Life at the end of the road

July 6, 2011

All ‘tweaked up’ :-)

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:59 pm

Despite the fact that it’s been raining from the moment I set off out of the house to feed the herd this morning I’m in great spirits. Whilst it has been wet all day it didn’t start with any kind of attitude until the lat afternoon, and anyway most of my day was spent travelling about Skye in the car so I didn’t get that wet.

The plan had been to perhaps get the boat launched during the mornings high tide, then catch the 10:55 ferry for a spot of shopping in Portree. Then it was onto an appointment with Catriona Purll of to get my back ‘tweaked’. My back has been just fine since she sorted it over a year ago after only two sessions, several visits to the doctors had proved useless, well apart from the Diazepam that left me chilled, relaxed and on a different planet 🙂 It didn’t cure the problem but at least it stopped me fidgeting and eased the pain. Still it was hardly a long term solution and was doing nothing to get at the root cause that had evaded conventional medicine.

Through careful lifting and not having to move half as many 200lt barrels of diesel thanks to my fuel bowser the old back has been just peachy. The last couple of weeks however I’ve been getting a wee twinge from the region of the sciatic nerve so I thought it was time for a yearly service 🙂

As the day was pretty wet and miserable we decided to catch the earlier ferry and have a run into Dunvegan for ammunition. Three weeks off work might give me chance to get some rabbits in the freezer and dispatch a few more pigeons so I might as well go when the weather’s cr4p and I’ve got wifey’s wee car.


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It also gave us chance to call in at the Dunvegan country market for some fresh produce, from amongst others, our friend and fellow pig keeper Dave Bulmer of Skye Harvest in Staffin

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As well as food there were plenty of local crafts on offer and the community hall was quite busy.

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Leaving there with bags full of broccoli, cauliflower, eggs and some fine courgette plants we called for a bite to eat at the Dunvegan bakery just up the road With 140 years of continuous baking behind them this tiny bakery on the main road is Skye’s oldest and a fine place for a bacon sandwich or bowl of home made soup. They also have a fine collection of old ship photographs and newspaper cuttings relating to the evacuation of Soay, a small island off Skye,_Skye

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Amongst the photos are a couple of crackers of the first world war E class submarines E49 and E52 at the Muirtown lochs in Inverness.

E52 survived the war to be sold for scrap in 1921 but E49 was sunk by a mine laid by UC76 in March 1917 with the loss of all hands. Based in Balta Sound Shetland she went down just after leaving harbour for a patrol and lies there to this day in 30m of crystal clear water


I’ve never dived on her but my dear departed friend ‘Grumpy Pete’ did in 1987 and was probably one of the first to do so since the initial salvage survey in 1917.

After crossing a damp and misty Skye we arrived in Portree in plenty of time for my appointment with Catriona at the Arms Centre where she does consultations once a week on Wednesday. The centre was I think built specially to house the hyperbaric chamber for MS sufferers

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is NOT a cure for Multiple Sclerosis – but it does seem effective in the longer term in helping the condition to stabilise in many people.In addition it often succeeds in obtaining an improvement in bladder control and a reduction in fatigue symptoms. The initial treatment consists of breathing oxygen through a mask for one hour per day over a maximum of 20 days. This takes place in a large pressurised chamber that allows up to eight people to be treated simultaneously. This is followed up by "Top up" sessions which may vary from once a week to once monthly. All sessions are individually monitored.”

but also hosts a few other clinics now

“Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Osteopath Clinic
Shiatsu Clinic
Homeopathy Clinic
Alexander Technique
Motomed machine

I waited patiently for a few minutes next to the recompression chamber to be called into the consulting room next door. The last time I was in one of those I was suffering a bend and in great pain. It was around 1993 and I’d arrived at the one in Kishorn by helicopter delirious after an incident near the Sgeir Cnapach off Oscaig. It was the third 30m plus dive for scallops of the day and probably the eighteenth of the week.  Whilst my computer said I was fine, calculating decompression times is not an exact science as all people are different. Every dive carries with it a risk, the more you do and the deeper you go the higher the risk 😦

