It’s six-o-two on Christmas morning. We are in a distillery cottage on Islay, Dave is sleeping, the wind is roaring round us like a fury, causing the wood in the stove to burn too quickly. I can’t work out how to damp it down enough, it’s not like any stove I’ve ever used. But it is very cosy in here, and I do love watching the flames. We may not have brought enough wood to last us the week, though. But, hey, it’s Christmas, we made it, and I’m on my second cup of coffee.
Islay isn’t, as the crow flies, terribly far away from Moffat. But to get here you have to drive way up north to the top of Loch Fyne, then back down the other side to Kennacraig for the ferry. The crossing takes two hours.
We looked up how long the drive would take and added an hour. I was all for adding two – what if it snows or the road is full of caravans driving at twenty miles an hour? – but I was overruled. Thankfully. Our ferry was booked for one, we left at seven thirty and, as the roads were perfectly clear of both snow and caravans, arrived with at least an hour to spare. This was good as, at some point during the trip I remembered I’d forgotten to pack sugar and the extra time allowed us to stop in Inverary and get some. While we were about it we also treated ourselves to a couple of rolls: bacon for me, square sausage for D (you have to be Scottish to like square sausage, it’s like lard-pocked polystyrene), and a rather peculiar, cake-like, Empire biscuit (not unpleasant).
As you can imagine, we were somewhat worried that we wouldn’t be able to come, what with all the Omicron fandango. Worried that travel would be banned, but also worried that we might inadvertently bring this fast spreading new variant to an otherwise healthy island. Ergo we have been very careful not to get too close to anyone, so as not to pick it up, and we made sure to get our booster shots in good time. I hope this was enough. I was glad to find we weren’t the only obvious holiday makers on the ferry. We’re not planning to socialise or go to pubs and cafés, anyway, we’re here for the geese.
Where was I, Dave woke up early, so I got distracted?! Oh yeah, geese. Counting geese on Islay was one of Dave’s first jobs in the bird world, thousands come here to winter every year: Greenland white-fronts and barnacles, mostly, I think. I’ve seen barnacle geese, but not Greenland white-fronts, so I’m looking forward to his showing me them. We’re also hoping to see golden and white tailed eagles. But all that’s for later in the week. Tomorrow, hopefully, at the moment it’s so windy here that we fear leaving the house. So we’ll have another day of eating, drinking, reading, and trying to keep the fire going. Meanwhile, here are some photos of things so far.
It’s not too late, I hope, to wish you all a very merry Christmas. So, I do hope you had a lovely relaxing day, yesterday, with the people you love, and that today is even better. Happy holidays, whichever ones you celebrate.