Happy Farmer Stories

The Happy Farmer has a skip in his step. We have such lovely guests staying with us on the farm just now. They love the Happy Farmer’s stories. He does seem to have his own unique way with words. I did smile listening to him sharing the story of Bramble, our collie Labrador cross, and how she is an absolute ‘pot licker’. Much to the Happy Farmer’s frustration she chooses her moment carefully to sneak away from the garden and take herself off to indulge in, what the Happy Farmer calls, a bit of fine dining, preferring the a la carte menu of the hillside. She invariably returns an hour or two later with her snout covered in soil, having spent the morning with her nose down a rabbit hole.
Or the Happy Farmer’s story recounting how a couple of German visitors called by the farm on their way to Bunnahabhain Distillery on a wet and wild day. They were absolutely ‘sodden’ and looking for somewhere to leave their kit, a couple of heavy backpacks, whilst they made their journey onwards to the distillery. In the Happy Farmer’s words they appeared with a couple of sheep each, clinging to their backs, and resembled a pair of Armadillos in the rain. He was heartened then when a few days later he bumped into the same couple in the centre of Glasgow, minus their heavy packs, and proceeded to take them to the whisky shop for some good Scottish hospitality.
Our guests this week have been enjoying the scenery and our farm location. They love animals. The Persabus menagerie have picked up on this, and as our guests admired the view from the farmhouse of the Sound of Islay, Ruby dog could be seen lying at their feet, with four legs in the air, wriggling on her back, a huge grin on her face. The cats have also found their way along to offer a warm ‘hello’. Even the Highland cows had their noses at the fence this morning to offer their welcome as our guests headed off to enjoy the north Islay distilleries just along the single-track road from Persabus.
It has been a busy time this last week getting around the logistics of our island location and relocating youngest back to university living on the mainland with her huge collection of luggage and absolute essentials. She does not believe in travelling light. We also had the logistics of getting essentials out to our son on the other side of the globe, enjoying Hong Kong living. It is great then when you have a best friend who just so happens to be stopping off for a night in Hong Kong on her way to support the Scottish rugby team in Japan. Our son seems to be getting very spoilt indeed. Last week he enjoyed fantastic hospitality from our lovely Hong Kong customers, who called by at our Islay pottery a couple of months ago. Living the high life, he was treated to an evening at a private bankers’ whisky club in one of the most spectacular buildings in Hong Kong. Such was their fantastic hospitality he now has an open invitation to call by anytime.
Islay is welcoming the world to its shores and we feel very grateful to connect with so many interesting and happy people calling by on their travels, so today if you happen to be passing, do give a wave to the Happy Farmer. He is instantly recognisable, resembling the ‘Abominable Snowman’ as he puts the finishing touches to his white washing programme, I think he must have been rolling in that paint today.
Until next time….

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Island Hopping…Islay to Macau.

With torrential rain and wild gales ferries and planes were cancelled as stormy weather arrived last week. Guests were stranded on and off the island and the farmhouse kitchen became a haven as Archie Bread and a few of the other drivers took refuge, much to the Happy Farmer’s delight. Youngest and I headed out with dogs in tow, in the eye of the storm, for a wild and woolly walk through the woods. The Loch had burst its banks and the path had become one long deep puddle, much to the dogs’ delight, as we waded our way along the track.

Then as quickly as the storm had arrived, it was gone, and on Friday we awoke to the most beautiful sunrise, and not a breath of wind. Summer had returned, allowing for the customary ‘coffee on the bench’ with the Happy Farmer, sitting for a moment in front of the farmhouse, soaking up the views across the sea, a mug of freshly ground coffee in hand, between the morning’s jobs. Islay’s answer to Starbucks in the city.

Hamishina, one of the Persabus cats, happily found her way home too, having gone AWOL for nearly a week. Eldest was home and had been out on the hillside calling to her sheep, and as they came running along, they were joined by one very happy little cat running alongside them. Eldest scooped her up and brought her back home to the farmhouse where she has remained ever since, sprawled out, sleeping off her week of adventuring and hunting out on the hill.

