During our recent holiday to Islay we visited the Islay Woolen Mill. In fact we visited it twice, so it must have been good. Not only is it cool to see the old machines working away, but Mr Covell will probably tell you a few stories if you start chatting to him.
You may also end up spending some money though. Vicky and I came out looking like this:
As you can see, I bought a hat, scarf and waistcoat. I also picked out some fabric and am having a second waistcoat made just for me. This is what happens when you get over enthusiastic about things being made the old fashioned way I suppose...
I was quite amazed that they managed to keep the oily bits of the old machines away from the bits where the fabric was being made - you really don't want oil stains on your tartan.
Anyway, it was one of those things that I enjoyed much more than I expected. So if you go to Islay, check it out.
I also enjoyed listening to Mr Covell's interest in newer technology, he was telling me that as a textile manufacturer the humble spreadsheet was one of the most wonderful inventions ever.
We've been back to Islay again (an island in the Hebrides) and had a fantastic time. The weather was just perfect, which even took the locals by surprise. Quite a few of them were quite literally red faced ... with sunburn. So we came back from Scotland with a suntan, which was quite unexpected.
Islay has some amazing beaches, which were very quiet, especially considering it was a bank holiday weekend. We went to a 2km stretch of sandy beach on a lovely sunny day and only had to share it with a handful of other people. It looked empty:
Of course we also visited a few of the distilleries - we were even treated to a private mini-tour of Laphroaig when we missed the official tour. It's really amazing that a company which makes that much whisky can still feel like a family business. They are extremely hospitable at Laphroaig if you visit them. When we walked back to our accommodation later that day, one of the distillery workers recognised us and stopped to offer us a lift in his car!
We stayed at the excellent Old Excise House, just outside Port Ellen (and within easy walking distance from Laphroaig). It's the same place we stayed last year. The accommodation is really excellent:
...and the breakfasts are truly amazing. So I'm sure we'll go back again.
At some point I need to mention the Islay Woollen Mill, but that's a whole separate blog entry.
My old Toshiba Satellite T130 laptop has been pretty much abandoned since I've switched to
a MacBook Pro. But it's a shame to have an unused piece of kit. So I decided to use the
Toshiba T130 for messing about with different Linux distros. As a test I tried to install
Debian 7, but it looked like it was going to be a real pain to get the built in wifi
adapter to work, so I gave up.
Then I tried Lubuntu 13.10, which worked a treat. All
the hardware seems to have good driver support (even the built in Bluetooth). If anything,
the driver support is better than Windows 7 or 8. So installation was very simple and
So I'm very impressed. The machine is nice and responsive and everything is easy to find
in the user interface. It's almost like having a new laptop (well OK, you'd have a hard
job getting me to part with my MacBook actually).
Since then, I've even tried installing Lubuntu on my Acer Iconia Tab W500. The result
is that the machine works fine as a laptop, but you couldn't really use it as a tablet (not
without a lot of configuring anyway). Umm, experimenting with Linux distros on one laptop
has led to me wiping another; you need to be careful with these types of experiment I
But ... if you have an old machine sitting around doing nothing, and you want to get some
more use out of it (without costing any money) then installing Lubuntu might be a good
thing to try.