Dog and pottery

That Gaping Hole

It has been a difficult few days…

I know she was an old girl. I know she was ready to go…but ouch, that huge gaping hole…

Like an old pair of shoes

she fitted so comfortably into our lives. Had skilfully trained us all up to meet her every need. Always a huge smile on those chops as she came bouncing out of her kennel each morning, tripping you up in her haste to roll over onto her back for a belly rub. Always begging at your heels for whatever tasty snacks were on the go. Always fussing. Always in the way and always just the way we all loved her.

She arrived on the farm, a little tornado full of mischief

A surprise for the children, my parents kindly collected her from her Ayrshire family and delivered this squirming, wriggling bundle of fluff into our lives. Her introduction to life at Persabus began with her sizing up and taking on the  Happy Farmer. Wielding one of his seemingly huge boots, nearly as big as her stocky little puppy self, she hauled it, dragged it, fought with it with all her little might until she had it sat in the middle of the sitting room rug. She then proceeded to sink her sharp little needle-like teeth into the soft leather. One eye cocked on the Happy Farmer looking for a response as she soothed her ‘puppy gums’, little tail wagging ten to the dozen. She had those puppy teeth ready to clench into anything that dared to take her on.

It really did not take her more than a few seconds to endear herself to the whole clan, except the Happy Farmer, who could see all of the wonderful trouble that lay on the path ahead. Not a fan of dogs as pets, Ruby knew it would not be long before she had him chasing after her every demand too.

Part of the Persabus welcoming committee

Ruby would always take it upon herself to sneak round to meet new guests on the farm. She would belly wriggle across the yard before flipping herself over onto her back, at their feet, a huge grin across her face, as she demanded belly rubs. She could suss out the dog-loving guests, and happily turned a deaf ear whenever the opportunity of such a meeting arose, making sure she never missed out on that infamous ‘Ruby welcome’.

On hot summer days she would sneak across to the pottery for a nosey, happily adopting a family, she would sprawl out her long body in the sunshine beside her new friends at the picnic benches, enjoying all the treats of the day, as they would feed her cakes and crusts. Oblivious to her presence as I served more teas, I would venture over to say hello to the pooch on the lawn, and realise it was my own Ruby, who should have been tucked up in the garden at the back of the farmhouse.

She quickly became my little shadow

everywhere I turned Ruby would be following. Lazing out beside me as I weeded flowerbeds, smiling as she sniffed at pottery pieces on photoshoots, running at my heels through the grass, up the hills and down to the shore.

The farm was her home. A place where she enjoyed absolute freedom, during lockdown, with all of the family home. She couldn’t have enjoyed more love, more snuggles, so many walks every day, and of course lots of her favourite belly rubs.

She had perfected the

‘I don’t want to go in my kennel just now’ routine

down to a tee. She would fix her eyes on mine, stand perfectly still, and give me that ‘Ruby look’. If that did not work and the word ‘kennel’ was repeated, she would look again, before slowly dropping her head, then those shoulders, and then ambling one paw in front of the other, she would take two small steps, before stopping again, to repeat the process.

How could I resist?

Ruby always got her own way. She refused point blank to stay in the farmhouse at night though unless she was ill, on those occasions she would lie on her seat, staying firmly put.  You always knew when she was starting to recover as she would once again jump up to go out at night. Even wakening the Happy Farmer in the middle of the night, demanding to be let back out to her own bed. Latterly we had to lock her out of her kennel knowing we would struggle to convince her to come out again.

I have tried to remember the downsides, to see if that would ease the painful gaping hole. The times Ruby arrived back from her run, caked literally in thick wet manure, a huge smile on her face. She loved a good scent around her. Countless times I would tussle with her, struggling to hose her down as she looked on sorrowfully, soap suds everywhere, one very bedraggled looking hound.

The times she would take off after a rabbit and just ignore my shouts.

Those muddy paws. Her smelly wet coat.

It’s been a difficult few days. I know she was an old girl. I know it was time for her to go, but it never makes it any easier.

Lying in the sunshine, enjoying those lovely belly rubs, under the washing line, she peacefully slipped away….

‘Miss Ruby Rose Berry Bramble Rhubarb Rhupinder Maisie Tilly Lilly Coll Snuts Jetta Dusty Posy Cocoa Cola Irn Bru Shadow Molly Fletcher’, yes there were a few issues on which name to choose at the time, and the kids could simply not agree, so to keep everyone happy we kept them all in and she ended up with a very posh, long list of beautiful names… but was definitely a ‘Ruby’ on most days.

I miss my old ‘rug’ dreadfully, losing one of the clan is just the pits…so, give your furry friends an extra wee snuggle today.

