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ritchey 4 axis 44 stem ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"i've moved my money into an offshore account. on colonsay."

©2019 the mighty dave t, is a prendas sponsored rider and le patron of the thoroughly decent fellows.


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cafe du cycliste

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the rhythm method

buddy rich - just in time

american jazz big band drummer, buddy rich, died on 2 april 1987, and in november 1986, he played ronnie scott's club in london, two evening concerts that were captured by the rolling stones mobile recording studio. for reasons i know not, that recording, the last ever made by rich, was only released a matter of days ago, rather aptly entitled 'just in time'. as a rich aficionado, i have both the digital and vinyl editions of the album (i know, i know), the quality of which easily supersedes the majority of the band's previous output, to the extent where it is easily possible to hear buddy 'feathering' the bass drum pedal throughout the concert.

this is a feature of many a jazz drummer, particularly those of the swing persuasion, where the bass drum is played relatively quietly on all beats of the bar, both to maintain a steady tempo and to propel the band. only last week, i watched a video masterclass by one of buddy rich's peers, mel lewis, in which he enquired of his audience, when they thought it prudent to play the bass drum. he went on to direct that , assuming they were playing within a jazz idiom, that this ought to take place on, as stated above, each beat of the bar. he did point out that this was considerably less common amongst 'bebop' drummers, who were more inclined to 'drop bombs' with the bass drum in order to add a greater level of syncopation to their rhythms.

if all this means less than nothing, fear not, for all will be revealed below.

last weekend, while participating in the sunday ride, i was accompanied by only one other stalwart of the islay cycling community, who was every bit as stupid as was i, to ride in winds veering towards 80kph, augmented by both horizontal rain and hailstones. while i wouldn't recommend this at home, we are somewhat practised in the art of just when it is safe to do so, and when not (as on the saturday afternoon as i write, when the gusts are closer to 100kph). headwinds are merely gruntwork, but crosswinds can easily push you into the path of following or oncoming traffic; to ride in those conditions would be nuts.

as the two of us headed back towards debbie's for a well-earned coffee, we had to endure around 5km of galeforce headwinds, pretty much where the gruntwork comes into play. my colleague, who is more than just a few years my junior, and commutes around 30km per day, gradually pulled ahead, while i had little option but to watch his flashing tail light disappear into the distance, unable to pedal any harder. however, before that red light became a distant object, i valiantly attempted to keep up, with sporadic bursts of quicly receding energy, ultimately accepting my fate and dropping to a slower, yet steadier pace.

and here, perhaps is where i might have taken greater heed of the world's greatest drummer. though i confess this is one of those 'honours degree in hindsight' moments, yet to be put into practice, thus generating solid, reliable evidence. though i still think it unlikely i would have maintained pace with my obviously fitter colleague, easing into a more solid swing rhythm of gruntwork might well have paid greater dividends in the longer term, as opposed to those misconceived and laughably inconsistent bursts of so-called speed. obviously, when you're beat, you're beat, but had i paid a tad more attention to this swing tempo during non-sunday morning rides, i may have fared more propitiously when push turned to shove.

after all, the album just in time lasts a commendable one hour, 45 minutes, the final piece of which is entitled 'good news', during which buddy plays a lengthy, jaw-dropping drum solo, with every bit as much control and gusto as observed on the opening track 'wind machine'. which, now that i come to think of it, will probably be my signature tune for the rest of what promises to be a stormy winter.

sunday 15 december 2019

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wabi woolens ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

an altogether different bubble

h&m delivery service

disappointingly, my taurus corinto 'proper' bike, with its stirrup brakes, sturmey archer three-speed and brooks sprung saddle, has languished in the depths of the bike shed for nigh on two years. it's a particularly delightful bicycle, despite reaching almost three times the uci's minimum weight limit and something of a struggle on anything more than a 2% gradient, but it has been let down by its wheels, or, more specifically, the spokes.

the last time it saw daylight, i had managed only a couple of hundred metres, before a loud 'tinkling' sound alerted something to be amiss in the rotational department. when spokes break, they usually do so at one end or another, very rarely in the middle, unless hit with something. however, on the corinto, several spokes had broken in this manner, having become overly brittle while hibernating for the winter. my immediate intention had been to strip out all the spokes and send rims and hubs to derek mclay at wheelsmith, in order that the wheels might be rebuilt by an avowed expert in the black art.

