Life at the end of the road

August 23, 2014

‘Meet the neighbours’ :-)

Filed under: Croft house for sale, daily doings, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:10 pm

Considering I’ve been at home for days doing very little I’ve spent hardly anytime ‘on line’, not just blogging but anything ‘virtual’ has been very much on the ‘backburner’ of late. Sure I’ve done more than a little ‘pottering’ in the shed, managing to finish the overhaul of my Warn XP9.5 winch.


The ‘battleship grey’ finish turning out far better than I expected, though that’s hardly surprising after me giving it three gloss coats with a rub down between each. I do hope I don’t have a bad back when I retire, there’s only so many light jobs you can do on a croft, Land Rover or house. I think I’d go barmy very quickly, it’s only since my son has returned from school that I’ve actually been able to do any serious work. Or should I say direct him to do any Smile

I must say though I’ve been getting quite involved with the wife’s chooks since I’ve been off, lugging feed sacks for the pigs is still out. One thing for sure though, that ‘solar powered’ hen shed that took me months to construct was worth every minute, penny and chilblain I suffered in freezing wellies.

005  006 007 003

Those ‘roll away’ nesting boxes just make life so much easier and result in far less dirty or damaged eggs. They were larger than we needed so we closed off the bottom row of both as they seldom used them for some reason and they were harder to clean, though even that wasn’t difficult. Having both the feed and bedding stored in the shed means far less fetching and carrying and the house is large enough to clean easily without bending down. Electric light will make such a difference for wifey in winter and feeding the chooks inside saves a fortune on feed and shotgun cartridges for the crows and pigeons.

Yes, considering this was just built as a frame for a 4kW solar array it has to be one of the most useful of my constructions to date. OK, it’s not actually got any solar panels on yet but that is about to change Smile

Another enquiry about the house inspired me to remove the huge redundant satellite broadband dish off the rear of the house. Or should I say it persuaded me to give my son a lesson in how to remove ‘Rawlplugs’ and unused hardware from an old stone building then repaint it.



I had a good feeling about this inquiry, we’ve had quite a few of late but this particular one sounded very encouraging. It’s one thing selling a house but for us here at the ‘north end’ we’re also purchasing a neighbour so to speak. The folk that live here will be an integral part of our tiny community where we all at times have to rely on each other. Consequently I don’t think removing an old dish, mopping the kitchen floor, hiding the bills and hoovering the bedrooms was going to make a blind bit of difference. It did however make me feel much better and to my mind at least made the wife’s ‘meadow’ look much better.



We used to have a lawn out here but the wife stopped me cutting it this year and I have to say I’m glad I did, dunno what it’s going to look like in the winter but just now it’s amazing and must be good for the birds and bees.

As has been quite normal for several of our prospective buyers we’ve let them stay in the caravan so they can get a feel for the place. Not only that there’s precious little accommodation to be had for folk with dogs at the best of times and in August hardly a bed on Skye let alone Raasay.

It was of course typical August weather when the ‘old Jeep’ arrived,


well if that’s old then I’m ancient Smile

Anyway, despite the grim weather we went on a tour of the estate picking up a few chanterelles on they way, returning wet, thirsty and hungry to our cosy kitchen and its round table. At a lightning quick pace our guests unpacked all the goodies they’d brought and I rustled up a quick salad. The empty stomach, rich cheeses, olives and sun dried tomatoes conspired with the wine to very quickly ‘get a good head on’ and the house was sold. In all honesty I think the house was sold the moment they stepped out of the Jeep, the evening just sealed what I think will be a great friendship. It also gave us flavour of things to come, I can’t wait Smile

The day after was like August should be, a fresh morning and sunny day with five sore heads,


well perhaps not that sore. Anyway after several pots of coffee, lots of deliberation and another quick tour our new friends left to set the ‘ball in motion’.

019 020

Taking with them some bog myrtle


their two Venezuelan dogs and almost a stowaway.

The euphoria of finally selling our very special, quirky and cosy wee hoose was not in the least bit tempered by the thought of spending the winter in a caravan, at least not yet anyway. A few nights have past and I’ve been sleeping better than I have done in a long while as the thought of servicing two mortgages recedes over the horizon Smile 

A real community

I kinda lost track of things after that  but my camera would seem to say that I repaired my mates trailer.

 009 010

Probably the most taxing thing I’d done in three weeks and a job that was long overdue, it being me that probably did most of the damage anyway.

The bad back has driven me to do something I’ve not done ever, buy some wood. Luckily the Raasay Community company does a really good deal on split logs. It does an even better deal if you uplift and cut it yourself, for residents, that service is free!! Anyway, I wasn’t fit for doing that and my son is only home for the weekend, with more pressing things to do than cut wood. However we arranged to go down to the pit and collect a mixed load of split and unprocessed timber for a nominal fee and the Dude came along to do the donkey work.

 021 022

There were already a handful of volunteers there cutting and splitting wood for sale and another couple delivering uncut lengths to elderly people fro neighbours and relatives to cut. Perhaps when I retire I can get more involved in this kind of work, it’s just amazing watching people ‘pull together’.

