Life at the end of the road

April 4, 2014

Toasty in the Thomson :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:21 pm

Gosh it’s after 21:00 and that’s me just poured out my first glass of wine and turned on the electric blanket. I can’t pretend it’s roasting in the old 1970 or is it 1971 Thomson Glenelg but it’s certainly cosy, they just don’t make caravans like this anymore, with a hardwood frame and proper tongue and groove wooden floor it really is built like a tank. Sure it’s not got all the ‘mod cons’ of your newer models but it makes up for that in character and best of all it was free. We must have had it five or six years now, it’s done the ‘festival circuit’ with us and saved me a fortune in hotel bills whilst I’ve been away, I just love it Smile


What’s more it was built in Scotland and despite being out of production for some thirty odd years they’re still sought after and have a devout following.


Just check out that pure 1970’s carpet, it’s so hideous that it’s stylish Smile

Anyway, I left you last night in a haste to get to the pub, when you live where I do you don’t miss an opportunity like that, especially if it’s a quiz night and you head is full of useless information. Not that that did our team much good but it was good craic anyway and we weren’t due to sail until 9:00am so I got a ‘lie in’ until 7:00am. Normally I’m at work by then having got up at 5:30. There is a lot to be said for living on the pier in a caravan just a few yards away from your ship Smile Must remember to pack the wine glasses next time, though hopefully there won’t be a ‘next time’, much as I’m enjoying the change of scene, ‘home is where my heart is’, not to mention wife and ‘wee dug’. To be honest I seriously thought of bringing Molly with me as a hot water bottle but it wouldn’t have been fair to leave her cooped up in the Thomson all day.

Back to the ‘voyage’

Once under the Skye bridge we passed through the narrow channel once plied by the Calmac ferries Loch Fyne and Loch Dunvegan in the days before the Skye bridge. The crossing was for years a bottleneck with queues of several miles in the summer yet there were many who objected to the bridge coming. Seems mad now, when you can actually drive to Inverness and back comfortably in day from Raasay that some people didn’t want it.


That’s people for you though, they just don’t like change and I’m probably the worst!


That’ll be Dun Caan on Raasay seen over Kyle, Morar motors and the BUTEC navy base .

A short while later we entered another narrow and fiercely tidal stretch of water, the Kylerhea Narrows and met the salmon farm ‘well boat’ Ronja Commander coming the other way.



The very same boat is discharging fish right now just a couple of hundred yards from my caravan, there’s never a dull moment here at Mallaig harbour Smile


Just in case the GPS wasn’t working we had the road map open at the right page as a precaution Smile However, according to the poster outside Mallaig’s beautiful Church of Scotland ‘Jesus gives you better direction than satnav’.

Mallaig Church, Parish of North West Lochaber, Scotland

Now I know this because last night I got lost on my way to the Clachain Inn and saw a poster outside the church that said so, I had to laugh, having just walked far further than I need too for my pint of Stella Smile

However, I digress


this is Glenelg


this is Kylerhea


and this Mallaig on a fine spring morning, for the good ship Hallaig was indeed there before midday.

After ‘ramp trials’ on the linkspan at Mallaig we headed over to Armadale on Skye



to do the same there.


It was whilst there that I spotted an old acquaintance,


the massively built and still immaculately looking Eilane. This extremely heavily laid up fibreglass boat once belonged to my good friend and ex skipper Willie Eyre. Called a ‘pursers dory’ it was a very sturdy and powerful craft designed to be launched in all weathers from the heaving deck of a purser to close the ‘purse net’. Originally an open boat built in Norway with fibreglass thicker than a babies arm my mate Willie built that wheelhouse from bits of van roofs and some Austin A40 windows.


what a guy!!!!



The Hallaig’s extremely wide ramps did fit, but only just, so we had to await some permissions and modifications to both linkspans before being able to take up the service today.


Mallaig is certainly a busy little port and there’s my old Thomson tucked in behind the blue container Smile

The first day of summer

Today, Friday is the official start of the CalMac  summer timetable when the MV Loch Nevis would officially handover to the MV Coruisk. However that honour was now passed onto us, and at 13:00 we officially picked up the service from Armadale, though not before catching my mate Fraser from Eyre Plant ‘on camera’.



