About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Monday, October 08, 2012

M is for the MAGICAL ISLE OF MAN


The ISLE OF MAN is a magical, mystical, and magnificent island situated in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland.  Evidence shows that colonisation started around 6500 BC when people arrived by sea.  People survived by living in crude shelters and hunting and fishing for food.  With the Iron Age came the Celtic influence and by the 5th century, the Manx language developed out of Irish and Scottish Gaelic. By the 8th century, the Vikings arrived and began to settle here.  We arrived in mid-afternoon on a beautiful sunny day and were greeted by the Tower of Refuge in the harbour at Douglas.

"The Tower of Refuge stands upon St. Mary's Isle (also known as Connister Rock) - a marine hazard upon which many ships approaching Douglas Harbour wrecked due to low visibility or bad weather. The miniature castle was built in response to the 1830 destruction of the packet St. George with local donations. The project, undertaken by Sir William Hillary and designed by architect John Welch, was completed in 1832 and increased the visibility of the waterway hazard as well as provided a storage place for dry provisions in case anyone shipwrecked upon the isle. The islet is seen here at an average tide. Low tide allows one to walk out from the Douglas shore. Extremely high tide will completely submerge the islet from sight except for the Tower of Refuge." 

I had a marvelous experience on my recent holiday, hosted by Carol and Alan Cooper, residents of Douglas on the Isle of Man.  As soon as we arrived by ferry and had dropped our bags in their elder daughter's room, (Thanks Becki) they took us for a drive south towards Castletown, the Isle's ancient capital. We saw Castle Rushen, built for a Norse king who died in 1265 and buried nearby in the Abbey of Rushen. Apparently, there is evidence in the castle that at one time there was a siege by Robert the Bruce. We did a little walking tour from the Castle to the Old House of Keys, the former home of the Manx Parliament and to the Old Grammar School, which was originally a church and transformed in 1570 to a school for boys.

A trip to the Isle of Man is never complete without a ride on the Steam Train!  We watched it arrive, puffing steam all the way, hopped on and had a memorable half hour or so.  As well, one of the first things we were told was that when we crossed the "Fairy Bridge" we must say hello to the fairies.  It is a long-standing supersition on the Isle, but most believe it is unlucky not to say hello.  As extra luck, I bought my granddaughter a little necklace with a pink-jewelled fairy on it for a Christmas gift. 

That first night we celebrated Alan's birthday  at Tanroagan, a wonderful seafood restaurant in Castletown.  However, the road on which the Coopers live was closed off for the trials of one of their famous motorcycle races. So in order to get there, we had to go through the forest behind their house, wind our way through the bushes and trees to find the path that led to stiles over which we climbed to get to the cars that Alan had earlier moved.  What an experience that was!  Carol and I got detached from the group of 8 that included their 4 kids and Alan had to come back to find us - in the deepening dark! Thank goodness we all have a sense of humour!

During our stay, we also visited Port Mary and Port Erin where sailboats line the harbours in style.  I have never seen so many sailboats in one area in my life!  On the west coast of the island is the town of Peel with beautiful beaches and stunning views of Peel Castle, an impressive fortress on St. Patrick's Isle.  Legend has it that St. Patrick himself visited this tiny island, bringing Christianity to the Isle of Man.  Magnus Barefoot, an 11th Century Viking King of Mann, remained a royal resident of the castle.  The castle was also the center of government for over 200 years until power moved south to Castle Rushen.

Alan and Carol took us for a lengthy visit to Cregneash, a picturesque village with thatched Manx cottages, Loghtan sheep (famous for having multiple horns and fine brown fleece popular with hand spinners), Shorthorn cows, and working horses.  We wandered the country lanes and marvelled in some breathtaking photo ops. We also drove to the Sound where we had a magnificent view of the Calf of Man, home to a breeding population of Manx Shearwaters, a seabird which derives its name from its presence in Manx waters. Do check out the link as it's quite an interesting place.

Also, Carol and Alan took us to the House of Manannan, a museum of the Celtic, Viking, and Maritime past.  We saw a life-size reconstruction of a Celtic roundhouse and a Viking longhouse, walked through a quayside warehouse to discover sailmakers, coopers and chandlers and learned about the importance of the sea to the lives of the Isle of Man's people.  There was also a Viking longship called "Odin's Raven" from which there appeared to be sailors pulling it through the window of the museum.

