Snowy Days


Back to winter, a winter wonderland instead of rain, makes a change and nice to have it. We think it is at least ten years since we had such snow. It lasted almost a week and after two or three days of very cold days and rain again, we have this morning (Tuesday) snow, again but not a lot.

The Job report is that we have pulled the advert but a steady trickle of emails and calls are still coming through. I guess the articles are still doing the rounds. We have had a few couples visit and I am sure they have enjoyed their trip to Rona, a few more potential workers are coming and it is good for them to experience the Island, see the accomodation and get frightened to death at the workload. LoL.

Anyway it is what it is and we hope we can encourage a couple to join us on this wonderful Island.

The Lodge, The Accomodation.

The Lodge is a 1900’s built shooting Lodge, the owner’s of Raasay at that time used to come up very occasionally to shoot various animals. I guess that is what they did back in the day. It was renovated in 1993/4 and has had ‘robust’ use since. It will need a makeover for sure but is perfectly habitable just now. I guess a wee renovation would be part of the future plans. We look forward to it.

Back to the past couple of weeks.

Been a good spell but cold and wet either side of it. It was good to get sun after the snow fell and it enabled me to get going with outside work. So nice to have snow on the road and instead of having a very rough track we had a very smooth track. But sadly it did not last long.

I had been away a couple of times and with no one to cover us Lorraine had to man the fort, there was a very sad funeral I had to attend which meant a long trip to Aberdeenshire and back. Later that week it was the SGA (Scottish Gamekeepers Association) meeting at the Caledonian Stadium in Inverness.

Early Start

On the first trip I got to Portree only to find that my car had packed in, rather fortunately in the courtyard of Macrae’s Garage. A quick call to Dan Corrigal, Skye Boat Trips and he very kindly let me have his pick up. As Macraes was very busy that week the rapair was not possible, I had to borrow it again on Friday for the meeting. Many thanks to Dan for that.


It was interesting to see the muirburn (the falaisg) going on on Raasay on my way to the SGA meeting as muirburn was on the meeting agenda. The RSPB and othert so called conservationists want to stop it, but what they choose to ignore is without controlled burning the fire risk would be huge, also it is a proven fact that those Moors with a muirburn programme have much more diverse birdlife on it rather than the choked ex grouse moors that have been bought up by these conservation charities. The facts are there.

Mostly Oldies!!

Sadly not many young gamekeepers at the meeting, where are they? Their work is under threat like never before. Hopefully there will be a shift towards more younger members coming through. The work of a Gamekeeper is often portrayed as the work of a wildlife killer when in fact to-day’s young gamekeeper is much more than a vermin controller. Working in nature everyday and in land management is a much more broader discipline compared to the gamekeeper of old. More on that later. Suffice to say it was one of the best AGMs I’ve been to, with good presentations on a variety of subjects.

Back to Rona after a long day a week last Friday, thanks to Hamish and Graham at Rembrandt Portree for running down the plasterboard order to the pier and Dan/Cwaba for a lift on. The tide was not right so I took the chance and left it on the boat that night.

Lying in bed at 4am I was wakened with heavy rain (not forecast) beating on the roof, Oh Oh!! By 11 am the rain had passed, the plasterboard was covered but it was damp, it does not take long. So it was a bit of a job screwing it to the ceiling of the larder later in the week, very flexible let us say. But great to have a hand from Colin who was here with his wife looking at the job and what it entailed.

Dry Hasrbour Looking to Trotternish

The burning continued and there was a fair fire going on near the forestry between Storr and Valtos but the rain came and before long it was out. Not long now till the burning season is over.

We cannot burn on Rona much as I would love to as on my own it would be difficult to control. Maybe one day.

That is the story this month, much discussion about CVs and much work on breakdowns. Life goes on.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | Leave a comment

The Rugged Job

The Scotsman described the job as ‘Rugged’ for sure that is what it will be, rugged at times. However this wee blog post is not about the job description it is more about how we are dealing with the hundreds of applicants.

Ever since HiJobs asked if they could promote our unusual position and it has hit the papers/radio, we have been inundated.

For sure it is the dream of thousands to live the life on a remote outpost and after 21 years of living here I can highly recommend it. However you have to be resourceful, very hard working, put up with pretty changeable weather and have an ability to turn your hand to anything as well as enjoy the peace as much as the busy months.

So if you are applying for a job in such a location the first thing you do is outline exactly what you would bring to the Island. What skills you can do that would help and give an outline by letter/email with a CV.

Well at least that is the way I would do it.

So after over 500 contacts made we are struggling to answer them all, as we have done up till now..

We have had texts, messagers on Fb, calls, one line emails and I await a courier pigeon!! Lorraine has answered as best she can given the limited information on these contacts.

Please if you apply now (there is plenty information here and online about Rona), target your job application to the job requirements.

One last thing, our Venison production has generated a lot of comment on ceretain FB pages.

Our Red Deer are a big part of this Island, we manage them professionally, we process them, we have a fantastic regeneration scheme with trees galore (where they will grow).