Thankfully, Bramble dog is not feeling our pain.

Instead, she has happily stepped into her new role as top dog, snoring away contentedly in her chair, waiting patiently to go for her run….

Until next time…

Puppy chewing a boot
Puppy Sleeping
Smiling dog
Black dog
Dog on beach
Dog walk on beach
lambs

The Happy Cow Dance

Our native Highland ladies, those lovely cows, are settling well into their new home at Persabus. One has the most beautifully inquisitive and gorgeous calf. A bundle of fun, at times he can be seen jumping and skipping off through the fields at a rate of knots, his mother charging after him, bellowing loudly, in her efforts to keep him in tow. Other times he can be seen peeping curiously out from her side as he nuzzles in ever so closely to the warm layers of her soft, furry coat. A fiercely protective mother, it is a pleasure to witness nature’s bond, as she keeps a watchful eye on his every move.

The two Highland ‘ladies’ are becoming quite accustomed to the Happy Farmer’s daily feeding rounds. They listen for the familiar sound of the quad bike making its way across the farm. On its arrival into their quarters, they can be seen practically pushing and nudging the Happy Farmer in a bid to get to the cattle cake as it is delivered from the back of the quad. One Highlander is becoming rather partial to a ‘wee back rub’ from the Happy Farmer as he gently calms and quietens them. Easing them into the fold and their new life at Persabus. The other one is still cautious and can be seen doing her little highland jig around him, not yet happy at him going near her back. The Happy Farmer grabbing onto those horns as she ‘dances’ steering them safely away from him, as he gently calms her.

When eldest accompanied him on the feeding rounds at the weekend those ladies were immediately ‘on guard’, spotting a strange face, their two heads were ‘bolt up’ like a couple of stags, ready to make for a quick getaway if necessary. Of course, the delivery of their favourite cake helped calm them, that, and a few Gaelic phrases from the farmer. The Persabus herds all have the ‘Gaelic’. The Happy Farmer keeps us well versed in the ‘appropriate lingo’ , encouraging us to speak to them whenever we are passing, allowing them to get to recognise us and making sure they are never ‘startled’.

Each morning as he feeds the rest of his herd, a larger group of ‘ladies’ who can be seen waiting patiently, gathered across from the old stone walls of the sheep fank, Hansel and Muffin, the horses can be heard galloping over the hill. Those horses know when it’s feeding time. Waiting impatiently for their turn they always try and stretch those long necks across the fence in an attempt to ‘steal’ the cows’  morning feed of cake.

Back in the fields and the lambs are grouping together enjoying racing up and down the fields. We have a particularly cheeky set of Hebridean twins who simply refuse to stay in the field with their mother. Ever curious and enjoying the tasty pickings of the roadside verge and hedging they can be found making their way down the single-track road heading for the ‘speedy highway’ of the main road. Our patient neighbours, delivery guys and Distillery workers have spent the last few days, following them back carefully guiding them home up the single-track road. Those twins know exactly where they are going and skip gleefully back into the field, full of mischief and adventure, only to find another escape route later in the day. For anyone who regularly reads the blog you will remember well the tales of ‘Houdini’ the disappearing tup…his offspring are following in his hoof prints…

Until next time…

Highland cow and calf
Persabus cow and calf
Ginger Highland Cow
horses
lambs
Highland cow
Lambs on the road
Lambs on the road
Sunset across Caol ila

Horse Play at Persabus

We had been enjoying a tease of beautiful spring weather

on the island with gorgeous blue skies and sunshine and then suddenly May was rudely interrupted with a ferociously stormy, wild day of dramatic gales and sleety rain with golf ball size hailstones thrown in for good measure. Even the Paps of Jura were left covered with a dusting of snow.

Late in the day when eldest went to check on poor Hansel horse he was looking more than a bit miserable.

He galloped to her and followed her into the stable

but was just not himself, nuzzling into her. The sudden, sharp plunge in temperature had really affected him.

More hay and a bucket of horse feed were delivered by a concerned Happy Farmer and the vet was called. A gate was tied across the stable door to keep Hansel in the warmth whilst they tended to him, with

Muffin the pony on the other side trying his best to get in.

The two horses are incredibly competitive when it comes to fuss and attention and on this occasion, Muffin was feeling positively excluded.

Typically, though when the Happy Farmer did open the gate to allow Muffin in, to keep his chum company,

Muffin feigned immediate disinterest

and proceeded to trot off, muzzle in the air, playing ‘hard to get’. Muffin was more than a little put out at being initially ‘barred’ from the stable and was enjoying having a ‘horsey huff’.