I must say I'd love to go back for another visit to explore the northern end of the isle.  I want to go by steam train to the isle's highest peak as well as visit the Manx Museum, the Laxey Wheel, and towns of Ramsey, Jurby, and Kirk Michael as well as the Point of Ayre. I hope you enjoy the slideshow accompanied by Celtic music as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I know it's long, but it might just encourage you to make a trip to the Isle of Man yourself!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

26 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

You did have some great times there. I am so glad.

Shrinky said...

Oh Leslie, what a beautiful tribute to the Isle, I loved seeing it through a fresh pair of eyes! I've just shown Alan this, and he wants to forward it to the Manx tourist authority, he's certain they would want to use it. Thanks for sparing my blushes by not adding how I slid flat in the mud on my backside, when we became separated from the others in the "forest"..! It was such fun meeting Cathy and you, thanks for being the perfect guests (grin).

Carver said...

Great post and wonderful shots. The photographs of you are good. I like to see shots of the blogger. The Isle of Man is a beautiful island.

Meryl said...

Oh how wonderful!!! Great presentation...I leave here relaxed and refreshed as if I'd been there with you!

jane said...

Brilliant Leslie - we have never been to the isle of man - but it is certainly om my to go list now - enjoyed your photo shoot and your links especially the one on the Manx Shearwater - thanks for sharing - Jane

ewok1993 said...

so many wonderful and interesting places in the world worth visiting but we can't, so thanks for the introduction.

Paula Scott said...

Sigh.....so beautiful!

Ann said...

I so enjoy seeing castles and building that have been here for hundreds of years. What a splendid place to visit. Such beauty!.
Ann

Wanda said...

What a fabulous tour...Thanks for taking us along to see such beauty. You and your friends look so happy...how nice to be able to share such a lovely trip with friends.

magiceye said...

Thank you so much for the virtual tour! Lovely images in Smilebox!

Addy said...

I've always wanted to visit the Isle of Man. Something I should probably have done in my 22 years living in the UK before emigrating to Australia, but I guess there's still time :)

A wonderful post with some beautiful photographs.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you so much for this interesting information about this beautiful island, where Celts and Vikings meet! I enjoyed watching your video.
It's good you are back and to know that in spite of some stressful days, you also found the time to enjoy yourself.
Have a great day!
Wil, ABC Team.

lotusleaf said...

Very interesting and informative article .

By Nela said...

He descubierto tu blog y me ha encantado su contenido, desde hoy soy seguidora. Si lo deseas te invito a visitar mi blog By Nela, y si es de tu agrado me gustaria tenerte como seguidora y asi seguir en contacto.

Un saludo muy cariñoso.

Manoli

EG CameraGirl said...

A wonderful look at the past and present on the Isle of Man!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Gladc you had such an enjoyable time there.

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Wonderful post and video ~ for M ~ (A Creative Harbor)

thanks for stopping by and commenting ^_^

Lisa said...

I've heard of the Isle of Man, but have never been there. It sounds like it would be an amazing place to visit and lovely place to live.

Chubskulit Rose said...

A magnificent place I'd love to visit someday!

Manok... find out what it is
Rose, ABC Wednesday

Joy said...

A nice tour of the Isle of Man. Some great sights and photos. I must visit one day I'm not too far away as the crow flies (on a very clear day I can see it and the calf across the water).

Lmkazmierczak said...

What a great travel blog post♫ Enjoyed the visit♪

Hildred and Charles said...

A wonderful post, Leslie, - I have always had such a fascination for the Isle of Man and its history. I will probably never see it so have saved your Smilebox production so I can look at it again and again. Thank you....
Charles says to tell you he has vague recollections of seeing Mandrake the Magician when he was in Vancouver just before he joined the RCAF.

Ann said...

Heard of Isle of Man, always wonder the name.

diane said...

Wonderful!! I have enjoyed this video so much. Great pictures and music. Well done, thanks for sharing.

We visited the Isle of Man in May. It was my dream vacation, I loved every second of it. And like you, Leslie, I need to go back and see the rest.

ChrisJ said...

What marvelous photographs! I so enjoyed this post, even if it wasn't Flamborough! I have never been to the Isle of Man and I don't think I've ever seen photographs of the area. Wonderful.

Ole Phat Stu said...

The IOM is a Mecca for us motorcyclists, so I'm a regular visitor and a marshaller at the races, usually at Glen Helen or Signpost Corner.

Do visit Laxey and ascend the Laxey Wheel. Then take the electric tram up Snaefell, but remember there are no toilets on board. The horse-drawn trams along the Douglas promenade (sea-front) are also worth a ride.

Did you see a tailless manx cat? there are several in Cregneash.