An Islay Wedding

Oh, my goodness it has been a busy time. With lots of lovely guests, a pottery overflowing with afternoon teas. Cake stands brimming with sandwiches and lots of delicious home baking. ‘Delicious’ according to the Happy Farmer who seems to be frequently getting caught as I watch him smuggling cakes out of the pottery and across to the farmhouse kitchen.

Behind the scenes, washing machines have been hurtling off their hinges, trays of baking have been flowing from huge bags of flour and sugar, whilst the animals have all been enjoying lazing in the sunshine. So much so the Happy Farmer and the pony got quite a fright last week. Muffin was so busy snoring, flat out in the midday sun, the Happy Farmer had to take a closer look. With an aging population of ponies and our dear old Doughball cat they do take a bit of extra care and looking after. Muffin bless him obviously couldn’t hear the approaching Happy Farmer as he slumbered away. He was lying like a sack of old bones, the pony that is, not the farmer, enjoying the sunshine. For one awful minute the Happy Farmer thought he had gone to the happy hunting ground, that is until Muffin bless him nearly jumped out of his skin. What a fright the pony got waking up next to the Happy Farmer!

Last Thursday then I got to catch my breath. To stop. To get my glad rags on and grab my kilt clad handsome Happy Farmer and head to an island wedding.

There is something quite magical about an Islay wedding.

With a backdrop of sea glittering away, stretching out over the horizon on a sunny, blustery day. The blue waves blending into huge bright skies. The sea and skies are at their most vibrant deepest blue in the springtime on Islay.

A makeshift altar at the end of the pier. A whisky barrel with a large old copper distillery jug filled with the most beautiful rhododendron flowers. Lining the old cobbled stone pier, were neat rows of chairs, facing out to the ocean, in front of Ardbeg Distillery.

The sound of the bagpipes as the bridal party made their way from distillery to shore. A lovely, unique cascade of beautiful spring flowers for the bride, blending with and complimenting the spectacular surroundings of Islay’s beautiful coastline. Kilts, bagpipes, the sea air and a beautiful couple made for a truly special occasion as the groom tenderly took his bride’s hand, and together they exchanged their vows, just as an old schooner sailed out of the harbour and around the bay.

A while later, making our way back to the Distillery, we were greeted so warmly by Jackie and her amazing team at Ardbeg as prosecco flowed, drams were poured, and canopies served. There was great chat and good banter.

At No:1 Charlotte Street the large dining room was beautifully decorated with pom poms and fairy lights. Fresh Jasmine and roses adorned beautifully laid tables. Speeches and toasts, love and laughter as family and friends shared in such a happy day. A truly delicious feast of Spanish tapas followed, celebrating Islay’s local produce with seafood paella, mussels and prawns, succulent lamb casserole, amazing salads and seasonal vegetables.

As the day faded, and the cake was cut, the ceilidh began. Tiree band Trail West made the journey to Islay to lead the dancers, with accordion, guitar, flute and drums, through St Bernard’s waltz, strip the Willow, Canadian Barn Dance and Gay Gordons. On the arm of my kilt clad Happy Farmer, it was a lovely evening of dancing traditional reels. We left as the party continued into the night. The Happy Farmer was heading to the mainland on an early ferry.

Today I get a chance to catch up with blogs. The only distractions coming from a cat seriously thinking of belly flopping out of the bedroom window, and Ruby dog, who sneaked in as I made a morning coffee, and is simply refusing to just lie quietly, as dog walks are calling.

As I get a chance to reflect on Thursday, I am reminded that there really is something quite magical about an Islay wedding. There is something so special about being there to witness the exchanging of vows out in the beautiful elements and then being invited to join in the celebrations as the adventure of the journey of marriage begins. What a special day.

Thank you, Marguerite and David.

Until next time…

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Beauty Treatments on the Farm

This morning’s breakfast guests have travelled many miles over the oceans to reach our Islay shores. Arriving to experience all that a whisky adventure has to offer, Islay took preference.  Lying on sun drenched beaches in hotter climes closer to their home did not appeal. The wild and beautiful landscape of Scotland was calling.

As they tucked into one of the Happy Farmer’s hearty breakfasts they spoke of dreams of lying on barley drenched malting floors. Breathing in the heady fumes as they experience steam saunas and facials from mash tuns, wash backs and still rooms. All followed by whisky soaked peaty baths. Listening to their banter it seems our Islay distilleries are missing a trick. The visitor experience is growing and apparently, the distilleries could up their game even further to meet the dreams of our whisky visitors.

