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Diluain, 27/Jul/2015

Islay Pipe Band at the Scottish Championships 2015

Islay Music in stencil

The excellent season for the Islay Pipe Band continues: After finishing 2nd out of 10 at the European Championships a month ago they travelled to Dumbarton this weekend for the Scottish Championships. Here's a video of their performance:

YouTube: Islay Pipe Band, Grade 3A 3rd Place, Scottish Championships 2015

As you might have spotted in the video title already they finished third in grade 3A at the Scottish Championships, out of a much larger field of 18 competing bands. Only one point separating them from 2nd place and two points from the winner. A very close result, they came first in Ensemble Place.

For those visiting the Islay Show on Thursday 9/Aug there will be an opportunity to hear and see the band playing on Islay. After that they will head to the World Championships in Glasgow on the 15th of August.

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Disathairne, 25/Jul/2015

A Chinese visit to Islay

Islay on Video written in stencil

Right, have to trust my instinct tonight. The only Chinese person I know is on holiday at the moment, so I can't ask him until he's back. I think the creator and protagonist of this video is Chinese, watch their visit to Islay and to Laphroaig distillery:

YouTube: ???Islay???

Now I can't read the Chinese in the video (or copy it into a translator), but it looks to me as if they very much enjoyed their time on Islay. I know Islay is well known in Japan, I don't know how well known Islay is in China. If it isn't hopefully this video will help to spread the word.

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Dihaoine, 24/Jul/2015

Friday Islay Picture #367 - Incoming Wave

Friday Islay Picture in stencil

It's been a rather miserable day in Reading and West Berkshire, lots and lots of rain, it only just stopped when I'm writing this. The weather on Islay was much better I hear, quite a lot of sunshine today I believe. In that spirit a picture from a sunny day on the beach in Machir Bay back in late June this year as the Friday Islay picture:

Picture of a wave running up a beach

Fingers crossed for more days just like this, sunny and bright. And a bit warmer. Days to enjoy on the beach.

I think I'm going to leave it at that. Time to go to bed (hoping to watch a steam train passing through Aldermaston Wharf and take a few pictures of it on Saturday morning), good night and have a great weekend.

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Diardaoin, 23/Jul/2015

Some old Islay film footage

Islay on Video written in stencil

Something a bit older tonight, a few views from Islay I believe 40+ years ago. There's no sound (so don't worry, your speakers aren't broken), but some very interesting views, mainly around Port Ellen and at Lagavulin:

YouTube: STOCKS HOTS - ISLAND OF ISLAY SCOTLAND - COLOUR - NO SOUND

There's a little bit more information on the AP Archive page about the clip. Most of the places are easily recognisable, although some of the views have changed considerably since the film was shot. Lagavulin (starting at ~2:05min) certainly looks different today to what you can see in the film.

I hope you enjoyed the clip, I certainly found it fascinating.

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Disathairne, 18/Jul/2015

A Fat Biking on Islay video

Islay on Video written in stencil

And now for something I don't really know much about. Fat Biking. I believe it's a fairly new development, bikes with very wide (“fat”) tyres. Not just like mountain bike tyres, my impression is twice as wide as a mountain bike tyre. Recently two bikers took their Fat Bikes to Islay and filmed their adventures:

Fat Biking on Islay from Its Me on Vimeo.

The wide tyres are ideal for offroad cycling, as they demonstrate by cycling down to An Cladach bothy at the Sound of Islay. A place I think most people visit either on foot or by kayak (you'll spot a kayaker passing in the video as well).

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Dihaoine, 17/Jul/2015

Friday Islay Picture #366 - Sedge Warbler

Friday Islay Picture in stencil

During this week I've been posting more Islay from the air pictures on the photoblog, so I thought I should change the topic for the weekend and the Friday Islay picture. I decided to go with a bit of Islay wildlife and this one:

Picture of a Sedge Warbler with an insect in its beak

This Sedge Warbler and its partner were nesting just outside the hide at RSPB Gruinart. While you couldn't see the nest sometimes every few minutes one of them (sometimes both) came back with some insects they had caught. They rested on a branch for a few seconds before disappearing in the undergrowth to their nest. While they seemed to be aware of the humans in the hide they didn't seem to be too worried and didn't mind their picture being taken.

As usual I will post a larger version (larger as in twice as big) on the Islay Pictures photoblog on Saturday morning. For now I'm signing off, whishing you a good night and a nice weekend.

