Life at the end of the road

March 5, 2012

Dad sitting :-)

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:47 pm

I’m sure it’s been a pure peach of a day here on Raasay because it’s been a topper of a day in Glen Sheil and toasty in Inverness 🙂 This I know for a fact because I’ve been watching my pop and wifey’s been to snecky with me mammy 🙂

It was the usual rush to catch the first ferry of the week, rush because it involves a twelve year old boy, feeding twelve pigs and a person who is not ‘good with mornings’ 🙂

050312 001

It was a fantastic morning with a fresh dusting of snow on the Storr

030312 052

which looked like this just 14 hours earlier 🙂

Dun Caan was also snow capped but I was hastening for the ferry dodging potholes with a crabbit wife and sleepy boy so I gave the photography a miss. At least I didn’t have to get out of the car to snap those 🙂


050312 003

After saying goodbye to the Dude for the week and departing the ferry I stopped briefly to take pictures of the ‘spud leg’ barge next to the Loch Striven. Could be ‘interesting’ getting in and out of there in a breeze of west wind 🙂 Lord knows how much all this is costing but I bet it’s a good wedge of the total budget for the upgrade to the ferry terminal. Surely they must have done all this thirty years ago when they built this one, do they not keep records ?? is the ground 10m to the east of the current slipway going to be so different ?? OK, I’m no expert so I’ll just shut up before I disappear down some bottomless muddy hole cos there’s no rock to stop me  🙂

Dealing with dementia

An hour or so later we met my parents on the main road at Sheil, wifey jumped in with mum and headed east, dad stepped in with me and I took him the five minute drive to his familiar surroundings. My father may be ‘as fit as a butchers dog’ but he suffers from dementia and likes to be on his ‘home turf’. This would be a first for both of us, the first time my mother has left him for the day and the first time I’ve watched him.

It’s a cruel affliction rendering many sufferers abusive and violent as well as having virtually no short term memory. Fortunately my father only has the latter and is still extremely fit, not just for an 83 year old but for anyone, he can still walk me into the ground at 27 years my senior. In fact he could probably see off many of today’s teenagers, addicted as they are to exercising their thumbs and not their legs.

My father did the Cuillin  ridge  in a day in his seventies just a few years after having most of his stomach removed due to cancer. I haven’t read all of that link but this made me smile.

“Third attempt at the full traverse of the Cuillin Ridge in Skye: 11 munros, 13,500 feet of ascent, 7 miles, 68 tops. Wow this really is a cheeky little monkey of a walk. To cut to the quick, I descended after 31 hours on the ridge, 3 munros short of the end, dehydrated, knackered and delirious muttering “god damn it, it chewed me up and spat me out” and “I’ll be back!” as I staggered downward in search of water. “

He also did the ‘West Highland way’ with a man fifteen years his junior, well he did until the ‘youth’ dropped out knackered, so he carried on on his own 🙂 Of course being brought up on a mountain in Liguria helped, especially when the elementary school was four miles away at Piana Batolla in the valley floor several thousand feet below 🙂


Map picture

Of course the road (just like at Arnish) did not arrive until the 1970s and (just like Arnish) was not tarred until the 1980s. I lived there as a child but was fortunate enough (perhaps not) to return to England for my education 🙂

I have to confess at feeling a little trepidation at spending the day with pop, for he’s seldom, in the last sixty years been apart from my mother and now I’m not even sure he knows who I am. I need not have worried for we had a great day together and dementia, as I found does have a few advantages 🙂

After a cup of tea and a few pleasantries we went out for a walk over the forestry tracks and one of General Wades military roads near Ratagan

Fort Augustus to Bernera

The barracks at Bernera on the mainland shore opposite Skye were constructed in the early 1720s.[16] Caulfeild engineered the road through the West Highlands from Fort Augustus to Bernera Barracks in 1755 but Telford’s commissioners remade it in the 1820s. It initially headed west through Inchnacardoch Forest climbing to a height of over 1,280 feet (390 m) before dropping into Glen Moriston. It appears to have crossed the River Moriston somewhere near the confluence of the River Doe with the Moriston, and then taken a route somewhat to the north of the present day A887 road and A87 road north of Loch Cluanie. The road descended Glen Shiel to Ratagan before rising over the Bealach Ratagain (Ratagan Pass) and into Glen More and thence to the barracks at its western, seaward end.

