Life at the end of the road

June 23, 2013

All I need now is the sun

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:24 am

I know, it’s been a while but I’ve just not had the enthusiasm, not just for blogging, but for anything, a fact not helped by what looks like yet another miserable day ahead. Not that this would normally bother me as from tomorrow onwards looks peachy, but then I’ll be admiring the sun from the Minch and not from Raasay. I’ve just ‘totted up’ my ‘sea time’ and find that I’ve still nine weeks left to do aboard the ‘big boats’ Sad smile That should see ‘normality restored’ around the August bank holiday, almost a whole year after having started this training.

My son is about a foot taller, his voice several octaves lower and my wife, well my wife is looking pure stunning Smile That’s one good thing I suppose, her extra workload and the lack of feeding me have given her the figure of a supermodel, not that she was ever anything else in my eyes. Ah well, nine weeks doesn’t sound so bad if you say it quickly I suppose.

Where was I

Anyway, back to that long spell without writing, probably Tuesday I’m guessing, well the weather was OK, the ferry busy and me splitting my time between the deck and the bridge. An hour or so on the helm to finish off the hours for my ‘steering ticket’ and a spot of painting to remind me of home Smile


Though by Wednesday and the approach of midsummer the weather started to resemble midwinter



and painting came to a halt.



It wasn’t the only thing that ‘came to a halt’, this being £60,000 worth of Lotus Evora that we had to push off the ferry Sad smile Only a flat battery but yet another victim of the motor manufacturers stupidity that makes it impossible to switch off a car alarm these days. The car deck can be a hellish place on passage with all the screaming horns, sirens and flashing lights, which must be terrifying for livestock and pets. Are people so friggin stupid that they cannot be trusted to switch their car alarm on and off or are the manufacturers trying to save a couple of pennies on a switch?? Either way the one hour forty five minute crossing proved too much for the battery on this car and the owner suffered the embarrassment of having us shove his car off the deck.  

Help for heroes

The poor old Lotus was not the only one to suffer from mechanical problems last week. Whilst I was on the ‘Heb’ Simon of took this picture of an unusual customer on the ‘Striven’.



Ex soldier Mark Newton dragged his wee caravan complete with two cats up to the end of ‘Calum’s road’.

In 1991 whilst attached to the United Nations in Cyprus I suffered a life changing injury to my right leg. In 2009 my condition had deteriorated to the point where walking was painfully difficult, it was suggested to me that I contact SSAFA to see if they are able to help, they did all the form filling and ringing around to get me a mobility scooter, 1 The Queens Dragoon Guards (my old Regiment) and The Royal British Legion came up with the money to pay for it. I was then made redundant in August 2010, instead of sitting around and doing nothing I started planning a trip ‘Round Wales’, this took place during May and June of 2011 and covered more than 1450 miles and raised just over £9000 for 1 The Queens Dragoon Guards, Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion.

Before even finishing that I had already started planning this trip in my mind. I added SSAFA to the list after I embarrassingly forgot them on my first trip! I added the Royal National Lifeboat Institution so that I had goals other than the end of each day, they are also in my eyes unsung heroes just as the forces are! This is still to come

I fund my trips with the little money I have left from my War Pension and the generosity of the British people and Businesses

I got my scooter on the 23 December 2009 after a lot of help from the Royal British Legion, 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards and the Army Benevolent fund. The Soldiers, Sailors Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help did all the leg work and form filling for me. I have covered nearly 10000 miles in that time, quite possibly the most used mobility scooter in Britain.

I never set a target amount as I’m grateful for every penny and I’m pretty sure the charities are, I have two reasons:

1. If I don’t reach the target I’ll be upset.
2. If I reach the target people may think they don’t need to donate

He then suffered mechanical problems on the way back and was rescued by wifey and John William Gillies, though I think he managed to fix the scooter and spent the night at Raasay House . I think he then headed off to plockton with it and I’m sure you’ll be able to read all about his adventures when he updates his blog though you can also catch him on

940 watts on the roof


Hard to believe it from this picture as we sailed into Uig on Friday morning, but the longest day itself actually turned out OK, or am I seeing that through the ‘rose tinted specs’ of it being my last day Smile Either way, on our second visit to Uig I ‘jumped ship’ for the weekend and headed home, well rather indirectly that is.

My four 235w solar panels had arrived at my parents house from Navitron last week, so after loading the old girl up with half a ton of feed in Portree I went to collect them. The delivery charge being extremely reasonable to my parents address rather than ‘off shore’ Skye, though having said that three gallons of diesel in the Land Rover must be £20. Still it did give me a chance to see my mum, if only briefly, too briefly in fact because they were larger than I expected and wouldn’t fit in the back. Consequently I had to rush around like a ‘blue ar53 fly’ lashing them to the roof then driving slowly home for fear of them blowing off Smile 



The chaos at Sconser that I’d envisaged lessening is in fact a little worse Sad smile There is in fact even less space for the ferry queue than before and if they don’t sort it out soon there is going to be an accident. The roads now being full of frustrated drivers stuck behind campervans who may see the straight section through Sconser as an opportunity to overtake.

