Life at the end of the road

November 26, 2011

Stranded :-(

Filed under: daily doings, harbour — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:28 pm

The first real winter weather has arrived with avengance (which according to my ‘spellcheck’ is not a word) but I’m keeping it in anyway. It hit with a right bang around an hour after we left Raasay on the 9:55 ferry and is one of the reasons why there’s been little activity on the blog front, for I think that was the last but one ferry for the day. Certainly there were no more sailings from Raasay from 12:15 onwards and it left many stranded on either shore.

Still that’s one of the joys of island life and there’ve been far less disruptions and grey hairs since we moved to the new ferry terminal at Clachan. I had of course checked the forecast the night before and it didn’t seem like ferry stopping weather, but I’d failed to reassess the situation in the morning during the mad rush to 

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feed the pigs and change bedding in the arks.


An expensive rusty ladder

We arrived at the terminal just in time for the ferry and just as one of the rusty ladders was being lifted off the new pier by a very capable looking crane.


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Now I’m no expert but it struck me as a little OTT when another crane appeared to assist, how heavy can a ladder be ?? The words ‘health and safety gone mad’ spring to mind. Those ladders can’t be much more than a ton, if that, so why bring what must be an 18ton crane from the east coast ?? The world has gone mad!

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Perhaps it’s just me and I’m a dinosaur, an extinct creature that has just managed reach the ripe old age of 55 without losing any limbs just to trusting in his lucky underpants. I can’t wait to retire 🙂

The weather rapidly went downhill during the day and all the outdoor jobs like clearing the gutters and checking the water supply at my parents were put on hold. Instead I spent most of the day inside checking the sailing status and watching the fearsome hail showers and spindrift from safety of may parents toasty conservatory 🙂 If it’s bad in Loch Duich you can bet it’s horrendous at Sconser 🙂

Fortunately we’d already arranged pig feeders, had not to worry about the herd so we just made the most of it with a fish supper from Hectors 2 go and an early night at my parents. And I can’t recommend this establishment highly enough, exquisite fish, large portion, friendly service and proper mushy peas 🙂

An early night in bed followed the haddock and chips so we’d be fresh for the 6:30 start, well so wifey would be fresh, me I’m always annoyingly alive in the morning 🙂

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Sure enough at Sconser we found a good portion of Raasay natives awaiting the first sailing from Sconser, yet more causalities of the extreme weather of the previous day.

Home at last 🙂

After exchanging stories of our stranded nights with the various other Raasarians in the queue we boarded the Loch Linnhe for home. Ours was one of the more fortunate tales. One poor lassie had just ‘nipped’ over to Broadford hospital yesterday and been stranded with two children and no mobile phone 😦 She was only in hospital ten minutes and arrived back to Sconser in time for the cancelled 13:00 sailing. Having no phone or change she drove to  the in Portree, great website, no public phone 😦 Not being offered the use of their own she went to the tourist information centre, phone there but minimum of 60p she didn’t have 😦 Fortunately she met a former Raasay resident in the Portree Co Op who gave her and her two children a bed for the night.

The other stranded travellers included much of the cast from who had been booked into the for the night prior to the performance. Just as well they weren’t on Raasay for I think the place was full of storm bound workers 🙂


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Very emotional

It wasn’t much and it was probably hail not snow but it was white and it was on Raasay 😦

We finally arrived at the end of ‘Calum’s road’ to a hungry herd at around 9:30 and after feeding them and myself I attacked the wife’s car. Or to be more precise, set about doing a major service on her Nissan Almera and replacing the rear discs and pads.


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Dodging hail showers and freeing off the seized calipers took me pretty much the whole day and I was all too ready for the hot bath and dinner prior to the ‘big event’. The ‘big event’ being the last performance of the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of ‘Calum’s road’ adapted from Roger Hutchinson’s best selling book .


Adapted by David Harrower with screenplay and direction by Gerry Mulgrew this celebrated production was finishing its nationwide tour, very aptly, on the island of its inspiration.

To say that I had reservations would be far too strong a word but I’m a cynical old git at the best of times and not a great fan of the media. I’m also very sceptical of dramatisation of anything that purports to be of real events. I’ve lived here at the end of ‘Calum’s road’ for 22 years and know many of the people, alive and dead in the story. So I have to confess that my heart was just beating a little bit faster than normal when I joined the long queue at the door, especially after meeting both David Harrower and Gerry Mulgrew on the way in, both who complemented me on the blog 🙂

However after meeting my friend, neighbour (albeit not as permanent as she’d like) and Calum’s daughter Julia MacLeod in the foyer, my ‘reservations’ abated. Her face said it all, a mixture of joy and deep emotion. Upon entering the transformed hall, climbing up the professionally installed seating to the ‘gods’

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seeing the sound, lighting engineers

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and seeing the stage, I knew we were in for a treat.

