The Haunted Kiln

The blog has taken a bit of a back seat 

We have been ‘cooking with gas’ in the pottery. Our Halloween ghosts and ghouls in the form of our ‘pottery takeaway’ painting boxes have literally been flying off the shelves. The first two days saw us sell out of stock completely. Thankfully we were able to restock quickly as more happy and excited children could be seen clutching their fabulous spooky Halloween creations as they left the pottery this week.  

From the depths of the haunted kiln at Persabus 

skulls, spooks, spiders and haunted tree trunks have emerged. Pieces, all glazed and fired, ready to take pride of place on windowsills in homes. Flickering brightly, with the addition of tealights, as the nights really begin to draw in with Halloween approaching, adding a warm glow to those beautiful autumn nights. 

The support from our wonderful community and beyond in these crazy times has been fantastic

From pottery boxes, commissions and orders. To sales and a friendly chat, muffled from the face masks. It has been lovely to see everyone again. Do get in touch if you are looking for an extra special gift or some original and unique ceramics for Christmas gifts. Am I allowed to mention the dreaded ‘C’ word yet? And do keep an eye out for our ‘Christmas Pottery Takeaways’ which are coming soon. 

The Happy Farmer also has a spring in his step

and a huge smile spreading from cheek to cheek. ‘Auld Lizzie’ his childhood tractor has a starring role in the week’s The Scottish Farmer magazine. 

The article recounts the story of ‘Auld Lizzie’ from when she arrived at the farm back in the 1950s. My late father in law had at the time been informed his new tractor would be arriving on ‘tomorrow’s boat’, only to then be told ‘tomorrow’s boat was fully booked’ (some island traditions continue to this day). Instead ‘Auld Lizzie’ was shipped on the Loch Frisa, a steamer, from the Kingston Docks in Glasgow to Port Askaig,  where she was lifted by the ship’s jib, slung in a net, across onto the pier, to serve her time at Persabus. 

She was the first four-wheel drive tractor to come to Islay. The Happy Farmer’s tractor throughout his childhood years. He could often be seen ploughing the fields, missing out on school, whenever the opportunity of tractor work arose on the farm. 

Eventually as newer tractors took over, ‘Auld Lizzie’ lay in rusty bits around the farm for fifty or so years, until lockdown arrived, and with more time on his hands the Happy Farmer set about restoring her to her former glory. 

It is not the article though that has really given the Happy Farmer his huge happy grin and an extra spring in his step, but that after all these years, and all his hard work, new life has been breathed into the very springs of his old tractor.  

Finally, he could step back and enjoy seeing the younger members of the clan, after a few shaky starts, take off around the fields of Persabus on his childhood tractor. 

This week we have enjoyed the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets

The rich and vibrant colours of a hebridean autumn as the Paps of Jura have been lit up in golds and reds as the sun lowers in the sky. Each day when the pottery door has closed, I have been off with the dogs, for rambles through the woods, making the most of the last daylight hours, as in a month’s time it will simply be too dark to venture out after work. 

With the Barnacle Geese home on the farm too, once again we can enjoy watching them from the farmhouse.  Flying high above the field in close formation. Before lowering those wings. Spreading out their webbed feet, and then ever so gently parachuting down, slowly, for a soft landing in the field below.

What remains in the front field it would seem is now ‘goose paradise’ as they can be seen heartily tucking into the leftovers from the crop of barley. 

Until next time… 

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The Rule Breakers

Our regular guests turned up at Persabus this week

They arrived as a large group.

With the rules changing around keeping everyone safe and helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19, two households are no longer allowed to stay together or mix indoors in self-catering accommodation in Scotland.

The Happy Farmer knew at once that our guests were not all from the same family

There were too many of them ‘tagging’ along. An exceptionally large group, there was no sign of any social distancing, and certainly not a face mask in sight. They were quite simply enjoying their freedom. Happily flouting any of the rules we are all adhering to.

