Bargain Hunters

 Yesterday I received a message from a friend to tell me that the Hospice had received a donation of hundreds of pairs of shoes plus handbags and scarves from a local shop that has closed down, and that many of them would be in her local charity shop at £1 each.

P and I decided to have a little drive out this morning to see if there was anything useful available and we arrived soon after the shop opened.  Sadly, there was a very small selection available - perhaps most of the goodies had already been sold or the stock shared out amongst the Hospice shops in other towns.

I did find a pair of mustard yellow moccasin shoes for £1 (brand new, unworn) plus a thick, cosy, woolly  M&S jumper and a blouse that was new and still had its tags attached.

We eventually came home with a pair of shoes, a jumper, a blouse and a large white pot for plants for the grand total of £11.

I can't resist a bargain, or two.

Plant Pilferers

I stopped by the Co-Op store this morning to see if there were any decent plants on their outside racks.

There was a shelf of various coloured Sweet Williams in small plastic trays of 6 plug plants in each.

When I picked up a tray to take a look I noticed that there was one plant missing.  How strange.  Then I noticed there was another tray with an empty plug space.

It dawned on me that somebody must have pinched one plant from each tray and made off with them.

For heavens sake, they are only £2.75 for all six.!

Sowing The Seeds

I was browsing in the Age Concern charity shop and saw a cream enamelware kitchen trough, which I snapped up for £2 (northsider... is that a bargain?).

On the way home I bought a couple of packets of seeds - basil and coriander - which I have now sown in little pots which are nestled inside the trough on the kitchen windowsill and basking in the midday sun  covered with a plastic bag.

As an aside,  this was the window of the charity shop...

Couldn’t agree more.


 Remembering the Isle of Man's most devastating aviation disaster, on this day 1945...

Last year Culture Vannin joined the annual trip to the lonely spot on North Barrule to learn more about how those lost lives are still remembered here in the Isle of Man.

At the centre of this continued remembering is Mike Corlett.

A young lad in 1945, Mike made his way from his home in Laxey up to the site of the crash that took place at 10:25am on 23 April 1945, just weeks before VE Day.

This visit left him with a debt of remembrance which he still feels today, over 75 years later. It is this which takes him up to the site each year to raise the American flag in remembrance of those lives lost.

This film is about that act of remembering.

(See link to video, above)

The flag flies again on the side of North Barrule thanks to Mike, the Maughold Parish Social Club, and the #Manx Aviation Museum's  continued work.

Gura mie eu.

More about the details of this crash can be found on the MAPS website:


I have been following with interest a discussion on the local community Facebook page.

It started yesterday, a beautiful sunny day with many people out and about,  when a local lady commented on how disappointed she was to see parents allowing their young children to climb all over and sit on the sculpture in the town square, fearing that it may cause damage.

Her comment sparked a quite hostile response from several parents who said that children should be free to do what they like and enjoy themselves.  When it was suggested that they should also be taught to have respect for others' property they seemed to find that quite amusing. 

The gist of the comments posted there - and on another previous discussion regarding the pandemic - appeared to suggest that respect was outdated and that  the older generation and their thoughts  (the original poster is only around 50!) are not important as we have had our lives and it is only the younger generation now that is important. 

Well. That's us told then.


This is the sculpture...the Celtic King Orry playing chess with the Viking King Olaf

Irrational Fears

I don't know if any of you have ever experienced an irrational fear of some kind?  I know that many people have phobias, such as spiders or clowns etc, but my fear is slightly different,  and probably sounds very stupid to most of you.
I am afraid of "upstairs".  To be more specific, I have a general fear that the upper storey of a building will collapse on me.   It is the thought of the weight of all that heavy bedroom furniture , baths, showers, bedding  clothing etc etc supported by what, to me,  seems a flimsy structure of joists and boards.
When we decided to move house I was set on buying a bungalow as, in the back of my mind, I knew I would feel more comfortable without that potentially unsafe structure overhead.
Of course,  we now live in an old property that has had an upper storey added by means of steel beams supported by the stone and rubble walls then boarded.  
I have been able to suppress my fear so far but yesterday we went to the bathroom suppliers in town to order a replacement shower surround for the guest bathroom.  We found what we needed and ordered it,  to be delivered in a week or so.  The salesman warned P that he may need help to get it upstairs as it would be very heavy.
This has been preying on my mind since then and I had trouble sleeping last night, thinking about that additional weight upstairs.
I understand that such irrational fears are usually a sign of underlying anxiety and I have always been an anxious person. My early family environment made me an anxious child and I don't seem to have grown out of it, although I have managed to live with it.
I think I need reassurance from someone who understands house construction methods and engineering!


Another interesting post from Culture Vannin, reproduced here.... 

