Life at the end of the road

April 4, 2013

Job Dunn :-)

Filed under: daily doings, shed/house — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:06 pm

Two full days of ‘proper work’ behind and I’m wrecked Smile and it feels great, seriously, I’ve not worked like this since September when I first departed for South Shields. The two weeks ‘holiday’ I took at Christmas was one long shower and I spent most of that in Lachie’s digger or on his dumper wrapped up in oilskins. Wednesday and Thursday however have just been like the ‘old days’ when I worked ‘week on week off’, the days when I used to return to the MV Loch Striven for a rest Smile

Working last weekend on the Finlaggan, plus a few days that I’m owed for travelling to South Shields and back has given me a little more time than the all too short weekend at home. I know, I know, most people only get the weekend off so I shouldn’t complain, but I’ve kind of geared my life around it these last ten years and work on the croft has been suffering this past eight months. Not to mention work on  the new house and ‘Old Girl’, who’s not had a wash since Christmas Sad smile 

The ‘Rolls Royce’ of windows

It could not have worked out better, the long dry spell seems set to continue and I arrived home on Tuesday to a voicemail from Mark Dunn of Dunn Homes to say he was coming to fit our Internorm windows Smile



Triple glazed with U value of .60W/m2K for the pane and .80W/2K for the whole window including the wood, foam and aluminium clad frame these are serious windows for a serious climate. Sure I could have got some for a third of the cost in UPVC but I’ve got good UPVC ones in this house and whilst they’re perfectly functional I don’t actually like them. Wood I could have got for around half the price but then I’d probably be replacing the weather ones in 15 years or even less if I didn’t paint them regular. Whatever window I’d have bought it wouldn’t have been as thermally efficient as these  and they certainly wouldn’t have been as quiet Smile Certainly your never going to save the cost difference between 2g and 3g in your heating bills in less than 20 years but with us it’s not about the money. We’re thinking of our retirement and every watt saved is less electricity to make or wood to cut, we are hoping that our house will actually be totally powered and heated by the wind, sun and water, the biomass boiler being for emergencies Smile




I know, I sound like a window salesman but they are a work of art, beautifully engineered, triple sealed and I feel like a ‘dog with two d***s’ Smile


Fencing on rock

My first serious croft related job was moving a fence, a fence that I’d had professionally fitted some years ago and never been truly happy with. In all fairness to the chap who did it the correct route for it was over solid rock and would have been far more expensive. Anyway over the last year or two, no doubt as result of several droughts the fence has lifted and the we pigs can just charge right under it, so rather than just bodge it up I decided to  move the whole fence to where it should have been in the first place.



After much prodding with a 6” long crow bar I found a spot for the strainer post that would get it in around 18", no where near enough on its own but I planned to drill and pin the rock behind it and put in wire stays. If you can get the strainer post solid enough and really tighten up the wire then the actual fence posts don’t need to be that deep. Just as well because I’d barely enough soil to loose the point of the stob.



Getting momentarily distracted when Mark and Kevin arrived with 700kg of windows in their two white vans at 12:30 Smile


013  011

They’d left the east coast at 5:00am but wasted no time and got ‘stuck in’ straight away


and the first two windows were in much quicker than it took me to find a strainer post Smile



In fact, I couldn’t find one



so had to resort to ‘desperate measures’ and chop a telegraph pole Sad smile Unfortunately it was quite a way from home so I had to ‘improvise’ Smile luckily the road was quiet Smile



Once the post was vertical the hole is filled in with rocks and tamped down, all the time shaking the strainer to settle it the tamping  some more until it’s solid.



That done I drilled and pinned the rock and tensioned it with wire, not too tight yet, until I’d done the one at the other end too.



With Molly, Dude and the pigs helping it took much longer than it should have Smile



However Mark and Kevin made sterling progress, working right through until 20:00 when they finally came in for dinner having got all 20 windows fitted and just two or three hours finishing off to do. This was due in no small part to Lachie, Donald and Angus’s fine job of putting up the kit. Both Mark and Kevin commented on the quality of their work Smile Apparently is not uncommon to arrive at a job like this and spend hours squaring things up and hacking away at wood.


After polishing of one of the wife’s excellent offerings and putting the world to rights over a couple of beers we all turned in, me setting the alarm for 6:30 so as I could have breakfast ready for ‘the workers’ at 7:00.


Sure enough, they were ‘up and at it’ bright and early and by 10:20 the windows were ‘Job Dunn’ Smile






Even the dog was impressed Smile


010  007

That will be the view from the ‘hen lady’s’ new packing station Smile

Back to the rock

After admiring our views and deciding to come back later with a bottle of wine and watch the sun go down through the new windows we got back on the the fence.

001  002

A wooden stay would assist in enabling me to get the wires seriously tensioned and that plank on the bottom which was screwed to a nearby tree would prevent the post from twisting under the tremendous strain. I planned to put extra high tensile wire on and really get the wires ‘singing’ Smile

 015    016

As you can see there’s just a couple of inches of soil and I’m drilling the rock and putting extra wires in to hold the post down under tension.




Still nowhere near finished, but you’ve got to bear in mind that I’m carefully dismantling the old fence and reusing it, which is almost as fiddly as putting the new one up.



