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…….

 

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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.

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Storm Brendan

Well it is the first big one of this year, all the more scary because we did not have one last year in the New House. Yes, certainly very strong winds and gales but nothing like this. So it was a new experience all day Tuesday and night.  Sitting ‘trying’ to watch Tv the entertainment really was watching the windows bending in and out with each gust that hit us. The house was relatively quiet, the wind was howling. Around 8.30pm I heard ‘something’. In the past that would say to me, you will need to go and look around tomorrow because ‘something’ has happened. That ‘something’ was the wood store and sheep shed down at the shore. A low lying almost flat roofed ruin we had renovated over years and roofed in 2016. So it had already stood up to some serious wind so it was a surprise on Wednesday morning to see the roof gone, at first I could not see the debris but then it appeared about 60 to 80 yards away in line with the new house in the hollows. Thankfully it did not get here but it is a sobering thought to think that it could have hit the house.

Oops!!

As I write the wind is hammering the house yet again and the forecast is not too bright but it will pass for sure and we can then get to the job of repairing it.

The Last Day Of The Year

Back to the day job though and this was Hogmany, a perfect day to be out on the hill looking for hinds to reach our cull target but the hinds won that day, it was just good to be out though. No need to shoot anything and a pleasant way to spend the last few hours of 2019.

Lovely Sunrises

We had a few real colourful sunrises up until the weather broke and we were just thinking how good a winter we are having, when………………..

Here it Comes

We started to see the signs that we were in for some rough days ahead.Our New Year visitors got off thankfully the Saturday, they had had an interesting trip over with a pretty stormy crossing the previous Saturday but Hogmany up at the top of the hill was as usual a windy cool one, well lubricated though. So when Saturday 4th arrived it was a bit of a relief to see that they would get off and on a relatively calm crossing, always sad to see our regulars leaving but back to work it is.

Coming Down

Christmas decorations down, a new year ahead, I’m sure many challenges and the weather just one of them.

Rain Again

We get the full picture up here in the new house and in the last year we have had some pretty strong gales, the windows flex at an alarming rate when the gusts hit them but we are assured that they will withstand a ‘serious’ wind speed. BUT it is the gusts that worry me!!

Hungry Mice

The regular jobs keep us busy, feeding the sheep and hens but we often at this time have other visitors to attend to, Mink for sure are a serious issue and the traps have been busy with them. But it seems they are not so busy that the mice are suffering, there have been quite a few helping themselves to the chicken feed. These two were given a reprieve!!!

Good Weather, Long Overdue Job.

A wee break in the weather allows some badly needed house maintenance. With the new house build our eye was off the ball with cottage maintenance . But, the weather was not helpful these past two years with no real good weeks of weather when the cottages were empty to catch up on the ongoing schedule, jobs like this were hard to get done.

Freezers Full

We have a certain amount of Hinds to cull and it is easy to get complacent after a long summer when the season opens so it is good to get ahead of the game. But three hinds means days of butchering, a good job listening to the radio, working away with  the wind and rain outside.

Broken Spring

I see that I have a half finished blog in the file, it was just before Hogmany when I noticed the power ‘flickering’ in the house. A quick check in the morning told me that the windmill had an issue.

No Brake

With no brake to stop it in high wind (since new) I had to resort to the dodgy tactic of throwing a rope into the blades, thankfully no damage with that but it was apparent that the windmill was out of balance and if left to its own devices it would shake itself apart.

Christmas New Year Fortnight

A spring bracket had broken throwing the balance off, I had spares but could not put the windmill up until it was calm. Thankfully next day in between the gusts I got it fixed and up to speed again.

Boxing Day Portree Trip

I see too that I went to Portree Boxing Day so the weather then was pretty settled. In fact we had a landing craft in December with fuel which is the latest we have ever had a fuel run. But a good chance to get the scrap off, interesting loading.

Interesting Loading

Winter Fuel

I also see that we ‘found’ a couple of bottles of Whisky in the boxes up in the loft, a good Christmas present.

Late Autumn Views

Finally matching luggage takes on a new meaning from Lee our good friend and regular visitor!!!!!

 

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

2019

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.

Christmas Day 2019

Tigh na Creag

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.

Stunning Views even in the Rain

Summer views when the Bay is full of yachts make for a busy harbour, 4 new moorings installed and they were well supported.

The Main Window

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.

The View From the South West Balcony

No dogs allowed though!!!

Ian’s Dog Smelling the Bones

So they are left in the jeep, sulking.

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.

New House Completion Work

It is a 17ft Ash oar from Collars at Henley on Thames, not the cheapest but very nice.

Portree Trip

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.

Rusted Windings

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.

Summer Work

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.

Summer Visitors

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.

Torn Ear

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.

We could see him feeling his way around whilst feeding, maybe an antler in the eye whilst fighting during the rut or perhaps genetic, who knows.

Red Deer Visitors

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.

