A Prickly Issue…

I am thinking of selling the Happy Farmer in the pottery. He appears to draw the crowds. Every time I post a photo of him on our facebook pages he gets over 100 likes in just a few hours, drawing more attention than some of the pottery ranges online, such is his ‘online popularity’.

I do love social media and the contact it gives with the world beyond. The internet for me has been the icing on the cake to island living. That is when you have a good internet connection, which thankfully we do have at Persabus. Could it be down to all those cups of coffee the Happy Farmer shares with the Openreach boys?

We have been busy working behind the scenes on the farm with all the ‘buzz terms’ that now come with running a business, ‘marketing, listings, promotions’ and so on.  ‘Buzz terms’ that we never thought about before, have arrived in our lives over the past few years. This year we have a new website and glossy new signs for Persabus bearing our new logo thanks to my amazing nephew, who as a graphic designer, was able to email a design to me before I had even processed what a logo was.

Last week then the Happy Farmer was busy putting up new signs outside the pottery and at the road end. It was meant to be a quick hour or so but seemed to take the morning. The Happy Farmer got half ’mauled’ trimming the hedge to improve the sign’s visibility. Hawthorn, Blackthorn and generally anything ending with a ‘thorn’, battled with the Happy Farmer and held up proceedings, that and the fact that he stopped for several ‘blethers’. He arrived back for lunch then with more news than our local Ileach newspaper prints in a fortnight. It seems putting up a road sign is quite a social event where the Happy Farmer is concerned. Community spirit runs strong at Persabus and the Happy Farmer took it upon himself to have a hearty wee chat with all the passing vehicles and owners that he could manage to stop. For those of you who know the Happy Farmer the battle with the thorns and the battle with the chat and patter will hardly be surprising.

Whilst I am busy on social media then catching up with friends and family, I mean, promoting the pottery and accommodation pages, the Happy Farmer does not really do computers, he much prefers the old-style face to face ‘hearty crack’. Persabus signs all erected and looking good, he is forgiven for taking a little longer….I hope you like the new signs.

Until next time….


The Happy Farmer’s ‘Turner Art Piece’

The two bags of cement that have been beside the pottery door are annoying me. Each time I suggest we move them the Happy Farmer assures me that they are there to serve a purpose. Very soon they will be put to ‘good use’.
The Happy Farmer is a busy man, with many jobs on the go at once, from running the accommodation alongside me, glazing and firing the pottery, looking after the animals, and not forgetting nurturing his ‘building-itus’ condition. In the time I have known the Happy Farmer he has renovated and built two cottages out of ruins, stripped a large farmhouse back to its bare four walls and completely re roofed and renovated it, developed the old stables into a bed and breakfast wing, and an old byre into a pottery. Building plans continue to evolve each year. At present he is working away at developing a new laundry room, with lots of other plans continually circulating in his mind.
Today then, when I met him on his feed duties, having arrived back at the farmyard with the dogs, I noticed ‘those’ two bags of cement outside the pottery, glaring at me. The two bags of cement stacked neatly on top of a wooden toadstool have become part of the fixtures and fittings of the pottery, as they have lain there for the past two years, too heavy for me to move myself. Having cleared the pottery border the other day and pruned all the dead branches from the bushes those cement bags are in full view. I couldn’t resist asking then…. the Happy Farmer doesn’t heed my nagging though. He just gave me a huge grin
‘That is my award-winning Turner Prize’….

Next time, my friends, you see a piece of old plough, or a discarded peat cutter lying around, know that it was indeed loving placed there. It is not just farming ‘guddle’ or West Highland Clutter’. Living on our ‘creative’ farm….that piece is historical, a piece of Art, ‘Farming Art’ and you’ve got to love the Happy Farmer’s ‘artistry’… Is it a good thing that suburban ways are gradually transforming the island into neat gleaming buildings, with neat manicured lawns and flower beds, mono blocked drive ways with perfect lighting? Persabus has the luxury of ‘West Highland mono blocking’ full of West Highland character and charm. It is a working hill farm.
A warm welcome is awaiting you from all of us at Persabus.
Until next time….

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Welcome Home…

It is the welcome you get when you arrive home to Persabus. Today the sun was shining.

The flight was beautiful treating us to a bird’s eye view of snow-capped mountains, turquoise seas, with fishing boats and then the ferry boat below. Passing the Isle of Jura and those majestic Paps, and then following along Islay’s south coast. The cabin crew preparing for landing. We were treated to an approach from the west. Flying first along the south coast of Islay, with commanding views of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig Distilleries unfolding, then the bay of Port Ellen,  and around the rugged, wild cliffs of the Oa, the plane headed out across towards the Rhinns of Islay, before swooping low over the Big Strand to land at Islay’s Airport.

