Plenty Of Water

The summer's water shortages and hosepipe ban seem a long time ago now.

This morning saw a frisky little storm up here with gale force winds blowing and heavy rain causing localised street flooding, fallen trees and roof slates plus the obligatory rogue wheelie bins.

When P collected me from my morning's volunteering shift at the Hospice shop he dolefully informed me that all of our leaded, stained glass windows had been leaking with puddles of water collecting on all the window sills.  

We have mopped up the water and stuffed cloths along the bottom of each window but fortunately the rain has now stopped and the sun is shining once more, although the winds have not abated very much.

I really hope that this is just a result of the extreme weather today and doesn't mean that we have huge window restoration bills looming.



Characters On The Bus

We took a bus trip into the sprawling metropolis of Douglas this morning as P had an appointment for his booster jab at midday.

A young woman boarded about halfway there, laden down with a wheeled suitcase, huge rucksack plus a large "bag for life" crammed full.  She managed to get down to the back of the bus where, according to P, she was crying and talking on her 'phone to somebody about having just left home.  She struggled to get off on the outskirts of town so we don't know where she ended up.

After the jab, Christmas present shopping and lunch at The Caff opposite the bus station, we boarded the 1:10 bus back home.  This one was very full and with several "characters" on board.


One (very) young mum boarded first with a toddler in a buggy. Buggy and toddler were parked at the front near the driver whilst mum walked right to the back of the bus for the remainder of the journey. Thankfully, it was only when the bus neared their stop that the little girl jumped out of her buggy and wobbled to the exit door, ready to jump off.  Mum wandered down and retrieved bags and buggy but let the little one jump off by herself and scamper along the pavement beside the busy road. Eeek!

A young man boarded outside the college, looking very arty and studious with his trendy specs and long, collar length wavy hair under a stylish flat cap. He spent the whole journey working on his laptop.

A young man had boarded just after us and sat immediately in front of us. He was wearing baggy joggers and a hoodie and carried with him a most distinctive aroma of curry and pungent body odour.  He pulled up his hood and lay back to snooze for the entire journey, occasionally letting off little puffs of aromatic flatulence to add to the general miasma.

Ah, life's rich pageant.




Polaris

 At 3:35 a.m. I awoke suddenly, no idea why, and lay there for a while looking up through the Velux window in the roof above my bed.

It must have been a fairly clear night because I could clearly see the bright, white light from the North Star (Polaris) hanging directly overhead.  I gazed at it for some time before I eventually dropped off to sleep again.

Out of interest, I googled the North Star and found an interesting article about it.  Apparently, due to the Earth's continuing spinning motion on its axis, in a thousand years' time Polaris will no longer be the "North" Pole Star as we shall be pointing in a slightly different direction.

I shall miss that.




Saving A Few Pennies

Well, it may not quite cover the cost of a new tank of heating oil but we shall not need to buy any apples and pears for a little while.



Which is a good thing as P has persuaded me to book us a little holiday in January .  Deposit paid today and fingers crossed for no disasters before then.



Out Of Puff

I am now recovered from my recent cold virus thingy, although still slightly short of breath. 

We walked into town this morning to stock up on bread,  milk,  yogurt etc and P bought a new pair of wellies as his 30 year old pair have sprung a leak.  Not good walking around the garden in cold, sodden socks.

It took us around an hour or so and I had to stop for a rest on a bench on the way back as I was a little breathless.

After lunch I was looking forward to curling up with my library book but P was keen (very keen) to take me out on a walk around one of the local glens.  "A nice easy walk" he said.

So I dragged myself off the sofa  put on my walking boots and slumped in the passenger seat of the car for the five minute drive down to Cornaa and the car park at Ballaglass Glen.

It is indeed a beautiful spot, almost like an enchanted wood. There is even a Wizard's Trail there for kids. Most of it was easy underfoot but some steep narrow parts around the waterfall had no handrail so P had to help me out.

Here are some photos from the walk...









An hour's walk in total and by the time we got home I was exhausted and just flaked out on the sofa.

Oldies But Goodies

This weekend has seen the Isle Of Man Festival of Motoring take place, with a huge array of impressive vehicles and several events taking place all over the island.

Today the cars were all lined up along the Mooragh Promenade on the north shore here in Ramsey prior to setting off on their cavalcade down to Douglas.

We wrapped ourselves up in coats and gloves and braved the chill wind to walk down for a skeet.  These are only a few of them.  There were too many for me to take photos of them all.





Some nice motors there.






