Life at the end of the road

January 31, 2014

Not a single picture

Filed under: boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:32 pm

It’s been kind of a ‘none day’ on the ‘exciting things to blog about’ front, so instead of making something up, like I usually do, I’ll just trawl through the archives. The advantages of living ‘out in the sticks’ far outweigh the downside, at least in my book and simple things like a visit to the dentist or MOT can really mess up your day. Luckily this particular day that I’d booked wifey’s car in for the MOT was fit for little else, at least it was after 11:30 when I left home to catch Hallaig to Sconser.

The carpy forecast dished out by  XCWeather yesterday didn’t actually ‘come to pass’ at Arnish until midday, prior to that it had actually been a nice day here. Unable to sleep I arose at 5:30 and went over to the new house to close all the windows that I’d left open to air out the place. It was pretty wild right enough and even with 2kw of convector heater plugged in and 1kw of oil filled radiator switched on the ‘dump loads’ were still operating. Still, it was dry and uncannily mild for the time of year.

After the ‘school run’ at 7:00, feeding the herd and flock at 8:30 I retired to the laptop, phone and filing cabinets for a few hours of paperwork with darling wife. Most of said paperwork I would regard as pointless and an excuse for solicitors and banks to shaft me yet again for the privileged of lining their pockets for the next thirteen years. You steel a pair of knickers from Marks & Spencer and end up with a criminal record, mortgage providers, banks and solicitors screw you for life and they’re respected professions Sad smile The world has gone mad, why do we put up with this 5h1t, the whole world as we know it almost went into financial meltdown because of these clowns yet we still let them screw us spectacularly at every opportunity. 

Anyway, I left 3 South Arnish bone dry and landed at the ferry terminal 40 minutes later in the pishing rain that would continue to fall for the rest of the day. Even now at 21:30 the stuff if battering the house like hailstones on speed Sad smile 

A manic rush around Portree for shopping, bank, accountant and feed followed by a trip to ‘Micky’s’


for the MOT left me soaked and frazzled. Fortunately the wee Almera passed but please don’t ask me why S. Morrison’s is called ‘Micky’s’, it always has done and always will be Smile As the MOT appointment was at 15:00 we, I say we because by now I’d acquired my son, we had missed the 16:15 ferry. Consequently a visit to the Caley cafe was needed to top up with chips Smile They do excellent and hearty portions of good fare here but the boy and I just wanted a tray of chips to take out, for which the also oblige (and I’m still stuffed five hours later).

Home at last

We didn’t get home until after 19:00, by which time wifey had moved all the weaners into the barn ready for tomorrow and done all the chores. Having not really done anything worth writing about I thought I’d look back on the last day of January in years gone by.



On this day twelve months ago I was down at South Shields nautical college doing an electrical course in weather that alternated between snow and sunshine.

A year earlier I was working on the Loch Striven whilst the first steel was being cut at Ferguson’s for the Hallaig.


In 2011 it was 200,000 miles and a broken speedo on the ‘Old Girl’

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and three years later I’m just at 221,000 miles, mainly because I’ve been doing pointless training Sad smile



2010’s image brought a tear to my eye, for this is Rocky at ten weeks old being very protective of Jamie Lea’s two week old piglets. You can already see his powerful shoulders starting to develop. We bought him to replace Ginger, though at this point Ginger was still alive and Rocky had adopted Jamie Lea as his mum.

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Twelve months later he was humping her through the fence right enough, but that’s pigs for you Smile

Fridays effort

And for those with short memories here’s the MV Loch Striven unsuccessfully trying to berth at the old Suisnish slip in January 2009. A day that was far less windy than the last time Hallaig failed to berth at Clachan.


January 30, 2014

Off to the ‘flicks’ :-)

Two peachy days in a row!!!! and what a boost it’s been for everyone and everything, the people, hens and pigs are all looking far happier than they did a few days ago. Amazing what a few nice days can do for ones well being, not just mine but everybody’s. Only a few days ago everything was mud and water and now it feels positively spring like.


Looking at tomorrow’s it doesn’t look like it’s going to last but ‘hey ho’ it is January after all Smile Not for long right enough for Saturday will be February and that can be a lovely month in this ‘neck of the woods’. Many is the holiday I’ve had on Skye in the seventies and eighties during the school half term and gone home with a sun tan Smile OK, it was generally more of a red face after having been in a RIB all day wearing a dry suit but it was the sun that did it Smile A bit embarrassing it was when I did it one year whilst ‘on the sick’, then went back to work in Manchester  looking like I’d been under a sun lamp.

