Life at the end of the road

December 31, 2016

The turkey is finished :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, pigs, stonework, weather — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:56 am

Well, that’s it, Santa has been, Christmas is over and the turkey is finished Sad smile Our turkey usually lasts until Hogmanay or there abouts but not this year. Of course the fact that we got a crown and not a full bird for the first time ever didn’t help, but neither does having a permanently warm house and small fridge. The house internal temperature has never dropped below 20 degrees and the outside temp has been between 9.1 and 12.7 degrees since the turkey went in the oven!!! I kid you not, even at night it’s never been less than 9 degrees, we struggle to achieve temps like this in May!!!  In the past we’ve stored stuff outside at this time of year to keep it cool but not this Christmas.

The crown was OK but only managed a Christmas dinner, stew and curry, one of Brian Green’s home reared birds is usually good for numerous sandwiches, turkey ham and mushroom pie, turkey and chips and several frozen pots of stock. Sadly Brian stopped doing them last year so we tried a crown instead, methinks we’ll have wild boar next Crimbo Smile Apparently it’s more traditional and where did this turkey nonsense come from in the first place? Methinks the same place as ‘Black Friday’, ‘Trick or Treat’, The Golden Arches ‘Grandparents Day’ and DJ Trump Smile Well, next year, despite ‘Brexit’ I’m gonna be more European in my outlook at Christmas Smile

The ‘run up’

The week up to Christmas was fraught with uncertainty for many travellers and I’m guessing a few just didn’t bother with all that talk of storms Barbara and Conner. Indeed the ferry was off all day on Friday and we didn’t sail until 9:55 on Saturday the 24th.

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Having said that, the day got much better as it wore on and everyone managed to get to Raasay before 18:30, even those that had booked the 21:00 ferry. The net result of that was that I got home for 20:00 and not the usual 22:30,


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so it was ‘Dirty black Russians’ all round 5 x Vodka, 2 x Tia Maria, ice and Pepsi, hic.

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It was a very busy and civilized Christmas day with six adults and three dogs to feed, it also ensured we had a very warm house.

We only actually have the heating on in the living room and bathroom but it’s hardly come on at all, perhaps a couple of times during the night when there’s been little movement and no cooking. Of course it’s rarely been below 10 degrees outside but even so it’s pretty impressive. Every one else at the North End has been stoking their fires all day to try and warm up their draughts Smile It has been exceptionally windy of late,


though you wouldn’t think so from the data on my new weather station.

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This can be seen live here . As with all the weather stations I’ve had it’s not capable of catching Scottish West Coast rain which travels sideways and doesn’t go into the collector. The wind figures too are, at the moment grossly understated but that’s cos I just screwed the sensor to a fence post near the house on Christmas day. It’ll be going somewhere higher and clear of obstacles as soon as I can stand up outside. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the Watson W8681- Pro II for it’s not capable of storing data and transferring it to your laptop ‘out of the box’. You have to connect the friggin thing to the Internet, which is handy if that is what you want to do, but you have no other option. Of course the Chinese instructions didn’t help and when I finally did set up my own ‘personal weather station’ the site crashed for two days!!!! Then it got repaired then I lost my Internet for  for 5 hours yesterday!!!


Why can’t people get it through their heads that the Internet does not always work!!! More and more systems rely on it and it alone, the world has gone mad!!

The other thing I don’t like about it are the graphs on the station screen, for some reason they don’t include wind, which is the one I’m most interested in. The unit does take a micro SD card which I fitted yesterday and it has a USB port but there’s nothing in the Chinese translation that mentions these or the drivers required. Connecting it to my laptop just has it spending yonks looking for one without success Sad smile

Having said all that, I’m sure I’ll get it sorted eventually and for most people who don’t live out in the sticks it would be just fine.

Boxing day was a nice short one at work with just the one sailing at 12:30 to Sconser and 13:00 back. Why this was moved from its original 10:30 and 11:00 is a bit of a mystery but all the travellers I spoke to about it thought it was a bad idea. Driving at this time of year is bad enough, driving with two hours less daylight is even worse. Anyone travelling further than Fort William or Inverness is faced with the prospect of closed fuel stations and darkness Sad smile


Sorry got distracted there, it’s NYE now, 7:34 and I’m not long out of bed, so far facing another miserable black morning.