I cannot for the life of me get my head round some of the comments about Scotland’s Deer in general. Our iconic animal which in the end gives us a fantastic food source and income. Gives our visitors much pleasure in obserrving them close to their accomodation. It saddens me to read these comments and to think that people really believe the narrative being promoted by the anti deer conservation brigade.

The story of Scotland and Rona’s deer is not as simple as branding them a pest.

I will post more on this blog in the future about trees and deer. I hope that some of the anti deer commentastors take time to read the literature I would like to post.

In the meantime you may have guessed I am passionate about our deer and venison.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 3 Comments

Spring Days

Odd days this week have given us a hint that Spring is on its way. The weather has been off and on but usually grim. Yesterday 18th February was a cracker. But here is the weeks events (or at least some of them).

Storm Otto left us with a we bit of upheaval but nothing of note.

The dinghy was tied down thankfully but it had flipped over, the hen house roof was ripped off, but thankfully no hens in it. Chimney pots seem to be getting a bit of a trial just now. Second one this week.

Lorraine’;s favourite tree got bent more than it was and I see it has splintered at the stump, so I guess it will come down very soon, a shame as we liked the shape of it, I’m sure it must have had honeysuckle (which we have a lot of here) round it as it was growing.

The full out of date milk bottle washed up, 5th Februarey but of course I had to try it, as it was not opened and can report you could have drunk it perfectly fresh (but I didn’t). Amazing, how does it last so long nowadays.

Storm Otto passed, blue skies and calm after it passed. That evening I had a look at the chimney pot, scary on a damp roof. Unfortunately I do not have a spare cover, ones on order though.

What else has been happening? A long overdue Irish drain was put in, at the back of our house. It is to deflect the torrent that comes from the hill behind us in the ever increasing heavy rain, I can report it works well. The 6 tonnes of 20mm sand and gravel mix delivered by the landing craft last month turned out to be 20mm gravel when I went to move it. I did not check it on arrival but what could I do if I did. Not good, I definitely ordered concrete mix but Travis in Fortwilliam got their lines crossed and this is what they sent, one thing I don’t need is stone out here. Very disappointing because what can you do when the landing craft is long gone? You cannot return it and now we are short of mix until the next landing craft

An un-named storm previous to Otto re-aligned both our TV dishes (again).That meant a day of putting them back and connecting our new internet cable awaiting another better day to get the new router installed. Been waiting months for it, roll on a good day. Mind you the view isn’t half bad up there.

Maintenance takes all forms and the horses legacy needs to be dealt with, I rolled out a bale of hay left, thinking the deer might have a go at it but no, they don’t go near it. It was deemed rotten but once the top layer was taken of the hay was perfect, a bit of a waste though. However it enabled me to get up to the barn with the ATV otherwise I’d be in a foot of mud. So again we await the drier days to roll it a bit more and hopefully return it to some semblance of what it was. Horses are not really a good idea here!!!!!! But we all make mistakes.

The metal thingy is the brake caliper off the Club Car, it never worked so I got down to it and it turned out it was quite straightforward. BUT it turns out you need to replace the whole unit at a cost of £107 plus of course Vat. You cannot just fit brake pads. But the most annoying thing with a part like this is that their distribution depot just dreams up a price and they want £35 to ‘post’ it. Robbery.

Back to yesterday it was a good day for a sail so I checked my traps at the Lighthouse and then took a wee tour up the coast looking and counting deer, we had seen some in the morning and the total for the day was 35 plus the ten that are now feeding in the park at the house every night, since the horses left. We will continue to count them then in late March we will spend two consecutive days just doing that. Looking forward to getting the count to plan out our Deer Management Plan.

An added bonus was the sight of 7 cock? Great Northern Divers from the shore. Then only one Female from the boat, correct me if I’m wrong. But nice to see and they were very vocal which is lovely and haunting to hear.

Plenty stags at the South end, but I did see the one antlered stag who seems to disappear every October up at the Lighthouse.

Finally. I think that this picture was from last Sunday when we went to An Tempuil to set up the trail cam. The sea here is often this colour, looked good for a swim. Maybe one day.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | Leave a comment

Stormy Day

Golden Eagle

It is a horrible day on Rona after a lovely breezy, sunny day yesterday, Tuesday 7th February.

I went to Portree for the first time since the 18th December. The car started and the Filling station got a fright as I filled 14 x 20 litre tanks with petrol. The main reason for the Portree visit and worrying that we were close to running out AND our reliance on petrol. What do we do in the future to achieve Net Zero. Not a lot we can do I guess, we are petrol dependant for much of what we do. But that is for another time (Soon).

Back to the start of the month, busy as usual. I finished the butchering and gave the ‘bits’ to the birds. I do not believe in shooting deer or any animal for a photo opportunity, that is sacriledge. For sure if deer or other carcass are found dead then yes, but it is shocking that some think it is acceptable to do that. So here we have the result.

In the second image here, this is the ear of a deer’s head leaving the spot, I have seen the Eagle do this and I think it is because he is constantly being mobbed by crows and seagulls?

