Life at the end of the road

December 2, 2012

Leaving home (again) :-(

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:15 pm

The lovely pasta dish, ‘Salice Salentino’ red wine and proper broadband connection has gone some way to tempering my sadness at leaving home once more. As has seeing my parents, and a pine marten coming to the door for an egg!!! I kid you not, this long sleek furry creature comes up to the conservatory door and my mum gave it an egg!!! The two large dogs just sit and watch, mum opens the door out the way and passes the egg under the door to the lithe mammal, he just takes it off her and slowly pads away Smile 

I had intended leaving Raasay on Monday but total lack of connectivity allied to a good day that saw me getting much done swung it. I had much to deal with on the internet so rather than drive twenty miles and sit for hours in the Land Rover near the youth hostel I decided to leave. Of course I wasted an hour at my mates first trying to get on line on his link first Sad smile 

I was up early on a nice sharp winter morning, well early at this time of year being 7:30 for it’s still dark at 8:00 and after doing a few indoor ‘keep wifey happy’ jobs I went out feeding.

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The day looked very promising, a waxing moon and the remnants of a mackerel sky filling me with enthusiasm Smile



A total lack of wind for the Proven being offset by loads of water from overnight melted hail showers driving the ‘Stream Engine’, despite the calm the house was still toasty Smile



After feeding Jamie and Ellie I went to collect the ‘early eggs’ and was chased by the hens looking for grub. They have plenty to eat in their many feeders but still associate humans with food. Our hen ‘management’ is unusual in that we don’t shut the hens in at night as we’ve no predators. Basically they have the run of the place and come and go as they please, in the summer it can be a pain as they end up laying everywhere but at this time of year it pays huge dividends. The long cold nights mean they lay in the house but their freedom to come and go seems to keep them laying longer, were still averaging over two dozen eggs a day from 32 hens in December Smile

That done, and with the Dude still in his bed I headed over to my mates to check out how the hydro turbine was doing, and in the hope of getting online.

The hydro turbine was doing just fine and had taken the water temperature to almost 50 degrees.


I even thought that I’d get connected to the internet as the Hughes modem had all four lights illuminated, but that turned out to be a forlorn hope Sad smile


My laptop came up with the usual exclamation mark and ‘DNS sever not responding’, then as soon as I ‘re booted’ it the ‘system’ light went off and I knew that I was ‘goosed’. It was 9:30am and I couldn’t be bothered with ‘arguing the toss’ with anyone at Q Sat because “we can only discuss this with the account holder” so I went home to do some work Smile


Though not before admiring the best views from Raasay Smile 

Returning home there was still no sign of the Dude so I went over the hill to check on hydro stuff



This will be ‘Port Ur’, which I think means ‘the new port’ but sadly I cannot discern the rest of Charlie’s writing Sad smile


Charles MacLeod, the brother of Calum drew this map for me before he passed away last year so now I’ve no way of knowing.


Once back home and with the Dude awakened I made lunch for me and breakfast for him before cleaning out the oil stove in the kitchen.

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Then it was back to my mates to check out the hydro turbine and once more fail to get an internet connection. The thermal store had crept up to 58 degrees and I also found a bunch of winter chanterelles before going back home and deciding to ‘ship out’. My neighbours would be back in residence tomorrow morning, so I collected the eggs, fed the pigs and we abandoned ship Sad smile


The ‘Old Girl’ is not exactly the ideal commuter vehicle but once at my parents I checked out the bus fare, it was going to cost me £59 by Citylink and £42 by Land Rover so it looks like we’re driving tomorrow Sad smile

Yet another sad loss

It’s a month ago now and it happened in America, but for all that her loss will be felt in Raasay, for Barbara Yalden Thomson was a regular and much loved visitor to these shores for many years.

Barbara Yalden-Thomson

Barbara Yalden-Thomson

Barbara Yalden-Thomson, of Earlysville, Virginia, died on Friday, November 2, 2012, at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia.
She was born on September 13, 1921, in Manila in the Philippine Islands. She graduated from Dana Hall School and Wellesley College in Massachusetts before moving to Washington, D.C., where she served as a code breaker in the
United States Navy during World War II.
She was married to Truman A. Botts in 1944 and lived in Newark, Delaware, briefly before moving to Charlottesville in 1949. Her husband was a member of the faculty of the Mathematics Department at the University of Virginia and she was for several years an instructor of Spanish at the University and a violist in the UVA orchestra, as well as a devoted mother of their two children.
In 1961, she was remarried to David C. Yalden-Thomson, a Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Virginia. The couple moved to Clunie Farm in Earlysville, where Barbara lived for almost 50 years. She enjoyed living on the farm, entertaining friends there, riding her horses, and managing a small cut-you-own Christmas tree business. Barbara (and David until his death) spent every summer at their cottage on the Isle of Raasay in Scotland.
At age 62 she obtained a Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of Virginia. For the next 20 years she worked as a counselor in Charlottesville, mainly with Children Youth and Family Services (CYFS). She later served as a board member with CYFS and as a volunteer with the Court Appointed Special Advocate program and the University of Virginia Medical Center.
Barbara was predeceased by her husband, David; and her brothers, Edward Bishop of Hilton Head, South Carolina, and John Bishop of Boston/Nantucket, Massachusetts.
She is survived by her daughter, Margaret Botts Smith and husband, Paul Smith, of Charlottesville; and her son, Stephen Botts and wife, Jean Botts, of Earlysville. In addition, she is survived by her two grandchildren, William Botts of Richmond, Virginia, and Molly Giesbrecht and husband, Heath Giesbrecht, of College Station, Texas.
A memorial service is to be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to CYFS

DNS server not responding :-(

Filed under: daily doings, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 4:03 pm

It’s been a pure peach of a day up here at the ‘north end’ and, as you probably guessed, I got on line Smile Yup, I tootled over to the ‘Old Schoolhouse’ at Torran to do some maintenance on the renewable energy system there, and the satellite link had started working Smile I was overjoyed, got my order confirmation off for the super efficient, triple glazed Internorm windows. Had a read of all your lovely comments on the blog and the complaints on the Q sat Facebook page, cheers guys. Uploaded the blog as you can see and was well and truly pleased with life.


