Excerpts from issue 43/08 6 February 2016

charles claudel

Charles Claudel of Maison Claudel, a wine bar in Paris that has just commenced selling Islay Ales. Charles is a frequent visitor to Islay and proudly displays the arrival of his Islay Ales shipment that arrived during the first week of February

Photo: islaystudios

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High School teacher set for a fling Down Under

Laura Callan writes:
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo marches Down Under to perform in Melbourne, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand for the first time, where more than 1200 performers will gather to delight audiences with a blend of military pomp, music and highland dancing. Highland dancer and teacher of Physical Education at Islay High School, Rebecca Gibson, is set to represent Scotland at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Australia and New Zealand.
The Tattoo will be performed in Melbourne and Wellington for the first time in its 65 year history between 12 and 18 February. The backdrop of the show will be a full size replica of the Edinburgh Castle, complete with working drawbridge flanked by statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. It will feature Massed Pipes and Drums of Scotland's famous Regiments; the UK's best precision drill teams; Highland dancers and fiddlers from around the world, making it one of the biggest entertainment events ever staged. With its unique, stirring blend of military ceremony, music and entertainment, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is phenomenally popular, attracting an annual television audience of 100 million.
No stranger to the spotlight, Rebecca began Highland dancing at the tender age of three. Although now retired from competition, she has had a very successful career competing and placing at national championships across the country and was also selected to represent her county of Ayrshire at the Junior, Juvenile and Adult stages.
Here on Islay, Rebecca continues to train hard to continue to dance as part of these iconic events with her most recent being the Basel Tattoo 2015 and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2015. It was from these events she was selected by the dance director as one of only twenty dancers to represent Scotland by participating in the performances in Australia and New Zealand.
Rebecca said, "I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my country at this prestigious event and I am excited to meet the rest of the team and to show the Aussies and the Kiwis what Scotland and Highland Dancing has to offer."
Since moving to Islay in 2014, Rebecca assists at the Ella Edgar dance class on a Saturday mornings at Bowmore Hall where her upcoming adventure has caused quite a stir.
S1 pupil and avid Highland dancer, Breagh Woodrow, said, "It is really inspirational to all the Islay dancers, that Miss Gibson has earned the opportunity to travel so far away to represent Scotland, especially as only twenty dancers have been chosen to perform."

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New light and new faces at Finlaggan

Garry MacLean writes:
Last month's AGM gave members of the Finlaggan Trust the opportunity to reflect on a year filled with highs and lows.
While not quite able to match the record visitor numbers of the 2014 season, it seems that a damp and dreary Islay summer did little to dissuade a healthy number of intrepid visitors from making their way to Finlaggan.
Although we greatly value each and every visitor we receive, this year we were pleased to be able to host the visit of one visitor in particular. In June the current holder of the title Lord of the Isles", His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, made his first visit to the site long associated with the title. But with the high times, often comes the low.
The lowest point for the Trust came in August with the sudden and unexpected passing of Mrs Gina McAuslan. Gina was a long standing member of the Management Committee, and had served as both Secretary and Chair. The dedication and energy she brought to the running of Finlaggan will be sorely missed.
The AGM also provided the opportunity for the Trust to bring some new faces into the fold. This resulted in Helen Brown and Garry MacLean joining Donald Bell, Helen McSkimming, Lynn MacDonald, Andrew McCowan, David McLellan, Rona MacKenzie, Jean MacKay, Donald MacKenzie and Mairead MacKechnie on the Committee. From our number, it was decided that the office bearers for the 2016 season would be as follows: Donald Bell, Chairman; Helen McSkimming, Treasurer; and yours truly as Secretary.
We would like to thank Dr David Caldwell, the lead archaeologist on the 1990-97 excavations, for his continued involvement with Finlaggan and for bringing the AGM to a close by giving an insightful talk titled "New Light on Finlaggan" in which he described some thoughts and conclusions from his forthcoming final report and book.
With the rollercoaster that was 2015 behind us, we are looking forward to the beginning of the 2016 season on 27 March and will soon be advertising for staff to help us make it a season to remember.
You can find out more about Finlaggan by visiting our new website, www.finlaggan.org.

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Is it really getting wetter?

asks Willy Inglis, Islay Estates
rainfall In simple terms, the answer is yes. What we have seen this winter is wetter than average with 745.2mm of rain falling between 1 November 2015 and 31 January 2016; this compares to an average of 564.3mm for the same period over the last five years. The winter of 2010-11 was particularly dry, and without this, the average is 607mm - which still makes this winter 22.7% higher.
If one looks at annual figures, the average from 2011-2015 is 1590mm and for the period 2006-2010 the average is 1405mm. The graph shows what happens if we look at the rolling average of rainfall since 1952, the average has increased from 1200mm to 1500mm.
These measurements are taken from Eallabus Garden in Bridgend; they are therefore subject to local conditions and the vagaries of the vegetation around the rain gauge. However, Andrew Watson deserves credit for checking the levels every day and recording them. His work shows that it is, indeed getting wetter on Islay.
A New Record
Some readers may have seen that Islay holds the record for rainfall on 89 consecutive days in 1923; at the time of writing, the last day that it did not rain on Islay was 3rd November 2015 according to the records at Eallabus. That makes it a new record as I write this on Monday 1st February 2016 because it is raining again today!

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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE 20 February 2016

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islay info

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islay community council

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Islay Diary 2016

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