Burger Making

As we reclaimed the Lodge and the new larder prep’ area is not finished yet, burger making is back in its squeaky clean kitchen. 300 burgers later, that is us finished venison production for the season. The freezers are full and we can send a box should anyone be interested anywhere in the UK next day on chosen mid week days (and to suit Royal Mail Strikes). Perhaps consider a sample box for £50 of 0ne of each cut we produce. Postage is £15.00.

Have a look at the Rona FB page .

For the start of the month we were treated to gales and hail. The usual stuff blown about and mink trapping continues. I’m well over double figures trapped this winter with some movement in the colder weather. The mink are lovely looking animals, their fur always sleek but they are very destructive so I’m afraid we have to trap them otherwise the nesting birds we have would suffer serious predation.

I renewed my correspondence with Robin Noble. Having read his books and enjoyed them I struck up a correrspondence and enjoy his comments on the North West of Scotland. He lived in Assynt for some time and knows the area well. In light of the Employee (s) from the John Muir Trust’s activities lately in Assynt, like me he is very disappointed in them. JMT’s Assynt Activities .

We were talking of the trees in Assynt and comparisons to the Rona forest, so I sent him some pictures. Here we have coppicing of Hazel, we are looking forward to seeing how that goes, especially with a family of Red Deer living close to this area. He was amazed to see these very old Birch trees and suspects they might be hundreds of years old. Our Scots Pine planting is doing well, planted in the right place why wouldn’t they.

Here is a wee paper by Robin Noble, Worth a read: Misunderstood Landscapes .

Whilst taking some photos in the forest I came across this Wallow . Now to some so called conservationists they would see this and say, look here, too many deer, look at the damage they are doing. Well in my world this is the Red Deer doing what they naturally do, having a bath. It gets rid of the many beasties that live on them. Such as ticks and Keds. It cools them and it makes the stags black in the rut, supposedly impressing the females. You see the hinds and even the calves when getting a little older doing the same. Great to see, messy. Just leave the deer alone!!!!

The antlers are ones from the summer, not fully coloured, the chosen one not long out of the velvet that grows with them. The peat in the wallow helps towards colouring them too, as does the bark from Willow and Alder (how do they know?). In this case I need to stain the chosen set as I had a wee order for Antlers for a certain Bar near Stirling.

Bit of a wildlife ranger Tuesday morning. At first light I was down at the pier and pleased to see two Oyster catchers shivering on a rock, noisy as usual just arrived, I wonder where from.

Approaching The Base/Lighthouse

The Base up North used to spend lots of money trapping the mink once a year or so. Now that it is quiet up there it is an ideal chance to set some traps. Yesterday early I took off up there as the weather at last smiled on us. It was calmish, a nice run up, the sea still had a jabble but nothing to worry me. After a fashion I got the traps (and wheelbarrow) up on to the pier, took them up as far as the buildings setting them as I went. I had a good look around nothing doing so I came away.

On the way back to Big Harbour I had an idea that I might just go to Portree.

So it was, the weather was stunning, a really good start to this years Portree trips. I got a few stores, saw the usual suspects got my chips and headed back. Dolphins accompanying me all the way. The journey back was a bit more lively but I got back in good time before the wind really picked up.


To-day, not a great day for anything outside, the chimney hat here went past the window a few hours ago, something rattled under the house too. The wind has changed direction, the TV is off and the internet is slow, not good. Let us hope we do not have too many of these days left this winter.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 5 Comments

Another Year Ahead in Paradise

A beautiful day

It started so well, the weather for a while was kind but that did not last.

Snowy Man

With snow all around and a dusting on Rona it was a picture but the rain returned, the climate cetainly is wetter than when I first arrived with every year getting progressively wetter for longer, but that is just the way that the climate changes I guess, periods of wet, periods of dry, periods of cold, what next?

The Sea Eagle is always hanging about, in fact several Sea Eagles have been very visible this winter, I guess they are getting a good supply of food, the sea is very giving. This SE was above my head when I was putting the ‘bits’ from the deer we butchered at the end of the year out, it is good that the birds get a picking, not sure about the crows but the Eagles and Sea Eagles are in the minority so a wee help is not a bad thing. A good end to what is left of the deer carcass.

The week after New Year our guests are leaving, their ‘Trophies’ bought from the shop, certainly not shot by them. Every bit of the deer finds a use here and a set of antlers for a lot of people is a reminder on the wall of their time in Rona or in Scotland. The guests come and ask about the deer and I am happy to tell them the fantastic story of the Red Deer of Rona (and Scotland), the deer are very important to us despite some treating themn as vermin. Above the house we have the internet masts, work in progress and this time the mice ate through the cable, hungry mice. The water leaked from the cable right into the switch inside the loft, disaster, no internet again for a while.

The Horses

Our new recruits, Zoe and Richard threw in the towel before Christmas, Rona was not for them. The weather has been poor and Zoe’s horses were doing a good job of ploughing around the barn. As I sit here to-day it looks no different a month on. It will take a while to recover but it will and it will be interesting to see how it is after this episode and the Spring growth starts.

