Life at the end of the road

December 5, 2019

Getting ready

Well that’s more like it, 4:30am and that’s me up around the same time I arrived in from work yesterday morning!!! I really, really could not handle shift work and how people working for the ‘emergency services’ and other institutions that function 24/7 is beyond me. Sure I’ve still not recovered from the ‘clock changing nonsense in October. Anyway, despite not getting up until mid morning yesterday I did achieve most of my objectives, though they did keep getting added too, much like the straws ‘on the camels back’, in short, I was left feeling a little overwhelmed by what lay ahead.

Patches of sunshine on Tuesday

Prior to the ‘over nighter’ aboard Hallaig with Renee from RH Marine I’d done the usual two or three 3ton loads of rock for the Torran track and latest home civil engineering project. The forecast being for thick cloud but dry.

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Well, they got that wrong, for the ‘North End’ at least, I was blessed with more than enough blue sky ‘to make a sailors trousers’ A phrase that I picked up from my wife, who in turn acquired it from ‘Granny Annie’ though I must confess at never having heard it until 20 years ago in my forties. Sure it didn’t look great over on Skye but it was a fine day at Arnish Smile


More than can be said for today if the forecast is to be believed and judging by the wind I hear outdoors it could be right.

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My first job, before it was fully light was to record the voltages on 35 Yuasa 40Ah gel batteries I’d saved from the commercial recycler they would have been destined for. Thought I’d repurpose them myself, though at the moment I’m not actually sure what for. Coming from a 15kVA 400V UPS system only a few of them would be ‘dodgy’ and by recording the voltages over the next few weeks I could ascertain which ones then pass those onto the recycler Smile What were left would go into some project of mine, electric vehicle, power for caravan, UPS for solar hot water system or something. Worst case scenario, I could use them as ballast to stop stuff blowing away in gales Smile

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Gave my butcher’s table a good clean too and gave the girls some extra rations, I’d not be feeding them much longer Sad smile After that and probably a lot more that I’ve forgotten, I headed to work and joined Hallaig at 18:00.


As soon as I’d got out of bed, done my ablutions and composed myself I headed off for Brochel. Kevin had telephoned me to say the parts were here for the Yanmar engine on the new generator there.

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The ‘clowns’ who ‘shall remain nameless’ who fitted this ‘off grid’ system may have been great electricians but they want severely reprimanding for the idiot mounting of the generator. Not only was there ample room where the old generator was mounted, had it been fitted there the exhaust would have pointed away from the house. In its current idiot location the thing is not only impossible to work on but the exhaust points directly at the kitchen door and an oil tank!!!!!


Testing the new injector and being satisfied with it I fitted it and tried to start it, she almost went before flattening the difficult to access battery. At this point both myself and Kevin decided to get the halfwits back who installed it, to move it to sensible position where it wouldn’t gas the occupants of the kitchen or melt the oil tank Smile 

After that it was home for the muesli then a little more rock moving, with help Smile

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I’d be needing ‘Calum the Kubota’ to lift the girls into the bath so got another load into the dumper before ‘tracking’ him home.

Then it was more preparation for the impending arrival of the ‘Three Amigo’s’ and their entourage. For it’s the annual ‘pig fest’, that time of year when the two pigs I’ve been fattening for the English Producer, Russian Art Dealer and Swiss Surgeon get ‘dealt with’. Me, I just feed em then ‘pull the trigger’, tis their good selves that turn them into sausages for their own consumption. Though dismissing the weekends charcuterie as ‘sausages’ is somewhat demeaning. The salamis, brawn, links, black pudding, cotechino, nduja, pate and prime cuts wouldn’t be out of place in the dearest butchers or finest delicatessen.

Bed with a good book came around later than usual at well after 21:30 but it’s good to be back in my routine of getting up at ‘stupid o clock’ Smile So, 6:30 is here and methinks I’ll get out whilst it’s still dry and start installing the chimney for the 100lt boiler, you need a lot of hot water for de-hairing a pig Smile

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This 100lt cast iron boiler is a ‘God send’ in the operation, prior to it’s arrival from Germany a few years ago we had to boil water in pans on the cooker and using an electric ‘Burco boiler’. It was a nightmare and we never had enough  hot water, one year resorting to lighting some gas rings under the cast iron bath. Well, that was interesting Smile elfin safety would have had a fit Smile The cast iron boiler may be heavy and a PITA to move and set up but it does make life much easier. All you need to do is keep it fed with coal and water, though judging by current wind turbine output an electric immersion would do Smile

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According to a mate in Loch Carron the Met Office weather station nearby only recorded 22mm of rain in November, the least in forty years. The next lowest reading was 97mm!!!!!!!!

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I do love this dry weather but it was good to see the recent rain put to good use in my hydro turbine Smile That’ll be the Stream Engine doing the best part of 800W this morning Smile

September 28, 2019

Round rugged Rona and roaring stags :-)

Gonna try and make this brief cos it’s only two hours until dawn, the forecast is brilliant and I have much ‘on the list’ for today.

