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 )
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)
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 .
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……