Life at the end of the road

February 29, 2016

High tide at Cluanie :-)

Filed under: daily doings — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:03 pm

It was forecast to be pretty miserable today and it certainly started that way at Arnish with a good dose of rain power washing the back door. Despite only having one door it will always be the back door I guess, ‘Number 3’ only had one door too but we always referred to it as the ‘front door’. I hadn’t really thought about it until now, but right enough, they do actually face at opposite points of the compass. Anyway, the Russell Timbertech  door we have at Sonas is pure pish and I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone, already it has swollen and after two or three days of yer regular West Coast deluges it starts to pish in water around the glazing. Even before the door was hung I was in a dispute with them about it swelling. Sadly it was over two years old and despite it lying down on its original pallet for two years in my dry shed they insisted that it’s swelling was due to incorrect storage. They kindly offered to fix it for £400, aye right.

I’ve not had many regrets about the new house but buying that door was one of them. I seriously wish we’d bought the £4K Internorm door we looked at but dismissed on cost. I’m sure we could have got a good deal off Mark Dunn of Dunn Homes who supplied and fitted the windows.

Anyway, being Monday it was off to the abattoir for me, school for my son and Glesgie for the wife. Two of the pigs were going for the chop and that was mine and Molly’s task, that and ‘holding the fort’ for a few days whilst the ‘Egg Lady’ is away visiting family.

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Bit slender on the picture front today as I’ve spent most of it driving but this is the Home Loch from the Youth Hostel road. Bit sparse now but in a few years it’ll be lovely and it won’t be half the midge trap it was.

Once the two ‘wee darlings’ had been dropped off at Munro’s I made a pilgrimage to George Cockburn’s butchers on Mill Street.


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There prize winning haggis and black puddings are well worth a try and you can get nice wee ones too.

A ‘mega shop’ at Lidl’s followed  and I then headed for Inverness weighted down with chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, chick peas, muesli, butter beans, Montipuliciano D Abruzo and of course £1.99 bottles of cider. Well I’m all alone with the ‘wee dug’ and on holiday Smile The shop also enabled me to grab breakfast in the form of a couple of sandwiches, four pork pies and two Scotch Eggs. The dug managing to scoff two of the pies whilst my I nipped into Screwfix for some welding rods. I can tell you, ‘I was not best pleased’ to say the least Sad smile

The carp weather of the west had been left behind pretty much as soon as we crossed the Skye bridge around 9:00AM, even the wind socks were limp. However, when returning west, the ‘great divide’ around the Cluanie dam saw the first signs of rain, and judging by the water level it had been raining for most of the winter here.

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I’ve never seen it so high in thirty years, usually, and certainly for as long as I’ve been blogging it’s waaaay lower than that.

Having said that it didn’t start raining proper, that’ll be proper as in real West Coast rain, until Broadford.

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Ten miles further on the waterfall at Drum na Cloiche was a raging torrent, six hour earlier it had been just a trickle!

Once back on Raasay I was stunned to see the first lapwing,

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three swans on the little loch before Brochel who’s name escapes me. I have never ever seen swans there before, and just a little further on three grouse. Sure the grouse are common enough but it’s not often you see three flying together here.

Cheaper than a motorbike or sports car

Having got through my ‘mid life crisis’ some years ago and not purchased a sports car or motorbike I got myself a much cheaper alternative to assert my masculinity as my libido fails Smile The Hatsan Escort semi auto shotgun with a seven round magazine is far more assertive than a Mazda MX5 or Harley Davidson, ‘tis much louder and gives you a ‘bigger bang for your buck’. It does however, just like the former, need maintenance and mine had started to jam. So, with the wife being away I took the opportunity to try out the kitchen table for a spot of gunsmith work.

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The Hatsan uses a ‘blowback system’  to reload the next round by utilizing some of the spent combustion gas energy from the previous round. This however requires a good seal to prevent a loss of pressure and thus a misfire, upon stripping the Turkish wonder I found a dodgy seal that was allowing some of the gas to leak and thus prevent proper ‘cycling’ of the next round. A quick search on the Internet found some on eBay and with a bit of luck they’ll be here before the wife Smile

April 4, 2013

Job Dunn :-)

Filed under: daily doings, shed/house — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:06 pm

Two full days of ‘proper work’ behind and I’m wrecked Smile and it feels great, seriously, I’ve not worked like this since September when I first departed for South Shields. The two weeks ‘holiday’ I took at Christmas was one long shower and I spent most of that in Lachie’s digger or on his dumper wrapped up in oilskins. Wednesday and Thursday however have just been like the ‘old days’ when I worked ‘week on week off’, the days when I used to return to the MV Loch Striven for a rest Smile

