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the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"i had to phone in my ride this week"

©2018 the mighty dave t, is a prendas sponsored rider and le patron of the thoroughly decent fellows.


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this is cambridge

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ritchey drop post ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

the law of infinite variables

port askaig, islay

the guy who sat next to me in third year at school claimed to be fluent in two languages: english and algebra. ironically enough, the latter may well have been totally correct, but judging by his marks in spelling, i'm not so sure about the former. the fellow was captain of the school chess team and subsequently went on to successfully study pure mathematics at university, though his grasp of english scarcely improved by much. i, on the other hand, completely inept at chess and completely unaware of the merits of algebra, floated through english all the way to a-level.

in fact, throughout my entire school career and subsequent attempts to achieve a basic qualification in mathematics, i simply never understood the value or point of algebraic equations. that is, at least, until i undertook an evening class in basic computer programming. one of the rudimentary programming exercises we were tasked with, involved instructing the computer to add two numbers together. writing code to have the latter add 2 and 4, turned out to be a remarkably simple procedure. however, if those were not the two numbers you had in mind, that involved altering the code to include the required digits. use algebra, however, to substitute a+b=c and have the computer ask the user to input a, then b and the resulting equation could be used repeatedly to add together any two numbers of your choosing.

though computers were enormous filing cabinets of electronics fronted by two tape reels when i was at school, had someone thought to explain the practical value of this particular branch of mathematics, i may have fared considerably better in the subject.

or maybe not.

my professed dislike and thus indifference to the use of numbers has subsequently become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy; the more i convince myself i'm useless, the more useless i become. but variables are still a major part of daily life, by which i mean, cycling. it will surprise you not at all that one of the major factors influencing any island-based bike ride, is that of the prevailing weather conditions. yet despite heaven knows how many meteorological satellites in orbit around our planet, along with massively improved means of interpretation of the received data, it appears that we are scarcely any further forward.

if i might use recent events to illustrate my point, after a sunny, yet blustery ride on saturday, i had cause to check the forecast for sunday, purely in order that i might leave out suitable attire for the sunday morning ride. indications were (subsequently corroborated by the sunday morning peloton) that we could expect similarly sunny conditions as experienced on saturday, but apparently with a tad less breeze.

you might then appreciate our collective dismay on awaking early sunday morning, to discover heavy rain and a pressing need for waterproofs. suddenly, the variables had changed. murphy's law, of course, saw us spend the entire morning pedalling in persistent rain, but arrive home just as the skies cleared and the sun came out.

c'est la vie.

such a change in variables is, however, applicable to each and every cycling peloton across the country, if not the world. but that is scarcely my point, for there are variables at work in the hebrides that are not, i might suggest, imposed on rides around london's richmond park, or even, closer to home, glasgow green. though the west coast is currently in a state of potential turmoil due to the ever-present ferry troubles (a bust ferry sitting in denmark and another, several weeks over its mca certification, covering for the broken boat), it is essentially the timetables applicable to calmac that can turn a pleasant bike ride into one fraught with skirmishes.

islay has two ferry ports: port askaig in the north and port ellen in the south, berths that tend to be used alternately unless weather conditions recommend one over the other. the 7am ferry leaving kennacraig on the mainland arrives in port ellen at 09:20 and departs from the same pier at 09:45. meanwhile, the second boat, having left islay at 07:00, heads back to the island from kennacraig, coincidentally, at 09:45, due to arrive at port askaig around 12 noon. it is the latter that has the potential to ruin a velocipedinal bliss, if that bike ride has a northerly direction programmed in as a part of its parcours.

when turning left at ballygrant quarry to head south, the previously mentioned murphy's law will be honour bound to have that ride clash with arriving ferry traffic. though this in itself may seem fairly innocuous, at the point of mainland vehicles disembarking the ferry to drive on island roads, there seems a transitional period during which their drivers press on the acccelerator pedal rather heavily, intent on timeously arriving at their accommodation. that situation pays scant heed to any bicyclist that might be heading in the same direction.

