Life at the end of the road

January 31, 2019

It was on the list :-(

18:30 now and that’s me fed, watered and in for the night. Sure with my nice well lit and dry shed there is stuff I could be doing but I feel no guilt in sitting here in the nice warm house staring out at the blackness. At least not now anyway, a few moments ago I did cos there was a light below the Storr but even that is now extinguished! For as long as I’ve been off work there’s been a light burning brightly just below the Old Man of Storr. So what I can here you say but the truth is despite being able to see from Portree Bay to Harris without moving from the kitchen table bright lights are a rarity here at Arnish. Sure I can see the glow of civilization from Portree reflected on clouds from the bedroom window, I can fishing boats going too and from their grounds. I even get the rare glimpse of a snow plough heading towards Staffin and the odd late commuter some six miles across the sea.

This one however had me puzzled as it was always in the same area just below the road and was often burning when I went to bed and awoke in the morning. Apparently it was a timber harvester and as they cost around a quarter of a million and the operator gets paid by the ton I guess he preferred the heated cab to his unheated caravan Smile Well, even he’s turned in, the light has gone out, you can just see it in the first image taken on Tuesday. The other two are from today and what a peach of a day it’s been.

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Another alternator

I never got posting yesterday cos I was in my bed at ‘stupid o clock’ with two dugs and a good book, the freezing weather forcing darling wife to abandon me in favour of the ‘toon hoose’. A more than sensible decision considering her 6:00am start and the icy road conditions.

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In the ‘grand scale’ of things it’s hardly a ‘huge dump’ or particularly cold but the road is steep and treacherous with both of us having come off it at times. Phone reception is dubious and it’s at least seven miles to the next house. When Ross and I came off the road in the Land Rover a couple of winters ago I had to walk over a mile to get a phone signal and he had to walk two miles home. That was it yesterday morning and even when I headed sowf some five hours later than Wifey would have, had she stayed at home, it was pretty boodly slippy.

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Normally ‘wild horses’ wouldn’t have dragged me down the road yesterday but I’d an appointment to see the Doc so thought I’d better make the effort, especially as he’d telephoned from the ferry to say he’d made it despite the state of the roads on Skye!!!!

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Still, it gave me a chance to call on Callum and Jay at the Raasay Sawmill to see how me shed was coming along. Also managed to pop in and see Peter to give Bonzo a walk before heading back home.

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Good to see the gritter in action at Scrapeadale

For the want of a shovel

Once home I jumped on the quad to go and check my hydro turbine at Tarbert which had stopped.

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Having to first negotiate a lake in the road that’s been growing daily for weeks now. It’s not alone right enough, there’s hunners of them on all the roads but 10 minutes with me wellie had the tide going out on this particular expanse of water. Now if I can do that with my foot just imagine what a well directed Council worker could do with a yellow pickup and shovel!!!! I mean it’s not friggin’ ‘rocket science’ is it. The drains get blocked, the water makes a lake which either freezes or turns into a raging river every time someone drives through it. Either the ice fecks it or the waves feck it. There’s no money in the budget they say, fer fecks sake how much money does it take to give a man a spade and tell him what to do with the friggin thing.

Salaries

  • Chief Executive – £146,517 (2016/17)  £147,989 (2017/18)
  • Depute Chief Executive and Director of Corporate Resources – £116,370 (from 1 April 2017)
  • Director of Care and Learning – £111,370 (from 1 April 2017)
  • Director of Community Services – £111,370 (from 1 April 2017)
  • Director of Development and Infrastructure – £111,370 (from 1 April 2017)

For £111,370 you would think you could find someone with the gumption to give a man a spade hey Sad smile

After the road repair and turning off my hydro turbine I turned my attention to the storm damaged deer fence at the back of the house and put some stays behind it.

