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…


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…


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…


The Old Priest Stone at Persabus

The Happy Farmer has been busy planting up troughs and pots around the farmhouse, cottages and pottery. Armed with a wheelbarrow full of mixed varieties of colourful flowers every corner of the farm has been getting a makeover. The Happy Farmer has had company in his labours. Ruby, my lovely flat coated retriever, has become ‘affectionately’ known as ‘Dumbo ears’ by the Happy Farmer. She has taken to lending a helping paw, a wagging tail and the odd flick of her soft dangly ears. Each time he turns around to admire the results of his labours, ‘old Dumbo ears’ appears, stepping clumsily through the floral displays, knocking the heads off flowers. When the Happy Farmer’s back is turned, she and Bramble have found the soft soil of the troughs are simply perfect for burying the odd bone. The newly planted troughs also make the softest, comfiest bed to snooze on when enjoying a spot of sunbathing in the garden.

The display of cut flowers in the farmhouse kitchen has been growing beautifully then, and dog and farmer are very close to falling out. The beauty of Ruby is that she doesn’t care. She ambles away, turning a deaf ear to the Happy Farmer as she happily continues to plod through the flowers wagging her tail and shaking her head, oblivious to the flower heads she is knocking off on her travels.

The entrance to the farmhouse has become a vibrant froth of whites, blues, pinks and purples. We sat among the flowers enjoying a morning coffee in the gorgeous sunshine on Sunday. The old clay troughs came to the farm originally to hold water and feed for the animals. At the corner of the gable end of the farmhouse sits a huge heavy stone trough. The Happy Farmer’s father rescued the old stone trough when the main road was being built years ago. This large trough originally sat at the end of the front field, fed by a natural spring, it provided fresh drinking water for the passing horses before the island’s roads were upgraded from cart tracks.

A few ‘metal lasts’ lie at the base of the trough, once used by the farmers to pop their boots onto as they hammered tacks into their soles, as tackety boots were the order of the day.

Stone querns once used for grinding the corn now sit among the floral displays. New earthenware pots sit beside the old milk churns of yesteryear. The treacle churn, used to keep the treacle for the animal feed in, and our lovely old ‘pickling jar’, a huge ceramic barrel, once used to pickle and preserve meat for the larder, now upside down, it is the perfect stand for pots and drinks at the Happy Farmer’s barbeques.

Outside the pottery stands the old priest stone. Once used for baptisms and blessings it was also rescued by my late father in law in the 1970s. A company from the mainland were on the island building a new main road, the spoil and rubble was being tipped on Persabus. The Happy Farmer’s father had heard from his forefathers of an old priest stone that had long gone missing and was thought to be buried in the land being dug out by the contractors. My father in law went raking through the tonnes of rubble. Against the odds, in among hundreds of tonnes of waste, he found a large stone and with his pocketknife clearing the mud, he discovered the ‘cup’ of the stone. He had found the priest stone. He always maintained this special stone saved itself and that he was led to it. Without heavy lifting gear the stone had to be dragged from the rubble heap by rope all the way from Caol ila to Persabus. The white mark lay engraved in the road for many years and the priest stone was saved for generations to come.

It is fitting that ‘the old boy’ as he is affectionately remembered found the priest stone. Persabus gets its name from the Norse invasions, Persa meaning priest and bus meaning abode. Persabus translates to home of the priest and now has its priest’s stone back.

Persabus is a celebration of years of farming tradition on Islay, as we marry the old with the new, pieces have been lovingly gathered and handed down through the generations and here we are, with the Happy Farmer’s beautiful flowers, at the forefront of upcycling and recycling.

Until next time…


To Bholsa and Beyond

It has reached that time of year when life has been getting firmly in the way of blogging. Days seem to be flying by and with so much sunshine it has been a time for happy island adventures. The ‘sun bursting out of the skies’ weather, has led to opportunities for hikes across the wilderness of north Islay, with my brother, who has been visiting Islay with his partner in their lovely ‘gin palace’. They decided to enjoy the ‘Persabus camping experience’ in their motorhome, which led to lots of late nights and happy times, as well as some great walking. The Happy Farmer declined to join us on our hikes, thinking we were quite mad wanting to walk from Killinallan through the Doodlemore Valley and back to Persabus. It was quite a hike, through the farmland and into the hills, and into a wilderness of splendid isolation, with only the herds of deer watching on from a far as they track your route, keeping a beady eye on your movements.

