Life at the end of the road

August 4, 2020

Well, it’s been a while hey :-)

August already and I’ve hardly been on here since Valentine’s day and then the ‘world went mad’, strange times indeed. Hope everyone else survived and continues to do so. Me, well I have to confess that I have pangs of guilt for actually enjoying the peace and quiet. The ferry sailings were reduced to three a day, lots of work got done on the good ship Hallaig and best of all my son has been home Smile

I managed to retrieve the young Camilli from Edinburgh around the 16th of February writing the Wife off on the A9 along the way. That will be YH52WFE me old Disco not the dear lady I married 20 years ago Smile

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The NFU, police and Blair Athol garage were so good it was unbelievable. A taxi collected me from Blair Athol and took me to Edinburgh where a hire car was waiting for me. I found another Disco for sale in Hartlepool a few days later, collected that, left hire car at garage where I bought new Disco for £2K and a week or two later got a cheque from NFU for £3K without even having to fill in a claim form!!!! The new Disco is in even better nick than the old one, the police were so helpful, never charged me with anything and the only thing injured was my pride. I was friggin livid at the time cos I’d just spent £200 on canvas seat covers from Exmoor Trim and had got rather attached to WFE but they now reside in me new one along with the floor mats Smile

Shortly after that I hitched up my caravan to Disco 2 and went to Lochaline for a fortnight with the Hallaig to cover for Lochinvar who was going into dry dock.


Molly and I had a great shift down there and had initially planned to spend a few days in the caravan up at Loch Ewe but the World went mad and touring caravans or campervans suddenly became ‘persona non grata’ in the Highlands and everywhere else. Given what we now know it was probably too little too late but I guess that’s what you get with blonde haired buffoons running countries. The ladies seem to have done much better from Jacinda Ahearn to Nicola Sturgeon methinks oestrogen is far better at the helm than testosterone in times of global pandemicsSmile 


Well,it certainly seems to have brought out the best and worst in people that’s for sure, the former being by far the most prevalent in this part of the country in general and our little community in particular. The Raasay Stores deserving particular praise in this respect with orders being taken by phone or email then delivered, collected or even left outside to be picked up later with not a stolen toilet roll in sight Smile Various community groups sprung up around the area with prescriptions being delivered to the ferry and shopping done for the elderly and vulnerable by various dedicated volunteers. I’m sure it would have been the same in other parts of the country but it was refreshing to see first hand humanity at it’s best.

Life carried on for Ross and I quite normally really, insomuch as we did what we wanted when and where we liked and without the need to socially distance, the pair of us being miles from ‘civilization’. I watched winter turn into spring and then summer enjoying the peace and marvelling at the extra flora and fauna appearing due to the lack of human activity. Hedgerows exploded in a riot of colour, foxgloves became 2m tall all the trees seemed to be exceptionally verdant and larger.

I followed the ‘Daily briefing’ from Downing Street religiously for a couple of weeks, giving up after hearing the same questions sidestepped again and again and repeatedly hearing how marvellously we were doing. Hence what was probably the reason for my silence on the blogging front, cos whilst the rest of the country was cooped up inside venturing out only to fight over hand sanitizer, toilet roll and pasta, life here was pretty rosy.

Ross and I coming to an arrangement of ‘two weeks on, two weeks off’ on the cooking front. He would chef whilst I was working, providing me with something to look forward to after my day ‘before the mast’. Not that I never looked forward to my wife’s meals just that Ross has a unique adventurous and mainly vegetarian slant to his cooking. My meals often involving something dead that has been killed or picked locally are OK but hardly a surprise Smile

Still, we both managed some interesting combinations on account of the limited/different range of shopping available. Having no sick or elderly relatives to worry about the worst part of Lockdown for us was the lack of Lidl muesli, yoghurt, tinned tomatoes, pasta and rice. Still have not bought any friggin toilet roll this year as far as I can remember!!! What the feck was all that about hey, people fighting at checkouts over bog rolls hey. The world truly has gone mad, every checkout ‘colleague’ I ever spoke to had a ‘bog roll tale’ Smile I kid you not, people were driving from Glasgow to Morrison’s in Fort William cos they’d heard there was no limit on certain items there.

