Life at the end of the road

July 8, 2018

A day of ‘many hats’ :-)

Almost 21:00 and that’s me just finished the third plate of herring pasta https://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/17943/mediterraneanstyle-herring-linguine which was basically that recipe but with spaghetti.

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Can’t say that I’ve ever made it but I certainly enjoy eating it, this is one of ‘darling wife’s’ specialities and was the perfect end to a perfect day. A busy day right enough and one with a good variety of tasks, the first of which was to finish off servicing the neighbours wind turbine.

Once upon a time I’d have done this job in half a day but I’ve slowed down a lot these last couple of years and these days I spend half my time looking for things I’ve just put down! Then there are all the times I have to go back to my workshop to collect stuff I’ve forgot. Still, I got there in the end. Even though I’d done all the ‘donkey work’ on Thursday and only had to clean up the slip rings, fit a new brake rope, replace two sheared bolts and raise the turbine, it still took me all morning. And that was with one of my neighbours helping!!

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The turbine has been running without a brake now for well over a year and has safely seen off several storms with 100mph plus winds. The brake is only really used when lowering the turbine or if it shed a blade or spring or something that made it become unbalanced. The brake could then be applied to prevent further damage. Having said that the Proven/Kingspan turbines are one of the very few that actually have a mechanical brake that can actually stop a turbine in a storm and keep it stopped. Most others have an electrical brake that sorts out the alternator phases, less than ideal and not guaranteed to work. You cannot stop a fast spinning turbine with an electrical brake and if the turbine is stopped and the wind strong enough it will overcome the brake, overheat and melt the core or windings. I speak from experience Sad smile

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This will be what was left of my Cheap and cheerful Chinese jobby when it was braked in a storm Sad smile

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7:00am now, got distracted last night by a bottle of Dalwhinnie ‘Winters Gold’

Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold Bottling Note

Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold is a 2015 addition to the Highland distillery’s range inspired by the chilly climate up in the remote part of Scotland where their single malt Scotch whisky is distilled – as the label remarks, it was "Crafted by the Cold". It’s made only with spirit that has been distilled between October and March, and interestingly enough, they suggest that you try serving this expression frozen!

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Oak spice, pear skins, golden syrup and gristy malt. A touch of peach polish and chewy, sticky toffee. From the freezer it’s fruitier, more green apple, apple sauce, toffee apple, sultana, even redcurrant.

Palate: Very honeyed with warming peppery spices, Big Red cinnamon. From the freezer the honey is kept in check much more, as are the spices. Plenty of apple flesh and orange peel.

Finish: Allspice, nutmeg and smoky malt. From the freezer the finish is more about the spicy cinnamon and peppercorn heat that’s found on the palate at room temperature.

Overall: An assertive, spicy, honeyed Dalwhinnie with enough sweetness and character to be served straight from the freezer (as intended).

I dunno about all that but it was smooth and nice with just a couple of drops of Arnish water in it. I just don’t get all this guff they talk about whisky, wine and football. There seems to be a whole industry that specialize in carp. I’m sure the Dalwhinnie does all of the above but there’s never any mention by the Scotch aficionados about the chlorine taste of tap water Smile I guess you just get used to it, me I think it ruins a good cup of tea or malt.

The Proven Brake

Anyway, back to the wind turbine brake, first thing we had to do was feed the new rope down the tower and for the replacement I chose a heavy braided twine, like the stuff used in a trawl net. One of the problems with the brake rope is that it has a regular ‘lay’(twist) of three strands wound ‘with the sun’ clockwise or righthanded. Braided or multiplat rope has the strands wound and laid in both directions so is much less prone to kinks and twists. Feeding the new rope down the 7m long pole proved a bit of a challenge as it has to go through a 12mm hole in the top of the ‘slip ring’ mounting. This we managed to do using a length of wire rope, pushing it downwards through the slip rings then taping the green twine to it and pulling from the bottom. The twine is then attached to the brake lever at the top of the mast but it must be run through a length of bungee cord or even spring to keep it clear of the shaft when not in use. To operate the brake you wind the cord around the actuation lever at the bottom of the tower then pull the lever downwards. When the brake is released the cord must be removed from the lever and left to hang loose so as not to get twisted. Even so, it generally does Sad smile

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After refitting and sealing the cowlings and checking all the blade bolts (one had snapped and was replaced) the turbine was raised, bolted back down with new M20 bolts and the gin pole removed, job done Smile

They don’t make them like this anymore

The dry spell may just have ended last night with what must have been overnight rain judging by the puddles and wet grass but I doubt it will have done much to replenish the depleted water tanks next door. We were always a little conscious of being economical with water at times like this when we lived at ‘Number 3’ but now there are far more people staying there as Maya and Nikky have the house on Airbnb   https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/8188794 so need far more water than we ever did. Consequently they’ve been pumping ‘Scottish Water’s’ finest from IBC’s into their storage tanks.

