Life at the end of the road

February 1, 2013

February :-)

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry, shed/house, South Shields — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:53 pm

The last time I posted was January and now it’s February Smile OK, it was only three or four days ago but it does seem like a month Sad smile I’ve had plenty of time to post, too much in fact, in my room before 17:00 with no pigs to feed or eggs to gather I could have wrote reams. The truth is I just can’t be bothered, the course is interesting, the Clifton guest house friendly, comfortable and warm with charming proprietors but it’s not home.

I’m in a routine of arising at 7:00am even though 8:00am would suffice, having breakfast, bumbling about for an hour then walking to college. The huge ‘Full English’, which was warmly received for the first four or five days has been cut back to a variation of any one of its original components  with mushrooms. Dave makes superb mushrooms, so in an effort to lose some weight and feel a little less bloated I’ve trying to vary my diet, so Sunday was kippers and mushrooms, Monday tomato and mushrooms, today bacon and ‘shrooms etc, etc. Not got to the black pudding and mushrooms yet right enough but I’m working on it, perhaps tomorrow Smile

Tomorrow, what on earth am I going to do tomorrow, well apart from have mushrooms for breakfast. There’s no point me going into town, any town, be it South Shields or Newcastle, I hate towns my feet are killing me and my driving is rubbish Smile Still, only seven more days to go and I’ll be heading north to wife, child, wee dog and a new house.

roof 001

Well, perhaps not a ‘new house’ but at least the skeleton of one, though judging by the speed that Lachie and his team work at, it could be very ‘house like’ by the time I get home Smile

roof 003

This end of the ‘hoose’ looks a bit bare because that’s where the shed will be going, a ‘lean to’ for the thermal store and Perge boiler.

   Akvaterm Akva geo heat pump thermal store

Though this will only be used as a back up in the unlikely event of hydro turbine failure, no wind and no sun. The Perge may not be the most efficient boiler but it is totally mechanical and requires no electricity to function, a serious consideration when living ‘off grid’.  For most months of the year we should actually have an energy surplus



but February and March are the ‘sticky months’ these figures compiled by Alistair Robertson of are ‘worst case scenario’ and since calculated we’ve decided to add more PV. I’m thinking that a little tweaking of the hydro turbines coupled to the extra solar panels will in fact make this a totally renewable house, well that’s the plan anyway.



The chimney giving the impression of being for a stove inside the house is actually for the boiler in the shed Smile



Not the prettiest looking house on the planet I’ll agree, but it’s been designed for minimal maintenance, low visual impact and standing up to all that nature can throw at it, hence the ‘hip roof’ on the north western gable. Sure huge windows would look very trendy and let lots of light in during the summer but they’d leach heat out in the winter ,patio doors are fine if you live in Suffolk or South Shields. I spend all my working day admiring the view so I’m quite happy to look at a ‘snapshot’ when at home and I’ve yet to see a set of large sliding windows on the west coast that doesn’t let water in during a gale Smile


septic 002

The serious weather that we’ve been experiencing of late may have blown away a whole shipping container full of computers and office equipment on Thursday from the water treatment plant on Raasay but it didn’t affect my septic tank or blocks Smile


  septic tank 001

Not that the tank will be going anywhere now Smile


septic tank 003

How I wish I was there to see it Sad smile


septic tank 006



Back to South Shields

Anyway, much as I dream of being back on Raasay I’m stuck here for the moment learning about ‘UMS’



in the ‘Control room simulator’



and ‘VFD’s’

006  007

in the electrical workshop Smile

It’s all very interesting and surprisingly useful as a ‘Variable Frequency Drive’ is basically very similar to the inverter that powers my house Smile 



So that’s it in a ‘nutshell’ really, it’s 19:20, I’m going to walk the full 50m to



‘Best One’ across the road, buy  a bottle of ‘Jacobs Creek’ and get ‘hammered’, it is after all Friday night Smile



  1. Ah, Paul – your home-sickness is entirely understandable and so very right. Not long now. The house looks great. ‘Picture’ windows right there would be plain daft.
    Safe journey home, when the time comes.


    Comment by Sue — February 1, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

    • Jacobs Creek is no substitute for Raasay Sue 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 1, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

      • You know, for a moment there I thought “Raasay Sue” was some kind of illicit Highland Spirit…(actually, I suppose she might be!)

        Every good wish


        Comment by Cogidubnus — February 3, 2013 @ 12:02 am

  2. Can’t believe how fast they are working! The planning must have been immaculate. So sorry you are stuck in SS though and hope the next week goes fast!

    Comment by may cruickshank — February 1, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

  3. Ah Paul, you are obviously pretty low, but time passes – too damn fast when you get to my age!! You’ll be home before you know it. Enjoy the wine


    Comment by Anne Macdonald — February 1, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

  4. Great to see the newbuild progressing so rapidly, but a pity you are not there to worry the life out of the builders! Are you still having a stone gable end ?
    Mrs. C. must be well chuffed to see her nest taking shape…..! Can’t wait to see it in real life so to speak.
    All the best with the rest of the course, and haste ye home to TEOTR. x

    Comment by SOTW — February 1, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

  5. Hi Paul
    House is looking good – my envy increases with every photo.

    Here’s something you might find interesting, Calmac are pushing with hybred ferries, in Norway they’re pushing forwards with fully battery powered ferries –

    Comment by Andy Poulton — February 1, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

  6. So sorry you aren’t on Rasaay so you could comb the beaches and pick up flotsam and computers with the driftwood! It’s a tribute to Lachey that nothing on your house escaped in the gale! Hope the chooks are snug and your 2 sheep have stuck around.