The day was turning into a pure belter with just the odd shower that was soon forgotten and I spent most of the afternoon teaching my son how to use a chainsaw.


My mates Sthil MS180 was needing a service so I ran through that with him, but the first thing I noticed was the brake wasn’t working.

023  024

Removing the cover I saw the clutch housing was blue and the plastic shroud melted, someone had been running it with the brake on!!! The linkage was also broken, probably as a result of being forced after the brake band melted into the plastic. Anyway we removed the chain and I showed him how to sharpen it before putting him to the wife’s Kevlar trousers, lecturing him on safety and giving him a shot with the electric one.


To be honest it’s at its limit on that piece of wood but it’s quiet and does give you a feel for it. After that he graduated to my 026 and the chain snapped!!!!!!


It’s almost new, I don’t think I’ve ever sharpened it and it wasn’t even being worked hard. It’s a genuine Sthil chain too, or at least that’s what it says on the links, 30 years I’ve been cutting wood and I’ve never seen a chain snap until today.


Didn’t put the boy off though and as soon as I’d fitted another chain he was right back into it.

A solar hen shed at last

I know I keep referring to the solar powered hen shed, which was in fact a wooden solar ground mount made from reclaimed pier timbers and parts of Raasay House. The mount got turned into a shed, or at least I started to build it in September


and that’s it in March, so it gives you some idea how long it took. Anyway, the panels and mounts are at last being fitted to it.


My son will be doing solar PV in physics soon so this is good practice for him,


what a guy Smile



  1. many congratulations Paul … the house is sold at last … and what a lovely welcome to your new neighbours, when will they be moving in?

    shame you have to move into the caravan for the winter, but I assume the money from the sale will let you speed up finishing your new house

    Comment by cazinatutu — August 23, 2014 @ 10:24 pm

    • Thanks Caz.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

  2. Fingers crossed for you with the Sale Paul, you will be looking forward to the new house now and with that view who can blame you, Not to mention the new shed!!
    new beginnings indeed!

    Comment by v8mbo — August 23, 2014 @ 11:18 pm

    • Thanks Robin, lookin’ forward to a view myself, it’s even nice from the caravan 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:46 pm

  3. Congratulations Paul. I couldn’t talk my wife into leaving California for Raasay, but I tried several times.

    Comment by Morgan — August 24, 2014 @ 3:38 am

    • Much appreciated Morgan, half an hour ago I wouldn’t have moved to Arnish. I was getting eaten alive with the midge having forgot my Smidge 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

  4. What a relief for you. At least the Scottish house sale system should mean that a sale is a sale and no messing. Hope so, anyway.



    Comment by Sue — August 24, 2014 @ 5:59 am

    • Fingers crossed Sue.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

  5. Wow fantastic news Paul, delighted for you!
    Cracking post.

    Comment by Andrew — August 24, 2014 @ 6:39 am

    • Cheers Andrew,
      how’s it going in Finisterre these days, missing Tod but just don’t seem to get the time these days 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:43 pm

  6. Fantastic news on the house! The winch is looking good too, it makes a nice change for something like that to be serviceable instead of disposable

    Comment by Gareth — August 24, 2014 @ 8:21 am

    • Aye Gareth, I can’t praise Warn’s after sales service highly enough, parts aint cheap right enough but the back up is first class.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

  7. Congrats on the house sale Paul, definitely a weight off the mind even if it does mean living in the caravan! Having lived in one on the dole meant roasting in summer and freezing in winter, but you’ve got power galore to keep things comfy!
    Wee tip for The Dude which I was taught in the army, lock out the left elbow so that if you do get a kick, the saw pivots up and hits the brake before it can do the operator any harm.
    The 2ic of the last regt I was in hadnt been trained and didnt do that … horrendously scarred from L forehead to R chin as a result !!
    (Are officers genetically short on common sense?) 😉

    Comment by caadfael — August 24, 2014 @ 9:55 am

    • (Are officers genetically short on common sense?)

      funnily enough I noticed something similar with the few ‘genius’s’ that I know 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

  8. That is good news, Paul although no doubt you will both be a bit sad – in fact all 3! At least you’re not leaving your beloved North End and it will be good to see your community increasing.

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — August 24, 2014 @ 10:29 am

    • Yes Anne, the next time I leave Arnish it’ll be in a wooden box, though not by boat to the cemetery at the south end as was the tradition.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

      • That’s a new one on me, Paul I. Hadn’t realised that they used to go by boat. It must have been a tricky business getting a coffin down to the jetty and up to the cemetery at the other end. Mind you, I never really thought about what they did!

        Comment by Anne Macdonald — August 24, 2014 @ 11:04 pm

  9. Congratulations to you and the family Paul, it must be a weight of your mind. Would love to hear more of how the old girl is going withe the “new” motor.
    Cheers, Iain

    Comment by Iain-Down under — August 24, 2014 @ 10:53 am

    • Hi Oz,

      she’s going great, used her to bring up the trailer load of wood and barely noticed it, can’t wait to get her on the ‘open road’ with the Thomson on the back.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

  10. Hi Paul just looking at your nesting boxes and retrieval set, do all the hens use these or do some still use the floor?
    and I hope your well on the mend.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — August 24, 2014 @ 11:38 am

    • Hi Walter,

      there’s always some that lay on the floor no matter what you do, we get the same four hens dropping their eggs in the same place daily, luckily two of them lay in a clean spot just behind a door.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

  11. Well done on the sale Paul. I’m sure you can make the caravan cosy for the winter while looking forward to moving ‘next door’ in spring.

