Monday, 8 March 2010

My Hebridean Ointment.

Within minutes of arriving at the roadside cafe that doubles as Islay airport, I’d fallen in love with the island. The cafe is dominated by a series of glass cabinets displaying the intoxicating wares of the local distilleries, but you must ignore these. Instead turn your attention to the two large aerial pictures of the island tucked away next to the ‘Arrivals’ door. These black and white photographs are quite fascinating in themselves, but it was the notice next to them that seduced me: it explains that the pictures were taken by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, and then goes on to proclaim that nobody really knows why the German military kept them because Islay was not a place of any great importance. As someone with a tendency to self-deprecation, this trumpeting of the island's lack of significance in terms of global affairs told me at once that I was going to enjoy my time here. And I am doing.

The only fly in my Hebridean ointment is Susie, who seems determined to psychologically destabilize me. Her campaign commenced on the afternoon of our arrival when she declared that she was going to go for a jog. In the nine years that we’ve been together, I don’t think I’ve ever known her to go running, unless to answer one of those calls of nature which must be answered. I was baffled.

On Sunday we went for our first long walk. We hadn’t stepped more than a couple of hundred yards from home when she announced that she’d like to visit a distillery. This made me very nervous. Was she trying to catch me out in some way? Had she spotted a dress that she wanted me to buy her? In Islay? I was bewildered.

What’s up, I don’t know, but something is and that’s for sure.

As anticipated we’ve been spotting a lot of birdlife on our walks. Yesterday Susie spotted an Egyptian Vulture and I saw a Bonellis’ Eagle. Either our RSPB Book of Birds is defectively illustrated, or our talent for spotting birds considerably surpasses our talent for identifying them.

Anyway, the weather remains perfect. I’m getting a couple of hours writing done each morning. Susie is engrossed in ‘Jane Eyre’.

Fact of the Day: Most of the inhabitants of Islay are geese.

PS Today's photo is the view from our kitchen window. Sorry, but it's true. x


  1. Bird identifying. I would recommend the Collins Bird Guide. The 'bible' for most twitchers.
    Was your bird identifying before or after a visit to a distillery?

  2. Stuart, sounds like professional psychological input is needed - Susie is clearly disturbed and you are seeing geese. I'm prepared to make a special trip there and to offer a discounted rate in return for the above view out of my bedroom window and a large bottle of Laphroaig.