Life at the end of the road

December 28, 2012

Way too much power :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, shed/house, Trucks and plant, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:12 pm

Six pm it’s ‘black as the fireback’ outside despite the full moon, there’s rain on the kitchen windows and there’s almost a full gale of south east wind buffeting the trees outside. Not that I can here much of it through the three foot thick walls and double glazing but I’m just in through the door and was staggered by the ferocity of the wind.


I was caught off guard because my weather station seems to have got it’s Beaufort  scale a little mixed up and was telling me that it was only blowing a ‘force 5’ (fresh breeze) when in fact 32mph is a good ‘force 7’ (near gale) and it’s gusting ‘force 9’ (severe gale). In all fairness to the WH1090 it probably has to be blowing for ten minutes above a certain speed so as not to register gusts, and it was after all well under £100. I can’t praise it highly enough, bought for me by the Swineherd three years ago as a Christmas present it’s never even had the batteries replaced, and is I’m sure pretty accurate.



Anyway, even if the actual figures aren’t ‘spot on’ it does show very accurately and clearly the trends and has provided me with hours of amusement. Not only that but it’s provided me with a very clear idea of power I can expect from my various wind and hydro turbines at what time of year.

It the power, or to be precise the excess of it that sent me out in the gale to check on some batteries that I’ve got cooking, sorry ‘equalizing’ Smile in the shed.  Water pouring off the hills and warm wet dense air from the continent powering the turbines was giving way more power than we could use. Even with all the electric heaters going the battery voltage kept creeping up to 60v at which point the Proven wind turbine disconnects itself from the load. Any other wind turbine would self destruct at this point but the rugged downwind turbine is quite happy to run free, even so I’d rather keep it loaded, so this morning I turned off the ‘Stream Engine’ whilst I connected another set of batteries to soak up some of the power.

However I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, before any of that I got out of bed in the dark, reluctantly Smile Anyway, the first thing that I did was turn off the oil stove as the house was roasting, it was 10 degrees outside and over double that in the kitchen, much as I like being warm, it was pure uncomfortable. As soon as it was light enough I fed everyone then went to ‘blow the cobwebs away’ with the dogs by going ‘overland’ to Tarbert.

Having filled up the six ton dumper yesterday morning and been collected by wifey in the car I figured that a good trek over the hill would be preferable to trudging (or driving) along the road. Not only that but it would take me past the new house site and give me chance to check water pipes and power cables on the way.



A pleasant surprise greeted me


in the shape of Hugh MacKay’s Hitachi that looked like it was ready for work Smile



There is actually an old path that takes you below the Sithean Mor from Arnish to Tarbert but it’s quite difficult to follow, though here’s a nice section with a big drop on the left Sad smile



Once over the hill and down the other side to where the digger and dumper were parked I lifted the wee dogs onto the big Thwaites and trundled home to dump my load. Breakfast followed before  heading back to the Komatsu with fuel and a grease gun



to give the wee digger a drink and massage Smile

In between loads it became apparent that something would have to be done with all this electricity, we’d done all the washing, the heaters were on as were all the lights, I’d put all my generator batteries on charge and still the voltage was in the high fifties Sad smile

Of course I could have just turned one of the hydro turbines off or even just reduced the output but as I was at home and could keep an eye on things I decided to ‘breath some life’ into some old batteries with the 48v output of the Stream Engine.


First thing was to switch it off by diverting the water temporarily, not only would that save me going down to the turbine shed but it would also give me chance to clean out the header tank and screen.




Now this is not the way to connect up batteries but I needed 48v to charge and only had 12 x 2v forklift cells, so to bump up the voltage I stuck some old batteries in series. Far from ideal but it would give the ‘forklifts’ a good charging and the other ones were shot anyway Smile

Even now with the bread maker going, three heaters and a turkey in the oven we are still hitting 58v in the gusts Smile



Still, as you can see it’s pretty wild outside.

