Life at the end of the road

August 14, 2014

Highs & lows :-)

Golly gosh, it has been a while hasn’t it, 27th July when I last scribbled and already we’re almost halfway through August, where has it all gone? Well under the ‘Old Girl’ for the best part of a week for sure, and prior to that a week on the good ship Hallaig as usual.

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Methinks, judging by the ring of water lilies and views of Fladda and Eilean Tighe that I must have taken on my way home, that the weather was ‘just peachy’. Sadly that didn’t last and August turned into the usual ‘gambling’ month that it is. That’ll be taking bets on whether to put on the sun screen or midge repellent, or ‘toss up’ between the shorts and wellingtons. It has in short, been on the whole pretty miserable for half the time, OK for a quarter, much darker at night and spectacular for about ten minutes. Seriously I question the sanity of anyone holidaying on the west coast in August whilst there’s June and May to be had.

The roads are full of European campervans the size of a football pitch that drive everywhere at 30mph. Worse than those are the tourists from the areas that Napoleon conquered who drive on the wrong side of the road. They hire a car in Scotland then keep forgetting we drive on the correct side, at least with the campervans you can see by the number plate that they’re likely to do something unexpected. There has been pure carnage on the roads this last few weeks with two dead and seven injured in four incidents in four days. I’ve only been off the island twice in three weeks and both times I’ve met a car at the Varragill bridge ignoring the priority to north bound traffic at the bottleneck.


It’s well signposted and has large dotted lines on the road for where to stop but these Dudes just kept coming Sad smile Luckily on both occasions I’d an inkling of what was going to happen and was travelling at a safe speed or there would have been another statistic or two for the ‘West Highland Free Press’.

Raasay stores officially open

Harking back a few weeks to the summer we had the official opening of our refurbished community store, and what a topper of a day it was. I wasn’t there right enough, being as I was working and all that but we had the Portree junior pipe band over and there was a huge turnout on what was probably the hottest day of the year.

Here’s just a couple of pictures from our newsletter and a report by Lloyd Gudgeon our community development officer.





A huge ‘thank you’ to all who turned out to celebrate the
opening of our community  shop on Friday 18thJuly. The
event kicked off with a charity walk in aid of the Prince’s
Countryside Fund  –  we had 70 entrants who braved the
walk on one of the hottest days  of the year! Well done to
all walkers and those who donated to raise a total of
£216.20  for the Prince’s Countryside Fund. This is a way of giving back to our
supporters as  the PCF  very generously donated to the purchasing of the Community
Shop. A further  £209.52 was raised for CORRA through the bottle stall and teas and
coffees. All  the other stall holders were raising money for a charity of their own
choice and all reported excellent takings.

We are delighted to report that the community shop is continuing with very good
trading figures and  David reports that Friday 18th

was our best ever day, leading to  a
record breaking week for shop sales! This was helped by the launch of the Raasay
Local Carriage Stamp, with over 75 sets of the First Day Cover sold on the day. They
were designed by Gwen Sinclair and are a great way to commemorate the community
takeover of the shop; a number of sets are  still available from the shop. The stamps
can also be purchased individually to decorate your cards or postcards. If you wish to
buy by mail order please contact David on

Thank you to all who helped to make the day a success including the wonderful Isle of
Skye Pipe Band, Doctor Crichton, stall holders, volunteers, shop staff and Calmac for
providing free transport for the pipe band. Finally – thank you to all our customers and
shareholders who are all continuing to make the shop a success.
CORRA (Community of Raasay Retail Association)

Our community owned store has made a huge difference to the island and whilst some things are a little more expensive, there are bargains and offers to be had. Best of all though, you don’t have to leave Raasay now for most things, you don’t waste time away and you don’t end up buying loads of carp you don’t need Smile



Then there’s always the drink Smile

To be put on the mailing list for the newsletter or for more info on buying shares contact Lloyd on

Then there’s the wildlife

My irregular posts of late have meant that I’ve a good selection of wildlife photographs to share, courtesy of my correspondent from the south end of Raasay, George Rankine.



A cracking shot of an arctic tern sometimes called a sea swallow these elegant summer visitors can travel 40,000 miles in a year and have a fierce temper. I remember years ago when I was working as a diver at a fish farm, there was a pair nesting in a rolled up salmon net on a pontoon at Kenmore in Torridon. This picture above takes me right back to the screaming wee things warning us to keep clear. Fair play to the owners of the fish farm though for leaving the net well alone until the pair had left.


