As I eluded to yesterday, today marks the start of a new chapter in my life, even though I don’t know yet where it will lead me. All I know is that over the coming weeks I’ll be looking for new career opportunities, while also aiming to use the opportunity for a few other changes. But at the same time there are some constants, including my love for Islay and some annual rituals/traditions:
This morning I got up early and left for my morning walk before dawn, on the return leg I saw a lovely colourful New Year’s day first dawn of the year sky over one of the West Berkshire fields I pass on my route. When I returned home I got the oven going for some fresh “New Year’s Day bread”, one Hemp Hearts bread and one fruit bread. Then it was time for one of my New Year’s Day traditions (mentioned on this blog before eg in 2020 and in 2018), the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna with a dram of Islay single malt whisky and my New Year’s Day brunch.
The whisky is the same as for Christmas, the Kilchoman Single Cask 11 Years Old Bourbon Cask. The brunch is the aforementioned Hemp Hearts bread, scrambled eggs and some smoked salmon. The salmon “slowly smoked for 12 hours over oak & whisky cask chippings”, so I’m imagining they were Islay whisky cask chippings.
The concert has now reached the encores with the famous Blue Danube, so I’m going to finish now and wish you all a happy and healthy New Year 2022!
So there we are, New Year’s Eve 2021. Another year coming to an end. Might as well take a look back at the year, what it meant to me, Islay related and a few other areas. The year brought both good and bad things and events:
In particular the first half of the year was of course still dominated by the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic, even though the ramp up of the vaccination efforts brought some hope. My second dose came too late for me to book anything for the first half of the year (I had decided I wasn’t going to travel until my second dose had taken full effect). Still, I managed to continue with daily posts on my Islay pictures photoblog by digging into my archives and plundering some other resources (mainly pictures taken on my phone). Also the belated online Islay Sessions 2020 took place early in 2021.
Then the first bad news struck when Ian Brooke unexpectedly passed away in June. I still miss him, my daily visits to the Islay Birds blog are not the same without him (that’s not to diminish the sterling job the team continuing it in his memory is doing, it’s just different). Also missed seeing and catching up with him at his bird hide when I finally managed to return to Islay in September, at least I had a good catch up with Margaret.
At least September brought my first return to Islay after 22 months without a visit. As you can read in that post it was magical. Being back on the beaches was just brilliant. Rediscovering some old haunts and exploring a few new places was just what I needed. And I had booked my next visit even before I left for my September visit, returning for a week in October. This time I stayed at Ballitarsin Lodge, which was another new experience. Some fantastic views from up there, also a few morning walks along the Glen Road instead of a beach. I got to meet some old friends with their latest addition to the household (and some homemade Spaghetti Bolognese on great evening), followed by some brilliant October night skies (I still need to process the pictures from that…).
Then the end of the year arrived with some bad news, but also a lot of opportunity for 2022: Earlier this afternoon I shut down my work laptop for the last time as a Verizon employee. Or in other words, from next week I’m looking for opportunities for the next stage of my career. If you know of any good jobs in the Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) area or similar, positions as a Finance Business Partner or similar please get in touch. Remote work or in the Greater Reading / West Berkshire and around area. You can learn about my skills and experience on my LinkedIn profile. Onwards and upwards, and after I’ve settled into my next career step it will be time for another visit to Islay.
Sam Holmes is crossing oceans in questionable sailing vessels (his own words). For this video he didn’t cross an ocean, just the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland. Watch his video and learn what else he did on Islay apart from eating Haggis:
After leaving Port Ellen he continued through the Sound of Islay, stopping at Bunnahabhain (and visiting Ardnahoe):
I hope you enjoyed Sam’s adventures on and around Islay. I always enjoy the different views and perspectives you get from a sailing boat.
Merry Christmas! After a busy and eventful year (including my first visit to Islay after 22 months due to the pandemic, but also some less positive events, more about that some other time) it’s time for a break and briefly winding down. It’s Christmas after all. On Christmas eve I started with a few drams of the Fèis Ile 2021 Mòine Bordeaux Finish 2013 (and a pizza with a Jarl from Fyne Ales). After tonight’s Christmas Day food (burgers and beers from Harviestoun) I opened a new bottle, my Christmas Islay whisky for 2021, a Kilchoman 11 years old Bourbon cask matured single cask release:
My bottle is nr 53 of 197, cask 222/2010, distilled 22/Apr/2010 (only notice that now, but it has some significance to me) and bottled 2/Aug/2021. And of course it’s rather nice.
With it I’m having some Haggis Spice Dark Chocolate, made by Edinburgh based COCO Chocolatier for Kilchoman. A bit of an unusual taste, but I like it. Sent some to my sister in Germany, not sure if she’s tried it yet.
The music over this Christmas is mainly coming from my ever growing Bad Mood Blaster playlist (as of writing this 179 songs, over 5 hours of my favourite music). Admittedly nothing directly Islay related, apart from that I listened to it on my drives to/from Islay and while driving on Islay. Or in the cottage.
With that Christmas Day 2021 is coming to an end, enjoy Boxing Day (and if you’re in the UK the upcoming two days bank holiday. Apologies to my continental friends, who to my knowledge either have to work or take holidays).
Regular visitors to Islay will mostly be familiar with the American Monument on the Oa and the history behind it with the Tuscania and Otranto shipwrecks in WWI. Still, history tour guide Bruce Fummey has created an interesting video about the history and the links between Scotland and the USA, well worth watching:
I hope you found the video interesting and informative, especially if you’re new to this part of Islay’s history.
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.