Life at the end of the road

June 26, 2011

Pebbles and rain, lots of rain :-(

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Land Rover — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:55 pm

None of the high temperatures and sunshine for us today, it has in a word been miserable for most of the day and wet for pretty much all of it. So wet in fact that I lay in my bed until well after 8:00am listening to the rain power washing the windows 😦

I was not looking forward to the day as it was forecast to get worse and we’d a houseful of children that needed amusing. I’m good at amusing children in the great outdoors but find it hard in the confines of a small croft house. Still, after feeding the herd and a good hearty breakfast the rain eased and we all set off for the shore at Screapadale in the Land Rover to collect beach pebbles for the paths in the veg patch.


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The first thing that caught my eye was the colour of the sea, that unmistakeable murky turquoise of an algal bloom, something that I’ve not seen here for a few years. Algal or plankton blooms are when for one reason or another a species of phytoplankton goes into overdrive and starts multiplying out of control. Some are benign and most are natural occurrences but some can be severely harmful to other marine life for a variety of reasons. They may multiply at such a rate that they remove oxygen from the water or they may be a spiky kind of plankton that can lacerate the gills of fish. This is not usually a problem for free swimming fish because they just move away but it can be a problem on salmon farms where the fish are confined. It was one such bloom of the spiky plankton that caused a 90% mortality to the salmon in Loch Arnish and Portree fish farms almost 20 years ago. An event that put me off farmed salmon for about two years 😦

After spending days underwater hauling out dead and rotting fish from the cages there I went off it for a while. It wasn’t so bad for the first couple of days as the fish were whole but we were making no impression on the huge mountain of ‘morts’ in the net with half a dozen divers working shifts. Eventually a ‘purser’ The Silvery Sea’ from Malaig was chartered to suck them out with her huge fish pump.



Image from

Sadly the ship foundered after a collision with the German coaster Merkur a few years later with the loss of all hands

And whilst looking for an image I came across this moving poem which I think is by Jane Routh

The Silvery Sea

     sank 14th June 1998

Not in Rockall, Bailey or South East Iceland
nor in rips and overfalls off Duncansby Head;
not in storm force 10 or poor visibility;
not with light icing on the gear,
the barometer falling rapidly;
not from an open boat with canvas and oars,
in history

but now,
in the present tense
from a well-found purser more than 200 tons
with radar and GPS on a fine June morning
and in sight of the coast of Denmark,

there are empty liferafts and an oil slick
on the silvery sea.

And the sand eels
caught for top heavy tanks
that balance the books but not nature
are back in the sands 100 feet down
taking with them Zander and Tucker,
Michael, Billy and Druimdhu,
to the never-named fear
they held in their hearts
(a snagged net, an ankle gripped
by uncoiling wire ropes)
— the fear that has men
never learn to swim, has them
make peace with their women
— and with their God-each time
before the isophase light
on the east end of the pier
slips past to port.

Sorry, I lost the thread a bit there as I recalled those times and the men I must have met but we got our trailer loaded up and headed home.



Once home I got the boys busy 🙂


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after which I did a little tinkering with my hydro turbine

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which was doing far more work than it should have been for a day in June 🙂



  1. We are both volunteer hostel wardens who love looking after Raasay’s hostel. However, this year we cannot come, so what better way of keeping up to date than your wonderful blog. How long have you been doing this? Also, I see that you originate from Lancashire, is that anywhere near our neck of the woods,i.e. Helmshore in Rossendale?

    Comment by Victor Marcinkiewicz and Linda Doody — June 27, 2011 @ 11:46 am

    • Good morning and welcome Victor and Linda, Helmshore, yes I knew it well, had a couple of friends stay there, Graham Sparks and Billy Mushroom 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 29, 2011 @ 5:14 am

  2. Loved the video clip and hearing the wonderful accents! Sometimes, I wish my ancestors had just stayed in Scotland! We’re in Oregon, so how well I understand about the rain. We’re in the beginning of the “dry” season now. The lawn is still green for the moment, but before the dry season ends, the grass will be brown and we will be in the “red” zone for fire danger. Okay, must warm my coffee and read a few more of your back posts. Have a great week!

    Dianne (our farm blog)

    Comment by Dianne — June 27, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  3. Hi there, ive been following your blog for a while now, and its great reading. I was on Raasay several years ago and came upon ‘ Calums Road’ , although i didnt realise its significance at the time, until i found a book about it. Regarding your most recent blog about the coaster ‘Fingal’, i worked on the Forth n Clyde canal at Bowling, near Dumbarton, and used to see it passing, and wondered where it came from/was going to. So now i know! I havent been able to get away for a holiday for a while , but since being on Raasay ,and Skye of course, i have hoped to travel around that part of Scotland again, as it is a fantastic place.

    Comment by Gordon Smith — June 29, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

    • Good morning Gordon and welcome aboard 🙂 That MV Fingal certainly seems to get about, and at 27 years old she’s a good age. To be honest I bought a house at the end of ‘Calum’s road’ without realizing the significance of it 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 30, 2011 @ 5:10 am

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