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Diciadain, 10/Feb/2016

Video about the Port Charlotte Hotel, Islay

Islay on Video written in stencil

Found an interesting video today about the Port Charlotte Hotel on the Rhinns of Islay. It is mainly an interview with Grahame Allison, who with his wife owns and runs the hotel, about the significance of Gaelic, traditional music and more for his hotel business:

YouTube: Port Charlotte Hotel - Gaelic Case Study

He is a member of the Islay Gaelic Choir, a big supporter of the Islay Sessions and the regular live music events in the hotel. You can watch an example of it in the Traditional Music at the Port Charlotte Hotel video I recorded a few years back.

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Didòmhnaich, 07/Feb/2016

Stretching cat on Jura

Jura Excursions written in stencil

The internet was created to share cute pictures of cats. And cute videos of cats. Everyone knows that. In that spirit here's a cat on Islay's neighbour Jura, stretching just outside the Isle of Jura distillery:

YouTube: Funny Cat - DEAD or ALIVE?

That's all for today. I hope you had a relaxing weekend. I went out to take pictures of Long-tailed Tits this afternoon.

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Disathairne, 06/Feb/2016

Whisky Kiss' new video includes Islay and Jura

Islay on Video written in stencil

Something a bit different tonight. Some of you might remember the debut single by Whisky Kiss, Jocks Revenge (Hold), which I've mentioned a couple of times on this blog. Recently they published their debut album, SexySOUNDS (Google Play link, but it's also available on iTunes), which includes a new single called ‘Open Your Mind’. Here's the video with many great scenes from around Scotland:

YouTube: 'Open Your Mind' by Whisky Kiss (Full length version)

As indicated by the title Islay and Jura feature in the video, admittedly not long, but they do feature. In the unlikely event you missed it, go to 2:22 minutes and you'll see Islay and Jura stretched out on the horizon in some brilliant sunshine.

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Dihaoine, 05/Feb/2016

Friday Islay Picture #381 - View from Beinn an Oir

Friday Islay Picture in stencil

Hadn't really thought it would be February by the time I post the second Friday Islay picture, but here we are. Anyway, when I posted Port Askaig, Keills and Bowmore, Isle of Islay (seen from Jura) on the photoblog yesterday someone asked where Caol Ila was in relation to it. Didn't have anything showing it perfectly online at the time, but I've found something now, although it's from a different mountain:

Picture of a view from a hill over a sound to two settlements and a distillery

This is a view from the summit of Beinn an Oir down to Port Askaig (left) and Caol Ila (right) with Keills in the middle behind them. The other picture was from about half way up Beinn a'Chaolais, south west of Beinn an Oir. As usual I'll post a larger version on the Islay Pictures photoblog on Saturday, which should give you some more detail.

With that (and a wee dram of Laphroaig from the other side of the island) I wish you a great weekend.

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Diardaoin, 04/Feb/2016

Windy day in Portnahaven, Islay

Islay on Video written in stencil

Well, that didn't entirely go to plan. After the late start to blogging here this year I had just about started to get into a rhythm. But then early last week it got rather busy with other things. And to insult to injury (pun intended) I hurt my back on Friday, which very much limited the time I was able to sit and therefore blog. I've mostly recovered now, so hopefully I can blog more regularly again. Let's start with a short rather windy video from Islay:

YouTube: Vent et vagues Islay

I believe this was either Gertrude or Helmut, one of the now named storms which hit Scotland and with it of course Islay this winter.

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Didòmhnaich, 24/Jan/2016

Walk Islay 2016 programme is out

Islay Events written in stencil

Certainly for me it has become a tradition, assuming everything goes to plan I will attend the 14th Islay walking week in April this year as well. This year's Walk Islay will take place Sunday 10th of April to Friday 15th of April with a variety of walks:

Picture of a view from a hill over a sea loch with two villages on the shore

I'll start with the walk I'm most interested in, a walk to the summit of Beinn Tart a'Mhill, the highest point on the Rhinns of Islay. The picture shows a view I had from it almost 10 years ago (larger version of the picture on the photoblog). The views from there, especially on a clear day, are quite amazing.

Two other interesting walks are to Loch Sibhinn near Bridgend (which I visited in June 2015, but it takes in a few interesting areas I didn't cover in that walk) and along the Laggan River and to Gartbreck. Both should provide some great views and visit interesting areas.

I skipped it the last few years as I had been so often, but if the weather looks good I think I'll consider the Colonsay excursion this time. Kiloran Bay and Balnahard would be nice to see again.

Then there will be a few old favourites, like walks on the Oa and from Killinallan out to Gortantaoid. For the very fit ones (it is quite strenous) who can get a place (it's limited to 12 walkers) there's a chance to climb the highest Pap on Jura, Beinn an Oir. It's on the same day as the Beinn Tart a'Mhill walk, so I'll give that a miss.