A little more horse feed did the trick though. Soon he was literally eating out of the Happy Farmer’s hands once again, before being gently guided into the stable. Hansel was busy getting his head and legs rubbed down with towels to dry him off and keep him as warm as possible whilst everyone waited for the vet.

Muffin, ever the cheeky pony, spent the wait nipping at Hansel,

trying to buoy his old pal along, looking for a reaction. When the vet arrived, as she was stooped down over Hansel, checking his temperature,

Muffin spied his chance.

Full of mischief, and not content with just nipping Hansel, he opened those jaws wide and was just preparing to take a cheeky wee nip at the vet, when luckily the Happy Farmer, knowing only too well what a cheeky nature Muffin has, sprang to the rescue. His quick intervention saved the day, and happily the good vet-horse relations at Persabus were upheld, with the vet thankfully oblivious to the whole commotion going on in the background.

A couple of vaccinations and stabled for the night and Hansel was back on form in the morning. By the next day eldest knew he really was better when as Muffin went to give him a cheeky nip, Hansel opened his jaws and placed his teeth gently over Muffin’s muzzle with a friendly ‘back off’ warning.

A special thanks must go to our amazing local vet who came quickly, out of hours, in the evening, and was just so caring, thorough and professional, working her magic ensuring Hansel made a strong and happy recovery. Muffin of course remains in the naughty books.

Until next time….

Sunset across Caol ila
Whin Bushes in May
Jess and Hansel horse
Muffin the Pony
Riding on Hansel
Horse at Persabus
Hansel horse smiling
Ceramics at Persabus

Spring in the Pottery

At Persabus we are ‘Good To Go’

Our cottages and farmhouse accommodation suite are sparkling and ready to welcome all our lovely guests back to stay with us on the farm once again.

The sun is shining. The skies and seas are the brightest of blues. The fields are bursting with life, as lambs and calves can be seen skipping and playing.

The swallows and the cuckoo have returned over the past few days

and nests are being constructed in the old walls and hedgerows. There is a lively buzz and chatter filling the air. It is one of my favourite seasons, but I then do tend to say that at the turn of every season. I just cannot help but fall more in love with every season of every year on this beautiful island. Spring and suddenly the air is filled with the promise of a beautiful summer to come.

It was very exciting when a couple of months back, sat working away in the pottery studio, a magazine got in touch with me wanting to ask a few questions for an article they were writing. An article on some of

Islay’s Crafty people

Time for a little happy dance for me then, especially when the initial question was based around one of my favourite things to talk and write about.

The question centred around how Islay inspires my work. For all of you who are familiar with my art designs you will know that it was the island itself that has led me on this amazing creative adventure that is Persabus Pottery today.

My pottery workshop and studio are just across the single-track road from our farmhouse

A beautiful old stone building, nestled beside the Happy Farmer’s big agricultural shed, which now also houses the fabulous Charlotte Hannett jewellery studio and workshop. Do check out her amazing and beautiful designs.

The shed is also home to the pottery’s kilns and is where the magical glazing and firing happens.

The question from the magazine really got me thinking. Appreciating once again the beautiful myriad of colours of this magical island that have led me on the most amazing journey.

Capturing the spirit of island living

Those dramatic skies and moody seascapes, bringing so many colourful shades. The blues, purples, turquoises, and greens. Oranges, browns, pinks, and greys.

Translating those colours, the skies, the landscape, and the seas in all their colours and forms, onto ceramics.

Each piece has its own story to tell

its own special magic, with memories carefully being woven into the artistic designs. Stories of friendships and celebrations, the people, the very community, and centre of island life, captured onto ceramics.

Stories of days spent exploring the craggy hills, a young family in tow, as we went on so many wonderful ‘Bear Hunts’. Through those peaty bogs, and tussocky grasses, tiny feet in tiny wellies, trudging through rough, boggy ground. It wasn’t the first time a welly got sucked into the deep mud and a tiny white socked foot emerged and just carried on walking, sinking into the bogs. Those beautiful weather-beaten rocks providing the perfect backdrop for happy and imaginative play.

There are the beautiful island’s shores, those magnificent coastlines, and seas, leading to tales of the sandy wilderness of beachy days. Wild swims in the refreshing turquoise waters. Floating in the cooling seas with the gentle lapping waves carrying you ever so gently back to the shore.

Then the ferocious storms of winter that transform the island into a wild and beautiful force of nature. The patterns, moodiness, and emotions of the fiercest of days captured through brushing and stippling, as sponges, and brushes add colour and detail to the pieces.

The glazing and firing processes that seal these island visions and memories onto pottery, as the magic unfolds in the kiln, capturing the essence of island life for my lovely customers to use and enjoy. Customers who have kept me going through these incredibly strange times, supporting, and encouraging me.

