Life at the end of the road

January 9, 2015

A touch of ‘Willy Willy’ :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, life off grid — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:00 pm

Well that’ll be the storm by with, or at least the first bit of it, looks like it’ll be even worse tomorrow, probably not in ferocity but in timing. Today’s offering from the west had the courtesy to arrive during the hours of darkness and was all but gone by day break. The worst of it seemed to hit the schoolhouse windows around 3:00am, at any rate, that’s when it awoke me, I’m not used to such a cacophony of sound on my windows and slates. Number 3 is tucked out of the worst of the weather, seldom even gets the windows wet and has no slates to rattle.

I couldn’t help worrying about my new neighbours tucked up in bed there though, there had been an odd bolt of lightning through the the night and I thought an RCD may have tripped. Not that that is a big deal but it would put off the broadband in Applecross and give the new owners a surprise. Especially after me telling them we have the most reliable power supply on the west coast. As it happened (as usual) the north end of Raasay did not join 70,000 other consumers on the west coast, including Raasay in having a blackout.

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The Studer inverter and Rolls batteries continued to belt out the power as the storm raged outside the double glazing. My old Proven wind turbine and Trace inverter fed ‘number 3’ with good clean sine wave 50Hz 230v electricity whilst much of the west coast were searching for their torches. I do love living ‘off grid’ Smile 

I wish Vodafone were as prepared

Whilst we were enjoying fried potatoes and eggs for breakfast and watching the chaos on the TV we did have one major problem, a lack of mobile phone signal Sad smile Normally there’s a good signal here from the Skriag mast on Skye but it’s been off since the last gale a month ago. There is however, or at least there was, a signal at South Arnish and the caravan via the Staffin mast. Not today there wasn’t, the one thing I had to do today was to make a phone call, and what an epic that turned into.

I had to transfer some money to the legalized ‘loan sharks’ we call mortgage companies, OK they don’t screw you with extortionate interest rates, they just hit you with a gazillion and one other charges. Not content with bleeding you for ten years they want an ‘arrangement fee’ an ‘extra security fee’ the ‘insurance fee’ and of course the brokers commission to name just a few. However, before departing the schoolhouse for the day to try and do this I went round the back of the Old Mission House to ‘crank up’ the Harris turbine. The Harris hydro turbine that normally provides most of the winter power here is not used to a TV, toaster and XBox being on all day so I went to open up another of the three nozzles.


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These American turbines, originally based on a large car alternator are probably the longest serving of all the small hydro turbines on the market. Originally designed and built by Don Harris in California they have been taken over by who continue to provide spares and excellent service.

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Opening the medium nozzle and closing the small pushes up the power from a couple of hundred watts to around 500, so around 12kWh per day. More than enough for our requirements and at this time of year there is no shortage of water.

Of course as soon as I got to South Arnish it became apparent that there was no phone signal at all, it also became abundantly clear that it had been very windy indeed.

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A couple of trees were down at the end of the drive to ‘number 3’

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and worse still was to come.


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The beautiful garden wall outside the house had collapsed, no doubt due to the roots on that tree lifting it during the gale.

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The old hen houses had also took a battering from a leylandi that had lost a bough.

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There was more, the ‘Disco’ had lost its bonnet, a pig arc had moved several meters, branches were strewn everywhere and the orange plastic net that kept the hens out of the kitchen garden was cut to shreds.

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And all this was before I even got up to the caravan and new house, fortunately the worst thing that happened there was that the caravan window had blown open. Consequently it was full of dead grass and a frying pan had been blown onto the floor, I’m sure glad we weren’t in there last night.

Settled in there after I’d cleared up I went online but could still not get any of the phones to work so couldn’t transfer any money. Eventually, with some help from my new neighbours who let me use their landline I got sorted but it took me until well after midday.

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The new residents of number 3 put on their coats and took the owners out for a walk and I tried to get a working phone at the caravan.


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A month ago I’d decided not to bother getting a landline for the new house, ever since then though we’ve been without a reliable Vodafone signal so I’ll have to rethink that.

