Life at the end of the road

October 6, 2012

Just like the war :-(

Filed under: boats, daily doings, wind turbine — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 12:56 pm

Almost 19:00 here in ‘the village’ and it’s almost dark Sad smile It’s also very noisy, a combination of traffic, fairground music and friggin dogs barking. Perhaps it’s the good forecast or perhaps they have ‘tattie lifting’ holidays here too but the Sandhaven caravan park has started to fill up. Unfortunately some of the humungous caravans  have arrived with dogs that seem to be having a barking competition across the gravel, concrete and tarmac. Grass is in short supply here in ‘the village’, still I suppose it’s less to cut, less wet feet and less mess to clean up.

Our schools up in the north west of Scotland broke up today for two weeks and two days, a much longer half term than the rest of Scotland as far as I’m aware. It is the traditional time that the potatoes were lifted in these (those Sad smile ) parts and the rest of the country doesn’t break up until next week. Anyway my son should now be home from the Portree hostel to help wifey with the multitude of jobs on the croft that I normally do so life should be a little easier for her for the next couple of weeks at least.

As is usual we finished off our week at with a morning of ‘hand fitting’ in the workshop.




Much as I enjoy making things out of metal and proud as I am of my ‘bevel gauge’ and half finished pipe wrench I can’t help but think we’d be better off spending more time on computers and electronics. This is a bit like when I took my driving test in 1974 and they still taught you hand signals, it was about twenty years since the last car rolled off a production line without indicators yet you still had to do hand signals in  your driving test Sad smile 

The morning passed by quickly enough leaving me a full two and a half days to kill before returning on Monday Sad smile OK, there are probably a million and one things I could do, I mean thousands of people live here and manage just fine, so I made an effort. Rather than mope about in the caravan I went exploring Smile

I wondered what it was

I’ve been doing a lot of walking whilst down here and have been using several familiar landmarks to guide me as well as the position of the sun and satellite dishes. Moss on trees may be damn fine splendid for finding north in the countryside but it won’t help you much on a council estate, that’s where one of Rupert’s dishes comes in handy for they always point south, or at least as near south as makes no difference Smile The South Shields town hall, a few churches and this large yellow structure towering above the dockside cranes have been giving me guidance of late. Something like the mast of an old cargo ship I’ve been able to see it peeping over the top of slate roofs and dormers for miles, well today it’s moved, all 700tons of it.

It started last night when I saw six huge legs travelling down the river towards it, you have to bear in mind that I’m seeing this on the way home from college above the terraced houses so couldn’t observe what was below the six towers heading west. Well today it all became clear as I went for a wander over to the Tyne ferry.


Now I know these are only seagulls but I suspect the Tyneside seagulls have been picking up some tips from the local plovers.


I spotted one doing a dance in South Marine park a few days ago, drumming its feet to try and simulate rain in an effort to encourage earthworms to the surface. I’ve only ever witnessed plovers doing this previously but spotted another today , just like that video clip I found on YouTube, seems it’s getting more common.


One thing about South Shields, it has plenty of open spaces and parks, probably something to do with it getting flattened once coal mining and ship building went east but that’s just a guess, perhaps it’s always been so airy Smile This will be the North Marine park and a lovely walk it is too, up Lawe road and then along the sea front to the ferry.


The catamaran ‘Frances Ann BH 37’ was speeding home past the Groyne, her two huge Suzuki outboards probably using more fuel in an hour than I did driving down here Sad smile OK, as a registered fishing vessel they’ll get back both the duty and VAT but you’re probably still looking at £.80 a litre and you still have to pay the full price up front then claim it back, three months later if you’re lucky Sad smile I know, been there got the book, video and T shirt, as my first two fishing boats were petrol engines, very expensive way of pushing a boat. Funnily enough North Sea Catamarans, the company that built her went bust recently, probably nobody could afford to put fuel in their boats Sad smile

Now you’ll have to excuse me

It’s well after 23:00 now and I’ve just been distracted by an excellent Indian restaurant on Ocean Rd for a couple of hours, actually it’s now 10:00am and the fine selection of curries, wines, rice dishes and cider has flushed through my system Smile  My feeble attempt at blogging hampered by not actually being able to sit comfortably. 

Miserable sod that I am, I had to be coerced into going out for a meal with my fellow ‘prisoners’ in the village, and on their recommendation we headed for 146 Ocean Road.  The India Brassiere was tastefully decorated, though the plastic seats did make my bum sweat, still that is my one and only gripe. The staff were courteous, extremely patient with four guests who had already been ‘tanked up’ and most important of all the food was awesome.

Back to the Boats

These will be the ‘Weebles’ as they are affectionately called locally, a group of bronze sculptures by Spanish artist Juan Munoz and named after a 1970’s toy that wouldn’t fall over.

Being bronze and weighing in at around 250k each I’m surprised they’re still there Smile


However back to my Tyneside meanderings along Wapping street, past the Marine training centre, where we’ll be doing our ‘fire fighting’ refresher and on towards  the ‘Spirit of the Tyne’.



