Rona Revisited After Forty-Two Years

Here is a wee diversion from the usual day to day news on Rona. After a particularly bad weather weekend where the ‘Bad Weather’ forecast by the Beeb was one of the worst storms here this year. Very strong winds and torrential rain.

To-day a West Coast Sunday Grey Day.

Rona Flyover

Last year we had a visitor who had last been on Rona in 1963,
Richard  Selley from Dorking in Surrey
Emeritus Professor of Petroleum Geology & Senior Research Fellow. Imperial College London.

He had let me know he was coming on a private charter with David Croy of Raasay House and was keen to give ‘Rona’ a copy of Duncan MacSwan’s article which he had. We had a copy here but there were pages missing and ours had seen a lot of handling, so I was very keen to get a clean copy.  It was a pleasure to meet him and have a short chat. His subsequent emails have filled me in on what must have been a memorable time in the late 50’s early 60’s, camping on Raasay, Rona and Scalpay, studying the Geology of the area. I quote below from one of Richard’s emails:

“I spent several summers camping and squatting in derelict crofts hammering Raasay, Fladday, Scalpay and the midge-misted mountains of Torridon, first as an undergraduate geology student in 1959 & 1960, then as a post-grad researching for a PhD between 1961- 65. I spent most of my time on Raasay camped at Brochel and Fladday. I went to Rona with the shepherds for a week in June 1963. It was then uninhabited. We stayed in the croft by the harbour. I clambered all over the Lewisian Gneiss to see if the old Geological Survey mappers had missed any overlying Torridon sandstone. They had not. We had a week of glorious dry sunny weather. On the Saturday morning that we were due to return to Fladday there was a most fearful storm. We did not expect the boatman to come, but he did. On the way back the dogs were cowering on the bottom boards and one crofter got down beside them to say his prayers. I was holding on to the mast and at one point I thought it was horizontal and I was suspended vertically from it. Anyway we got safely back to Fladday soaked to the skin and very cold. A memorable visit to Rona!

During my time on Raasay I got to know many of the people, the Fladday folk in particular. Someone, after all these years I cannot recall who, gave me the document describing a visit to Rona a copy of which I handed to you. My visit to Raasay last year with my wife and a daughter was a nostalgia trip to mark my 80th birthday. I was curious to know if there were any of the Raasay/Fladday folk still alive who knew me from 60 years ago. I got in touch with Rebecca Maccay who put me in touch with Calum Gillies from Fladday, now living in Suisnish.”

If you click on the link below you will see the article by Duncan MacSwan describing the visit he made to Rona on the 30th July 1965. It is a very poignant piece and a very worthwhile read, we are lucky to have a copy.

Rona Revisited Duncan MacSwan 

With Thanks to Richard Selley for his help and input into this article.

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

Stormy Day

To-day is the ideal day for catching up on paperwork and mail, there is a gale going outside with heavy rain falling since first thing. There was an break around 8am but it has returned to grey.

The View from the Window to-day, trying to Tear the Tarp of The RIB

I’ll need to go outside and tie down the tarpaulin on the RIB, not expecting this at this time it is just slung over the boat to keep the UV off it. It must be blowing 30 knots just now so even although it is relatively sheltered it is getting worried by the wind. Even the sheep scattered from below the house just now, something must have been blown about to lift them from the shelter.

Thursday Evening Sail

Hard to believe it was like this above last night.

Thursday Evening Sail

We had some creels getting in the way of the next project. They were on the grass which had started to grow through them so rather than stack them again we put them out to see if we can catch some shellfish for ourselves. It was a lovely evening last night for it. Not a boat to be seen although there were 6 or so fishing boats out during the day.

The Quiet Harbour

No yachts though. Very strange coming into the harbour and no one there!!! A perfect evening for a G n T in the wheelhouse too!!

7am Thursday Morning

It was not so perfect at 7 am, we loaded the creels then to catch the tide, it makes for easier loading. We were promised rain and boy did it. The wind went round to the North and it was an especially bitter morning. But soon cleared and it was possibly the warmest day so far this year.

On Wednesday a Grey Trip to Portree

We went to Portree on Wednesday, it was a grey start then too, misty, murky and cool. The Coastgaurd appeared out of the mist when we were heading home, nothing to report in Portree, very quiet which still takes a bit of getting used to after the past few years.