Today we made tracks out across the headland at Bunnahabhain. Walking along the track before scrambling through the bracken and heather, across the burn, and down to the pebble beach to see the seals on the rocks and enjoy a last bit of ‘Islay time’ before youngest heads back to university for another term.

In another world across the seas our son has been island hopping. I found myself escaping the stormy Islay weather last week when I read the article he had written for the charity he is working with…and couldn’t resist sharing his travels on the Persabus blog…he isn’t around to object after all. So sit tight and read on to enjoy his island experiences, Hong Kong to Macau.

Having been in Hong Kong for nearly two weeks, the day finally came when I had the opportunity to visit Macau. My first two weeks in Hong Kong had been an exciting, crazy, wacky (and very humid) adventure, and I had no idea what to expect from Macau. Only first hearing about it when I moved to Hong Kong, everyone that I’d spoken to had labelled it the “Las Vegas of Asia”. A former Portuguese colony, the main languages there were now Cantonese and Mandarin, and although they accept Hong Kong Dollars (HKD), they also have their own currency called Macanese Pataca (which you will receive back in change, so don’t bring $500 HKD notes with you!).

The first part of the journey involved an hour-long boat ride from Hong Kong island. Mist hung in the air that morning, and many of the undoubtedly beautiful views were hidden behind its curtain. Seeing the feint pillars of Hong Kong island and the green of some of the surrounding islands through the mist did have its own magic to it though (and I suppose the boat’s Wi-Fi and cinema-esque chairs helped as well).

The Vegas charm of Macau was evident the moment the land came into view; a grand casino sat near the water’s edge, almost welcoming us to its shores. Having never been a gambler before, I couldn’t wait to see inside a casino.

Casino-visiting, however, wasn’t the first thing on the list! Climbing aboard a local bus, we took a ride into the centre of the Macau’s old town and began our exploration. The Portuguese roots of the area were evident from the start. Getting off the bus, we were quickly surrounded by a jungle of winding, narrow roads and European-styled houses packed tightly together. The streets were bustling with people, and to say that we walked around would be a stretch, shuffling would probably be a better word to use. People crammed the pavements, whilst cars and motorbikes tried to squeeze through the narrow, single-track roads; it was a beautiful chaos.

We waded our way up the streets, finally reaching the ‘Ruins of St Paul’s’: a beautiful remnant of an old Portuguese church. It sat on a hill which gave us a beautiful view of the old town and also some of the casinos in the distance: Old and new combining into one view.

We then went to a local restaurant nearby and had food. Being in Macau, I felt compelled to have the ‘Macau pork chop bun’. I don’t think it would class as one of your 5-a-day, but it was a lovely treat!

Afterward, we waded through the crowds again, heading down the hill. On our way, we stopped by some of the shops that enticed us with smoothies and special teas (and of course, air-conditioning). One particular shop had all kinds of biscuits for us to try (I think I must have eaten 8 different biscuits, so it was a good thing that I hadn’t ordered desert in the restaurant!). Afterward, we continued to walk through Macau’s old town; admiring the architecture and walking down endless narrow streets for around an hour. Tourist obligations also led us to trying the Portuguese egg tarts, which I can only recommend!

Finally, we walked to the ‘Grand Lisboa Macau’ casino. The walk to the casino showcased to us the more modern part of Macau: winding narrow single-track roads were replaced with large city roads and old European-styled houses were replaced with awesome skyscrapers. It was interesting to see both sides of the region.

Seeing the ‘Grand Lisboa Macau’ building from afar was incredible, but the magic didn’t stop outside. Before we even reached the casino, we were all treated to a museum-like experience inside the building, with the grand golden rooms filled with all kinds of statues, water fountains, and other beautiful forms of art and architecture. Finally, we went upstairs and saw the building’s casino. It felt like it was a part of ‘Casino Royale’: An endless sea of green gambling tables, slot machines, and of course, a bar and stage where dancers performed. It was great to see, though I didn’t gamble myself! If you do decide to dabble in some gambling, though, just make sure you don’t gamble your flat deposit away!

Afterward, it was time to return home. We got the bus back to the ferry terminal and set sail for Hong Kong! I would definitely recommend visiting Macau to anyone (I will certainly be returning at some point!). Just remember to take plenty of HKDs in cash, but not in large notes unless you want plenty of Macanese Pataca in change!