One of the world's greatest aviators left her mark on the Isle of Man on 17th April 1933.

Arriving only three years after her famous solo flight from Britain to Australia, Amy Johnson was received with all the excitement that a world-famous aviator deserved when she landed in the Isle of Man on 15 April 1933.
Looking for an interesting short trip away, she landed initially in a field at Ramsey but then flew to meet her husband, Jim Mollison, who came in his own plane to a field at Ronaldsway.
During their short stay here, Amy Johnson went out to Glen Helen, where she planted a tree on this day 89 years ago. And, we are happy to report, the tree is still going well!
As an interesting side note, people might like to note that Amy and Jim were landing in fields when they came here, because there were not any airports in the Isle of Man at that time. This brought about this question from a Ramsey member of the press:
"[He asked her] if the place where she had landed could not be made a useful aerodrome. She suggested that if four fields were taken and thrown into one, it would be a quite a good landing ground, but even then not all classes of aircraft could land as at Ronaldsway."

Our Wee Duckie

In my previous post I mentioned the grave of little Samuel Cathcart who died aged 16 months, with the headstone inscription "Our Wee Duckie".

According to the copy of the  plan of burial plots in our garden, he is beneath our Pittosporum along the edge of the driveway.

In the book, Story From Stone, written by two local ladies, his story has been researched and he has a chapter of his own giving a brief summary.

His parents were William and Mary Elizabeth (Minnie) Cathcart.  Reverend William Cathcart was born in Northumberland in 1850 and Minnie, the daughter of a pawnbroker, grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne.  The couple had moved to Ramsey where William was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1878.  Minnie gave birth to two children,  Percival in February 1878 followed by Samuel in June the following year.  She appears to have moved to London for each birth, it is presumed as her brother in law was a doctor there.  In 1880 the couple were living in a house just around the corner from where we are now when little Samuel contracted a respiratory infection and  died of acute capillary bronchitis, aged only 16 months.  Sadly, only four years later Minnie herself died from asthma and bronchitis.

There are many such sad stories about the people buried here but this one touched my heart more than most.

Poor Wee Duckie.


Yesterday was a funny old day,   as Arkwright would have said.

I needed to collect my prescription from the GP surgery so set off just before 9 a.m.  The most direct route takes about 20 minutes but is along the busy main road with a very narrow pavement so I opted to take the longer walk,  around the harbour and up the very steep hill beside the park.  Forty minutes later I arrived, very hot and breathless, and picked up my script.

A brisk trot down into town to drop it off at the pharmacy and to pop across the road to browse for more books in the library.  When I called back to collect my medication the queue was snaking out of the door and into the car park. Ho hum.

I arrived back home two hours after setting out, feeling as though I had been on a route march. Probably still a little wrung out from being ill the past couple of days.

Feet up and a mug of strong coffee in hand, then P came in from the garden to say that two ladies from the IOM Family History Society had arrived to update their records relating to the gravestones in the Memorial Garden. 

As P has cleared and swept up the  leaves, mud and fallen tree branches, more of the previously hidden stones are now revealed.   The ladies were delighted and were busy plotting the locations on their paper plan of the site.

They have already given me a copy of the plan showing all the burial plots so we know who is where. (Little Samuel Cathcart, aged 15 months, is beneath the Pittosporum beside the drive).  An updated copy of the location of each of the headstones in the Memorial Garden will be useful when visitors ask for information.  The plot is developing.

Once P had left to meet his friend in the pub later that afternoon I started to feel a little queasy again but an hour's nap sorted me out.

Today the sun is shining so I shall be out in the garden, pottering and plotting where to plant some cuttings.

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it.



Duvet Day

It has been miserable here all morning. One of those sea-misty,  cool  drizzly days where the dampness seeps into your bones and chills you through and through.

Now, at lunchtime, I am curled up on the sofa wearing my dressing gown over my clothes and clutching a mug of hot tea.

P has just brought me a hot water bottle.

Come on Spring. Bring us a heatwave!

Fifty Per Cent

Last night we had friends round for a meal to celebrate our wedding anniversary .  Out of our usual group of four couples, only two of the couples could make it as the others were ill.

One of the wives came to speak to me as I was in the kitchen preparing the cheese course. She told me that a scan had discovered a mass on her ovaries and that she was waiting for an appointment to have it removed for biopsy.  She was obviously very worried and quite shocked and we had a chat for a while, although I am not sure that I was very reassuring.  

We commented that, amongst our group of five couples, one partner in each couple has, over the past five years, been diagnosed with some form of Cancer.    Stomach, prostate, skin and now two awaiting confirmation of diagnosis for ovarian and liver tumours.

Fifty per cent. Quite sobering odds.

Big Boys' Toys

This week we have had a lot of big boys and their toys playing down on the tram tracks.

