Life at the end of the road

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


  1. Hi Paul, what can I say other than express my most heart felt sympathy for your dear wife and family. Having felt the deep loss of loved ones myself I well know the pain. Please extend my fondest best wishes to all. Robert.

    Comment by Robert Findlay. — November 29, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  2. Oh dear, all best wishes to you and your family. Your sharing under such personally sad and technically frustrating circumstances is touching and appreciated.

    Comment by may cruickshank — November 29, 2012 @ 9:02 am

  3. Hi Paul I think Robert and May have said so eloquently what we are all feeling, what a lot to cope with and at this time of year too. So sorry to hear about Barbara’s father Drew, our best wishes to you all and we will be thinking of you as usual. Hope the Dude soon gets better.

    Comment by finniedog — November 29, 2012 @ 9:28 am

  4. Thinking of you all Paul – sorry to hear your news.

    Comment by Kym — November 29, 2012 @ 9:40 am

  5. Thinking of you all, the distances make it all so much harder. Here’s the extract from which you quoted. It is Kahlil Gibran, from The Earth Gods:
    Now I will rise and strip me of time and space,
    And I will dance in that field untrodden,
    And the dancer’s feet will move with my feet;
    And I will sing in that higher air,
    And a human voice will throb within my voice.

    We shall pass into the twilight;
    Perchance to wake to the dawn of another world.
    But love shall stay,
    And his finger-marks shall not be erased.

    The blessed forge burns,
    The sparks rise, and each spark is a sun.
    Better it is for us, and wiser,
    To seek a shadowed nook and sleep in our earth divinty,
    And let love, human and frail, command the coming day.

    Comment by Cicely — November 29, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  6. What can I say? Maybe a quote from Tagore:

    A death is not the extinguishing of a light,
    but the putting out of the lamp
    because the dawn has come.

    or from Mary Oliver’s When Death Comes:
    …and I think of each life as a flower, as common
    as a field daisy, and as singular,

    and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
    tending, as all music does, toward silence,

    and each body a lion of courage, and something
    precious to the earth…

    Have a virtual hug Paul and pass it along to Mrs C and the Dude.

    And if it helps any, you can find the full text of Gilran’s Earth Gods here: (the bit you quote is from the last verse, spoken by the third God).

    I wonder how many people will phone Niall Quinn on your behalf? Someone will no doubt ‘make his day’ :-))

    Comment by Carrie — November 29, 2012 @ 10:52 am

  7. From ‘The prophet’

    Than Almitra spoke, saying, “We would ask now of Death.”
    And he said:
    You would know the secret of death.
    But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
    The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
    If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
    For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
    In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
    And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
    Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
    Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
    Is the sheered not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
    Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
    For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
    And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
    Only when you drink form the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
    And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
    And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

    Comment by Tigger — November 29, 2012 @ 11:05 am

  8. 70’s far too young, poor chap.

    Comment by neilking — November 29, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  9. Best wishes to you and the family Paul. At least you arent stuck in England still at this sad time.

    Comment by Simon — November 29, 2012 @ 11:58 am

  10. Best wishes to you and the family. Full marks to Calmac for reorganising your next training at short notice.
    By the way , I stay close to Calmac’s “standby pier” at Rosneath and recently lost my Bt internet connection for almost a week as they didn’t know they had an exchange fault.

    Comment by Nigel Macleod — November 29, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

  11. Hi Paul, I did phone and they actually spoke to me about your problem!! It’s hard to get a response these days when you phone for your husband let alone a friend. Anyway of course it’s not himself you get through to but I did speak to a nice lady called Niamh who said an installer visit had been requested on tuesday. Niamh didn’t know when that would be but said she would get in touch and try to get them out as soon as possible. She is going to ring ME! back later. Will follow it up and keep you posted. If we don’t get the desired response I think every blog reader should phone them tommorow.

    Comment by finniedog — November 29, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

    • “If we don’t get the desired response I think every blog reader should phone them tommorow”

      That certainly gets my vote, maybe they’ll start to listen to Paul in future if we all do that to them….

      Comment by Tigger — November 29, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

    • Needs to be before Tuesday as that is the day of the funeral and after that I guess Paul is in Holland? Ideally it needs to be tomorrow (Frid) or Saturday? Or whenever Mrs C is home again as I imagine they need access to the house?

      Comment by Carrie — November 29, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

  12. […] are the links to check out the two winner blogs. Their latest posts here: Life at the end of the Road and Peas & […]

    Pingback by the transatlantic diablog award – Hall of Fame « THE TRANSATLANTIC DIABLOG — November 29, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

  13. An eloquent appreciation of your times together. My condolences.

    Comment by San — November 29, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

  14. I’ll be glad to call Ireland from Texas tomorrow, I just have to work out the time difference in office hours. Finniedog be sure to post whether the desired response is needed as soon as you know.

    Comment by drgeo — November 29, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

  15. Paul,
    I raise a glass to honor Drew Stirling from the other side of this world. Cha bhithidh a leithid ami riamh.

