Life at the end of the road

September 30, 2013

Awaiting the halibut :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:36 pm

Monday 18:30 in ‘Sunny Gourock’, which is just a mile or two from ‘Sunny Greenock’ which I’m sure is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic ‘grian’ which is all about the sun. Not sure what the literal translation is, but Grian a Sgeir off Raasay is the ‘sunny rock’ and a sea eagle is called Iolair Suil na Grian or the ‘eagle with the sunlit eye’, how I wish I could understand Gaelic, it’s just so descriptive.



And, it certainly was ‘sunlit’ at 7:30 this morning during the commute to Ferguson’s to join the Hallaig once more. I’d travelled down yesterday after what had been a couple of busy and emotional days on Raasay. The former being my involvement with setting up the broadband relay station and the latter being Annie’s funeral.

The funeral of Annie MacLean took place on Saturday at 11:30 and was attended by relatives and friends from far and wide, the day was beautiful and the service moving. Many is the funeral I’ve attended on Raasay and it’s the only time I ever visit the church, I’m not a ‘believer’ but respect those who do. Of the all too many funerals  that I have  attended in the ‘Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland’ on Raasay, this is the first one where I’ve heard psalm 23 in Gaelic.


It’s not psalm 23 and I’m certainly no ‘bible basher’ but just listening to that makes my hairs stand on end and my eyes water.

Balfour Christie

It was whilst there at the church, on the car park in fact, that I learnt that an old colleague, nay, friend had passed away. I’ve not seen Balfour Christie from Portree in years but at one time we were good friends and neighbours, at least when he was when ‘on shift’ at ‘Rona Salmon’ that is. I first met Balfour when he was an ‘operative’ at Highland Fish Farm’s’ Rona Salmon branch in the nineties. Balfour and his compatriots DJ, Christie, Tommy, Bernie, Willie  and Whizz  worked ‘two weeks on one week off’ at the salmon farm in the Dubh Camas (black bay) there.

They lived in a ‘Portakabin’ on the shore for a fortnight at a time, just two of them except at harvest time, and apart from whoever happened to be living on Rona as caretaker, I was their nearest neighbour.


Map picture


Many is the time that Balfour and his workmate would come down from Rona in the summer for a ceilidh and many is the dram that we’ve shared whilst ‘putting the world to rights’. Having said that I’ve just remembered that Balfour’s favourite tipple was rum with a dash of water Smile

The things that we got up to Smile One time he and his workmate turned up at my front door soaking wet with a bag of potatoes, apologizing because the rest of the stuff they’d brought for me had fallen in the sea Smile Basically they’d made the six mile trip from Rona in the 21’ ‘tin can’ safely but fallen in the sea rowing ashore in a 10’ plastic boat, all the ‘gifts’ they’d brought me had fallen in the sea and the spuds were all that could be salvaged Smile Of course I knew that this was just a ruse for me to drive them the 10 miles to the pub, but that was what we used to do then. Happy happy days indeed, priceless days in fact and I’ll never forget them.


Harvest 1

Not the best picture of Balfour, but it’s the only one I have, that’s him on the right  with his distinctive flat cap Smile We’re harvesting salmon in Fladda almost 20 years ago. A talented musician, songwriter and accountant Balfour is sorely missed by all who knew him.

Anyway, on a lighter note I’ve finished the baked halibut done with new potatoes, mustard and butter and am just going to stick some pictures on here before going to bed.


Faith, Hope and Charity awaiting a breeze at the Raasay WTW Smile


Bonk’s tractor having just finished work at Clachan, and by the way ‘get well soon’ you old devil Smile


More ‘resting’ tractors, this time at Oskaig



Heading home down ‘Calum’s road’



which, even after a quarter of a century of commuting never ceases to amaze  me Smile


Well it was a bit of a mad rush and I never even got chance to mow the lawn but it was a bonny day and I did manage to get a third coat of paint on the generator shed floor and wire up the hour meter.


The ammeter will have to wait until I get  a charger connected up to the generator but the hour meter is fed from a 12v power supply that runs directly from Harry. The power supply is only live when the Lister HR2 is running, so basically it has only done 3016 hours since 1978 and 2940 of those have been since I bought him 10 years ago!!!


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Accompanying the bellowing stags was this twisted, broken and stripped willow tree. I’m not sure if it’s the antlers teeth or both that do this to the willows every autumn but it’s never the birch or rowan!!

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Raasay Outdoor Centre on ‘Calum’s crag’ and our new broadband mast on ‘Meall Dearg Arnish’.


Eilean Donan castle on the way south

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and Loch Cluanie and its environs.



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Well, it was back on the Hallaig which was having a few last minute alterations whilst the crews had familiarization with the fire fighting and life saving equipment.


It was a very busy and interesting day indeed Smile



and I’d left my hard hat in the canteen Smile


  1. I liked the singing via Lewis and You Tube…I wonder if your hard hat will be there tomorrow (life in the big city).

    Comment by drgeo — October 1, 2013 @ 1:02 am

  2. long time no leave a comment, (that chap from gateshead that still owes you a pint). I see you have faster internet than I get……. maybe a web/app developer could make a living on Rasaay…
    peace and love , keep living the dream.

    Comment by mike — October 1, 2013 @ 1:13 am

  3. Great to see a glimpse of the Ocean Unity….happy memories indeed….

    Comment by SOTW — October 1, 2013 @ 7:23 am

    • Aye She, would that be the epic trip to Rona? 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 1, 2013 @ 7:35 am

  4. Photos of harvesting took me back to some pretty grim winters in the early 90’s in Kishorn. If I remember the best job was flicking the hydraulics controlling the vacuum pump as it was next to a bloody great big lister generator, warmest place on the MV Fionn. Happy days.

    Comment by Alistair — October 1, 2013 @ 8:07 am

    • Aye Alistair, happy days indeed your comment on the vacuum pump made me laugh, we had one similar but with a four cylinder Ruggerini that we used to call the ‘buggerini’:-) The control mechanism for the vacuum had failed so you had to watch the gauge, listen to the load on the engine and operate the valves manually. It was hilarious if you got it wrong and the thing spat the fish out with a big belch and lots of water 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 1, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

      • I don’t think ours had a control mechanism we just threw over a few levers as you said when you heard the engine drop. kept your hands warm, and probably the cause of my ringing ears I have now. Had two season of that until GSP took over and all the fish were swam down to connel in the well boats.

        Comment by Alistair — October 1, 2013 @ 8:56 pm

  5. Even though Greenock people like to translate the name as ‘sunny hill’ that just goes to show the power of faith to overcome reality as Greenock is often the wettest place in the country! Don’t tell any Greenockian I said that.

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — October 1, 2013 @ 9:25 am

    • Greenockian, I love it 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 1, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

  6. Oh wow! Now you have proper broadbean we get bigger pictures! 🙂

    Comment by Phil Cook — October 1, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

    • Are the pictures really bigger Phil, I know they got compressed when I first signed up but thought they’d stopped that when HYLAS went up.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 1, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

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