Life at the end of the road

October 27, 2012

Meanwhile in Barrhead :-)

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry, South Shields — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 2:35 pm

Thursday was a pretty ‘full on’ day at in South Shields. The ‘hot work’ of the previous three days fire fighting being ‘washed down’ by a spell in the pool doing ‘PST’ or personal survival techniques.  Now this is what I call useful work, after a month of filing, hacksawing and drilling, we have at last been doing something useful and enjoyable, well to most of us at least Smile So after a spell in the classroom learning how to fend off sharks, drink turtle blood and remove the eyes from fish we went swimming Smile  This is the kind of stuff that the ‘Marine Safety Training Centre’ in South Shields excel at, with great staff to guide you through what for some can be a terrifying experience. Not everyone likes water or enclosed spaces, especially when they can make waves, wind, and rain in the pool and fill your enclosed space with fire and smoke Sad smile



This is the last man being ‘airlifted’ out of the pool, it looks bright and calm now but prior to this the lights had been turned down, we were being sprayed from above by jets of water, blasted by fans of cold air and the pool was anything but flat due to the ‘wave machine’ Sad smile



When all that was over I hitched a lift to Glasgow to spend a couple of nights with the wife’s family, arriving there at 19:15 just as the lights went out Sad smile Apparently the result of an explosion, perhaps in a transformer? whatever it was the power was not restored until 4:05am the following day. Not an unusual occurrence on Raasay in the winter but rare indeed during fine weather in Barrhead I’m sure.

A cold old war relic

The town as you all know is not my natural environment so the first thing that I did after the normal morning stuff was look for a reason to get out of it with Charlie. That’ll be Charlie the ‘wee dug’, one of Molly and Buster’s offspring, a quick ‘Google’ of ‘ROC bunker Barrhead’ turned up this so I thought I’d go and check it out. If you live in Britain, then the chances are there is one near you as some 1500 where built during the early sixties all to the same design.


roc4 roc5

Fifteen feet long by seven foot six inches wide there purpose was to monitor nuclear strikes by the Soviet Union.



The one near Barrhead is in a beautiful spot overlooking the town, just 10 minutes walk from the station, up Graham road, through the gap in the houses then just a few yards off the path before you arrive at the golf course.



Many thanks to the Ordnance Survey for that map Smile

Of course we had to walk through the town to get there but even that was a joy in the fine autumn weather



over a couple of old iron bridges that crossed the Leven water that eventually joins a couple of other rivers and ends up in the Clyde.


Only minutes after letting Charlie off his lead and just yards into the green fields of the Glenifer Braes I saw four hinds, something that would have been unusual on Raasay at this time of day let alone near the town centre.



They were literally just on the path here in front and looked like they’d just come out of someone’s back garden. Not as large as red deer but looking very similar with a white rump I’m guessing they were roe deer. Funnily enough Raasay’s name means ‘the island of the roe deer’ though in twenty three years I’ve never actually seen one Smile



The post itself has now been sealed up and welded shut



but would have provided some fine views of Armageddon had it arrived Smile


Only ten years ago the post was still very much intact


roc 1

untidy but all there,


sadly the local neds have reduced it to this and the place is now well and truly gutted Sad smile

Meanwhile ‘oop north’

News from home is that the first snow has arrived on Raasay


cheers George. Not so obvious in this view of the Cuilins but wifey reported lying snow at Glam yesterday and the odd slip on the pothole strewn roads of Raasay, which the council now seem to be neglecting more than ever.

Our local community newsletter arrived recently full of the latest developments about the community Co-op


Update from Local Development Officers
A public meeting was held by the local development officers to set up the Community
Co-operative. There was a good turnout from the Raasay Community who showed
strong support for becoming members of a Community retail Cooperative. An
introduction and case studies of other successful Community run shops were
delivered and a management committee was confirmed.  This was followed by a
presentation on the different legal structures available for forming such co-operatives
varying from dividend shares being paid out to shareholders, to shares going back
into Community benefit.  In-depth discussions took place on the different
membership types but it was made clear by all that regardless of what legal structure
was chosen the shop must remain open and everyone agreed to the cost of one

share being set at £50.00.  The constitution for the Community of Raasay Retail Co-operative should be in place by 30th
Whilst the Development Officers are busy sourcing funding to support this venture,
through agencies such as Big Lottery and The Prince’s Countryside Fund there are
no guarantees that full funding will be found.  Alternative funding and loans require to
be sourced.  As taking over the shop is likely to be an expensive business we will
require all the help we can from you.  Membership is open to everyone including
those aged 16 or younger who can buy a Junior share for £10.00. It is hoped that as
many people as possible can invest in shares in order for the Community to secure a
shop for Raasay.

plus more news from Seamus on the Hallaig.

