Life at the end of the road

May 29, 2013

Shades of summer :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:09 pm

WOO HOO, I’m on holiday, well almost, I will be this time tomorrow for a full two weeks, and boy do I have a long ‘to do’ list.  It came as a bit of a surprise really and I’m certainly needing it, not a holiday as such that is but some time at home to catch up. Drains to clear, rushes to cut, house to paint, and that’s before I even start on the new house tasks of preparing the generator shed, building a ‘slow sand filter’ and moving the caravan from Tarbert.

It’s unlikely that I’ll get half of what I want done finished but it’ll be great to spend two full days in a row with wife, child, dog and some wine Smile It will make a pleasant change from plying the Minch in the good ship MV Hebrides, though I have to say I’ll miss the ‘craic’. Not that I can understand that much of it anyway due to a combination of deafness on my part and the international dialects of the crew. Well from as far afield as Liverpool, South Shields, Grimsby and Lewis at least Smile Added to that would be the fact that half the crew are less than half my age and speak a different language so all in all it’s a miracle I can communicate with them at all Smile However they all seem to tolerate the ‘old greenhorn’ from the wee boats and keep me right when I cock things up Smile

 Last night

Anyways before the euphoria of being given a holiday, before I went to bed last night in fact, I went for a wee wander around Tarbert. It was after 21:30 when I wandered down the gangplank and headed westwards towards the setting sun and I guess the Atlantic ocean.



The Hebrides resting for the night with her mouth open to enable maintenance to be carried out.


I’m thinking this lovely stone building will be the primary school, I see that the Western Isles Council have the good sense to mount their wind turbines well away from the school.



The new school over the road has a very impressive 280 tube solar hot water array, that would I’m sure go a long way to supplying all their hot water between April and October. Well it would if it actually had any water in it, four of the tubes were broken and it looked like the system had been ‘drained down’. The Western Isles Council may have been savvy in mounting their wind turbines out of the way but the sanity of mounting all these shiny glass tubes a few feet off the ground and out of sight escapes me. They might as well have put a sign on saying ‘break me’.



Well, it was certainly worth the walk to West Loch Tarbert to see the sunset, not that the sun was actually visible from the head of the loch but it did look lovely.


A magnificent day greeted us this morning and had the entire crew out chipping and painting various parts of the vessel.


It also saw an abundance of ‘shades’ appear on the crew Smile


Between the traffic and the painting the day flew by, no doubt assisted by the phone call informing me of two weeks holiday commencing on Monday. Though with weather like this everyone is on good form, work is a pleasure and the customers happy, so long may it continue.

The hour or so that we lie in Uig at 18:00 was utilized to do an FRC launch,


this time without shades Smile



It’s a long way down.



The engine is fired up


and off she goes.


That was it really, I was on my rest period so wandered up to the ‘Old Girl’ with some of my belongings to lighten the load tomorrow and now we’re just about to berth at Lochmaddy.



Here’s one of Harry Lawson’s tankers, Volvo SP13BKN awaiting the ferry to North Uist,


and this will be the crew, or at least part of them, that will take it there and feed the driver, spot the Raasay man Smile

May 28, 2013

Turned the corner ?

Filed under: boats, daily doings, stonework, Trucks and plant — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:08 pm

I’ve said it before then it all went pear shaped a day or two later with snow and all, but today, in fact the last few days, really has felt like late spring.

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Pretty poor quality pictures because it was the phone but the apple and pear trees are in blossom, the strawberries netting has been repaired and with a bit of luck wifey will have got the spuds in. Apparently she spent all day yesterday removing creeping buttercup and today is the last of the days for planting spuds according to the biodynamic calendar. The garden is not my forte but many wise folk swear by it and I’ve certainly seen evidence to support it.

Repairing the pressure washer

I know it’s a little random but it’s for my benefit and not yours so bare with me, if I write stuff down I loose it, if I store it on my computer it’s gone when I get a new one so I’m gonna put it on here. Then when I require all the info on my trusty Interpump TH3500 pressure washer it’s easily at hand, for I had a few snags with it at the weekend. Pressure washers are extraordinarily useful tools and mine is a good twenty plus years old, however most of the ones you see for sale are carp. They all rave about being 150bar or even 200bar or more but it’s not the pressure that’s important, well it is but what is more crucial is the flow and at the very least you need 10lts/min, mine is 13.2 but most of your garden type ones are only 6 or 7. Of course they give you the flow figures in lts/hour to make it sound more impressive so you’ll need 600 of those Smile

