Our first night on Islay – The Lochindaal
Well here we are, we have arrived on this wonderful tranquil island that is Islay. We cannot encourage you guys enough to make a trip and drink in the beauty (and at this point I am not referring to drams – but that is another story) and purity of this wonderful place.
We have never been on Islay in February before, so were completely unsure of what the weather might be. We were fortunate to have a clear, but very frosty journey up to the Ferry at Kinnacraig with a varying temperature from -8 to +11 degrees. The sail was, as ever, a joy. As I have previously mentioned I cannot stop the involuntary smile that sits on my face from the moment I commence this journey. I have never travelled anywhere in the world that makes me feel so calm, tranquil and at one with the world.
So off the ferry and onwards to our destination of the School House in Port Charlotte. This time we stayed in the one bedroom accommodation which, like all the other apartments was well kitted our for all our needs. Once unpacked and settled in, we decided to pop out for a small refreshment to the Lochindaal Hotel. As it had been a long journey it was agreed we would just have one drink, go home have a bite to eat and off to bed.
The Lochandall – well there lies many a story. Since travelling to Islay over the past 20 years I have found this place a true enigma. If a movie was to be made of this hostelry it would be described as Fawlty Towers meets, Vicar of Dibley meets, meets Last of the Summer Wine. The place appears to be frequented with “exceptionally unusual” characters – one more excentric than the next”. One of the first features I noticed was the Lochindaal many years ago was that the bar was populated with a few young lads all dancing to the Juke Box which was playing Rawhide and Convoy – at that point I realised this place was truely in a time warp with music from WAY BACK. But, back to my current experience, we looked into the bar to find again a few young lads and one girl all dancing to Kenny Rodgers – as we were a bit jaded from the journey we thought we would upgrade and pop into the lounge. There we found a Kenny Rogers look alike (which was the reason the bar had decided to play such music). Jim asked for what beers were available, only for the bar man to say he didn’t know, I asked for a white wine, which he asked a lady on the otherside of the counter did the bar have any – may I add this guy as worked there for years. The other bar man was rushing around swearing under his breath and generally being cheesed off. A chap at the bar, who was covered in paint kept asking Jim if his was well off because he was buying a malt, and continually referred to him as “Big Man” – and then the “Strictly Kenny Rogers dancers” made there way into the lounge only to continue to boogie to Islands in the Stream. The Kenny Rogers look alike (please note this guy only had a white/grey beard and white/grey hair). At this point I had opted for a gin and tonic and had a serious fit of the giggles. I do not mean to ridicule these fine folks, but I did feel I was witnessing something surreal. Every trip to the Lochindaal leaves me feeling this way, just as on the day that there were Scandanavian visitors who had booked into stay, and whatever there issue was they were not too happy with the accommodation, in true Fawlty Towers style the bar man was really rude about their complaint only for another member of staff to suggest they find somewhere else to stay. The hard hitting humour from the Lochindaal is for me delightful and truely funny – I am sure Billy Connolly would love it.
On saying this – I would never, never never, go to Islay without a few visits to the Lochindaal as it always embelishes the trip.
Jackie Coleman (Whisky Wife)