it has long confounded me that visitors to islay, arguably intent on an idyllic holiday in the rural idyll, feel it necessary to behave like jeremy clarkson on the main road between port askaig and bridgend. but in order to have these circumstances fail to impinge on life in the saddle, close attention needs to be paid to one's potential timetable. once more, that brings us neatly back to the question of variables.

it's a hard life on the outer edge.

monday 23 april 2018

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

rapha pro team transfer hoodie

rapha transfer hoodie

i don't recall a great deal about my teenage years, though i do remember my father's conditioned response to that time in my life. the early 1970s were close enough to the sixties for residual hippieness to be still en vogue, in some sectors. most notably, my wardrobe and bedroom. thus it was that flared jeans, cheesecloth shirts and shoulder length hair were pretty much the order of the day, much to the dismay of a respectable parent.

at one point in my father's career in marketing, he was employed by a company making bricks, one that opened a new brickworks close to hadrian's wall, the opening of which my brother and i were encouraged to attend. i was later told that one of my father's colleagues had pointed in my direction and enquired whether i was the son of my father (you may remember the hit single by chicory tip from rapha transfer hoodie that time). nodding in the affirmative, my father explained that, since i didn't smoke and took neither drink, nor drugs, he felt it a judicious move to allow me some leeway over the length of my hair and sartorial eccentricity.

to this his colleague replied "if i were you, i'd buy him an ounce of marijuana and tell him to get a haircut."

however, i have no recollection of being a sullen' teenager, one who would rather cross the street than converse with either friends of my parents or, heaven forbid, a member of my school's teaching staff. that, however, appears to be the contemporary modus operandi of many of the teenage pupils at the local secondary school. even in the faces of those with whom i am well-acquainted, you can detect the fervent hope that, as i pass in the street, i will not attempt to engage them in conversation, or even acknowledge their presence.

but mitigating against that last statement, is my growing familiarity to the school roll, due to regular appearances en-route to the music department to offer drum instruction. the upshot of this has rapha transfer hoodie been the occasional encounter with a few of the so-called cool kids in the village when collecting my saturday newspaper, occasions on which they have said 'hi' to me without any implied persuasion from yours truly. in my misguided innocence, i take this to mean that i am 'down with the kidz', so to speak.

i figure that there are two ways to react to the situation; one would be simply to continue as i am, conceited in the knowledge that my long, wispy grey ponytail, acompanied by a rudimentary ability to sound confident behind a drumset will save me from being sniggered at behind my back. or i could head in the direction of teenage conformity, admittedly on my own terms.

though it seems scarcely to be an intrinsic fashion statement amongst islay's youth, many a modern day teenager is portrayed as being the wearer of the ubiquitous hooded-sweatshirt, or 'hoodie'. it's a garment i'm not entirely sure i can see the point rapha transfer hoodie of, particularly in my own case, given that i have a marked aversion to hoods in the first place. that, however, is not to take into consideration the velocipedinal slant on the garment by the fine chaps and chapesses at imperial works in tileyard road, london. rapha, apparently keen to revive their transfer range, sent over what must surely be the ultimate hoodie, one that they have accurately described as the post-ride comfort blanket.

my admiration for this softshell style garment still leaves me questioning the need for a hood, but i believe that is more my problem than rapha's. that, however, is the only aspect of which i have the temerity to question, for the rest of it, from the two, zipped hand pockets on the front, the full-length zip and the ribbed side panels, is superb.

rapha transfer hoodie

rather than offer hood draw-cords that resemble nothing more than oversized shoelaces, the transfer hoodie features big, flat cordura style versions, attached to a hood that can, literally, be worn over a cycle helmet (though why you'd want to...) the sweatshirt part is of woven polyester construction, treated with a water-repellency coating, while the well-judged sleeves end in substantial, ribbed cuffs. it's a garment that has scarcely left my back since it arrived; obviously, as one of the village's elderly kool kidz, the style is right up my street, even though i have scarcely had need of transferring anywhere. my post-ride tradition simply involves restoring the bicycle to the shed, followed by a hot shower. taking a team bus to the sitting room, even though i already own a pair of rapha transfer trousers, seems just a tad ostentatious.