The Happy Farmer for once was not in the least bit concerned

Luckily, these guests will be with us for the long haul and are not planning on checking in to any of the self-catering accommodation on offer at Persabus.

On Tuesday morning we were awoken with the sound of lots of excited happy chatter.

Geese circled in the skies high above

Round and round they swooped, and circled, in neat, coordinated formations appearing to be doing several laps of honour. Such was their excitement to have made the long and arduous journey from Greenland back to their island home for the cooler months.

With crystal clear skies across the farm, and the sun gradually rising from behind the Paps of Jura, it really was picture perfect, and too good a moment to miss fumbling for my phone to grab a quick photo. It was a moment to be enjoyed. Luckily I did manage to get a photo of a smaller flock later on.

The shrill squawks and shrieks.

The’ whooping’ of strong wings flapping away as the geese looked down longingly at the rich green grassy fields below that the Happy Farmer has grown especially for their arrival. Well, not quite ‘grown’ for them specifically. In the winter months it can indeed become a bit of a ‘tussle’ for grazing as the geese can pluck the fields bare, leaving little, if anything, behind for the sheep and cattle.

On Tuesday then, our new arrivals simply could not contain their excitement. The sheer joy, the excited chatter, as hordes of geese gathered from all corners. It really did sound like one very happy family returning to Islay for their much needed holidays.

Welcome back Barnacle Geese!

At Persabus both of our self-catering cottages have their own private gardens allowing our guests to enjoy socially distanced get togethers with any visiting family or friends…

Until next time…

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The Expedition

Going on an expedition for me is always a case of taking along the ‘kitchen sink’ and anything else I can fit in too! 

So with the sunshine bursting through the windows of the farmhouse on Sunday morning, when eldest suggested we take a hike out to the north of Islay and make the most of the gorgeous Indian summer weather, I could be found fumbling about, cramming everything I possibly could manage, into two rucksacks, make that three.  

Several trips up and down the stairs and the necessary extra fleeces, jackets, hats (just in case), a first aid kit for all and every eventuality and then of course the necessary flasks of tea, bottles of water, sandwiches, cakes, and fruit. Dog lead, stick, and then one final sprint back to the farmhouse, as in my haste, I almost forgot the dog herself, and we were off. 

A hike out along my favourite coastline

Beyond Bunnahabhain towards Rhuval, before cutting inland, between the hills, and across to Bagh an da Dhoruis, the bay of two doors.  

On Sunday, with the sun beams glinting on the calming blue waters of the Sound, the islands were swathed in purples and golds, as the colours of a Hebridean autumn swept their magic across the landscape. A herd of deer high up on the hillside watched our every move. 

The bay itself is tricky to reach

Once you leave the coast behind, the land becomes wild and full of tussocks, bracken, and very long grass. The deceptively smooth surface gives way to bogs that grab at your feet and suck them down, leaving your boots thick with black, gooey peat. Tussocky hillocks that are deceptively hard to balance on, with deep ditches between. However, there is also something quite cathartic about squelching through boggy, mossy ground and this is where my stick came in handy, especially with the sharp, uphill incline, and an ever so eager Bramble dog, on her lead, pulling me onwards and upwards at a rate of knots.  

The beach itself, is enclosed by sheer cliffs, that are both breath-takingly high and rugged. Mountain goats skip across their peaks, circumnavigating the terrain with ease. Herds of deer shelter from the heat of the midday sun, in the huge caves far below. Reaching the shoreline involves a clamber high up the hillside, way above those sheer cliffs, before scrambling down to sea level through the steep grassy, boggy terrain of the eastern side. Clutching at the strong fronds of bracken for support on the journey down. 

White sands and crystal-clear waters make the strenuous journey even more rewarding. Boots and soggy socks hastily removed, and those toes are soon getting refreshed and cooled in the soothing waves. 

Mugs of hot tea never tasted so good

Sandwiches and all the trimmings of a beachside packed lunch were devoured. Our appetites were huge after the hearty morning’s hike, and then the chocolate bakes from youngest just topped it all, as we sat on the rocks enjoying our feast in the heat of the midday sun. 

