Life at the end of the road

March 8, 2014

Just like picking wilks :-(

Filed under: daily doings, shed/house, wind turbine — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:48 pm

Almost 20:30 and I’m just out of the bath, probably the driest I’ve been all day, the ferry hasn’t run and it’s been friggin miserable beyond belief. That said, I’ve actually got more done than I could have possibly dreamed of, especially considering that I woke up with a hangover. Yup, yesterday’s trip to the shop with wifey’s eggs saw me returning with a couple of bottles of wine, one of which I managed to demolish on my own last night whilst listening to Radio 1!!! No kidding, I hate Radio 1, but due to ‘International Woman’s Day’ or something there was a whole 39 hours of female DJs playing and it was pretty cool. I had to ‘bow out’ long before the queen of minimal ‘DJ Magda’ came on at 1:00am but I’m listening to her right now


Awesome, a protégé of Ritchie Hawtin I saw her at Rockness a few years ago and she was mega.

Probably ‘not your cup of tea’ but then if I was ‘normal’ I’d be living in a street, paying water rates and not making my own electricity, ‘it takes all sorts’ Smile Anyway, despite the foggy brain and accompanying dwarf with a hammer inside my head I had much to do, for a start I was the only ‘responsible adult’ so had to get to grips with the Dude’s washing and think about meals. The washing and drying being a priority as the wind and hydro turbines were going great guns and I sure wasn’t about to start baking to use the power.

The morning feeding round was complicated by the two Tamworth boars that I’d put out on the hill yesterday, unsure of the routine they ran me around in circles by refusing to go to a sensible place to be fed. The ground being a swamp it’s pointless trying to feed animals on anything other than a hard surface or in a trough, these two would rather pace up and down a bog  than pass through a gate to firm ground Sad smile Eventually I managed to coax them to a sensible spot but not without getting soaked.

Bringing back memories

After the morning porridge I decided to prepare my Proven wind turbine base, or at least gather the required aggregate for doing so. As I was bolting it straight to Scotland with ‘resin anchors’ it didn’t need much concrete, just enough to fill in the gaps under the base plate really. I reckoned that a couple of mixer loads would be fine and as it needs a couple of weeks to cure was anxious to get on with it. Trouble was, whilst I had plenty of sand and cement I didn’t actually have any aggregate other than what had been left behind from the house slab, and I’d already used all that for the ‘solar powered hen house’. There was a smattering left but that needed careful sifting through so as not to pick up any clay or soil.



So, I got down on my knees with a trowel and started the long and arduous task in the pishing rain of finding six bucket loads of gravel amidst the dross.

After trowling the first couple of buckets full I had to resort to picking the individual stones like wilks. Now, only a seasoned whelk or winkle picker could appreciate this Smile 

You know what I’m talking about Smile you don the waterproofs as the tide ebbs and set off down the beach with your wee white bucket to tip into your big black bucket. You use the smaller bucket just so you fill it quicker, but even so it takes an age before the ‘plunk’ of bare plastic is replaced by the ‘clack’ of ‘wilk on wilk’. Of course the price is carp in the summer so you only pick in the winter, usually before Christmas  when it’s pure miserable, freezing cold and pishing with rain. Still the price is good and you need the money for presents Smile We’ve all done it on Raasay at some point, me when I had a bend and couldn’t dive, wifey when the Dude was in a pram and anyone who was skint and needed cash.



I even resorted to robbing beach pebbles from around the caravan Smile Luckily the caravan has all the services so I stuck the kettle on and made a brew as the wind gusted to 70mph around me.


Once I’d acquired enough aggregate I turned my attention to shuttering up around the base plate to make ready for putting the screed down.


The forecast was for less rain beyond 15:00 so after that I departed the site for home, a fry up and then a trip over to to check out the hydro.

The ‘Harris hydro’ turbine that provides a good deal of the properties energy needs is supplied from a loch some 100m above the house.


