-> Home

Diciadain, 25/May/2016

Islay Pipe Band at the British Championships 2016

Islay Music in stencil

Quite a few people are blogging about the Islay Festival at the moment (for obvious reasons), so I'm going to blog about something different (although I'm posting pictures of Islay distilleries on the photo blog this week). The Islay Pipe Band competed at the British Championships 2016 in Paisley last weekend, here's a video of their performance:


After their many successes last year the band was promoted (not sure if that's the right term? I think the official term is upgraded, but I prefer promoted) from Grade 3A to Grade 2 for the 2016 season. Of course the standards in the higher grade are much more challenging and they have to compete against bands who have played in Grade 2 for many years. They achieved a very respectable 14th place, including some good results in the individual components. I'm confident with some experience they will soon break into the top 10 and better.

Opening up the discussion. Have your say:

Tell me and others what you think: Leave a direct comment on ‘Islay Pipe Band at the British Championships 2016’ for all to see.

Diluain, 02/May/2016

A belated WalkIslay 2016 report

Islay Events written in stencil

It's loooooong overdue, having promised it for last weekend I finally get to it this bank holiday weekend. After returning from Islay I tried to capture a little bit of the walking magic and managed to get out every day both weekends, taking bird pictures, watching birds and bluebells and enjoying butterflies/moths in the spring sunshine. So what remains in memory from the Islay walking week 2016?

It was a great week again, apart from one or two grey days it was dry and often sunny most of the time. However, it was probably the coldest Islay walking week since it started back in 2003. There was a very cold, frequently northerly, wind blowing most of the time. But that didn't stop us enjoying some wonderful walks, starting on the Oa:

Picture of a group of walkers next to a loch

I participated in walks on four of the six days, taking a break for other things on two days. The highlight of the first walk was the visit to Eas Mòr waterfall at Lower Killeyan. The second walk took us into the hills behind Bridgend with some great views over Loch Indaal. The third walk was along the River Laggan and out to Laggan Point. This walk was a bit grey and drizzly, but still very enjoyable with interesting conversations and sights.

Picture of the group of walkers descending a hill

On one of my non-walking days it was calm enough to fly my DJI Phantom 3 drone. I decided to drive out to Lagavulin to fly near Dunyvaig Castle. While it was overcast I think I got some decent pictures and video, I will aim to edit the video over the coming months. This picture should give you a first impression of the views (also check this picture of Dunyvaig Castle and Lagavulin Distillery from the air):

Picture of Lagavulin distillery with a seal in front of it

On the other non-walking day I participated in an online tasting by Bruichladdich distillery, helping to post local imagery while enjoying some excellent new Islay Whisky expressions. A very enjoyable and tasty evening.

The last walk to Beinn Tart a'Mhill on the Rhinns of Islay unfortunately couldn't go ahead as planned, so we had to improvise and walk to Kilchiaran instead. Here we were treated to the sight of some impressive Highland cattle braving the strong and cold northerly wind. But then again another group of walkers was tackling the highest of the Paps of Jura in almost winterly conditions while we enjoyed the sunshine at Kilchiaran.

Picture of a Highland Coo in strong wind

In summary it was a great week again, meeting old and new friends while enjoying walking in beautiful scenery. Many thanks to the organisers and walk leaders for making it such an enjoyable experience again. As usual I've taken plenty of pictures many of which will appear on the Islay Pictures photoblog over the coming weeks and months. I've brought home some great memories as well as whiskies from Laphroaig and Bruichladdich and beer from Islay Ales.

Opening up the discussion. Have your say:

Tell me and others what you think: Leave a direct comment on ‘A belated WalkIslay 2016 report’ for all to see.

Dihaoine, 22/Apr/2016

Friday Islay Picture #384 - Waves at Sunset

Friday Islay Picture in stencil

Almost a week that I'm back from my first Islay visit for 2016, time to get blogging here again. I'll write a more detailed report about the Islay walking week over the weekend, for today there will be just a new Friday Islay picture, taken one evening during my recent visit. It's a sunset viewed from Saligo Bay in April, during high tide and a fierce cold north easterly wind:

Picture of a sunset behind breaking waves

Despite it being very cold in the icy wind the view was beautiful, the clouds on the horizon kept changing colours and shapes while beautifully shaped ‘surfer waves’ kept rolling in from the Atlantic.

