2019 Has been as busy a year as the previous two. We moved into the New House now called ‘Tigh na Creag’ on the 24th December 2018, but the work was far from finished. Even in the middle of summer we were plastering the lower part of the building, finally getting our completion certificate the second week in December this year, phew!!!! It just took so long to finish the wee jobs that had to be done to complete. But here we are fully ensconsed, almost up to date and ready to do more on the blog this coming year than the past.
So here we are during the festive season enjoying the fruits of our labour and we love it, the house is so easy to heat, it is light, warm and comfortable. The outlook is the thing though, always changing.
Summer views when the Bay is full of yachts make for a busy harbour, 4 new moorings installed and they were well supported.
It is always a pleasure just to sit and soak up the view. Not so good tonight when the full gale is blowing, making the windows bend unlike the calm evening back in the Summer above. TV or The View? No competition.
No dogs allowed though!!!
Our building control in Portree were very good advising when necessary even down to the size of the cat flap steps.We had struggled with finding a solution for the banister but on seeing our friend Andrew’s one in Gairlich we decided on the same.
It is a 17ft Ash oar from Collars at Henley on Thames, not the cheapest but very nice.
The Rona boat had issues this year first with the new engines not driving the boat as expected but then we found that the hull had suffered some reaction and was badly pitted. Letting in a serious amount of water.
This extra work held us up with the repair to the old generator but we did get round to stripping it out it became obvious that it required a new alternator, the sea air is highly corrosive on the electrical parts here. This is our second corroded alternator in 18 years.
After a ‘temporary ‘ repair to the hull the Voe Boat was very busy back and fore to Portree this season, thankfully the repair held up.
We are always trying annually to upgrade the set up here and this year no exception, now we have the concrete batcher life has become easier for big concrete jobs. But it is ongoing with much still to do.
Now that the house is finished jobs hanging over us for the last two years are finally getting attention, this fence was started in 2017. This is another small fenced area, not too big where we plant local provenance Scots’ Pine, with a little help these areas in a few years will provide even more shelter belts.
Even the old outboards got a make over, they did a lot of work and they were in fact up for sale but now that they are running well and serviced maybe better to keep them as back up.
Been a busy year for visitors with good weather most of the season, quite a few motor boats and RIBs in but down on Yachts. With only just over 350 yacht night visits. But this drop has been a trend since we started the New House. We have been closed for business so I guess the numbers dropped because of that also I think that the internet and detailed forecast are keeping yachts in port rather than heading out in ‘weather’.
It is not only yacht and motorboat visitors, throughout the summer in the early morning late evening the deer are not bothered that a house has appeared. They regularly graze around and behind the house.
Out of the forest appeared ‘Torn Ear’ in the mid summer. He had disappeared as usual after last years rut. But showed up as stags do.
He had been with us since a calf and was living around Dry Harbour but these last few years he was always been here mid summer. Then he disappears pre Rut. Unfortunately he has suffered quite a few injuries and he was definitely blind in one eye.
But along comes every year new blood and this wee stag calf will maybe turn out a head like Torn Ear’s in the future.
High Light of the year.
We had a big surprise in September when we were invited to join our Danish friends in Edinburgh for a mystery tour, we had no idea until 1 hour before that we were going on the Royal Scotsman Train train for four days. All I can say is that it was a fantastic experience and maybe one of these days we’ll do it again. When funds allow to quote one of our 80 year old train companions!!
The journey was from Edinburgh to the West Coast through Rannoch Moor, the scenery was stunning a great four days. It made me very proud to be Scottish and see what Scotland could offer at this level.
The last day we travelled to Wemyss Bay, then onto Bute to Castle Stuart an extraordinary place.On the back of this trip and after chatting with our guide on the train, Marilyn, we contacted the ‘Hebridean Princess’. We had had a text with a photo of the Hebridean Princess cruising past Rona whilst on the train. It was cruising in the area on its last of the season cruise when we were on the train and we commented that we were always disappointed that it had never called in in the past. A week later when it was still in the area and we were home on the Island, we received a call from the Purser and they dropped anchor at the mouth of the harbour then unloaded 40 people by flit boat onto the Island. It was good to see them at last enjoying Rona in late Autumn sunshine helped along with the odd bottle of Tattinger. The passengers were happy to be the first ‘HP’ guests to set foot on Rona.
