Life at the end of the road

October 21, 2019

An ‘off grid’ Sunday

Filed under: animals, daily doings, life off grid, listers, pigs — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:35 am

Well, it’s a grey, dry but lovely mild autumnal morning here at the ‘North End’, Ronnie’s hinds are grazing all about the perimeter in the half light but there’s no sign of his magnificent self.


My Panasonic DMC-FZ72 seems to be showing its age of late, having a jammed lens on more than one occasion, hardly surprising considering the abuse it gets. Anyway, that’s me just back in for breakfast after feeding everyone, I didn’t let the pigs out this morning cos I never brought them in last night. Was down in the village for dinner with a friend and didn’t get back in until after dark so May and Snowy got fed late. As they’d managed to find and bed down in a cosy wee spot I left em out.

I’ve always kept the pigs we fatten on the hill in years gone by but I don’t want em getting too friendly with these two beauties that roam the ‘North End’.

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At a couple of hundred kilo’s each my neighbours ‘iron age’ pigs make short work of any fences they encounter if they’re wanting to get to the other side Smile Last thing I need is them trying to join May and Snowy for dinner or a spot of girlie fun whilst I’m away Smile

Batteries galore

Sunday was a lovely leisurely day spent pottering about doing a little ‘planned maintenance’ an my and my neighbours batteries etc. Starting with the main 800Ah 48V bank that supplies Sonas.


Eight Rolls S540 6V batteries making up the bank and requiring regular topping up with de-ionized water. Rolls actually spec distilled rather than de-ionized but apart from what comes out of my freezers and dehumidifier it’s impossible to get here. Sure I can order it from Dingbro or Macgregor Industrial supplies but it always arrives as de-ionized Smile  Don’t actually think it makes a great deal of difference to be honest. Anyway, after logging the SG, voltages, temperatures and the 15lts of water used I turned my attention to Harry’s bank.


My 1974 15kVA Lister HR2 has his own 450Ah 24V bank of fork lift truck cells, which is a little OTT to say the least but they came from a house installation with a couple of dodgy cells. Whilst not up to running an entire property they are ‘damn fine splendid’ for sitting there without use for months on end and firing up Harry when required. Since fitting the extra solar PV on Callum’s shed he’s been made all but redundant. Prior to that I did run him whilst the diving compressor was running but I don’t even do that now. So long as I fill my diving cylinders in daylight there’s little load on the inverter. Indeed, in days gone by I used to run him when welding but I’ve not done that for years now and as anyone who owns old Land Rovers will verify, they need lots of welding Smile

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Anyway, just to ‘keep him sweet’ I flashed Harry up for an hour to give him some exercise, leaving him ‘on load’ with the 6kW immersion in the bottom of the 1500lt thermal store and a 2kW load charging battery bank number 3.


I have a complete spare ‘off grid’ system in the ‘Bunker’ behind the house which really is OTT, comprising of 900Ah 48V bank, Outback GVFX 3048 inverter and 600W solar panels it gives me complete redundancy should anything fail on the main system. Whilst not really practical or necessary it has been built up over the years from bargains found on eBay or just acquired opportunistically. The solar panels on the roof keep it all ‘ticking over’ very nicely and in times of excess energy production from the main system it gives me somewhere to put the electricity Smile I really do need an electric vehicle Smile

More of the same

That done it was over to Torran for ‘more of the same’,

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Adam and had made a fine job but himself and his two compatriots would have been working the ‘off grid’ system hard running the cement mixer etc. so Molly and I gave the battery bank there the ‘once over’ too.

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All was in order so we went back home and got on with some ‘civil engineering’.


Tracking to Tarbert we managed to get overtaken by a walker Smile getting one dumper load for the latest project before heading south for dinner.

December 31, 2018

Scallop sushi :-)

A real scabby start here to Hogmanay with me staying in my bed until almost 9:00am !!!! Well it was far too wild for messing about in boats, mixing concrete, working on my new shelter or pretty much anything else outside. Perfect weather for doing the VAT return in fact and surprising HMRC by getting it in on time. Never went as far as to fill in my self assessment tax return right enough but that’s not due for a whole month and the VAT return was quite enough paperwork for one day.

Once I had actually extricated myself from bed I turned my thoughts to the bucket of scallops we’d caught yesterday and then ate some for breakfast, raw. They are actually very tasty and the roe isn’t half as fishy tasting when uncooked. In the past I’ve just eaten them this way when desperate for protein and out on the boat. When I was clam diving professionally I was pretty much vegetarian cos I wouldn’t eat anything that was processed. Sure I ate stuff I’d killed myself  stuff caught whilst fishing, even roadkill but I’d no eat anything I hadn’t known personally if you get my drift. The upshot of this being that I could go for a week or two without eating any meat. However, once or twice after particularly physical dives I’d start to feel week. Eating a few raw scallops soon sorted me out, a bit like giving a hypoglycaemic diabetic Pepsi, and I’ve had to do that more than once to a friend at Arnish.

Richard the ‘Beetleman’ (long gone now) was always doing it and it’s really boodly scary the first time you see it. I’ve lost count of the times I found him convulsing and blubbering on the floor but just get something sweet into him and he’d recover in seconds, be ‘right as rain’ and ask why you were all looking at him. He used to do it so frequently the nurse gave me a syringe full of adrenaline and instruction on how to use it. Imagine doing that in today’s ‘risk averse’ society Smile Of course that was in the days when Raasay actually had a nurse out of hours and at weekends. Methinks ole Richard would have died here up at Arnish years ago under the current regime. To be honest I always thought it was boodly irresponsible of him choosing to holiday for weeks on end in such a remote place with no phone. However, dear old Richard had been living alone for years in York, managing his diabetes quite well and never actually seen himself having a fit.

