The farm has been ‘bubbling over’ with guests and visitors this week. What a welcome back to Persabus.
Autumn happens to be one of my favourite times of year on the island. The colours are so incredibly rich and vibrant. The sky could not possibly get any bluer, and those huge, white billowing clouds, dancing across the horizon are quite simply stunning. Storms come and go and we get to experience all four seasons in a day, sometimes in an hour. Our hardy campers then appeared to have a tent straight out of the ‘Three Little Piggies’ children’s tale. No amount of ‘huffing and puffing’ from the gales swirling round their tent in the night, or the outbursts of torrential downpours that caused flooding as Lily Loch burst its banks again, curtailing our American guest’s morning jog, could blow that tent down. That tent provided a warm, cosy shelter for three nights and thankfully the happy campers had an absolute ball exploring all that Islay has to offer.
Our lambs were heading away to the market on the mainland on Wednesday, with the wild winds threatening to curtail livestock movement. The Happy Chappies from down the road were around to lend the Happy Farmer a much needed hand. The Handsome farmer and Mr Peaty were up with a trailer to collect Highland cows. They arrived just in time for bacon rolls as the Happy Farmer was holding court in the farmhouse kitchen cooking up breakfast feasts for all of our guests. The books were getting done and the roller iron was positively whirling off its hinges as laundry done, sheets were folded and pressed, as Mairi worked her magic. Archie bread called by with pies and supplies of Stornaway Black pudding, jams, butters, flour and so on as supplies were restocked. All of this energy and a happy stream of visitors called for many cups of coffee and much hearty craic around the farmhouse kitchen table. At the end of the day, just when the Happy Farmer had those wellington boots kicked off at the door, and those green woolly socked toes toasting happily in front of a roaring fire, Mr Hydro appeared, straight off the ferry, bearing gifts from the Auction Market at Stirling. A new tup for Persabus. Like lightening, the Happy Farmer was out of that seat, wellies on and into the darkness, to welcome the new arrival, and let Mr Hydro get on his way, before the commercial break was even finished.
The Pottery has also been a hive of creativity. With schools on half term break we have welcomed some lovely visitors. Gifts were being created ready for Christmas, not so many weeks away, yikes. Keepsakes were painted and I was transported along on a bubble of creativity as, with the pottery kitchen closed for winter, I too was able to experiment and create as ideas flowed through the paint brushes and onto the pottery pieces and a new range began to evolve.
The Killinallan Range captures one of my favourite corners of the island. It is a wild and beautiful inlet, where the sea flows into Loch Gruinart. It is a popular gathering place for the many seals that frequent the seas surrounding Islay. Huge groups of them lie fat bellied on the sandy banks in the middle of the Loch, occasionally belly flopping from the sand and into the sea Loch. Their barking chatter can be heard from all around. Golden sands stretch into the horizon, interspersed with small banks of seashells, which makes it a popular place for hermit crabs too. The sea is filled with cockles and razor clams, the rocks with limpets and mussels, which in turn attracts gulls and oystercatchers.
It is a beach filled with happy memories. A magical place. My excited clan would run and run along the sand, enjoying the absolute freedom, jumping down the sandy dunes on their way. With lots of fish darting about in the shallow waters, it was a place for buckets and fishing nets. Shells bleached by the sun and streams trickling across the sands all provided an exciting playground for my little ones. Sand castles were replaced, as those children grew, with life size horses being carefully sculpted into the sand.
Of course there are also the memories of the sheer hard physical effort of trying to prise tired toddlers from the shore, along with all of the assorted paraphernalia needing carried, when they simply did not want to leave their sandy haven at the end of the day. Then those rosy cheeks glowing as tired tots slept soundly the minute the car journey home began. A car filled with sand and the debris of sun cream, sunhats, damp towels, buckets and spades, as well as all of the ‘beach treasures’ their tiny hands had managed to collect that day. It was an exhausting happy time.
So when you see my splashes of colour across those painted pots, the dabbles and splodges that combine to capture my ‘Killinallan’, know that in my mind’s eye, those colours capture days spent where the turquoise seas envelope this incredibly special corner of Islay, capturing for me, the magic of an island childhood.
At Persabus we invite you to come and create lasting memories of your own. We invite you to come along, and stay in one of our cosy cottages, or have bed and breakfast in the farmhouse, and if you have the time, do pop along to the pottery, to simply browse, or I will guide you through the process of creating keepsake treasures of your very own ‘Islay time’.
Until next time…