Wednesday, December 29

The Isle of Man

Telling people you're planning to spend a week in the Isle of Man generally results in one of three reactions. The first is that of those who have heard of the place and would like to go themselves at some point. The second are also from those who have heard of it but then ask "what the hell are you going there for?". Finally there is the suggestion I should visit Southampton on the way. Quite.

The truth is that due to having relatives there I've regularly been visiting the Isle of Man for almost 25 years now. It was the first place I flew to without my parents and perhaps even totally on my own, and as such I have collected some pretty poignant memories over the years. I'm actually quite proud to be able to say I've been there multiple times, as a kind of temper to my more "exotic and adventurous" travels. And of course there is a certain kudos to visiting the home of Stuart Baggs.

Of course there's not really much to do there as a tourist and on this trip most of my time was spent just hanging with my cousins and vegging out in front of television Christmas movies. Still there are a few things on the Isle of Man which, in my mind, can only be found by travelling to the island. My top five (in no particular order) are:

  1. Getting there. It's like being part of an exclusive club flying to a special place, from the twin propeller planes that take you there (three to four seats wide) to the tiny airport on the other side, the whole deal is very quaint and unique.
  2. The Promenade in Douglas. Most Islanders don't get why, but I do love it there. Specifically I love the sweeping arch starting from the ferry terminal and curving all the way to the cliffs on the other end. In some peculiar ways it's very Monkey Islandish.
  3. Strand Street. Especially the Marks and Spencer at the end.
  4. Marcy's House. A bit of a personal one here, but if there's one thing an eight year old will always remember about a place it's an upside down house.
  5. Glen Maye. Although there's a lot to be said about the natural beauty of this and the other Glens on the Island, Glen Maye is of particular value to me – I'm almost compelled to drop by each time I visit the Island, walking along the stream until we hit the pebble beach and cove at the end. It's a magical place, if only for the memories it invokes when I get there.
I guess seeing the place every five years or so makes it easier to visualise certain fixed points in my own life, and ultimately that's why the place is so special to me. Which actually makes it quite sad when I consider that this may be one of my final visits there, as my relatives increasingly look to move away to the mainland.

Of course it turns out that the Island feels the same about me – or at least that's how I chose to read the two flight cancellations, the aborted take-off and aborted landing at City today. Although the Island is relatively close, the normally three hour transit took eight instead. It remains to be seen if that journey becomes another fond memory of another brilliant trip to the Isle of Man.

EDIT: But of course you already know this, seeing as I wrote about my last trip there in 2005. I'm glad to see that my sentiments are the same now as they were then.