Life at the end of the road

July 17, 2011

What to do with lobster ?

Filed under: daily doings, food, How I, hydro, Land Rover, life off grid, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:33 pm

Considering the weather, which has been one of those days that both wind and hydro turbines have been working overtime, I have got much done. To be honest getting anything done outside today in the lashing rain was an achievement, but that’s what comes of having a VAT return due, I’ll find any excuse available not to stay in the house 🙂

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Yup, even on a day like this I’d rather be outside than in front of a warm fire with a steaming coffee and pile of paperwork 🙂

With the rain having fallen steadily all night, or at least since 2:30 when I first awoke I went down to the secret cove where my ‘Stream Engine’ resides.


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It’s a magical spot down there, protected by these high cliffs and the old rustling aspens above it gets little weather or salt spray despite only being a few feet above MHWS (mean high water springs). Any other spot along this rugged shore in Loch Arnish would have lost me 5m of head. All was well with the little Canadian turbine so I left in merrily churning out 750w and headed home through the birch wood.

My boys pal who’d been helping me for the last couple of days had to be on the 10:00am ferry so we hitched up the trailer to the Land Rover and headed south. It was a good day for collecting beach stones for the veg patch.


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Once we’d cleared the thick mist over Glame the yacht Northern Spirit came into view anchored in the lee of Holoman island, a good spot for sheltering from north wind but one regularly used. In fact I don’t ever think I’ve seen another craft here, though I do recall the Royal yacht Britannia stayed here once in her yearly visits to Raasay.

Once we’d said goodbye to our helper we collected some more on the pretext of ‘playing with my son’ and headed north with a cargo of stones into the rapidly deteriorating weather.


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Even I would not choose to drag my boys friends out on a day like this, so I left them on the Xbox and got wrapped up to do some more work on ‘Quadzilla’

Do NOT buy a Quadzilla 🙂

Now I know I keep going on about ‘crap from China’, which is probably unfair, because I know the Chinese can produce some fine stuff, it’s just none of it seems to find its way up to Arnish. I’m sure the pap that they send over here is due in no small part to greedy western companies, demanding stuff that’s made for peanuts and our disposable society. And this quad made by Linhai seems to typify much of it, at first glance it pushes all the right buttons and has all the right features. Quite apart from being half the price of a Honda, It’s got a gutsy 300cc water cooled engine, disc brakes all round, good ground clearance, sturdy looking carriers for and aft, variable transmission with high and low ratio and a host of electronic features. However everything on it seems photodegradable, from the perished rubber gaiters and boots to the cheap plastic switches. A couple of days in the rain and sun saw it fade and rust before my very eyes 😦

The list of things that have failed or fell off it in just over 12 months include the clutch (spectacularly at 241miles) the battery, ignition switch, hand brake, fuel pump and now one of the rear wheels is about to fall off 😦

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Now the fact that only two wheel nuts remained on the right hand rear could in all fairness be due to someone not tightening it up after a puncture. However I don’t ever recall it having one and the crap design of just bolts poked through the hub with ‘spire clips’ to hold them in position is pathetic.

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I managed to find a couple of high tensile M12 bolts that fitted once I’d ground the flats down from 19mm to 18mm to fit the hub and all was peachy. OK, the nuts didn’t have a taper on them and I had to use a couple of washers but the wheel was goosed anyway 😦

Back to the penstock

Just as I’d finished that one of the boys came out, he’d obviously had enough of the Xbox 🙂 Not my son I hasten to add because the thing had been ‘off limits’ for days 🙂 Fair play to the dude, for he can only use the ‘power hungry beast’ when the battery voltage is over 50v, so he does not get much chance in the summer unless the generator starts up 🙂

It was truly miserable by now but that did not stop helper, dug and I heading over to Tarbert to drag the penstock pipe down the cliff.


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Here’s where we got the end of our 750 or so meter long pipe to yesterday just at the top of the cliff. That was the full length of what I’d ‘rescued’ from the fish farm and went right back to Loch Beag. I figured that it would be easier to drag the 90mm MDPE pipe down the cliff then measure what was required to make up the shortfall at the top rather than trying to work it out through the ‘jungle’


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OK, it wasn’t an actual ‘cliff’ but it was pretty steep and a boodly hard climb up 🙂

Once that was done we walked back to the quads and drove around to rearrange the pipe.

