Life at the end of the road

February 10, 2011

Extremely spotty :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:06 pm

I know it’s been a while but I’ve not had the enthusiasm or time of late for switching on the laptop and reading emails, let alone this blogging carry on. A mountain of paperwork  created by the return of my books from the accountant has left me with little time for creative thought or writing 🙂 That would be a first hey, anyway I’ve been in bed before 21:00 most nights since I last plonked away on here.

In truth my extra work only amounts to a few forms to fill in some invoices to send out and of course bills to pay but this whole paperwork thing has never been my thing and I put it off as long as possible 😦 That is after I’ve been through the ignoring and worrying stages 🙂 I know, if I did it right away it would be much better but at 54 I’m hardly likely to change the habit of a lifetime 🙂

Anyway it’s Thursday evening now and buoyed up by the arrival of ten seriously spotty piglets to Shona this morning and posting off some invoices I feel fit to blog again. I have to say that Shona’s farrowing came as a bit of a surprise both in time and numbers, sure enough she was due and had been removed from the herd on Wednesday morning. However she did not really seem that big or even to be filling with milk for a pig so advanced, indeed until the last few days we were seriously beginning to doubt that she was pregnant judging by the late Ginger’s last performances.

Even when I came home from work yesterday evening and found that she had milk I was not convinced for she hadn’t been doing any ‘nesting’ and was stood outside in the pouring rain hanging around the gate trying to get back in with the other pigs. This morning however I went into the barn at 6:00am to discover ten of the spottiest piglets that I’ve ever seen 🙂

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Also in the barn was around 20m of yellow hose pipe that Shona had dragged in along with some rushes to add to the straw that was already there.

Beano day 🙂

It was obvious, even at that time of the day that it was going to be a ‘peach of a day’ and I set off to work in a good mood only to be depressed by the Today program on Radio 4 🙂 Though my mood lifted again as the sun rose on a day more fitting of April than February.

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The clam diving boat ‘Atlantia’ was busy working the south going flood tide just west of Goat Island during the morning.


This was one of our favourite spots for clam diving and the one where we had our biggest fishing ever, I can’t remember what it was but it was something like over a thousand for the days work and they were all big ones 🙂 The tide fair rips through here so you had to work the banks in the middle at slack water but the channels between were best done on the incoming tide. The flood tide runs south into shallower ground and is always weaker, we did work this ground on the ebb many times but I usually got swept into the muddy depths towards North Bay 😦

 counting clams 2

I wonder if the boy will ever follow in his fathers footsteps 🙂

The highlight of Thursday is of course the WHFP (West Highland Free press) or ‘Broadford Beano’ as it is affectionately known.


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Which this week was rightly full of indignation at the latest causalities in the present round of government induced cuts. Now, in my little bubble at the north end of Raasay quite allot passes me by and I take little interest in current affairs. This may seem a little ostrich like or even arrogant but most of what the media tells us anyway is cr4p and I’ve always found that a study of history is far more likely to bring you up to speed with the reason for current conflict than any pap put out by ‘News International’.

Now I’m not saying that there should not be cuts and I certainly don’t have the answer but getting rid of classroom assistants is not it. I do not know about other schools but the Raasay primary school would simply not function without an assistant as there is only one full time teacher for the 18 pupils. Even as it is now the parents often help out with transport to and from the ferry but what would happen if one of the pupils got injured or even the teacher for that matter. Now don’t just say it’s that ‘what if cr4p’ of which there is plenty, for only two days ago the school cleaner had to be rushed to hospital because she got  her finger caught in a door that was blown by the wind. Now that could just as easily been the teacher or my son. Only last year one of the pupils broke his arm at school so it’s not like it’s an isolated incident.

Hopefully the strength of opinion reported in the paper will help sway the councillors decision but if not perhaps this online petition may help 

It beggars belief

As if the possible loss of teaching assistants was not enough to make my Mediterranean blood boil this comment by some clown in the MCA takes the biscuit.

