Life at the end of the road

January 29, 2016

I’ve ordered a diary :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, life off grid, shed/house, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:46 pm

Well ‘blow me’ peeps, seems I’m sorely missed, just come back from the ‘big city’ and got loads of grief from several friends and ‘followers’. Just checked me ‘Facecloth’ page and found a few more, I gave up on that a while ago cos quite simply I cannae understand it so I turned off the ‘email notification’ thingummy. Well I’m honoured to say the least that so many folk have been missing my wittering’s on here. I have tried, honest, I really have, I’ve started at least half a dozen posts between November and now but just never finished them. Truth is, it’d been a little hectic to say the least with most of my days ending around 22:00 with a shower and bed.

Sure I’ve missed you all and the great ‘craic’ but I’ve been ‘pure feckered’ most nights and collapsed in my bed. That will be a nice warm toasty Sonas bedroom where the sides don’t move in and out with every gust of wind. Yes, we are at last in our new home and I have to say that it has surpassed our wildest expectations. We set out to build an amazing ‘off grid’ house totally powered by renewable energy and we’ve achieved it, apart from the gas cooker we are totally electric and it’s all free Smile 

We moved in a month ago and just put the heating on for a couple of hours every night, though we never even did that on Christmas day cos the house was more than adequately heated by the extra people, dogs and cooking!!! I kid you not, this house is amazing, it’s heated by an 800w heat pump and the surplus from our wind, solar and hydro.

Anyway, here I am full of ‘Black Russian’ and talking ‘mince’ so I’ll have a look through me camera and try and catch up.

So much for that then!

Too many Black Russian’s I’m afraid and this post was destined to remain unfinished like the others I’ve started since I last ‘recycled’ my underwear. Anyway, tis Sunday night now, the chicken is in the oven in a bag!!!! what on earth is all that about? Campylobacter, apparently it’s related to 280,000 sickness’s and a 100 deaths a year, aye right. More packaging, more waste and more expense just because morons cannae cook properly, wash their hands or want to sue someone.

That’s the ‘chicken in bag’ demolished so I’ll try and ‘move on’, where was I,

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still in Birkenhead if this picture is to be believed Smile That’s the Hallaig with the Lord Of The Isles in the next dry dock and the RFA Fort Rosalie floating in the basin. Gosh that’s 10 weeks ago now, seems like a lifetime.

After what is hopefully my last visit ever to Cammell Laird I arrived home an the 4th or 5th of November amidst great activity in the kitchen.

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Iain, my ‘master carpenter’ was busy finishing off our utility room and kitchen. I would like to say there’s not a single bit of ply, chipboard or MDF in both rooms but that would be a lie, the facings, window sills and skirting is MDF Sad smile Something that contrasts very well with all the real wood.


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On the way home I purchased this floor polisher and as soon as the kitchen and utility room were finished we set about giving our polished concrete floor the final buff.

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I got on with mounting the 60 Navitron  solar thermal tubes whilst Billy of ‘Shanks Plumbing and Renewables’ did the pipework side of things and fitted the pump. I did the electrical side of the installation and the system was commissioned just in time to catch the last two or three sunny days of the year. Fitting these is well within the capability of your average DIYer and I can highly recommend the Navitron kit. They do complete fitting kits, provide excellent back up and have a great forum for all things renewable

 Fifteen dead hens Sad smile

Well the mink finally arrived at Arnish, it was inevitable really, they were spotted at Brochel and Torran last year so we were on ‘borrowed time’ really. Still it was a bit of a shock to go and feed the hens one fine morn and find fifteen uneaten corpses in the shed and another outside later on. Of the whole pile of chooks that I bagged up there was only one that had been eaten a little about the neck. The wee fecker just seemed to be after the eggs, sure its gotta eat and I wouldn’t  begrudge him the odd one or feed of eggs but slaughtering almost a quarter of the flock was a bit much.

It did however have its funny side, nay it descended into something ‘Pythonesque’, John Cleese himself could nae have written a better script. As is usual during my ‘fortnight off’, I deal with the hens in the morning and upon my arrival I was greeted by pure carnage in the hen house. Dead hens everywhere and a very unsettled flock. There were a few broken eggs, lots of feathers but very little blood, the wee mink had just gone on a killing spree and tucked into the eggs. Only one of the fifteen I found in the hen house had any sign of being eaten and that was just a small bite or two out of the neck.

