100 years ago, on the 6th of October 1918, the Troopship HMS Otranto sunk off Islay's west coast, merely half a mile from the coast near Machir Bay. In this terrible tragedy almost 400 soldiers lost their lives. Today, on the 6th of October 2018, a Commemoration Service, led by Reverend Valerie Watson, was held at Kilchoman Military Cemetery to honor those who lost their lives, the survivors and the folk on Islay who treated the men with dignity and respect.
The walk up to Kilchoman Military Cemetery
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Robin Smith, a one time resident of Islay, and frequent visitor since, sent me an email a few weeks ago with a link to a very nice video. Robin writes that despite the weather not being the greatest he did manage to fly his drone to take some very nice shots of Bowmore, Gartbreck, Bridgend, Nerabus, Kilchiaran, The Big Strand, Port Charlotte, Kilchoman and last but not lease some great views of the Cultoon Stone Circle. I'm sure you'll enjoy this one.
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The Islay Book Festival is gearing up for its most ambitious edition yet with events across the island from Thursday to Sunday (27-30 September). Top crime writer Lin Anderson and acclaimed author Bernard MacLaverty, a former Islay High English teacher, are among the big names headed for the four-day literary fest that has become an established part of the island's cultural and events calendar.
Local children's author Mary McGregor and Lynn MacDonald, editor of the Islay Gaelic Songbook, are also on a programme that ranges from sea-themed storytelling in An-Tigh Seinnse pub in Portnahaven on Thursday night to a "Get-it-written" poetry workshop with Chrys Salt at Islay House on Sunday morning.
Kids highlights include an appearance by Alan Dapre's much-loved Porridge the Tartan Cat at the Gaelic college, detective fun and games at the Museum of Islay Life with "Museum Mystery Squad" writer Mike Nicholson and Mary McGregor reading stories at Gruinart RSPB on Sunday afternoon. Read more....
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Fantastic! That's for me the best word to describe the rebuilt Machrie Hotel. After having visited the place several times during the reconstruction phase I have become quite impressed with the way it has been rebuilt. The beautiful front, in which you still recognise the original Machrie Hotel, almost hides the fact that this is a very large hotel. The true scale of the Machrie Hotel can be properly appreciated if you walk around the hotel to the modern looking south-side of the hotel, the part which is a few metres away from the Golf Course. This side of the hotel has the very large windows which let in the stunning light from the south-west and opens up amazing views over the stunning golf course and Laggan Bay.
The interior is just as beautiful as the exterior. Because of the many windows the light is beautiful and the views from many rooms and lounges are great. Combine that with modern furniture, Scandinavian style according to their website, and a beautiful palette of warm colours and you immediately feel well. The Machrie offers Classic rooms, Deluxe rooms, Executive rooms and several special rooms and suites. Prices start from around £145 per night in winter to £235 in summer for a classic room with breakfast. Continue reading...
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We have not turned into some sort of job website overnight but the fact is that Islay has quite a few vacancies at the moment and unemployment figures seem to be very low, although I can't provide any official figures on that. Staff is in demand in all sorts of businesses and as tourism is growing, resulting in the hotel and catering business in Islay growing as well, more staff is needed to provide a good service. Job adverts on Islay are mostly published in the Ileach Newspaper so if you are looking for work that's probably the first place I would look. Finding a job is one thing, finding accommodation if you're not already living on Islay is another thing and mostly almost impossible to get. Therefore it's great that some employers offer not only work but accommodation too such as Bridgend Hotel & Restaurant, they currently have three vacant positions, see the job advert below:
Bridgend Hotel is now open all Year round and are looking to recruit the following Team Members with immediate start!
Full time Kitchen Porter and 2 x Chef De Partie’s .
Accommodation is available. Competitive Rates of Pay being offered.
Apply please forward a Copy of your C.V to Lorna McKechnie - Hotel Manager
Tel: 01496 810212. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
And as I wrote above, for more job opportunities on Islay make sure to visit the Ileach Newspaper where you can get a paper or digital subscription worldwide.
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We're back from our Summer Break and are very happy to be back on Islay. Gone are the hot summer days and endless sunshine as it's raining while I write this post but despite that, it feels so good to be back on our beautiful island. It was yesterday that I noticed a very nice video shot from a drone which shows some of the beautiful beaches on Islay and it even features our wee cottage. Featured are the Singing Sands in Port Ellen, Machir Bay, Claggain Bay and the beaches in and near Port Charlotte. Please find the video below, it's very much watching over and over again! Enjoy!
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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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