Life at the end of the road

March 31, 2011

Unwelcome visitors :-(

Filed under: animals, daily doings, pigs, stonework — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:46 pm

Well March certainly went out with a bang and I’ll be glad to see the back of it 🙂 Actually it’s been a pretty good month but the last few days have not been all ‘sweetness and light’ at the end of the road. Some people thrive on paperwork and form filling, me I hate it. The truth is, had wifey not filled in the census form it probably still be languishing under the rest of my unopened mail 🙂 I’ve had piles of stuff to deal with from the ‘Crofters Commission’, SGRPID and Highland council, stuff that most people would take in their stride but not me 😦 To be honest it’s all pretty straight forward stuff and there are people on the end of the phone only too willing to help but It does not seem to make it any easier. As Charles Kennedy once said when once asked what a croft was, “a small piece of land surrounded by paperwork”. A fence of forms that only seems to get higher when you want to build a house on it 🙂

Having said that the days since I finished work have been perfect for it, showery yesterday and pishing rain until well into this afternoon. I did make an earnest and bold start yesterday but succeeded in doing nothing more than covering the entire kitchen table in plans, questionnaires and bank statements. The swineherd was working so I could not even get her to help me, so I gave up after consigning quite a lot of my table covering to the recycle bin and fire 🙂 Still, I had managed to tax the Land Rover, speak to a plumber who really understands solar hot water, thermal stores, log boilers and ‘off grid’ requirements. I also had several people promise to phone me back, and they did 🙂 Is it just me or does anyone actually phone you back when they say so 🙂

The truth be known it was not just the paperwork that was on my mind, Thelma and Louise may have been keen to follow me this morning but the recently weaned Tamworth’s were not.


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We’ve a whole load of piglets going away this week and six of them would just not leave their field, actually they were desperate to get out of their field but they wouldn’t cross the bottomless bog that barred their way 😦

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The eleven ‘spotties’ have been charging about the croft for weeks now and will follow you anywhere but the six ‘Tammies’ refused to go through the gate, even once they’d braved the swamp. Even the lure of food only got five over and then only briefly before they scampered back to they shelter of their ark.

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Hoping that they’d come out if hungry enough I left them to it and we went to deliver a bed. You guys that live in a place where people will actually deliver things to your door don’t know how lucky you are 🙂 This bed was going half a mile down a track to ready for the new season’s letting and if you reckon it’s expensive just remember that every litre of oil, kilo of gas, and sack of coal has to be hauled down there, usually by me 🙂

To be fair it’s a piece of cake compared to where I lived for four years,


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at the ‘Narrows Cottage’ on Scalpay which has now been extensively refurbished for letting. No quads there in my day, everything went up and down the beach in a wheelbarrow 🙂

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There’s also good stalking to be had there but I doubt that you’d get as close to a red deer as this, or even be allowed to shoot such a fine beast. This is one of three regular visitors to the croft who’s been menacing my neighbours garden 😦

After spending a good part of yesterday sat on my backside I was in no mood for plonking away on the laptop so sat down with a glass of wine in front of the TV, something I rarely do, and quite enjoyed watching Taggart 🙂

Following on from the wheatear, pink footed geese and dawn chorus, this wet and windy morning saw the unwelcome arrival of the first slugs in the feed store.

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How on earth these little devils get in there is a mystery, it’s steel, off the ground, well secure and with tight fitting doors, but get in they do. To be honest, I don’t suppose they do much harm and they’re better off in here than the garden, especially when the pigs don’t seem to mind eating them 🙂

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My heart may have sank this morning as I heard the rain pelting down on the bedroom window but the plan I’d formulated during the night worked 🙂 A big thank you to the ‘Quarryman’ for the ‘pig mat’ 🙂

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The rain may have been good for the hydro but the sow charging up and down the drain pushing lumps of earth into the burn was not and I had to clear it about six times today 😦

Just as UKWind said it would, it cleared up in the afternoon, which coincided with my actually finishing all my paperwork, so I went out to play. Actually Molly and I went out cutting bedding as the sun and west wind had dried out the sodden rushes a treat.

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With spring lambs just around the corner we cut from the side of the road rather than on the croft, A, because it was drier and B because there’s nothing like a clump of rushes for hiding lambs with no road sense.

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With the trailer full I left it at ‘Finlay’s bed’

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an overhanging rock at the top of bealach tigh na something unpronounceable where Finlay is supposed to have taken a nap many years ago. Judging by Molly’s interest he was not the only one 🙂


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We then went to Loch an Uchdair next to Loch Beag to have a wander round

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and this is all what’s left of the boat shed that is marked on the OS map, no doubt built during the nineteenth century when Raasay was a sporting estate.

