Spring 2013 Visit

Saturday 4th May

So once again we head to Islay for our Spring week , this time we’re stopping in Port Ellen in a Cottage on Frederick Crescent , it’s a little while since we’ve stayed in Port Ellen ( 2009 festival at Tigh Cargaman ) so it will be a nice change . As usual it’s an early start to get the lunchtime ferry from Kennacraig . The weather was mixed on the way up Cloudy/rainy till Dunblane , nice and sunny till Tarbert then back to cloudy at Kennacraig , it was a wee bit choppy on the Ferry crossing . Once on the Isle we headed down to Port Ellen to take up our residence in Frederick Crescent . After watching a bit of the rowing going on at the harbour , we had a bite to eat and then headed to the Islay Hotel for a drink or two . Then it was back to the Cottage for the rest of the night .

Sunday 5th May

After a lie in we drove down to Ardbeg to have lunch , after a wee natter to Christine (Logan) in the car park – who was taking a Japanese couple around the Isle after their wedding yesterday in Bowmores Round Church (First Japanese couple to be married in there) – it was into the Old Kiln for some of their scrummy food ! Melanie went for the Cream of tomato soup followed by Lighlty Spiced Noodles with terryaki Chicken , i went for the Cullen Skink followed by the Lamb and Haggis Burger . Few new things we noticed since our last visit , new Menus , new Place mats and a posh coffee machine !

Afterwards we went for a drive along to Kildalton , when we stopped at Seal Bay we had another “Melanie” moment….. ” look there’s a baby seal on them rocks……” This time i had my camera ! You’ll have to indulge me for a moment (see previous posting to this one….) , this time the Otter was in the middle of the bay , but i had a 400mm lens (oh-er missus)….. 

(Click on Images to see full size )

Otter 1 Otter 2
Otter3 Otter4
Otter5 Otter 6
Otter 7 Otter 8
Otter 9

We spent nearly an hour watching this wee beastie ! What a pleasure and what a start to the Holiday , even though he was half way across the Bay ! We continued on to Kildalton then returned to the metropolis that is Port Ellen……

Monday 6th May

Not a very nice morning but after a bit of a lie in (that’s what Bank Holidays are for !) we headed off for a drive to Kilchoman and a bite of lunch . Must say we were slightly disappointed in our lunch there , not up to their usual standard , The Cullen Skink wasn’t up to the previous days offering at the Old Kiln .

Afterwards we headed off to Laddie to see Mary . She’s nearly back to her old self after last years accident , still a wee while to go with the treatment but she’s getting there ! Everything seems hunky-dory at the distillery , a few new faces and i gather a few to depart .

We headed back to Port Ellen to freshen up and go out to The White Hart for a bite to eat , we nearly didn’t get to eat there as they were very busy but they managed to squeeze us in . We both started with the Potato skins (Delicious) and Melanie went for the Chinese Chicken Stir fry and i went for the Hebridean Chicken , both fantastic . Then it was back to the cottage for a night cap .

Tuesday 7th May

Sunshine ! An absolutely glorious morning so the walking boots were pulled on and we headed for Bridgend Woods . Spring is definitely a few weeks behind looking at how far the flora is (or isn’t !) on . I’m teaching Melanie to use my old camera on this trip , i’ll post some of her results at the end of the trip .

(Click on Photos for full size versions)

Melanie in bridgend woodsMelanie in the woods

Melanie The PhotographerMel The Photographer !


BluebellSingle Bluebell

BluebellsA few more…..

FernA fern getting ready to burst into action

We had a great walk through the woods , a little bit of a chill in the wind but in the shade of the trees lovely and warm . As a bit of a treat after the walk we headed into Bowmore to try out the new Coffee Shop in the The Celtic Book Shop , very nice it is too for a cappucino and a bit of cake ! Seeing it was still lovely when we got home i went off on a bit of a romp around the Ard behind us .

The Hebridean IslesHebridean Isles

Swan PoolView across Swan Pool To Laphroaig

Port Ellen StitchPort Ellen Panorama (Quite large file !)

For our evening meal we headed off to the Lochside in Bowmore for a belated Birthday meal for Melanie (we were both ill with Flu when it was actually her Birthday ) , She had a Prawn Cocktail to start with followed by Cajun Chicken with Flatbread , i went for Scallops as my starter and a Steak as the main meal . To say we were stuffed at the end would be an understatement ! HUGE portions !!!! Very tasty though !