The weather continued to be fair for a while and it allowed us to get the drain behind the Lodge cleaned and sort of repaired. We struggled for fixings (and time). But it is much better than before. Trying to get through the long list before the landing craft came for the folk it was good to get the fallen Pine from the forest home, cracking trees but not easy to get. This boat load of pine smells lovely and puts out a fair heat in our wood burning stove (it was 150 years old).

It is all about the weather here and folk that would like to come to the Island to help us, possibly taking over when we retire should really think about that aspect of life on a remote Island . Whether it is no ferry for a few weeks, raining for days (or weeks), high winds and of course glorious sunny days when we go like hell trying to get all the jobs up to date. In the case above the satelitte dish got ripped off the mountings, that is a new one for me. The path to the South was disappearing below our feet, so an Irish drain was required and the mink traps needed to be checked. The first two jobs had to wait for a good day, the traps it makes no odds. But the score is that we are into double figures with the mink cull this year which should help the wee birds nests in season. By the mink trap I found this porpoises Fin!! Only two metres away, I think something had lifted it and it fell there, well out of the sea.

More storm damage but this time this hazel tree had had its day, a pity because a bit of coppicing would have saved it for a lot longer. But the hazel here has not been coppiced anywhere on Rona (unless for walking sticks) for many years. But a few weeks ago we coppiced behind the cottages, it will be interesting to see how it gets on. I’ll be looking for new growth soon despite the weather, Spring will come soon. The drain was installed but I see this week that the sand bed has washed away, so I’ll get up there, on a good day, with some cement/sand mix and try to fill in around it to stop it eroding out. The cottages are due some TLC and first up were the doors where the marine charts Lorraine papered on were getting tired. Moving onto the plywood will be more permanent.

Back to Snow

The snow came back it got cold again and then the big day, the folks were leaving, a long day and more so for the Landing Craft (Milligans Transport) were coming. They came, they went and 18 hours later they were finished, well done Ben.

A long day indeed and yes a Yacht came in during it all. The yacht was from Eigg I believe doing a winter sail, they were on anchor for three days, weather was iffy but they came in a Northerly and left three days later in a Northerly on a lovely day, heading South I think.

Finished at last

We got finished here on Rona after the landing craft left around 7 pm. Then we were up in the morning for a full day shifting stuff. We had a hand from Mike and Lorraine who had come on the Landing craft which was brilliant, two good supporters of Rona happy to step up and help us. Myself and Mike sorting out homes for fuel, building material and disposing of old hay. The two Lorraine’s got the marigolds on and got stuck into cleaning the Lodge.

We had a few days before the next arrivals who were a Dutch party coming stalking. The weather was really good for the rest of the week but as it happened the following weeks stalking was dry until the last day, so not a problem.

Our Dutch Guests, Dave and Mark.

There seems to be a lot of drinking going on, sign of a good stalk.

Last week was full on, we have a cull figure to reach to keep the balance of deer/trees correct. Of course other factors can tip the balance but if we agree on a figure that needs to be culled then the following year we can adjust it. Some do not agree with ‘Sporting Stalking’ but it is a welcome boost to our economy in the winter to have guests willing to come to stalk and I guess help us. Yes we are there to give them a good week but we find the Europeans keen to get involved and ‘muck in’. I had the able help of Dave and Mark so the picture below was the day I dropped them off the boat at the South end where they saw many stags whom I guess are making their way back to Raasay, but out of season, some will stay, some fine stags were spotted.

Me, I sat up here on the rocks waiting half way down the Island for them to call me on the VHF.

It was the best day of the weekl but the wind dropped. I did not expect them to be sucessful but they were and I got a call to come down just as I was leaving my viewing place. It got cold and unbelievably the ticks were crawling over me (Winter?).

Rona Light Sandwich Break.

Earlier in the day we had been up North, the guys walked up but were on that occasion unsuccessful, I had the easy day piloting the boat to collect them, choppy it was, but getting calmer.

The End of The Day

At the end of the daty it is always the best dram and beer after a successful day on the hill. It is not all about killing. It is about being out in fresh air, pitting our wits against the deer, picking the correct cull animal, doing it cleanly and seeing the wildlife all around. Contrary to what I hear that Scotland is a desolate place losing its biodivertsity, this week we had plenty of it. The highlight was not the shooting, it was seeing the Snow Buntings for me and of course cracking company.

These beautiful wee birds come down I guess from Torridon when there is a heavy fall of snow, fluttering about on the path with no fear of us. I look forward to seeing them every year.

Then They Were Off.

The week passed quickly, by the look of them they had a good week, we hope to see them again./

To-day it is the perfect day for catching up on the blog, absolutely blowing a verey wet gale. I did make a resolution to do shorter blogs more often but it is not to be with us now loooking for new folk to help us.

That is now the challenge.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 2 Comments

Year End on The Rock

Here we are in the first week of 2023 and another year is taking off. The news is that we are yet again looking for a couple to join us on Rona to help with the running of the Island. More of that later after a resume of what was happening in November/December.

It was holiday time but before we were able to get off there were a few jobs to get off the list.

