Got up early and drove to catch the 6:30am ferry to Islay the Southern most Island of the Hebrides Archipelago. It is a two and one half hour boat ride. I kept asking a clearly ignorant question….What is the name of the sea we are crossing? Finally a couple of them said it is the West Loch. Ok.. Then I asked is it part of the Atlantic Ocean? Big patient smile…eventually. It is the Inner Hebrides…there is a Sea of Hebrides but maybe it was over further.
So the weird part is I kept looking over and seeing land. I thought it was the mainland. No it was all the islands…so close together that I didn’t even notice the breaks. When we landed we stopped at the beach …I looked down and saw the most perfect scallop shell all by itself…of course it was waiting for me…so I went down and grabbed.
Stopped at a neat little town called Bowmore along the away to grab a cup of coffee from their shop. There was an elderly lady named Christine Logan in having her morning tea. She said she’d lived on Islay all her life. So we sat down and started chatting. I learned that school on Islay ends at 7th grade…Then you need to go to boarding school in Oban on the mainland to finish high school. You go to Glasgow for college. She studied and became a nurse for dementia patients. Her husband was a builder. She explained that all the kids learn to speak and read Gaelic on Islay. All the signs around are in English and Gaelic. My relative Dougald McKellar came to Islay to live with his Uncle. Island education is bragged about and when he immigrated to Canada he became the Post Master of Kilmartin, Ontario….town no longer exists.
Catherine Logan pointed out a church at the top of the hill. It is the Church of Scotland and is round that is to eliminate the corners where the devil might hide. Once a year they have a whiskey festival and the Opening of the first bottle ceremony. Island us packed with people from all the world. Bagpipes, dancing…I would love that.
Gentleman in store shares the story about George Orwell and the story of 1984. He wrote it in the Hebrides…mostly on the island next door called Jura. He frequently would end up on Islay…ferries gone and he would spend the night. People who had no place to stay were given cells in the prison to sleep in. The sales clerk in the store bought the old jail. She restored it…she said George Orwell’s old cell is now her kitchen. Fun thought on Islay…now on ferry back to mainland. Another beautiful sunny day.