The haggis hunting season is upon us again and our elusive, furry friends have been spotted scampering across the hills at Persabus. At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a clump of hillocky grass, but as dusk draws near, if you sit for a while, with the necessary dram in hand, you may well be treated to the ‘dance of the hairy haggis’. Watching as those Persabus haggis jump, skip and frolic their way across the peaty bog land of the north of Islay.
Haggis are strange creatures indeed. They spend a lot of the year in hibernation, snuggled deeply in their cosy burrows, but with the island being quieter and the promise of a sneaky slurp of the angels’ share, they are out to play. Don’t be fooled my friend when you next happen to be on a distillery tour and they speak of the ‘angels’ share’, and the depleted supply of whisky in the casks. Those haggis have a lot to answer for. It was becoming such a problem, that rumour has it, a contingency meeting of the north Islay Distilleries was called. To tackle the issue hairy haggis are apparently now provided with a sneaky free nip of the amber nectar, hopefully making sure at least some of the whisky maturing in the barrels remains for the visiting tourists.
Juicy haggis served on a platter, alongside ‘neaps and tatties,’ are the order of the day at this time of year, as islanders celebrate Burn’s night. To gather the haggis, hunts are held across the island, under a closely guarded veil of secrecy. Haggis hunting is like no other kind of hunt. If you are lucky enough those cheeky haggis will sometimes, with a squeal and a leap, simply pop into your pocket. I’ve heard they have a penchant for Islay tweed. Placement of items in the pocket is the next important step to capturing the elusive haggis. A couple of polo mints, loose in the bottom of the pocket, may well do the trick, that and a large sheepskin glove. The haggis are known to like their home comforts and after a feed on the mints, a sheepskin glove provides the perfect cosy nest for pocket hopping haggis.
The Happy Farmer unfortunately has never been lucky at capturing haggis in this way. His jackets pockets come with a public health warning. They are filled with sweets, but soggy ones at that, together with old nails, lambing gloves and baler twine. Unfortunately, they are never going to attract a happy haggis.
So, my friends, with those handy tips, I will leave you to ponder your next haggis hunting adventure to Persabus, where you will be met with a warm welcome, a hearty sense of good humour and maybe a large dram as you toast Scotland’s bard, Rabbie Burns.
Until next time…