The problem with society today is that it is run by ‘bean counters’ and nothing has any slack or leeway. Of course they call it efficiency and encourage all businesses to work to the ‘just in time principle’. From a car production line to a supermarket everyone operates on the mantra that stock is dead money and they make just enough Honda right hand front headlamps as they need and they arrive on the production line just as it is time to fit it to the car. Well, it is just the same at all the major supermarkets and it only needs every person to buy one extra bag of pasta to grind the system to a halt. Two days of snow on the A9 and a couple of road closures and that will be the Orkney islands with no bread, even Portree has run short in such scenarios, saved only by the lorries that could not make it further north with goods for Shetland. Me, I always have hunners of tins, pasta, rice, bog roll, soap, mouthwash, muesli, nuts and just about everything non perishable. Even so, with pretty much everyone ‘being in the same boat’ it’s hardly surprising things started going ‘tits up’ Sad smile 

So without any further ado and with a little explanation here is Sonas Lockdown in pictures Smile

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Ross and I managed a little work on the Range Rover during the wetter days. Tayside Land Rover having had my Land Rover for two years in March and it ‘going backwards’ Sad smile


Here it is last week above and one year ago below.


I only left it in Matthew Webster’s hands in March of 2018 cos he assured me he would have it finished for June. In due deference to law, I have to admit not specifying which June Sad smile Sadly I have since found out that four years is not unheard of Surprised smile Well, if it aint ready in three weeks time I’ll be going to collect it on a trailer, again, I would not be the first Sad smile A lady contacted me once saying she had had to collect hers off him after 18 months and it cost thousands to put right Sad smile Me, well I just cannae wait to get it back and document the excellent work he’s done cos praise where it’s due. What he actually has done has been pretty good Smile


This will be the MV Loch Bhrusda heading by Raasay one breezy day in March.


Of course the weather hasn’t always good but the lack of con trails has improved the views of the sky Smile


The odd shopping trip by boat for stuff not available at the Raasay Stores. With only three ferries a day it was much, much quicker by boat from Arnish than car.


The deer around the house were plentiful whenever they were out of season Smile


This wee wagtail and its partner built a nest under my egg poacher and reared some chicks that got killed by something Sad smile


A northern diver, some shags on Grian a Sgeir west of Fladda and one of my pet crows Murdo or John Smile I say pet but that’s just cos I’ve got rather attached to them hanging round the croft, not so long ago I would have shot them and left them hanging from a fence to discourage others.


Dun Caan with a river of mist rolling into the sea on Raasay’s east side, gorse, Holoman Island the Storr and the new organic salmon farm at Lealt north west of Raasay.


May snow on the Storr and rhododendron at North Bay.

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The last ‘black house’ on Raasay, the Torran Mission house and a white tailed sea eagle.


Cleaning the catch with wee dug and painting garden furniture before the summer lushness.

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The wee wagtail sat on its eggs under the egg poacher, a sea eagle and one of Ross Camilli’s creations, baked pepper and feta, yum, yum.


A golden eagle lifts off at Tarbert and a hind rushes off at Arnish.


Another sunset at Sonas Smile


Bismarck, Tirpitz and Rodney arrive 79 years after the Battle of the Denmark Straight . Our three wee boars are not so wee now Smile Ross Camilli working on the Torran track and yet another golden eagle saw May out and a delightful ‘Lockdown spring’.

Thanks for all the concern and sorry for the lack of input as life returns to some kind of normality I’ll endeavour to keep this up.

January 31, 2020

Unintended consequences :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, hydro, life off grid — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:41 am

January by with already, or at least it will be by the end of the day, already the days are stretching, Raasay House will be open in a couple of weeks and the Easter Bunny has arrived early. Not the chocolate ones, they probably arrived shortly after  Christmas along with the Cadbury crème eggs. Nope, I’m talking about the real ones that have been absent from the North End and my dinner plate for years.

When I first arrived here, thirty years ago in May, Raasay was ‘awash’ with bunnies, I kept a rifle in the car (as did the postman) and rabbit was a regular addition to the weekly menu. Sure they came and went in cycles along with the  ‘maxy’ or myxomatosis a virulent disease introduced in the 50’s. The population would peak, the virus would get a hold within a year or two and dazed, disoriented, blind rabbits that would shortly die became commonplace. A ‘maxy’ infected rabbit is not a pleasant sight but inevitably the population would recover within a couple of years and rabbit pasta would be back on the menu.

