f4f3: (Small island)
I've been blessed with mostly good weather this week, and I've been taking advantage of it. So no time for gardening and updating LJ. My bad, as the kids used to say.

Avatar at the mobile cinema was great. It was a sellout, and a very mixed crowd. Well behaved, too, and the 3D worked well. Struck even more on second viewing by how anti-capitalist the movie is, and how similar the corporation is to the Company in Aliens.

Wednesday was my expedition to Jura, and it all went swimmingly. The 7.45 ferry to Port Askaig on Islay left on time, and I was about third in the queue for the full Scottish fry up. It was a little cold for sight seeing, but I still spent a good part of the journey on deck, with a huge smile on my face.

We pulled into Port Askaig on time, and I considered popping over the headland to Caol Isla, only about half a mile away as the dolphin swims. Unfortunately, that's about 2 miles on the road, most of them spent going straight up and straight down. The ferry to Feolin on Jura was waiting for us, so I just wheeled my bike from the big boat to the wee boat. The picture above is the wee ferry, taken from the big ferry.This was the first time I'd ever crossed the Sound of Islay, and I got my usual buzz out of landing in a new island for the first time.
My plans for Jura were pretty fluid - I wanted to go to the distillery (of course) and I had a vague notion of cycling to the other end of the island, about 25 miles or so away.
The eight miles from Feolin to Craigmore scaled back my intentions a little, though. It wasn't hard cycling, plenty of hills, nothing too steep, but the wind was biting, and always in my face. I'd also stupidly left my water bottle back in the car, and by the time I got to Craigmore, around 11.30, I was ready for a sit down and a bit of coffee.
It didn't quite work out that way...

I popped into the distillery shop, to find that the 11 tour was just finishing, but was given a dram of the £100 a bottle "Elements" special edition, and then taken for a private look at the stills (which were really what I'd wanted to see) and promised a dram of The Prophecy (their limited edition, heavily peated malt) when I came back after lunch.
As I left the shop I noticed an advert for a wildlife cruise at 2.00 on the high speed RIB. I called up to book a place, and the pilot said he'd just left for the whirlpool, Corryvreckan. I told him what a shame that was, as I'd love to see it, and he told me to get down to the pier. I looked out from the harbour and saw him start to swing back round to pick me up...
It was a great, two hour trip, with sighings of dozens of grey seals, gannets, and a magnificent sea eagle. The whirlpool itself was appropriately scary. Even with a flat calm and at low tide the water roiled for about a half mile all around, with 2 meter waves popping out of nothing. The pilot gave us a good show, cutting the engine to let the RIB revolve and surfing along those waves. I'm glad to have gone, and happier still that it wasn't any rougher.

We passed the house where Orwell wrote 1984 - I was glad I managed that without a bicycle trip of 30 miles or so... Can you see the deer grazing in front of the house? I've been reading Orwell's "Essays" off and on this week. Some fan-boy entries may follow.

When I got back to Craigmore I had lunch at The Antlers, the highlight of which was their crab bisque - under a fiver, and packed with fishy goodness. Actually, the highlight was sitting on the terrace, getting outside three courses and a coffee in the sunshine.

Afterwards, it was a 20 yard stroll to the distillery shop, and a tasting of the Prophesy. As I said, heavily peated, and I was considering not buying it, not because it wasn't brilliant, but because it didn't taste like a Jura, when the distillery manager came in. He has a huge vested interest in this edition - he chose the barrels and blended it himself, and he's immensely proud of it. His argument, that the peat was only a background for the floral notes that Jura gets from it's immensely tall stills (only a few inches shy of Glenmorangie's) convinced me. I should have asked him to sign the bottle.

I may have swayed slightly on my ride back to Feolin. It was a very big sample (we don't do half measures, said the down-to-earth and knowledgeable tour guide, as she poured it).

The ferry back to Kennacraig was on time, and was serving chicken curry and chips, which was as flourescent, stringy, and unctuous as ever. The food of (Scottish) Gods.

I got back at a reasonable hour, despite an attempt to close the A83 between Tarbet and Inverneil. I avoided a 30 mile, single-track detour by ghosting behind two HGVs, who were not for detouring.

And that, dear reader, was my most satisfactory Wednesday.



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