Arriving at the farm, the familiar welcome of ‘that view’ in the sunshine. The sweeping vista of the Sound of Islay and the Isle of Jura, the mainland ferry just making its way towards Port Askaig. The sheep grazing along with the geese in the front field, and then the kitties and Doughball the cat, miaow-ling at your heels as you walk along to the farmhouse door. The dogs came lolloping and bounding round from the garden, tails wagging profusely. My animals have missed me.

Later to sit at an open fire, feet up with an Islay dram, you cannot beat the warmth of an Islay welcome….

Until next time…


Cityscape….Island Dreams…..

I have been city living for a short break, which has grown into a longer break as college interviews call for youngest.

A skyline of concrete, traffic hurtling along, smoke rising from tall chimneys, the hustle, bustle and energy of city living. So many people, so much noise, so few smiles.

I am missing my island home.

I miss the vast open space of Islay. Running freely through the fields each day with my four legged companions.

I miss the fresh air, and the breathing space this brings into my daily life.

I miss the silence and then I miss Islay’s ‘noise’, the waves crashing on the shore, the ‘roar’ of the sea in the Sound of Islay, as the tides change. The cackle of the Barnacle and White Fronted Geese as they circle overhead, displaced from their feeding grounds by a sudden noise. The birds’ chattering away in the hedgerow the Happy Farmer planted a few years back.

I miss my animals. The nosey Highland cows watching me run mindlessly through the fields. Hansel and Muffin, my daughter’s horses standing at the farm gate, waiting patiently for a scone from the farmhouse kitchen. The scent of home baking flowing from the Aga each morning. I miss Ruby and Bramble the farm dogs, and our farm tigers, Archieina, Hamishina and Doughball, the pottery cats.

I miss those huge, vibrant skies that turn my world into a creative panorama, feeding my art work. The spectacular sunrises that unfold each morning, if the weather allows and then the peaceful, calming sunsets when the day is done.

I miss my lovely little pottery studio. How passing strangers turn into friendly faces, creativity is nurtured and explored, fresh coffee is poured, and home baking devoured. I miss sharing stories, meeting people from other lands, and welcoming old friends. I miss the creative buzz and vibe that the pottery feeds into my life.

I miss those stunning Paps of Jura, as you step outside the pottery and the panorama that unfolds as you head to the farmhouse and look out across the Sound….

Islay…. what is there not to miss? See you there very shortly 😊

Until next time….


Falling head over heels

We are reaching that lovely time of year, when after cold rain and wind, the skies suddenly clear, the sun shines across the fields and we get a glimpse of the beginnings of the spring to come as the snowdrops come into flower and the daffodils begin to bud.

The Happy Farmer has been out with paint brush and rollers, white washing the walls of the buildings. Taking advantage of a window in the weather and in our busy season, the cottages and farmhouse have been undergoing their annual re-decoration programme. It’s all hands to the pump to make sure everything is spring cleaned, polished, painted and refreshed. ‘Out with the old and in with the new’ as the saying goes. There is something very satisfying about dipping a paint brush into a new pot of chalky paint, and although hard work, the end results are worth every ounce of effort.

The animals are needing more attention too. Markus, our short horn bull, has been getting extra rations. Each morning he is at the fence. His greeting begins with a large guttural bellow as the Happy Farmer approaches on his quad bike with a daily portion of cattle cake. Hansel and Muffin, the horses, are next in the queue, waiting patiently. Then the sheep are treated to a new round bale of silage.

The only casualty on the farm is the farmer himself. His back much improved, his gait is beginning to look less like Frankenstein, but he is now limping and hopping along with a sore knee. I’ve come to the decision the walking stick he marches off with each morning is just for ornamental purposes, all show, as he still manages to fall head over heels…..but just acquires a swollen knee for his efforts these days.

Until next time…..


Camping with Breakfast

The huge skies of an island winter, provide an ever-changing canvas of colour, deep cerulean blues with giant white clouds give way to dark purple storm clouds. The beaches become wild and windswept from the lashing winter storms. Islay is at its most beautiful when the sun shines on a winter’s day.

Flocks of Barnacle and White Fronted geese gather in the fields to graze on the shoots of grass, having made the long and precarious journey from Greenland in the Autumn, to spend the winter months on Islay.

The warmth of the Rayburn in the kitchen of Persabus Cottage and the roaring log fire in the sitting room provide a welcome warmth for our winter guests, after a day spent exploring Islay in the crisp, biting cold weather.

Last night we welcomed our first campers of the year to Persabus. Hardy people.

