Life at the end of the road

August 18, 2012

Watching the grass grow part IV

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:58 am

An absolute peach of a day it right now at 7:00am and I should be out there working but they hens are done, the pigs still in bed and I’ve only just  ‘installed coffee cup number one of three on my system’ Smile Not only that but I feel a sight better than I did yesterday when I left you at midnight having felt like carp since the moment I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed at 9:00 to go and hunt for the pigs. Not only did I feel like I’d run over by an express train but the day was horrible, typical August day on the west coast in fact, one of those damp, midge infested days that have put so many folk off ever re visiting this beautiful part of the world.


Not that the rain, or midge seemed to bother the hens right enough, they seem to prefer the rain to the heat and many of them spent the day in our garden. The wet stuff falling from the sky sending the grass into a growing frenzy of biblical proportions, I swear that you could actually see it growing by the hour.


So where was I, well after a lovely evening with my parents wifey and I set the two ‘pratnavs’ in her car for Golspie and headed north eastwards on a bonny bonny day that just improved as the sun rose and we trekked to meet it. Quickly realizing that the two and a half hours we’d set ourselves would be pushing it, the built in ‘pratnav’ in wifey’s Almera saying no way and my Tom Tom saying ‘just’ though that was to the village itself and not the ‘Lawson Memorial Hospital’. Not being overly concerned by this as the last time I passed through Golspie in 1981 it wasn’t very big, so unless there had been massive development it should be easy to find the only hospital. Nevertheless I checked on both of the ‘pratnavs’ and on ‘Autoroute 2007’ on my laptop, no hospital in Golspie all three of them said.

Must be a new one says I to the wife but I’m sure it’s just before you get in the village, on the left.


Well I was right about the location but new!!!!! I don’t think so

Lawson Memorial Hospital, Golspie

here it is in 1911 some eleven years after its opening Smile

This postcard shows the Lawson Memorial Hospital in Golspie.
Situated at the foot of Ben Bhraggie the hospital was gifted to the County of Sutherland by Alexander Brown Lawson of Clynelish, Brora. The architect was J. Hinton Gall. Mr Lawson had been an invalid for several years and was never able to visit the building site. He followed every stage of construction but died on 30 December 1899 before it was completed. The hospital was opened on Friday 27th July 1900.
On July 1st 1969 the Beatle John Lennon, his son Julian, Yoko Ono and her daughter, Kyoko, were taken to Lawson Memorial Hospital after a minor road accident on their way to visit Durness where John’s aunt had a croft.
Behind the hospital on top of Ben Bhraggie is ‘The Mannie’. This colossal statue of George Grenville Leveson-Gower, Earl Gower, Viscount Trentham, 2nd Marquis of Stafford and 1st Duke of Sutherland, sculpted by Sir Francis Chantrey, overlooks the town of Golspie.
The Duke and Duchess of Sutherland owned vast estates in Scotland. They are best remembered for their role in clearing the people from the inland straths to the coast to make way for sheep. The Duke died in 1833. The 100 foot high statue was completed in 1837. Its existence continues to be a subject of controversy.

Picture and text from the source of much useful local historical info Smile


A beautiful Victorian building that must be a nightmare to heat and clean, with it’s high ceilings, lovely cast iron radiators, and plaster cornices (not sure if that’s what they’re called). Being the only hospital for miles, on the A9  and admitting minor  RTA casualties you’d think it would be on the ‘pratnavs’ give me a good old map anytime.


John Lennon's autograph, signed at Lawson Memorial Hospital, Golspie, Scotland, July 1969


Anyway after joining John Lennon in the list of its distinguished patients Smile I had my epidural and was out by 12:00 feeling great, despite seeing the x-ray of the frigging great needle going into my joint Sad smile



Shortly afterwards leaving the charming village and its controversial former landowner behind.,_1st_Duke_of_Sutherland



