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Dihaoine, 28/Nov/2014

Friday Islay Picture #347 - Track to Gartbreck

Friday Islay Picture in stencil

That was a nice short working week for me, only two days after returning from Islay (Next week with the full five days will be tougher). Last Sunday I walked out to Gartbreck Farm to see if there had been any change since my last visit in April. There wasn't much to see really, the buildings looked pretty much unchanged. On the way back to Bowmore I couldn't help noticing the track looking back to Gartbreck (and Port Charlotte on the other side of Loch Indaal):

Picture of a track with water filled potholes leading to a farm

When Jean and Martine get started with the work I fear this will be one of the first things they need to sort out. The track from the Gartbreck recycling centre to Gartbreck Farm is in a rather bad state, full of potholes, at the time I was there full of water. May be not a big issue for a lorry or a rugged 4x4, but I certainly wouldn't like to take a car or van down that track. It's a great location, but that track needs fixing.

That's all I've got for today, have a great weekend!

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Diciadain, 26/Nov/2014

Reporting back from Islay

Islay Fun in stencil

That was just what I needed. After the non-holiday in June due to my leg injury this visit at least to an extent compensated for it. To start with the weather was very kind to me considering it was second half of November. I've met a lot of nice people, old and new friends. And the Islay Sessions were great. Here's a video with a few impressions from the Sunday afternoon in the Bridgend Hotel:

YouTube: Islay Sessions 2014 at the Bridgend Hotel

Other than that I enjoyed a variety of other things:

There were a few clear nights where I was able to get out with my new camera to take night shots. Still need to process them, but so far I'm quite pleased with the initial results. Watched a number of nice birds (unfortunately too far away for pictures, but still nice to see them) including two White Tailed Sea Eagles at Port Askaig and Hen Harriers at Loch Gorm and Loch Gruinart. The fear that I would take my quadcopter back unused was proven wrong when I managed get a few nice flights over Bowmore in. Aiming to get the video edited by Christmas.

Of course visited two distilleries (Bruichladdich and Laphroaig) to stock up. Also had another look at Gartbreck Farm (planned site of Gartbreck distillery), although there doesn't seem to have been any change at all since my last visit in April. Spent a nice day on Jura visiting Konrad Borkowski and friends. Bought his new book, more about that another time. Finally got to meet Ron of IslayInfo and his family, we had a nice chat at his temporary home in Portnahaven.

For the first week I stayed at Kilchoman House Cottages, now run by David and Caroline. It being the quiet season I was the only guest, enjoyed a few quiet evenings in front of the open fire. Also caught up with Ian and Margaret enjoying retirement in their new home at the top of the hill. A wonderful place. Then for two nights very much enjoyed Andrew and Alison's hospitality at The Bowmore House, the view from the room was amazing. Andrew's cooked breakfasts keep you going for a while.

Probably forgot to mention something or someone, it's been a surprisingly busy week. Of course took plenty of pictures, some I've already posted, more will follow over the coming weeks on the Islay Pictures photoblog.

It certainly was a great holiday on Islay!

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Diardaoin, 13/Nov/2014

Off to the Islay Sessions (and more)

Islay Events written in stencil

Some more packing done, now it's time for a last blog entry before leaving for Glasgow (well, Dumbarton to be precise) on Friday. As I've hinted a few times already it's time for my third Islay visit this year. The first reason for this visit are of course the Islay Sessions. While I'll miss the Ceilidh and pub sessions on Friday I'm aiming to be there for the Grand Concert on Saturday. Here's my video of the one two years ago:

YouTube: Islay Sessions 2012 - Grand Concert at Bruichladdich Hall

There will also be pub session on Sunday, which I hope to visit. Here's a video of the session in the Port Charlotte Hotel two years ago:

YouTube: Islay Sessions 2012 at the Port Charlotte Hotel

Very much looking forward to some great music over the two days. I hope to also meet a few old and new friends at the events.

Once the sessions are over I've got another week to enjoy Islay. Weather permitting I'm hoping to be out and about as much as possible, of course take in the geese and other birdlife to start with. Some distillery visits of course. Meet people, old and new friends. If I get a clear night or two I'm hoping to get out for some night photography. While I fear I will take it back unused I will be taking my quadcopter in the unlikely event there is a calm enough day to fly it.

As usual I will be staying at Kilchoman House Cottages, for the first time with David and Caroline since Ian and Margaret retired. I'll also spend two nights with Andrew and Alison at The Bowmore House before leaving again. Just in case you want to get in touch.

Again as usual it will be silent here while I'm on Islay. Signal and/or WiFi permitting I'll try to post updates to my @islayblog Twitter account and the IslayBlog on Tumblr page.

That's about it for now. May be see you on Islay?