Even the Happy Farmer is getting harangued by the animals to offer more of a visitor experience. He was entertained on his morning rounds the other day to see Markus the bull sporting a full mud mask on his face. A double take and he wasn’t mistaken. Our sandy coloured bull had a face completely covered in thick, black mud, with just two circles for the eyes to peep out from. His face was positively caked in dried rich mud. With the beginning of spring and the tradition of washing one’s face in the morning dew on the first of May the bull is making certain he is readily prepared and looking his very best. He never misses a photo opportunity to pose with his ladies, the Persabus Highland cows, for the cameras of passing tourists. With the recent opening of Ardnahoe Distillery, the animals are required to model for visitors on a daily basis. The hairy cows are making the most of the natural ‘blow drys’ on offer from our breezy climes, and can be seen sporting positively ‘punky’ and ‘coiffed’ locks.

The results of the bull’s mud mask were clear to see the following day. His fur was fluffier, and his face positively gleaming after a quick dip in the natural spring water of the burn.

At Persabus it seems we offer natural beauty treatments with amazing results. The mud masks leave the skin soft and glowing and just a little bit ‘fluffier’. The mud of course has been permeated by the salty sea air, offering purifying, skin brightening properties, full of peaty richness, real ‘peaty bog’ standard, and washed off or washed down with a good Islay malt it really does cleanse and refresh, or so our bull would have you believe.

If you are tempted the Happy Farmer is more than happy for you to stop by the fields and try one for yourself.

Until next time…

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Portable Accommodation Suites

The Happy Farmer is dancing with glee. Yesterday he was lucky enough to be the first member of the clan to hear the cuckoo at Persabus. Later in the day I was also treated to the returning call of our spring visitor who is known to be quite selective and evasive when it comes to hearing her shrill cuckoo.

It is an island tradition. If you hear the cuckoo on Islay you get to live for another year. It is a happy tradition, especially among the older members of the community. It is also important that you have had food before hearing the cuckoo, so much so that some people have even been known to sleep with a biscuit under their pillow, so they can eat as soon as they awaken to make sure they get to appreciate the ‘cuckoo’s luck’.

However at this point I must assure you that we are not all completely cuckoo on the island. Although I did love the story of how one of my good friends appeared to have ‘mislaid’ her husband this weekend. She accidentally locked him out after a night of partying with great craic. The poor man is rumoured to have doubled as a garden gnome for the night, when failing to wake his wife, he had to sleep in the potting shed. Thank goodness the weather has become milder as in his haste he had unfortunately forgotten he could have booked a more comfortable bed in the Persabus Farmhouse bed and breakfast suite. We could have been fully booked but the Happy Farmer never likes to see a good friend stuck and is already running away with ideas of  how he could have come to his friend’s rescue. He has started erecting glamping pods on the back of his trusty farm trailer. He is looking into ways he can offer a delivery service of his new Persabus ‘portable accommodation suite’ with the ‘latest pod’ fixed on top of his trailer so  it can be hastily transported by the tractor for ‘times in need’. He hates to see a friend stuck and of course it might just come in handy should he find himself in a similar predicament.

Until next time…

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Ardnahoe Distillery

For the past few days there has been a bitterly cold wind blowing across the land. According to the Happy Farmer it’s a ‘snell’ wind, one that doesn’t go around you, but bites right through you.

On the farm the whisky journey continues as today the tractor is trundling up and down the field, ploughing huge furrows in the ground, ready for the barley seed to be sown and the fields dressed.

It’s been a bit of a ‘whisky’ week for us at Persabus. On Friday our new neighbours invited us along to the opening of their distillery. We got to celebrate as speeches were given and ribbons cut as Ardnahoe Distillery was officially declared open. We enjoyed fabulous hospitality from the Laing family. Champagne flowed and a fine buffet was presented. There were tours of the amazing premises and stories of the whisky journey as we were led past mash tons and stills. What a back drop. Huge picture windows look out across the Sound of Islay to the spectacular west coast of Jura. A wild, rugged and colourful landscape. The amazing views, coupled with the gorgeous scent of whisky brewing in the gleaming copper stills, proved a real feast for the senses. To see those huge stills in their new home, producing whisky, was a momentous day. It was some months back, on a clear winter’s morning, that the Happy Farmer and I had watched as they came trundling along the single-track road, through the farm, to Ardnahoe. The gigantic stills paused for a quick Persabus photo shoot, before continuing their journey over the hill to their new home.