 An hour or so of beach time. There were caves to explore, filled with buoys and ropes, carried in from the sea on high tides and in stormy weather. Dramatic rocks, next to which we paled into insignificance, such was their majestic height. With only the oyster catchers, deer and goats for company, and Sanderlings happily chasing the waves in the shallows, and then the gentle sound of sea breaking over the smooth sands. 

Refreshed and revived and we were off once again. Heading home wards. High up into the hills once more and back down to the coastline of the Sound. The sun beating down made for thirsty work, and in the distance

the Happy Farmer and Ruby dog could be seen making their way across the heather clad hills

to meet us. By the time we reached them the ocean was calling. Scaling down the boggy terrain and onto the beach, boots and soggy socks were once again removed, before a reviving dip in those crystal clear waters, there really is nothing quite like it, to soothe those tired and aching muscles, after a day hiking across the hills. The Happy Farmer, of course, looked on with a grin, from the safety and comfort of a rock, as we swam in the turquoise waters below. 

Home to a hot bath. Candles were lit, and a hearty roast dinner was served, topped off with youngest’s rhubarb sponge crumble with ice cream and

Island living really does not get any better 

When you come to stay with us at Persabus, your days can be filled with exciting island expeditions. We are always on hand to help you plan and make the most of your island holiday. 

A warm welcome awaits you. 

Until next time… 

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Old Lizzie

We have a new star on the farm

Well not quite ‘new’…quite old in fact. Quite old, unique, and more than a bit of a relic.

New life has been breathed into the very soul of ‘Old Lizze’, fondly named by my late father in law.

Old Lizzie arrived at Persabus way back in the early 1950s

She was a bit of a star back in the day too. The first four-wheel drive tractor to come to the island.

The Happy Farmer grew up on old Lizzie. From the age of seven, when he first learnt to drive, he could be found happily skipping school at every opportunity, to help plough the fields, turn the hay, and generally do any tractor work that was required about the farm.

Many happy evenings in his youth were spent, with his pals, after school, on Old Lizzie, bucking the stooks up for making corn stacks, as they all enjoyed shots driving the tractor.

For the last forty odd years, Old Lizzie has lain, a rusty relic

quietly gathering dust, in the corner of the Happy Farmer’s shed, with just the occasional visit, from a passing farming enthusiast or two, keen to pay homage to one of the last remaining Massey Ferguson TE-20 Perkins P3 four wheel drive tractors.

Over the past couple of years, in between the madness of life on the farm at Persabus, the Happy Farmer has been turning his hand to reviving his old tractor

It began with a helping hand from the younger members of the clan

When the family were over visiting, the young cousins, under the guidance of Gregor Fletcher, of Fletcher Fabworks, set about brushing down the old rusty bonnet and wings, before carefully spraying them back to their original gleaming grey colour. Quietly and methodically whenever he had a spare minute, the Happy Farmer set about reconstructing the old engine, ordering new tyres and generally giving the old lady a much needed over haul.

Last week then the Happy Farmer’s grin could not have got any wider

as when beaming with pride, he drove ‘Old Lizzzie’ from the shed once again. This time she was gleaming and running like clockwork, as he drove down to the fields, happily making sure each one of the clan got a shot behind the wheel.

At this point I must assure you it was my full intention to just stand back and watch the proceedings

The thought of actually getting behind the wheel, being left to my own devices and expected to get on with it and drive her forward….that was for me… quite hair raising and definitely not on my agenda. However the Happy Farmer was most insistent, and once behind the wheel, after a few kangeroos forward in the right direction, I gleefully sped off, with a final shout in the distance, pointing me to the direction of the brakes. Happily I survived.

I then watched as the Happy Farmer sped off in glee, at a rate of knots, for a lap of honour around the field. Worryingly, as he sped back into sight, he appeared covered from head to toe, in what looked like a huge oil spillage. My heart was in my mouth as I assumed Old Lizzie must have sprung a leak. I was gladly reassured then, when a still smiling, mud splattered, Happy Farmer climbed from the tractor, with just a few muddy puddles to blame for the mass of freckles he appeared to now have.