050312 004

Here’s the ‘old goat’ permanently ahead of me on the two mile walk through the forest and down to Letterfern with the ‘wee dug’ leading the way 🙂

050312 011

This is a mountain above Inverinate who’s name means the ‘silver mountain’ and my dad tells me they used to mine silver there. He may not know who I am or what day of the week it is but he can recall much from times past with clarity.

050312 008

At the foot of ‘the silver mountain’ is Inverinate House owned by a wealthy Arab family.

050312 009  050312 010

I know that my mate Calum Don has been working in this vicinity of late, I wonder if this is his handy work 🙂


050312 013

More spectacular scenery, this time my dad could not recall the names, other than Beinn Fadda in the cloud, though it’s probably not spelled that way 😦

  050312 015

Silent, low and very graceful for 35 tons this Hercules transport passed by at least three times, either lost or on training 🙂

050312 020

C 130

After the first walk we did a spot of hedge trimming,


050312 023

well we did when we found all the tools.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, for every time we looked for something he kept going on about this person who kept borrowing his tools and not bringing them back. It was only late in the afternoon when he went to look for a rake that he said “it’ll be on Raasay with all my other tools”. That’s when I realized that this person who stole all his tools was me and he obviously had no idea who I was 😦

Still we really had a great day, all of us, the dogs got several good walks, my mum got a break, my wife got to Lidl and I spent some quality time with my dad 🙂 As for him, well he’s quite happy looking at the view and walking the dogs 🙂



  1. Paul.
    That was a day well spent, i’m an RGN working in a nursing unit caring for “the older person”. With 30 residents, half of them suffer from some form of dementia. Some times you would not know to laugh or cry, other times they would drive one to the brink. “The old goat” is fortunate he is healthy, mobile and at home.Carers need some quality time because dementia is a 24/7 demanding condition, most of the carers are older partners with health issues.

    Comment by Michael Leonard — March 6, 2012 @ 12:16 am

    • Morning Michael,

      It was indeed a day ‘well spent’, even if he didn’t know who I was 🙂 I will have to do it more often, it’s good exercise 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 5:59 am

  2. Exercise is good for postponing the growth of dementia, so it’s wonderful your dad likes to walk. I’m impressed he knows some of 3 languages too–Italian, Gaelic, English. More accomplished than me!

    I still remember the look on my dad’s face when he returned from a visit to his mother, who for the first time had not recognized him. That was 52 years ago and the first time I ever saw my dad tear up. My grandmother lived for 20 more years, in a nursing home with Alzheimers. Dad lived in fear for the rest of his life that he would be overtaken by it too. When he was 90 and talked about it some more, I reminded him that he had mostly avoided dementia for 90 years and the tests for 90 year olds were not very reliable, so he was home free. He was still driving and living on his own when he died aged 93. Just the week before he was proud to announce he had won $15 at the clandestine card game at the Senior Center, where he was the oldest. Dementia is not one disease, but a cluster of several and sometimes a person contends with more than one form. 30-50% of people older than 85 years cope with dementia.

    Comment by drgeo — March 6, 2012 @ 12:32 am

    • Thanks for that DrG,

      interesting reading and a nice tale, made me smile, though I do know who your dad must have felt, my memory isn’t great and I live in the shadow of it 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:02 am

  3. When I was a kid I had the habit of leaving Dad’s tools out in the yard. It would rain (or just dew) and they would rust. Dad was not pleased!

    Thanks for a great story.

    Comment by jomegat — March 6, 2012 @ 12:32 am

    • Jomegat,

      “When I was a kid I had the habit of leaving Dad’s tools out in the yard. It would rain (or just dew) and they would rust. Dad was not pleased!”

      that made me smile, I bet you blunted all his tools and never put anything back too 🙂 (just like me) Funny thing is, that’s just what he does now to my mother 🙂 drives her mad too 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:04 am

  4. Horrible affliction Paul, My Mum suffered from Parkinsons and dementia during the last years of her life, she had been a great Mum fussed and cackled over me and my brother all her life, not being able to recognise you really hurts, its what I call the long good bye, you do the mourning while they are still alive. It might sound cruel and heartless but when my Dad phoned me to tell me she had died, the only feeling I had was a sense of relief. It was not without its humorous side at the reception after her cremation I asked my Dad where he was going to spread her ashes, before he could answer my brother pipped in with make sure you put her in the boot of the car otherwise she will be telling you how too drive as usual. I still don’t know where he spread them. He arrived at my cousins farm in the Derbyshire moors a few weeks afterwards in full Sunday rig ate the good dinner she had prepared for him and went off. I still don’t know where he spread them. I did the same for him just over a year later, high up in the moors where he came from.