Well, you would be wouldn’t you if you could look at this from your desk whilst working on a computer Smile As well as that I checked over the battery bank and Harris Hydro turbine.



This 24v pelton turbine has four nozzles, only three of which are used, configured with three different sizes, 3mm, 6mm and 8mm. It’s been running since the summer on just the 3mm jet for a couple of reasons, one being lack of water and the other being all the good work put in by the solar panels on the roof. Shortening days and plenty of water had me switching it onto the large jet this morning which pushes the output over 600w.



The turbine is actually capable of producing around 1kw but rest of the system has not got the capacity to shed the combined output of the solar panels and hydro if the batteries are fully charged and all loads were turned off. An unlikely scenario but it could happen, and if the surplus electricity cannot go anywhere it becomes heat then possibly fire Sad smile


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The excess in this system is diverted into heating the thermal store and is controlled by that PWM (pulsed width modulation) controller on the right. On the end of those wires below it is a 1Kw 24v DC immersion heater plumbed into the thermal store.



A couple of weeks ago it was holding steady at around 14 degrees but lack of daylight has reduced that now to 10 degrees, still well above the ambient water temperature, which I’m guessing will be around 5 degrees at this time of year.

So with me once more ‘connected’ to the outside world I headed home on the quad to make the boy his breakfast, it was 11:30 and I figured he’d be stirring by now. Not that I’m pampering him, just that I was getting ready for a ‘top up’ too, the cracked Arnish egg I’d had for number one breakfast was running out Smile



Try as I might, I could not clear this drain on the way home so left it, with a mental note to return with a long steel bar, it would appear a large rock was wedged in below the track.

After breakfast it was back to the firewood and the ‘Loggit’,



spreading an old tent flysheet on the ground first to catch the wood chips as it makes excellent bedding for the hens.



Then it was into the barn to clean out Jamie Lea’s bed and muck it out, pigs are very clean but she ‘dumps’ at the far end of the barn if the weather is bad Sad smile In the past I’ve put a gate across so she couldn’t get over that end, more to stop her damaging stuff than anything else. However after cleaning all the carp out of the barn so there was nothing for her to break I removed the gate, only to discover she now uses it as a toilet, which to be honest aint that bad. It’s good manure and far easier to clean up off a concrete floor than a muddy field Smile

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That done I even managed to coax the boy out to help me cut more,



stack the wood and clear up the chips. Right enough, he disappeared pretty sharpish after feeding the pigs at 15:00 but he’s not a bad lad Smile

I made a huge pan of chilli for dinner, figuring we’d have it with rice tonight and baked potatoes on Sunday, then at 18:30 we took a quad each and trundled over to


to get ‘online’, me to blog and stuff and him to catch up on Facebook.



First job though was to check the TS, 30 degrees, not bad hey, a rise of 20 degrees in seven hours Smile The joy of seeing that was short lived however when I went to fire up the laptop, the Dudes iPod wasn’t connecting and my Lenovo had a big exclamation mark over the signal strength bars Sad smile The ‘trouble shooter’ telling me ‘DNS server not responding’, I was not a happy bunny. There was no point phoning my many friends at Q-Sat because ‘we can’t discuss it with you because your not the account holder’, I don’t want to fecking discuss it, I want you to fix the friggin thing, why do I have to be the account holder???? are you afraid that he might come home to find his expensive system working??? This was the pish I got off them the other day and I had to phone my mate up, who phoned them up and then they phoned me. Of course they told my to ‘re boot’ (which I’d already done) and wait 15 minutes for them to phone back (which they didn’t), OK, I gave up after only 17 because I’d already been there an hour but daylight is precious and I had stuff to do. Having already run up a phone bill of over £150 last month I couldn’t be bothered going through it all again so drove home in a huff.

I am becoming very unimpressed with the service so far dished out by Q-Sat, I’ve a Tooway dish and modem in workshop and I’m seriously thinking of making a switch. To be honest the only thing that’s stopped me is the lack of internet to actually find out what to do Smile

Another sad loss

Sadly I cannot phone up John Mackay in Sleat now for advice, because he died suddenly the other day from a heart attack. I was staggered when I heard the news just hours ago, I was actually looking for his phone number in the West Highland Free Press on Friday and singing his praises to the engineer at Q-Sat. I did not know John that well but he installed my satellite broadband system here last year and my mates at Torran. He was a thorough, tidy, courteous and excellent tradesman, working well into the evening to finish both jobs. I had been working that day so didn’t get home until late and he was still labouring at the schoolhouse. Having missed the ferry he refused a bed for the night but did stay for dinner and a ‘wee dram’ whereupon I got to know him a little better.

My heart goes out to all his family right now as I know just how they feel.


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