Do something you’ve never done before

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is on Film4 as I write this. I’m at home, desperately trying to see off a virus that has been with me for almost 2 weeks now.

It’s one of my favourite films – I love the music, I love the clothes, I love Audrey and I love the thought of a transient life in New York with no furniture.

One of my favourite scenes is where Holly and Fred/Paul head off for a day out together doing things they’ve never done before. I started thinking about days I’ve had like this where you aren’t quite sure what is going to happen and then when you look back, you realise not much actually did happen in the grand scheme of things and yet it’s one of those days you’ll never forget.

Back in May this year, I ran my first ultramarathon – the Kintyre Way Ultra, or rather the half distance 35.5 mile version. This was actually the first day of a week’s holiday in Kintyre, and later in the week we took the boat over to Islay in search of whisky. Or rather I did. R doesn’t drink whisky, but was happy to come exploring.

It was a grey and soggy morning, but the sun did make an occasional appearance and we were treated to some stunning rainbows as the ferry left Kennacraig.

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The boat trip was a good couple of hours long, but it went very quickly. Neither of us had been out this way before, and it was a great opportunity to just sit and watch the world go by.

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We arrived in Port Ellen and thought “now what?” as it was pretty quiet. We ended up in the Islay Hotel for lunch, and got chatting to the bar manager.

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I’d asked what the road was like to walk and whether we’d be annoying the locals by getting in the way. Despite him saying it would be fine and they were used to tipsy tourists wandering along, he very kindly offered us a lift to the nearest distilleries. This being Scotland, we didn’t quite know each other but his wife had taught at the primary school just down the road from where I live.

Laphroaig, Lagavullin and Ardbeg are very close together and as I wanted to go to Ardbeg the most and it’s the furthest away, we started here.

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To summarise, we should have booked as we’d either just missed a tour or it was full. We traipsed up and down the road in the pouring rain, and ended up back where we started for a later tour. Fortunately, we both found this hilarious. Even more fortunately, it was worth it because to kill some time, we decided to have cake and coffee in the cafe, and the sticky toffee pudding was the best I’ve ever eaten.

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I’d become acquainted with Ardbeg while I was in Applecross another lifetime ago, I couldn’t remember which one I’d tried but it’s fair to say it had knocked my socks off in the very best possible way.

After the excellent tour, and almost having my nose blown off my face as I breathed in while I was in the wash room, we tucked into some sampling. Or rather I did, and I had R’s share too. I only had to sniff the first glass to know it was the same as I’d drunk in the Applecross Inn. Corryvreckan is quite a special whisky, and I could have sat and listened to all the stories for as long as the guide could keep telling them.

However we had a 3 1/2 mile quick march back to Port Ellen, and just under an hour to make the boat.

We got soaked. Our running waterproofs did the job on the top half but our jeans didn’t stand a chance. I was rather giggly after all the whisky. I don’t think I fell over but I am happy to admit I probably didn’t walk in the straightest of lines. Both of us laughed a lot, mostly at the thought of spending hours on a boat and hours walking in the rain.

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We made the boat. The sun had come out a little, but the damage had been done and my hair was doing its best wild woman impression. But I love this picture, because I have such wonderful memories of that day.

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The trip home was beautiful. We sailed at 6pm and loved watching the sun set as we turned into West Loch Tarbert. The sky was still filled with storm clouds, but the sun was breaking through and reflecting off the calm water. This was very gently stirred by the boat, and the whole combination created a stunning molten metal appearance.

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Some may dream of Caribbean cruises but for me, I’d take this every time and I often shut my eyes thinking of Islay. I can’t wait to go back to see more of it, and of course to drink more whisky.

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