The entire world has changed in the course of a couple of weeks. Everything what was normal is no longer so due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
I can spend a lengthy article on the ins and outs of the virus outbreak but the long and the short of it is that most businesses, hotels, and tourist attractions on Islay are closed for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, all events are cancelled for the months ahead. Also Calmac announced that there are travel restrictions in place. The Scottish Government announced today that:
ferry companies will no longer take non-essential travellers. Ferries will be for those who live on our islands, who have an essential need to travel to or from the mainland and for essential supplies or business. Nothing else.
VisitScotland posted the following advice:
In light of the current situation, we encourage you all to stay safe. We know your travel plans have been affected, but Scotland will welcome you with open arms when it's safe again in the future. For now, please stay at home.
For the latest information from the Scottish Government please visit www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
Everyone on Islay is looking forward to welcoming you all as soon as the situation has returned to normal. Let's all use our common sense, stay at home, follow government guidelines, care about the folk in your community and hopefully we can leave this behind us as soon as possible.
Stay safe and healthy everyone!
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It has been quiet now for some time re the new planned distillery near Farkin, between Port Ellen and Laphroaig. The first plans for the new Distillery were officially presented in April 2018. Since then it has been quiet. The new owners had submitted their plans to Argyll and Bute Council for approval and there has been some local consultation as well. Not everyone was pleased with the new distillery. Some folk didn't like the exterior design of the buildings and others were opposed to a new distillery altogether, especially in that particular location.
A couple of weeks ago however new plans were submitted to the council showing a rather different design of the buildings with a more traditional exterior, more or less in line with the other distilleries. It's another step forward for Elixir Distillers who are keen on starting their venture on Islay. Continue reading...
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A few weeks ago work has commenced on the long-awaited foot and cycle path between the villages of Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte. This will be a great asset for locals and others visiting the Rhinns. At present you'll need to walk and cycle on the road which can be a dangerous undertaking, especially for the younger ones. If the new path will be anywhere near as good as the distillery path, and the signs point in that direction, it will be wonderful.
Gordon Currie from Port Ellen is doing all the work and at this stage they are preparing the ground for the path and laying the foundations for the bridges. The planning is that the path will be finished at the end of the year. Fingers crossed.
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After having spent most of our life in the Netherlands, our wee family came to Islay some six years ago to actually live on the island about which I’d been writing so much on my website www.islayinfo.com since 2004.
Some time ago, however, we’ve decided that the time has come for us to begin a new chapter in another country, Germany.
Living the dream to stay, work and bring up our daughter on a remote Scottish Island was fantastic, it couldn't have been any better. We have learned so much about Islay and its fantastic people and we are still learning. It really takes time to properly understand how it all works here and some things will always remain a mystery to us. We feel very privileged and grateful that we had the chance to experience life on Islay and that we’ve been welcomed and accepted by the locals in such a wonderful way. We’ve made some really good friends whom we’re hoping to keep, even if we’re 900 miles away, as the crow flies.
All things considered, now is a good time for us for the “big move”: We’ll be moving to a place which brings us closer to our family and friends who are (just like us) not getting any younger and whom we've missed a bit too much in recent years. And we’ll be moving on to pursue new dreams and do other, and new, exciting things.
Annika will attend a bi-lingual High School and Ela has been offered a good job at her old playground, the gym, as a trainer, nutritionist and Yoga teacher.
For myself work won't change all that much. I will keep doing what I’ve loved doing all those years: promoting Islay as well as maintaining and building websites through Braveheart Web Design. Working in the digital world has the advantage of being able to work from any place on the planet, providing there is an internet connection!
Of course, we'll be coming back often to stay in touch and for our "Islay Fix". However, we are not gone yet. The official move will be somewhere in June or July but we will leave Islay at the end of March for a month or so to start the preparations for our new life.
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I couldn't believe my eyes when I returned home from Ardnave early in the afternoon when I spotted a White Tailed Sea Eagle on top of a Barnacle Goose close to the RSPB Gruinart visitor centre. When we pulled over the Sea Eagle flew off, dropped the Goose which escaped, and landed a few metres further on the grass next to another Sea Eagle!! I couldn't believe my luck. I've never seen such a spectacular display of these majestic birds. It's already hard to spot one so close by, now I had two of them on the ground in front of my camera. After some 10 minutes or so they flew off scaring some more Barnacle Geese further out towards Craigens. Below are the eight photos I managed to take. Wow, what an experience that was!
