19th May 2018

We are waking later and later, half past nine again today! I blame jetlag. After a conversation with Stephen, supposedly to wish him happy birthday, I realised that I was tiring Mum out as well as myself. She is used to her gentle routine and being whisked out for a scenic drive is disruptive. When I call from Australia Mum talks about being in a ‘benign prison’ so I assumed she wanted to go out. I told her we needed a rest day, knowing she would quickly deny that she was tired herself. After a leisurely start we headed down to nearby Glen Maye. It has to be the prettiest of the glens.

The waterfall roars down, tumbles over rocks and makes its way to the sea as it has for millenia. It has carved a deep chasm, hung with greenery like some tropical jungle. The stony path is laced with tree roots worn smooth by human feet. All around us is green, delicate new beech leaves, sycamore tinged with red, bracken and wildflowers I recognise from childhood. The air is damp, cool and shady, the sun barely reaches the ground. Moss and exotic creamy coloured plates of fungi grow on fallen branches, water trickles down the sides to join the stream.  As the glen opened out, the island wind blew harder and colder. By the time we reached the pebble beach, I was over the beauty and needed a hot coffee. At least the wind was at our backs on the return trip.

The afternoon was more chess and ice cream. The beach was littered with seaweed thrown up by the waves – the sea had been pretty rough. Our hosts have bins full of drying seaweed that is heaped around potato plants as they grow. It is a perfect fertiliser, with the bonus of the potatoes coming out clean. Well into their seventies, they put my vegie patch to shame. They have a huge area full of seedlings, fruit trees and berry bushes, a greenhouse for tomatoes and grapes. They run two self-catering holiday properties in the converted barn and ‘spud house’ of their farmhouse. The kayaks by the path are well used; they paddle round the island’s coast seeing puffins and nesting seabirds, finding caves. I hope I am as active at their age.

18 May 2018

We have visited South Barrule, this time with Mum. It is the first time she has seen the house since she left with a broken arm, three and a half years ago. Work has been done inside, it has been cleaned and even the rolled-up carpets removed. Outside the front door scarlet and yellow tulips were blooming – a startling sign of life against the grey stone wall. The back was overgrown and the stones mossy. Without all Mum’s flowerpots,  the clematis and japonica clinging to the walls, it looked empty. It was sad for Mum but not as devastating as she had expected.


We drove to Port Erin, parked illegally as do all the islanders and bought ice creams to eat watching children braving a freezing sea. We didn’t go in the bookshop this time. Mum doesn’t walk far now and tires easily. That was plenty for one  day.

17 May 2018

17 May 2018

Our internet connection is flipping on and off, so I’ve decided to use Word and upload later. We had noticed an advertisement for a farmers’ market to be held in the hall next to the cathedral on Sunday. We took Mum in the car and wandered in. There were only a few stalls but quite a variety of produce. We bought an apple pie and a rhubarb crumble from one lady and a meat pie from another. The swedes and parsnips on the vegie stall were enormous compared with Australian ones. The plants outside were tempting but Mum has no room on her windowsill for any more. I play chess with her most mornings or try to. Mum was in a chess club for many years so there is no contest. The most I can do is delay the inevitable. She bemoans the fact that there is no one to play with in the home. In the afternoons we drive to Peel promenade and have an ice cream. The locally made brand is popular with tourists and locals alike. They even have a non-dairy alternative for me. The shop also sells home-made luxury chocolates, the sort you only buy in ones. The sea breeze is sharp, so we sit in the car and watch children on the beach; they are oblivious to the chill. A few holidaymakers are sitting in coats and scarves, determined to enjoy their annual seaside trip. The bay curves from the 11thcentury castle on the left past the cluster of houses and hotels to the green hills hedged with gorse, golden at this time of year. Ancient drystone walls are beneath the gorse, enclosing fields odd-shaped centuries ago. A breakwater extends from the castle out into the sea, protecting the bay from the winter storms and creating a sheltered harbour for the fishing boats. A seal appears when the boats come in, hoping for a fish tossed overboard.DSC02187

15 May 2018 Isle of Man

It’s Stephen’s birthday tomorrow and yet again I’ve forgotten to send a card that will get there in time. My son Dominic announced some years ago that he was not buying cards again, they were a waste of money and he’d rather spend it on a decent present. An admirable stand to take. He’s right of course, but the gifts become anonymous over time and we keep cards to remind us of the people who love us. so I’ll buy one and put a first class stamp on to make me feel better though I don’t think it will arrive on the day. Thinking of him reminded me of the trip we did to our old home in Redditch. I had questions: how old was that house? Who lived there? Stephen researches as part of his work. We spent a fun afternoon at the computer as he gave me a crash course on sources of information. There is a site called ‘Old Maps’, who knew? The house was the only one named on the oldest available map, in 1883, so it was older than that and significant enough to be recorded. Other records gave us the names of two previous owners, one of whom was an active member of the community. The other was a soldier who died in the first world war. We used Google maps to find other houses we had lived in, in Yorkshire and Norfolk. I’ll visit them next trip. Places in my autobiography become more real when they exist outside my memory. Now, that birthday card. Being on an island means the mail travels to England on the plane. There is one at lunchtime.

Why are you going to Tasmania?

Well, Jenny’s lovely Mother misread “Tanzania” and either way it is a pertinent question. We’re going there to ride bikes from Kilimanjaro to fabled places such as the Ngorongoro crater and The Serengeti. We want to meet the Masai people and if we have to back up for an elephant we will be very happy. Tonight we are on our way to Dubai then Nairobi then Arusha. We plan to join a group and cycle about 300 km over the next two weeks. We will see how we go and hopefully be able to post a few notes about our journey together.

Peel Isle of Man

When we booked our place for Peel it seemed as if we would have a long long time here. Now we are facing leaving next Friday. Summer has been on and off again but we have enjoyed living in Peel.

We are having a bit of trouble getting our blog organised – internet speeds are slow. When we find wifi it is invariably slow and baulks at uploading images. We will try to keep the text up and insert images when we are able.

Peel is a place for long walks, for looking at boats in the Marina and enjoying Guiness at The Creek Hotel. We are enjoying it very much.



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