Life at the end of the road

August 28, 2017

A ‘shroom a day :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, food, How I — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:42 pm

Monday night is practice night for ‘Stanley Watson Barker’ the Portree Lifeboat and that’s me just in having watched him, or is it her head into Loch Arnish and then back out.

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It was a long way off and well by Manish point when I finally found the camera but well spectacular nonetheless, not that you’d believe e from the carp pictures Smile

It’s been a busy coupe of days right enough with much achieved, if not a little seldom on the bloggin’ front. Trouble is that last night we got invited round to friends ‘along the track for dinner and that was a far better offer than a night inside with TV and laptop.

Mushroom magic

Sunday kinda started a bit grey and damp, in fact it must have pure ‘pished down’ during the night cos there was, once more, water everywhere. So first thing I did was finish off putting the Yamaha back together and then delver it to my mate at Torran Schoolhouse. He was going out fishing, invited us for dinner and promised us a mackerel meal. The once plentiful fish that was frowned upon by many and usually used as bait has become somewhat scarce of late at the ‘North End’. Sure they’re catching them a plenty in Churchton bay, off Raasay pier and Loch Duich but they’ve yet to show their face here. Well yesterday the loch had a pod of porpoises within it and a squadron of gannets diving into it, so they must have been eating something.

So I left ‘em to it and walked back through the woods with the ‘wee dug’ looking for ‘shrooms of which there were plenty but sadly mainly waterlogged.

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Hunners of chanterelles and a few yellow russula types though I’ve never seen one growing on a birch tree before.

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The ‘trippy’ fly agaric I gave a miss and I’ve no idea what the one on the right is, not actually unpacked my ‘mushroom bible’ from the container yet.

If you are into mushrooms then this is the only book you will ever need, of course you’ll need a rucksack to put it in if you take it out ‘into the field’ but forget all the pocket sized books, this is the biz.

Once back at Sonas I made breakfast then turned my attention to the Torran track. A spate of half wits getting stuck down there this year has prompted me into action so I tracked Calum the Kubota KX7-3 digger down there and sorted it.


Smile Smile Smile Though not before I’d repaired the damage the clowns had done to the ditches. Methinks you’ll struggle getting a hire car campervan by that rock yet you can still get a quad and trailer passed it with ease.

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Feeling quite smug in the knowledge that no longer would I be disturbed by morons needing a tow back out of here I set about getting ready for more concreting.

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Helped along by Molly, Lulu and Cilla,

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the latter pair insisting on trying to eat the tyres on me mates Volvo and my quad!!!

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Next job was an hour or so setting sandstone slabs into the ‘chuckies’ around the house. The wee dug and wife do not walking on the 20mm chips in bare feet so some ‘stepping stones’ are needed Smile 


That done, it was back to some fencing to try and keep the deer out, not that that is going to happen ‘overnight’ it’s a bit of a long term project with me tackling the easy bits first.

As soon as I’d screwed that last board onto the fence I had a shower, got changed and we headed to Torran on the quad with a bottle of red wine in me pocket.

The mackerel was conspicuous by it’s absence but the lobster, pollack, roast onions, roast potatoes, lentils, mayo and various sauces cooked to perfection were more than adequate compensation. And after spending most of the night slating Donald Trump and discussing moorings we ‘wobbled’ home on the Honda without hitting my BIG rock on the way Smile


A wee ‘lie in’ until 7:30 was the order of the day followed by a visit to my mum on the mainland and another car load of sandstone slabs. On the way back up Calum’s road I spotted two of these from the car.

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Now that is a seriously large horse mushroom and it would be going into dinner along with some Aultbea black pudding and Loch Arnish scallops. First though I had to do a spot of tamping on the area I was about to concrete.


That done, it was back to dinner,

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my son and wife making the mushroom sauce and myself doing the black pudding and scallops in butter and paprika.


I always chop the roe (gonad) off the scallop and fry it much longer than the meat. The meat needs very little cooking and so does the roe truth be known but many people find the roe to0 strong and well fishy. I find that if you put the roe in first then the black pudding (or bacon) and give it a right good doing it soaks up the flavours of the meat and butter. When the pudding is cooked, that’s when I put the scallops in and just do them lightly. Yum Yum 


July 15, 2017

Seven weeks ‘offline’ :-(

It’s been a while hey, well things have been a little ‘topsy turvy’ here and ‘your truly’ has been severely distracted of late. Not only that but we lost our normally fast and reliable Internet connection at 23:00 on the 23rd of May and I’m not ‘holding my breath’ until the next promised date for a fix. To be fair it’s not entirely my ISP’s fault, I do believe they are doing their best to restore it, sadly I think the main issue is beyond their control.

Apart from that my laptop died, me Mammy aint well and I’m trying to get to grips with Windoze friggin 10 on this Dell Latitude Rugged 5404 that I just bought. The solid, functional and ‘idiot proof’ ‘puter I love, the operating system I hate. I don’t want all these messages it keeps sending me, I despise all that mince appears when you press the Windoze key and who on earth is Cortana. Worst of all the new OS is no longer compatible with ‘Windows Live Writer’ the software I use to do my blog. Of course they don’t tell you that and I spent hours trying to install it!!!! Of all the carp that Bill Gates tries to force on you Windows Live Writer was the one thing that I really liked and used a lot, surely I can’t be the only blogger that misses it?

Off on a real holiday

Having been under pressure for several years now to go on a ‘proper holiday’ involving an aeroplane and sun I reluctantly booked an apartment in Malta for a week and some flights from Prestwick via Ryanair. The £39 deal quickly became nearer £600 for the four of us once you had added all the ‘bells and whistles’ like baggage and an 8 Euro sandwich for the 4 hour flight though.