the transfer hoodie forms the latest part of the pro team range, imbuing the garments with a reputation which, in my particular case, is thoroughly undeserved. however, what imperial works wants to call it and how and when i want to wear it, have no real need of meeting in the middle.

however, when you're cool, you're cool.

rapha's pro team transfer hoodie is available in either charcoal or dark navy and available in sizes xs to xxl at a price of £110.

rapha pro team transfer hoodie

sunday 22 april 2018

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galloway cycling

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la doyenne

la doyenne - liege-bastogne-liege

in my almost incidental perusing of twitter, i took note of julian alaphillippe protesting that, despite his win in wednesday's fleche walonne, he is not favourite to repeat the victory in tomorrow's liege-bastogne-liege. of course, that's almost exactly what you'd expect him to say, or, perhaps more to the point, what his directeur sportif wants him to say. there is little room to manoeuvre with a race-winning strategy, if everyone else merely sits on your back wheel, waiting for you to make the ultimate move. granted, those in the peloton are unlikely to be fooled by apparent false modesty; everyone knows who's going well and who isn't, unless they're pretty darned good at acting. and alaphillippe's quiet remonstrations are unlikely to fool anyone if the other guys have been paying attention.

in this respect, cycling is entirely unlike boxing, where it's pretty much expected that both fighters will seriously disparage each other, preferably while staring each other straight in the eyes. that might conceivably make it harder for the innocent bystander to distinguish between bravura and real confidence, at least until one fells the other with an unexpected left upper cut.

la doyenne - liege-bastogne-liege

cycling, however, is party to an altogether different strategy, one more akin to chess or poker (not that i can actually play either). yet, truthfully i care not one whit. julian could happily emulate mike tyson in his pre-race strategy, without upsetting my own race-watching strategy of simply waiting to see who crosses the finish line with arms aloft. because, to extend the chess metaphor just a tad and not to denigrate the efforts of the peloton, they are but pawns in a three-dimensional game, one which embraces the parcours and all it has to offer.

i have made it perfectly plain that paris-roubaix is my most anticipated event of the year, one that i'd happily swap for any number of three-week stage races. and no apologies to chris froome and his pals, few of whom have the temerity to ride the cobbles in any case, seemingly happier to moan about their inclusion in those three weeks in july. paris-roubaix might well be a cycling anachronism, in an age where electronic gearing and hydraulic disc brakes are front and centre, but that does not diminish its spectacle and connections with the days when men were men and winners often bore the surname, merckx (five wins at liege).

la doyenne - liege-bastogne-liege

it may demonstrate a total lack of seasonal flexibility to maintain that while roubaix sits at the top of my race appreciation list, liege-bastogne-liege sits but a mechanical gearchange behind. completely at odds with a day on the cobbles, lbl features not only an entirely different means of racing, but scenery that only the ardennes region can provide. it always seems so ironic that, should alaphillippe indeed turn out the victor, he'll probably have seen precious little of his surroundings, a backdrop that arguably overshadows any ultimate victory. of course, were it not for the 260km race, our lives would be sadly bereft of such viewing pleasure in the first place.

couple that with the knowledge that this event harks back to the last decade of the 19th century (1892) and those constant reminders of cycling's rich heritage begin to sound less like rhetoric.

la doyenne - liege-bastogne-liege

however, in identical manner to each and every single-day race of the season, by teatime on sunday, it'll be all over for another year and we'll convince ourselves that the giro d'italia isn't so bad after all. if your office is anything like mine, there is precious little mileage in espousing the joys of something called liege-bastogne-liege to several sets of quizzical, yet deaf ears. that's precisely why, i'd imagine, the hand made cyclist has a quite superb range of art posters commemorating most of the year's racing, but most apposite to this weekend, a green and brown hued poster featuring a depiction of la doyenne.

vaguely reminiscent of the british rail posters of yesteryear, sizes available are a3 or a2. price for the former is £30; the latter costs £40, either of which will keep the flame alive until this time next year.