Here we have the new processing room beside the existing larder, previously a storage shed. We made it bigger and hopefully by next season (July ’23) we will be in there with plenty room and storage to keep processing our quality Rona Venison .

Dan (Stardust Boat Trips) was on the phone, he needed our mixer for his latest project. So a trip to Portree was on the cards, it was heavy though and took a wee bit more time, to get to Portree, hopefully we will get it back on this Spring’s Landing Craft.

Slow Boat To Portree
Quick Lift Off Portree Harbour

Looking forward to getting our mixer back, there is work to do.

Applenet Woes

The biggest issue these past few weeks has been the Internet, It simply has gone AWOL. I’m not much of an internet engineer but fortunately we have help. But this one beat me because the issue was on Rona. Not a breakdown elsewhere.

Good Connection

I was able to sort out all the ‘stuff’ at our end apart from the main connection and on hindsight I should have gone there, to the start of the problem.

The Office View

So I took a toodle up to the mast on my return from holiday, the weather was fine (another reason for not going up there before then) and in seconds I had found the issue.


A bit of a wiring nightmare and I see the problem, water in the cable, lots of it being forced into the switch which was now knackered. So back to Applenet and a new one arrived, all well now and my excuse for not doing the blog last month.

Yet another big order for Rona Venison

Before we went away we had yet anothyer bombshell, our helpers that came to Rona last year in June handed in their notice, so here we go again. Nothing to do about that before Christmas but we are now recruiting (New Job on Rona).

The other bombshell was the letter from Environmental Health telling us that our Licence to Sell Game(Venison) had expired. Now for the last decade (and longer) we have had a licence. Our EH officer Stephen Cox was on the ball and we were always informed before the renewal date, but it seems not this time. He had left. I was less than impressed by their reply suffice to say we were stuffed. Before Christmas we could not sell our product. We probably lost £1500/2000 of sales and after I raised the issue I did get the verbal go ahead from EH but to date no licence renewal has arrived, So, we are not prepared to sell any venison until we do.

The boxes above were sold/ordered before we got our letter so we felt able to sell these, thankfully it made some space in our freezers (also, especially after giving away as much this festive season).

A bit of a downer as we went on holiday but we quickly forgot about it and had a real good time. Until we caught the Mother of all colds. But here is a gallery of our travels and doings. I’m not going to bore you but we went to Torrisdon/Shieldaig first. Then further afield.

We thought it was stuffed.

We saw this stag heading up to Shieldaig, it did not move even after we reversed and pulled up near it, sadly it has got used to Tourists feeding it all sorts, it is an old boy for sure and I wonded how long it will survive.

Here’s the rest of the hols’, Inverness to Shieldaig back to Inverness, my Grand Daughter at the panto. Peter Pan, she is on the stage, we loved that. Onto Edinburgh the Botanic Gardens were pretty special. Therafter to Stobo where we did not get the benefit of our lovely stay as we were full of the flu (plague)by this time. We did not test positive but it had all the signs of Covid. It was the pits, so much so we came home a day earlier than planned but Stobo, we will be back. The highlight, bumping into one of our cottage guests at lunch on the second day, so nice to see Fiona Watson.

The pictures above are a bit mixed but you will get the drift. The picture above taken at 9pm at night with the iphone, it was so bright with the full moon. Torridon in all its glory.

Lifting the Fish Farm Barge

As we passed the fish farm outside Portree on our way off we saw the barge that had been brought in lifting the sunken barge. What cost and what effect on the environment??

At Last, The First Valet in 7 Years

It was great to have some time on our hands, so much so we actually got the car cleaned, costly but really fine to drive in a clean car. Love it. Looks like new.

Managing to Miss Christmas

So here we are after Christmas looking to the New Year, some of the Turkeys did not make it but these are for breeding I hear (not ours) but the one we had was tasty.

Happy new Year and all the best for 2023.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 1 Comment

October Has Been and Gone

I’m on holiday this week (Nov 11th) in Ballater a fine destination. More on that next post. So I’m taking advantage of a quiet spell before a swim in the pool here.

I’ll post a gallery of the months photos and see how that goes. But here is the story.

It is all about the deer in this month. Our count in March showed us 180 deer, with Victor Clements help we have put together the Deer Management Plan and expect to cull 40 + animals. So far we have culled 15 stags and butchered them all on the Island.

Quality Carcass

To increase the revenue to the Island we usually have stalking guests and this year we had only one full week and one cottage guest stalking in September. I will post the remaining photos in a gallery but will be posting the Season report on the Rona Red Deer page. So a fuller write up on what went on will be there soon.

In the meantime it was a busy month with lots of venison orders and full up with guests in the cottages. We also had lots of projects on and to cap it all I had a dirty cold for three weeks, not good timing.

It was a pretty wet month continuing but the sun did come out in the third week, at last. The final batch of sheep went off to Charlie from Harbro and we were sad to see them go for sure.

I do not normally post pictures of dead deer on the main page but it is what we do and we hope we do it properly. Our guests are keen hunters and outdoors men, but have jobs far away from my field. That is why they come, in this case from Germany to enjoy a week helping us with the cull.