A Quick Stop on Fladda. The First Amazon Parcel Delivered, Ever.

We had some groceries to pick up for our neighbours on Fladda, they had just arrived on the Island when the Lockdown came into force so they are stuck there, no complaints though. We dropped of their stores and Erlet was delighted to see the very first Amazon parcel to be delivered to Fladda. We had a chat, discussed the Planning application for a new fishfarm North of Fladda in Loch a Sgurr, keeping social distance of course.

Wednesday Deer Count South

Once we left them  we had the boat all up and running  so I decided to have a look South for deer from the boat.  We had done a cursory deer count this year but our helpers were unable to get to Rona for it so not it was not as thorough as the usual count. There are predominantly stags hanging about the Islands South of Rona so a count there is always worthwhile. We went ashore and came across some cast antlers and 8 stags.

Cheeky Lambs at the Early Morning Feed

On Tuesday morning I fed the sheep as usual, the lambs loving playing around this boulder but they look very miserable to-day out there all hunched up and getting very wet.

Dying at My Feet

After I fed the sheep and went up to the garage to collect something, a 30 second trip. I came back down and here was one of the Wedders lying down on its back by the shed, in the small ditch. Unable to get up it was slowly drowning (I actually thought it was dead). I sussed that one of the older Wedders had butted it in the side knocking it over, they were looking guilty as hell and this sheep gets picked on. I turned it over and stood it up but was struggling to get it steady, I called for help and we held it up for 15 minutes, it slowly cleared its lungs and became more steady. After half an hour we were able to leave it in the garden of Rona Lodge. It survived but it is amazing how quickly things can change, a narrow escape for Lorraine’s favourite sheep.

Thursday afternoon Work Walk

Yesterday afternoon I had what I call a work walk. I promised Denmark that I would send a series of pictures on what we were doing over the last few months. At 4 o’clock I got a bit of time and as the sun was splitting the Skye, the light was good I started my walk at the pier where we had put on some new decking, painted the railings at the pier, fitted new safety rails, concreted the path and then the painting.

Work Walk

I think the camera got tired of all the work as the battery ran out just after the shot of the fank fencing. Lots of painting but I’m not so sure we’ll get any done this week coming…….

 

Posted in Daily Doings, The Views and of course the weather, Wildlife, Yachties | 1 Comment

Lockdown -The Sequel

Flower Moon

The last of the catch up blogs! Starting way back on the 6th of May with a picture in the late evening of the Moon, Full Moon’s to-day all seem to have names, a bit like storms I guess. Back to the day job. Off to Portree on the 7th to get stores and fuel, still at a good price which was the easy bit, queuing at 7am at the door of the Co-op with a half a dozen other souls in search of an easy shop was weird but entertaining with the lady in front of me very scathing and angry with the news that the Portree Care home had an outbreak of Covid 19.

Heading Out.

Not much about on this crossing to Portree, a few Puffins, Gannets and the usual suspects, nice to see a Great Northern Diver in the Bay at Acarseid Mhor when we were leaving. Last seen last week just off the pontoon when we were concreting down the track there.

Portree Looking Quiet

The boat is now going well and the crossing takes barely 40 minutes, on a flat calm day even better. Landing in Portree at 6.30am. Quite a surreal experience, normally there is a buzz even at that time and now nothing. On the way home we had a visit from a small pod of Dolphins, they were fishing but some of them broke off for a look. Always uplifting to see them.

The New Lamb Creep

Back to the work. There was a comment came in from the blog on myself and my neighbour Paul ‘At the End of The Road’ in Arinish having a competition to see who does the most work. No competition just the way it is and if you live here it is one of the ways to enjoy the life, sadly work here takes over your life and the only way to escape it is to go away off the Island. This week we are all having ‘Down Time’, but not able to go off so we will see how that goes. We have been so busy with catching up that we have hardly taken a breath. So much so, we were getting tired (and stiff). By the way I see Paul is a bit lax on the blog like myself, just had a look, must be too much work!! ‘Life at the End of The Road’

