Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Take the High Road - Glen Mona to Laxey

After quite a while without walking together, Irene & I drove to Glen Mona in Maughold on Sunday, going where we'd never been before me in my 50 years coming to and living here. It always makes me laugh when I hear people saying that they've 'Done' the Isle of Man in an afternoon.

Just by the pub, which by the way is being renovated, though I am unsure as to whether as a hostelry or a private dwelling, there is a green lane which pronounces that it leads to Snaefell Mines.

The early stages have quite a steep ascent and probably my least favourite thing about this particular route is that much of it is very rocky (though I believe that this sort of terrain is good for strengthening the muscles of the foot and ankle, providing of course you don't break it.)

Quite soon, you have views of Maughold, Cornaa and the Dhoon, as you skirt Slieau Ouyr. It bears a resemblance to Laxey Valley which you see from the Snaefell Mountain Railway and indeed eventually, there is a view of the our highest peak and as you round Slieau Ruy. Eventually, you are actually at the top of the ridge that is visible from the train.

It was here that we elected to turn back towards the sea, rather than visit the mines, mentioned earlier.

The weather wasn't the best in all honesty which added bleakness to the beauty and the only other beings that we saw on this entire path were on motorbikes, though we had quite a few sheep with their lambs as company.

The walking surface improved somewhat on this section and the vista was stunning as you could see the hills to the South with Glen Ruy, Axnfell, Agneash, Baldhoon and the village itself with Clay Head and Baldrine further along.

As usual, anything that we do doesn't quite go according to plan, which had originally been to drop down to Ballaragh and catch the bus back to whence we'd came at Bulghan Farm.

A chum of mine had made me aware of a new 'App' called 'Bus-Man' which theoretically is brilliant as a journey planner. However, it basically told me that there wasn't a bus for over an hour and that it was 4.9* miles to Glen Mona (though the trip it said would take only 2 minutes!! Must be Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes engine in it ;) ), so we decided to walk back to Laxey , take refreshment and pick up public transport from there.

It was a good job that I decided to check www.iombusandrail.info because the time shown on Bus-Man would have led to us missing the bus as it was showing as 5 minutes later than it actually was!

It has to be said that the App is only in development at the moment so hopefully any glitches will be sorted soon because it should be really handy..

To add insult to injury, there was a bus scheduled at Ballaragh when we had wanted it! Not to worry, the extra few kilometres did us no harm and we enjoyed our pint in the Mines Tavern.

The 12k (7.5 miles) total took us about 2 hours & 10 minutes.

* I think it should have read 4.9k as it was approximately 3 miles on my car odometer and although the bus was doing a fair lick, I still doubt it would take only two minutes even if it's kilometres rather than miles!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Do I Buy a Lottery Ticket or Put My House on Red Number 7?

My apologies for having been a little quiet on the blog front recently but things have been a quite hectic and I haven't had a great deal of time to experience things to write about.

Things are still pretty busy and tomorrow we say farewell to our Discovery Travel group but look forward to welcoming the School Journey Association at the weekend.

Johann, who was promoted to Head Chef after TT Week is doing a fine job and here he is pictured with Irene & me.

Unfortunately, the fantastic weather we have had since May, seems to be having a (hopefully) temporary break, so due to the bucketing rain, I brought my car to work for a change this morning.

Being a lazy so and so, I parked as close as I could to the Welbeck. Usually when I choose what looks like the easy way, things tend to backfire on me and everything goes suitably wrong to punish me for being idle but this morning, it would seem that my luck was in:

At around 7:50 this morning, one of the Ravenswood trees came down - that's my car on the right!

So I've yet to decide whether to buy a lottery ticket, contact our in house bookmaker, 'Honest Dave' and put all Irene's money on Dodgy Nag in the 5:30 at Haydock or stick our house on NO. 3 Red at the Casino.

Any advice?

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Morning Paddle and Afternoon at The Creek without a Paddle

I hope you're not becoming bored with the kayak stories yet but immediately after a busy Mad Sunday breakfast, Irene & I loaded the boats once again (we're getting quicker, not to mention safer ;) ) and this time made the short journey down to Douglas Harbour once again.

With the glorious TT weather prevailing, we had decided to try and find the elusive Douglas Head seal and explore the coastline under Marine Drive from the other side.

What we hadn't realised was how choppy the water would be on the rounding the Stabit Breakwater and it was great watching Irene riding the waves!

Once again the elusive seal proved elusive (Welbeck Facebook watchers will have seen the water where the seal was in an earlier photo) but it was interesting seeing the lighthouse close up from a different angle.

By the way, if anyone wants to buy a lighthouse, it seems to be for sale. Though it would be a fabulous place to live in many ways, personally, I wouldn't fancy it on a foggy day with the horn blaring next to your ear and I imagine furniture removal would be quite challenging!

The tide was very high and it became clear that though paddling out was very easy, with the wind and waves behind us, our return would be a little more difficult, so we limited ourselves to half an hour outwards.

My GPS watch told me that despite stopping to take photographs on travelling South, we were doing kilometres at just over 9 minutes but when we turned into the breeze, they were taking 11 minutes.

