Monday, June 8, 2015

The "take" on whisky friendships and Islay virgins!

Jo Lawson and I became friends through twitter and the #whiskyfabric that we all weave. I was fortunate enough to meet her last year while I was staying with Dave Alcock. We took advantage of the fact that many of the UK weavers lived within driving distance and we all went on a two car, one day trip to Wales to visit Penderyn of which I wrote about last year on my blog:

The minute I met Jo, I knew we would be friends for life. She is this bubbly, intelligent, kind and huge whisky enthusiast that loves life and you can't avoid how contagious that is!!!

When a few of us decided we would all go to Feis Ile 2015 this year, Jo stepped up to the plate, took the plunge and with no fear and a suitcase full of stuff met us on Friday May 22 to spend a full week with a bunch of crazy writers, bloggers, whisky nuts and putzes (is that a word?!). For all of us who got to spend time with her, I think I can easily say she touches way more than your heart.  There is an exuberance and craziness to her that gently rubs off and leaves you either laughing until your sides hurt or in tears when it's time to drop her off at the ferry.

Here's to you Jo! May your enthusiasm and love for everything #whiskyfabric be bestowed on many more fantastic people, for years to come.  Until next time my lovely whisky friend and sister!!! Slainté

I give you, Jo Lawson's take on her first big whisky trip:

"If I had to describe my first visit to Feis Ile in one word, that word would be FRIENDSHIP! Even right back in January when I started planning my trip, people I'd never met started offering me help, advice and support. This guidance was especially useful during the madness that is the activities booking process. I don't think I would have got on any tours without all their help. Getting to Islay continued this theme of friendship, as I travelled up with Steve and Jon in their hire car. Freely sharing their knowledge, gained on previous trips to both Speyside and Islay, I felt like I had my own personal tour guides.

On arrival at Islay House, for an evening of Jazz and whisky, old friendships were renewed and new ones
formed. This pattern continued throughout the Festival. Everywhere I went, I was greeted with smiles. People would just introduce themselves and start talking tome. Distillery staff would cheerily offer free drams and information. Nothing seemed like too much trouble for them. I was sharing a cottage with Johanne, Graham MacKenney, Angar and Thomas Speller, and my roomy for the week, Crystal Coverdale. 

As a Feis Ile virgin, I was depending on these people to guide me and they didn't let me down. They all proved to be some of the most generous and kind people I have ever met. Taking me to distilleries, showing me the sights and giving me sample bottles, empty and full! Linked by a love of whisky and a desire to share their knowledge and passion with others, this feeling of unconditional friendship just seems to be the norm for the #whiskyfabric. I have learnt so much on this trip, both from distillery tours and just by talking to people. I have visited every distillery on the island, seen the similarities and differences and loved every minute. 

Sharing a cottage with people with such a breadth of whisky knowledge was an education. They are not experts, they're just a bit further along their whisky journeys than I am and happy to show me the different paths my future journey could take.
On our final evening together, I shared a short poem, that I had written, with my cottage mates. I now dedicate it to all the wonderful #whiskyfabric people I met on Islay.

A toast to Islay:

Like a golden river flowing, it's amber heart a-glowing,
Clinging to the glass, it's water with class,
Sharing a dram with good friends, as another day ends,
It's peat fire, not coal, that brings peace to my soul.

Slainte Mhah X

Thank you Jo for sharing your love, thoughts and lovely photos about Feis Ile.  

Lassie, out... for now ;)


  1. 9 hours in a coma, on a ventilator then 3 days in intensive care, following the birth of my first and only child has made me realise life needs to be lived now, because tomorrow may not happen.
    If you're thinking of attending Feis Ile next year, my advice would be, just go for it! The #whiskyfabric will be there for you, if you need help. �� Jo Lawson x

  2. Lovely sentiments on all counts

  3. Inspirational. Thanks.