Supporting Islay (and other islands) businesses

Islay Businesses

When wrote that I wasn’t going to be able to visit Islay for the foreseeable future because of the Coronavirus pandemic I mentioned that I was I aware this was going to hit many local businesses, but that I didn’t have a solution to help them. I also believe (and fear) that we’re going to have to live with the various restrictions related to “social distancing” (I know, horrible term, I hope we can find something better) for quite some time. Just today Calmac announced that they wouldn’t accept any new advance bookings until 15/Jul. From everything I’ve read and seen so far I wouldn’t be surprised if certainly the first phase will last 4-6 months and there will be impacts for at least 12-18 months, depending on how quick a vaccine can be delivered. I know nobody wants to hear that, but I believe (and fear) that’s realistic. So what can we do to help local businesses? I still don’t have a solution (and probably never will), but at least there are some first shoots and ideas:

While the main hit will of course be on direct tourism businesses like accommodation providers, tour guides and transport businesses (and I freely admit I don’t have clue how to help them) there will be a secondary impact on a lot of smaller makers. Small businesses with one or only a handful of employees, producing a variety of goods, often related to local materials and traditions. They often heavily rely on tourists buying their products, be it in their own premises, be it at tourism attractions. With hardly any or even no tourists coming at the moment they lose a large chunk or even all of their income. At least some of them also sell online (or will soon) and at least as long as they can still ship their orders this is where Rhoda’s idea comes in:

Rhoda (who among other things runs Tiree Tea) has set up isle2o – Support the Scottish islands during Covid-19 by shopping from the comfort of your sofa! It’s a directory of island based businesses which sell online, so you can order from home to support them. As of writing this there are five Islay based businesses and one Jura based business listed, but I’m sure there will soon be plenty more. So why not take a look at the listings and if you find something you fancy place an order?

You might have noticed that for this post I’ve created a new category, “Islay Businesses”. There’s of course a reason for that. I’m going to try to promote a number of Islay (and Jura and Colonsay) businesses here over the coming weeks, in particular those who also sell online in some shape or form. It might help, it might not, but I’m certainly going to try. In the current situation I think we’ve got to just try everything possible.

Video from an Islay visit in 2003 (includes cat)

Islay on Video

As for obvious reasons we can’t travel to Islay at the moment and the Islay festival 2020 was cancelled today I will try to ramp up posting here again. I’ll try to find and share as many Islay things as I can over the coming weeks (or even months), so that you don’t have to search for it. Of course I will not find everything, so if you come across something you think worth sharing by all means let me know. Cats, kittens, dogs and other cute animals are always a bonus, so the video I’m going to start with contains a cat:

I hope you enjoyed the video and spotted the Islay cat. If you have a cute cat/ dog/ other animal, can film it being cute and upload it to YouTube let me know and I’ll share it.

Sadly no Islay visit for me for the foreseeable future

Islay News

Unless you live in a cave (or the Big Brother house in Germany) this post probably won’t contain any huge surprises. With a heavy heart I’ve just cancelled my upcoming Islay visit in April. Regular readers and anyone who knows me will be aware how important in particular that visit is to me in the annual calendar, as it is the Islay walking week. I also fear my usual visit in June might not happen.

The reason is of course the dreaded Coronavirus/ Covid-19/ whateverthecorrectnameis. It’s all over the news, all over mainland Europe countries have gone into lockdown, the UK is now starting to (belatedly?) follow suit. The latest guidance as of writing this is “PM says everyone should avoid office, pubs and travelling”. While important to me personally I admit travelling to Islay for a holiday is “non-essential travel”. My employer has implemented a working from home where possible policy to support “social distancing”, providing regular updates, since Friday I’m working from home. Keeping in mind my major heart surgery a few years back and a few other factors I believe I’m in the “high risk” category, so I’m going to be safe rather than sorry. Travelling most of the length of the UK is not something I’d be comfortable with in these circumstances.

This whole situation is obviously also very bad and concerning for many small businesses on Islay, in particular in the tourism sector and related other businesses. If tourists don’t visit Islay these businesses lose their income, in worst case they might even go bankrupt and lose their business. I understand all of the Islay distilleries have closed their visitor centres until further notice, another hit to Islay’s tourism industry. I don’t know what the answer/ solution to this is, all I know is that continuing as if nothing was happening is not an option. I don’t think anyone would want the UK to be in a situation similar to Italy where hundreds of people die and medical staff in the hospitals have to make decisions who they are going to save and who they are going to let die because they simply don’t have the capacities.

What I do know is that the money I’m not spending now will find its way to Islay at some point. As soon as it is safe and possible to travel again I will return to catch up.

Dave’s Islay holiday video

Islay on Video

Dave went on a Scottish Grand Tour in 2019 with I believe his partner and some friends (as well as a German Shepherd dog). On that tour they took their caravan to Islay, staying at the Port Mòr campsite. They visited a variety of places, which they filmed from the ground as well as the air. Here is the video Dave edited:

A nice mixture of views from their adventures and from the looks of it a very happy and excited dog playing on the beach and at Finlaggan. Thanks for sharing, Dave!

