Saturday 23rd April
It’s time for our annual Spring week visit to Islay…… Once again we left at the early hour of 4.30am , the journey up was in a mixture of misty and rain weather wise , it wasn’t until we got close to Kennacraig it became lovely and sunny but windy . The journey over was smooth and sunny….but windy….. Arriving at Carraig Cottages we were in the perfect weather , Clear skys , sun and no wind ! We settled in , freshened up and then went off to the Port Charlotte Hotel for Tea and a drink . Mel had the Thai Red Curry , i had the Braised Lamb Shank . A pint of Angus Og and a couple of drams later ( a PC8 and a Bunnahabhain Cruach Mhona , both good drams but the Bunna definitely shades it ) we headed back to the Cottage to enjoy the evening sunshine and a few drams of Airigh Nam Beist , well i did , Mel had her usual wine .
(click on photos to see full size versions)
Our first full day on Islay , we awoke to an overcast morning , we were going to drive down to Ardbeg and have lunch at the Old Kiln but unfortunately it was shut so instead we went to the Bridgend Hotel and had Sunday lunch there . The Bridgend Hotel is one place that seems to have been getting it’s act together over the past couple of years , The Lunch was fantastic , i had the venison and Mel had the Beef , we both had the Strawberry cheesecake for pudding . We returned to the cottage in beautiful sunshine and sat outside in the lovely weather admiring the view .
Just as we were packing up to go for a short walk i finally got to meet another local who i’ve read in words on the internet , Carl Reavey , after a wee bit of a natter he continued his walk with his wife and i set off on ours with mine……
We walked along to the lighthouse , back again , along the sands to the Pier , around the bottom of the village then returned to via the Port Charlotte Hotel , not far but a nice early evening walk , we even managed to miss the otter playing in front of our cottages !!!! We decided to pop into the hotel for a bit of light refreshment , there was a band playing that night and Grahame seeing a camera asked me to take a few photos for him……
You may well see some of these photos on the walls of the Hotel in the not to distant future…….
Graham doing his finest superman impersonation……or he lost his rolls of wallpaper…… He actually gave us a song !
Drams tonight included G&M 1996 Cask Strength Caol Ila , Kilchoman Summer 2010 , QOTM Peated Bunnahabhain (82 bottles) , And an Ardbeg Uigeadail .
Woke up to another sunny day on the Isle , we decided just to potter around today so headed down to Ardbeg for lunch , i had a Crab chowder soup followed by a Haggis baked potato with Clootie dumpling , Mel had a Prawn Marie Rose Baked Tattie followed by Tangy Lemon Tarte . Not often you here me complain about the food at the Old Kiln but mine could have done with a sauce rather than the Onion Marmalade , it was a tad too dry……. After catching up with Emma , Margaret and Janey we popped along to Lagavulin to book up the warehouse tour for thursday . We had a wee natter with Marjory before she headed off with a tour .
Next we popped into Laddie to see our good friend Mary , as usual she was in fine form , We even got to try the gin (Mmmmmm….) , the current valinch and the Black Arts 2 .
Tonights drams included a Laphroaig 10 , Macphails 1991 Bunnahabhain , Caol Ila 10yo Unpeated and Laphroaig 10yo CS Batch 001 .
Yet another Glorious day on Islay , after a late breakfast we headed to the south shore to do a short walk up to Loch Iarnan , the last time we went up here we got drenched ( See here ) so it was nice to do it in lovely sunshine with a nice breeze to keep us cool .
There was a nice display of wildflowers on the way to the loch , including primroses , once at the Loch the ground under foot was wet and we only made it slightly around the back of the loch .
We headed back to the cottage afterwards and enjoyed an afternoon and early evening in the sunshine , even receiving a visit from a local cat ‘ before heading off to the Port Charlotte Hotel for a meal .
Woke up to a beautiful clear sky this morning so we decided to head off for a late morning walk to one of our favourite places , Bridgend Woods ! There was still a bit of a chill in the breeze but once in the woods we didn’t notice it , The place was awash with bluebells , almost a carpet in places but there were still a lot to come out so it’ll be a riot of Blue when they do !
As well as the Bluebells there was also a fair smattering of Primroses and it looked like some of the Rhododendrons are about to spring into life .
We spotted quite a few butterflies around , the usual suspects and the one on the end photo which we haven’t a clue what it is .