Marie Curie coffee day

The evening with family saw a little early party for our sons birthday, and helping him pack his bag, as he’ll be on his way to China when he turns fourteen. China!!!!! my school trip was to Blackpool!!!!  Anyway, his bag was well short of the 23kg so I suggested he call in at Tesco and fill it with baby milk to boost his spending money Smile

Retailers in the UK are rationing sales of powdered baby milk because of a surge in demand in China.

Danone, the manufacturer of Aptamil and Cow and Gate baby milk powder, said most supermarkets were introducing a restriction of two cans per customer.

It said the limit was to prevent some individuals from bulk-buying baby milk for "unofficial exports".

Retailers were also capping sales of Nestle’s SMA milk, despite the company saying there were no stock shortages.

Danone said in a statement: "We understand that the increased demand is being fuelled by unofficial exports to China to satisfy the needs of parents who want Western brands for their babies."

So after bidding our son goodbye on Saturday morning I headed up on the roof

016 017 018

as soon as I’d finished making some mounting brackets for the four Kinve panels. These were simply galvanized steel straps that came with my Internorm windows and were surplus to requirements, chopped down and riveted onto the aluminium frame the made an excellent attachment point for the stainless wood screws that would hold them to the roof battens.

 019 020

021 023

I just managed to get all four secured and had started wiring the junction box up when the dry dullness turned into the pishing rain the the south of Raasay had had all day. It is quite often the case that we miss rain at the north end but at 13:20 it arrived with vengeance and I came off the roof soaking.


The panels were however connected, even if the wiring wasn’t fully tidied up and I decided to call it a day and head down to the village hall and a fundraiser for Marie Curie cancer care.

However I’ll have to tell you all about that later, it’s almost 8:30, I need to get my oilskins on and go and feed the pigs and shoot some pigeons.



  1. Paul I like the way you report and give time for other people’s causes and pit falls of other travellers on your blog, your a true night of the bloggers.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — June 23, 2013 @ 7:47 am

  2. On the one hand I can see that at times it would be helpful to lock your car without engaging the alarm but wouldn’t a switch be too useful for the thief stealing the car?
    Still love reading the blog and don’t worry, the 9 weeks will fly past!

    All the best

    Comment by Derek — June 23, 2013 @ 8:23 am

    • It doesn’t have to be a mechanical switch, one you could deactivate whilst the key was in would do. It’s like the friggin cars that lock their selves, what is the point of that ??? The feckin inconvenience and broken windows that has caused people, especially in remote places. Not all of the planet lives amongst thieving bar stewards.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 23, 2013 @ 8:34 am

  3. I’m impressed with Portree High … China indeed !! … furthest we got in primary was Lake Windermere, never had any school outings in secondary (unless my memory is failing me, which is quite likely) … that must be costing you a pretty penny, Paul

    Comment by cazinatutu — June 23, 2013 @ 9:38 am

  4. I have a switch in my VW Tiguan which deactivates the alarm – useful when you leave a mad terrier in the car while you go shopping. Just assumed everyone had one these days!

    Comment by Sue from Sallachy — June 23, 2013 @ 10:47 am

    • Just assumed everyone had one these days!

      Yup, we’ve got a mad terrier too 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 23, 2013 @ 11:50 am

  5. What a star your ex army fundraiser is I will track him and hope he comes our way. I’m a sailor of sorts as we ran a passenger river ferry for about 10 years. Very few passengers but some interesting ones. It was a crossing for over 800 years and would be an asset these days for tourists and for us to get to the pub easier! 🙂

    Comment by Soup Dragon — June 23, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

    • Morning Soup Dragon and welcome aboard. would love to hear more about your ferry crossing.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 24, 2013 @ 3:35 am

  6. We have a dashboard switch to disable the alarm due to a mad terrier too.
    When at Weymouth grammar school our trip was to the Isle of Rhum in 1988! (via Calmac ferries)

    Comment by Lloyd — June 23, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

    • Morning Lloyd, bet that was a bit of a culture shock 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 24, 2013 @ 3:31 am

  7. Sorry, am I missing the point? They are on a ferry at the back end of no where, no one is going to steal the car at sea as where does one drive it? Leave it unlocked & hey presto, no problems.
    Need to speak re solar panels. Top marks to Mark Newton.
    Trust summer returns even though the days are getting shorter.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — June 23, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

    • Leave it unlocked 🙂 🙂 🙂 aye that’ll be right Michael. I once watched a chap on the Striven lock his car then walk around it three times checking every door, the fuel cap and then push the aerial down. Now bear in mind this is on a twenty minute crossing, it’s impossible to be more than 15m away from your car, the ferry is full and nobody is going to get in that car without at least a dozen people watching them. He then walks up to the top deck and spends the entire journey looking at his Ford Focus instead of the beautiful view. Paranoid or what 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 24, 2013 @ 3:30 am

      • lol Paul … thieving characters them Scots are didn’t you know

        Comment by cazinatutu — June 24, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

  8. The Dude invades China? Woo hoo! I hope he took a camera and we get to see his snaps. And did you send him off with enough cash to bring back some souvenir solar panels? Will you pay for his trip in unused ipod download time? You are a wealthy man indeed, with a model wife and boy vacationing on the Great Wall. What next, sending Molly to Charm School?

    Comment by drgeo — June 23, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

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