Life at the end of the road

March 24, 2009

A night at the opera

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:48 pm

It’s Tuesday night now but pressure of work 🙂 and a dodgy satellite dish has upset my rhythm so I left you after a roast chicken dinner on Sunday I think. The dinner as I’ve mentioned was spectacular and I can safely say we’ll be getting more for the pot as it really is no great hardship to prepare one. Monday was one of those typical March days with a cold north wind that can bring both summer and winter within moments of each other. Find a sheltered south facing wall when the sun’s out and you’d swear it was June, leave that spot in one of the frequent hail showers and you’d swear it was January.

Good progress

When I left home at 7:15 to take my boys pal south for the 8:00am ferry it was nice enough and I came back home via the ‘low road’ past

http://www.isleofraasayhotel.co.uk/ to get a good look at the new harbour developement.

Harbour wall 22/3/09

Harbour wall 22/3/09

I was well impressed with what I saw from the passing place just before the hotel, I’ve not been here for 5 or 6 days and the harbour wall seems to have doubled in length.

Harbour wall 2

Harbour wall 2

I would have loved to have gone down and had a look but I had a very important appointment to keep, the Raasay primary school were performing in an opera along with Carbost  and Struan Primary’s at Portree high school. It was being put on in conjunction with the http://www.scottishopera.org.uk/schools The opera ‘1719’ tells in gaelic, spanish and english the story of the Jacobite uprising and I was, despite not being a great opera fan really looking forward to it. However first I had to go and clean out some pigs, have a bath then drive to Portree to collect feed, fencing materials, shopping and  all before it kicked off at 2:30 PM. The last opera I saw was Bizet’s Carmen in Manchester about 40 years ago and whilst not being very impressd at the time I can still remember some of the songs so it must have left some impression. This opera was however far better (well it would be with my son in it 🙂 ) and the pupils from all three schools performed magnifcently, which when you consider that the morning of the performance was the first time they’d actually all been together in the same room is praise indeed.  The Raasay primary looked very fierce as the Jacobites, the Hanovarians played mainly by Struan  looked very grand in their red coats and the mainly Carbost Spaniards looked, well they looked (and sounded) very spanish! The press were there as was Andy Mitchel from http://www.cuillinfm.co.uk/home.htm and I’m sure I wasn’t the only parent with a tear in their eye! Once the show was over and most of the parents had bought fantastic prints from http://www.juicypear.org/section267582.html they headed off with their young starlets and we headed for the ferry and home to feed the pigs. The 11 mile drive from the ferry to ‘the end of the road’ being like Siberia one minuet

Siberia

Siberia

and the Serengeti the next

Serengeti

Serengeti

We saw three groups of deer on the way home but my favourite was this wee chap at Brochel who was too small to jump the fence!

Young stag

Young stag

And that was about it for Monday, we had chicken soup for dinner followed by a glass or two of red and an early night.

Tuesday

Is always a busy day I’m either at home rushing round trying to get everything finished before I start work on the ferry for a week or I’m on the Loch Striven rushing round high as a kite getting everything  ready for my relief and today was no exception though the constant rain did drive me in for a couple of hours on the phone and lap top. The main task of the day being to convert the pile of wood sat on the roof of my Land Rover into a pig proof fence around our apple and pear trees.

Laying out the wood

Laying out the wood

We bought about half a dozen fruit trees around this time last year from

http://www.skyeshrubs.co.uk/

who specialize in plants for peaty soil and coastal environments  and they all produced fruit last summer, wifey’s the gardener but I do remember Conference pears, Bramley and Katy apples all doing well. Anyway I planted them in the only deer proof spot outside of the garden, only trouble being that we quite often put weaners in there for a while so I wanted to ‘pig proof’ the roots of the trees by putting another fence up inside the deer fence.

Almost finished

Almost finished

I did manage to get most of it finished before I got rained off and ran out of wood and I’ve just realized that this is the section of fence that doesn’t actually have any fruit trees in it! but it was a very cr4ppy day! and now I’m off to bed!

it allways happens at the weekend!

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 12:25 pm

It’s Tuesday now and I’ve not been on here for a while due mainly to problems with my dish or things connected to it.

Satellite broadband dish

Satellite broadband dish

My ISP http://www.avanti-communications.com/

only provides a helpline up untill 8:00pm Monday to Friday which is of course when my system seems to work just fine. It did exactly the same last weekend and left me toiling with the mobile phone dongle thingy which only works when it’s hanging out of our bedroom window! The drop in temperature, change of wind to a north westerly direction and frequent hail showers of late meant that not even an anorak like myself was going to sit on the bed plonking away on this for 2 or 3 hours every night.