There’s a lot to be said for modern tractor cabs, but I know the Happy Farmer would not swap his Old Lizzie for the world.

Happy ‘tractoring’.

Until next time….

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Farm Diversification at its Best

On the cusp of the changing seasons

the island’s summer frock is gradually being cast aside as the landscape is emerging swathed in the golden hues of barley ripening, and the pinks and purples of wild heather clad hillsides in full bloom, as the colours of autumn take hold.

It has been a weekend of impromptu social gatherings

as we happily got swept along into a time of celebrations, as one of our lovely regulars was over for a big birthday.

Late on Friday afternoon, blue sunny skies darkened as the heavens opened, the Happy Farmer’s shed, his new ‘mancave’, provided the perfect venue for a socially distanced gathering. Whisky and prosecco were poured, not in the same glass, to begin the celebrations.

As the rain pounded on the tin roof, we sat among shelves filled with pottery and glazes. Beside kilns, ready to power into life, as pieces lay, thick with their heavy lime green glazed coating, ready to be loaded for firing. An eclectic mix that added to the fun of a birthday weekend. A spontaneous gathering in an old agricultural shed.

An agricultural shed bursting with diversification projects

seeing ideas flowing from ‘grass roots’ to fully fledged ‘fruition’ as we continue our journey with the ‘Persabus Dream’. The shed is the hub, the centre of activity, of life on the farm.

At one end machinery lies in a maze of bits, gradually being reassembled, and welded back together. Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, as the Happy Farmer lovingly works on restoring ‘old Lizzie’. Breathing new life into his childhood tractor from yesteryear.

Work benches are scattered with tools. A mass of tiny shelves and drawers bursting with everything the Happy Farmer could possibly need, and more, as designs and projects get underway. It is a hive of restoration and repairs. A place for servicing the farm’s machinery, sheltering it from the elements.

Above us, in the heady heights of a mezzanine loft, lies a ‘guddle’ of old pieces from yesteryear. Pieces waiting to be reclaimed, reused, upcycled, or recycled. The old farming ways still lie in the heart of the Happy Farmer. What might seem like old junk to the passing eye, is a treasure waiting to be unveiled in his twinkling wise eyes.

Huge cabinet freezers, alongside concrete walls, house a plentiful supply of food for the farmhouse.

A pristine laundry room enclosed behind pine and glass doors at another end. Home to industrial washing and drying machines. Shelves of bedding, cleaners, dusters, and mops, complete with the sweet scent of freshly laundered sheets, washing powders and conditioners.

At the ‘shop front’, the jewellery workshop and bench, where Charlotte works her magic, creating beautiful bespoke pieces of fine jewellery.

There is the ‘behind the scenes’ pottery workshop of moulds, plaster, slip pumps and casting drain tables, kilns and bisque.

Finally, poised, invitingly in the middle of all this activity is a green leather chesterfield. Sat in a cosy corner, it provides a birds eye view of all the proceedings in the Happy Farmer’s ‘emporium’. Perfectly situated for impromptu get-togethers and gatherings such as these. Allowing the Happy Farmer’s guests to enjoy a seat at the heart of the industry that has become Persabus over the Happy Farmer’s time.

Laughter and chat drowning out the heavy pitter patter of the rain drops on the tin roof

A shed built originally for housing machinery and livestock has become so much more in the changing days of agriculture. The shed has become a celebration of farm diversification at its absolute best, as it takes on the Happy Farmer’s never ending, constantly evolving building and renovation projects.

In these changing times, of the ‘new normal’, it has become the heart of socially distanced gatherings. Allowing the Happy Farmer to multitask, with his bar stool at the workshop bench. A time for mixing work and play.

The big birthday weekend was a spectacular success

A celebration which included huge platters of seafood. Distillery lunches at Ardnahoe. Tastings at Bunnahabhain.