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My Honda driven TH3500 was not performing properly and I suspected a blocked inlet filter which is located in that brass sleeve that screws on the end of the aluminium casting at the base. Sure enough the filter was blocked but not with dirt, it had kind of got what looked like a sort of varnish on the mesh that made most of it go solid. However in removing it the casting snapped, brass and aluminium are not a good combination Sad smile Anyway I cut out the old but with a hacksaw and chisel, rethreaded the casting 1/2” BSP and screwed it back on, feeling really pleased with myself until I gripped it in the vice to fit the new home made stainless steel filter, whereupon it snapped off again like a carrot Sad smile I was not a ‘happy bunny’, not wanting to write it off just yet I came up with the solution of pressing a 15mm copper pipe into the end and using a compression fitting on it for the hose tail, which worked a treat, the stainless mesh sitting nicely within the copper tube. Aluminium, copper, brass, stainless steel and acid water mean that electrolysis and failure won’t be far away but it got me out of a hole and I’m sure I can get a spare from Bruce at Washdown Supplies in Penrith.

Back to work


Dun Caan and the ‘White Face’, ‘Cathedral rock’ or whatever it’s called looked spectacular on the way to work,


as did the newly tarred section of ‘Calum’s road’. This part is called Lon hornat, well it sounds like that when my Gaelic dictionary Calum Don Mackay says it but I’m sure it’s spelt completely differently. Anyway I think it means ‘straight flat bit’, well it may be straight but it’s certainly not flat as that newly tarred bit is quite often underwater due to the road sinking. There are at least two drains, one on top of the other and that’s not including the one that Calum must have put in, some matting, hard core and another drain would have been prudent here rather than just more tar.



I seldom travel this way to the ferry but having a letter to post took me by the youth hostel for a change so I got a good look at the yellow blaze of bracken around Raasay’s cemetery. The warzone like mess that is inevitable after a forestry harvest  is already starting to heal, another ten years and you’ll not even know it was there. The forest at Screapadale looked like this after it was done but it looks far nicer now without the oppressive conifers. Don’t get me wrong I wish they’d plant more trees here, many more but they’re a crop that I’m glad to see the back of. Every corner of Scotland I’ve visited this last year has seen major harvesting but there is precious little evidence of replanting and these will be a valuable crop in the future.

The Silver Grasshopper



The post box is of course situated outside the old telephone exchange on Raasay which is now the home of ‘The Silver Grasshopper’ . The showroom and shop for Raasay’s jewellery maker and silversmith Fiona Gillies,

 Picture  Picture  Picture

who’s fabulous wares can be purchased in the shop or online.


Before Uig though I had to divert into Portree ‘to see a man about a dog’ Smile



Actually it was to swap some Arnish eggs for a bag of grit from ex clam diver and semi retired fisherman ‘The Wellie’ who was busy mending creels when I arrived. The grit is the ‘worm casts’ that get deposited on the mesh of the prawn creels after a few months in the water and every year or so they need brought ashore and powerwashed. Rich in lime they make fine fertilizer as well as grit for the hens but my mate sacrifices his lawn just to get hold of some of the wife’s eggs Smile Though having said that, they are now available in Portree at Relish, the new delicatessen on the corner of Wentworth street

Relish - Portree, United Kingdom 

Work has been a pleasure of late, the good weather meaning much time spent on deck painting beneath a blue sky in a warm breeze.



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Though before I painted this handrail I used a ratchet strap, shackle and some lateral thinking to straighten it Smile

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A regular on the ferry today was Jansvans Volvo V4 JAN and a long way from was Ellis Transports DAF VU 06 JVV, all the way from Cambridge with some useful looking plant.


This will be Weavers point, Maddy Beag , Glas Eliean Mor and Rudha nam Pleac astern of us as we head for Lochmaddy.


Below is a yacht at anchor in Bagh Ard nam Madadh


and just check out the size of those lintel stones.


OK, don’t bother, the picture is rubbish Smile


Also on the ferry today was the ‘incident command unit’ for the ‘British Divers Marine Life Rescue’ organization . Not that I’ve heard of any stranding’s recently, but that’s hardly surprising with my track record on current affairs. I only heard about the Russian coup attempt of 1991 on its anniversary and the Berlin wall coming down passed me by for a while.



Anyway, that’s it, I’ll leave you with an ‘arty farty’ picture of the Cuilins from Loch Snizort.

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