Thank You

 Thanks to everyone for all the kind comments you left on my last post, and my apologies for not replying to them all, or leaving comments on your blogs.  I just couldn't concentrate through the brain fog.   I am feeling better now and am actually up and dressed today.  Most of this week has seen me either sleeping or putting in lots of quality sofa-time with a hot water bottle and a "feeling sorry for myself" face.  I tested negative for Covid so it was probably just a stinker of a cold. Still, I did manage to lose a kg or two in weight so not all bad then.

It is quite bright and sunny here today, which helps to hasten the recovery.  I pottered about outside in the garden for a while but there is a very sharp north-westerly cutting its way around the corners so I am back inside with tea and a chocolate digestive (dark chocolate of course) and wondering which plants to buy for late autumn/winter flowering.  We are planning on sowing a wildflower patch at the bottom of the drive which is currently just bare earth.  I have already planted some crocus bulbs down there for the spring and shall be sowing the wildflower seed soon to come up for some summer colour, but am not sure what to plant for colour after the wildflowers have faded.  Any suggestions are welcome!

 


Under The Weather

Must have picked up a virus on my errands last week.

Feeling very rough last night and today.

Will catch up when I feel better.


Thursday

Wet and drizzly.  

P had an emergency dentist appointment at 1:30 in Douglas so we caught the 12:30 bus into town. I whizzed around the shops whilst he was being drilled and filled.

I only had 30 minutes to buy the things on my list so only managed to squeeze in Boots and Holland & Barrett before his text telling me he was on his way. Just time to pop into our version of Poundland (should be named Two-Poundland) for some reading glasses then a quick jog to the bus stop.  We didn't want to miss this bus and end up stuck on the "school chucking out time" service.

Home for a cuppa and the sad news about the Queen's failing health.


Leftovers

We are generally quite thrifty here at JayCee Towers. 

I never throw food away and use up whatever is left in some form of soup or stew.  P keeps everything and is handy with hammer and nails... and chainsaw.

The last couple of days had given us some warm September sunshine so P was itching to come up with another garden project.  Our driveway slopes quite steeply beyond the little patio outside the front door and our plant pots are always at an angle, propped up on the lower side by random bits of stone.

P set to with spirit level,  saw, hammer and nails and is now well on the way to construct a level "pot shelf" using up broken pieces of stone and rock plus the old fence posts (with the rotten bits removed of course).


It's coming on well.

(Now a boring cooking alert):  On Sunday  I had made a slow-cooker meal using some local Manx top rump that was marked down in the shop on its Use by date.  There was quite a bit of the beefy sauce/gravy left over so last night I used it up mixed with leftover couscous from the freezer for me plus a gravy for P's leftover sausages from last week.

Our visiting  friends from the last week or so had small appetites so there were plenty of leftovers in the freezer to keep us going after they went home.

We waste nothing.



Not The Best Day

Friday was not the best day I have had.   I started to write a blog post about it but it was turning into an epistle of epic proportions so I binned it.  A shortened version may still bore you but here goes.

Firstly, a half hour wait in the Post Office queue to send my (22 page) UK pension application. Then another half hour wait outside the Hospice shop to start my volunteering shift but nobody arrived to open the shop. Gave up after that and went home.

I had a routine eyesight test appointment at 1 p.m. at the optician, where I mentioned a sudden burst of floaters and flashing lights I had experienced the day before. She took a look at my eyes and offered an Optomap test (not included on NHS so cost me £40).  A letter was then produced for an urgent referral to A&E as she suspected retinal detachment and I was told to get over there straight away.

Oof.   

P dropped everything and drove me to the hospital in Douglas.  Three hours later and the ophthalmologist examined my eyes and pronounced all was clear, but to return immediately to A&E if I experienced any black shadows or veils over my eye.

I felt such a sense of relief I almost hugged him.  Those three hours in the waiting room were spent thinking about how I could adapt my life if I ever lost my vision.  Not exactly positive thinking but I couldn't help myself.

Today is very wet with a steady, drenching rain but I don't care. I am just so thankful I can see it.


Getting Back On Track

 After a few "uh oh" moments regarding the airline's online check-in and boarding pass procedures, our friends finally managed to jet off back to sunny Nevada yesterday.

It seems that the airlines' online systems cannot cope well with having one flight on the itinerary with a different carrier.  Airline A said check in via Airline B, but Airline B said check in via Airline A. Round and round in circles we went. Luckily the Isle of Man airport staff sorted it all out in less than two minutes. Simple.