i bet julian's got one.

the hand made cyclist la doyenne poster

saturday 21 april 2018

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

cycling revival

condor classico

the current issue of wired magazine's uk edition, sports a feature concerning the anguished competition between two companies intent on providing a similar, if not identical service to the entertainment industry. this service, should that prove a legitimate classification, revolves round the original smoke and mirrors, music hall trick of having an individual appear to be somewhere they physically aren't. a more rudimentary version of the trick played by luke skywalker on kylo ren as he attacks the last stronghold of the jedi towards the end of 'the last jedi'.

condor classico

in the case of those featured in wired, smoke and mirrors have made way for the more technologically advanced laser hologram, producing stage shows in which the special attractions are deceased pop stars such as michael jackson and more promisingly, frank zappa. sophisticated computer modelling, combined with the latest in laser projections offers a potentially adoring public the chance to reacquaint themselves with the stage antics of long-departed favourites.

condor classico

having recently been guilty of disparaging the united nations' decision to hold a world bicycle day, it is of great joy to learn that there are still those with the perspicacity to celebrate the bicycle with more style and pragmatism. this forthcoming british celebration of the velocipede, relies not on any technological sleight of hand, but pure and simple cycling over three days in june at herne hill velodrome.

attendees can learn how victorian women changed cycling fashion, watch the golden wheel trophy, achieve the vintage look to accessorise that penny-farthing in the bike shed, cheer as 'king pleasure and the biscuit boys' perform vintage rock'n'roll and celebrate the 25th anniversary of graeme obree's hour record (scotland's national treasure will be riding at the event). i challenge anyone to deny that this isn't a more appropriate way to celebrate 200 years of our favoured method of transport, than having a united nations approved 'special day'.

condor classico

as if that were scarcely enough to whet your velocipedinal appetite, long time grays inn road residents, condor cycles have produced a 1950s style, limited edition, triple butted, lugged steel frame especially for the japanese keirin trophy event. grant young of condor pointed out that "In 1948 the majority of race bikes were custom built, but increasingly, in today's marketplace this is a rarity." the classico bike will feature in the five race, keirin trophy, with confirmed rides by six-time world champion francois pervis and 2017 world champ, azizul awang. they'll be joined by germain burton and ed clancy amongst others.

sadly, there's no word as to whether the frame will be on sale to those of us with no keirin experience whatsoever, though my complete lack of fixed-gear skills would likely mitigate against interest from this particular corner of the world. but there would surely be no harm in you asking.

cycling revival | condor cycles

friday 20 april 2018

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rtfm

owners manual

over the years, i have received a fair number of bicycles for review. there were days when these arrived in the packaging that had seen them cross the world's oceans inside a large blue, sea-going container (actually, i made that up; i've no idea what colour it was). inside these compact and bijou card boxes, the bicycles sat adjacent to their front wheels, wrapped in corrugated cardboard and bubble wrap, all fastened together with zip-ties. in truth, it almost took as long to unwrap as it did to review. and once the bike was out the box, sitting at the bottom, all on its lonesome, was a much smaller, little brown box containing pedals, reflectors, the skewer for the front wheel and the laughable owner's manual.

i say laughable, because that little booklet explained how to ensure you choose the correct size of bicycle, even though the book is inside a package that won't be opened until after the cycle has been delivered. invariably, there are instructions on how to tighten the bolts on an axle that is, in fact, of the hollow, quick release variety. on the basis of just such a manual, i had the local police sergeant and his wife bring round two bicycles they had purchased, where the sergeant had unscrewed the axle locknuts and attempted to fit them outboard of the fork dropouts.

you can, i'm sure, imagine how that would have worked out.

the modern-day, double-edged sword is the means by which the majority of bicycles are now delivered. at least one of the companies from whom i receive review models has the decency to extricate the bicycle from its trans-oceanic packaging, popit into the workshop and have it immaculately setup, prior to sending it in my direction. the downside to this is the size of box into which it is subsequently placed. granted, all i need do is wheel the bike out one end of the box, straighten the bars and fit pedals. but, unfortunately, that enormous tenement of a box has to be stored for the return of the bike.

