21 October 2011--At breakfast this morning, I tell our host that the reason we have chosen to stay in Bruichladdich is proximity to the
Port Charlotte Hotel, in my opinion the best place to eat and drink in Islay. He readily concurs, but tells us he has a long-standing beef with
the place. The wood carvings over the bar [see yesterday's photos], replications of some well-known grave slabs and other stone carvings, are
his work, commissioned by the hotel. He tells us that, while he was properly paid for his work, part of the agreement was that the hotel would
mount a small plaque on the wall, crediting him for it. There is no plaque. I've had my eye out for something to use as the wallpaper for this
year's journal, and one of these carvings fits the bill. He very cheerfully gives me permission to do so. (The PC Hotel owns the works,
but never mind.) I'm glad to tell you that the artist's name is John Gamble, of the Anchorage B&B in Bruichladdich. The original
medieval stonecarver is, alas, unknown and unavailable.
We go back up to Finlaggan this morning, taking the back road from Bridgend to Ballygrant via Mulindry. I doubt many tourists ever pass this way, since it doesn't lead to any distilleries or anything else of particular interest. It's a lovely drive, even in the blustery weather, through a seemingly hidden corner of the island, a reminder that traveling isn't just about getting from point A to point B.
At Finlaggan, we pay our admission fee and take our pick of the wellies. I jam my size 13s into the largest pair I can find, which I'd guess are ten-and-a-halfs, and teeter on down the path. It's hard to picture this little island as the administrative center of such a vast domain as the Lordship of the Isles, but the museum, expanded a few years ago, helps us to put it all in perspective.
Ron draws dirty wellie duty--I can't pry off my too-tight pair myself.
We stop briefly in the nearby village of Keills to look at an ancient cross shaft. For most tourists arriving at Port Askaig, Keills is nothing more than a short stretch of reduced speed on the way to the junction at Bridgend. Then we drive back down to Port Charlotte, intending to visit the Museum of Islay Life, which was closed for renovation the last time I was here. Now it's closed for the season. On to Portnahaven, where we have lunch at An Tigh Seinnse.
Worn down by the dismal weather, we return to the B&B for a restful afternoon. Early dinner at the PC Hotel, and early to bed.