Life at the end of the road

April 7, 2018

I forgot my toothbrush :-(

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:51 pm

So that’s it, I ended up in Lochaline on the good ship Hallaig after all Smile it was a 5 hour steam and not drive in the ‘Old Girl’ right enough, but here I am with the ‘wee dug’. Sure, I did join the MV Lochinvar our ‘twin hybrid’ on Raasay but she got a ‘slot’ in Dale’s dry dock at Troon, and so word came through that we were to head off there today.

Still, we had a few days left on Raasay before the MV Lochinvar’s departure, and being just after Easter it was quite busy.

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It was also pretty nice, cold, but nice, with the first visit of the year from the Hebridean Princess one of CalMac’s ex car ferries now converted to a luxury cruise ship.

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The RMS Columba as she was then was one of the last car ferries built by Hall Russell in Aberdeen and had the unusual capability of being NBC proof (nuclear, chemical and biological) RMS Columba was the last of three car ferries built in 1964 by Hall, Russell & Company, Aberdeen for the Secretary of State for Scotland.[7] The Secretary of State for Scotland ordered a trio of near-identical car ferries for the Western Isles. They were chartered to David MacBrayne Ltd and were all equipped to serve as floating nuclear shelters, in the event of national emergency.[8] This included vertical sliding watertight doors that could seal off the car deck, immediately aft of the hoist.[9] Columba was the last of the three to enter service.[10]

I guess it was just a way of squeezing money out of the government, it was common practice between the wars for the government to subsidise new build ships, if they had strengthened decks fore and aft capable of taking gun mountings in the event of war. In practice this was flawed for many such ships were indeed converted during wartime to ‘AMC’s’ (Armed Merchant Cruisers) and paid heavily for it. Some, like the HMS Jervis Bay with great distinction. However, it was folly indeed to pitch unarmoured vessels with relatively small calibre weapons against well protected adversaries with bigger guns and well trained crews. Despite all the this HMS Jervis Bay did indeed prevent the German ‘surface raider’ Admiral Scheer doing a whole lot more damage to convoy HX-84 . The Jervis Bay paid the ultimate price and is remembered to this day for her gallant effort.

The ‘Screen Machine’

Having got notification of our intended trip to dock we started on the required preparations and life on Raasay went on as usual.

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MV Loch Linnhe was already in position to ‘pick up’ the service and one of our last jobs was to bring over the ‘Screen Machine’ which was showing,_Missouri

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I just wish I’d have seen it as performance in Blood Simple and Fargo  was awesome. Me, I never made it down to the cinema but ‘wife and child’ did, both agreeing it was the best film they’d seen in a long while. Me, I was busy ‘packing my bags’ for the trip to Lochaline, where I would be swapping places with the local ‘motorman’ who’d be taking Lochinvar into dock.

A pleasant trip

We all departed Raasay at 7:40 leaving the tiny MV Loch Linnhe to service ‘the route’.

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It wasn’t the best of days for a sail but it was dry and both wind and tide were kind to us.

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The Glenelg ferry didn’t seem to be running and we’d the tide with us through the Kyle rhea narrows, always a bonus as you can end up going backwards here Sad smile

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The ‘extra crew’ wasn’t too impressed so got confined to the caravan Smile


Mallaig passed by and on we went to Ardnamurchan, the most westerly point on the British mainland.

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Then it was by ‘Balamory’, sorry Tobermory and into the Sound of Mull.



January 30, 2014

Off to the ‘flicks’ :-)

Two peachy days in a row!!!! and what a boost it’s been for everyone and everything, the people, hens and pigs are all looking far happier than they did a few days ago. Amazing what a few nice days can do for ones well being, not just mine but everybody’s. Only a few days ago everything was mud and water and now it feels positively spring like.


Looking at tomorrow’s it doesn’t look like it’s going to last but ‘hey ho’ it is January after all Smile Not for long right enough for Saturday will be February and that can be a lovely month in this ‘neck of the woods’. Many is the holiday I’ve had on Skye in the seventies and eighties during the school half term and gone home with a sun tan Smile OK, it was generally more of a red face after having been in a RIB all day wearing a dry suit but it was the sun that did it Smile A bit embarrassing it was when I did it one year whilst ‘on the sick’, then went back to work in Manchester  looking like I’d been under a sun lamp.

Salvaging a bronze prop off Fladda Chuin and accidentally killing some hibernating bats with some WWII ordnance near Macleod’s Maidens. All done in February many many moons ago, now you’d get hauled off under the prevention of terrorism act or hung drawn and quartered by the Royal Society for the Protection of Bats, happy days Smile 

The ‘Screen Machine’

Anyway, I digress, Wednesday arrived dry, clear, sharp and bang on time,


though I was a little late ‘getting going’ on account of having to take the errant teenager to school, but we’ll not go into that.


