See you next year, Islay (hopefully)

Islay News

Several factors were involved in this decision, but over this belated bank holiday weekend I have made the decision not to travel to Islay this year. Back in March when I wrote Sadly no Islay visit for me for the foreseeable future and also in recent weeks I still had hopes and plans to visit later in the year. I’ve got two weeks off work in October, which I had originally planned for a long Islay visit. But I’ve now decided to make it another staycation in West Berkshire, where I live (and currently work from home. I normally work in Reading, but we’ve been told to work from home until at least the end of the year). I don’t feel I have to justify that decision, but I still would like to explain:

To start with I’m still not comfortable to travel or go anywhere with people in confined spaces. While my GP told me she doesn’t consider me a Covid-19 high risk and I don’t have to shield like some other people I’m still very careful. I’ve read several reports of long term health implications from Covid-19 infections, including heart problems. Having fully recovered and been given a new life after my major heart surgery a few years back I just want to minimise the risks. I haven’t been to a pub or restaurant since March or even February (can’t remember) and obviously haven’t used the dining voucher scheme by the government. I haven’t even been to the beer gardens some of the pubs around where I live have opened. I’d love to, but I must admit I’m feeling physically uncomfortable even when walking past them. Some will say I’m overreacting, that might well be, but that’s how I feel.

Going on the long trip to Scotland with these feelings doesn’t feel right to me. It wouldn’t feel like a holiday. The journey (with over night stops, ferry crossing etc) would be very stressful and even on Islay I couldn’t fully enjoy it. Sure, most of the time I would spend in the cottage and outdoors away from people, but even though it’s probably safe (I know the restaurants, distilleries etc all follow the latest guidelines and do their best to keep everyone safe) I wouldn’t feel comfortable to go for a meal, go to a pub/bar or visiting a distillery. Visiting any friends isn’t very realistic either, I wouldn’t feel comfortable going into anyone’s home.

Finally the news over the last week or so have further tipped me over to the decision not to go. As I’m sure everyone is aware the infections rates, R-values and whatever else they measure have gone up. While it’s probably too early to say that there is talk of a second wave. Across the continent we have significant increases, same as earlier this year where the UK was lagging the continent by a few weeks. Some restrictions have already been put in place, I fear further restrictions might come over the coming weeks. For me personally not the time to plan a trip, just too insecure (I’ve seen it very closely, some people I work with had to cancel their holiday in France the day before they were due to depart as the rules changed).

I’m obviously very disappointed that I won’t visit Islay this year. I hope the situation will improve next year, I’m hoping that there will be an Islay walking week again and that I will have the confidence to travel. Should that turn out to be too early then I’ll have to wait. All I know is that at some point I will be back.

To finish I’d just like to make clear that this is a purely personal decision. It’s no guidance, direction, anything for anyone else. If you want to go and it feels right for you to go, by all means visit Islay. I’ll be happy for you to go, share your pictures and videos and experiences so that others can enjoy them as well. Islay will welcome you, many businesses on Islay are waiting for you, support them in this difficult time.

Great video of the Corryvreckan whirlpool between Jura and Scarba

Jura Excursions

Recently a quite interesting visitor was spotted around Islay and Jura, the Thunder Child II, a very impressive boat. The first XSV20 built by Safehaven Marine in Co Cork, Ireland. Unfortunately it had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but they hope to set a new record for a trans Atlantic crossing soon. This week they didn’t go that far, but visited one of the local attractions where they filmed a great video of the famous Corryvreckan whirlpool:

I’m pretty sure Thunder Child II could have easily coped with even wilder conditions, but even here the waves and views are impressive. I also found their way to “land” their drone after filming them quite interesting (you’ll have to watch the video to see how they do it), first time I’ve seen it done that way.

I can only recommend a boat tour to the Corryvreckan, I went with Jura Boat Tours in June 2019 and enjoyed every minute of it. Seeing the whirlpool up close is a great experience, even if it is running at less than half of its full strength.

Dave’s and Neil’s Islay distillery visits video

Islay on Video

Just enjoying a wee dram of Laphroaig Cask Strength (Batch 009) Islay single malt after a few Scottish real ales (from Drygate, Harviestoun and Fyne Ales. Unfortunately Islay Ales don’t ship to the mainland at the moment) earlier. So there’s nothing better than watching a nice video from an Islay visit with plenty distillery tours in December 2019:

I hope you’ll enjoy the video as well, maybe with a wee dram or two?

Nice walking on Islay (and Jura and Colonsay) video

Islay on Video

While we don’t know when, if it’s going to be this year or next year, at some point we will be able to go walking in the beautiful wide open spaces of Islay, Jura and Colonsay again. Until then we have to watch videos like this, showing walking on mainly Islay, but also Jura and Colonsay, in all weathers, from beautiful sunshine to pouring rain:

There are many ways to walk on Islay: you can go on organised walking holidays like in this video with About Argyll, you can come for the Islay walking week or you can go just for yourself whenever you want and wherever you want.

Islay beaches by drone video

Islay on Video

Let’s visit some Islay beaches from the air. Stuart Lewis visited Islay in 2018 and filmed a variety of beaches ranging from the Singing Sands over Kilchoman beach to the small beach at the pier in Port Charlotte from his drone. Take a look:

I hope you enjoyed this aerial tour of some of Islay’s beautiful sunny beaches. Which beach is your favourite?

Islay Business (2): An Gleann Tablet

Islay Businesses

The second post trying to support Islay businesses during the Coronavirus lockdown, which as we heard in the news today could last 6 months in some shape or form. Today something for those of you with a sweet tooth (especially if you also like your Islay/Jura whisky/gin): An Gleann Tablet.

Screenshot of the An Gleann Tablet - Whisky Connoisseur selection page
An Gleann Tablet – Whisky Connoisseur selection

An Gleann was founded by Jane Mitchell almost 15 years ago as a small cottage business on the Rhinns of Islay a couple of miles outside of Port Charlotte on the road to Portnahaven. As the name says, they make tablet, a Scottish speciality. Being on Islay there’s of course a connection to the famous Islay whisky with the Whisky Connoisseur series. I hope you’ll find something you like.

According to a Facebook post while the shop is closed to visitors the online store is open for business. Practising physical distancing and staying safe.

Very nice Islay scenery video

Islay on Video

It’s time for another nice Islay video, I think. This time created by Naoki Otsuki from Japan (and Canada). The video takes us around Islay, showing various kinds of scenery. It’s a bit different than many other videos, looking closer at the finer details and sometimes taking a different perspective. I very much enjoyed it, I hope you will as well:

Naoki spent five days on Islay, check out the video description on YouTube for the details of what they did while on Islay.

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.

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!

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.