Oie Houney



This winter fire festival was due to take place tomorrow to mark Hop Tu Naa (our more traditional version of Halloween) but as Storm Aiden is set to mess things up for us, it has taken place tonight. instead

We have just been standing at our windows with the lights switched off, watching the fireworks on Peel Headlands.

Now we shall sit by the fire and await tomorrow's storm.








 


Car Wash

A new experience for me today.

We attended a funeral service this morning in Douglas, then drove down to Port Erin for a lunch get together with the friends and family of the deceased.  The widow of our friend wanted it to be an uplifting, pleasant occasion and so it turned out. There were many funny stories of our friend from everyone there and lots of shared, happy memories.

On the way back, P said that we needed to fill the car with petrol, plus, as he had been given a voucher at our local petrol station for a free car wash, we would use the one in Port Erin.

Well, I have to admit that in all my 63 years, I have never been through an automated car wash before today.

As we arrived, a rather large BMW 4X4 nipped in front of us and drove onto the car wash ramp. The driver then got out and went to buy his ticket. (We had already exchanged our voucher for a ticket before driving round to the car wash).  He returned to his vehicle, punched in the code to get the machine started then moved his car up to the "Start" position. Once the machine started up, we were surprised to see him open his door and get out.  The act of opening his door appeared to trigger a sensor that stopped the machine from running. The driver didn't notice and went back into the service station shop. We waited for a while then P said he had better go in and tell him that nothing was happening with his car and we were waiting!

He came out and got back into his car and a garage employee also came out and had to reset the machine as it had stalled.

We then had fun watching the driver make several attempts to reposition his vehicle on the ramp in order for the wash cycle to restart.

Eventually he got it started and then it was our turn.



It was strange being inside the car with the water jets and brushes moving backwards then forwards over our car. Looking out of the side window it sometimes seemed that we were moving and I had to check that the handbrake was still applied, much to P's disgust.

When we arrived home I took a quick look at the car and noticed that there were still a few mucky bits. 

I am glad that we hadn't paid for that!




Clocks

On Sunday evening we were invited to a friend's house for her birthday celebration meal.

Although we have known this couple for ages, and socialised with them on many occasions it was the first time that I had been inside their house.

They live in a lovely old traditional Manx stone cottage, with a huge inglenook fireplace and lots of intriguing nooks and crannies. 

One of the rooms leading off from the dining room has been converted into the Clock Room.  Her husband has a passion for repairing and restoring clocks and over the years has amassed an eclectic collection of beautiful and interesting clocks of all types.  (I counted at least 10 Grandfather clocks dotted around the house).

He showed me around the impressive collection  displayed in the Clock Room.  When I asked him how many he had in there he thought for a moment and said, probably around 200.   

When I asked my friend how long it had taken her husband to change all his clocks back an hour for the weekend, she said that he had started on Friday!

Now, that is a passion.

(It seemed too intrusive to ask to take a photograph, so this is just a photo copied from the web...)



South Barrule

 This morning's walk was through the plantation at the South Barrule Forest Park, as we thought that would be more sheltered from today's gusty winds.  It was a lovely sunny morning but certainly breezy!

We met at our usual spot at the car park in the village of St Johns and one of our group then drove three of us up to the Forest Park car park, as there is limited parking space so one car would be better than four.  The fifth member of our group was already there waiting so we set off straight away.

The plantation is named for the nearby hill, South Barrule, one of the most prominent of the Island’s southern hills. The word Barrule comes from Wardfell, the hill of the ward or watch where men were stationed, day and night to watch for invading ships.

It was a reasonably flat walk through the trees but quite muddy in places after our recent heavy rain.

The plantation is very popular with walkers, mountain bikers, dog walkers and horse riders so it was quite busy there today, being a sunny Sunday.




After our hour and half walk we returned to the car park and enjoyed coffee and cake at the Coffee Cottage before the drive back to St Johns to pick up our cars.
Our friend who offered to drive us there and back made quick work of the journey;  as an experienced rally driver she doesn't hang about.  I found that I was gripping the edge of my seat most of the way.

Time for a rest this afternoon before joining our friends for dinner later to celebrate a birthday.

Enough excitement for one weekend.



Too Good To Last

This summer an airbridge was introduced between our island and Guernsey, as both nations were COVID free and had similar entry and quarantine restrictions in place. The airbridge meant that residents could travel freely between the two islands on a direct flight without the need to self isolate at either end.

Today it was announced that this airbridge has had to be suspended as there are now seven active cases in Guernsey's community, amongst residents who have not recently travelled off-island. This means that is is likely that someone else has brought the virus in with them and probably not followed the isolation rules, thereby introducing it into the local community


There are currently emergency plans being drawn up to safely bring back our residents who have recently flown to Guernsey for the half term holiday. They will all be required to self isolate for 14 days on their return.

