It's that time of year again! With the School Holidays coming up we will be heading over to the continent to visit Family and Friends. This means that updates and photos on our Islay Blog, Facebook and Twitter will not be as frequent as you are used to.
As you might or might not know, besides running Braveheart Web Design we are more and more into photography as well and I'm happy to say that It has been a good year for selling photo's through www.islay.photos. Folk from all over the world have ordered either prints, canvases or downloaded digital files to have them printed and framed locally which saves shipping costs and provides more choices.
A few days ago I've finished an important update to our Islay Photo Gallery on the Island Light Photography website. Some of the best Islay photos I have taken in recent years are available for purchase online, you can find them in the Islay Photo Gallery. It's a nice mix and hopefully you'll either get inspired to visit Islay, which I can very much recommend, or perhaps you'd like to purchase a print or file or make a custom order. Anything is possible, well almost!
Anyway, here's to a great Summer, we'll be back early August and we are looking forward to hearing from you.
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This years Islay's Festival looked like the busiest one ever, at least it did to me. There are hardly any "official numbers" but I've been told that there were 2,500 people attending Bruichladdich Open Day, that's almost the entire Islay population. And in between all the whisky tastings, distilleries open days and other whisky related events there was one whih stood out from the rest, not by the number of attendees but by the product that was launched. It was Nerabus Islay Dry Gin, distilled and bottled in Nerabus by John and Audrey Gow. And because today, the 9th of June, is World Gin Day, this is a good opportunity to give you some more information about this second Islay gin distillery.
Nerabus Islay Dry Gin was officially launched on Monday the 28th of May in Bruichladdich Hall. The initial batch of 500 bottles is almost sold out and Audrey Gow, one of the owners, told me that "the launch was fantastic and that they have received brilliant feedback on all aspects." That sounds like they are off to a flying start. Their classic Hebridean Gin is produced with traditional juniper berries, herbs and spices together with an infusion of wild Islay heather to create a unique Dry Gin of character. As I'm not a gin drinker I can't provide any tasting notes I'm afraid but based on the first responses it looks like John and Audrey are going to be busy this year. I wish them lots of success and if you need more information or want to buy a bottle please visit their new website on www.islayginltd.com
Photo by Island Light Photography
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On Friday the 4th of May, at the WW100 commemorations in Port Ellen, Ella Edgars Dancers performed a special Dance based on the events which took place 100 years ago when hundreds of soldiers died when the Otranto and Tuscania sunk in Islay's waters. This dance was performed for a small group dignitaries in Ramsay Hall on May the 4th. Today, at the Islay Festival Bruichladdich Day, it was performed again. See the video below. Enjoy.
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If you're passing or visiting Bruichladdich Distillery in the next days, and you probably will when you're on Islay for the Festival, try to have a look at the other side of the whisky casks outside the distillery. The front has "Bruichladdich" in big letters and on the other side you'll find the word Port Charlotte. Perhaps they'll reverse the casks on Sunday, that remains to be seen! But the wording is there for a very good reason!
This year Bruichladdich will relaunch the Port Charlotte brand and there is an exciting release coming up, a first permanent release of the Port Charlotte 10 and it comes in a cool green modern bottle. And there's also a Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2011. This one is distilled from barley grown on three Islay farms in 2010, Dunlossit, Sunderland and Kilchiaran. The Port Charlotte 10 will be available soon and will be priced at around £50.
And for those who will be present at Bruichladdich Open Day this year, and yes there will be plenty of sunshine, will have the opportunity to buy two other special Port Charlotte expressions, the Port Charlotte 'The Heretic' 2001 for £125 and The Distillery Valinch 50cl for £75.
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Islay has to deal with some problems which need funding, but to put it simply, there is no money. When, as an example, the Islay Community Council wanted to provide facilities for motorhomes on the island they couldn't do much due to a lack of funds. Another issue at the moment is funding for Rangers who do the Beach Cleaning which is at risk. Each year many tons of plastic waste are collected on Islay's beaches, making sure that we can enjoy our beautiful beaches which are one of Islay's most important attractions. With the current financial situation of the Argyll and Bute Council there won't be coming any funds from them to deal with these and other issues. Therefore we need to find an alternative way to generate income. That's where you as a visitor come in.
We need your help
Already a few years ago I had an idea to ask visitors for a voluntary gift to help improve things on the island. See it as a sort of Visitor Tax, the thing you pay in many parts of the world in addition to your accommodation costs. It's usually something like 50 pence or a pound per person per night. I'm sure that many visitors to Islay wouldn't mind paying something extra to support our beautiful island. However, it's a difficult task to organise this, as it's quite an undertaking to collect, register, and account for all these extra monies. Continue reading....