That's all I have for tonight. Time to enjoy a few birthday drams (yes, it's my birthday today, as usual I tried to keep it fairly quiet, but as usual it sneaked out anyway) from Bruichladdich and Laphroaig while listening to some of my favourite music. I'll post a larger version of the sunset (larger as in twice as big) on the Islay Pictures photoblog on Saturday morning. Good night.

Opening up the discussion. Have your say:

Tell me and others what you think: Leave a direct comment on ‘Friday Islay Picture #384 - Waves at Sunset’ for all to see.

Diardaoin, 07/Apr/2016

10 Years of

Islay Fun in stencil

Where have the years gone? This Saturday it will be 10 years ago that I registered the domain on 9/Apr/2006. And while I'm not blogging here as much as I used to (the Islay Pictures photoblog has taken some of the attention) this blog is far from dead. But as I will be on my way to Islay for the Islay Walking Week on Saturday I'm writing this up now. Let's take a look back and some general thoughts about what happened with the blog over the years:

As already mentioned I registered the domain on the 9th of April 2006, thinking a dedicated blog about Islay would be a good idea after having visited Islay for 8 years then. I had been blogging in a more general form (and with some interruptions still do, you can find the most recent incarnation of my personal blog at the ‘new’ Ministry of Propaganda) since June 2001 and had a dedicated Islay section on my first website since 1999, so I wasn't entering completely new territory. While admittedly it took me until May 2006 to fully launch the blog with its first post I did hint at my intentions before leaving for the Islay walking week 2006 (and the WayBackMachine even has what first appeared as a placeholder until I could go live). banner with added 10 years

I settled on a design fairly early on and have only made a few fairly minor tweaks since then, I still mostly like it, also I like consistency and recognisability (is that a word?). Blogging to me is to a large part about linking to other sites and interesting things (for this blog about Islay and its neighbours) on the web, I think I've done a fairly decent job of that. Many of those links will now be dead as sites have disappeared or moved, but many will also still work for many years to come. After initially not having comments due to a lack of technical capability I added a comment system later. Some of these were lost when the service I was using initially was shut down. Hopefully the service I'm using now will be around for many more years to come. Comments and feedback are very important I think, I've had some very valuable conversations in the comments providing me with new insight and information.

I could try to pull together some statistics like the number of posts, but I don't feel that is really that interesting. I think what's important is that hopefully my readers enjoy what I'm doing here, that the posts inform, entertain and educate them, that they get something from them.

So this is also a thank you to you, my readers, visitors, commenters and more. Some of you I've met in person over the years, others I've only met online. Either way, it's great having you, without you there would be no

On to the next 5, 10, 15 years?

Opening up the discussion. Have your say:

Tell me and others what you think: Leave a direct comment on ‘10 Years of’ for all to see.

Dimàirt, 05/Apr/2016

Evening paddle (and fishing) at Kilnaughton, Islay

Islay on Video written in stencil

How about a nice and relaxing video of going paddling and fishing tonight? Well, Ross Bassnet to the rescue, because he filmed and uploaded a video of doing just that on the south coast of Islay:

YouTube: Kayak fishing Islay - paddle at kilnaughten

Some great views of the lighthouse in some beautiful evening sunshine, I hope you liked the video and found it relaxing as well.

Opening up the discussion. Have your say:

Tell me and others what you think: Leave a direct comment on ‘Evening paddle (and fishing) at Kilnaughton, Islay’ for all to see.

Disathairne, 02/Apr/2016

John MacLellan Tribute Fund

Islay News in stencil

Last weekend John MacLellan sadly passed away, known to many from his work at Bunnahabhain and Kilchoman distilleries during a long career in the whisky industry on Islay. I've written about my memories of John here, other thoughts and memories are at Spirits Business, WhiskyCast and In John's memory a tribute fund has been set up:

Picture of John MacLellan from Islay

John's wife Lindy and their children Rosie and Sandy have set up a John MacLellan Tribute Fund at the Beatson Cancer Charity to help raising funds for Beatson who helped to care for John. When they set up the fund they said they were hoping to raise £5,000 for Beatson, as of writing this the total was already standing at £5,859. May be £10,000 can be reached after all, doubling the £5,000? If you knew John and would still like to donate why not head over now.

