Winter 2010 Visit

After a gap of 3 years we decided to make another Winter visit to Islay , we had no idea of the way it was going to end……

Thursday 25th November

We awoke to a sight we didn’t particularly didn’t want to see at 4am in the morning , snow ! Maybe at this point we should have thought about not going…….

(click on photos to see full size version)

Lots of Snow !It was slow going at first on virtually ungritted roads but by the time we reached Hexham the roads were clear and we had a beautiful sunny drive up to Kennacraig .

Kennacraig At Kennacraig we bumped into a good friend who was also heading over to Islay , that well known Scottish artist Ian Gray . We both had to reverse onto the ferry (for reasons best known to Calmac….) , somewhat easier for me than Ian , but even harder for a large item of Electrical equipment on a lowloader that was also heading over !  We ended up catching up on quite a bit of gossip on the ferry over before heading our own ways once arriving on the Isle . After a stop off to pick up a few bits and pieces we eventually arrived at our accommodation in Port Charlotte , the Lorgba cottages . After a freshen up we headed off to the Port Charlotte Hotel for something to eat and an evening of drinking and gossip . We met up with Ian again , a couple of his friends Andrew and Barbara and later on Mark Usworth . After a couple of pints of Angus Og (this is my Fav Islay Ale , superb) , a Black Bottle 10yo (woo-hoo) and the new PC (the multivintage one….) Ian produced some Springbank samples , his own bottling , a rather nice 12yo i think and a 1999 ‘Local Barley’ . A good night was had by all !

Sample label

Friday 26th November

This morning we decided to forgo the motor and took the bus to Ardbeg , it was a cold but sunny morn and a lovely journey across the Isle .It’s always nice to let someone else do the driving……it also means i can have a drink !

 Ardbeg in the winter sunWe’re Back !

After a cup of tea we were joined by Mickey and enjoyed a good natter and a few drams . All is well in the distillery…..
We had lunch , which as usual was excellent , the Islay Crab Chowder and Homemade Raspberry trifle were to die for !
After succumbing to the current Ardbeg Single Cask (which is actually a superb Beg ) we got the bus back to PC , having to change at Bowmore so a quick visit to Duffies was fitted in .
Tonight we just relaxed in the cottage with a coal fire and a handful of CS Begs ( the new O.b. SC , 33.91 , 33.96 and Renaissance) .
Another full day to go tomorrow !!!

Saturday 27th November

Bit of a shock when we got up this morning , Snow ! Not a lot but a sprinkling .

Snow at the cottage Port charlotte

We  went for a bit of a drive down the bottom end of the Rhinns , a gorgeous drive in the Clear , sunny winter sunshine .

The gorgeous Mel ! One of the many Bays on islay Some scruff we wandered across....

On the way back we popped into Bruchladdich to see Mary but she’s stopped working Saturdays , we then went over to Bowmore to pick up a few bits and bobs (including a new Bunnahabhain 12 at the Spar shop , on offer at £28.99) and  returned for a relaxing afternoon in the cottage in front of the fire with a few drams . We decided to go over to the PC hotel for a meal and a few drinks and bumped into Andrew and Barbara again , amongst the drams tried was the new Laddie Organic , not as good as the 2003 imo , we then returned to the cottage to see out the rest of the evening and pack up our belongings .
Portnahaven Panorama

Sunday 28th November

Woke up to a cold , crisp , frosty morning on Islay . We packed the Car and headed to Port Ellen for the morning ferry , all was well on Islay , unfortunately the same couldn’t be said on the mainland……

We arrived in West Loch Tarbert to horizontal , driving snow ! It was slow going along the A83 and just as we got to Rest and be thankful….the police shut it . So we turned around , drove back to Inveraray and then headed up to Crainlarich only to get there and find the A82 was shut down Loch Lomond ! So we headed off down the A84 and A85 to Stirling  in some of the worst conditions i’ve ever drove in . We got off the Ferry at 12.05pm , it was 8pm by the time we got to Stirling…….We gave up , found a room and settled down for the night with a hearty meal and a bit of booze !

Monday 29th November

The Roads were still pretty bad but usable , there was about 6 inches of snow on the car when we went out .  After Breakfast and phonecalls to respective employers we headed off homeward the long way…..The A1 was closed so we headed over to Glasgow , down to Carlisle and then back across to Newcastle , eventually getting home mid-afternoon .


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