Development of Sutherland and Highland clearances

Sutherland and his wife remain controversial figures for their role in carrying out the Highland Clearances, where thousands of tenants were forced out of their homes.[3] The clearances, described by some commentators as a form of ethnic cleansing,[4] were undertaken between 1811 and 1820. In 1811 parliament passed a bill granting half the expenses of building roads in northern Scotland, on the provision that landowners paid for the other half. The following year Sutherland commenced building roads and bridges in the county, which up to that point had been virtually non-existent. Appalled by the poor living conditions of his tenants and influenced by social and economic theories of the day as well as consulting widely on the subject, he became convinced that subsistence farming in the interior of Sutherland could not be sustained in the long-term.[5] At first the clearances involved relocations from Assynt to coastal villages on the assumption that farmers could take up fishing. However, when the consequences of these actions became clear, the evictions were met with opposition, which was ruthlessly repressed. Resentment mounted when one of Sutherland’s factors, Patrick Sellar, was acquitted of murder and then took over one of the massive sheep farms the evictions created. Condemnation was widespread and the Highlanders’ grievances were heard in the British House of Commons. However, little was done in practice to prevent the emptying of the glens.[6]

In 1837 a large monument, known locally as the Mannie, was erected on Ben Bhraggie near Golspie to commemorate the Duke’s life.[7] The existence of this statue has been the subject of some controversy—in 1994, Sandy Lindsay, a former Scottish National Party councillor from Inverness proposed its demolition. He later altered his plan, asking permission from the local council to relocate the statue and replace it with plaques telling the story of the Clearances. Lindsay proposed moving the statue to the grounds of Dunrobin Castle, after the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles declined his offer to take it.[8] As of September 2010, however, the statue still stands.

Anyway, that’s it, it’s 9:00am the pigs are fed, the heavens have opened and the wife has left me so I’d ’better get out and do something in my shed before I get cabin fever. I was in agony all day yesterday so took it easy, I’ve just taken two Tramadol now and am going to do the same but in the shed and not the kitchen.



  1. So glad that you haven’t stopped blogging Paul. As I sat here reading today’s blog my mind drifted to the summers when we used to travel the 250miles to Embo with the Thomson behind us, the kids loved the beauty of caravanning on the edge of the site overlooking the beach, excellent for us as I was at the time mainly using a wheelchair so I could sit outside the van and watch the girls digging up the beach in an effort to reach Australis, they never made it lol! Golspie was one of our favourite haunts while there offering some lovely shops, a nice harbour and a great chip shop. We toured all around the area and of course I was treated to a few trips to distillery’s, a blissful hazy day! Well actually it was sunny and the haze was probably me having one or two samples more than I should have.
    Thank you for bringing back some very fond memories, one thing I do wonder about was if anyone did ever get one of the many bottles the girls through in the sea of Embo with their names and addresses in!
    Hopefully the pain of the visit to the hospital has gone now and my own we ramble has lit up a smile for you.
    All the best,
    as always,

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — August 18, 2012 @ 9:03 am

    • Aye Graham, I seriously considered taking the caravan, wish I had have done now that I’ve discovered that the rush back was pretty pointless 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 18, 2012 @ 9:18 am

      • Such is life Paul! Just replaced the electronic igniting fridge in mine for a Peizo one, Much better for us in case we do some wild camping and the battery is low on power!
        Just trying to save some pennies now to do the rear end and a few other things to it! Hoping to get up Callander way for two days in the next fortnight, really need to get away from all the noise as the council are renovating the next street to ours, Noisy lot, and why do they have to start at 8am, some of us don’t get up before noon unless we have to! (:

        Comment by Thomson Caravans — August 22, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  2. Paul,
    Well I have finally decided to drop you a line and say hello after Dave from Skye Harvest put me onto LATEOTR earlier this year.

    You and the good lady are doing exactly what my wife and I hope to achieve on Skye.
    We hope to be up to Skye next weekend and be on the 10:30 from Sconser on the 26th. The last time I was on Raasay was 9th September 1996 when I walked fromthe old pier, up to Holoman over to Dun Caan and then back down the Burma Road.

    I have enjoyed and look forward to each installment of your blog & can sympathise with you in your IT frustration. I have posted this once and then got the blank screen with a HTP 404 error? What is that in ‘real money’.

    As someone who is up on Skye quite a lot helping a friend with his croft at gathering & lambing times I love the superb scenery and quality of light that you capture in your pictures especially with the new camera. Keep up the snaping.

