-> 2007 -> Back From Islay Again

Sunday, 28/Oct/2007

Back From Islay Again

Picture of a sunset over a beach with some rocks in the sand

All my previous visits to Islay were in either April or in the summer months of June, July, August (and once in September). This visit to Islay was my first visit in October. So how was it? Well, it certainly won't have been my last visit to Islay this late in the year. In other words, it was great. A few quick notes for tonight:

Picture of a flock of geese flying up

One of the main reasons to visit Islay at this time of the year was to see the birds, in particular the geese. I'm not exactly known as a birdwatcher, but seeing the geese certainly impressed me. Staying at Kilchoman House Cottages was a wise move for this. Not only because Ian and Margaret are great hosts and keen birdwatchers themselves (Ian runs the Islay Birds Blog), but also because one of the places where a lot of the geese can be seen is in the fields around Kilchoman and Rockside Farm. But it's not the only place to see them:

Picture of birds on a moonlit sky

The RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve is another excellent place, in particular with the recently refurbished visitor centre. I had the opportunity to go on a walk with Mike (who unfortunately will leave Islay soon, but if everything goes to plan will return early in the new year) and James where the not only showed us some birds but also explained their plans for the reserve. That evening we had a beautiful moon, I tried to capture the moon with the geese coming in for the night.

Picture of a building site

But there was more than just geese and birds: I had the opportunity to meet Roland who has taken on the challenge of rebuilding the former Islay Hotel in Port Ellen. Roland was so kind to show me around the building site and explain his plans for the hotel to me. I'll write more about it in a future entry, but it certainly is a fascinating project. Watch this space for more information and further updates...

What else? I met lots and lots of people, friends I've known for a few years now as well as people I hadn't met before. I had nice food in a variety of places. I enjoyed relaxing evenings in front of the fire, as I had hoped for. I went for daily runs on the beach in Machir Bay, in brilliant sunshine as well as in pouring rain and strong winds. And much more. More about all that in further entries.

The only thing that didn't go as I had hoped for were the journeys to and from Islay. I've already mentioned the journey up, the return journey wasn't much better: To start with the ferry had to be diverted from Port Askaig to Port Ellen because of the weather. It was then delayed by about an hour. Followed by a major accident on the A83 in Cairndow with a road closure and a diversion through the village. At least I still managed to arrive in Arrochar just on time for dinner at the Village Inn. And I arrived approx 6 hours before a landslide at the Rest closed the A83. But then traffic on the M6 was quite heavy delaying my return by more than an hour today.

Meaning I'm quite tired now, so I'll close for today and go to bed. More over the coming days, catching up on the Islay blogs (probably with a Monday roundup) as well as more from the visit. Not to forget all your kind comments.

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