P had a chat with them to find out what was going on.

It seems that the earth bank a little further along the route has become unstable so they are putting in a crossover point right beside us  so that the trams can safely  pass each other when necessary. 

Although P is as happy as a dog with two tails with his new pole saw,  I think he is a little envious of all those big chunky toys these boys have to play with.

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

 This morning I came across this short story, taken from a book of memories from residents of a Douglas residential home between 1986 and 2006.

I hope some of you enjoy it....


by Wyn Black

(from 'Old Times / Shenn Traaghyn')

The sun was shining, the air was golden and warm, and I was savouring every moment of the beautiful day - but it was Tuesday - and on Tuesday afternoons I had to go and help in Mum’s shop.

Mum ran a shop in the main street and we lived above - an experience I thoroughly enjoyed because most shopkeepers also lived above theirs and I had many friends among the families because most of them had children. But in our house there was only Mum and me, for Dad was in the Army and at that time he was serving in a place called Egypt, which to me seemed very far away - so he rarely came home on leave - so I felt that I should look after Mum. I did help in various ways but in between times I spent much of my time on my beloved shore - but not on a Tuesday.

Mum sold our very special Manx kippers, which were very well known, so that our summer season was always very busy, with local people and also the trip boats. These came for a day’s sail to the Island, bringing people from Liverpool and Wales and various other places. We called them “contractors” for a lot of them would get a season ticket for the summer; and we grew to know them and they became special friends (we still get Christmas cards from some of them).

On Tuesday afternoon, the little steamer from Llandudno, called the St Seriol, came and most of the passengers were retired elderly men and they were lovely. We came to know the crew well too and they were all like real old friends. When the St. Seriol docked at Douglas they would all, passengers and crew, come up to the shop and leave their orders for the numbers of pairs of kippers they wanted; for most of them took kippers back for their families and friends. They would leave their names and orders and then go further along the street to Quirks the bakers and to Batesons the pork butchers - renowned for their sausages and cooked meats. Then later they would pick up their kippers on the way to the boat.

Mum would be busy with the other customers so my job was to make out the list for St Seriol and then help to parcel them up and put the names on the parcels ready for the men to collect them.

Tuesday kippers were rather special, for the herring boats didn’t go out on Sunday, but fished on Monday night, then rushed the herring in for a short curing on Tuesday morning and we had them for sale early on Tuesday afternoon - and the customers loved them. But now it was time for me to get down to the shop so I gave a last lingering look around the bay where the ebb tide was on the turn and off I went.

As soon as I entered the shop, one look at Mum’s face was enough, I knew something was wrong - she told me the Railway Van had gone on delivery but they hadn’t brought the kippers. We didn’t usually use the Railway Van because the kippers were packed in thirty pair wooden boxes, and usually there were too many boxes to deliver, so we used the van from the curing yard to bring them in - it was quicker any way. But on the Tuesday afternoon we had the Railway Van because we usually only had three boxes to deliver early.

I didn’t know what to say to Mum she was so upset, and the thought of disappointing the St Seriol people was something I didn’t like to think about. I stood in the shop thinking and looking around - my glance fell on the small pram at the back of the shop. I didn’t know if I could do it but I could try. I said to Mum, “Mum, I’ll get them.” Then I grasped the handle of the pram and dashed out of the shop. Mum called something - but I didn’t want to know - I dashed off the pavement, ran along the street to a side opening up to the top, across Victoria Street where a policeman was on point duty (his face was a study), down past the Fire Station, past Hanover Street School and out to the quay - through the Railway Station main gate and into the goods yards and there were the three boxes of kippers. The workmen in the yard gazed at me and as I started to lift the boxes they rushed to help me.

Then it was out through the yard through the main gate, along the quay, past Quines Corner, up past the school, past the Fire Station, down Wellington Street, along to our shop. Mum’s face was a study as I bumped up the pavement and into the shop - but I was too late - it was almost time for the St Seriol to sail and the contractors had called, and bitterly disappointed had gone down to join the ship. Somehow I got Mum to make up the orders, I wrapped them and put the names on them, and before long I had piled them on the pram and was running out of the door again down Regent Street, past the Post Office, along Loch Prom and headed for the pier. Arriving at the entrance gates to the pier was a huge policeman who was noted for being a strict disciplinarian. Coming to a skidding half before him, I asked for permission to go down the pier to where the St Seriol was berthered and getting ready to sail - “No Way.” He reminded me that I knew full well that no one was allowed to go on to the pier when a boat was getting ready to leave. I begged him to let me go - stressed that they would be so disappointed - and I had the kippers there for them - “Please, please.”