I have at last been able to really dip my toes in the water again and enjoy wild swims in the sea. I first learnt to swim in a loch at the tender age of four, and just love swimming in the open waters, be it loch, river or sea. Before the MacTaggart Leisure Centre was built in Bowmore all of the island’s children used to have their swimming lessons in the sea. Now the island has its own beautiful swimming pool, but when temperatures climb I still think you can’t beat a refreshing dip in the ocean, the sand beneath your toes and the salty spray of the waves carrying you back to shore.

The Happy Farmer is not a swimmer, or a fan of going for long hikes into the hills, so I have also been enjoying returning home to the Happy Farmer’s delicious home made lamb burgers from his bespoke ‘singer sewing machine’ barbeque. Islay living at its very best!

In between all this the Happy Farmer and I also managed to squeeze in a ‘wee jolly’ across to the mainland. With Loganair now operating flights between Edinburgh and Islay, as well as Glasgow, we took advantage of the fantastic new service. Hopping on the plane we headed to ‘The Royal Highland Show’ at Ingliston, where we had a fabulous time catching up with friends and family and enjoying the hospitality of this magnificent show. The Royal Highland Show is a huge celebration of all things agricultural and rural, with livestock shows, food halls, craft tents, agricultural machinery and of course the great craic of ‘The Scottish Farmer’ tent. The Happy Farmer had an absolute party to himself, and a well-earned break.

We returned to Islay to meet our fabulous guests. A large group of friends and family, they were staying in both of the cottages at Persabus, having travelled all the way from Malaysia to visit our island shores. They were such a happy group. The kitchen of Persabus Cottage was a hive of activity as the party set about chopping masses of vegetables and cooking up a feast, before we knew it bowls of the most delicious Thai curry were making their way across to the farmhouse kitchen. The flavours and spices were quite something and the Happy Farmer even got given his own bag of spices and a recipe sheet so he can recreate what he said was the tastiest curry he has had in a while. In the mornings the lovely hum of their sing song chat radiated across the yard. We were truly sorry to say our goodbyes when it came time for them to leave, but it is what we are about at Persabus, offering a unique and friendly stay, and when our guests leave as friends we know we have offered a true Persabus welcome.

Until next time…


Living the Dream

People are always intrigued and want to know what it was like for me moving from the city to live on Islay.

When I first arrived here to be with my Happy Farmer I honestly didn’t know if island life was for me. It was very different to city living. We had a ‘plan B’ tucked up our sleeves in case,  but that would have involved the Happy Farmer leaving his beautiful island home and way of life behind.

It was quite an upheaval and a very big change, moving from the city of London to live on a farm in the Hebrides. The internet and mobile phones had not become everyday accessories. Links to life beyond the island consisted of crackly landline phone calls and the Royal Mail, but the community here is such a friendly one and everyone offered a warm welcome. The spectacular scenery, the ocean views, the dramatic sunrises and sunsets, the fresh air and space to breathe, and the local characters. It is the people and their attitude to life that really make a place. Traffic jams consisted of a herd of cows making their way back from the milking parlour to the fields as I passed the dairy farm on my way to work. Eagles soared overhead and oystercatchers, herons and gulls fished away on the shoreline.

The rambling old farmhouse at Persabus needed serious renovation. Several generations of the family had frequented it before us. It had a warm heart, but no central heating. We relied on huge open fires and a solid fuel Rayburn. Windows needed replaced as the old wooden frames were rotting. In wild weather it wasn’t just a gentle draught breezing its way through the farmhouse, but a full on gale blowing a ‘hoolie’ through our living space.

In those early days on stormy nights in the midst of winter we would huddle in front of a roaring fire. Rosie, our flat coated retriever, would amble into the room to join us, and promptly position herself in prime location, right in the hearth, shielding us from the heat. She would then proceed to singe the fur on her nose, as she too cosied up. Curtains would be flapping horizontally around us. The power would be intermittent with frequent blackouts during lengthy power cuts. It could be damp and cold, but the Happy Farmer’s sense of humour and positive attitude buoyed us along.

I can look back with rose tinted glasses now, but at the time it was quite an adjustment from the shelter of city living.

When I wasn’t at work I would be out and about helping the Happy Farmer. I set about making friends with each and everyone of the animals on the farm, lovingly naming them after members of the family, with Rosie proving to be the most popular name. Before I knew it we had a Rosie dog, Rosie cow and then along came Rosie the horse. The cows were particular favourites. Donalda cow, was named after the Happy Farmer, as she was his favourite in the herd. We had Arraina, after the Happy Potter, and Valinda cow, after my lovely mother in law, to name a few.