The December newsletter

Over a week late but I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and read the community newsletter


that Joan sent me ten days ago Sad smile

Update from Local Development Officers
We are delighted to inform you that Raasay Development Partnership and the Shop
Steering Group have been successful in their latest application for funding. Big
Lottery’s Village SOS have awarded £49,750 to the Community Shop project. This
is not enough but it is a very good start for the Community taking over the shop.
In the New Year, the shop steering group hope to fully form the Co -operative and will
be looking to you to join the shop co-operative and your membership will contribute
to the Community takeover of the shop.

Great to hear about about progress on the community buy out of the shop, and another local enterprise just starting up.

Local entrepreneur Fiona Gillies has set up a jewellery workshop in a wee shed by her house (hope it’s well tied down Smile )


Hello from The Silver Grasshopper


I make unique Sterling silver jewellery in my wee shed on the island of Raasay in Scotland.
Have a look below to see some of my jewellery and also the custom requested pieces that I have designed and completed recently 🙂 Feel free to email me on with any thoughts!
My pieces can also be bought at
And I spend way too much time on here-

These are just a few examples of her craft, some of which were commissioned specially.


I just love the lizards with the heart in their tails



and true love in Africa too Smile


After doing a year studying Jewellery Making and Design at Cardonald College I developed a massive
passion for jewellery making but didn’t think I would have the chance to make it into a business so I
left the idea behind for a while.  However this year I saved up and slowly bought all the tools that I
needed and started first with the silver tree pendants which proved very popular.  I am now
continuing to develop my range of jewellery and have also made customized pieces for clients who
requested their own design.  One was an intertwined lizard design and the other was an outline of
Africa with two countries picked out with heart cutouts.  I work from my ‘Wee Shed’ workshop
which is kitted out with all my tools and materials but I hope to have a wee shop or outlet one day
where I could sell my jewellery.  Please have a look at my website shop on Etsy – or contact me on: 07922953957. I hope you all have a
great Christmas and thank you to everyone who has supported me and shown an interest in my
work so far.”

Work is also progressing at the ‘Old Mill’ on the new heritage building

Work has begun on Phase 2 of  the  Old Mill Project. More work has been done on preparing the
foundations for the erection of the wooden
frame, which has been constructed by Donald  
MacDonald from South  Uist and Gordon Gould
from Skye, who have worked very hard in
rather inclement weather.    Rain, rain, and
more rain!  The kit and roof trusses  should  be  
in place  shortly after  the beginning of the New    
Local help has  generously  been provided by      
Hugh Mackay Plant Hire Raasay.                          


An evening of good food, craic and entertainment was held to celebrate St.Andrews
Day in the Hall. The ladies from the Hall Committee served up a menu of good
Scottish fair consisting of Scotch Broth, Venison stew, Beef stew and finished off
nicely with everyone’s favourite Cranachan.
The evening raised substantial funds  which will go  towards acoustic panelling for the
During the evening another fundraising exercise was undertaken  in aid of Prostate
cancer. A subsequent £200.00 was raised by Alastair MacInnes who bravely agreed
to have his beloved mohecan  hairstyle sheared off by  Raasay’s top shearer -  Calum
Don MacKay. As well as the  two worthy causes benefiting from the evening,  Calum
Don went off home chuffed with his new insulation!




Smile Smile Smile I wish I’d been there, just like I would have loved to have seen ‘The Three Raasay Pigs’


three pigs

this years school play preformed by the children of Raasay primary school

There was more, much more, but I’ve been at this now for three hours and it’s time for a bath Smile

December 27, 2012

More like Christmas :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:30 pm

With ferry services returning to normal we decided to go and visit my parents today, our first Christmas apart in 56 years did not go well, so we made haste over to the mainland today to catch up. In all honesty it’s probably not the first Christmas day that we’ve been apart, for I’m sure there must have been others (though not many) in my twenties and thirties. However in those days they were younger, I was dafter and did not have Swineherd and child Smile They didn’t have a grandson and my father didn’t have dementia, now his affliction means that in unfamiliar surroundings he’s way out of his ‘comfort zone’ so mum decided to stay at home rather than disturb his routine. Christmas just wasn’t the same without them so two days after the event we decided to have our own little Christmas together.