Seamas Nicolson has been able to give us this latest update on the new ferry and
has sent us some pictures showing how construction is coming along. Here is what
Seamas reported:
“On the 9th October, 2012 I was able to visit the newly named “MV Hallaig” which is
under construction in Port Glasgow. Since my last visit in May, there  has been a lot
of work done and it is starting to look like a ship. The passenger lounge is currently
being constructed from pre-fabricated sections which are built in the various sheds at
the yard. Aluminium is being used where possible to save weight.    The major
machinery is beginning to arrive including the generators, sewage plant,  propulsion
units  along with a watertight door to separate the two engine rooms, windows and
lots of tins of paint!  The ramps are on a ship on their way from Poland where they
were manufactured. The launch date is currently set for the 17th December, so
hopefully there will be no delays allowing them to remain on schedule”.

and some pictures.

hallaig 271012



sewage plant

It also contained a damning report on the dreadful condition of local roads

The recent survey carried out by Development Officers of locals and visitors using

the Raasay roads, showed up no surprises by road users.  Out of 48 Questionnaires

69% of road users found the conditions of the Raasay roads to be extremely poor

while 43% of visitors to Raasay stated the poor road conditions would prevent them

from a return visit – this is alarming for the economy of the Island!

Listed below are copies of some of the many comments submitted in the


  Roads are dreadfully neglected. Potholes in potholes. Weeds in centre of

carriageway. Loose gravel/rocks. Badly maintained verges.

  The state of the roads on Raasay is a major factor for me and my family not


  The condition of the roads are ridiculous and people have to use them, there is no choice

and elected members must respond to the people who elect them to represent the

residents of the Island of Raasay.

  Calum’s Road is incredible. Road from Inverarish to Calum’s Road is terrible, caused an

accident as loose tarmac meant safe cycling was impossible. Damaged knee, awaiting

medical attention.

  Lovely Island shame about the roads.

and some great news about Raasay Primary school who raised £2157.70p on the coffee day despite many islanders being away that day.

A fabulous day out was recently enjoyed by all at Raasay Primary School’s annual
Coffee Day where the whopping sum of  £2,157.70  was raised for school funds.
Events on the day included the popular Digger Challenge, Archery, Guess the weight
of the Cake, Guess the Bear’s name, face painting, roll the dice, hit the pound .   The
Parent Council had a busy day running the kitchen and café and turned out the usual
delicious lunches of soup, macaroni, chicken curry, chilli  and home baking.  The live
auction added to the day’s entertainment  and although regular auctioneer Donnie
Oliphant was absent,  David Croy managed to raise the school funds even higher
with his wise-cracks!!

contact Lloyd or Joan on 01478 660358 if you like more info or a copy emailing to you.

Another sad loss

News came to me last night that Bella Macleod, died of a stroke at Budhmor care home yesterday, Bella was the last surviving sibling of Calum Macleod who built the world famous road to Arnish. At 91 (92 in January) she would, I think have been the oldest living person born on Raasay, but had lived in Portree for many years with her brother Charlie, who sadly passed away in March. Named after an earlier sister, Bella Dolly, who died in the 1919 Spanish flu epidemic, Bella lived in my house (her grand parents) at Arnish for many years before moving to Bayfield in Portree with Charlie. Though I never really knew her other than a brief smile on the ferry as passenger in Charlie’s car my thoughts are with the family at this tragic time so soon after their previous loss. I’m not sure when or where the funeral is but I’m thinking it will be in Portree, perhaps on Friday.


  1. The Bella Macleod funeral will be on Friday 2nd November at 2pm in Portree.
    I believe there is an older Raasayite (?) who lives near Lochinver a Marion (Katie) Graham, who went to Torran school.
    I agree the Raasay roads are shocking – quite the worst in Highland area I think. Seems a shame when the new ferry comes that there will be no roads capable of being driven on. There is no response from the fix my street team either. No one seems to bother or care for the Raasay islanders who pay their road taxes and community charges like the mainlanders. Some potholes are so bad indicator lights may need to be engaged when entering and emerging from them !

    Comment by SOTW — October 27, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

    • Thanks for the info on Bella’s funeral She, hope all goes well.

      Love from us all, P+B+R X

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 27, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

  2. i love the raasay school newsletter. i’m thrilled about the coop, that sounds very promising, and about the swag from the coffee day. didn’t scotland have the first public schools or the first universal literacy laws, thanks to john knox et al?
    i’m glad about the survey. you should issue them to people on the ferry, give them something to do on their way across to skye, and gather important and really shocking news for the authorities.
    p.s. love the pix of charlie at the air raid shelter in your subsequent post, too lazy to go comment there. he has that mollyesque glint in his eye.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — October 27, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

  3. Hi, read tour post today then looked at BBC news, spooky.

    Comment by Norrie Morrison — October 28, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

    • Well I never Norrie 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 28, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  4. agree very much about the roads in Rassay!!! how do we go about the shop share thanks for pics of ferry. cam

    Comment by — October 28, 2012 @ 11:16 pm

    • Hi Cath, probably best to phone Joan or Lloyd on 01478 660 358 for details of the shares.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 30, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  5. Paul,
    Quite odd to look on here and not see the large percentage of pictures from Raasay & surounding areas of Scotland. I miss my ‘fix’, glad that George has kept you & the rest of your readers in the loop. Especially with the snow & northern lights.
    I take it you have a reasonable time over Christmas back in the fresh air.
    When is your final day in the smoke?
    Keep up the good work.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — October 29, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

    • Hi Michael should be home for the 24th 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 30, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

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