27. joulu, 2016

An island break from the caravan

 We’re stood at the top of Ben-y-Phott mountain and the wind has really picked up. I pull the hood of my hiking jacket tightly over my head and gaze upon the view before me. Lush green hills, fluffy sheep, centuries old stone walls, and the waves of the Irish Sea crashing against the rock cliffs. By now this scenery is starting to feel familiar and it's got a special place in my heart. After all, the Isle of Man has been home to our firstborn for nearly a decade and it's also the birthplace of both of our grandchildren.

I let my eyes circle the islands coastline, paying attention to the small towns dotted along it. Their buildings are old and beautiful, featuring stonewalls, towers, tall windows and decorative architecture. The colourful fishing boats and rather elegant sailboats in the harbour help create a charming seaside atmosphere and I must admit that there's something quite magical about this place. It's no wonder that this picturesque island has attracted lots of filmmakers, resulting in over 80 films being shot here over the past twenty years.

We continue on our path by the field side until we reach a small stone circle that marks an ancient meeting place. It's lovely to think that there have been people here since the stone age and that the country's parliament “Tynwald” is the oldest of it's kind. Changes in world politics arrive here slowly and this independent island continues on with it's agricultural and fishing orientated lifestyle, reasonably unaffected by the changing whims of the outside world.

After our three hour hike we continue our day trip by car. While Epeli is on it's sea voyage, we get a break from driving and navigating and enjoy the views from the backseat for a change. Our daughter Heli whizzes confidently along the narrow and bendy mountain road. Once a year the island hosts the worlds oldest and notoriously dangerous TT motorcycle race and the mountain road is one of the most famous parts of the track. During TT the islands population doubles due to tourists, but now, in December, they are nowhere to be seen.

We make a trip to the most Southern point of the Island, driving through the traditional village of Cregneash, where chalky white cottages with ancient thatched roofs now operate as a national heritage museum. We climb on to rock cliffs and the chasms there make us watch our steps! A misplaced step could lead to a ten foot drop down a chasm, into the freezing ocean. We take some photos of a huge rock named “sugarloaf “ , which stands on it's own in the sea with the sun setting behind it.

As the evening dims we make our way back to Ramsey. Despite our tired feet and stiff muscles we're glad to have seen and experienced a lot together today. A hot shower and warm drink feel heavenly. The lovely day is topped off by our sweet grandchild who wraps their arms around me and whispers “nanny, I'm your friend!”