The deformed head you will see in the gallery was caused by the damage to the hoof/fetlock area. The poor stag must have been in some discomfort and it is unusual for us on Rona to find such an animal but find them we do.

Otherwise October passed in a blur and we now look forward to culling and butchering our venison for the Christmas market. We can send a 5 kg box of venison frozen overnight to anywhere in the UK. We have trialed it for a few weeks and even with strikes we have found no problem. Call 07831293962 or click onto the Rona Venison FB page for details.

We also do a line in frozen Mince for Pets, we have a good customer base for our trimmings which we mince up for pet food, it is very popular, not to mention the bones. But we always have spare.

So once this holiday is over it will be back to the hill. Can’t wait!!!

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 3 Comments

September in a Flash

September is the busy month, leading up to the Red Deer Rut when everything stops for that, the yacht visitors are just peaking and on the way down. Looking forward (apprehensively) to Winter time so there is much to do. The cottasges are often full at this time, so that keeps us busy, all in all flat out.

The Van

I was back and fore to Portree a lot this month, various things, shopping, stores, machinery, the list goes on and on. The only downside is that it is usually a calm sunny day great but these days are lost on working on Rona.

Spaghetti Junction

In amongst it all the Applenet internet was playing up. In this environment it is a constant battle to keep on top of the corrosion. Also the equipment gets supersceded so quickly. I did sort this lot out though

Although it has been a dreadful summer and especially October there were times when the weather was kind, usually Portree days but nice to have them.

On my many trips I used to bump into all sorts of boat people, David Croy here with Raasay House Visitors enjoying one of their many trips. Pointing the way to Rona, thanks Dave!!

To add to the excitement we had Miriam Margoyles and Alan Cummings whose programme Lost in Scotland was here filming on Rona as a part of their Skye visit, the weather held out until just the last minute where we were sitting around a fire cooking scones as the fire rapidly went out in the rain, great fun though.

Alan wanted to help with the sustainability of the Island so we reckoned he’d have a job chopping up the 100+ year old pine, we will wait and see what happened.

Onto the September project, Here we are heading over to Portree with the extension to Hugh MacKay’s 360 digger. This was for lifting one x 600mm x 12 m steel beam for the new house, weighing in at 600+ kilo. Hugh did all the groundwork and helped push the project forward on the new house. So this steel extension was only used once and cost £670.00 + Vat, ouch, but better than a crane and two landing crafts. Which would be nearer £6700 + Vat!!!!! Sitting around on Rona it looked like a potential drawbar for the trailer I got from Dan C for taking the new boat out of the water.

We were going to get a local contractor to fix it to the trailer and do the engineering on it but the quote proved too costly for us and to be fair it would have been too heavy for the boat. So the ‘red thing’ went back to Rona, the trailer first.

Passing Dan’s RIB slowly (me) on the way back at Eilean Tighe this time, plenty time to look out for wildlife. Not much happening.

A quick lift off on the tide and up to the garage for major adjustments.

More about our deer and venison on our Red Deer Page but the reason for this photo is to show where the Scottish Government, Forest Land Scotland, SNH and a host of so called conservationists are heading. This calf turned up with its Mother in September. The Scot Gov through their Deer Review want to start the season for culling females in September. That would mean shooting this hind and calf. This is happening and a full report on my thoughts and comments will shortly be on the Red Deer Page. How anyone could justify shooting this hind and her dappled not long born calf beggars belief, but it happens.

Talking about deer, our venison is selling well and fast. We have a good core of customers, we cannot expand past our supply which is limited. But we use modern equipment to process it. Here we have an Italian vacuum pack machine, it needs new seals, £5 but postage, from Italy is £35 according to the makers. So we got in touch direct and their man ‘Giorgio’ sent two seals Foc to a friend who lives on Lake Garda, who in turn will get them to us for a lot less charge. Well done ‘Jolly Steel/TECLA

Yet another trip to Portree, this time coinciding with yet another Liner, Chaos in Portree but it is getting to be the new normal.

This trip was to pick up the recent purchase from Wayne at Braemore Estate, our new ‘jeep’. This simple buggy has no electronics which is the death knell of any jeep that has ever come here. Wish I had bought land rovers years ago. Hoipefully this buggy will do the job for us (it has done already, very pleased with it)

Bit of a job loading but Dan with his Manatou made swift work of it, surprisingly no one reported us for dangerous driving this time when we took the forklift down to the pier.

Heading home with evenly distributed weight and going well, next job was to take it off.

No problem to our hardy JCB.

Then the inspection.

Now down to the boat trailer.

It took shape pretty quickly, needs a few bits and piec es but it dioes the job.

In between all of this our venison orders started to take shape, sausages (new recipe) are proving popular. So with a deer hanging in the larder I had to abandon the engineering, leave the welding to Richard and get on with the sausages, Zoe on the sausage machine.

Another trip to Portree, I think this time for fuel, my one and only Basking Shark this year was right in front of me at the fish farm cages. I called up Dan and his tour boat had a wee bit of excitement catching the Basking Shark as it swam about the salmon cages.