There was an epic trek from the east coast to the west, on the Isle of Jura, with a picnic packed specially by The Bowmore Hotel, and bottles of prosecco carried effortlessly on the shoulders of Victoria’s friends to surprise her when she reached the white sandy bay of Glenbatrick.

Paddle boarding was on offer In the warm shallows of Small Isles Bay before the ferry led them back over to Islay to savour toasted marshmallows on a campfire built from driftwood in the bay at Bunnahabhain, whilst the birthday girl tried out her new snorkel and flippers.

Of course, in the smaller details, for those in ‘the know’, no trip to Bunnahabhain would be complete, could possibly be ‘complete’, without a cheeky passing ‘wee sweetie’ stop at the infamous Persabus Farm on the way past.

Late into the sunny Sunday afternoon, and on into the evening, the garden was calling, as once again we toasted the birthday girl.

What is not to love about a birthday spent on a Hebridean island?

A celebration spent indulging in some ‘Islay time’….

with a heady mix of ‘Jura time’ thrown in for good measure.

With the distilleries, the beaches, the welcoming, friendly locals, the seafood, the beautiful wild walks through the untamed wilderness, the wild swims, and then, the Happy Farmer’s shed, and to top it all off, the ‘melt in the mouth’ venison pie, with new potatoes and home grown veg, for Sunday supper.

When it comes to celebrating these islands have it all…and more

We look forward to celebrating with you soon.

A warm welcome at Persabus awaits.

Happy birthday Victoria from all of us. Thank you for including us in a fabulous weekend of happy celebrations.

Until next time….

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Mermaid Living

Summer has arrived  

with a huge dynamic burst of heady heat.  

Cerulean blue skies reaching far and wide, and the island has been bathed in the most soothing golden sunshine. With temperatures soaring it has been a time for outdoor living. 

Finding a quiet corner to just be, to sit and write, has proved a challenge. 

The sand and the seas have been calling and mermaid living has taken over  

With our fabulous ‘barbeque king’, the Happy Farmer’s cousin, and lovely family, over for an island holiday, we have been cramming in as much as possible before, at the end of the day, that huge ball of pink light melts slowly away, and the midges come out to play. 

The beach has become the perfect playground for socially distanced family get togethers.  

The delicious scent of burgers and steaks sizzling away on a small fire built in the handy nook of the rocks, listening to the hum of the waves breaking gently on the shore.  

Hot, soft sand massaging those tired feet  

Paddling the length of each sandy bay. The cooling waters washing away the madness of a busy day in the pottery. Finally giving in. Even though each visit I promised myself faithfully I would not ‘give in’. Would not wander back, yet again, with ever so soggy, sandy, wet clothes. However, each time, I simply could not resist.  

The warmth of the day, the inviting waves coolly breaking across my toes.  

Each time, I would find myself just having to dive in to those beautiful turquoise seas. The refreshing ‘zing’ of cold salty sea water caressing the heat of the day away. The calming effect of simply floating in the gentle ripple of the waves. Truly relaxing, allowing the gentle ebb and flow of the sea to carry me softly back to shore, before racing back in once again, for just one more swim, or maybe two. 

With Atlantic coast lines and dangerous rip tides and currents,

not every beach is suitable for swimming on Islay. 

In the past weeks we have been truly spoilt though. With swims in the bays of Lochindaal, and the shallow waters of the Sound, to amazingly deep rock pools at Machir, left by the tides. The ultimate however was nature’s own infinity pool. Formed at the edge of the sea, as the tide gradually went out. A deep sandy pool, it was quite simply too inviting not to float away in. 

 In the coolness of the old stone pottery walls,

like a child in a sweetie shop, it has been a time for ‘playing’. So many colours, so many brushes and sponges, enjoying the thickness of paint and colour. All the while capturing those stories and memories onto pottery. 

Island living at its very best 

To enjoy your own island adventures

do get in touch. Mermaid life, farm living, sunrises, sunsets and a beautiful island ‘home from home’, with a warm friendly welcome awaiting you, here, at Persabus. We look forward to seeing you soon. 

