Life at the end of the road

February 6, 2018

The mouse menace :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, food, Land Rover, stonework — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:19 am

5:00 AM and all is well, OK it’s 5:30 now the Dow Jones is down 12,000 points (whatever that means) and I’ve just made dinner. Bit early I know but it’s a chicken, nudja bacon and mushroom casserole

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and I’m salivating looking at it. Mind you, I’ll not be eating it for another 15 hours!! It is of course Tuesday, my last Tuesday so, after a visit to me Mammies I’ll be relieving my trusty ‘back to back’ and commencing my ‘two weeks on’.

Typically I couldn’t sleep last night so was up before 5:00 this morning. Dunno why but I never sleep well before returning to work, probably thinking of all the stuff I didn’t do this last fortnight. Sure, I’ve not had any big projects on this last ‘rest period’ but I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved and at least I’ll be able to drive to work with a working heater now Smile Not only that but I’ll be able to see where I’m going when reversing having also replaced the reversing light switch too. Sadly the Eberspacher cab heater is still ‘work in progress’ I tested that yesterday and have a sneaky feeling that the ECU is dodgy Sad smile Great resource on that site but it’s a bit random and chaotic . After servicing the heater the fan now starts immediately on high speed like this! that thread and what I’ve read on the Letonkis site seems to indicate an ECU fault but I’m not convinced, like I say ‘work in progress’. Be good to get it sorted before the winter is over right enough, getting into a warm vehicle with no condensation or frost on the windows is kinda nice Smile


The starter in place.

The last day

It wasn’t the ‘pure peach’ that it was on Sunday right enough but apart from the cold southerly wind it was a fine enough day and it started off well enough with two dead mice.

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Not only have the wee feckers been eating all our vehicles they’ve made a nest in the Land Rover’s battery compartment under the passenger seat!!! I only noticed it when working at queer angle on the Eberspacher. My nose was jammed by the passenger seat I I caught a funny whiff. The ‘Old Girl’ always has that damp Land Rover smell anyway but this was tinged with urine!! Further investigation revealed a large mouse nest behind one of the batteries!!!


Not as nice as Sunday but lovely just the same.


Hard at work, Duncan and Robert from DDK repairing the flashing around the schoolhouse chimney.

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Boat moored in Loch Arnish, a sure sign of good weather Smile

An old fish trap

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The old caridh (fish trap) at Port Arnish, it’s hard to believe these days but not that long ago these stone traps were a common sight and used to trap fish on a falling tide. There’s one in Loch Arnish and a much larger one in the South Fladda anchorage. You can see any number of them driving around highland sea lochs at low tides.


The shed and ‘harbour wall’ at Port Arnish.


February 5, 2018


Filed under: daily doings, food, Land Rover — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:48 am

6:00 am now, I’ve been up since 5:00 plonking away on here on my new restored Internet, Sean, the engineer from Applenet talked me through re configuring my router yesterday and all is now peachy Smile So with a bit of luck that’ll be the end of my trips to Brochel or Torran to check my emails.

It’s the last full day off today as I’ll be back at work on Tuesday afternoon and I’ve much to do today. The Land Rover is still in bits and with what looks like snow and ice on the forecast over the next week or so I’d better get it sorted. To be honest I’d plenty of time yesterday to finish it but it was just waaay too nice to be stuck in the shed.

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Far nicer creosoting the gates and fences than working in the cold shed, for it was indeed boodly freezing in there. The sun may have been giving us plenty of hot water via the solar thermal tubes and the solar PV was filling up the batteries. However my shed sees little sun at this time of year.

It might be boodly cold in the shed but that doesn’t seem to bother the mice, I’ve been trapping two a day for weeks now and the wee beggars are still eating my quad, Land Rover and now the Subaru.

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They were at the neoprene insulation on the Honda again, one of them had had a go at cables inside the Land Rover’s battery box and yesterday I lifted the bonnet of the Subaru to find insulation eaten under there and mouse droppings on the battery!!! So last night I put out two extra traps.

Once it had warmed up a little and I’d finished painting I did retire to the shed and start rebuilding the Landy.

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The new heater matrix got put in first surrounded by foam rubber to seal it then re riveted into place, then it was the fiddly job of refitting the manifolds which I’d removed to make access to the starter motor easier.

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In typical ‘Britpart Shitpart ‘ style the turbo gasket was the wrong shape and I had to trim it with a sharp wood chisel.

And that really was about it on the work front, the late afternoon heralded a very pleasant surprise when my ex clam diving skipper and his partner turned up for a coffee. By coincidence I had all his ‘Little red books’ and my diving logs on the table so we spent an interesting hour or two pouring over them.

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Again, by coincidence, I’d not cooked all the scallops that we had for lunch so Willie and Tekela departed with a couple of large clams, some home made chorizo and Stornoway black pudding. Willie does love his scallops Smile 

We also had a visit from a local boat owner who had broken down in Loch Arnish, his propeller shat steadfastly refusing to turn his propeller Smile He left the boat anchored in the loch and I lent him Phoebe  to get home.  

The SS Politician

Steaming westwards with a general cargo of valuable revenue earning exports including 243,000 bottles of whisky. The Harrison Line, SS Politician that ran aground in fog on Calvay in the sound of Eriskay 76 years ago today

Polly chart

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That’s her in her peace time colours on the left and painted for war on the right, coincidently passing Eriskay on a previous journey without running into anything Smile This 8000 ton cargo ship would, had it not been for her cargo have been long forgotten like most of the shipwrecks around these shores. Her cargo however included almost a quarter of a million bottles of whisky destined for the USA, the story of which was immortalised in the Ealing comedy ‘Whisky Galore’!_%28film%29 based on Compton Mackenzie’s 1947 novel of the same name.

