Thursday, 30 April 2009

The very last one

As Bronwen said a month ago, we've now been here a year and are far too busy to keep this blog going, so I am signing off as well. I don't know how people have the time to twitter etc. The polytunnel project is "95% complete" - with only the plastic sheeting to go on - as this requires a calm day, it could be some time before we can start growing anything in it.

Once that is done we hope to spend more time exploring the island and enjoying ourselves. The brithday party went really well (and luckily some people called off at the last minute or we'd have been a bit full) and I received a new set of golf clubs with which I am really playing well, though not well enough to win anything!

If you are interested in more on Islay and have access to BBC Alba (Sky or Freesat), there is a great little series which started last week - it runs on Thursdays at 8.30, repeated Sunday evenings and can also be found on the BBC iplayer at

Thanks for reading this - please look us up if you are ever on Islay. Scott

Sunday, 22 March 2009

The arrival of spring - my last post

As Scott noted six weeks ago, our enthusiasm for this blog is dwindling, and with the first anniversary of our arrival fast approaching it feels like a good time to stop, so this will be my last post. The main issue is that life has simply taken over, and neither of us seem to have time these days for things like blogs!

This week has really felt like spring (though I think another blast of winter is forecast for the coming week). The first lambs have arrived: Shetland triplets - the early consequences of a lusty tup getting where he wasn't supposed to be! But there shouldn't be any more for two or three weeks yet. Meanwhile, Scott has been working very hard on the structure of the polytunnel. There's quite a way to go yet before we're ready to assemble a willing band of friends to help us get the skin on, and then we need a nice, still day (ha!).

But a week today Scott becomes entitled to his bus pass and his ferry pass, we're eating out at An Taigh-Osda and helping friends to celebrate their Ruby Wedding which is the same day, and the following Saturday is the great Bus Pass Birthday Party! And then Pam is staying to look after Jim while we have a few days away visiting Bob and Dot in Lismore. And then it's WalkIslay week, and the geese will be leaving and the swallows returning, and choir concerts and the build-up to the local Mod... and I think this is where we came in! It has been a truly wonderful year. Islay is now home and, I hope, will remain so for the rest of our lives. Scott may have more to add, but I'm signing off with a last picture of Taigh na Torraig with the snowy hills of Jura in the distance.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Midwinter Update

I can see that I am really not going to keep this blog up at all - I'll try to get to the first anniversary of our moving here, which neatly co-incides with my 60th birthday, for which we are planning a party.

It seems a long time since our first Christmas in this house - complete with both daughters and as you can see we had a good feast. Edward and his friend Susan arrived (more or less, after a long saga of snow, missed flights, lost luggage etc) from New York, via Grand Rapids, on the Saturday after Christmas and stayed for a few days, feeding our new neighbours as you can see below (the cat is not too sure about these new somewhat large neighbours). They went to Glasgow for New Year (at a do in Hampden Park) and we just went along to the Port Charlotte Hotel to see in the bells. Plans to cycle along did not last long in the cold and dark, so I drove and limited myself to one dram.

January has been pretty cold, though we have avoided the snow which has fallen elsewhere - we just have it on the hills to provide us with cracking views. I did mange to go on a "test walk" for Walk Islay week, over the hills in the rain and have managed several rounds of golf, though mostly delayed because of frost in the mornings. We had a nice break thanks to a visit from Sue & Tim who also needed a break so came for 5 days in the middle of the month.

I have very busy setting up the golf club membership system in order to get the subscription renewals in the post this coming week. I have even manged quite a few rounds, though they were often delayed by frost. I also got sucked into a game of table tennis for the first time in many years.

It being January we were involved in two Burns Suppers - well one was the Port Mor lunch club do where I did the toast to the lassies and Bronwen sang. She was also singing at the Feis Ila Supper, of which a DVD was made and just arrived - Bronwen seems to be hiding it for her private consumption only, but if I can extract a bit I might put it up here!