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Diardaoin, 16/Jul/2015

VDUB VAN LIFE visits Islay

Islay on Video written in stencil

And missed out on Jura (at least for now). Theo and Bee have been travelling around Europe in their VW camper van for the last year, recently their journey took them to Islay. You can see some of their adventures on Islay (and hear why they unfortunately missed out on Jura this time) in this video:

YouTube: Van Life Video Blog - 5 Days on Islay

You can also read about their adventures on their website, so far in Coast (taking them from Arran to Islay) and Spotting Seals and irritating Terns. I think there might be another entry in the pipeline. Looks like they had a great time on Islay.

PS: In case you're wondering about the high price for the Jura ferry, unfortunately their van is the long wheel base model. This takes them over the 5m threshold triggering the higher price. They hope to return some other time though and visit Jura then.

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Didòmhnaich, 12/Jul/2015

Islay Pipe Band at the European Championships 2015

Islay Music in stencil

At the start of June I blogged Islay Pipe Band British Champions 2015! A lot has happened since then: To start with the Islay Pipe Band went to Belfast to also win the United Kingdom Championships in Grade 3A. With the Calmac ferry strike at the end of June they had to arrange emergency transportion to travel to Forres for the European Championships. They made it and delivered another great performance:

YouTube: ISLAY PIPE BAND - GRADE 3A: EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015

Despite the difficult journey they achieved another excellent result at the European Championships in Grade 3A, coming 2nd out of 10 bands in the contest. What a start to the season: Three wins and a second! Long may it continue.

The next competitions will be the Scottish Championships in Dumbarton at the end of July and the Worlds in Glasgow in mid August. Fingers crossed their success will continue.

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Dihaoine, 10/Jul/2015

Friday Islay Picture #365 - Swallow flying off

Friday Islay Picture in stencil

Yesterday in the report from my latest Islay holiday I mentioned birdwatching at Gruinart. One of the birds I enjoyed watching was a Swallow (or may be several of them, I don't know if it was the same bird) which came to rest on a branch just outside the hide frequently. The challenge was to take a picture just as it flew off. Here's one of the two successful attempts:

Picture of a Swallow flying off

I have (well, had, most of them are deleted now) several dozen pictures of either an empty branch or the Swallow just sitting there. The only other success I've already posted on the photoblog at Swallow taking off at Gruinart, on Saturday morning I will also post a larger version of tonight's picture on the Islay Pictures photoblog.

With that I'm closing for tonight, have a great weekend!

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Diardaoin, 09/Jul/2015

Reporting back from an Islay holiday

Islay Fun in stencil

It's about time I get back to blogging here. I had planned to write something before I left for my summer visit to Islay three weeks ago, but for various reasons (busy in the day job, preparation etc) never got round to it. Anyway, I'm back now after two great weeks on Islay. Let me start with a rare picture of me on Islay, with thanks to Mark of Islay Studios:

Picture of Armin Grewe flying a DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter

This was at Finlaggan last Friday morning, you will also notice the DJI Phantom 3 flying in the background. I was lucky and during this visit was able to fly on four days in five different locations: Machir Bay, Saligo Bay, Port Ellen, Port Charlotte (catching up on parts of the village not covered in Port Charlotte, Islay, with a DJI Phantom Quadcopter) and of course Finlaggan.

Apart from the flying I managed to get in three nice walks (along the coast from Claddach to Lossit Bay, to Loch Drolsay in the hills behind Knockdon and from Laphroaig to Beinn Bhreac), enjoy some birdwatching birdwatching at Gruinart and elsewhere, spend some time on the beaches in Machir Bay and Saligo Bay, visit two distilleries (Laphroaig and Bruichladdich as usual) and meet a number of friends.

While I was there Prince Charles dropped in for a flying visit (to Islay, not to me) and shortly after I left Russian bazillionaire Roman Abramovich arrived in his yacht twice as long as the Islay ferry MV Hebridean Isles. But a lot of normal people also visited during that time, some of which I had a nice chat with in a variety of places.

The weather was mostly quite decent, although it was colder than I had expected for the time of year. During the rainy days I just relaxed in the cottage in front of the open fire, luckily that only happened twice. The cottage at Islay Cottages was an excellent base again, comfortable with everything I needed.

To close a short teaser video from one of the flights mentioned earlier:

YouTube: Approaching Port Charlotte, Islay, past the Loch Indaal lighthouse

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