unfortunately, procrastination is strong in our family, and the taurus still remains towards the rear of the shed, with wheels that would scarcely assist in its forward propulsion. it's a bit of a pity, for, despite my receiving all manner of glamorous carbon fibre over the years, the taurus has been responsible for more positive comments from non-cyclists, than all the others put together. if there's a common denominator to those comments, it would be in the use of the words 'proper' and 'bike'.

many years ago, a colleague and i actually sold bicycles on islay, predominantly those originating from taiwan-based 'giant'. within their trade catalogue of the time, were at least two proper bikes, machines that we thought might resonate with the local populace, based on comments from prospective purchasers. so we enquired about stocking one or two, only to be told that said bicycles were unavailable in the uk, apparently due to a lack of demand.

the velocipedinal world has changed somewhat since the early nineties, both by way of the bradley bubble and the current fuss surrounding climate change. thus, take a walk through any of the major cycling retailers, and there's every chance you'd be able to acquire several variations on the 'proper bike', which hopefully, you wouldn't leave lying in the shed for a couple of years. however, since there has been little noticeable change in the hebridean climate of late, i don't hold out too much hope of seeing any on my way to debbie's.

yet there has been somethng a sea-change in the use of bicycles across europe, if not the world, predominantly as a result of the aforementioned 'climate change', a situation that provides as many questions as answers. it's not so long ago that i reported on parcel delivery firm dpd who have elected to trial electric delivery vehicles based on a bicycle style chassis, mostly for pragmatic and carbon reducing reasons. now comes the news that fashion retailer h&m are offering 'next day delivery' using cargo bikes, in the netherlands. their head of sustainability, pascal brun said, " (We) hope (our customers) will love this new climate-smart way of getting their fashion finds delivered to their homes..."

there's little doubt, in the light of current circumstances, that this might not only be perceived as a clever marketing move, but also one likely to reduce costs and, ultimately, h&m's carbon footprint. but it does beggar the question that, if the bicycle has always been as practical a transport solution as so many are now confirming, why has it taken a climate scare to move folks in this direction? i am well aware that battery technology has improved substantially in recent years (dpd would not have had access to their current delivery solution even three years ago), but cycle couriers seem less prevalent nowadays than was the case around ten years ago, proof, at the time, that the bicycle was an efficient, pragmatic solution to inner city and urban delivery demands.

h&m has stated that it aims to become "climate positive by 2040". it's just a shame that it has seemingly taken potential disaster to create a new bicycle bubble.

photo: bikebiz.com

saturday 14 december 2019

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this is cambridge

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rapha pro team insulated gore-tex jacket

rapha pro team goretex insulated jacket

it's hard to feel sorry for the average professional cyclist, particularly at world tour level. let's face it, they get to ride their bicycles pretty much every day of the year, they probably get paid more than you and i, and visit more countries in a year than most of us will manage in a lifetime. the downside, for which we feel no sympathy whatsoever, is that it is, essentially, a job, bringing with it everything that a job entails. and i don't doubt we all know what that's about, no matter how much fun it was when first recruited.

rapha pro team goretex insulated jacket

the other part for which we probably feel no sympathy, is having to ride in all weathers, no matter how wet, cold or windy. and despite having been promised that 'outside is free', not everyone is willing to exploit that fact when it's raining on the sitting room window. the rise and rise of indoor apps like zwift have made the latter an ever more attractive option for some, where the word 'option' equates to that of 'excuse'. even rapha ceo, simon mottram was quoted earlier this week, saying "...I do use Zwift inside because I think it's quite helpful", having often repeated his mantra of endearing the world to the joys of road-racing, most of which takes place in the free outdoors.