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Now that the weather is improving and the opening of The Machrie hotel is getting nearer it was time for me to have a closer look at the progress. You can see from a distance that is has become a larger building but you can only properly appreciate the size if you walk around it. The interesting bit is that I know the old Machrie Hotel and from what I recall the new Machrie looks at least 4 times bigger overall. The place is buzzing with workers. There are currently 85 people working on the interior and exterior to get everything ready for the opening, which is planned in the summer/autumn of 2018. The bungalows, which are used by the workers, will be demolished when they are no longer needed. It's a huge project and when finished The Machrie will have 47 rooms and will boast a superb bar/restaurant; a private 30 seater cinema; function room; two treatment rooms; a sauna and a small gym.
Machrie Golf Heaven....
When I walked around the construction site I also visited the Golf Course and was utterly impressed! I'm not a golfer, done it only once, but if I would play this would be golf heaven for me. The views over Laggan Bay, the fresh sea breeze, the dunes and the sound of the waves all compliment the immaculate and perfectly maintained 18 holes course. I'm sure many golfers will be very keen to play The Machrie! Below are some impressions of the Hotel and Golf Course. Continue reading..
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Fiona MacGillvray writes: The Islay Natural History Trust’s Visitor Centre in Port Charlotte has opened on Easter Monday with a new, simpler name, the Islay Nature Centre. It is true we have changed the name of the centre a few times over the years, with some still calling it the Field Centre, and from there it has merged into a few formats in an effort to summarise in a title what we offer, as so many are often put off by our little door which unbeknown to them, leads into a vast area of wildlife exploration and information. So the centre is now open with tanks and creatures, tadpoles and bugs, and a plethora of information boards and displays. Please come and visit throughout the season for information, excitement and activities for all ages.
Let us know what wildlife you are seeing around the island and we will put it up on our boards and record it in our sightings. The skylarks are singing, the curlews are ‘cerlewing’ over the moor, and lapwings are combat dancing in the air and peewitting for a mate, scraping a nest in a damp corner of a field. We look forward to seeing you all at some point through the season, either in the centre or on the many activities over the summer which will be announced in due course.
The Islay Nature Centre is open weekdays from April to end of September 10 - 4pm and you get great value for your admission as tickets are valid for a whole week! Admission is free for INHT members and we have wheelchair access and toilet facilities. For more info phone 01496-850288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For updates visit the INHT blog
Published with kind permission of the Ileach Newspaper
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Today was Islay's big day due to the WW100 Commemoration Service and other events which took place in Port Ellen. This morning around 11.30am the Islay Pipe Band and pupils from Islay's schools with flags walked from the Co-Op to the war memorial where the Commemoration Service was held by Minister Valerie Watson in the presence of the Princess Royal and other dignitaries. The service lasted for almost an hour and I've created a video with some highlights. Enjoy!
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On Friday 4 May the Ilich will pay their respects to the fallen and the wounded in the First World War, alongside dignitaries who include the Princess Royal, the First Minister, US Ambassador to UK and the Acting Ambassador of Germany, at a series of events marking the centenary of two of the War’s greatest tragedies.
The day, the most significant in a year-long programme of events marking the island’s contribution to World War One, remembers over 200 islanders who lost their lives in WW1; around 700 US servicemen and British crew who perished when two troop ships (SS Tuscania in February 1918 and HMS Otranto in October 1918) sank off Islay’s coast; and the valiant efforts of the local community in rescuing survivors and respectfully burying the dead.
A service was held at the American Monument in February to mark the day the SS Tuscania went down and another will be held at Kilchoman to commemorate the sinking of HMS Otranto in October, but Friday has long been earmarked as the day that respects are paid to both. Continue reading....
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The new Islay and Jura Distillery Tour Leaflet for 2018 has been published and is now available as download and for viewing online from all the Distillery Pages on Islay Info. The Distillery leaflet is typically the thing you need when you are doing distillery tours on Islay and Jura as it has all information about:
- Opening Hours of all the distilleries on Islay and Jura
- An Overview of the Distillery & Special Tours
- Info on prices of Tours and Tastings
- A section with general info on public transport and restaurants
With this in your pocket, or on your tablet of smartphone, you always know where to get a dram, how to come home if you had too many, where to get that espresso if you need it and where to go if you are hungry. Continue reading...
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