Until next time… 

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Island Life

To reach the top took my breath away

The salty damp sea mist encompassing us from either side, and the energy of the sharp breeze hitting us as we clambered up to the exposed summit of Sgarbh Breac. Cooling our overheated bodies dramatically, after the exertion of a steep climb up those final craggy peaks.

A crumbling drystone dyke rising from the depths of the mist.  The warmth of a hot August day, way below.

Island living at its absolute best

As each step had led us higher into the heather clad wilderness, the most spectacular views had unfolded. The huge turquoise and deep blue expanse of the Sound of Islay far below. A couple of yachts, tiny white dots, tacking their way north, with the tides, gliding with ease across the waves between the islands. To the south, the hazy pinnacle of the American Monument reaching upwards in the distance.

We couldn’t linger at the top, as we reached the drystone cairn, the shelter of the eastern face of the hill disappeared and a sharp wind together with the damp mist made for a quick turnaround and was a reminder of how quickly conditions can change out on the hills.

I still can’t decide which is the toughest,

the ascent or descent of a steep incline, but rest assured those legs were positively shaking and the knees were knocking by the time we made it back into the warmth of the summer day down at the coast. The descent was so much quicker and after all the effort, our aching muscles were rewarded with a dip in the Sound. Emerging refreshed and tingling in the hot afternoon sun, with only the swans and seals for company, the warming comfort of a flask of tea and just the gentle sound of the waves lapping against the shore.

The perfect Islay Sunday. Have you booked yours yet?

Until next time…

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The Hunting Season

With the hunting season upon us

Hamishina, our beautiful tabby cat, packed her suitcases and took herself off on holiday, a hunting holiday. She checked herself into the various cat-friendly ‘hunting lodges’ around the farm, without even so much as a ‘goodbye’.

Anyone who has visited the pottery will have seen the Persabus ‘lost cat’ signs. The Persabus ‘Please check for cats in your car before you leave’, made years ago when the children were ‘children’. Over the years those pottery cats have been renowned for taking themselves off on adventures around the island.

Hamishina is particularly partial to the odd adventure

Whilst her sister Archieina likes nothing more than to curl up and laze in a sunshine spot in the farmhouse, Hamishina splits her time between ‘sojourns’ in the farmhouse, and wild hunting adventures.

Accompanying the younger members of the Persabus clan on an evening stroll along the single-track road and through the farm, as the sun was setting in the sky, she happily ran alongside before diverting off into the hedges. That was the last sighting of her. She then disappeared without a trace. At breakfast time there was no yowling, meowling from Hamishina at the kitchen window. A morning practice she has honed to a fine art, as she demands to be let in.

At the farmhouse door, there were no ‘trophies’ from a night spent perusing and hunting in the fields and hedges. Something we actually did not miss, although Ruby and Bramble, the farm dogs were slightly disappointed when these tasty morning ‘treats’ suddenly stopped.

Archieina dutifully continued to turn up daily. Quite enjoying not having to share the contents of her cat bowl with her sister. She could binge to her heart’s content, before curling up for the day on a comfy cushion, in a comfy chair. Archieina would happily never leave the farmhouse again, except for the necessary visits. She is an exceptionally clean cat, but a definite home bird.

Hamishina on the other hand…well that is another story.

Two weeks passed and we were all beginning to really miss our lovely and demanding Hamishina, wondering if our lovely tabby would ever appear over the doorstep of the farmhouse again.

We imagined her, suitcases at her side, relaxing on some far-flung beach, with a ginormous pair of sunglasses perched just above her whiskers, enjoying sunshine and a wee cocktail or two.

It has been a beautiful week on the island of late afternoon rambles

out along the headland to the pebble beaches beyond Bunnahabhain. When the sun has shone it has been warm enough to enjoy refreshing dips in the sea. Last weekend, with the tide right out, we even got to enjoy those annual ‘mermaid’ swims in the deep sandy pools among the rocks at Machir Bay.