rapha pro team goretex insulated jacket

but, for those of us who have a hankering to find out what it's like to get out of bed every morning and clothe ourselves in lycra and sportwool, before heading into the wide, grey yonder, no matter how onerous the precipitation inhabiting the darkness, perhaps the best means of exploring such possibilities is to sign up (physically or metaphorically) for rapha's annual festive 500, a challenge which has commenced on christmas eve for the past nine years. it's either comforting or worrying, how soon you can get into the habit of laying out kit the evening before, and heading out first thing the following morning, without first checking the weather. however, to make the latter part a more equitable reality, it's surely incumbent upon the intrepid 'festiver' to ensure availability of the finest weather proofing on offer.

rapha pro team goretex insulated jacket

for this year's 'festive 500', hanging on the back of the spare bedroom door, is rapha's recently released pro team insulated gore-tex jacket, one of three collaborations between the two parties.

this top-of-the-range, state-of-the-art example of weatherproof garmentage, features gore's 'shakedry', a highly breathable material that attempts to bypass at least one of the weak-links inherent in the average breathable waterproofs, by forming the outer waterproof shell. the majority of breathable waterproofs feature the membrane beneath a durable water repellency (dwr) treated outer fabric. however, after several washes, the latter becomes less able to shuffle-off the dangers of saturation, and when that happens, the breathable membrane is placed under duress. placing the membrane on the outside, removes this potential weak-spot.

rapha pro team goretex insulated jacket

however, this means that, in this case, the goretex shakedry is exposed to any and all potential wear and scuffing. for this reason, rapha advise that it ought not to be accessorised with a backpack or rucksack.

but then again, this is rapha's pro team, a constituent part of a range designed for athletic prowess, rather than cycling to and from work, college, or the supermarket. of its heritage, you will be in no doubt, for the jacket veers perilously close to 'spray-on' territory. i have found and commented on, several items from the pro team range to be rather close-fitting at the hem. given that my pro team wardrobe is inhabited by medium-size jerseys and jackets and i have a narrow 30" waist, even then it can occasionally be struggle to have the two sides of the zip meet each other in the middle, particularly if the jersey pockets are, ever so slightly, overpopulated. while the gore-tex jacket fits exceptionally well over all, an extra centimetre of circumference certainly wouldn't have gone amiss at the hem.

rapha pro team goretex insulated jacket

and should your pro team status require that you carry coffee money, mini-pump, spare gloves and, perchance a compact digital camera, all can be easily accessed via zips situated on each side of the jacket. it looks as if it might prove to be something of a faff, especially if mitted-up for the weather. additionally, the full-length (and then some) front zip, works both ways, so heavier cargo can be implanted without removing the jacket so to do.

there are two features of this jacket worth making a song and dance about: the 'polartec alpha' insulation and an all encompassing hood. i tried out the former on a bright, sunny day, when my colleague's garmin indicated minus three degrees without taking into account a modest level of wind-chill. the pink, fluffy insulation seems barely capable of providing the level of insulation experienced, but let me assure you it is capable in the extreme. even on wet, windy, yet relatively mild days, should any form of mechanical malfeasance interrupt your festive riding, that inherent cosiness will keep any thoughts of hypothermia at bay, while you deal with the immediate problem, even if it's only phoning for assistance.

rapha pro team goretex insulated jacket

the hood, while not a deal-breaker, may not, at first, appeal to everyone. in fact, i'm happy to admit, it didn't actually appeal to me at all, not least because there seems no way of having it meld into the jacket when not being worn in the up position. this is predominantly due to two factors: the hood is not detachable (for very good reason) and the front zip extends from the hem, all the way to the lower portion of the hood. however, riding in severe gales and horizontal hailstones, that 'gore-tex stretch' hood moved from being questionably desirable, all the way to being necessitous. the fact that it fits over a winter cap and under a helmet improves the festive quality of velocipedinal life immeasurably.

rapha pro team goretex insulated jacket

with the zip fully extended and the hood in the up position, the lower portion sits on your chin, pretty much the best protection you'll get from the elements, short of wearing a full-face helmet. mind you, it can also reach to just below the nose, making breathing an all but impossible task.

despite my earlier contention that an extra centimetre of waist might be a good idea, the lower back fabric is also built from 'gore-tex stretch' to accommodate pocket bulk. the gusset inserts on the zipped forearms and cuffs also take their heritage from the world of 'gore-tex stretch'. the latter obviates any likelihood of having to fit bulky, waterproof gloves over the cuffs, rather than underneath. that way, any precipitation will affect only the outer shell of the glove, rather than drip into the interior.

