Life at the end of the road

January 20, 2017

Here comes the sun :-)

Friday the 20th of January and the days really are getting longer, in the ten days I’ve been working a noticeable extra hour and twelve minutes have been added to the hours of daylight. Admittedly there’s been one or two days that you wouldn’t believe it but not today.

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Nope, today was a ‘pure peach’. The last quarter of the setting moon disappearing behind Glamaig as the sun rose above Scalpay. Sure it’s not been all roses, we’ve had some proper January weather along the way too.

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The fish farmers at Sconser getting a bit of a battering here as we left Sconser at 9:25 last Wednesday. Dunno what’s going on round at Marine Harvest’s Moll fish farm just now but they’ve certainly ‘putting the hours in’ of late with all manner of boats large and small working around there until well after dark.

The snow and ice hasn’t been too much of an issue this shift with the resident gritter lorry  returning at last and a new contractor who takes over from Andrew Gillies. Andrew will be a ‘hard act to follow’, his sterling efforts over the past thirty years have ensured my wife and I have got into work on many a poor day. The flashing lights and yellow lorry being just about the only vehicle I ever meet on my 11 mile journey into work at 6:30. Can’t imagine I’ll be meeting Nairn in thirty years time as I’ll probably be in a wooden box but here’s wishing him good luck in the new job and looking forward to getting the ‘craic’ some frosty morn Smile

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The Black Cuilin’s looking decidedly un black

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the Storr and Ben Tianavaig on the same day.



The neat terraces of Inverarish village, Raasay’s capital ‘city’ built to accommodate iron ore miners a hundred years ago it’s not your regular west coast architecture. I guess it’s more akin to the villages around mines in the central belt than the crofting communities of the Highlands and Islands. Still, they are solidly built houses and a big step from the ‘black houses’ that would have been common at the time.


When the north wind doth blow

The snow came on the back of a good hash of north wind that was by no means ‘ferry stopping’ but it did provide the customers and their cars with an early morning wash.

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Annoying really because this issue was predicted and even catered for in the original harbour plans. The problem being the ground swell passing unrestricted through the small gap between the Arduish and Goat Island. The gap is only there above ‘half tide’ and once the tide gets below that level the gap closes and the swell diminishes, it is not ‘rocket science’. Trouble is the highest tides are always around the same time of day, morning and evening, again it’s not ‘rocket science’ this has been happening since time immemorial.

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Indeed, even the architects foresaw it, sadly the council in their infinite wisdom did not Sad smile

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Just like they don’t have the sense to grit the ferry slip!!! taken just before we all went to push the customers cars up the hill!!!

Trucks galore

I can’t say that we’ve been that busy on the ferry, indeed, were it not for the distillery traffic we’d have been pretty quiet but we’ve certainly had a good few commercials of late.

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Eyre Plant’s Scania ‘batcher’ heading for the for the distillery, hopefully Ross will be at Sonas shortly with a load for my new turbine base.


Another Eyre Plant Scania, this time with aggregate for the distillery, this one has already been to Sonas. Ally brought 16ton of the stuff up for the concrete slab at Sonas.


J & T Morrison’s MAN delivering building blocks, again to R&B Distillers project at the Borrowdale House

With the promise  of a good few full time and permanent jobs this is going to be a great ‘shot in the arm’ for Raasay.

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So we can all put the old still away now Smile Picture courtesy of Gairloch Heritage Museum which is most definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. You may even find some relics from Sonas there Smile

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The fisheries research vessel MRV Alba na Mara passes by Raasay House and Raasay’s only fishing boat the MV Lustre sits peacefully on her mooring at Clachan.

The new quad

Apart from that, well, not a lot really, I guess everyone is still recovering from New Year and awaiting the half term rush. The middle of February can be an awesome time up here, many is the holiday I’ve had on the West Coast during the English ‘half term’ and gone home with a sun tan!! OK, it was only once but it was on Skye in around 1984 Smile Me and a mate of mine were salvaging an ex MFV called Poseidon off Fladda Chuain at the time and we both went home with a tan. Trouble was, I was officially ‘on the sick’ so had to say I’d been under a sun lamp when I went back to work. I was ‘signed off’ cos of a problem with my leg so had to walk around with a nut and bolt in my shoe to remind me to limp Smile I kid you not!!!

Then of course there’s the new quad


a 2006 Honda TRX500 Foreman with only 1035 miles on the clock. Sure I could have got a much newer one for the same price but this one has only 400 hours on it, one careful owner and is like new. Not only that but it’s the earlier air cooled version and has no power steering, both of which add complication, weight and expense to a quad. Some 80% of all engine breakdowns are related to water cooling. Think about it, head gaskets, water pumps, radiators all things that fail with great regularity. Sure I’d never touch an air cooled car in the town, but an air cooled quad on the West Coast of Scotland, no contest.

