Islay Christmas Preparations

The weeks leading up to Christmas and on Islay it is a time when the locals get chance to enjoy events on Islay. As Christmas lights are switched on around Islay in preparation for the start of the Christmas celebrations.

As Christmas approaches has been a week of falling soundly asleep beneath twinkling stars

as the milky way shone brightly across the night skies. In the mornings waking up to the pinks, violets and oranges of a rising sun beaming down across the Sound of Islay.

The farmhouse has been treated to a much-needed overhaul

Having spent time and money renovating the old steadings, and then building a new bed and breakfast wing into what was once the old stables, the windows in the main house, where we live, have gradually deteriorated. They were never ideal. Leaks would appear when stormy weather brought torrential rain, and latterly, when those bitter cold south easterly gales blew up the Sound, they would blow straight through those windows and right across our bedroom.

Whilst our guests were enjoying being toasty cosy in the farmhouse bed and breakfast suite

A hot water bottle and bobble hat were necessary attire at bedtime in wild weather at this end of the house. When the storms struck, I was reminded of my camping days in the wilds of Scotland, as bitter cold draughts crept through the broken seals and we were more than a little exposed to the elements.

All of that changed last week. We were hugely appreciative and thoroughly spoilt then

When the fabulous ‘A’ team arrived.

After a day of hard work, those old windows were history. Replaced with crystal clear gleaming new ones. Curtains have yet to be rehung at the windows, and a spot of decorating is on the cards. We have been treated to beautiful night skies, and then watching as dawn breaks across the Sound. A trail of bright lights making their way over the hills in the distance, as the Isle of Jura awakens once more, and the small single file of cars head down to Feolin to catch the early ferry across to Islay. The colourful frosty mornings, watching pheasants feeding in the fields, and eagles swooping overhead.

It has been a social week.

The Happy Farmer has been visiting his cask at Bruichladdich Distillery with his ‘gang’.

They headed off like naughty schoolboys and after a morning of ‘serious business’ in the distillery, followed by lunch at Port Charlotte, they collapsed around a roaring fire at Persabus for a late afternoon of ‘sampling’ and ‘nosing’. Dinner followed in Bowmore and then Hughie’s taxi home. It has been about inhaling the peaty gorgeousness of an Islay winter. A time for catching up and reconnecting with friends, relaxing and enjoying. The seasons quieten and the whole community gathers closer to enjoy the cheer of an Islay winter as Christmas preparations get underway. When the holiday makers are away the locals get to play!

Christmas lights have been switched on in Bowmore

and were celebrated with a fantastic street party. A Christmas fayre, there were highland dancers, and then the magical arrival of Santa as he made it over to our island shores. Christmas markets are on, dinner dances, parties and pantomimes.

At the weekend we were treated to a fabulous night at Iain’s Seafood Kitchen

as family and friends celebrated a MacLellan 60th and 21st birthday in true Islay style as the community partied the night away. Canopies were served alongside a feast of fish pie, casserole, curry and chilli. I think the Happy Farmer managed to sample them all. Spectacular fireworks lit up the night sky, waking pyjama clad party animals from their slumbers, as they too arrived to join in the fun. Even Floss the sheepdog was at the door. A huge candle lit lobster birthday cake and another Bruichladdich whisky bottle cake were the icing on the evening.

At the pottery we have been busy with after school and evening workshops.

There have been Christmas shopping nights in C.Hannett’s Jewellery workshop and in the pottery showroom, with coffee and mince pies being served up. Charlotte and I have had a field day with those fairy lights. The Happy Farmer has contributed bundles of pine cuttings and holly, as candles have been lit and it is all beginning to look very festive at Persabus, especially with all the beautiful twinkling jewellery delights on offer in Charlotte’s workshop. I feel a Christmas shopping trip coming on for the Happy Farmer. At least he will only have to venture across the single track road.

Until next time…