May 16

The Isle of Man: Another Country

by in Blog trip, Holiday, UK

Flying on the little Manx2 plane from Blackpool, with its toy propellers, was like something from a 1940s movie. The stewardess gave the safety demo and then was multi-tasking as co-pilot a few feet ahead in the open cockpit.  The smooth flight took just 25 minutes and then …  we’d arrived in another country.

Legs of Man

Suddenly I was back in my childhood; driving along the coast road the air had that distinctive seaside aroma that took me back so many years; a combination of seaweed, fish and ‘ozone’, as Dad used to say.  Seagulls were swirling about in the strong breeze and there were scuds of white on the waves as the sea tried to make its mind whether it was worth creating a wave.  I was heading into Port St Mary on the Isle Of Man, making a return visit after 30 years.

Port St Mary bay

This trip was my prize for winning a travel blogging competition and I could choose a short break anywhere in the UK.  I chose the Isle of Man for 3 reasons:

*I hadn’t been since I was a child and had always wanted to come back and explore properly

* It wasn’t too far from where I live which meant less time travelling & more time exploring

* It appeared to have lots of quirky potential which I was hoping to explore during my trip

Collecting the hire car on arrival was my first sense that I was in a ‘another country’; the hire company is called Mylchreests – well, definitely not an English name!  Yet the road signs are the same, they drive on the left and there’s a strange familiarity in the scenery, with an air of the Cornish coast mixed with parts of southern Ireland.

Aaron House B&B“Reg, take Zoë’s bags up to Bonnie,” instructed Kath, landlady at Aaron House B&B.  Who was Bonnie –and why would she want my bags?  It turned out Bonny was the name of the fireplace in my bedroom.  The house is done out in a Victorian theme; it reminded me of Aunty Nellie’s house – sepia photos, ornate lamps, floral wallpaper and lots of knick-knackery.  Very quirky.   There was  a welcoming drink in the lounge overlooking the big bay of Port St Mary and outstanding blueberry scones; Aaron House is famous for their afternoon teas.

The highlight of this first day was a drive out to Calf Sound, with its spectacular  view of the Calf of Man, a rocky outcrop surrounded by carshing waves and safe haven for a colony of shiny seals.  I met up with Andrew White of Walks Around Britain, who was filming for Visit Isle of Man, who’d been so helpful arranging my itinerary. We had a hearty meal at The Sound café which is part of the excellent Story of Mann, the Manx National Heritage sites and Andrew gave me some tips on travelling around the island.  He recommended getting a good map and said the road signage was at times a bit hit and miss!  He seemed to have fallen in love with the island and assured me I’d have a really good time.

Calf of Man

Ending the day with a walk across the springy flower-covered grass for a last look at the Calf of Man, the magical atmosphere of this isle was really taking hold …

Thanks to Mylchreest Car Hire for great customer service and a very reliable vehicle and Manx2 Airline for the excellent flights from Blackpool and use of the fab Executive lounge.  Everyone at Visit Isle of Man was so very helpful – you made the trip extra-special and I loved quirky Aaron House.  Finally, a big thank-you to Alan of Travel Titbits for giving me this trip and making a dream come true!

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21 Responses to “The Isle of Man: Another Country”

  1. From Lori:

    Very interesting info, Zoe! I also saw an episode of Top Gear with fast cars traveling on the roads here (the section without speed limit).

    It sounds that you had a great time!

    Posted on May 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm #
  2. From Rob:

    They close the Section roads

    Posted on May 16, 2011 at 5:03 pm #
  3. From Luke:

    Thanks for giving our Island such a nice review, and I hate to be a nitpicker, but the IOM is technically not part of the UK. We are in the British Isles though :)

    Posted on May 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm #
  4. From Zoë Dawes:

    Cheers Luke… the title is ‘Britain’s Best Blogger’ so hopefully IoM comes into that … but whatever, I’m very glad I chose to visit :-)

    Posted on May 16, 2011 at 6:46 pm #
  5. From Zoë Dawes:

    Glad you enjoyed it Lori. They certainly race around the island very fast! The TT Races are next week and they weer putting up the barriers and stands all over the island. Apparently Jeremy Clarkson has a house on the island but has been ruffling feathers due to some argument over right to walk or somesuch …

    Posted on May 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm #
  6. From Leigh:

    I had just been looking at the world atlas on the weekend – figuring out where the Channel Islands and The Isle of Man were located. It looks like you can have yourself a quirky adventure and congrats on winning the contest. Lucky you with sunshine too.

    Posted on May 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm #
  7. From Laura:

    I’ve never been to The Isle of Man but this post has definitely inspired me!

    Posted on May 17, 2011 at 7:41 am #
  8. From Mike:

    Great piece, anywhere on the island with a national speed limit sign, has no speed limit, though they do bring in additional restrictions around TT and Manx Grand Prix fortnights.

    Posted on May 17, 2011 at 10:39 am #
  9. From Sophie's World:

    Congrats on winning a competition – fab prize!

    I really like the Isle of Man; it feels like such a different world in many ways. Could just sit and stare at the landscape (and hopefully spot the occasional basking shark) at Calf Sound for ever.

    Posted on May 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm #
  10. From Raymond:

    I have to say the Isle of Man looks spectacular. Being from Newfoundland I do like a good rocky outcrop!

    Posted on May 20, 2011 at 4:58 am #
  11. From Zoë Dawes:

    It definitley does feel other worldish soesn’t it. I didn’t get to see the basking sharks but hope to another day :-)

    Posted on May 20, 2011 at 8:38 am #
  12. From Zoë Dawes:

    Ha! Love that comment Raymond … and how come you have ended up the island?

    Posted on May 20, 2011 at 8:39 am #
  13. From Cam @ Traveling Canucks:

    I’ve never heard of this place before now, it sounds like a peaceful place to visit

    Posted on May 20, 2011 at 11:41 pm #
  14. From Zoë Dawes:

    It is lovely and relaxed with loads to see and do :-) Put it on your To Visit List!

    Posted on May 21, 2011 at 4:57 am #
  15. From Kindred Spirit Magazine:

    Can highly recommend Brightlife on I.O.Man, wonderful R&R and so much more:http://www.brightlife.com/

    Posted on August 4, 2011 at 9:30 am #
  16. From Zoë Dawes:

    It looks magical and the calming essence of the Isle of Man must gradually seep into the very soul of anyone who visits you …

    Posted on August 4, 2011 at 11:36 am #

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