Islay or Macau?

Until next time….

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Islay Magic

With its beautiful sunrises and sunsets, turquoise seas and huge sandy beaches Islay has a certain kind of magic. The charming hospitality of the island community, the fishing villages nestled by the shoreline, the peat smoke rising from the whitewashed cottages, and whisky flowing through the stills of the island’s distilleries. With an abundance of wildlife, freshwater Lochs, waterfalls and raw, wild beauty intertwined with a good helping of local characters, with their unique charm and wit, sharing stories of the landscape, the fishing, the farming and the distilling, it often leaves visitors thirsty for more, and that is just the whisky.

Wild and romantic proposals of marriage take place on these island shores. Weddings, honeymoons and betrothals, as well as simple visits for holidays and for work.  It is not surprising then that the Happy Farmer’s cousin chose Islay as the first destination to bring along his bubbly, feisty, beautiful friend who he had known for many years. A friendship, which once on Islay shores, blossomed, as the island magic worked its charm. Last week then, in a small, beautiful village church in the Scottish Borders, gathered round an old stone Anglo Saxon cross, we were so happy to hear vows exchanged and watch as this lovely couple became husband and wife.

The reception was held in a large, beautifully adorned marquee in the field behind the bride’s house. Fizz flowed, canapes were served and the most entertaining speeches were made. A huge feast of hog roast, beef and summer vegetables was laid on and followed with strawberries and meringue, home made tablet and short bread. As the day merged into evening a wedding cake made of giant slabs of various cheeses was cut by the bride and groom, before being laid out with oatcakes and grapes.

The tables cleared and the ceilidh band led the Scottish reels as the groom took his wife for their first dance. Singing was requested from all of the youngsters, daughters and cousins, as the entertainment continued. Late in the evening shuttle buses ferried revellers back to the Hotel, where the celebrations continued long into the night.

We left Islay bathed in sunshine and have returned to a wild, windswept landscape, as the rain has battered continually all day and dogs and cats have crept into various corners of the farmhouse to curl up. The fields lie bare as the sheep can be seen huddled in the hedges and the cows are sheltering in the nooks and crannies of the hillside. As autumn takes hold, a large pot of mince and potatoes are bubbling on the stove. The Happy Farmer has welcomed our Taiwanese guests to the cottage, tomorrow we are hoping for sunshine.

Until next time…

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Sowing Wild Oats

With the sun splitting the skies it appears the Happy Farmer has been out and about sowing his wild oats. I was more than a little concerned. However, before you splutter on your porridge, do realise my apprehension came from the fact that parts of his barley field were looking ever so slightly on the green side. As the Happy Farmer rolled his eyes reassurance came in the knowledge that it is simply wild oats growing among the barley, apparently wild oats can lie dormant in the ground for years. So with our farmhouse bed and breakfast in mind, watch out for the Happy Farmer’s brand of Persabus porridge in the future, never mind the barley for the whisky, although whisky and porridge is a rather good combination on a cold winter’s morning.

Aside from his wild oats experience, the Happy Farmer has not been living quietly. He has been somewhat of a film star these last few weeks. In the Pottery we have even been treated to a Kilt clad Happy Farmer as he entertained our guests. We have had a couple of YouTube bloggers staying with us on the farm. They have travelled all the way from China and chose Persabus as they wanted to experience traditional life on Islay and look at what the island offers apart from whisky. I did forget to point out the Happy Farmer’s crop of porridge oats to them.

Our lovely guests appear to have over five million followers in China and everywhere we went a camera was filming us. When I was out for an evening stroll, I realised the buzzing overhead was a drone following me along the single-track road. The Happy Farmer duly took his new friends along with him on his farming duties. They were out feeding the Highland cows. They were then filming the Singing Shepherd, the Happy Chappies from down the road and the Happy Farmer all working with the Persabus sheep, as those girls were getting dosed and the lambs were being separated from their mothers.