At the brief press conference announcing this news,  our Chief Minister advised that he is currently quite unwell, as are several other ministers, although he says this is only "man flu" and not COVID. He caught the virus earlier in the year and says that he still has antibodies according to his latest blood test.

I hope that there are no more instances here, similar to the one reported in the local news last week, of  a young man who arrived back here on the ferry from the UK and, instead of self isolating, walked with a group of mates across town to McDonalds . He says he forgot that he was supposed to be isolating. He is now resting in prison.




Muppets

 This morning I was volunteering at the gift shop so P went to visit a friend, to take him a newspaper, have a chat and fix his smoke alarm.

They are both gentlemen of a certain age, of slightly irascible temperament and not used to holding back their opinions.

The friend's wife calls them Waldorf and Statler...



Kokoda

P is currently reading a rather weighty tome at the moment, "Kokoda" by Peter Fitzsimons.

It is an account of the Australian WWII campaign, describing the events and the conditions that the various protagonists encountered.

The book describes the challenging climate conditions of the area, with an average annual rainfall  of around 16 feet and a daily amount of 10 inches not uncommon.

It put our current rainstorm into perspective for me.

Life could be worse.





Nothing Doing

That just about sums up today here in JayCee Towers.

Steady rain all day.

Nowhere important to go.

Nothing much to do.

Heating on; supper cooked and eaten; wine glass in hand.



Filling The Weekend

This weekend has been unusually busy for me so far.

Saturday morning we drove into Peel and parked at the far end of the Promenade so that we could go for a short walk by the sea in the crisp, dry autumn air and detour into the town to buy a newspaper and a small gift for a friend's birthday.

We stopped for coffee in the museum coffee shop and browsed their range of gifts.   All the festive paraphernalia seems to be everywhere so early this year.  Halloween ( or Hop Tu Naa here)  and Guy Fawkes Night aren't even done yet and all the Christmas "stuff" is out.

Back home I got on with a couple of loads of washing while P went off to take part in a hill race.  I managed to finish most of the two crosswords before he came back.

Then in the evening we met up with a group of friends for a meal in a local restaurant, only a five minute drive from home.  It was a lovely evening with good company and good food at  a very reasonable price.

This morning I met up with the usual group for our Sunday walk. It was quite damp, not exactly raining but mizzly enough to wet our hair.  Coffee and a shared slice of yoghurt cake in the café afterwards.

Now, this afternoon, the sun has come out and I have been dozing on the sofa in the warmth coming in through the windows.  P is outside pruning some of the wayward bushes encroaching on the driveway.

I am making a venison casserole for supper tonight and have put a bottle of pink fizz in the 'fridge to chill. I expect P will drink Merlot instead. He is not as keen on fizz - all the more for me!

 


Putting Everything To Bed

With the local weather forecast set for dry conditions up until Sunday, P decided to have a good tidy up outside and get everything ready for the forthcoming season.

Not much opportunity now to use the garden table and chairs so they have been given a clean and are now stored in the greenhouse, which has finished its summer job of growing tomatoes and peppers.

The patio and drive have been swept clear - at least until the next batch of fallen leaves banks up huge piles of mulch material against the walls - and P's new toy (his power washer) has cleaned all the grime from the paving.

The grass has had its final cut and the mower cleaned and put away now until the Spring.

The coal bucket has been filled and brought up to sit beside the fire, along with a stack of logs from the wood pile.

It's that time of year again.  Time to dig out that bottle of Croft Particular and the old chestnut roasting pan.


(ours is a lot more rusty than this one!)


'Twas A Cold Frosty Morning

It was past eight o'clock in a cold frosty morning 

When bad tempered October blows over the plain,

I heard Manx Radio repeat a loud warning

As restless I sought for sweet slumber in vain:

Then up I arose, the sun shining bright,

Peel Hill and valley appearing all hoary white;

Forth I would go amid the pale, silent day,

To visit my breakfast, toast and coffee, wahey!.


With profuse apologies to Robert Burns.

Mucky Pup

 After my morning shift at the gift shop today I met a friend for lunch. We had arranged to meet at a nearby small shopping centre as they have a popular café there and we both enjoy looking around the clothes outlets without our other halves in tow.  I had parked away from the main car park as it usually quite busy and, as it was a lovely day, I thought a short walk would be good.

We had soup and a chat and then mooched around the shop for an hour or so. I bought myself a new jumper - as you do - and enjoyed the walk back to the car in the sunshine.

I changed into my cosy new jumper when I arrived home and felt quite pleased with my new purchase.

Supper was pasta with a passata based sauce.  Unfortunately I managed to somehow splash  a fair bit of it all down the front of my brand new jumper.   I have sponged it down with some cold water and keeping fingers crossed that it doesn't stain.

Clumsy me.