Wednesday 8th May

Bit of a quiet day today , weather wasn’t great so we headed up to Bunnahabhain to see what was going on . Was quiet when we got there and managed to catch up with Lillian , they are all looking forward to working with the new owners and the future definitely looks bright at Bunnahabhain ! When we left the shop was busy with people eagerly buying Bunnas products . It’s always a nice drive out to and back from Bunnahabhain whatever the weather , we both still miss the cottages and the views…..

On the way back we decided to stop for a bite to eat at the Ballygrant Inn , it’s one of the only places we haven’t ate in on Islay , we have heard so many good reports about the food there……. Unfortunately it remains that way on this trip as they were having some work done there and weren’t serving food , maybe next trip ! We did have a drink and got to meet the cute , resident 3 legged cat !

The rest of the day was spent in Port Ellen , We called in to see Ella and catch up and Later on i saw out the rest of the evening on the Daftmill Chat .

Thursday 9th May

Early start this morning , we were booked on Iains Warehouse Tour at Lagavulin , To say the walk along from Port Ellen was ‘bracing’ would be a bit of an understatement ! Luckily the proper rain held off , just an odd spot , it was actually quite a nice walk , blew off a few recent cobwebs !

What can you say about Iains Tour that hasn’t been said already ? Another highly entertaining morning with one of the great characters of Islay and superb whisky ! I think this is the busiest tour i’ve seen , Iain told me not to put it on the net that it was busy , but what the hell ! LOL ! Todays whisky selection was….

  • Lagavulin New Make
  • 2004 8yo From Sherry cask 7746
  • 2002 11yo 4th refill sherry
  • 1998 15yo from cask 1712
  • 1982 31yo Cask 681

Like i said superb whisky , we both prefered the 15yo but the 8yo was a close second !

Then it was a short walk along to Ardbeg for a bite to eat , we seem to get in just before the rush , don’t know what’s been going on but everyone’s been commenting on how busy the Isle has been this last fortnight . So down to business , we both had the Ardbeg Crab Chowder to start with , then Melanie went for the Baked Tattie with Prawn Marie Rose and i went for the Seafood Medley (Sea bass , Salmon and Scallops in a creamy white wine sauce) . Not being fully stuffed we decided to finish off with one of Ardbegs wonderful Scones , who ever makes their scones must have the lightest of hands as they simply just melt in your mouth , delicious ! Before departing we managed to have a wee natter with Mickey and then headed back to Port Ellen….. On the bus this time !

While eating at Ardbeg something came up in the conversation about the food , now in the past (while i was doing the website) people would say i was very biased towards Ardbeg (you never said a bad thing about their whisky , we take his reviews with a pinch of salt , Blah blah blah…..) but this is the 15th year we been coming to the Isle and in all that time we’ve never had a bad meal in The Old Kiln ! The food is constantly to a high standard and just when you think you’ve had the most delicious meal ever and nothing can top it , you come back the next time and there’s something else delicious on the menu . And Melanies still raving about the Terryaki Chicken with The slightly Spiced Noodles , i think she’s just doing it on purpose because i didn’t have it !

Friday 10th May

The Final full day on Islay of this visit , once again it was a wee bit dreich but where better to be in the rain ! For lunch we once again headed to The Old Kiln and once again the Crab Chowder was on the menu ! For the mains i had the Bolognese and Melanie went for the Haggis Burger . We bumped into some familiar faces at lunch , Willem and Rita from the Netherlands , they used to go the Festival many moons ago . After a natter and a catch up over lunch , we headed for a drive along the South Shore to Kildalton . When we arrived back at Port Ellen we bumped into Ron from Islayinfo.com outside the Co-op . Then it was back to The Cottage to pack .

Saturday 11th May

So it was farewell to Islay on the 9.45am ferry ! The only good thing about departing on a morning ferry (it’s never good to departing Islay….) is the Calmac Breakfast , a good start to the day . The crossing wasn’t too bad and the drive back was relatively dry . We stopped off at The Inverbeg Inn for a bite to eat on the way back . So to the next visit……