The hen house and only been cleaned the day before and the store at the end was still full of bags of the old litter so I went in to retrieve an empty couple of bags to start collecting the bodies before breaking the news to wifey. Not only does that end of the hen house contain the feed, it’s also where the eggs roll out from the nesting boxes and it was whilst I was in there that I spotted the wee beggar. Bold as you like the the mink was poking its head out looking at me from one of the nesting boxes, so, quick as a flash I runs down to the house to get wife and shotgun. Telling wifey to start at the opposite end of the hen house and work her way towards the store end where I’d be waiting with the Hatsan 12 bore ‘semi auto’.  Sure enough the small, black, sleek and rather cute looking creature resurfaced in another nesting box. Cute as you like the ‘wee fecker’ was sat right next to a hen who was busy laying an egg, the pair of them taking little notice of each other!!!

Me, I awaited eagerly in what was a rather confined space at the best of times for such a weapon, the ten bags of litters, two dustbins full of feed and store cupboard leaving me little room to swing the rather long barrel. Eventually Mr Mink poke his head out of the back of the nesting box, I yelled at wifey to stand clear and let loose. Once the smoke had cleared and my ears had stopped ringing I looked at the bent steel of the nest box rack and realised I’d missed. Not an easy thing to do at 6’ but I’d managed it Sad smile After much shouting and cursing from myself and some calm words from the hen lady Mr Mink reappeared on my side of the nesting boxes and scurried behind a cupboard with me frantically chasing about the place using the barrel of the gun to push the full sacks of soiled bedding out of the way. It was a pure ‘Carry On’ film moment but eventually I did manage to blow his brains out and add some ventilation to the floor of the shed Smile 

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And don’t go clicking on those images if you’re squeamish, these American imports have no predators and have decimated our rabbit and bird populations on Raasay.

That’ll be Gertrude then

Right, that’s it, I will definitely post this tonight, I started writing it weeks ago so it probably won’t have made much sense so far. Probably best I just stop waffling hey and stick some pictures on here then. Well, as I said, that’s us firmly ensconced in a toasty Sonas and we’ve been here since the day before Desmond arrived . Gotta say that we were pretty glad not to be sleeping in the caravan that night and it was great to spend a proper Christmas with the family in a lovely warm house with no draughts. The house is so well insulated that we didn’t even turn the heating on on Christmas day!! The warmth from six people three dogs and the cooking being more than enough to keep even the elderly parents cosy.

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The Genvex ‘heat recovery’ system keeping the whole house supplied with fresh air heated by the stale extracted air from the more humid parts of the house, kitchen bathrooms and utility room.


With no chimney an internally vented drier, cooker hood and no external holes in the wall or trickle vents the house is exceptionally airtight thanks to Lachie’s attention to detail. This system provides all the ventilation with no draughts by recovering the heat from the extracted air. Heating is wet UFH with the the heat coming from a large (1500lt) thermal store.

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It took me a while to get around to lagging the pipes and what a difference that made to the amount of heat retained and the temperature in the Bunker (plant room).

Not only have I not been blogging but I haven’t been taking as many pictures, only 66 in three months!!! I can take that many in a day usually. Consequently I’ve none of getting Lachie’s telehandler stuck whilst moving our old home Smile Worse still I’ve none of winching it out with the Land Rover either!



That must have been the wild salmon creamy pasta, yum yum.



That’ll be resident piper Duncan Koek piping in the New Year at a very festive Raasay House on Hogmanay. It was a grand night indeed, though being ‘lightweights’ we departed shortly afterwards.


Two of the ‘wiglets’ will shortly be going on a one way trip, the freezer is ready for them, the other two get a reprieve until March when we’ll do a ‘home kill’.

There’s always something happening on Raasay

Work should be starting shortly on the distillery but already the ferry is busy with machinery for cutting and extracting more timber.

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Sadly this has been made necessary by the discovery of and I’m not even going to attempt to type that!

Raasay Forest Infected with Tree-killer Disease
It was confirmed last week by Forestry Commission experts that Kennel Wood
is infected with Phytopthera Ramorum, a deadly disease that kills larch trees.
The disease first appeared in Scotland in 2011 and has been working its way
north since. Raasay is the furthest north it has been found so far on the West
Coast. There is no treatment for the disease, so infected trees must be cut
down, along with any other possible hosts nearby.
A survey of the forest will be carried out in the Spring, when the disease
manifests itself, and any additional infected trees will be cut down. However, it
may already be too late to stop the disease spreading, and it may be
necessary to cut down the entire Raasay forest.

