Camping and walking at Kintra, Islay

Islay on VideoCalum and Jess went for a camping and walking and whisky/gin holiday on Islay. They stayed at Kintra from where they walked out to Soldier’s Rock. They also visited Bruichladdich for the Botanist Gin tour. Enjoy the video:

Calum also blogs at Cal McTravels.

Islay Sessions 2017 coming up in November

Islay MusicLess than a month to go to the Islay Sessions 2017 taking place in Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich. And after having to miss it last year due to my heart operation I’ll be back to enjoy them even more this year. This years programme includes a variety of artists, some I’ve seen before, others will be new to me.

Picture of Adam Sutherland and Laura-Beth Salter performing on stage
Adam and Laura-Beth enjoying a tune during the Islay Sessions 2015

The Islay Sessions 2017 start on Friday 17/Nov with a Concert in the Conservatory at the Port Charlotte Hotel. Adam Sutherland and Mark Clement will be performing. After the concert there will be informal sessions in the Port Charlotte Hotel bar, I expect until late into the night.

There will be workshops on Saturday morning, the participants will then also perform at the big concert on Saturday evening 18/Nov at Bruichladdich Hall. I hope many local musicians young and old will join Tannara, the Joy Dunlop Trio and Jenn & Laura Beth.

The weekend will close with another Concert in the Conservatory at the Port Charlotte Hotel on Sun 19/Nov (followed by more informal sessions in the bar I hope), this time with Innes Watson.

Picture of Innes Watson playing guitar at the Islay Sessions
Innes Watson playing guitar at the Islay Sessions 2015

I understand there will also be a whisky tour during the weekend, details haven’t been posted yet as of writing this. Check the Islay Sessions Twitter account and the Islay Sessions Facebook page for updates. For tickets to the concerts go to the Islay Sessions Eventbrite page.

Video from the Great Islay Swim

Islay NewsA quick update to the Updates from the Great Islay Swim posted last week. Bruichladdich have posted a nice video from the Sound of Islay leg of the swim, taking them from McArthur’s Head lighthouse to Rhuvaal lighthouse. I’ve walked from Bunnahabhain to Rhuvaal several times, I can’t imagine swimming all that (not to mention the rest from McArthur’s Head to Bunnahabhain). Watch the swimmers in action in the sun and the rain:

For more and where to bid for the pillaged whisky see The Great Islay Swim.

Updates from the Great Islay Swim

Islay NewsBack in May I wrote about Swimming around Islay (for science and charity), Justin Fornal and Chad Anderson planning to swim around Islay this summer. Well, the Great Islay Swim is now well under way and you can find various updates online:

From Laphroaig John Campbell gives them his support:

Several blogs and distillery websites write about them:

Taking a rest at the end of a swim:

Our badass ass swimmers relaxing in a lagoon in front of a cave below the american monument at the end of the second day of swimming.

A post shared by Christopher Beauchamp (@christopherbeauchamp) on

Islay Sea-Adventures has a few posts with video and pictures:

And I’m sure there’s more out there. If you have or spot any further pictures, videos or reports from the swim please post them in the comments so that everyone can see them.

An Islay whisky tour video

Islay on VideoThe Adventure Bound Bumpkins visited Islay this year and among other things went on the Laphroaig Water to Whisky tour. They documented their visit and in particular the tour on video (and wrote about it on their website), first pour yourself a wee dram and enjoy the video:

To read more here are three posts about their Islay visit:

For even more you can also read about On the Way to Islay: A Scenic Drive From Edinburgh to Kennacraig.

Cantilena Festival 2017 on Islay starts today

Islay MusicSorry I’m a bit late, I got my dates mixed up and for some reason thought it’s in a week. But then again it’s not too late yet. The annual Cantilena Festival on Islay officially starts today (there were a few warmup events this week already). Beautiful music played in various venues across Islay, here’s an overview of the programme starting tonight:

The Festival opens at the Columba Centre in Bowmore with a programme of chamber music including Mozart’s Piano trio in G major and Schubert’s Trout Quintet. Players involved in this concert are Scott Mitchell (piano), Angus Ramsay (violin), Michelle Dieux (violin), Stephen Shakeshaft (viola), Sarah Harrington (cello) and Ben Burnley (bass).

Picture of the Cantilena musicians

The Festival continues on Monday in Laphroaig when our students from the Royal Conservatoire of Music have the opportunity to showcase their talents individually and then as part of the whole ensemble.

Tuesday will see the group at Lagavulin when the programme will include Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bach (double violin concerto) and Rossini. This concert will also feature our guest artist – Tobias Ringborg. He is a renowned Swedish violinist and conductor and Cantilena are pleased to welcome him to Islay which he has never visited.

Picture of the Cantilena musicians taking the bow after a performance at Lagavulin

On Wednesday Tobias will feature as soloist as will Havilland Willshire. The programme includes a Frank Violin Sonata and also piano music by Chopin and Beethoven.

Viennese Evening at Ardbeg. This will be the programme for Thursday and is a new addition to Cantilena’s repertoire. Music will include waltzes and polkas with composers Strauss and Kreisler.

The Festival concludes on Friday 14 July at Bruichladdich, in the Village Hall and will feature soloists and all the players in Mendelssohn’s famous Octet and our usual ‘Classical Ceilidh’

Some general information:

Cantilena is very generously supported by distilleries across the island. Come along and enjoy the music; sample the various malt whiskies; and have the chance to chat to our professional players and students throughout the evening. All concerts start at 7.30 pm and ticket £12/£10 may be purchased at Celtic House in Bowmore or at the door on the venue on the various evenings. There is no charge for school age young people.

