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