Life at the end of the road

September 19, 2019

Preparing for the heating season :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:24 am

Up at 5:00 this morning brimming with excitement cos the wee dug and I is going on a Jolly, not that Molly seems to keen at the moment.

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OK, the picture on the left was taken a couple of days ago but not much has changed, Molly ‘is not a morning person’. Having said that as soon as I open the fridge or gun cabinet she bounces into action like a ‘coiled spring’ just not yet Smile

Anyway, that’s me started me ‘fortnight off’ with a long ‘to do’ list which I managed to ‘make a dent’ in yesterday after a rather ‘shaky start’. I’d been asked by one who knows I’m a ripe target for saving rubbish if I’d like some old sheets of corrugated iron. In true Camilli style I’d agreed to take them off his hands rather than see them go in the skip. Old rusty tin sheets may not be very appealing to most people but they are generally only rusty on one side and at the ends. Turning the round and taking foot off each end with an angle grinder usually leaves you with first class roofing material for yet another shed or pig shelter. The thing is, they are rather heavy and there was a lot of them. Methinks my mate is a little like me in the ‘collecting 5h1te’ department Smile Only he had had his ‘marching orders’ and been told to move them from The Steading,

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which we now call ‘The Alamo’ Smile 

Of course he loaded em onto my trailer with a telehandler so I didn’t know how heavy they were, though I suspected very!!

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Well, I soon found out just how heavy when I tried to tow them up to the hen shed, the WiFE lost traction Sad smile Before I knew what was happening I was going backwards down hill into my lovely drystone wall and the sheets were sliding off. Lessons learned there, 1, Traction Control as fitted to ‘Discovery II’ is not a patch on a locking diff. 2, corrugated iron sheets are much heavier than they look and 3, you really DO need a digger Smile

That took me what was left of Tuesday afternoon to sort out and left me in no fit state for blogging Smile


The first full day of my two weeks off started with preparing for winter and the ‘heating season’. I never actually switch the heating off so that I can crank up the bathroom thermostat if I need to get rid of some heat in the summer. I do like a warm floor after having a shower Smile As the house is all renewable electricity the solar generation is falling away now and pretty soon I’ll be needing a boost from the hydro which has been turned off since April or May.

The 800W Powerspout is one of two hydro turbines that’ll supply a great deal of my power requirement throughout the winter. The other one is a Canadian machine called a Stream Engine and whilst this too produces most of it’s power during the wetter months it is in a location where it ‘self bleeds’. The Powerspout is over a mile from the house and requires a pump to get it going Sad smile

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So I donned my Chinese waders, loaded up the 2” Honda water pump and went off to get it going. The Chinese must have there feet on the wrong leg Smile I got em off eBay but couldn’t be bothered sending them back Smile

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It’s a bit of a trek to the turbine which is down near the shore at Tarbert and I was somewhat surprised to see so many people admiring the beautiful rock formations there. Don’t recall ever seeing so many cars there in thirty years!

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You can only get the quad down so far and then it’s on foot with a handful of tools to change one of the nozzles.

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The turbine has two 7.4mm jets and earlier this year I had experimented with various smaller ones to try and reduce the output throughout the summer. It wasn’t really a success, sure I did manage to reduce the generation but not proportionally so I abandoned that experiment. With almost 8kW of solar PV it was hardly required even on the dullest of days.

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Molly and I soon had it sorted then went back home to fix the Tank.


Next door’s Nissan Patrol was pishing out diesel and required a new fuel return pipe which I soon sorted. I calls it the ‘Tank’ cos this 3.0 diesel automatic is just that, armour plated, solid and reliable. I gotta say I was tempted to buy one myself but by gum it’s thirsty Sad smile That done I headed into Portree for pig feed then spent the evening cleaning and preparing my caravan for a wee jolly.

Well, that’s it, sure there’s more but it’s 7:15 now, time to fit a new clutch slave cylinder to WiFE and a few other jobs before I head off for a day or two.

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  , 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  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’ organized by the Isle of Raasay Distillery and I gotta say that it was a pure amazing night out.

Burns Supper Menu

Reception Drink:
Wee Dram Or Fizz

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

Both served with homemade bread and butter

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

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  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.


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

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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.


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


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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