After watching them pass through the departures security barrier at 11 a.m. yesterday we drove the five minutes into Castletown to sit with a coffee out in the sunshine and watched their inbound 'plane come in to land.  Half an hour later we watched them take off en-route to London, thence onward via Chicago to Reno..

I have just had an email telling me that they finally arrived home around an hour ago.  I expect they'll be a little tired by now.

My day today will be spent catching up on laundry and housework, with a visit to the library.  

I am also catching up with all your blogs and look forward to getting back to normal again.

Having visitors is wonderful but I do like having the house to myself again!




A Quiet Moment

 Since our friends arrived last Sunday I have been quite busy.  Lots of cooking, cleaning, entertaining etc. etc. etc...

They have just gone out to watch the last of the racing, which finishes today, so I have a few hours to myself.

The weather, although generally fine, has been hit and miss with racing postponed or cancelled some days due to hill fog or rain, so it was a relief  to have a dry day today to finish off the race festival.

I have managed to snatch a few minutes here and there to catch up with some of your blogs but haven't had time to comment so apologies for that.

Our friends are due to leave on Wednesday, flying back to hot and sunny Nevada, so I hope to get back to my normal routine then.  

There seems to be rather a large number of empty wine bottles here to take for recycling.  Not sure how that happened.







Visitors

We are off in an hour to pick up some friends from the airport.

They have been in Scotland this past week and are coming to stay with us for the next two weeks in order to watch the Manx Grand Prix motorcycle racing.

We haven't seen them in around 7 or 8 years so it should be quite a catch up.

They have come all the way from Reno, Nevada where I suspect they nay have had warmer weather than here.

Just checked our local forecast...


Tomorrow may be a bit of a washout by the look of it.  We may have to stay indoors and eat cake.


Cat Conundrum

I know that many of you out there are cat people (especially Tigger!), so I am hoping that one or two of you may be able to help me.  

Squeamish people should not read any further. 

During the recent spell of very hot weather it became apparent (my nose alerted me) that one or perhaps even more of the local cats are using the garden border right outside our front door as a handy overnight toilet facility.  Quite large deposits, not buried but sitting proudly on top of the soil beneath our shrubs and bushes and quite a ripe and not particularly welcome accompaniment to my morning coffee on the bench.

I have tried the popular suggestions, such as sprinkling coffee grounds and citrus peel etc but that makes no difference.   After removing the offending deposits I have taken to strewing the cuttings from our lavender and holly all over the soil but he (our neighbour thinks the culprit is a local large ginger Tom, unneutered and pretty aggressive by all accounts)  still manages to find a dump site.

P is going to acquire a roll of chicken wire to lay over the soil in the hope that this may deter him, but if anyone has any helpful suggestions I would be very grateful. 



Electrifying

On Sunday night the island enjoyed a particularly impressive thunderstorm.

Although I couldn't hear the thunder, which P informed me was very loud, the brilliant flashes of lightning woke me around 4 a.m.

The lightning was extremely bright, even with the Velux blinds closed.

I lay there thinking about what would happen if the bell tower was struck. Could we escape through the rooflight windows.  How far was the drop down onto the garden.

Eventually I dozed off and slept through to 7:30.

The local radio breakfast news was all about the four houses in the south and east of the island that had the misfortune to have been struck by lightning.   One had a hole punched through the roof, causing extensive damage, and all the electrical sockets had exploded. The family were unhurt but now need to find temporary accommodation until the damage can be repaired. Sounds expensive. 

https://www.manxradio.com/news/isle-of-man-news/four-properties-struck-by-lightning-during-early-morning-thunderstorm/


I was very thankful that we had escaped any storm damage up here but I may not sleep quite so well the next time.


Better Late Than Never

We have been lagging behind everyone else but our heatwave finally got going this week with temperatures steadily rising day by day.

Yesterday I spent the morning volunteering in the local Hospice shop and walked home in the hot sun to find the tree surgeons had managed to take down the dodgy Ash tree and were just tidying up.  I didn’t envy them working in that heat.  P said the nosey neighbour's curtains were twitching a fair bit.  We are anticipating another visit from Mr Snoopy with his notebook on Sunday morning. 

Today I walked to the library first thing and did my shopping early. It was still an effort walking back with the full shopping bags and I have spent the rest of the day in the cool of the house.  These thick stone walls are a godsend.  We are "only" at 27-28C here and I can only imagine what everyone is feeling in the sweltering heat across the water.

Tomorrow sees the IOM Marathon take place and P will be going to help out. He is not taking part  thank goodness.  I am not sure it is a good idea to run a marathon in that heat on a route with hardly any shade.  

I shall stay at home and consume lots of iced tea.