Sorted the Yanmar ?

So, yesterday’s first task was to get to the bottom of the Brochel generators recurring fuel starvation problems. The main issue being a choked fuel filter caused by a tank full of carp, bad diesel and improper filling from Jerry cans. Sure the ubiquitous can gets it’s name from it’s invention by the Germans just prior to WWII . Since then just about every country in the world has copied it in one form or another, it’s easy to carry, stacks well, requires no funnel and is generally ‘leak proof’ it does however have a serious drawback. Perhaps not in its original form but most of the ones you purchase these days (even genuine ex MOD ones) have a red paint coating on the inside and eventually tiny bits of paint flake off. I can absolutely guarantee that if you open up the fuel filter of any car, truck, digger, plant or generator that is regularly filled from a Jerry can, you will find tiny flakes of red paint in it. Now I dunno if Rommel had problems in Africa with his Tiger tanks but just about every outboard motor on a fish farm does Smile Added to that is water usually acquired from filling the tank in the rain or with a wet funnel. Sure the odd drop my not seem like much but it all adds up and then stays in the tank causing mayhem in the way of rust or ‘diesel bug’, a bacteria that lives at the interface of the water and fuel.

diesel bug 

A bad case from one of my own tanks years ago, it looks like frog spawn, gums up filters but worst of all it is extremely corrosive.

Anyway, my first job was to power wash the tank with my 200 bar pressure washer then suck it dry with a ‘wet’ vacuum cleaner.

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That done I headed south to Brochel to refit it to the Yanmar and take the builders some fuel for their petrol one. Amongst other things I had a fuel filter waiting for me on the ferry so drove down to the village to collect that and supplement my muesli at Iona’s Larch Box

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Sadly Iona was having a well earned day off so I had to forsake her brie, pesto and sun dried tomato toastie for breakfast with a friend in the village. Mind you the scrambled egg, smoked salmon and tomato on toast I got there was boodly awesome too Smile 

The wee Larch Box is a little hemmed in at the moment with a film company that seem to have taken over this part of the island recently Smile

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So come to Raasay and the Larch Box, you may get breakfast with the stars Smile

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Though methinks most of them are locked in The Alamo which looks like it’s preparing for a siege Smile Smile

After ‘second breakfast’, collecting my filters, anti roll bar bushes, brake fluid and links from the ferry I headed back north.

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The silage was in at Oscaig and there was a great big Vanguard class nuke heading north on the range at Brochel. Dunno which one it was, they all look the same and it was too far away for a picture.


However, I did manage to leave two running generators in my wake when I finally left Brochel and the happy builders Smile

Round Rona

I had managed to acquire some mackerel from the ferry along with my generator, Subaru and Disco parts but I was still determined to catch some of my own. The days are getting shorter, the boat is in the water and the sea calm so I thought I’d make the most of the opportunity and decided to head up to Rona.

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As has been usual of late, the loch is full of porpoises, not quite so usual though is this ‘sheep on the rocks’. Unusual cos it’s wearing about five fleeces and there are not actually any sheep at the North End any more. I saw it there yesterday and from experience have found that they get stuck, sometimes for days but as soon as you try and ‘rescue’ them they either find a way out or jump in the sea. If sorry looking old girl heads for the water with all those fleeces on she’s not going to be coming out of it Sad smile

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Two pictures of where the sea eagles were Smile There was a pair perched on these rocks on Fladda yesterday and today but it’s no easy to photograph em from a moving boat Smile

The old schoolhouse and holiday cottages at ‘Dry Harbour’ on Rona

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Above them on the hill is the 2.5kW wind turbine I helped install with Hugh Piggott, Bill Cowie and of course the helicopter that put it there Smile

After some more unsuccessful fishing in the bay there I headed north to the Rona Navy Base and it’s ‘bright lights’, so bizarre to see street lights there.

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Then it was round the top and down the east side.

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Fishless, it was time to head home and feed the pigs,


whatever it was in Loch Arnish (probably the porpoises).


May coming to be fed, hotly pursued by the ‘Iron Age’ pigs Smile


I heard my first stag roaring yesterday and so did these hinds, never saw him right enough but he mustn’t have been far away.

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OK, I never caught em myself but the mackerel I got given went into a fine Linguine, which is something you can try when you are fed up with every other way of eating them Smile I dunno where I got this recipe form but it’s great when you are fed up with the taste of mackerel, not that I am, I’ve not had chance Smile Anyways, make a pasta sauce, you know, onions, garlic olive oil, tinned and fresh toms, touch of stock and tomato puree. Once that’s bubbling nicely dump a load of frozen peas in it until the sauce is back up to temp. Add mackerel fillets, cover pan then sit on very low light for 20 – 40 mins depending on what you’re doing or how high the ‘low light’ is. Me I had work to do in the shed so left it for half an hour or so on a warm hot plate. Serve with spaghetti or linguine, boodly awesome and not in the least fishy Smile

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