Pet Lambs

We have more pet lambs than ever this year, with no grass, cold weather and the most ewes lambing ever it has been full on, 20 or 200 you still have to get up and go round them first thing or the predators/cliffs/bogs will get them.  I’ll save you the pictures of the remains of the two we lost to the Eagle (Sure it is a Golden rather than Sea!!), from this elevation you get a birds eye view of the Eagle passing the window just on darkness quartering the field/outrun. Thankfully he is finding food elsewhere (I hazard a guess at deer who have succumbed to the winter) and we have only lost two lambs. But with grass in short supply the Gimmers have given us problems. With a few cases of mastitis on the go this year too, it is no surprise to have to supplement the feeding and to have a twin lamb cast out. The smaller of the two above is  a gimmer’s lamb where she was not able to feed it. We nearly lost the gimmer in February to the tick. She was so badly infested it was touch and go but she has survived and in April produced this small lamb, he is coming on, growing well.

May 13th Snow on The Tops

On one of my early morning walks it was no surprise to see the hills all around with a covering of snow, it was so cold that day. Still no grass growing, still feeding the sheep with sheep nuts.

The Net Picked Up From the Shore.

The ‘Work’ goes on and tidying up the place we stretched out the net we found just on the shore up North, a fair length and I am told it is in fact a trawlers net rather than from the FishFarm. All the same better right out of the water, now what can I use that for?

Windmill Working Platform

Nothing lasts forever, this winter I was lucky to spot that the electricity was flickering, Something was Wrong! A check of the genny shed and checking the power input showed me a wavering needle on the amps input from the windmill. A quick look up there and I saw one of the springs hanging loose putting the whole thing out of balance. Thankfully I got it before it threw another and the whole thing shook itself to bits. On temporarily fixing it I was aware that the platform for servicing was rotting slowly away, here I was last week getting round to fixing it. If we get another year or two out of it we will be lucky.Onwards and upwards, the bags of 20mm mix slowly falling apart down by the shore and loosing their contents are a source of irritation. Try lifting them after they have been lying, no chance. So with some satisfaction we got a chance to fire up the pan mixer and get a little more of the pier path done.

It took a few tonnes of mix to get this far and with only 4 tonnes left, I’m not sure we will finish the job. It will be a while before we get a landing craft so we will just have to wait a little longer.

And finally this weekend I got over to the forest to put up the bird boxes I had left. I made them over the winter and yes a bit late for this years nesting (maybe second broods) but I suspect they will take a while to weather and be acceptable to the wee birdies we have. We’ll leave them to it to and keep the fingers crossed.

 

 

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Moving On – Lockdown 2

The phone has stopped (Sunday 10th May) so I’ll continue with the update. Now its Monday!!! The phone had started ringing again yesterday.

Been a tough winter on the West Coast for the animals, we are still feeding sheep and nearly into our 6th month. The wind is out of the North and will be all week, so growth will be slow. With 19 lambs and ewes on the ground, not to mention the rest of the sheep and deer the grass coming is quickly gobbled up. We need a little warmth.

We put out a bird table this year but the sheep got to it. (Previously posted).

Hungry Ewe

Then wrecked it.

So we moved it but the deer got to it.Once the hens found it we had to raise it once again. Just the chaffies and Robins now that are fighting over the grain. But it is at head height and not to handy if you walk into it!!!!

Winter Views

Back to the views, ever changing and keeping the cameras on their toes. The view from the house ‘Tigh na Creag’ just keeps changing all the time. The view to-day (Now yesterday 10th May) on yet another clear spring day but bitterly cold in the wind.

The View To-Day

Not many visitors this last while so this one was a surprise when this aircraft carrier rocked up on the Range, could be the Queen Elizabeth? Looks like it on sea trials, that was back in February.

No Planes

The work continued with better weather, early on there were signs we were going to be rid of the rain and after years of looking at a half done fence project, we set to and quickly finished it. Trees were the next problem with Scots Pine in short supply. Oh how that changed when lockdown started. I struggled to get 200 SP but managed to get some cell grown from ALBA trees. Good looking trees but they’ll struggle on Rona, they are pretty much sheltered here so fingers crossed.

At Last

A trip away to Newcastle in March to look at a new boat was interrupted by a visit to the Portree dentist. A pretty gruesome extraction was then followed by a 5 hour drive to Newcastle, not pleasant. But I would not have been fit for anything else but sitting down that two days. Needless to say the boat I saw was not for us.

