Life at the end of the road

November 30, 2012

A whole week!!!!!!

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:37 am

Well it will be tomorrow anyway, what?, a whole week since I arrived back at Arnish that is. A whole week without any internet Sad smile It was bearable the first day because I could go along to my mate’s at Torran and use his but now that’s died too. You have no idea what a struggle it is, even in the backwoods of Raasay without the internet. Pig movement forms require doing on line, I’ve a whole load of stuff shuttling back and forth from the bank via email. I’ve revised quotes and an order form for my Internorm windows from Dunn Homes floating about in the ether somewhere and still no word of getting fixed.



I can’t even blame it on drink now for I’ve not touched a drop in a week, and I know I promised to stop swearing but I’m frigging fuming.



When I was away at college this arrived in the post and assured me of a seamless and efficient transfer from Avanti broadband to Q-Sat. It can only be a good move thought I for Avanti were on the whole pretty useless, or at least they were initially when I had problems with them. Their so called ‘broadband’ was pathetic and used some kind of compression that turned my pictures to mush and would not update pages automatically. I stuck with them for two reasons only, one I’d no option and two they promised another satellite due to be launched in a few months would deliver far better service. Sure enough HYLAS 2 did but it was almost two years late when I finally got hooked up to it just over a year ago. Things seemed to be getting better, YouTube and iPlayer were at last watchable and the helplines now stayed open after 5:00pm and were even manned at weekend.

In fact the service was pretty good until the Dude got his iPhone last Christmas and started using up all my meager 8Gb allowance Sad smile Hardly Avanti’s fault, though once ‘throttled’ it made even viewing emails on line impossible, and that was it until the next month. No way of paying for the extra usage, just restricted to some connection speed worse than ‘dial up’ for the rest of the month Sad smile 

Then along came Q-Sat, no warning, just this letter and an email assuring me that nothing would change, it even hinted that I may get a better deal. When our connection slowed to ‘snails pace’ at the end of October I just put it down to the Dude and half term, plus the odd Skype conversation with my loved one 400 miles away. However by mid November even the snail had died so yours truly phoned up my new ISP and it got off to a really good start. I explained to the delightful Niamh that I had a problem but it was 400 miles away and could they sort it if my thirteen year old son phoned up. Me being in South Shields England and my satellite dish, son and wife being in the middle of nowhere Scotland. True to her word her smooth Irish voice phoned me back, said that would be fine and she did her best, phoning me back on Friday evening saying that she was sorry but she’d need to get an engineer to look at it on Monday.

Bit of a problem that as the boy is away at the hostel Monday and wife back to see her sick father but at least they tried and kept me informed. A week later I’m home, and phones them up straight away, once more speaking to Niamh and then Gavin, it was almost worth having a problem to speak to real people with names Smile Again, after trying the local engineers I was told I’d have to wait until Monday, well it’s fecking Thursday now and I’ve still not seen or heard from an engineer and all I get from everyone at Q-Sat is ‘we’ve passed it on to the engineers’. When I ask to speak to an engineer or ask for a phone number to contact one I’m told ‘we’ve no way of getting in touch with them’. Well how on earth do you report a fault to them then??????? any way I’ve emailed Niall the nice chap on the letter.


Hi Niall,

there’s no point replying to this email because I’ve had to drive ten miles just to send it as we’ve been at least two weeks without an internet connection, possibly six. I cannot say for sure because I have been away from home for nine weeks but every time I spoke to my family since late October they told me they could not get online. Initially I thought this would have been due to my son using up all October’s 8GB with his iPhone so wasn’t worried. However by the 16th of November it became apparent that it simply was not working so I phoned your helpline from the college I was studying at some 400 miles from home and was pleased to speak with Niamh, who contacted my 13 year old son at home and did some tests.

The fault was not repaired, my son went back to school and my wife went to visit her sick father leaving the house unoccupied for a week. As soon as I returned home on the 23rd I contacted your support line and it has been a a very disappointing experience, though I cannot fault your staff, Gavin, David, Niamh and many more I’ve spoken to, who have all been polite and helpful.

