Back in 2015, I visited the Isle of Man, and wrote an extensive travelogue regarding the week I spent on the island with my Uncle. I never published it. Looking through my drafts, I found the 75% completed post, and I decided to finish it, with select pictures I took while there. This is the post I wrote back in 2015, as it would have been:
I’ve been on holiday this week. I spent several days in The Isle of Man, and I have managed to fit in a lot walking, photography, writing, filming, and ice cream, into the rather busy itinerary. As such, I have compiled a trio of treats for your enjoyment. This blog post is one of them, this being my write up of the adventure, including the journey there and back. Also, there are photos (For my Facebook only, sorry), and a short film I have prepared. So sit back, and prepare for a long post…
DAY 1: A LONG JOURNEY
Our journey (Mine and my Uncle’s) began at half 3 in the afternoon. By the time we had left, there were already light showers over Ormskirk, which plagued our journey to the Isles all the way, more on that later. With our train not arriving until 20 past 4 in the afternoon, we spent up to half an hour, in dull, awfully miserable, grey and rainy weather, protected only by the glass roof over the platform, which shielded us from the worst of it. However, we were soon on the train, an in next to no time, we had arrived at Moorfields Station, in Liverpool.
Moorfields was the closest to Liverpool One, and therefore the Albert Docks, meaning we could easily get our evening meal, and be at the ferry terminal quickly. Our meal was at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and I had my meal of a chicken burger, with fries, and a Oreo milkshake. Indeed, the meal was good, and very filling. At this point, the rain had fortunately subsided, for the time being at least, making our walk to the Ferry terminal, a little bit more bearable.
Though the plan was to look inside some of the shops, most of them were already shut, it being a Sunday. So, we then decided to walk to our Ferry, Manannan. Manannan was a large, sleek, black and White Vessel, which had previously belonged to the Australian Navy, now used to ferry passengers between the UK, Isle of Man, and Ireland.
The Ferry Terminal we were in was one of the most miserable looking places I’ve ever been in. If you have been to Liverpool, then you may know what I am talking about, but it is basically a floating shed. No matter, we were soon on Manannan, and after a short safety video, we were on our way to The Isle of Man.
The trip, just under 3 hours, was mostly comfortable, though with the weather getting progressively worse, the ship began to shake, in fear of the rough waves. I did, however, have a lot of fun listening to ‘Go with the flow‘ while leaving Liverpool, and Rime of the Ancient Mariner, as the ship was stuck in a landless void of sea.
By 10:15 at night, though, we had made it. And to greet us, was rain.
Horizontal, heavy, brine filled rain. It had made a seemingly pleasant walk down the Douglas promenade horrible uncomfortable, with both of us trying in vain to shield our faces. We made it to The Empress hotel, however, swiftly checking in, putting our bags down, and going to bed, for what would be an eventful few days.
DAY 2: IT’S A LONG WAY TO CASTLE TOWN
We were awake at 7:00am. The point of this was to collect our GO EXPLORE Cards, which were like Oyster cards, in that they granted us travel on Public transport. After getting dressed, and going to Breakfast, in the downstairs area, we walked into the Douglas High street, and observed the shops opening, and gaining our GO cards in the process. At this point, I should talk about the hotel we stayed in. The Empress:
- Spacious Rooms
- Good Wi-fi signal
- A good Breakfast selection
- Beds with wheels
- Warm Milk at Breakfast
- Uncomfortable Pillows
Despite pros and cons, it was a place to leave my stuff, and rest my head, so at least it succeeded in that. In my observations of Douglas, the High Street certainly had a good selection of local and chain shops, and a few local chain shops as well. Our main objective for today was to travel to Castle Town, to visit Old Key House, where the Manx Parliament once sat, and the opportunity to go to Castle Rushen. The bus rides was comfortable, and we saw sites like Fairy Bridge (HELLO, FAIRIES), as we made our journey.
The Old House of Keys was a fine building, with a classy exterior and interior. But what was strange was the interactive experience. In the House, we had the opportunity to vote on key historic votes of the Island, headed by a holographic face, projected onto the body of a wax dummy. It was cool, but very creepy. In all but one vote, I voted with the crowd, with the exception being an EU vote. I am glad to have been the only person to have voted against the majority. Besides the House, and Castle Rushen (which I did not go in, because I didn’t want to do a guided tour), Castle Town is not really that interesting. Having had a quick lunch in Castle Town, we went to Port Erin.
Port Erin has less stuff in it than Castle Town, but Port Erin was nicer. It had some lovely views, and a railway museum, which I enthusiastically visited. It is also where I bought my first souvenir, a badge from the railway museum. After this, and then grabbing an Ice Cream, we went back to Douglas.
It was at this point that we decided to find a place to eat. After a quick recharge in the Hotel, we went back into Douglas to look for somewhere to eat…and we walked…and walked…and walked…and settled for KFC. Most of the shops in Douglas usually shut around 4:30-5:30, and this was 6:30, and the high street was dead. We could have gone to a pub, but a lot of them were too far for our legs. So KFC it was. To make up for it, we went to a Pub Niall liked, and we sat there, and had a drink, whilst watching a ferry leave Douglas. It was after that boat left our field of view, we got up and returned to our hotel, booking a table in the hotel restaurant at the same time.