Suddenly he said, “Well go on then but make it quick.” I wanted to hug him but hadn’t time - and then I was through the gates and running down to where the boat was really getting ready to leave. Running down  by the railings I saw the ropemen were already casting off the rear ropes. It was low tide and I looking down on the deck where passengers were having their last look at the Island. Suddenly, I saw a face I knew, I let out a yell and held up one of the parcels - fortunately he quickly understood and he too let out a call, and from all over the deck my customers gathered around him. I started to lob the parcels over as St Seriol started to glide so slowly down the pier out of her berth. I ran down beside her and the customers ran along the deck to keep up with me. Suddenly all the parcels were gone, and loud cheers rose up from the happy men. I found the tears were flooding down my face - but I kept running and waving - as the boat slid out below me and between the two piers and into the bay, and the men kept waving and shouting too. I was so glad I had got their kippers to them.

On the next Tuesday, when the boat came on its usual run, the men couldn’t stop talking about it - and they all stayed in the shop until Mr Brooks arrived and he carried a huge bunch of roses, all colours and sizes, all the way from his garden in Llandudno; they were gorgeous. He said, “They were their thank you,” and I got a big bunch every Tuesday for the rest of the summer.


This is transcribed from 'Old Times / Shenn Traaghyn: Recollections and Reminiscences of the past and present Residents of Glenside Residential Home, Douglas, Isle of Man'

This was a book of memories written by residents at Glenside between 1986 & 2006, and published in 2006.

Gura mie ayd, Wyn, for the lovely memories!

Paternoster: The lift that went over the top

Strangely, as I was filling in the 22 page form that should hopefully allow me to claim my UK state pension later this year,  a memory of my previous working life popped into my head.

In the early 1970s I was working  at Heathrow Airport for British Airways, which had just been created by the merger of BOAC and BEA.  Although I worked in the Queens Building in the airport's central area I often had to visit offices out in the engineering section on the edge of the airport.

One of these buildings had a paternoster lift which I had to use - very reluctantly.  If you have ever seen one of these you may appreciate that it was a little daunting, having to judge your timing in order to jump in then jump out at the right moment when you wanted to get off.

I found this short video which explains how they work, and shows a group of young students who still have the opportunity to use one of the last remaining paternosters in the UK.

Albert Tower

I have talked about the tower before; it is one of the landmarks of our new home town and I have walked up the hill to stand beside it a few times now.  Well, when I say walked, I mean huffed, puffed and slogged my way up. It is a very steep climb.

This is the view of the tower from the bottom of our drive.

I have copied here a brief note about the history of the tower, taken from the local IOM information website:

The Albert Tower, which stands on the slopes of Lhergy Frissel, was erected to commemorate the visit to Ramsey of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria on the 20th of September, 1847.

While Her Majesty remained on the royal yacht, Prince Albert came ashore and was guided up through Ballure Glen to Lhergy Frissel, in order to enjoy the views over the town and the northern plain.

In honour of his visit, the hill was renamed Albert Mount and a decision was taken to build a tower.  The foundation stone was laid on Easter Monday, 1848, by Mrs Eden, wife of the Bishop at that time.

Albert Tower is made of granite, measuring some 45 feet in height, and the short climb to it is steep but rewarding.   Although the tower is closed, people can still follow in Albert's footsteps and enjoy the fine views.

The view  over the town from the tower itself is now largely obscured by the tall conifers that have grown in front of it and the heavy wooden door has been disfigured by graffiti, but it is still a commanding structure.

From the windows at the back of our house I can look up at the tower on the hill behind us.  It is spotlit at night and is somehow quite a comforting sight.

A Walking Post

My walking partner Barbara called for me at 10 a.m and we set off towards the footpaths that lead up the hill behind our house to the Albert Tower. 

I needed a view break halfway up.

You can see our house down there to the right.

It was a steep climb up and the path is quite stony and uneven in places but the view from the top is worth it. I had my trusty walking stick to give me some stability, which was very much needed.

From the tower, we walked across the field and through the gate which opens straight on the TT Course, which we needed to cross.  Usually this is a dodgy stretch of road to cross,  busy with very fast moving traffic and a sharp bend.  Today we had the opportunity to stroll down the middle of the road at our leisure as this section is closed to traffic for resurfacing before the June racing season.

We followed the path down to the reservoir , no longer supplying the town's water but popular with fishermen. 

It was then just a short walk back home for coffee and shortbread before P got me to help him chop up his tree branches out in the garden. 

I feel rather sleepy now.

Should I Be Worried?

This was P earlier in the week, struggling to remove the larger overhanging tree branches...

No he isn't a star. I just blanked out his face ...  to protect the innocent.

If that scene wasn't scary enough  look what has just arrived by ParcelForce...

It is apparently a pole saw... a chainsaw on a pole. 

 A frightening prospect for someone who faints at the sight of blood.