– Would you like a ride? Two elderly ladies looked up at us from the small car they were driving. We answered politely no. Preferring to walk the mile we had in front of us and take in the windswept surroundings, as we approached today goal: our friend’s little plot of land at the whisky distillery Laphroaigh.
Sometimes you wonder what the hell you’re doing when the alarm clock goes off way too early, it’s cold, damp and dark and the only reasonable thing to do, is to stay in your warm sleeping bag. However, we had a mission, a project to undertake.
Micke, a friend of ours, has a lease on a square foot of Laphroaigh distillery on the island Islay in Scotland. We wanted to visit this patch for him, verify that it was well taken care of.
Jeanette, who easily gets seasick, was a little nervous when we arrived, quarter to six in the morning at the ticket office in Kennacraig, to learn that the ferry would go to Port Askaig instead of Port Ellen, due to weather conditions. Out here, when these tough people redirect the ship it must be bad, we thought. So Jeanette laid down with her sea bands in place, licorice and tablets in her pocket, just in case. But it went fine. Not too bad at all, really.
We left the Land Rover at the ferry dock in Kennacraig and decided to be pedestrians for the day. Took the bus from Port Askaig to Port Ellen and walked about a mile to the distillery, which is one of eight distilleries located on Islay today. We ate wild blackberries (the best we have tasted!) along the way… The sun kept up with us mostly, but we were well dressed for cold wind and rain – just in case.
Finally we were there. We found that our friend was in company with 300,000 people from all corners of the world. Friends of Laphroaigh have a boggy patch of ground they share, but it has some sort of charm, we found, as we walked around amongst a bed of small flags. We had big wellies on now, on loan from the distillery.
A lifelong lease gives the right to one dram a year when you visit Laphroaigh (which you are given anyway ;-)), and as representatives of our friend, Jeanette took the role of enjoying this excellent whisky. We sat down in a nice lounge and enjoyed the tranquility. The rain raced past before the sun came out again. We borrowed rubber wellies and went out into the field. Placing flags, taking pictures, looking around and declaring that although the patch was in a harsh environment, it was in good company.
We found a sort of a soul down here on the south side. The wind tore at us and became stronger as we trekked back to Port Ellen. We sought shelter at the hotel in this small town. Ordered a bite to eat and drink. Not whiskey now but ale, Guinness and a glass each of some warming red wine, before we jumped on the bus back to Port Askaig. Outside the rain and sun battled each other to prove who was strongest. We sat inside chatting with the man at the bar and got talking to a nice Englishman who shared his story with us. You know…those meetings that just make travelling memorable and valuable.
Wild and beautiful Islay. Who decides to live in a place like this? We must admit that the thought of hiding away in a place like this for a while is tempting. While writing a book, a song or working on other projects… Maybe just to withdraw from the outside world’s hustle for a while.
It was a bit sad to leave, but when we sat on the ferry back (no problem going back either), we yawned for a long, long time, looking forward to crawling into our sleeping bags. Mission accomplished, Micke!