Life at the end of the road

May 3, 2011

May IS out :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, shed/house — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:27 pm

Tuesday already, a fine week of weather behind me and I’m back on the ferry after an eventful ‘week off’, no posting last night as I was pure worn out after a busy weekend with ‘the boys’. Still, normality is now restored and I’ll endeavour to recall yesterdays events.


‘Ner cast a clout till May is out’ does not as you may think refer to throwing punches in June or even to removing clothing until the month of May is out. This old saying which translates as ‘never cast any clothes until May is out’ refers to the hawthorn or ‘mayflower’ and yesterday it was well and truly out here at Arnish.


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Not in any great abundance, in fact on only one of the hundred or so trees planted here by the late Nancy Park but it was out.

This I’m sure is no great deal to the vast majority of readers but this is by far the earliest I’ve ever seen hawthorn flowers at the north end. It may be Gods own country in my eyes but we are usually a week or so behind the south end of Raasay and several weeks behind the myriad of trees at Balmacara and Auchtertyre. Perhaps it had bloomed at the sight of my wacky ‘Skye Batiks’ shorts that I’ve been wearing all week:-)


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Though that was taken whilst doing a little ‘guerrilla quarrying’ on the beach at the old pier during the late afternoon.

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Wifey is making a new path in the veg patch and we used the opportunity of taking my boys pall to the ferry to collect some stones.


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  The morning having been spent carrying down the surplus fencing material from the new shed/house site to do some repairs on the croft. Thelma and Louise have taken to breaking into Rocky, Bracken and Jamie Lee’s field, not in itself a major issue but they’ll soon be coming into heat 😦

It’s a couple of weeks since I’ve been up to our little bit of paradise and it was good to see the old rowan tree in leaf. I can’t help but think that there must have been a dwelling of sorts up here at one time as these trees were planted by houses to ward off evil spirits. There’s no sign of a house, only some ‘lazy beds’  running diagonally from north east to south west behind the green quad but the tree is around a century old and must have been planted and fenced for it to grow. I know it dose not look very large for a hundred plus year old tree but the one that was planted behind my house over 150 years ago was not much bigger, this is a harsh place for trees to thrive.

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Here’s the island of Grian a Sgeir west of Fladda with Brothers Point on Skye in the background

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and here’s my old favourite the Storr directly west across the water 🙂

That was it really for Monday, well apart from spending a couple of hours on the roof removing paint with the power washer, mowing the lawn again, going to check my mates hydro turbine and spending an hour removing ticks from my legs 🙂 These wacky shorts me be light cool and comfy but they do expose rather allot of tempting skin to the old blood sucking tick.

I can’t say that I’m a fan of the tick but after 25 years I have got used to the little devils and now just twist them out between my nails, something I’d not recommend if you’re not good at it, as leaving the head in can cause them to fester 😦 I’ve tried everything including aftershave and tea tree oil to shock them out, margarine or Vaseline to suffocate them out (apparently they breath through their bum 😦 ), cigarette ends to burn them out and tick removing tools to pluck them out. The tools are actually quite good and great on the ‘wee dug’ but I can never find ours 🙂

I have to say that I’m always a little concerned about contracting from the larger and red coloured deer tick as there’s no real cure for it. It is a very real threat as a friend of mine has it and there a certainly no shortage of deer up here but I reckon if I eat enough garlic and keep wearing my ‘lucky underpants’ I’ll be OK 🙂

Tuesday, clowns with matches

I’m flagging now as it’s almost 22:30 and time for bed so you’ll be spared one of my full blown rants. As many readers will be aware I seldom watch TV, read newspapers and only listen to the radio on my ‘week on’ so the fact that huge swathes of the country are being consumed by heath and forest fires has escaped me.

I did however receive an email from my good friend Bill Cowie on Rona the other day complaining about clowns with matches, and here’s an extract.

“I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the kayakers who had their November bonfire on the shore, on the grass, with the newly chopped down trees here in Big Harbour last week!! It looked like a right Ray Mears set up, needless to say I asked them to put it out, clean it up and behave. They left shortly after with a half hearted attempt.

Now because I worked in forestry and have been to a few forest fires I am a bit paranoid but one spark the last few weeks and it is good bye regeneration etc etc.

Lots of people who visit read your blog so I wonder if you could note on it that the Rona grumpy old man just doesn’t like camp fires.

Maybe a poster on the pier at Sconser??”

Now I’ve nothing against ‘Kayakers’, they could just have easy have been divers, campers or anglers but today I went to visit my parents on the mainland and saw the results of what one clown with a box of matches can achieve. Actually I smelt it in Kyle about 14 miles away.

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Here it is at Alt a Cruinn a couple of miles away

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and here it is at Sheil Bridge just heading for the Five Sisters.

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Luckily it travelled so quickly  that many of the trees will recover and damage to the fences does not seem severe.

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However five houses had to be evacuated, it went through power lines that had to be shut down and will have killed lord knows how much wild life, the deer won’t have much grazing and it will have diverted much man power from serious fires elsewhere.

My parents live nearby and whilst they were in no danger they did tell me about another set of clowns with matches who were camping nearby. Said clowns had been visited by my mum and given bin liners for their rubbish, mum says to them, “we don’t mind you camping but can you please take your rubbish with you, put it in these bags and you can even leave it in my bin”, “nay worries hen” says they in a Glasgow accent “we’re no like that and always clean up”. Well they cleaned up alright but left a fire burning on the beach that was still smouldering two days later 😦

Anyway, I had a pleasant afternoon at Ma and Pa’s fitting a new tap and eating pizza before heading back to Sconser for the 15:00 ferry and work.

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The whining dog is Molly and the music ‘Ralph Lawson’s 20 20 sound system’ a band who I’ve seen several times.




That was all really, I let my ‘back to back’ away and started work on the good ship Loch Striven, noticing that JST had set up their floating pier ready for taking away the recently harvested timber.



I missed it all but George Rankine of Eyre managed to catch the tug Red Baron??? towing the barge past Eyre this morning.

I arrived home to find Molly sporting a fine new collar courtesy of my good friend Jessie Nicolson

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a proper ‘Diamond dog’ 🙂




  1. Morning, Paul

    I’m sitting here at my study window looking out over Bacup in the Valley and the hills behind – through a pall of smoke caused by the moorland fires that have been burning for at least three days now, so I share your feelings about clowns with matches, and worse, total idiots who light moorland and heath fires on purpose. Our firefighters do their very best, but access isn’t easy, even on these relatively accessible hills, and the damage to wildlife is incalculable. One things I always admired about people (and youngsters in particular) when I lived in Easter Ross was their respect for their environment and wildlife. Wish it was so in less rural areas.

    Enjoy your ‘week on’.



    Comment by Sue — May 4, 2011 @ 6:33 am

    • Good morning Sue,

      looks like low pressure and showers for a day or two so perhaps that will help with the fires.

      Settling in nicely on board thanks 🙂 Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 5, 2011 @ 5:06 am

  2. Smokers are also a big problem causing fires round here and off road motorbikes as well. However I have heard that big fire on Liathach in Torridon was started by someone burning rubbish in their back garden and it getting out of control.

    Comment by simon — May 4, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

    • Morning Simon,

      that’s how the Kintail one started, you can quite clearly see how it has spread up the hill from the dwelling in question 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 5, 2011 @ 5:08 am

  3. I wonder if they still do as much controlled burning as they used to I know I’ve not seen any for years where I stay on the moorland which used to get monitored and a controlled burn done to reduce possible spread. Although I would imagine the blokes with that kind of learned knowledge and experience were deemed surplus to requirements by the bean counters or they simply retired.

    Comment by Euan — May 5, 2011 @ 12:30 am

    • Good morning Euan,

      yes they still do plenty of ‘controlled’ burning here, though seldom stick to the

      All of the following actions are offences, which could result in prosecution:

      * Burning outwith the statutory burning season [Hill Farming Act 1946, s23].
      * Burning at night, between 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise [Hill Farming Act 1946, s25].
      * Leaving a fire unattended [Hill Farming Act 1946, s25].
      * Being unable to control a fire or having not made provision for its proper control [Hill Farming Act 1946, s25].
      * Causing damage to any woodland [Hill Farming Act 1946, s25].
      * Causing damage to neighbours’ property [Hill Farming Act 1946, s25].
      * Causing damage to a scheduled monument [Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, s2(2)a] .
      * Failing to take fire safety measures in respect of harm caused by fire. Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, Part 3, s53 & s54.
      * Carrying out burning on a Site of Special Scientific Interest, without consent from Scottish Natural Heritage, if burning has been notified as an ‘Operation Requiring Consent’ [Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, s19].
      * Intentional or reckless harassment of birds listed in Schedule A1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
      * Intentional or reckless damage to the natural features of a Site of Special Scientific Interest [Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, s19].
      * Intentionally or recklessly disturbing or destroying the nests, eggs or young of breeding birds [Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), s1, Schedule 1 and Schedule A1] .
      * Omitting to give the landlord and adjoining proprietors at least 24 hours written notice of the date, place and extent of intended muirburn [Hill Farming Act 1946, s24 and s25].
      * Lighting a fire, or allowing a fire to spread, within 30 m of a road so as to damage the road or endanger traffic on it, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse [Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, s100(c)] .
      * Creating smoke that is a nuisance to inhabitants of the neighbourhood [Clean Air Act 1993, s17, refers to an offence under the Public Health (Scotland) Act 1897] .
      * Endangering anyone’s health or safety, including members of the public [Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, s2 and s3, Management of Health and Safety At Work Regulations 1999 S.I. 3242].

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 5, 2011 @ 5:14 am

  4. Arte those pig pens in the top picture? That is one beautiful setting to rear animals!

    Comment by mikemayos — May 5, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

    • Morning Mike,

      it’s a great place to rear children as well as pigs 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 6, 2011 @ 5:13 am

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