Life at the end of the road

January 31, 2016

A ‘stay of execution’ :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:53 pm

The day started off really good, no wind no rain and I even stayed in bed until 7:00. Well it was still pitch dark outside and I’d done all the preparation yesterday, so no point getting up early. Chances are I’d have got involved with something, got side-tracked and been late. Happens every Sunday when I’m working so no reason for it not to happen this Sunday.

The preparation was of course for two of the wiglets, who were due to go to Dingwall today and return next week in six large cardboard boxes. The Landy ‘levels had been checked’ the trailer filled with bedding and the lights fixed. Scot EID forms filled in and  the abattoir booked.

Ferry at 10:00 so my son and I left at 9:00 to give us plenty of time to load up two off the ‘wee darlings’ at Tarbert and have a nice leisurely drive south. Just as I  was leaving  I remembered to collect my 900mm long ‘strong arm’ from the workshop in case I had a puncture.

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With two of the gilts safely in the trailer we continued to the ferry feeling very smug and actually looking forward to a ‘boys day out’. Well, I was, it’s hard to tell with a teenager Smile

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It did not last long!!!!! two miles down the road we had a puncture, still we had plenty of time and all the tools. Trouble is one of the most important ones didn’t work. My trusty 1980’s vintage Ford Transit 5ton hydraulic bottle jack refused flatly to lift the ‘Old Girl’ high enough to get the spare wheel on Sad smile Ah well, the ‘best laid plans of mice and men’ and it was a nice day for a walk.

Whereupon we came across this Astute class submarine perhaps HMS Artful? due for commissioning early this year.

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Astute class

It was at this very spot six years ago that I filmed the first of the class diving. HMS Astute went on to run aground near the Skye bridge, then one of her crew members ran amok with an assault rifle killing an officer and wounding another . Not a lucky ship, wonder if she was launched on a Friday! Apparently the average tar considered it very bad luck to launch ships on Friday. Legend has it that to put paid to this ridiculous superstition  the ‘Lords of the Admiralty’ commissioned a HMS Friday and then launched it on a Friday whereupon it sank Smile Sadly or perhaps fortunately that’s just an urban myth Smile

Anyway sorry to Keane and Richard Hughes in particular for the unlicensed use of that song, it just happened to be playing in the Land Rover at the time!


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On the way back we retrieved a casualty of Gertrude, two Pioner boats that had been blown off their trailer.

After a cup of tea at home we returned to the Old Girl and her cargo of pigs

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and got on with putting on the spare, having abandoned all hope of taking piggies anywhere until next week. Monday is the only day for pigs at the slaughterhouse and the ferry looks dubious for tomorrow afternoon.


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Some two hours after first picking them up we deposited the pigs back at Tarbert and any fears that I had of their being stressed by their ordeal proved unfounded. The wee darlings were quite reluctant to actually get out of the warm trailer!!

The broadband mast

Being totally ‘off grid’ without any ‘hard wired’ or piped services in or out means we’ve gotta be quite resourceful at times. We may have the most reliable electricity supply on Raasay or even Skye for that matter, probably on the whole West Coast in fact. We most certainly have the most reliable and fastest internet on the island but it has let us down once or twice of late. We lost it on Christmas Eve for a day and it went off during Gertrude for a few hours. Not bad for two years and three months service. The problem was at the mast which I ‘power up’ for the Applecross Community Company . All the recent storms had loosened it’s mountings somewhat so my son and I went to sort that out.

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It’s a bit of an epic hike up there, even after taking the quad as far as North Arnish, which is pretty much halfway of the almost 1 mile of armoured cable that feeds it.

We decided to fit extra rock anchors and four guy wires and had to lug all the kit up there. OK my son carried most of it leaving me with just a roll of fencing wire and the 24V Hitachi drill.

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Was well pleased with the result

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but left some of the tools and a couple of scaffolding clamps behind for future use. I once went all the way up there to discover a broken clamp and had go all the way back down to get one Sad smile

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fine views though, that’ll be the Applecross peninsula and Applecross Bay.

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That’s Loch Arnish, Skye, Holm Island and hidden by cloud the mighty Storr.

January 30, 2016

The magic ‘Ton’ :-)

One thing about Gertrude and her ‘passing wind’ was that she certainly filled our turnip with energy. After yet another virtually silent night behind thick walls a concrete floor and triple glazing I awoke to the full fury of a westerly gale, at least I think it was westerly it’s well dark when I surface in the mornings. Apart from the sudden drop in temperature and the associated conversion of rain to hail, it was much like yesterday. The house may be super insulated but it was definitely cooler inside than normal. A quick look at the outside temperature sensor on the roof mounted solar hot water tubes indicated just 2 degrees outside. Hardly freezing but a good bit cooler than the previous days 6 or 7 degrees. We only manually switch the heating on for a couple of hours in the evening, partly because we’re ‘off grid’ and economy of electricity usage is now second nature, but mainly cos I can’t work the controller Smile

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Must get around to reading the manual one of these days Smile Anyway between all the wind, water and even sunshine Gertrude gave us 100kWh of energy yesterday and 101kWh today, if only we were getting paid for it all. Bizarrely you can actually claim the ‘Feed in Tariff’ even if you are ‘off grid’ like us but that means getting someone who is ‘MCS registered’ to do the installation with new gear. me I like to do stuff myself and much of my gear is second hand, seconds, or not ‘MCS approved. A new turnip like ours would set you back best part of £20K with the ground works, mine was £800 plus around £400 worth of diesel to collect it from Yorkshire.

Sure I fitted the later blades and a new set of springs to it, but that was cos old ones got damaged whilst it was awaiting to be raised and was my fault. The last two days, thanks to Gertrude the thing has produced 64kWh and 62kWh so I’m ‘well chuffed’.

Just like a garage

Today’s main tasks apart from paying the Inland Revenue, helping wifey with her tax return and doing all the paperwork associated with moving pigs was to continue working on the Subaru.

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The rear offside wheel bearing having turned into a bit of an epic. Everything was seized, I had to cut the long 14mm bolts that hold the track control arms onto the hubs and use all manner of bodges and pullers to remove the complete hub carriers, drive shafts and bearings form both sides.

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Having had to cut through both of the 240mm long 14mm bolts that secure the hub carrier to the lower arms I then had to remove them with a puller made from a large socket and some threaded bar. All in all a three hour job turned into a three day one!!!

In between the frequent hail showers it was out collecting bedding for the pigs.


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Then a couple of hours spent sorting out the rear lights on my trailer ready for the trip to Munro’s tomorrow. Normally

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we’d be taking them in on a Monday but I think Henry will be hot on Gertrude’s heals then Sad smile


Methinks my son will be missing another day off school Sad smile

That was it really, most of the day was spent in the barn under the wife’s car so pretty dull really.


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Seems strange without the telehandler and caravan, I’ll really miss the former, would have liked to get another ‘Fred Flintstone’  table and chairs outside the hoose Smile

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