Life at the end of the road

June 5, 2018

The ‘Red Caves’

Filed under: animals, Avon Searider, daily doings, pigs — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:41 pm

Well, that’s it, the boat is out the water and the caravan packed, we’re off to Eden tomorrow and it’s a bit of a trek Sad smile Rockness is no more, Belladrum caravan tickets sold out in February and my camping days are long gone Smile Never been to this ‘boutique’ festival in the Borders before but know plenty of folk who have and it gets great reviews. Didn’t realize it was a four day event right enough and I dunno if an old codger in his sixties can last that long Smile Still, I’ll give it a shot and who knows, perhaps I’ll even get my nails painted again Smile


Sure it’s gonna be awesome with the likes of the Peatbog Faeries

and Shooglenifty

doing the banging ‘Acid house Celtic croft rock’ thing and Groove Armada

heading up a headline DJ slot.

Sure it would have been nice to be taking a newly refurbished ‘Old Girl’ but she’s in the middle of major surgery just now so it’ll be Wifey’s Subaru pulling the caravan 330 miles to Moffatt via Girvan.


A long day

First task of the day was to get the boat out of the water, it’ll be at least three weeks before it’s used again and whilst the mooring is perfectly safe I don’t want to antifoul the Searider’s hull so there’s no point having it in the water gathering barnacles and weed.

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That’ll be my son trying out our ‘tender’ last night and the ‘wee dug’ trying on her lifejacket, she was not impressed. In fact she refused ‘point blank’ to move from the spot, probably not a bad thing really, perhaps she’ll no run about the boat like a wee dafty Smile

Anyway, whilst my son had a great paddle around Loch Arnish last night


I opted just to put on me dry suit and just swim out to the boat this morning.

After a few ‘start up checks’ it was off south at an economical 3500RPM and just short of 20knots, stopping only once to have a look around the ‘Red Caves’.


Directly east of Portree on Raasay’s western shore and carved into the ancient pink and white gneiss are a series of sea caves and arches known by fishermen as the ‘Red Caves’. It’ll be know as something completely different here on Raasay but that’s the way of it. Few locals on Raasay will refer to Kyle Rona, that narrow tidal race between Rona and Raasay as the ‘Blind Sound’ but that’s what all the trawler men and creel fishermen call it. Same with the cliffs on Raasay’s eastern shore south of Brochel, I think referred to locally as Cathedral rock or its Gaelic equivalent. Me, I call it the ‘White Face’ cos I worked with a Kyle fisherman long before I move to Raasay and that’s what he called the white sandstone cliffs.

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They really are spectacular and had the tide been high with the sea this calm it’s possible to put the boat inside them.

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When the tide is high that last rock looks like the head and shoulders of a man and probably has a Gaelic name that reflects that.


Not long after I was at the ferry terminal and dragged the boat out of the water easily using the Subaru that Wifey had deposited there for me. The 90HP Tohatsu TLDI (two stroke, low pressure, direct injection) was still running off the same tank of fuel as when we launched it there on Saturday morning. It’s a standard Quicksilver 25lt tank so not bad for all the running about we did around Fladda and Loch a Sgurr.

With the boat back home and washed out with fresh water I spent the rest of the day pottering about getting the caravan ready and making the most of what had turned into a cracking day.

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No wind for the turbines but plenty of sun, fine views towards Harris and Torran Croft.

No water Sad smile

The ‘secret well’ that serves our house is only ever a trickle but hasn’t yet (to my knowledge) dried up even in the driest of months. It may not be much of a flow but it is constant and well capable of replenishing even heavy usage over night. However, ‘your truly’ left a tap running today and emptied 4000lts of fresh water into the heather Sad smile

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So, no toilet flushing or showers until the morning Smile


The weather certainly brought the visitors out


which in turn kept Leah barking all friggin day Smile


The pigs did some epic roaming and kept ‘popping up’ everywhere,


even the septic tank soakaway, which I guess was working overtime due to the running tap Sad smile


It was hard work though, so they had a rest after dinner Smile

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And that’ll round up tonight.