Methinks that this load was going onto the ‘MV Spanish John’ to go and build a house at Knoydart, a place even more remote than Arnish Smile

The day turned out to be the busiest in Hallaig’s career so far I guess, but at 23:18 I guess I’ll have to tell you about it tomorrow.



  1. Good to see the Thomson in use again. no doubt keeping you out of the wind and cold nights. well made and trusty old things that they are, and yes very much sought after, I have seen many change hands so far this year and most of these having been barn finds which are destined for refurbishment and another lifetime. most of the new folks are on the Thomson facebook page along with many great pictures of their vans, worth a look. 😉
    stay safe and hope you are home again soon.

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — April 4, 2014 @ 10:39 pm

  2. Looks like your in for a busy spell Paul.
    Great photo’s.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — April 4, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

    • Hi Walter, busy indeed, it’s a long day on this route and we’ve seldom finished before 20:00.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2014 @ 7:36 pm

  3. Paul,

    BBC Radio 2 travel news said that due to ‘Technical problems’ the sailing between Mallaig & Armadale were suspended. I trust they were wrong.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — April 4, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

    • Aye Michael, it was more a case of ‘political problems’ and it wasn’t with the ferry but the ‘linkspans’.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

  4. Great pictures as always Paul,. First house (70’s) I bought had a carpet like that, it was horrible back then! However you could knock over a full glass of red and the next morning it would have blended into the design. Sold the house 7 years later still with the same carpet. Can’t quite make out the wine label?

    Comment by Andrew — April 5, 2014 @ 8:21 am

    • Looks like some variety of Faustino VII Rioja. Good quaffing plonk 😀

      Comment by Phil Cook — April 5, 2014 @ 11:24 am

      • Ten out of ten for that Phil 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

    • A wee Spanish number correctly identified by Phil, and yes that carpet does hide a multitude of sins 🙂 Bet the French never had carpets like that, even in the 70s 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2014 @ 7:31 pm

  5. That pic of the A 40 quite made me smile,It was the car I learned to drive in and passed my test 2nd go.
    It was sturdy and reliable and fairly quick, though I did hear someone had transplanted a 1250 cc engine from a wee sports car and that really was a nifty shifter!
    Not quite as quick as a local Wolsley 1500 though, the guy used to p155 off young farmers in Jags!!
    Paul, how do I include pics … Ive just found a load in a flash drive and up loaded them, some of which I think you’ll enjoy.

    Comment by Caadfael — April 5, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

    • Upload them to a photosharing service like Photobucket, and you’ll see a link below each uploaded photo. Copy and paste that into your reply here.

      Comment by San — April 6, 2014 @ 8:54 am

      • Thanks for that San, I really didn’t have a clue how to do it.

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2014 @ 7:25 pm

    • Ahh, the old Wolsley 1500,


      I always yearned for one of those, the smell of walnut, leather and of course that unmistakable wiff of mould and rust 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 6, 2014 @ 7:28 pm

  6. Scanned the shore for a glimpse of the Glen Elg turntable ferry, but likely it’s not running until the tourists get thicker?

    Comment by drgeo — April 6, 2014 @ 11:52 pm

    • A lot of locals would say that tourists are thick enough as it is!

      Comment by Davie — April 7, 2014 @ 6:30 pm

      • A lot of locals would say that tourists are thick enough as it is!

        🙂 🙂 but we love them all the same, well apart from the ones that clog up the roads with campervans, cannot reverse into passing places and stop in random places with no warning to take photographs.

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 13, 2014 @ 7:19 am

    • Morning Dr G, well I couldnae see the ferry either, though it can’t be far away now with Easter around the corner.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 13, 2014 @ 7:15 am

  7. Oh wow, the Thomson… I started off caravanning in a 1969 Thomson Glenmore I inherited at the age of 14, before going on to be Secretary of the Thomson Owner’s Club at age 19! Starting young… Great to see the snaps of Armadale and Mallaig. I’m on a residential at Sabhal Mor Ostaig in a couple of weeks, but these days the wagon of choice is an Airstream. I miss my Thomson though. Maybe I’ll have to find an old one as a restoration project. Great entry as always, cheers!

    Comment by Andrew — April 22, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

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