Life at the end of the road

October 21, 2013

Another turnip :-)

Dunno where to start really after the muddled posts of the last few days so I’ll just stick some of the remaining Harris and Lewis pictures on before starting on today.


Halfway to the summit of the path from Urgha to Renigadale, set in concrete on a boulder sits this plaque to two Duncan’s, I’m thinking they were posties but info on the web is a little sketchy. I’ve found plenty of their grand and great grandchildren, nieces and nephews but no info on the memorial itself. Perhaps someone could enlighten me Smile

Our trip to Rodel, its church, water turbine  and radar station eluded to the wreck of the SS Stassa in 1966.

1.685 ton Panamanian steel steamship, built 1951. 248ftx38ft. Timber, Archangel for Limerick. Sunk: 19 July, 1966, four days after running ashore on Renish Point, South Harris, and being towed by lifeboat into Rodel Bay.

Lying on her side in 20m of water she’s a spectacular dive,


stassa 1

and many thanks to Neil for pointing me in the direction of ‘Bays of Harris’s’ photostream for John has some fantastic pictures on there.

stassa 2

These are just a couple of the many old pictures, as well as some new ones, well worth a visit.

loch seaforth 071

Also on John’s site was this newspaper clipping of the old Loch Seaforth, the makers plate I photographed at An Lanntier on Saturday.

Built in 1947, Loch Seaforth was the delayed second of two mailboats ordered in 1938; the first, MV Lochiel had entered service in 1939.[1] Larger and faster than her predecessors, she rapidly became a success at Stornoway.

Loch Seaforth remained the biggest MacBrayne ship until the 1964 car ferries.[1] She is the only MacBrayne vessel to have been written off whilst on passenger service.[1]

1971 at Kyle of Lochalsh.

She developed a reputation with the press for mishap, with groundings in Kyle, Mallaig and off Longay. The second of those, in 1966, left her high and dry for 2 days.[1] On 22 March 1973, she ran aground on Cleit Rock in the Sound of Gunna. All passengers were safely taken off and she was towed to Gott Bay, Tiree. A bulkhead gave way when she was pumped out and she sank completely, blocking Tiree’s only pier until 11 May, when the former Stornoway mail boat was lifted onto the beach. She was re-floated and towed to Troon for scrapping.[3]

Perhaps another choice of name for the new £42,000,000 would have been wise Smile Smile 


Not that I’m superstitious or anything Smile


063 062 

Something else we did whilst visiting the west side of Lewis was call in at the Uig Community shop which seemed to be doing really well and was well stocked.

068  067 

Still Saturday but a special treat for wifey and I at in their excellent restaurant overlooking the harbour. Wifey had a beef dish and me pork, deeeeeeeeeelish Smile


Couldn’t resist the Fergie and peat stack, which incidentally you could win and have delivered to your house and rebuilt, the stack and not the tractor that is.


On Sunday after our last breakfast at Lochedge we headed for the ferry


on yet another fine day,


what a great trip it was Smile


Despite the grey start to the day I was up early and out at first light to make the most of the day, feeding pigs and clearing dead leaves from the hydro turbine intake before breakfast.


Even though we’d only been away for four days it was noticeably more autumnal at Arnish than the day we left.

 003 004

The five ‘wee boys’ seemed glad to see me, or at least the feed bucket and I led them off the croft once more, they’d been shut in whilst we were away just to make it easier for the ‘croft sitters’.

The 200w wind turbine again

Probably exceedingly boring for many but this is really exciting for an anorak like me, it’s that Chines wind turbine again, and today I got it ‘flying’.



These turbines really do need nursing but after changing all the bearings, balancing the blades, painting it inside and out and changing all the fastners for stainless I’m quite hopeful.

006  007

I mounted it on a mast that I erected some 15 or so years ago to try out as a turbine site, it exceeded my expectations and the Rutland turbine I had on top of it went into self destruct mode during its second winter Sad smile  I never replaced it due to the distance from the house but it’s just 25m from the new house and a great spot, far better than where my current turbine is in fact. The only reason that I didn’t put the Proven here eight years ago was due to the fact that it wasn’t my land then, however now it is, and it’s within the boundary of the new house.

I lifted the turbine in three sections, generator, tail, then finally the blades.


