Life at the end of the road

June 12, 2013

That’ll be summer here :-)

Filed under: boats, Croft house for sale, daily doings, hydro, life off grid, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:24 pm

The 2011’Nero di Troia’ from Puglia is breathing nicely and I can’t wait to savour a glass, the wife has finished work and I’m still on holiday Smile OK, the weather has gone to pot but I’m not caring, in fact I was needing the break, this holiday lark is very tiring. So tiring that ‘blogging’ has been out of the question, mainly due to the inordinate amount of sleeping that I’ve been doing, retiring most nights recently well before 21:00.

What have I been doing, well  loads, but as usual not a great deal off ‘the list’, that’ll be the list that included moving the caravan, digging out some ditches and servicing the Land Rover. It did not include painting the house, fitting solar panels to the roof, power washing paths or messing about with oil tanks, all of which I’ve got lost in recently. Still I’m not complaining I’ve got much done and feel a whole lot better for it, that’ll be mentally better, my body feels like I’ve been hit by a truck and my skin is tender from the sun and full of bites from the dreaded midge, ticks and other insects. Though I hasten to add not on any of the parts covered in Smidge.

This stuff really works, forget ‘Avon Skin So Soft’ or any of the proprietary repellents, you put this nice cream on and that’s you for six hours. Trouble is that it works so well that you forget about the ‘wee devils’ and get caught unawares on the feet or legs.

Anyway, they didn’t really arrive here until Tuesday when summer arrived proper, that’ll be the damp muggy midge infested summer that you usually associate with the west coast. Yup, that arrived bang on time, just as   XCWeather – Forecast for IV40 8PF (Postal Code) said it would, around 13:00. Not that you would have believed the forecast had you been here on Monday, for the week began with a pure scorcher.




Even at 7:15 when I took the Dude to school it was warm, even this stag seemed ‘hot under the collar’.



Incredibly there was still snow on the Cuillins, not much, and in the gullies, but still snow.



Anyways, after dropping our son off for school I went over to see my mate the ‘Quarryman’ who, well the name gives you a clue Smile Whilst there, Eyre Plant Hire’s Scania Tractor with trailer V8 EPH turned up for a load.


Wonder if he could get that one up to Arnish Smile


His smaller brother V9 EPH was up last year delivering a load for the barn, they certainly do look after their trucks at EPH.

Business sorted at the quarry it was off for a spot of shopping then onto see the parents


and a walk in the wood with my dad, this being how they moved timber before Scania trucks Smile





The forest was a carpet of bluebells and these white flowers that I’m hoping someone will inform me of their name. Stephen, where are you Smile


After the hour and a quarter march with the 84 year old we all settled down to a home made pizza, all pizzas are a disappointment to me after eating my mums for well over fifty years. Can you believe there are more pizzas made in  Grimsby than anywhere else in Europe !!!!!! Me, I was brought up on proper pasta and pizza long before it became trendy. When I was a lad the only place you could get olive oil outside a specialist delicatessen was the chemists. Come to think of it when I first moved to Raasay all you could get in the shop was lard, how things have changed.



And that’s where I got my first midge bites, right there eating that pizza, all over my feet of all places Smile



As we feasted on anchovy, olive, tomato and mozzarella resting on a perfect thick light base  steeped in olive oil and sea salt the Dornie boat ‘Te Bheag’ fished for prawns in Loch Duich.

It wasn’t until back on the ferry home that I heard of the grim forecast ahead, though I found it hard to believe,


even the red dawn at 4:30 on Tuesday gave no clue, I was not convinced


and made an early start on the second coat of paint. I’d not got anywhere near enough ‘Teamac Farm Oxide’ for the full roof but I emptied the remains of the last tin whilst the weather was good. I also hung out loads of washing in the gentle south easterly breeze, the generator having started up in the early hours to charge up the batteries. It makes much more sense to utilize the spare capacity of Cyril the Lister SR2 whilst he’s charging the batteries than draw the power out of them when he’s stopped.

