As mentioned in my previous post, due to work commitments I won’t be able to attend the Islay Sessions 2021 in person. At least as of this weekend I can be properly attired while missing being there, for I have now received my first Islay Sessions t-shirt:
Yes, that’s me (with my ever growing hair) showing off my Islay Sessions t-shirt in front of my Gaelic Islay map. It’s the XL version bought from the Fraser Shaw Trust shop. While it does fit it is a bit tighter than what I would usually wear. I understand XXL versions should be available soon as well, so I’m planning to upgrade/upsize once possible.
As the title indicates, it will be possible to watch the session online on the Islay Sessions myplayer.uk page, just as I had hoped. While not the same as actually being there it’s better than not seeing them at all. It will also help people not able to travel for a variety of reasons. Some of the concerts will be free, others require a ticket, which I think is perfectly fair. I’m planning to create my account and buy the necessary tickets the next few days.
I’m planning to watch as much as I can while wearing my Islay Sessions t-shirts. I hope to spot some of you in the audience (or on stage, should any of the artists read this, many of them I’ve seen/met at previous sessions) and if possible chat online while we’re watching.
Settling down for a relaxing evening with a nice Islay dram or two after a busy day off the day job, busy as I was moving furniture and building a new desk from the Swedish furniture store (I now have a fancy sitting/standing desk which can be height adjusted with wizzy electric motors). But that’s not what this post is about, this post is about some of my favourite whisky glasses, these here:
I’m not entirely sure what they are “officially” called, I call them the wobbly whisky glasses. Their bottom isn’t flat, no, it’s round, so when you set them down they wobble around, but through some clever design and a low centre of gravity they don’t fall over. Pure genius.
The one on the right is the old one, the original one. I bought that well over a decade ago, probably closer to 15 years ago. Unfortunately it’s the last one I’ve got, as the second one I had unfortunately broke a few weeks ago. Luckily I’ve now got a very worthy replacement (two actually, as I bought two during my most recent Islay visit in October 2021), the one in the centre. The design is slightly different, it’s even rounder and slightly bigger, but the most important part is just the same, the wobbly bottom.
The whisky with it is a lovely dram, the Fèis Ile 2021 Mòine Bordeaux Finish 2013, also bought during my recent visit in October 2021 with some expert help by my favourite “rubbish birder”, video weather reporter and tour guide extraordinaire (I assume you now all know who I’m talking about).
During my after work internet surfing I came across an interesting video, which then led to another video and also a blog post with more background. So I thought I might as well share it with you as well. As the title says, it’s about paddleboarding, a very popular sport these days, and as in this case it took place on Islay there was also some whisky involved. Let’s start with the second video I found, Meaghan and Neal’s adventures on Islay and Jura:
The other video (the one I came across first) just focuses on Claggain Bay and their paddleboarding there:
Taking you over to Islay’s neighbour Jura for an interesting drone video today. The views are mainly of Craighouse, the Bay of Small Isles and the Corran Sands, with the famous Paps of Jura featuring large in the background. And there’s something special about the music playing:
Visitors to the Corran Sands might have recognised where the music came from, as it says in the description:
Original music performed on 2 Sonic Sculptures by Giles Perring at Corran Sands by Sebastian McCallum, Philippa Gregory, Sally Truswell and Joe Truswell
Dolphins can be spotted around Islay fairly regularly, in the Sound of Islay where they sometimes play with the ferry and other ships, sometimes in Loch Indaal, or during a ferry crossing. The video I came across yesterday seems to have been filmed from a yacht and possibly also a drone flying above them. Enjoy:
I hope you’ve enjoyed the video, I found it very calming and relaxing, watching the Dolphins as they were swimming, jumping and playing.
The Islay Sessions 2020 had to be moved to an online event for the well known reason of the Covid pandemic and related restrictions. For 2021 the Sessions return to their home on Islay, they will take place over the weekend 26-28/Nov/2021 in the usual locations, mainly the Port Charlotte Hotel and Bruichladdich Hall. Here’s a promo video with some more details:
Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend in person myself this year due to work commitments (the last 5 and first 2-3 working days of the month I need to be working and with the long journey to Islay from where I live it’s not feasible the way the Sessions fall). I understand there are efforts under way to also stream the Sessions online, so I hope to be able to attend at least virtually.
Something a bit different today, not just a video with some beautiful views of Islay, but some background on what we’re seeing. Kate Gordon and Nigel Scott take us to Finlaggan and tell us about the history of the Lords of the Isles:
Nigel had contacted me a month ago about using one of my pictures for a video he was editing about Finlaggan. As it was for a non-commercial educational project I was happy to give him permission. While I was away on Islay for my second visit this year (more about that in another post) he sent me an update with the link to the video. Now that I’m back and had time to catch up with a view things I finally had a chance to watch the video and now share it with you.
