Life at the end of the road

October 14, 2011

Catching up

Filed under: boats, daily doings, harbour, hydro, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:03 pm

It’s been a while since I was on here so it’ll probably be a little mixed up disjointed and inaccurate, so nothing fresh there then 🙂 I had promised a review of the Mull Little Theatre’s production of ‘Singing far into the night’ but that never happened.

Despite a busy day at work of hydraulics, rainbows and trucks I was all revved up for going, after all it was my last day at work so the 5:30 start wasn’t mandatory.


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The day started off as usual around 7:15 down at our new harbour and despite not being a fan of clam dredgers it was good to see the new pier being used by some other traffic.

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It was a fine enough day with just the odd shower to produce a splash of colour amongst the autumn hues.


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This immaculate DAF truck belonging to Mark Duncan was over with more roofing timbers for the new School Park houses. My relief turned up at 17:35 and I rushed home to feed the pigs and get changed, or so I thought. Not even through the croft gate when I met my neighbour who informed me that we had a very sick sheep nearby.

It was one of our Soay ewes that had been missing for a couple of weeks and she’d found it near her chalet very weak, injured and surrounded by pigs! She’d managed to disperse the pigs and tether the ewe to a tree but filled with adrenalin or the sheep equivalent the sick Soay had bolted when she spotted the rest of the flock.

After an hour of the entire population of Raasay’s north end (all five of us 🙂 ) sprackling about in the darkened birch woods we gave up. It was almost 20:00, the play would almost be starting and I was in no mood for getting changed and driving 11 miles to see it 😦


After an early night then feeding the herd and remainder of the flock wifey and I set off out on a beautiful morning to search for the ewe. Two hours later we gave up after finding nothing more than a few winter chanterelles.

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I had business in Portree to attend to but wifey, the Dude and his pal who’s cycled up from the south end continued the fruitless search.

She must be well hidden, for an animal in such a state would normally attract crows if at all visible, and of them there was no sign either. Many is the still living sheep that I’ve seen with its eyes or belly plucked out by these vile creatures.

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  Arriving home just after 16:00 we wasted no more time on what was most certainly by now a dead ewe and got on with the hydro turbine pipe. We had a couple of hours daylight to play with but managed to get the pipe re routed through the trench that we’d dug on my last ‘rest week’.

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The trench had reduced the height of the siphon by around half from 2m to 1m and the new route had the bonus of being some 15m shorter. So with the first two sections of pipe connected we primed it with the pump and headed home for dinner leaving the siphon running.


Another fine day greeted us, as did a still running and air free siphon on the heather below the loch as we headed over there after breakfast. The plan was to connect all the pipe work back up and fit valves at the dubious high spots. The smaller humps could be dealt with later using just a small drill and stainless screw for now but before investing in more saddles and valves I wanted to try it out in principle.

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These saddle clamps are a cheap and easy way of breaking into the pipe without cutting it. This is the first one going in at the high point within the trench.

The second one went in a couple of hundred meters away at a high spot just before the pipe dips into a small valley.

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Though not before I got soaked by some water that was still lying in the pipe, much to my workers amusement 🙂

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The next one we fitted at the last high point in the line, which was where I was unsure of its altitude relative to the loch.

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Molly the ‘wee dug’ wasn’t so sure either 🙂 An excessive hump here would have meant a double siphon and double headache. I’d consulted the map with a magnifying glass, tried a GPS and even worn my lucky underpants but come to no firm conclusions. The only way was to fit a vacuum/pressure gauge.

Anyway with three of my four saddles fitted and time pressing we went back to the loch and fired up the priming pump.

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Shutting each valve off as the air ceased to escape,


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once all the air was out we stopped the pump, went over to the last and most dubious hump and fitted a gauge.

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To my surprise and delight this turned out to be reading just over 10 psi of head with the pipe flowing at around 3lts/sec. From memory (so probably way out) each psi is around 2.22feet of head so still a good 7m below the level of the loch 🙂 It is far far easier to get air lochs out of a pipe under positive pressure than negative, the upshot of this being that the only but of the penstock under negative pressure is the first hump 🙂 That only being a small one can I’m sure be overcome with a little ingenuity and of course the internet 🙂 I’m not there yet but would have never got this far without the help of peeps from the US, Canada and Australia on more local advice from and of course from Hugh Piggott himself at the supplier of pretty much all my wind and hydro turbines.

Leaving that reluctantly behind we all headed south in the Land Rover to deposit my boys pal and his bike at home. After cycling all the way up ‘Calum’s road’ I could hardly make home ride home after all the effort he’d put in 🙂

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It wasn’t just the north end that was busy, the dry weather had the crofters out in force finishing off their silage in the Oskaig parks.

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As well as builders forging ahead on the new School Park houses.

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Today was a morning of dreaded paperwork followed by worming piglets and getting them loaded up for a trip to Skye.