rapha pro team goretex insulated jacket

and there's a collar loop with which to hang it on a coat hook.

it almost seems pointless to conclude this review by mentioning that after nearly three hours in sub-zero galeforce windchill and rain, i was not only comfortably warm, but impeccably dry. it's a wee bit of a shame that a garment intended to be worn in the very worst of the weather is only available in black, rather than something a tad more visible. there are occasional examples of reflectivity, but nonetheless, more would have been welcome. but ultimately, if you have no objections, i'll simply quote from rapha's website; even though they said it, i fully concur.

"it was once said, in cycling, there is no such thing as bad weather - just the wrong clothing. with the pro team insulated gore-tex jacket, there is no such thing as bad weather."

the rapha pro team gore-tex insulated jacket is available in sizes ranging from xs to xxl, in black only at a retail cost of £320

rapha pro team gore-tex insulated jacket

friday 13 december 2019

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wheelsmith ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

it's a steal

stolen bicycle

though it's a situation that occurs less and less these days, it was once not entirely uncommon for bicycles to disappear from islay gardens overnight, eventually appearing elsewhere as if by means of a star trek transport device. though somewhat inconvenient for the child or adult owners of said bicycles, assuming the velocipedes had remained in the same village (not always a given), a neighbour would usually alert the injured party as to the new location. guilty in almost each and every case, was usually a returnee from a particularly heavy session in a pub, the night before. however, generally speaking, and aside from one or two isolated incidents, the hebrides tend to be relatively crime-free.

however, acquaintances of mine in a town far, far away, owners of not particularly expensive bicycles, had all four resident in the bike shed, stolen over the course of a single evening. though insurance paid for their replacements, they subsequently required those to be firmly locked to steel brackets anchored to the bike shed floor, when not in use. i seriously doubt theirs could be considered an isolated incident; no doubt many of you have experienced similar losses over the years. it's a crying shame that there is a despicable minority who have no respect for the possessions of others, or for the days, months and years they may have worked to earn sufficient money to acquire those prides and joys.

such is the nature of contemporary society, a situation that is hardly likely to improve in coming years. what makes it worse (if that's possible), is that many of those who nick bicycles, have no interest in cycling whatsoever.

however, there's little doubt that stealing bikes from the bikeshed or garage, will only ever result in acquisition of pre-owned machinery. surely there is greater profit to be had by stealing bicycles still cossetted in bubble-wrap, inside sealed cardboard boxes? and to make matters more lucrative, steal those boxes from a cycle retailer, and chances are there will be a greater number available all in one place at the same time. all you need, i'd imagine, is a big, white van and a total lack of any scruples.

according to police, that's precisely how 60 bicycles, worth in excess of £100,000, were stolen from a bicycle shop in glenrothes, a small town, north of kirkcaldy on scotland's east coast. two days ago, in a crime that police scotland described as 'despicable', thieves took cannondale, specialized, bianchi and giant, road, mountain and hybrid bicycles, stuffed them, brand new and boxed, into the back of a 'white, luton-type van', and made off. these were all brand new and still boxed.

but, particularly if you're in receipt of any bicycle trade magazines, you'll be aware that this is hardly an isolated incident. unfortunately, bike shops are targeted by thieves several times each year, so why would i find it necessary to make mention of this particular incident, other than as a result of the high value of the stolen bicycles?

well, with just under two weeks to go until santa visits each and every dwelling across the world, it's highly likely, according to police, that the timing of this particular theft isn't entirely co-incidental. would you be inclined to ask questions if, in the course of trying to purchase a new bicycle for christmas, someone offered you a £1500 specialized for £500? i'm sure most of us would tend to emit a loud guffaw before adopting the moral high-ground, but if push came to shove...? thus, police scotland have urged people (and this means you), to be aware of anyone offering new bikes for sale in the run-up to christmas, particularly if the price seems too good to be true. should this occur, i'd recommend that you call the police, before they call you in connection with 'receiving stolen goods'.