Boat Launch

Back to Rona and we had a visit from Calum to connect up a second hot water tank. One had leaked in Seascape and as we bought the two together for each cottage 18 years ago it had to be worth a check. As suspected the tank was leaking.With Calum here and the season just about on us we had to put the Mooring tackle back in the water, no sense in it wearing away overwinter so we store it ashore. It was a very poor day when I went to the boat, which was ashore to check if I could get it in on the tide. It was an exceptionally high tide that morning, I found the waves were breaking over the stern of the boat and swamping the engines. I had to act fast, I could not pull it forward with the JCB but with the high tide I could easily push it into the water but just as I did this the storm really got going. The next half hour was interesting to say the least!!!! Suffice to say Callum arrived at the pontoon just in time to take my ropes. An hour later it was calm enough to put in the moorings, funny weather.

For The Yachtsmen

If the season ever starts, we have 4 moorings and they are all as new, installed last year with substantial chain, shackles and strops. All supplied by Gael Force of Inverness.

Winters Day

I see from the pictures we had a fall of snow on the 12th March but such is the weather at this time next day it was a completely different picture

12th March Afternoon, late

9.10am 13th March

A good time to plant the trees, a wee bit of fertiliser and we can leave them to their own devices save a bit of weeding soon. The acre plot is an area that has quite a bit of bracken which will shade out the trees. I had hoped to create one of these plots every second year when we did the first ten years or more ago. But other projects have taken over and we have only achieved two to date. We have lots of Birch but not a lot of Scots Pine and it is an effort to create a seed source, which I’ll not see for sure.

Fence Finished and Trees Planted

I was trying to take a photo of the Cuillins with snow (there are still patches on it to-day11th May)

The Cuillins

When I was zooming in the Sea Eagle flew into the picture and landed right in the middle of the frame. (that’s the wee dot!!!)

Then The Sea Eagle Arrived

We had the boat in the water for the moorings but it had not been antifouled, we paint it every year but last year there was a problem with the hull, a few pits, turned into many and we had a problem with a leaking hull. The only answer at this stage was to fill it with Marine Filler and give it several coats of paint, one primer the rest antifoul. It works.

AntiFouled

In fact the boat is going really well having been back and fore to Portree quite a few times lately.

Safety First

Even by the time we got to putting the new railings up it was Lockdown, we carried on. We have been trying to make the path from the pier visitor friendly with new concrete on the base. The drop is not much on the railing side but the landing is full of boulders. So a new fence was needed. Not the first, many years ago there was a metal posted, wired fence there. Probably way back in the ‘Woods’ ownership days.

The View Whilst Looking for Lambs, Early Morning.

At this time of year I hope to get reasonably fit. Every morning at 5.30ish I wake and leave the house shortly after looking for lambs, or problems, usually an hours walk. The best bit apart from the arrival of lambs is the walk in the cool morning light with the birds waking up, the cuckoo calling, the sea breaking and the view. Very strange this year with very few planes and boats about. So Quiet.

Lorraine’s Workstation

The diversification of jobs is wide, Lorraine has taken over the cabin as her ‘studio’. A room for sewing, which was very timely with a call for scrubs. So she set to find material which we had plenty of from the old cottage linen and I had to make a work bench. We had plenty planks left from the build so 4 @ 8 x 2 were found and planed down, joined together, hey presto, a bench.

Escapees, Captured

Not on a walk but on a visit to Dry Harbour, I spotted one of our escapee Gimmers with a new lamb. Easily walked into the garden at Seascape rather than the usual rodeo when we find them. I had the pick up but rather that lose them again I bundled the ewe and her lamb into the jeep, I’m sure they enjoyed the ride.

Covid 19

The picture above says it all and the visit from the SAR helicopter too around the time we put it up. We have had a visiting yacht in April which was disappointing and it is those that break the lockdown that put lives at risk. If and when those that choose to ‘do what they want’ have a problem they then become a danger not to themselves but to those that have to attend to them. I read this morning of hillwalkers who drove to Glenshiel for a hillwalking day only to have their car breakdown which then entails the driver of the breakdown having to deal with them.

Our Only Visitors Last Month.