It has been an exciting journey.

Persabus has always had close ties with Ardnahoe. As a young boy the Happy Farmer spent half his young life there helping Hughie and Baldie on the farm. Making hay, feeding beasts, Hughie would often appear out of the blue and ‘borrow’ the Happy Farmer and any of his friends who happened to be ‘available’ to help out, and get them working on the various tasks needing done at Ardnahoe .The youngsters would be expected to do a ‘hands turn’ whenever needed. It was a way of life.

In the early summer they would sit outside the old byre, clipping the sheep by hand. Fleeces would be rolled carefully on old trestle tables. Stories would be shared in the sunshine. Clipping sheep by hand was hard manual labour but there was always good humour and banter.

The new distillery is just down from where the original farmhouse once stood.

It was a few years back when the factor of one of the local estates popped by for morning coffee and told us the exciting news of plans for this new distillery. The buzz continued when Jim McEwan called in to share his vision as he led the project forward, even inviting our eldest to join the team who were working hard to take the dream and make it a reality. In those early days the farmhouse kitchen table would be a hub for phone calls and emails, providing much needed links to the world beyond, when wifi and phone signals were required.

We watched as lorries, vans and machinery of all shapes and sizes made their way through the farm as work progressed.

On Friday we saw the result of all the hard work of the teams who turned this quiet landscape into an impressive new venture. It didn’t disappoint. Spacious and beautifully finished. We got to bottle our own whisky, straight from the cask, labels signed, and a duty sticker attached. The Happy Farmer was wishing he had brought his bucket along, but with the original illicit still from Ardnahoe tucked away in a corner of Persabus, who knows, maybe one day he will be filling that bucket with whisky.

Until next time…

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An Islay Spring

At Persabus we have gone from a steady ‘first gear up to fifth gear’ in a matter of days. Spring has arrived and the farm is buzzing with visitors and guests.

The pottery has been full of energy and creativity. We have welcomed back so many lovely regulars, with Persabus Pottery being a firm fixture on their Islay holiday ‘bucket list’.

Cake stands have been brimming with freshly prepared sandwiches and home baking. Kilns have been loaded, emptied and reloaded as beautiful pieces have been designed by visitors wanting to capture their holiday memories on brightly painted mugs, cups, plates and bowls. We have had dragons, cats, unicorns and horses glistening from the kiln. It is always an exciting time when the kiln door is opened to reveal the hidden treasures when the final glossy glaze has been set. Pottery orders have been flowing as people’s collections grow and evolve.

On the farming front, thankfully those ‘ladies’ heeded the Happy Farmer’s stern warning and except for a couple of sets of twins, the threatened lambing explosion hasn’t happened yet. Those babies are staying snug, as the heavily pregnant sheep, laze in the warmth of the spring sunshine. The Happy Farmer has another week or so before the maternity wards of the farm spring to life.

So today I took advantage of the beautiful sunny skies. With the fabulous Charlotte running the pottery for me on Mondays I was able to take off through the fields and along the track with Ruby dog in tow. I headed through the woods, enjoying the peace and quiet. Ruby got her much needed ‘dip’ in the cool waters of Lily Loch. With the arrival of spring and lots of fresh scents, she is making the most of rolling in everything and anything. She seems to think ‘the smellier the better’. A trip to the ‘watering hole’ and she was soon immersed in the glistening waters of the Loch and happily retrieving sticks, her smiling muzzle just peeping out above the ripples.

At this time of year, it is the little things, the vibrant pockets of colour that are beginning to appear, changing the landscape, with the awakening of spring. The primroses are all in flower across the fields and hillsides, their yellow petals lighting up the land. Bluebells and celandines line the woodland paths. On the bushes in the hedgerows the vivid green of new buds bursting into the beginnings of tiny hawthorn leaves. The air is filled with the happy chatter of birdsong.

Until next time…

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An Island Childhood

At Persabus we hope your stay with us will centre around making good memories for you and your family.

In the Persabus family albums I am met with rosy cheeked young faces giggling and smiling back at me. An Islay childhood is something to be treasured. The photos tell a story of each season unfolding. Each one offering their own special memories of island life.

