Life at the end of the road

January 19, 2014


Filed under: boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:34 pm

Sorry for the lack updates from ‘the end of the road’ of late but these long days at work fair seem to be ‘knocking it out of me’. Life is settling down to normal on the good ship Hallaig but it’s still a longer day than on the Striven. She takes a lot more starting, a lot more stopping, needs a good deal more ropes securing her to Scotland and then of course there’s the ‘gangway’ that must be raised, secured, lowered then secured to the pier so it doesn’t wander off. That, coupled with the atrocious state of Raasay’s roads, equals ‘out early and in late’ and I’ve had precious little time for dealing with the everyday stuff, let alone the blog.

Having said that I’d be loath to go back to the Striven or any of the other ‘small ferry fleet’, sure, there’s been a few glitches, hiccups and teething problems but she’s settled in nicely now and a pleasure to work on. She’s a safer, quieter, quicker, cleaner, more powerful and larger vessel than the trusty ‘Loch class’ and I for one am glad that I don’t have to leave home early to catch her. Gone now are the days when getting to Skye on the day of the calf sales meant being in the queue at 7:30 for the 7:55 ferry. No more leaving Arnish at 11:00 to catch the 12:15 on Friday or vying for a place in front of the library van or coal lorry on Wednesday. No more rearranging of traffic on the car deck as the ‘usual suspects’ turn up 30 seconds prior to sailing.

Sure the money it cost could probably have built a bridge, or even two ordinary ferries, but the money that built it wasn’t for a bridge, ordinary ferry or even the much needed infrastructure on Raasay. The funds that were found, were to construct a low emission hybrid ferry and that’s what we’ve got. Raasay has, in short got the worlds first sea going Ro Ro ferry and we should be shouting that from the roof tops to get people over here on it.

When Raasay’s economy does start to flourish that’ll mean more lorries, cars, trailers and campervans and I for one have better things to do with my life than spend it waiting for ferries. In 1989 when I moved here there was a six car ferry that ran three times a day six days a week, twenty years later a twelve car ferry doing over fifty sailings during a seven day week, at times struggled to cope. OK, I know there were plenty of empty sailings and quiet runs but Friday lunch time on Raasay, Monday morning at Sconser, or even the 16:15 on Saturday could still be risky, well, not anymore Smile

My Land Rover is exactly the same age as the trusty Loch Striven who slid down Richard Dunstan’s  slip in May 1986 around the same week as the ‘Old Girl’ rolled off the production line at Solihull. I love them both dearly but they’re noisy, cramped, smoky, uneconomical and oily, definitely not for the 21st century Smile

One fine day

Anyway, now I’ve had my rant for the day I’ll try and recall the weeks ‘doings’, well one thing for sure they were many.

I can’t say that I went back to work reluctantly, for I didn’t, but I was reluctant to leave all the work on the new house and the sixteen piglets.



Despite the atrocious weather ‘the man formally known as ‘Grump Digger Driver’ had been busy breaking rocks outside the door of my barn with his Hitachi 7t machine.


Lachie on the other hand had no heated dry cab, he was on the roof all day in the pishing rain slating


and what a job he’d done Smile 

I’m 57 now and the sanity of covering my roof in Spanish slates is questionable, a tin roof would have ‘seen me out’ and tiles would have been cheaper but aren’t they just beautiful. Sure you can can get cheaper reconstituted things that ‘look just like slate’ for half the price but I’ve yet to see a ten year old roof done in those that doesn’t look pants.

Whilst Hooky and Lachie had been busy out in the elements I was spending an increasing amount of my time in ‘the office’

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longing to just ‘bail out’ through the ‘escape window’ Smile



unlike some members of the crew.

Thursday was actually a pure ‘peach of a day’,


the sleepy village of Inverarish on Raasay soaking up the afternoon sun.


This is Goat Island on Raasay with the slopes of Ben Tianavaig in the background.

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This will be the ‘post lady’ driving on the ferry, turning around on the deck and driving off the ferry!!

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Well, you certainly couldn’t do that on the Striven!!!!


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The one good day of the week saw plenty of action at the Sconser fish farm



with Acta Marine’s ‘Coastal Hunter’ ferrying peroxide to the fish cages for ‘delousing’.



Sadly, Thursday was the only sunny and rain free day of the week but it was great to see the back of the recent spell of storms.



Ed in honey

Trying to clear out the freezer I dug deep and came across the remains of Ed from 2010

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but he wouldn’t fit in the pan



so I sorted his trotter out in the vice with a hacksaw.


To be honest there’s not much eating in a pigs trotter but they’re great fun and lovely roasted with spuds and veg. First though the trotter will need boiling for 45 minutes before scoring, covering in honey and Demerara sugar and roasting for another hour or more at 150 degrees C. 

The normal plan would be to parboil the spuds for 5 mins, drain the water, pour in olive oil, chopped rosemary, put the lid back on the pan, ‘shake it all about’, add garlic, salt and then tip it into the roasting dish with carrots, parsnips prior to roasting along with the trotter for another hour. Having to improvise I just bunged a couple of carrots in with the un parboiled spuds and a few cloves of garlic and roasted them all in the oven. It wasn’t magnificent but it was pretty good and far better than a ‘pot noodle’ Smile

Thirteen years

Always an emotional time of year


it’s our 13th anniversary


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and the fifth anniversary of the ‘great fire’ .

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