It was a cracking day and I remember now what we were doing, fuel and venison deliveries. Another 100 venison burgers to Dan’s Chip Shop next to the Lower Deck Restauran.

Here we have two polysyrene boxes ready for their trip South, Fillet steak to London and a mixed box to Edinburgh, 24 hour guaranteed, works great.

And here we are, 1st October just when the gales and wind started getting MV Rona 11 out of the water for the first time, works well and this week, three weeks on I will get the boat serv iced. Much has happened in that time.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 1 Comment

How Do You Do This?

Here we are at last at the end of a particularly busy period. It is so long between posts that I forget how to post anything, so bear with me. I’m starting this on the 13th October, who knows when I’l get it finished. Much to do!!!

Internet upgrade

We had an upgrade of the internet that we have here in July, which gave us weeks of problems afterwards. So we have decided to try to get a faster more reliable system installed, it is now October and we are not much further ahead but we are getting there, so here we were fitting a new distribution box above the new house 15th Aug’.


With the able assistance of Richard’s very inquisitive Turkeys

Now wiring is just like the blog, to get power up there we need new cabling and switches. I don’t normally do electrics but needs must. Not much power required. Lots of headscratching!!

Norwegian Parking

In the middle of it we had a fine view of one of my yachting friends (a Norwegian Yacht this time) anchoring between the moorings ending up with his stern brushing my boat. A gale got up overrnight and he had disappeared by first light.

Lorraine’s Birthday

Not only blogs, electrics and everything else we do here, baking is another string to the bow. Just follow the instructions, easy as that (not).

The summer has been poor but there were good breezy days too, thank goodness but now in October it has been pretty grim.

The new boat had been busy, this time collecting the serviced fire extinguishers, an annual job. Also collecting the Water Sampler, our water testing had fallen behind and with poor weather it had been a job to get Adam over. All passed though.

Back to the wiring, in an effort to tidy up some of the off grid stuff I had ordererd this red junction box to gather all the positive leads and cover them, althouigh only 48 V we do not need any sparks with gassing batteries.

Richard and Zoe had been out on their wee boa fishing , but also collecting lots of flotsam and jetsam. This time a whole bundle of rope, I think it was floating? Obviously a creel line that got tangled up, it would have been costly had it got into any boats propellor.

Especially this one, one of the many cruise liners that berthed in Portree harbour this year.

I was off to a meeting in mid August and always enjoy a stay at the Pier hotel Portree. Best value, great food, A proper breakfast./ A good team ably looked after by Effie.

Back to Rona and my pointed nose pliers turned up after many years of searching the garage. They had fallen off the bike no doubt and were found (I do not know where) by one of our cottage guests.

We had been struggling with time and weather to get the new boat out of the water, to sort a few things, change gearbox oil and give it a pressure wash. Especially when we did not have a trailer. I put an advert into the Skye Free Adds looking for one, low and behold, Dan (Skye Boat Tours) had this old trailer up at the croft. He offered and I grabbed it, seeing the potential for a converstion.

Back to Inverness to my Son’s fortieth birthday, we called at his yard (Iain Cowie Plant Hire) and were press ganged into helping get his it ready for the big party on the weekend (we had ours with the family on the Thursday before). I heard that the weekend’s entertainment was a good one, glad we could help.

Back to Rona, I was getting dizzy by the end of August. Coming and Going. With stalking guests coming it is always a good idea to have a look around to assess the deer population. More on the Deer page about this years activities. It was nice to spend an hour just sitting down in our High Seat watching the wildlife, it was a lovely night, no midgies.

We had a couple of TV crerws out this past while, BBC ALBA came over first, they were filming an outdoor, climbing programme. It seemed to go ok and we await a nod to when it is on the TV.

Back to the ‘Yachtie’ issues. It is not all bad (ref, previous post). It is good to get positive feedback now and again, but overall it has been a good year with only a small minority still due to pay, we know who they are.

The turkeys have taken a keen interest in the back door, not a problem BUT they do leave their calling card and have taken a delight in tipping out the plastic/cans recycling.

We get all sorts here and it is not unusual to see a wee dinghy coming into the harbour once a year. These guys were lucky with the weather but I have no doubt that if poor weather had sprung up this boat would have handled it, Frank Dye many years ago crossed the North Sea in one amongst many other adventures, Mad or what? : Ocean-crossing wayfarer: to Iceland and Norway in an open boat [in a 16ft Open Dinghy] Worth a look.

Note the guest carrying a Rona Venison Box, for details on how to order some of our wondeful Rona Venison, click onto the facebook page @Isleofrona wild venison

A Very Busy New Toy

Well that was the end of August, it took a while to get my head round ‘How To’ but I got there. September next.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 1 Comment

Poor Show


Clear Instructions

Sadly I have had this subject on the blog before. We have many good friends and regular sailing visitors to our beautiful anchorage. For many years I watched yachts struggle to anchor. Many Yacht owners were forced to sit up all night watching as they dragged around the bay in a gale.