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Diciadain, 12/Nov/2014

Impressions of Port Charlotte, Islay

Islay on Video written in stencil

Getting busy with Islay travel preparations now, so not much time for blogging. But I've found another nice video for you, from the same (I think possibly Finnish) family who shared the family visit to Islay's Saligo Bay video. This time we visit Port Charlotte:

YouTube: Port Charlotte / Islay / Scotland / 2014

A nice portrait of the village I think, nice views from a variety of angles and an excursion to the lighthouse. Wonderful place. Looking forward to being back in a few days.

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Diluain, 10/Nov/2014

Islay's Gartbreck Farm from the air

Islay on Video written in stencil

Unfortunately I haven't made much progress with my fifth Islay from the air - views from up high video, so I'm hoping to make you a Christmas present with it in December. But that's no good now. However, luckily someone else has taken to the air for another view of a part of Islay from the sky. So here's a flight over Gartbreck Farm (future home of Gartbreck Distillery) and Loch Indaal. I recommend to turn the sound down before playing the video though, it does get a bit noisy:

YouTube: Gartbreck Farm on Islay

This will be interesting to see again once the new distillery has been built, may be even merging footage from now and then to see the changes. Or even footage before, during and after the construction. I don't know if this is their own DJI Phantom or borrowed from someone else, either way I hope they will capture more footage over time.

I'm going to take my own one with me for my upcoming Islay visit, just in case I get a calm day or two. I know it's unlikely at this time of year, but then again you never know…

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Didòmhnaich, 09/Nov/2014

Islay Blogging Roundup #313

Islay Blogging Roundup in stencil

Apologies for the lack of blogging again yesterday. I went to Reading to run a few errands which took longer than I had expected and I was too tired when I got back. Today I went for a walk and managed to get some decent shots of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Good practice for Islay next week I hope. And with that over to the last Islay blogging roundup before I leave:

Kate Davies presents another pattern with an Islay link (kind of), the Keith Moon. An American fashion company announce their ‘November Lookbook’ on their blog Away We Go: Islay & Jura (see also Behind the Scenes: A Highland Adventure which for some reason omits the two local dogs also playing an important role).

The Islay whisky related blog posts include Ardbeg Kildalton: Soziales NAS kommt nach Deutschland from Germany, Laphroaig Select 40% from Finland and New Octomore from Bruichladdich – the peatiest whisky of all time from London. The Annoying Opinions continue with one about the Ardbeg Supernova, 2014 Release. Malt Fascination digs out an Ardbeg Corryvreckan, 57.1%, Committee Release 2008. Heiko mostly serves and tastes Islay malts in 10/31 - The peat strikes back. Gordon Homer tasted Two Berrys Own Bunnahabhains. The Bruichladdich News blog announces International Ecommerce. We Are Live Once More.

Moving on to the visitors: The Romanian blogger moves on from the distilleries to Bowmore Street Photography. Giovanni writes about his visit in Islay 2014 and Islay Part 2.

Some music can be found on flutefling with Port a beul from Islay. On Port Ellen Primary's Our Learning Blog we can read the Eco minutes. Ron reports from Fireworks and Bonfires Tonight on Islay and goes on a Walk on the Crags above Grannies Rock Islay.

The birdwatching and wildlife: On the Islay Birds blog we can read about lots of sightings from a dry day, older sightings after a wet day and reduced sightings after all visiting birders left. On the INHT blog we find a picture of a Sunstar near Bunnahabhain.

And to close of course the pictures: Teresa shares M.V. Hebridean Isles, CalMac heading north to Colonsay on the Sound of Islay passing the Paps of Jura and some guest pictures by A McCormick of the Severe flooding at Craigens and RSPB Loch Gruinart. Ron shares a picture of Kilchoman beach on a November morning. James Collett rambles about Photography 101: Street and Dunyvaig Castle, Isle Of Islay. From my own Islay Pictures photoblog I've picked Islay’s north coast seen from Mala Bholsa, Low sun and white water at Saligo Bay and The Paps of Jura at a Sanaigmore evening, Isle of Islay.

That's all I've got for this week. More in the next roundup later in the month.

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Dihaoine, 07/Nov/2014

Friday Islay Picture #346 - Geese at Rockside

Friday Islay Picture in stencil

It's done. One of the busiest weeks of the year for me is finally over. At last some blogging again. At the same time this will be the last Friday Islay picture for a few weeks. Next week I'll be on the motorway on the way north, the week after I'll be on Islay. I'm hoping for views similar to this:

Picture of geese in flight in front of three mountains

This is a view from near Rockside Farm, large numbers of mostly Barnacle Geese in flight with the Paps of Jura in the background. A wonderful sight.

And that's all for tonight. Good night, have a great weekend.