I’m not even going to try and tell you how good it was for there is probably just as much cr4p spouted by the mouths of theatre critics as there is wine buffs and football pundits and I barely scraped through a GCE in English 🙂 It was simply, well acted, funny, deep, sad and emotional, leaving myself, and I’m sure many others in tears.

Some names had been changed, though I knew the folk well enough, but I think the director and producer captured the spirit of the story of the road and the depopulation of the north end (and probably much of the highlands) very eloquently.  Many of the chapters in this epic tale I’ve heard first hand but the one that’s etched most clearly in my mind is two schoolchildren being left with their suitcases to trudge miles home alone in the snow. Not because I heard it in a play or saw it on TV but because I’ve known about it for years, and still these friggin clowns in the council wouldn’t build a road.

All too soon the marvellous production was over and the entire population of Arnish plus a few ‘willing helpers headed north in the well heated and illuminated Land Rover. It would have been nice to stay, mingle and perhaps have a drink or two in the hotel, but I, like Calum had a road to build 🙂 OK, mine was being built with a 7.5ton Hitachi digger and a 6ton Terex dumper  by Hugh MacKay but it still needed doing at ‘cock crow’ 🙂


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But I’ll tell you all about that later, and I hasten to add that it was I and not Mr MacKay that got the dumper stuck 🙂

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He just pulled it out 🙂



  1. Hi there Paul,
    So glad you loved ‘Calum’s Road’ and posted a lovely photo of the backdrop. I hope everyone else on the island liked it too. It was such a beautifully crafted production, so moving. I’m surprised it isn’t being done on Skye, but maybe it will, one day.
    I can see you’re as busy as ever and still giving us all a real treat with this blog. Great stuff!
    All the best,

    Comment by Carolyn — November 26, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

    • All good feedback from the play on Raasay Carolyn, I’m sure it would have gone down well on Skye too.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 28, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

  2. Hello, Paul, I’ve been following your blog since we were on Raasay in October – I really look forward to reading it whenever I see a new post. I have got Colin to write up the YH chimney pot saga but haven’t then been able to lay my hands on it so there will be a further delay. Similarly, I had some replies from officials about my emails abt the ‘main’ road and I will eventually let you hear what they said and follow up anyone who didn’t reply to me. I am doing an OU course on website design and have chosen Calum’s Road as the subject. It is for the assessment and as such the words and file sizes are very limited so it is a very shortened version of everything with some licence as well. I wondered if you’d be interested to take a look at it and give me an impression as we have to also get feedback – I have linked to your blog so you’d seem like the ultimate feedbacker (no such word and you couldn’t find avengeance because it is a vengeance). If you send me your email address I’ll send the link. I badly wanted to see the play but it was sold out in Musselburgh a month before and the other places were just too far away or the wrong dates so I am hoping they’ll tour again. It was really icy cold yest in Edinburgh and today, though milder, it was blowing a gale but we haven’t signs of snow yet though everyone keeps talking about this time last year! Hope you enjoy the last of your holiday work. Best wishes, May Cruickshank

    Comment by may cruickshank — November 26, 2011 @ 11:23 pm

    • Good morning May,

      I’ve already visited your site, looks good to me, I’ll put a link on my blog to it if that’s OK with you then you can get more feedback 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 29, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  3. i am happy to think mr. calum had a daughter and she got to see the play on home ground. it’s one of those things that makes you think that it might just be true that what good goes around, comes around.
    thank you for going despite your doubts and telling us about this.

    Comment by jeannette — November 27, 2011 @ 6:00 am

  4. You never know Paul.–CQ3Q
    All the best Leo

    Comment by leo — November 27, 2011 @ 8:54 am

  5. What’s this about the YH chimney pot saga?
    Heard yesterday that SYHA are closing 5 hostels, thankfully not Raasay though (yet!!)
    Great blog and pictures still, Paul, keep it up! No snow down here in the sowf!

    Comment by francesp — November 27, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    • Will keep you informed about the chimney pot sage Frances as soon as I find out 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 29, 2011 @ 10:19 am

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