We made it back home safely today after two fantastic weeks in Scotland from which the last one, and best one, was on Islay. Let me first thank everyone for the very warm welcome we received, it was heartwarming, which ultimately made the departure extremely difficult for us. Even harder with the knowledge that it will take a wee bit longer this time before we return. By by then we will be travelling with the three of us, something we look forward to very much. I wrote down some highlights below and will put the "(almost) full travel report" online later this week. It's almost ready!
Like Jeremy wrote in his nature report yesterday, it was indeed a crazy week. We had all sorts of weather including snow, sun, rain, hail, sleet, wind and everything in between. True Scottish weather with four seasons in a short period of time. It's amazing how fast time went in this last week. We didn't make any fixed plans, we travelled over the island and did what we felt like doing, in my opinion the best approach. We spent the first Sunday in beautiful weather at Sanaigmore where we visited the Outback Gallery from Petra Pearce, enjoyed the beautiful art and coffee and admired the gallery. This is a fantastic place to go to, specially if you can combine it with a beautiful walk at Sanaigmore Bay. Not to be missed!!
Monday was a day with different faces weatherwise, a mixture of rain and some sunny spells, and in the evening we had dinner with most members of the Velo Clud 'd Ardbeg. If you ever wonder how brian get's his energy for those long bike rides, take a look at the picture! Tuesday was wet and windy but wonderful and I spent an interesting evening with Gordon Bermingham from islay.co.uk. Watch this space for more and interesting news about our planned partnership. Continue reading....Wednesday already and time flies.... Snow on the hills in the morning and a bitterly cold wind howling around the house, brrrrrr. Great day to wake up early and after we spent some time at Port Askaig to take pictures of the Paps we meet Mags, she is off to Jura and we decided to go as well. Wonderful light conditions, snow showers in between bright sunny spells, a new temp Jura ferry and another fantastic day. We spent the afternoon on Islay and in the evening dinner at an Taigh Osda. We received a warm welcome by the owners, Paul and Joan Graham. A lovely and very dedicated couple who turned the Abbottsford into a top class hotel and dito restaurant. We had a fabulous dinner, had a look at several rooms and were very much impressed by the style and level of comfort the rooms had to offer.
Snow Shower over Islay seen from Jura
Snow Shower over the Rhinns
Thursday... wish we could stop time for a month or so..... Overnight saw more snow on the hills and also in the lower parts, although the sun does it's best to melt it all away. Overall a fine day with some showers but beautiful blue skies in between. We spent a lot of time at Loch Gruinart and had another fantastic day. Friday a whole different story. The day started very nice with sunshine and later in the afternoon the rain started. We spent most of the day near Port Ellen, fell asleep in the car at Claggain Bay, is this an age thing?, and decided to visit Laphroaig in the afternoon to claim our drams, since we both are friends of Laphroaig. We decided to do the 3.30 tour and when we left the distillery it was almost three hours later. Vicky did the tour and she is fantastic, she really knows her stuff and it was one of the best tours I had so far! Sorry for the picture Vicky, there is no escape now :-)
Saturday already and we leave Islay in the afternoon. After seeing Mark and Helga in their new studio at Bridgend and Susan Campbell near Machir Bay we headed for the ferry. It has been raining most of the day and it still did when the ferry left. Somehow the rain made it easier to leave but we still felt very sad. A week really is too short, we wanted to do so much more and meet up with many more people but time was so limited. Nevertheless, we had such a wonderful time and enjoyed the island so much in the wintertime. Don't believe all the stories the Ilich tell you about horrendous weather and the fact that you shouldn't visit Islay in the winter. They only tell you that to have some quiet time for themselves ;-) If I were you I would certainly make that trip in the winter and discover for yourself that even then it's fantastic to be on the island, to enjoy the sometimes wild weather, see plenty of wildlife, enjoy the fabulous light and spend time comfortably indoors with good friends after a refreshing day out and about.
Snowdrops Bridgend Woods
We will miss you all very much and will be back soon! Thanks :-)
More images will follow soon on the Islay Pictures Photo Blog