Happy New Year! Regular readers might remember that I kind of have a New Year’s tradition, listening to the New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna with a wee dram of Islay single malt whisky. Last years I had some whisky chocolate nibs, this year I decided to have some smoked salmon on fresh home made bread. Earlier today I made some fresh bread (a hemp hearts and walnuts wholemeal bread) which I’m now eating with some smoked salmon:
The whisky is the Laphroaig 10yo cask strength batch 04, which I had opened for my 10 years Twitter milestone (with New Year’s Day in mind). A rather lovely dram, going down very nicely while the Radetzky-Marsch is playing as I type this.
Earlier today a wee blue bird told me (not sure if this qualifies as a bad pun?) it’s 10 years ago today that I joined Twitter, of course using the handle @islayblog (although my name shows as Armin, as I tweet as me, a human being). A decade of squeezing a post into 140 characters (or more recently writing 280 characters). Naturally I sent out a quick tweet, promising a celebratory dram later on:
Now it’s time for said dram, I decided to open a special bottle (also keeping in mind that New Year is approaching rapidly and I need something nice for that): From my Islay shelf I picked a Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength, batch 004, Jan.12. Here’s the proof:
A lot has happened in those 10 years. According to Twitter I’ve posted 33,838 tweets so far (probably a few more by the time you read this). Apparently I have just under 3,000 people following me now (I hope not too many of them are bots). Quite a few of you I’ve met personally, others I only know from Twitter (and sometimes other social networks), but we’ve still had many helpful, interesting, funny and more exchanges. Others I don’t really know yet, but I hope we’ll bump into each other one day. I’ve learned quite a few things on Twitter, found out information, had a lot of fun and more. I hope I could give some of that back, give those who follow me or communicate with me something to enjoy, something they found helpful or something that inspired them. Or just something to laugh.
With that I’ll finish for now, time for another dram. And another tweet.
It’s Christmas eve, as good excuse as any to open a very nice bottle of Islay single malt whisky for Christmas. After the Gorag 02 a few months ago I decided to open another bottle of the cask exploration series, the Eolas An Deididh 07. Bottle #356 of 393:
It was aged for 9 years and finished in a Rivesaltes wine cask from the far south of France. 2 years younger than the Gorag 02. Very nice with some 85% dark chocolate after the venison burger I had this evening.
It’s that time of year again, same as last year it’s time to vote for Islay’s entries at the FilmG competition. For this year I’m aware of three entries from Islay so far, from the High School, from Bowmore Primary and from the Islay Voices. Same as last year everyone can vote in the ‘People’s Choice Prize’, to do that all you need to do is to go to the page for the entry you want to vote for (linked below the videos) and click on the ‘Vote’ button. Simple as that.
Let’s start with the entry from Islay High School, titled ‘Am Bruadar’. In it a ‘Hipster couple camp at view of Rhinns lighthouse, fall asleep and dream past, present and future there. There’s a surprise in store for them both!’:
Next to the younger students from Bowmore Primary in their second competition entry (I believe their premiere at the competition was last year). For them ‘the children’s bad behaviour leads in the blink of an eye, to jump in time to a school in a hundred years, where wooden desks have been replaced with ipad tables and there is no need for a teacher as Alexa runs the class‘:
The voting is open until the end of January, the winners (including hopefully one from Islay) will be announced at the annual awards ceremony at The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow on 08/Feb/2019. If you’re on Facebook also follow the CnaG Ìle group for more.
Winter has definitely arrived now, it’s cold, wet, windy and miserable today. To cheer us up here’s a video I found from a brighter nicer day, showing a day trip to Islay by RIB from Oban. Starting from Dunstaffnage they travelled to Port Ellen:
I hope you enjoyed the views from this trip, I found it quite interesting to see Port Ellen and other places from much lower down than the views usually seen from the ferry.
