Tuesday and I’m still at home OK, I’ll be heading off tomorrow, but even that has its attractions, quite a few in fact. First off I’ll be joining the worlds first hybrid sea going Ro Ro ferry at http://www.fergusongroup.co.uk/shipbuilding/profile.aspx the last shipbuilder on the lower Clyde. Secondly I’ll be staying with ‘the man from Gourock’ who’s craic, company and dinners I’ve been missing this last twelve months. My good pal the relief purser heard I was heading south and offered to put me up and boy was I chuffed. I really am sick of eating hotel and ship food, not that there was anything wrong with the catering on either the MV Hebrides or Finlaggan. It’s just that after almost a year of the same dozen or so meals I’m starting to crave salads, olive oil, salami, garlic, chilli, no not mince with some powder in but the hot green and red things in a jar. One thing about my mate, he does love his chilli’s red wine and garlic
Mercury starters are rubbish
The forecast wasn’t actually very good for today and XC weather indicated that it was likely to rain at pretty much anytime of the day. A bit disappointing as the last time that I’d checked it was supposed to be lovely. Consequently I headed for the workshop first thing after feeding to strip down and check a Mercury 90HP starter motor. I had repaired one for my mate yesterday but this one had been organized just in case we needed a ‘plan B’. However with his RIB quite happily performing with the fixed one I thought I’d strip this one down for a ‘look see’.
What a pile of carp they are, this one was in even worse state than the one I’d sorted yesterday. They are just doomed to fail as soon as they leave the factory,
the thing sits upright, nicely shaped to catch water and doesn’t even have an oil seal!!!! Worse still it doesn’t even have a drain hole at the bottom so all the water collects in the brush holders and turns them into mush. Three of the four in this unit were seized in the holder and had consequently burnt the commutator. I managed to sort it with some wire wool, Jizer, emery and grease but it really is only a matter of time before it fails again.
Mink on Raasay
It’s been rumoured for a while but there have now been several confirmed sightings, the most recent one being less than half a mile from wifey’s chickens at Port Arnish. It looks like we have now some serious predators on the island other than the many birds of prey that seldom bother the hens. We have lost a couple of chicks to sparrow hawks but nothing to the sea eagles, golden eagles, buzzards, hen harriers or owls. So armed with my Hatsan semi auto I went down to the boatshed to wait for it, my mate having sighted the thing on at least half a dozen occasions over the last few days.
The creature has quite often been sighted here amongst the rocks, usually after my mate returns from fishing trips and it seems unconcerned with humans. Not so sure about dogs though and I’d probably have been better leaving them at home had I been serious about it! Funny thing is there have been quite a few dead birds found on the Torran path of late, birds that have not been eaten so I’m not sure if it’s my neighbours cat, the mink or even the sparrow hawk that I saw flying through the trees today. Can’t imagine a mink or even a cat catching a bird away from a bird table though so I’m thinking it was the hawk, but why didn’t it eat them??
Wandering the hills
Twenty minutes later and wet with the rain I gave up and continued along the track to Torran in search of fresh coffee and to deliver the repaired starter motor. After two cups of strong percolated Italian coffee laced with sugar I rashly asked my mate if he fancied wandering the hills looking for a mast sight for the Applecross broadband project. I say rashly because A, my mate has long legs, B, I was wearing Scholl sandals and C, I’d forgot my phone. Not that I needed one but I had planned to make some calls to mobile numbers and check in with work about tomorrows plan to join the Hallaig.
The first stop was Loch nan Dubhan which I’m thinking will be the ‘dark loch’, though it’s usually full of water lilies around this time and leaches all year round.
‘Onward and upward’ as the man on ‘Gardeners Question Time’ says, and that’s what we did,
way up, with fine views of Portree and our own blue roof,
but not Applecross, just RTB. Now I’m not 100% sure what RTB stands for despite having spoken to them many times on the VHF radio when fishing. I always thought it was ‘Range Terminal Building’ or something as it’s where they monitor all the activity on the Inner Sound ‘range’, torpedo firing, acoustic signatures and the like. The fishermen fish right up to the edge of the ‘forbidden zone’ and are always getting ‘ticked off’ by RTB on the radio, I’m sure that all the prawns must sit there laughing in their burrows Apparently when the US navy moved out of Dunoon there was mega fishing for a year or two, long gone now I’m sure.
Moving a little further south to try and get a view of Applecross we came upon this huge stag wallow, the largest I’ve ever seen.
It’s hard to see on this picture but here, high above Torran, miles from anywhere are old peat cutting, those regular horizontal lines, well they would be if I could keep the camera level In the distance on that next hill you can see a small pile of stones,
probably piled there by a bored peat cutter
The view from the pile of stones was just fine
especially to the north but a walk to this peak to the south west was even better.
I took this from our house later on
but here it is from up there. Just below (bottom right) you can see the new fence but in the centre almost from left to right you can see the curving remains of the old wall as a long black line. You can even see it on the aerial picture if you zoom in.
Directly below is this fine old stone sheep fank
and over the fence below the next cliff
almost identical. Close by is this small section of wall that was perhaps for a gate, you can see to the right the heather that covers an old wall in the picture above.
A hop over the next hill would have taken us to North Arnish and then home but the quad and shotgun were still at the schoolhouse so we took the route down the wooded valley.
A journey that was becoming more and more treacherous as my Scholl’s got muddier and the leather straps stretched
I’m sure it was the same slow worm
Once back at the schoolhouse and refreshed with coffee and a sandwich I headed home, turning the quad in the same place as I did on Saturday when I squashed the slow worm.
There on the other side of the track from where I placed the squashed one was this little fellow just about to head down that hole. The thing is he had his tail missing just like the one I’d squashed, which was no longer there
Back on the house
On the way home I did another spell on ‘mink watch’ then took my mother in law up to the new house site to help me paint the generator shed
I did a lot more stuff too as the promised rain never arrived
like filling in puddles
and feeding pigs
but it’s 23:20 now and I have to pack my bag
I had to laugh at feeding time, I couldn’t fine the ‘wee boys’ and they were very quiet, well they would be, they were too busy ‘raiding the larder’