There are the summer ones, depicting days spent on the golden sandy beaches of Islay. Barbeques of sausages, steaks and burgers, sizzling away on the grill above fires made from driftwood, nestled in the crook of the rocks. The smoke rising. A gathering of hungry youngsters, draped in towels, still dripping with sea water. Hunger getting the better of them, as huge appetites have grown from a day spent swimming in deep rock pools, surfing down sand banks on boogie boards, paddling and rock pooling. The Happy Farmer’s cousin is the king of beach barbeques.

At silage time, the sun beaming down, captured moments of tractors mowing and baling, then at the end of the day, smiling children perched up high on top of the newly wrapped bales of feed. The Happy Farmer would be out each day with black silage tape to repair all the holes the eager clambering feet had made as youngsters climbed up the stacks, giggling and chatting long into the dusk at the end of the day.

Pony treks out along the hill paths as the sun begins to set.

Fishing from the pier at Port Askaig.

Picnic baskets filled with goodies to be devoured at the side of a Loch.

Photos of purple stained faces, as teary-eyed toddlers reluctantly make their way home off the hillside. Exhausted but still not ready to make for home, having spent an afternoon picking bilberries from the bushes that cover the landscape in the summer months. It was always a big competition to see who would manage to collect the most berries. Many got eaten along the way. There was always a huge outburst when a tub accidently got knocked, spilling its contents deep into the undergrowth. Then the excitement and eagerness of the older members when the winner was declared. We would head home to bake bilberry muffins in the farmhouse kitchen. Flour seemed to get everywhere, with bilberry juices leaving a purple hue on work surfaces, fingers and tables. The Happy faces then as a tray of muffins was lifted from the Aga. Piping hot with gooey berry centres. Eager hands at the ready. It is the small things, the tiniest of moments that count.

In the autumn months, the golds and browns of leafy walks through the woods. Dogs and children running through the fallen leaves. The small leaf and twig boats made for boat races from the bridge over the River Sorn. Then the long walks across the windswept, deserted beaches. All wrapped up and cosy as the breakers rolled in before us.

Tubs of brambles in the late autumn sunshine, after an afternoon foraging the berries from the hedgerows.

In winter, those rosy cheeked faces in front of a glowing log fire. The snow men. A day spent sledging down the hills on the farm when each year we would manage at least one snowy day.

Pictures of youngsters perched on the trailer at the back of the tractor as they accompanied the Happy Farmer on his winter feeding rounds. All ready to pat the Highland bull on their travels and check on their pet Highland cows, Toffee Coffee, Rainbow, Fudge and Pringle.

In the spring, the early morning, bleary eyed photos of youngsters wrapped up in layers of jumpers, fleeces, hats and scarves, all piled on top of P.J.s as they set out at the crack of dawn on the quad bike to go on the lambing rounds through the fields. The Happy Farmer would be in so much trouble if he let them sleep in and they missed a morning’s lambing before school.

Photos of daffodils, crocus and Easter egg hunts. Photos of smiling happy youngsters with the freedom to run and run. The football matches as kids took on adults in friendly kick arounds.

So many seasons. So many happy times. Not just for our family, but for our friends, our visitors and guests. At Persabus we offer you the chance to escape and capture the moment. We don’t believe in growing up, just maybe growing taller. 

When you book a holiday at Persabus we encourage you to really relax and unwind. It is not just the little things we have on offer here either as it just so happens that we have some very good neighbours indeed, the luxury of the north Islay whisky distilleries of Ardnahoe, Bunnahabhain and Caol ila right on our doorstep. We look forward to offering you a warm welcome soon.

Until next time…

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Sunday Morning Mayhem

It was self-service at Persabus on Sunday morning. With no guests requiring one of the Happy Farmer’s delicious cooked breakfasts he made the terrible mistake of opting for a lie in. Lie in and farming are not words that ever go together. It would have been seen as an absolute sin in bygone eras. Farmers are expected to be up bright and breezy at the crack of dawn, just as the cockerel is bursting into a Sunday morning ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’, at the very first glimmer of first light. Luckily after years of nagging on my part, and having come from a very long line of farmers throughout the generations, the Happy Farmer is wise enough to know that the farm will survive for many years longer than he ever will. He has always opted to try and get a healthy balance of work, rest and play, or maybe play, work and rest. With no guests on Sunday then and having celebrated his team’s exciting rugby performance on Saturday into the wee small hours, it was a good reason for a long lie in and a late breakfast. A time to really savour and enjoy sizzling bacon and eggs, potato scones, black pudding, sausages and hot buttery toast, and all served on a lovely hot plate. Just the breakfast to set you up for the day.

