Life at the end of the road

January 20, 2017

Here comes the sun :-)

Friday the 20th of January and the days really are getting longer, in the ten days I’ve been working a noticeable extra hour and twelve minutes have been added to the hours of daylight. Admittedly there’s been one or two days that you wouldn’t believe it but not today.

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Nope, today was a ‘pure peach’. The last quarter of the setting moon disappearing behind Glamaig as the sun rose above Scalpay. Sure it’s not been all roses, we’ve had some proper January weather along the way too.

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The fish farmers at Sconser getting a bit of a battering here as we left Sconser at 9:25 last Wednesday. Dunno what’s going on round at Marine Harvest’s Moll fish farm just now but they’ve certainly ‘putting the hours in’ of late with all manner of boats large and small working around there until well after dark.

The snow and ice hasn’t been too much of an issue this shift with the resident gritter lorry  returning at last and a new contractor who takes over from Andrew Gillies. Andrew will be a ‘hard act to follow’, his sterling efforts over the past thirty years have ensured my wife and I have got into work on many a poor day. The flashing lights and yellow lorry being just about the only vehicle I ever meet on my 11 mile journey into work at 6:30. Can’t imagine I’ll be meeting Nairn in thirty years time as I’ll probably be in a wooden box but here’s wishing him good luck in the new job and looking forward to getting the ‘craic’ some frosty morn Smile

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The Black Cuilin’s looking decidedly un black

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the Storr and Ben Tianavaig on the same day.



The neat terraces of Inverarish village, Raasay’s capital ‘city’ built to accommodate iron ore miners a hundred years ago it’s not your regular west coast architecture. I guess it’s more akin to the villages around mines in the central belt than the crofting communities of the Highlands and Islands. Still, they are solidly built houses and a big step from the ‘black houses’ that would have been common at the time.


When the north wind doth blow

The snow came on the back of a good hash of north wind that was by no means ‘ferry stopping’ but it did provide the customers and their cars with an early morning wash.

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Annoying really because this issue was predicted and even catered for in the original harbour plans. The problem being the ground swell passing unrestricted through the small gap between the Arduish and Goat Island. The gap is only there above ‘half tide’ and once the tide gets below that level the gap closes and the swell diminishes, it is not ‘rocket science’. Trouble is the highest tides are always around the same time of day, morning and evening, again it’s not ‘rocket science’ this has been happening since time immemorial.

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Indeed, even the architects foresaw it, sadly the council in their infinite wisdom did not Sad smile

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Just like they don’t have the sense to grit the ferry slip!!! taken just before we all went to push the customers cars up the hill!!!

Trucks galore

I can’t say that we’ve been that busy on the ferry, indeed, were it not for the distillery traffic we’d have been pretty quiet but we’ve certainly had a good few commercials of late.

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Eyre Plant’s Scania ‘batcher’ heading for the for the distillery, hopefully Ross will be at Sonas shortly with a load for my new turbine base.


Another Eyre Plant Scania, this time with aggregate for the distillery, this one has already been to Sonas. Ally brought 16ton of the stuff up for the concrete slab at Sonas.


J & T Morrison’s MAN delivering building blocks, again to R&B Distillers project at the Borrowdale House

With the promise  of a good few full time and permanent jobs this is going to be a great ‘shot in the arm’ for Raasay.

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So we can all put the old still away now Smile Picture courtesy of Gairloch Heritage Museum which is most definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. You may even find some relics from Sonas there Smile

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The fisheries research vessel MRV Alba na Mara passes by Raasay House and Raasay’s only fishing boat the MV Lustre sits peacefully on her mooring at Clachan.

The new quad

Apart from that, well, not a lot really, I guess everyone is still recovering from New Year and awaiting the half term rush. The middle of February can be an awesome time up here, many is the holiday I’ve had on the West Coast during the English ‘half term’ and gone home with a sun tan!! OK, it was only once but it was on Skye in around 1984 Smile Me and a mate of mine were salvaging an ex MFV called Poseidon off Fladda Chuain at the time and we both went home with a tan. Trouble was, I was officially ‘on the sick’ so had to say I’d been under a sun lamp when I went back to work. I was ‘signed off’ cos of a problem with my leg so had to walk around with a nut and bolt in my shoe to remind me to limp Smile I kid you not!!!

Then of course there’s the new quad


a 2006 Honda TRX500 Foreman with only 1035 miles on the clock. Sure I could have got a much newer one for the same price but this one has only 400 hours on it, one careful owner and is like new. Not only that but it’s the earlier air cooled version and has no power steering, both of which add complication, weight and expense to a quad. Some 80% of all engine breakdowns are related to water cooling. Think about it, head gaskets, water pumps, radiators all things that fail with great regularity. Sure I’d never touch an air cooled car in the town, but an air cooled quad on the West Coast of Scotland, no contest.

Of course it was 400 miles away near Clitheroe in Lancashire but I have a pal who went to check it out and build a custom pallet. With a bit of luck it’ll be here next week ready for work and I’ll make supreme effort to look after it Smile

January 11, 2017

One hundred plus!!!

Filed under: daily doings, weather — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:28 pm

Well, it’s been a pretty breezy day today, that’s for sure, the first ‘full’ day at work turned out to be a short one as we ‘pulled the plug’ at 17:00 on account of the wind. To be honest I was surprised we ran so long, pretty much every other Cal Mac ferry had tied up long before we did. It was even worse up at our end of the island with a gust of 100MPH during the night and one of 108MPH at some point in the day.


It’s been a pretty steady 50MPH all day here at Sonas but it was much more squally at Sconser where we seldom had a straight forward approach to the slipway today. The west north west wind arriving in great big chunks every time the ferry turned into Loch Sligachan. So much so that most times the skipper had to hold off in the loch until they’d passed safely by, trouble is you just can’t see them coming in the dark, hence the early finish.