I removed the ‘Vodafone Sure signal’ from ‘number 3’ but it’s not really the answer. The Sure Signal works over the internet but its not really compatible with the protocol that’s used for our wireless based system. It is certainly fine for texts and sometimes great for speech but not always, fine if you have a landline for backup but not really reliable for full time use. I also had to swap the ‘nano stations’ over to get it working, even so, I probably had the only working Vodafone mobile on Raasay Smile

Having got as far as I could with the phone but still not managed to speak to the ‘post lady’ I turned my attention to finishing the ‘discs and pads’ on MiL’s Peugeot and a pile more boxes of carp from ‘number 3’.

Finally, around 18:00, I called it a day and headed down the track to the schoolhouse and a lovely box of fine red wines donated by Sue.


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It took a while to choose one to share the evening with, but eventually we settled on ‘Willy Willy’ a fine 2013 Shiraz from ‘down under’.

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First however, I had to remove part of Dick or Tracy from salt and clean off the mould from the salami Smile Our two last pigs had been expertly butchered by ‘The Swiss surgeon, Russian art dealer and English TV producer’ but these bits had been left behind and needed dealt with.


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The ham just needed a wipe with a cloth and hanging, well after cutting a slice of and checking it of course Smile The chorizo and salami needed a wipe with ‘natures secret weapon’

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and it was incredibly difficult to do it without hacking off a sample Smile 

I can’t believe I’m working Sad smile

Being skint and spending the last couple of summers doing pointless training at college and on ‘big boats’ I’ve kind of missed out on the ‘festival circuit’. When wifey arrived home tonight and informed me of this I got all excited.

Portree’s iconic Am Meall, ‘The Lump’ — the traditional home of the Isle of Skye Highland Games — is to play host to a new music festival this April.

Skye Live will feature some 10 acts over two days on Easter weekend (3rd and 4th April).

The event is the brainchild of local promoters and DJs Niall Munro and Ali MacIsaac, who are hoping to go some way to fill the void for local festival-goers since the last Isle of Skye Music Festival was held at Ashaig in 2007.

Skye band the Peatbog Faeries — who enjoy a cult following across the globe — will be playing a rare home gig and are one of six acts so far confirmed on the bill.

Last night (Wednesday) Shooglenifty and Optimo were added to a line up that also includes Niteworks and DJs Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston.

Organiser Niall, who is the son of former Runrig frontman Donnie Munro, said dance music would take centre stage on the Friday night, with Saturday night carrying a more Celtic/traditional flavour. The festival will be held in a marquee — meaning the vagaries of the Skye weather shouldn’t pose too many problems.

Niall added: “The idea for putting on a festival has been in our heads for a while. Skye is such a great location – and ‘the Lump’ is very much a centrepoint in Portree. We think Skye has been missing an event like this, but we are starting out on a much smaller scale.”

Organisers hope to attract between 800-1,000 to the festival, and tickets will go on sale next week.

The Peat Bog Faeries


Andrew Weatherall.

They are ‘poles apart’ but both awesome in their own way, seen them both live several times and methinks I could be asking me ‘back to back’ to cover Smile

skye live pic



  1. Count me in for the festival, as long as my shifts allow it that is

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — January 9, 2015 @ 11:33 pm

  2. Hi Paul

    I wondered how you were all faring up at the north end with your own energy supply and how this would differ away from the shelter of no 3. It’s very windy on our hill outside Bacup but nothing like the strength of the wind up your way. They have put the breaks on the wind turbines, however, of which there are loads hereabouts.

    Keep warm and dry

    Happy anniversary


    Comment by Sue — January 10, 2015 @ 2:15 pm

  3. Ah, homophone corner: BRAKES. not breaks!!

    Comment by Sue — January 10, 2015 @ 2:15 pm

  4. Admire your ham. Stay warm dry and safe.

    Comment by Andrew — January 10, 2015 @ 3:21 pm

  5. Now charcuterie is something i want to try, I bake sourdough bread, brew all kinds of beer and wine and make smelly cheese, but the dark art of charcterie has eluded me. I think it stands in the realms of mushroom picking, by that I mean you need to know what you are doing or you could do some serious damage to your self. Very envious now.

    Comment by Alistair — January 11, 2015 @ 7:51 pm

  6. just remebered you need a pig for Charcuterie something we lack here in suburbia.

    Comment by Alistair — January 11, 2015 @ 7:56 pm

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