Of course it was 400 miles away near Clitheroe in Lancashire but I have a pal who went to check it out and build a custom pallet. With a bit of luck it’ll be here next week ready for work and I’ll make supreme effort to look after it Smile

October 10, 2016

The ‘fly in the ointment’ :-(

Heaven knows when I last posted, probably a week ago I guess, I’ve kinda lost track but I’m thinking it would be when I last visited me Pop in Aultbea. I’ll be doing the same tomorrow so with any luck I’ll get this posted, for we’re still ‘Internetless’ and I’m sorely dischuffed now. Must be well over two weeks now and I don’t have much in the way of options other than my mates ‘pish poor’ satellite link or a 22 mile round trip to the village. I’ve had a go with the satellite link a couple of times, but to be honest it’s quicker driving to the village and using a 3g dongle than waiting for some of the pages to load on so called ‘satellite broadband’ Sad smile 

It’s really put a whole damper on the month’s holiday and been the ‘fly in the ointment’ of a near perfect spell off work. It’s just friggin impossible to do anything without it these days. Filling in forms is impossible unless you’re online, taxing the car, checking the weather, doing any kind of research and of course blogging all become ‘mission impossible’.

An engineer did come on Friday and do his best but the net result of that was zero as far as getting connected was concerned and he’ll not be back until Wednesday Sad smile I cannae submit any of my forms to get my ‘completion certificate’ and can’t download my ‘sustainability certificate’, whatever that is. In fact I can’t even find out what it is cos I’ve no Google Sad smile 

The Indian summer

Connectivity issues aside it’s been boodly marvellous up here, pure spectacular on the weather front and I’m getting much done on the ‘to do’ list, albeit at my new pace. I’m really enjoying my less manic approach to life, come to think of it so are the rest of the family and dug Smile Seem to be getting everything done and doing far less worrying too, perhaps it’s the Tramadol! I’ve been taking 1 x 50mg capsule every morning now for 2 months and it’s definitely helped the back.

I gave up on it a couple of years ago as it was making me constipated, moody, pass wind from both ends, constantly thirsty and giving me wild dreams. I also couldn’t sleep if I took any after midday. Since then I tried all the other meds, gave up on them and have been drug free for almost two years. Relying instead on my six monthly injections to the sacro illeach joint, and of course being kinder to my back. Sadly the injections become less and less effective so I find myself once more trying to ‘manage’ the pain.

Whatever, apart from the odd twinge it’s not bothered me at all, even after quite a few spells of digging drains and burying pipe.

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Not to mention some rather unseasonal painting and the refurbishment of a proper fire hose real and enclosure. I know from experience that it takes rather a long while for the Fire Brigade to get to Arnish.

I guess it’s a couple of years now since the chalet burned down and I’ve finally got around to clearing up the mess.

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Or should I say ‘we have’, for my son did most of the heavy lifting, I was just in charge of the fire.

I really thought it was two people

I guess it’s just having a serious view now and being able to spend so much time looking out to sea but I’ve never in all my years here seen so many porpoises in Loch Arnish. Every day I’m seeing them now and have been the whole time I’ve been off work. What, with that, the sea eagles and deer, it’s been a regular wildlife safari up here.

Driving home on Friday after collecting my son from school I spotted two people atop a hill at Brochel. At least I thought it was two people, they were too big for sheep and smaller than deer.

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I asked the chauffer to stop the car and enquired of him what he thought. Two people we agreed before one of them flew off!!! They were of course sea eagles with a wingspan much wider than I am tall. I’ve seen dozens of these birds, some at extremely close quarters, indeed I’ve seen them lift salmon within a few yards of me. Even so, their sheer size never ceases to amaze me. Wifey and I saw one perched on the picnic table by the youth hostel a week or two back and we were level with it on the road rushing for the ferry. Twenty yards away at the most and it never even flinched as we passed by.

Wandering the hills

With the weather being so good and the stags being very bold and vocal I’ve been doing much wandering locally watching them. Though sadly without a camera decent enough to take a picture at the distances I’ve been ‘stalking’ them at.

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Rainey’s wall, which they seem to cross with ease, Molly and I crept up the south side and watched a bruiser of a stag on the other side.

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Eastern end of the wall with Dun Caan in the distance.

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One of the many ‘wallows’ used by the rutting stags.


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Twenty seven years I’ve been wandering these hills at the north end and still I’m finding new ruins, this one near an old peat cutting was probably a hen house. Strange place for hens I know but I think they were moved to these outlandish places at certain time of the year to keep them away from the crops.

More turnips

Methinks these wind turnips were heading for Invermorriston, luckily I wasn’t behind them Smile

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I did mention the Raasay Primary school coffee day last time I posted a week ago.

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What I never mentioned was the total raised on the day, yet another day when over three grand was raised for the excellent school by an exemplary community. You have to marvel at this place really, eight pupils and a population of less than two hundred and they raise extra ordinary sums of money consistently. In the twenty or more years they’ve held this event they’ve never taken less than a thousand pounds on the day. Truly an amazing school and community, with tremendous support from local business’ too.

A bit late

A year after I fitted the Navitron solar hot water array of 60 ‘evacuated tubes’ I finally got around to insulating the interconnecting pipes.

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These pipes can reach temperatures well in excess of 120 degrees C so special ‘Armaflex’ or similar insulation is needed. I only had 15mm diameter 13mm thickness stuff but I’d plenty of it so I split it and wrapped several layers around the exposed copper. I then used aluminium foil tape to keep it all tightly wound. Have to say, I was pretty chuffed with the result Smile

I have to say that I wasn’t particularly enamoured with this technology being more of a solar PV man. However, having got the 60 tube array cheap and having the thermal store directly below I thought I’d ‘give it a go’ and I have to say that I’m well impressed.  There are days, and today is one, when this array out performs the solar PV by 100%!!!


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Anyway, that’s it for now, I’m off!

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