Taking a breath of the Hebrides into the home.

I am looking forward to welcoming you back…

We have a lovely selection of bisque so why not pop along and collect your own Persabus Pottery Takeaway kit and have some creative fun? We will glaze and fire the finished pieces for you, sealing those lovely memories onto ceramics.

In the meantime you can find read a taster of the article in the Scotland Magazine here

Or why not call in and collect one of our Persabus Pottery Takeaway kits for a bit of creative fun

Until next time…

Views across to Jura
Persabus Pottery Studio
Feeding the Sheep at Persabus
Pottery Mugs
Heart Dish
Saligo range of pottery at Persabus
Flock of Hebridean Sheep

Those Tartan Sheep

Behind the scenes it has been a crazy couple of weeks of online training

Zoom meetings and a pile of admin as we get everything ready, making sure we are ‘hot to trot’. Preparing for the time when we can safely begin to welcome you all back to stay with us on the farm at Persabus.

Courses have centred around website SEO, social media, brand development, the list goes on. Who knew there would be so many strands, so many exciting avenues, to venture down in the virtual world?

It has led to some incredibly funny moments in the pottery

Exploring video ‘production’, in between flicking away with paint brushes. Finding my mobile phone’s ‘hyperlapse’ and ‘super slow motion’ modes. I did manage to make several mini captures of myself drinking tea and smiling away. Completely oblivious to the fact that I was being filmed. That the camera had indeed, been turned ‘off’ for those moments I was intending to video. The arty, painting ones, where I was hoping to share a bit of my ‘production process’ in the pottery with you all. Only to find later, when I pressed ‘replay’ that instead I had captured all those moments of ‘no production’ and missed out the highly entertaining ones.

In between all of this, lambs and calves have begun to pop out everywhere. The fields at Persabus are filled with new life and those ‘oh so protective’ mothers. It is always an incredibly special time, watching the amazing wonders of nature on the farm.

The Persabus dogs are having to settle for a much-reduced exercise regime just now

Daily runs have turned into lambing rounds for me, minus Ruby dog and Bramble, whose heads appeared to be revolving in a 360% circle when they spied lambs being born close by. This was followed by their noses being firmly planted in the deep grass sniffing out the variety of aromas lingering from the lambing process.

At Persabus we go for outdoor lambing

Our native Hebridean sheep are incredibly hardy. They rarely need a helping hand and are particularly good mothers. Taking themselves off to a quiet, sheltered spot, they give birth naturally. The lambs are tiny, and the mothers are fiercely protective of their young.

The other sheep, our blackface ewes, tend to lamb well on their own, but the Happy Farmer still must keep a very close eye out, as the odd one may need a helping hand. Once in trouble if help does not come quickly a ‘stuck’ lamb can be born dead, and if there is a twin coming behind it, both will not survive. The ewe is also vulnerable to attacks from ravens and hooded crows, who will peck the eyes out of the sheep and lamb. This was a real problem in days gone by, when we had a much larger flock and used to do all the lambing out on the hills. These days, with all the lambing happening in the fields close to the farmhouse, and a much smaller flock, we do not have the same issues. The Happy Farmer can whip round the fields more often, and seems to disappear very regularly, especially if the ‘gin gate’ at the Magic Sheep Lady’s home is open. Her and her husband always offer lots of support during lambing times and beyond, and there is always a hearty welcome as you head over that hill.

Typically, just as spring arrives, and lambing begins, the northerly winds whip up, and we are treated to snow and hailstorms, in between the fleeting blue skies and sunshine. It is a time of four seasons in a day. It is important then, that there is plenty of shelter for the lambs and ewes. If a sheep is in trouble the challenge is to ‘catch’ her quickly, as invariably she will race off, mid-lambing. When the Persabus clan were young, the Happy Farmer would sometimes happen upon one of his young crew, wrestling on top of a heavily pregnant sheep, trying to hold her down whilst waiting for the quad bike to arrive on its lambing rounds. The kids grew up with lambing. It was one of their favourite times. They would be up at first light, woolly jumpers and waterproofs, pulled over PJs, as they accompanied the Happy Farmer through the fields before nursery and school. Their eyes were much sharper at spying any sheep needing help.

We are looking forward to sharing the growing clan at Persabus with you

Thankfully, this year, we have no pet lambs so far, which is a good thing as it means there are no orphaned lambs yet. No lambs rejected by their mother. Over the years our visitors to the farm and pottery have always been a huge help when it comes to bottle feeding any hungry pet lambs. The orphaned lambs love the care and attention of our younger guests. Being so little the lambs need round the clock attention. They are fed special powdered ‘ewe’s’ milk which the Happy Farmer gets from the local vet. The powder is then mixed with warm water before being placed in a sterilised bottle with a special teat on top.