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Or if you happened to live in the US where the bottles were destined “Tight little island”

There’s also the remake or ‘re interpretation’ as the director prefers to call it!_(2016_film) by all accounts it’s supposed to be very good. I’ll reserve judgement as I’ve not seen it yet but the 1949 version is gonna be a hard act  to follow.

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My good friend Neil King on the Azores has an excellent description of events on his blog

Me on the other hand came across the wreck in the early eighties whilst searching for scrap. Sure enough I knew the story, and had indeed read the book and seen the film but my interest (at the time) was purely mercenary, for that’s what I did in my spare time. I scoured books, historical records and hydrographic charts for wrecks, wrecks that would yield treasures of non ferrous metals, souvenirs and scrap.

It was this lure of treasure that took me and a friend to Barra and South Uist in 1984 to search out the likes of SS Fingal, SS Thala, RFA Birchol, the tug Henrietta Moller, and of course the SS Politician.

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Even back then without reading Roger Hutchinson’s excellent book ‘Polly’ I knew that there was only the stern part of the ship and that had been dynamited to destroy the remaining 8000 cases of whisky that had not been removed.

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Still that did not deter me from spending hours grubbing about in the pulverised wreckage for an intact bottle of ‘Old Polly’. My search was in vain for despite finding hundreds of smashed bottles of all different sizes, colours and shapes I never found an intact one. The bottles may have been many and varied but they all had one thing in common ‘Federal law forbids the sale and reuse of this bottle’ embossed on the shoulder. This was something that all post prohibition liquor bottles had to carry along with a unique number in a vain attempt to stop the bootleg trade from Canada and within.

Bottles marked "Federal Law Forbids…"

It is not uncommon to come across screw-top liquor bottles from the 20th century that are boldly embossed on their shoulders or bases with the above text. After Prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933, US laws once again allowed the legal manufacture and sale of alcoholic drink. Liquor was legal but producing it was subject to greater Federal control.

Bottle marked with text Federal Law Forbids Sale or Resuse... 

With its cork top, you might think this bottle is older than it is. With its FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS embossing, we can date it from the 1930s to 1960s

One law required that alcoholic bottles must be embossed with the text, “FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS SALE OR REUSE OF THIS BOTTLE” This law went into effect in 1935 and was repealed on December 1, 1964. The reason for this legislation is fairly obvious: after over a decade of Prohibition, law enforcement was well aware of the illegal trade in alcohol (bootlegging) and wanted to prevent the refilling of bottles by black market businesses.—Blended-Scotch-Whisky-Galore.html

What the ‘excise man’ and his explosives had missed the forty west coast winters in between had finished off and all I came up with was a bottle with the top broken and two broken crates.


The crate end I still have but the bottle is long gone, I did however get a good price off the scrappy for the white metal prop shaft bearings with their high tin content Smile

A fellow clam diver That I once worked with does have a full bottle in his display cabinet and a good friend from way back, Mike Armitage of lifted a dozen bottles after two weeks air lifting in 1985 or 1986. So imagine how I reacted when I heard this in the media in 1989,

“A NEW company is offering subscribers with a minimum of £500 a sporting plunge in a venture next spring in search of Hebridean treasure.

Directors of SS Politician plc believe the treasure is in No. 5 hold of the wreck of the cratur-laden Politician, which ran aground off Eriskay nearly half a century ago.

Subsequent exploits of the islanders, who helped themselves to thousands of bottles, inspired the book, Whisky Galore, by Compton Mackenzie.

The £1 Shares will be on offer from next Tuesday and the subscription list will close on December 12. A minimum of £500,000 is required to be raised and the firm has sent out 10,000 prospectuses which warn: ”S.S. Politician plc is a new and unquoted company. Investment in the company must be regarded as speculative and involving a higher than average degree of risk.”

If the bid to raise the £500,000 fails, the directors will be faced with a £65,000 bill. Investors will have their money returned.

Divers led by Mr Donald MacPhee, now a member of the company’s four-man board, brought up eight bottles of whisky two years ago. They went for more than £4000 at auction.

His investigation persuaded the directors there could still be 24,000 bottles of whisky in the hold and six cases of Jamaican currency. The Politician was en route to Jamaica, when she came to grief on February 3, 194l.

Director Mr Jeremy Brough, 34, said at a news conference yesterday: ”I think we want everyone to go into it appreciating the risks inherent in the operation. We wouldn’t consider it a gamble, however. It’s to be seen as a high-risk investment.” “

That quote is from but it was all over the media at the time Smile I even remember hearing some guy on Radio Two saying that they were just about to ‘break into’ number five hold where all the whisky was, I nearly fell over laughing Smile This wreck was lying in 7m of water, so smashed up with explosives and Atlantic swell that the prop shaft (which went through No 5 hold) was off its mountings and they were just about to enter it Smile Needless to say, after months of work the 8000 cases turned out to be 24 bottles, the company went t1t5 up and any investors were left short Smile

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Having said that, they did blend some of Am Politician whisky and re bottle it, the one above sold at auction recently for £130 Smile

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