It was great fun coming back into the harbour, surfing this time, though it the water was more choppy than rolling waves. We certainly knew we'd worked hard.

For the afternoon, we caught the bus to Peel which though packed with TT fans was beautiful in the sunshine.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

From the Jam Perfectly Preserved

Last night Wednesday 1st June, Irene & I went to the Villa Marina to see 'From the Jam,' featuring original band member, Bruce Foxton but not Paul Weller (though apparently the latter has worked on their new album.)

I had worried that this gig wouldn't be too successful, having been moved from Saturday and being held on a TT Practice evening, so when we arrived to a near empty hall, not long before 9pm, it seemed that perhaps those fears had been realised.

We had met up, purely by chance with our friends Marie & Murray Lambden, therefore, it seemed sensible to go and buy another drink before the performance, so it was during the queuing process that without fanfare, the noise levels rose and by the time we returned to our spot by the stage the band were in full swing, belting out their old Kinks cover, David Watts and the Royal Hall was packed with a very decent crowd.

It's a long time since I've been to a concert in the UK or further afield but is it a purely 'Manx thing' that everyone just happily lets you go past with your drinks back to your place right at the front? Later on, when things really got rocking, my memories are of being literally crushed in the surge forward but despite the dancing (otherwise known as pogo or jumping up and down) becoming quite animated, I was still able to prevent Irene being jostled too much.

Unfortunately, I suspect it's more of an 'age thing,' as it seems most of the acts we get to see are groups with remnants from the past and you could perhaps describe most of the audiences similarly.

Back to the music and it was excellent as unlike the aforementioned Mr. Weller, they played all their old hits in addition to a few album tracks and only one or two songs from their new material.

Without my glasses on, I probably wouldn't have noticed that Russell Hastings wasn't the Modfather and that Bruce Foxton had aged 30 years since I last saw photograph of him.

During the encore, they really built to a crescendo and I'm sure most of the people watching thoroughly enjoyed the night.

Before you come across on holiday, it is an idea to pre-book any of the shows that you want to see, as it can usually be done online. This year's highlights include Tom Jones 26th July and Cast on Saturday but you can check out who's on at concerts in the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre or organised with them as ticketing agents https://www.villagaiety.com/

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Kayak Capers!

Irene and I have enjoyed kayaking for some time now and we usually make sure we paddle a couple of times a week when we are away on holiday and have used www.adventurousexperiences.com more occasionally on Island.

When the opportunity presented itself on Facebook - Keirron Tastagh of the above named company was selling off some of his older stock, we spent a few days deliberating.

The main fear was spending quite a lot of money and wondering if we'd ever actually use them but the dream of the freedom to just go at any time, meandering offshore surrounded by bird life, spotting seals, dolphins and sharks won the day and the purchase was made.

Good man that he is, Keirron took us out for a couple of expeditions to make sure we were competent, one off Fenella Beach down past Contrary Head, followed by seals and the other at 7am one cold but beautiful Sunday morning from Port Erin and around Bradda Head.

When that was over, we took the kayaks home and they were ours and the dream became reality.

Reality of course, then started to bite us firmly on the backside as the weather turned rubbish, the wind blew and the boats remained on our roof garden untouched for three weeks.

Finally, the day came. Sunshine. No work. Small breeze.

Time for our maiden voyage!

The difficult part that we anticipated would be bringing them back down from the roof. I'm not sure of their exact size but I'm guessing about three metres and especially as we have quite a twisty staircase but we accomplished this quite quickly with hardly a cross word.

It was then that that infernal reality thing bared its fangs again and sunk them deep.

When we had loaded our kayaks in Port Erin with Keirron's direction and assistance, it had seemed so easy.....Well over an hour later with tempers wearing thin, we finally thought we had them secured and we were at last ready to depart!

However, it had taken so long that our initial plan of travelling to Fleshwick in the deep South West, away from the mild easterly wind was now out of the question, so we opted for Port Soderick, just a few miles South of Douglas.

As our short journey progressed, the excitement mounted and then as we drove down Kewaigue Hill, one of the kayaks appeared at the driver side window! Fortunately, it didn't come off totally! But the scale of what could have gone wrong, caused by my incompetence was huge and certainly didn't improve our faltering confidence in our adventure!

Taking still more time, we limped towards our destination, stopping every couple of hundred yards to make sure the boats weren't about go anywhere without us.

We made it! By now however, the breeze had increased a little (though hardly a gale) and Irene who has paddled out through the Pacific surf decided it was too choppy! And she needed the toilet! And there isn't a public loo at Port Soderick.

Of course, I was fuming (though of course I didn't mention the fact that I, too was desperate for relief! Of course it's easier for us chaps ;) )

Besides, there was absolutely no way I was putting in all these hours of effort not to go kayaking!

After a brief er... discussion, we headed for the public facilities at Battery Pier, Douglas.