I also managed a trip off the island last weekend (only my 4th I think) to a bridge congress in Dunoon. Very tiring playing bridge until after 11 each night, but very enjoyable. We did not feature in the prizes, but neither were we last. With any luck I should be off the island again on Thursday/Friday when my dad is due to get his cataract sorted in Glasgow - this was delayed last month due to him catching a cold, so we hope it will happen this time. Friday was the Choir's annual dinner, with an excellent meal at the Port Charlotte hotel .

Sadly Bronwen's mother seems to be fading fast after suffering another stoke, so things are somewhat uncertain for the next few weeks. The photo below is Ed and Bronwen from the hill behind the house looking south, the house being the one just to Bronwen's right shoulder.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Where did November Go?

I can see that this is now going to be a very occasional blog indeed as we seem to be very busy - or at least the time seems to vanish very quickly. I have been getting up to speed with the membership side of the golf club, as I have to get this year's renewals in the post by mid February. We are changing the system we do this on, so I have been doing trial runs to ensure that it will all work.

November saw the Golf Club prize giving dinner - sorry about the photo - I had had a drink or two, having won a couple of prizes. The t-shirt was a present from the ladies section! Roz was over that weekend and our table ended up winning the quiz as well (Roz also won a bottle of wine in the Lifeboats raffle). Bronwen was away on Quaker business and visiting her mum in the Lakes for about 10 days. The following week we had a supper for those involved in building our house - apparently the first time in about 25 houses that they had ever been invited to such a thing. We also finally managed to get the solar panel fixed - so now we haven't had any sun for a few weeks! The weather has been much colder than usual so our electricity bills will be high (if we ever get one - we switched to B Gas on August 5th and have not had a bill since!). We are getting plenty of use from our multi-fuel stove though.

Last week saw our first "free" flight to Glasgow to take dad to a couple of hospital clinics. They are free in that the flight and (I hope) taxis are paid for, but nothing else - they do contribute to B&B if you have a receipt. However dad enjoyed staying a couple of nights with his brother in Milngavie and I stayed with Pam in Cardonald. The flights were very good - lucky with the weather, but killing several hours in Glasgow airport is not much fun.

We are now gearing up to our first Christmas on Islay, although things are very sad here with the recent terrible road accident (see BBC News) which happened about 2 miles from where we are. So far we have had the bridge club dinner, and this week sees the lunch club dinner(s) and Bronwen is at some ecumenical gathering for lunch today. Roz arrives on Saturday, Pam on Monday and then Ed and girlfriend Sue fly in from the States on the 27th. So I guess this will next be updated after the festivities. I had intended to produce Christmas cards using the photo below, but somehow it just never happened.

All the best for 2009

Monday, 3 November 2008

Too busy to blog!

As Scott has said, I am indeed fully employed at the moment (it's supposed to be 8 hours a week - but spread somewhat unevenly over the year) as Administrator for Quakers in Scotland, engaging (we Quakers don't go in for fighting!!) with the Filemaker Pro database which contains details of all our members and attenders and from which we publish an annual directory. So just now, not much time for blogging. But since I left you dangling at the end of my last posting, waiting in breathless anticipation to hear how we got on at the Mod.... Well OK, but I just have to say what a brilliant experience it was, and how good it was at my first-ever National Mod to see Islay as a whole do so spectacularly well. Not to mention (as a member of the winning Ladies choir) watching ourselves on the TV. I can't do better than point you to Susan Campbell's excellent account published elsewhere on the web (I'm fifth from the right by the way). We came home somewhat weary after two days and three nights of hard work plus a good deal of celebrating and socialising. A good part of my weariness could be put down to the fact that at 4.00 am on the Saturday I was still participating in a football-pitch-sized Orcadian strip-the-willow in a sports' centre in Grangemouth. Don't ask.... And we were up at 6.30 for the bus back to Islay. I slept from Inveraray to Kennacraig!