Keepsakes were created in the pottery and their friends, big Instagram bloggers, joined us for a few days too. After two weeks we really were quite sorry to see them go, but with promises to stay in touch, guided tours of Beijing on offer, and then a beautiful Chinese watercolour painting they had brought over specially for us, we felt very privileged indeed to welcome such interesting people to spend time on the farm.

The summer busyness continues. Our little campsite has been buzzing, with the Happy Farmer even taking up football to entertain one of our younger guests, who, was crying when it came time to leave. He had been bent double laughing when he managed to kick the football right between the Happy Farmer’s legs and into goal.

Yesterday then we took time out. With huge blue skies and the sun shining down, the barley boys were busy in the fields, as the Happy Farmer and I headed to Killinallan beach for an afternoon spent paddling in the shallow waters of the sea collecting cockles for supper.

Until next time…

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Show Time and the Yodelling Happy Farmer

You know it has been a good show day when you catch the Happy Farmer stood alone, yodelling his heart out to the tents, in front of the pottery, in the darkness of the night skies. ‘Mull of Kintyre’ the famous Wings track took on a whole new tune. Apparently in the stillness of night, the view from our little campsite, across the Sound of Islay to the Mull of Kintyre, in the shimmering moonlight, inspired this hearty rendition. A fabulous view is not always a good thing then, and the same could be said of the Happy Farmer’s singing voice.

The nights begin to draw in once the show arrives. It marks a turning in the seasons on Islay. When our party of celebrating farmers had departed late in the evening on show night, I needed to head to the pottery to sort out baking for the next day. The Happy Farmer offered to accompany me across the road in the darkness. Worryingly I lost him somewhere between the farm and the pottery kitchen, not for long though, his yodelling could suddenly be heard filling those night skies. To my amazement the campers, in the assembled tents, suddenly began joining in the yodelling too, there was a whole chorus line singing into the darkness, with any peace and quiet being well and truly interrupted. Now the Happy Farmer prides himself on his good singing voice, if I had my phone I would have happily recorded the whole event for him, even the guests staying in our cottages and bed and breakfast accommodation had been treated to this moonlit serenade, as the camping contingent were led firmly astray by my singing Happy Farmer. Luckily everyone enjoyed the entertainment and it was the main source of conversation at breakfast the next morning.

On show day itself, the sun was splitting the skies. Eldest was up at the crack of dawn doing the final preparations to get Hansel the horse ready for his appearance in the ring. The Happy Farmer was busy cooking breakfasts. The ferry man and his wife had delivered their jeep to the farm the night before. With the horse box hitched up on the back, the Happy Farmer reversed into the yard, and the guests were able to enjoy watching Hansel getting his leg guards on, before walking calmly up the ramp and into the trailer, and then they were off.

It was much later in the day when I finally made it along to the show field. With youngest’s uni pals over for a week’s camping, farmers arriving later in the day for dinner, together with guests and campers staying in our farm accommodation and then our son heading out on the evening plane for a lengthy spell in distant climes, I did get slightly delayed. I took some time out of the mayhem to take the dogs in the warm sunshine along the track to their favourite watering hole, Lily Loch. A gentle quiet walk through the shade of the trees with our son, away from the madness and busyness of the farm and the show field. The dogs love wallowing in the cool waters of the Loch and usually as Ruby bounces back out of the Loch, with a wag of her tail and a good shake and shimmy of her coat, I also get treated to a cool shower. No matter how fast I try to run away from her, that dog always manages to soak me.

By the time we reached the show Hansel had already headed for home. Eldest was chuffed, her horse won two seconds and a fourth in his classes, and considering his 27 years, he did very well indeed. He may be getting old, but that horse loves going to the show. The first inkling that he has an audience and he bows his head and daintily prances and parades around proudly.

The show field itself was buzzing with lots of happy people celebrating the very best of farming and produce on Islay. Cows, sheep and goats had been shampooed, clipped and trimmed. Dogs were walking beautifully to heel. Drinks were being poured. Burgers were sizzling away and there was a fabulous array of old tractors and cars waiting to join the parade in the show ring. It is always a lovely time to catch up with everyone and enjoy fantastic hospitality and good craic.

