Life at the end of the road

September 2, 2011

Wallsend :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, hydro — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:21 pm

It’s well after 22:00 so there’s little chance of much ‘pro’s’ tonight, I’ve just finished a smoked salmon dinner, two glasses of well earned wine and I’m ready for bed 🙂

It was back to the dry stone walling course for wifey, myself and six others today on a morning that was in sharp contrast to the sunshine of September the first.

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I took the Dude to the ferry for school whilst wifey fed the pigs, killing the intervening hour before Hector Nicolson arrived by taking the ‘wee dug’ for a walk by the old pier. The day did not look very promising as I gazed over to Sconser, but that didn’t distract from my enthusiasm for it.

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There were a few showers but we hardly seemed to notice them, as under Hector’s guidance we got on with our task. This is the body of the wall finished and the first ‘cope stone’ going on

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the cope stones being the ones on the top, as if you hadn’t already figured that out 🙂

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At all times we were working to lines stretched between the two sections of wall and the cope was no exception,

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and under Hectors guidance we started at the top of the hill. The logic behind this being that if each stone is placed in such a way as it supports itself it is less likely to fall like a stack of dominos if one is knocked out by a deer or some such.

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That’s it, the final stones going in 🙂

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and just look at that section of wall, to say that we were all proud of it would be something of an understatement 🙂 I know that everyone of us will pass this section of wall for years to come and think “we did that” 🙂 Hopefully it will be the first of many, as we plan to get a group going and tackle some of Raasay’s many other damaged walls 🙂

Having the wall finished around 14:00 we did some minor repairs elsewhere before cleaning up and calling it a day. Acquiring some literature off Hector from the Dry stone walling association before he left. Setting off home with the ‘wee dug’ I got distracted by some mushrooms

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and ‘lucky white heather’

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Arriving home around 17:00 I started work on the intake filter for my hydro turbine

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using an old cold water tank, some cut up fish cage floats and some stainless steel mesh.

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The filter was barely one third finished before hunger drove my in around 20:00, after which I kept my promise to the swineherd of making dinner.

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A paupers affair of wild salmon and wild mushrooms, you can tell it’s wild by that lovely sharp tail, the farmed offering is much more rounded.

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The fish even came with it’s own lice 🙂 I should know the name of these parasites for I worked in the industry for long enough and they were a real problem, but as you well know ‘I’ve a memory like a hen’. Much is made of the lice, rounded fins, stocking densities and industrial fishing required to support this industry by environmental groups, incomers and the Tory press. The same people will then quite happily eat Danish bacon, Hungarian turkeys and battery farmed chicken products. Me I’m not a fan of any intensive farming methods but at least this one provides full time employment in a fragile economy and I can assure you that these fish have a far better life than most pigs and hens that end up in Tesco’s.

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I hot smoked the salmon in oak chips with nothing more than a dab of butter a drop of lemon juice and a twist of salt and pepper.

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Deeeelish 🙂



  1. Those mushrooms look good, how you cooking them.

    Comment by Gaz — September 2, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

    • Hi Gaz,

      the chanterelles just fried in butter and the large boletus dried for use in winter soups, there not actually that tasty fresh and a little slimy but that was such a fine specimen I had to pick it 🙂 Chopped finely they add a nice aroma and are pleasant enough once cooked.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 3, 2011 @ 5:56 am

  2. the idea of the band of you setting about to set the stones of raasay back in order just about kills me. god bless.
    i hope miss puppy got a bite of salmon, or at least of the lice.

    Comment by jeannette — September 2, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

    • Molly the ‘wee dug’ did indeed enjoy her salmon Jeannette 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 3, 2011 @ 5:56 am

  3. I am envious of your ability to spot mushrooms. I know so many places where there are large mushrooms like that but dont have the knowledge to know whether they will kill me 😦
    True words about the fish. Never let any danish bacon in my house, not for any welfare reasons, just the fact that it tastes dreadful compared to Yorkshire, Ayrshire or Cumbrian finest dry cure

    Comment by simon — September 3, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

  4. you will have to give us a list of the good mushrooms and the bad ones, are they in season at the moment

    Comment by Gaz — September 3, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

    • Hi Gaz, Simon,

      this is the mushroom pickers bible I would never advise anyone to pick mushrooms without consulting it first. Some can make you very ill by just touching them if you then eat without washing your hands they are so deadly. Some have NO antidote and will give you a slow and agonizing death over two or three weeks. Some are absolutely idiot proof here on Raasay, like the chanterelle but there may be similar ones in your area that are not. I’m no expert but my father is, having the knowledge handed down to him from generations before him in Italy. If you are keen then now is the time when many are at their best but do try and find ‘one who knows’ to show you.

      I was brought up with it and find it strange that there is no tradition, and precious little knowledge about them in this area where often food was in short supply.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 3, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

  5. I have a similar book (collins guide). what scares me is that every page has three types, some edible and some deadly. Trouble is they all look the same to me. I can however identify a fly agaric, lots of them in the woods at the back of my house.

    Comment by simon — September 3, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

  6. Hi Paul,
    The wall looks ‘like new’, great job, well done. Those mushrooms look good too. I agree about getting somebody to show you the ropes. We had neighbours in Sweden who were from the ‘old’ East Germany where the need for food had ensured this kind of knowledge was maintained and passed on through the generations: they taught us a lot and gave us confidence. They had a wonderful fieldguide/book in German. We found a copy of virtually the same one (in French! – which we know) on Amazon. Simon, we also have the old Collins guide: illustrations useless, badly arranged etc. I wouldn’t use that under any circumstances, save Chanterelles maybe! We use:

    Comment by Iain — September 4, 2011 @ 8:44 am

    • Thanks Ian (and Paul). I am going to buy a copy of that book you suggest.

      Comment by Simon — September 4, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

    • This dry stone walling is a bit addictive Iain and appears to have gone to the Wife’s head. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she said a hammer and some brick laying line pins 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 6, 2011 @ 5:12 am

      • With a new house to build soon, this could be the perfect gift package. You might also get yourself a recliner and a spirit-level; just so you can keep an eye on her progress in comfort!

        Comment by Iain — September 6, 2011 @ 7:07 am

      • Morning Iain,

        recliner my foot, I’ll be outside cracking the whip 🙂

        Cheers, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 9, 2011 @ 4:02 am

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