  1. Hmm.. This place was purchased during the foot and mouth in 2001.. As we lived on a farm we didn’t want to walk the land and possibly spread any infection… Bad move.. We took the tale of the boundary fence being in good order in good faith… Only finding out after the purchase that the vendor lied through his teeth
    You could tell that, because his lips moved.. Needles to say, the whole lot was to replace including two water gates.. 450 posts and 11 stralners later we where knackered..

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — April 4, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

    • Only 11 strainers and 450 post Steve 🙂 The house site has 13 and it’s only small, just a very awkward shape 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 5, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

  2. The windows are really exciting! They look great outside and in. Have to agree that the preparation must have been perfect to allow them to go in so easily! Well done everybody. And the weather! We’ve had a lovely sunny day too but my phone forecast was showing snow again earlier, though it hasn’t arrived.

    Comment by may cruickshank — April 4, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

  3. so you’v got walls, windows, almost a roof, whats the situation with a door?
    One you have all 4 does that mean I could claim squatters rights ? imagine that!

    Comment by mike — April 4, 2013 @ 11:05 pm

  4. Looks like alls well Paul.
    Like your workmanship you’ve got a good eye and a tidy way of doing things. When are you putting up your tourist lodges? Only kidding I’d settle for a week in a nice dry caravan.
    Keep it up.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — April 4, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

    • Hi Walter, perhaps when I retire I’ll and write a book I’ll build some with the profits 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

  5. I’m smiling at how low you must string wire to keep the piglets in. We have Shire horses, so our fence posts are 8′ long, 3 of which are below ground set in concrete (in the clay soil). It was more important our fence be tall! The one who gets impatient for dinner has stomped the bottom wire down completely, but they are still well contained…until one learns to crawl on his belly underneath. But it has been 12 years with this fence, so unlikely there are escape plans imminent. Do all Varion windows come equipped with that gorgeous view?

    Comment by drgeo — April 5, 2013 @ 12:16 am

    • Hi DrG, remember seeing those fine creatures on your facebook page or website or something, I was well impressed. There was some on Raasay for a while but they moved to Cumbria, think they walked all the way to, do horses walk??

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

      • What an interesting link! Yes, horses walk. Mine is 93 in people years, so he hasn’t been ridden for 5 years–but we take walks together around the property (34 acres). I can understand why the Heavy Horse Centre moved away from Skye if the landowner didn’t improve the buildings or the hay. There is a “shade structure” that was on this land when we moved here, but it is too short for the horses to get under. I would not wish to walk any horse from Skye to nearly South Shields, though. I would have chosen to ride them up and down the single track roads on Skye, give them a ride on the Glen Elg ferry, then put them in an 18-wheeler once we reached Dornie and the larger highway. Maybe a wee joust at the castle before the road trip?

        Comment by drgeo — April 6, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

      • Wow DrG, that’s a good age, i bet there were some drivers mighty pi55ed off at the ‘Great Clydesdale migration’ 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

  6. The windows look fantastic Paul and the views are indeed to die for!
    Now i was wondering, as you are not actually using the static caravan and it is lying empty just how much hard work would it be to plumb it in a rent out to some of your favourite Thomson Caravan owners who run a great wee website! Save us towing the caravan up the old road. 😉

    Great to see you back on the croft and getting stuck in, I have enjoyed your pictures from your travels and hearing about them but the real joy is seeing you happy on the croft.

    Oh and I see that wee piglet is still trying to get lucky lol!

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — April 5, 2013 @ 1:15 am

    • Hi Graham, sadly moving and plumbing in the static is a major operation that I’m putting off as long as possible 🙂 This five day week is really messing me up so I’ve got to ‘prioritize’ so I can’t see me actually moving the van until we sell the house, or I finish this friggin training 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

      • No worries Paul, can’t see us getting over your way this year, two wedding to attend down south and £100 a month worse off thanks to the tory bedroom tax. we will get there one day, promise.

        Comment by Thomson Caravans — April 7, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  7. Those windows look absolutely stunning! It’s going to be a beautiful (and cosy!) home 🙂

    Comment by markphelandotnet — April 5, 2013 @ 5:45 am

  8. Through clenched teeth I can say how great it is you have got great weather, darn sarf there is even now a couple of cms of snow on the ground & the daffodils have yet to open ! ! ! !

    Pictures are great (Especially the two with Molly posing), what a sky & what a view, glad the windows went in trouble free it is coming together nicely. Just a thought not sure if I missed it but are you having any solar panels or sticking with the wind & water power?

    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — April 5, 2013 @ 7:39 am

    • Aye ATB, we’ll be having between 2 and 4kW of solar too.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

  9. Hello Paul – I`m David Harrower who wrote the play Calum`s Road – I met you outside the hall when we
    toured to Raasay. The play`s going out on the road again across Scotland – and Skye as well. I`m currently
    doing a few rewrites and wondered if I can ask you a couple of questions? If you`re up for it, can you email
    me and I`ll email you back. Cheers, David

    Comment by David Harrower — April 5, 2013 @ 9:54 am

  10. Agree with everyone else, the windows look great, and it’s good that you are back home doing what you love doing. I’ve applied for my shares in the shop! As I’m not coming to run the YH this year, I may have to come as a tourist to get my ‘Raasay fix’.

    Comment by Frances — April 5, 2013 @ 10:30 am

  11. My wife mentioned Calums’ Road is in Edinburgh later this year – looking forward to seeing it whenever it was (memory is like a sieve for dates these days). Great to see the windows in – a huge milestone in the build.


    Comment by Alan — April 5, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

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