This will be the 6500ton dredger ‘Sand Falcon’ heading for Esbjerg

 sand falcon

and this strange looking craft with it’s six legs is the


MPI Adventure with it’s 900ton crane in action. A ‘jack up barge’ specially constructed for installing off shore wind turbines, this baby will set you back around £50k per day to hire .

The structure 700ton that it’s lifting is called an anemometry hub and will sit on the seabed of Blyth to monitor wind conditions at the 100m height of a wind turbine for a proposed wind farm there.

 Animation still of what the proposed demonstration site would look like from the anemometry hub

As you can see from the artists impression most of it is under water

It was very difficult to get a decent picture of the ‘MPI Adventure due to the setting sun but the Chinese built monster is quite some piece of kit,

MPI Adventure is 138.55 metres (454 ft 7 in) long, with a beam of 40.80 metres (133 ft 10 in). She has a draught of between 3.5 metres (11 ft 6 in) and 5.5 metres (18 ft 1 in), with a depth of 10.00 metres (32 ft 10 in). She has an air draught of 67.00 metres (219 ft 10 in) when operating at a 5 metres (16 ft 5 in) draught.[1] The ship is propelled by three Rolls Royce US 355 FP azimuth thrusters. She has three bow thrusters. These are powered by six Rolls Royce C25:33L-8 diesel engines.[2]

MPI Adventure has accommodation for 112 crew, with a maximum of 200 people able to be accommodated on board. Equipment installed includes a crane which has a capacity of 1,000 tonnes (980 long tons) at 25 metres (82 ft) radius. An auxiliary crane has a capacity of 160 tonnes (160 long tons) at 70 metres (230 ft) radius and a third crane has a capacity of 50 tonnes (49 long tons) at 25 metres (82 ft) radius. The ship is fitted with six 73.00 metres (239 ft 6 in) jacking legs. She can jack up in waves 3.5 metres (11 ft) high and at windspeeds of up to 14 metres per second (27 kn) with a maximum current of 1.86 metres per second (3.62 kn). Once jacked up, the ship can operate in waves of 10.00 metres (32 ft 10 in) high, windspeeds up to 36 metres per second (70 kn) and currents of 2.21 metres per second (4.30 kn). She can operate in water up to 40 metres (130 ft) deep, with the legs sinking into the seabed by 5 metres (16 ft) and the ship raised 7.80 metres (25 ft 7 in) above the surface of the sea.[1]




Boarding the ‘Spirit of the Tyne’ I took a trip over to North Shields  where the slow and steady lifting operation was always in sight.




Here it is a couple of hours after the first picture with the tug Svitzer Lyndhurst towing the car carrier Planet Ace down the river.



My wander down the Tyne at North Shields took me as far as Tynemouth, stopping briefly for a plate of chips on the way,



not here right enough, The Prince of Wales Tavern (old wooden dolly)

This public house is also know as the "Old Wooden Dolly"
There are a few bars famous Worldwide among sailors on the Quayside, one is the Prince of Wales outside of which stand the famous Wooden Dolly, which was first raised in about 1814.
The original Wooden Dolly has long gone and been replaced many times, (1820, 1864, 1902) due to the habit of sailors cutting a piece of to keeping it in their pockets for good luck while at sea.



Once I’d reach the end of the road I called it a day and headed back to ‘the village’ or is it ‘the stalag’ for I’ve just been informed that I’m not allowed to put up a washing line Sad smile 

It really is like being at war here, all the menfolk have left Raasay to foreign parts, some to Shetland and some to South Shields, some are billeted in houses whilst my compatriot and I are in a prison camp Smile The natives speak a strange language and all our jobs on the island have been taken over by foreigners Smile

   Raasay Iron Mine: Where Enemies Became Friends

OK, they’re working the ferry and not the iron ore mine but all we need now are the leaflets

Indeed An Amusing War For the Americans Propaganda Leaflet

Smile Smile Smile




WWII Germany POW George Stimik's Walk to Freedom  Prisoner sm.jpg

It’s lovely really Smile

But just before I go I’ll leave you with a container ship tat headed out of the river yesterday,


you probably can’t read the name but perhaps it would have been a good alternative to Hallaig for the new boat, it’s called ‘Energizer’ Smile


  1. your making the same stuf in fitting that i made when aprentice in 1980
    still got them all some ware u may get to tin bash and make a tool box ( that and a angle plate ) is the only stuf i use
    and remember whilst filing Flat and square , flat asnd square
    , do you have to wear hair nets , we did which i always found to be funny had to waer hair net but nothing on my beard which was tech nearer work so more danger of it geting stuck in machines if you were totaly numb and put you head next 2 a machine

    Comment by wiggy — October 6, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

    • I’m making the same stuff I was in 1974 Wiggy 🙂 🙂 Safety glasses but not hair nets, still as most of the class is too old to have hair it’s not a problem 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 6, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  2. The site looks a lot busier, Paul. Personally I like quiet sites. Why don’t you shift to a CL?

