Life at the end of the road

November 29, 2019

Where’s the November wind & rain :-)

Filed under: daily doings, How I, life off grid — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:35 am

Now, I’m not complaining, far from it but there’s something quite peculiar about awaking at ‘stupid o clock’ and seeing Orion  staring in through the bedroom window. My favourite winter constellation, Zeus’s hunter has been sadly absent this autumn, the thick cloud cover of late having made star gazing impossible.

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Not just Orion on the left but the Pleiades or Seven Sisters top right, which the Japanese call Subaru Smile

Pleiades large.jpg  Subaru logo stars

Sure Subaru rearranged them and there are only six on the badge but that where the name comes from Perhaps they see it upside down in Japan Smile

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And whilst I was outdoors admiring the heavens at a balmy 5 degrees Centigrade the wee dug took the opportunity to rearrange my bed and get inside it Smile

Stupid o clock again

Well that effort didn’t last very long, by 20:30 I was falling asleep at the keyboard and went to bed! Out like a light I was then woke up just in time for ‘Sailing By’ !!!

Which, for those ‘not in the know’ is the theme tune to the last Shipping forecast (or first) of the day and close of Radio 4. Been listening to this since I started diving some 40 odd years ago Smile How sad is that? So at around three quarters of an hour after midnight I made me a hot chocolate and ate a banana. My dear old Mum always said that got her back to sleep, well, it did, after a chapter of An excellent tome about the Panama Canal by David McCulloch which is about as thick as breeze block and will take me the rest of the year to read Smile

Well, I then managed to sleep right through until the World Service handed back over to Radio Four five hours later so I suppose I got my eight hours in more or less Smile

More generator woes Sad smile

Right, back to yesterday, well it was a ‘pure peach’ here at the North End, the first task being

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to repair one of my many ‘wheelie bins’ that had been just emptied by our illustrious men in the yellow truck. Sure it’s the HRC’s job and it’s very much in vogue to moan about councils and the bin men. Our bin men are pure brilliant and nothing is too much trouble, one of the fresh crew arrived from Greenock on Tuesday and said their bin men moan like feck if you don’t put the bins the right way round!!! Ours are happy to drive ten miles up a single track road and remove the boulders off the lids to stop the wind blowing them away Smile

Then it was the main task of the day which was getting rock and sub base for repairing the Torran track to make it more ‘Mule friendly’. The Kawasaki SX 4×4 Mule copes admirably on the journey to Torran but there are one or two places where it ‘bottoms’ and this is only gonna get worse with a barrel of diesel or heating oil in the back.


That kept wee dug and I occupied until lunch or was it third breakfast and a mackerel sandwich Smile


A phone call from Brochel about yet another broken generator confirmed what I’d be doing in the evening, meanwhile I did another couple of loads for the road. My imagination running away with me at Rainey’s Wall where the low sunshine revealed (to me at least) an Easter Island Moai watching over Tarbert.

Easter Island "heads" on the slope of Rano Raraku volcano.

And I’ve no had a drink in months Smile

Next, much to ‘wee dug’s’ excitement I ranged the sights on my rifle. I had shot a deer recently at around 100yds with a perfect shot to it’s neck.

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The deer went down like a stone but I was actually aiming for the chest.

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After some 20 rounds I did eventually find the centre of the target, honest Smile As my wife used to say “If we had to rely on your hunting skills for food we’d starve” Smile

That done I loaded up my tools and went to see what I could do with the brand new Stephill 6kVA generator that wouldn’t start, in fact has NEVER started!!!

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Well, as you can see, the clowns who fitted it managed to wedge it in a corner with absolutely no room to work on it. They had the whole feckin garage to mount it and the lithium battery pack yet they shoved both in a corner leaving no room to work on the generator, which would not start and to my knowledge has never started Sad smile


Right enough though, they did make a lovely job of the wiring, that rubbish in front wasn’t there when the inverter and charge controller was fitted.

Anyway, due to their stupid positioning I had to hack several spanners to get to the injector and pump on the Yanmar diesel engine.

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Initially I set about the cheap Indian ones but they just kept breaking and I had to resort to cutting my trusty Snap-On 17mm combination spanner which I’ve had for 35years Sad smile Someone will be getting the bill £36 for one friggin spanner !!!!! and whilst it did undo the nut I still couldn’t get the generator to start Sad smile Well, that’ll be today’s project then Smile

I finished off last night’s tasks by doing some work on the new pig de-hairing bath.

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Unlike the cast iron one I broke last year this fibre glass one is at a better working height, at least I hope it is, it will be getting ‘Christened’ next week with May or Snowy.

Right, that’s it then, 7:30 is here, no sign of the stars but it is ‘black as the fire back’ outside, better feed the animals and get some work done hey.

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 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 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 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.


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.


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 


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.


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.


A couple of hinds just before Brochel.

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SD Raasay working on the Brochel mooring.


Scottish Water lost Smile

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