Islay Woolen Mill

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.

Island of drams

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.

Islay adventure

We recently had a fantastic holiday on Islay, in the Hebredes. We stayed in a B&B called The Old Excise House which is next door to Laphroaig distillery, and also in walking distance to the Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries. It was a brilliant holiday, and The Old Excise House is probably the best accommodation I have ever stayed in.

To give you an idea, here is a photo we took from our bedroom:

...and when you visit the distilleries, they make you very welcome, here is the visitors tasting room at Laphroaig which is just a short walk up the road:

It was totally worth a days driving up from Cambridge, the scenery gets better and better as you go, and when you get past Glasgow it gets really good. So we're already making plans to go back.