We can go for months without the generator starting but a dry calm spell coupled with guests can have him firing up every few days, which is why I’ve decided to add 940w of solar panels to the house. The south facing roof of the house looses the sun from November until February but during that time we’ve tons of wind and water, it’s this time of year when the burn has dried up and the wind doesn’t blow that we could do with a little extra boost. With the house on the market it’s probably not the wisest use of funds but solar PV has never been so cheap and is likely to rise in price very soon.

There was just enough left in the tin to get a coat on the section of roof that I’d planned to put the 4 x Kinve 235w panels on, the sun was still shinning, the washing drying nicely on the line and Cyril had stopped. Even when I came in for lunch around 12:30 it showed no sign of rain, however, halfway through the excellent fishcakes that wifey had made it started pishing down and I ran outside to clear the washing line. That was it, ‘summer had arrived’ Smile

It wasn’t half as bad as predicted though and I still managed to potter about outside preparing for my solar panels from


The plan is to mount four of them on the roof in two strings of two and connect them directly to the 48v battery bank. The Vpm of 29.6v x 2 = 59.2v so perfect for charging a 48v bank and I’ve bought a Morningstar TS45 charge controller to take care of any excess power. The charge controller will be set to divert surplus power into this,


024  025

a 1kW resistive load that I had left over from another project. To be honest it’s not really required as I could have set the the TS45 to just ‘throttle’ the panels, but fitting a DC load like this does two things, first it can act as an extra ‘failsafe’ for the hydro and secondly it could be replaced by a water heating element in the hot water cylinder at some point in the future.

The other thing I did on Tuesday was run the cable, a strange one that I acquired some years ago.



It’s an aluminium cored cable with a copper sheath equivalent to a 25mm square two core cable, I’ve no idea what it’s for but it’s ideal for high DC currents and I’ve used it very successfully in the past. The 25m run from the roof to battery bank will only result in a tiny volt drop at full power according to this excellent calculator that I use.




008 006


I terminated the cable on an insulated block in the generator shed with two stainless lugs so I can connect up to it when the rest of the kit arrives.



My pal, or should I say one of them was back,


just check out the velvet on his antlers Smile


A little later he was joined by one of similar stature


and then by this ‘nobber’, that’ll be a stag with, well two knobs Smile Apparently these are the tastiest, not that I’d know Smile



This morning the sun was not to be found, but continual rain through the night meant that at least the hydro turbine was back on line,



though it did need a little bleeding.


Things did not go quite to plan,





there had been more rain than I thought Smile

Still, I had a great day pottering about power washing and tinkering in the generator shed preparing for the arrival of the panels and controller.


026  027

That’s about it really, lots of hen related stuff, Ellie moved into her house before the rain arrived, which just goes to show that pigs know more about the weather than I do.

028 030

I think that the only thing on the planet with more carp talked about it than football is wine but this little dark and sensuous number from northern Puglia deserves every adjective, thanks Sue Smile



  1. Lovely family shot there Paul.

    Comment by Ian Jones — June 12, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

    • Thanks Ian, just missing one family member 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 13, 2013 @ 4:49 am

  2. That looks like wild garlic amongst the bluebells, Gather the leaves and shred them then stir them into hot pasta along with some Philadelphia type cheese! They give a lovely mild garlicky flavour to lots of dishes – great torn up with salad leaves too.
    How was that for an instant cookery course!!
    Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

    Comment by Irena Krasinska-Lobban — June 12, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

    • Thanks for that Irena, I’ll check it out on Sunday.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 13, 2013 @ 4:49 am

      • Chuck some black olives, capers and anchovies in with the wild garlic too and don’t forget a glug of good olive oil, some shaved parmesan and the black pepper!

        Comment by Irena Krasinska-Lobban — June 13, 2013 @ 8:54 am

      • Hi Irena,

        the bog myrtle certainly helps, often used to bruise the leaves and rub them in my skin, the scent is amazing but it’s nowhere near as effective as the Smidge.

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 13, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

  3. The stags in velvet are amazing – I can feel the warmth of the ‘antlers’ just looking at the pics! Hope your weather improves.

