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…