I understand the funeral service took place at Kilchoman today, I'm going to pour a wee dram of Kilchoman Islay single malt whisky (in a Bunnahabhain glass) in memory of John tonight.

Opening up the discussion. Have your say:

Tell me and others what you think: Leave a direct comment on ‘John MacLellan Tribute Fund’ for all to see.

Dihaoine, 01/Apr/2016

Friday Islay Picture #383 - Laphroaig Distillery

Friday Islay Picture in stencil

OK, the fun is over. Of course the WhiskyLand™ theme park to be built on Islay was an April Fools joke. Most of you spotted it immediately, but some were getting a bit worried. Anyway, what could be better than a fake theme park than a picture of a real Islay distillery as a Friday Islay picture now? Here you go, a beautiful view of Laphroaig in the June evening sun:

Picture of Laphroaig distillery

As usual I will post a larger version (larger as in twice as big) on the Islay Pictures photoblog on Saturday morning. To go back to the topic of April Fools, for those who'd like to see the ones from previous years on this blog, here's a list:

And that's enough April Fools. Good night and have a great weekend!

Tell me and others what you think: Leave a direct comment on ‘Friday Islay Picture #383 - Laphroaig Distillery’ for all to see.

WhiskyLand™ theme park to be built on Islay

Islay News in stencil

What is one of the main things Islay is known for? Of course the famous Islay single malt whisky. This fame will soon strengthen even more, as Islay has been selected as the future home of the first WhiskyLand™ theme park to be opened in Scotland.

I've been told not to reveal the backers behind the plan, but it is a well positioned global conglomerate with many decades of experience in the theme park field. The group is planning to open three WhiskyLand™ theme parks in Scotland, Islay will be the trailblazer.

Some of the attractions will include:

Several locations are currently under review, including just outside of Port Ellen, near Bowmore and possibly even at Uiskentuie:

Picture of a shore with a pebble beach

Assuming everything goes to plan the park is expected to open in spring 2018, just in time for the Islay Festival 2018.

What are your thoughts, do you think this will be good for Islay and whisky? Will you be visiting?

Tell me and others what you think: Leave a direct comment on ‘WhiskyLand™ theme park to be built on Islay’ for all to see.

Diciadain, 16/Mar/2016

Video: Otters at Ardbeg, Islay

Islay on Video written in stencil

Yay, a rare entry on this blog. Yesterday evening Chris of Norfolk Birding alerted me to his latest Islay birding tour report, an interesting read with a lot of nice pictures. While the main purpose of their Islay visit was of course birdwatching they also saw some other wildlife. Their sightings included these otters near Ardbeg:

YouTube: Otters

While only a short video I think it is very nice to watch these fascinating animals. For some more Islay wildlife also head over to Ron's blog, where you will find pictures of Dolphins in Loch Indaal.

Opening up the discussion. Have your say:

Tell me and others what you think: Leave a direct comment on ‘Video: Otters at Ardbeg, Islay’ for all to see.

Diardaoin, 25/Feb/2016

Rhinns of Islay lighthouse cottages for sale?

Islay News in stencil

Not really sure what to think of this one. Earlier today I came across a website claiming to have information that the cottages at the Rhinns of Islay lighthouse would be up for sale in 2016. You can read more on these pages:

Picture of a lighthouse on a cloudy day

The only source for this information is the website mentioned above, so I don't know how much truth is in this. It could happen, or nothing could come of it. Should the cottages come up for sale I wonder about some of the practicalities:

To start with the cottages are obviously not on Islay, but on the small island of Orsay. To get to it you would need to use a boat from Port Wemyss or Portnahaven. I suspect especially during the winter months this could be tricky or even impossible at times. I wonder if there is a reliable water supply on Orsay, if there is it must be a well or a borehole. I assume there is a power supply as that is needed for the lighthouse. But how reliable is that? Of course there is backup power for the lighthouse, but does that cover the houses as well? And how about a telephone line, I doubt you will be able to get broadband internet.

Anyway, let's see what happens and if they really come up for sale.

Opening up the discussion. Have your say:

Tell me and others what you think: Leave a direct comment on ‘Rhinns of Islay lighthouse cottages for sale?’ for all to see.