    It would be great to meet up with you if your about or ATEOTR as that is our destination on the 26th before heading back to Skye on the 16:30. On that note is there anything that you need/like bringing up from ‘the smoke’? Are you a real ale man or more of a dram/red wine?

    Take care


    Comment by Michael — August 18, 2012 @ 11:11 am

    • Morning Micheal and welcome, lost your comment for a while there myself, boodly computers 🙂 Will keep an eye out for you on the ferry as I’m working.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 20, 2012 @ 8:17 am

  3. Wondering if that is John Lennons blood or just rust on his autograph !
    Duke of Sutherland was well paid for each person who was cleared from his land, Lord MacDonald got the money for the Raasay people that were cleared,the elderly and their helpers who remained on the island saw none of it !
    Not much changed there ….

    Comment by SOTW — August 18, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

  4. Wonderful 10 minute video of the Cox & Co Salvage in Scapa
    If it takes too long I’ll try and bung it on a disc or sum’t and send it off to you
    Best of luck with the medical repair job

    Comment by chrisb — August 18, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    • It might seem a little bit silly but I was wondering what SMS meant before the name of the German ships that were sunk, SS usually means Steam ship. I am fairly good at German living on the German boarder, but I can’t seem to work out what SMS means, any ideas.?



      Comment by Yorkshire Miner — August 19, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

      • Seine Majestat Schiff Dave, think it’s his majesties ship or something like that.

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 19, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

      • That sounds about right Paul.



        Comment by Yorkshire Miner — August 19, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

    • Morning Chris, just got around to watching the video last night, excellent stuff, really enjoyed it, especially having read several books on the subject. Loved all the men winding up the chains (salvaged from the wrecks) with the destroyer slung underneath between the the two pontoons. That must have been taken very early on in operations as he found the chains kept breaking so switched to the much more expensive wire rope.

      Thanks for sharing, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 20, 2012 @ 8:14 am

  5. Sorry Paul the website wouldn’t accept the link in words and numbers

    Comment by chrisb — August 18, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

  6. pratnavs

    you kill me. i got one for a cross country trip and realized i would be homicidal one second after the robot voice (you can choose which, what a relief — male or female, american or brit) ordered me to do something without — you know, ACTUALLY USING EYEBALLS TO SEE THE EFFIN ROAD.


    Comment by jeannettesmyth — August 18, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

  7. the mannie statue inspired me to spam you, sorry. we have a sutherland here in new mexico, a spanish conquistador called onate (with a tilde). the hispanos, as we call the people descended from the spanish, love to claim descent 16 generations back from these characters; the chicanos (mexican-americans) and native americans (hopi, navajo, apache, etc.) have shall we say different feelings toward the many statues of onate that the hispanos erect around the state. to mark their turf, i guess, land grants from the 16th c. spanish kings. one of onate’s finer moments was cutting the feet off all the men of the acoma pueblo, in revenge for whatever, or perhaps just because he felt like it.
    one day centuries later somebody cut the foot off one of onate’s statues.
    power to the people.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — August 18, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  8. “…despite seeing the x-ray of the frigging great needle going into my joint.” On this side of the ocean the “joint” is the area usually covered by a sporran. So congratulations that it was so heavy as to cause back pain! And hope you feel better soon.

    Comment by drgeo — August 18, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

  9. has been to golspie on a number of occasions. I used to race minimoto’s and the cart track next to the golf course was part of the scottish championship. I was runner up for five years running and northern england champion… Happy days…

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — August 18, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

  10. Concerning the Clearances I tend to get a little bit irritated by all this Guardian readers mentality of apportioning blame. The Highlands were bloody overpopulated thanks to a protein rich diet of sea food. The overpopulation would not have been a problem if there had been several coal fields in the area to kick start industrialisation to absorb the population growth.There never was and never could be. What gets mentioned is the pain and suffering of the people being displaced, and you can’t bloody avoid it. What never gets mentioned is what happened to the people the Highlanders and Islanders who were forced to migrate too New Zeeland and Canada. I would like to guess that 90% of them ten years after would be much better off than if they had not been evicted and force to emigrate. People were moving out anyway because they could not earn a living. It was a festering problem, and it would have only have gotten worse. Forced migration was better than no migration.

    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — August 19, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

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