Life at the end of the road

March 2, 2011


Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, shed/house, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:50 pm

I really was going to post last night but got distracted by a possible infection on my computer which put otherwise excellent day completely pear shaped. It was of course Tuesday, not any Tuesday but the last day of my ‘week on’ Tuesday so your truly was infuriatingly happy. To be honest I’d have been in a good mood whatever day of the week it was, for it was a lovely morning that greeted me as I wound my way southwards to the Loch Striven towing my trailer behind.

I was taking the trailer to do a bit of guerrilla quarrying on the way home. My drive was almost as bad as the main roads on Skye and the rest of Raasay 🙂 so I thought it would be a good little job to do in the late afternoon before feeding time and dinner.

Abandoning my little shadow and shovel in a passing place a few miles south of Arnish I continued south into a brightening sky.

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Pink to the east and white to the west as I gave the old tub a quick wash down on the port side before we sailed.

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The morning flew by in a whirlwind of ‘week end’ and ‘month end’ paperwork and before I knew it my relief was here and I was heading home some time after 15:00.


sikorsky s92

One of Stornoway coastguards Sikorsky S92 was also heading home after a recent rescue mission nearby.

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After filling in my potholes and then feeding the herd I went into my ‘power station’ to wire up some meters. The lovely half timber and dry stone shed that is built into that bank just in front of my Land Rover houses all the electrical gubbins that keep the lights burning at number 3. A former stable and tiny workshop, it was, apart from the beautiful stone work derelict when I moved here 22 years ago. Rebuilt with old sawmill slabs, council house windows and old tin from my roof it now houses my back up generator, batteries, inverter and charge controllers.

Counting the Kilowatts

It is in this shed that all the wires end up, the 160m of 85mm square SWA from the wind turbine, 470m of 6mm square from the hydro turbine deliver their power here. Leading out of here like a spiders web are the supplies to the house and sheds plus all the individual feeds for the dump loads, also in here are meters that count the power consumed in Kwh (kilowatt/hours). I know how much the house uses, I know how much the chalet uses, I even know how much the diesel generator produces but I’ve never been able to measure how much power has been going to our ‘dump loads’ in the house. These three oil filled radiators come on sequentially once the batteries are fully charged, and since we added the Stream Engine last year they’ve been coming on allot :-) 

 The cheapest and easiest solution that I came up with was one of these

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which you would normally clamp around the live going into your meter (if you lived in a normal house on the grid) it will tell you exactly what, when and how much you’re using, and you can download two years info onto a PC 

I’m not really one for data, graphs or maths, I’m more of a ‘give it a bash with a hammer type’, when I look at my balance sheet the numbers just swim about on the page 🙂 However I do need to know just how much power we are ‘dumping’ to see if there’s enough for under floor heating in a new well insulated house 🙂

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The one on the left measures DC battery voltage, frequency and AC inverter voltage, the two meters in the centre picture measure house consumption (top) and generator output (bottom). The right hand picture shows the ‘Owl’ wired up, that’s the transmitter on the left and the monitor on the right, the yellow meter is measuring hydro turbine output at a meagre 4.2amps ( around 214w ) due to the lack of rain 😦

Anyway, contrary to usual, I read the instructions before attempting to fit it, all went well and I left it doing its stuff and called it a day.

attack page

Once inside, fed on chicken breasts stuffed with haggis and bathed in the tea coloured Arnish organic water I settled in front of the lap top to scribble it all down, or at least I tried to. I opened Google images and searched for a picture of a Mossberg 930 semi automatic shotgun, I’ve a bit of a crow problem 🙂 found a picture on a site proclaiming to be ‘ineedshoes’ !!!! no sooner had I arrived there than my screen went barmy with some very convincing graphics informing me that I’d 3 trojans on my hard drive 12 virus’s in my computer and something unsavoury in ‘my documents’ :-(  It then very plausibly asked me if I’d like to get rid of said intruders to which I replied by getting the hell out of there and shutting down my computer whilst I had another glass of red wine to think about it 🙂 Something similar had happened to me last year and I’d made the almost fatal mistake of opening some ‘Winzip’ file that had leashed all hell on my laptop.

With another fine Sicilian inside me I restarted my laptop and ran a security check which came up clear, being full of confidence (not to mention grape juice 🙂 ) I revisited the site to get a screenshot but just got the above page.



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What can I say !!!!!! it may rain allot, the midge may be brutal in the summer, we’re 100 miles from the nearest night club or ASDA and the village shop doesn’t sell drink, but when you wake up to a sky like that it hardly seems to matter 🙂

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After feeding everyone and seeing the boy off tom school I went up to the new shed site to fit gates to the fence that it had taken me three months to erect 😦

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Fortunately all went well in the gate fitting department and I had two of the three done before the police came 🙂

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OK, that’s the police leaving but it’s the first time in twenty years that a police car has been up to the house 🙂 The last time was when I applied for my firearm certificate and a police woman came to question me about the theft of a pair of rubber knickers when I was fourteen 🙂 but that’s another story 🙂

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I got my gates fitted, cut some wood and checked my ‘Owl’ to find that we’d ‘dumped’ 9.3Kwh of leccy in just less than 24 hours. The house had used 6Kwh, (wifey had been heavy on the tumble drier) and the chalet 2Kwh making a grand total of 17.3Kwh produced for the day. OK it was pretty windy but there was very little hydro input, me thinks UFH is looking good 🙂

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  1. What a blazing sunrise!!!
    In the pothole-filling pic, is that a green grinch face on the rock?

