Life at the end of the road

August 3, 2013

Back to normal :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:26 pm

It was a rather lame attempt last night at catching up on the weeks events I’m afraid, something to do with the uisge beatha  (water of life) from Jura. However the news that I’m back ‘on shift’ and will be Joining the worlds first sea going hybrid Ro Ro ferry on Wednesday has cheered me greatly. Eleven months of a five day week having taken its toll on my usual enthusiasm, not to mention my grip on the ins and outs of life on Raasay. Living at Arnish can leave one bereft of news from the village but then a week on the ferry soon had me catching up with the ‘doings’ on the rest of the island. All that changed on the 24th of September last year when I headed south on a fine autumnal day having just heard the first roaring stag of the year.

What started off as a bit of an adventure soon deteriorated into homesickness as three months in a caravan in South Shields dragged by as autumn gave way to winter. The few months spent aboard MV Hebrides and Finlaggan whilst very interesting left me with ‘middle aged spread’ and precious little time on the croft. Still, it’s almost over now and I’ve enough certificates to wallpaper the porch. Actually I’ve probably enough to do the lounge but the porch is the only room with plasterboard walls Smile 

My first day of ‘normality’ so to speak was however a bit light on the achievement front, mainly due to the torrential rain that poured out of a windy grey sky for most of the day. Not that I’m complaining, a poor day at Arnish beats the air conditioned MCR (machinery control room) of the Finlaggan any day. I am not cut out for being inside all day with just a TV screen as a window to the outside world, sure in the winter it was bearable, in fact quite enjoyable. However at this time of year I need to have some sunshine, or at least daylight.


Anyway, I’ll try and pick up where I left off, or should I tell you the bits I missed out,



Carr Brae from my parents house by Loch Duich for one.

Having driven north on a sunny Friday with time to spare so called in for a visit prior to catching the 17:35 ferry to Raasay.


Photographing the Skye bridge (the newest on the A87) from the north end of Raasay seemed somehow appropriate after all those pictures yesterday of old ones.

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Business opportunity anyone

The arrival of the Raasay Newsletter by email only the night before had included this little snippet of information about Borodale House


Development Opportunity on Raasay

By now most of you will have seen the large “For Sale” sign at Borodale House. A number of people have suggested that there may be an opportunity for the community to take it over. Ideas for its use include re-opening it as a guesthouse; turning it into self-catering holiday units; turning it into small business and retail units; or for affordable housing. For any of these ideas, or a different idea altogether, to have a chance of success it will be absolutely essential for a small group of passionate people to come forward to help develop the idea. If you feel strongly that the community should try to take advantage of this opportunity, and especially if you would have the time and energy to work on developing a project, please contact Lloyd. It is, of course, also a great opportunity for someone wishing to run a small Highland hotel. Details can be found at and type Borodale in the Location search.

Though it would appear to be a secret and

Graham + Sibbald

Graham and Sibbald’s website is carp. Not that I know anything about the internet but Google returns nothing for ‘Borodale house for sale’, ‘Raasay hotel for sale’ or even ‘Graham and Sibbald  Borodale house for sale’. Anyway if you’re interested it’s on their website hidden in the search facility at the bottom of the page. For some reason the one at the top returns ‘no results found’ no matter what you type in and even when you find the page there’s no link just this.

The property comprises a detached building of masonry construction, arranged over two floors, which was formerly used as a hotel. The original section of the property was constructed in the 1870s with various extensions added over the years to include a two storey side extension to the west gable wall in the 80’s and various extensions to the north and east.The property is located on the Isle of Raasay a short distance from the Ferry Terminal, providing regular services to Sconser on the Isle of Skye.The Isle of Raasay is one of the Inner Hebridean Islands with the Scottish mainland to the east and the Isle of Skye to the west. It is a small island community with a population of approximately 200 and incorporates some residential properties as well as a small number of commercial properties including a post office/shop and community centre. Vacant

Status: Available

For more information please view the property brochure

The brochure can then be downloaded in PDF format, it is the worst website of a professional company that I have ever seen.

However at a mere 250k, about the price of a broom cupboard in Kensington, it would make a fine bunkhouse with bar or care home.


Once home I wasted no time in going out with the dude and terminating a feral pigeon that was eating wifey’s hen feed. Actually it was my boy that shot the flying rat with the .22, me I just stood by with the shotgun in case he missed. I was most impressed with his patience and aim Smile


This morning I awoke with no headache, which was a bonus, and to pishing rain, which wasn’t Sad smile However it gave me the opportunity to catch up on paperwork and a few indoor jobs like topping up the battery bank with distilled water. I’m a little obsessive about the 24 x 2v cells that store energy for our house and quite rightly so. The heart of any ‘off grid’ system is the back up generator, the brains the inverter, but the body and soul is the battery bank and it’s the part that needs the most care. Not that it needs much other than topping up with distilled water and regular SG and voltage checks but it is important to keep on top of these things. A constant ‘drink’ and ‘breathalyser’ in the form of water and a hydrometer will keep you well ahead of the game and tell you when something is amiss.