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Then, as darkness fell I got on with the 10 or was it 11kg ham that had been drying in the bunker. The ham had been soaking in all manner of goodies for over a month. So much so the the sweet smell of cider, sugars, spices and wine had been lingering around for days Smile I’d decided that it was way too big so reckoned I’d chop it up into manageable pieces, put one in the fridge for the weekend and the others in the freezer.

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The only problem with hams is passing them without hacking a bit off to eat Smile I kid you not, this baby had been hanging in the shed for a few days and the aroma was just impossible to resist, it was even worse when it was on the bench in front of me with a knife in hand. Of course a month in brine had made it rather savoury so I had a bottle of San Pellegrino at hand to quench my thirst. Even so, by the time it cut it up I’d lost my appetite for dinner Smile

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Mind you, that didn’t stop me turning the bone and some off cuts into a fine soup Smile

Thursday

Another sharp but fine day

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with the day’s first task being the removal of the alternator from this lighting tower that was deposited on me yesterday Smile I’d already had a look at it and discovered a poor output, further investigation this morning confirmed the problem to lie within the alternator.

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It wasn’t too bad to remove the alternator after taking out the control panel, transformer and mounting brackets.

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After just a couple of hours work it was in the back of the Subaru ready for delivery to its owner who would either get it repaired or more likely replaced. Methinks these Linz alternators are quite sensibly priced.

 

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Of course whilst down at the sowf end I had to go and check on me shed and wife Smile The shed was coming on fine and darling wife was busy forklifting, I was greatly impressed Smile

Creosoting in January

OK, I know it’s the last day but still Smile

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I didn’t do it all right enough cos some of it was still covered in ice!!! but I got a good deal of it done Smile

Beko washing machine drawer leak

And, I almost forgot, the washer is fixed, I managed to stop the annoying leak on our otherwise excellent Beko machine just by turning the cold fill tap down a touch.

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Sure, it takes a minute or two longer to fill but it still washes far, far quicker than our extortionate 4star plus Panasonic piece of carp.

How could I leave these out ?

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Glam, the Five Sisters of Kintail and a daft dug in the snow Smile

January 27, 2019

A serious haggis :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, hydro, life off grid — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:44 pm

Being a bit of a mongrel of mixed English, Italian and Argentine heritage I can’t really say I’m a huge fan of Rabbie Burns https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Burns  , who, to my way of thinking was just a smooth talking womaniser with 17 illegitimate children to his his name and didn’t speak properly Smile I’m more an admirer of his contemporary William Blake  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake  Smile However Rabbie seems to be a big thing in my adopted homeland so who am I to argue Smile Anyway, it appears  that ole Rabbie is quite popular in these parts so I allowed ‘Darling Wife’ to drag me down to a ‘Burns Supper’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burns_supper#Address_to_a_Haggis organized by the Isle of Raasay Distillery  https://raasaydistillery.com/ and I gotta say that it was a pure amazing night out.

https://raasaydistillery.com/raasay-distillery-events/burns-night-at-the-distillery-26th-january-2019/#menu

Burns Supper Menu

Reception Drink:
Wee Dram Or Fizz

Starter:
Cock-A-Leekie Soup (Leekie Vegetarian Option)
or
Raasay While We Wait cured Salmon with tarragon crème fraiche and pickled vegetables

Both served with homemade bread and butter

Main:
Haggis, Tatties & Neeps With Raasay While We Wait Whisky & Thyme Sauce (Vegetarian Haggis Available)

Dessert:
Rhubarb Cranachan With Homemade Shortbread

To End:
Coffee and whisky fudge

Sure I would have given this a good plug but the sixty tickets available had gone before I had a chance.

Much as I’m not a great fan of the Scots lothario himself, I do like a good haggis and I gotta say that the one served up tonight was nothing short of spectacular. Though before we could start the ‘Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!’ had to be piped in as tradition demands Smile

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Unusually the address was in Gaelic and whilst I didn’t understand a word of it, it sounded lovely Smile

I gotta say this haggis truly did deserve all the attention and praise given to it, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad haggis, even the tinned ones or OK but this fella was a king amongst Haggi or is it Haggises. Sadly I can’t remember the chefs name to laud him with praise but anyone who can make me enjoy turnip has to be good Smile Normally I only eat it out of respect for the person who cooked it for me, on this occasion I really enjoyed it.

