Life at the end of the road

December 5, 2019

Getting ready

Well that’s more like it, 4:30am and that’s me up around the same time I arrived in from work yesterday morning!!! I really, really could not handle shift work and how people working for the ‘emergency services’ and other institutions that function 24/7 is beyond me. Sure I’ve still not recovered from the ‘clock changing nonsense in October. Anyway, despite not getting up until mid morning yesterday I did achieve most of my objectives, though they did keep getting added too, much like the straws ‘on the camels back’, in short, I was left feeling a little overwhelmed by what lay ahead.

Patches of sunshine on Tuesday

Prior to the ‘over nighter’ aboard Hallaig with Renee from RH Marine I’d done the usual two or three 3ton loads of rock for the Torran track and latest home civil engineering project. The forecast being for thick cloud but dry.

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Well, they got that wrong, for the ‘North End’ at least, I was blessed with more than enough blue sky ‘to make a sailors trousers’ https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/51/messages/679.html A phrase that I picked up from my wife, who in turn acquired it from ‘Granny Annie’ though I must confess at never having heard it until 20 years ago in my forties. Sure it didn’t look great over on Skye but it was a fine day at Arnish Smile

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More than can be said for today if the forecast is to be believed and judging by the wind I hear outdoors it could be right.

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My first job, before it was fully light was to record the voltages on 35 Yuasa 40Ah gel batteries I’d saved from the commercial recycler they would have been destined for. Thought I’d repurpose them myself, though at the moment I’m not actually sure what for. Coming from a 15kVA 400V UPS system only a few of them would be ‘dodgy’ and by recording the voltages over the next few weeks I could ascertain which ones then pass those onto the recycler Smile What were left would go into some project of mine, electric vehicle, power for caravan, UPS for solar hot water system or something. Worst case scenario, I could use them as ballast to stop stuff blowing away in gales Smile

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Gave my butcher’s table a good clean too and gave the girls some extra rations, I’d not be feeding them much longer Sad smile After that and probably a lot more that I’ve forgotten, I headed to work and joined Hallaig at 18:00.

Wednesday

As soon as I’d got out of bed, done my ablutions and composed myself I headed off for Brochel. Kevin had telephoned me to say the parts were here for the Yanmar engine on the new generator there.

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The ‘clowns’ who ‘shall remain nameless’ who fitted this ‘off grid’ system may have been great electricians but they want severely reprimanding for the idiot mounting of the generator. Not only was there ample room where the old generator was mounted, had it been fitted there the exhaust would have pointed away from the house. In its current idiot location the thing is not only impossible to work on but the exhaust points directly at the kitchen door and an oil tank!!!!!

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Testing the new injector and being satisfied with it I fitted it and tried to start it, she almost went before flattening the difficult to access battery. At this point both myself and Kevin decided to get the halfwits back who installed it, to move it to sensible position where it wouldn’t gas the occupants of the kitchen or melt the oil tank Smile 

After that it was home for the muesli then a little more rock moving, with help Smile

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I’d be needing ‘Calum the Kubota’ to lift the girls into the bath so got another load into the dumper before ‘tracking’ him home.

Then it was more preparation for the impending arrival of the ‘Three Amigo’s’ and their entourage. For it’s the annual ‘pig fest’, that time of year when the two pigs I’ve been fattening for the English Producer, Russian Art Dealer and Swiss Surgeon get ‘dealt with’. Me, I just feed em then ‘pull the trigger’, tis their good selves that turn them into sausages for their own consumption. Though dismissing the weekends charcuterie as ‘sausages’ is somewhat demeaning. The salamis, brawn, links, black pudding, cotechino, nduja, pate and prime cuts wouldn’t be out of place in the dearest butchers or finest delicatessen.

Bed with a good book came around later than usual at well after 21:30 but it’s good to be back in my routine of getting up at ‘stupid o clock’ Smile So, 6:30 is here and methinks I’ll get out whilst it’s still dry and start installing the chimney for the 100lt boiler, you need a lot of hot water for de-hairing a pig Smile

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This 100lt cast iron boiler is a ‘God send’ in the operation, prior to it’s arrival from Germany a few years ago we had to boil water in pans on the cooker and using an electric ‘Burco boiler’. It was a nightmare and we never had enough  hot water, one year resorting to lighting some gas rings under the cast iron bath. Well, that was interesting Smile elfin safety would have had a fit Smile The cast iron boiler may be heavy and a PITA to move and set up but it does make life much easier. All you need to do is keep it fed with coal and water, though judging by current wind turbine output an electric immersion would do Smile

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According to a mate in Loch Carron the Met Office weather station nearby only recorded 22mm of rain in November, the least in forty years. The next lowest reading was 97mm!!!!!!!!