    Comment by Flora — March 2, 2011 @ 11:27 pm

    • ‘One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri’
      Just looked back at the pic and your right the Grinch is definitely there. Ha Ha.

      Comment by Linda Morrison — March 3, 2011 @ 9:39 am

      • Hi Linda,

        Ali is definitely going to get another green coat when I paint the roof on the house this spring 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  2. calum’s fence!

    Comment by jeannette — March 3, 2011 @ 5:01 am

  3. Good morning, re UFH are you considering using electric UFH or water UFH heated via your spare electricity….
    Thanks for all the effort you put into this blog, its a great read, even when you only do it every few days its refreshing. Thanks Willie

    Comment by William Mc Mahon — March 3, 2011 @ 8:27 am

    • Hi Willie,

      It will be wet UFH that will give me the ability to heat from a thermal store that could have various other inputs like solar heating or even an immersion heater for when the generator was running. It’s early days yet, first I need to see just how much power I’m producing to decide what other inputs I need.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  4. Hi Paul

    So are you going to tell us why the Police were calling at your door or is that a secret? 🙂

    Comment by Derek — March 3, 2011 @ 8:48 am

    • Hi Derek,

      they were just passing 🙂 No seriously it was just to check my gun and ammunition safes.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  5. Ok Paul.
    You talk of having to use your radiators as a dump for surplus electricity, its now time to move forward and buy the wifey an electric car have a look at this site I’am sure you could get a discount to proof drive it North of the border.Just think no fuel costs. Interested on what you think. Walter

    Comment by Polite Scouser — March 3, 2011 @ 11:34 am

    • Good morning Walter,

      the electric car is certainly on the ‘to do’ list I can’t think of anything more suitable for my situation for commuting to and from work when the road is clear of snow or I don’t have a ton of feed to move 🙂 A single track eleven mile silent drive with no other traffic to hold up it’s got to be a winner for the school run 🙂
      We don’t have enough spare power yet but I am working on it, even if it means have a battery charging station a couple of miles away using a hydro turbine, there are plenty of burns between here and the south end where I could leave the car overnight to charge up 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 4, 2011 @ 6:46 am

  6. Rubber knickers in Accrington? We wear our waterproofs on th’inside round here!

    Great pics.



    Comment by Sue — March 3, 2011 @ 11:51 am

    • One day I will tell the world the whole ‘rubber knicker’ story Sue 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 4, 2011 @ 6:48 am

  7. Hi Paul,
    Hope you get the viruses and Trojans in the vault! There has been a spate of this, in fact this week, as my good guy down the road has been removing them from dozens of PC’s. A Facebook friend thought she may have got hers from Youtube.
    Cheers, Carolyn.

    Comment by Carolyn — March 3, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

    • Morning Carolyn,

      the last Trojan I had took me days to remove, I don’t open anything nowadays unless I know where it came from. It was a particularly cunning one attached to a ‘winzip’ file purporting to be from UPS or Fedex. Three times they sent me this frigging email telling me I had a parcel awaiting collection, I knew I hadn’t so deleted the emails twice and blocked the sender. The third time I was not so cautious thinking it might be for someone else and opened it, 😦 all hell broke loose on my laptop 😦 never again

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 4, 2011 @ 6:54 am

  8. Oh eck virus issues

    Had enough of them years ago so binned windows and went on to use free Linux software from ubuntu. Never had virus issues since nor pop ups nor slow start ups. See if they will send you out a cd to try.

    I just got fed up with windows for this in the end and only use it when forced to at work.

    As for police …the people at Fearns probably sent them up to investigate all the noise at Arnish 😉

    You will have to keep the radio turned down in future. 🙂

    Comment by andybleaden — March 3, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    • Morning Andy,

      I really wish I knew more about computers, for I’d run Linux for sure, my only concerns would be that I’d probably lose my ability to use ‘Windows live writer’ for blogging, I did try ‘Scribefire’ for a while but it just wasn’t compatible with my cr4ppy satellite ‘broadband’

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 4, 2011 @ 6:57 am

  9. Brill sunrise.
    Is the long range forecast o.k. for the middle of next week?
    There is a mouse attack that must be challenged !!!! Regards to all.

    Comment by sotw — March 3, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

    • Looks fine till Monday She then west wind, sunshine and showers for the rest of the week, great weather on the croft 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 4, 2011 @ 7:00 am

  10. i thought someone in your household might be interested in this shot from TMZ:

    Comment by jeannette — March 4, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

    • Best not show that to Molly just yet Jeannette 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 5, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

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