Life at the end of the road

February 5, 2020

Back at the coalface :-)

4:00am now and I’d much rather I was tucked up in bed than plonking away on here but it’s better than ‘working out’ Smile That’s what the rest of the ‘team’ will be doing shortly Smile I kid you not 50% of Hallaig’s crew will be charging around the car deck with dumbbells and skipping ropes shortly, or at least by the time I’ve finished typing this. The last thing that I heard as I departed ship last night was “see you down here at 6:00am”!!!!! Aye right Smile Methinks Sandy and Finlay been watching too much of ‘SAS who cares who wins’ https://www.channel4.com/programmes/sas-who-dares-wins   Smile Such is the ‘joy of youth’, me, I’ve got a good excuse for being up at ‘stupid o clock’, I can’t sleep! or at least I can’t stay in bed.

Not that I had that problem last night, my fist day back on shift ended with me curled up in bed whilst most people were watching the early evening soaps. It had been a busier day than usual. Sure, the first day back is always a mad rush trying to get all the stuff done that I’ve had a fortnight to finish but not actually done so yet.

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The trailer project being the first one, but that was after my neighbour banged on the door before daylight asking if I could look at their wind turbine. The already busy schedule just got a whole lot busier!

Proven wind turbine springs

After Monday night’s storm the neighbour had awoken to a ‘clicking’ from the wind turbine that had been working overtime through the night. I call it a Proven WT2500 cos that’s what it was called when I installed it 14 years ago. Since then the company has passed through several hands and names whilst still retaining the core workforce. SD Wind Energy being the latest incarnation https://sd-windenergy.com/ , before that it was Kingspan Environmental. The names may have changed but the turbines, at least the smaller ones have changed little. They are still the rugged well built piece of kit they were twenty years ago and their service and parts supply has improved no end since the Proven days.

Lowering the neighbour’s turbine had most certainly not been on the ‘to do list’ but it was Tuesday and had we not done it, it would have been a fortnight at least before it even got looked at. So, with it still being dark and breezy I got on with the trailer project until daylight and the wind abated. Unusually the forecast was right, by 9:00am the remnants of the previous day’s gale had passed us by and I ‘tracked’ Calum the Kubota round to ‘Number 3’ https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/8188794?s=3LQkEta2&source_impression_id=p3_1580878562_gdw9LTyYqfftvHxV my ‘happy wee home’ of 25 years.

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It was a lot easier than when I took the turbine there in 2005 Smile

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My good friend Willie Eyre ‘back in the day’ God rest his soul Smile it’s hard to think of Willie without smiling.

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Just as promised the wind ‘fell away’ to nothing revealing the broken spring and reluctantly I loaded up the Mule. I say reluctantly cos it’s not mine and the last thing I did on Monday was wash and clean it Smile

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It’s a lovely spot up there overlooking the sea and ruins of the houses in the right hand photo that was taken circa 1885.

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My ‘apprentice’ soon had it lowered and I just happened to have a spare set of springs in my shed, by 11:00am the turbine was back up and I had time to tidy up before heading for the 12:15 ferry. The ‘to do’ list unfinished Sad smile

I had planned to do some more work on one of the Brochel generators, I say one cos I’ve four to choose from and there’s generally only one working Smile

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Still, at least the SDMO 6kW was working when I left it on Monday Smile

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Wee dug and I even found time for a walk on the beach by the castle that was once ‘seat’ of the Raasay Macleods.

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That’ll be the house not the castle Smile

Sunshine on Sconser

So, I got myself to Portree and filled up with essential breakfast kit. The two ‘young fellas’ will be needing a good breakfast after their 6:00am workout Smile

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The avocado, egg, and chorizo on toast should do the trick after they’ve done that lot hey.

After trawling around the Co-op I arrived back on Hallaig at 15:00 in time to let my ‘back to back’ away for a well earned rest. The first thing I noticed was SUNSHINE!!!

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Sconser doesn’t ‘do’ sunshine in the winter, spring must be here Smile OK, it wasn’t actually on the village yet but it was bathing Hallaig at the pier so it cannot be far away.

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’ https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/51/messages/679.html 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

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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.

Wednesday

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!!!!!

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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

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