Life at the end of the road

May 1, 2012

The heart and lungs of a Sherpa :-)

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:26 pm

Two minutes to ten and I’m still in my overalls, so not much chance of an epic posting tonight even though it has been an epic day on all counts. Epic weather, epic day, and epic journey, well OK perhaps not such a journey as I’ve only been to the mainland and back but that’s far enough for me 🙂

It all started last night really at 22:00 when the phone rang and came up ‘hostel’ on the screen 😦 Alarm bells started ringing because we only usually here from the school hostel if our son is sick or in casualty. Himself never phones or even carries a phone to keep in touch, our twelve year old is certainly not ‘hanging onto the apron strings’ so to speak 🙂 Luckily it was just a case of missing shorts for PE today and not missing limbs from a footballing accident, unluckily it meant that I’d have to catch the first ferry to pass them onto one of his mates.

The wee lie in bed I’d been looking forward to before heading to visit my parents never happened and just after 7:00am I left he house to feed the pigs before heading for the 7:55 ferry.

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Though, once more, I was not the first one out of bed, I caught sight of a strange person through the window just after 6:00am. Someone in a Royal Mail fleece wearing pyjamas and wellingtons was carrying a dustbin toward some hens 🙂

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Once on Skye and over Drum na Cloich I stopped in that large lay bye at the head of Loch Ainort to go and have a look at the spectacular waterfall there

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that had been reduced to a trickle.

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Here it is in winter 🙂

Some forty minutes later I was on the mainland driving by a notable landmark,

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the most photographed castle in Scotland and it’s only 100 years old 🙂


Here it is in 1910 in slightly worse condition 🙂

Quick march

Not long after I was at my parents house drinking tea prior to going for a walk with my 83 year old father and the dogs. I say walk but it’s more of a four mile march above Rattagan and along the shore of Loch Duich.

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Having dementia he soon forgets he’s done this trek so quite often does it more than once a day with his two guides Mara and Leia. I’m by no means unfit but struggle keeping up with the wiry old bird, that despite his failing memory can hold a great conversation. OK, it may be the same one several times over but things form his youth in Italy he remembers with great clarity.

Arnish may have been a bit of a hike from civilization and the school children travelled to Torran school from several miles away on Fladda and up at Kyle Rona. It was the same for my father only his school was almost at sea level in Piana Battola on the banks of the river Vara and his house almost 500m higher up the valley some two or three Km away.



Near Castello di Madrignano in a village called Provvadasco, where I too spent some time as a child, Carzachi, some 200m higher is an even remoter village where my grandmother came from. We spoke (several times 🙂 ) about when he visited the doctor as a child after a bout of something that would have killed a weaker youth (and did too I think). The doctor told my dad that he ‘had the heart and lungs of a Sherpa’ to which the young Luciano replied ‘what’s that’, ‘someone that carries rich people up hills and back down again’ said the doctor 🙂

Funny really because I too had such comments after my diving medicals when I used to blow the lung capacity machine off the scale. Do you play the pipes the doctor asked me 🙂

As we talked mostly of his village in Liguria and the mountains I thought I’d see if I could find pictures on the internet. Though having tried previously and only found grainy images on Google earth I didn’t hold out much hope, until.



There it was  the highest house,


The very one he and I lived in, the one with the red roof, shutters and smelly outside toilet!!! the rabbit hutch just below the toilet next to the cellar door!!!


His auntie and uncles house on the left, boy you should have seen his face 🙂

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Of course he soon forgot all about it, but the beauty of that is I can show him again 🙂

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Anyway, it’s way past my bedtime so I’ll leave you with three and a half of the Five Sisters that just twelve months ago where ablaze.




  1. Can you speak Italian Paul? Do your parents speak to each other in Italian or English? How did they come to Britain?

    Comment by neilking — May 2, 2012 @ 12:06 am

    • Morning Neil and Iain (both expats living abroad 🙂 ) no Italian spoken at my parents house, my father has even dreamed and thought in English for decades. It is a long and very funny story of how he ended up in England then Scotland. I’ll tell you about it sometime but it involved an overdue letter from the labour exchange a days walk away and he should have gone to Canada and not Britain 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 3, 2012 @ 5:23 am

  2. Hope the swineherd doesn’t realise you’ve been taking photos of ladies in their pyjamas!

    Comment by ecobodger — May 2, 2012 @ 6:51 am

    • The Swineherd would boodly kill me EB 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 3, 2012 @ 5:18 am

  3. I, too, wondered about this, like Neil. Though, I also wondered how come you ended up on Rassaay and your father well and truly in the Highlands?!

    Comment by yractual — May 2, 2012 @ 8:18 am

  4. Paul.
    Not sure if you got my post yesterday, Have some Hylomar for your projects. Send me the best address to post it, Cheers. Sean.

    Comment by Sean — May 2, 2012 @ 8:33 am

    • Many thanks for that Sean, can’t wait, it will go straight into the new shed 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 3, 2012 @ 5:24 am

  5. Paul ,
    Jean and I found your comments concerning your Dad so moving.
    We are heading up tonight for a couple of days before two 60s concerts in Inverness so make sure the weather stays nice.Today is the first sunny day in Standish for weeks.
    Steve and Jean. Number 3

    Comment by Steve Mcleod — May 2, 2012 @ 11:24 am

    • Morning Steve and Jean, hope you enjoy the gig and see you soon, do you need any eggs 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 3, 2012 @ 5:25 am

      • I dozen to take back to Lancashire.We go Saturday morning to Inverness.Rendezvous for egg smugglering?

        Comment by Steve Mcleod — May 3, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  6. Hello Paul,
    What a lovely post today with great pics of your father and the discovery of photos of his village. And the actual house he lived in. The past is usually very clear to the dementia sufferer, even though they forget they’ve told you a minute later. It is a blessing he is so fit and active. I wish you and him all the very best.

    Comment by Carolyn — May 2, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

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