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Nature secured

Yesterday's tea was herring, soused herring. And according to the song it's "tatties 'n herring". So we had tatties and, in a sophisticated move, some side salad. That's a perfect, healthy and tasty meal. And the fish came from a local company in Buckie.

Thursday will mark an important transition. The fish & chips shop we patronise, in our country location that's about seven miles away in Whitehills, has re-opened. Like many other retail locations that rely on footfall, it was closed and has now re-modelled its layout. Their Facebook page reports that they now have a oneway system which ensures proper social distancing.

They have always taken telephone orders for collection. And we plan to lift our phone in the not too distant future. Being well connected to our fishing community, they have a much longer list of fish options than any other such shop I have visited.

I guess we may just go for our favourite - breaded lemon sole with only one portion of chips shared between the two of us. The fish is the star. But zero chips? Absolutely no. They just have to go together. The vinegar will also be coming back out of our cupboard where it has been staring out, unused, in a silent rebuke for a couple of months now.

For many years the country's consumption of fish has been static. There is a levy, the "seafish levy", which has for many years gathered up money from our industry into a UK fund to promote fish. All well and good but for one thing. It does not focus on fish caught by our catchers, local fish, and who are paying the levy but promotes all fish. And quite a proportion of what we consume is imported frozen. "Our" chippie uses a lot of local fish.

The Scottish Seafood Association represents about 70 members and has been doing its best to raise the profile of our fish and the essential processing industry that produces our fine products. For a long time, it was almost a threat to some in school that if they didn't knuckle down and focus on their studies, they would end up in "the fish".

Now that betrays ignorance about how much a skilled worker in "the fish" can earn, but also ignores that a wide range of professional skills that is required in today's industry.

A "herring quine's" money box sits in the bedroom and contains cufflinks, collar stiffeners and other such male accessories. It is not a fancy piece of workmanship. It is what was once an everyday item, now a poignant reminder of how things used to be done—something used by one of my spouse's relatives who used to follow the herring around our coasts.

Today's industry is very different and can look for future success. And for many, an industry within which to develop good, long term careers.

Just as "our" chippy has adapted in response to the current pandemic, other businesses are doing so. We welcome the sound of a "toot" at our gate, as another delivery has been made to our table positioned next to our gate. A necessary part of our maintaining social distancing.

Many businesses that previously relied on walk-in trade are taking telephone orders and arranging deliveries. And customers, who for some time may have been using supermarket deliveries, are becoming used to the idea that our local shops can do it too. Not using national delivery chains, they don't exist for that purpose in rural areas, but through their own initiatives.

I suspect customers quite like this. As we continue with adaptations, a new normal is emerging, a permanent shift, a re-discovery of the role of local retail. Moving our focus away from simply re-building our high streets as replicas of those of fifty years ago, to a new sustainable model which supports diversity and choice.

One delivery this week, admittedly not from a local supplier, driven as I have previously written by my seeing a pine-martin in the garden, was of a "nature camera". It's now firmly attached to a pole in the back garden with a large capacity memory card ready to record nature's movements out the back.

Later today, I look forward to seeing what our first night's surveillance has caught. As with most gadgets nowadays, there is a long list of settings for how the camera responds to its surroundings. Infrared detectors and lights for the night. Movement sensors to switch it into recording mode. Choices about how long it should film for. A choice about how long it should pause for before resuming its scan.

All a bit complicated. So I have limited myself to loading the batteries and memory card into the camera and setting the date and time into its memory. Otherwise, it has the settings that came out of the box. I hope the manufacture's defaults are good enough for our environment. And I trust the £70 spent proves a good investment.

Most of us with most of our electronics go with the flow settings wise. But some manufacturers leave dangerous gaps in the settings that go out by default with their devices.

When they have to communicate through WiFi or Bluetooth, they will have to have passwords to do so. But too many have weak security that can mean it's trivially easy for a passing stranger, in the electronic world that stranger could be anywhere in the world, to abstract our password and abuse it.

So if you read about and act on only one part of a new piece of equipment's capability, it should be to study how you may reset security defaults to something that cannot be easily guessed.

A little pain today may avoid a lot of grief tomorrow.

Almost a motto for social distancing.

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