Chicken Tonight

Of course having a memory like a hen and not writing anything down for the last three days has left me somewhat hazey on the exact sequence of events since I last posted on Saturday night. Believe it or not after 20 years on and off of trying to live ‘the good life’ I’ve never actually eaten one of our chickens, I’ve pulled the neck of one or two poorly ones but never done the whole ‘kill it cook it eat it thing’ So after a few visits to that mine of information on all things crofty that is  http://stonehead.wordpress.com/ a quick Google and speaking to friends I picked my cockeral, did the deed and hung it up in the shed on Saturday night ready for plucking, preparing and cooking for Sunday dinner.

The almost gale force north westerly that greeted me on Sunday morning meant perfect roasting weather as our ovens are electric and powered by the wind 🙂 OK they’ll work without the wind but it just means that our generator will start and me being stingy would rather it didn’t! We did have a minor problem that needed attending to first however, the last few times we’d used the oven the inverter that converts the battery DC voltage into AC had cut out. Now our off grid system of wind, hydro, solar and diesel genny is far more reliable the the national grid in the highlands. In the three and a half years our system has been up and running our total power cuts can be measured in minuets rather than hours and the last time we had a problem was three years ago when mice chewed the insulation on a cable where it went through a dry stone wall. That time it was difficult to trace because it tripped randomly, this time it was purely related to the oven. So the first job was to pull out the oven and have a look.

220309-small

The cooker is gas hob with electric grill, warming oven, and two ovens, the main ovens are 2.5kw each so if we use them both at the same time the genny will start to assist the inverter no matter how windy it is so we rarely do. With the oven out I checked all the connections on the back which seemed OK then had a look at the isolation switch in the top left hand corner of the picture and bingo a loose connection. So hopefully our inverter would not cut out in the middle of cooking dinner leaving me to have to run the 50 yards or so in my slippers to the generator shed to reset it!

The 'power house'

The 'power house'

Bottom left behind a glass screen is the 1000ah 48v battery bank, the blue light above it are the meters and charger from the hydro turbine, the white thing is the 4.5kw inverter/charger and the grey box is the wind turbine charge controller.

Community service

With that sorted it was time to drag the boys out for some hard labour in the form of filling in pot holes in the drive so we hitched up the trailer to the quad and headed to the quarry at Tarbert for some bottoming which we then mixed in with some gravel off the road.

Treacherous on a motor bike

Treacherous on a motor bike

This is a particularly bad bit at the  bottom of a steep hill just as you come in sight of Loch Arnish, with the http://calumsroad.info/ coming off next year we’re expecting quite a few motor bikes up for a ‘recce’ this summer so thought we’d help out the council by removing it 🙂 One chap already came off his BMW this year ( twice )!

calums road 034 by oonyack

calums road 043 by oonyack

And many thank’s to Johnny Mcmaster for letting me use these photo’s yet again 🙂 Well I’m asuming he’s going to let me I haven’t actually asked him yet!

Once the road was cleaned and my drive repaired the whole lot of us set off in the Land Rover with the trailer to cut bedding at Screapadale, since the forrest was cut down there it’s left some serious clumps of rushes that are perfect for bedding, it also amuses the children to go ‘off road’ now and then

Sunday

Sunday

Monday!

Monday!

And I just put that in to give you an idea of how quickly the weather can change here and I don’t just mean daily, yesterday (M0nday) it was blue sky one minuet and hail showers the next!

Anyway back to Sunday, with a trailer load of bedding that would do the week I set about my cockerel, first dunking it in very hot water to apparently make it easier, though I think I’ll skip that bit next time. Next wee hung it up by the legs and just pulled out the feathers against the grain, gently and just a few at a time ( there’s plenty of good descriptions on the internet ) it really was quite easy, the worst bit being the mass of feathers so do not ( as I at first tried ) do it in the kitchen! Wifey cooked it without any seasoning, garlic or stuffing in the ordinary oven as the fan oven kept tripping the inverter ( so the fault must lie within the oven itself ) and it was like no other chicken I’ve tasted. First of all was the smell, I have to say it did not smell appetizing, secondly was the colour which was dark on the small breast and even darker on the huge legs. The texture was firm but not chewey and the taste was divine as was the gravy that was made with the giblets, which makes me wonder what happens to all the battery farm chicken giblets these days ( I dread to think )

And that’s it for now it’s stopped raining and I’ve some fencing to do!


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