Saturday, 18 January 2014

I'm going to the Isle of Man!

            The Sound, Isle of Man         Source:Wiki Commons

I was disappointed at not being able to do the Elbe river cruise I was allocated but I've got a lovely one on the vintage railways of the Isle of Man.

I've wanted to go there for a while after seeing films made there but have to admit I don't know a lot about the island. So I've started a bit of research.

It's a British Crown Dependency and like Jersey & Guernsey it's self governing but they are not part of the UK, The Commonwealth of Nations or the EU. Facts I didn't know. It even has its own flag!

The Isle of Man is situated in the Irish Sea between Ireland and the British Isles and is 33 miles long and 13 miles wide. In 2012 its population was 85,284.

Legend has it that the Irish Giant Finn MacCooill in a battle threw a chunk of earth towards Scotland. It landed in the Irish Sea & it became the Isle of Man.

Now I'm not sure about the legend but it looks a lovely island with a very varied landscape. Its coastline is about 100 miles with some long sandy beaches in the north of the island and rocky cliffs with sheltered bays around the rest of it.

There are lots of things to see and do around the island. With over 10,000 years of history there are ancient monuments, lots of heritage sites, castles, forts, mines as well as parks, nature reserves and wildlife attractions. We'll have a Heritage Pass included in our tour so it will mean we can visit as many places as we like, if we have the time! 

I also found that there are Dark Sky Sites for stargazing. Due to the natural tranquility of the Island there is little light pollution and on occasions you can see the Northern Lights!

Apart from all those things & the lovely scenery there's the railways! We are going on their horse drawn trams which are apparently known locally as Toast Racks! Now when we go on holiday I'm very reuctant to use transport provided by horses as I always worry about how they are treated. Well I checked this one out and it looks like they are very well cared for. They even have a sanctuary, the Home of Rest for Old Horses, where when they retire, usually after about 15 years, the horses are looked after.

Next we go on the Snaefell Mountain Railway which dates from 1895 and is the only electric mountain railway in the British Isles. It takes us to the summit of Snaefell, 2036 feet!

We also travel on a 17 mile journey on the Manx Electric Railway from Douglas to the harbour town of Ramsey in the north east of the island. It's the longest narrow gauge vintage railway in the British Isles and we'll be travelling in the oldest working tramcars in the world!

Another railway we'll be travelling on is the Isle of Man Steam Railway, the island's oldest Victorian rail system which uses restored heritage carriages. Well it all sounds great to me and I hope to get lots of photos. I'll let you know how I get on in May. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Scotland Here I Come!

Princes Street Gardens & Edinburgh Castle (Source-Wiki Commons-AD Weskens)

In my last post I mentioned that I have got a new job. It's as a tour manager for a rail travel company and I've been allocated a tour of Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands and the Islands of Skye and Mull. 

All I can say is wow! It's many years since I was in Edinburgh but I've never been to the Highlands or any of the Scottish islands so I'm really looking forward to it. Just hope the weather is good in June.

I was also allocated a river cruise from Prague to Berlin which I was delighted about but unfortunately it hit right on my granddaughter's First Holy Communion so sadly I couldn't do it. Never mind I'll wait to see what else I've been allocated.

Meanwhile I've completed the training, absorbed mountains of information and now I have to start my own research for the tour. Seems a long time to wait until June I just hope I get an earlier tour allocated as I feel like a child who can hardly wait for Christmas!

My Singer 338!

Well here it is my very first sewing machine, the one I got for my 21st birthday in 1966! I know it cost my Mam  a lot to buy it for me...