From my recent Islay visit I returned with a quite large souvenir which is now hanging on one of my walls. A few weeks ago Pat Farrington announced on Facebook that she had some maps of Islay, Jura and Colonsay in Gaelic for sale. I contacted her that I was interested and if I could pick one up during my Islay visit in November (they were sold pick up / delivery on Islay only).
We agreed to meet in Bowmore, where £10 and in return the map changed hands. From Bowmore I drove over to Islay House Square, where I dropped it off at Islay Studios to be framed. Mark had mentioned that they had framed another copy, I decided to do the same to keep it in prime condition and make it easier to hang up. I picked a light coloured wood as most of my furniture is pine and I wanted them to go together.
Here’s how it looks with the map hanging above my ‘Islay Shelf’ (where I keep my Islay single malts, my Islay books and various souvenirs):
I’m very happy how it turned out, I think it fits very well above the shelf. The map looks very nice in the frame, it covers many places including villages, hills, mountains, lochs and more. Of course all in Gaelic, as that’s the whole point of the map. The speech bubble is a lamp (hence the cable), but it didn’t look very nice switched on for a picture, so I turned it off (it looks very nice otherwise and is lit while I’m typing this).
Last week a very nice new sign/board popped up at the start of the track through the dunes to Kilchoman beach. A few weeks ago I wrote about a way to help keeping Islay’s beaches clean, Fiona MacGillivray has taken this idea further and written a poem about it. That poem has now been printed on a sign/board and the first one has been put up at the entrance to Kilchoman beach:
The poem reads (for the benefit of those with a screen reader, in case they can’t read text in pictures):
Three pieces of rubbish!
Make this beach plastic free, Oh what a sight that would be!
Plastic litter on the beach is a scourge to man and beast.
It floats on in, off the sea, in a relentless tide of mans debris.
Piled high we throw up our hands & cry How can we just let this lie?
But with visitors and walkers each day we reduce it day by day.
Pick up three pieces of rubbish each and this beach will be a peach.
There is a bin that sits just here pop it in and you can cheer
Then this beach will just be Sand and sea and clutter free!
As it says in the poem, there is a convenient bin right here:
I understand there are plans to put up signs at other beaches on Islay as well. Hopefully they will encourage more people to help with keeping Islay’s beaches clean, so that we can all enjoy pristine beaches (of course it would be even better to avoid the plastic rubbish in the first place, but that’s another topic).
Looking forward to seeing Gráinne Brady again (having seen her at several Islay Sessions over the years), this time launching her solo album (I believe that session is sold out now).
One ‘new’ (as in new for me) artist I’m very much looking forward to is Brighde Chaimbeul. I had heard of her through Hamish Napier (who I had seen at another Islay Session a number of years ago). Here’s a taster of her playing together with Innes White (who will also play with her on Islay):
That’s all I’ve got for now. Hope to see you at the Islay Sessions or if not elsewhere on Islay in the two weeks leading up to them.
Some good news for Islay visitors planning to arrive by plane. So far most scheduled flights to Islay (i.e. not the Colonsay/Oban route) were from Glasgow Airport (GLA) only. That’s about to change: From March 2019 travellers will also be able to fly to Islay International Airport (ILY) from Edinburgh Airport (EDI). From the Loganair press release:
A 34-seat Saab 340 will fly the Edinburgh to Islay route – the capital city’s first ever scheduled air link to the Inner Hebrides. The service will commence on 25 March and will operate up to daily, offering new links from Edinburgh to the “Queen of the Hebrides”, which is experiencing significant growth in tourism and business following the opening of new hotels and growth in the golfing and spirits distillery sectors.
I think this should open up some new routes and opportunities in particular for visitors from further afield, I believe from some countries there are no direct flights to Glasgow, but there are to Edinburgh.
This is bottle #267 of 360 of the Port Charlotte cask exploration o2, Gorag. Aged 11 years in a Pessac-Leognan cask (I must admit, I have no idea what that means apart from that it is a wine cask. But it tastes wonderful).