April 2, 2018

Poking away :-)

Well it’s been a while hey Sad smile Easter’s here, Raasay is sinking under the weight of visitors and I’ve just been worn too out to post. I’ve mixed and ‘poked’ a gazillion tons of concrete since I last posted and filled up the croft with pigs. OK, more than a little exaggeration to be sure but I have been getting in late and going to bed early this last fortnight so I apologise for not being more ‘regular’ so to speak.

The memory aint getting any better so I’ll have to consult the camera as to what’s been going on, so here goes.

The Arnish ‘fish farm slip’

The latest project and one that’s been taking up most of my efforts of late has been trying to stabilize the ruined concrete slip way just below our house. The contractor that built it did his best to try and persuade the fish farm to build a better one but they wouldn’t have it. Consequently it was never wide enough to take even a quad down easily and the slab was way too thin. Still the access road down to it was good, if not a little steep for regular vehicles and it was a vast improvement (even now) on what was there before (basically nothing).

‘Back in the day’ when I was fishing I’d often have to carry up half a ton of scallops or crabs up from the shore by hand before the slip access went in. You couldn’t even get down with a quad, and believe me, I tried, rolling my Suzuki ‘Quad runner’ twice and nearly breaking my neck once before giving up. Abandoning this foolishness I resorted to using ‘Port Arnish’, which, whilst considerably safer was totally out of the question for anything larger than a quad. It was also much further from the road by about half a mile Sad smile

Almost twenty years on and with a sudden rekindling of my past obsession with diving and boats I’m looking to make it possible to launch the ‘Searider’ here. Quite insane really but there you go, you have to be mad to live here Smile

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As you can see, it’s in a bit of a mess and needs to withstand some severe weather.


Well, after a coupe of weeks ‘hard graft’ ten tons of aggregate and two tons of cement we’ve got the first section almost done and wide enough to get a vehicle and trailer down there.

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The ‘weather’ (seaward) side was shuttered with local larch from the Raasay Sawmill and then concrete poured in. A vibrating concrete poker was then judiciously wriggle about so the concrete would flow into the smallest of spaces and expel all the air.

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12mm steel ‘rebar’ being used profusely to ‘tie’ into the ground and previous ‘pours’.

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Once the seaward side was done we started on the shore side, all the while using the vibrating poker to ensure the concrete flowed into all the voids. Using a vibrating poker means you can make a nice strong 4.5 : 1 ‘stiff’ mix of cement and ballast yet still ensure the concrete ‘flows’ into all the right places.

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Of course none of this is any use unless you have a mooring or two to lash your ‘ship’ onto.

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So, the first one to sort out was my Mate’s at Port Arnish. Of course as soon as I tried to get into my dry suit one of the wrist seals failed so I had to use my son’s suit. We are no where near the same shape Sad smile Still, by some miracle I managed,


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got the job done,


and got expertly recovered Smile

The mooring at the ‘fish farm slip’


required a little more effort with some heavy ‘stud link’ chain and ‘Calum’ the digger.


Friends at last

Fifty years on from the assassination of Martin Luther King and six weeks on since we ‘inherited’ Leah from me dear old Mum.

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Molly and Leah are actually tolerating each other to the degree that they’ll ‘share the same bed’!!!!! OK, it’s not their bed but it’s a step in the right direction Smile

An awesome take on MLK’s speech ‘Free at last’ by DJ Simon, one of my favourite tracks.

Good for another year


Then of course there was the ‘Old Girl’s’ annual visit to the MOT station, where she managed to scrape through Smile Cost me £300 right enough but no bad for a 32 year old truck.

The pigs

Then there was the four new ‘wee darlings’ from Mike Mackinnon at Skye Pig Suppliers.

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These wee beauties were collected from Mike’s place at Glenburnisdale on Saturday and are now the latest additions to the croft. Two ‘large black’ boars. one ‘iron age’ gilt and one GOS x Tamworth gilt make up the latest batch at the ‘North End’.

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