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As you can see, they are very stressed 🙂

We arrived an hour early for the ferry as we had to meet another one of my slaves, sorry, my sons friends 🙂 which was just as well for we were in time to witness this.


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The departure of the 11:55 from Glame on one of articulated lorries 🙂 For many years this landmark has been the North Raasay Sheep Sock Club’s tea hut. After spending much of its life on routes in the Outer Isles this venerable old coach was converted to a camper van before finding its final resting place on the high moors opposite Portree.

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If it doesn’t get melted down for scrap it should give years of fun to anyone dedicated or daft enough to restore it 🙂

Ending on a sad note

It was whilst awaiting the ferry that I heard the sad news that Shelagh Taylor died yesterday in Raigmore hospital after a short but fierce and complicated battle with kidney cancer.


A native of Raasay she returned from America a few of years ago and was the happy face at Balfour Beatty for a couple of years. If you worked at or visited the harbour construction site it was Shelagh’s smile that greeted you. A regular visitor and commentator on the blog she often ‘put me right’ and filled in some gaps in local history.

Shortly after being diagnosed she set up this ‘Just giving’ page


Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page and a big thank you to all who have donated so far.

As most of you will know, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer December 14th 2010 & had a radical nephrectomy performed on February 7th 2011.  Whilst waiting for my surgery I empowered myself with as much information about my cancer as I could.  What I found was the lack of awareness of this type of cancer and lack of funding for new medicines that can help stop the spread or give increased quality of life.  I am lucky – I was told that all of the tumour (Clear Cell Renal Carcinoma or RCC) had been removed and the surgeon was confident that he had "got it all".  I will have to have 6 monthly follow up CT scans etc. to make sure the cancer has not metastised so the worry will always be there.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

So please dig deep and donate now.

Donating will not not bring her back or ease the pain and suffering of her relatives and many friends but it may help others in the future. 



  1. sad about your friend, did you every find the lost ewe?,, lovely shot of your trawler lit up in the night.. c

    Comment by ceciliag — October 15, 2011 @ 12:14 am

    • Morning Cecilia,

      no sign of the ewe yet despite more searching, probably gone over a cliff or we’d have seen the crows circling by now.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 16, 2011 @ 4:11 am

  2. Man if I had a dollar for everytime is got excited about restoring some piece of crap, I could probably
    afford to actually restore something. Good pictures of the bus. Sorry about your friend, good that your blog is helping raise money. Good stuff friend

    Comment by Tony Lucas — October 15, 2011 @ 7:24 am

    • Hi Tony,

      I can just see that bus with a big Cat in it and auto box 🙂 I’d rather see it restored to original condition right enough but that sure would be a helluva project. Speaking of which, I really must stop acquiring ‘junk’ for my retirement 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 16, 2011 @ 4:19 am

  3. Hi Paul, the family are all saddened to hear the news about Shelagh, may she rest in peace.

    Comment by jimmy mcmillan — October 15, 2011 @ 9:35 am

    • Morning Jimmy,

      sad news indeed, especially for one so young and full of life.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 16, 2011 @ 4:24 am

  4. I will be donating right now for Shelagh’s just giving page. She was such a lovely lady and my heart goes out to her family.

    Comment by Sarah — October 15, 2011 @ 9:38 am

    • Many thanks to you Sarah and all readers that have donated, I’m sure it is most appreciated by family and friends.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 16, 2011 @ 4:42 am

  5. Such sad news to hear of another death on Raasay.

    It’s a pity I don’t qualify (living down sowf and not in the Highlands and Islands region) for one of the new houses being built, such fantastic views, much better than the one I have of row upon row of houses . . . . .

    Comment by francesp — October 15, 2011 @ 10:31 am

  6. Paul, so sorry to hear about Shelagh

    and I agree with Frances, wish I were eligible for one of those houses … but from the sign you photographed, they seem aimed more at families … lovely to know that they’re encouraging families to remain on Raasay

    Comment by carina — October 15, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

    • Hi Carina, Sarah,

      get your name on the list, I think it’s VERY short 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 16, 2011 @ 4:44 am

  7. hi . had not heard the sad news until i read it on her , so i foned my cuz calum don right away . so so so sad she will meet my mum now . rest in peace …

    Comment by Sheila Stirton — October 15, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

    • Hi Sheila and welcome,

      sorry to be the bringer of such sad news, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 16, 2011 @ 4:48 am

  8. Sad news indeed.

    Andy & family

    Comment by Andy — October 15, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

    • Morning Andy and all,

      hope you’re all well down there and enjoying the holidays 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 16, 2011 @ 4:47 am

  9. I am sorry to hear about your friend. Even thoug h I don’t know any of you I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Comment by Susan — October 16, 2011 @ 1:37 am

  10. Thank You Paul for remembering my dear cousin in your blog

    Comment by Margaret-ann — October 17, 2011 @ 2:39 am

    • Good morning Margaret-Ann,

      just wish I’d known her better then I could remember more. See you on Thursday?


      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 18, 2011 @ 9:24 am

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