police crimestoppers: - call 101

thursday 12 december 2019

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prendas ciclismo ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

open all ours

campagnolo chrome big corkscrew

a fact that often leads to endless and risible periods of humour, is my living on an island that features nine malt whisky distilleries, yet being teetotal. nobody seems to find it at all of consequence that many others of those domiciled on the island, are less than enamoured of the amber liquid, while still enjoying a beer, lager or even one of the local botanical gins. for my own part, this has been a lifelong state of affairs; yes, when i was too young to drink, i inveigled the occasional alcoholic beverage, but i can truthfully state that i didn't enjoy any of them.

a bit like smoking cigarettes, i really couldn't see the point, but most of my friends at the time assured me that a consummate level of persistence would ensure that, ultimately, i'd learn to enjoy almost any drink on which i settled. however, given that i was already quite enamoured of tropicana orange juice (with bits), quite why i would wish to persist with beverages that presented themselves distastefully on first appraisal, was beyond my ken.

campagnolo chrome big corkscrew

the last time i partook of an alcoholic beverage was on the very day that i arrived in town to attend college. aprés matriculation, a few of us visited a local hostelry and i was proffered a half-pint shandy, a drink that i failed to finish.

since those days (college wasn't exactly yesterday's news), the world of whisky has followed that of wine, a situation leading to endless masterclasses, and an entire branch of waterstones full of books about whisky (which, odd to relate, almost all commence with an explanation of just how water, yeast and barley are combined into an obessesive dram). on arrival here in late 1987, only one distillery eagerly offered visitors the opportunity to tour (bowmore), while the others sniggered behind demonstrably closed doors. unless you knew someone who knew someone, there was no way you'd tour laphroaig or lagavulin.

campagnolo chrome big corkscrew

a good friend of mine, sadly departed, once told me that the distillery shop at his place of employ now sold more whisky over the course of a year than was realised in the country of japan. nowadays, every distillery worth its salt has an impressive visitor centre and extensive tours, ranging from the basic, to the all day trek to the water-source and peat banks. but there is one marked, yet simple difference between quality wines and bottles of single-malt: the cork.

for no matter how elaborate the packaging in which that water, barley and yeast is contained (and several are extravagantly so), whisky is always opened with either a screw top or an easily removable cork stopper. many wines, on the other hand, need some mechanical assistance to pull an interference-fit cork from the neck of the bottle, a cork that has little chance of being easily replaced. i am, of course, talking about the corkscrew, an implement of which i have commendably little experience.

campagnolo chrome big corkscrew

this latter fact is quite fortuitous, for on the rare occasions when i have been called upon to open a bottle of wine of this nature, it has rarely gone well. as far as i can discover, corkscrews are not exactly infallible. that said, those with which i have come into contact, have rarely been sourced from the pricier end of the sales table. that, however, is doubtless entirely in keeping with one who chooses wine (when invited to do so) on the attractiveness of the label on the bottle. but despite this aversion to alcohol, i have an unfathomable desire to own one particular corkscrew, a desire that has just multiplied over the past couple of days.

campagnolo chrome big corkscrew

campagnolo manufacture one of the most renowned, revered and substantially-sized corkscrews in the world, an item of impeccable manufacture that recently resurfaced after years of obscurity and latent aspiration. were that not enough, in and of itself, vicenza has now released a chromed version just in time for christmas. despite my total distaste for the juice of the grape, i confirm that there would be one impressively sat on my hypothetical wine cupboard, even as we speak. not even the hefty price tag (€199) would have kept such a sum in my bank account.

i have owned more than a single example of a campagnolo alloy rear derailleur from the halcyon years, purely on the basis of their artistic and engineering merit. potential ownership of campagnolo's the big corkscrew could easily be justified on a similar basis. for those of you enamoured of twelve-speeds, ergopower and wheels with the word bora displayed on the rim, now you know what to ask santa for.

campagnolo 'the big chrome corkscrew'

wednesday 11 december 2019

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campagnolo

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a good education

teaser

the late steve jobs, a bit like peter falk's columbo, was renowned for ending (or, in truth, beginning) his keynote speeches with the phrase "oh, and one more thing", at which point, he would unveil a product that had completely escaped the furtive investigations of the national and international press. his successor, aside from no longer observing the keynote mantra, seems to have been less successful in maintaining a similar shroud of secrecy, prior to unveiling any new products on his watch.

