Morning! I have lots of lovely photos waiting in the wings to show you, including part two of my time at the photography farm and the lovely wedding of Chris and Laura.  September was a very busy month! But first, today’s post is about my holiday last week with my parents on Islay.  I’ve mixed in a few of my iphone snaps for the times when my camera was tucked away in the panniers.
Nieve’s new wellies for our Islay adventure
Last week I was invited, along with Nieve, to join my parents on a Cycling holiday to the beautiful island of Islay.  Anyone who knows my parents, in particular my dad will know this doesn’t mean a few leisurely miles of gentle cycling, more a holiday workout, so I was prepared to be, well knackered!
Nieve inspecting the cottage
Nieve ready to do some exploring
Day 1: After a pleasant 2hr ferry journey from Kennacraig to Port Askaig and a short drive to the south of of island we arrived at our beautiful self catering accommodation, Rowan Cottage.  We were over the moon with the quality and fresh feel of the 3 bedroom cottage and it certainly had everything required to make our stay as comfortable as possible, with lovely attention to detail such as a nip of Islay Bruichladdich whisky in the kitchen and Islay Spirited Soap in the bathroom. Once Nieve was satisfied that all the rooms were explored fully and we unpacked we went out for a short drive to explore the area.
All ready to go out cycling
stopping for a snack

Day 2: Today our goal was to conquer the west of the island and after 18 miles, enduring 3 hours of wind, rain and in my case a stinking cold! found ourselves at Port Mor community centre, Port Charlotte, a sight for sore eyes, believe me.  After refuelling we were back on the road again, and enjoyed a pleasant, less windy ride back to the cottage.  Nieve was a natural cyclist and enjoyed every minute on the back of papa’s bike.

Day 3: After our 36 mile cycling extravaganza the day before I opted for a more relaxing day exploring on foot rather than cycling. The day began with a lovely walk towards Ardnave Point along from the Loch Gruinart Nature Reserve .  It was a very beautiful walk with stunning views, of the sandy beach and the paps of Jura in the distance. Nieve enjoyed baaa-ing at the cows and watching the flocks of barnacle geese flying overhead.

Afterwards we drove to the Visitor Centre where after a quick lesson on the local bird life, then waved goodbye to papa and mum’s mum as they jumped on the bikes to cycle to Bruichladdich.
Another enjoyable drive along the single track roads took me and Nieve to Kilchoman Distillery for a  spot of afternoon tea.  Kilchoman is Islay’s newest distillery, and was only established in 2005, for those of you who don’t know, Islay is home to an incredible 8 whisky distilleries!  Kilchoman has just started to sell it’s 3-4 yr old single malt whisky with the release of their 5yr due in November. Nieve and I had a lovely time so brought home a miniature for daddy to try.
Next stop, another distillery. This time Bruichladdich to meet up with Papa and Mum’s Mum.  Another Distillery, another miniature for Daddy! Bruichladdich also happen to sell a lovely gin, called the Botanist Gin more my cuppa (hint hint daddy).
Now for some lunch! We ventured on to Portnahaven on the west of Islay, see if you can spot some of our little friends.
Day 4:  Today was our one and only chance to explore the island of Colonsay,  as the ferry only does a return journey to the island on a Wednesday.  It wasn’t looking great in the morning but we went ahead as planned.  Unfortunately the weather let us down, it was pretty darn wet when we got off the ferry but we trooped on regardless cycling right round the island to look for civilisation.  It wasn’t until we’d be right round the 8 mile road we realised where the ferry had dropped us off was it!! By this point we were soaked to the skin, all apart from Nieve who was dry as a bone.
Poor Nieve’s squished nose
We limped into the local cafe, the Colonsay Pantry to dry off and refuel.  I think we honestly thought at this point we would be residing in the cafe for the rest of the afternoon before the ferry back to Islay, fortunately the weather cleared and we donned our soggy gear to go exploring.  However disaster struck! Nieve was all ready to go and tripped up on her wellies and fell smack bang, right on her nose! It looked very sore and swelled up straight away, and she certainly wasn’t happy.  Fortunately the waiter was the Island paramedic and after a quick assessment suggested we pop along to the doctors to get her checked over.  Despite the blood from her nose and swelling the doctor explained that babies can’t break their noses and that after an assessment he was confident the a bit of fresh air and some calpol and she would be right as rain! no pun intended ;0).  So we were off again, round the island, this time we could see something!
Some might think our trip to Colonsay was, well nothing short of disastrous, but despite being soaked to the bone and having a baby with a almost broken nose we actually had quite a good time, and it was lovely to see what we missed the first time round.
Day 5: Today we decided to take it easy and go for a walk round the Cliffs of The Oa to the war monument.  It was glorious weather and the walk was beautiful.
Our next stop the Ardbeg distillery where we heard we could get a nice spot of lunch at the cafe.  They didn’t disappoint, the cafe is lovely and we had a very welcome soup and sandwich, they even had a mini soup and sandwich combo for little Nieve.  Being taken by our surroundings we decided to go on the 3pm tour of the Distillery which was very interesting and highly recommended.
Nieve on the distillery tour

After purchasing another miniature for daddy to sample we took a quick stop off at Bowmore for a coffee at the Harbour Inn, lovely place.  Sadly we were too late to visit the Bowmore distillery and the Spirited Soaps shop 🙁

Day 6: Our last day, and in true Haslam family tradition squeezed in another trip before our 3:30pm Ferry back to the mainland.  So we waved goodbye to Rowan Cottage, our lovely home for the past week and set off laden with luggage to get the ferry to the Isle of Jura.

Mum & Nieve on the Jura Ferry

So off we went with our bikes to Jura.  The 5 minute ferry parked us up Feolin, 8 miles from the nearest village of Craighouse. Simples we thought, however the wind had other ideas, it’s a tough ride with the wind against you up some very steep hills, one after the other, after 1.5hrs we flew into Craighouse, home to the Jura Distillery.

Not much time to sit and relax so a quick bowl of soup at the Jura Hotel and back on the bikes for us.   Fortunately the ride back wasn’t quite so hard and we were rewarded on the last few miles with a very long downhill stretch, it was definitely a ‘weeeeeeeeeee’ moment.

Mum’s mum on the final mile
the weeeeeeeee hill down
One very happy young lady

What a great holiday! Can’t wait to go back sometime and explore the rest of the Island.  Thanks Mum & Dad for inviting us along.

Zoë xxx


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