    Comment by Lloyd — October 6, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

    • Prefer the quiet life myself too Lloyd but everything is withing walking distance, it’s clean, safe and well I’ve parted with a fortune so I’m not moving just yet 🙂

      PS, what’s a CL ?

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 6, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

      • A cl is a certified location, a Caravan Club thing. Guarantees no more than a max of five vans per acre. Quite often we get the whole site to ourselves.

        Comment by Lloyd — October 7, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

      • Ha I see Lloyd trouble is caravan parks are a little thin on the ground here 😦

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 8, 2012 @ 6:26 am

  3. love love love the prehistoric tools you’re confecting and the dance of the herring gull.

    i know you’re used to being very busy. i assume you’re in south shields, if you google “south shields walks” i come up with some stuff that sounds pretty exciting.

    there’s lots of good birding there this time of year.

    then there’s manly crochet, for those long evenings around the fireside, from the famous dryad handicrafts pamphlet series:

    and your preparations for halloween:

    …as well as the home brew you’re working on:

    i am enjoying the chronicle of your stay there, and would love to hear more gossip about your neighbors in the park.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — October 6, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  4. Weebles, 250kg each ?? Phew!

    Comment by SOTW — October 6, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

  5. glad to see you getting out and about a bit, and you took a ride on the ferry (not quite in the same league as the MV loch striven), sure theirs enough activity on the river to make the view from your window interesting.
    You’ll have to check Newcastle out at some point (would love to meet up and give you a guided tour), enjoy the rest of your weekend mate.

    Comment by mike — October 6, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

    • I’m just back in after checking Newcastle Mike, scared me to death 🙂 was trying to find the Northumbria Universities Students Union on Sandyford road but gave up 😦 Way too much traffic for me 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 6, 2012 @ 7:46 pm

      • yer it can get hectic on the roads, if you want to meet up one weekend I’d suggest you let me buy you a days metro ticket (really easy way of getting around the region) and I can show you the sights one weekend, plus I’v got some prezzies to drop off for you (if thats an incentive)

        Comment by mike — October 6, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

      • Sounds good to me Mike, I’m busy swatting up on local history, I think a trip to the priory is on the cards tomorrow 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 6, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

  6. I think the North Sea shore (east) side of South Shields was always clean, open and lovely, I remember visiting a couple of times when I was a kid (which is many moons ago now !!) … but if I remember rightly as soon as you “turned the corner” to the riverside shore (north), everything changed and I think you came to the coal wharves … of course that’s all changed long ago and it’s fascinating to see your photos of the posh housing developments and how much more its improved in the last 20 years or so

    so how many Hebridean caravans are there in The Village?

    Comment by cazinatutu — October 6, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

  7. Paul
    What course are you studying exactly? (Did I miss that info?) I assumed this was to be bespoke, specialised training such that you all became very familiar with the nautical knick·knackery behind the hybrid propulsion. All the electronics, controls, and switches and heavy duty electrickery ‘stuff’ needed to keep the whole bang-shoot operating safely and efficiently. It sounds as though you’re doing a basic engineering apprenticeship?
    Whatever, enjoy what remains of the weekend.

    Comment by Carrie — October 6, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    • Hi Carrie, the bespoke one is next year, this is ‘Engine room watch rating’ and yes it is very basic 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 6, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

      • Ah ha, I see… I think!

        Comment by Carrie — October 7, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  8. Hi Paul,
    When navigating by satellite dish, don’t forget the trick of checking the vertical angle. 18.2 degrees will have you back at Arnish levels. Go further south. Up it goes and so does the pressure.

    Hang in there


    Comment by Green Van Man — October 6, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

    • Hi Ray, I saw a ‘green van’ just like yours on the way down here and was waving franticly, of course it wasn’t you and the occupants must have thought I was nuts 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 6, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

  9. Paul,

    Good to see that you have some marine traffic to keep you occupied when let out of the POW camp. I must say that some of those ships are superb. MPI Adventure something to behold.
    Just returned from Skye last night & got to see my first submarine in The Minch, passing to the east of Raasay heading south on Wednesday morning and north Friday morning.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — October 7, 2012 @ 11:11 am

    • Morning Micheal, aye that MPI Adventure is quite a tool, hope Skye didn’t disappoint.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 8, 2012 @ 6:21 am

  10. Argyll & Bute schools have also switched this year to two weeks holiday.

    Comment by Nigel Macleod — October 8, 2012 @ 11:43 am

    • Argyll & Bute schools have also switched this year to two weeks holiday.

      Bumper potato crop??

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 8, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

  11. Hi Paul, hope you,r sticking in at school, and doing your homework 🙂 south shields is where i got my wee boat the Larne from. Just keep the heid doon and it,l be over soon, all the best m8

    Comment by jimmy mcmillan — October 8, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

    • Hi Jimmy, I found the very place near the marine training centre. Dirty great steep concrete ramp leading into it, really awkward to get out of. Not only that but there was another just like yours in there. Hope your all well, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 8, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

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