Life at the end of the road

March 9, 2013

Some things never change :-(

Filed under: Croft house for sale, harbour, hydro, shed/house, stonework, The daily pothole — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:25 pm

Well that’s me almost packed, again Sad smile I seem to be living out of a bag these days, though this time it’s to be away for two weeks and not just five days. Still, I’m getting very good at it and have managed to cut my bag size down by 50% so at least I can now fit through doors without removing paint Smile 

Friday saw me waking up even earlier than Thursday and had me plonking away on the laptop long before disappearing down the four flights of stairs to the ECR with my packet of muesli Sad smile The air conditioned Engine Control Room now being my dining room of choice, in an attempt to resist the ‘full Scottish’ and more available in the mess room.

Once the full start up checks had been done, rudders and propeller pitch tested by the ‘Chief’ and the Finlaggan’s Wartsilla’s warmed up we started loading traffic. Well not me personally of course, I just sat and watched it on TV Smile

As dawn broke it became clear that there were many more vehicles  than normal, which could only mean one thing, no sailing from our cousin in Stornoway, MV Isle of Lewis. Sure enough a quick check on the computer indicated as much and despite the mezzanine deck being lowered we had to leave some traffic behind Sad smile 

Home again

I jumped ship in Uig and after collecting feed for the pigs from Harbro and wood for the hen hoose from Jewson’s I headed for Sconser.



The waiting room was progressing, having had a little of the ‘Donegal’ treatment at one corner Smile



By 12:30 I was home at last with my wife and ‘wee dog’, half an hour later I was in bed fast asleep after two bowls of leek and potato soup. That’s what comes of getting up at four thirty Smile However I’d left instructions to be woken at 15:00 so managed to get a few ‘wee jobs’ done before dark.



First of which was to go up to the new house and get some fencing tools for a spot of ‘pig proofing’.


The two ‘spotties’ and two ‘tammies’ that we’re fattening are supposed to be ‘on the hill’ but every time we turn round they appear on the croft and start creating havoc. Their favourite trick being to break into the hen run and knock all the feeders over in an attempt to eat the mixed grain. Another party trick is rolling up turfs of grass and depositing them on clean pathways Sad smile



A tour of the estate soon found the problem, a slack bottom wire allowing them to squeeze underneath a section around the back of the house.

007 008

The culprit being a rusted end near one of the iron strainer posts several yards away.



Cutting the bad wire out, extending it with new, then joining it with a ‘winder’ sorted the problem out. Then I got the wire as tight as drum with a 16mm spanner and locked it with a piece of wire ensuring that no more unwelcome visitors would get in that way again.

015 014

I did make a start on repairing the ‘hen hoose’ but wifey stopped me, insisting that herself and the Dude would sort it in my absence Smile


Different styles

Passing by them every day and in and out of them for wood, eggs, feed, tools and nick knacks you kind of forget what works of art these stone sheds are. I’ve got four in use and many more without roofs on them but they’re all works of art.


011 012

Top left and bottom right is the old byre, once my goat shed and now a store it has the classic rounded corners associated with older thatched roof buildings. The blocked up hole on the top left picture being where the cow dung was removed. Top right was also used for keeping cattle in but added later with square corners and its original ‘bullet proof’ iron roof.

016 017

Bottom left once housed a chemical toilet and now doubles as a wood and garden store.

018 019

I’ll kind of miss them when we sell the house our new barn is far more practical but just doesn’t have the same character Sad smile 


I was up early but went back to bed and didn’t actually get up until 11:00 !!!!!! my knee was in pain and I figured that the rest would do both it and myself good. Even when I finally did get up I didn’t actually go outside until after lunch, which just happened to be potato and leek soup Smile Instead of going out and doing my usual physical stuff I stayed in the kitchen and read the paper, something I never do but this weeks effort was really interesting. As well as the article and letters relating to the Raasay shooting rights ‘U turn’ “Pressure pays off as Raasay crofters win back shooting rights” there was a little gem of a two page spread with excellent picture of the Storr lochs hydro scheme. Skye’s first power station and part of the ‘Power from the glens’ post war strategy.

 Hydro-electric Power Station, Bearreraig Bay  1

Picture from thanks to

Of particular interest to me because of my own hydro turbine and the fact that I can actually see Bearreraig bay from home, it is in fact the nearest grid connection to my house Smile Not only that but I notice from the article that ‘onsite engineer’ Donnie Macleod has been doing the job for 26 years, which means that he must have taken over from Norrie Gillies of Raasay when he retired. Norrie too spent many years there, though sadly Norrie passed away two years ago this month and is sorely missed.