i'm proud to say that i have too many bikes in the shed to have any space in which the box might safely reside.

but from that point onwards, no matter the number of stickers exhorting us to read the aforementioned manual before riding, that bicycle is going to be ridden no matter what. after all, who ever reads the manual anyway? and on the basis that they're scarcely worth the paper on which they're printed, who's to judge?

however, despite all my protestations and arrogant disdain for the technical ministrations of some poor soul within the greater organisation, those blatant misgivings have come home to roost. since it's a long, long way from approaching the written word, i'm trying secretively to say as little as possible about the shiny new machinery that currently occupies pride of place in the bike shed. suffice it to say, the chances of me making it out of the croft without reading the manual, are slim to non-existent. yet, the little booklet comprising instructions in several different languages is not only concisely and accurately written, but remarkably well illustrated into the bargain.

though the same might not be applicable to the fairer sex, my macho pride generally expects me to be more than well-acquainted with every aspect of the contemporary bicycle. i should instantaneously know not only which disc pads are suitable for any given set of rotors, but maintenance of same should obviously have been learned by osmosis in the process of riding said machine. and if you promise not to tell, i don't mind admitting that such is very far from the case.

if i seem unnaturally quiet in the next few days, it's because i'm rtfm.

thursday 19 april 2018

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

sunday 3 june - world bicycle day

kirkpatrick macmillan

the recently aired trailer for one of those european crime thrillers features a scene where one character expresses his having noticed a certain circumstantial coincidence during the course of their investigations. the hero of the tale turns to his colleague and roundly declares "there's no such thing as coincidences". of course, while that might make for some gritty dialogue, it's rather obviously untrue, otherwise why would there be a word to describe such serendipitous events in the first place?

earlier today, allegedly asking for a friend, one of those i follow on twitter, begged the question "does anyone know when it's world e-bike day?" a query to which i facetiously replied "february 31st". you can probably see why my legion of twitter followers has not increased much in recent times. though i thought it something of a standalone question at the time, i now realise it may have been engendered by the united nations declaring 3 june as 'world bicycle day', a fact i discovered only after the day's hard graft had ended.

a bit of a coincidence, don't you think?

on an island where the sunday morning peloton rarely exceeds nine in number and really only on days when there is a blue moon and a following wind, to make great play of this revealed fact in our local newspaper, is highly unlikely to gather much in the way of approbation. despite the local motoring club having advertised sunday 29 april as being 'drive-it day' (isn't every day, drive-it day?), i think it more than possible that the publication's readership would think exactly the same about world bicycle day, though i'll probably make a brief mention nonetheless.

recognition of the velocipedinal milieu, however, can only be considered in a positive light, for i'm sure that, at the present time, the united nations has more pressing matters to consider. from that point of view, the machinations and lobbying by the european cyclists' federation and the 'world cycling alliance' (despite my never having heard of either) are to be applauded; cycling deserves all the plaudits it can get. but ultimately, what does having a world day actually mean?

its adoption by a majority 193 member states, the declaration implores all states and the ubiquitous stakeholders to celebrate and promote awareness of the bicycle. which means precisely what, you may ask?

firstly, the resolution graciously acknowledges the "uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle", which i would think, ought to call into question the collective intelligence of those who discuss stuff at united nations meetings at having need of explaining themselves in the first place. we who ride bicycles and have done so for more years than we can truly recall, could have related this in a tweet, without going to the bother of flying at least 193 delegates to new york last week. anyone who still has a black and yellow raleigh banana ten-speed racer sitting in the bike shed could attest to the longevity of the machinery. and if you ride your carbon 'cross bike to work, the shops and bunny hop at weekends, 'versatile' would at worst, seem like an understatement.

but unique?

a bit like those grant-funded surveys carried out by university undergraduates, there is more than a fain whiff of tautology abut the whole affair. for instance "the bicycle... fosters creativity and social engagement and gives the user an immediate awareness of the local environment." after slogging into galeforce headwinds and driving rain, i'm pretty sure i could have told them that from the other side of the atlantic. and stressing that the bicycle is a 'symbol of sustainable transportation' and 'has a positive impact on climate' could be said to be stating the bleedin' obvious.