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Didòmhnaich, 02/Nov/2014

Islay Blogging Roundup #312

Islay Blogging Roundup in stencil

Apparently it's going to get chilly in a couple of days, autumn proper or even winter arriving just before I leave for my next Islay visit? As long as that gives me a few clear crisp nights for some night photography on Islay I don't mind. But that's still two weeks off, so for now back to the Islay mentions in the blogs this week:

With it getting colder it's a good time for a wee dram of Islay single malt whisky. Sjoerd went to Trick or Tweet with Rachel Barrie and tasted the Port Charlotte 10yo, 2002-2013, 62.5% – Private Cask for Nickolls & Perks. The Big Bad Bald Bastard writes about the Thousand Dollar Bottle?!?! Jon writes about a Bruichladdich tasting in It’S All About The Barley and also reviews A Kilchoman Trilogy.

The Islay visits, including distillery visits: If I counted correctly he's on to number six now, as Johnnie Does Lagavulin. Day 1 was posted a couple of months ago, now she's following up with day 2 in Islay Diary 2014 - Ballygrant. The GrapeScot recounts and encounter on Islay earlier this year in Gartbreck - Excitement builds for Islay's next distillery. Katherine describes a day trip to Islay in Do Something You’Ve Never Done Before.

Lots of good news about the Islay wind turbine: The IECBS proclaims We have a turbine! On the IET blog we can read At last…. and see a Picture that paints a thousand words. On the Our Learning Blog of Port Ellen Primary we can read about their Bookswap and how they were Learning about recycling, including Paper making in P1/2 and Recyled paper Mark II.

Books and Biscuit reviews a German crime novel set on Islay in DER LETZTE WHISKY (Professor Bietigheim 4) - Carsten Sebastian Henn. Kate Davies introduces her new yoke design inspired by Islay visits in Westering Home.

The wildlife and birdwatching: Ed Burrell returns to Islay and restarts his blog with Summer days. On the Islay Birds blog we find a beautiful picture of a Golden Eagle, various sightings and the bird nerd meeting as well as a picture of a Bar tailed Godwit. Ron shares pictures of a White Tailed Sea Eagle on Islay Mobbed by Crows. Teresa shares two videos, Rutting Red Deer Stag, Jura Part 1 and Rutting Red Deer Stag, Jura Part 2. The INHT blog has pictures of a Late emerging Red Admiral and the RSPB Islay blog reports from the Hug a Goose day…. John Armitage writes about A Whopping Day for Whoopers!! 28.10.2014 and writes up some thoughts about the Diversionary Feeding Survey. And Gordon Yates has a notable highlight: Islay One Hundred.

Of course I'm going to finish with the pictures as usual: James Collett has Soldiers Rock, Islay. On his ramblings blog he also shares On The Shoot – Wyre Majestic, On The Shoot – Dunyvaig Castle and more. Wendy has pictures of Highland Coos on Islay. Ron has a dramatic evening sky at Saligo and a shepherd's warning from Portnahaven. From my own Islay Pictures photoblog I've picked the Cliffs on the Oa, Islay, and Kintyre, the Coast near Machir Bay in the fading light and the Sun breaking through at Machir Bay, Isle of Islay.

That's it for this week, more to come next week. Good night!

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Disathairne, 01/Nov/2014

Tim plays the guitar on an Islay beach

Islay Music in stencil

How about another entry in the irregular ‘Music Saturday’ series? In October Jamie (who I met at a Bowmore tasting in Reading a few years ago) and Tim Grady went to Islay for another visit. If memory serves me right he didn't take it last time, but this time Tim took his Brunswick acoustic guitar to Islay. I'm not entirely sure if he joined the sessions in the Port Charlotte Hotel or The Islay Hotel, what I do know is that he recorded some beautiful improvisations on the beach at Sanaigmore:

YouTube: Tim Grady - Islay Improvisations (part 1 of 3)

YouTube: Tim Grady - Islay Improvisations (part 2 of 3)

YouTube: Tim Grady - Islay Improvisations (part 3 of 3)

A great performance under some challenging conditions (some might find the occasional wind noise distracting, I think it adds to the atmosphere and mood). I'm struggling to make up my mind which one I like best, but finally settled on part 3. Which one is yours?

For more music from Tim please make sure to check his Tim Grady YouTube channel, where you'll find videos of him performing alone as well as with his band The Bleeding Ears.

Thanks for sharing these Tim, I really enjoyed them. Makes me wish I had some musical talent and could play the guitar, unfortunately I'm lacking horribly in that department.

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Dihaoine, 31/Oct/2014

Friday Islay Picture #345 - Lost my Heart

Friday Islay Picture in stencil

Phew, that's a very busy week in the day job finally over. Oh, and October is coming to an end as well. Only two weeks to go until the Islay Sessions 2014 and my next Islay visit. But before that there are still two Friday Islay pictures to come (including tonight's). Have a few hearts in Machir Bay for tonight:

Picture of a few hearts drawn on a wide sandy beach

This was in June this year on the beach in Machir Bay. Mixed feelings as later that morning I had the leg injury which pretty much ruined that holiday. Still, overall it's still true, I've lost my heart to Machir Bay.

That's all I've got for tonight. I'm going to enjoy my slightly naughty combination now before retiring to bed. Good night and have a great weekend!

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