    Comment by SOTW — June 13, 2013 @ 7:01 am

    • Hi She, weather much better today and a good forecast for tomorrow 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 13, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

  4. Morning Paul

    Glad the Puglian red went down well – a fair exchange for sensational sausages (with an Italian white Pecorino) and chops to be tasted tonight.

    Smidge certainly does the job but wish there was a midge repellent shampoo. There’s an opening for someone.

    Weather looking slightly better today though clouds still hang low- can’t see your end of the island from here.

    Enjoy the day


    Comment by Sue — June 13, 2013 @ 8:17 am

    • Ps – this Pecorino was a wine, not cheese!

      Comment by Sue — June 13, 2013 @ 8:18 am

      • Sue – Midges don’t like bog myrtle. I gather bog myrtle and pack it in a big jar with cheap vodka and leave it 6 months or 18 if possible. I drain and bottle it and use it as a final rinse on my hair ….it’s not 100% but it does help. Maybe there’s a market………….

        Comment by Irena Krasinska-Lobban — June 13, 2013 @ 8:54 am

      • Thanks Irena – bog-myrtle and vodka on the hair! Worth a try.

        Comment by Sue — June 13, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    • Glad you enjoyed them Sue, still savouring the memory of that wine here 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 13, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

      • Not only the sausages – the chops were absolutely lovely, and probably the nearest to walking around that I’ve ever had. Eggs great, too. Thanks.

        Off tomorrow – see you next time!


        Comment by Sue — June 14, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

  5. Your comment about olive oil made me think about what has changed grocery-wise. Liptons was our local supermarket(late 60s).They would deliver your groceries but you had to visit the store to purchase. Apart from the big increase in the range of groceries,the item that strikes me most,is the amount of packaging placed in the bin nowadays.A dustbin was a “dustbin” back then and in our area consisted of a heavy duty paper sack suspended in a wire cage bin.Good pics.I can even feel the midges biting :-).

    Comment by Andy — June 13, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  6. Paul,

    Great pictures as always esp the silhoueted stag. I will have to give the Smidge a whirl, folk rave about Skin so Soft, did not protect me from the bleeders.

    Funny abouth the wild garlic, up until a week ago I had not seen let alone tasted it, then a neighbor gave me some she had picked. Flowers a little stronger in taste than the leaves/stalks but very pleasant, sprinkled over food or even in a sarnie.

    Thank you for the details of the ‘Farm Oxide paint’ will see how it works out.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — June 13, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

    • Michael,
      Originally Skin so Soft was an excellent bug repellent, favoured by special forces no less. It used to contain citronella, but it was changed to meet pharmaceutical regulations and the active ingredient removed (or so I am lead to believe). the modern Skin so Soft is not nearly so effective but if applied liberally enough will make the little blighters slip off!


      Comment by Ian Jones — June 13, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

      • Hi Ian, I used to be a great fan of SSS but it’s major drawback compared with Smidge is that when you sweat it runs into your eyes and stings like hell. The other disadvantages are the constant need to apply it and it washes of very easily. Smidge is good for six hours at least and doesn’t come off in water. It’s one major score over Smidge however is that it really does make your ‘skin so soft’ 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 13, 2013 @ 7:11 pm

  7. Really lovely photo of you with the parents! And the deer are a delight too. Although we often curse the wind, whether from east or west
    on the side of our hill, at least it keeps the midges away….and I take anti-hystemines as a repellent each morning. Was going to mentione the wild garlic – surprised Jean hadn’t told you about that – but see that others have got there first!

    Comment by Sue from Sallachy — June 13, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

  8. where ever you find Bluebells you will aways find wild garlic, Irena was correct (Allium Ursinum)
    from wikipedia

    The leaves of A. ursinum are edible; they can be used as salad, spice,[4] boiled as a vegetable,[5] in soup, or as an ingredient for pesto in lieu of basil. The stems are preserved by salting and eaten as a salad in Russia. A variety of Cornish Yarg cheese has a rind coated in wild garlic leaves.[6] The bulbs and flowers are also edible, though less famed for their taste than the leaves.



    Comment by Jackie — June 14, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

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