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“Local knowledge not important”, now I could understand that kind of pap coming out of the mouth a politician or ‘spin doctor’ but this was from someone in the Marine and Coastguard Agency, the ‘safe ships and clean seas’ people that rightly treat maritime safety as of the utmost priority. Not only that but his comment was backed up by some vice admiral, it’s no friggin wonder that ‘Britannia no longer rules the waves’, I despair. OK, if your a Tornado pilot or ship with an EPIRB or DSC but what if you’re a ten year old boy who’s dad ahs just fallen off a cliff and you’ve dialled 999 on the mobile. It’s not impossible, it’s not even unlikely, these kind of incidents happen all the time, husband falls overboard during  the night and drowns whist his wife clings onto him then radios local coastguard with only a vague description of her position. Family out for walk on cliff top, daughter falls in sea, dad goes in after her and does not come back. boy phones LOCAL coastguard who asks him which way he turned when he got to Tintagel castle!!! These kind of incidents happen throughout the summer, how can someone in Aberdeen or Falmouth tell the difference between Arnish on Lewis and Arnish on Raasay 😦

Anyway enough of that or I may blow a gasket, back to the rest of my day, well after thanking ex clam diver Chris for using his cartoon (sorry I never asked) and of course for the picture from the WHFP (which I’d link to if they had a website 🙂 )

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The day at work was taken up with checking the five battery banks that supply both main engines, emergency lighting, VHFs and of course my favourite piece of equipment the sewage tank compressor 😦

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And if you think that that’s allot of batteries our new hybrid ferry that will be arriving in 2013 has 70tons of them on board 😦

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There was also the monthly routine of ‘through deck’ bilge valves to be operated.

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There was more,


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including a visit from Buster, the father of Molly’s pups,


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who are now, at six weeks are  getting big enough to escape from the kitchen 🙂

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Then when I finally got home I discovered an extra piglet 🙂



  1. Thanks Paul,

    This blog of yours has turned into the highlight of my day! Excellent writing, insightful view and great photos.


    Enjoy those piglets, they’ll soon be big enough for bacon.


    Comment by Ian — February 10, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

    • Just in case you’re another Ian welcome 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2011 @ 6:23 am

  2. I have to completely agree with you on the coastguard issue, I think something like 80 or 90% of calls to the coastguard are from non-seafaring folk who don’t know left from right (i.e. me).

    I’m not sure if you’ve heard the other comments where they said that they couldn’t guarantee to answer all 999 calls from the two new super-centres. Madness.

    Comment by Tony Giles — February 11, 2011 @ 12:32 am

  3. another great read to help me become wide awake although this morn has been a lay in.The idea of cutting back the coastguard service still make my blood boil even though i don’t in scotland anymore and too think people are being paid to sit on the their fat butts down south and come up up with such crazy schemes ,is unbelievable–britain ,by the sound of things is becoming almost as bad as france or italy:loved the photo of we buster-hes a handsome little chap: Well done Shona on producing such a lovely bunch of piglets–can picture you’re face when you found the last one😆

    Comment by frogsaint — February 11, 2011 @ 8:07 am

    • If only we were as ‘bad’ as France or Italy Carol then I’d be much happier, there they have all the same cr4p that Brussels spew out but just ignore it 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

  4. Hi Paul.
    Great to see the piglets are settling down to what comes natural. I’d like to ask about the deer that you are able to photograph. Do they roam around the area freely or are they fenced in and do they cause any problems?

    Comment by Polite Scouser — February 11, 2011 @ 8:57 am

    • Hi Polite Scouser,

      the deer go pretty much where they please and can often be seen in peoples gardens 😦 It took me about 15 years to keep them out of mine and the veg patch has a six foot deer fence around it 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

  5. Morning Paul,

    The comment about local knowledge from the clown at the MCA absolutely infuriated me, it was clearly made by a bureaucrat who has probably never even been to sea let alone get into difficulty on it. Ask any serving or ex member of the emergency services about the importance of local knowledge and they will say it saves lives without doubt.

    Nice to see the clam divers again, does the HSE enforce the diving at work regs as rigidly up there as they do down south? It always puzzled me why i could work as a commercial diver in a British Overseas Territory, sometimes doing 4 dives a day (deep, shallow, deep, shallow with minimum surface intervals) without having to comply with DWRs at all, but to work in a 3 metre deep tank in an aquarium in Brighton you need your part 4 and a current HSE medical….


    Comment by Rich — February 11, 2011 @ 9:27 am

    • The less said about that particular subject the better Rich 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

  6. I have signed the petition, Paul, with a bit of a mild rant about why cutting these jobs is just not in our children’s interests. It’s not just the safety issue in case someone gets hurt, but a huge learning issue. These children are of all ages, and will all have a ‘personalised’ (a buzz-word from the last government) curriculum and teaching tailored to their needs. The success of Raasay School speaks volumes for the dedication and care of its teachers, but never in its history will there ever have been just one teacher. Without another adult the teacher will be run ragged trying, say, to support emergent reading or writing with a 4-5 year old at the some time as ensuring that 11 year olds’ learning is good enough as a basis for moving on to Portree. Though there can be whole class activities with all ages taking part, a lot will be individual or small group work – and no matter how well-behaved or bright the kids are, they need to be with an adult to guide, support and praise them, and to help them to know what to do to improve. These cuts are happening all over the country as a result of this government’s attempts to reduce the country’s deficit, but they are hitting the most needy. In Lancashire we have a number of small schools, some as small as Raasay School, and teachers in these are having to face up to cuts of all sorts. The larger schools, too, with perhaps 30 secondary age pupils, are facing fewer classroom assistants to help with beahviour and learning. I despair – just glad that I have retired from working for the Local Authority and so don’t have to fight my corner any more – 40 years of fighting government idiocy is a long time. I can now rant publicly!