Working last weekend on the Finlaggan, plus a few days that I’m owed for travelling to South Shields and back has given me a little more time than the all too short weekend at home. I know, I know, most people only get the weekend off so I shouldn’t complain, but I’ve kind of geared my life around it these last ten years and work on the croft has been suffering this past eight months. Not to mention work on  the new house and ‘Old Girl’, who’s not had a wash since Christmas Sad smile 

The ‘Rolls Royce’ of windows

It could not have worked out better, the long dry spell seems set to continue and I arrived home on Tuesday to a voicemail from Mark Dunn of Dunn Homes to say he was coming to fit our Internorm windows Smile



Triple glazed with U value of .60W/m2K for the pane and .80W/2K for the whole window including the wood, foam and aluminium clad frame these are serious windows for a serious climate. Sure I could have got some for a third of the cost in UPVC but I’ve got good UPVC ones in this house and whilst they’re perfectly functional I don’t actually like them. Wood I could have got for around half the price but then I’d probably be replacing the weather ones in 15 years or even less if I didn’t paint them regular. Whatever window I’d have bought it wouldn’t have been as thermally efficient as these  and they certainly wouldn’t have been as quiet Smile Certainly your never going to save the cost difference between 2g and 3g in your heating bills in less than 20 years but with us it’s not about the money. We’re thinking of our retirement and every watt saved is less electricity to make or wood to cut, we are hoping that our house will actually be totally powered and heated by the wind, sun and water, the biomass boiler being for emergencies Smile




I know, I sound like a window salesman but they are a work of art, beautifully engineered, triple sealed and I feel like a ‘dog with two d***s’ Smile


Fencing on rock

My first serious croft related job was moving a fence, a fence that I’d had professionally fitted some years ago and never been truly happy with. In all fairness to the chap who did it the correct route for it was over solid rock and would have been far more expensive. Anyway over the last year or two, no doubt as result of several droughts the fence has lifted and the we pigs can just charge right under it, so rather than just bodge it up I decided to  move the whole fence to where it should have been in the first place.



After much prodding with a 6” long crow bar I found a spot for the strainer post that would get it in around 18", no where near enough on its own but I planned to drill and pin the rock behind it and put in wire stays. If you can get the strainer post solid enough and really tighten up the wire then the actual fence posts don’t need to be that deep. Just as well because I’d barely enough soil to loose the point of the stob.



Getting momentarily distracted when Mark and Kevin arrived with 700kg of windows in their two white vans at 12:30 Smile


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They’d left the east coast at 5:00am but wasted no time and got ‘stuck in’ straight away


and the first two windows were in much quicker than it took me to find a strainer post Smile



In fact, I couldn’t find one



so had to resort to ‘desperate measures’ and chop a telegraph pole Sad smile Unfortunately it was quite a way from home so I had to ‘improvise’ Smile luckily the road was quiet Smile



Once the post was vertical the hole is filled in with rocks and tamped down, all the time shaking the strainer to settle it the tamping  some more until it’s solid.



That done I drilled and pinned the rock and tensioned it with wire, not too tight yet, until I’d done the one at the other end too.



With Molly, Dude and the pigs helping it took much longer than it should have Smile



However Mark and Kevin made sterling progress, working right through until 20:00 when they finally came in for dinner having got all 20 windows fitted and just two or three hours finishing off to do. This was due in no small part to Lachie, Donald and Angus’s fine job of putting up the kit. Both Mark and Kevin commented on the quality of their work Smile Apparently is not uncommon to arrive at a job like this and spend hours squaring things up and hacking away at wood.


After polishing of one of the wife’s excellent offerings and putting the world to rights over a couple of beers we all turned in, me setting the alarm for 6:30 so as I could have breakfast ready for ‘the workers’ at 7:00.


Sure enough, they were ‘up and at it’ bright and early and by 10:20 the windows were ‘Job Dunn’ Smile






Even the dog was impressed Smile


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That will be the view from the ‘hen lady’s’ new packing station Smile

Back to the rock

After admiring our views and deciding to come back later with a bottle of wine and watch the sun go down through the new windows we got back on the the fence.

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A wooden stay would assist in enabling me to get the wires seriously tensioned and that plank on the bottom which was screwed to a nearby tree would prevent the post from twisting under the tremendous strain. I planned to put extra high tensile wire on and really get the wires ‘singing’ Smile

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As you can see there’s just a couple of inches of soil and I’m drilling the rock and putting extra wires in to hold the post down under tension.




Still nowhere near finished, but you’ve got to bear in mind that I’m carefully dismantling the old fence and reusing it, which is almost as fiddly as putting the new one up.

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