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.

  009  010

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.

013  012

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’.

017 018

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


025  026

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



  1. Hope you have a good week at home
    We saw the Waverley from Low Hangman near Combe Martin earlier this year, on part of our South West Coast Path adventure. Spectacular ship. I sailed on her over 60 years ago and still remember it leaving Minehead bound for South Wales
    Did you see Dan Snow diving on a shipwreck. off Malin Head loaded with Sherman Tanks.
    It’s a repeat so you may have seen it earlier.
    We have a new Butcher, chacuterie, restaurant in Ottery wwwrustypig who prepare and sell the most amazing piggy products. Robin seems as passionate about his pigs as you are about yours. He certainly makes the best Pancetta and Fagots that I’ve ever tasted. They both go very well with the abundance of field mushrooms we’re getting this year.
    Best wishes

    Comment by chrisb — August 16, 2013 @ 8:13 am

  2. I have just e-mailed the Director of Planning, Highland Council, and had a go at his Department’s policy re local residents, etc… Probably do no good, but it made me feel better.

    Comment by Richard — August 16, 2013 @ 8:31 am

  3. Chinese Junk ;- OMG Paul, thats the worst ever welding even calling it snakesh*t is an insult to snakes!! 🙂
    We had a garden chipper which seemed designed to clog up, I ripped out several bits of useless ironmongery and it worked fine, likewise the 2400 watt generator, good enough in many ways apart from the flywheel being too light to help it over the start peak demand … oh, and the STUPID air cleaner housing which only opens about half an inch — lot of good that is if you need to clean the filter!
    Nice work by the backshed, maybe worth having a look at Jayne’s world Sailplanes and Gliders though
    Amazing piece from Torcuil … he’s found his brain at last, normally just scribbles a pile of :poop: !
    Sheepshank Redemption … bet that made Morgan Freeman chuckle, it certainly did me!

    Comment by caadfael — August 16, 2013 @ 10:39 am

  4. Torcuil Crichton – the voice of reason…he should have more of a say in the corridors of power he reports from.
    In our town we have a huge wind turbine..apparently it was on the planning request list at the end of a trying(that is what they said) day, and was mistakenly passed in a hurry ! Major eyesore, it dwarfs spires, steeples , even the town clock, and nothing can be done as it is on site with the appropriate permission ! Keep up your interesting and informative blog

    Comment by SOTW — August 16, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

    • Only a halfwit would put a wind turbine in an urban area She, pure ‘greenwash’

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 17, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

  5. Welcome back, matey. No wonder you are mad about the incoming holiday homes getting so much say over local planning issues. It make me mad reading about it. Next they’ll say they don’t want shooting going on because the noise is offensive, and then complain after they are killed by a rutting red stag.
    Keep it coming mate, love the blog and want badly to be back up there. 🙂

    Comment by Lloyd — August 16, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

    • They already do moan about the shooting Lloyd 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 17, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

  6. Dear Paul, your lack of blog made us wonder if the red wine+nosh had pickled the synaptic gaps to zero+ who are those two oldies ?? Enjoyed the Torquill rant rather similiar to our discussion of Islands of the West / Ian Mitchell. Googled him and hes been in Russia, interesting blog.Planning remains inconsistent with real utility of the people/crofters.
    Iam off to Barra , door is open,bed changed+you’ll get peace to think { like an adult}

    Enjoyed your company mucho
    Hopefully see you Rasaay

    Comment by alasdair lowe — August 16, 2013 @ 10:53 pm

  7. Dear Paul, good idea to try to save money with the family ticket to see the ‘covers and ceilidh band’ from Skye. Since the Dude is now very very tall, which of you pretended to be the child?

    Comment by George Leddick — August 17, 2013 @ 2:39 am

    • Never made it George 😦 spent all day moving rocks and was in bed by nine, I just can’t ‘hack it’ these days 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 17, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

  8. Definitely Paul your a get your hand in mucker and fiddler with all things.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — August 17, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

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