“picnic at Pigs’ Paradise”

One of many reasons Tom and I were keen (at long last) to visit Colonsay is our deep fondness for Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s I Know Where I’m Going (1945). We love this film so much that we had a piper play “Ho Ro, my nut brown maiden” at our wedding. (If you’ve seen the film, you’ll understand).

I sometimes find it hard to write about films and books I really love – but I might try to talk in a future post about why that’s the case with IKWIG (as the film is referred to by fellow superfans, ahem). . . . but what concerns me here is the connection between the fictional island of Kiloran . . .

. . . and the real island of Colonsay, upon which the fictional isle is based.

In the scene shown above, Roger Livesey / Torquil MacNeill (a naval officer, on leave) is telling Wendy Hiller / Joan Webster how he intends to spend his time when he finally reaches the island, “bathing at Kiloran bay” and having a “picnic at Pigs’ Paradise.” These actual Colonsay places were among the island locations woven, by filmaker Michael Powell, into Emeric Pressburger’s brilliant script, after travelling around Argyll in 1944. Powell loved Scotland in general and Argyll’s islands in particular, and he was especially taken with Colonsay, which he immediately decided should be the setting for IKWIG. As Powell puts it in his autobiography: “we scrambled to the highest point of the island . . . from here the whole glorious panorama from Iona to Kintyre lay before us, and I shouted out that this wonderful land and seascape could be the only setting for our story . . . it wasn’t just the scenery, it was the feel of the place.”

Colonsay’s “glorious panorama”

As Powell and Pressburger pilgrims, Tom and I of course felt compelled to visit Kiloran Bay (among the delights of which Bruce is pictured in his last post) and Pigs’ Paradise, or in Gaelic, Aoineadh Nam Muc, which is the local name given to a cove surrounded by steep cliffs, and the grassy area above it where the pigs used to be gathered in.

approaching Pigs’ Paradise

We had honestly no idea what we would find at Pigs’ paradise . . . but it is fair to say that this truly magical spot exceeded all our expectations.

For here is the grassy, pig-gathering place . . .

. . . here is the cove . . .

. . . which is, indeed, perfect for picnicking (as I demontrate, by holding aloft a babybel) . . .

. . . and here are the cliffs . . .

. . . where you can potter about, exploring the raised beach and its natural arches . . .

. . . and marvelling at the wildlife.

The crags at Pigs’ Paradise teem with kittiwakes, common guillemots, and razorbills. Thank goodness I brought my binoculars! Wow!

. . . and the whole landscape is utterly stunning.

would you like to join us for our picnic at Pigs’ Paradise?

Well, Tom’s made a film for you, which means you can do just that!

Really, I think this is the most beautiful film Tom’s ever made. I hope you enjoy it! (He composed / played / scored the soundtrack too).

Pigs’ Paradise is certainly a truly magical place for a walk and picnic. . . . I was so spellbound I felt this plane might turn itself into a falcon, in a reversal of another famous Powell and Pressburger moment!

Just writing this post makes me want to go back, and sit there, at Pigs’ Paradise, with my binoculars and cheese, watching the glorious reeling birds.