This morning the island is covered in a beautiful white blanket of snow, as a winter wonderland is unveiled, and the snow continues to fall outside. The Happy Farmer is busy in the kitchen. The bacon is crisping. The sausages and black pudding cooking away in the Aga. Potato scones, eggs and a pot of freshy ground coffee, toast and marmalade, are all at the ready, to give our campers a very warm Persabus welcome to the start of their winter camping adventure on Islay.

Until next time…


Potting Around

I have missed painting pots. Today I left painting walls behind and was able to indulge in my ceramic art once more. I love this time of year. The vibrancy of winter feeds my creativity. The colours flow and new ranges evolve.

I have been working on ‘Islay time’, scenic mugs. Cups of tea are always such a very welcome and important part of my daily ritual and so the idea of having a ‘cup of Islay time’ grew and translated into island sunrises and panoramas flowing onto my ceramics. These pieces are about stopping in the moment and enjoying a bit of ‘Islay time’ over a tea break.

I love my Islay sunrises. They are such a happy and welcome start to the day. I am forever posting photos of the latest sunrise on Facebook and Instagram. I spent Friday painting the Persabus sunrise on to my Islay Time mug. I was pleased with the results, although it won’t be until they are fired and emerge from the kiln that I will see if the colours are as they should be. Luckily youngest pointed out I had completely missed off McArthur’s Head in the panorama, such is my devotion to our neighbouring isle. I hadn’t seen beyond the beautiful landscape that Jura unveils as the sun begins to rise. Today McArthur’s Head, which has a lighthouse signalling the mouth of the Sound of Islay, made a very welcome appearance on those mugs.

Until next time….


A biting cold easterly wind has been sweeping across our shores, and the island is swathed with the rich colours of a winter landscape. Spectacular sunrises give way to huge blue skies and vibrant sunsets. The Paps of Jura are covered in a peppering of snow.

The Happy Farmer is struggling with back problems. The morning rounds are taking their toll, the damage done lifting heavy feed blocks over fences. Hay has arrived for the horses, so along with a daily scoop of sugar beet, Hansel and Muffin are in fine form. On rough, wild days, a quick peep out of the window at which side of the hills and fields the sheep and cows are sheltering, gives you an indication of wind direction. The farmhouse has become a cosy haven for the cats and dogs, and the Aga provides cosy warmth and welcoming soup to passing farmers taking a break from their winter duties.

The pottery has been busy too, with a workshop to paint medals for an awards ceremony, the wood burning stove roaring away, bringing some warmth to the old stone walls, but most warming of all was the hearty chat around the table as we painted away. Good company and a good chat is just the tonic to beat the icy cold winds of January.

Until next time…..


It’s Tradition

The last of the revellers retired home at 6.45am – Hogmanay celebrations merging into the blur of Ne’er Day festivities as we celebrate a traditional Islay Hogmanay on the farm. 2017 had drawn to a close and the New Year was welcomed in with fireworks and a good gathering of ‘first footers’, which lead to a traditional Scottish ceilidh in the farmhouse. Rugs rolled away, and a Canadian Barn Dance and Dashing White Sergeant ensued. After the bells had struck, a knock at the farmhouse door welcomed in the New Year and the traditional first foot arrived, a tall, dark, and very handsome male, carrying some coal, salt, whisky and cake for the house, to represent warmth, longevity, good cheer and food for the coming year. Drams were poured for all the visiting first footers, including all of our cottage guests who had travelled all the way from London for their first island Hogmanay. After several hours they left knowing a load more people and more than a few Scottish dancing steps.

It was a lovely surprise then when the pottery had a traditional first foot too. I opened for a short while on the 2nd January to allow fired pieces to be collected. The first customers arrived with a bottle of Bowmore for the Happy Farmer followed by the next visiting party arriving with two bags of coal. Small drams were passed around the non-drivers among the crew and even the pottery was brimming with the warmth and hospitality of all that a good Scottish island Hogmanay has to offer. How good it is that these traditions continue.

Until next time……


The Happy Farmer was beside himself with glee. Christmas had arrived early, or so he thought, as he looked out of the farmhouse window to see a lorry roll up with a large, gleaming copper still sat comfortably and invitingly on the back. Reality soon set in, this was no illicit still, and Persabus is not going into whisky production just yet. No, the Still’s destination was clearly emblazoned on the other side of the trailer. Luckily the latest distillery on the island is, in the Happy Farmer’s words, just a short stagger from the farm.

It was good then to witness a bit of the island’s unique history as another Distillery prepares the way for more whisky production. The first run of spirit, according to local whisky whisperers, is in May 2018. We are very excited by our new neighbour’s venture…. Ardnahoe Distillery.

Until next time….