If previous years are anything to go by the weather should be fairly decent for most of the days. There might be the odd rain shower or even rainy day, but so far we've had very good weather most of the time. Hope to see you there!

For more information visit the Walk Islay website or go to the Walk Islay Facebook page.

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Dihaoine, 22/Jan/2016

Friday Islay Picture #380 - Clouds and Light

Friday Islay Picture in stencil

It really is time for another Friday Islay picture I think, the last one was well over a month ago now. So here is one, another view from my favourite beach on Islay, Machir Bay. Taken in November 2015 it shows waves on a breezy day lit up by the Sun under a mostly cloudy sky with a few sunny breaks:

Picture of waves breaking close to a shore with cliffs and hills

I very much like the light in this, how it illuminates the breaking waves while there are still clouds above. As usual I'll post a larger version of the picture on the Islay Pictures photoblog on Saturday morning. Or lunchtime. Depends on when I decide to get out of bed. With that, good night and have a great weekend!

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Diardaoin, 21/Jan/2016

The Islay rain record (that isn't really)

Islay News in stencil

Over the last week or so there have been quite a few reports about Eglwyswrw in Wales, which had recorded over 80 days of rain (BBC, Telegraph, Guardian and even Der Spiegel from Germany). Almost all the reports also mention Islay, as according to them Islay is the current record holder with 89 days. Except … that isn't really true (any more).

Earlier this week I had a Twitter conversation with Dr Mark McCarthy (Mark on Twitter) about this record, started by him wondering where that reference came from. I managed to find a British Rainfall 1923 report from the Met Office which stated:

The longest "rain spell" of the year was at Eallabus, in Islay, where there was rain on each' of the 89 days from August 12th to November 8th. As will be seen from Table VIII this is the longest rain spell to be found in the analysis which goes back to 1903.

That could have settled it, giving the claim to Eallabus on Islay:

Picture of various houses and buildings surrounded by woodlands

Except for it didn't…

After some searching Mark came back with another document, British Rainfall 1954 from Met Office, which states:

The longest rain spell, 116 days with 40-42 inches, was reported from Loch Shin in Sutherland. This ranks as the longest rain spell at the selected stations in the analysis which goes back to 1903; the previous longest rain spell occurred in 1923 at Islay (Eallabus) and lasted for 89 days.

As far as I'm concerned that pretty much takes Islay off the hook for this record which probably no place really wants. If it is still Loch Shin is open to question, as the Met Office isn't officially measuring that stat any more and the definition is vague anyway.

So there you have it, while it has brought Islay in the news the record isn't Islay's any more (and it isn't Eglwyswrw's either, as they had a dry day after 84 days of rain). Many thanks to Mark for challenging this often repeated ‘fact’ and finding the 1954 document.

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Diciadain, 20/Jan/2016

Bowmore Islay Hogmanay fireworks

Islay on Video written in stencil

Today is as good a day as any to finally get going with 2016 Islay blogging on this blog (the Islay Pictures photoblog has been busy from the start) and to catch up. In that spirit enjoy a video from the Bowmore Hogmanay fireworks 2015-2016:

YouTube: Bowmore Hogmanay 2015 -2016

I hope you enjoyed that (and the end), Happy New Year! Tomorrow if all goes to plan I'm going to write about rain. Yes, really.

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Good bye to 2015

Islay Fun in stencil

So there we are, it's New Year's Eve 2015. Another year coming to an end. Thought I write a quick post here to close out the year.

Haven't blogged here as much as I used to for various reasons. Felt I've ‘lost my mojo’ a little bit at times, not just here, but also in a few other areas. Hope to get it all back in 2016.

Still, there were a few posts here, quite a few more on the Islay Pictures photoblog and some on the various social media sites where I'm active (Twitter @islayblog, Armin Grewe on Google+, IslayBlog on Tumblr and Armin Grewe on Facebook). Thank you to all of you who have been reading, commenting, liking, retweeting, resharing, ‘faving’ and ‘plussing’ (have I forgotten anything?) my posts. It was a pleasure interacting with you, I hope you will stick with me for 2016 as well and enjoy what I'm sharing.

To close two songs which have next to nothing to do with Islay (closest I can think of is that one of the bands is Scottish, the other from Downpatrick in County Down about 90 miles south of Islay. To my knowledge neither band has been to Islay (yet), although the singer of Idlewild lives on Mull). They are from two of my favourite bands, both have at long last brought out a new album in 2015:

First were Idlewild:

Second were Ash:

That's all I've got. Good night. Happy New Year. Happy Hogmanay. Guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr. Frohes Neues Jahr. Bliadhna Mhath Ùr.

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