Life at the end of the road

July 15, 2017

Seven weeks ‘offline’ :-(

It’s been a while hey, well things have been a little ‘topsy turvy’ here and ‘your truly’ has been severely distracted of late. Not only that but we lost our normally fast and reliable Internet connection at 23:00 on the 23rd of May and I’m not ‘holding my breath’ until the next promised date for a fix. To be fair it’s not entirely my ISP’s fault, I do believe they are doing their best to restore it, sadly I think the main issue is beyond their control.

Apart from that my laptop died, me Mammy aint well and I’m trying to get to grips with Windoze friggin 10 on this Dell Latitude Rugged 5404 that I just bought. The solid, functional and ‘idiot proof’ ‘puter I love, the operating system I hate. I don’t want all these messages it keeps sending me, I despise all that mince appears when you press the Windoze key and who on earth is Cortana. Worst of all the new OS is no longer compatible with ‘Windows Live Writer’ the software I use to do my blog. Of course they don’t tell you that and I spent hours trying to install it!!!! Of all the carp that Bill Gates tries to force on you Windows Live Writer was the one thing that I really liked and used a lot, surely I can’t be the only blogger that misses it?

Off on a real holiday

Having been under pressure for several years now to go on a ‘proper holiday’ involving an aeroplane and sun I reluctantly booked an apartment in Malta for a week and some flights from Prestwick via Ryanair. The £39 deal quickly became nearer £600 for the four of us once you had added all the ‘bells and whistles’ like baggage and an 8 Euro sandwich for the 4 hour flight though.

The last time I was in Malta was 1981, this I know cos I found my diving permit for then in my old log book which I had to dig out to present to the Watercolours Dive Centre in Sliema http://www.maltadiving.com/en/home.htm . The plan being to put my son through a 3 day PADI course then do some diving with him.  I’d spoken with Jason Fabri the owner prior to booking the course and he was fine with my 1977 BSAC logbook as I couldn’t find my commercial ones, they seem to have gone AWOL in our house moves. The young Belgian instructor Veronique who examined them on my arrival was somewhat amused at what she called vintage documentation right enough.

050617 Malta 014 050617 Malta 017050617 Malta 020090617 090

Sliema turned out to be a great choice, we were just five minutes walk from the bus station, ferry terminals, shops, restaurants and night life. Every morning a ten minute walk to Tigne had us swimming in the warm clear sea and it was just an extra five minutes jaunt to the dive centre.

The apartment in Sliema was amazing, just a couple of minutes walk from everything https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/1519582?location=Sliema%2C%20Malta&s=NSf2rlfy . Ok, there was the odd cockroach in the morning but they were invariably dead and it is after all an old house in the Southern Mediterranean, not a 5 star hotel. Vanessa was the perfect hostess and arranged our airport transfers which all went smoothly.

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A week there only gave us chance to ‘scratch the surface’ of Malta’s many attractions but it was long enough for me and will give us a good excuse to go back. We did a few of the touristy type things, ate out every meal bar breakfast and really enjoyed it. Took a day trip to Gozo and Comino and moored up in the Blue Lagoon right next to an old CalMac ferry, the MV Kepple https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Keppel

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The old Kepple was on the Largs Cumbrae route for years until she was replaced by the MV Loch Striven on which I served for years until we got the Hallaig.

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Other stuff

The beauty of working ‘two weeks on two weeks off’ meant that we arrived home on Saturday and I still had a few days of my ‘off shift’ on the croft before going back to work.

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Not that I got that much done right enough, I was hoping to get on with more concreting but that never happened.

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I did however get some posts in position for the new deer proof fence though.

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I wouldn’t want this chap getting in and munching all our herbs, hedge and plants again.