As we were removing our boots an old friend pulled up in the car park , Ed Bates ( formerly of BBR) , we caught up and then headed off our separate ways . He was heading to Bowmore Distillery , we were going to Ardbeg for a late lunch . On arrival we bumped into Georgie Crawford the new Manageress of Lagavulin Distillery and a friend of old , hopefully we can catch up properly tomorrow on our visit . Once again it was a very nice lunch We both went for Crab Chowder , Smoked Haddock , leek and parmesan Quiche with a white chocolate and vanilla cheesecake as pudding . After a natter with Margaret , we headed off to Bowmore to pick up some supplies before returning to the cottage for a lazy evening .
An early start to the day to catch a bus down to Port Ellen , the reason ? The Lagavulin Warehouse Tour with Pinkie ! We caught the bus just outside the cottage and after a change at Bowmore got down to Port Ellen about 9.20am and set off to walk along the South Shore road . It’s a beautiful walk especially on a really nice day like today . We got along to Laphroaig when a kindly soul offered us a lift the rest of the way . Arriving too early we took a little walk further up the road and ended up at the back of the Distillery .
Once again the warehouse tour was fantastic again , Pinkie was in fine form with his usual sense of humour but i do wonder if the foreign visitors get all his jokes ? The drams were once again great and included….
- New Make
- 10yo 2nd Refill
- Mystery Cask 14yo 4th Refill
- 1993 Refill Sherry
- 1966 45yo
- Lagavulin Distillery Only Bottling
After a bit of a natter with Georgie on the way out we walked along to Ardbeg for Lunch , Todays lunch was Cullen Skink soup and Baked potato for Mel , Cullen Skink , Crab Fishcakes and Clottie Dumpling for me . Superb as usual . We headed off for the bus after a catch up with Mickey and returned to the cottage . After a freshen up and a bit sun worshiping we went off to the PCH for a bite to eat (Mels usual Thai Red Curry and i had Lagavulin Scallops….)
Our last official full day on the Isle and a quiet one and another beautiful day ! After a late breakfast it was a drive down to Ardbeg for lunch stopping at Bridgend to buy the only whisky purchase of this holiday , a 10yo Unpeated Caol Ila , i think i’ve been very good this holiday with Purchases !
You don’t really want to know what we had at The Old Kiln do you ?
Oh alright then , Mel had the Salmon and Tomato Chowder , the crab Fish cakes and a Scone and cream to finish with . I went for the Peking Duck wrap followed by a Chocolate and marshmallow Cheesecake . After spending an hour or so sunning ourselves on the tables outside we headed back to the Cottage , stopping off at An Taigh Osda to drop in and say hello to Paul and Joan . We’ll be spending a quiet night in the cottage with a meal , wine and whisky and a lovely real fire !
The day of departure…… we couldn’t get on the usual morning ferry this morning so we ended up with another half day on Islay . An early start to load the car , we bid our farewells to Carraig and headed north , well north west to Kilchoman , Mel wanted to have a look at the shop seeing we had a bit of spare time . Needless to say i drove carefully up to the distillery……..
We then headed to Bridgend to get some petrol (£1.50.5 a litre……) and i succumbed to another 10yo Unpeated Caol Ila , then we had a drive along to Bowmore where i completely collapsed and went for the 12yo Unpeated Caol Ila . We then went back to the Bridgend Hotel for lunch , we both had a Prawn Cocktail for starters and the Venison Burger for the main , The meal was excellent again , well recommended for somewhere to eat and not too costly either ! We then headed to Port Askaig for the ferry and a meeting up with someone i’ve spoken too loads on the web but never seen in the flesh , Ron from Islayinfo.com . We had a good natter about things Islay past and present then we bid our farewell to him and the Isle and boarded the Hebridean Isles . Enjoy your 3 week stay Ron ! The crossing wasn’t too bad given the windy conditions .
So that’s another Islay adventure over , looking forward already to the next one……
Roll on September !!!!
The Panoramas !
Even though one of our favourite spots is Bunnahabhain i think deep down in our hearts the South shore of Islay wins all the time as our favourite part of the Isle . Once you get past the 3 famous distilleries i think it’s the sheer ruggedness of the place and the Fantastic scenery .
(Click on photos to see a larger version)
Taken from the road as we walked along from Lagavulin , Ardbeg is definitely the most Picturesque of the Distilleries in the most beautiful of surroundings .
This one was taken part of the way up the farm track as you walk up from Ardbeg to Loch Iarnan looking over the south shore towards Kintyre.
Taken higher up from the rear of Loch Iarnan again looking across to Kintyre .