It was disappointing way back on the 14th January to find this after a horrendous gale and noisy night.

More Gales coming

Even more frustrating to have to do it all again.

Here We Go Again

But we managed to re-use almost 90% of the tin and quite a bit of the timber but we do have a lot of kindling.

Sheep Work

In between it the sheep need dealt with, drenching, tagging, tailing. A short diversion and back to the roof.

Making Honey out of hens………..

Not pretty but needs must.

90%

I heard that Jewsons Broadford were open for account holders a couple of weeks ago to pick up at their front door, it was swamped as nowhere on Skye had been open for building material. But we managed to get some things picked up and in that was the corrugated perspex sheeting which enabled us to finish the roof. Now all I needed was the gutter fittings.

Early Morning Fuel Run

The Lockdown has its advantages I suppose, the price of kerosene is very low in comparison to normal times. So to take advantage and save hundreds on the landing craft that usually takes it, we hope to get a few loads from the Scottish Fuels Portree. The weather has been kind and it is quite a surreal feeling to visit Portree under present conditions. More later.

It is half past eight Monday morning11th of May. I’ve been out checking the sheep and lambs but must now head out again it is a beautiful day, lots to do so more updates later to-day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lockdown News

How do you resurrect the blog? Been that long since the last one and such big gaps between them, I wonder where I had time to do them before the ‘New House’. Now named “Tigh na Creag”. Been that long I’ve really got to think how do I start?

“Tigh na Creag” February Sunrise

Here goes, lets start with this week. Life goes on, no real change here apart from no visitors. We’ve been living in splendid isolation (apart from Summertime) for so long that it just feels like the period at the end of the winter where we get going with all the tasks before the ‘Yachties ‘arrive. Mostly outside work that we can’t do due to short days and of course the weather.

March 2020

The weather has been kind of course which makes ‘Lockdown’ for everyone easier to deal with. For us it has been the best Spring for many years.

March 2020 The Old Man

Day after day of sunshine with the ground drying up, but as I was reminded in Portree last week, we did suffer 7 months of ‘Grey’ before this spell.

Close up The Old Man

All in all it makes for a much easier working environment outdoors.

Looking over to the Torridon Range

And the views of course which is one of the main attractions of living here, it constantly changes as the seasons evolve, this year has been very special so far.

Another huge advantage of the settled weather system was that we got the windows on the small cottages painted, long overdue. But we had already decided to do them regardless of the weather and had made shutters out of old building timber and ply. They were a Godsend and helped dry out the frames, we’ll be fitting them again this coming winter. With all energies concentrating on the New House this past three years, some of the painting has been neglected. But weather played a major part in that neglect too.

Window Shutters

The facings on the dormer were too far gone on the Escape cottage so they needed new. Cromartie Timber supplied the dressed larch tongue and groove for the window surround, no need for painting and it will gradually weather grey, just like the new house.

New Facings The Escape Cottage

A good job and handy to have the scaffold now left from the house build.

Back on February 28th we had a surprise when a Ewe appeared with a lamb. A day later once the ewe and lamb had spent the night inside another lamb turned up. Too early for sure and how it survived the night is a mystery. It was a twin.

The Boy

In that short time that the twin was adrift from the mother she was then not interested in the second twin so it became a pet lamb, needing fed every four hours. We penned them together but no joy on the mother taking it on.

The Twin Sister

The other twin of course thrived and a worrying month ahead of us watching for more lambs, fortunately it was a one off and the next lambs came 4th April.

Mum and Twins

We had no lambs last year so we were all geared up for it this season but it has been a bit of a trial with a few on bottles, a few dead one to the Eagle and this week a ‘Gimmer’ stuck on cliffs.

Stuck!

On the 29th April we had a message from the survey boat working the coast here that there was a sheep stuck on cliffs. We did not pick up that message until the following Wednesday at night and I was going to Portree first thing so it was not going to be until the Thursday afternoon that I could check it out.

Survey RIB and Drone In Bug Harbour 28th April

So Thursday I took the boat round and could not believe it when I found that the Gimmer was still alive and lying down on the 30 degree (or more) angled slab of rock 15 feet off the shore. So Friday morning first thing it was calm and that allowed us to get ashore and try to rescue the sheep.