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The fine looking chap still covered in velvet is ‘out of season’ and the freezer is full of Django and Ozzie, well not quite, Raasay House https://www.raasay-house.co.uk/ took over 50kg. So if you fancy some proper Raasay free range ‘Black Pig’ then now is the time to ask, 01478 660 300 Smile

Boats

Here’s the trusty old MV Lyrawa Bay steaming through the Raasay Narrows, built in the 1970’s I spent many a happy trip on her commuting between fish farm sites to haul out dead salmon, happy days. For years I worked as a diver hauling out ‘morts’ from the fish cages and I never ever got used to it. I would spend much of my time throwing up after a spell in the water doing that job. Luckily I worked with two heroes who had stomachs stronger than I and they would often ‘pull me out of the brown stuff’ Smile 

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The Portree Lifeboat, Stanley Watson Barker passing by one fine evening.

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The locally built trawler Sea Ranger heading south.

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Coastworks http://coastworks.co.uk/ tug Coastworker and a ‘spud leg’ barge laying an outfall for the new Raasay Distillery.

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The fish farm landing craft Emma C at Sconser.

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MV Hebridean Princess and MV Hallaig at Raasay pier.

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An unusual visitor to Churchton Bay, the tri-maran Kanga Roo Too.

Back in the water

It’s not just the laptop and Internet that died during the last few weeks, so did my pocket camera, yet another reason for lack of blogging and enthusiasm. Whilst the lack of Internet has prevented me from doing lots of things and made life very difficult in some aspects like moving pigs, transferring money and paying bills it has brought with it some very welcome benefits. For one thing I’m speaking to my family more and I’ve started reading again, something I’ve not done for around twenty years. Sure it has been entirely non-fiction and related mainly to ships, salvage, wrecks and the sea but this, allied to my son’s new diving qualification has got me all fired up again to go diving.

As soon as we returned from Malta and completed my next ‘on shift’ we tried on the newly acquired eBay dry suits and went for a dip. In fact it was usually several ‘dips’ cos stuff kept breaking and or leaking. It says a lot for my son’s character that none of this phased him in the slightest, not even a few blown O rings and duff demand valves seemed to damp his enthusiasm. Anyway, by the end off the fortnight off he’d at least another 10 dives under his belt, mainly looking for lost anchors and clams.

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It’s a bit like ‘riding a bike’, you never forget it and boy did we feast on scallops last week Smile

We also spent quite a lot of time looking for my old mooring in Loch Arnish for the MV Conqueror,

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my trusty old fishing boat from years gone by.

Whilst we never actually found that one, we did find and lift two more that had been lost and this beauty

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that I came across in over 20m of water some 200m off the shore. Weighing in at 200kg it was great experience for the boy, especially as we had to remove the chain from it. We put around 175kg of bags and containers on it, took down a spare bottle and filled them on the bottom using an old regulator 1st stage. The ground around the anchor began to ripple and shudder then it lifted off the sea bed in a cloud of silt. slowly at first and only a couple of meters due to the huge ‘stud link’ chain attached to it. We were not sure how much chain was on the end but it was plainly obvious that it was far too much for the lifting capacity we had so we slowly returned to the surface. Once there we hatched a plan for the second dive of the day and returned home to fill the diving cylinders.

On the next dive we took down tools as well as the spare bottle, once on the bottom we emptied the three bags and gently lowered the anchor to the sea bed again. Ten minutes hammering and some work with a pair of large stillsons managed to undo the shackle and we once more filled the lifting bags.

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Our man in the boat some 21m above us said it was very spectacular as it broke surface and we shouldn’t lift the chain until he had a video camera with him. This was just fine by us as we had worked hard enough for one day and with the chain marked by a buoy it was going nowhere. Having said that the first marker we put on the anchor snapped but luckily the bags an containers attached to it on the seabed made it quite easy to find in the good visibility underwater.

That’s about it really, well apart from doing loads of concreting, erecting a fence, fixing a quad, refitting a digger track and a gazillion other things. 

