Life at the end of the road

August 18, 2014

Diesel bug***ed :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, stonework — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:26 pm

Well, it’s been a funny old day but it didn’t quite ‘pan out’ as I expected, my quiet evening reading the revised ‘Hybrid Ferry Manual’ disappeared into my waste oil tank, leaving me with a taste of diesel and smelly fingers. More of that later though, for now it’s 21:00 and time to do what I should have been two hours ago, and that would be relaxing after the wife’s lovely pasta bake. The leftovers from Sunday’s ham and pineapple roast making a fine Carbonara  sort of dish with tomato and cheese. The lovely Chianti classico that should have accompanied it being a little tainted by the taste of diesel in my mouth.

Murray’s gone

The first task today after the now routine back exercises, pill lottery and hen feeding was to take Murray back home. Although the post lady was heading south to work she was carrying eggs for the community shop and didn’t want them in the car with the wee dug. Murray is not a great traveller and prone to the odd bout of ‘stomach emptying’. So it was agreed that I’d return him whilst stopping regularly to give him a wee walk. In truth I was quite happy hanging onto him for a little longer Smile

After just a couple of miles driving the newly ‘TDi’d’ ‘Old Girl’ we stopped at the Screapadale parking place and went for a wander down the old forestry track. It’s hard to envisage now but this whole area was, until ten years ago a coniferous plantation. There was much whining by some folk when it was cut down, but I for one was glad to see the back of it. I don’t mind regimented plantations of none native trees, they’re a crop that needs harvested, providing a few jobs along the way. I even used to enjoy walking down the dark narrow track between them all to the lovely pebble beach. However once they were harvested the place became a bright blaze of foxglove and native flora, pretty soon the brash and stumps became overgrown and now it’s regenerating naturally and smelling of sweet heather.


Seriously, ten years ago this was like ‘Mirkwood’ from ‘Lord of The Rings’


and you you struggle to find the stumps of the old spruce and fir.


Mother nature is a great healer.



Fifteen years ago this old ruin was a dank, dark moss covered pile of stones barely discernable amongst the closely planted evergreens. The sunlight has killed off it’s soft green shroud and now there’s even a small birch tree inside it.



I just marvel at the size of the stones and the skill of the masons that rounded the corners to let the gales ease by.



Some of those stones must be half a ton and more.

It was only a short walk, just to relax the ‘wee dug’ really and pretty soon afterwards we were back at the Land Rover.



This is Grian a Sgier west of Fladda, the ‘sunny skerry’ or sunny rock in Gaelic. It’s a few miles away and was indeed catching the sun, not to mention some of the northerly swell.


Our next ‘port of call’ would be the Inver parking place at the bottom of Glam Brae, Lot Eiachan is its name, though I’ve no idea how to spell it. Anyway, I think it means ‘Hector’s croft’, so that’s what I call it, there are a few ruins there before the path proper down to Inver, one of Raasay’s few sandy beaches and once a favourite with the Royal family. Many is the time that the Royal yacht Britannia has anchored off there and the whole entourage landed on Raasay. Even in my time I remember the crew from the attendant destroyer coming ashore and drinking the pub dry. It was even rumoured once that prince Charles called on Calum himself at Arnish, and to be perfectly honest it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.


The ruins here are of a completely different style to the Screapadale ones, though probably of similar age. Here the stones are much smaller, evenly sized, the corners far more pronounced and the walls perpendicular to the ground.



This is a more likely a barn than a house but I just love the way that a huge natural boulder has been incorporated into the wall.


As with many buildings, their shape and use change over the centuries, here if you look carefully you can see where a doorway has been blocked, yet it’s been done with such skill that it’s not immediately obvious.


After our brief potter about the ruins and perusal of the Inver path we continued southwards as far as Henderson’s bridge.

021 022 023

Here we all went for a little wander in the beech wood but never got very far due to the ceps!!!!


024 026

This ‘Rolls Royce’ of the mushroom world was growing in profusion there and I picked a few fine specimens before finally delivering Murray back to his home. My reluctance at parting with him being tempered by the two fine bottles of red wine I received for being his baby sitter Smile

A serious shed

Having taken Murray back I decided it was high time I visited my good friend and ex skipper Willy Eyre, good friends being people you can ignore for two years then ‘pop in and see’ as if nothing had happened Smile As usual, my mate was on great form and after a cup of coffee and a spell of catching up he took me to see his last project.



029   028

A very friendly shed made completely from recycled timber, corrugated iron and old caravan aluminium!!! pure genius Smile

The dreaded diesel bug!!!!

After that it was back home and a spell of gentle house work until the wife came home from work and lit the oil stove in the kitchen. Not that it was cold, but just to heat the water, anyway, after a short while it went out and I had to go and investigate. To my dismay I find the filter choked and the tank full of water and the dreaded ‘diesel bug’, a bacteria that lives in storage tanks at the interface of water and diesel.


