Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Our First Season Of Visitors Draws To A Close

The Dower House
Isle Of Islay

If you are looking for details and pictures of the 
accommodation we offer, please refer to

Congratulations must go to Sandy and Tom for the stunning decor, we have often heard 
Wow! As people come in for the first time. It is beautiful just!

What a wonderful summer 

The Dower House has been a very happy place since we opened at Easter.

Shared with family, new friends, old friends and puppies!

Happy 4th Birthday Oscar!

Flowers in bloom

..on the stunning new terrace


Geese fly in to join the other 24,000 wintering on Islay

About to start work.

Sun rise over the sea and Gary's digger.

August and September had their moments with the weather as with the rest of the UK , 
but we also got many rainbows.

Lots of visitors

Wolfgang, from Austria, was another guest at the house in September and he will be bringing a group of people in 2019 to stay in the Dower House while taking part in activities, such as kayaking, walking. This is something we started in June with the Art group from Dorset and we will be doing much more of this with like minded people needing a wild break that is organised for them.
If you are interested please email

Wolfgang up close to the Common seals.

Thalassa sailing by.

Coire has settled in and looks very fit and healthy now.

Coire gets more cuddles than anyone else in the house. 

Singing sands in July.

A Trip To Sunny Spain in July was a good move after the summer the UK has had 
and five years of hard labour!

An amazing holiday with wonderful friends. 
Eat, drink and be merry, we did and we were!
Thanks Geoff see you at Christmas.

Sunset from Geoff's house

A different sort of wildlife! Flamingos

Storks...babies on the way?

A scorpion found dead in the pool. I was very careful where I put my feet after that!

A crazy summer of people and pups.

We arrived home from Spain on the Sunday 24th ..

on Thursday 27th July..

We had our beloved Isla' put to sleep in the morning after collapsing 
and at 20 minutes past midnight on the 28th July (Happy Birthday Katie), Cassie's pups were born.
 We had no time to think about it.

Alfie, the first pup born was a shock as we weren't expecting chocolate.


Cassie was very ill with an infection and high temperature.
 Beth removed a retained dead pup, without surgery, which was amazing. 
Cassie was put on a drip and waited to get better. She made no fuss at all.

 We fed the pups that evening to give her a break.

We lost another pup, she just faded away, which left 5 boys and Mossy

Emma was there through every crisis and must have gone home thinking this is a mad house...
well it's Ok to be a bit eccentric isn't it?

They grew and grew.

Leo and on the floor is Woody, he would be the class clown, but adorable.
 We probably fed them too much looking at his tummy!

Alfie starts shivering having gone to sleep in the drain!

Susie and family chosing Alfie



Our chosen one Leo explores.

Libby has a cuddle.

It's easier standing up!

A mother daughter relationship...

It rained a lot and then ...

Jamie came with Nick's family, the weather is always good and it was. 
Make it a fortnight next year Jamie!

Mary-Ann and Imogen soaking up the Islay sun.

Playing on the beach.

The local swans returned with 2 cygnets, the first since 2013, 

They were down to 1 on the 5th November...

...and now there are none! 
We have to ask ourselves if this might be one of the culprits....


Josie and her friends from Dorset  one group of guests in Dower House this summer who arrived in time to cuddle little pups. They had a very damp week, made the most of everything Islay had to offer, walking, cycling, swimming in the sea, painting pottery and whisky of course. Baby Huw went everywhere with them.

Islay House Hotel. (Now Open)

The RLNI had a tea dance at Islay House, which was lovely...shame we have two left feet.
Jenny sang for her supper and the acoustics were amazing.

From the water.

Bertie gained Topsy's last hen, but he now has competition from his son.

Bertie junior is causing a few ruffled feathers and they had to be 
separated when it came to bloody warfare!

 The moon rises over the sea in September with beautiful light.

We had a shock in August when we heard that our lovely new friend 
Leo had passed away suddenly in Germany.
A great friend to many people on Islay and all over the world, he is very sadly missed.

Leo's family came to stay for a week and we took them for a canoe picnic. Making new friends with his family was bitter sweet for all of us, but we hope they will be back again soon

The flowers, Wendy and I sowed in March made a beautiful display through the summer...
until the deer ate them.

Difficult to be cross with them though....

Leo at the back and Cosmo with the whiskers.

A feeding circle.

Roo and Leo at the back, Mossy in charge...

Bonnie and Evie with Alfie and Mossy

Morning sunrise from the bedroom window...

We carried pups everywhere and they got heavier and heavier as the weeks passed!

Getting used to Archie, who was very tolerant until they pushed their luck and got a swipe...

...and playing with Mum.

Woody (Sweetie Little No Name) Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, so he has to have a sock in it!
After we lost the little pup and homes were found for all the others by the end of the first week, we waited until the right moment to home Woody. We were right as he now has an amazing home and if he had not gone there we would have ended up with 4 dogs, as I got rather too attached!

Flying pups.