DAY 3: I LIFT MY CLOAK
Our third day was more relaxed, waking up at 8:00 am instead. After breakfast, we went to Peel. Peel is the second largest town in the Island, and located in the west, facing Ireland. After a 40 minute bus ride, we were soon there. Our first port of call was Peel Castle, where we were allowed to freely roam, unlike Castle Rushen.
We had devices handed to us, which when you pressed a certain number, a voice clip would play, and tell you a fact about a castle. We were therefore guided by Manannan, the Irish God of the sea, as he taught us about the castle. I took a lot of good pictures there.
We left Peel castle to go to the Visitor centre. The first third of it was brilliant. Each exhibit was linked by videos (with the same guy who was manannan at the castle) explaining the history of the Isle of Man. It was bloody awesome. We then went to the upstairs area, and I hoped they’d continue it. But unfortunately, it didn’t. I was really disappointed with that, especially when the first section was so good. I really hope they redo it, and make it a fully immersive experience like that first section. It would’ve been the best.
After Lunch, we visited a Jewelers, so Niall could buy a ring. I had wanted one for some time, and I figured now was a good opportunity. Unfortunately, we had to wait for about an hour, as the ring was altered to fit Niall’s finger, so we waited in a pub, and wandered around Peel, before returning, getting my pocket watch, and Niall’s ring. It was then we had finished our time in Peel, and we went back to Douglas. It was still early afternoon, and as we were in the city centre, we wandered through the shops, in order to get ideas of what souvenirs to get, as we would purchase them the next day. We mooched around the shops, and returned to the hotel, after having walked an impressive 10km that day.
For Dinner, we were dining in the hotel restaurant. Niall decided to have lamb, while I had a steak, which was very nice indeed. I would write a full Raise the Steaks review, but as this post is long enough as is, I’ll give you the grades:
ATMOSPHERE: Very Well Done
STEAK: Very Well Done
PRICE: Well Done
SERVICE: Very Well Done
CLEANLINESS: Well Done
DAY 4: THE WHEEL KEEPS ON ROLLING
Another day, another 8am wake up. By this point, I think the time is beginning to affect me. You can remind me that everyday, I used to wake up at 6:35am most days, but I need a rest.
We travelled to Laxey today, which was the birthplace of my Granddad. We don’t know the house he was born in, but we know he was born in Laxey. Our first port of call was The Laxey Wheel, Europe’s oldest surviving wheel. It is very big at 228 feet tall. I climbed to the top, via 228 feet worth of steps. I, Ben Attwood, travelled to the top of the Laxey Wheel. It was almost as if I conquered my fear of heights.
I did not, however, climb to the top of Snaefell. I got cold feet. This made me angry at the time, but when walking to the other Laxey Wheel, and also the supposed grave of a Viking King, King Orry, I visited areas that no one else in my family has. So yay me.
Next on the itinerary was souvenir shopping. My mum instructed me not to get too much for Sam. I bought Sam some Knobs, while Niall bought him a shirt. I got myself:
- A Pocket Watch
- A Manx Decimal Coin set
- A Pen
- A TT Shirt
I got myself quite a bit of stuff. As it was our last evening in The Isle of Man, we went to The Terminal, a Pub at the far end of the promenade. We had a good seat in the shade, and watched Horse Trams pass by. I like horses. By the time we returned (and I had a shower), it was Dinner time. The Venue? Manx Gourmet Burgers. It’s based in the same part of the hotel where we get breakfast from. I had a chicken burger, with chips and a milkshake. It was after this that we began packing our things , ready for the trip home.
DAY 5: A LONGER JOURNEY STILL
Today was our last day in The Isle of Man. Our bags packed, bodies dressed, and breakfast eaten, we checked out of The Empress, walking down the promenade to leave our bags in lockers at the Ferry terminal.
We had time to kill, so we went to the Manx Museum, which was not far from the ferry terminal. It was quite interesting, like most Museums are, so it was very interesting. We then went to Douglas Iceland. Why? Subway, of course. Amazingly, it was hidden away in the corner of the shop. More amazingly, they served Vanilla Coke. Compared to most Subways, it had the best drink selection I’ve ever seen.
After this, we mooched around Douglas, where I restocked on Chewing Gum, and Niall found a copy of Xanadu, the Film soundtrack. I purchased the album, and was elated to find it. I now own the entire Studio discography of ELO, which makes me happy.
We soon made our way to a local cafe for an Ice Cream, to sit and reflect on our journey, our memories, and to feed our growing enthusiasm to return to the UK. We went t the Ferry Terminal, and we queued at check in. The departure lounge was larger, more modern, and less floaty than on The Albert Dock, and more akin to an Airport. As Niall has been on this journey many times, he had perfected his timings. As such, check in, and our eventual arrival on Mannannan was relatively swift.
And with that, we left The Isle of Man. And 2 Hours and 45 minutes later, we returned to Liverpool, our trip ending with the Liver Building prominently in my field of view.
In closing, The Isle of Man, its history, people, customs, and my heritage has been something I have enjoyed learning about and discovering for myself. I did not need to look through the eyes of my Granddad or Uncle anymore. I have my own story, recollections, and memories.