Back on the croft before 8:30 I got on with feeding everyone and collecting the early eggs.


Just look at them, they’ve certainly grown during the ‘two weeks on’, all sixteen of the wee darlings.


That done, it was off to admire Lachie and Hooky’s handiwork up at the new house.


Aint that roof just beautiful




I just love his attention to detail



and the ‘Grumpy Digger Driver’s skill with the machine had left me a lovely wide entrance to the barn and a road up to the solar powered hen house.

Sadly I had to spend most of the day under wifey’s Nissan getting it ready for the MOT. It had already had a wee look over by Eddie at                         Skyefit for tyres

whilst he was fitting a new exhaust and a couple of tyres last week so that was OK. However, as usual the brakes needed attention, this time the it was the rear handbrake mechanism and one of the callipers that was seized.


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The handbrake mechanism on the port side needed freeing off and the pads were seized in the calliper starboard, however much WD40, Coppaslip and grinding later I had it sorted.



Couldn’t resist going to have a peek at Lachie and Donald’s slating though,



there’s a lot of extra work and cost in a ‘hip roof’ but that gable end is severely exposed to the north west. The slope of the hip should make the house more ‘streamlined’, quieter and less prone to losing slates.

To give the car a good testing I headed south with the latest batch of Arnish eggs for the shop and to collect the Dude off the 16:15 ferry.




It was whilst at the ‘souf end’ that I spotted this


and this.

Of course I’d heard that ‘The Screen Machine’  was coming to Raasay for the first time ever but it had slipped my mind. One thing about two weeks on the Hallaig as motorman, you don’t actually see very many people apart from the crew. Anyway, memory jogged by the rather large truck in front of the village hall,


the boy and I decided to go.


Interior image of the Screen Machine

Britain’s only mobile cinema was coming to Raasay to show at 17:30 and at 20:30 and I can’t say that I fancied either. Some animated sentimental Disney  tosh or George Clooney and Sandra Bullock stuck in space for 90 minutes, not my cup of tea, thought I. How wrong was I, we decided on the 3D space romp, mainly because it would have been a bit impossible to get home and back for,


and I’ve never been a Disney fan. Walt managed to scare the pants of me with Cruella Deville, the Big Bad Wolf and Captain Hook as a child and I’ve never forgiven him, not only that but I think he was a bit of a fascist Smile 


Gravity seemed the lesser of the two evils so we ‘went for it’

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as did half of the island. Of the eighty seats, most of them were taken, and it really was just like a proper cinema, in fact it was better. It was full of my friends and neighbours, on my doorstep and just brilliant, I think I would have enjoyed Coronation St in there Smile Seriously though, the film was good, the special effects outstanding and you could take your own treats and popcorn in. The Raasay community shop having bought large bags in specially for a fraction of the price you’d pay at the local ‘multiplex’ in a retail park, and just look at the view outside the cinema. OK you couldn’t actually see it when you came out but you could see the Plough, Orion and the Milky way.



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Once more started with taking ‘wayward son’ to the ferry


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and spotting a few deer on the way home.

After feeding everyone and having a bowl of muesli we made the most of the good weather by stocking up on bedding.


A couple of hours cutting nice dry rushes and couch grass had us well stocked up, though once the pigs are out on the hill we use very little. At the moment with sixteen of them all sharing one house they use quite a lot but by Saturday most of them will be away, life will get easier and the croft can have a rest.


Of course, as soon as we started working the pigs appeared, they really do love company


and Rocky is just so gentle. Boars really do get a ‘bad press’ but we’ve been really lucky, Ginger was just the same, a big gentle giant.


Once the barn was nicely filled with bedding, I’d had my leek and potato soup for lunch

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and turfed the hens out of inappropriate places, I went to the new hoose.



Donald was busy slating and I wanted to lay a new water supply to the site. I laid one some four years ago just to measure the head, check the continuity and supply water for mixing concrete. However the pipe that I used came courtesy of Bill at and had been used for pumping diesel up to ‘Big Harbour’, it was great for watering the plants and flushing the toilet but a bit ripe for drinking.

I’d got 250m of 32mm from and proceeded to lay it in the best way that I know.


Trust me on this, I have laid miles of MDPE pipe of all different sizes and if you’ve not got the special trailer then this is the best way  to do it, throw it over a fence post or road sign and pull.


The other alternative is this!!!! and believe me, you don’t want to go there Smile

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