Life at the end of the road

April 16, 2011

Practicing for retirement :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, hydro, pigs, stonework — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 5:42 am

Friday already and what a great week it’s been so far, no chance of putting pen to paper last because I was pure wrecked. A house full of children and some fine weather had me busy busy the whole day. The north end of Raasay is awash with friends and their offspring at the moment, all of which seem to want to help with stuff on the croft.

Yesterday, I had hoped for a little peace, our houseful had gone to Portree and my boy was over at Torran with his pal.

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The white house in the distance that my boy and his pals quite happily shuttle backwards and forwards to two or three times a day. It’s around a mile away and they think nothing of it even in the dark, I had to laugh when people used to give me a sideways look when I used to let my son do this several years ago. What do they think is going to happen ? he could get run over or molested by a sheep 🙂

With a little ‘breathing space’ I went up to North Arnish to have a go at joining my neighbour’s ‘imperial’ water pipe as I’d come up with a bodge. I had a 19mm coupling with a male 3/4 thread and a 25mm coupling with a 3/4 female thread so they would connect. The old imperial pipe was 21.5mm so near enough to 19mm to fit with a little sanding and persuasion. The blue 25mm pipe when warmed also slid over the older black pipe thus making a water tight seal over the pipe and allowing the two fittings to be screwed together,


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once I’d got the water flowing by sucking on the pipe that is.

You would not believe how much time I’ve spent over the last 25 years sucking on pipes to get temperamental water supplies going. You would also not believe some of the unsavoury things that I’ve ingested, or at least had in my mouth as a result 😦 From live eels to rotting fish with more than my fair share of grass and mud, I’ve swallowed them all 🙂

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Anyway without a single newt or tadpole passing my lips I got it sorted, and some 50m below the water happily poured out of the stop tap once more.

With that sorted I returned home to do a little ‘pottering’ about the empty and peaceful house, the grass hadn’t been cut this year and I wanted to just spend some time in the sunshine getting it ready for cutting 🙂 I hate mowing the lawn, our lawn is like a small mountain range amongst patches of grass and it’s a friggin nightmare to cut around all the trees, shrubs, digger track and mine, yes we have a WW2 mine in our garden 🙂

I’d just managed to fill a wheelbarrow up with moss off the paths and weeds from around the edges when the boys turned up from Torran eager to help. Of course eager to help does not include doing boring stuff in the garden so I abandoned that and took them out on the quads to cut bedding and look for a poorly pig 😦

Thelma had been hit by a car on Wednesday afternoon and was in a bit of a state, I think it just happened prior to feeding, for when I went to give them their dinner she was shaking like a leaf, terrified and wouldn’t eat. Her hind right leg was off the ground, her tail was straight and she wouldn’t let me near her.

I’d examined her on Thursday morning, when she’d seemed better and was at least eating, nothing seemed to be broken but there was quite a bit of grazing and bruising on her side and her trotter was swollen. Pigs are quite tough and resilient so I’d left her out on the hill and kept checking on her. She was easy enough to find as Louise would never go more than a few yards from her. Quite remarkable when you consider these two normally wander for miles, obviously she didn’t want to leave her sister 🙂

Thelma never moved very far but every time I found her she was resting in a fresh pile of rushes with her sister nearby.

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Satisfying myself that she was OK, or at least no worse I took the boys back to my workshop where I knocked up a new water level gauge for Loch Beag.

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I just knew that old Land Rover brake drum would come in handy if I kept it long enough 🙂

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Once that was carried over the heather by quad and deposited in the 84m high loch we returned home and the boys disappeared back to Torran 🙂 Just as well because the ‘Portree team’ had arrived home and wanted a shot in the boat.

The ‘rock proof’ Maxi

To be honest I’d far more important things to do than go out boating but our guests were really looking forward to this first trip of the year so I put on a brave face and we went for a quick tour of Loch Arnish. All boats are a compromise but the Pioner Maxi is just perfect for two or three people that just want to go and do a spot of fishing or beachcombing. It’s easy to launch, light, seaworthy and most of all ‘rock proof’, you would have to try very hard to damage one of these little plastic miracles from Norway.

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After an easy launch at high tide we followed the shore round to Tarbert,

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the the ‘Horses cave’ at the south side of the loch before heading to the western end.

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This fault in the rock runs between two headlands and is quite spectacular both from sea and satellite 🙂


Map picture

The boat was quickly removed from the water once everyone had had a shot and we headed home for dinner and too move our pig. Thelma would be much safer on the croft in a shelter than in a clump of rushes on the hill.  Whilst I’ve never had a sick pig lose its eyes to a crow, I’ve seen plenty of blind sheep and lambs.

