Life at the end of the road

July 28, 2010

Meeting the Chief

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:03 pm

I really can’t see me finishing this tonight, already it’s 21:45 on Wednesday and I’m pure wrecked. Tuesday, my last day before returning to the good ship Loch Striven saw me rushing round manically trying to get everything ship shape on the croft before the start of my ‘week on’ A task made more difficult by being ‘home alone’ well apart from the wee dug, wifey is still in Glasgow and the boy has been left with friends in the village. Still, I did manage to get all the pigs sorted into fresh fields for the impending next batch of farrowing in two weeks time as well as a mad dash into Portree with a sick hen of my neighbours and to collect half a ton of feed. I also managed to mow the lawn in between showers and dry out the boys tent ready for Belladrum a week on Friday.

I can’t really say that at this moment in time that I’m actually looking forward to it but by the time I’ve finished my 6 remaining bananas I’ll be raring to go and shed bucket loads of tears to Candi Staton singing Elvis Presley’s ‘In the ghetto’ 🙂 What I was looking forward to yesterday and did ease some of the weeks aches and pains away was a good wholemeal organic bath.

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The fresh peaty water that really was that colour before I got into making the perfect companion to a 10 year old Islay number by the name of Laphroaig, though I hasten to add it was from the tap and not the bath 🙂 The peaty malt being an excellent companion/medicine to aid sleeping alone. Not that I needed for as soon as my head hit the pillow long before 22:00 I was out like a light. Just as well because today was pure mental at work.

The Macleod Parliament 2010

The day (Wednesday) I knew was going to be busy as it was the week of the Macleod Parliament   a four yearly event where clan members from all over the world converge to elect new members of their council which represents Macleod’s of Lewis and Raasay ( I think ) from nine different countries. We were well prepared by having two extra crew members for the extra passengers.

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Though one of them was unpaid and only there because I couldn’t find a dog sitter 🙂

After a shaky start to the day which involved a few alarms going off and generators almost shutting down due to blocked sea water filters even before I’d finished my muesli and banana we picked the first wave up at 9:25.

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Sporting flags and accents from the four corners of the globe the first 50 or so with their various tartans waited patiently at the chaos that was Sconser car park.

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To be piped off half an hour later when we arrived at Raasay, accompanied by what I can only guess was a replica of the ‘Fairy flag’ a banner that has mystical powers and has only been unfurled in action twice. Legend has it that on its third use the clan will fail ( I think ) Clan Macleod aficionados will have to forgive me for any inaccuracies but it’s late and my satellite broaband is  pathetic 🙂

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The second wave arrived at 11:30 and there were various talks and walks organized centring on a display at the village hall. Judging by the smiles and banter a good time was had by all as they gradually departed through out the late afternoon and evening.

The line of the chiefs of Lewis died out in 1615 (I think) so the Chiefship has now passed to the line of the Raasay Macleod’s who hold it to this day.

The last clan chief on Raasay departed these shores in 1846 or there about for Tasmania (probably a wise move judging by the weather 🙂 ) but today I had the pleasure of meeting Clan Chieftain John Macleod his descendant, and guess what, he reads the blog, I am truly honoured 🙂

Being a bit of a mongrel with Italian, English and Argentinean genes  and never actually living anywhere where ‘I’m from’  I’ve never really been into the ‘roots’ thing but driving home today past the ruins of Raasay house and Brochel castle, the ancient seats of the clan I can certainly  see the attraction. Perhaps it’s time to look at my family tree, or is it a thicket of shrubs 🙂


My fathers tiny village in Liguria where I spent time as a child certainly goes back to Etruscan (pre Roman) times.

July 26, 2010

Cheers George :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, harbour — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:42 pm

Home at last, It was a fantastic weekend at the Wickerman but there’s nothing quite like being back amongst the mud and pig pooh of home 🙂 The ‘Old Girl’ performed faultlessly on the 700 mile round trip, that’s the 24 year old Land Rover and not my darling wife 🙂 Though I’m sure there are a few motorists that would disagree, especially up some of the rather steep hills that had us crawling up them at less than 30mph, so if you were stuck behind me I’m really sorry and I do try and pull over whenever possible. Seriously, I’ve spent most of my adult life cursing old farts with caravans so I do know what it’s like, my wife says I was born middle aged but at least I never got a caravan until I passed 50 🙂

Anyway we left Dundrennan just after 8:00am, I would have liked to say that it was 8:08am and I was playing 808 State on my CD player but that would have been too much of a coincidence as that’s what happened when we departed Arnish on Wednesday.  Ignoring the satnav we took the back road into Kirkcudbright and saw little traffic right through until Glasgow, arriving at my parents around 18:00, without, I hope, annoying too many motorists.


It was a clam damp evening and the first thing that struck me was the lack of midgies, this particular corner of the west coast is ‘midge heaven’ and there were none, very strange, perhaps they’d all drowned 🙂 A long overdue bath and early night followed by a wee lie in saw us back on Raasay at 11:50 and before long I was at home wishing I’d stayed on Raasay for the gala day. The weekend away may have been mega but so was the pile of washing and all the phone calls and mail waiting for me 😦

The Raasay Gala day

After emptying all the crap out of the caravan, putting all the food in the fridge or freezer, foolishly hanging the tent on the washing line and washing all the bed linen I set about pig related stuff. A good friend or three had kindly fed our herd of Tamworth’s and Old spot pigs but now I had to do all the ark cleaning and change their bedding. A task not helped by the pouring rain that had arrived not long after hanging out the tent 😦

Whilst not actually at the event that was supposed to celebrate the opening of our lovely new pier that is a mere 17 months behind schedule, I was fortunate enough to have a freelance photographer on hand in the form of George Rankine from Eyre who sent me these excellent pictures of the day. A day that by all accounts was a great success, though I’m sure it would have been an even bigger success had the ferry actually been in the harbour.


The early morning rain faded away and gave way to a fine day that just got better and better.


No gala day would be complete without a ‘tug o war’,



hmmm, that rope looks familiar 🙂


and the Raasay firemen won the competition, no doubt helped by the elephant on the end 🙂


Not sure who won the run but it certainly looked like fun.


And as for the ‘Fergie pull’, I though it was two tractors pulling against each other 🙂


The successful end of this years Gala day was brought to an end by Duncan Koek on the pipes and we’re all looking forward to a bigger and better event next year. One that will have the Loch Striven in attendance and maybe even a finished Raasay House.

Queenie couldn’t make it

The other major event that yours truly missed whilst giving it big licks at the Wickerman was our ‘berthing trials’. Berthing trials being a fancy name for lets just make sure the ferry can actually fit in the pier, harbour and slipway OK 🙂


And here she is, the good ship Loch Striven on her maiden voyage into the new harbour, I gotta say I was pretty miffed at missing that on Sunday 25th July.



Not only did I miss the berthing trials but so did the Queen,


who sailed past 15 minuets earlier on board the Hebridean Princess (ex Calmac Columba),


apparently the Portree harbour master called up the vessel asking if she wanted to pop in and try out the new harbour but the captain declined 🙂

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