    On a happier note – well done Shona – at least she was inside when she farrowed!



    Comment by Sue — February 11, 2011 @ 9:31 am

  7. Paul,
    Why don’t you get this published as ‘Life At The End of The Road – Crofting in the 21st Century’ or summat. A Scottish publisher like Birlinn would die for it – and it would monetize your effort. Why not talk to Roger (Hutchinson). he knows the ropes of that game.

    Comment by Richard Barrett — February 11, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    • Hi Richard,

      I have had a couple of book offers but I’m going to wait until I retire 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

  8. Paul,
    I concur with everything you have to say about the level of idiocy in our so called Government. There are so many rules and regulations and the punishment for breaking them is now so draconian that there is no room for local initiative. All decisions are kicked up stairs. It has only got worse since we put another layer of Government on by abdicating our rights to Brussels. You can’t micromanage a small island when you have got your head in the clouds and have no contact with reality. I have been in that nest of vipers the E.U. parliament several times for conferences and I can tell you it stinks and is rotten to the core. Let me give you a good example. I live in a beautiful little hamlet on the boarder with Germany. There are 17 house clustered round a small crossroad. It has all the amenities that I need for a good life a pub a chip shop a post box and beautiful little chapel, that is if I ever need saving. Last summer the powers that be in the middle of last year gave the place a face lift we didn’t have footpaths now we have footpaths they resurfaced all the roads and landscaped it. I have to be honest and say they made a very beautiful job. I do have one grouse and left shaking my head when I talked too the clerk of the works. I came out of my house one day to see a group of workmen laying rows of white stones with a profile in among the red stones they were laying for the path and the road. On asking what they were for he said that they were for a crossing for the blind. I then said that I thought it was a waste of time as there were no blind in the village apart from my father-in-law who is only partially blind he has lived in the village all his life and anyway and has no problem getting around, and any blind person would most likely break his neck tripping over the raised profile on the bricks anyway.He just shrugged his shoulders. Anyway as a motor mechanic, I found this little video that you might find interesting



    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — February 11, 2011 @ 11:14 am

    • Hi Dave,

      and I thought that it was only the UK and Germany that actually took any notice of Brussels 🙂 I couldn’t watch all the vid on my crappy satellite ‘broadband’ 😦 perhaps I can try again at 5:00am 🙂 but it did look suspiciously like the old Commer TS3 engine of my youth The metal vid went in the bin I’m afraid, don’t want to panic the punters 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

  9. Paul
    With 70 tonne of batteries you’d be lucky to carry any precious cargo. Looks to be more like 8.6 t……..lithium Ion No maintenance youll be glad to hear.

    Comment by John Salton — February 11, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

    • Hi John,

      pleased to here it the thought of going round that lot with a hydrometer would have been causing my ‘back to back’ nightmares 🙂

      63 amps on the pier by the way, just hope I got the decimal point in the right place this time 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

  10. Hi Paul,those piglets are great.The various suggested cutbacks for your neck of the woods do defy logic.65 years of to and fro government have left their mark,so many things now drawing from the public purse, are the right ones being cut? Maybe the soon to be trialled pig spot levy and the straining post (millimetre) tax will help swell the coffers 🙂

    All the best,


    Comment by Andy — February 11, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

    • Hi Andy,

      so long as they don’t introduce a mud tax, or worse still a swearing tax 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 13, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

      • A swearing tax-I would be penniless!

        Comment by Andy — February 13, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  11. i agree 100% that rural schools would not be able to function without classroom assistant. They should look at the larger schools located in cities and towns and reduce the numbers in them, I feel these larger schools have over indulged themselves in class room assistants. My significat other (who used to travel to school on your ferry from Millport to Largs ) and I will be signing the petition.

    Comment by Lesley & Alex — February 12, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

    • Hi Lesley,

      thanks for your support and you’ll be glad to know I’m taking good care of the Loch Striven 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 13, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

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