    Comment by — March 6, 2012 @ 7:28 am

    • Morning Dave, nice yarn about the ashes 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:09 am

  5. You had a great day with him and he looks so fit for his age Paul you must be very proud. We are also going thru what you have had to with my auntie that has downs she was fully independent and was very intelligent but the downs version of dementia has robed her of all her memory and sometimes she doesn’t even know who i am or my gran which is her mother and to make things even more difficult my gran has dementia too shes 87 and sometimes doesn’t even know her daughter or me is too, so we have to take one day at a time and enjoy whatever time is left as sometimes they will surprise you and have a good day in which they will remember things and people. Your mother is and angel Paul because living with somebody with this condition is very hard specialty if they become confused.
    God Bless Jay and Sharon

    Comment by jay and sharon — March 6, 2012 @ 7:33 am

    • Yes you are right J&S my mother is an angel, never complains and just gets on with it, my wife has already told me that I’m going in a home when I get like that 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:13 am

  6. Thank you for the posting. It touched a nerve. I am thinking my father is going the same way. His brother has it quite bad for the last few years and is now in a home.
    Take care

    Comment by Lynn — March 6, 2012 @ 8:40 am

    • Sorry to hear about your father Lynn, I was surprised by how quickly it progressed, it’s a terrible affliction but as my wife says it’s much worse for the family and those around than the actual sufferer so you can take some comfort in that.

      Love from us all

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:17 am

  7. I could bore you to death as to why engineers need all the investigation that is ongoing at Sconser but won’t. It is very expensive (£100K plus) and I know for a fact that THC don’t have any records.

    What a grand day you had with your father – simple pleasures which you will come to cherish – I know I do with my dad.


    Comment by Alan — March 6, 2012 @ 9:07 am

    • Morning Alan, “I know for a fact that THC don’t have any records” now there’s a surprise 🙂 Aye it was a great day with pop right enough

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:19 am

  8. Hi Paul.
    Dementia can be managed. In my fathers case he is also blind so this causes a few managing situations to his daily routine, but thats the big thing, that we know his daily requirements and accept assistance and listen to medical guidance. We all have or know of some one with dementia and it is a passage in life for them that those closest to them will assist in making their life a little less stressful and homely. Remember there is only so much we can do to help our loved one’s and some times we have to accept help & assistance from others we can trust. Walter

    Comment by politescouser — March 6, 2012 @ 10:49 am

    • Morning Walter,

      Dementia can be managed. In my fathers case he is also blind so this causes a few managing situations to his daily routine, but thats the big thing, that we know his daily requirements and accept assistance and listen to medical guidance. We all have or know of some one with dementia and it is a passage in life for them that those closest to them will assist in making their life a little less stressful and homely. Remember there is only so much we can do to help our loved one’s and some times we have to accept help & assistance from others we can trust

      Wise words indeed and I think that my mum has got it pretty much covered with a wealth of back up from Highland Council the NHS and various other bodies. HRC may be 5hite at repairing roads but care for the elderly is pretty good from what I can see.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:23 am

  9. Good to see your old man is still getting about, I helped him get in touch with a guide who he’d lost the phone number of a few years back who was taking him over the Five Sisters of Kintail which is the ridge on the right of that Beinn Fhada picture. You’ve got three of the sisters in that shot; on the extreme right Sgurr na Carnach (the rocky peak), then Sgurr Fhuaran (the peak of the spring) and Sgurr nan Saighead (peak of the arrow) with the sawtooth ridge between them.

    Beinn Fhada (long mountain) has two names on the OS map; the other is Ben Attow but this is if fact how you pronounce Fhada, the initial Fh is silent in Gaelic.

    Comment by Phil Cook — March 6, 2012 @ 11:02 am

    • Cheers for that Phil, my dad said that Sgurr na Carnach was the peak ‘of four corners’ but I think you’re probably right 🙂

      definitely an RAF Hercules 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:27 am

      • The peak of the four corners is Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan (known to Sassenach Munro baggers as Sgurr nan Chrysanthemum) which is round the back of Beinn Fhadda towards Glen Affric.

        Comment by Phil Cook — March 7, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

      • Morning Phil and thanks for that, if you ever fancy company bagging Munro’s close to Sheil then I’m sure my dad would love to come along.