It was whilst in the shed checking the well charged batteries that I saw this with some disbelief, my solar PV ammeter reading 19amps at 54v which according to Ohms law  equates to 1026w from my 940w panels. During the bright sunshine and clear skies of last week the best I managed was 750w due to the heat of the panels.



Other tasks included feeding the five hungry boys that will be with us until December, moving my trusty caravan and going to check on the ‘Stream Engine’ hydro turbine.

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The turbine was fine, the dogs got a swim and we collected some fine chanterelles   on the way home Smile


A good bag full in fact that I’m going to enjoy for breakfast tomorrow with nothing more than butter and bread.


We also came across this fine girl in the birch woods on our way home Smile 

Yet another sad loss 

I arrived back on Raasay to the sad news that Ronnie Macbeth had just been laid to rest, and there was me not even knowing that he’d passed away. I didn’t really know Ronnie very well, and sadly, spoke to him only in his latter years after he’d left Raasay to be cared for by his family. He had to leave as he’d become confused, I guess like my father, with dementia or Alzheimer’s, but whenever he returned he always had a wee glint in his eye and was happy to chat away. All of us at 3 South Arnish will miss Ronnie and our hearts go out to his family.

Severely excited

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:59 am

Well, I’m home, five days earlier than expected, majorly handicapped by a ten year old malt and 2012 Grenache, but home, ‘hic’.

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Having been ‘on the waggon’ since I left home on Monday, and not actually buying anything to drink on the way back today I was somewhat stunned to find four bottles of wine, one bottle of scotch and four slices of black pudding awaiting my return Smile

All of them being presents from folk who I’d ‘helped out’ in one way or another of late, none of them necessary but all of them very welcome and much appreciated, thanks everyone Smile

Back to the ‘Finlaggan’

I left home on Monday morning after a very productive weekend for the 200 odd mile drive down to Kennacraig to join the Finlaggan.



The day was lovely, the roads fairly quiet and I beat the well worn path south past a somewhat dried out Loch Cluanie. Prior to the 1950’s and the dams construction the road used to go over that hill and down towards the now flooded Glen Loyne.



I say ‘dried out’ but I’ve just seen this picture from my blog on the day I left for South Shields almost a year ago on 24/9/12

definitely more water in today Smile



Map picture

With ‘time to kill’ I’d already made my mind up to stop on the way up Glen Loyne to check out one of it’s many interesting features, something that I’ve been driving by for nigh on forty years and never stopped to admire. It’s an old wooden suspension bridge across the river Loyne that has of late deteriorated and become almost invisible due to trees growing nearby.


I suppose that before the A87 was diverted after the flooding of Glen Loyne and the Cluanie dam then this was the only way of crossing the river.



Long since abandoned it’s rapidly decaying into the rocks and terrain that anchor it

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but still worth a look before it vanishes.

No drive up the glen would be complete without stopping to admire the stones

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piled up by tourists with nothing better to do Smile No, seriously I love this phenomena and have admired it since I was a lad, not here, but in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales or Brecon Beacons. It just takes one person to pile up half a dozen stones and before you know it you’ve got a cairn. Though for some reason here it’s multiple little piles rather than one large one Smile


Anyway, it was whilst I was stopped there that I noticed the two old A87 bridges normally underwater in Loch Loyne itself,


better pictures here



An hour later I was in Fort William just in time to see the ‘Jacobite’ or Hogwarts Express Smile 


The train journey from Fort William to Mallaig has to be the most spectacular in Britain, especially on a steam train.

What no headache Smile

Well that went a little ‘pear shaped’, the bottle of Jura proved far more interesting than finishing off the blog last night! Anyway, it’s 9:30 now on Saturday the 3rd of August and it’s miserable, half a gale of wind and pishing rain being the order of the day, typical west coast summer weather really Smile



Back to last Monday then and my drive south, this being Tarbert, a busy little fishing village off Loch Fyne



Right in the middle of the harbour is this square stone construction which has always puzzled me. I wonder if it covers a rock and was ‘squared off’ to provide extra berthing when the port was jammed full of herring boats last century.

More great postcards and pictures of Tarbert

Shortly afterwards I was parked up at Kennacraig a few miles south and ready to join Finlaggan for a week in the engine room.

MV Hallaig is almost ready Smile

It was Thursday when I got the phone call from head office telling me that I was back ‘on shift’ and to join the Hallaig in Port Glasgow next week. To say that I was excited at the prospect would have been an understatement, almost twelve months after starting this training lark we are at last going to join the worlds fist hybrid sea going Ro Ro ferry Smile


Stuart M's hybrid hull

Thanks to Stewart McMahon for that picture,


 hallaig mezzanine

CMAL, for that


Hallaig painted



and that Smile

Anyway, it’s almost 11:00am now and time for me to ‘face the elements’

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