                                                                    Trapping Moths


Kim and Jean from Devon came to stay in our apartment as a late booking.
Kim is a moth enthusiast and set his moth trap, it was fascinating, as I love insects.
He kindly set us up with bulb, egg boxes and books for our own use here. Brilliant!


Leo takes a drink from the autumnal burn.

We left in the dark on the 7am ferry...

Woody was so laid back ...

on deck.. the van... Loch Lomond...

When the drive belt fell off at Penrith...

...we waited for Darren from the AA to go up to Carlisle and get the parts to repair it,
 in the smelliest lay-by you can imagine,
We left 3 hours later, the AA were brilliant! 
It was a 17 hour trip from The Dower House to Foxton, nr Cambridge, must be a negative record.

Woody was still taking everything in his stride the following morning when his 
new family came to collect him. What a pup!

Nick's brother-in-law Ian, now recovered from falling off a roof 18 months ago, 
can't resist climbing a ladder to put the parrot on the pirate's shoulder!


I spent 3 days learning and enjoying Reiki healing with Jane Williams
 ...and stayed in my friend Tania's beautiful house for 3 nights, 
where we were still catching up on 25 years at 2.30am 1 morning.
 Excellent therapy.

It's great to have friends in high places and Chris has been promising me a ride
 in his helicopter for a while now...

We have promised to take him kayaking and may have to go in some
whirl pools to equal the time in the air!

The weather was just about OK on my last day in Dorset. This is Manston,
the house I grew up in is to the left of the swimming pool.

Manston church, where I got married and Dad and his family are buried. I spent many Sundays counting the squares on the ceiling in the church as a child and many happy days in the choir with friends I still have now.

Fontmell Farm, where Dad worked as a dairyman most of his working life. The triangular hill to the right is where I go in my head to relax in the mindful moments. As a child I remember wandering alone, lying in the long grass staring up at the sky and watching the fluffy clouds go by. Peace!

When Chris brought me back he took Katie up...What an amazing experience!

My favourite place, Hambledon Hill, our highest climb around.

These are the cows we grew up around, by the River Stour, 
in which we learnt to swim.

When the aftermath of Storm Ophelia came there was dust from the Sahara and smoke from fires in Portugal, it pays to remember that what affects one part of the world can have a knock on effect in many other places and the West is not immune.

 It's always a real pleasure when Mum comes up to Islay, as she loves it.
This time we left Nigel at home and had a girls week with Sandy. Many lunches out...

Atmospheric weather on the winding road home on the edge of Loch Fyne

Back at The Dower House

Look who came back as soon as the nights drew in...

Another year older and even more magnificent.

I gave up on mowing the lawn at this point.

Big red with last year's antlers on the terrace.

When Jenny heard a tapping on the outside of the caravan one morning,
she opened the window and hit Big Red on the bum!

 We had a week with Pauline, Sandy and Tom,
 enjoying the scenery before they took her home. It's always too short.

Machir Bay

On the Dower House wall. Malcolm?


A Fallow buck, having a break from chasing females.

Whooper swans return to Ardbeg

Fox Moth caterpillar on Heather, if you look in October you will see some of these.

The Hunter's Moon, amazing!

A late October paddle.

Seals play and fish in the bay.

Cassie watches and waits.


...and finally Woody's family came back to Islay for a few days with Harry and Daisy. We visited them at Portnahaven and they visited us at The Dower House. Harry and Daisy's family were staying in the Dower House the week the pups were born and had no idea they would end up with one themselves. Woody's energy and sense of fun will keep them all entertained as he did us for weeks.
 He's perfect!

So as our very first season of guests draws to a close we have made so many new friends, learnt so many new skills and revisited a few veterinary ones I thought I had forgotten. We have worked very hard, but count ourselves the luckiest people out to be where we are now. With a positive attitude, a bit of courage and a lot of hard work, it's amazing what you can do.

Next year we look forward to start welcoming pottery, art and much more creative activities for as many people as possible to enjoy. You can lose yourself in Islay, what a wonderful place to be.

Thanks to everyone who had any part in our summer here, it would not be the same without the people. Special thanks to Donnie, Fiona and Beth, who helped us through the puppy stage and to all the lovely families who have a Dower House pup. Cassie wont be having any more, (sorry Donnie), but there are a few in her extended family who might. Beware the sleepless nights, poo and pee!

Thanks also to all those who helped clean the house at different times with me this summer, 
Wendy, Rosie, Nick, Helen, Ian, Jenny and friends, Sandy and Tom. I wonder how many of you realise just how long it takes to make a house spotless before you arrive? I didn't have any idea and I have great deal of admiration for all of those ladies and gents who do the cleaning and maintenance on a Saturday in the few hours between guests in all the houses on Islay and elsewhere.

You can now find videos and pictures on The Dower House facebook page, which we try to update more often with current happenings and we hope to be on airbnb step at a time.

See you in the New Year!
Mary-Ann and All at The Dower House