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Holidays+Visits Group
I.O.M. 2011
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U3A’s Visit to the Kingdom of Mann –
 Monday May 16th to Friday May 20th.

Off we go on a wet grey Monday morning.  A
visit to the 
newly opened Brockholes Nature Reserve with its Floating Visitor Village broke our journey and gave us all a taste for a great day out later on in the Summer when it is more established.
Having boarded at 1.45pm, the journey seemed long, the ferry crowded – what will be at journey’s end?
A Country Club Hotel (Mount Murray) with superb rooms & local food (the wine is not bad either!).
Next day the weather is fair and our Isle of Man tour starts – what a gem, wherever you look the scenery is a delight to the eye and lifts the spirit. Cregneash Folk Museum is our first stop.  Here we stepped back to see life on the isle in bygone days.  I could have happily stayed for a long time with the delightful needlewoman, sat in her cottage with the Manx cat sat by the fire, as she worked on a Manx bonnet, what skill – I came out relaxed and charmed.   
Then on to 'The Sound' by the Calf of Man – spectacular says it all, rugged rocks, choppy sea, seals, sea birds, cliff walks, viewing benches, it had everything.  After a steaming bowl of lamb broth in the new Visitor Viewing Centre, we were off to Castle Rushen.

Here we had a guided tour which brought bygone days of the rulers of the time to life for us with various period vignettes.  Just time for a walk round the harbour & town of Castletown before returning to the hotel.
This magical isle is not disappointing – truly stunning.  Thank you Ellan Vannin – I will return. (
June Ogden)    
Wednesday saw the group dispersed with a free day to explore Douglas or travel further afield, some to Ramsey, some up Mount Snaefell, which is where this intrepid traveller went.   
Our excellent driver, who joined in almost everything we did and was great fun, deposited twenty or so of us at the terminus of the Electric railway and refused to let it depart until we had all bought our rover ticket for the day!  Ten minutes late the train/tram slowly wound its way along the front of Douglas and up into the foothills at Laxey where we had just missed the connection up the Mountain.  They laid on an extra train for us and we departed up the Mountain.  It's quite high and took us 30 minutes to ascend its 2000ft+.  It was blowing a gale at the top and most took to the cafe and safety.  A few decided to have their ears blown off and venture out to the summit stones.  I think all made it back!
On a good day, you can see the 7 kingdoms from the top of Snaefell - England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Mann, Neptune and Heaven.

Back at the bottom a few went back to Douglas
for lunch and a ride along the front in the horse drawn trams.  We visited the Villa Marina, others the Manx Museum.
 I chatted for a while with Sir Norman and lent on a lamp post on a corner with George Formby.
A full and interesting day. (
Peter Kress)

On Thursday, the group awoke to glorious sunshine.  After a hearty breakfast, a very happy party left our excellent hotel to visit Laxey, situated on the east of the island, between Douglas and Ramsey.  Laxey is famous for its Great Water Wheel (Lady Isabella), which was built in 1854 to pump water from Laxey’s lead and tin mines.  The wheel has an impressive diameter of  72.5 feet and is one of the island’s most iconic sites being the largest surviving working water wheel in the world.  Many of the group climbed to the top and were rewarded by magnificent views across the surrounding countryside.  Most then visited the nearby lead and zinc mine, established in 1780, which became one of the most profitable metal mines in Britain.

The Lady Isobella at Laxey

We left Laxey and drove to Peel, which is on the west coast, taking the scenic route via Ramsey which is in the north of the island.  

On arrival in Peel the party scattered; small groups made their way to any hostelry that could produce food quickly.  Speaking personally, the crab sandwich was divine!  Peel Castle, an ancient fortress situated on St Patrick’s Isle and overlooking Peel harbour was our next venue.  The views awaiting us were ample reward for the efforts of the climb.  Finally, and still in Peel, we visited the House of Manannan where we were greeted by the island’s mythological sea god Manannan, who welcomed us into his fascinating kingdom and guided us through the island’s rich Celtic Viking and maritime past.  
We departed Peel for our hotel, passing through Tynwald Hill, the seat of the Isle of Man parliament.  After dinner, we gathered in the Green Room for fun and games.  Thanks go to Peter Kress for providing us once again with excellent quiz questions and for running the quiz which was somewhat brief this night due to our tiredness and an impending early start for our return home the next day.  A very tired but happy party retired to bed on this our final night.
Margaret Glynn)
The return journey was thankfully less crowded on the boat and we had time in Morecombe for lunch (potted shrimps of course!) and a visit with Eric Bartholomew, his statue still bringing Sunshine to the visitors!    
We must thank our organiser Ruth and her husband David for a tremendous holiday which ran to time, but was flexible to adapt to circumstances.  We had lots of laughs and saw and learned a great deal, but there is more to see.  I think there’s still another holiday in Man!
Peter Kress)
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