Sheep Rescue

First of all we tried to lasso it from above and lower it down, we had taken our rodding kit with us to join together which would have been ok to hook a noose round the sheep from above but was none too handy when we found that we had to try to hook it from below.

Sheep Rescue

I tried again to lasso it but no luck. Then joined the rods but found that was too bendy.

Sheep Rescue

I then found if I rested the rods on the shelf edge I could get it close to the sheep but the noose was not working.

Sheep Rescue

A small adjustment to the noose and I hooked the sheep, at that point it decided to leap off. It was only about 15 feet and it landed with a thump at my feet. Job done it stood up, shook itself, walked off and started feeding. None the worse.

Beach Clean

We spotted this net and pipe on the shore and as we were there we picked it up. It was possible that the tide would have lifted it again and took it out to sea. So all in all a good mornings work.

Since I started this blog page this beautiful Sunday morning the phone has never stopped ringing now I know why I can’t get up to date with the blog!!!!! More later.

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The Project Continues

I put this together last week but did not post so here it is tonight, with a little time, I’ll get there with the posts.

Here’s the Project from the start to almost the finish.

Oops !

There were a few moments when big stones fell out that were a bit dodgy but Ian was full of confidence (or hope).

The Press

We certainly shifted a few tonnes of rubble and bone dry Lime Mortar.

Tight Squeeze

I was convinced we would need Acroprops but Ian again was full of positive confidence.

Interesting Use of Bags of Cement in the Gable!!!!!!

Even when he spotted the Cement bags from the renovation 20 years ago, paper still on them. I can only guess they were rock solid and rather than waste them they were used as fill, who knows.

Cuillin

Ian brought his pup, Cuillin. A great help chewing everything and hiding various bits and pieces, but a good distraction.

Cuillin Helping

This is after the second clear up and ready for rebuilding to sit the lintels on.

Getting There

Nearly ready for framing and plasterboard.

Running Out Of Plaster

It was good to get the first coat of plaster on.

Ran Out

But it used quite a bit and as usual Starskies is 11 watery miles away, well we will get it later this week, we are used to it.

First Load

Every stone hand balled.

Ouch My Back!!

By the time I’d loaded this my back was fairly complaining.

Snowing

We had good weather throughout the slapping, the odd shower but nothing like it could be and the day we decided to repair the window and frames the heavens opened, the wind turned North and snow arrived. As usual the snow  did not lie.

Good Day for Repairing The Window.

It was dry enough in the new workshop and Ian set to to repair the old window. The old sash and case windows need a lot of attention. Sadly lacking these last few years during building.

Getting There

We had some nice Redwood from the build left over and I prepared it for Ian, it had dried out nicely and the window is in and shuttered in an effort to get a dry day to paint them in situ.

Then There’s Mess

Of course there is always the mess after building and stuff just piles up, there is quite a bit of waste for sure in the Building Trade.

Stormy Outside

Since Ian left the weather has changed and the brief spell gave way to wind and rain. But that is not a problem when you are inside with the heating on plastering.

Bombshell

Or doing paperwork looking out of the windows of the New House (Tigh na Creag). On the screen was the link sent to me by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association. Which made for interesting reading. There is a lot of negativity in the Press and Social media about Sporting Estates just now and for the past few years. It is disheartening to read the attacks on the way of life we are lucky to lead. Who knows where it will end. But the Red Deer of Scotland is at threat from those that know not what they do.

Stalking Saturday

Although I am painting a picture of grey bleak days it is not all bad and the odd few hours of sun or starry nights are still happening. The weather has been calm on odd days and any chance to finish our agreed Hind cull is pounced upon.

Dhu Chamas

Our deer are doing very well and provide us with a great resource and contrary to the noises coming out of Scot’ Gov we do not have a problem with them, we enjoy seeing the deer, trees are very hard to grow here and the deer are having no impact on the ones we have. There is a good mix and we have a healthy deer herd. We manage them to suit the Island and have done now for almost 20 years.

End of a Good Day

Always good to enjoy the views when out stalking, late on Saturday night I was enjoying the walk and not too bothered about shooting anything.