Salvaging a bronze prop off Fladda Chuin and accidentally killing some hibernating bats with some WWII ordnance near Macleod’s Maidens. All done in February many many moons ago, now you’d get hauled off under the prevention of terrorism act or hung drawn and quartered by the Royal Society for the Protection of Bats, happy days Smile 

The ‘Screen Machine’

Anyway, I digress, Wednesday arrived dry, clear, sharp and bang on time,


though I was a little late ‘getting going’ on account of having to take the errant teenager to school, but we’ll not go into that.


Back on the croft before 8:30 I got on with feeding everyone and collecting the early eggs.


Just look at them, they’ve certainly grown during the ‘two weeks on’, all sixteen of the wee darlings.


That done, it was off to admire Lachie and Hooky’s handiwork up at the new house.


Aint that roof just beautiful




I just love his attention to detail



and the ‘Grumpy Digger Driver’s skill with the machine had left me a lovely wide entrance to the barn and a road up to the solar powered hen house.

Sadly I had to spend most of the day under wifey’s Nissan getting it ready for the MOT. It had already had a wee look over by Eddie at                         Skyefit for tyres

whilst he was fitting a new exhaust and a couple of tyres last week so that was OK. However, as usual the brakes needed attention, this time the it was the rear handbrake mechanism and one of the callipers that was seized.


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The handbrake mechanism on the port side needed freeing off and the pads were seized in the calliper starboard, however much WD40, Coppaslip and grinding later I had it sorted.



Couldn’t resist going to have a peek at Lachie and Donald’s slating though,



there’s a lot of extra work and cost in a ‘hip roof’ but that gable end is severely exposed to the north west. The slope of the hip should make the house more ‘streamlined’, quieter and less prone to losing slates.

To give the car a good testing I headed south with the latest batch of Arnish eggs for the shop and to collect the Dude off the 16:15 ferry.




It was whilst at the ‘souf end’ that I spotted this


and this.

Of course I’d heard that ‘The Screen Machine’  was coming to Raasay for the first time ever but it had slipped my mind. One thing about two weeks on the Hallaig as motorman, you don’t actually see very many people apart from the crew. Anyway, memory jogged by the rather large truck in front of the village hall,


the boy and I decided to go.


Interior image of the Screen Machine

Britain’s only mobile cinema was coming to Raasay to show at 17:30 and at 20:30 and I can’t say that I fancied either. Some animated sentimental Disney  tosh or George Clooney and Sandra Bullock stuck in space for 90 minutes, not my cup of tea, thought I. How wrong was I, we decided on the 3D space romp, mainly because it would have been a bit impossible to get home and back for,


and I’ve never been a Disney fan. Walt managed to scare the pants of me with Cruella Deville, the Big Bad Wolf and Captain Hook as a child and I’ve never forgiven him, not only that but I think he was a bit of a fascist Smile 


Gravity seemed the lesser of the two evils so we ‘went for it’

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as did half of the island. Of the eighty seats, most of them were taken, and it really was just like a proper cinema, in fact it was better. It was full of my friends and neighbours, on my doorstep and just brilliant, I think I would have enjoyed Coronation St in there Smile Seriously though, the film was good, the special effects outstanding and you could take your own treats and popcorn in. The Raasay community shop having bought large bags in specially for a fraction of the price you’d pay at the local ‘multiplex’ in a retail park, and just look at the view outside the cinema. OK you couldn’t actually see it when you came out but you could see the Plough, Orion and the Milky way.



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Once more started with taking ‘wayward son’ to the ferry


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and spotting a few deer on the way home.

After feeding everyone and having a bowl of muesli we made the most of the good weather by stocking up on bedding.


A couple of hours cutting nice dry rushes and couch grass had us well stocked up, though once the pigs are out on the hill we use very little. At the moment with sixteen of them all sharing one house they use quite a lot but by Saturday most of them will be away, life will get easier and the croft can have a rest.


Of course, as soon as we started working the pigs appeared, they really do love company


and Rocky is just so gentle. Boars really do get a ‘bad press’ but we’ve been really lucky, Ginger was just the same, a big gentle giant.


Once the barn was nicely filled with bedding, I’d had my leek and potato soup for lunch

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and turfed the hens out of inappropriate places, I went to the new hoose.



Donald was busy slating and I wanted to lay a new water supply to the site. I laid one some four years ago just to measure the head, check the continuity and supply water for mixing concrete. However the pipe that I used came courtesy of Bill at and had been used for pumping diesel up to ‘Big Harbour’, it was great for watering the plants and flushing the toilet but a bit ripe for drinking.

I’d got 250m of 32mm from and proceeded to lay it in the best way that I know.


Trust me on this, I have laid miles of MDPE pipe of all different sizes and if you’ve not got the special trailer then this is the best way  to do it, throw it over a fence post or road sign and pull.


The other alternative is this!!!! and believe me, you don’t want to go there Smile

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