Much later in the farmhouse the trusty old Aga was being loaded with trays of roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings, vegetables were on boiling and a huge joint of beef had been quietly roasting away in the simmering oven. A delayed departure of the plane at the airport meant I missed most of the celebrations back at the farm but arriving home to a huge crowd of farmers heartily tucking into a good roast dinner in the candlelight and I knew it had been a good one.

The Happy Farmer assures me his ‘Mull of Kintyre’ yodelling was just practice, tuning up his singing voice in preparation for his cousin’s stag party on the mainland…

Until next time…

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The Jura Chronicles

The Isle of Jura is an incredibly special place. A beautiful wilderness of stunning scenery. It has a close-knit community, and just one single track road, which twists and winds, revealing spectacular views of unspoilt loveliness, as a bounty of wildlife greet you on your way. It is where I met the Happy Farmer, and the place that first drew me to these magical islands.

A few weeks back eldest was invited to take part in an exciting Jura project. She arrived off the early morning plane from Glasgow and promptly went skipping off, guitar in hand, heading, over the sea, on the ferry to Jura.

A beautiful sunny day, she met the Camerons, distant cousins of her own. Kenneth and Gavin are working on a series of short films, The Jura Chronicles. Films providing short videos about the history of the island. Kenneth and Gavin are part of the fixtures and fittings of Jura having resided there for many generations. They are keen to record and share the history of this beautiful place, capturing stories of the clans of the island.

Gavin contacted eldest to invite her to do the vocals for a song about Jura written by the late Charles Fletcher, Laird of Ardlussa, and also a distant relation of the Persabus Fletchers. After the initial recording at The Jura Chronicles HQ it was a day of exploring beaches and hillsides as recordings were done and clips were filmed, ready for editing and producing, before the next film from The Jura Chronicles was ready for uploading.

Good old-fashioned island hospitality was served up in huge helpings and after being treated like a superstar, at the end of the day, in the family home Jessica May was treated to home baked scones with lashings of cream and jam. Eldest is at her happiest when she is on the islands with guitar in hand, or in the saddle of her favourite horse. After a day on Jura singing and filming, Hansel was saddled up, and she galloped off into the fields.

Island living at its very best.

Until next time…

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Doughball the Persabus Cat

When the ferryman arrived at the summer party with two of his home baked quiches, bursting with fresh lobster from his catch of the day, it encapsulated island living at its very best. It left a delicious lingering taste of fine seafood imprinted on our taste buds which, with a crowd of friends home for summer, led us to head over to Ian’s new Seafood Kitchen in Port Charlotte at the weekend. The meal did not disappoint as huge platters laden with lobster and clams arrived at the table, the menu proved a celebration of the very best of Islay’s ocean treasures.

It has been a sociable time. The island is bursting with life and we have found ourselves being swept into a whirlwind of work and play. Lots of fizz in the sunshine with spectacular ocean views from various homes, summer buffets and good craic. With all of the family home and the extended ‘family of friends’, a large tent is camped in the front garden, to accommodate the overflow from the farmhouse.

 It has been a bittersweet time though as at the weekend we said a final farewell to Doughball our Persabus cat.

Doughball was a cat among cats. She was part of the fixtures and fittings of Persabus life, choosing to join our family when the children were all ‘knee high to a grasshopper’.

The new tortoiseshell kitten was fondly named ‘Snowball’ which the Happy Potters quickly changed to ‘Doughball’, as she enjoyed spending a large part of her day sprawled out sleeping in front of the warmth of the kilns in the pottery workshop after several good feeds. Doughball was a very loved kitten. She got hours of attention from our young clan. They dressed her up and cuddled her until she was demented. She was one of the most photographed cats and made regular appearances in the ‘Persabus feature films’ being videoed by the youngsters. She was a trampolining, garden sliding cat, not always through choice.

Doughball liked to make her presence felt. She was an important part of the ‘Persabus welcoming committee’ on the farm and would always pay a visit to guests during their stay with us. If she found the guests to be extra special ‘cat people’ Doughball would often move into their holiday cottage and share in their holiday experience for the whole week. As a demanding cat she would of course not only expect breakfast, dinner and tea to be provided, but also a plentiful supply of cat treats.