The magic cream

We got Thelma and Louise safely on the croft and inside the back of a Lada pick up,

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well not actually the pick up but the fibre glass top that once covered it. See how she’s holding her leg up. Once they’d settled in we left them for an hour or two before going back out and rubbing some arnica into Thelma’s cuts, scrapes and swellings . This is not just some ‘new age’ or hippy fad this stuff really works, just like the magic plant deals with burns, arnica sorts out bruises. We have aloe vera in the kitchen and bathroom growing on the window sills, you have a burn, you just rip off a leaf, rub it on the burn and it heals, no 5hit, it really works, same with the arnica—_-Nelsons%20Arnicare%20Arnica%20Cooling%20Gel%2030g you get a bruise or swelling, rub it on and it vanishes, or at least heals very quickly.


With wee piggy’s sorted I called it a day and watched some pish on the telly with my family, it involved a mummy from China, several yeti and lots of magic machine guns that never needed reloading 🙂 Friday dawned bright and clear and I, at last managed to get stuck into the garden.

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This is me practicing for my retirement, I can’t wait to retire and spend my whole life just pottering about 🙂 Sadly it was not to last, before long another eager teenager arrived and I hauled him off on a mission 🙂

A fantastic find

The mission being to head up to Loch Airigh na h-Aon Oidhche (the loch of the one night shieling) and glue some pipes together.

Not the same loch but it does have the same name so probably has a similar legend.

The pipes were for my mates ‘back up’ water supply and I don’t know how many times I’ve been up here over the last few years.


Map picture

Every time I’ve taken the same route, up behind the Torran schoolhouse as far as the fence at the ‘Pipers Rock’ by quad, then walking the fence south eastwards towards Loch.

lochan dubhan

The red line is the path of the new fence the blue dot above the ‘a’ where we park and the dot above the ‘i’ where the ruins are. They’re visible on the satellite image above as shadows and I’ve walked by and through them dozens of times.

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However I’ve never noticed the small structure that my assistant is standing in before,

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it can only be something for catching or dipping sheep.

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I’m guessing it uses that cliff behind as a natural way to lead the sheep through that narrow curved wall into the dry stone trough which has the remains of mortar in between some of the stones.  Even so there is no sign of water up here to fill it and it must have leached out pretty quickly unless it was lined with a tarpaulin or something.

After exploring that we continued on our way to the two lochs where we were going to connect some pipe together as part of my mates hydro project.

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  1. I am the captain of the Pinafore
    And a right good captain too!
    I’m very very good
    And be it understood
    I command a right good crew

    glad to see Cap’n Molly is keeping a weather eye out.

    Comment by jeannette — April 16, 2011 @ 5:59 am

    • Hi Jeannette,

      Molly is looking for an escape route, she hates the boat, you can’t keep her out of it but as soon as she’s in it, she wants out 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 17, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  2. So who hit Thelma then?
    That fault line is truely spectacular. My thoughts have turned to another visit and an attempted jump across the gap!
    You are right about people being over fearful, especially around kids. I take my daughter (9) climbing, caving etc and get some strange comments from city types. Sad thing is, she broke her leg this week,not on some big adventure but falling down the stairs at home!! At least i feel vindictated, homes are more dangerous than mountains!

    Comment by simon — April 16, 2011 @ 8:15 am

    • I have my suspicions as to which car hit Thelma Simon but it was probably her own fault, wifey saw them asleep under the front bumper of a BMW the other day 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 17, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  3. Hi Paul

    Hope Thelma is recovering from her nasty shock. Arnica is indeed amazing for bruises and all sorts of things. Hello Vera isn’t too bad, either, but I haven’t tried live leaves yet. Another old remedy which I first met when living in Easter Ross is Askit – really shifts headaches, but then I read what was in it! It’s probably banned now.



    Comment by Sue — April 16, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

    • Hi Sue,

      everyone should have an aloe vera in the house, far better than any cream, I love reading the labels on old products. I used to find old cream pots when I was diving and the label nearly always said ‘contains boron’ Then there are the old kitchen fly sprays that contain Nuvan who’s main ingredient is an organophosphate called dichlorvos something that we used to use to treat salmon for lice 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 17, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

  4. Hi Paul,good to see you making use of the the old 19mm ,1/10th inch fittings.Cracking pics,that gap in the rocks looks like something out of the film when Eight bells toll or a Bond film.Cheers, Andy.

    Comment by Andy — April 16, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

    • Hi Andy,

      needs must 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 17, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  5. Sucking pipes – yuk, I can remember siphoning petrol from a car tank in to a petrol carrier for our little Ailsa Craig outboard motor – petrol in mouth is just plain nasty – it burns. I’d forgotten about such happy experiences until you mentioned it.

    Happier siphoning was back in the “home brew wine” day getting the siphon started to move wine from demi-john to bottle – much more fun to “suck start” the siphon than use a squeezy pump primer.

    Comment by Andy Poulton — April 18, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

    • Aye Andy, I’d forgotten the petrol myself, don’t suppose you can do it nowadays on most cars with that silly little flap and narrow filler. Worse than the petrol is diesel 😦

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 19, 2011 @ 5:40 am

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