Returning home we fed the pigs, caught a couple of ‘spottie’ boars and loaded them into the Land Rover for a customer on Skye.

There is more but it’s well after my bed time so I’ll fill you in tomorrow.

March 29, 2011

No more Radio Scotland :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:48 pm

It will probably be a bit of a dogs breakfast tonight, my memory being what it is and that box of freshly opened box of South African Cabernet Sauvignon beckoning to be opened 🙂 The week has been fairly active and busy  up here on Raasay but I’ve been either too tired or distracted by other things to spend any time on here.

The last time blogging was done was from the good ship Loch Striven on Saturday night, posting my last entry just before we left for the last sailing at 20:30 on a moonless night. The previous Saturday that I’d done that crossing (two weeks before) the skipper was not a ‘happy chappy’ for when we returned to Raasay the light on the pier were off 😦 A cost cutting measure by the council no doubt, never mind we complained bitterly and they promptly, well a week later, sent someone over to fix it.

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Hmmmmmmmmm, this is what greeted us at 21:30 and that’s taken from the end of the pier looking towards the ferry on a 10 second exposure 😦 To say the skipper was ‘spitting feathers would be something of an understatement, especially when the lights were still on this morning at 8:55 🙂

However once he’d calmed down and slept on it he phoned the harbour master up who came over today and sorted it 🙂


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As far as the working week goes, I spent a good deal of it with Charles in the ships ‘underpants’, the bilge. The bilge is that bit of a ship that is like an eleven year old boys boxer shorts and is quite often neglected. Well they are with my youngster anyway 🙂 I’m particularly proud of my bilge and often make rash statements like ‘you could eat your dinner off it’ , something that is more a reflection on my septic tank like stomach than any praise over its cleanliness 🙂 However an incident after the dry docking involving a fractured oil pipe and 40lts of engine oil had left it in a bit of a state so I had at last got around to polishing it.

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I can’t sing Charles’s praises highly enough, oil, water, rust and even sewage, Charles takes them all in his stride and never complains.

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My other project was the rack above the funnel casing that hold three floats that are designed to break free if the ship sinks 😦 I had planned on painting it but never got past the chipping and power washing stage due to the amount of traffic we had this week.

The financial year is drawing to a close and there seemed to be a push on to use up someone’s budget  and tar the Glen road. The road had taken a severe hammering by the logging tractors and trailers last year so we’ve spent this week ferrying tar lorries too and fro in an effort to get it done before Thursday 🙂


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For sale Lustre LK315 just under 10m with a licence and a Gardner 6LXB is this fine single handed trawler of Donald Mackenzie’s. She may be almost as old as me but the ‘Lustre’ LK315 has been well cared for. I do hope he’s planning another boat because it’s so refreshing to see the harbour being used by a proper boat. There’s not been a fishing boat working out of Raasay since I started on the ferry 😦

Summer ‘time’

It’s been a week of milestones this last seven days, the milestones that mark the passing of each year that is. The best one being the moving forward by one hour of the clocks, I hate all this messing about with time but I do like the lighter nights the ‘spring forward’ brings, even though it does mess my own biological clock up for weeks. I’ve a great internal clock and could easily manage without an alarm (I did for years) so this GMT, BST business really messes me up. The second milestone was the arrival of the wheatear on Sunday, a comical little bird with a distinctive flight that leaves a flashing white tail in its wake. A favourite surrogate mother for the cuckoo this little bird gains its name from a corruption of ‘white rear’ or so they say.

And whilst the wheatear arrived from Africa the pink footed geese departed for Iceland and Greenland with each day seeing a fresh skein flying north westwards, though this morning I spotted one on its own 😦


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Of course there was the normal boring stuff 🙂

A new clinic 🙂

The cuts may have claimed Raasay’s day care centre but at least it has been put to good use.

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The fine building in School Park that was for so long the only meeting place for the elder residents of Raasay, a place to get their hair done once a week and go to the ‘knitting bee’ has been taken over by the local ‘Primary care trust’ or whatever they’re called.

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A far cry from the old nurses cottage

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where you had to wait in the hall listening to Radio Scotland in an attempt to drown out the private conversations in the consulting room next door 🙂

The conversion has just been completed and today there was an ‘open day’ there to show off the new clinic, I was well impressed and can’t wait to become unwell 🙂

Anyway, that’s it, it’s 22:45 and I need my bed.

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