The problem has I think been passed onto Avanti engineers in London who have phoned me several times and assured me this is ‘high priority’. That would be three days ago now and I have still not heard a cheep, what is really, really annoying me is that all your operators tell me they have no way of contacting the engineers to find out what is happening. Something I find very hard to swallow, and if true is not the way to run a business.

You are my ISP and it is you that I pay so you should at least be able to tell me when I am likely to be visited by an engineer. You will be able to see how much data I’ve used this month so I hope you’re not going to charge me for it. I rely heavily on my internet for work and all manner of things from animal movement orders, to sales, accounts and purchases. My neighbours link at Torran has also failed but he is not home to complain and I have to do a twenty mile round trip just to pick up my emails etc.

I would be very grateful if you could sort this out for me as I’m at my wits end. It is very difficult running a croft and trying to build a house without any internet at all. It is also very annoying for the many readers of my daily blog Life at the end of the road well it used to be daily Smile

Hopefully I’ll be able to send it tomorrow when I go to Staffin with the three Tamworths.

Anyway, I was up early and got the Dude down to the Loch Linnhe in time, no mean feat when it involves dragging a teenager out of bed before seven am Smile


Once the boy was away I settled down on the car park, laptop on the centre console, feet on the heater and got on with internetting for an hour or so.


It was almost as good as being in the kitchen at home and certainly provided a better view over Churchton Bay Smile


That will be the old mine workings silhouetted against the sky and Ben na Calliach ,


and that will be the Sconser quarry and those pesky Cuillins that are responsible for depositing all the rain on Raasay Smile


After that it was home for breakfast and an hour or so on the phone to sort out some house related stuff that would have been much easier had I been on line Sad smile 

Next it was one of those ten minute jobs that took about two hours, ten minutes if your near a Halfords or motor factors and can get a 63mm exhaust clamp.


That’s the problem with stainless steel exhausts, they outlast all the clamps that are still made of mild steel Sad smile This one must have broken on the way back from South Shields and I never noticed until this morning. A 54mm bit of tube or a 63mm manifold clamp would have sorted it but I might as well be on the moon here, more annoying because I know that I threw out the old exhaust with good clamps on just a few months ago in ‘the big clear up’ Sad smile



Not the most professional repair but there is a bolt between the two clamps too and it will suffice for now.



Then it was back to the wood until dark to fell some more of the birch behind the net shed.



Though it was a bit wet for using Simon’s ‘Logit’, not that the rain bothers Raasay Engineering’s great wood cutting stand, it was just that I want to save all the wood chips for hen bedding.



There was another spectacular ‘hunters moon’ that would have been ideal for venting my frustration on some woodcock with my Hatsan semi auto shotgun but I was pure wrecked after shifting all that timber three times. Once down to the fence, once over the fence and into the quad and then out of the quad into a pile. By the time it gets into the living room fire it’ll have been shifted a further three times, there sure is a lot of work in this so called ‘free wood’ Smile 

weather 301112


graph 301112

Anyway it’s 7:50am now, still dark but I’d better make a start, got to go and find three large Tamworth’s and tag their ears, that should be fun on my own Smile

November 29, 2012

Life goes on :-(

Filed under: boats, daily doings, New hybrid ferry, Trucks and plant, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:10 am

Who knows when this will go into orbit around the blogosphere, I’m still minus an internet connection and just to make matters worse so is my mate at Torran Sad smile So now I don’t even have the option of bumping along the Torran track at night to sit huddled over a freezing laptop with numb fingers and toes.


So it looks like another twenty mile round trip to the youth hostel and back to pick up my emails and post this Sad smile 

The truth is I’ve not really felt like blogging, for after my last two hour absence from the house to post the last effort I arrived back home to six unanswered calls from wifey on the house phone. Of course I knew what it was before I even returned the call and was wracked with guilt for not being there for her. Sadly her father passed away at 7:00pm at the Accord hospice in Paisley after a short and painful battle with an extremely aggressive cancer.