Anyway, back to the scallops, I tried em with just a squeeze of lemon, then soy sauce, and finally Finlay’s magic sauce Smile I call Sriracha hoy chili sauce after me mate Finlay who introduced this fiery red number to me and I gotta say it goes really well with a raw scallop. The lemon was good too but I wasn’t so keen on the soy sauce, methinks a little tabasco might have been nice but we haven’t got any. 

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Creeping round to the north

Well I never actually submitted the VAT return, kinda got distracted and went for a drive down the sowf end to get a few supplies, walk Bonzo and take some scallops down for Willie Eyre and Tekela. My old skipper Willie aint in the best of health these days, dementia dulling a once razor sharp mind and making him quite frail. 

The picture was taken just shy of a year ago, probably the last time I gave him some clams when Tekela and himself came to visit.

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I told him the wee boy he used to look after whilst I was lifting clams had picked them specially. I dunno if he remembered Ross or that he used to change his nappies whilst I was diving but they were priceless days with the three of us aboard MFV Conqueror. Indeed the boat was built for one of Willies cousins in the 80’s named after his grandfathers fishing boat and another cousin helped me out after I’d salvaged her. Willie himself put many hours of work into her during the couple of years it took me to restore her and the many years we fished from her. Happy, happy days Smile

After seeing my old pal I went to see Peter and Bonzo,

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taking all four of them out for a shortened walk. We did try to walk along the shore but the tide was too high and the weather too wild so Bonzo, Leah, Molly, Charlie and I did an ‘about turn’ towards the village on the road.

The mooring at the old fish farm slip is quite sheltered from the the NE right through to the west and whilst it’s been howling all day it’s been from the SW and now west, but I see the anemometer veering clockwise (as was forecast). Hopefully (as was forecast) it will now moderate as it veers.

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Methinks a few stiff drinks are in order tonight to help me sleep Smile 

Battery care

So after stopping to check the Searider on the way back we unloaded our New Year treat from the car,


some fine Dexter beef form Donnie and Anne’s croft opposite the Raasay Distillery. Available from the Raasay Stores along with local venison and lamb.

Some warmed up soup from yesterday inside me (made even warmer with Finlay’s sauce) I went outside to potter around with my batteries. Outside being in the generator shed and not the great outdoors, it was like being power washed in the real outside.

I’m a bit of an ‘anorak’ when it comes to my various battery banks, I’ll also be the first person to scream from the rooftops that you only need one of them and having two or more makes absolutely no economic sense. However, aside from the new 800Ah 48v bank of Rolls batteries that ‘drive’ my house I also have an 800Ah 24v bank of forklift cells connected to my Lister generator and a 950Ah 48v bank connected to an Outback GVFX 3048 inverter charger in the ‘bunker’. These last two banks are old and tired ones that I’ve acquired over the years and are pure eccentricities that I don’t need. However they would give me a completely independent source of power in the unlikelihood of something like a lightning strike. It did happen to my good mate Bill Cowie on Rona so it’s not impossible, it just does not warrant the expense of all the spare kit needed and of course it’s upkeep. Still, I have never really been driven by money or even common sense for that matter so I keep all this stuff well maintained or at least better than most people who live ‘off grid’. People that mix up different types of cells, top up with rain water, top up only when the batteries are dry, deplete their banks to below 40% and blah, blah, blah.

I’d already done the main house bank yesterday,

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The main Rolls batteries are really treated well, with regular monthly checks and logs, having said that, the last time I logged them was September Sad smile Must try harder hey,


The ‘forklifts’ in the bunker were given a good charging yesterday as I mentioned but today I did the final set on the generator.

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This bank really only supplies the generator and is normally charged from it, though at one time it did have a Chinese wind turbine supplying too. Sadly the Chinese turnip died after less than two weeks and I always meant to fit some solar PV on the roof of the shed to keep them topped up. That never happened and as a consequence these cells are never really fully charged as the hydrometer indicates. I did leave a 25A charger on them all day but they really need a good blast at 100A to get em fizzing and equalized for a few hours.


So that’s it, another year is almost over and the island is getting ready to celebrate, my son, along with others will be heading to the Raasay Village Hall for what promises to be an excellent evening. Darling wife and I will probably veg in front of the TV with a bottle of wine, the dugs and MiL. Sure, we really should make the effort but it’s friggin ‘orrible outside and 23 degrees in here Smile Perhaps the neighbours will pop round or I’ll get ‘tanked up’ enough to put me oilskins on and quad over to Torran. Who knows what the night will bring, one thing for sure I’ll be thinking of the Iolaire tragedy of 100 years ago today. Not enough has been written or said of this tragedy in which 201 perished, mostly brave men of Harris and Lewis who had survived the  gassing, trench foot, dysentery and horrors of the Western front. Many of them in sight of their own homes and all of them conned into believing they had ‘fought to end the war of all wars’  on a promise of land at a fair rent in return for their sacrifice, aye right.

Well, we’ve all heard that before hey, ‘the mother of all wars’, ‘the war to protect us all from imaginary WMD’s’ ‘the war against fascism, communism or to protect some sheep in the South Atlantic’. Truth is, as Axel Rose says ‘it buries the poor to feed the rich’ Sad smile

Can’t say as I’m a great fan of Gun’s n Roses but right from the opening lines (taken from Cool Hand Luke this is an awesome song.

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