I quite like it, I think it’s well made and tells the story very well. Quite a lot of information without getting too long and going into too much detail, just right. Hopefully you like the video as well and found it interesting.
Back in March 2020 when I wrote Sadly no Islay visit for me for the foreseeable future I didn’t expect that it would be 22 long months. While Islay was open for visitors in summer 2020 it didn’t feel right for me to travel at that time. Then the winter 2020/2021 lockdowns arrived. Early 2021 finally brought some hope with the vaccine programme rollout gathering pace, as I had decided I would only travel once I was fully vaccinated. I received my second dose in May 2021 (although I only found that out in May, I hadn’t expected expected it until June, making it too late to book for June). July and August I avoided (as usual) as I need to give priority to my colleagues with children (someone has to hold the fort in the office). But two weeks ago, in early September, I finally boarded the MV Finlaggan for my first crossing to Islay since November 2019.
It was emotional. Very emotional. Especially stepping out on to Kilchoman beach, my spiritual home, again the morning after my arrival. Several people have told me they’ve never seen me so happy as in some of the pictures I’ve shared. And they’re probably right. Even when I can’t explain why. Sometimes people ask me why I love Islay so much and why I keep returning after well over 20 years. And all I can say is that there’s something that clicks for me. That’s the best explanation I can give.
I don’t know if they show some of the magic, but I recorded a series of “YouTube shorts” (short 15 seconds clips best watched in portrait mode on a mobile device, but you can also watch them on a desktop/laptop) from some of my adventures during my second week on Islay:
While I didn’t get out as much as I had hoped and didn’t meet as many people as I would have liked for a variety of reasons (weather not being that great especially in the second week, a very annoying blister on my left heel which made longer walks difficult at times, a lingering reluctance to go into busy enclosed spaces like pubs/restaurants and more) I did get to see a few new things and had some interactions I treasured:
One day I drove from Conisby to Uiskentuie beach for a walk. When I left Conisby my car alerted me that it was low on screen wash, so when I arrived I opened the bonnet and topped up the screen wash (might as well get it done while it’s fresh in my mind). Walking past another car parked a bit further down the beach the driver asked me if had a problem with my car and needed help. I reassured him that everything was fine and explained the background. While somebody elsewhere might have asked as well to me this felt very much like an Islay thing to do, people caring about others.
Also at Uiskentuie during my first walk there I passed a woman walking her dog and we had a brief chat about how long the beach was. A few days later (I think it might have been my last walk at Uiskentuie) I met her again and we walked together for a bit, having a nice chat about ferries, walking and more. We didn’t exchange names, so I don’t know who she was, but I really enjoyed our walk and chat. While something like this might happen elsewhere it felt like an Islay thing to me. Hopefully we can catch up on another beach walk at some point.
In regards to new things, I walked the new Loch Indaal path between Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte on a beautiful morning. I’ll write about it in a dedicated post, but I think it’s brilliant, a fantastic addition to Islay’s infrastructure and experience. Thank you and well done to everyone involved in making it happen.
I was welcomed online by several of my neighbours during my stay at Conisby, which I really appreciated. Apologies I didn’t come over, I’m still nervous visiting people in their homes at this point. Hopefully there will be another opportunity once the pandemic has settled further.
There were a few more moments, but I think what I’ve captured here covers the most important parts of this visit as well as touches on some of the reasons why I like Islay so much.
My next visit is already booked and assuming everything goes to plan I’ll be back soon, much much sooner than the very long time until this visit. I will do my utmost to meet the people I missed on this visit, most of you will know who. I’ll be in touch.
Where to start? BKR has filmed and published a good number of short Islay videos recently, some of which I’m planning to share here over the coming weeks, maybe even months. I’ve now decided to start with a beach video with a twist, as we not only get to see the beach, but also a glimpse of what is happening in the water just off it:
I hope you enjoyed this little walk and beach visit. I like his way of presenting, the enthusiasm he shows while talking about the places he discovers. As I said, I’m planning to share more videos by him, possibly a visit to a distillery or discovering an abandoned house.
Two videos I found today, both having at least some Islay in them. They are from a series of videos of Sailing Free Spirit around the UK. The first video covers various places and events on the west coast of Scotland including the Isle of Mull and many Dolphins following the boat, ending with their arrival on Islay:
The second video covers their stay on Islay and their departure and arrival to Northern Ireland:
I hope you enjoyed the videos, I really enjoyed the Dolphins and found it quite interesting to hear about all the factors you have to consider for your journeys.