Life at the end of the road

October 24, 2012

274 ‘not out’ :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, South Shields, Trucks and plant — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:01 pm

I was kinda struggling with the title of tonight’s effort peeps and was seriously thinking of ‘2 on 4 off’ after the friggin fog horn that’s been driving me nuts for days. It may not seem like a big deal to you but I’ve passed 1400 posts now on this friggin blog and finding titles can be a bit of an issue. I know I promised to stop swearing some months ago but after almost three weeks of virtual abstinence I just ‘had a couple’ and am feeling quite ‘bolshie’.

I’d fully intended scribbling a few lines down last night as I was feeling particularly smug, not with myself in particular but with how we’d all performed on Tuesday at the fire fighting. In fact if anyone made any ‘cock ups’ it was yours truly as he executed a couple of wrong turns in the smoke filled rooms looking for the ‘casualty’. Still we got there in the end, in zero visibility up two sets of ladders with an unconscious pair of stuffed overalls Smile



Not bad when you consider that the combined age of our five man team was 274 years of age and the yoof of the group was forty Smile This is serious physical work peeps, through hatches, down ladders and all with BA on and in zero visibility.



That steel structure has many openings, rooms, ladders and stairs



and no matter how careful you listen it’s a whole new ‘ball game’ when full of smoke and heat.

Basa ???

The driech day that was Tuesday passed by pretty quickly and once more I headed home via to see how the ‘Spirit of the Tyne’ was doing.



Despite the weather she’d managed to acquire a little more paint Smile


and after a wee squint I headed for the ‘toon’ to find some bargains for my dinner.

Things have changed a little since 1914 Smile

The ‘bargain’ I picked up today at the ‘still fresh’ counter, was called basa and was deposited there by the man from the fish counter. Two lovely looking fish fillets for 85p!!!! ‘What’s basa’ says I to the man in the white hat, ‘it’s like cod’ says he. I didn’t have my glasses but should have known better for it was labelled , that will be the same Young’s that catch prawns in the Atlantic, send them to Thailand for processing and freezing before returning them to the UK and advertising them as ‘sustainable’ Sad smile Anyway they looked good and fried in butter with some boiled potatoes tasted amazing

It was only when I retrieved my glasses and checked out the ‘small print’ on the label which said ‘farmed in Vietnam’ that alarm bells started to ring Sad smile


Now you have to bare in mind that this is an American video produced by by someone with a vested interest in US catfish farming (basa was for a time marketed as catfish in the states and started the ‘catfish wars’) but it does make you think. Personally my opinion is that the USA deposited that much napalm and agent orange in this area that they’ve little room to take the moral high ground, but then I’m just a miserable old crusty. It was a very tasty, firm and nutritious bit of fish Smile

The ‘fire’

After my basa and spuds I got distracted, as one does, on the internet, and I can’t even remember how, but it did involve the Tyne pedestrian tunnel the Wallsend Slipway and Engineering company, and Swan Hunter .


For, residing in my house in Arnish on my living room door is this,


and on my kitchen door this. These two plaques being retrieved from the same shipwreck near my home in 1985 and 1986 in circumstances so bizarrely similar that you would not believe.



You can just see in this picture the brass letters (bottom centre) CHADW, they are from the cargo ship Chadwick built just a stones throw from here



Cargo Ship



CS Swan & Hunter


Yard Number:

1512grt, 980nrt, 250.0 x 35.0 x 18.0ft

C2cyl (32 & 62 x 36ins), 150nhp

Engines by:
Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Co Ltd, Wallsend

1 x Screw


Reg Number:


Robert B Avery & Co, London

Chadwick SS Co Ltd (R B Avery), London


02/07/1892: Wrecked at Clanneache, West Skye

On a voyage from Glasgow to St Petersburg with coal.

The letters now reside in my garden on Raasay along with various other bits of a fine ship that left Swan Hunter’s yard some 130 years ago.

This isn’t the Chadwick but the Plymothian that came out of the same yard a few months later and would have looked very similar

Anyway, all these trips down ‘memory lane’ had me in bed before any blogging could be done, not that I actually slept, for all night long I had the  ‘two seconds on and four seconds off’ of some friggin fog horn keeping me awake Sad smile



However, eventually dawn broke and I arose, got sorted and headed north through the murk to the for the last day of the fire fighting course.



All 274 years of us Smile



Now this is pretty serious sh1t chaps, that’s the outside of the ship Sad smile just imagine what it’s like inside there with a fire going Sad smile

008 010

Having been the first team in yesterday we were the last in today after three other groups, of course by the time we got it in there it was hotter but (fortunately, unfortunately) a burst fire hose had us out quicker, but not before we’d found the casualty.


OK, it didn’t go just as planned but fires never do, just like the instructors said, you can plan and drill as much as you want but something ‘unexpected’ will always happen and I think we all did OK Smile

Public transport

After feeling very smug and satisfied, not just with myself but with everyone on the course I headed home for a shower and late lunch. It was hardly a nice day day but I decided to go wandering to clear my head and take my mind off pressures back home. Now I’ve not used public transport since about 1970 so what I’d got planned was quite ambitious Smile


A trip to Jarrow on the ‘Metro’ and then a wander through the Tyne pedestrian tunnel



something that I’d never heard of until yesterday and it was built in 1951, years before the road tunnel. Not only that but it has the worlds longest and deepest wooden escalator.

030 033

OK, it doesn’t actually work but it’s still a fine piece of engineering Smile






and far better than the lift Smile well, that is until you have to climb up the other side Smile 


037 038

Some 900ft long it was constructed of cast iron pipes bolted together before being concreted and tiled.



It’s a testament to the engineers that built it that this is the only section where the tiles are missing and you can see the cast iron pipe, but to be honest I suspect that this has been done deliberately to asses the tunnels soundness. 


Once out of the historic tunnel that once carried 20,000 folk a day I turned west for the end of Hadrian’s wall and Swan Hunter, but to be honest it was a bit of a disappointment. Swan Hunter was gone and the Roman fort was closed Sad smile


Map picture


However, that’s what’s left of their dry docks and I caught the metro back to North Shields before hopping onto the ‘Pride of the Tyne’ and walking home Smile

Meanwhile back on the west coast

I meant to put these on last night but fell asleep care of the vodka and lack of fog horn

Fergusson's transport

Ferguson’s landing craft ‘Harvest Anne’ helping out the ‘Loch Striven’ by assisting in moving some 14 cement mixer loads for the new water treatment plant. Sounds like around 100 cubic meters of concrete to me.

Eyre sunset

The Moll and Cuilin’s from Eyre


Glamaig sunset

and a glorious sunset, something I’ve not seen in a while. Again, many thanks to George Rankine for reminding me of home.

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