Continue to more Eagle Photos
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The dark days before Christmas are here so now is a good time to start thinking about Christmas presents! Before you rush off to Amazon and the likes you might want to consider doing some of your Online Christmas shopping on Islay and support the local businesses as there is plenty of choice, as you can see on our online shops on Islay page.
But there is more. The Islay Celtic Craft shop in Portnahaven also sell their items online through Ebay and you can find a wide selection of Islay and Celtic related items. For an overview visit their Ebay page. Jane Taylor's beautiful whisky prints can also be purchased online and if children's books are your thing you must visit the website of Ailsa Press, they have some lovely children's books.
We also sell our own photos online through Island Light Photography. All the photos on Islay Info, on our popular Facebook page and many many more can be purchased as canvases or prints and can be mounted or framed. If folk on Islay order framed prints we have it professionally done by Islay Studios. You can also download the file and have it printed with your local print shop. For more info see www.islay.photos. We also sell our mounted prints at the Blue Letter Box in Port Ellen.
You can find a wide range of whisky soaps, special gift packs, creams, scenting candles, balms and other bathing and personal care products on the www.spiritedsoaps.com website and for those of you with a sweet tooth I can recommend the Islay tablet shop. The attractive online Islay Shop is another great place where you can find a nice collection of gifts such as Jewellery, calendars, t-shirts and whisky gifts. Continue reading...
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Monday the 21st of October saw the start of the winter timetable for the Calmac ferries on the Clyde and west coast of Scotland. The wintertime is always the period that ferries get their annual maintenance and are taken out of service for several weeks and/or are rescheduled on other routes, to cover for other ferries. This has an impact on the number of ferries sailing to and from Islay and also on which ferries are sailing the Islay route. The winter schedule runs until the 26th of March 2020.
Below is an overview of the ferries servicing the Islay Route during the winter schedule of 2019 - 2020
Monday 21 October to 23rd November:
One ferry service with the Finlaggan
From 24 November to 31 December:
Two ferry service with the Hebridean Isles & Finlaggan
1 Januari 2020 to 17 February:
One ferry service with the Finlaggan
From 18th February to 6th of March:
Two ferry service with the Hebridean Isles & the Isle of Arran. Continue reading...
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This edition in the Ileach: The Islay Boys Ltd., owners of Islay Ales, are planning to relocate the Islay Ales Brewery to Glenegedale into a new building which will also include a craft Whisky & Rum distillery. Experts such as Jim McEwan and Scott Williams are already on board and there are investment opportunities available. The Ileach Newspaper has a full page advert with more information.
New name: Laggan Bay Brewery and Distillery
This weekend, Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th October, there will be an open day at Islay Ales from 10am to 5pm for everyone who is interested to hear more about the new venture.
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Islay has a new festival to add to the growing number of annual events and this one has a focus on local produce in the widest sense of the word. The Taste Islay and Jura Festival is all about Food, Drink and Foraging. Both islands together have ten whisky distilleries and three gin distilleries. There is Islay Wines and Islay Ales and there is great food from the sea and land such as oysters, lobster, crab and fish and lamb, beef, venison and plenty of foraged foods too.
Taste Islay and Jura Weekend
The Taste Islay and Jura Festival will be held from Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd September 2019 and is organised by the local marketing group. There are many fantastic events taking place during this weekend so make sure to visit Islay and Jura and join the fun. Below is an overview of everything taking place but please note that some of these events have to be booked in advance. For bookings visit the new festival website
Friday 20th September
On Friday head over to Jura and Lussa Gin for a special Taste of Lussa Tour. A special 1 hour session discovering how the three women of Lussa create their gin, enjoy it paired with locally sourced venison and shellfish, all with a juniper influence. Read more.....
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Scottish Whisky is booming and the production is on the rise in almost every distillery in Scotland. The rise in production comes from both the new distilleries that have been built, or are opening soon, as well as from the existing distilleries. If you look at Islay you can see that most distilleries have increased, sometimes doubled, their production in recent years, through distilling more hours per day and/or expanding the capacity itself.
One of these distilleries which have gone through this process is Kilchoman Distillery as their expansion plans have almost come to fruition, they are currently in the commissioning phase. This means that Kilchoman Distillery theoretically will be capable of producing 480,000 liters of alcohol annually. That is a huge achievement if you compare it to how they started in 2005 as a small scale farm distillery. In an article on their website Anthony Wills writes that "the investment of £6 million amounts to almost an entirely new distillery in itself". Read more...
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