        Cheers, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 8, 2012 @ 6:09 am

  10. I believe that’s a USAF Air Rescue C-130, not a transport, which is perhaps why it’s flying so low, and why it has a refueling probe. Sorry to hear of your dad’s dementia. I lost both my parents to Alzheimers in the last year, and it was pretty horrible for all the family. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

    Comment by Mick — March 6, 2012 @ 11:35 am

    • It’s a British C-130J, you can just see the red and blue fin flash on the third picture.

      Comment by Phil Cook — March 6, 2012 @ 11:52 am

    • Good morning Mick, built in the USA right enough but certainly belongs to the RAF :-)Sorry to here about both of your parents.

      Take care, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:30 am

  11. What a brilliant post and a real insight into your family. It is great to see your dad still out and about and showing his great wealth of knowledge on walking the mountains, or was it speed walking? (-; Being one of very limited walking ability it is great to experience the sights through both your dad’s and your eyes with the magnificent pictures.
    Some excellent links as well and I found them interesting although not got through them all yet I will certainly try to catch up.

    Last night our area was swamped with Police, afraid this cut short our wee dugs walk as the missus was not able to carry on due to the Police dogs. An officer came to the door and asked to check our sheds and garden, on inquiring what was happening I was informed that an elderly gent who suffers from Dementia had left his home on his own and had not returned. I can only imagine the worry this caused his elderly carer and pray that he is now safe.

    Lovely to see the Hercules and I am sure the roar of the engines was stirring, I still think there is no better sound than the roar of the prop engines.

    So glad you had a wonDayul daay with your dad and that your Mum and wife had a great day out, a day off for your Mum must have been a great tonic.

    As always best regards to all the family, Graham.

    Comment by Graham Thompson — March 6, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    • Morning Graham,

      Aye that was some roar off the turbo props, and so graceful for something so large, it really was a very special day and I hope to have more of them as the nights grow shorter.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:33 am

  12. Hi Paul

    A very touching post today. Your love for you Dad positively leaps from the page. He sounds like could have rivalled you blog if such a thing existed a few years back.
    One thing though troubles me though. Your dad managed most of the Cuillin ridge at a very respectable age, and his writing shows his passion for such a wonderful place, but you still haven’t made it up Sgurr nan Gillean?
    I might be up on Skye on Saturday if you want a guide 😉

    Comment by Simon — March 6, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

    • Morning Simon, if my dad had ever wrote a blog it would have been interesting right enough and his rants would have put mine to shame 🙂 One thing my pop could do was rant 🙂 He would have made Arthur Scargill, Tommy Sheridan or Ken Livingstone look positively right wing :-)How I miss his conspiracy theories and arguing with him 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2012 @ 6:38 am

  13. Paul, you already know my job, so if you want any advice, or just want to talk something through, just ring me or email matey. 🙂

    Comment by Lloyd — March 6, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

  14. Sorry to hear about your dads condition,particularly as you say, he no longer has any idea who you are. My mother in law suffered from dementia.It was certainly a roller coaster ride of emotions for all of us. Good pics of the Hercules,quite a sight at low level.The RAF could be liable for road tax for some of the low-flying they do 🙂 Good site investigation is essential for a job like that proposed at Sconser,with the modern appetite for litigation.Having seen mother nature full blast at Sconser,the new works certainly need to be well attached to Scotland 🙂


    Comment by Andy — March 6, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

  15. glad dr. molly is on the case. pet dogs and cats are wonderful with dementia patients, and the patients like the animals too. it’s nice your father walks and can exercise so well — endorphins make everybody happy.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — March 6, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

  16. Paul,
    Sorry to hear your Dad has dementia, but you’ve had a great day with him, and even though he didn’t know who you were, he was quite happy to spend time with you and had a good time himself, which is something to be proud of – you can’t have turned out too badly ( at least that’s what my Dad tells me! ) :o)

    Comment by Dan Penketh — March 7, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

    • Morning Dan,

      “which is something to be proud of – you can’t have turned out too badly ” That’s what I keep telling my mum 🙂 🙂 I think she always wanted me to go to university and become a doctor or something 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 8, 2012 @ 6:13 am

  17. Beautiful scenery for a walk. Hope you have lots of special days with your Dad.

    Comment by Mimi — March 7, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

    • Yes Mimi, I’m looking forward to telling you about more 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 8, 2012 @ 6:14 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: