Life at the end of the road

May 17, 2011

Not so cool :-(

Filed under: daily doings, Land Rover, pigs, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:32 pm

I don’t know why I put my ‘lucky underpants’ on on Monday morning, I usually reserve them for dangerous tasks like working on the roof or climbing the wind turbine mast. Probably the kind of jobs to use them for really because if I was ever airlifted to hospital I’d be embarrassed at actually wearing these rainbow striped boxers 🙂

Anyway, they certainly seemed to bring me good fortune on the trip to Dingwall with Thelma and Louise, a trip which despite my best endeavours to find a companion looked like being a solo one. Wifey was not feeling up to it, my neighbour declined the offer and Molly would have just been a nightmare. It’s not that I needed moral support or anything, I’ve done the trip dozens of times with loads of our pigs, and while it can be a little emotional I was more interested in a little conversation on a very long drive.

Up early and with the twins loaded up I caught the 7:55 ferry and crossed to Sconser, being at the front of a car deck full of much faster traffic I pulled over to the left on the slip to let them by. As I pulled over I spotted a solitary tourist in the pishing rain, must be keen I thought to be wanting to walk over to Raasay on a day like today!

Closer inspection however revealed that it was no ordinary tourist, it was in fact a very old friend from my previous incarnation.  After my initial joy at spotting ‘Muz’ 🙂 I thought sh1t, he’s come all this way and I have to go away for the day 😦 Explaining my dilemma, in that I really did have to fly he offered to come along for the ride. 

What ensued was the shortest trip ever to Munro’s and me almost losing my voice with all the talking and laughing, a good deal of which involved a dear departed friend ‘Grumpy Pete’, indeed the last time I saw my mate was three years ago in Accrington at his funeral.  Grumpy Pete was a legend in his own lifetime, a character the likes of which or ‘risk obsessed’ and ‘politically correct’ society is in danger of crushing before they develop. Many thousands of miles we travelled in Grumpy’s Transit van on tanks full of ‘Vimto’ as he called red diesel and many is the fine breakfast we had in it fried on a shovel over a tar burner 🙂

Sadly Grumpy died of lung cancer having never smoked in his life and his words to the doctor as he he broke the news were typical of the man. “Sit down Peter, I have the results of your tests” he said solemnly, when he sat down the doctor informed him that he’d a very aggressive cancer and only months to live. To which Peter replied, “I can’t have lung cancer, I’ve just spent £3000 on a mountain bike” 🙂

Peter managed to stave off the ‘Grim reaper’ for almost two more years, much of which was spent on his bike. The doctor was so impressed he bought a bike himself and on return visits they would discuss cycling. On one occasion during a consultation the doc mentioned that he’d skipped cycling this particular weekend because he’d pulled a muscle, “pulled a friggin muscle” bellows Pete “ I’ve got lung cancer and you’ve pulled a muscle, that’s no excuse” :-) 

One of Peter’s many talents was painting and around thirty years ago he offered to spray my battered steel diving cylinders. An offer that I couldn’t refuse as I’d seen some that he’d already done. I removed the manifolds and boots before handing them over to him to paint brilliant white, he returned them a week later pink!!!! To say that I was hopping mad would be an understatement  but I still have those cylinders and they’re still pink 🙂


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With the south west wind behind us we were cruising at 60mph on the smooth fast ‘north road’ east of Achnasheen and I was a little disappointed to see my oil temperature creeping up past 130 degrees. This was not crucial but I was hoping the bigger  oil cooler I’d just fitted would have performed better. Stopping to check on the girls I checked the hoses and cooler only to find them stone cold, the oil was obviously not circulating around it 😦 Well nothing could be done so we pressed on, arriving at Munro’s just after 10:30 and departing after leaving instructions for the butchery. Nice small cuts, rolled and boned shoulders with plenty of their excellent sausages.


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After a quick shop in Lidl and a spot of lunch we called on the finest haggis and black pudding maker in Scotland. All the Stornoway offerings are first class, the Ritchie’s of Aultbea is superb but George Cockburn of Dingwall is in my opinion number one one both haggis and marag dubh (though wifey disagrees on the marag dubh)


I’ve never actually tried one of his ‘horseshoe’ offerings which you boil in tinfoil for thirty minutes but his haggis is a weekly treat at ‘the end of the road’. These small ones are great for two people or for using as stuffing in other dishes, they freeze well and are available on line

Returning for the 16:15 I waived my mate goodbye and crossed to Raasay, actually we gave each other a big hug, probably the first in thirty odd years, some things just endure time and distance 🙂

Preparing for ‘the Ness’

Normally after such a day I’d have fed the pigs, eaten my haggis and retired for the night but I was a little perplexed about my oil 🙂 It’s in 24 days and the old Thompson Glenelg caravan is much heavier than the trailer with two pigs in.

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First job was to remove the oil thermostat and check it was opening, no problem there, it should open at 74 degrees and so it did.

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This got me thinking that perhaps the cooler was full of air and needed bleeding, by rights it should self bleed but I rigged up a pump to suck oil out of a container and fill it. Sure enough it seemed to push a lot of air out.

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Next I reconnected the hoses and fitted the temperature probe to the cold cooler, ten minutes or so at 3000rpm had the oil cooler heating up just fine and the hoses supplying it hot going in and warm coming out. The oil temperature gauge was still reading 120 degrees but a probe into the sump indicated just over 100 so I’m thinking it’s picking up heat from the cylinder block as well as the oil.


The last day of my week off saw me up late, around 7:30 in fact but true to form I found a good excuse not to get on with my VAT return 😦 The excuse being that  UKWind said it would rain in the afternoon and as it was a fine morning I decided to go and sort out an electrical fault on my mates Pioner Maxi.

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All the engine related electrics had failed though the bilge pump was working fine and the battery fully charged.


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It had all the symptoms of a bad connection but turned out to be a corroded battery cable that had chaffed through under the seat. Normally I’d replace the whole cable but I didn’t have one and there was plenty of spare so I cut out the offending section and re crimped it together.

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Not having the proper 25mm square crimps like the bottom one I made one up out of a piece of microbore pipe

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having first tested it on a bit of old cable.

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I flared the ends with a brake pipe tool to enable me to slip the bare wires in then went down to the boat and crimped it on site.

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When the joint was made I covered it in self amalgamating tape and crossed my fingers, the lucky underpants were in the wash 🙂


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Whilst I had the tape out I taped up the ends of my satellite broadband cables just to be on the safe side, it’s working really well just now and I want to keep it that way 🙂

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I did other stuff like cutting wood, watching pigs and cutting bedding before actually settling down to the dreaded VAT return just as the rain started 🙂

weather 170511

That’s about it really so I’ll leave you with the weather and go to bed 🙂

graph 170511


  1. I’ve been meaning to get my hands on some Cockburn’s haggis & black pudding. You’ve given me the kick in t’arse needed. Sounds like good stuff, as I thought. Must get some now online…..hope it can be sent out here, though!

    Comment by yractual — May 18, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

    • Hi Iain,

      if you’ve no luck on the haggis front remind me in the winter and I’ll see what I can do 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 19, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

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