However, that’s supposed to changing later on with a shift in the wind lowering the temperature, clearing the skies a little and abating the incessant gales. This is all ‘damn fine splendid’ for tonight it’s party time at the boat shed Smile

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Methinks the entire population of the ‘North End’ will be heading down there tonight for what promises to be a great night out. Been a while since we went to a good ‘sesh’ and we’re all ready for it, specially after the last couple of days which have been pretty grim on the weather and achievement front.

Ruins at the North End

The first day of the ‘rest period’ got off to a cracking start right enough with me dragging my son out for a wander around the hills looking for one of the hinds that’s causing chaos around here.

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We were on a mission to nowhere really cos it was so windy you could barely stand in some places but we did have a great walk from Arnish, over Rainey’s wall and then back along the coast. Also found a few old ruins that I’d never seen before. The one top left being high above the wall facing west in what looks a most unlikely spot for the usual hen house that you see around here.

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Could be some kind of small enclosure I guess using the cliff as its back wall, who knows what these folk did in days gone by. I guess future generations will think the same when the come across my pipes, cables and concrete foundations Smile


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That’ll be the bin lorry heading off with their cases of beer and this will be a hen house at Tarbert. I believe it was built by Calum Macleod’s grandfather for the usual practice of moving the hens away from crops in the summer.

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These next three are all just to the west of our house between the road and the sea, dunno about the two on the left but the right hand one is most definitely a hen house.

Moving house

Once back home we set about moving the pigs out onto the hill.

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Whilst their current residence in one of the hen fields has had the gate wedged open for months they’ve seldom bothered to wander out of late. I guess that’s cos the weather has been pretty grim and their field was pretty boggy, methinks they just couldn’t be bothered. So I reckoned it was about time to find them a better spot and then lock them out of the croft. This would also save the post lady and I navigating the boggy field to feed them in the dark. With their house moved to a more sheltered and drier spot and their trough just over the fence near the feed store it would make all our lives pleasanter.

The two Tamworth certainly agreed and have been noticeably happier of late, even in the grim grim wind and rain of yesterday they were out for most of the daylight hours exploring. Quite strange really cos their shelter is only a few yards from where it was and they have always been able to walk out of that field they were in.

More breakages

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With the missing sheet of 3mm steel for my tipping trailer finally arriving last week my son and I got on with fitting it over the 22mm phenolic ply base. First off we bonded it with silicon and SikaFlex and then a few countersunk stainless Allen bolts for good measure.

During this operation I was ‘called out’ on a breakdown Smile my mate was going out in his boat to lift his lobster pots when he lost forward gear on his Yamaha 15HP outboard.

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I was convinced it was a very simple adjustment to the cables or gear linkage but it turned out to be rather serious.


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The gearbox drain plug was missing, the box had filled with water and everything was seized Sad smile

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Does anyone know where there’s a Yamaha 9.9/15HP gearbox? This one is pure wrecked!!

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Just thought I’d throw those two of Glamaig and the FV Lustre in for good measure, I’ve gotta go now and fix a digger!!

October 10, 2016

The ‘fly in the ointment’ :-(

Heaven knows when I last posted, probably a week ago I guess, I’ve kinda lost track but I’m thinking it would be when I last visited me Pop in Aultbea. I’ll be doing the same tomorrow so with any luck I’ll get this posted, for we’re still ‘Internetless’ and I’m sorely dischuffed now. Must be well over two weeks now and I don’t have much in the way of options other than my mates ‘pish poor’ satellite link or a 22 mile round trip to the village. I’ve had a go with the satellite link a couple of times, but to be honest it’s quicker driving to the village and using a 3g dongle than waiting for some of the pages to load on so called ‘satellite broadband’ Sad smile 

It’s really put a whole damper on the month’s holiday and been the ‘fly in the ointment’ of a near perfect spell off work. It’s just friggin impossible to do anything without it these days. Filling in forms is impossible unless you’re online, taxing the car, checking the weather, doing any kind of research and of course blogging all become ‘mission impossible’.