Consequently it only needs the smallest of flows to produce around 3kwh per day, that said, it does need a good flushing out every now and then.

010 011 012

To facilitate that there’s an extra valve on the manifold, so after turning off the supply to the alternator I cracked that open and left it for a couple of hours.




Once that was running clear I reinstated the 24v battery charging turbine and returned to my turbine base in earnest.



The rain may have eased a little but the wind certainly hadn’t and every two buckets that I took up to the site had me struggling to stand upright.



A few hours later I had the base nicely grouted onto its rocky foundation and a hose cast into the concrete for the power cable. The 9 x M24 bolts for the tower itself were screwed into the base and smeared with plenty of grease to assist in their removal.

That took me nicely up to feeding time, whereupon the dude and I gave everyone dinner then went wandering the hills and woods in search of something to eat. In all honesty I’d not really expected to find anything, all self respecting creatures would have been bedded down in a sheltered spot until the storm passed. However it was a good ‘bonding’ exercise followed by a lesson on cleaning firearms. 



  1. So did you just have to send the boy to bed hungry then or was there an occasional egg about to avoid starvation?

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — March 8, 2014 @ 11:56 pm

    • Nah Anne, on Friday we had a chili made from Aberdeen Angus beef with rice and last night a chili made from Aberdeen Angus beef with baked potatoes 🙂 Sadly I daren’t give him it again tonight so it’s gone in the freezer. Not that the Dude would bother but my wife would kill me 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 9, 2014 @ 8:08 am

  2. Worst thing about the whelks wasn’t the broken back or the sheer miserable cold and wet it was going to bed, every time you shut your eyes you saw whelks!

    Comment by Anne Beaton — March 9, 2014 @ 12:26 am

    • Worst thing about the whelks wasn’t the broken back or the sheer miserable cold and wet it was going to bed, every time you shut your eyes you saw whelks!

      🙂 🙂 I’d forgot about that one Anne.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 9, 2014 @ 8:05 am

  3. Don’t understand what you have done with the baseplate – are the M24 bolts just temporary to mark the holes for resin fix?

    Comment by Kev — March 9, 2014 @ 9:21 am

    • Hi Kev, those are the mast bolts and not the base studs, they’re just well greased and screwed in by hand so they don’t ‘bottom’ on the concrete when it’s set and so the threads don’t fill with cement. I’ll take them out later today and in a few days I’ll drill through the larger holes around the edge into the rock.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 9, 2014 @ 9:30 am

  4. i remember seeing a guy who would turn up in Kishorn in a clapped out van, he would open the back and out would pop the wife and 4 or 5 kids with buckets. They would toddle off down the shore to pick whelks whilst he would sit back in the van with the paper. I think he had the work life balance just right.

    Comment by Alistair — March 9, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

    • I think he had the work life balance just right.

      🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 14, 2014 @ 3:34 am

  5. I must be missing something. You live on a large rock and find it hard to locate pebbles? Are you saying the Donegal stonemasons can’t hook you up with some surplus plastique or C4? It’s almost St Paddy’s Day surely there’s some extra lying around!

    Comment by drgeo — March 9, 2014 @ 11:48 pm

  6. Whilst trawling for prawns off Mull, inside the Summer Isles, we hauled up an old rusty 5 gallon drum which had been partially opened up, and it was half full of good sized dog whelks … buckies as they’re known in the East Neuk of Fife all 2″~4″ . Asked about in the pub, and it turned out they were worth having so I baited the can having boxed the buckies and threw it into the water at the end of Bunessan pier overnight, finished up with 3/4 of a box when the prawn buyer came and got a god few bob for them.
    Could be a nice wee earner for the Dude?

    Comment by Caadfael — March 14, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

    • Aye Caadael, twas probably just yer good fortune that the ‘buckie’ market was up at the time, it’s notoriously fickle and theres not such great ground for them close to the shore here. You get them in the Fladda Narrows right enough but not enough to make a wage.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 14, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

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