Islay snaps

sandbruce

1: Bruce loves the beach

portnahaven
machirbay
2, 3: Great photoshoots in my favourite locations

portcharlotte
4. tasty crabs claws at the Port Charlotte Hotel

billysbench
benchdetail
pimpernel
5, 6, 7: Discovering Billy’s Bench near Bowmore, and a Scarlet Pimpernel growing through the shingle at Portnahaven

skies

8. Fine weather for walking

crag

wazzstrider

9, 10: The first time in four and half years that, while away, I have not been bothered in one way or another by my health or my physical limitations. Am I really so much better? Or have I merely finally adapted to my “new normal”? Either way, it felt pretty good to climb up behind that crag, to see that view.

a bottle of Uigeadail

Tom likes to run the Islay half marathon. Not only does this race take place in one of our favourite places, but the Islay half marathon is always a grand occasion, with wonderful local support. The Islay half marathon is also sponsored by Ardbeg. Ardbeg is one of Islay’s eight distilleries and the whisky it produces is Tom’s undoubted favourite of any usquebaugh. Ardbeg is very generous with its sponsorship: all competitors receive a wee dram or two at the end of the race, and there are a dizzying array of prizes, most of them whisky related. Tom is in no way a pot-hunter, but it is fair to say that the prospect of a tasty bottle of Ardbeg has certainly spurred him onward on each of the seven occasions he’s run this race.

Here’s the start of this year’s Islay half marathon.

start

. . . here’s Tom shortly after setting off:

runner

. . . despite his recent appendix-related woes, and subsequent lack of training, he had a great run, finishing in 1 hour 25 minutes and coming in 3rd Veteran (that’s the third bloke over 40, in case you were wondering). We were agog at the prize giving: would the 3rd Veteran actually win a bottle of . . . Ardbeg?

prize

Yes indeedy ! And not just any Ardbeg . . . Tom’s prize was a bottle of Uigeadail!

Uigeadail

Uigeadail is named after the “dark and mysterious” loch which provides the Ardbeg distillery with its distinctive water. Tom is such a great fan of this whisky, and was so intrigued by this loch, that we actually took a pilgrimage on foot to it five years ago last winter. It was indeed dark. And mysterious. And very, very cold. Here is Tom at Loch Uigeadail in January 2009 . . .

tomatUigeadail

. . . and here he is having imbibed several prize-winning drams of its namesake in August 2014.

winner

CONGRATULATIONS, TOM!!

Islay weekend

cairn

This past weekend I turned 40. I am not too keen on birthday celebrations, and a quiet weekend in one of my favourite places was just what was required.

foxgloves

So though we weren’t celebrating my birthday, we definitely had cause for celebration . . . , having just had an offer accepted on a lovely house!

waves

Our new place really is absolutely wonderful and it is frankly a massive relief to have this part of the process sorted out at last.

seastick

Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, the renovation work continues. The flat now features a shiny new bath, a plumbed-in kitchen sink, and a fantastic new floor. There is, however, no electricity in the kitchen or bathroom, no oven, no internet connection, and an awful lot of dust. I confess I find the nothing-is-where-it-is-supposed-to-be business extremely disconcerting, and am a bit rubbish at dealing with it. But every day I count my lucky stars for the good friends and neighbours with whom I’m surrounded, on whose accommodating kindness, stupendous cooking and modern ‘facilities’ I have been able to rely over the past few weeks.

wazzwagon

Anyway, I think I can now safely say that the past few months’ upheaval has a happy END in sight. I am tremendously excited about moving to our new place – and most of all to Tom and I having our own shared space again – as opposed to our two lives being divided between an Edinburgh building site and a Glasgow bedsit. I don’t want to jinx the move by talking too much about it, but I am sure you will find that I won’t be able to shut up about it once we’re settled in.

finlaggan

Onward! Westward!

humans and other creatures

Hiya! It is I, Bruce. I have just returned from a F-U-N time on the island of Islay. This time was particularly fun as I have spent the past few weeks having no fun at all (going back and forth to the place where they put you on a table and poke at you, and are forced to don the humiliating cone.)

Islay is fun because there is a big beach . . .

. . . new walks with interesting smells . . .

. . . and I get to live in the box with the humans, which I really enjoy.

Still, there are things about being in the box that can be very confusing. Such as why it is OK to be wet some times. . .

. . . and not others.

To my mind, the most annoying characteristic of the human-creature is its inconsistency. For example, why is it that these buddies are good to play with . . .

. . . while these are not?

In fact, it is in relation to other creatures that the human-creature is most unpredictable. For example, one evening on Islay we visited this place. . .

I was told that there were otters about, and that I had to be very good. We sat in the box while Kate and Tom stared out of the window, occasionally muttering. After what seemed like an aeon, there was some excitement and animation, and Kate started reaching for her camera. All that had happened was that this had appeared in the water.

. . . which was, of course, not an otter, but a seal.

Now, if they’d have let me out, and into the water, I could have told them right away that there were seals in that place, and not otters. But as well as being inconsistent, human creatures like to think they know best.

But we dogs know better.

See you soon, love Bruce x

Islay half marathon

We have been away, enjoying a long weekend on Islay. The Islay half marathon is one of Tom’s favourite races (mine too, for that matter) — not only does it take place in a wonderful location, but the local support is tremendous — every year the folk of Bowmore put on a marvelous post-race spread for the runners (whisky included), and the race sponsors, Ardbeg, offer a dizzying number and variety of prizes. Ardbeg also happens to be one of Tom’s favourite tipples — the prize of a bonus dram or two is not to be sniffed at, and he was taking this race quite seriously.

The runners assembled at the start line:


And set off, up the hill and out of Bowmore.

It was a warm day, and I was particularly impressed with the efforts of the chap in the giant pink costume, who was running in support of a Parkinson’s charity.

Bruce and I went for a walk . . .


(Bowmore harbour, with the Paps of Jura in the distance)

. . . and timed things to return to the finish line before Tom came in. . .

. . . in a very creditable sixth place!

The pink-costumed chap rolled in, still in good spirits, a bit later.

Being sixth, Tom just made the prizes – the first time he’s done so. There was much whooping and cheering from me later on in the village hall.

He was pleased too . . .

. . . and a few drams went down later in celebration, as you might imagine.

Well done, Tom – Slainte!

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