What I haven't mentioned was that when we finally had success holding the boats in place, the roof rack straps doing said job had started to vibrate against the top of the car, so we were driving along accompanied by the most tuneless string and wind orchestra in history, barely able to hear ourselves think.

Could our great kayak caper get any worse? We had to stop the vehicle so that Irene could answer a phone call without the sawing buzz and it was our daughter Lucy, wanting us to mind Harry while she went shopping. That gave us 45 minutes!

After our mad dash to the loo, which typically for us was hampered by the fact that Irene had left her bag in the car and I hadn't mentioned that I was just as desperate as she was (Think Laurel & Hardy or Crackerjack's Peter Glazier & Don McLean and we'd have looked three times more foolish,) we headed for the Douglas Yacht Club slipway and at long last, we were afloat!

There wasn't really much that we could do though because my envisaged trip up along the marina, looking enviously at posh people's yachts had to be cancelled due to the flap being up (Douglas marina is kept flooded at all times) so it was a matter of a couple of trips around the harbour.

If there's one thing more difficult than securing a couple of kayaks to a roof rack, it's securing a couple of kayaks to a roof rack on a steep slope in the presence of our five year old grandson!

All in all, when we arrived home, our twenty five minute paddle had taken us just short of five hours.

Buy a couple of kayaks? What a wonderful idea! I now realise what we have paid all the money for in the past to others for taking us out.

The happy ending (well interim anyway) is that last Sunday, we nailed the loading and had a lovely couple of hours below Marine Drive. Hopefully, the ratio of endurance to enjoyment will alter favourably with practice.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

The Welbeck Welcomes Dave Mackey To The Team

Alex Moczadlo, Irene & Michael George, Dave Mackey

Press Release

The Welbeck Hotel & Restaurant is excited to announce that the appointment of Dave Mackey as the new Manager of Marketing Development & Social Media.

Of course, at the Hotel, it is a small team and you will be just as likely find him serving in the Restaurant or fixing a banister rail as being on the end of the telephone or working as a Facebook Warrior.

Joint Proprietor, Michael George said: ‘Dave has worked tirelessly within the local hospitality industry over the last 30 years and we’re delighted that he has chosen to join us.

`He has a great customer service ethic and we hope to harness his expertise to improve our product and increase the profile of the Welbeck still further while consolidating our position at the pinnacle of Isle of Man Hotels and maintaining our no. 1 rating on Tripadvisor.’

Married to Kerry with two teenage children, he is also a keen athlete, being the third member of the Hotel’s management to have finished the 85 mile Manx Telecom Parish Walk.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Glen Maye Magnificent

A few weeks ago, Irene and I had a walk down Glen Maye, which has been one of our national glens since being purchased in 1960 and is located adjacent to the village of the same name.

For those that do not particularly enjoy walking, this is quite a good place to visit, as the waterfall itself is very close to the car park opposite the pub, though due to the nature of the paths and steps, a certain degree of mobility is still required.

You may also wish to include this area as part of a longer walk and Peel and Dalby are not far away along the Raad-ny-Foillan (the coastal footpath which translates as the Way of The Gull.) It is also on the bus route, though it pays to check as the service is quite sporadic https://www.gov.im/media/1350476/service-4-8-29-march16-v2.pdf

Spring is a great time to see the Island and this place is very beautiful with Monterrey Pines at the top, then mainly ash, elm and sycamore trees, not to mention wildflowers and daffodils (which I'm never sure if they are wild or not?) as you go down towards the sea.

I'm not really much of a botanist myself but apparently, there are plants here not found anywhere else in the Island as well as a unique micro species of blackberry called 'Glen Maye Bramble.'

The Rushen River runs right though the centre and the scenery is enhanced by the abundance of a great variety of ferns which are able to grow because of the shelter the Glen affords and the mild climate.

The name 'Rushen' itself does create a little confusion as Rushen is the Parish which encompasses most of the South West tip of the Island but confusingly, not Castle Rushen or Rushen Abbey which I think are in Malew and Arbory and not Glen Rushen, River Rushen or Rushen Mines which are all in Patrick! Got it? ;)

Quite close to the place where you briefly rejoin the road there is still a casing for the Mona-Erin Waterwheel as mining took place here from 1740 to 1870 though it produced very little lead.

It will probably take about 15 to 20 minutes to reach the coast.
You may just be able to make out the Irish Mountains in the background

There is a terrific charitable organisation in the Isle of Man called Beach Buddies, founded and run by a friend of mine, former newspaper owner, current editor of the Online publications Western & Southern Chronicles, Bill Dale.

The aim is simply to clean our beaches (and inland on occasion) and they enlist the help of the Manx and visiting public to do a fantastic job of removing the flotsam, jetsam and all the terrible plastics that find their way onto our shores.

Here is my own personal 'Beach Buddy' doing the business.

I'm ashamed to say that Irene and I have never actually managed to join Bill's team, though we try and make sure that we do our little bit whenever we have the opportunity.

If this is something to which you like to contribute to simply like https://www.facebook.com/Beach-Buddies-Isle-of-Man-117658954956301/?fref=ts or email beachbuddiesisleofman@gmail.com