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There’s still much more work to do but we did manage to ascertain that 170m more pipe should be plenty, the really hard part will be trying to route it so there are no dips in it to catch sediment or high spots to trap air. One high spot is going to be inevitable as the pipe is going to have to siphon out of the loch, or at least it is if I can’t get a digger down there 🙂

Lobster and leek frittata

If it was up to me we’d be living of fish and seafood (for years I did) but I’m afraid wife and child would mutiny if we had it more than two or three times a week. As with many things up here it’s ‘famine or feast’ and just now it’s lobster and mushrooms in abundance. There’s only so much you can do with a lobster here on Raasay, not through any lack of recipes but because most of the ones I come across have ingredients that we can’t get at short notice so we usually just have it with a salad or on sandwiches.

Today however I was determined to make a proper meal of the nice hen lobster that my boys pal had brought us yesterday. A little ‘Googling’ of leek and lobster came up with this and what’s more we had everything in the kitchen.


1 lobster (1-1/2 pounds)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small leek, white part only
4 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, fine diced
8 eggs
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Well, apart from seven of the eggs and the chanterelles, but my neighbour had eggs and I donned my oilskins to pick those up and collect some ‘shrooms’ on the way back 🙂

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Twenty minutes in the birch wood saw me with more than enough chanterelles and some hedgehog fungus.

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The spines that give them their name are clearly visible underneath these tasty morsels and I’ve picked them as late as Hogmanay, unlike other mushrooms these do not go mushy and soak up water after prolonged rain or even snow. They are also extremely difficult to mistake for anything else that’s poisonous.

A frittata is basically an Italian word for omelette and the procedure is pretty ‘idiot proof’

“Steam or boil the lobster for 10 minutes.Remove from heat and let stand until cool enough to handle. Crack the claws knuckles and tail section;remove the lobster meat and finely dice.Set aside.

Heat the butter in a small saute pan over medium heat.Add the leek and mushrooms; saute for 4 to 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

Lightly beat the eggs with the cream in a large bowl. Stir in the lobster meat mushroom mixture and herbs.Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat;pour in the egg-lobster mixture. As the eggs starts to cook pierce the mixture and pull in the edges with a rubber spatula to allow the uncooked egg on top to move through to the bottom. When the frittata is almost set (firm but still somewhat liquid on top),place the pan under the broiler to finish cooking the top.Slide the frittata onto a cutting board and cut into wedges.Serve hot or at room temperature.”

That’s copied from the link, which omits telling you to chop the leek but that’s pretty obvious anyway 🙂

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Finished under the grill and served with roast potatoes and peas, delicious 🙂

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As we have actually had some weather today I’ll post a screenshot

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though I think my rain gauge has gone ‘Quadzilla’ on me 🙂


Eight thirty!!!!! :-(

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 5:49 am

It’s pretty black outside for 4:30am, heavy cloud, wind and the lashing rain that were promised earlier have arrived. Well at least I won’t have to do any serious work today or go out fishing 🙂 To be honest I don’t think that I could 🙂 I did sit down in front of here last night around 20:00 for half an hour staring at the photos that I’d taken and looking for inspiration but it eluded me. I was just plain whacked, the boy and his pal had worn me out, half an hour later I crawled up to bed without even a wash or bath and fell sound asleep with all the ticks and bites I’d acquired through the day, that’ll teach me to were shorts 🙂

To say that it was a ‘peach of a day’ would probably be being a little ‘News International’, for there was, for a short while some of that special ‘stealth rain’. Stealth rain is something that seems peculiar to these parts, probably because ‘normal rain’ usually comes sideways in large drops a 35Knts. Stealth rain is more of nuclear mist that cons you into thinking it’s not really rain at all, but soaks you all the same 😦

As usual I fed everyone, then enjoyed a little silence in the house and on the lap top until the rest of the house got shocked into activity by five rapid blasts from my shotgun in the vicinity of some fleeing pigeons. Two would have sufficed, as one of the ‘flying rats’ fell to earth after the second squeeze but I seemed to have caught a dose of ‘scenario fulfilment’ and anyway, it was a good alarm call 🙂

With the boys up I got stuck straight into the ‘pipe laying’ epic from Loch Beag, around the ‘Hill of the hind’ ( I don’t know it’s Gaelic name) and down to Tarbert.