An Evening Stroll

I was feeling quite full after supper so,  as it was such a perfect summer's evening, we decided to go for a stroll.

Three minutes down to the Prom at the end of our road, then follow the hill up and around the lanes behind our house.





I feel much better now.


Sodor

More Manx "stuff" for you....



Anyone who has read the Thomas the Tank Engine books may be aware that the stories are set on the fictional island of Sodor, located in the Irish Sea.

The books' creator, Reverend Awdry, wished to create a setting for his books that would be within the British Isles but sufficiently isolated from the rest of British Railways to allow him to do as he wished with the location.


This explanation is copied from Wikipedia ....

Inspiration came  in 1950 on a visit to the Isle of Man, which forms the Diocese of Sodor and Man[1] . Awdry noted that, while there was an Isle of Man, there was no similar island of Sodor - (the name derives from Old Norse Suðreyjar, "southern isles", a term that referred to the Hebrides and islands along the west coast of Scotland). 

Between them, Awdry and his younger brother George worked out Sodor's history, geography, industry and language ("Sudric").  By the time they had finished, they knew more about Sodor than would ever be used in The Railway Series stories.

The fictional native language of Sodor is "Sudric", a language similar to Manx.[3]

A lot of the place names on Sodor are clearly based on Manx forms, but often the nouns are inverted to match English word order. Some of the locations have quasi-Manx names, e.g. Killdane, which comes from "Keeill-y-Deighan" (Church of the Devil),[4] hills are called Knock and Cronk, while "Nagh Beurla", means "I speak no English",[3] a distortion of the Manx. The names of some of the 'historical' characters – used in the background but not appearing in the stories – were taken from locations on the Isle of Man, such as Sir Crosby Marown (Crosby is a village in the parish of Marown) and Harold Regaby (Regaby is a tiny hamlet on the parish boundary between Andreas and Bride).[5]


So there you have another little snippet of useless information from me!


I Bet You Didn't Know ...

 ... that the inventor of the automatic electric kettle switch was Isle of Man based Dr John Crawshaw Taylor.

He was born in Buxton, Derbyshire in 1936 but was sent to Canada at the outbreak of WW2, returning to the UK in 1945.  He was educated at King William's College Isle of Man before being accepted into Corpus Christi, Cambridge where he studied Natural Sciences.

After graduation he joined his father's company Otter Controls which had an IOM subsidiary (Castletown Thermostats) which later changed name to become Strix.  He was a gifted inventor and his company developed and produced his invention - thermostat controls for electric kettles - making quite a significant profit.

As well as being an inventor he was a keen horologist, building up an impressive clock collection, and also a philanthropist, supporting educational institutions in the UK.

Browsing the local property sales websites, I have discovered that his house here on the IOM is up for sale in case anyone is interested...

Cowley Groves - Arragon Mooar, Old Castletown Road, Santon, IM4 1HB 

... if you have £30 million to spare.

Water Shortage

On Friday a hosepipe ban came into force here as the reservoir levels had begun to drop.

Since then we have had predominantly rainy weather.

This is what is going on outside the kitchen window...

I wonder how long it will take to fill up the reservoirs so that we can have the sun back.

For The Chop

Today I went for my six-weekly haircut, walking into town along the south beach promenade to enjoy the warm, still, sunny morning and relieve a little of the stress that has been building this week.

I mentioned a few weeks back that our next door neighbour obtained permission to take down a huge Cypress and reduce the size of an equally huge, rotting, Sycamore that have grown into our boundary wall, causing damage on both sides. As access to his garden is too difficult we agreed that the tree surgeons could use our drive to park their vehicles and the enormous shredder for disposing of all the trunks and branches.

Our front garden and drive are now in quite a mess and we are hoping that it will be cleared away once they have finished.  My ornamental fuchsia took a battering and has been snapped in two. I am hoping we don't find anything more substantial when they have gone.

The "nosey neighbour" from a few houses further along became aware of the goings on and, armed with some slightly incorrect information, proceeded to broadcast all over the local community facebook page that we were decimating perfectly healthy trees and selfishly destroying the local wildlife habitat.  The usual keyboard warriors have been quick to jump upon the item with no fact checking and many unkind comments have been made.

I have tried not to take any notice as I am sure it will all die down once the initial excitement is over and someone else has become the new target for vilification elsewhere. Still, it is not pleasant.

The experience of having my hair washed, cut and blow-dried into shape was very soothing and I came away feeling a lot more relaxed, if several pounds lighter in my pocket.

