Islay Music and Whisky Festival
To be honest, the words ‘It’d be a lovely day for a run on the bikes’ have been echoing through the car since we left home. Magnificent Scotland in its full glory. The leaves are on the trees, the birds are tweeting (amazing how technology has moved on) and the dreaded midge has made an appearance. Did I mention that the sun is shining?
We’re off to Islay for the Feis Ile; the annual music and whisky festival. It’s a business trip, really, it is! Edward and Craig ventured there last year, however, the girls have managed to get invited this year, we’ve obviously been behaving!
The first night’s accommodation was in Tarbert, very nice too with a lovely view of the harbour. The Anchor Hotel looks fairly old fashioned on the outside, but very contemporary on the inside. I have to say, the greeting from Louise was second to none, an amazing member of staff and just the sort of person you want to have at the sharp end of your business. Switched on and a sense of humour.
Dinner was very tasty indeed. Scottish fayre, straight from the sea, with a main course of Scotch beef (not from the sea). A bottle of wine (or two) just set us up nicely. It got dark outside and the air was still. It was the perfect evening for a picture of the harbour, and get eaten by the midges. Yep, they’re here!
Didn’t need much rocking, then up for an early breakfast. I’m not a fan of eating anything after having just fallen out my bed, however, this was by far the finest breakfast I have had for years! We were all agreed on that. After all, when it comes to food, sadly, I know my stuff. Oink.
After a large, satisfying breakfast, there was a snooze requirement on the ferry crossing. Only a wee snooze though, the view was stunning. What a truly beautiful country we live in. It’s breath taking. It was a bit of a treat.
No sooner were we off the ferry, and we were filling the car with whisky. First stop Lagavulin. Closely followed by Laphroaig (Prince Charles’ favourite tipple) and Bowmore; very, very pretty.
The route to the next distillery isn’t for the feint hearted. A single track road with very few passing places. It was quite entertaining meeting tourist on the road who obviously couldn’t reverse their vehicle. At the very end of the road, Bunnahabhain. By this time, Ed and Craig had had one or two nips, or twelve. Caol Ila after that. Jeepers. We covered nearly all the island. I guess most of the population must work in the whisky industry.
The first morning, we were up at silly o’clock. Bowmore were releasing two bottles, one of which needed a ‘golden ticket’, felt like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but with no chocolate, just Whisky! It’s never good getting up at 5:30am to stand in a midge infested queue.
My favourite distilleries were Bruichladdich, Ardbeg and Bowmore, really pretty, immaculate properties. It was a serious reminder to us that TGWS was desperately needing a lick of paint! My favourite tipples; Bowmore. The ‘bottle your own’ sherry cask was just lovely. I didn’t expect to go to Islay and enjoy any of the whiskies, but I did, I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t suppose I will ever convert to the peated malts, but nice to know that I have enjoyed a few.
The island is so clean, the people friendly. They have a lovely habit of waving at you when they pass you on the road, if you don’t catch on, then the other people in the car start whining, echoes of, “You forgot to wave!” Very quickly, you get in the habit!
We had booked to go to Lagavuilin’s ceilidh, so put on our gear and off we went. Ed was the only person in a kilt. Good on you, Ed, but next year we will allocate space in the car to whisky and not clothes.
The ceilidh in the evening at Lagavuilin started with whisky cocktails; don’t mind if I do….. whilst you’re there, I’ll have another, thanks. A Mule; Lagavuilin, Grand Marnier, Angostura bitters, lime juice topped with ginger beer. All shaken by the talented David Sinclair, rather well too!
We were reminded today to take the obligatory Caol Ila picture, Cheryl did so, Craig tried to photo bomb it from the driver’s seat. He forgot his window was closed and HAMMERED his hand on the window. Fanny. We laughed, Craig howled.
Our bed and breakfast was outstanding. Skerrols House is a good sized property in the middle of nowhere, just past Bridgend. Our host and hostess were a Polish couple, very charming, helpful and efficient. The first morning, Thomas and his good wife even sent Cheryl and I away with a pack-up, to take back to the boys; we were suitably impressed. What the boys didn’t find out about until our second morning was just how good the breakfast was, especially the mushrooms! The pile on the boys’ plates was verging on obscene: 2 x sausages, 4 x bacon, scrambled eggs, tomato, black pudding, tattie scones. Little wonder the mushrooms were served in a bowl, there was no room on the plate. Barely enough room for ketchup either.
The car’s slooshing now, big time. If we were involved in a collision, it would be a very smelly one! We’ve had two full days on the island and really enjoyed ourselves. We visited all the Distilleries, including Kilchoman on our last afternoon. We didn’t make it to Jura though, the ferry queue was too long. It was just like a trade show though, it was hard work and all of us are pretty tired. It wasn’t all about having fun, but we did anyway. It seems there’s a wee bit of weight in the car, glad I did my tyres before we left!
A stunning island, which has really given me a nudge towards visiting others. I did visit Mull last year for the first time, so have all the others to put on my tick list.