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The going was starting to get a little tricky on this section so we laid a couple of the shorter 50m long pipes here.

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To say it was a little unnerving coming down this slope would be putting it mildly, indeed, had I not been dragging a 50m ‘anchor’ I wouldn’t have attempted it. My compatriot took the sensible route minus his pipe 🙂

Quadzilla dies again 😦

The piece of junk that is my mates Quadzilla 300 quad had died again, this time at Torran where it had refused to start or even turn over. So after breakfast we headed over, another quad would be handy 🙂 Investigation had revealed the sump to be full of petrol again, though this time the cause was my home made fuel pump diaphragm and not the Chinese rag that ‘Linhai’ had used 😦

My mate, the proud owner, had phoned the night before saying that he’d been unable to get a new diaphragm from Linhai, bit of a disgrace really because these are so poorly made they must fail regular. I thought making another was pointless, as the one I’d made from an old inner tube had lasted even less than the original, so I decided to bypass it.

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Not as daft as it sounds, for the tank is higher than the carburettor so gravity is quite capable of doing the job of this unnecessary complication, the Honda and Yamaha don’t require them so why this does is beyond me, OK, if you spend a long time riding upside down but I can’t see that happening intentionally 🙂 I just removed the fuel pipes and connected the carb directly to the fuel filter, the mole grips are on the vacuum pipe to the manifold to stop it drawing air through the split diaphragm. 

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That’s what unleaded does to an old inner tube after a few days 😦


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After sorting out the Quadzilla we went back to the pipe and managed to get all the stuff I’d acquired on Wednesday laid, though I’m still a good 100m short 😦 This is as far as you can get pulling with the quad, after here it’s down that cliff through the jungle.


quad at tarbert

The red cross is just about where the Honda is, the last pipe is around 70m into the wood. Feeling pretty pleased with our effort we headed home for lunch on what was a rapidly improving day.


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The ‘Hill of the hind’ had a couple of stags climbing it as we rode home 🙂


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To be honest I was somewhat flabbergasted to see these two chaps, as someone, who shall remain nameless 🙂 phoned me up last week and apologised for shooting them. Obviously he shot two others, either that or these two are zombies 🙂

The red throated diver

After a quick plate full of noodles and beans we turned our attention to my mates hydro turbine that runs the old schoolhouse at Torran . That lovely white building above the two stags is powered by solar panels and a ‘Harris turbine’. As it’s a while since I was up at the lochs to check the inlet we went up to do it.

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Abandoning the quads at the new Torran, Kyle Rona boundary fence we followed it eastwards, I say new but it must have been up 15 years now, the remains of the old iron one being visible here and there.

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Here’s what must have been one end of it set in the cliff in lead. My old dear and departed friend Murdo Nicolson of Torran told me how they would bore the holes with a chisel, one man hitting it with a hammer whilst the other turned it, a long and slow process, then they would heat a pan of lead over a fire and pour it in the hole with the metal post in.

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Unbelievably, from up here, over a mile away you could see our handiwork snaking over the heather from Loch Beag to Tarbert, I was very impressed 🙂

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All was fine in Loch nan Dubhan, well apart from a dead eel, just imagine swimming to and from the Sargasso sea to this godforsaken spot 100m up a virtual cliff, no wonder it was did 🙂

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We lifted the filter in the higher Loch Airigh na h-Aon Oidhiche, ‘The loch of the one night shieling’ but that to was fine.

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We were also treated to a good view of the red throated diver that has lived here for generations, well not the actual one but at least one of the offspring.

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red throated diver

That was about it really on the landward front, after that we went out and lifted the creels, for just one wee lobster that went straight back, I’m sure I’ve caught her before 🙂

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Smelling of bait and the sea we all sat down to a much needed steak pie for dinner, after which I fed the pigs and pretty much went to bed. I just can’t keep up with these young uns 🙂

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