Hungry Sheep

We are trying to encourage the wee birdies to our new feeder at ‘Tigh na Creag’ but they are proving elusive, they are hanging about the shed where they have been fed historically. Seems the only thing we encouraged were the sheep, ever resourceful. I have since raised the table.

Last Night Sunday 2nd

And last night a good end to the week.

 

 

 

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Winter World

People ask the question: ‘What do you actually do?’, often a summer question from visitors, when answered about Summer work,  the question is asked again: ‘But in the winter?’ and it always amuses me. Winter is probably a busier time than the rest of the year. It is maintenance time, planning time, web work time, holiday time, there is so much to get done in the long winter especially trying to fit in outside work when battling against weather. Or with the added problem of the weather adding to the workload. It would be nice to sort photos out,  tidy the computer, read a book or just chill. But for me there is always something to do that takes me away from messing about! There is always  a project. This year a project we have talked about for many years and that is turning the two semi detached cottages into one. Or at least connecting them so that they can be used as one. To that end I stripped out the kitchen/living room in Seascape as an exploratory exercise and found an old press or possibly in the first place a passageway?

Seascape Living room Hidden press

It was possibly an original passageway as it had been blocked up rather than built as a press. Anyway it will make our job easier and by the look of the original wooden lintels not a moment too soon, they are starting to rot and one is pretty bent. But not bad for over a hundred years in place.

Skyescape Living room

Onwards with the project, a call to Ian our builder he was free for a week and I was happy to prepare for him coming.

Lots of prep’ as usual, behind the scenes work that maximises Ian’s time on Rona, he is used to it jumping from job to job, don’t know if he likes it, But!

Rotten Windows

Needs must when there is quite a bit of catch up to deal with.

Rotten Beads

The windows and beads have suffered at Dry Harbour with all the attention on the New House. But even although we were fully tied up building these past three years it was as much down to the weather rather than time which created the situation we have now, much painting and repairs to carry out.

Leaking Gables

The Gable on the Escape cottage developed a leak all those years ago, but it has been shoved to the back of the cue, not any more. We are going to pick some of it out seal it with plaster and paint on a waterseal.

Torrential Rain

With the weather this January past it is no wonder the gable at Escape is leaking, plus 90+mph winds don’t help. The field here is like a sponge, so wet.

More Gales coming

With more gales coming and no good days to strip the roof it was damage limitation time and best to tie down the debris, all now stripped and ready for putting back on. Soon.

Research and Development

In the middle of it all I remembered we had picked up some pie casings from my old friend Alastair at Kyle Bakery in Bonar Bridge, the idea is to try out making some venison pies for sale. We tried various recipes and they turned out really good but many lessons learned. The venison curry was probably the best although the mince pie was close.

Storm Damage

During Storm Brendan the tide was exceptionally high and the waterpipe at the bothy which has never had a problem before was exposed, a delicate job to replace the stone lies ahead.

1878 Lintels

Back to the cottage and the prep’ work goes on on really wet days quite a thing to consider that these lintels were most likely put into this passage in 1878 when the house was built. When we took them out they were not that rotten in fact I’m going to slice one to see how old the timber was and to make a plaque I think.

Out of the Water

With more gales coming it is not wise to have the boat out on the mooring, there is a problem with the hull to so the less it is in the water at this time the better.

Calm Evening For a Change

It is not all doom and gloom, there have been some calm days and clear (few) but when they come you really appreciate them. Bit of work to keep putting the boat in and out of the water but it saves sleepless nights.

Calm days mean trips to Portree and none more urgent than the sheep off to Portree.

It was a calm crossing and we made good speed

No glorious sunrise in the foggy morning but no less stunning.

It was good to get in early and find it even calmer in Portree, it was calm all day so no rush for once and I even managed a check up at the very good Portree Dentist.

Back to Rona late, all the bits and pieces for repairs packed into the new workshop, the Blue Container. It has turned out a good wood workshop so the window frame and beads will be sorted out here

Although a wee calm spell it was not long before another gale appeared and with the tide highest in the dark at 6am there was no other option but pull the boat ashore then.

Happy days.

Don’t know if the scaffold would pass muster but it was effective and very soon after Ian arrived we were through the wall, tonnes of stone removed and re-building.

For me (and my back) a few heart stopping moments but Ian took it in his stride. More pictures in the next blog. I am still playing catch up.

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