When it came to calving then, it was Valinda who aptly chose a nearby ditch as her birthing pool and promptly got stuck right up to her ‘oxters’ in it. Luckily the calf survived, but Valinda lay helpless, sinking deeper into the bog. No amount of pushing or pulling could remove her. In the end it took an old heavy net, a JCB and a lot of brute force to ease her safely free. In the interim I gained a pet calf as Valinda took time to recover from her ‘ditching’ experience, having lost the power in her legs. Jeremy, my new baby, was bottle fed and followed me around the farm like a pet dog, suckling away on my hand. Each day as I drove into the farmyard after work, he would come bounding across to the car to greet me.

It was a difficult lesson, as with Jeremy growing larger, he had to eventually be sold, a pet bull bounding to meet me would be far from safe, but we did have a lot of fun during his time at Persabus.

The Happy Farmer would take me away to the bright lights of Glasgow at least once a month in those early days. We would party hard and feast on fabulous Indian meals, Glasgow curries are amazing. The frequent city visits meant I had the best of both worlds.

Thirty years on, a lot of building and renovating, and we are living our island dream, sharing it with so many lovely visitors and guests from all over the world, who come to stay with us on the farm.

We look forward to offering you all a huge ‘Persabus’ welcome whether you are visiting our Pottery and Ceramic Café or choose to stay with us on the farm for your Islay adventure.

Until next time…


Celebration time

Yesterday was a time for celebrations. The Happy Farmer took me over the ‘bridge’ and we ventured into the land of the south Islay distilleries for a wonderful ‘peaty slap in the face’ at Laphraoig as we called in for a festival bottle. This was followed by a lovely lunch from Jackie and the team at Ardbeg. Each of Islay’s distilleries have their own unique character. They also boast spectacular locations, with the older distilleries right on the shoreline close to their own piers so that whisky could be transported from the distilleries to the mainland via the old puffer boats, across the sea. There are so many fabulous stories of the old puffer boats and the antics that happened aboard. Neil Munro captured these in his ‘Para Handy tales’ which were later made into a TV series and film.

At Persabus then, with two of the clan home and a couple of birthdays to celebrate, once breakfasts had been served all round and cottage changeovers completed, we took some time out.

The Happy Farmer had spent the previous week looking enviously at all of the guests visiting the Islay distilleries to celebrate the various festival days. The week was a mix of sunshine, high winds and torrential downpours. With Persabus being handily situated as the gateway to the north Islay distilleries the Happy Farmer had his ‘sheep shedder’ poised at the ready in case he needed to divert any traffic. It seems a sheep shedder can have many uses and the Happy Farmer is already considering how it might be adapted from its usual purpose of shedding the sheep into lots and if it was a larger version it may be useful for diverting traffic and tourists. As it was he did manage to get involved in directing traffic, lending the front field at Persabus to Ardnahoe Distillery for their open day. To ease congestion on the single track road, shuttle buses operated from Persabus to the distillery. We even managed to sneak along to Ardnahoe at one point and squeeze in a quick visit in the midst of our own busy day. A dozen Islay oysters later, a few good tunes from the band that were playing, and a good craic with the locals and we were soon in the festival spirit.

The Happy Farmer spent Friday at Bunnahabhain Distillery for their festival day. With youngest working there as a tour guide for the season he felt his support was necessary. I am sure she thought otherwise but even the torrents of rain on Friday did not deter the Happy Farmer from joining in the party. There was a fantastic buzz in the air, and apart from having to hijack one of the minibuses on the road who had our guests on board and was trying to kidnap them and deposit them in some far flung field, the days events ran well. The party from Bunnahabhain festival day spilled into the farmhouse kitchen and then onto the Lochside Hotel for a good ceilidh.

The Islay whisky festival is over for another year, but the Islay craic and party continues throughout the year as we welcome visitors from all corners of the globe to share in the unique history, character and amazing produce of this beautiful island.

We look forward to offering you a warm Islay welcome soon. Slainte.

Until next time…


Every Picture…

Islay’s festival of Music and Malt has begun. The island is bouncing. So many happy people have yet again made the journey over to Islay to celebrate with the musicians, the dancers, the chefs, the distilleries and of course the islanders themselves. There are whisky academies, master classes, nosings, ceilidhs, gin tastings and cocktails, special bottlings and limited-edition releases.