Back to the ‘toon hoose’

Having recently acquired one of the old miners cottages in the village we’d no need to fight over who was going to be ‘designated driver’ so the pair of got wrecked on several bottles of reasonably priced ‘house red’.

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The ‘wobble’ back to the village with a girl on each arm would I’m sure have been approved of by Rabbie Smile

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All in all a fabulous evening’s entertainment by the staff and management of the Raasay Distillery.

Afore o that

My relief and satisfaction at completing my online ‘self assessment’ tax return on Friday had me all revved up to do my VAT return on Saturday morning, well that and the pishing rain. The forecast was for a better afternoon so I launched myself into that with some gusto prior to going out when the rain eased to Scotch mist.

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Then a walk out with wife and dugs to check on the hydro turbines that had been working so hard of late. The Stream Engine https://microhydropower.com/our-products/stream-engine/  inlet we pass regularly on our walks and all was well but I’ve not been down to the ‘turbine house’ for a few weeks.

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The corrugated iron shack nestles alongside a cliff in what I call the ‘Secret Cove’ that has an old path right up to our previous house. In days gone by this was used for bringing nets ashore at high tide and it truly is a magical place.

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The same little burn that gushes through the roots of this ancient aspen tree powers the turbine.

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Though how much longer that venerable aspen can cling to that cliff is anyone’s guess.

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The turbine itself has three different nozzles capable of producing between 300W and 900W but for months now it has just been on the 300W setting which gives us around 6 to 7kWh per day. With all the rain of late and plans to do much washing this weekend I opened the largest nozzle too which pushed up the output to around 14A @ 56.5V or 800W and around 19 to 20kWh per day. Between this, the 20kWh per day we get from the other hydro turbine and our wind turbine we seldom need the extra. However the new washing machine is ‘acting up’ so it would be getting ‘run hard’ over the weekend to try and either fix it or have a decent diagnosis for the person at Beko’s call centre Sad smile Friggin washing machines, we just have no luck with them and they are just about the worst appliance to transport and fit into a remote house.

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The boodly thing had started leaking, apparently from the powder drawer,

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so I pulled it out and we did some washes with the top off.

Leaving the washer in bits and wifey in charge I went to look at turbine number two, the trusty Powerspout https://www.powerspout.com/

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This little New Zealand made number just runs constantly on two nozzles and produces around 800W constantly. Apart from greasing twice a year and getting the odd frog jammed inside it, it needs little attention.

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After that it was a minor fencing job then off to get showered and changed for the Burns bash.

Sunday

Well after a good sleep in the ‘toon hoose’ we awoke to a fine morning and somewhat unfamiliar surroundings.

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A proper tree and civilization, very strange Smile bit like being on holiday and after breakfast we called on Peter to collect Bonzo and go for a stroll.

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Heading up to the distillery to collect the car and turn on the boiler ready for the ‘early shift’ tomorrow.

Home at last

It was almost 13:00 by the time we got back to Arnish after what seemed like a bit of a holiday if the truth be known. The day was dry and sunny with the solar hot water producing for the first time since last October.

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The little green light was solid on the TDCH solar controller indicating that the pump was running and the solar collectors were at 51 degrees despite the Baltic north wind. The lowest part of the store where the UFH comes from was at 73 degrees and the collectors had harvested some 4kWh of energy. Pretty good considering the time of year, so with all this excess and a toasty house I went to tinker with the Powerspout.

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Image 1 is both nozzles and producing 800W the other images are top and bottom nozzles respectively and I’m wanting to see the difference in output between each and if I can tweak it. Just now I’m running on the lower nozzle (3rd image) and it’s producing 450W. Tomorrow I’ll swap em over to see the difference and if I can improve on it.

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