    Comment by Carie — August 24, 2014 @ 1:16 pm

    • Hi Carie and thanks,

      I’m sure you can make the caravan cosy for the winter

      We may not have to, been offered two alternatives already.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 24, 2014 @ 1:34 pm

  12. Congratulations on selling the house, I was begining to wonder wether you would ever finish the new house. I don’t envy a winter in a caravan,mind you yours does sound better than my freezing cold caravan which was side on to westerlies and not attached to terra ferma.

    Comment by Alistair — August 24, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

  13. Paul,
    That is brilliant news, the best news for a while and despite the bad back no doubt made you smile.
    I trust the new owners approve of their new neighbours? 😉

    Good to hear praise for the WARN, like so much you get what you pay for and if you give it some TLC every once in a while it will last.

    I use these folk for all Stihl kit and as you can see from their website their stock is pretty comprehensive.

    Drop me an email if I can pick anything up for you before I come up, they do mail order, not sure on P&P costs though.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — August 24, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

    • Cheers for the link Michael, though I’d already ordered a brake band off eBlag, chances are it’ll be a Chinese clone and last 10 minutes. When the £3.95 one breaks I’ll change it for a £30 Stihl one 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 26, 2014 @ 7:09 am

  14. Great news about the house Paul – was beginning to wonder if she’d ever sell, been busy myself up here with digger,dumper & wee brother, think we found every pipe around the croft – the hard way!!

    Comment by George — August 25, 2014 @ 12:14 am

    • Aye George, sounds about right, the boy and I are going to have a wee session like that in October. Hopefully a full week of ‘diggin an dumpin’.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 26, 2014 @ 7:07 am

  15. Fantastic news about the house Paul. If only I could have convinced the family myself 😉

    Comment by Simon — August 25, 2014 @ 7:31 am

    • You just didn’t try hard enough Si 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 26, 2014 @ 7:05 am

  16. Seems like the population of the north end may finally be picking up. I hope your new neighbors work out better than ours did. A young couple, the male of the species starry-eyed with becoming a farmer. When they first visited, they came on strong with all the wonderful things they were going to do, but started by hiring a logger to clear-cut about a hundred acres of trees, breaking a half-dozen Maine forest conservation laws in the process, including the one that says you can’t clear-cut up to a year-round stream. The logger had an idiot driver who parked an 80-foot articulated log truck fifty yards outside my 87 year old neighbor’s door at 4am with the engine running and a bad muffler. Then the wannabe farmers blocked the main trail with a hot-wire fence, set at perfect decapitation level for fourtrax and snowmobiles, no signs, no warning for the snowmobile club. Before the winter he built cattle fence but no shelter. In the middle of the winter the weather proved too cold for the kid’s cows, but he couldn’t find a truck to borrow to pull a large borrowed stock trailer. He got it in there, down a half-mile track, with a Subaru Outback, loaded it with fifteen steers and couldn’t get it out again. He then left the steers in there for 72 hours while he went off to find a truck. He said he fed and watered them inside the trailer, but I only saw him come by twice in that time. He then built what was supposed to be an off grid house, but then had the power company extend the line. This summer he’s spent what must have been $15K on gravel and equipment hire to widen the track, now a fifteen-foot wide gravel road, but still not bought his own truck, not bought his own trailer, nor built a barn, not even hay storage, so things won’t be very different for the cows this winter, except there seem to be twice or three times as many, as well as twenty-odd pigs. We all depend on each other at the end of this particular road too, and we’ll all be glad when the inevitable happens and this kid goes back to whatever suburb he came from.

    Comment by mick — August 25, 2014 @ 8:53 am

    • Sounds like a right plonker Mick, methinks we’ve had one or two like that looking at oor wee hoose, luckily they were put off by ‘lack of employment prospects’.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 26, 2014 @ 7:04 am

  17. Brilliant news for you and the family…Best wishes for a rosy future

    Comment by chrisbbbbb — August 25, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

    • Morning Chris,
      Aye, the best news in a long while 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 26, 2014 @ 7:02 am

  18. Wee bit of good news for you, Jim McColl of Clyde blowers has bought Fergusons shipyard,, so many of the mates you made will now have jobs again!

    Comment by caadfael — August 26, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

  19. So glad to hear you have sold the house at last – must be a huge relief (combined with a funny nostalgic feeling about leaving after so many years). Your new neighbours look really wacky, I’m sure they are good fun. Will they want to keep any livestock, or are they just after the quiet life? How do they earn their crust? Do they work from home? Now you can get the new house fitted out; it shouldn’t take long. Congratulations, anyway, and maybe see you next year in your new home on our second ever visit to Raasay!

    Comment by Sue from Sallachy — August 27, 2014 @ 6:51 pm

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