On the damp days the pottery has been going like a fair

All within the ‘new normal’. Face masks have been donned, sanitiser at the ready, and just one group or family in at a time has made for some lovely visitors, lots of chat and suddenly we are moving on a new ‘plane’.

It is strange, but also lovely to reconnect with people again. To get the chance to welcome friends, new and old.

The Persabus ‘design’ teams have been busy working hard on their ‘pottery take-aways’ and the results have been bright, colourful and cheery, as the kiln has been firing away on all cylinders each evening, working its magic to seal those memories onto ceramics forever.

The only downside to the whole time has been the absence of our lovely Hamishina

So, last night in the late evening sun, following the lead of a possible sighting of Hamishina from Mairi the magic sheep lady, who lives just across the fields, we set out to see if we could spy our lovely tabby cat.

As we wandered through the deep grasses and wildflowers calling her name, we were just met with the bleating of the sheep. Their guttural bellows, as they happily munched away, letting us know they had not seen the cat. We imagined sneaky Hamishina, spying us from afar, and darting down a rabbit hole, her whiskers just peeping out, not yet ready to come home. We called and walked, and walked and called.

We reached Mairi’s back garden, and walked around the perimeter, looking into the polytunnels to see if Hamishina was there. We met the ducks, and the chickens and the dogs, but no Hamishina. Just as we were making our way through the waist high bracken Mairi called to us.

There, perched high on an old drystone dyke, was Hamishina, meowling loudly. Shouting across to us.

I don’t know who was happier, Hamishina or us

She skipped along at our sides all the way back along the track, across the road and up to the farm. Stopping every few paces to roll onto her back for a belly rub.

Hamishina spent the night curled up on her favourite chair in the comfort of the farmhouse. She popped out for the ‘necessaries’ and happily hasn’t left home since.

Until next time…

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Off With Her Head

Sometimes, don’t you just want to hide away?

Emerging from the depths of ‘lockdown’ has been a reawakening.

From all the ‘behind the scenes’ preparations, from the risk assessments followed by the deep cleans. From the de-cluttering, to the planning and the implementing. The restructuring and looking at ways of moving steadily forwards into the ‘new normal’.

As we opened the Pottery door once again this week

it has been beyond lovely to welcome back all our friends, old and new. The support from you all has been tremendous.

On Monday then I took what seemed like a huge step to ‘get out there’. To pop my head above the parapet. I had to dig deep, to find that courage. The Happy Farmer nearly fell of his chair chortling when I expressed my huge fear. Now I have got you all wondering. When it comes to posting on the island’s community’s noticeboard Facebook page I just want to hide. I avoid it at all costs. The Happy Farmer, shaking his head and grinning away, wanted to know what on earth I could possibly be so afraid of. What, popping my head above the parapet? Putting my little post ‘out there’. Well…I stopped…thought for a moment….before stating the obvious. That of course, in the event of posting, quite simply…my head could get ‘chopped off’.

I think dear readers, the Happy Farmer’s sniggers can still be heard echoing across the farm

I rarely venture on to the page to post though. I have always been incredibly careful to be respectful of this beautiful island and its old, close-knit community. I love being here, being a part of the island but am acutely aware that I am not a local. Thirty odd years of Islay living would never make me local. A lifetime of island living would never make me a local. The Happy Farmer on the other hand is one of the most ‘local of all locals’. He is part of the very fabric of the island, with a family history going back for many generations.

Why is it, as ‘creatives’, we lack so much confidence

in putting ourselves ‘out there’ and ‘up there’? I am more than happy to post away on our own ‘pages’, revelling in my little social media bubble. Why then, would my little posting cause me so much worry?

On Monday I ‘braved’ up then. Popped my post ‘out there’. Boldly advertising our new way of moving into the ‘new normal’ as a business.  And those lovely islanders, my beautiful family of friends, enveloped me in a huge warm hug of fantastic support, and those pottery ‘takeaway’ boxes have been flying off the shelves…and it’s only the third day.

