Autumn,  Vagabond Days

isle of islay

it was a little sad leaving the farm as alex and i both felt completely at home there and wished we could stay longer.  however, the sheep season was wrapping up and during our time there we were mostly vaccinating the sheep and getting them ready to ship off to the isle of bute for the winter, where they’ll graze their hearts out and come back in the spring nice and plump-like.

fortunately!  we headed straight for the isle of islay– a place i’d been convinced since several weeks ago that i needed to go to since it was nothing more than a medium sized island with stunning scenery and eight whisky distilleries.  a whisky pilmgrimage essentially.  originally i was somehow plotting to visit most of the eight while alex was all “girrrrrlllll you are crazy”.  the point of doing this is to visit the home or birthplace of where these famous whiskys are made and since you’re there, you might as well go through the distillery tour to have a look at the facilities.  i’ve been to countless brewery tours, a handful of wineries, and even a vodka distillery tour and i know that though they take you through the same thing, they all are different and special and you always learn something from every one. 

we walked all along the southern coast of the island and visited three in quick succession– laphroaig, lagavulin, and ardbeg.  by the beginning of the ardbeg tour i was just about ready to fall over, but then the egg sandwich kicked in (phew) and i made it through the rest of the day (barely).  alex and i both enjoyed ardbeg the best for it’s light sweet and smooth taste.

 i really loved the time on islay and witnessed sunrises and sunsets both days.  i can’t remember the last time i really watched a sunrise…. not just part of the sunrise from a bus window or something, but the whole thing from the pink sky to the sun peaking out over the mountains, then the bright yellow light fading into the blue that makes up the morning.  the nature seemed really pure and unspoilt and i’d love to go back sometime.  actually, i know we will go back some time because we are now both landowners here.  yep, alex and i each own a 12″x12″ plot of land out in a field across from laphroaig and we’ll have to visit to collect our rent– one dram of whisky.

sunset

sunrise

our plots of land are out here somewhere!

view from standing outside of lagavulin– water is the same color as the sky.  in another direction, you could see the coast of northern ireland!

here we are today in a small village a little bit (35 min by car) south of edinburgh!  we’re staying in a manor on a large woodland property that is just a few steps up from the street.  this manor has quite the history as it used to be the household of a famous papermaking family in penicuik village, and these people owned the very paper mill that printed the paper that sir walter scott and other famous scottish writers printed their original works on.

 i was stunned to see how woodsy this place is but how close it is to busy streets and buses as well– the best of both worlds!  only in europe, this kind of thing is.  wow.  we’ve just arrived the other day but already we’ve helped mow the lawn, visited a community garden in edinburgh, and today took a ride out to a borderlands town called selfkirk where there is an organic chicken farm that our hosts are completely committed to buying all their eggs from.  they also run a small organic foods shop from the ground floor of their manor that is open every saturday morning and help to operate a cinema in the top floor of their town hall every sunday night.  looking forward to helping with those ventures quite a bit.

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