From our excellent newsletter

Apparently they’ll be taking out at least 5000 tons, perhaps 10,000 to make it worthwhile.

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This will be the Portree lifeboat ‘Stanley Watson Barker’ heading off into the ‘Golden Dawn’ Smile 


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Ferguson Transports MV Carly at the Sconser fish farm.

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Can’t remember the name of this one but judging by the peroxide on deck she’s heading for a fish farm.

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A Raasay canon ball from the beach.


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Another timber harvester.


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First job of this ‘fortnight off’ was to fill up the diesel tank here and at ‘number 3’.

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Second job was a wheel bearing on wifey’s new car, as you can see from the two blow lamps, it’s not straight forward Sad smile

Well, there was more, much much more and I even bought a proper diary, the first in eight years, for I gave up on those when I started this blog and feeling like I was going to give it up I started writing again. Somehow it’s not the same without pictures Smile



  1. Sara Matje is the blue hulled landing craft Paul.

    Comment by John MacDonald — January 29, 2016 @ 9:53 pm

  2. Great to hear from you again, Paul
    Glad all went well with moving in.


    Comment by Sue — January 29, 2016 @ 9:58 pm

  3. Good to see you back again Paul.

    Comment by Dave Butler — January 29, 2016 @ 10:22 pm

  4. Hi Paul. Delighted you’re back with us, and all is well with family and Sonas. You had us all worried there for a bit! Regards

    Comment by Sally — January 29, 2016 @ 10:25 pm

  5. Paul.
    Welcome back once again, your lack of updates have been corrected in abundance in this blog. Your blog never fails to be very informative and I always look forward to them.
    Hope your back to your usual self.
    Ps Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — January 29, 2016 @ 10:30 pm

  6. Good to see you are back with a bang!

    Comment by Api — January 29, 2016 @ 10:36 pm

  7. YeaHHH!

    Comment by may cruickshank — January 29, 2016 @ 10:41 pm

  8. Thank you for posting after this prolonged gap. Your online sharing is appreciated far and wide and we have missed hearing about you, yours and Raasay. X

    Comment by KJH — January 29, 2016 @ 10:46 pm

  9. Welcome back! Missed your posts. Have been to Raasay twice since your last post! Meant to say hello at New Year but, as you say, you left early. Hopefully next time.

    Comment by Linsay MacLean — January 29, 2016 @ 10:47 pm

  10. Good to have you back. So sorry to hear about the mink decimation.

    Comment by mudarissa — January 30, 2016 @ 12:09 am

  11. Glad you are ‘posting’ again. Welcome back.

    Comment by SOTW — January 30, 2016 @ 12:51 am

    • Morning She, all,

      thanks for all the encouragement, it was the phone call to the shop that did it, whoever that was 🙂 Well that and my mate ‘The Wellie’ bombarding me with abusive texts 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 30, 2016 @ 7:44 am

  12. Welcome back Paul. Great to see the new house looking so good.

    Comment by Simon — January 30, 2016 @ 8:02 am

  13. Brilliant to read your exploits again Paul! That really is a wonderful, efficient & amazing home you’ve created! WELL DONE! The Clarinettist & I have just been having a laugh about your mink hunting exploits -shame it has to come to that, but good to see the funny side. Going to be interesting to see what Raasay will look like around the forest when we come again, with all the felling. A lot of the timber ready to come down anyway from what I see, but it’s going to look a bit rough for quite a while.

    Take care!


    Comment by fingalextravaganza — January 30, 2016 @ 8:14 am

  14. Welcome back, you have been missed!

    Which saw mill is the larch going to? I need some larch cladding!

    Comment by Steve — January 30, 2016 @ 8:21 am

  15. Great to see you back. House looking fabulous.

    Comment by Andrew — January 30, 2016 @ 8:33 am

  16. Yahoo, he’s back online. Delighted all is well.

    Comment by willie — January 30, 2016 @ 8:52 am

  17. Thanks for posting again. Missed the ‘frontier’ experience from my dreary suburban life in the central belt.

    Comment by miketroon — January 30, 2016 @ 10:17 am

  18. Now, go out and burn that diary !
    We cannot read it, but we can read the blog !
    Welcome back buddy.

    Comment by Jon kilpatrick — January 30, 2016 @ 10:19 am

  19. Hello Paul,

    So pleased see you back and reading of your various exploits. Re the mink, I don’t think that the animal loving brigade appreciate the carnage that feral mink can cause; it’s alright for them to break into reputable breeding farms and release them, with no thought or knowledge of the mayhem which will ensue. I fear that this departed mink will not be the last to venture to your neck of the woods, so be vigilant, etc…

    Congratulations of your achievement of building your new home; having been along this route myself on more than one occasion and not to your standard, I can only stand in wonderment and the overall result. Well done.