The Royal Scotsman

High Light of the year.

Not your normal train.

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.

Highlight of the year

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!

Sighting The Rifles

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.

Lars (with his Grandfathers hunting coat) and Hakan.

Cleaning Heads

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.

A Perfect Rut

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.

Always a good walk up to the Base but this time by the secret Loch, quite near the Princess’ grave. A lot longer walk but better views.

Autumn Time

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.

Been a good year for sunsets from the new house, we have a better view of them now but more later in the summer.

Portree Trip

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.

The view from the top of the hill only gets better as the weather kept up right through the Autumn.

The Great Wave

In a Northerly it is quite exciting at the low tide to watch the big waves thrown up with the swell off Fladda.

Could Be Called The Red Cuillins!!!

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.

Late Autumn Find

Had an email from someone looking for a bottle of Rona Whisky, which I happened to find stashed away. None left now though.

London Visit

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.

Winter Fuel

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.

Winter Fuel

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.

Christmas New Year Fortnight

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.

 

Posted in Daily Doings, The Views and of course the weather, Wildlife, Yachties | 5 Comments

Two Posts In A Week!!!!! Now, Mostly about the The Bore Hole!

Let’s start with a dog!! This is (I think or seem to remember, or I’ll stand corrected!) A Bernese Mountain dog called Rona, very friendly and gets very excited here where she knows she is going to get a venison bone. She is also very relaxed!!

So relaxed.

Rona

Rona Leaving Rona

Here’s the story to-day, after being kept awake most of the night by the howling gale and worrying about the boat it was kind of disappointing to waken up to torrential rain and flat calm. The boat quite safe on our one of our new moorings.From the balcony this morning, the sheep have taken up shelter below the house. In between trying to get the blog up to date we are carrying on with getting the Island back up to speed. Yesterday it was a job I’d wanted to do for so long and putting my foot through the ceiling of Seascape spurred me on.I gathered up the old flooring from the house build and headed over to Dry Harbour before yesterdays gale and rain started.A good mornings work dodging in and out between the rain got 99% of the floor done, three sheets short. The only problem was we found yet another problem.After 18 years the hot water cylinder has developed a leak, fortunately or not putting my foot through the ceiling has meant it was spotted before coming through the ceiling. New tank is ordered in fact two new tanks because it is for sure leaking in the other house that was renovated at the same time.

 

Back to the Catch Up Blog:

This spring early summer we sorted out the water supply once and for all.

The Spanish John arrived with Hi Water from Nairn and all their equipment.

The boys developing their training on ‘Playstations’

It was a bit of a mission dropping the gear especially after the driller threw a track right after this picture was taken.  Below the high water mark but it was soon on its way.

We got the fuel delivery at the same time and after that was done and dusted we got back to cooking a meal for 20 served in the bothy. Just a normal day!!!!

The London Corinthian Yacht club had booked a dinner and we were very pleased to do cater for them. A great crowd who were very appreciative of our efforts.

All easy to do for us but it does not make the clearing up (next day) any easier.

Meanwhile the driller continued its journey to the sire and threw another track, after much cursing the rig was in place and after drilling 18 metres we found water but then drilled to 60metres plus. Very exciting stuff.

It was an interesting job welding the first three pipes together and then sinking plastic tubes to 60m.

Water was found and now we have a clear supply and good water to drink. This year was the worst I have seen for peaty water, the filters struggled to cope and I am very happy to have this supply after all these years

The Rig was ‘walked’ back to the shore for pick up later in the week and after three days the job was done.

Our Izusu died, the turbo seals blew. We tried to sell it for spares but no takers not even the ‘Scrappies’. So the jeep was towed back up to the garage and is now a shed/greenhouse!

All loaded and the landing craft was away, we wont see him back until December I think when we will be looking for fuel.

Meanwhile ‘George’ had found a new hiding place!!

Spring time and time for a clean out of the polytunnel, the kale had gone to seed so before it re-seeded the whole of the ‘tunnel I ripped it out and the sheep enjoyed a wee bonus, they made short work of it.

The weather earlier on this year has not been all bad and up until August we could go to Portree more or less whenever we wanted.

Even with the boat developing hull problems our repair is holding and it is good to be able to get the stores over again.

The skies in the middle of the Sound of Raasay are always worth a photo’, not to-day though.

Catching up and looking through the list, this job has been hanging over us for years. The room behind the gable has always been damp and once we started digging it became apparent why. We have now drained it all and fingers crossed another tick in the box.

Clive and Ali were over for a longer period this year and very much appreciated their help and support. Because we were looking for new residents/workers for Rona Lodge they had offered to step in on three week periods and in these times we really caught up on Spring work, the house had not been painted outside for some time and was in real need.

Their friends from the South were up on holiday and enjoyed the wonderful weather at that time.

Well, almost!!!!

