Frazzled, that just about sums up my nerves at the moment, despite getting in early last night I was too wrecked to post, in fact I went to bed for a couple of hours shattered. It was only 18:30 and I hadn’t actually done a great deal in the grand scale of things but this weather is grinding me down. OK, I know that some people get it regular and cope no sweat, I also appreciate that it’s been much worse elsewhere but we’re 10 miles down a single track with little chance of assistance if anything goes pear shaped. So when I awoke yesterday to 2 or 3 inches of snow on the threshold my heart sank. We’re no strangers to being cut off in the winter, indeed one year wife and child were housebound for over a week when the gritter could not get through. However just at the moment sitting at Arnish and waiting for the ‘big thaw’ is not an option. Wifey’s car is stuck at the south end of the island and whilst the gritter has now been fixed it could not make it past Glame for fear of getting stuck, a very real fear I might add.
So it was with a heavy heart that I ventured forth to do the feeding yesterday, if there was two inches here it would be much worse at Glame.
Wee Bee and her little blackbird that has become a regular guest at the dining table had no such worries and were grateful of the extra rations dished out to fight the cold. Pigs fed and Jamie lea’s teats checked for the impending farrowing I set off south with wife and child. Whilst the boy could have been excused school and wifey could have been forgiven for not keeping her appointment in Kyleakin I really needed to get into Portree for feed.
Leaving the house I was pleased to see, that despite the snow on the croft the road itself was black and clear so my spirits lifted and retrieving the Daihatsu from the village began to look like a possibility.
A good hash of north wind had built up a fair swell but the tide was still low enough not to cause problems on the slip and we boarded without getting our tyres wet.
Once on Skye however it became apparent that we’d got off lightly, there was considerably more snow between Sligachan and Glen Varragill than there was on Raasay and the sky did not look good.
Once in Portree it was straight to Harbro for feed, though I left it at 17 bags rather than the usual 25 because of the conditions. A little weight is good for traction but too much makes the front end light. With the Land Rover comfortably weighted and a whole heap of tinned tomatoes, mince and rice for the school coffee day I returned down an even whiter A87 to Sconser for the 11:25 and to my dismay the snow began falling on Raasay also.
I don’t like Mondays
One of the reasons that I stopped fishing for velvet crab was Monday, I would go out everyday on my own lifting creels for these angry little crabs.
At the end of every day I’d put them into ‘store creels’ and deposit them back in the sea to await Monday, the only day that the Spanish lorries would collect them. They didn’t like the wind, they didn’t like the cold they didn’t like the heat, they didn’t like fresh water and would die on you at the drop of a hat. Every Monday they had to be lifted from the sea, sorted by size, the dead (around 10%) removed and packed into wooden boxes 10Kg a box (though you only got paid for 9Kg 😦 ) They then had to be taken to Portree by boat, a seven mile journey across the sound of Raasay and if you missed the lorry that was it, your whole weeks work down the toilet and no wage. You could keep them another week but then you’d loose at least 20% extra, or I could land them by road and ferry from the north end of Raasay, but that involved hauling three or four hundred kilos up a cliff or 75Kg a time by quad from Port Arnish. Landing them by road involved more time out of the water and consequently more mortalities so was not my preferred option. So every Friday I’d start worrying and listening to the shipping forecast, the coastguard, the BBC and anyone else that could foretell the future, I’d start smoking, drinking and losing sleep 😦
I friggin’ hated Mondays and could never get this tune out of my head 🙂 OK, the song is about a wholly different and disturbing incident which seems to have become part of American life these days http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenda_Ann_Spencer but I suppose that’s one of the casualties of ‘the right to bear arms’ and a country that sports more gun shops than gas stations. I know it’s not the gun but the person that pulls the trigger but I was in Colorado pre Columbine. I’m a fan of firearms myself but there’s something seriously wrong when you can walk into a supermarket and load up a trolley with ammunition which is what I did. No 5hit, I filled a trolley up with 9mm auto hand gun rounds, 7.62mm AK47 rounds, .44 Magnum ammo and several hundred .22 bullets and paid for it by credit card. No passport, no ID, just a sign on the end of the isle proclaiming ‘hand gun ammunition will not be sold to minors’ It’s no wonder more people die in Denver on a Friday night from gunshot wounds than the whole of western Europe 😦 And no, I’m not ‘anti American’, I was there for a month and loved it and the people, I just think that the bit I saw of it was awash with guns 🙂
Anyway, sorry for that distraction but I thought that my ‘Monday blues’ were over with until recently, now Monday is the only day that http://www.munrodingwall.co.uk/ or just about anywhere else will take pigs for slaughter. Not only that but this is the last Monday they’ll take them this year 😦 So with customers eagerly awaiting their Christmas pork and me with four extra mouths to feed I’m starting to panic, smoke and drink 😦 Luckily we’ve only one bottle of wine in the house and I’ve no tobacco 🙂
The secret ingredient
I would quite happily stayed in bed last night after an epic trip two more trips up ‘Calum’s road’ in the snow,
one in daylight at 13:00 which was bearable and one in the dark three hours later which was hellish due to continual precipitation. However wifey and I had grub to prepare for today’s event. She had to make a chicken curry and I a chilli.
The secret of which is cocoa, two kilos of mince, five onions, four tins toms, four tins kidney beans, a couple of teaspoons of chilli, six large cloves of garlic, two table spoons of Marigold stock, olive oil, pepper and two large table spoons of cocoa. Well obviously that’s not just for two people but you get the gist 🙂
The big day out
As soon as the chilli was made I went back to bed only to arise to yet more snow and a forecast of freezing conditions, all plans of taking pigs to Dingwall were now flushed down the toilet 😦
In fact it looked like all plans for the coffee day, as far as we were concerned would be joining them 😦 It also seemed like we’d be eating chilli and curry for the foreseeable future 😦 At least it did in wifey’s eyes, however we decided to give it a go anyway so I dropped the Land Rover tyre pressures down to 15psi and after feeding the pigs
with my willing helpers
we decided to give it a go.
With both the centre and rear differentials locked for most of the way we made it without incident, as did most of Raasay.
There was much clearing of snow to be done at the school, the ‘digger challenge’ had to be cancelled as did the car wash but as usual there was an amazing turnout.
Faces got painted, penguins sold tickets and the whole community, as ever pulled together in the face of adversity to make a memorable day and boost school funds. There was loads of home baking, fantastic food and great prizes from many local businesses including a stone of prawns from Raasay’s only fishing boat Lustre,
tools from Jewson’s in Portree and Broadford, a weekend on Rona from Bill Cowie http://www.isleofrona.com/, dog food from Harbro, fish voucher from Bruchie, a weekend break from http://www.royalhighlandhotel.co.uk/, a fishing rod from Island Cycles in Portree and much more. The acting head, teacher, staff and cook all gave up their valuable time as did all of the parent council, all in all it was, as usual brilliant day.
And whilst it really was a great day I can’t help but think of Daphne, Chrissie, Helen, Jessie Anne and Bella who have all recently left us, and have in previous years provided so much valuable input. Sorry if that sounds a little morbid but in my own little bubble at the north end it’s the only time I see everyone together.
So with some remnants of chilli, curry and macaroni we all headed home in the same tracks that we’d made a few hours earlier, there might not have been any fresh snow but it was certainly ‘crispy’ underfoot :-(