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21 Comments »

  1. Great to see you back.

    Comment by MR C R Humphrey — July 15, 2017 @ 5:57 pm

  2. If you like Boats try Split in Croatia, its like Ullapool but HOT 🙂

    Comment by royclearychubbybrown — July 15, 2017 @ 5:57 pm

    • Sounds and looks amazing .

      Comment by MR Chris R Humphrey — July 15, 2017 @ 6:02 pm

      • I do fancy Croatia Chris but Malta I knew was a great place to learn to dive.

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 15, 2017 @ 7:36 pm

  3. Wow that takes me back to my childhood. We used to holiday every year in Malta for the most of the 1970s. Did you try the hobz malti the local sourdough bread. My dad and I would be up at the crack of dawn for the bread and then onto the quay at bugiba to look at the board. Great islands and many fond memories.

    As to the brown stuff I remember it well spent 4 weeks in fort William qualifying myself so as I could pull the brown stuff out of the nets. Fortunately not long after that the company changed policy and employed Mr Ian Beaton to do the job. Though it still made your stomach turn top side.

    Glad to see you back blogging.

    Comment by artimaginguk — July 15, 2017 @ 6:39 pm

    • Ian Beaton hey, I spent some of the best hours of my life in his recompression chamber at Kishorn 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 15, 2017 @ 7:33 pm

      • That must have been after I left in 93. Great character and hard worker.

        Comment by artimaginguk — July 16, 2017 @ 6:50 pm

  4. Hi Paul

    Delighted you’re back blogging, and totally understanding the frustrations that led to ‘radio silence’. Glad you and family enjoyed a well earned holiday to. I knew you’d be back when you could, you’re not the sort of chap to cease sharing your ‘daily doings’ without letting us know. Keep going! Hope Mum is better to. Look after yourself.

    Comment by Sally — July 15, 2017 @ 7:05 pm

  5. Great to hear from you again.

    Comment by Nigel Macleod — July 15, 2017 @ 7:49 pm

  6. Miss your post:)

    Comment by alexmcgarvie — July 15, 2017 @ 8:41 pm

  7. your holiday pics reminded me of a Billy Connolly quote
    “I’m actually pale blue: it takes me a week of sunbathing to turn white.”

    Comment by cazinatutu — July 15, 2017 @ 8:55 pm

  8. Good to have you back… was getting worried about you!

    Comment by ecobodger — July 15, 2017 @ 9:36 pm

  9. Great to see you back on the Web. sorry to hear that your Mam has not been too good. If you having issues with Windoze either get a second hand laptop or PC with the version you like on it, or put on LINUX mint – it is free and quite easy to use and virtually bomb proof.
    Lovley to see you back online.

    Comment by Simon — July 16, 2017 @ 8:48 am

  10. Re Computers;

    Just another thought Paul. I recently acquired an Acer Chromebook 11.B131 (£150) from Argos. It is very much like a MacBook in appearance, excellent keyboard and screen, battery life amazing (at last 10 hours) fires up almost instantly. Although it does not run programs via Google you can do almost everything. No worries about storage, everything is backed up to Google. However of course you do need an internet connection!

    I have no connection with Acer or Google apart from being a satisfied user.

    Good to see you back.

    Regards

    Jim

    Comment by jeddy — July 16, 2017 @ 10:37 am

  11. Very clever of you to adopt the coloration of Malta buildings for protection. I had a gecko like that once. Please convey best wishes to your mom.

    Comment by drgeo111 — July 16, 2017 @ 12:04 pm

  12. Sorry your mother is no weel. Glad your back. Missed you. Got Windows 10 now. Commiserations!

    Comment by eileen1929 — July 16, 2017 @ 4:42 pm

  13. Good to hear you are doing some diving and you can,t keep a natural like you out of the water for long…..Best wishes. Your lad couldn’t have a better diving instructor than you

    Comment by burtoncle — July 17, 2017 @ 9:22 pm

  14. glad to be getting email notifications for the blog again, it’s like an old friend has come around again

    Comment by veloce77 — July 19, 2017 @ 9:23 pm


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