Lagavulin jubilee to support Islay history and heritage projects

Islay Whisky News & LinksThe BBC reports of an initiative by Lagavulin distillery to support two local projects as part of their 200 year anniversary celebrations. The two projects are a long standing one and a fairly new but very important one: Finlaggan and Islay Heritage. There will also be further local initiatives receiving support:

The Lagavulin 200 Legacy is set to make further contributions to the local swimming pool, cyber cafe and arts and festival organisations, as well as a new partnership with the RSPB to restore and conserve peatlands on the island.

Funds will be raised through sales of special single cask charity bottling.

Armin’s 2017 New Year’s Greetings on New.IslayBlog.com

A bit stuttering, a bit improvised, but I hope it gets the message across. My first attempt at New Year’s Greetings in video format. I think they call it a vlog (from video blog). I hope it’s not too embarrassing:

Happy New Year 2017!

Some Islay business links

Islay Links

There are many businesses on Islay, old and new. Some of them have an internet presence and some of those I’m going to present/save for later reference here (please note these are only ones I’ve recently come across and am aware of. If yours is missing by all means get in touch for a future entry with further links):

Earlier today I noticed a new follower on Twitter, named @IslayPlot. The description reads ‘Private owner of several residential development sites on Islay’ and it links to a website Islay Plots (which as of writing this has one plot near Port Ellen listed). That’s all I know at this point.

Islay is of course mainly known for its whisky (and to a lesser extent real ale as well as gin) when it comes to beverages, but there is also Islay Wine. They are fruit wines using fruit like rhubarb and bramble and are made by Kenneth Carter and Helen Gilbert near Port Ellen.

This one isn’t technically on Islay, but Kate has been visiting Islay for many many years (and I’ve been reading her blog entries in particular when related to Islay for many many years). She designs knitting patterns (I hope I’m getting that right and use the right term) and one of her collections is called Inspired by Islay. See also her blog entry An Islay trio for more pictures (several taken on Islay).

Another one not on Islay, but on Islay’s neighbour Jura: Bruichladdich has been making gin for a while, now they are getting competition from Jura. Alicia MacInnes, Claire Fletcher and Georgina Kitching have started Lussa Gin in July. I don’t drink gin so can’t say anything further about it.

That’s all for now, more to come as I come across them (or as you let me know of them)

Across Islay’s neighbour Colonsay with a drone

Colonsay ExcursionsThe first excursion to one of Islay’s neighbours since relaunching the blog and I think I’ve got a real treat for you. Jonas Igel takes us on a beautiful sightseeing tour around Colonsay with his drone, sharing some really amazing views from a two week stay:

Revisiting two Islay radio programmes on BBC Radio 4

After a few videos after relaunching the blog something for the ears only tonight with two slightly older radio programmes previously broadcasted on BBC Radio 4. At least as of today they can still be listened to on BBC iPlayer Radio:

The first one is with Malcolm Ogilvie, well known to many Islay visitors, who has been studying and watching birds and in particular Geese on Islay for decades. The programme is 22 minutes long and called The Living World – Islay Birds.

The second one is by writer Paul Evans and sound recordist Chris Watson who recorded the 30 minutes long programme Nature, The Sounds of Britain, Islay. Among other things Paul talks about the Adders in the airport car park, I remember those signs. Of course Adders don’t make much sound (apart from possibly hissing), so wait for the Corncrakes, Curlews and other birds, just to start with.

Preparing for an Islay invasion in WWII?

Something a bit scary today. I’m not sure how I came across these in the David Ramsey Historical map collection a while ago, but essentially it looks like there was at least some material covering Islay for plans by the German Wehrmacht to invade Britain during WWII (known as Operation Sea Lion, which would have mainly focused on England, but they also seem to have prepared information about Scotland). The material seems to be from 1940 and 1941, i.e. still during the early years of the war. A search for Islay initially turns up three results:

Screenshot of Islay related information by the German Wehrmacht during WWII

The first one is a drawn coast profile of entrances into Loch Tarbert (on Jura) and the Sound of Islay. The second is called south coast of the Isle of Islay (showing mainly Port Ellen and around). The third one is called north coast of the Isle of Islay and shows the north coast near Rhuvaal.

After a bit of digging around I found a bit more (which for some reason doesn’t show up in a search for Islay):

Luckily the plans were abandoned quite quickly but now provide us with some interesting historical pictures.

Two old Islay videos (1973 and 1983)

They were filmed 10 years apart, but both are a bit older, showing Islay 33 and 43 years ago respectively. The first one seems to be some old TV footage filmed in 1983, showing Port Charlotte and a few other places on Islay in a short clip:

Going back a further decade to 1973 we can watch some fascinating old footage with some long gone history, starting with the MV Arran ferry (not to be confused with the MV Isle of Arran, which was much later) leaving from the old West Loch Tarbert pier:

The rest of the film shows a variety of familiar places, some in a way now gone: The Oa with the American Monument I believe before it became an RSPB reserve (not sure which year that happened?). Port Askaig long before it was redeveloped to what it is today. Ardbeg distillery with smoking pagodas. A brief glimpse of what I think is Western Ferries’ MV Sound of Jura. An excursion to Jura with of course plenty of deer.

