Rain roof…thanks to Frank!

So, there I was sitting watching a film in the van parked at Broadford on the Isle of Skye, with a storm raging around me. I believe it was Storm Frank. Whatever it’s name it was a violent one. The van was rocking like mad and the last straw was when one of those huge recycling drums was blown over and tumbled about 50 yards to rest very close to the van. I decided it was time to move and try to find a more sheltered place to park.

I set off to a lay-by that was just on the edge of town, because I knew it was surrounded by trees which would baffle the wind a little. There’s always a danger being near trees in storms as branches break off and even trees fall down. But I was convinced if I didn’t move the van was going to be blown over.

So I parked at the lay-by and the wind was directly behind me then so that helps to steady the van and I settled down to sleep. 

Then…from the dark of the night…it came…lol

The cracked glazing unit
The cracked glazing unit

I heard it coming, you can hear really big gusts from some distance away and I knew it was going to be bad. Then it hit and I heard a shriek, then a clattering breaking sound, then a tearing sound, then a very heavy thud, and then I felt rain on my head…

The wind had come from behind and forced itself under the glazing of the sunroof where it rests on the roof. It lifted it with such force that it ripped the gas struts from their mounting, then as the glazing bent back with the power of the wind it tore the three metal and plastic hinges from the base unit on the roof, and blew the glazing unit away. That’s a scary arsed storm. So I’m out of bed with the dog going ballistic, staring up through a 1 metre by 3/4 metre hole in the roof, with 90 mph winds driving the rain inside. Nice one. 

I actually stood and just looked at it for a second or two, thinking what the hell could I do now. 

So I grabbed the table which is a typical motorhome one with 2 folding legs. I quickly polished the top with pledge then manoeuvred it through the gap in the roof, letting the legs hang down. I got some webbing and made 2 straps which held the legs tight up against the ceiling, which stopped the table from blowing outside. OK, so at least no more rain was coming in. I knew the garage was shut as it was christmas so I headed back there to shelter under the huge canopy. 
Once there I got up to have a look and everything was as I expected. The sunroof was destroyed with no sign of the glazing panel and the lower frame was snapped and torn at the hinges. 

The broken hinges
The broken hinges

So, out came the rubble bags. They are like bin bags but very strong and designed to hold broken bricks and concrete. I taped 2 of them together using a very strong duct tape so they were the size of the frame, then used that tape to stick the bags over the gaping hole. Even though the roof was still slightly damp the tape held the bags there for 2 days. Never underestimate high quality rubble bags and duct tape 🙂

There wasn’t a drop of water came in over the next 2 days although I did fear it might happen at any time. 

On the second day I finally found the glazing panel about 100 yards away from where I’d been parked, resting in a bush! The wind had carried it so far I was shocked. Although it was cracked and broken where the hinges and gas struts were, the main part of the panel was intact so I kept it and waited til Jewsons opened on the Tuesday and bought a multi-tool and some tubes of strong adhesive sealant. 

Turns out the multi-tool was a hell of a buy and I’ve used it for all sorts since. But at the time all I did was carve the rough bits from the frame and the edges from the glazing panel so I could stick it into place permanently on the frame. It won’t open of course but at least it would be water tight. A good job well done, now I just have to save about £500 for a new one lol

Bloody Frank, he can piss right off!

The Skye’s the limit

My fourth night on Skye and already I feel rested and peaceful. The nights are dark and silent, although night before last I watched the edge of the Geminid’s shower through the sunroof. That was pretty amazing. It’s raining again this morning but as I’m working til 4pm I don’t really mind.
I’m busy testing the second battery too: it looks like they’re both shot.  🙁

Damned leak

The rain has been almost non stop here for nearly 2 weeks now. And I went into the wardrobe for something and there it was, a leak. Really bad too. So bad that my brand new, never used Canon printer was actually so full of water that I had to put it in the sink to drain out before throwing it away.

Spare towels, shirts, coats everything had to be taken out and I found a laundrette to wash them all toute suite. Of course the wardrobe itself was soaked. After an inspection it was clear what had happened. When I was sheltering from the 113 mph winds on Skye I parked in the lee of a tall wall beside some pine trees. I was barely bothered by the wind but I recall a scraping sound as a branch tickled the roof. I think one of them must have hit the gas flue and made it loose and so there was  basically a large hole in the roof for 3 days in pouring rain.
Still, at least I know what it was and it was fixed easily, simply tighten the locknut up and make sure the rubber seal was making a seal on the roof.