Minke1 Seal1 Goldie

Some real beauties above of a minke  whale off Holoman, a seal with a fish and one of those boring eagles again Smile Seriously though, we really do see an awful lot of them, I get more excited over a bullfinch!! Just click on them to enlarge

Lord of the Glens

This one brought a smile to my face, though the reason for its arrival was not a happy affair. The MV Lord of the Glens called into Raasay as a result of one of those fatal car crashes. She was visiting Kyle and had ‘bussed’ a group of German passengers up to Portree for the day. The tragic crash at Druim na Cloiche meant they could not get back to Kyle, so some canny person arranged for the bus to take them to Sconser where the Hallaig would deposit them on Raasay. The Lord of the Glens could then collect them from our new pier.

The visitors seemed to enjoy the detour and the master of the ‘LOTG’ must have had a sense of humour, for when they arrived he had Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie  playing loudly from the ships PA Smile

Apparently the holiday makers really liked ‘being rescued’ to Wagner Smile 

The 200TDi conversion

If I’ve not mentioned it yet, I’m off work now with the old sciatica, probably brought about by a weeks toil in the pishing rain underneath the ‘Old Girl’. I know, I know, I’ve a dry, light, clean shed that measures 40’ x 20’ so what on earth am I doing outside, well three reasons, firstly it’s the summer so I foolishly expected at least a few good days and it’s actually pleasanter working outside. Secondly, you need an awful lot of room to get both a telehandler and 110 land rover end to end.


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Thirdly, I didn’t want to dirty my new shed Smile

The conversion from 19J ‘turbo diesel’ to Discovery 200TDi has been covered to death on the internet so I’ll not bore you with the details. It’s pretty straightforward and the only major expense is having to buy a custom built exhaust down pipe which can be had from Andy


This well fabricated downpipe allows the Discovery engine to marry perfectly with the old TD exhaust pipe, you just need to cut a section off the old pipe to allow the new one to slot over (or is it inside). Anyway, it fits a treat, all you have to do is move the clutch hydraulic pipe a few inches to the left of the vehicle.

You could easily do the conversion in just a couple of days but ‘yours truly’ messes about a lot and the ‘Old Girl’ has a gazillion and one extras not fitted to your standard Landy. I had to deal with loads of extra insulation, air horns, HID headlamp drivers, winch controls, ARB diff lock compressor and of course the exhaust gas temperature thermocouple.

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This is M8 x 1.0, a fine metric thread and I drilled and tapped the exhaust manifold where the EGR would go.

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I also took the opportunity to prepare and paint all the chassis and stuff when the TD came out.

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All this whilst dodging showers and the dreaded midge. It actually all went pretty smoothly with my son helping on the telehandler and some of the underneath work. One unexpected snag was two studs that needed to be removed from the TDi flywheel housing. they would not line up with any holes in the bell housing and I don’t remember reading about them in any of the research I did. Right enough, most people actually fit the TD flywheel cover, I didn’t as there is no facility to time the fuel pump on the TD cover.


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The TDi housing is tapped to accept that spring loaded plunger which is essential to find TDC, having said that mine was actually timed perfectly when I checked it so perhaps it’s not that crucial.

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Another unforeseen hiccup was the threads on the oil cooler fittings on the new radiator. Whilst the original Disco one wasn’t actually leaking, most of the fins were damaged and it was 18 years old so I purchased a new ‘Britpart shitpart’ one from Paddocks, where I get most of my gear . Some of their gear is rubbish but they stock good stuff too and the service is great. This radiator however came with M20 x1.5 threads and not the normal 1/2” BSP, luckily I found an excellent supplier in Glasgow who posted out 2 x 1/2”BSP x 20mm M/F adaptors for less than £20 and they were here the day after.

The intercooler and radiator pipe work I made myself out of stainless pipe of 41mm and 52mm, though in retrospect 38mm would have been better for the radiator. I joined these together with various silicon hoses from these people Auto Silicon Hoses. However, whilst their products are excellent the service is carp, I’ve still not received all my hoses three weeks after ordering them, have phoned several times, emailed and opened a case via eBay with them.

The hardest part of the whole job was finding somewhere to fit the air filter but I came up with a novel solution that I’ll share with you when I take a picture. Anyway, it’s been finished for well over a week and whilst it goes great and has loads of ooommphh I’ve hardly had chance to drive it on account of my back Sad smile

Skye high

A brief respite from the Land Rover, on what was probably the best day of the ‘fortnight off’ popped up unexpectedly whilst wifey was reading the good old ‘Broadford Beano’ . Since the welcome demise of the ‘one eyed monster’ weeks and weeks ago the Camilli household has been reaping unexpected rewards. First off the wife and I are actually speaking to each other and not just shouting from different rooms over the noise of Emmerdale. Of course the downside for you is I’ve not been posting so much but ‘hey ho’. Another plus has been the avid reading by the post lady of even the ‘small print’ in the local comic, which a couple of weeks ago printed an article about Mike Westman, his interesting life, family, passion for flying and new microlight training venture.