    Comment by drgeo — November 29, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  16. If the water people are trashing the roads hopefully they will have to make them good when they leave. That’s what happened with the forestry folk and the road by Loch Arkaig, which somebody once described as making profligate use of all three dimensions thus having a deleterious effect on the fourth.

    Comment by Phil Cook — November 29, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

  17. Paul, please pass on on my sincere condolence to Mrs lateotr…

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — November 29, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

  18. Sad news indeed.Our thoughts are with you all.

    Jane,Andy & family

    Comment by Andy — November 29, 2012 @ 10:51 pm

  19. I am sorry to hear about your dear father in law. My sympathies and condolences to your family.

    Comment by Marjorie Stintzi — November 29, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

  20. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this sad time Paul.
    I also hope the Dude is feeling healthier again soon.
    Take care my friend and do not stress out too much about the poor internet, we all know that you have far more important things on your mind just now.
    Love to all

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — November 29, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

  21. Condolences, Paul. At least you weren’t in the Village when it happened.

    In answer to your question,

    ”We shall pass into the twilight;
    Perchance to wake to the dawn of another world.
    But love shall stay,
    And his finger-marks shall not be erased.”

    Kahlil Gibran, from The Earth Gods

    Best Wishes, Lloyd

    Comment by Lloyd — November 29, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

  22. Very sorry for your loss, Paul, and my condolences to your wife. My best wishes for the sad days ahead. I really appreciate your efforts in posting your blog. get well, Dude.

    Comment by Flora — November 30, 2012 @ 1:12 am

  23. No response from Niamh, no phone call so going to phone them again. It looks like it might have affected Rona as Bill posted from Inversnecky earlier in the week as his broadband was down also. If that is the case an engineer visiting your house Paul probably won’t solve it. I think every blogger who can should give them a phone and let them know the strength of opinion.

    Comment by finniedog — November 30, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  24. Hi Paul I phoned again and spoke to Sinead who said Niamh was unexpectedly sick today, she would try and contact the installers to get an update and phone me. It seems a week to 10 days is the best forecast after the 3 (why so long) days it takes to shedule a visit. I have explained all your difficulties and that it may be a bigger problem as it is not only yourself that is affected. She says that being xmas all their engineers are exceptionally busy and I told her that as an existing customer you should be a priority and that as they market to isolated communities who pay dearly they should better understand the difficultiesand respond quicker. I also told her about your blog and how it is being widely discussed by thousands of people on there who are also not happy and to expect a lot of phone calls. It’s difficult to dent a brick wall, do they have a facebook page I wonder. Off to check 🙂

    Comment by finniedog — November 30, 2012 @ 11:11 am

  25. Yup they have a facebook page ‘ Q SAt ‘ on you go bloggers there’s not much on it yet except Niall’s photo so fill it up for them and if you’re not on facebook join, lets go viral. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Comment by finniedog — November 30, 2012 @ 11:16 am

  26. Hi Paul, Sinead just phoned me and says they have been in touch with the installer and asked him to ring you today to make an appointment, fingers crossed. I have left a message on their facebook page too.:)

    Comment by finniedog — November 30, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  27. Got a link for Facebook page finniedog?

    Comment by Drgeo — November 30, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

    • Hi Drgeo. Just log in to facebook and search for Q Sat in the box at the top. If you are not on facebook I’m not sure if you can go to the page and I’m not sure if you can post without ‘liking’ the page but you can always ‘unlike’ later. Maybe other readers know better than I .

      Comment by finniedog — November 30, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  28. Here you go (thanks timbo614)

    Comment by San — November 30, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  29. As I am not an FB user, I persuaded another regular reader, local to me, to post a comment to their Facebook page. I was hoping to find them on Twitter. But no, not Q Sat or Niall Quinn or indeed the real companies behind the Q Sat brand name: Alphasat Communications Ltd (in Ireland) or in the UK, Q Sat Broadband UK Ltd!

    Well done finniedog – have fingers crossed that they phone Paul today and make an early appointment.

    Comment by Carrie — November 30, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

    • My fingers crossed too but I think he’s probably out most of the day and nobody rings back these days do they.

      Comment by finniedog — November 30, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

  30. Paul, I’m really sorry to hear the sad news of your father in law. Your family is in our prayers.
    With deepest sympathy

    Comment by jameshyndman — December 1, 2012 @ 11:32 am

  31. So very sorry for loss of Mrs. C’s father. Thoughts and prayers for her and all the family during this time.

    Comment by mimi — December 1, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  32. please give our best regards to mrs. LATEOTR and your son and mother-in-law. i am so happy to think you were there for those last weekends; as hard as your two-month absence from home must have been, it was excellent for taking care of this family business.
    george steiner has a wonderful novella called “Proofs”. in it, some people find a humble old roman grave — nothing fancy. on it is written, in latin, AMOR MANET. love remains.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — December 3, 2012 @ 12:45 am

    • Morning Jeannette and thanks,

      from one of the best movie soundtracks ever,

      Three Colours Blue, the finale which I think is based on some biblical text but contains those very words.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 3, 2012 @ 9:32 am

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