Life at the end of the road

December 1, 2012


Filed under: boats, daily doings, harbour, life off grid, New hybrid ferry, Trucks and plant, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:43 am

What looked like a very promising day greeted me as I went out in the half light of dawn. No sign of frost and not even particularly cold considering the lack of cloud, fine by me, for the last thing I needed was numb fingers when ‘ear tagging’ the pigs. Common sense should have had me doing it days, if not weeks ago with help, but I’d forgotten all about it until last night and couldn’t relax until I’d found the pliers and tags. In truth going out during the night and sprakling  about with a torch didn’t make much sense, I would have found them much easier by daylight, but then I wouldn’t have slept for worrying.




So earlier than usual I set about juggling the pigs about so that I could get the three Tamworths through the field occupied by the myopic and heavily pregnant Jamie Lea. This will be the ‘Old spot’ sow that should have farrowed about eight weeks ago!!!! I dunno what’s going on inside her but she just keeps getting bigger and bigger with no sign yet of her teats filling with milk. I know what’s going to happen right enough, both her and Ellie, who is due on the 5th are going to farrow on the same day, probably whilst I’m away Sad smile



Ellie herself is certainly filling out, see how her teats are pointing ‘out the way’, a sure sign that she’s just days away, though there’s still no milk there.

With the two sows dealt with I turned my attention to the three Tammies, which, unusually we never got around to naming, though they would very soon have a number Smile



I dunno why I get in such a panic about tagging pigs because it really is very easy and they don’t feel a thing, all you have to do is distract them with food and be quick with the pliers.


The morning really did look promising with the majestic Storr dusted with snow to the north and shrouded in cloud to the south. However it didn’t last, and by the time I’d loaded up the pigs and driven down to the shop with 6 dozen ‘Arnish Eggs’ it was pishing down Sad smile 



Having gone through the village for the first time in daylight since my return I was pleased to note that work had begun on the new ‘Heritage centre’ at the old Raasay mill. I was a good forty minutes early for the ferry deliberately so that I could set up my office Smile



Eleven miles from home it’s one of the few places I can get a 3g signal with my fantastic ‘Three network’ dongle. Then began the task of wading through my emails and sending three off to Niall at to complain about my weeks without internet or feedback. That done and my revised quote from downloaded I opened the blog.

Well peeps, I was nearly in tears with all the comments and just wish I had the time to reply, a few new faces, some inspiring quotes, lots of love, hugs and sympathy and a great deal of ‘knocking on Q-Sat’s door’ so to speak, you’re all so kind and thoughtful.

Many thanks to you all, especially Lloyd for digging out,

Then 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.

from Khalil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’,


I spent a long while looking for my copy before remembering I gave it away to one who needed it more than I some years ago. I must replace it (again) Smile for I’ve given many copies away.

Feeling much inspired by all the support I never really noticed the rain at Sconser Smile




Work seemed to be progressing well on the temporary slip there, with the piling for the fendering in and yet more rock being delivered.

013 014

Speaking of fenders, it looks like Portree pier is getting some also, long overdue, it needed replacing when I was fishing, come to think of it, I think some of it was replaced.




I think that Cat could do with being a few inches further forward Smile



Once through Portree on the way to Staffin the Old man of Storr dominates your view, only six miles from my road end, yet it was a thirty mile drive to here Smile




It may only be 18 miles from Portree to Staffin and the road is wide and smooth but it’s a hard journey to rush as there’s so much to see.




This will be Eilean Tigh just off Raasay’s northern tip and as you drive a little further north you can see right from the Raasay narrows to the Rona light, though it was hardly a day for pictures Sad smile



Eventually I arrived at my destination with the ‘three little pigs’,



Dave and Sarah’s busy little croft on the outskirts of Staffin, as if they haven’t got enough to do with their own pigs, hens, polytunnel and ‘farmers market’. Despite having a million and one other things on the agenda Dave was going to take the pigs through to Dingwall for me on Monday. We really have been overwhelmed by the help that we’ve had from friends and neighbours this past couple of months, nothing has been too much trouble for them. It’s not like we’re ‘just next door’, some of our friends have driven sixteen miles daily to feed the pigs and collect eggs. Words fail me.




Pigless, it was back to Sconser, again deliberately early by almost an hour to catch up with my emails etc.