After the visit to the coiffeuse, I met a friend outside the old courthouse and we went for  a coffee.  I hadn't seen her for a few months and it was good to chat and catch up.  She is recovering from a bout of Covid and has found it difficult to find the energy to go for the long walks as she used to, although she has been swimming in the sea near her home.  We shared a huge slice of coffee cake, which came with a little pot of cream.  So very naughty.  No lunch for me.

Back home and retreating indoors until the tree surgery is over and I can creep outside to survey the aftermath.

They have just left and it all looks pretty tidy.  Good lads!

Before and after ....  (the trees, not my haircut)....





Nibbled

Friday was warm but showery.   I tried to work out in the garden but soon gave up as I was getting too wet.

Around 5 p.m. I decided to put my gardening tools away as I knew the rain was set in for the evening. Opening the door, I was greeted by a swarm of midges that were partying in the front porch.

By bedtime I was itching like mad and  counted at least 12 large red bites spread all over my face and neck.

I had obviously provided the pesky little blighters with an "all you can eat buffet" opportunity.

I am smothered in cream to alleviate the itching but may end up having to wear mittens to stop myself scratching.




Sea Holly

Thursday morning started overcast and cool at 17C so we decided to walk across town to visit the Grove Museum.  Although the museum was closed we were able to walk around the gardens and admire all the hard work put in by the team of volunteer gardeners (including my very own handyman and Head Gardener).

My eye was caught by the collection of Sea Holly that has been planted throughout.  The intense vivid blue seemed to glow in the dull, cloudy light.

My photo here doesn't do it justice


By the time we had walked back home via the shop for bread and milk two hours had passed and the sun had come out.

I spent the afternoon in the garden making a space for a little extra pretty thing.




On Tap

The recent dry, warm spell (the threatened rain never materialised) has meant that our garden pots have needed to be watered quite frequently. 

The outside tap is beneath the kitchen window at the back of the house. All the pots are on the patio outside the front door.

After days of carrying the watering can all around the outside of the house several times  I mentioned to P yesterday that it would be helpful if it were possible to T into the existing pipe and run it around the side of the house to the front.

He thought about it for a while, took out his trusty tape measure then disappeared off to the plumbers merchants.

A few hours later and, lo and behold, an outside tap on the front garden wall ...


This morning he took me to the hospital hearing aid drop in clinic. We were the first there and he acted as my "assistance husband" as I was unable to hear the receptionist or the audiologist.  Half an hour later my aids were fixed and I came away with spare tubes and filters too.

Back in the land of the living again.




Cool

Or at least not a heatwave here exactly.
 I have been reading reports of the horrendous conditions in many parts of mainland Europe. Temperatures of 47C and rampant wildfires; southern parts of the UK  expecting 40C.
Up here today it is a very balmy 25C with light cloud cover and a refreshing breeze.
I hung out some washing on the line at 9 a.m. and it was nicely done to  a crisp by the time the second load was ready to be pegged out.
We went on a picnic with friends at the weekend: blankets spread out on the dunes, salad and sandwiches and elderflower pressé.  By 5 p.m. a light sweater was needed.
Reading the news about the extreme temperatures being endured elsewhere,  I am starting to appreciate our cooler climate a little more.
Inside the Church House the temperature seems to remain constant. It must be due to the thick stone walls.
Our garden is also surviving at the moment without the need for extra watering






I hope all is well wherever you are.




What?

I decided to clean my hearing aid tubes this morning but I seem to have dislodged or broken something as they now don't work.

P has had a look but can't see what I've done,  although there appears to be a tiny grey piece missing from one of them

We have searched the kitchen counter and floor but can't find anything.

The hearing aid drop in clinic is on Wednesday morning so I shall be living in blissful silence until then

Shopping today should be fun.



Island Hopping

As Cro suggested in his comment on my last post, we have been island hopping.  From our cool, wet and windy island up here in the Irish Sea down to the sun kissed shores of the Channel Islands where the temperatures were several degrees higher and the clouds were non existent.

We spent a week on Guernsey and managed a day trip across to her baby sister - the tiny Herm Island (population around 65 permanent residents) - reached via a 20 minute ferry ride.  It was a beautiful, tranquil, largely unspoilt place despite the number of tourists that were visiting. We walked around the entire island on the coastal footpath; two and a half hours of glorious scenery, hot sun and peace and quiet.  A few photos of the Herm trip follow....











I shall not bore you with all the details of our holiday but here are just a couple of photos to give a flavour of what we got up to (usually 3 or 4 hours walking every day) ...







And just one final photo, just for Mr Pudding...