Life at the end of the road

November 15, 2013

The chilli is made :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, food, New hybrid ferry — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:50 pm

Well, it’s the BIG day tomorrow, the highlight of the year for Raasay, the school coffee day. This isn’t just your ‘run of the mill’ school fundraiser that raises a couple of hundred quid for a school with hundreds of pupils. The Raasay primary school coffee day is woven into the fabric of the island and is supported by everyone in the community. So much so that this small school raises more money in one day than most large comprehensives manage in a year. I kid you not, in the twenty odd years I’ve been going I don’t think they’ve ever took less than a grand and some years it’s been over two!!!! Quite an achievement for an island with a population of less than two hundred for an event well outside the tourist season.


Perhaps the phenomenal support for this little school is helped by the fact that most people who attend, no matter whether 19 or 90 actually went to it or had children that did. You’ll even find all the teenagers there, something that would probably regarded as severely ‘un cool’ elsewhere. However ‘elsewhere’s’ primary school wouldn’t have the now legendary ‘Raasay Digger Challenge’  Smile Not only that but you wouldn’t get chance to sample one of my chilli’s, for that’s what I was doing last night, making it. I’m sure the rest of the ‘usual suspects’ will be busy baking and cooking tonight but a good chilli needs to mature.



Making the school chilli

I’ve gotta give this a title then I can find it again next year when they hopefully ask me to make it again. Anyway there’s the ingredients, well apart from the can of lager and a few last minute additions. I got carried away with the chilli powder so had to ‘tone it down’ with another tin of beans, tomatoes and tomato puree. Something to do with the Carling altering my taste buds I suspect!

Heat up very large pan with olive oil in it, add ground salt, pepper, seven cloves of garlic and five red onions finely chopped, 2kg of lean mince and more olive oil added whilst hastily mixing. You need a huge gas hob to do this and our cooker has a mega one which is ideal. Then once the mince is nicely browned start tipping in the tins of chopped tomatoes, I ended up using five. Next, in went two tablespoons of ‘Marigold’ three or perhaps even four tablespoons of cocoa then two teaspoons of chilli powder (note to make that one and a half next year). Lastly four or five tins of washed kidney beans and a tube and a half of tomato puree.


The actual day had been pretty miserable (though you wouldn’t think so from the pictures) but we used it to do some more drills on the Hallaig, managing to set fire to a car on deck and lose a man overboard. OK, it was an imaginary fire and the man was an old lifejacket and heavy length of rope but the paint is to expensive to have a real fire and we only ever throw troublesome customers overboard Smile



The lost passenger we recovered via the ramp and the blaze on deck, which we couldn’t supress with extinguishers or a hose got ‘drenched’. The Hallaig has a spectacular water spray system driven by a 15kw pump, kind of like a sprinkler system on steroids. The trouble is that it’s so spectacular it’s hard to photograph without getting drenched.


Here it is in action a few weeks ago, taken by Angus from the Striven whilst the Hallaig was alongside.


The Raasay Narrows was plagued by yet another clam dredger but at least this one kept away from the power cable.



The trawler Asteria, BRD250 passed through the narrows during the afternoon


as did this vessel but I never caught the name.


The fish farm at Sconser was a hive of activity too and their tasks have obviously become much easier and safer since they put out this long walkway last year.


The Sconser ferry terminal certainly does look nice from high up on the Hallaig with Glamaig in the background.



Once more it was pretty wild through the night, though by 7:00am it wasn’t a bad morning, but my planned early departure for work was delayed by some pigs. Rocky and the two ‘wee boys’ were waiting at the gate to be fed and there was no way I was going to get through that gate with the Land Rover without doing it. Well, at least not without letting them through the gate onto the croft, and that wouldn’t have gone down well. Once the rascals were through they’d be straight to the feed store and wifey would have had devil of a job moving them away from it without some grub. I dunno what had brought them out of bed so early, perhaps it was because it was warmer and lighter than of late, whatever the reason they weren’t budging until I’d given them breakfast.