001 002 003

Of course I managed to get half an hour in on Lachie’s digger before we headed down for the 9:55 ferry, me I don’t have a problem starting early but wife and child are not ‘morning people’ but then just name me a teenager who is Smile Had it not been for Charlie trying to eat stones out of the bucket I think I’d have been much quicker but the wee terrier seems to have a bit of a rock obsession Smile





I was surprised to see that the relief boat MV Loch Linnhe was still on Raasay, but from what I gather she should be away by now.



Fendered piling was in place now alongside the temporary slipway at Sconser, the sanity of which escapes me, but then it won’t be me that’s trying to park the ferry between the old pier and the new piling Smile



Very shortly after arriving at my parents the ‘old man’ and I went out for our first proper march together in months. He me be 84 and have lost a good portion of his marbles due to dementia but my pop has got ‘the heart and lungs of a Sherpa’, I kid you not, I am by no means unfit and he can walk me into the ground Smile It was the usual route we take through the woods, along forestry tracks then back along the shores of Loch Duich.



A tiny flurry of un forecast snow depositing itself lightly on Carr Brae on the opposite shore


as we returned along the road from our four mile hike with the four dogs.


After that we all tucked into a stupendous lunch of cold meats, salad, olives and sun dried tomatoes followed by cheeses and a delicious sweet, all washed down with a fine Barbera di Asti Smile All of which had me asleep on the couch shortly afterwards Sad smile Still wifey was driving so that was just fine by me.

Five years on

Yes really, it’s five years ago this very day that I started writing my drivel Smile 5 years, 1,438 post and 1,448,899 hits, I’m staggered, staggered that I’ve kept it up for so long and stunned that so many people actually read it.

Fresh Start



Well the year is drawing to a close and i’ve not bought a new diary yet, so thought i’d give this a go. The life is ours a family of 3 living at the end of ‘calums road’ on the beautiful island of Raasay. I’ve lived here for 18 years and the OH and boy (the dude) for 7, for most of that 18 years our nearest neighbour has been around 8 miles away down a long and winding single track road.

Over the years I’ve done many things to keep the wolf from the door on our 7.5 croft. When i first arrived in 1989 i kept a couple of dozen sheep and fished for crab and lobster 9 months of the year. However i quickly discovered there was far more money and enjoyment in fishing than in farming so until 5 years ago i was a full time diver and fisherman. Old age and common sense have now prevailed and i now work on the ferry and with allot of help from the OH and the dude we keep free range pigs.

Today has been fairly typical of a day on the croft ( i work week on week off on the ferry )

Got up at 8:00am (not typical as we have had both families here for chrissy )I went to feed the pigs, currently in order of size, Ginger ( 3 year old tamworth boar ), Braken (tamworth sow with 5 piglets), Bramble ( tamworth sow with 8 piglets), Jamie Lee and Shona (2 Gloucester Old Spot gilts), Isla, Iona, Dean and Jack ( GOS weaners ) and OH went to feed the chooks, dooks n cats. After a hearty breakfast and seeing the in laws off got on with cleaning the arks and changing the bedding also put the weaners out on the hill so they could do some proper free ranging, they were most impressed. After that got on with repairing a coolant leak on OHs car (i used to be a mechanic in a previous life) by the time i’d sorted that it was lunchtime. Mrs C had made a most excellent turkey broth which went down a treat. Did a spot of work on the road until feeding time (around 15:30 ) Braken was off her food so i hope she’s ok, I’m not worried yet cos pigs have off days just like us. Anyway it’s 19:45 and ive got to drive 3/4 of a mile down a dirt track on our quad to pick up the dude from some friends who’ve just arrived for hogmanay. It is of course pitch black, pouring rain and blowing a gale!!!!

The bumpy road to Arnish

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 5:27 pm Edit This

calums road pigs

Set off to get the dude and it was actually a bonny night. The wind had died the rain stopped and Braken was waiting to be fed, so whatever it was that was wrong had passed. Gave her a good feed then set off to get the dude. The plan was to go straight there and pick him up but i got distracted by several cans of stella and some red wine ( luckily the dude can drive the Quad so he got me home safely!!!

Not much has changed really, we’ve always got piglets around Christmas and I’m still repairing the road Smile talk about being stuck in a rut Smile


27 weather

So I’ll just leave you with the weather

27 graph

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