Lie ins and late breakfasts for the Happy Farmer do not however go down well with the rest of the residents on the farm. Muffin the pony was most disapproving.  I met him cheekily sashaying his way across the farm to the shed. Here he duly stuck his head into the bucket of sugar beet which had been soaked overnight. He was more than delighted to see that what was on offer was not just a scoop of sugar beet, his usual rations, but a whole huge tub of sugar beet. It was just waiting at the ready for his snout to muzzle into. He greedily guzzled away whilst I ran for help from the Happy Farmer. A bucket at the ready and Muffin was gently coaxed away from the shed and taken back to barracks. Hansel the horse could be heard neighing away impatiently from the other side of the fence, waiting for his friend to return with the farmer and his breakfast. Hansel is not as keen to go skipping away from his field, unlike Muffin who is far cheekier and more inquisitive. The horses fed and the rounds continued. The Happy Farmer could then be seen zooming across the fields with a whole flock of sheep in his wake, and tups racing in a line behind the quad bike. At the very end of the line was Markus the bull, who, despite his cumbersome size, was even managing to break into a trot, such was his delight that breakfast was finally being served.

Later as the dogs and I returned from our run across the farm we were met with eldest’s flock of Hebridean sheep gathered at the front of the farmhouse, happily munching their way through the garden. One glance at the dogs and they decided the grass wasn’t so tasty there after all. They took the option to make a run for it. By the time I had put the dogs in, those ladies had managed a complete disappearing act. The Happy Farmer and Hughie taxi meanwhile could be seen happily chatting away beside the bales of silage in the front field, all gates left open, oblivious to the whereabouts of the escapees. The Happy Farmer always has time for a blether and Hughie always has lots to blether about. Those sheep then were determined not to miss out on such an exciting opportunity. An open gate and they decided to take themselves off on a wee sightseeing tour of the farm. Hughie gone and the Happy Farmer eventually managed to track those sheep down. A little coaxing with the ‘magic bucket’  and a few shouts of ‘ladies’, eldest has trained them well, and the Happy Farmer was seen leading them skipping back in a neat little line along the single track road to their field once more.

There are so many characters and personalities on the farm at Persabus. Ruby the dog never misses an opportunity to form part of the Persabus ‘welcoming committee’ along with the three cats. The first sign of a new arrival and, given the chance Ruby, our black flatcoated retriever, will be seen wriggling and squirming her way across the yard, tail wagging away at speed. She then launches herself onto her belly at the feet of our unsuspecting guests, a huge smile on her face.

Over the years we have had the privilege of getting to know our lovely animals and they have had the pleasure of keeping us on our toes. From Marmite the highland cow, who used to pirouette over the cattle grid and take a wander down to help mow the grass outside the pottery, later teaching her calf to follow in her footsteps. Charlie chicken who was one of the family and thought of herself as anything other than a hen. Living to a ripe old age she used to sleep with the sheepdog, Mist, in her kennel. In the mornings, hen and dog could be seen sat patiently at the French windows, watching the entertainment of the Happy Farmer making breakfast. Charlie would often join us for morning coffee at the front of the farmhouse. She would perch next to the Happy Farmer on the arm of the bench, clucking merrily away and she would then sneak into the farmhouse at every and any opportunity. Which with young children at home was often. There have been several horses, numerous pet lambs, calves and not forgetting Sheba and Twinkle the pet goats. So many stories.

Until next time…

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Islay’s Farming Life

The Happy Farmer has had to have a very serious word with the ‘ladies’ on the farm. This morning on his daily feeding rounds they gave him great cause for concern.

We had been away for a weekend of mainland living. Shops, restaurants and rugby. As we left the city behind, the calm grey landscapes faded into the distance and we headed into sleet and snow storms. The journey up and over the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ was picturesque. Mountains were covered in a thick blanket of snow. Fortunately the roads remained clear. By the time we reached the ferry at Kennacraig the winds had dropped and it was a calm evening crossing home to Islay.

