Life at the end of the road

November 2, 2018

November’s here

Filed under: daily doings — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:15 am

That’s it, the summer really is by with, the midge has gone, the clocks are back it’ll no be long until Christmas, indeed we got our first card today Smile 

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I gotta say, at 7:00am when I went outside to feed the animals it really did look wintery over on the Storr but less than an hour later as I head south to see Bonzo things had improved.


Amazing what just a little sunlight can do hey. I say ‘see Bonzo’ but truth is I needed to get some gas from the Raasay Store and help my mate Peter with a piece of plywood. I’ve also taken to collecting old limpet shells to enhance the grey Sconser quarry rock that adorns the paths and drive around the house. Methinks it’s me ‘hunter gatherer’ instinct and it takes me back to my happy days clam diving and wilk picking Smile

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After having tea with Peter and three impatient dogs we set off for their walk along the beach and my shell picking mission.


Returning half an hour later with three wet dugs and half a bag of shells.


The shells and two dogs got dumped in the car whilst Peter and I got on with making a panel for his ‘lean too’.


Old Peter was some skilled carpenter in his day, repairing furniture and boats as a hobby and making all the units in his kitchen out of real wood!!! Now it was down to me to act as his labourer and cut the wood for him. I was very conscious of not wanting to make any mistakes in front of this master craftsman.

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After cutting it and sanding it for him I left him to paint it and headed north and home to my own tasks. That will be the SD Warden off Brochel and a place in Loch Arnish who’s name I’ll not attempt to spell or pronounce but for most of the time (except in north wind) is very sheltered.


The ‘Port of the Waterfall’ was once the site of a mooring for a local fishing boat, indeed for a while I kept the fish farm work boat Ocean Unity there. It was a good spot for the boat but a helluva trek by land to access it and not much better in a tender from the fish farm slip as you had to cross a sometimes very exposed bit of water. Just above it to the left you can see the old boundary wall between South Arnish and North Raasay common grazing.

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The first of which was limpet spreading in the sunshine, though the showers were never very far away, not that they came to much.

After the manic last few days, Thursday was a little more relaxed with me just catching up on a few things, repairing a fence, spending some time on the phone in search of bug bits and making a fresh start on my car/boat port.

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This 9m x 3.6m shelter will be going atop the concrete pad I spent so long making in the summer. It’s main task will be to keep the weather and sunlight off the Searider. The boat will be 30 years old next year, most of which it has spent undercover and I don’t want the west coast weather and sunshine taking it’s toll now. It will have three sides with just the northern end open but I was planning to have the ends slatted to let the wind through so it would double as a clothes, diving gear drying area. It will also be sloping towards the south west so ideal for another 5kW of solar PV too.

Work had stalled a couple of months ago as I bashed on with the slipway and Callum of the Raasay Sawmill cut all the local larch that it will be made of. Well today’s restart consisted of me drilling holes in the 10mm and 6mm steel plates I’d blagged off the Hallaig. Whilst in the dock the Lloyd’s surveyor had insisted on some plating around the keel being replaced and I’s asked the yard to save the old stuff for me and they very kindly cut it for me on their guillotine too.

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The magnetic drill that I bought a couple of years ago when I was building my wind turbine base making light work of all the 14mm holes I bored, even in the 10mm plate. It can take up to a 42mm cutter and I’ve cut plenty of 32mm holes in 19mm steel, definitely a very useful bit of kit. A good one will set you back over a grand and even hiring one is not cheap. This Evolution one I got off Amazon for a couple of hundred quid and it’s paid for itself 10 times over between this, the wind turbine, and slipway work to name just a few of the jobs it’s done. Sure I guess if you were using it every day professionally it wouldn’t be up to much, it runs too fast really for larger bits. However, using good cutters and keeping it well lubricated when boring and it’s just peachy for me.

Anyway, that’s it for now, tis 6:00am and I gotta get ready to reluctantly visit the mainland, need a new tyre for the dumper, gotta take my neighbour to Skye and collect some stuff for me shelter from the Raasay Sawmill.

October 31, 2018

The engine is oot :-)

Filed under: daily doings, stonework, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:48 am

Managed to stay in bed until 5:30 this morning and slept right through the night, so that’s a result, still pretty tired right enough. It was another magnificent day yesterday and boy, did I make the most of it.

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The Storr and his Old Man didn’t have Monday’s fiery red glow, just a fluffy white hat, but was magnificent as usual and once it was fully light we went out for a walk.

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The tide was just about right for us to survey our handiwork so that’s where we went, disturbing this fine young stag on the way.

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That would be the end of the slip at around 3.0m of height and still I’d be able to get the Searider in or out, which is all I was ever aiming for. This means that I’ll always be able to get my boat at every day at high water, even on the smallest of neaps Smile


Even Leah was impressed,


unlike a few hours later when I switched on the heating at 18:00, she went into an instant sulk, wouldn’t eat a treat then went and hid for four hours.

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My task before the hot smoked salmon and scrambled egg promised me by Wifey was to do some tidying up on the slip access. For that I had to go and collect the dumper a mile away past the old sheep fank at Tarbert. Using the natural stream that runs through it and making abundant use of the readily available rock this is where sheep would be sheared, dipped and marked back in Calum’s day. As with most dry stone construction hereabouts it carries the signature of several masons in its stonework.

The brief visit home for the most excellent brunch was somewhat tempered by a blocked sewage pipe Sad smile


Still, it cleared easily with a length of alkythene water pipe as a rod and at least the sun was out, the last time I had to do this it was dark with a covering of snow Smile

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After doing that and washing Wifey’s car as a thankyou for the salmon I returned to levelling my turning and parking area.


How did it happen

I pottered happily away at this and some dumping of rock up on the croft until around 16:00,

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when my next job was delivered to me on a trailer Sad smile I dunno how I got suckered into this right enough, probably nostalgia but what started off as “can you have a look at the Distillery camper, it’s not running very well” has grown ‘arms and legs’ as the repairer of my Land Rover would say. The badly misfiring and spluttering bus has no compression and all the cylinder head bolts are loose Sad smile Had it been a modern vehicle that was spluttering or not starting I’d have said no but seventies vintage petrol engines are what what I cut my first teeth on and these old flat four Vee Dubs are bombproof. Well most of them Smile

I’d already been tinkering with it out the back of the distillery in my lunch breaks and discovered the lack of compression. As the cylinder head nuts were loose and further investigation would require the engine removal I’d said to Norman the distillery manager that if he could get it to Arnish I’d investigate further. This I can honestly say is the only time I have been glad not to have the ‘Old Girl’ Smile I was kinda hoping he’d be too busy and get someone else to take it to a proper garage Smile

Ah well, that didn’t work so I changed tack, I figured if I reversed it into my shed, then I’d have to fix it!!!!!

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The camper is in amazing condition for a 45 year old vehicle and probably came off the production line around the time I left school and started work as an apprentice mechanic. Having a decent workshop with all the tools turned a relatively easy job into a breeze and I had the engine out in not much more than an hour (about 45 minutes longer than an expert Smile ) Truth be know, where it not for the seized heater cables it would have been half that but hey, it is almost half a century old.

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