And that’s not all, there will also be some whisky and music:

Whisky and Music afternoon

Martine Nouet celebrated whisky expert presents a Whisky and Music afternoon on Wednesday 12 July in Islay House. Martine will guide you through several Islay malts which will match with music which Cantilena will play.

Further information at www.martinenouet.com

For further information also visit the 2017 Cantilena Festival page. I’m sure it will be yet another successful festival and everyone will enjoy the music.

Fraser Shaw Islay tunes CD launch

Islay MusicTwo years ago Fraser Shaw passed away, but his memory and his music live on, in particular through the Islay Sessions and the Fraser Shaw Trust. In the Fraser Shaw Trust Fraser’s family and friends have worked to finish a song book of Fraser’s compositions and record them. Both will be published this year, the proceeds will be used to support Multiple Sclerosis help organisations and activities in Argyll.

I don’t know if these were his own tunes or someone else’s, here are some memories of Fraser playing together with other musicians at the Port Charlotte Hotel during the Islay Sessions 2012:

But back to the future, in particular the upcoming CD launch. Three events are coming up over the next few weeks and months:

For further updates follow the Fraser Shaw Trust on Twitter or visit the Fraser Shaw Trust Facebook page.

Swimming around Islay (for science and charity)

Islay NewsBack in 2008 Becky walked (in stages) all the way around the coast of Islay. Today I came across a similar challenge two men are planning, although slightly wetter. About a decade ago the Islay Masters Swimming club swam across Loch Indaal from Bowmore to Bruichladdich (or was it the other way around? Not entirely sure), crossed the Sound of Islay and even tackled the famous Corryvreckan. Justin Fornal and Chad Anderson are planning an even bigger, more ambitious swim:

The Great Islay Swim. In a week in July 2017 they plan to swim all around Islay. Starting from Ardbeg they will swim clockwise around Islay in seven days. Swimming between 4-8 hours a day and covering around 15-20 kilometres per day. Pulling a whisky cask they are planning to fill with whisky from all the distilleries (similar to the Islay Pillage a number of years ago), which will later be bottled and sold. And they’re fundraising for the RNLI.

(via John Lenker on Twitter)

Islay Blogging Roundup NC #3

Islay Blogging RoundupI had hoped to write this a bit earlier (it’s exactly month again since the Islay Blogging Roundup NC #2), but a variety of things got into the way. Time to catch up now then, here’s the latest collection of Islay (and Jura) related blog posts I found interesting:

Not on the RSPB Islay blog but on the RSPB Liverpool blog I came across an entry about a birdwatching visit to Islay: Holiday to Idyllic Islay, 19th to 23rd February 2017 – Led by Aquila Ecology.

The iLaddie decided to perform an experiment: Blending Bruichladdich LaddieMP5. He claims it was successful.

I’ve mentioned Kate’s (who I haven’t met in person yet) work and Islay visits as well as Anna (who I’ve met a couple of times while she was working and living on Islay) a couple of times, now Anna writes about Kate’s work: Inspired by Islay.

An interesting write up about a Bruichladdich whisky tasting in Ireland: The sound of Islay (no, not the Sound of Islay, that’s something different).

As if by coincidence the next one is a quick jump across the Sound of Islay to Jura for A day in the life “Rachael jones”.

Heiko is a regular visitor to Islay and also quite fond of burgers (I like that man, Islay whisky and burgers, he’s certainly in my good books). He has recently published a burger book and is celebrating with a Surf’n’Turf Burger.

Jake on the Distiller Blog claims The Debate Over Terroir Rages Away on Islay. Which side are you on?

Gordon Yates has been back on Islay again, you can read about it in Forty Shades of Grey and Hunter and Hunted.

Lynne writes about her visits to Ardbeg Distillery, Isle of Islay, Scotland and Caol Ila Distillery, Isle of Islay, Scotland. She also visited the Finlaggan Cross, Eileen Mòr, Isle of Islay, Scotland as well as The Kildalton High Cross, Isle of Islay, Scotland.

Julia Garner has a bunch of posts about her Islay visit in February, including Islay beach findsSaligo Bay – two versionsIslay wildlife highlights and Singing Sands and otters.

On the Port Ellen Primary School blog we can read about the My Place Photography Competition. They also celebrated Burns Day.

I’ve watched them many times on Islay, in particular at Ardnave and at Kilchoman. Scotland’s Nature writes Why the chough needs a champion.

An Islay blogging roundup wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the Islay Birds blog (which by the way will be 10 years old in two months). While Ian (who writes the blog with the help of dozens of contributors, even I have been able to contribute a few times I’m immensely pleased to say) was away for three weeks James ran the blog for him. Some of the highlights include a Cackling Goose, a possible Gyr Falcon and a variety of birds including a Glaucous Gull.

And that’s it for this Islay blogging roundup. Hopefully I’ll get the next one out a bit earlier than in a month…

Brazilian visitors to Islay video

Islay on VideoAs my Portuguese is rather limited (that’s an understatement by the way) I didn’t understand much in tonight’s video (only the few seconds in English to be precise). Still I found this video of Vinicius Bustamante’s visit to Islay quite interesting. They (there seems to have been at least one other couple?) stayed in the Glenmachrie Guesthouse and visited several distilleries:

According to Google Translate’s version of the video description he very much enjoyed Islay, the whisky, the sheep and the beaches, so he hopes to return soon.