Drew Stirling was just seventy when he was diagnosed with a serious brain tumour not that long after his last visit to Arnish and I always regarded him as a good friend as well as father in law. I don’t know how or why for we had little in common apart from our love of his eldest daughter but I know he felt the same way, despite me being English and having no interest at all in his passion for football Smile  

He always enjoyed his frequent visits to Raasay and wasn’t shy of getting stuck in to work on the croft, his favourite task being splitting logs, though he was a dab hand at woodwork too and fixed many a rickety gate and door. Much as I hated being away from home  for over two months in South Shields, it did give me chance to spend the weekends in Barrhead with Drew and his wife Emma whilst he was deteriorating and for that I will always be grateful. The first few weekends when we talked carp, watched old black and white westerns and I found him some pictures of his first car were priceless Smile

It was a Borgward Isabella coupe of 1954 vintage and a real glint came in his eye when speaking of it, no wonder, for even now it has a timeless sort of style about it and they fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction. Alas the ‘wee drams’ we shared  only lasted a couple of weekends and just after my penultimate visit Drew was admitted to the Accord hospice where he was cared for until he died on Monday.

The humanist funeral will be on Tuesday 4th December and I’m indebted to my employer for rescheduling my trip to Holland at such short notice so that I could attend. I am not a religious person and neither was Drew but in times like this I have taken comfort from a ‘strange little book’ of only a few pages. It’s the most widely read book of the twentieth century and is called ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran, I can’t find my copy or even look on line, but this I do remember and it came to me now.

We shall pass into the twilight,

Perchance to wake the dawn of another world.

But love shall stay and his finger marks not be erased. 

It might not actually be from that book but it was I’m sure written by Gibran and has always stuck in my head.

Some good news

After speaking to my wife on Monday night I decided to go to Portree to tell my son in person, or more truthfully my wife suggested it would be better coming from me than someone else. Guys, what are we like, imagine not thinking of that, anyway after pondering what would be best, the decision was made for me. At 8:30 the following morning the hostel phoned to say the Dude was ill so I went to collect him on what was a slightly better day.


Meall Dearg Arnish and the ruin of number 4, just check out that lintel above the fire place Smile


A good day for hydro power down at the ‘secret cove’ Smile



A serious crane at the new water treatment plant Smile This whole treatment plant fiasco is beyond belief, they’ve not long since spent millions on the one in that’s already there and now they’re building another Sad smile Now don’t get me wrong I think this is great that they’re spending some of their vast profits on Raasay and the economy is being helped as the workers stay here and spend money. However in the two months I’ve been away the roads, both the top and bottom one have been totally trashed by all the heavy lorries, plant and equipment travelling to and fro. Huge cracks have appeared in the tarmac, drains have collapsed and all this before we’ve had any frost, the Raasay roads are going to by like ‘off road’ courses by spring time Sad smile 


It’s not like the rest of Raasay gets water like us Smile

Anyway, after feeding everyone, removing the early eggs and tootling south I caught the 10:55 for Sconser and headed into Portree to see my son.


On the way in I found out what the underside of a Honda jazz looks like Sad smile Me thinks it was probably icy on Skye this morning, hope the occupants are OK.



From here on in the day went downhill, getting to the Hostel after loading up with pig feed I found my son looking and sounding pretty grim in his bed, being unable to shake off his sore throat. He looked even worse after hearing the news so I brought him home and we managed to catch the 13:00 ferry.



Whilst everything had an air of gloom about it my spirits lifted when I heard that Wilma Duncan had had a baby boy, OK, it was last week but I’d only just heard of the strapping eight pound something Calum Macleod Duncan who had been delivered by caesarean in Inverness last Wednesday (I think) Smile Well done Nairn and Wilma, it won’t be long before he’s one of your pupils Smile

Meanwhile on the MV Hallaig

All is on course for the launch of our new hybrid ferry the MV Hallaig in December and I’m overjoyed to have received, along with the rest of the crew, invites to the launch.

The Raasay newsletter arrived with some great picture from Seamus Nicolson,


nice big wide ramp so that even the worst drivers can get on Smile



ramp 2

Space age wheelhouse, nicknamed ‘The Tardis’ Smile


ramp 3


And here it all is just a few days ago being lowered onto the steel hull

hallaig mezzanine

Many thanks to CMal for that last shot.