Her trips around the island in the various cars she happened to climb into led to the childrens’ stern notices pinned on the pottery walls asking people to ‘check for cats in their car’ before leaving the premises. Once she even went for a spin on the back of the coal lorry.

In recent weeks Doughball was failing. She chose to spend those last weeks in the farmhouse, snuggled up in the chair or beside the heat of the Aga.

When we returned from our night out on Saturday she was missing. We looked high and low but there was no sign of Doughball. We spent the next day searching under every bush and hedge. It was a fruitless search, and after a night of heavy rain we feared Doughball had chosen to leave us and go quietly in her own space.

On Sunday afternoon eldest was in the shed when she heard a familiar meowling. Doughball was crying out to her from the bed she had made on top of the wool bales. Eldest, ever so gently, lifted her frail body and carried a purring Doughball back to the comfort and safety of the farmhouse, where after a lot of fuss and a small meal, she curled up on a cushion to sleep.

Late on that evening Doughball breathed her last breath with her favourite young clan stroking her gently. We love that Doughball, the Persabus cat, chose to spend the last twenty or so years of her life with us on the farm. She was the last of three musketeers, Spog (Tripod), Henrick and Doughball.

We have new musketeers though and last night Archieina managed to crawl into the tent and snuggle up among the friends and their sleeping bags, it seems she is enjoying the ‘Persabus camping experience’ on the farm.

Until next time…

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Cooking with Gas

It’s been a week of ‘cooking with gas’ at Persabus, which in Happy Farmer speak roughly translates as a week of happy, productivity as we fire on, ‘full steam ahead’. It has been a heady mix of work and play. The accommodation and camping pitches at Persabus have been a hive of activity, whilst in the fields, silage bales were popping out of the back of a baler. Beach walks have been squeezed in. Family and friends were collected from ferries and planes, whilst the pottery continued to burst with creativity. Back in the farmhouse kitchen baking has been flowing. Breakfasts have been served, and lots of delicious tasty delights have been appearing. We absolutely love this time of year at Persabus. It is a culmination of lots hard work coming together. A time of gatherings and plenty of fun and laughter as the Happy Farmer goes about with a huge smile on his face.

Huge powerful agricultural machinery moved in to cut the fields. Grass was spun into neat lines and then baled and wrapped before being stacked neatly, to be stored as feed for the livestock during the winter months. This made two dogs incredibly happy on their morning runs. They could be seen positively rolling down the field closely followed by the Happy Farmer. Gone were the long thick grasses and wildflowers they have spent the last few weeks wading and snuffling through, suddenly the whole field had opened up and with the grass cut to stubbly bristles rolling on ones back seemed to be the order of the day.

Then there were the long blustery, sunshiny beach walks, with plenty of time to paddle in the deep warm pools created by the sheer force of tide and wind.

The week ended with the annual Persabus summer party. A time for lots of singing, dancing and merriment. The Happy Farmer had his unique little ‘man cave’ all set up in the garden. Having towed the horse box into place, at the end of the decking, with his trusty old tractor, the day before. His home-made barbeque, an old singer sewing machine base, with a halved old gas bottle and grill on top, took pride of place. Archie bread delivered the rolls and the kitchen became a hive of activity as lamb burgers and beef burgers were made to the Happy Farmer’s own secret recipe. Playlists were sorted, rugs were rolled out over the wooden floors. As family and friends piled into the farmhouse armed with baking and goodies, drinks were poured, food was served, and we were indeed ‘cooking with gas’ as we partied into the wee small hours and beyond…celebrating island life at this lovely time of year…happy days

Until next time…

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The Happy Sheep Dance at Persabus

The Happy Farmer has been doing his happy sheep dance at Persabus. With the sun splitting the skies and plenty of the troops around it was a good day to get the sheep sheared.

We had one absentee with a ‘no show’ from the Singing Shepherd and more importantly his fabulous collie dogs, but luckily the Happy Farmer had a plan B when he discovered his cousins were not leaving Islay until the evening ferry. Bad planning on their part, but as the Happy Farmer pointed out, their holiday would not have been complete without a day working with the sheep on the farm. Their plans for a relaxing last day on Islay were scuppered. On their final evening the Happy Farmer happily plied them with fine dining and plenty of drink before announcing that to complete the ‘Persabus experience’ their services would be required on the last morning, just a few hours or maybe more to help gather and dose the sheep before the arrival of the sheep shearers. The cousins were positively delighted at the extra hospitality on offer, honestly.