Mike has recently qualified as an instructor and started teaching people how to fly in his new Ikarus C42

Mike and Dad

Whoops, wrong picture Smile

Ikarus C42 G-JSKY on the apron at Broadford

and has started a school

Darling wife is telling me all this whilst I’m glued to the computer and I catch tales of the ‘Red Baron’, Marlene Dietrich, escaping from Nazi Germany and then right at the end, an offer to pupils of Portree and Plockton high for free ‘taster’ lessons. Now, I’m listening intently but have no time to tear myself away from the Land Rover website to check out Mike’s, consequently I’m thinking

and not a proper little plane.

Right up until meeting a cheerful and enthusiastic Mike at Broadford airstrip and I see his beautiful little two-seater aircraft gleaming white on the warm black tarmac.



Me is far more excited than the ‘Cool Dude’

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and am constantly bombarding Mike with questions about maintenance, endurance, fuel consumption and cost.


All of which he answers, and much to my surprise, it’s not half as expensive as you’d think, with Mikes plane costing less than some second hand cars and only burning around 10lts of regular petrol an hour.

Anyway, after a thorough briefing and a ten minute warm up, ‘off they went’ and it wasn’t just a quick fly around Broadford bay, they were gone a full forty minutes with my son at times ‘taking the helm’ so to speak.


I dunno who was more excited when he came back


me or him,


well, I can tell you what I want for my birthday, one of Mikes ‘air experience’ flights over Arnish. I mean, what a way to see Skye and Raasay for only £90!!!!!


They need some pigs

By the time I was halfway through week two the back was really playing up, I’d worked myself up to six Tramadol a day then just couldn’t sleep. So, totally out of character I took the wife to the ‘Portree Agricultural show’, or should I say, she drove me there and I hobbled around looking at the stalls, display and stock.


Just like the Dude’s flying day, it was sandwiched between to wet days and stayed warm and dry, though the ground was too wet to sit on I managed to find the odd perch here and there Smile



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There was definitely a shortage of pigs, I think Rocky and the five piglets would have enjoyed all the attention. Right enough I guess the council wouldn’t appreciate them digging up the playing fields though.

Sure there was more, much more but it’s after midnight now and whilst I’m still ‘high as a kite’ after Catriona Purll’s massage, I need my bed. I know from experience of Catriona’s hands that I’ll feel like I’ve been hit by a truck tomorrow before I start to feel better


    • Cheers for that Jimbo,

      the video was great but some of the comments were just priceless!

      So effectively what they’ve done is return a dilapidated and poorly built Range Rover to a new and poorly built Range Rover. These are handsome trucks, but have electrical systems made of Alpaca feces – as in they’re complete shit.

      How true

      Hey, that’s hand-selected Alpaca feces creating a bespoke luxury experience.

      🙂 🙂 and on they go

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 15, 2014 @ 7:28 am

  1. Welcome back! We missed you. I want a plane ride too.
    Morgan in California

    Comment by Morgan — August 15, 2014 @ 1:26 am

  2. Great to see all your news, and I hope you feel better soon!

    Comment by flora — August 15, 2014 @ 1:38 am

  3. Hi Paul

    Your last post was the day after I left Raasay – seems longer ago than nearly 3 weeks. Your back was giving you gip then, so no wonder it’s got worse if you have spent so much time under the OG. Hope it improves. The weather here has been generally rubbish, too: no midges but far too many horse-flies that seem resistant to Smidge. Have only been to Raasay twice in August in all these years and both times vowed not to do it again – midges, waist high bracken and ferns etc. The traffic must be worse now, though – never saw the big camper vans then. Shall stick to June/July.

    All the best


    Comment by Sue — August 15, 2014 @ 6:42 am

  4. Thanks, Paul, for all the info about the motor conversion. You’ll have to let us know how it performs in comparison to the old one. I did just last week manage to source a secondhand 2.25 motor to rebuild for my ’71 SWB, which has bad valve guides and slightly low compression, so will need attention soon.

    Comment by mick — August 15, 2014 @ 9:01 am

    • Hi Mick, even though I’ve only driven about 20 miles on Raasay I can feel the performance is staggeringly better. Steve Parker does do a kit for a series but I think there’s a wee bit more work and many people leave the turbo off as it still performs much better than a 2 1/4 without it.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 15, 2014 @ 10:15 am

      • I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy with a rebuilt 2 1/4 if I can source an overdrive. Secondhand Faireys are rarer than the proverbial rocking horse droppings over here, but there’s something called a “Roamerdrive” made in Canada I can get new, if I save my pennies. Or pick up a Fairey next trip home. The Series is slow, but our Maine roads are so potholed, that’s not really a great detriment for the kind of driving and towing I use it for. I’m sure you will be glad to know that someone, somewhere has worse roads than those maintained by Highland Regional Council.