    Perhaps now you can slow down and enjoy all of your achievements? Hope to read more blogs soon.


    Comment by Richard — January 30, 2016 @ 10:32 am

  20. The new house sounds near-perfect. Good luck with the latest adventure. We used to watch those timber harvester thingies around us in the Swedish forests. They are formidable bits of kit! Be terrible to lose all forestry, though. There’s little enough in the Western Isles, as it is!

    Comment by Iain — January 30, 2016 @ 10:55 am

  21. Great to have you back you were missed
    And best of luck with the new house
    Albert from the west coast of Ireland

    Comment by Albert walsh — January 30, 2016 @ 11:29 am

  22. Hurrah!! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the email notification, even though I was confident that you would post again once you were safely in your new house. Well done on what you have both achieved. I was only hoping a couple of days ago that you weren’t still in that caravan during these bad storms.

    Sorry to read about the wretched mink, but at least you got it. As someone else has said it is a shame that the animal rights lot didn’t think about the rights of poultry to have a life.

    Comment by Margaret — January 30, 2016 @ 11:33 am

  23. Well done Paul, mink are an ecological disaster despite the cute looks. Can you build defences?

    Comment by englishjim — January 30, 2016 @ 12:59 pm

  24. Great to read about your exploits again Paul. Well done to you both on Sonas – looks superb; long may you be there and be happy. Bloody mink…!

    Comment by Carrie — January 30, 2016 @ 2:10 pm

  25. Good to hear you again paul. David in Spain

    Comment by David — January 30, 2016 @ 2:17 pm

  26. Good to see how island life is going
    Great also if the new distillery is going ahead
    Alan patrickal

    Comment by Alan patrick — January 30, 2016 @ 3:35 pm

  27. Great to see you back and posting again. I have missed my fix of island life though Ali in Applecross and Bill on Rona have helped. Keep it up.

    Comment by artimaginguk — January 30, 2016 @ 4:10 pm

  28. great to see you back Paul … and wonderful to see your beautiful new house, there’s so much space there !!
    what’s happened to the caravan?

    Comment by cazinatutu — January 30, 2016 @ 4:46 pm

  29. I have really missed your blog and your inspiring photo’s. Keep up the good work
    Taffy Morgan Lancashire England

    Comment by John Morgan — January 30, 2016 @ 4:47 pm

  30. Great Blog…. lovely to read what you and the family are doing… Best wishes from us in Devon

    Comment by chrisbbbbb — January 30, 2016 @ 5:26 pm

  31. Great to hear from you again Paul, hope you’ve had no damage from this wind, my folks shed roof got ripped of with yesterday’s force 12 winds, all insured though! All the best to your clan for 2016.

    Comment by George White — January 30, 2016 @ 5:40 pm

  32. Glad to hear you are back. Missed your blog. Sonas sounds just the job. Wish you all a happy life in it. Sorry about the mink

    Comment by Eileen — January 30, 2016 @ 7:25 pm

  33. Great to see you back Paul – was getting worried, do you still have the static caravan and is it for sale ? Looking for one for our self build in Dunvegan hope you still have it fingers crossed and want to move it on.Roy

    Comment by Merlinshealinghouse — January 30, 2016 @ 7:43 pm

  34. The mink story reminds me of Jasper Carrot recounting how he went hunting moles in his garden –

    Comment by Andy Poulton — January 30, 2016 @ 9:50 pm

  35. Glad to see you back, your world is so interesting… House looks great!

    Comment by Kate T — January 30, 2016 @ 11:32 pm

  36. So happy to see you back, Paul!

    Comment by Vivian — January 31, 2016 @ 5:18 pm

  37. Great to have you back. Best wishes to yourself and family in your new home. Look forward to more blogs.

    Comment by Margaret Philp — January 31, 2016 @ 7:10 pm

  38. Haven’t read your posts yet but it’s great to have you back!

    Comment by Gareth — January 31, 2016 @ 7:44 pm

  39. we were worried about you, so happy to see life in arnish proceeds. hurray!!!

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — January 31, 2016 @ 8:06 pm

  40. Great to hear that all is well.

    Comment by Simon — February 1, 2016 @ 10:17 am

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