The filmer seems to have also had some interest in birdwatching. I think there were a number of Whooper Swans (the quality of the footage isn’t great, making it difficult to see) and there’s some footage of the Barnacle Geese as well.

New Islay video: A Whirlwind Tour of Islay

Announcing the relaunch of the blog this morning I hinted there might be a second ‘Christmas present’ coming up. Having only finished editing it late in the evening on Christmas Evening I still had to upload it this morning. But it all worked out and I can proudly present my latest Islay video. It’s a bit different from the videos I’ve made previously. To start with it has music. Then it’s monochrome. And it’s quite fast paced. A bit of an experiment, I’m very curious to see what people think. Here it is:

In 4.5 minutes I’m taking you on a quick journey around Islay, taking in as much as possible in such a short period. Admittedly some of the selections were influenced by the availability of footage, in other areas I had to make difficult choices what to show and what to omit. Here is a list of the places you can see in chronological order:

  1. Port Ellen buoy
  2. Port Ellen lighthouse
  3. Port Ellen warehouse
  4. Port Ellen houses with passing Islay Coaches
  5. Port Ellen Maltings
  6. Port Ellen pier/marina and village
  7. Laphroaig approach from loch
  8. Laphroaig smoking pagoda
  9. Laphroaig stills
  10. Dunyvaig castle and Lagavulin
  11. Lagavulin distillery
  12. Bowmore distillery approach from sea
  13. Bowmore Main Street
  14. Round Church
  15. Barnacle Geese in front of Port Charlotte
  16. Barnacle Geese at top of Loch Indaal with Paps of Jura
  17. Bruichladdich approach from sea
  18. Bruichladdich over distillery
  19. Bruichladdich spirit safe (making Port Charlotte spirit)
  20. Past Loch Indaal lighthouse to Port Charlotte
  21. Port Charlotte pier from above
  22. Port Charlotte Main Street towards Port Charlotte Hotel
  23. Loch Indaal lighthouse with breaking waves
  24. Waves breaking over Port Charlotte pier
  25. Saltire flying in Portnahaven
  26. Rhinns of Islay lighthouse and fishing boat
  27. Seal in Portnahaven
  28. Waves breaking near Port Wemyss
  29. Single track road towards Kilchoman
  30. Approaching Kilchoman Church
  31. Ruin of Kilchoman church from the air
  32. View of Machir Bay
  33. Beach view in Machir Bay
  34. Otter in Machir Bay
  35. At the wreck in Machir Bay
  36. Above the wreck in Machir Bay
  37. Breaking waves in Saligo Bay
  38. Waves blown back by wind in Saligo Bay
  39. View towards Sleeping Giant / Opera House Rocks in Saligo Bay
  40. Saligo Bay from the air
  41. Barnacle Geese feeding at Gruinart
  42. Barnacle Geese lifting off at Gruinart
  43. Barnacle Geese over the Gruinart marshes
  44. Barnacle Geese over grazing cows
  45. Approach to Finlaggan from the air
  46. View of the house ruin at Finlaggan from the air
  47. MV Hebridean Isles arriving in Port Askaig
  48. Passing McArthur’s Head lighthouse

I still think that’s quite impressive for 4.5 minutes, also a sign of how much Islay has to offer. It might be too fast and hectic for some, but then it might be exciting and fresh for others. I’m normally not a big fan of music for videos (certainly for my videos) and prefer more natural sounds, but here it felt appropriate so I used some. To avoid any rights issues (not to mention that the lyrics I feel often don’t really fit) I didn’t use any big hit(s) known to many but used some free music offered by Google. No lyrics, so no risk of conflict there either. The style of music will probably not be to everyone’s taste, I like the speed and energy in it.

Now it’s over to you, I hope you enjoy and like the whirlwind tour of Islay. Let me know what you think.

A New.IslayBlog.com for Christmas

Islay NewsWell then, there we are, here is my Christmas present for you, a new.islayblog.com for your perusal. After 10 years of blogging ‘manually’ on www.islayblog.com I’ve decided to move on to a new blog with a real CMS. With my recovery from my heart surgery progressing well I thought it was finally time for something new here as well.

The header remains the same (well, OK, I had to tweak it slightly to fit in here), it’s still the familiar view of the Loch Indaal lighthouse with the Paps of Jura in the distance, one of my favourite views on Islay. The content of the blog will largely remain the same as well, as will the categories. I’m going to retire at least one of them though, with the Islay Pictures Photoblog going strong I’ve decided to retire the Friday Islay Picture. I’m undecided on the Islay blogging roundup, time permitting I might revive that one. In a way I’m still fond of the idea. Apart from that I’m going to blog about essentially the same as before, anything Islay (or Jura, Colonsay, Gigha and may be even Kintyre) related I come across. Videos, pictures, news, stories, fun things, events, businesses, short snippets, longer texts, links, updates and whatever else crosses my path.

I hope you will join me here on the new blog if you were a reader of the old blog and I hope to may be gain a few new readers as well. I’m keen to make it a dialog as well, the comments are open for everyone, so don’t be shy and make your voice heard (within reason of course, you’ll be in my house after all).

That’s all for now, enjoy the new blog. Oh, and if everything goes to plan I’ll have another Christmas present for you later today. Watch this blog…