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I do love this dry weather but it was good to see the recent rain put to good use in my hydro turbine Smile That’ll be the Stream Engine doing the best part of 800W this morning Smile

November 27, 2019

Grey and settled :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, How I — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:22 pm

A full 21 days since I last posted and that was from above the Arctic Circle, seems like an age ago and such a lot has happened. All ‘water under the bridge’ now but for long enough I’ve felt like the weather, which for the last fortnight has been ‘grey and settled’. Grey, cos amongst other things me ‘favourite aunty’ died, settled cos I’m back at Sonas on the Isle of Raasay, the only place ‘on God’s earth’ where I actually feel content. Sure Norway was boodly amazing and I would have quite happily stayed aboard MS Lofoten https://www.hurtigruten.co.uk/our-ships/ms-lofoten/ for another week and the return journey to Bergen but ‘there’s no place like home’ Smile ‘Back in the day’ I would often Holiday in October, me best mate and diving buddy’s partner could only get school holidays. Inevitably it would be diving trips to Devon or Cornwall and quite often we’d leave the north of England or Scotland for a week in autumn and return to what felt like winter after a spell on the ‘Cornish Riviera’. Sure there is much to be said for taking holidays at this time of year to somewhere warm and sunny to ‘recharge the batteries’ and I gotta say I’ve often thought about it, especially in the depth of January or February.

I loved Norway, didn’t mind the cold or the short days in the north but it was so,so nice to return to a Raasay where the trees still boasted their leaves and it wasn’t dark at 15:00. Sure it’s heading that way now but it’ll even worse in Kirkenes Smile I will however be returning for sure, perhaps even further north and on an even older ship  https://www.hurtigruten.co.uk/our-ships/ms-nordstjernen/ the MS Nordstjernen is the same age as me Smile 

A November drought!!!

The weather has been unseasonal mild and dry with my first week back home being positively exceptional. Loch Loyne and Loch Cluanie where as dry as ever I have seen them in the height of summer, let alone November. The old Corrielair shooting lodge chimneys being well visible.

Chimneys in Loch Cluanie Corrielair

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5652882 Thanks to D Riddell took that excellent image.

Not only was there little water there, it was the same at home too with both my hydro turbines producing a fraction of what I’d normally expect at this time of year. Only 212kWh so far this month from both whereas last year for the same period my turbines generated 545kWh. Normally this would produce more than enough energy to keep my well insulated abode well heated. Since returning from holiday I’ve been running the generator a couple of hours a day to keep the 1500lt thermal store ‘topped up’. Not only has it been dry, it’s also been calm or at least not very windy, add to that the thick cloud cover of the last fortnight and sunshine has been in short supply. This has brought early nights with little moon, stars, frost or solar energy, the PV generation being on a par with the hydro and wind a third of what it was last year. I’m willing to bet the sea temperature is up too but I’ve not been in the sea yet to find out, perhaps that’ll happen before I go back to work Smile

The ‘Mule rules’ Smile

Only a day or so after arriving back at Arnish my mate turned up with a new toy. I say ‘toy’ cos I was playing with it but the Kawasaki SX 4×4 Mule is a serious bit of kit that will be worked hard. Sporting a bench seat and tipping load bed it should prove easier to get stores and equipment along to Torran without breaking or loosing anything.

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I wish I had a pound for every time the trailer has rolled over, usually on the Torran path and invariably breaking or spilling something expensive. The Kawasaki Mule has a tough machine to beat in the shape of the Yamaha YFM350 Bruin but I’ll be glad to not be having to put any more oil drums in that friggin trailer Smile

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The Mule arrived on a pick up s the first problem was getting it off which was done by simply reversing up to a bank and driving it off.

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The second problem was getting out of the ditch Smile Hmmm, it’s a little wider than we thought and that sun was very bright Smile

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Still, with the help of a Tirfor, pig and Molly, we soon had it out and put it to work.

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After which we lined the rear tub with plywood to protect it.

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The rear tub of the SX 4×4 is large enough to take a 45gallon/208lt barrel and rated at 180kg so just about OK for one full of diesel. It is also easy enough to tip by hand with a couple of hundred kg of blocks in the back cos we tested it. Indeed, this was one of it’s attractions, the ability to load sub base from the digger into it then tip it directly where it’s needed on the track.

Another funeral

I only had a few days between returning from Norway and the 900 mile round trip to see Aunty Sheila off down in England. A couple of these I spent with my mate at Torran who helped me deal with something I’d shot for dinner round the back of the house.

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I also swept his chimney using a diving cylinder Smile ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ they say hey.

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Well, this particular flue exits on a very steep, high roof and I lost my ‘head for heights’ years ago in the Cuilin Smile Not only that but our ladder wasn’t long enough, so I got a 19mm length of MDPE pipe, blocked the end with a tapered plug, drilled a series of 5mm holes around the circumference of the pipe and shoved it up the lumb. When the pipe was at the top I connected a diving cylinder to the other end, turned it on and drew the pipe down slowly whilst blasting off the soot. It worked a treat and the fire now draws better and lights easily Smile 

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Dunno when I was at Brochel but here’s the castle at sunrise.

I had planned to drive south to Accrington in the Subaru, stay overnight then drive back, it was only after fitting a new wiper linkage

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that I realized there was no MOT on her. Not before I had cleaned the car, loaded it up for an early start and packed my suit though Sad smile A quick transfer to the Disco and Molly and I were on our way. Sure it would have been easier in the car but the Discovery is comfortable enough and averaged 32mpg for the 900 mile round trip with a worst of 27 and best of 33. Not bad for a large diesel brick on the motorway at 60/70mph.

Today

Sure there was more, much more but it’s after 22:00 now and there’s a good book beside me bed and a wee dog on it so I’ll just leave you with a few images from today.

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A couple of hinds just before Brochel.

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SD Raasay working on the Brochel mooring.

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Scottish Water lost Smile

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