Well, I would actually have posted Monday night had it not been for the fact that my son had managed to eat his way into my 15gB monthly allowance and left me with only 1.5% to last 12 days Q-Sat http://www.q-sat.co.uk/ don’t actually cut me off but they do ‘throttle’ my service to make it virtually unusable. So rather than burn it all up blogging I thought that I’d better leave some for the wife as I’m away off to the Hallaig again. Yup, it’s a full week since I left Ferguson’s shipyard in Port Glasgow and my mate ‘The man from Gourock’. It’s been a pretty busy week right enough and yours truly is once more getting back into the swing of ‘life on the croft’.
Monday was my last full day at home so I made the most of it with a 6:00am start to get a second coat of gloss on the new generator shed door.
Then it was off down to Port Arnish with some bait for the mink,
a nice piece of lithe (pollock) from the freezer, which I sat on a rock near the shore and waited with my shotgun. Fruitlessly as it turned out, but as mink spend 70% of their day in their burrow, nest or whatever that’s hardly surprising. Still it had been spotted by several folk at this very spot so I was definitely in with a chance, and yes I do know that a trap would be better, but I’ve not got one. Or at least I didn’t have, but more of that later.
I actually started writing this at my parents house last night but got distracted by a beef casserole, some red wine and an early night so I’m finishing it off in Gourock on Wednesday. That will be why it’s a little disjointed as my memory is rubbish
Anyway, after twenty minutes sat on a rock, the last five of them in the rain, I headed back home for breakfast, which has of late been one Arnish egg and one ‘home reared sausage’, far better than the muesli and banana that I was on last week.
Once the breakfast was out of the way it was back up to the shed to fit the guttering and then seal the concrete floor with PVA.
My previous attempt at painting it having been something of a disaster, possibly due to the wrong paint, or the concrete not having cured enough. whatever the reason most of it flaked off and I had to remove much of the rest on my hands and knees with a scraper. So this time I’ve sealed it with four parts water to one part PVA and I’m going to buy some proper concrete paint in Greenock, red this time methinks.
After going down to the shore once more to watch for Mr mink, and finding the bait gone, more likely by seagull or crow than alien mammal, I had an idea. I was becoming more and more convinced that a trap was the way to go, but they’re £30 each and I wasnae going to get one this side of next week, or was I. I had a brainwave, years ago I found some plastic creels or eel fykes washed up on the shore in a tangle, hardly surprising as they were barely heavy enough to sink. Not having any use for something so obviously useless for its intended purpose but looking like it may come in use for something like transporting hens or cats I brought them ashore and quickly forgot about them, until Monday.
I’d put them ashore near the old fish farm slip at a place that was used by generations of fishermen for storing creels, nets and other fishing paraphernalia. Like several places at the north end of Raasay it’s a spot where boats can come along at all states of the tide and lie in relative safety during loading and loading. Whether it be sheep, stores, fishing gear or the days catch there are many of these natural features that will leave you with ‘water under the keel’ even at the lowest of tides.
This one even has a lovely little store built into the overhanging cliff, it’s turf roof long gone but still affording good shelter from much of the elements.
It was here where I’d landed these strange plastic fishing traps, which I figured may just double as an impromptu mink catching device. OK, the mink could probably eat its way out in no time but it was worth a try, especially with me heading off on Tuesday.
With our ‘trap’ baited with yet more tasty fish from the freezer, Molly and I went down to Port Arnish,
that beautiful fusion of natural rock formation and ancient masonry that was North Arnish’s main landing point. Just check out how the rock by the Pioner is all red an unaffected by the lichen, that’s because I built a shelter there and it kept the direct sunlight off for about 15 years. Of course it will grow back but I’d just never really thought of all that stuff being alive.
It really was a hive of industry down there eighteen years ago, between the fish farm and me rebuilding the Conqueror
It would probably have made more sense to leave ‘Wee dug’ at home but I just don’t have the heart, she really is an ‘action dog’
It goes without saying that we came away ‘minkless’ but I’d still got much to do, like cutting the grass, hanging my new door and priming the inside. My son, who’d grown much over the last year, when I’d seen precious little of him has been a great apprentice of late, and after helping me with the door assisted with the priming. He doing the rolling whilst I ‘cut in’ with a brush, not the Zinnser this time as that had run out, but a sliver International ‘aluminium primer’ for wood that was probably twice his age Still, it went on great, once we’d actually mixed it and its on the inside anyway so hardly going to get much weather.
Having to catch the 15:30 ferry effectively meant I only had half a day, especially as it was myself who took the Dude down to the ferry for his first day back at school after the hols. I suspect neither of us slept very well, and we were both up early, something of a miracle for a teenage boy!! however I got him off on the 7:55 ferry then set about checking my empty ‘mink trap’ and undercoating my door.
I even got a coat of Lister green gloss, some flashing on the roof and disconnected all the wiring, exhaust and fuel lines off Harry
prior to leaving Arnish at 14:30. This Lister HR2 12kw generator will be our ‘back up’ for the new house, 6kW would have been ample but we hopefully won’t be using it much. The other advantage of using Harry is that he’s capable of both charging the batteries and heating up the thermal store at the same time. Charging a 48v battery bank at 100amps could draw almost 6kW this means he’d have enough spare capacity to put 6kW, via 2 X 3kw immersion elements into our 1500lt thermal store at the same time
Being treated to a fine meal and a good sleep at my parents house on the mainland, I departed early this morning for Ferguson’s and the MV Hallaig
swapping a tranquil Loch Duich for the hustle and bustle of the Clyde some four hours later.
Much had been done to the Hallaig over the last seven days but unfortunately I made the mistake of using the HTC ‘Wildfire’ that the Dude had given me instead of my camera to document progress. Big mistake, it’s taken me long enough to get to grips with the clockwork Nokia that I inherited off the wife. How on earth I had the audacity to think that I could work a friggin ‘smart phone’ is beyond me
Anyway, phone apart, it was a busy and productive day assisting the yard flush out the propulsion cabinet and drive cooler pipework as well as adjusting some more bilge and fire valves.
Fortunately I used my Panasonic to take this picture of a barge strapped alongside a workboat heading down the Clyde as I left at 16:30 to get my dinner from Lidl. Not a dinner as such but some crusty bread, olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, chilli peppers and prosciutto to nibble away at throughout the evening as I watched the sun go down.
I started on the ‘Scottish smoked salmon’ first, refusing as I do to entertain Norwegian or Chilean products, not that there’s anything wrong with either but I’m a great believer in supporting local industry for the sake of a few pennies. Now when you consider that I worked in the industry for years and much of that time was spent underwater hauling out rotting fish it’s a miracle I can even look at the stuff. Indeed for a few years I couldn’t, however I’m pragmatic enough to know that far worse things go on in the pork, chicken and beef industry so consider it my duty to eat this nutritious, healthy and ‘local’ produce
And believe me, with a little crusty fresh baked wholemeal bread, some olive oil, sea salt, cherry tomatoes and a glass of Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo it was delicious. Imagine my surprise when I turned over the packet to read ‘Scottish salmon smoked in Poland’ !!!!!!! the world has gone mad !!!