Friday, 24 October 2008

So Much for Retirement

Good grief - its 2 months since I updated this blog, though at least Bronwen put something in a few weeks ago. However the weather has turned rather nasty this week - lots of gales and rain, indeed the hail is thumping down as I type, so it must to time to update with what I can remember. One of the main reasons things did not get updated was that the hard drive on our PC went bang - so we've got a new PC, and I bought a new drive for the old one, so I've spent a few weeks restoring stuff and tackling Vista. Luckiliy this co-incided witha week's visit to Glasgow & Edinburgh to sort out Roz & Pam's flats a bit, so I was able to pick up the PC etc when I was over (only my second trip away since we got here).

We have not been idle, even without the PC blowing up - indeed our retirement seems to have come to an end as we both now have part time jobs. I'll let Bronwen explain hers (central administrator for Quakers in Scotland) which seems to largely comprise fighting with a FilemakerPro database. I heard that I'd got mine last night - general secretary to Islay Golf Club. This is basically subscription administration, organising things (but not golf events), and the usual minute taking etc. This of course means that I'll just have to turn out to all the dinners, golf outings to the mainland etc as I am being paid (not a lot) to do so!

As Bronwen mentioned in the last blog, then end of the summer was taken up by festivals. I went to three concerts in the Jazz Festival, the two local ones at Bruichladdich, so that I coudl stagger home, and the lunchtime one at Portnahaven, where is nearly got killed in the rush for the "famous home baking". It was a great weekend, though I did depart the last concert as the amplification was just way over the top (for a trumpet).

A couple of weeks after that was the Small Isles Film Festival where we went to a showing of The Maggie (which was filmed largely on Islay) and to a session showing several small films featuring the island. Some of these have been put up on Youtube, for example Portnahaven in 1948. While you are there look up Donovan singing "Isle of Islay", which he manages to rhyme with "stay" - it is truly terrible (unless you are a Donovan fan I guess).

A week or two after that I was a late substitute for the Machrie Team Challenge which was good fun, although Bronwen had the car on the mainland, so I was dependent on lifts and thus missed the dinners, quizes etc in the evenings, which was probably just as well.

On top of all that the usual round of regular golf, bridge and gardening has continued. We even gave a joint talk to the local church seniors lunch club, which we take my dad to each week, on the Internet for Beginners. It seemed to go quite well. That's all I can recall, except that we've figured out that the pump on our solar panel is driving the water the wrong way round the system, so we are not getting the real efficiency from it. Now we're just waiting on the plumber to turn up and fix it.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Autumn arrives

Six months to the day since we moved in and the sounds have changed. The chattering swallows and martins have all departed on their long journeys south, the lambs have mostly gone to market, along with quite a number of sheep, and instead intermittent honking from above tells us that the geese are arriving. And a couple of times now we have heard the distant roar of a rutting stag. Autumn is here! Today, after two wet and windy days and with two similar ones in prospect, we had blue skies and a warm, gentle breeze, and Bron got all the spring bulbs in (thanks Robin and Susie!!). And then we took Jim down to Port Wemyss and tested his smart new wheelchair (with pneumatic tyres) by pushing him round the Rathas nan Iasgairean and to Portnahaven for a cuppa and scone at the pub. We could see the seals hauled out on Orsay - there's no sign of any pups yet, but that won't be long.

Summer may be over (last time we posted to this blog, six weeks ago, we were swimming in the sea at Port Ban - don't think we'll be doing that again till next year!) but the golf hasn't stopped. Scott is gearing up for a full weekend of it - the team championship - and shows no sign of slowing down for the winter. Meanwhile there are whist drives, the Small Isles Film Festival has just happened - a whole weekend of Screen Machine parked up at the Gaelic College and some excellent showings of new and archive films about Islay, plus The Maggie, which was filmed in Islay in 1954 - and Bron has joined the Feis Committee. Not quite sure whether that was a good idea - watch this space!

And next Wednesday Coisir Ghaidhlig Ile (the Islay Gaelic Choir) is off to Falkirk for the National Mod. Three nights in sunny Cumbernauld! Seriously, I'm really looking forward to my first National Mod - news of how we get on in the next posting.