You know spring has arrived when the lambing rounds begin and the days when you get to enjoy a seat on the bench at the front of the farmhouse.

Soaking up the views in the sunshine

On Saturday, as we drank our hot coffee on such a day, we could hear bellowing and roaring coming from across the fields. When the Happy Farmer raced over on his quad bike, one of our new Highland ladies had given birth to the fluffiest little bull calf. Cow and calf were doing well. The mother giving her new-born a good lick all over and gently coaxing him onto his four ever so wobbly legs.

If you do happen to meet the Happy Farmer between his lambing duties

as he stops for a friendly chat from the seat of his quad bike,

Please remember to listen to his stories with a ‘pinch of salt’

He is sure to recount the tales of the difficult births of his Highland cows and then of his colourful lambing experiences. Please be reassured, contrary to what he may have told you, with that twinkle in his eyes, Highland calves are indeed born without their horns. They grow much later. As for the lambs, know they are never born with a ‘tartan’ coat, well not at Persabus anyway.

Happy Lambing.

Until next time…

Wildflower pottery
Ceramics at Persabus
Flock of Hebridean Sheep
Highland cow and bull calf
Sheep and lambs
Sheep and lamb
The Happy Farmer on his lambing rounds at Persabus, Islay

The Happy Farmer’s Commute

The sun has been rising earlier in the mornings

and spring is well and truly here, as those beautiful yellow daffodils are out in bloom lining the single-track road to Persabus.

It is an exciting time on the farm with the birth of new calves

and the fields filled with heavily pregnant sheep. The Happy Farmer is hoping those ladies keep their legs firmly crossed for a few more weeks as the temperature has taken another dip, and we are getting all four seasons in a day. Heavy hailstorms give way to bright sunshine and then, even the Paps of Jura were covered in a peppering of snow this morning.

The Happy Farmer was away on business last week

Of course, such business trips and commutes to work come with a whole different set of values and meanings when your home is in the Hebrides. This trip involved a bit of an ‘island-hopping adventure’ seeing the Happy Farmer returning later in the day with a huge grin on that happy face and the promise of two Highland girls to follow.

The commute involved a fifteen-minute ferry journey

across the rolling blue seas of the Sound of Islay onboard the sturdy ‘Eilean Dhiura’. With the hearty craic of the ferry crew to keep him entertained on the short crossing, not to mention their fabulous Tunnock’s teacakes, which the Happy Farmer was soon munching his way through, and, before he knew it, the ropes were being tied at Feolin and it was time to disembark.

A landrover, and one Happy Jura man at the ready, and the Happy Farmer was soon trundling along a peat clad gravel road, down a very steep incline, across a rickety bridge, which brought him to the foot of the Paps of Jura. His colleagues in attendance at the meeting happened to be a large group of hairy Highland girls who were more than a little delighted to see one Happy Farmer and one Happy Jura man arriving with a large bag of cake especially for them. Having walked round the assembled group, studying those girls from head to toe with a careful eye, the Happy Farmer selected his favourite two, who would be following him back to Persabus in a few days.

Those two lovely Highland ladies have yet to be named but are settling in well. Markus the bull is their best friend as they all gather around the silage feeding ring. Happily, they are in calf already, and with Markus being a White Bred Bull, ‘friends’ is all he will hopefully ever get to be. The Happy Farmer will be mating these girls with a pure Highland bull later in the year. He opted to buy black highland cows as they are the original native breed of the Hebrides. The ginger highland cows evolved at a later stage when breeding programmes were introduced to make for a slightly larger highland cow which would provide more meat.

Each morning then the Happy Farmer pops by to check on the girls

along with a shake of their favourite bag of cake. Please note this is not the traditional sponge kind of a cake, so if you do happen to be along visiting our lovely Highland girls, know they will not thank you for a Mary Berry ‘classic’. At the farmhouse on the other hand, sponge cake is always very welcome indeed, especially if the Happy Farmer just happens to be on his coffee or tea break. The cake for these cows is a compound of barley, minerals, treacle and so on. Through feeding them the Happy Farmer can get to know them and is already aware that one of these ladies appears to have a very ‘mischievous twinkle’ in her eyes. He is already having to be on his guard around her, as on seeing him arrive, she duly skips and dances the highland fling around him. She is a character, and a half, I think the Happy Farmer has met his match. It is going to be fun watching this character settle into her new home on the farm.

Hopefully soon we will be able to offer you all a warm welcome back to Persabus where you can meet our new ladies in person.