The island’s hospitality service goes into overdrive at this time of year as beds get completely booked up. Restaurants and bars work alongside pop up bakery stalls, pie stalls, seafood stalls, craft tents and this year the iconic ceilidh bands of Skerryvore and Trail West have also made space in their busy schedules and travelled across to get the crowds ‘heching and teuching’ as they provide amazing first class entertainment.

I missed the opening of the festival. The Happy Farmer was left ‘sailing the good ship Persabus’, looking after all our guests and running the pottery. He was left in charge of welcoming our new guests and saying fond farewells to guests who were leaving. He obviously did a good job as I came home to a huge box of chocolates left as a thank you from a couple who had been staying at Persabus for their honeymoon.

Without a backward glance I was away to Edinburgh. I had a very important date. One I would not have missed for anything. I was at the National Museum of Scotland, where I was treated to an amazing evening showcasing the work of some of Scotland’s finest and most talented young designers. The ECA fashion show. The highlight of which, for me, aside from the outstanding graduate collections, was to see our youngest daughter’s designs hit the catwalk for the first time. A team of professional models led the charge. I was hugely impressed. The venue, the professionalism and then those collections. It was inspirational.

Packing up halls and squeezing nine months of university living into a few suitcases followed as youngest and I got an early flight home to Islay at the weekend. As she returns to her summer job at the distillery as a seasonal tour guide, we hit the island’s whisky festival in top gear. I therefore had to miss my annual visit to Bruichladdich open day on Sunday. The Happy Farmer and our eldest stepped up to the mark. I asked for photos for the Persabus social media. They left full of enthusiasm promising faithfully to capture the day’s events on camera. As the festival spirit took hold, and the party spilled out from Bruichladdich and on to the bars of Port Charlotte, the long day became a longer evening, as the buzz and the craic continued into the wee small hours.

Today I have the one photo they remembered to take. One photo between the pair of them, but as the saying goes ‘every picture tells a story’, in this case it’s the pictures that weren’t taken that tell the best stories.

Until next time…

ECA photo credit: Gareth Easton


A Room with a View

This morning, with the sun streaming through the bedroom window, the Happy Farmer and I were sitting with a morning cuppa, contemplating the day’s breakfasts when the peace was abruptly disturbed. Initially it was a clanking and rattling sound, then footsteps crunching across the yard. A loud whistle and then a yodel or two. The Happy Farmer was out of bed like a shot. He was poised at the window to see which of our sprightly campers was up so early. The yodelling stopped and the ‘singing shepherd’ waved back at him from the yard below. Up at the crack of dawn, sheepdogs at heel, the shepherd was ready to round up the girls for a morning’s work at the fank. Sheep were to be dosed and lambs marked.

It just so happens the farm is also buzzing with campers and guests just now who were also treated to an early morning chorus. The campsite is resembling an adventure playground. Among the tents, outside the pottery, is a tent to eclipse all tents. The most amazing looking ‘treehouse’ kind of a tent. A landrover below, and several step ladders lead up to a roof top home. This of course provides the campers with an amazing vantage point, looking right out across the farm to the Paps of Jura, the Sound of Islay and beyond. Below is a canopy with table, chairs, coffee percolator and a fancy bbq, all mod cons. The boys, I mean men, staying in it are having a real adventure, with proper ‘big boys toys’. We have been looking on enviously. It reminded me of the climbing frame I bought for the children when they were little. Only this one looks even more fun as the tent happens to have a real landrover attached below it.

Back in the farmhouse kitchen it was all ‘gas and gusto’ around the table as the Happy Farmer was busy cooking breakfasts for all the guests when Mairi ‘the magic sheep lady’ came racing in. From her cottage down the road, she had also been woken from her slumbers by the loud whistling. She was just trying to work out the species of bird when a loud yodel burst forth and the penny had dropped that the shepherd had arrived to mark the lambs. She arrived to lend a hand just as the singing shepherd was tucking into a hearty breakfast, as guests’ breakfasts were being served all round, the farming talk getting louder and more hilarious by the minute.

A short while later and the Happy Farmer was handing breakfast rolls up the climbing frame, I mean step ladder, to our treehouse campers. Breakfast in bed for the campers then. The sides of the treehouse, I mean tent, had been zipped open so the boys could make the most of the morning entertainment and watch the antics of the Singing Shepherd rounding up those girls from their rooftop beds, as the sun rose higher in the sky. The yodelling of the singing shepherd was interspersed with the bleating of the sheep joining in the chorus line. Happy Days.

Normality has resumed as the day has gone on and even the Happy Farmer is now whistling and yodelling.

Until next time…


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…