    Comment by drgeo — February 1, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

    • Hi DrG, Lachie lives in Staffin, which is even windier than Arnish 🙂 In my book builders are like ‘seed potatoes’ and should always be brought south 🙂

      What this means is that it’s always better to use someone or something that is used to a harsher climate than your own. Be it a wind turbine, boat or potato 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

      • wise thinking!

        Comment by may cruickshank — February 3, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

  7. Well now Mr c, this northumberland countryside awaits your exploration. You have my number..

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — February 1, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

    • Hi PRON, thought you might have been at the ‘cloud factory’ this weekend 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

  8. I think your house is beautiful. We built ours solely on the basis on energy efficiency and today at -40F, it is lovely and warm and I am not outside looking at it anyway. Mushrooms are good for you too.

    Comment by Marjorie Stintzi — February 1, 2013 @ 11:34 pm

    • Minus 40f Marjorie, I have difficulty imagining that 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

  9. Great work on the house and I too understand your wish to be home, another few days and you will be and able to enjoy Life at the end of the road again.
    I love mushrooms too, must try a few of the alternatives to the full English, sond good although I may replace the black pudding for a few slices of haggis! 😀

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — February 2, 2013 @ 1:59 am

  10. walls and a roof, I know theirs a a lot more work to do , but must feel good to see the shape of a house, chin up, determined to grab a pint with you before you go back too , another weekend of paper work awaits……..

    Comment by mike — February 2, 2013 @ 2:36 am

    • Hi Mike, it will all slow down shortly I’m sure, but it’s jolly exciting to see the progress 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:28 pm

  11. We must be lucky – conservatory up now for 12 and a half years and patio doors have never let water in! It would be great to see the house but we lost our sump cover last time we attempted the road north so reluctant to go up to some of our favourite haunts.
    Hope your last week goes well.

    Comment by Rosemary Bungard — February 2, 2013 @ 8:05 am

    • Hi Rosemary,

      glad to here your doors are watertight but we are a little more exposed than the ‘south end’ 🙂 and I’m ‘thinking ahead’ 12 years is diddly squat in the lifetime of a house 🙂 We need to keep the pressure up on the council to repair that road, you’ll have to come up for the ‘house warming’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:27 pm

  12. Paul the house is looking great . I was interested to read that the chimney was for the boiler in the shed. Is there no plan for a fire place or wood burning stove? I can’t tell you how many times George and I have said “thank goodness we put an fire place in. ” yAnn.

    Comment by Yann Rankine — February 2, 2013 @ 8:31 am

    • Hi Yann, we agonized about the fire, but the bottom line is that I’m thinking of the future and I really don’t want to be cutting wood in my 60’s. If I do have to do it then it will be in 1′ lengths not 6″ and I won’t have to bring them in the house.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

      • I sympathise Paul…with a year to go before 60 and a diagnosis of angina (it can happen to anyone) I’m no longer cutting serious wood, (which I did until a couple of years ago), but I’m still cutting kindling, and that’s bad enough…I think you’re very wise…

        All the best


        Comment by Cogidubnus — February 3, 2013 @ 12:07 am

  13. The House is looking great, and you will soon be home : )

    Comment by v8mbo — February 2, 2013 @ 9:27 am

    • I can’t wait V8 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

  14. Can’t believe how quickly your house is going up! At this rate you’ll be finished before us… and we had a 12-month head start! 🙂

    I can really relate to your dislike of towns. We’ve been here in our urban (temporary) abode for 13 months and I can’t wait to get back to somewhere with more green and less paving slabs. Keep smiling!

    Comment by ecobodger — February 2, 2013 @ 9:31 am

    • Hi EB, Lachie and his crew don’t mess about 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

  15. House looking good Paul. What’s UMS? The learning sounds useful – even more so if it’s going to help you tweak the extra out of the inputs into the inverters! Also conditions look rather warm and cosy, will it be that pleasant on the bridge? You’ll be getting soft! :-))
    Sunny day down in rural Leicestershire – maybe a pleasant day to explore Northumbria and have a pub lunch with The People’s Republic, eh?

    Comment by Carrie — February 2, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    • Hi Carrie, UMS is ‘unmanned machinery space’, which basically means that you have lots of alarms that let let you have a ‘wee sleep’ in the mess room rather than actually walking around looking at things 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:14 pm

      • Ah, so you will be ‘cruising’ on this new ferry then; still, gives time for new culinary delights and daily Sunday breakfasts in the mess room :-)) :-))

        Comment by Carrie — February 2, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

      • Ah, so you will be ‘cruising’ on this new ferry then; still, gives time for new culinary delights and daily Sunday breakfasts in the mess room 🙂 ) 🙂 )

        I do hope so Carrie 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

  16. Agree with the others, house looking good and going up so fast. I can remember being at th YH a couple of years ago when that new house at Oscaig was being built – that went up really quick too! If it were me doing your course now and learning about the workings of the new ferry, I would have forgotten it all by the time it came to put it into practice! But I’m not technically minded!

    Comment by Frances — February 2, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

    • Lachie built the house at Oscaig too Frances 🙂 Don’t worry, I am technically minded, yet I’ll still forget everything 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:10 pm

  17. Just picked up on your blog via Scottish islands Explorer – another good one to follow. Very enjoyable, thanks.
    David & Margaret G – living in Spain but loving our annual west coast islands tour. Will put Raasay on the list this year. Must check if SYHA is still there?

    Comment by David & Margaret Gartside — February 2, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

    • Hello David and Margaret, SYHA still there and Frances quite often works there 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:08 pm

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