but once again, deja vu rears its ugly head. pretty much every year, for the last goodness knows how long, i have heaped criticism upon the organisers of the uk's national bike week, for designating a single day as bike to work day, an exercise that is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard. (i have also e-mailed them regularly to point this out, just in case they're too busy to read). anyone could cycle to work for one day; in order to make a difference, we need at least a 'bike to work week', but preferably, 'bike to work month'. through the efforts of 'quebeka' and 'world bicycle relief', the bicycle is making a real difference in the world. much as i'd love to hope that sunday 3 june will do likewise, i seriously doubt it.

some folks are never satisfied.

wednesday 18 april 2018

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chrome industries ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

...and here's what happened next

vˇlobici/killer collection

i have known photographer, scott mitchell, for quite some number of years, well before he became team sky's official photographer in the bradley wiggins era. scott's moved on since then, having featured imagery of the nascent team wiggins in his portfolio, before moving on to his current gig at team dimension data. as previously mentioned, scott originally claimed to be "not a cycling photographer", but after several years attached to the world tour, it's a protestation that no longer sounds as convincing as it did several years ago.

vˇlobici/killer collection

as is the way of things, despite being based on scotland's east coast and i on the west, our last few connections have happened in london; more specifically, the rouleur classic. bumping into him in victoria house in 2017, led to my being introduced to velobici's modernist collection, designed in conjunction with scott mitchell, a lambretta adherent to his last sd card. this was launched a few weeks past, but as if to underline their impressive sporting credentials in the velocipedinal world, velobici have, very quickly, followed up their modernist collection with one aided and abetted by italian, danilo di luca.

winner of the 2007 giro d'italia, the former professional also has victories in all three of the ardennes classics, winning amstel gold and flèche walonne in 2005 and presaging his giro win with a 2007 victory in liege-bastogne-liege. not one to remain still for more than a few moments, di luca rode for eight different teams during his professional career, including saeco, katusha and acqua & sapone.

vˇlobici/killer collection

i'd imagine that, after a fairly successful, fourteen year career, the worst thing that can happen to a racing cyclist is it all coming to a sudden end. deciding what to do next and adapting to civilian life, after having previously had pretty much everything taken care of, can't be the easiest of transitions. however, in di luca's case, that may not have been quite as hard is it has proved for many others. the italian, in common with compatriot, mario cipollini, now has his own bicycle brand: kyklos bikes.

cementing their position as cutting edge cycling purveyors, velobici have collaborated with mr di luca to produce the vélobici continental, a racing styled carbon frame that, according to vélobici's chris puttnam "was born from a mutual respect for style with inspiration from the Killer's aggressive high performance design." it may help to point out that 'killer' is danilo di luca's nickname.

vˇlobici/killer collection

vélobici have not stopped there, having released an entire 'killer' collection this past weekend. the collection consists of the roadracer's necessities: jersey, speedsuit, bib shorts and socks, along with a wide range of cycling shoes. according to chris puttnam "It began around five years ago, when a mutual friend told me that Danilo was a fan of our clothing. A little while later, we met up and from then on, we have been the best of friends."

if you made it to the launch, you'll know all of this already. for those who missed out, take a look at the range on the vélobici website. it's killer.

the vébici killer collection

tuesday 17 april 2018

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

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green oil ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

campagnolo

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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

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

port mòr bistro. now that the original debbie's is run by her mum, aileen, debbie has taken over the catering franchise at port charlotte's port mòr centre, where you can have some of deb's famously wonderful coffee as well as a wide range of foodtsuffs. highly recommended.

braehouse gallery, portnahaven. sited at the entrance to portnahaven village, the gallery also offers takeway coffees and a range of cakes. there's also quite a wide range of photos, islay souvenirs and other desirable odds and bits. though you can't sit in for coffee and cake, there is a table and chairs outside along with an adjacent bicycle rack for parking.

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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