No emails back from Q-sat, well apart from the automated reply



but ‘lo and behold’ Robert the engineer phoned me to tell me they would have an engineer here by lunchtime NEXT FRIDAY Sad smile They were very busy and would have to send ‘a man up from sowf’, “why not use the local chap in Sleat” says I, “what local chap” he replies, “the one who installed the system” I informed him, the one who lives about half an hour from the ferry terminal, I despair Sad smile

I’m not going to ‘lose the plot’ I feel so good about all the help I’ve had recently that I’m finding it hard to get wound up Smile Even when I discovered Vodafone had debited £153.76p from my bank account instead of the usual £10 that I pay for my 600 minutes. Turns out, yes I really did spend all that time on the phone and Mohamed was kind enough to knock me £15 off as a gesture Smile

MV Hallaig

Just over two weeks now to the launch on December 17th


and that’s the bridge in place.


Concept design for the world's first sea going RORO passenger hybrid ferry

That’s going to be a lot of boat to clean and paint Smile


Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits

Well December has just arrived, well about nine hours ago, so I greeted it with the traditional ‘rabbits, rabbits, rabbits,’ dunno where that comes from, must ‘Google ‘ it, wifey always says ‘white rabbits’, must be a Glasgow thing Smile Anyway, apart form crows I saw little wildlife this morning in the bitter north wind but I did get Ellie shifted onto the croft for her imminent farrowing before coming back in for breakfast.


weather 011212


So before I tuck into my ‘Arnish egg’ I’ll just leave you with the weather then I’m going to go and try once more to get a satellite link at as it’s time to go and check the batteries and hydro turbine anyway. Who knows I may even give my friends at Q-Sat a ring, well I will if I’ve not gone over my 600 minutes and get charged 30p for every extra one Sad smile


graph 011212



  1. I hope you do get your internet working again. My father always said “white rabbit”. He went to school in the south of England.

    Comment by Marjorie Stintzi — December 1, 2012 @ 10:59 am

  2. give my love to Sarah and Dave, I had a lovely 3 days at their B+B earlier this year, they’re such lovely people (and the mattress on their guest bed is to die for!!)

    Comment by cazinatutu — December 1, 2012 @ 11:33 am

  3. Hi Paul, glad to see your spirit has lifted.
    Good news on the new ferry, hardly seems that long ago since they started to put it together! Amazing the progress!
    Yes that Cat could be forward a bit more, if the waves get up I think they may need a rescue craft.
    weather not so great again but that is what I find magnificent about Scotland, no matter what the weather the views are always awe-inspiring.
    Can i also thank Lloyd for digging out the passage from from Khalil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ I will have to get a copy of that too.
    as always, love and best wishes to all

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — December 1, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

  4. Hi Paul,
    My sympathy to the family on the sad news of the death of Mrs C’s father. As someone else said, you need to remember the good times, and it must be a small comfort to know that he is not suffering anymore. The pictures of the Storr and Eilian Tigh reminded me of my couple of days on Skye after my stint at Raasay YH back in August – the weather was great and from the road north of Portree I had fabulous views of Raasay, Eilian Tigh and Rona! I agree with the person who said that as the water company are making a mess of the roads on Raassay, they should make them good again after they have finished their work on the water treatment plant. Niall Quinn, I believe, used to play for Reading FC – like you Paul, I am not a fan of football – but maybe his footballing skills were better than running a broadband co!!
    best wishes,

    Comment by francesp — December 1, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

  5. Very sorry to hear about your father in law. I lost my mother to cancer during the summer so I know what it can be like. It was a terrible experience watching her deteriorate so quickly, although mercifully she was in no pain. Your being away on a course must have made it such a lot worse. Best wishes to you all.

    Comment by Nick Bennett — December 1, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  6. Paul,
    As always excellent snaps, great to see a spot of snow on the ridge. Looking forward to seeing Ellie & Jamie lee’s offspring, was great to see Dave & Sarah’s little ones earlier this year, such characters.
    Well it is warmer at night by a good few degrees up there than down here in the south. keep warm and trust the back is doing well.

    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — December 1, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  7. Really sorry to hear about Drew.
    When I met him he was mowing your lawn.
    He had the highest regard for you and your piece of Scotland.
    We will be thinking of you and your family on Thursday

    Comment by chrisbbbbb — December 1, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    • Thanks Chris, aye, Drew certainly was a good ‘lawn mower’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 2, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

  8. Hi Paul
    Firstly my condolences to your family for your loss of your father inlaw who I know you will miss dearly. I’m sure when you look to the stars he will be shining down on your good family.
    I came across this article in a Guardian link and thought you and other people who are suffering with similar internet cover may be anle to lobby your MPs.