  I have done many things in my life, I’ve been as high as a kite and as low as a snakes willy, I have picked death up and stared him straight between the eyes at 60m under the sea. But to be put in one of those in excruciating pain, be ‘pressed’ down to 18m on pure oxygen and have all pain instantly disappear is almost worth getting a bent for :-) 

Sorry, got distracted there in  my memories 🙂 for me that bend was a life changing moment, had I surfaced one minute earlier I may not have got it, had I stayed down one minute longer the bubble may have lodged in my neck or spine leaving me brain damaged or paralysed. I can honestly say that I have looked at life very differently since that incident 🙂

Anyway Catriona worked her magic and I came out with a spring in my step, I’ll probably feel like I’ve been hit by a truck tomorrow but that’s the way it goes 🙂

We arrived home just after16:00 and I took bait out of the freezer and went down to the shore in the pishing rain to prepare the boat for launching. I had planned to go out but the deluge and low tide disheartened me so I left the boat and went to squeeze a few more watts out of my hydro turbine by altering the nozzles. The rain may not be good for work or play but it’s great for charging the batteries 🙂



  1. Hi Paul, great read as ever. The vis on the E52 is amazing, another one added to my list of ‘to do dives’. Your bend story sent shivers down my spine though, when i worked as a diver abroad we were very often pushed to beyond safe limits by unscrupulous operators eager to earn money without a care for our safety. It got to the stage where we had to dangle our computers overboard on a line to decompress themselves or the computer would ‘lock us out’ from using it again for a couple of days, fun times but i’m amazed i never got bent, four dives a day, heavy manual work in between each dive in the sun and loads of alcohol in the evenings 🙂 – all the things we should have avoided!

    Cheers, Rich.

    Comment by Rich — July 6, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

    • Morning Rich,

      the viz in Shetland is truly amazing, the best I’ve seen in the UK. I was there in 1986 diving some deep wrecks from a boat called ‘Queen of Hearts’. Well they were deep by 1986 standards on air, the names escape me just now but Glen Isla and Gwedelmena ring a bell. At the time these wrecks, in 55m plus had rarely been dived and of course there was no GPS. The skipper threw a shot into the wreck and said “I’m not 100% sure if we’re on the wreck, can someone go and have a look”. As you can imagine after a statement like that no one rushed forward to be the first to waste a 57m dive on a flat sandy bottom 😦 He obviously clocked this and then added “don’t worry you’ll see it at around 18m”. Yours truly thought ‘aye right’ but went over the side anyway as no none else seemed ‘up for it’. Turned out the skipper was wrong, at around 11m below the surface the entire intact wreck came into view lying upright on a flat white sandy bottom. I let go of the shot line and free falled the last 39m to the bridge 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 7, 2011 @ 6:26 am

      • Nice one Paul, sometimes it pays to be first over the side eh? Definately going to check out the Shetlands as soon as i can (as soon as my ‘delayed union’ fractured tibia has healed that is, it’s only been 14 months since i did it :-(….).
        Thanks, Rich.

        Comment by Rich — July 7, 2011 @ 10:38 am

      • Morning Rich, definitely wish I’d have spent more time up there in the 1980s. I dived on one small wreck that had rolled off a shallow reef into 35m of water, peering over the edge of the reef, which was only around 9m you could see the wreck at the bottom !!!

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 9, 2011 @ 5:27 am

  2. Just noticed The Good Ship Loch Striven safely tied up to Raasay showing up on the Marine Traffic site – progress indeed.
    I was only looking to try to find the tall ships that left S. Ireland a week ago – they’re near the Isle of Bute at the moment,the course is Waterford, Greenock, Lerwick, Stavanger and Halmstad. With the weather you’ve been having it should be an “interesting” trip. Still really enjoying the site – hope that Jamie Lee produces her little ones soon, your maths can’t be that bad can it ! Sue

    Comment by Sue Mason — July 7, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

    • Morning Sue,

      seven little piglets during the night, only one month out with my maths 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 9, 2011 @ 5:29 am

  3. That is a scary bend story Paul, I did a chamber operators course in plymouth and it gave me a lot of respect for what is a tricky job . I was always a stickler when supervising sport divers to allow a safety margin on dives.I came to realise working divers never got that leeway when I met the Fort Bovisand commercial diver trainees.
    The Tall ships mostly arrived two days early at Greenock due to taking a short cut across the Irish Sea instead of North around the Atlantic side of Ireland. They can also be seen berthed in Stornoway and Ullapool on 15th and 16th.