That part of the roof has leaked on and off for years now ever since Isatlan messed up when fitting that accursed satellite dish. The last time it was fixed was back in 2012 when I was last in Scotland and I wondered if that was the last I’d know of it lol

Cue that dehumidifier…sometimes things just happen for a reason eh?

Merry Christmas!!!

It’s Christmas morning, and this is my 8th Christmas in the van now. I decided to leave Bamburgh and come north and I am now sitting in view of the Forth bridge in Fife. I hope this weekend to get some photos of the new bridge construction before moving to Falkirk for more photos of the wheel.

The van’s old problem of non-starting is back again *sigh* I turn the key and it flat out refuses to start. I can try continually and it may or may not start eventually, and over the years there’s been no clue as to what causes it. However my fire works great, the fridge appears to be working and at least I am moving again.

I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas and Santa is kind to you 🙂


From Scotland to Hawaii and back again

Castle Moil, Skye
Castle Moil, Skye

Just on the edge of the Isle of Skye, beside the bridge to the mainland, is a small village called Kyleakin. Castle Maol is a ruin just a little outside of the village, on a hill top overlooking the Kyle Akin. Oddly, it is also known as Castle Moil, Dun Akyn, Dunakin Castle, Dun Haakon and Castle Dunakin! It was the family seat of the McKinnon clan and it looks commanding still, standing on the headland even though it is ruined.  I was taking photos from about a half mile away in a car park when a car pulled up and the lady driver asked if this was the way to the castle. I replied there was a path, but it was steep, muddy and in parts quite deep in mud and water. It is also overgrown and difficult to find in parts so this point was the best view of the castle by far without getting really dirty and tired.

She’d gotten out of the car and she smiled and told me this story:

“I’ve been going to night school to learn genealogy and I’ve found out about some of my ancestors going back hundreds of years. My great, great, great grandfather was a McKinnon. His family owned and at one time lived in the castle. Sometime in the late 18th Century he emigrated to Hawaii. He opened a bakery store there which whilst not in the family now, is still operating. I’ve thought about the family members who are lost in time now and who I’m resurrecting  in memory, and to find out I have  a physical connection to them through the castle fills me with an incredible need to be here, to see it, to touch it.

So I’ve hoped and dreamed for 20 years and finally planned this trip and now here I am, a half a mile away from something that has filled my thoughts and dreams for most of my adult life. I want to touch it, as my ancestors did hundreds of years ago and feel connected to them emotionally, across time and history. Getting muddy and wet is the least of my concerns and nothing will bar me now from going up there and touching the stone.”

Her and her elderly step-father set off and I took some more photos, feeling a little humbled by her story. Suddenly I thought about her amazing journey, and I thought about my journey too. I am agnostic, so I don’t believe there is a point to life, except the point you make. Mine is about People, Places and Experiences. This blog is about relating them too. Here I was in the midst of a great story, in a great place, about some amazing people, so I set off quickly to catch them up.

Home at last
Home at last

They’d not gone far as the bracken and undergrowth had grown over the path. She had jeans and trainers on and her elderly step-father was wearing some very smart leather slip ons. They really weren’t dressed for this so being in walking trousers and boots I tried to beat a little path for them. As we walked I introduced myself and she said her name was Tari Thompson.  I explained about my blog and that her story had touched me and how most of my life now was spent going places and meeting people and having experiences. I asked if I could walk up with them and photograph her realizing her dream and touching the stone. She was happy with this idea and we set about making our way to the hill that the castle was on. I chose an adjacent hill when we got nearer, as I had an excellent view across with the Kyle Akin in the background. I then went over to where they were after giving them some time alone.

Tari Thompson fulfills her lifelong dream and touches the stone of her ancestral home.
Tari Thompson fulfills her lifelong dream and touches the stone of her ancestral home.

I got some photos, and I took some for them on their ipad and their camera. It really was a touching moment. This was a lifelong dream for someone coming true, and they shared it with me. I left them alone then so she could dwell on her own thoughts uninterrupted, but I left her my card, and hopefully she will email as I asked her to so she can see the photos I took and approve them to be published here.

And here they are 🙂

I love my life lol



EDIT: Some time after this was published, I received an email and I’ve copied the contents below…

Castle Maol

I want to thank you for the great blog you wrote about Ms. Thompson
fulfilling her dream of placing a hand on the castle and connecting
with her ancestors. Her ancestors are, in fact, my own. It gave me a
chill to think about doing the same one day. Thanks again!

Jonathan McKinnon

What’s the chances!!