Yacht Solace

Now those Yachts that were well stuck in would maybe scoff at them but there may be many reasons why others anchors were not holding. So after holding off putting in moorings we bit the bullet and did just that. After the performance from various objectors to our pontoon I was hesitant. So this time we sought permission first rather than last, which was (those that were dealing with it) the problem last time

Yacht Annika

4 moorings went in to add to the Pontoon Mooring buoy. All supplied by Gael Force to a high standard. They were not cheap but Gael Force’s work was recommended and so it has proved a good decision. Some boat visitors have had a moan but the majority and I stress the majority have been very supportive, with 95% paying up (this year even contributing more). But this blog is about the 5% who think it is smart, funny, cheeky, two fingers up to us to leave without making any attempt to pay.

To-days Non Payer

There are quite a few pictures here in my file of other non payers, their vessel names are available!! We record all visitors to our moorings (if we can). Sometimes we are so busy, we forget or do not manage to catch a photo and often these are the very ones that take off without paying. But what I cannot comprehend is why leave the AIS on or think we cannot see them using a mooring. In last nights case we were covering some feedstuffs by the shore when the yacht above came in, picked up the mooring in thick fog. I could not see the vessels name as it’s name was not visible in the fog. But I could see on the AIS who it was, surprisingly the AIS was switched off before the yacht came into the harbour. Switched on again at the mouth of the harbour this morning.

This Morning Just After Maxi Cosi left

This morning’s non payer may yet call this evening, I see on AIS as I write that he is heading to Mallaig, perhaps? There may be a good reason why he did not come ashore, I have heard many times from non payers we have caught that their dinghy was burst, or they had lost their pump, or they had this or that wrong with them personally that stopped their trip ashore to pay. Asked why they did not call, there was no signal. Yes for sure there is no signal in the harbour unless you have a mast aerial. Some do. Having lived here for 20 years and used all manner of phones, there is a signal for them all once you are a mile out of Rona in all directions. But sailing for a week as one yacht did and getting caught eventually (thanks Stewart) in Orkney/Stromness and using that as an excuse is ridiculous. There is a signal all round Rona, we know, we live here. As an add on this yacht had quite a few excuses for not paying culminating in having to get one of his crew to pay as he did not have Internet banking, for goodness sake!!!

Paid up on reaching Stromness.

Foreign yachts were especially bad at leaving without paying in the past. But this year they have been pretty good. But that is possibly because there are/were so many this season. However there were a few who cannot read English or have no working phone. (Aye Right!!). It is bad enough when UK vessels on our moorings do come ashore, read the notices and then enjoy a walk on the paths provided, maybe even help them selves to water or leave rubbish, then leave without paying. Foreign yachts might not understand our notices but they understand they have or should pay.

Another chestnut is messing about at the mooring box at the Pier making out that they are doing ‘something’, we then take it they have paid only to find out later that there was in fact no envelope or note from them, must have been just a look in the box to see what they should be doing, who knows. The two that stick out was one who had not enough money but left what they could, not much? Must try that in TESCOs next time I’m there. And the best one, the one who left a small amount of change and a couple of bottle tops, you think I’m making that one up, think again.

So, as I say the majority are good honest people, who support us, many come back regularly, we get many, good, welcome comments, seldom negatives. The cruise boats supports us, our regular day trip boats all contribute. Any income is welcome, it costs an awful lot of money annually to run Rona. There are costs galore, not only the pontoon and mooring maintenance, insurance and Crown Estate but the paths, the internet, water and so it goes on. This is a working Island not simply a tourist attraction. We try our best to accommodate visitors, the Right to Roam for us is not a cheap right!!

It is good that we are getting a good percentage of payers but it would be better to be 100%. I often use the analogy whilst discussing moorings with visitors that if I was to go into TESCOs and pick up a bottle of Red Wine, then leave without paying. I’m pretty sure I’d be stopped by the Security and I’m also pretty sure that my excuse of ‘Oh I was going to pay by BACS once I got a phone signal would wash.

The moorings are clearly marked with instructions and phone numbers, as are various pilot books and social media pages.

So why is it in the Non Payers mind ok to take from Rona but not give?

Last Night From Meal Acarseid


5 pm on Sunday. Clearly the above post is me being cross. No wonder, after all the effort of laying moorings it really gets me going when people don’t pay for the service we provide.

SO, we put a post on facebook (BillCowie) and my own personnel detective got on the case, he knows all the harbour masters up and down the coast!!!!!

Would you believe within a couple of hours and within two minutes of each other two of the yachts that had not paid called me offering to pay which I readily accepted.

I am not going to say too much more than I have so I am pleased to get a result. But from now on we are going to log every yacht in the harbour and since this is Sunday, Religiously!!!!!!

On a cheerier note, here is a card that we received on Saturday with a parcel in the post, this is from a couple who had a fridge failure on their yacht. We had many spare ice packs so gave them a few, they were on a mooring and bought venison too. The card would have been enough for me, that is how it works here!!

On that note, the sun is shining at last Happy Days.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather | Leave a comment