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

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Corrins Tower

Irene & I haven't really broken any new ground over the last few weeks but it's been great to have been able to walk around the coastal paths without disappearing neck deep into quagmires.

This is from the top of Peel Hill at Corrin's Tower which also known as Contrary Head.

It was Mr Thomas Corrin's favourite place and he built it in 1806 as a memorial to his wife who was buried there.

Apparently, the lights from the Tower could be seen for many miles and sailors complained that they mistook it for Peel Breakwater and he was forced to seal the windows facing the sea.

There are four storeys built around a central pillar which starts off square and becomes round towards the top.

It is occasionally opened up to the public but as I write I cannot find any dates in the near future but I shall try and update this.

A contrary figure on Contrary Head

Thomas also expressed a wish to be laid to rest next to his wife. However, his son who had found religion refused to do this and instead he was interred at Patrick. The story goes that his friends then dug him up and re-buried him on by the Tower, the younger Corrin being placated when the ground was eventually consecrated.

The leaders in Saturday's Peel Hill Race which is part of the Easter Festival www.easterfestival.info/ will probably run up and around the Tower in under 20 minutes. I think I'm right in saying that the course for this one starts at the House of Mananan and you take the footpath at the bridge by the kipper factory before descending down towards Fenella Beach and then takes the footpath back which runs above the Quay. We actually did the reverse of that and it took us about an hour.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Harry Conquers Bradda Head

It's been a very long winter but finally, over the last few weeks, the weather has at last allowed us to walk out of the front door without full waterproofs.

A month ago now, we had a call from our daughter Lucy who was at a loose end with one of our grandsons, the famous/infamous Harry.

The bad news for them was that we were going walking (neither Lucy nor Harry is an enthusiastic pedestrian,) but not even they could resist the allure of such a beautiful day and came along without complaining too much.

We kicked off with a quick drink at the Bradda Glen Café www.braddaglen.im/ which I am pleased to report, seems to be thriving under its latest ownership after a few failed incarnations over the years. There are few better places to sit outside when the sun is shining and there is also a little playground which Harry found far more interesting than looking out over the picturesque bay, so you can probably guess where granddad was too.

Below you are able to make out Traie Meanagh, the former outdoor swimming pool where it has been proposed a private house should be built.

This is one of the proposed elavations

It will be good to see the ruin transformed but I fear that the creator of this project will need extremely deep pockets as there is no road access, so it will be very interesting to see how this progresses.

Fortified by our coffees and hot chocolates, we strode off through the Glen for Milners Tower.

The aforementioned Milners Tower as I am pretty sure I have written on the blog before was conceived as a tribute to James Milner, a retire locksmith and fire proof safe maker and built in 1870s in the shape of his then famous lock. The gentleman was a benefactor to many local charities, so this was done in gratitude for all his generosity. I have read both that the subscriptions required to complete the work fell short and that he found out about what was meant to be a secret and contributed most himself but either way, it was his money that saw the the work finally finished.

The higher you climb, the more spectacular the views and I think this one is form the top of the Tower.

His Mum and 'My Legs are Tired' alias Harry also managed the ascent here they are with the top of Bradda Hill in the background.

And at the top of the World with the usually camera shy Ninna

Granddad too

We descended fairly rapidly, though as yet, Harry hasn't quite discovered how to fall off a mountain fell runner style though he certainly fell a few times and having passed the café, we walked around the cliff below the old Collinsons and back to the upper promenade.

Another venture that has often come off the rails is the Station at Port St. Mary but the food was lovely when we stopped for lunch on the way home having worked up our appetites. Okells MPA, a real fire and the rugby on the telly. Couldn't be better than that ;)