The food on board the train was exceptional and chatting with the HP guests it seems the same standard is served aboard the boat. It is on the bucket list!!!!!
Back to reality and it was the stalking season the following week. Our guests from Germany arrived and our new caretakers in the Lodge were having their first season of Deer Stalking guests. Matt and Nickie had arrived in June and were settled in the Lodge. All new to Island life but they took to it well. Sorting out the back log of work and the odd mishap such as this enthusiastic tow out of the shed!
The stalking went well despite the first week being very wet, the second week was good weather and we were successful with our cull numbers. More on the stalking page later.
Our second weeks guests were from Sweden, they had a great time, Lars and Hakan. Very enthusiastic outdoor guys and despite their age they stood up to the rough terrain and enjoyed a very fine week of weather and stalking.
There is a lot more to a stalking week than just wandering about with a rifle. The deer have to be managed and the correct number kept, old stags culled and any weak or with problems take care of. But after that there is the cleaning of the carcasses, the transportation and the preparation of the trophy. Some may not agree with traditional Deer Stalking but it is a welcome income when the summer season ends, we provide a good supply of quality venison and put quality carcasses off to the market. Certainly the way we do it here is much better than the slaughter taking place in the forests and hills of Scotland under the guise of conservation.
It was a perfect rut this year, after many years of indecisive ruts it was good to see a normal one, the weather was fine and the timings were perfect. Even after the 20th of October when the season ends the rut continued and on this particular day I walked in glorious sunshine to the Base up North and saw many hinds with stags rutting. Good to see and good for the future.
On the way back I stopped into see Ralph who had come for a week to Rona with his dog to get away from it all, we enjoyed a good dram which was a nice way to end a long walk.
More trips to Portree as the year was coming to a close, it is becoming quite a regular thing and with the new engines it is much less worrying prospect. The loads vary regularly.Our tup had passed on so we managed to press gang a Skye tup to Rona.
In a Northerly it is quite exciting at the low tide to watch the big waves thrown up with the swell off Fladda.
Or the sunsets looking down to the Cuillins.
Been a good year for birds with many Sea Eagles flying about, Too many with lambs coming soon. Big flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares were here this year feasting on the heavy Rowan berry harvest. Late summer, late venings have been good this Autumn.
Had an email from someone looking for a bottle of Rona Whisky, which I happened to find stashed away. None left now though.
Late November we had to visit London, we went on the new sleeper which turned out to be less exciting than promoted. But the visit was exciting with our business sorted out and a look around the main streets in full Christmas mode, after that we made swift return for a weeks holiday in Edinburgh.
Pressure was on to get winter fuel over and of course the weather broke but we did get a window and the stock of Kerosene and Derv filled our tanks. Our trusty Isuzu died last year and sadly it was put off for scrap, no one wanted it not even for spares.
We are hoping to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and are working on a new solar energy system for the holiday cottages. Our running costs are acceptable for a remote Island but the cost of getting fuel here adds almost double to the fuel cost.
Our regulars arrived just before Christmas, good to see Blue Beard is now Purple Beard!!Boxing Day saw me once again heading to Portree to pick up my son, he was over for three days and we enjoyed a good trip both ways. Flat calm at first light leaving Rona.
Back to Rona and the calm before the storm, that night the weather came in and it was the first real gale for a while, it continued Friday and on Saturday MV Seaflower had a tough time crossing to Rona and back, it lost one of its window wipers to a wave I was told!!!
We noticed on Saturday that the volts were not too high despite the wind, on Sunday morning I went to check and the Windmill head was wobbling pretty bad. Looked like a spring had broken, it was out of balance big time. The brake to stop it broke when it was nearly new and has never worked. So to stop it before it shook itself to bits I had to throw a rope into the blades.
Always a risky business but this time it was successful. I sorted it to-day (Monday) and other issues which had obviously turned up since last service. It is now back up and working fine.If we had not noticed for sure more serious damage might have happened. So it was good to get it done and I am now planning changing all the brackets before they break.
The Proven windmills are pretty basic but we have not had many problems with them and I can honestly say they have saved us thousands on fuel on unnecessary running of the generator. THey are much more efficient than the solar panels giving power all year round unlike the panels which drop off in winter times.
Well, that is me up to date and my New Year resolution is to get a more regular blog on the go. Now it is onto the Red Deer page to update that.
In the meantime Happy New Year when it comes from all on Rona.