They'll Pinch Anything

The iconic wooden framed scoreboard used at the Grandstand for the TT races is the oldest manually operated one of its kind in the world.  


Each year, for the century old TT races in June and the Manx Grand Prix races in August, the scoreboard has been operated by the Isle of Man Scouts - 70 of them are required to keep score.

Old and New...



There is a fascinating account here for anyone who is interested to know more.

This year, the powers that be decided that this wonderful old structure was outdated and so have taken the decision to replace it with a modern digital version. The original scoreboard is being handed over to Manx National Heritage for preservation.

Unfortunately, the course map, which formed part of the structure (you can see it in the top picture) has now been stolen.

Rotten swines!


Soup Season

Today started off as another cold and wet grey day so I decided to make  a batch of soup for lunch.

Much like Weaver's fridge-bottom soup, I generally chuck in anything that comes to hand, season well with chilli, garlic and herbs, boil it all up and then blitz it with the stick blender. It usually tastes better than that sounds.

Today's soup used the left over broth from the weekend's beef stew as a base, adding some sweet potato and extra garlic.  Thanks to Tigger's comment on a recent blog post, I also added some torn up pieces of the mutilated sourdough loaf which soaked into the broth and thickened it up.

It was quite yummy, and there's some left for tomorrow.


Sunday Morning

 A beautiful crisp, cold, sunny morning.

I met my group of friends in a nearby car park to join them on their usual Sunday morning walk for the first time in several weeks. I have not walked with them for a while so it felt good to meet up again, especially on such a lovely day.

Their original plan was to walk up to the tower on the top of Peel hill, but that changed to a route around the harbour and town back out to where we started. A total of 2 hours steady yomping.


This is the view of Peel Hill and its tower, taken from the car park.

We briefly paused to watch this group doing some sort of training exercise in the harbour. Looked pretty chilly to me.




Coffee and shared cake in the museum coffee shop was a welcome pit stop.

A perfect morning.


Watch The Birdie

 This morning was rainy and miserable so we just sat indoors, reading and doing the crossword.

Suddenly P jumped up and grabbed the binoculars which sit beside the armchair.  He had noticed something down at the end of the garden.  It turned out to be a female sparrowhawk atop a pile of wood pigeon feathers, just finishing her meal.  We stood well back from the window, so as not to disturb her, and watched for a while.

Eventually she took off and then the crows descended to see what was left.

We have had rather a lot of wood pigeons nesting around here this year so I suppose that this one will not be missed. It was a fascinating sight. Nature in all its gory glory.

I couldn't get close enough to take a photo so this one is taken from a local website, but it shows a similar female just as ours appeared to us this morning.  A beautiful bird.




Fun Filled Friday

 Another action packed day here in wrinkly-world.

Up bright and early, well 8:30 is early for me, to find that we had run out of the ready sliced granary tin loaf that we use for  the toaster so P had tried to cut a couple of slices from the seeded sourdough loaf, managing to rip it into chunks instead.  Breakfast was interesting, but I glued my toast together with some homemade rhubarb and ginger jam, (not made by me but by a good friend).

Next, a rummage through the wardrobe to find a reasonably smart outfit to wear as we were meeting friends for a coffee.  We parked on the outskirts of Peel and walked down to the museum café. Boy, that wind was sharp.  I was frozen and wished that I had worn a scarf and gloves. I was amazed to see a man of mature years  out and about delivering newspapers, wearing a short sleeved shirt, shorts and sandals!

After coffee and a chat, we walked back up the hill stopping to pick up my prescription from the pharmacy.  Three people in the queue ahead of me but it still took 10 minutes before I was able to get served.

Next stop was the Hear2Help drop in clinic at the GP surgery to have my hearing aids retubed. Much more convenient now that the clinic has started up again so that I don't have to make a special trip out to the hospital. A charming man runs this drop in session each Friday morning on a purely volunteer basis. It is very much appreciated.

A quick visit to the supermarket across the road to buy bread then back home for lunch.

Later, we received a telephone call to say that an acquaintance had passed away yesterday.  He was in his eighties and had been suffering from heart problems but it was still a shock to hear that he had gone.  It is a sign of our age that we now keep a stock of sympathy cards in with the birthday cards, just in case.

Perhaps too much of a coincidence, but I have just received a letter from the Government asking me to complete a declaration form and have it witnessed, to prove that I am still alive and still qualify to receive my (very small) civil service pension.  

Life is just a round of fun filled frolics these days, but at least we are still living and breathing and, for the time being anyway, we still have a reasonable amount of freedom.   Carpe Diem.





Negative Interest

 I read a rather chilling report this week that the Bank of England is considering negative interest rates for savers.

We have no sophisticated arrangements for our pension savings; just a small lump sum currently in a National Savings Account.  I do not qualify for a state pension for another couple of years.

It seems I may need to go back to work!