The morning brought huge blue skies and sunshine. The Paps of Jura were covered in a peppering of snow. On his morning feeding rounds then the Happy Farmer was met with a ‘surprise’. During the night the first Persabus spring lamb had made an appearance. It is an early appearance. A good two whole weeks early to be precise. With storms forecast and ferry sailings cancelled the Happy Farmer is hoping those sheep heed his ‘warning’ and one lamb does not escalate into a full blown explosion in the ‘Persabus maternity wing’ of the fields across the farm. You always know when lambing is imminent. The weather seems to take a nose dive. The teasing warmth of a few spring days gives way to hail storms and bitterly cold winds. The sheep have perfect timing, and the Happy Farmer has a huge job in front of him, as the lambing season commences.

The full lambing kit is packed at the ready on the back of the quad bike. Stomach tubes are all disinfected and available to provide necessary colostrum feeds to any weak lambs who haven’t managed to suckle. Glucose injections are in the kit for the fragile ones who are struggling on their legs. Lambing gloves and a spray can of keel are always handy as the Happy Farmer will be busy in the ‘delivery ward’ helping with the awkward births, which by the end of the lambing season can add up to quite a few. Keel is used to mark and number lambs and their mothers. This allows for easy identification in the ‘nursery wing’ when the Happy Farmer is faced with twenty or so lambs skipping at his heels. Most return to their mothers when the sheep call out but there are always one or two that appear ‘motherless’. A sheep with a lambing glove tied in a neat bow on her horn means she is requiring an extra watchful eye from the Happy Farmer on his rounds. The trailer will be attached to the back of the quad bike, so the Happy Farmer can play onsite paramedic with his  ‘ambulance’ at the ready, to quickly and safely transport any sheep and lambs to the ‘intensive nursing wards’ of the fank if necessary.

The Happy Farmer is keeping his fingers crossed and did pop into his ‘chat’ with the ladies that there are to be no orphaned or ‘pet’ lambs. Luckily the rest of the Persabus clan have always been more than happy to help raise young orphaned lambs. Over the years we have had some crackers, all fondly remembered. Rudolph was eldest’s first pet lamb. He survived to a ripe old age. In his latter years he could be seen, resembling a donkey, arthritic but happy, hobbling around the fields, not to be mistaken for the Happy Farmer. We had Frizzle and Lucy, who were raised by youngest into fine sheep. As mothers they always struggled at lambing time. They would chose the same bit of hill to give birth to their lambs and would then patiently wait, in labour, each year for the Happy Farmer to come by and give the necessary helping hand. They were very good mothers. Fondly remembered are Sir Roger, Meh Meh, Snowdrop and Mint, to name but a few. Some did not survive, but rest assured, in their short lives they were fought over, loved and cared for from dawn until dusk. They were taken in as one of the family by the younger members of the clan and given full funeral and burial rights at the end of their lives as each ‘passing’ always brought floods of tears, and that was just the Happy Farmer!

I am sure the kids will be all heading home over the next few weeks to lend a hand. Eldest will be making sure her flock of Hebridean sheep get the best possible care and attention as she welcomes more babies into the fold.

Until next time…

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Islay living at its very Best

Sometimes there is nothing better than curling up in front of a roaring fire whilst the wind whips up and whistles outside as a storm is brewing. The cats have all crawled into the snuggest little spots. The dogs are curled up and snoring gently in the background. Everyone is enjoying the warmth of the farmhouse as the flames flicker and dance in the fireplace.

Indoor painting projects are almost complete. Everything on the farm is positively gleaming, looking bright and refreshed. Even the Happy Farmer has had a spring in his step. I have been banned from the pottery as he has remained ‘holed up’ in there, working away. Interior walls have been sealed and recoated. The floor is bright and glossy with several layers of fresh paint. Slates have been fixed on the roof and guttering finally sorted. Sorry to disappoint. We unfortunately will no longer be offering cold showers, via a leaky gutter, as you exit the pottery this summer.

It really was a team effort at Persabus. Even Ruby dog, at one point, appeared ‘gleaming’, with a lovely shade of magnolia down the right side of her coat. Thankfully it was nothing a good roll in the wet grass couldn’t fix.