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I had a dedicated pump just for doing this that has all the hall marks of something World War II. I can’t even remember where it came from or who gave me but the little 170W Stuart Turner pump just keeps on going. Having said that it required a little attention yesterday but I soon sorted that with some grease and WD40 Smile 

Panasonic NA-127VB5 washing machine

That sorted I donned my ‘domestic appliance’ engineers hat to try and sort out the washing machine. I gotta say this Panasonic machine has been trouble since day one and I’d never have another. It failed within a few days of getting it home and fair play to Panasonic they offered me a new one. Me being a fool said “ I don’t want a new one, I just want this one fixing”. It is such a PITA getting a washing machine up to Arnish that I couldn’t be bothered taking it back. Anyway an engineer came out and initially blamed it on our DIY electricity, this I told him in no uncertain terms was mince as our electricity is far more stable and reliable than the National Grid and that’s a fact. He then blamed it on my DIY plumbing. At this time the washing machine was in the shed as we were living in the caravan and to be fair to him, the drain was a bit high (or was it low). Anyway, he did some adjustments on the door catch and for the next few months it was fine. Once in the house it failed again and another engineer came out. Can’t remember what the problem was this time but it was OK for a year or two bar the odd error code relating to water pressure (despite us having almost 3bar). Recently it has started stopping mid cycle cos the machine thinks the door is open and the only cure is to restart the cycle and or sit there with your hand pressed on the door till it finishes Sad smile 

This was obviously a switch or adjustment fault so I pulled out the machine and had a look at the switch and catch.

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They both seemed fine so I carefully elongated the holes that retain the switch so it would allow the door catch to press the switch deeper so to speak. Well that seemed to work a treat as we have now done three full wash cycles without any problems.

If I didnae have a Landy it would be one of these

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Next it was the mechanics hat again to have a look at the trusty Nissan Patrol of next door’s  that had a broken catalytic converter. I gotta say, if I didn’t have a Land Rover then I’d probably have one of these, the Nissan Patrol is truly ‘built like a tank’. The catalytic converter had broken off at the bottom weld.

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It was a clean break and resting on the front anti roll bar so I reckoned that if I could remove the front track rod then I’d at least be able to get half of it welded.

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Typically on a 12 year old truck, the track rod end split pins were rusted in and had to be drilled out but that was soon done and the the track rod swung out of they way.

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This enabled me to get a good few dollops of ‘pigeon sh1t’ welding on at least half of it. I could ‘blame my tools’ and tell you the rods were damp (which they were) but the truth is my welding is dubious at the best of times Sad smile

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Once welded I made up a bracket to hold the pipe more rigidly then if it does snap then at least the pipe will stay in the cat and be perfectly serviceable until a new cat can be fitted (but not by me Smile)

Painters hat next

That done it was the time and weather to get on with painting an creosoting the hen shed. I had made a start on this on Friday night when I came back from Inverness. That was after I called in at the Raasay stores for some milk and caught up with my pal Peter

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who was also on small single seat transport Smile

It was a perfect evening for painting with just enough breeze to keep the midge away and reduce the temperature to comfortable levels as I had to swap the shorts and T shirt for dark blue overalls.

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The hens retiring to a ‘dangerous area’ whilst I got on with the job.

Well, I got most of it done

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and should now go and finish off.

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July 4, 2018

Another ‘off grid’ paradise :-)

Another fine day here in paradise, another fine day everywhere else by the look of it, and already people, myself included are looking back towards the ‘summer of 76’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_United_Kingdom_heat_wave I remember it well, tarmac melting, reservoirs empty and cruising the Yorkshire Dales in my 1962 MG Midget Smile It’s almost 8:30 though and I’m stuck in the house with a panty liner on my head!!!! I kid you not!!!!