If you haven’t booked your pottery takeaway box yet do get in touch

There is something quite magical about capturing a story onto ceramics. At Persabus we invite you to capture those memories onto pottery. We will then glaze and fire your pieces, sealing those happy, wonderful moments forever.

Until next time…

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And the Hair was Cut

‘Strike a pose’

The Persabus welcoming committee have been out in force

Ever since the lockdown restrictions were eased you would think those Highland cows had received some sort of inside knowledge. Telepathic waves between Scot Gov and those Highland ladies. They can be seen posing away, just behind the hill gate, putting on their absolute best pouts, waiting eagerly to welcome all our guests and visitors back to Persabus again. They boast the absolute best in lockdown looks. Their eyes peeping away through those beautiful long wispy fringes and windswept locks. With hairdressers re-opening once again the Persabus girls were all queueing up to get lockdown hair trimmed and coiffed.

Racing home on the ferry

on Saturday afternoon, after a whistle stop city visit to move youngest  from one student digs to another, and the Happy Farmer was managing Persabus HQ from the very portable office of the MV Finlaggan, as he sailed home across the Sound. At short notice he received the very welcome news that the clipping team were heading to Persabus later that afternoon. A few quick phone calls and the Singing Shepherd and eldest were soon swiftly organised into gathering the flock and popping them neatly into the various pens.

There is always huge excitement when the shearers arrive

at Persabus with their portable clipping station, which handily comes on a trailer towed at the back of a van. It is a busy few hours as sheep are shedded and sorted, before being loaded up the ramp in single file. The clippers, shears at the ready, harnesses on, seem to dance expertly around the sheep. Flipping them over onto their backs, as tummies are trimmed, before casting them over and onto their sides. Electric shears buzzing and shaving away. The shearers have it down to a fine art and a sheep’s fleece is removed in one piece in a matter of seconds. They make it look so easy and yet the reality is hard manual labour, testing muscles and joints to the limits. However, with a few helping hands, the whole exercise runs like clockwork as sheep can be seen squashing their way up the ramp, a quick pamper session on the platform, and those ladies are soon positively skipping and jumping back down the shoots, their cumbersome heavy fleeces shed once and for all.

Team Persabus were ‘cooking with gas’

Whilst the Happy Farmer and crew were at the sheep fank, and I was knee deep in duvets and sanitiser in the cottages, back in the farmhouse kitchen, youngest had taken over the Aga. Lots of  chopping and mixing, garlic and spices, and a huge pot of bolognaise was soon bubbling away and at the ready for ‘close of play’. Washed down with a few beers in the garden at a social distance and the ritual that has been part of farming life at Persabus each summer for generations was over for another year.

Life on the farm has upped a gear in these past few days

After weeks of living in a bubble, suddenly it has become a frenzy of guidelines, protocol sheets, spec sheets, lists and tick sheets all flying at a rate of knots from our sturdy ‘hot to trot’ printer.

PPE has been donned, cottages have been cleared of games, books, ornaments and extras. Cushions and throws have been carefully labelled and packaged away. Everything, including the Happy Farmer, has been washed, scrubbed, and polished meticulously from top to bottom, before being wiped, then re-wiped with sanitisers and disinfectants. The results are nothing short of ‘gleaming’ and as our first guests since lockdown left today with huge smiles on their faces we are indeed moving into the new normal ‘full steam ahead’.

A week of misty, wet days had not dampened their spirits

or lessened their holiday experience at Persabus. As fellow farmers, they enjoyed the chance to get away from it all, after the hectic demands of a busy lambing and calving season. Relaxing in front of the toasty Rayburn in Persabus Cottage, with a few socially distanced drinks, and they had a chance to really unwind with a good rest and a fabulous island holiday. The chat went on long into the evenings. There was a ceilidh or two and suddenly it felt so good to once again be able to welcome people back to enjoy the way of life at Persabus.

I hope you manage to ‘escape’ soon and a warm welcome awaits you on our farm if you happen to find yourself yearning for a taste of the Hebrides.

Until next time…

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