500 specifically for buying cabins/huts/statics to rent out , thus creating employment.
 
I would also like to see a ‘tourist tax’ of a couple of pounds per night put on a bed, so long as the money was ring fenced for the local economy. It’s frankly ridiculous to suggest that a visitor , who is already forking out between £150-200 for a bed for the night would not come to the Highlands if we added a £2 tax on their bill.
 
It is true to say that we have created a monster in the Highlands with the success of our marketing, and I really don’t believe that interest from abroad in things like loch ness And the NC500 has peaked yet.
Very soon the jeremy Clarkson Grand Tour episode where the presenters ‘do’ the NC500 will be aired worldwide, and when it is we will see a palpable spike in visitor numbers, way more than the convoys of super cars and camper vans that we are already seeing. Its not going to be pretty, its going to get considerably busier, and when that happens we are going to have to be fit for it, the roads are going to have to be driveable, and the toilets are going to have to be open….and clean.
Now is the long awaited ‘Boom-time’, the gold rush of tourists, it’s no use getting the infrastructure in place over the next ten years, we need to start looking like a top international tourist destination right away, because whether we are ready or not, whether you like it or not, they are coming, and one of the quickest ways to fast track the funding of road repairs, toilets and litter clearing is by introducing a very small ‘tourist tax’ on every bed.
I forgot to mention that if they want considerably more visitor numbers they should hurry up and Change the name of the airport from ‘Inverness airport’ to
‘Inverness and Loch Ness international airport”,
but that’s another subject….. or, is it?

How three people perceive the same event so very differently. …

Three different realities of one Sunday morning.

An entertaining series of events happened this Sunday morning.
I had a prearranged appointment with a film crew from the Travel Channel, to film an interview for an upcoming episode of “mysteries in the museum “. The start time was to be 9.30am.
If they had turned up and commenced their work at that time then they would actually have been the very first film crew that I have ever had the pleasure of working with to be true to their plan. So I knew that 9.30am was only a holding time, a possible start point that in reality would never be when they intend to commence their filming.
Iam now totally happy with this actuality, and so was not at all put out when they rolled up at 10.30am, immediately explaining that before they were to start with me they would like to film a few establishing shots of the beach and the loch.
“Great, take your time, whenever your ready iam here”.

Whilst the crew of seven , plus two drivers set about rigging up their two professional looking cameras I continued to potter about my van in the usual manner.
It was a mighty windy morning, the loch was transformed from its often sedate self into a sea of white horses and spray, not what I would have hoped for the Travel Channel to witness, but that’s not my department, the loch will be as the loch wants to be, take it or leave it.
As I continued to potter a french man in a wetsuit poked his head in my already open van door….
“Excuse me misour, we wish to kite surf here , is it okay for us to do this?”
“Of course, feel free, the middle of the beach will give you easiest access to the water, less sharp rocks, steeper angle into the water, you should be fine half way along the beach.”
I had two reasons for offering this good advice, firstly it would be a much better experience for them not to have to stagger into the water immediately in front of my van ,where the angle is very shallow, and the rocks are indeed nightmarish on your feet, but also in the back of my mind I thought , well I doubt my film crew will appreciate you getting in their way.
There were two french kite surfers, they looked to me like father and son, but I will never know because I never got to speak to them again.
if I had the opportunity to speak to them I would have congratulated them on such a spectacular display of aerobatics.

I will never know if whilst they prepared their kit in the car park they became aware of the cameras, tripods, sound booms and associated paraphernalia that disgorged out of the backs of two blacked out people carriers… or whether it was pure coincidence that right in front of me, and my van, they preformed some of the most impressive acrobatics that I can remember seeing. They may well have felt egged on by the cameras ,now set up low on the shore, filming across the turbulent water. They could certainly see the camera crew, and as a passersby from the village commented to me, as we both watched on in jaw dropping admiration ,
…”is the camera crew with them?”
“No, their with me”
I like to think that the two french men put on the show of their lifetime, with just a little eye towards the apparently attentive film crew.

ozedf

I was enthralled, I had my camera out, and took their display as a golden opportunity to practice photographing fast moving objects over water, an opportunity that in nearly three decades of watching this body of water I have rarely had. I can’t remember seeing kite surfers here before, and certainly I would have remembered if anyone ever reached the ridiculous Heights that these two reached!

An hour later, myself and my Travel Channel film crew had moved inside my van to film the interview.
Whilst the sound man miked me up, the lighting guy masked out some of the harsher pools of light coming in through my windows, and after the director had found happy positions for both the cameramen, all of which was carried out in an extremely relaxed, matter of fact way….unsurprising really considering the amount of occasions when they have set up for just such a shot in the past, theirs being a very long running show…apparently. I casually posed a question to the director,
“So, did you get any shots of that amazing display out there earlier?”
No! Absolutely not, they were in the way, they don’t quite fit with the image we are looking for for loch ness”

Why do I think of these chain of events as three different perspectives of the same morning?
Because I had an overwhelming feeling, different to either of theirs, that both activities, the kite surfers and the film crew, had been laid on for my mild entertainment.

Welcome to my new website, and my first real blog.

Welcome to my brand new, all singing, all dancing website.

For many years I have had a website, first was “Haveyouseenityet@hotmail.co.uk.”,
And later this turned into “Nessiehunter.com”.

My frustration has always been not being able to directly interact with it, but instead having to go through someone else.
For many years now my brother ,Martin, has taken on the thankless task of trying to act upon my instructions, to some degree this was successful, but of late everything had ground to a halt.

As of today I have full control of my brand new website, which has been painstakingly created over the last few weeks by Evan Couture of Avionroe. I certainly can’t thank Evan enough for all his creativity and guidance.

So, my hope is that through the blog section of this site, and the photo gallery, and videos, I can grow into passing on all my new thoughts and findings here, rather than other places like Facebook where any posts are swamped in a sea of random unrelated topics.

If you are here and reading this then you are interested enough to maybe hear what iam saying….hopefully.

Anyway, I was handed the keys to this site this afternoon, and I suppose really this blog post is a bit of a test flight as to whether I understood Evans instructions or not.
….when I have something interesting to share I will be back.

All the best.
Steve