Panty liner

Me scleritis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scleritis flared up again yesterday and I’m awaiting a lift to the Wednesday surgery on Raasay. It started around seven years ago when I got thwacked in the eye with a hawthorn bush and flared up every 12 months or so for the next couple of years. It’s been fine for the last two or three years so I’m puzzled by this sudden recurrence. Perhaps the intense hay fever I’ve had has brought it on, who knows, but I cannae see out of it now and it’s boodly sore. It is also not the first time I’ve used sanitary products as a temporary repair. Once used a Tampon to fix a cylinder head water leak on said MG Midget in the ‘Summer of 76’ Smile

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Mk1 Midget, notice no side windows or door handles!!! it was pretty basic!!! Was even more basic when the heater didn’t work cos it had a Tampax in the inlet valve right enough. Not that was ever a problem in the ‘Summer of 76’. Anyway, (as usual) I digress, it’s even hard work typing with one eye, I keep hitting the key to the left Sad smile

Tonight

Sorry, got distracted there, it’s now 21:00 and I ended up in Portree after seeing the Doc, she was quite worried and got me an appointment in Inverness on Friday. Meanwhile I have to stick steroid drops in me left eyeball every hour. Seems to be working OK cos I’ve no longer got a sanitary towel on my head and can almost see through the fog in my left eye Smile

Yesterday

I did fully intend some serious blogging yesterday but the day was long and it ended up a late one. First off it was out with wife and the dugs for a wee romp through the woods, half hoping to collect some chanterelles on the way. It’s been far too dry really and my eyesight isn’t just keen enough with this malady, which the doc informs me now post traumatic uveitis. Well that was a relief the other thing sounded pretty serious and I’ve not taken the time to ‘Google’ this one yet, probably never will truth be known, I’m a great believer in ‘ignorance is bliss’. Sure, if it was the Land Rover, car, boiler, inverter, wind turbine or a gazillion other mechanical objects I’d want a full report or post mortem. As for my body, I just want it to work and then get fixed when it goes into the surgery Smile 

As expected, it was pretty grim on the ‘shroom front but they went into the prawn stir fry anyway.

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Having lost my digger driver yesterday I took on the mantle of chief road builder myself.

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Burying a power cable before I built a track over it, something I should have done several years ago. This track is going through one (the main) hen run as it’s quite soft here during the winter and would be way too risky bringing a digger or dumper for much of the year. I did start it early on in the year right enough and yes it is possible to just keep ‘tipping and spreading’ to make the track as you. The problem with that is that you really need two diggers, one to load and one to spread.

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Doing it when the ground is hard means you can start at the far away end then dump your load going ‘back the way’, then just bring the digger up to spread all the ‘cow pats’ you’ve dumped.

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It would have benefitted from a few more loads had I been planning heavy traffic but it’s only really for walking and the quad.

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Having said that, I did widen the gate to just over 5’ so I can track the digger through if I want.

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At least now I can get the quad and trailer up to easily change the pigs bedding, move the ark and a whole heap of other stuff.

Today

Most of the day was spent in the Raasay surgery or in Portree on ‘eye business’. Portree was not as mobbed as expected and I managed to get home for 14:30.

MV Stardust II another ‘Wildcat 40’ https://www.skyeboat-trips.co.uk/boat-trips/our-boats just returning to Portree from Holoman Island on Raasay.

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I don’t recognize this one moored at Brochel but her passengers were very much enjoying the walk along Calum’s Road.

Once home and with my eyes almost working I got on with creosoting my extended gate.

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Fed the animals and then spent some quality time with the pigs.

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That hen is REALLY pushing her luck Smile

It was whilst I was painting the gate that the pigs came round for a play, I wish I’d have got pictures but it was a bit boisterous for that. Pigs really are great fun, we had a great game of me scratching them and they rolling over onto my legs. Seriously, if folk knew more about pigs they’d no be so keen on cheap bacon, pigs are far too sentient to be farmed industrially, they deserve respect Smile 

If I had to move, it would be here!

I had a surprise email from my good friend Jamie Robinson of Alternative Engineering http://www.alternativeengineering.co.uk/   the other day saying he was ‘selling up’ having been offered the ‘job to die for’ in Gloucester heading a team that repair old wooden boats. Not just yer regular 13’ clinker but the likes of HMS Victory and the RS Discovery. Jamie lives in what can only be described as one of the few locations that I’m envious of, the Knoydart Peninsula  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knoydart

For the price of a broom cupboard in Knightsbridge or a semi Slough you could have all this!!!!!! https://www.galbraithgroup.com/property/inv180068-doune-knoydart-mallaig-ph41-4pl

Amongst Jamie’s many hats he’s an expert in renewables and I know from corresponding with himself and Hugh Piggott that this place is ‘fully sorted’. I could just see my own Avon Searider on that mooring were I not a slave to CalMac Smile

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