There was as usual much more information in the newsletter, from the latest on the community shop,

Plans for the Raasay Community acquiring the Shop are progressing. The
paperwork for Community ownership has been completed and sent off for
registration with the Financial Services Authority. The cooperative will be known as
(CORRA) the “Community of Raasay Retail Association”. Once registration has
been authorised a bank account will be opened which will be managed by the Shop
steering group’s Management Committee.  The Big Lottery’s grant award of
£6,500.00 from Investing in Ideas was received on 12th October this money will be
used towards costs incurred from setting up the Community Cooperative, legal
advice and valuations. We hope by December, to receive a positive outcome on our
application to Big Lottery’s “Village SOS” grant award scheme which would assist
with the shop’s operating costs.

to what the local primary have been up to,

Raasay Primary School
Poppy Day
As in previous years, the Raasay Primary School pupils have undertaken the annual door
to door collection on behalf of Poppy Scotland. The Raasay Community very generously
donated £138.30 which is up on last year’s total. The pupils were also visited by Mrs
Rebecca MacKay, Raasay Community Council, who took an assembly about the
significance of Remembrance Sunday and read from the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. Mrs
MacKay also asked if the children would be willing to lay the wreath at the local war
memorial. The school undertook this task and the children respectfully stood for a two
minute silence at the memorial.

and copies are available from Lloyd or Joan on,

Remember, this is your Newsletter so if you have any
news, views, ideas or anything which you would like
us to include in future editions to share with the Community please contact Lloyd or Joan on 01478 660358.
Next date for deadlines is Monday, 17  December.

sorry not online so can’t access any links Sad smile

Meanwhile on the Loch Striven

It seems very strange not being with my old ship when she’s in dry dock, especially when I’ve just microwaved some leftovers for dinner and I’m not living it up in the Victoria Hotel Rothesay Smile Luckily I have my ‘man on the ground’ foreign correspondent if you like, Zak of  zak355 to help me out on that score. The good ship Loch Striven was replaced by the Loch Linnhe on Saturday morning, having arrived here on Friday evening. Early Saturday she headed south for the Clyde and arrived on Bute on Monday???? not sure about that.


The Loch Striven alongside the Loch Alainn at Rubh Bodach on Bute, the Hallaig will be very similar in size to the Loch Alainn, just a little taller, wider and longer, though not much.


Zak really has a good eye (and camera) and his photo stream is well worth a look, that Land Rover looks familiar Smile


And here she is,


high and dry on the ‘patent slip’, the last one on the Clyde I do believe Smile

Also from what I hear, work is already well underway for another big shed and slip to take the new class ferries next year, they certainly know the old Loch class boats well enough at Ardmaliesh boatbuilding Smile


Still without internet and in desperate need of it for doing new house related stuff, receiving flight and hotel reservation info and a multitude of other stuff I wandered over to Torran first thing after feeding and breakfast. My satellite link is a definite hardware problem but the Torran one is most likely fixable remotely as all the indicator lights on the Hughes modem are doing the right stuff. The DNS server is just not responding, after half an hour on the phone without them doing anything apart from telling me to ‘re boot’ something I’d one several times before I gave up. I didn’t give up right away, no I froze for fifteen minutes waiting for Sean in Ireland to phone me back, then I gave up. No one EVER phones you back and life’s too short Sad smile



No, I thought it was about time I did some work so went back and continued with my tree felling, not that you can actually see much more than Molly’s head from the picture Smile However I finished clearing some stuff from around the wind turbine and set about taking down these old birch trees then I could alter the line of the fence. This part near the old Arnish net shed has always been troublesome so I’m going to move it back to where it used to be, along the cliff top.

That was about it really, I cut some bedding that had at last dried in the cool dry, well dry by comparison, north wind and did all the eggs and pig stuff.


The full moon rose over Creag na Gaoithe  before 17:00 and I called it a day, retiring to some mince and dough balls made by my daring wife several weeks ago Smile 

weather 281112

It may be old outside but it’s nice and toasty in here Smile


graph 281112

Once more I apologize for the lack of feed back but my time online is limited and I’ve still no word of when I’m going to get fixed. If you want you can phone up Niall Quinn on 08454340420 and bend his ear for me Smile

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