    Friday 30 November 2012 12.48 GMT

    Rural broadband speeds less than half those in cities and towns

    Omagh in Northern Ireland is worst connected area for basic broadband coverage, according to Labour party analysis

    View the interactive broadband map

    UK broadband map: the red areas are in the digital slow lane, while the blue areas have the fewest people receiving less than 2 Megabits per second. Photograph: Ofcom
    Juliette Garside

    Broadband speeds in rural areas are less than half those in the UK’s towns and cities, while Omagh in Northern Ireland is the worst connected area for basic broadband coverage, according to analysis of official data by the Labour party.

    In large parts of the UK and Northern Ireland, 25% of premises with an internet connection are in the digital slow lane, receiving less than 2 Megabits per second (Mbps), according to the analysis. Even for those with broadband, the digital divide between town and country is stark: average speeds in rural areas are 5.9Mbps, compared to 14.6Mbps in urban areas.

    “The government is failing farmers and small businesses who are unable to perform even simple tasks like pay VAT or respond to customer queries,” said shadow culture minister Helen Goodman. “These communities need regeneration and growth, and to have that they need broadband.”

    The government has made a “universal service commitment” that by 2015 every household should have access to 2Mbps, the minimum speed for a service to qualify as true broadband under the definition used by telecoms regulator Ofcom.

    Despite a pioneering £48m project to deliver superfast broadband to 95% of premises in Northern Ireland, and 18% of potential customers choosing to take up the service, rural areas are still poorly connected.

    In Omagh, 27.4% of homes with an internet connection either cannot or choose not to get above 2Mbps. Fermanagh, Dungannon and Cookstown in Northern Ireland all have slow service in more than 25% of premises, while Ceredigion in Wales is the worst served area in Britain with 24.9% of premises cut off from fixed line broadband.

    Labour’s statistics are drawn only from homes with some sort of internet connection. A total of 29% of UK premises are either cut off, or choose not to be online. In the UK as a whole, 10% of premises are paying for less than 2Mbps, although Ofcom believes this could be reduced to 2% if more customers take up fibre and change equipment in the home.

    The best connected cities are Edinburgh, Bristol, Bournemouth and Kingston upon Hull, where the local telephone monopoly Kcom has been rolling out fibre to the home.

    They are among only seven areas identified using boundaries drawn up by Ofcom where the number of homes with less than 2Mbps is below 5%. The others are West Dunbartonshire, North East Lincolnshire and Southend-on-Sea.

    The numbers are highlighted in an interactive map commissioned by Labour shadow culture, media and sport team, and produced by the House of Commons Library using data published in Ofcom’s latest infrastructure report earlier this month.

    The European Commission has recently approved a £530m spending commitment by the government to bring superfast broadband to 90% of the UK and 2Mbps to the final 10%, with much of the money channelled via the Broadband Development UK scheme.

    European member states have also signed up to a 2020 commitment to supply every home with a minimum of 30Mbps, with over half having signed up for 100Mbps.

    A government spokesman said: “This government believes it is essential that the whole country shares in the benefits of high-speed internet access, which is why we are investing more than half a billion pounds in rural broadband and have pledged to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.”

    Hope this helps people to understand your plight.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — December 1, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

    • Hi Walter and thanks,

      “The government is failing farmers and small businesses who are unable to perform even simple tasks like pay VAT or respond to customer queries,” said shadow culture minister Helen Goodman. “These communities need regeneration and growth, and to have that they need broadband.”

      you’re not kidding, they want you to do everything online these days and with the VAT there is no other option, good job I’ve done mine 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 2, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

  9. Paul,
    Finally got around to making your monster batch of Chilli including the magic ingredient. Bloomin Handsome, have yet to portion & freeze it but should keep us going well into 2013. Thanks.

    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — December 2, 2012 @ 7:26 am

    • Cheers ATB,

      funnily enough, that’s just what the Dude and I had last night 🙂 I made a huge pan also and planned to have some tonight with baked spuds and cheese but we decided to head sowf early for the funeral, so I just put the whole pan in the freezer 🙂 We’ll enjoy it when we get back 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 2, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

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