It was in May 2006 that we first met Ken and Penny Williams at Rhu House, our favorite Bed and Breakfast in Tarbert, where we usually sleep the night before we go to Islay. Ken and Penny, an elderly and very charming couple from Wales, were joining us at the breakfast table on the morning of our departure and we found out they were going to Islay as well, and even on the same ferry. We saw them several times that week on Islay and had a few brief conversations with them. When they left at the end of the week they told us that they were coming back to Islay the next year in May.
In May 2007 we did see them back and it was so good to meet up with them again. They were both doing fine and invited us over for a coffee at their accommodation, Sornbank in Bridgend. Ken, who has been working for a bank all his life, is now retired and for a hobby he is a stickmaker. He knows some of the gamekeepers on Islay and Jura, where he collects the antlers he uses to make his walking sticks. He even ships his walking sticks to exotic parts of the world, such as Bhutan. You will also find a few of his walking sticks for sale at the Woollen Mill. Ken and Penny really are a lovely couple and I'm sure many locals on Islay and Jura know them. Scott and Katherine from Sornbank know them very well too, and like them a lot as well. They have been visiting the island for 18 years now and said that they were coming back in 2008, again in May and in the same week, as usual.... Continue reading.....When we arrived on Islay in early May this year we were curious if they could make the journey this year as well. After all, they aren't the youngest anymore and you never know what will happen in a year. We can however only guess for their ages since they certainly would not tell anyone how old they are, so that's a well kept secret. When we saw their car parked at Sornbank in the second week of May, we were really glad to know they had made it to Islay, but we didn't stop right away, since they had just arrived and were unpacking the car. It was on Sunday that we caught up with them. They were parked next to the public toilet at Port Ellen and when we drove there and saw their car, we immediately pulled over and parked next to them. We really gave them a surprise when we knocked on their window and all of us were very happy to see each other again. I can still see the expression on their faces when we knocked on the window. On Tuesday that week we had a coffee with them in our cottage at Persabus and they were very happy with the little present we had taken with us from the Netherlands for them, a "delft blue" dish with "stroopwafels", a Dutch delicacy. Later on however, we found out that Jimmy at Bridgend sells "stroopwafels" as well, imagine that!
When we saw them again a couple of days later at Loch Indaal, we found out that they had booked a table for Friday evening at the Harbour-Inn, and so had we because of our anniversary. And there we were on Friday evening, each couple sitting at our own table and after the excellent main course Manuela and I decided to invite them over to our table to enjoy our deserts together. We have had a really good time together and Ken told us that they are already married for more than 50 years. When I asked him what his secret was, he said: "You can always have your own opinion as long as you do what the lady says". But besides being very friendly and polite, Ken is also a real gentleman in heart and soul. When we left the restaurant, Ken took us to his car and gave me a very beautiful, hand made walking stick, which I used several times since. All in all it was a memorable evening which we enjoyed very much but we were also sad to say goodbye. That next day they were leaving Islay to stay another week on Arran but they promised us they would come back to Islay next year in May... And so will we!