Still, this is a great direction of wind for the Proven/Kingspan KW3 which just soaks it all up and turns it into valuable electricity for our house.


The steady 50MPH wind with its gusts to 100 plus had taken our energy production to a record breaking 101kWh in a 23 hour period. It’ll be more than that now but there’s no way I’m going outside now to check it Smile Our previous best being 90kWh in August, on what must have been on an unusually windy and sunny day. Those are annual production figures above, 11658kWh for the year, which at the average UK unit cost of 15.4p per kWh is £1795.33 Smile Of course I don’t actually pay or get paid anything for it and if I did have to buy the stuff then I’d certainly not use that much. However it’s a hobby and passion as well as keeping us in better than grid quality and reliable power. Just wait until this time next year when I have some figures for the 6kW Proven/Kingspan that’ll be going in the ‘ole.

What am I going to do with it all

The thing is, this new turbine is presenting me with a bit of a dilemma, what to do with the power? I know from a friend who has the same turbine that it is, as you would expect, going to produce around double the energy. So, on a day like today I’m gonna have approaching 200kWh of energy to use which is around five times what we need to run the house. However, on a day like the 7th it’s only going to push my wind energy production from 1kWh to 3kWh Sad smile Sure my battery bank can take care of the shortfall for a couple of days but you get my drift, to increase my ‘energy independence’ over the year by a few days means there are going to be many, many more when I’ve excess. Now this is a great position to be in but I do have to ensure that I have ample means of either using it or dumping it and at the moment that is very much ‘work in progress’. Hot tub, EV or hybrid car, air conditioning are all schemes I’ve considered so, just ‘watch this space’ Smile

The turbine base

Well, that’s the ‘ole pretty much ready for the concrete, sadly it didn’t happen this shift and I was hoping to accurately measure the volume but that never came to pass. Figuring my best chance of actually getting an exact volume on an irregular ‘ole filled with steel would be to fill it with water to the brim them pump it out at a known speed in litres/min. To that end I made up a 90mm to 32mm adapter and stuck it in the burn behind the house. I installed a small dam here years ago with a 90mm pipe through it to measure the water flow to asses its viability for a small hydro turbine. Just another one of my retirement plans like the Range Rover and taking it easy Smile

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That seemed to go quite well so we turned our attention to laying a duct for the cable.

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Luckily the cable was already laid for most of the way as it was the 6mm square supply to the caravan which I’d fortuitously left in place.

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Sadly, apart from finishing the shuttering and putting a small drain through it, this is a far as we got.

Gone to a good home

The sad demise of my trusty Honda TRX 350 kinda left a lump in my throat the whole family owed that Honda a huge debt of gratitude. My son had grown up driving it, it had been part of all my crazy renewable energy projects and had carried us home drunk from Torran after many a boozy sesh. Consequently I was loathe to send it to the knackers yard or leave it rotting in a corner of the croft. However during my search for a replacement I came across a wanted add on Gumtree.


Dead or alive
Something needing money spent on
Winter project
Ideally honda big red or foreman
Kawasaki 4×4 klf
Mail me with any pictures an info
Cash waiting

Well, I emailed Neil and said “have I got a winter project for you” Smile I also sent him a link to the blog post and said “the only good thing on it is the rear tyres”. To my amazement this did not put Neil off and he made me on offer, which I turned down cos it was too much Smile Not only that I said I’d deliver to Kintail as my mum’s not far from there and it would give my son and I a good excuse to visit, not that a devoted son should need one Smile

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True to form the indestructible Honda fired up first time and I just reversed it straight into his van, he was mightily impressed with both the quad and the ‘wee dug’ who leapt aboard  as soon as the starter was pressed. Neil handed me a wad of cash and a fine single malt, I then gave him forty quid back. Sure I could have got much more money for it but it owes me sweet FA, I’ve had seven or so years hard labour out of it and was given the thing in the first place.

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The bottle I’ve passed onto Bill and the cash, well, I’ll find a good home for that, ‘what comes around goes around’ as they say Smile

Once we’d left a very happy Neil we went onto spend a good few hours at me Mammy’s doing we jobs.


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The ‘Five sisters of Kintail’

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and the fishing boat Te Bheag in Loch Duich.

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Sunset, Glamaig and the Sound of Raasay on the way home.

Of course, as we had an empty trailer I filled it with old sheets of corrugated iron from the old roof on me Mums house.

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The mushroom farm

Truth be know, it was the ‘mushroom farm’ that prevented me finishing the turbine base. This corrugated iron sheeting was a bit of a bonus and one of my things on the ‘to do’ list was just about to get ticked off.

When I built the ‘solar powered hen shed’ a few years ago I made a serious error, I painted the OSB with gloss paint to protect it from the weather. Now this was fine for a couple of years but gradually the water, driven by the gale force winds has found its way through the paint.

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The resulting dampness on the inside has turned the OSB into a fabulous mushroom farm. The plan being to clad the outside with the old corrugated sheets from my mum’s house.

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They kinda look a bit tatty and rusty but the rust is usually only on the last 6” or so and can be easily cut off.


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Trust me, when it’s finished and painted it’ll look lovely.


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I did actually get the whole side done before Monday was out but it was pitch black by the time I’d finished.

DIY gritting

So that was it for the ‘rest period’, I finished work in 2016 and started back on a fine Tuesday evening. The forecast was carp for today with snow predicted so I set off early and did some DIY gritting on the way to work and the way back.

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The council had at least left some decent salt piles at the side of the road after my son’s wee incident last year .

However, I need not have bothered, for just two hours ago I saw the gritter’s flashing yellow beacons at the end of the road Smile 


Of course this inevitably means that it will not now snow or freeze!!!

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