        Comment by mick — August 16, 2014 @ 9:13 am

      • Aye Mick,

        I’ve a soft spot for the old 2 1/4 petrol, had them for years, with electronic ignition, electric fan and an overdrive you could manage 16mpg towing and almost 22mpg driven carefully unladen. The Fairey overdrive really made a huge difference, not so much to the fuel consumption (at least not on a 109 running 7.50’s) but it gave you those lovely gears in between. Long hills in the highlands could be tackled in 3rd or2nd overdrive. Gosh I wish I still had my 1969 109 Safari, it was immaculate with an oven baked deep bronze green finish under limestone safari roof. Heater in the back, extra fuel tank, capstan winch and not a bit of rust anywhere. Mind you, the Range Rover Classic I replaced it with was far nicer to drive and streets ahead off road.

        Happy days 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 16, 2014 @ 11:00 am

      • If you ever get chance to show us a picture or two of your old 109, I’d love to see it.

        Comment by mick — August 19, 2014 @ 7:05 am

  5. We spent a week in the Old Manse at the end of April and it was superb. Warm and sunny, not too hot for walking but warm enough to sit in the garden with a glass of something while dinner was cooking and NO MIDGES! There was also hardly any traffic. I agree with Sue – midges, clegs and head high bracken + torrential rain? Who needs it, give me the spring any time! Hope your back improves. Anne

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — August 15, 2014 @ 9:14 am

    • I’m a little worried Anne, my back feels fine today, usually after a session with Catriona I feel worse the day after, very strange.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 15, 2014 @ 10:12 am

      • I used to find that my back felt better the day after but my head would be unbearable for a couple of days.

        Comment by Anne Macdonald — August 15, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

  6. Great to have you back Paul. Sorry to hear about the back horrible just no escape from the pain, true sympathies.
    Funny we have trouble about driving as well those sporting GB plates!! Never pull over, after over taking, turning left from a t junction can be sporting. Really looking forward to seeing the ‘old girl’ rolling again.

    Comment by Andrew — August 15, 2014 @ 10:38 am

    • Hi Andrew,
      good to be back, just peed off that it’s mainly due to being ill and not because of an overriding enthusiasm for blogging 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 15, 2014 @ 11:46 am

  7. Sad sad day 😦 Give it another few years and we will be buying everything overseas as we wont have the skills to wipe our bahoocky 😦

    Comment by Jay Mitchell — August 15, 2014 @ 12:09 pm

  8. Paul glad to see you back. I do miss your craic. Hope your back gets better soon. I am jealous of the Dude and his plane ride.

    Comment by eileen1929 — August 15, 2014 @ 5:12 pm

  9. Fergusons, builders of the Hallaig have gone ‘bust’. Hope your back is improving.

    Comment by SOTW — August 15, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

  10. Hi there, first time iv’e read the blog and thoroughly enjoyed it, where was the first flight pic taken (in a plane, yeah yeah)? The second is the Skye Bridge, but can’t make out the location of the second.

    Comment by KEV watson — August 15, 2014 @ 6:38 pm

    • Hi KEV and welcome, that will be Isle Oransay and the Sleat Peninsula.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 15, 2014 @ 7:36 pm

  11. Hi Paul,
    Glad to see you back mate. Hope the pain goes soon, but glad the Old Girl is now refettled. You are going to notice a huge difference!

    Good also to see the Store now stocks alcohol, albeit prices a wee bit higher than darn sarf. I wonder how prices will be affected if Scotland gets independence. Still, cheaper than the bar nearby! 🙂

    Microlite sessions are very exciting, I loved mine!!

    Comment by Lloyd — August 15, 2014 @ 8:16 pm

    • Can’t wait for mine Lloyd 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 16, 2014 @ 8:18 am

  12. Was just thinking it had been a while! We’ve just organised a wee break to Raasay at the end if the month and are really looking forward to visiting some of the places u’ve written about 🙂

    Comment by mudarissa — August 15, 2014 @ 9:52 pm

    • It’s a long way from Saudi Mudarissa 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 16, 2014 @ 8:17 am

  13. I’ve been googling all morning and can’t find any article on converting a Proven wind turbine into a single engine airplane. So you are on your own.

    Comment by drgeo — August 16, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

    • I’ve been googling all morning and can’t find any article on converting a Proven wind turbine into a single engine airplane. So you are on your own.

      Watch this space Dr G 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 17, 2014 @ 9:51 am

  14. When I was your lads age I took a couple of air experience flights with the air cadets, we had a parachute strapped to our backsides not a life jacket round our necks!!!! I bet he had the time of his life flying over that scenery.

    Comment by Alistair — August 16, 2014 @ 8:24 pm

    • He did indeed Alistair, though he’s at that age when he’s too cool to admit it 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 17, 2014 @ 9:50 am

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