111110 019

Another Raasay connection featured in the form of ‘John the Caley’


John “the Caley” Nicolson, a stalwart of Skye Camanachd and many other aspects of local life, celebrated his 90th birthday at the end of last month. To mark the milestone officials and supporters from Skye Camanachd presented John with a special club  jersey following last Saturday’s home match against Inverness. The hearty good wishes are echoed by the Free Press.

And from us all here too Smile

There is more, much more, I haven’t even touched on the news from Raasay’s newsletter and the shop shares but it’s time for me to spend some time with wife and child. I’ll ‘fill you’ in on that from South Shields, it’ll give me something to write about Sad smile 

Though I must just leave you with this gem of a letter from it

A Glimpse of Raasay Past
No photographs for you this month…instead we offer you the contents of a letter
which was written to the Regional Council in 1947 from vehicle owners on Raasay
around this time.

“We Norman Gillies, lorry owner, Ewen Macrae, car owner, John MacLeod, car
owner, Angus Gillies, tractor owner and Alistair MacLeod, tractor owner, wish to
convey to you a strong protest on the condition of the roads on Raasay. We are
not satisfied with the repairs carried out last year on that part of the road
leading from the pier to the post office, the part most frequently used, and we
greatly deplore the expenditure of several hundred pounds with such poor
results. The amount of tar applied was altogether inadequate, sparsely and
unevenly distributed in patches. In consequence ruts formed after a few weeks
usage, and the work has been rendered completely ineffective. The remainder
of the 15 miles of road leading to the North is in an appalling condition, and
though not in such regular use as the pier to post office road, is highly
dangerous to car drivers. This is little more than a gravel track, lacking
parapets or fences, and it is only by sheer luck and a knowledge of the hazards
of the road that disaster has so far been avoided.
We have found our maintenance expenses to be inordinately higher than those
pertaining elsewhere”.

Well, that’s progress for you. In the sixty-six years since this letter was sent, the
Council appear not to have learned much in the ways of road maintenance.
The comments in the above letter are similar to those which were listed on the roads
survey analysis carried out last year by the local development officers.  Similar
letters of complaint are still being written in current times from Raasay residents and
visitors to Raasay!  If you are concerned about the poor condition of the Island
roads, you are advised to write to the Highland Council clearly stating your concerns.

Some things never change Smile



  1. People knew how to write letters back then – concise and to the point. I’ve got some crackers from even earlier – 1879 – written by the young stationmaster of our local station to his bosses in Derby.

    Must make another attempt to get over to Raasay this summer and do some walking – if your boar isn’t out on the prowl at the north end!

    Comment by Nick Bennett — March 9, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

    • Hi Nick, don’t you be worrying about Rocky, he’s a big softie, but he’s on the croft now anyway.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 10, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

  2. Do you not find that the quality of tarmac used to slapdash a hole in the surface of any tarmac road is so poor, it just breaks up within weeks. They cant even use a stilh saw to cut the bad bits back then attempt a better repair and not one single whacker plate will pass over the freshly laid sleeping policeman. A complete waste of public money. Buy decent, buy once, not buy shite and replace it five times a season!!!
    Anyway, catch up maybe when your down. A lot of atractions are opening up next weekend, could point you in the direction of a few.

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — March 9, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

    • Hi Steve, yup, the nearest our ‘repairs’ see to a ‘Whacker’ are the rear wheels of a Transit van 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 10, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

  3. Last time I corresponded with HRC mentioning your blog I got an acknowledgement reference and shortly after, you got reported to the water people. Connection? I’d like to think not, but certainly nothing else has happened since…in case they’re reading this I’d like to reassure them though that they’re still a bunch of wastrel incompetent bastards…

    All the best


    Comment by Cogidubnus — March 10, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    • The bin men are very good Dave 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 10, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

  4. Hi Paul

    What are we learning about this time?

    Comment by Carrie — March 10, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

    • What are we learning about this time?

      Letter at the bottom of the page from 70 years ago 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 10, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

      • Good grief, you’ve driven all the way to South Shields to learn about potholes? Well I never! :-))

        Comment by Carrie — March 10, 2013 @ 10:09 pm

      • Good grief, you’ve driven all the way to South Shields to learn about potholes? Well I never
        🙂 🙂 🙂

        And so far I haven’t seen any

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 11, 2013 @ 6:51 am

  5. We were on Raasay at Easter we took the Motor home across (its about 17 feet) the top road which is supposed to be the good road is diabolical, as my other half Mike said you think it had been bombed there are so many craters. The bottom road is much better. It is about four years since we last went over to Raasay. I asked for you at the ferry terminal but you were away training. I do like the new ferry terminal on Raasay better than the old one but now the shop may not be making as much money as you do not pass it. The Skye side is coming along nicely too.
    We also have two jack russells. Our latest one is six months old and she is better behaved than our 9 year old one.

    Comment by fraoch16 — May 8, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

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