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).
An interesting video I managed to find recently, mostly filmed during a walk from Loch Gruinart, past Gortantaoid out to Mala Bholsa in the north west of Islay. There are also some nice views of the Eas Lathan waterfall in Doodilmore River. In addition to impressions from the walk we also get to see a few glimpses of Machir Bay and from the ferry crossing. Enjoy:
I don’t know more than what it says in the screenshot, but it looks like after the Southern Islay distillery footpath we will soon see a Rhinns of Islay equivalent between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich. Many thanks to Ross Coutts for spotting and sharing:
We all would like our beaches pristine and clean. Sadly modern reality gets into the way more and more often. Plastic and other rubbish everywhere, destroying the beauty of the nature we so enjoy. So why don’t we all contribute a bit to help keeping the beaches clean? Apart from avoiding littering as much as possible we can all do our bit to help to keep the beaches clean. It’s not my idea, I read about it somewhere else:
From every beach walk aim to bring back at least three pieces of plastic (or other rubbish, e.g. bottles) and dispose of it responsibly.
During my last visit to Islay in June I decided to do my bit. When staying at Kilchoman during the second week of my stay I went for a walk on Kilchoman Beach in Machir Bay every morning. During the last return leg (I typically walked up and down the beach twice) I picked up as much as I could carry, often helped by a bucket or something similar I found to allow me to collect and carry it.
Quite a few of the findings almost certainly travelled all the way across the North Channel, as they clearly came from Ireland. There was a plastic milk bottle from Donegal Creameries and a Tayto crisp bag. And a few items with Euro pricing. But also various other plastic and other items, like a pen and tennis ball. Not to forget a few bottles (both glass and plastic).
I know a number of others are picking up plastic on their beach walks. Also while I was doing it I got chatting with a couple on their beach walk and they joined as well and picked up plastic.
Today saw a Ceremony to remember sinking of HMS Otranto on Islay at Kilchoman, the disaster happened 100 years ago today. Earlier this year another salute to the victims of the HMS Otranto took place in the water of Machir Bay as the Badlads Diving group visited what remains of the wreck to pay their tribute. Peter was so kind to get in touch to share the link to the video of the event:
A very nice tribute I think, very well done. The group has been visiting Islay for many years, I’ve shared a number of videos by them before.
As it turns out they were on Islay at the same time as me in June, I actually took pictures of them leaving and returning to Kilchiaran Bay, where they had set up base. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised at the time that it was them, otherwise I would have gone over to have a chat. Maybe another time.