Odd Jobs

I’m really not much of a fan of Sundays; I tend to feel at a constant loose end and get frequently frustrated at not being able to get anything done. Last Sunday I had plenty to do at least but today I woke up and, after dropping Mary off at work, started to feel that terrible, creeping Sunday feeling of being a bit restless and frustrated. I always have two solutions to stave it off- tick something off ‘the list’ and eat early. The first is obvious- I tick some of the easy tasks of the ever-present ‘list’. Today was washing the truck and hosing down and cleaning the outside of the caravan, which made me feel plenty motivated for the rest of the day. The second is maybe a bit more unusual, but I ate my lunch at about 10AM. You see eating your lunch early tricks your brain into thinking it’s later than it is, so I had a whole day of looking at my watch and going “oh wow it’s so early!”. However, a word of warning: never overuse the early-lunch-surprise-time technique, your brain will catch up and you’ll end up disappointed and starving by 4:30PM! It was just after I was cleaning up this brunch and putting away the car cleaning supplies that I heard the familiar sound of a helicopter approaching:

It seems the air ambulance was out on a practice run and came in to hover over the playing field and then away. My heart does jump slightly when I see the helicopter approach, especially as the last time it landed was due to the untimely death of a young islander in December of last year. It’s an amazing piece of equipment though, and knowing both it and the fantastic crew are around in an emergency certainly makes you feel a lot safer here. I also spotted the ferry hanging out in the bay, I assuming doing Sunday exercises as well. Something I do miss from working in Calmac, the fire drills and Sunday exercises were always something different from the usual grind.

Anyway, after some tidying up around the house, early brunch and car cleaning I went for a wee drive and, as usual, I met a familiar pooch at a familiar place on the Burma Road…

Poor Saba has picked up a nasty infection from a cut on her leg a few days back and so is being pumped full of antibiotics for the next couple of weeks, also meaning she has to wear this ridiculous getup:

Luckily she wasn’t needing it for out on her walk, although apparently she needs it to sleep and it’s making her snore horrendously! We only went for a short walk and then wee run in the truck, but the Jimny has been running great this past week. I noticed a few days ago some bad dampness in the small underfloor compartment where the jack is stored, and it seems the patched holes from last month aren’t keeping the water and road spray out. Somewhat more seriously than that, I removed the trim near the sills and found some nasty rust.

What looked like a small rust patch...
Turned out to be a lot worse!

It hasn’t eaten through the body or anything as bad as I’ve seen in some Jimnys, but on the underside some of the seams where the metal meets are as soft as tissue paper. This is going to need welding, and although dad managed to pick up a like-new MIG welder recently, I think its a job for the professionals. Probably just as well we found it now, as there are a few patches that need fixing already so we can add it to the list get it all done in one go. On the distillery side of life, it’s all been a bit quieter now that the various trailers and deadlines are out of the way, but there’s still plenty to do and I’ve found my list of photo and advert ideas has been growing by the day. The most surprising event happened yesterday when we got a nice write up in the Telegraph and a familiar photo turned up!

Not often you get a photo you took printed in a national newspaper! Very cool. Especially since The Telegraph is bound to go broke in the new few years so might never get the chance again! We also had Arthur Cormack in for a wee Raasay Tunes session, which was well attended and netted us a few nice photos as well, my favourite being this shot I got from outside Gathering Room during the first set:

Nice wide f1.8 with my 50mm lens, in total a series of 6 photos merged in Lightroom

We also live-streamed the event on the distillery Facebook page, which was well received but required a bit of quick jerry-rigging just before the event to actually get working. I’ve made sure my office at work is stocked like a workshop and so I managed to create this little Frankenstein’s monster in a few minutes:

Did remind me slightly of this.

I had hooked up my trusty old Sony Xperia Z5 to a broken (now two-legged) Gorillapod and wired in a drone battery (slightly dented from my crash) for external power and a Rode video mic for better audio. It worked well, but by the end of the first set the drone battery just wasn’t supplying enough power and the phone, unfortunately, died in the break. A great first test, though, and I think next time with a bit more preparation and perhaps a dedicated stream setup- something like an Elgato live streaming device and wired DSLR, we could have a very professional-looking live stream show for future events. I foresee it not just for ceilidhs and music events either, I think live-streaming parts of the distilling process could be really good fun and quite unique (whether the distillers agree is another matter entirely). Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube are all still quite heavily pushing ‘live video’, but to bring it up to the quality I want isn’t very easy and is, from what I can see, incredibly time-consuming for what could be relatively little reward. It’s certainly not going to become the main priority, but I do want it as a tool in the arsenal of social media promotion for the distillery. At the moment my key focus is trying to build our Instagram base and, as we get further in the year, our Youtube audience. I believe there is a huge gap for longer-form Youtube content that most distilleries don’t (or can’t) produce and I really want to jump into that gap. It’ll require a lot of work, but I think it could be very valuable. Instagram is going very well though, and now that I’m posting 1-2 photos per day, our engagement and followers are climbing by a massive degree. Hopefully, we can maintain that as we get busier.

So much for a day off, I guess social media has a way of pulling you back in on a regular basis. I took my mind off such things for the rest of the day by sticking on ‘airplane mode’ and getting through some saved podcasts. In the morning I had an idea for a video project I’m working on that requires a folding table I can carry up some hills. I was browsing eBay and Amazon for one when it suddenly occurred to me that I had just thrown a folding table away! When clearing out the workshop last week, we actually found an old folding wallpapering table that had become a bit damp and warped.

My plan was to take it apart, stick a new top on it and see if it would work for my video project. The top was some flimsy, sodden MDF that came off pretty easily:

After taking it apart I separating it in two and found that the legs were just a bit too low and flimsy and generally the whole table just felt a bit too cheap for what I needed. I was about to throw it back in the skip when I suddenly had an idea for a use for them. I grabbed the circular saw, cut some new tops and splashed a bit of blackboard paint on them and voila! Some cheap and cheerful sandwich boards:

What I actually need to write in chalk is another matter, however, I was pretty chuffed with how well they worked. I even drilled a few extra holes and reused the metal leg supports as flip down braces to hold it in place when it’s either propped up or stored flat! This is why I need a workshop- so I can store my silly inventions away until I need them!

But another day done, Mary is home (and funnily enough looking online for folding tables for her own project!) and I’m back to work tomorrow for more madness. I at least found some time to read today, and it’s going to be hard not to dedicate the rest of my waking minutes to my current book. I’m currently getting through Erebus, Michael Palin’s new book on the story and life of the HMS Erebus, one of the most famous exploration vessels in history. She only not broke ground in her historic exploration of the Antarctic with her sister the Terror, but also famously disappeared during the fabled Franklin Expedition. I am an absolute Franklin and arctic exploration obsessive, and I must say I was always a bit more taken with the Terror the Erebus, but the book offers a beautiful exploration of a ship that more often than not gets associated more with its disappearance rather all the life it had lived before the fateful 1845 expedition.

Anyone interested in both Artic exploration or naval history in general should really give it a read, but Palin’s work is always so readable and accessible that prior knowledge is not really required. Anyone interested in diving into the Franklin expedition is also in for a treat, as the field is currently buzzing with potential new discoveries after the wrecks of both Erebus and Terror were found in 2014 & 2016. I’d recommend the fantastic Visions of the North blog for those wanting to stay up to date with Franklin news. Or you could, like me, set up a Google alert for it. Yes, I’m that sad.



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