With family home everyone has made the most of the lovely sunshine. Eldest has been out riding along the farm tracks and through the fields. Reunited with her furry friends. Long walks out across the headland and strolls along the beaches have been the order of the day. The roar of the Atlantic, on a spring day, with the whole beach to yourselves is Islay living at its best. The dogs have enjoyed having the freedom to run and roll along the vast expanses of sand. At the rock pools there was time for a quick dip. The water, bitingly cold, but equally refreshing.

In the evenings hearty chicken pies, lasagnes and cheesy bakes have been flowing from the ovens. After a day out walking and exploring, the cold dark nights call for comfort food, candles and a seat at the fireside. In Persabus Cottage the oven of the oil fired Rayburn is perfect for leaving casseroles and joints bubbling away in, whilst you enjoy the freedom of a day’s adventure. The longer the soups, casseroles and joints simmer in that oven, the tastier and more succulent they seem to be.

The Happy Farmer is away to ‘play’ this weekend. When he heard eldest was heading back to the city via  Oban’s Royal Rumpus Music Festival he felt it was too good an opportunity to miss. A bit of persuasion and he somehow managed to wheedle his way into accompanying her on the journey to Oban for a weekend of ceilidhs, laughter and fun. With storms brewing and our son home for a few days the Persabus fireside and a good book was on the agenda for me. Cosy warmth, with the Persabus cats and dogs curled up beside me. Happy days.

Until next time…

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Islay Blog: 50 Shades of Magnolia

At Persabus Farm we pride ourselves on offering a warm Islay welcome. This week it has been a bit of a chaotic, haphazard kind of an ‘Islay welcome’.

I have had a career change. It’s that time of year again. A window between guests and I have been working away as painter and decorator. Painting walls, not pots, and so many walls. Windowsills, doorways, kitchens, bathrooms, nothing has evaded my paint brush, including myself.

If you were lucky enough to call by at the pottery this week you may have noticed my ‘camouflage’. My face, hands and clothes all blended into whatever wall I happened to be painting. What started as a ‘touch up job’ morphed into an epic painting project. I always plan to do less. Who knew there were 50 shades of Magnolia? I have spent the last week painting every inch of our cottages, as I seem to do each year.

I was on a ‘promise’ from the Happy Farmer too. It was to be a ‘joint’ effort. We were going to tackle redecorating the properties together. And then he appeared, like an apparition, through the mist (it wasn’t misty, but a bit of highland mist always adds to the atmosphere). At first you could hear him, warming up his vocal chords, and then there he was, out of the woodwork, at the farmhouse door. ‘The Singing Shepherd’ and his two faithful pups. His timing was perfect. Just as we were about to get down to the serious business of painting the Happy Farmer got called away on important farm duties. A planned ‘get out of painting quick’ scheme.

From the cottage where I was toiling, the Happy Farmer could be seen doing his ‘happy sheep dance’ in the fank.  Those Persabus girls all gathered in for some ‘pampering’. Dosed and ‘heels manicured and clipped’ the Happy Farmer could then be seen doing the Highland Fling with the Highland cows. They had handily been gathered at the fence, in the ‘spectator gallery’, with their noses bothering them. They were enjoying the entertainment, watching proceedings in the fank, as the sheep got dosed. I can see where the phrase ‘nosey cow’ comes from. The Highland cows then got their seasonal ‘dosing’ too.

When the animals were happily back in their fields, I went to see what the Happy Farmer was up to. He was busy in the pottery. I was met with a scene of utter chaos. My lovely studio had been turned upside down. Pots were precariously balanced on over turned tables. Shelves lay on the floor. Stood in the middle of all the chaos was the Happy Farmer. He was smiling and chatting away to a group of people, who were stood clasping boxes of pottery between their hands. The walls may have been wet with paint, but a studio ‘make over’ did not get in the way of the Happy Farmer offering a warm welcome to visitors from the States. Pottery sales have continued throughout the week regardless of the Happy Farmer’s precarious displays, as shelves have been emptied and furniture and pottery rearranged into an obstacle course, in order to paint floors and walls.

On a happy note the daffodils the Happy Farmer planted along the roadside have come into bloom. Lighting up the single-track road to Persabus. He planted them for me over fifteen years ago. He might tell you otherwise but luckily it is me who writes the blog. They are the first signs of spring. Their bright colour offering a warm welcome to anyone driving up to the farm and beyond.

At Persabus there is always a warm welcome on offer. We look forward to your visit soon.

Until next time…

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