Hebridean Island Cruises

Scotland and Northern Ireland 2017, Part fourteen…

Monday morning, I awoke with a full-fledged cold.  I was coughing, hacking, and had woken up several times during the night to blow my nose and drink some water.  I was legitimately sick (and still am, though I’m getting better).  We had plans to visit a distillery on the beautiful island of Islay.  Bill and I visited Islay on our last Hebridean cruise and had the chance to visit a couple of whisky distilleries, Laphroaig and Kilchoman.  This time, we were supposed to visit Bowmore, but that was cancelled before we boarded the ship.  Then it got switched to Lagavulin, but since we didn’t do our itinerary as planned, that tour, too, was cancelled.

Islay happens to be rich with whisky distilleries, so the folks at Hebridean fixed us up with a tour at Bruichladdich, an old distillery that makes both whisky and gin.  Before we got on Islay’s schoolbus for a trip out to Port Charlotte, we had time to walk around.  Bill and I went to a tiny grocery store and bought some cough medicine and candy for me.  I’ve been sipping Covonia Chesty Cold formula ever since Monday.  I don’t know if it works like NyQuil, but it’s got booze in it and tastes like Jaegermeister.

With that taken care of, we were ready for our trip to the distillery.  Thanks to our whisky tour last year, Bill and I are very well versed as to how scotch is made.  I was pretty happy our guide did not take us through the process, but rather told us the distillery’s history and showed us the equipment.  The tour was short, sweet, and ended with some rather generous whisky tastings.  Bill and I left with a bottle of scotch, a bottle of gin, a wool throw for me, a music CD by Islay native Angela Paterson, who performed on our last cruise, and some soap.

We got back on the ship in the early afternoon, just in time for lunch, a ham buffet.  The captain would be taking us closer to Oban during the day.

A beautiful morning in Port Ellen.

I got a kick out of the sign… it’s perfect if you like your whisky.

A shot of Hebridean Princess in port.

Distillery time!

And the distillery shop, where I parted with some cash.

We were invited to try the barley.  I did, knowing that it wouldn’t make me sick like the wort did last time we did a distillery tour.


Those vats were full of some very alcoholic brew…

The gin still, which the distillery picked up when another distillery was closing.

The spirit safe.

We visited the warehouse.  Lots of scotches in different barrels, everything from bourbon to sherry casks.

Bill enjoys a taste.  They were quite willing to let people try different whiskys.  We were told if there was one we wanted to try under 200 GBP, they would oblige.  I think the distillery was rewarded, because I witnessed one passenger spending over 500 GBP on whisky.


Down the hatch!

Moody skies for the drive back to Port Ellen.

The beautiful ham.

Lots of salads and pasta.

And more seafood… including oysters, shrimp, smoked salmon and trout, and the like…

I had a crab salad as a starter.

Bill had a sundae for dessert.

I had warm rice pudding with raspberry jam.  It was very satisfying… took me back to my childhood days in England.

After lunch, I was feeling a little under the weather, so I went back to our stateroom, packed my bags, and took a nap.  Two hours later, Bill woke me up to tell me to get ready for dinner.  I was tempted to go back to sleep.  Then he showed me a picture of dolphins he managed to get.  It’s not the best picture, but it’s still cool.

Too bad I was sleeping when this happened.

Monday night was the evening of our second gala.  I broke out my blue sequined gown, which rained shiny sparkles all over the place.  In retrospect, it was a little fancier than I usually go for.  The one thing the dress had going for it was that it was floor length, so I didn’t have to wear control top panty hose.  I wore knee highs instead, and pinned the top of the slit so my cheating wouldn’t show.  I felt a little silly at first in my sparkly gown, but eventually relaxed.  It’s not like I haven’t seen worse at any Army ball (sorry, it’s the truth).  And besides, Bill was there in his blues.

David Indge mingles with guests at the Captain’s Farewell Gala.

I was absolutely enchanted by the sunset in Castle Bay, so I had to go take pictures while Bill explained to another passenger that the Pentagon really was hit by a jet airliner on September 11, 2001.  I always defer to Bill when it comes to 9/11 because he was actually in the Pentagon that day.

David addresses everyone and introduces our captain, Trevor Bailey.

More gorgeous sunset pics.  I could look at these all day.

Bill is smiling because he doesn’t have to wear that jacket anymore!

Prepped for haggis.  They bring out the whisky beforehand.

Haggis!  This ceremony is a treat!  I got a good view this time, but my camera died and I had to switch to an iPhone.

I happened to be sitting under this bell, so I got to ring it a couple of times.  I think I almost went deaf the second time.

Haggis!  I couldn’t really taste it due to my sickness.  I have had it enough times to know it wasn’t a bad thing not to taste it, although haggis is not as horrible as it sounds.

Because I didn’t like the liver starter, our kind waiter, Mariusz, brought me smoked salmon.

Bill bravely tried the liver.  I don’t think it was a hit; we had some in Germany that actually tasted like chocolate of all things.

A nice palate cleansing sorbet.

I had turbot filet, which is a favorite.  

Bill had venison, which he loves…

Then we had creme brulee and a biscotti for dessert.

Our one selfie together.  Maybe I should have gotten someone to take our picture, but I don’t photograph very well, especially when I’m sick.

One more shot of my dashing Bill in his blues…

And Toby was kind enough to make me a Brandy Alexander.  It was fabulous.

Goodbye, folks…


The castle in Castle Bay.

A few more spectacular pictures!



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