That done I headed south passing a buzzard and golden eagle on the way, both of whom showed little interest in me, the buzzard on a fence post and the eagle being harassed by two crows. This crow harrying eagles business really has me puzzled, they do it all the time, are only a quarter of the size and the eagle could tear them to shreds if it chose. Buzzards, well I could understand that, they more evenly sized but golden and sea eagles are ginormous by comparison and there talons are deadly. Perhaps the crow is just too quick for the eagle, the eagle knows this so doesn’t waste it’s energy trying and the crow just stays out of reach. Perhaps they have some kind of understanding like cold war fighter and bomber pilots, whatever it is it’s weird to watch.

Distracted by the aerial display I forgot to phone wifey up straight away to tell her not to feed the pigs again. By the time I’d done I got around to it the answering machine was all I got and sure enough the boys got fed twice Smile


Much of our day was once more spent getting used to and ‘playing’ with the new ship, though sadly not with ‘fare paying’ passengers yet, though I’m sure that’s not far away. Me, I’m just terrified I’m going to lose the keys to the £11,000,000 ship and not be able to start her in the morning, I’m not very good with keys Sad smile


It was also a day of doing routine maintenance on one of the many fire suppression systems on this extremely safe ship.



This is the ‘Aquamist’ system for the passenger lounge, accommodation and bridge, the engine room has two separate systems, a similar water one and another ‘inert gas’ system. 



  1. Which pigs are you feeding?

    Comment by Alasdair H Macinnes — November 15, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

    • Which pigs are you feeding?

      The ones on the ferry 🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 16, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

  2. Hmmm, I only use 1 kilo of mince, but add both 3 cans of kidney beans plus 3 cans of chilli beans. The chilli bean sauce does not get drained. All the other ingredients are pretty much the same, perhaps a little less garlic. I can also buy cans of diced tomatoes with peppers and onions added in the can. Where my version departs is the spice selection. Not far from here is Louisiana, where they pride themselves on concoctions of spices. Because one can choose among 2 dozen bottles of “special sauce,” these tend not to reveal their ingredient proportions. The label for “slap ya mama” reads “Uncle Dugas wanted us to turn up the heat, so we created “slap ya mama hot,” pushing his taste buds to the limit. Mama uses it for special dishes and still receives a loving congratulatory slap on the back, but it’s now followed by a “fiery” kiss on the cheek and a desperate plea for water.” We also use a Jamaican sauce called “Pickapeppa Sauce” which lists: tomatoes, onions, sugar, cane vinegar, mangoes, raisins, garlic, sea salt, peppers, thyme, and cloves. I also like Tiger Sauce, but am fairly certain it does not contain tiger juice. And Tabasco Sauce is also made nearby. Should I overdo the spices, I can tame it by adding powdered hot chocolate mix, which is mostly cocoa and sugar. Mine is always better after it has cooked on low for 14-16 hours (stirring to make certain nothing sticks to the bottom). Texans claim they invented chili, but purist versions are unappealing to me. They feature chunks of beef instead of mince, because that would be how cooks on a cattle drive would have done it. The best part of making chili is tinkering until it is exactly the way YOU want to eat it.

    Comment by drgeo — November 15, 2013 @ 11:36 pm

  3. just been reading about the coffee day at the school – I wish i could get there to take part – only three problems :
    1 I do not drink coffee .
    2 i do not eat chilli.
    3 I am 600 + miles away and can not get up there. –
    I suppose realistically the only real problem is that I am in Coventry and cannot get there – the coffee and the chilli are not a real issue. – Good luck to all and have fun at the school

    Comment by Simon King — November 16, 2013 @ 1:05 am

    • Hi Simon, there’s so much more than chili and coffee but I can’t do anything about the 600 miles 🙂 Thanks for the camera tips.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 16, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

  4. Oh dear, Paul, I am with you on the keys front – it’s a nightmare! Perhaps you’ll have to devise some way of fixing them round your neck! Hope the school’s coffee day goes well – I’m constantly amazed at the amount of money Raasay people can raise.

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — November 16, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

  5. I hope the school fund-raiser has gone well and the chilli a great success. You know, the crew of Hallaig could end up with lots of ‘donations’ for Sunday brunch if they played the ‘sprinkler system’ right. I’m sure many folk would prefer not to be drenched by a malfunctioning sprayer… or two. :)) :))

    Comment by Carrie — November 16, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

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