    Comment by Gary Brindle — July 7, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    • Morning Gary, that’s not the scariest story by far 🙂 I’ve had more than my share of scrapes with the ‘grim reaper’ 🙂 running out of air at 35m in a flooded mine, swept onto a reef in a big swell on the Farne Islands and lost by my cover boat on several occasions 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 9, 2011 @ 5:34 am

  4. Hi paul, talking of those tablets you were on, ive been on them for the last 13 months (since leaving rassay) and due to our wonderfull NHS im still no nearer to getting sorted, i stopped them for a couple of days and just lay on the couch sweating and shaking like a battery hen, so now it seems like im a junky 🙂 i was asked back into the hospital the other day and was told i had a disc pressing against the nerve its funny im sure i told THEM that 13 months ago. Thats my rant over now :)hope all your family is well now anyway.

    Comment by jimmy mcmillan — July 8, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

    • Thirteen months Jimmy, that’s a disgrace. I was only on them for a couple of weeks and was scared of getting ‘hooked’. From my experience the NHS just aren’t very good with backs 😦

      Aye we’re all fine up here matey, be good to see you all some time.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 9, 2011 @ 5:43 am

  5. Sorry to spoil the part here, but, the Submarines shown in the photo above with the Pennat Number 49 & 52 are not E Class at all. My guess would be an E Class would struggle in the Lochs. This is Pre WW1, and those Pennat Numbers are for the C Class Submarines C19, Pennat Number 49, & C22 Pennat Number 52. These 2 submarines were based in Dundee with the 7th Flotilla from November 1909 to 1914 when the war started.

    If You look close on the bow of the submarines you can see the number 22, strange system the Pennant number system, confuses everyone. I have not been able to work out when these 2 submarines went through the canal system pre WW1 & why.

    Comment by D Brown — January 28, 2013 @ 8:47 am

    • Hi D Brown and welcome aboard,

      Sorry to spoil the part here not at all, I’m no expert and willing to learn 🙂 I see what you mean about the 22 on the bow too. If you do find out why they were there I’d love to know.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 28, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

      • Hi Paul,

        in WW1 i found only one case of a submarine taking this track, that was the B3, she took the West to East coast route to became the training vessel for the newly formed Hyrdophone service near Rosyth but she had run into trouble enroute by running aground at Port Augustus. I tried in vain to get a copy of that photo of C19 & C22 Posted here. Prior to about July 1914 the submarines kept no log books, so it is difficult to find out when these 2 submarines took passage in the canal and i think the only way would be via a local newspaper report of the day as it would have been unusual. (So if anyone can help here, great). When B3 took passage in 1916 it must have been a sight to see a submarine passing through Nessie”s pond, I wonder if these teased the locals with some diving trials lol.

        My Great grandfather was the signalman in C20, while his brother-inlaw was the signalman in C22 shown here, (both married sistes from Dundee), so was interested to blow the photo up to see if he was onboard, this giving me a time frame of when this was taken as he was only with her in 1913. Anyway, a very interesing topic as C19 & C22 could well be the first submarines to take this passage as it was and possibily a trial run, I will trawl through all the depot ship log books and see if i can dig anyhting out. But i do not think any escorts could take this passage, so again maybe no log book support either:(

        Cheers D.

        Comment by D Brown — January 28, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

      • Hi D, most interesting, I’m sure there is another picture from a different angle in the tearoom, I’ll take a copy next time that I’m in there.

        Cheers, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 28, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

  6. Hi Paul, would love some scanned copies if there is any way of getting one. I have also seen another photo of one of these submarines coming down the canal. If anyone can give me a lead as to which newspaper has an archive that can be searched on line maybe that could be the way to date this event.


    Comment by D Brown — January 30, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

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