It’s awfully corrosive and can wreck injectors and fuel pumps in an internal combustion engine. Luckily in a stove it’s not a fraction as serious and emptying the tank, cleaning it and replacing the fuel will sort it. Then all you have to do is change all the filters,


031   032 034

clean out the ‘Toby valve’ and re fit it. Hence the diesel flavoured Chianti Sad smile now all I have to do is beat my son about the head and tell him to make sure he replaces the lid back on the oil tank after filling it!!!!! To be honest we normally run this stove off kerosene which is cheaper, hotter, not half as smelly and does not get diesel bug. However the old ‘bad back’ prevented me from getting any more so I just used the red diesel from the generator tank. It’s not the hassle of cleaning it all out and dumping the contents of the diesel tank that’s peed me off, it’s the after taste of fuel that ruined the fine red wine Sad smile 

A song for Ferguson’s

I have to thank John Rushworth for this and it did bring a tear to my eye.

The Nearest Thing to Dreams (The Fergusons Song)

The quote from the Salford poet Robert Rose jumped out at me from a tweet posted by Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie. Fergusons is the last non-military shipyard on the Clyde and the last of any sort on the Lower Clyde. It now being in administration, with the potential loss of 70 jobs, is a tragedy for the communities of Port Glasgow and Greenock.

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made,
For somewhere deep in their oaken hearts the soul of a song is laid.”
Robert N Rose

Heard there’s a padlock on the gates today
Went down to check, I just walked away
The Prince of Wales for a pint or two
Try to think of something else to do
One hundred and eleven years
That’s how long there’s been a shipyard here
Not one order on the books they say
They’re saying nothing about our back pay
The nearest things to dreams That hands have made or ever will
Now all our hopes and dreams
Have turned to unpaid bills
Through calm and storm
Those ships are sailing still
The nearest things to dreams
Politicians do the stuff they always do
Say it’s very sad, that much at least is true
They say there are jobs for us, that things just might be fine
In call centres, or one pound shops, or selling junk online
And in my house there’s pictures on my walls
Too many names for me to say them all
Flying Foam, the Flying Spray, Scotia, Sulisker
The Star Capella, Tirrick and the Shalder were built here
The Fivla and the Loch Dunvegan, Isle of Arran, Stirling Spey
The Pharos and the Falcon, the Hebrides, the Stirling Tay
I look at them, nothing can change the way I feel
The pride and mystery of my seagoing steel.

Thank god they didn’t name the MV Lochinvar the MV Sunset Song, for that was one of the possible names.



  1. Hi Paul

    Screapadal and the Royal Yacht – in the mid 80s, when the woods were still thick and the settlement stones more visible I was walking the Screapadal path when the Britannia was expected to arrive and anchor off Raasay. Of course you couldn’t see the Sound from the path then so didn’t catch sight until later when she was moored off the island – could be clearly seen from Oscaig. No meeting with royals though. It is amazing how the cleared area has recovered from the moonscape that it was in the early ’90s. The new bridge helps – I can remember the old bridge over the burn but before the hand-rails were installed to help the scramble down.



    Comment by Sue — August 19, 2014 @ 7:54 am

  2. It brought a tear to my eye too Paul. But thanks must go to Tom for his post. Is it Tom singing it? I don’t know. Maybe we should ask on his Facebook page. I enjoy Tom’s radio show and like you Paul he lives quite remotely. In fact he’s had to flash a genny up to broadcast the show from his croft on occasion when the grid fails. The show I think is still broadcast over channel bonded ISDN. Still no broadband there I think. I remember the hassle he had years ago trying to get a net connection to his croft. Something I’m sure you can relate to!

    Back to boats. Did anyone ever see a play in the shipyard boat sheds on the Clyde about 40 years ago. It was called ‘The Ship’. Talk about a tear in the eye. Very similar emotions to those spoken of here.


    Comment by Panomphaean — August 19, 2014 @ 8:05 am

  3. Believe me, if I could find someone else to sing these songs, I would. But it is, alas, just me.We do have broadband in Northmavine, Shetland (6.1 download last night) and while ISDN is the default method for broadcasting we run (very expensive app) Luci Live simultaneously, which is the BBC’s choice for IOS devices providing quality audio. It’s much better quality than ISDN but can be erratic depending on the broadband link. Whole shows have been done using it. And can be from anywhere with a decent wi-fi link.
    Honda Generator (with backup) and an UPS on the electronics has kept me on air through storms and powercuts with no interruption save two records shoved together so I can start the gennie.

    Comment by Tom Morton (@thebeatcroft) — August 19, 2014 @ 9:35 am

  4. Found the first ceps here yesterday, are you the only one hunting them there? Great to see the pine woods going, in Brittany they are supposed to be replaced by native species but we will see. When you see all those ruined buildings in your minds eye you wonder what the countryside must have been like all those years ago.

    Comment by Andrew — August 19, 2014 @ 10:48 am

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