that said, we can only assume that secrecy is not a part of tim cook's strategic plan. perhaps gaining advance knowledge of forthcoming items of apple desire was the plan all along, that while we are quick to disparage the gent in comparison to the all-seeing steve jobs, in fact, we have fallen into his cunning trap.

almost two decades ago, i was the drummist in a relatively successful, islay-based blues band. though the chance of world stardom was never on the cards, due to the founding member being manager of one of the island's teaser pre-eminent distilleries, it wasn't hard to gain invitations to play venues in which we would normally have remained persona non grata. however, the nature of his employer's grand business plan inevitably resulted in his islay tenure drawing to a close, followed by a move to a mainland distillery.

with several years' mild success and a substantial set-list behind us, he was loathe to see the remaining members drift apart, depriving the hallowed isle of its menu of blues songs. in order to set the scene for this proposed continuation, during a band rehearsal, he took me aside and confided that he was looking to me to keep the blues flag flying, that i ought best to substitute my own persona in place of his guidance. honoured that i should be singled out for this prestigious task, particularly when bestowed upon a 'mere' drummer, i promised to do my very best.

of course, if you were to bear in mind that the man was the highly successful manager of a flagship distillery, the knowledge that he possessed particularly advanced management skills would probably not come as a teaser great surprise. sad to relate, it was an observation that escaped every one of the remaining members of the band, until several years later when an opportune conversation revealed that he appeared to have had the same talk with all of us. meaning that, for a lengthy period of time, each one of us had continued under the misapprehension that each was the sole strategist behind the band's longevity.

so, in the light that i (along with many others, i must assume), have been made privy to an announcement due in the new year, no doubt makes us co-conspirators in a corporate tease. it's a bit like acquiring an alleged king crimson bootleg album, in the mistaken assumption that we're now living life on the edge, when in fact, the recording has an official blessing. but, on the narcissistic basis that, if even for only a micro-second, thewashingmachinepost is party to 'one more thing, while most of you aren't, let me tell you that in january 2020, presumably in time for the tour down under, one of professional cycling's more popular teams is to adopt a new jersey design.

yes, i freely admit that it's not quite the same as introducing an iphone or an ipad, but it's a thing, right?

tuesday 10 december 2019

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rouleur magazine ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

specialized bicycles ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

hot chillee ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

endura cycle clothing ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

basso italian bikes ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

galloway cycling

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riding is the answer ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

wabi woolens ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

showers pass ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

tell them we sent you

quick mention for those intending to visit islay's shores on a bike during the summer. velo club d'ardbeg recommended coffee/tea stops - in no particular order.

club headquarters at the old kiln cafe, ardbeg distillery. excellent food as well as designer coffees with froth. the single malt is apparently just ginger peachy. open monday to saturday from easter to september, seven days from june to september.

debbie's cafe

kilchoman distillery features a rather inviting café and restaurant, sited just off the road overlooking loch gorm on islay's west coast. now retailing a particularly attractive cycle jersey all of its very own, it's the very distillery to drop into while perambulating the atlantic coast, for both coffee and perchance a tour and a dram.

opened in april 2019, ardnahoe distillery features a particularly expansive visitor centre, with superb views over the sound of islay and the paps of jura. on a clear day you can see north to colonsay and mull. ostensibly open seven days with a particularly attractive menu in the illicit still restaurant and café and an espresso to be proud of. for single malt aficionados, it's unlikely there will be any homegrown product available for several years yet.

bruichladdich mini market (debbie's cafe), a few hundred yards from the distillery. highly commended designer coffees with outside tables. we like. open all year round with a cycling wall in the coffee corner.

welcometogreatcoffee.co.uk

and recently opened in islay house square, bridgend in the islay studios photo gallery, a fine selection of designer coffees are now available while you admire the surrounding imagery.

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as always, if you have any comments, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

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.......................................................................................................................................................................................................... thewashingmachinepost

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book reviews

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