There is a bite to the wind, but the beautiful blue skies and billowing clouds continue as spring blossoms away on the island. The sound of birdsong filling the air, with the early morning dawn chorus, waking me from my slumbers ever so early. The mellow, throaty bleating of the sheep calling to their offspring. Even the cuckoo seems more animated this year, as its shrill call echoes across the farm, morning, noon and into the late sunlit evenings. With only the very odd passing car on the road, no planes overhead, no cyclists or happy chatter from passing walkers, and suddenly you become far more aware that everything is playing in a different key this spring. Thankfully at this stage those midges have yet to make their presence felt. The weeks of endless sunshine and the lochs are all incredibly low. The burn, once a bubbling, cascading torrent, has all but dried up. Just a few shallow pools remain. The air is filled with the sweet, heady scent of bluebells and wild garlic.
As lockdown continues rest assured Islay’s whisky adventure is happening quietly in the background. Over the past month the field in front of the farmhouse has been ploughed, rolled, and spread with lime, before the barley seed was planted and fertiliser spread. Already we have a sea of young barley sprouting up, as everything begins to look a lot greener once more.
On the farm, the Happy Farmer continues to make the headlines. The paparazzi caught up with him last week. The Bruichladdich paparazzi to be precise. Camera poised from across the wall, and our lovely neighbour, freelance marketer, photographer, forager and international traveller, Kate, was snapping away at one posing Happy Farmer, who just happened to be at the gate of our barley field. Much later and Hansel horse came trotting up to the mark too. He appears to have stepped into the role of our Persabus barley ambassador. Happily marketing the fact that the barley at Persabus is grown for Bruichladdich Distillery, as with his head hanging over the gate, he could be seen smiling and nuzzling the new signage ‘Growing for Bruichladdich’, and giving the all important Hansel seal of approval.
In the farmhouse the ‘guddle and clutter’ of family life continues. The hopes of using this time to get everything re-organised, re-ordered, re-decorated, ‘re-decluttered’ are fading fast. The vision of how much more time would be on offer and the reality are quite different. Those action plans have been firmly shelved for a later date. Zoom meetings seem to have taken over. Initially these consisted of online seminars and training sessions, filled with marketing advice and strategies. Rest assured these meetings have now morphed into ‘zooming’ great parties. Regular meet ups online with those ‘Persabus hippies’ from across Scotland tuning in for a hilarious get together. There have been hen parties and a couple of ‘not quite the wedding’ celebrations. Saturday nights are becoming incredibly sociable events. Thankfully, with all of this zooming, we are suddenly aware of what an absolutely fantastic wifi signal we enjoy throughout the buildings at Persabus, and how incredibly important this is to us just now. It also means any future ‘business minded’ guests choosing accommodation at Persabus will have the opportunity to connect remotely with their colleagues and teams. Zoom meetings at the touch of a button.
Alternatively, of course, there is the far more appealing option of just heading off to Machir Bay. A Persabus Pottery dram measure in your pocket, along with a nip of your favourite malt. Relaxing in the armchair of those rocks, at the far end of the sandy bay. Lighting a barbeque, and as those steaks sizzle away, just enjoying listening to the roar of the Atlantic, as the waves break across the golden sands, and the sun sets in the sky. Embracing the solitude, with not even a hope of any wifi, or any bars of signal from any pesky mobile phones, to disturb the peace.
Until next time…