When Islay went into lockdown due to the pandemic, the pace of life slowed and changed. Reflecting on all of the lovely guests who visit Islay, as our season is unusually quiet, I realised that Islay really does have something to offer everyone. From cyclists and whisky lovers, couples and lone travellers, to ‘bucket and spade’ family holidays, Islay offers so many exciting holiday opportunities.
Follow our journey as we navigated our way through the lockdown as the pandemic changed the way of life.
Curve Balls and Creativity
With everything in ‘lockdown’, the pace of life has changed and slowed.
We are flowing on a completely different frequency
here at Persabus as we continue forward into unknown territory.
Usually April sees us flying at full speed ahead into a busy season. All the different areas of our lives suddenly becoming a tactical juggling act as we welcome lots of lovely people to the farm. Here to enjoy all this beautiful island has to offer.
The ‘bucket and spade’ families.
Arriving with cars brimming with excited youngsters. A dog or two in tow, long furry ears blowing in the wind, as they fight to get their noses out of the back window. Excited chatter, everyone eager to abandon the heat of the car. Roof boxes are emptied as the entire contents of a week of family living is transported into the cottages.
The parties of whisky visitors
Each with their own favourite dram, about to embark on longed for pilgrimages to the very grass roots of the whisky journey. Checking in at the beautifully scenic and historic buildings that encapsulate the story of Islay’s whisky through the generations. Ready to sample the aged malts, after breathing in the heady scent emanating from the stills. Enjoying the unique tours, tastings and hospitality. A trip like no other, as the character of these distilleries envelopes them in a hearty warm island welcome.
The couples who arrive on the farm ready to escape
From the pressures of city living. Here to get away from it all. To breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the silence, and at the end of the day the colourful sunsets that fade into bright, inky, starlit night skies. An island that offers the freedom to run for miles along deserted sand. To clamber up those hillocky, heather clad hills, enjoying stunning panoramic views inland and then out across the deep blue of the seas and oceans beyond. To wander through the peaty bog land, enjoying all of nature’s treasures as rare and beautiful breeds of birdlife can be enjoyed in their natural habitat. Where deer and mountain goats roam freely, eagles soar high above, before taking a sudden dive to catch their prey.
The cyclists who arrive windswept and rosy cheeked,
smiling after a day of cycling across the many twisting windy roads that link all the island’s tiny fishing and distillery villages. Ready for a warming cup of tea and a fresh home baked scone from the pottery before heading for a soothing shower. In the evening a platter of locally caught seafood with a glass of chilled wine. A warming Islay malt whisky before bedtime. Cheeks burning from a day of outdoor living.
The lone travellers
enjoying their own peace and space. Time to read and write and just soak up all that the island has to offer and then those heart-warming elderly couples revisiting an island they honeymooned on once upon a time. Catching up with the locals. Reconnecting and reviving their faded memories of an island holding so many special treasured memories for them.
In April we are usually powering full steam ahead
With breakfasts rolling out of the Aga as itineraries are negotiated and planned. Cheeky drams are nosed and tasted. Distillery visits organised, along with suggested beach and hill walks, as necessary cake and café pitstops are recommended. It is a time of connecting and communicating, in between the lambing rounds.
Life has thrown us all a huge curve ball this year.
So many lives affected, all in different ways. We count our blessings, but we are missing you all.
For my part, the old hiking boots have been revived. The ones with the chewed-up laces and dried out leather as I have taken to really exploring and making the most of our beautiful surroundings. Really savouring the little moments. It has been a week of walking and creativity, as, without social contact, we feel strangely disconnected to the world beyond.
A walk across the farm path to Caol ila,
Cutting through the distillery, and onto the pebble beach. The old fishermans’ huts gradually disintegrating as they took a huge battering from the wild winter storms. Nature’s art gallery opened before us. Brightly coloured stones, each with their own vibrant patterns and identity. A huge cerise starfish. Old metal engulfed in seaweed making for interesting sculptures. The turquoise and sap greens of the lichen patterns across the rocks.
We even persuaded the Happy Farmer to join us on a hike out the hill. Small dram measures along with little sample bottles, tucked away in our pockets. Allowing for a ‘wee nip’ to warm our hearts against the cold wind blowing across the sunny landscape.
It is these little moments that we need to savour just now.
These little moments that feed the creative spirit as much later the paint brush dabbled into a myriad of watercolours and translated into art as the brush swept across the paper.
Until next time…