In the late afternoon you could hear the gentle hum of the sheep and the buzz of the shearers’ clippers across the farm. With the crew assembled at the sheep fank it was all ‘hands on deck’ as the sheep were duly held in pens before being loaded onto the mobile clipping trailer where those ‘ladies’ got a neat trim. Skipping their height in the air they positively danced off the platform, all shorn, and free from their heavy fleeces, ready to enjoy the heat of the afternoon sun. Eldest even got to shear her first sheep under the gentle guidance of the more experienced shearers.

A huge trough of chilli was bubbling away in the farmhouse kitchen to feed the troops. In the garden, beer, chilli, reclining deck chairs and relax.

Today with a gentle drizzle in the air the little Hebridean sheep were nowhere to be seen. They appeared to be absent without leave. Feeling it ever so slightly cooler and damper they had voted with their hooves and upgraded to the new accommodation suite at Persabus. When eldest went looking for them they were found all huddled happily in the horses’ stable enjoying the nibbles that had been carefully laid on for them. Persabus hay is apparently delicious.

The Happy Farmer was not so delighted to hear those ladies were happily settled in the stable chomping on the hay. He could later be seen flying out the field at a rate of knots with hurdle and string to hand before serving a strict eviction notice. Those ladies are now barred from the horses’ suite at Persabus but escaped with a good mouthful of hay.

Until next time…

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Hot Weather on Toast

Last week when I woke to overcast skies the Happy Farmer informed me that the sun was just running a bit behind schedule. It appeared to have faced a bit of a delay and made room for a few heavy showers to keep the thirsty plants watered and more importantly the island’s whisky source flowing. Too much sunshine and dry weather can be detrimental to the whisky supplies. I was looking for some ‘hot weather on toast’ myself.

Yesterday with my brightly coloured toes peeping out from the hot sand below, a driftwood fire nestled in among the rocks, with a grill on top, sizzling away as burgers cooked, there was no place I would rather have been than Saligo bay. Huge blue skies spread across the horizon as the bright sun shone down onto golden sands. The sea could not have been a more brilliant turquoise as the Atlantic rollers crashed and frothed before breaking on to the shoreline. That warm sand between the toes. The calm of the sea. The salty air. Bags laden with snacks and a flask of hot tea. ‘Team beach’ has arrived on Islay. I love it when the gang arrive home for summer and love that Islay is the only place they want to be in the summer. I had intended to just drop a few of them at the beach. I hadn’t intended to stay for a while, especially not for the whole day, but once there, how could I resist? Time stands still at the beach and yesterday was a time for standing still and enjoying.

As we trundled back to the farm in the early evening, tired and happy, dinner was already on cooking. The Happy Farmer busy at the Aga cooking up a feast just as the ice cream van pulled into the yard. 99 ice creams dripping with raspberry sauce were served as starters.

The clan might be growing up in years, but an Islay summer beautifully captures the child within. The race is on to make the most of the hot weather and free time. A house filled with sand, discarded swimsuits and wet towels are a sign that everyone is enjoying their Islay time.

As the days end it is also a time for beautiful moonlit walks with evenings spent outdoors as summer skies descend into a warm twilight when the moon rises in the skies.

The pottery has become a riot of crazy vibrant ‘all singing, all dancing’ creativity. Even the Happy Farmer has a spring in his step as he bounces past the door on his lawn mower, singing away to himself as the grass is neatly cut. It has been lovely welcoming so many ‘regulars’ back to the pottery. Everyone is growing tall as young children have suddenly morphed into happy teenagers. I was struck down with a summer cold last week but as I croaked  my way through the days with a whisper of a voice, an absolute ‘godsend’ said the Happy Farmer, everyone’s visits and beautiful colourful creations lifted my spirits and the cold has thankfully dispersed, just in time for the weather heating up to allow for a few more dips in those turquoise seas.

Here’s hoping you are all enjoying summer and that child within.

Until next time…

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