An engineer did come on Friday and do his best but the net result of that was zero as far as getting connected was concerned and he’ll not be back until Wednesday Sad smile I cannae submit any of my forms to get my ‘completion certificate’ and can’t download my ‘sustainability certificate’, whatever that is. In fact I can’t even find out what it is cos I’ve no Google Sad smile 

The Indian summer

Connectivity issues aside it’s been boodly marvellous up here, pure spectacular on the weather front and I’m getting much done on the ‘to do’ list, albeit at my new pace. I’m really enjoying my less manic approach to life, come to think of it so are the rest of the family and dug Smile Seem to be getting everything done and doing far less worrying too, perhaps it’s the Tramadol! I’ve been taking 1 x 50mg capsule every morning now for 2 months and it’s definitely helped the back.

I gave up on it a couple of years ago as it was making me constipated, moody, pass wind from both ends, constantly thirsty and giving me wild dreams. I also couldn’t sleep if I took any after midday. Since then I tried all the other meds, gave up on them and have been drug free for almost two years. Relying instead on my six monthly injections to the sacro illeach joint, and of course being kinder to my back. Sadly the injections become less and less effective so I find myself once more trying to ‘manage’ the pain.

Whatever, apart from the odd twinge it’s not bothered me at all, even after quite a few spells of digging drains and burying pipe.

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Not to mention some rather unseasonal painting and the refurbishment of a proper fire hose real and enclosure. I know from experience that it takes rather a long while for the Fire Brigade to get to Arnish.

I guess it’s a couple of years now since the chalet burned down and I’ve finally got around to clearing up the mess.

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Or should I say ‘we have’, for my son did most of the heavy lifting, I was just in charge of the fire.

I really thought it was two people

I guess it’s just having a serious view now and being able to spend so much time looking out to sea but I’ve never in all my years here seen so many porpoises in Loch Arnish. Every day I’m seeing them now and have been the whole time I’ve been off work. What, with that, the sea eagles and deer, it’s been a regular wildlife safari up here.

Driving home on Friday after collecting my son from school I spotted two people atop a hill at Brochel. At least I thought it was two people, they were too big for sheep and smaller than deer.

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I asked the chauffer to stop the car and enquired of him what he thought. Two people we agreed before one of them flew off!!! They were of course sea eagles with a wingspan much wider than I am tall. I’ve seen dozens of these birds, some at extremely close quarters, indeed I’ve seen them lift salmon within a few yards of me. Even so, their sheer size never ceases to amaze me. Wifey and I saw one perched on the picnic table by the youth hostel a week or two back and we were level with it on the road rushing for the ferry. Twenty yards away at the most and it never even flinched as we passed by.

Wandering the hills

With the weather being so good and the stags being very bold and vocal I’ve been doing much wandering locally watching them. Though sadly without a camera decent enough to take a picture at the distances I’ve been ‘stalking’ them at.

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Rainey’s wall, which they seem to cross with ease, Molly and I crept up the south side and watched a bruiser of a stag on the other side.

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Eastern end of the wall with Dun Caan in the distance.

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One of the many ‘wallows’ used by the rutting stags.


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Twenty seven years I’ve been wandering these hills at the north end and still I’m finding new ruins, this one near an old peat cutting was probably a hen house. Strange place for hens I know but I think they were moved to these outlandish places at certain time of the year to keep them away from the crops.

More turnips

Methinks these wind turnips were heading for Invermorriston, luckily I wasn’t behind them Smile

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I did mention the Raasay Primary school coffee day last time I posted a week ago.

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What I never mentioned was the total raised on the day, yet another day when over three grand was raised for the excellent school by an exemplary community. You have to marvel at this place really, eight pupils and a population of less than two hundred and they raise extra ordinary sums of money consistently. In the twenty or more years they’ve held this event they’ve never taken less than a thousand pounds on the day. Truly an amazing school and community, with tremendous support from local business’ too.

A bit late

A year after I fitted the Navitron solar hot water array of 60 ‘evacuated tubes’ I finally got around to insulating the interconnecting pipes.

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These pipes can reach temperatures well in excess of 120 degrees C so special ‘Armaflex’ or similar insulation is needed. I only had 15mm diameter 13mm thickness stuff but I’d plenty of it so I split it and wrapped several layers around the exposed copper. I then used aluminium foil tape to keep it all tightly wound. Have to say, I was pretty chuffed with the result Smile

I have to say that I wasn’t particularly enamoured with this technology being more of a solar PV man. However, having got the 60 tube array cheap and having the thermal store directly below I thought I’d ‘give it a go’ and I have to say that I’m well impressed.  There are days, and today is one, when this array out performs the solar PV by 100%!!!


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Anyway, that’s it for now, I’m off!

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