Until next time…

HL8
HL6
Spring has arrived
HL6
Highland cows, Persabus Farm, Islay
New calf at Persabus
HL4
HL9
Persabus Farmhouse

Washing Creatively

We appear to be running a professional laundry service at Persabus

and are ever so gently and quietly being ‘evicted’ from our ‘space’.

Our roles might have changed quite a bit over the past year, but the farmhouse continues to be a busy hub of creativity in these strange times.

Washing baskets are constantly filled.

Soups, casseroles, home-made breads and baking flow on a seamless production line. Gliding from Aga to table, to feed the hungry ‘army’.

For our part,

the Happy Farmer and I can frequently be seen tip-toeing around the farmhouse

Careful not to disturb the flow of creative energy that seems to have engulfed life on the farm. A flow that comes with the whole clan continuing their work from home.

The dining room has transformed into an art studio and sewing room. Machines can be heard whirring away.

A mannequin at the window frequently changes style

Sometimes pinned with swatches, other times draped in fabrics, before being transformed with the most gorgeous designs and shapes as creations come to fruition.

Mood boards feed my curiosity

Threads and needles are everywhere.

For me it is a privilege to have the chance to watch this young designer at work as the huge expanse of her island home provides an endless source of inspiration for her designs. Her work a tribute to the background of the community and island landscape she grew up in.

It does not end in the dining room

The larger kitchen has morphed into a pattern cutting room

Paper is neatly laid out. Patterns designed. Calico lies across an ironing board. Jackets, bags, hats, dresses, trousers in the grass roots of the design process. As ideas are carefully sketched and illustrated. Drawn and cut. From paper, to calico, from calico to fabric. It is a fascinating process. With the art studios and university closed, online learning has turned the farmhouse into a creative hub of busyness.

The small guests’ kitchen is now a ‘temporary office’

as eldest continues her important and valuable NHS work from an online environment.

Paints and brushes nearby. Away from her ‘office’ huge canvases capture her artistic flare. The blues of the seas and skies of island living, translated through oils, acrylics, pastels, and watercolours. Animals and pets coming to life on paper, ready to be posted out to their new homes. Wooden floors have become the artist’s studio with the large glass doors providing the perfect light.

Then there is the ‘transportable’ office

Our son, safely home from Hong Kong as the first lockdown came, continued his work from his laptop. Throughout the week teaching videos were uploaded to children in a faraway land. Videos capturing farming life, teaching his young students English with a large dash of ‘Hebridean culture’. There were cameo roles for the whole family. 

As his work continues with new projects, his ‘office’ space seems to vary throughout the course of a day. Different spots and spaces are taken over to accommodate whichever ‘role’ he is working on.

Those Persabus dogs are of course taking full advantage

They have never enjoyed so many walks and so much fuss. They too seem to have moved into the farmhouse on a more permanent basis. Making their peace with the cats, they spend far less time in the barracks of their kennel. Far more time curled up in the comfort of the farmhouse. They see their roles as reminding everyone to eat as they seem to demand more food. Reminding everyone to de-stress as they demand more fuss, more belly rubs and lots of attention.

As we continue to adapt to these changing times

I am entertained then that the Happy Farmer, for his part, has installed a comfy leather sofa and several heaters into his ‘office’ in his agricultural shed.

Happy days.

As we begin to look forward, it is exciting to be open for bookings once again

When restrictions are eased and the guidelines allow, and if the Happy Farmer and I haven’t been completely ‘turfed out’ of the farmhouse, we very much look forward to offering you all a warm welcome back to Persabus to join in the creative flow of this beautiful island.

Until next time….

farm 1
laundry 9
laundry 4
Designer
farm 2
farmhouse 9
dogs 1
laundry 11

The Return of the Happy Farmer

Everyone has been asking what I have done with the Happy Farmer?

He has disappeared off the blog posts. Slid off the platform of social media. There have been no updates. No cheeky wee mentions. His last sighting was reportedly on ‘The Mighty Persabus Haggis Hunt’. Did he really in fact end up enjoying copious amounts of that ‘amber nectar’ leaving him ‘face down and feet up in a peaty bog’ never to be seen again, I have you all wondering?

The rest of the Persabus clan have been making their appearances, taking advantage of exploring the stunningly beautiful Islay coastline. Clambering over the boggy headlands to the beaches, with not a sighting of that Happy Farmer.

The Happy Farmer has been AWOL

He is not really into ‘beach time’. It does not involve herding cows or dosing sheep or building projects and adventures. On the occasions he has been known to make his way to the sand, it usually involves his cousin’s beachy BBQ, with the promise of burgers and steaks sizzling away at the shoreline, and

beers cooling in the Atlantic waves

On such occasions the Happy Farmer will positively skip to the beach. He will happily spend an hour or two basking in the heat of the sun. A cool beer to hand, munching on whatever tasty treats flow from the BBQ.