Talking more about the weather, here’s a Yachtie thing. This was one of the few gales at that time, a real blow. This yacht tried to anchor a few times then eventually held. When I got up in the middle of the night I spotted the crew sitting at the helm, I guess watching in case the boat dragged, a long night. Now what I always wonder is why would you not pick up one of the 4 clearly visible brand new moorings (at that time) and just go to sleep and forget it, only £10, I guess the yacht here would be a few Zeros onto that £10!!!!! Maybe they had no money left, maybe someone could enlighten me?

We had been concreting the path at the pier, another long wished for job. But ran out of cement, this was a while ago and no progress yet. Awaiting material then some more.Back to the boat and although we repaired it we had to take it back out of the water to check the repair and lift the engines as they were not just quite performing right. More on that later but that is all for to-day.

Here’s a picture from better weather times!! And on the Yachtie forum I’m following one commentator said that we had ruined the harbour by putting in 4 moorings!!!  They said there was no room now!

More catch up coming soon.

 

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

Surprise, Surprise A Second Post of the Year!

Well it has been extremely busy, we are in the new house, enjoying it very much and here we are almost in September. There’s been a lot happening this year, catching up mainly and we are back catching up with the blog. Here are a selection of pictures of what has been going on this summer.

Early on we had a very good spring but lately it has been very strange weather, all of August has been a bit of a trial, but it is good to remember the sunny days.

And there were quite a few.

With lovely sunsets and a promise of a good year ahead.

This is the boat going into the water way back in March only for us to find out that the hull was porous. New engines on as well which was a bit of a disaster.

But it was good to be in the new house and bring it together.

Windmill woes this year but not bad after 17 years service, we had strengthened it before but this was a major issue and thankfully Calum and Irene had chanced to look up at the windmill and found this.

Our visitors arrived early this year and it has been a busy year especially for day trippers. Never a dull moment and this ewe got bogged, happens every year despite fences put around the deep bogs, they are short of grass and searching for a bite.

The woes kept coming I repaired the JCB exhaust only for the side to blow out of it, another few hundred pounds.

The windmill was easily repaired once we cleared the cracked concrete away and stregtheners were fitted, fingers crossed now

Chasing sheep in the forest by the house one of our regulars succumbed to the long winter, she was not in bad condition and not that old.

A Department visit loomed so tags had to be checked and the single lamb dealt with.

With able assistance from Clive who was not impressed with my castration technique!!! Needless to say the lamb escaped that indignity!!! He’s now heading to be a Ram.

Julie never gives up she has taken to stealing the hens food.

The weather continued early in the year with some dramatic skies and sooooo blue.

With the new Mariners fitted to the boat and the boat ‘eventually’  temporarily repaired it was now time to reconsider the three old Yamahas for sale. As it happens the new Mariners are maybe going onto something else and the old Yams MAY go back onto the Voe boat just for local work, watch this space.

We started the path from the pontoon, there is no end to maintenance, improving the facilities, paths and general infrastruce before the tourists arrive. We ask for £1 pp when they land and less than half bother to pay but they are quite happy to use the facilities. To-day on PBO forums I had the pleasure of reading a few posts posted by Yachties (it is a yachtie forum) slagging me/the pontoon and the charges of £1, more of that later. But I was heartened to hear the positive comments on said forum, thanks for that.

We had our own cliff rescue this spring our second lamb and one of only two this year who was stuck on a ledge. The Tup had disappeared the week before he was due to visit the ladies in November but he did manage to catch two ewes. Sadly shortly after this photo was taken and we put the lamb back with the Mother, in her panic she knocked the lamb off the cliffs, well, not a good year for lambs on Rona.

Sterling work from the Spanish John from Mallaig, The Milligans laid our 4 new moorings and lifted the pontoon chains for replacement. We could have shortened the chains and refitted but we decided on newer shorter heavier chain, not bad for 18 years in the water in fact I’m tempted to use the old chain for some more moorings being as they proved so popular this year. That should please the grumpy old yachties on the PBO forum.

This was a good day, after much persuasion Calum sold us his RIB, I wish I had bought one years ago, so quick to Portree, and I am now looking for a bigger one without engines so that we can put the Mariners on it.

A chance conversation with my agent in Portree Mr Corrigal and the old bar/restaurant furniture made its way over to Rona, one of the Pier Hotels regular customers came with the deal!!!! We had a booking for 20 for dinner in may and were short of seats, so they turned up just in time.

With new folk coming, we were in the house and spent most of the first part of the spring moving fixtures and fittings and getting the house presentable for the new residents.

You have to ask where did it all come from!!!

OMG, major problem with not even half the cupboard space in the new house.

The new RIB arrives, brakes removed, we’ll not need them here.

The new Aprons arrived at the same time, good Christmas gift only £22!!

And that is where I got to all these months ago trying to get a blog done. Hopefully with the nights drawing in I’ll get a chance to catch up and bring the Rona story up to date.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather, Yachties | 6 Comments