All Seeing

 As well as developing hearing loss in my early forties, I have also been myopic since childhood.  At the age of seven, when I started at primary school, my teacher suggested that I have an eye test as she suspected that I was short-sighted.  

She was correct so I ended up, from the tender age of seven, having to wear the ugliest glasses ever designed.  Those horrible flesh-pink, round framed ones with the wire earpieces.

This is not me (obviously) but you get the idea...


At the age of eleven, I progressed to the next level of NHS horrors - the pale blue plastic frames slightly reminiscent of Dame Edna...


Needless to say, these did nothing for my self esteem as I reached puberty, and being called "specky four eyes" didn't help much either.

In my twenties I was able to afford contact lenses, although in those days I could only afford the hard lenses which I found quite uncomfortable.

In the late 1980s I read about a procedure called Radial Keratotomy, a type of refractive surgery where small incisions are made in the cornea in a radial pattern to change the shape of the eye.  I decided to have this done by a surgeon in London and was able to subsequently enjoy unaided perfect vision for the next twenty years.

Unfortunately, with advancing age my eyesight started to drift towards long-sightedness and I found that I had to start wearing glasses again during my fifties.  A couple of years ago I had surgery again, lens replacement for cataracts, and hey presto - I could see again.

In the past few months I have noticed that I have needed to borrow P's reading glasses when the light is bad so, when a recent Amazon order fell a little short of the minimum for free delivery, I added a pack of bargain reading glasses to make up the difference.  Three for £6 so not bad.


Now, I find that I am wearing them all the time for reading.  Back to square one again!


Mush

 For some unaccountable reason last night whilst trying unsuccessfully to get to sleep, a phrase from my childhood popped into my head, totally at random.

"Alright, mush?"  The equivalent meaning, how are you  old chap?  (Mush in this instance being pronounced moosh.)  Mush was a slang term  used where I grew up for both a friend or also a form of contempt, as in the more aggressive "Who do you think you are looking at, mush?"

My overactive brain then went on to consider the word mush and its various meanings, depending on how it is pronounced.

In my childhood, mush (moosh) was also used to mean face, as in "He had chocolate all over his mush".

The alternatives, pronounced to rhyme with hush or lush, are probably the more familiar terms for a mess, a sentimental story or to whip up a dog sled. A verb or a noun or an exclamation.

So many meanings from just one little word.

I remember a young Spanish student who stayed with us whilst studying at an English Language school turning to me in exasperation saying, "English is so hard. There are no proper rules!"

Just a complete mush really.



Western 10

Today (Sunday) was the Western 10 event which, as its name suggests, is a 10 mile run / walk road race which begins and ends in Peel.  P usually competes each year, provided he is not suffering from one of the usual runner's injuries.

At around the one hour mark  the course passes by our house and I said that I would look out for him and cheer him on.  This morning, however, the weather was still wet and miserable so instead of standing at the lane I remained indoors and just looked out of the window to try to catch sight of him passing by.

By this point in the race the steady stream of competitors passing by had thinned out to just an intermittent flash of a runner or walker in dayglo kit. I was ready, poised with my camera at the time he suggested that he would be there but I must have missed him. It is quite boring just standing, looking up the drive, waiting.

I managed to catch two brief shots of other runners but then gave up and returned to my book.



After the race he went along to the prize presentation, where there was free soup and pasty for the competitors.  He was very pleased to have won the over-65s prize - a £10 voucher towards a meal at the Creek Inn.

I know where he will be taking me for lunch next week!






Murky

 Storm Alex is currently brushing past us, as this webcam image shows - taken from the tram station up on Snaefell.


Tonight we shall have a spaghetti bolognese with a glass or two of something warming beside the fire.

If it has stopped raining by the morning, I may go out for a walk.

A Frosty Start

This morning started clear, bright but frosty up here. A beautiful blue sky but only 5C with a sparkling white lawn.

We had no idea that the south of the UK was being lashed by Storm Alex.

I drove into Peel, admiring the sun reflecting off the calm sea and spent an uneventful morning volunteering in the gift shop as usual.

Now back at home looking out onto a clear, almost wind-less garden with late afternoon sun slanting through the window, keeping fingers crossed that Alex passes us by.  Please.


Getting Out

I haven't been out and about walking much lately due to my allergies but this afternoon I felt a desperate need to do so.

October 1st and a wonderful Autumn day. Cool and crisp with a lovely blue sky and a light breeze.  The forecast for the next few days is not so good so today was the day.

I had pulled a muscle in my back when changing the bed linen recently and had been in pain for a day or so. A walk ought to loosen me up so off I popped.

From our front gate the lane rises quite steadily up to a car parking area before it levels off and I started off at a very brisk pace, to see how far I could keep it up. I was pleased with myself for managing it right up to the top.

The view was my reward...


Looking back...

Looking forward...

On the way back to the house..


Only half an hour, but I feel better for it.