We are dreaming then of the summer to come. Open for bookings and hoping the restrictions ease. The BBQ king and cousins have their ‘spaces’ reserved. The holiday cottages at Persabus are at the ready. Newly decorated, pristine, and ‘available’ once we get the Scot Gov ‘go-ahead’. We are really hoping things continue to go well and everyone gets to enjoy a break this summer.

The Happy Farmer for his part is even getting excited planning the possibility of his ‘socially distanced’ summer party. Which at this stage may well entail one table being placed in each field, with megaphones to hand and a stash of drink, burgers, and a throw away BBQ at each setting. We might have to warn the neighbours about the particularly loud music, or maybe headphones and a playlist for each mobile phone would suffice? Ahead of the times then with

a socially distanced ‘silent disco’, in the fields, as the sun sets

So, in between his feeding rounds about the farm the Happy Farmer has been doing a lot of ‘dreaming’. The sort of ‘dreaming’ that I promise you does not involve a ‘sneaky wee snore’ behind a bale of hay. No, he has been dreaming of summer adventures and a time when he can be more sociable once again. Maintenance jobs have been calling him, as have essential workers. ‘Meet ups’ have had to be outdoors and within tier 3 restrictions, so

if you thought you saw another silage bale or two in the fields, rest assured it was in fact the Happy Farmer

and his ‘essential workers’, having important socially distanced ‘discussions’. They may well resemble silage bales, but in fact on closer inspection you will see it is layers and layers of woolly jumpers (farmers not sheep), thermals, hats, coats, waterproofs, waistcoats, fleeces, gloves and neckerchiefs. Neckerchiefs are a new addition. They double up as handy face coverings. Providing the perfect solution as the Happy Farmer would be in danger of suffering from something far worse than a virus if he took a face mask from the depths of his jacket pockets and dared to place it over his face. Those farmer’s jacket pockets carry a hazardous health warning at the best of times and should be avoided at all costs.

Today the Happy Farmer has headed off, a spring in his step, ready for a ‘party’

He is quite excited by the possibility of the social gathering he is attending. Of the people he will see and chat to. A meet up with his old school chums. And just before you worry at the possibility of him breaking ‘the rules’ know it is as exciting as it gets. He will be with his school chums. They will sit socially distanced in a waiting room ready to be called in for their Covid-19 vaccinations at the local hospital. The best of party the year.

We all look forward to a time when we can offer you a hearty welcome back to the farm. When we can prise the Happy Farmer to the beach for some ‘sunshine fun’ and party hard and long into the wee small hours and beyond in true Persabus style.

Until next time…

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‘Staycation’ Islay

The storms died down

The hedgerows were suddenly filled with the excited chirruping of birds. The sun came out and the daylight hours stretched on into the early evening. The tease of the spring to come as even the air feels fresher and everything just looks so much brighter.

Islay is a place of spectacular beauty

The ‘sparkle’ of those seasons reflected in the colourful landscape. Rugged, wild beaches with Atlantic waves crashing onto sandy shores.

A wilderness providing the perfect backdrop for breath taking hikes and sunshine swims

Cycling, running, kayaking, golfing, fishing, and boating expeditions. It is a place to be enjoyed from land, sea, or from high above in the air. A place for adventuring and exploring.

I am one of the incredibly lucky ones

I get to live and ‘grow’ in this beautiful part of the world. During these times we are waiting and preparing for when we can once again share our beautiful farm at Persabus with you. Welcoming you back to these island shores.

We are committed to providing safer stays for our guests

and working hard to ensure we keep everyone as safe as possible. Vaccinations are rolling out to protect our community. We are continuously taking guidance from the Government, the ASSC and VisitScotland.

At Persabus there are new policies and procedures in place, involving deeper cleaning and disinfecting of all our properties. All linen, duvets, pillows, each pillow and mattress protector, are changed between guests. We are working very hard so you can be assured of a ‘Safer Stay’ when you choose to stay at Persabus. Here you really can have the freedom to enjoy a thoroughly relaxing break in one of Islay’s most scenic destinations.

Our secluded location, close to the hills and the sea, really does

offer socially distanced holidays in a beautiful part of the island

With the Happy Farmer and I living in the main farmhouse and working on the farm we are usually around for any questions you may have during your stay with us, or to help you plan your perfect day of ‘Islay adventuring’.

If you are planning your ‘staycation’,

looking forward to escaping to island living, do get in touch and we will hopefully be welcoming you to Persabus in the not too distant future.

