You had probably expected this post yesterday but I decided to put The Islay Sessions post up first, it's great that this traditional music festival was so successful last year and even better that it will be followed up this year. Now back to our two week autumn trip. Let me start by saying that we had a magnificent time and it really does get better with each visit. It was so good to see so many friends again and to finally meet up with others who I've often emailed with but never met in person before. In the two weeks we were on Islay I took 2,143 pictures, created 31 new panorama pictures and I've shot almost 40GB of video. This should keep me busy during the long and dark winter evenings to come!
Islay Ferry MV Finlaggan
Our Islay visit started with the embarkation on the Islay Ferry MV Finlaggan at Kennacraig, a first for us and much to our pleasure I might add. Perhaps the ship is a bit too "posh" here and there and I would have loved to see that some of the "Fancy Stuff" would have been traded in for WiFi coverage but it isn't, perhaps something for the near future? A pleasant surprise was the travelling time, from Kennacraig to Port Askaig in well under two hours. Now this raises the question why there is a cafeteria on board the vessel when you're only a little over 1 1/2 hours on board (over two to Port Ellen)? In a limited sort of way they are competing with the local restaurants on Islay. In my humble opinion a coffee bar would be good enough, as long as they serve a dram too! Despite the absence of WiFi we enjoyed the Finlaggan much more than we had expected. Well done Calmac! Too bad though that the ferry will be taken off the Islay Route for four months starting November 1st! Continue reading....
On our first day, it was Sunday, we had a lovely drive over the island in very mixed weather conditions, many heavy showers followed by beautiful clear spells and lovely light conditions during which we spotted an Eagle. During one of the longer sunny moments we had a nice walk at Sanaigmore going east towards Port na Luing passing the huge cobblestone beach. You can walk here for hours and when the Outback Gallery is open you can enjoy a good coffee and beautiful artwork afterwards.
Pink House in Shore Street Bowmore
The following Monday, a day with many showers and some dry moments we started off with a lovely walk in the woods around Loch Skerrols followed by the obligatory shopping at the Co-op in Bowmore. Driving back to Bridgend I took a picture of the pink house on Shore Street in Bowmore. There was quite a fuzz about it and although some might not like the colour pink I think it looks quite alright. Later in the week I took a picture with my telelens from across the loch and even from that distance the pink house really stands out!
The afternoon was spent at Bruichladdich Distillery, the only distillery where we never did a guided tour although I had been there quite often and also did a personal tour a few years ago. Now that Remy Cointreau has taken over the distillery we thought it would be a good time to find out about any upcoming changes and I've learned that there are quite a few. First of all the distillery will increase production by starting 24x7 shifts which is good news for employment on the island and another very interesting fact was that Remy Cointreau wants to make the Botanist Gin of Bruichladdich as big as the whisky, which is quite astonishing. There won't be many other big changes which is good I guess although I did learn that Mark Reynier is no longer working on Islay but in Edinburgh and I've been told that Port Charlotte Distillery will be built in approximately four years from now. After tasting a few magnificent drams, I particularly liked the Bruichladdich Organic, we visited Debbies for great coffee and cake! In the evening I enjoyed the dark clouds near Loch Finlaggan and a quite dramatic light from the setting sun behind the hiils. More about our two week autumn trip soon!
Debbies Minimarket Sign
Lone Tree on a hill at sunset