I remember at least three outbreaks but that wasn’t what exterminated them I’m sure, no, I think that accolade goes to the explosion of mink and sea eagles, themselves, like the virus, both introduced by man. Me, I can live with the magnificent birds but then I don’t have and am not a fan of sheep. Unfortunately, in the absence of fish the   Iolaire sùil na grèine, the ‘eagle with the sunlit eye’ will and does take lambs Sad smile


And don’t for a minute think I took that picture Smile

They also seem to have driven out the resident and native golden eagle which is slightly smaller. I guess this is just one of the ‘unintended consequences’ of their reintroduction from Scandinavia in the seventies. Hailed as a great success at the time, they are now becoming a bit of a problem Sad smile As for the mink, well, not only have they decimated ground nesting birds, rabbits hens and ducks, they contribute ‘not a jot’ to the local economy. At least the white tailed sea eagle brings ‘twitchers’ and ‘puts bums’ on the local tourist boat seats Smile

Anyway, despite the ‘bird’ and the mink, the rabbit is back, perhaps ‘not in force’ but at least in ever growing numbers. I’m seeing more and more, even around Sonas and I’ve never seen one up here even when they were plentiful. Hopefully, rabbit will be back on the menu soon Smile

The Steam Engine

Well, yesterday ‘was a pure s**t of a day’, ferry disrupted rain torrential and dark until almost 9:00am, at least that’s what it felt like. Luckily I’ve a very nice shed and that’s where I spent most of the day, pottering about with my wee hydro turbine before it fined up in the late afternoon.

Actually, all I did was connect new conduit and wiring to the turbine, I spent most of the day looking for a ‘three pole rotary isolator’

SCL 20A 3 POLE IP65 ENCLOSED ROTARY ISOLATOR which I could have sworn I had. Unfortunately much of my day seems to be spent suffering such delusions and looking for things that I have just put down Smile Anyway, I gave up, ordered two online and figured I’d just have to manage without for now.

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So I loaded everything I thought I needed into the Honda and headed off into the woods, ‘turning off’ the water supply on the way.

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It’s a bit of a trek down there and at this time of year extremely muddy, not the best place to carry tools and a heavy turbine.

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It is however a beautiful and sheltered spot ideal for adventurous ‘wild swimming’ at high tide the sea comes up and sometimes over the shiny rock in the foreground.


The ‘shed’ I built ten or twelve years ago when I fitted the Stream Engine, prior to that I had a 200W Navitron Chinese turbine there.

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Mounted on an old galvanised bucket in the long grass and then covered up with an old polyform buoy it served me well for a couple of years. Proving that a turbine was viable until I replaced it with the current one mounted on a concrete base and covered with that ‘shed’ Carrying buckets of mixed concrete down there to cast the base was no easy task, don’t think I could do it now Smile

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I replaced the split PVC hose with an armoured rubber one but only had enough for the one (large jet),


not having an isolator I temporarily connected it with ‘chocolate blocks’ and tested it on the small jet.


A couple of amps at 60V giving me 120W at the battery bank. Not wanting to risk leaving the PVC hose connected I then turned on the large jet.


This gave me a respectable 13A, around 780W, which was better than before I’m sure. Normally it’s around 800W with both jets switched on but having a ‘pin hole’ in the PVC pipe on the small jet, I just left it on the one. That will give me a good extra 18.7kWh per day, time to switch the dehumidifier on in the caravan methinks Smile

Well, that’s just about it really, I collected my Wife’s Subaru from the village to look at the power steering, did a little shopping for the builders at Brochel, made a Lancashire hot pot for dinner and went to bed with a good book.

Sad, I know but HMS Warspite saw more action than any other ship of the Royal Navy, coming to an inglorious end in Mounts Bay Cornwall, I dived on her remains in the early nineties. Truth be know it’s herself and the Royal Navy’s move from coal to oil at the turn of the last century that’s responsible for much of the current chaos in the middle east Sad smile Another case of ‘unintended consequences’ I fear Smile

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