Until next time…

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The Draw of the Hebrides

The Hebrides have that certain ‘pull’

even when the full force of nature’s elements are raging across the landscape. As gales lash against the farmhouse, rattling the slates on the roof. Blizzards bringing powdery snowflakes that ‘sting the eyes’ as they swirl ferociously in the storms.

It is both dramatic and spectacularly beautiful.

Taking full advantage of the weather, huge fires are roaring in the living rooms of the farmhouse and a warm cosy heat spreads from the Aga at the heart of kitchen as we hunker down. Able to enjoy the force of nature from the cosy comfort of ‘home’.

The magical ‘draw’ as Island life immerses you in the raw beauty of living on the edge of the land.

So, before I ‘plunge’ myself into those gales

as dogs need walked and the animals need to be checked and fed, as it’s Valentine’s Day, I invite you to sit back and revisit the story of my journey to these beautiful lands.

The Hebrides for me have a uniqueness and energy that is both powerful and special.

The colourful and harsh landscape coupled with the friendly hospitality of the people

and strong community spirit make these islands very special indeed.  

Our guests on the farm and visitors to the pottery are always intrigued as to how I came to live on Islay.

Hold tight, it’s Valentine’s Day.

Today’s blog is a happy, romantic tale

It begins at the north tip of the Isle of Jura, where the force of the tides meet in the narrow strait between Jura and Scarba. Here is the dramatic Corryvreckan whirlpool. It is the world’s third largest whirlpool.

A visit to the Corryvreckan whirlpool

was on my bucket list since I first heard of it as a young seven-year-old. My opportunity came when years later, whilst studying in London, I heard my brother and a group of friends were planning a ‘backpacking’ holiday, walking from Feolin to the north of Jura. I suddenly found myself with walking boots and a very heavy backpack up in Scotland and on the ferry heading for Jura.

After a few days of walking we reached the gulf of the Corryvreckan on a calm, sunny, evening. I sat on a bed of heather, looking out across the eddies of the whirlpool, with an army of deer ticks making their way up my walking socks.

After the ‘concrete jungle’ of London

having sat on Hampstead Heath only a week before, looking at the chimney pots stretching for miles across the horizon, the views out across the sea to Scarba and the Garvellach islands were breath taking. It was such a sharp contrast, coming from a crowded city to such a huge open expanse. The wild, natural and rugged openess of the landscape of Jura is something I will never forget. The sheer beauty of this unspoilt land pulled me back for several more walking and camping adventures. Memories of sitting watching the Corryvreckan from my ‘heather bed’ later inspired my ‘Corryvreckan range’ of Persabus pottery.

Over the next couple of years, I spent several holidays backpacking around the Isle of Jura.

The nearest croft was often a good couple of days walk away

The north west coastline is both remote and wild. The ground is so rough it can be quite a challenge to even find a spot to pitch a tent. It is a magical land though, with huge caves, ideal for an open fire and a dram before crawling into your sleeping bag for a night’s sleep. Sleep comes easily as every muscle in your body is aching with exhaustion from carrying a heavy backpack through the rough terrain. A group of seals would accompany us on our expeditions, curiously following our every move from the sea. The deer kept a watchful eye from a far, tracking each day’s progress. Mountain goats roamed freely on the hills. We had to pick our way carefully along the raised beaches, treading with caution, as the birds nest freely in the wild, boggy ground around the shoreline.

On one such trip from London to Jura we had booked the local bus to drop us at the end of the road so we could begin our walking expedition. However, there was a last-minute change of plan. We had learnt on the ferry over that there was to be a ceilidh that evening in the village hall to celebrate the Jura Fells race.

The Jura Fells Race is an annual event; people arrive on the island from all over to run up the Paps of Jura. We didn’t really make plans to go to the ceilidh, but

the islanders ferried us there and would not take no for an answer

With our tent pitched, we headed to the Jura Hotel and found ourselves in the middle of a huge gathering. The island was buzzing. Runners were arriving back from the race. There were campers everywhere. The bar spilled out onto the single-track road with a carnival atmosphere. The yachts moored in the bay, had their tenders filled, ferrying people across to the village. We popped to get food, and then the Happy Farmer made his appearance in true ‘Happy Farmer style’. Without an introduction, one minute I was stood waiting on a drink,

the next my feet were swept from under me

when, within no time at all, the Happy Farmer had grabbed me by the knees, ‘wheeked’ me over his shoulder and made for a quick getaway.

That was my introduction to the man I have spent the last thirty years of my life with. I did of course take a lot more convincing, but an evening of being swirled around the dance floor at a traditional ceilidh was a very good start.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Until next time…

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