By the time I’d got it all assembled the sun had come out and there was even a gentle breeze to put some juice into the batteries.


Only a couple of amps but it is after all just to keep Harry’s batteries topped up, when fully charged the excess will be diverted to a heating load, not a huge one but the shed is well insulated so it’ll stop the batteries getting too cold. It’s still ‘work in progress’ for I have to fit a proper ‘brake switch’ that shorts out the three phases. This will prevent the turbine spinning if a gale is forecast, for these Chinese wind turbines do not like wind, they have a propensity to shed blades then self destruct. At the moment I just have another plug that I can fit at the base of the turbine in lace of the plug that feeds the charge controller, this plug has all three terminals connected thus shorting out the phases. It’s not ideal as it means you have to ‘off load’ the turbine before fitting it but it’ll do until the new switch arrives.

That’s the switch on the left of the diagram, it’s basically just a 100amp dual pole breaker like this . Thanks to Hugh at Scoraig for that tip

Anyway, with my third wind turnip ‘up and running’ sweetly I turned my attention to the battery shelf that I’d made before leaving.


I’d given it a coat of primer but today I glued and screwed some battens to it where the batteries would actually sit. The purpose of this being two fold, firstly it would keep any spilt acid or water contained and secondly I could, If I wanted, use it as the frame for an actual box. I’m not so sure about this, initially I’d planned to insulate them but now I’m concentrating on insulating the whole shed rather than just the batteries. However it may be good to contain them and ventilate them separately, we’ll just have to see.



A fibre glass coating would have been better but I don’t plan on spilling much water and I’m going to give it lots of coats of paint.



That done I started clearing an area for the new chicken housing, a 30’ x 8’ affair that will have 4kw of solar panels as a roof Smile


The roof of the barn or even the house itself would have been a far easier place to fit solar panels but this little spot gets the sun for a little while longer.

The MV Hallaig on Raasay

And just before I go some belated photographs from George and Angus.


Testing the ‘drencher’ system,


any sign of a fire on the deck, and at the touch of a button a deluge of water will douse it.

2 ferries

She really is BIG  Smile



  1. Glad your back on home territory Paul,been a long year for us followers not getting much new house updates,Lol. Yeah, i know its been bloody harder for you this last year but them hens aren’t battery hens you know,they don’t need solar power.Ha.Ha It just had to be said didn’t it.

    Comment by willie — October 21, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

    • Ha ha ha…….. class

      Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — October 21, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

    • Solar powered battery hens indeed Willie 🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 22, 2013 @ 5:30 am

  2. Are you sure they haven’t sent you one of those new aircraft carriers ? 🙂

    Comment by Andy — October 21, 2013 @ 9:52 pm

    • It’s certainly big enough Andy 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 22, 2013 @ 5:28 am

  3. Harris looked absolutely beautiful and Arnish does too. I am very envious of the great weather you’ve been getting up there – in fact it seems to have been another great year altogether. Can we have an update on the progress of the new house?

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — October 21, 2013 @ 11:05 pm

    • Looking good all the way to Friday Anne, the house should be ‘re starting’ shortly 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 22, 2013 @ 5:28 am

  4. When do you suppose a Hallaig crew member will get his first drenching? Will the solar panels keep the chickens warm AND believing there is more daylight in winter? Certainly enjoyed your vacation to Harris–hope you did too.

    Comment by drgeo — October 21, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

    • Morning DrG,

      can’t wait to try out that drencher on a stroppy passenger 🙂 Enjoyed the trip myself thanks, must do it more often 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 22, 2013 @ 5:25 am

      • You got to some places I didn’t on my quick cycling tours a couple of years back. But I did ride the Golden Road on the one I did via Stornoway which also entailed pushing the bike up and down the hills to Reinigeadal.

        Comment by Phil Cook — October 22, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

      • Rather you than me Phil, there are some serious hill, and of course the permanent wind which only helps one way 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 24, 2013 @ 6:26 am

  5. you could charge the passengers extra for a car wash

    Comment by cazinatutu — October 22, 2013 @ 8:26 am

    • you could charge the passengers extra for a car wash

      🙂 It’s seawater though, I don’t think they’d appreciate it 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 22, 2013 @ 11:04 am

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