Life at the end of the road

August 16, 2013

Permanent Saturdays :-)

I’ve been doing this ‘five day week’ for so long that I keep thinking it’s a Saturday Smile Methinks that I left you all days ago, possibly Sunday ??? after a day at Ferguson’s shipbuilders aboard the MV Hallaig, the hi tech hybrid ferry that will soon be on the Raasay/Sconser route. I’ve got to say that the last couple of weeks has been like a holiday after the torture of a ‘five day week’, I know, I know, you all work one of those and I should stop whining. However my whole life has revolved around this ‘week on week off’ for ten years now and I’ve kinda got used to it. Anyway, not only was I euphoric at being put ‘back on shift’ to join Hallaig on the Clyde I was ‘doubly chuffed’ when my mate offered to put me up and I spent the whole week eating well and talking rubbish.


Not to mention consuming rather a lot of red wine, creating marvellous dishes and catching up with my mate and his partner Smile


And the occasional ‘Gourock sunset’, not a patch on the Storr right enough but pretty cool when you can admire it with a glass of wine in your comfy chair without the dreaded midge Smile

The evenings were long, relaxed and extremely bad for the waistline whereas the days were a barrage of information and new technology aboard the good ship Hallaig.

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Lots of systems got tested, life rafts fitted and valves operated prior to me heading north on Tuesday evening after a pretty ‘full on’ seven days.

Yangzhou Shenzhou wind turbine

After a fairly quiet and leisurely drive north I arrived at my parents house late on Tuesday night just a few hours after a pallet had landed there with a Chinese wind turbine strapped to it. Now normally I wouldn’t touch one of these pieces of carp with a barge pole, the net is full of horror stories concerning the Shenzhou Wind Generator co or SWG as they are sometimes known. However this particular 200w turbine I’d managed to acquire for a mere £50 from and I was willing to have a go at making it work. They are so poorly built that if you try and get one to work straight out of the box then it’s doomed to failure, the bearings are ropey, the blades poorly balanced and the welding rubbish. This is the reason that no reputable retailer will entertain them these days and they’re consigned to the shady sellers on eBay, however, all is not lost.


show various improvements that can be made.

Many thanks to Jonathan for those links Smile


Unable to contain myself at the excitement of getting home for a full week I arose early at my parents house and headed home in time to catch the first ferry.


The shores of Loch Arnish and the Portree fishing boat Mharie Bhan (Fair Mary) coming into view an hour later.

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Of course, once home and ‘settled in’ I couldn’t wait to unpack my latest toy Smile

014 (Medium)

It became very quickly apparent why Navitron had stopped dealing in these pieces of ‘Chinese junk’.

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This is the extremely poorly cast hub that the shoddy fibre glass blades bolt to.


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This will be the welding that was done by a pigeon with the squiffs


and this is the very strong ‘permanent magnet’ rotor on the left and stator on the right. Both of which seem well made and very durable, apart from the bearings which are the usual Chinese rubbish.


Consequently I removed all the bearings with a view to replacing them with ‘proper ones’


and giving the whole thing a good coat of paint.

The rest of the day was spent up at the new house site working on the generator shed and filling in puddles. Today I took the unusual step of accompanying my family to  the cinema to see


at which turned out to be the biggest load of carp I’ve seen in years, still the Dude and missus enjoyed it.

Much of the day was spent queuing at ferries and generally hanging around as we pottered between barbers, feed merchants, super markets and petrol stations. Luckily it was Thursday so we had chance to read the local comic which carried a couple of interesting articles about ‘White Sterilizers’ as Torcuil Crichton calls them. One about opposition to the new Kishorn port development and another about how a crofter in Torridon has been refused planning permission because her proposed house may ‘spoil the view’ of the many holiday homes in the area. I can’t be bothered ranting about it just now as it’s almost 8:30am and I’m already late for doing my chores so I’ll just ‘cut and paste’ Torcuil’s excellent piece.

Planning "sterilisers" dictating to the Highlands

From my Daily Record column
"White settler" was an insult once used to disparage those who had moved to the Highlands to make a new life.

The natives realised their mistake and you don’t hear the phrase much these days.

The people who came to stay are now recognised as shaping and saving the communities they adopted as home and enrich many a glen and island.

But the New Highlanders been followed by another wealthier breed who do not accept the values of the place or engage with the communities they live in, even if only part-time basis.

They are recognised by planners, councillors and locals across the western seaboard with a new phrase – "white sterilisers".

The sterilisers have paid a few hundred thousand pounds for their slice of Highland paradise and feel that buys them the rights to the view across the loch as well.

These are the people who object to the windfarms, who object to the fishfarms, to more ferry services or any other development that might detract from the "visual amenity" at the end  of their "private road – no entry" track.

In the case of one west coast village, Torridon, the sterilisers succeeded in stopping an active crofter build a home on her croft because it might ruin the landscape.

They are joined by the vested interests of landed class, lairds like Mark Pattison of Kinlochdamph, who thinks that the revival of the nearby Kishorn oil yard would be an environmental disaster and isn’t necessary while the west Highlands have "full employment".

The view from Planet Landlord is reflected in powerful landowning charities like the John Muir Trust and the National Trust for Scotland.

Combine that with the bird-loving RSPB and you have a toxic lobby that actively campaigns against economic development while shielding behind the argument that the "unspoilt" landscape (all of it shaped by man at some stage) provides greater wealth.

Well, as Victor, the Russian fisherman in Local Hero, quipped thirty years ago: "You can’t eat the scenery".

Backing up the sterilisers’ alliance are environmental designations handed out like parking tickets by Scottish government Ministers, who then wring their hands and blame Europe.

The result could be a Highland landscape and seaboard preserved in aspic but empty of people and the jobs that keep them there.

Environmental sterilisation is cumulative process over years and is now cleansing planning decisions. As the Torridon case shows planning power urgently needs to be rebalanced towards the people who want to be able to live – and work – in rural Scotland. 

The Scottish Crofting Federation, the crofters’ union, said last week of the decision by Highland Council to reject that croft house in Torridon: "It is particularly alarming that this decision appears to have been heavily influenced by the objections submitted by holiday home owners in the area, people who don’t themselves stay and work in the community yet feel they have the right to dictate on where a crofter can and cannot live."

Torcuil, you are wasted on the Daily Record Smile

Anyway, that’s it, I’m off out to do some work, for tonight we’re off to the Raasay Village hall to dance to ‘Sheepshank Redemption’

Sheepshank Redemption

A lively four piece ‘covers and ceilidh band’ from the Isle of Skye that will be ‘giving it plenty’ in the hall at tonight’s licensed dance. Doors open 7:30, £8 for adults, £5 for children and a family ticket for £20.

See you there Smile

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