Life at the end of the road

April 14, 2014

Cornerstoned :-)

Almost 21:00 on Sunday and that’s me just in, fed, bathed and scalped, though not quite in that order, I had the much needed haircut after second breakfast.

Yesterday had my son and I visiting my parents on the mainland, eventually that is, for despite being down early for the 8:55 ferry we got left behind, along with another car Sad smile That wouldn’t have happened had Hallaig been here, and the 7:55 ferry was full too. Faced with the prospect of sitting in the car park for an hour in the pishing rain I decided to go for a sail on the MV Loch Linnhe instead. That way we could blag a cup of tea with the relief crew and get the craic on the way. Trouble was, the craic was so good that I left my camera behind


but it was obviously put to good use in my absence. As you can see, the MV Loch Linnhe has a very happy crew Smile

The day with my parents consisted of the Dude and I helping out with a few jobs, going for a walk with my dad, and of course the usual home cooking. Saturday’s offering being home made pesto, spaghetti, home made cakes and a home made platted loaf , which left me stuffed and perhaps not as enthusiastic for the afternoon’s toil.

Arriving home around 17:30 I fed the pigs then helped the family demolish the venison chilli that I’d prepared at 7:00am. With no cooking or preparation for dinner needed I still had plenty of energy to get an hour or so on the wind turbine base. Things had not been going too smoothly on that front and the 8 x 400mm 28mm holes were taking around an hour each latterly. I’d made a few mistakes along the way, one hole ended up at a 15° and I had to make a steel wedge for it. Then I made the mistake of using water as a lubricant in one of the holes which went quite deeply through the screed, the resulting powder turning into a very efficient grinding paste that made a huge hole in the not fully cured concrete.

The bit had also broken just as I finished hole number 6 so I did the last two at 32mm so I could use some 29mm threaded bar. Whilst that was much stronger it does mean that I now have to make the holes on the steel brace bigger, and that means much filing Sad smile Another cock up that I made last week was to foolishly think that drilling an 18mm hole first would help, sure the 18mm bit went into the gneiss like butter but then the 28mm drill bit kept jamming in it, net result, it took longer and my wrists and knees are still sore from the hole I drilled two weeks ago. All in all it’s been a bit of an epic, not helped by the gale force winds that seem to have been present every time I pick up the Hitachi drill.


The ‘day of rest’ was anything but, despite the lashing rain that accompanied pretty much all of the morning and early afternoon. The first job after feeding was to fix the Quadzilla, AGAIN !!!! this time it was the starter, or should I say ‘lack of’. Knowing what I pile of junk it is I usually start it up every few days just to make sure it doesn’t seize up. The trouble with it is that it’s full of electrical gadgets that on the face of it seem like a good idea, but in reality they’re so poorly made that they just create problems.

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Typical of these useless ‘features’ are these pathetic switches on the handlebar, for some reason you cannot operate the starter button without pulling the brake lever, so if the brake light switch fails the friggin starter doesn’t work!!! The starter solenoid is also placed in a prime position for regular mud baths and the inevitable corrosion and poor contacts. Anyway, bypassing the brake light switch and cleaning the solenoid soon had it running so we decided to give it good testing.


Sorry, ‘fell asleep at the wheel’ there and just had to go to bed, it was after all 22:00 and past my bed time. It had been a long and very strenuous day gathering cornerstones for the gable end of the new house. Last ‘rest fortnight’ had been spent partly collecting stones for the gable too, but we were sadly short on ‘corner stanes’.


As the name suggests, these will be stones for the corners and so need to have at least two square sides.

Only one thing for it and that was for a spot of scouring about the old ruins at North Arnish, and whilst I couldn’t bring myself to actually remove any stones from the houses there were plenty lying around the place in the grass.



Apparently Calum who built the road would roll particularly useful stones all the way fro here to his croft some 400m away down the hill if he needed to. So whilst continuing with the age old tradition of reusing building materials we did it the easy way by loading up the quads.


Though you can’t actually carry that many, it certainly beats the carp out of carrying them!!



After a spell of that in the pishing rain and howling gale we retired for lunch, after which the weather vastly improved. Dried out, refuelled with leek and potato soup we trekked up to the broadband mast high above Arnish. We’d been up a few days ago and noticed it was loose at the joints, I had secured it temporarily but now it was time to wander up there with some spanners.


Loch Dubhan was even fuller than last week with water several inches deep pouring over the top of a small dam I’d made years ago to increase it’s size capacity for supplying water in the summer.


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Even high up on this inhospitable ground there’s evidence of old walls and shielings for the summer grazing of cattle.


You could hardly stand up against west wind up there, this made the walk in very easy but the walk out something of an effort.


A few minutes work on the scaffolding clamps and Rawlplugs with a shifter had it sorted and I really cannot praise this system highly enough. Move a satellite dish a fraction and you loose the signal whereas a wireless system can flutter about in storm force winds without any degradation in signal strength.


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After that it was back to the ‘stanes’



this time a few beauties that we’d spotted on our way up there that we retrieved with the trailer.

Dinner followed our exertions, and whilst I let my son have a rest I went on up to the new house for an hour or so to do some more work on the turbine base, though it was far far too windy to stand up easily, let alone take pictures.

I nearly forgot !!

10:45 now and I’m just in to have a cuppa and attempt to wake my son, fat chance, anyway, I almost forgot.


Eyre rainbow

The best rainbow picture I’ve ever seen, Eyre light and a double one courtesy of George Rankine.


The Fisheries Protection Vessel Jura on Saturday morning passing Eyre, again thanks to ‘Oyster George’


The Hebridean Princess bringing much welcome visitors to Raasay on a driech day last week, when I was in Mallaig. Thanks to JA Gillies for that one.



  1. Couldn’t agree more about daft brake kill switches. I always removed them on my offroad motorcycles. Why get stuck in a bog for the sake of rusty parts and superfluous wiring….

    Comment by Panomphaean — April 14, 2014 @ 6:47 am

  2. beautiful stonework on your new house, Paul

    Comment by cazinatutu — April 14, 2014 @ 7:22 am

  3. Lovely stones, just amazing the work involved to build an entire house like that, and without quad bikes to help.

    Comment by Andrew — April 14, 2014 @ 11:48 am

  4. The stone work is amazing and it’s good to see that the new house will have a bit of the traditional stone in it. The old houses at Inver and Umachan are just beautiful and the builders of the houses on the hill above Eyre have created a masterpiece of mixed colours which never ceases to impress me.

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — April 14, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

  5. Your stone collection looks much better than the Donegal Wall at the ferry, even if the latter has mostly fallen off by now and is ready for maritime salvage.

    Comment by drgeo — April 14, 2014 @ 10:23 pm

    • Aye Dr G, much more variety than ‘the wall from Donegal’ 🙂 which incidentally has been repaired.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 15, 2014 @ 10:38 am

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