Nowhere else in the world is the New Year heralded with so much passion as in Scotland, so they say. Hogmanay, which the Scots celebrate on New Year’s eve, is celebrated as only the Scots know how, with beer and whisky, a rendering of Auld Lang Syne on the stroke of midnight, and a lot more whisky, so it seemed …
Port Charlotte, Islay
Three Singaporeans and two Englishman hardly sounds like exciting company, and it did seem so for five days or so – especially when large parts of the days were spent holed up in a tiny cold cottage set along the windswept shore of Port Charlotte on the isle of Islay. Visits to a round church in Bowmore, made so that there were no corners for the devil to hide in, a couple of distilleries, and a hail interrupted trek to catch a glimpse of winter geese in the west of the island with only the bags we were carrying to shelter us didn’t feel quite so exciting as well.
The Round Church at Bowmore, Islay
The highlight of the week we did spend in Port Charlotte might have been the Ceilidh, if not for what the experience the village’s pub was to provide on Hogmanay and into the wee hours of the New Year. Still with pint glasses from the beers we were drinking, the atmoshpere was to change on the stroke of midnight as the strains of Auld Lang Syne rung out. There was a buzz of excitement and through the smoke filled pub air, lo and behold, we could see what did seem like all the whisky bottles in the pub, laid out on a long table – left for all in the pub to indulge in. It wasn’t long before single malts were being downed by the pint, our glasses refilled almost magically the moment we did empty them (when no one was looking into a drain where we were seated by outside the pub). It was probably about 2 or so in the morning, when we noticed one of our mates had gone missing – we assumed he was sleeping in some dark corner of the pub and didn’t think much more of it. We did eventually find him when staggering back from the pub at dawn, we stumbled onto our missing mate, sprawled across the flowerbed outside the cottage. The temperature must have been close to zero, and how he did not show any hint of suffering from hypothermia after four hours out cold in the cold eluded us – it was perhaps his rather expensive fleece jacket that saved him, or maybe all those pints of whisky he must have downed!
Our adventures on Islay did not go unnoticed