Video from a walk on the Oa, Islay

Islay on Video

Haven’t blogged here for far too long again. So let me take you out on a walk on the Oa in the south of Islay. Cavavaux (not sure if that’s his name or if it means something else) has a good number of hillwalking in Scotland videos on his channel, including some from Islay and Jura. Here’s the first one I thought worth sharing:

Some great views from the American Monument and from Beinn Mhor, the highest hill on the Oa at 202m. Brought back some nice memories. I hope you’ve enjoyed the video as much as I have. Thanks for sharing, Cavavaux.

Nice Islay 360° video from Sail Scotland

Islay on Video

My first Islay 360° videos covered Lossit Bay and Kilchoman beach. But of course there are others recording those type of video as well: Sail Scotland has just published a whole series of 360° videos from a variety of coastal locations around Scotland. Of course there’s one of Islay as well, visiting distilleries and lighthouses, going kayaking and more:

While not in 360° there’s also an interesting video of a sailing yacht in the famous Corryvreckan whirlpool just north of Jura:

I hope you enjoyed both videos, I’m hoping to add another 360° video to my collection soon as well. Not entirely sure yet where it will take you, either to a popular beach or to one of Islay’s largest villages.

New Year’s brunch with Islay whisky and Viennese waltzes

Islay Whisky News & Links

Happy New Year! The new decade is under way, although some things haven’t changed: Same as the last two decades or so I’m starting my new year with a brunch with an Islay single malt while listening to the New Year’s Concert from Vienna. Here’s what I’m eating and drinking today:

Picture of a breakfast table with scrambled eggs, salmon, fresh made bread and Port Charlotte Islay single malt whisky
New Year’s Islay whisky brunch

This is what is (or as I’m writing this mostly was) on the table:

Very enjoyable, the food, the drink and the music.

I wish you and your families a great new year, hopefully with many Islay visits and many nice Islay drams!

New Year’s Eve (and soon Day) Islay whisky

Islay Whisky News & Links

On Christmas Eve (and Christmas Day) it was a Laphroaig, now it’s time for a different Islay whisky for New Year’s Eve (and New Year’s Day once it has arrived). On my personal blog I wrote about the music I’m listening to this evening and what I’m eating, but of course the Islay whisky belongs on this blog. For tonight we’re travelling over to the Rhinns of Islay, for a special Bruichladdich:

Picture of a Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Bourbon Cask 2003 Valinch Islay single malt whisky
New Year’s Eve (and soon Day) Islay whisky

I’m not entirely sure how long I’ve had this bottle, but as it was distilled in 2003 and according to the label aged for 14 years I must have filled and bought it some time in 2017. It is cask no 917, a bourbon barrel, distilled 15/Oct/2003. My bottle is no 221 of 323, bottled at 56.8%.

It’s very nice, so I’m going to enjoy some tonight and some more on New Year’s Day while listening to the New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna as usual. What’s your New Year’s Islay dram?

New Islay video: Kilchoman beach in 360°

Islay on Video

In addition to enjoying some nice Laphroaig with some smoked nuts last night I also got busy with a little “Christmas present” for you: Another Islay video. Another 360° Islay video to be precise. Last year I shared a 360° video of Lossit Bay with you, the new video is of Kilchoman beach and Machir Bay. We start at the car park, walk through the dunes and end up on the beach at low tide, where we visit the wreck of the Patti. While you’re watching the video you can look around in the video in whichever direction you want. Ahead, back, left, right, the choice is yours. Just move the view by dragging with your finger or mouse. If you’re on a mobile device and go full screen you should also be able to just turn/move your device and the view will change. And here’s the video, seven glorious minutes on Kilchoman beach:

I hope you enjoyed the video and looking around in all directions. Hopefully you didn’t get scared too much if you spotted me on occasion, one of the perils of 360° video, it’s almost impossible to not be in the picture at some point. I know the image quality / resolution isn’t the best at times, this was filmed with a fairly basic beginners camera bought at a discount about two years ago. Once I’ve learned more about filming 360° videos and if you like this type of video I’ll consider investing properly into a much higher quality camera.

Smoky Christmas Eve with an Islay whisky

Islay Whisky News & Links

May be a slightly unusual combination, but this is what I’m enjoying on Christmas Eve 2019: A Laphroaig Càirdeas Triple Wood with some Hickory Smoked Nuts (Almonds, Cashew and Macadamia). Just because I can and because I like it.

Picture of a Laphroaig Cairdeas Triple Wood with a Hickory Smoked Nut Selection
Smoky Christmas Eve with an Islay whisky

And that is pretty much all for tonight. Only thing left to say is: Merry Christmas to you, your family and friends and whoever you’re celebrating with!