I love the Scottish Islands, the fact that they are all so different in terms of topography, culture, history, landscape, geology, wildlife, golf courses and accents. If you asked me what my favourite island was, I couldn’t say – I may fantasise about living on Canna but Arran is very special to me. Although only a recent visitor, I have been back several times. One of the good things about Arran is that it is easy to get to. From where I live, up the M6 into Scotland, not far past Glasgow is Ardrossan – not a place for a holiday but a good port for Arran. It has an extremely large Asda near the harbour where you can stock up on provisions or have a coffee while waiting for the boat. An hour across the water and you are in Brodrick, the capital, the home of Arran’s Crazy Golf and a great fish and chip shop.
In the north of Arran is Lochranza where the Arran Distillery is. This is an unusual distillery in that it was founded and built in 1995; prior to that, the last distillery closed in 1837. The distillery was started in 1994 but was put on hold because a pair of golden eagles built a nest on the hill behind the distillery; golden eagles are a protected species so building was called to a halt until the eagles moved on.
This tea towel is a classic cream cotton with dark green drawings. The central drawing is of the distillery surrounded by four drawings of various stages of the process of making whiskey. At the top, near the title ‘The Arran Malt’ is a pair of golden eagles.
I love distilleries, not because I drink whiskey but because of the smell, the atmosphere, the stills, the copper cauldrons for distilling whiskey, the gift shops, the rows and rows of bottles of whiskey of varying ages. My husband used to collect miniature whiskies; when I see a distillery I have to buy a miniature, forgetting I gave away the whole of his collection of over 100 miniatures to my friend Lynn. So when I bought a miniature Arran Malt, it had to be a present for her. Arran Distillery mainly produces a single malt of 10, 12, 14 and 18 years.
Using this tea towel, reminds me of the day I visited Arran Distillery. It was an Open Day with craft stalls, cake stalls, bouncy castles, hog roasts, fundraising stalls run by the local school; it was definitely a Family Day Out. It was packed with both locals and tourists. It was great fun. It was a warm, sunny day until towards the end of the day when it poured with rain. At the sight of rain we made a quick exit, only to stop on the way back at a cafe with a knitwear shop next door where I had the best haggis and cheese toasted sandwich, the memory of which I treasure and which I have never been able to replicate. That toasted sandwich rounded up the day for me.
I’m always disappointed that I don’t drink whiskey because there is as much ritual around whiskey drinking as there is around tea drinking. I will content myself with the tea drinking ritual and use the tea towel as a reminder of a lovely day out in Arran.
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