The last time I was in Malta was 1981, this I know cos I found my diving permit for then in my old log book which I had to dig out to present to the Watercolours Dive Centre in Sliema . The plan being to put my son through a 3 day PADI course then do some diving with him.  I’d spoken with Jason Fabri the owner prior to booking the course and he was fine with my 1977 BSAC logbook as I couldn’t find my commercial ones, they seem to have gone AWOL in our house moves. The young Belgian instructor Veronique who examined them on my arrival was somewhat amused at what she called vintage documentation right enough.

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Sliema turned out to be a great choice, we were just five minutes walk from the bus station, ferry terminals, shops, restaurants and night life. Every morning a ten minute walk to Tigne had us swimming in the warm clear sea and it was just an extra five minutes jaunt to the dive centre.

The apartment in Sliema was amazing, just a couple of minutes walk from everything . Ok, there was the odd cockroach in the morning but they were invariably dead and it is after all an old house in the Southern Mediterranean, not a 5 star hotel. Vanessa was the perfect hostess and arranged our airport transfers which all went smoothly.

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A week there only gave us chance to ‘scratch the surface’ of Malta’s many attractions but it was long enough for me and will give us a good excuse to go back. We did a few of the touristy type things, ate out every meal bar breakfast and really enjoyed it. Took a day trip to Gozo and Comino and moored up in the Blue Lagoon right next to an old CalMac ferry, the MV Kepple


The old Kepple was on the Largs Cumbrae route for years until she was replaced by the MV Loch Striven on which I served for years until we got the Hallaig.

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Other stuff

The beauty of working ‘two weeks on two weeks off’ meant that we arrived home on Saturday and I still had a few days of my ‘off shift’ on the croft before going back to work.

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Not that I got that much done right enough, I was hoping to get on with more concreting but that never happened.

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I did however get some posts in position for the new deer proof fence though.

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I wouldn’t want this chap getting in and munching all our herbs, hedge and plants again.

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The fine looking chap still covered in velvet is ‘out of season’ and the freezer is full of Django and Ozzie, well not quite, Raasay House took over 50kg. So if you fancy some proper Raasay free range ‘Black Pig’ then now is the time to ask, 01478 660 300 Smile


Here’s the trusty old MV Lyrawa Bay steaming through the Raasay Narrows, built in the 1970’s I spent many a happy trip on her commuting between fish farm sites to haul out dead salmon, happy days. For years I worked as a diver hauling out ‘morts’ from the fish cages and I never ever got used to it. I would spend much of my time throwing up after a spell in the water doing that job. Luckily I worked with two heroes who had stomachs stronger than I and they would often ‘pull me out of the brown stuff’ Smile 


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The Portree Lifeboat, Stanley Watson Barker passing by one fine evening.

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The locally built trawler Sea Ranger heading south.

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Coastworks tug Coastworker and a ‘spud leg’ barge laying an outfall for the new Raasay Distillery.

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The fish farm landing craft Emma C at Sconser.

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MV Hebridean Princess and MV Hallaig at Raasay pier.


An unusual visitor to Churchton Bay, the tri-maran Kanga Roo Too.

Back in the water

It’s not just the laptop and Internet that died during the last few weeks, so did my pocket camera, yet another reason for lack of blogging and enthusiasm. Whilst the lack of Internet has prevented me from doing lots of things and made life very difficult in some aspects like moving pigs, transferring money and paying bills it has brought with it some very welcome benefits. For one thing I’m speaking to my family more and I’ve started reading again, something I’ve not done for around twenty years. Sure it has been entirely non-fiction and related mainly to ships, salvage, wrecks and the sea but this, allied to my son’s new diving qualification has got me all fired up again to go diving.

As soon as we returned from Malta and completed my next ‘on shift’ we tried on the newly acquired eBay dry suits and went for a dip. In fact it was usually several ‘dips’ cos stuff kept breaking and or leaking. It says a lot for my son’s character that none of this phased him in the slightest, not even a few blown O rings and duff demand valves seemed to damp his enthusiasm. Anyway, by the end off the fortnight off he’d at least another 10 dives under his belt, mainly looking for lost anchors and clams.


It’s a bit like ‘riding a bike’, you never forget it and boy did we feast on scallops last week Smile

We also spent quite a lot of time looking for my old mooring in Loch Arnish for the MV Conqueror,


my trusty old fishing boat from years gone by.

Whilst we never actually found that one, we did find and lift two more that had been lost and this beauty

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that I came across in over 20m of water some 200m off the shore. Weighing in at 200kg it was great experience for the boy, especially as we had to remove the chain from it. We put around 175kg of bags and containers on it, took down a spare bottle and filled them on the bottom using an old regulator 1st stage. The ground around the anchor began to ripple and shudder then it lifted off the sea bed in a cloud of silt. slowly at first and only a couple of meters due to the huge ‘stud link’ chain attached to it. We were not sure how much chain was on the end but it was plainly obvious that it was far too much for the lifting capacity we had so we slowly returned to the surface. Once there we hatched a plan for the second dive of the day and returned home to fill the diving cylinders.

On the next dive we took down tools as well as the spare bottle, once on the bottom we emptied the three bags and gently lowered the anchor to the sea bed again. Ten minutes hammering and some work with a pair of large stillsons managed to undo the shackle and we once more filled the lifting bags.


Our man in the boat some 21m above us said it was very spectacular as it broke surface and we shouldn’t lift the chain until he had a video camera with him. This was just fine by us as we had worked hard enough for one day and with the chain marked by a buoy it was going nowhere. Having said that the first marker we put on the anchor snapped but luckily the bags an containers attached to it on the seabed made it quite easy to find in the good visibility underwater.

That’s about it really, well apart from doing loads of concreting, erecting a fence, fixing a quad, refitting a digger track and a gazillion other things. 

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