000 Isle of Man eric barton March 10:Layout 1
an island for everyman Eric Barton finds the perfect relaxation remedy on the Isle of Man Life can be stressful. Our modern modus operandi is hectic, frantic and downright just too quick. I’ve found the perfect panacea. It’s unique, peaceful and only an hour away by plane. A visit to the Isle of Man might just provide the slow motion medicine which sets your body clock back to ‘relax’. The Isle of Man sits in the North Irish Sea between the Scottish mainland and the Irish coast. You can drive around its 72 mile coastline in under two hours, so it’s not huge. Calling the Isle of Man busy or crowded would be like calling a bag of crisps a hearty meal. The population only peaks at around 60,000; that’s 60,000 less than the population of Cheltenham. This self- governing dependent Crown territory has its own parliament. The ‘Tynwald’ parliament has been continually running for over a 1,000 years, which makes it the oldest continuous parliament in The World. Douglas, the islands’ capital, has a plethora of hotels and restaurants easily catering for every budget. The Sefton Hotel on the front in Douglas is indicative of the quality available throughout the island. Set in beautiful waters you would quite rightly expect the seafood on offer on the Isle of Man to be of the highest quality. It is. I managed to gorge myself on the ‘queenies,’ which are the locally caught scallops and if you’re still hungry why not indulge in the famous Isle of Man lobsters or kippers. I like peace and quiet. The noise and bustle of a ‘city break’ choked in exhaust fumes isn’t my particular brand of vodka, so this calm, yet rugged island was right on the money for me. And MARCH 2010
talking of money they still boast the use of the good old pound note. Trust me, get 10 of these beauties in your change and you’ll feel like you’ve won the lottery. For a truly engaging night out give the Gaiety Theatre a whirl in Douglas. It’s a real old fashioned traditional theatre which has been lovingly restored to its former Victorian glory. In fact, this small bijou theatre was designed by Frank Matcham who was also responsible for the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. A more modern twist on this can be found at the adjacent Villa Marina which provides year- round entertainment which includes live shows, films, art and music. The great outdoors also beckons and a walk or cycle along the rugged shoreline is a must. There are coastal paths and numerous sandy coves to explore, providing a real bracing experience of the sea. The island is creaking at the seams with wildlife to observe and enjoy; everything from seals to basking sharks and visiting migratory birds. A true feast of flora and fauna. There is a mystical quality that in a sense gently haunts the isle of Man. It’s a place of history and belonging. The island is steeped in its own glorious history and 1,000 year old traditions. The islanders take the view that, ‘why change if you don’t need to?’ Geoff Corkish, a local MP, says, ‘if it isn’t broken don’t fix it’. There’s a lot to be said for not meddling with tradition. UK please take note. In my view, they quite rightly hang onto everything that’s inexorably linked to their past, whilst making sure the present day island life isn’t ignored.
It’s an attitude that’s both refreshing and yet somehow safe in an ever-changing World. Making the plane trip from Gloucestershire Airport was completely pain free with Manx2.com. The airline has the Isle of Man as its operational hub and it’s where their fleet of six aircraft are based. The flight time was under an hour in the Dornier 228 commuter aircraft. All very easy, pleasant and stress free. Noel Hayes, Chairman of Manx2.com said: “We spotted a gap in the market and decided to offer a regional service that the bigger airlines can’t deliver. We’re all about providing a reliable and enjoyable customer experience.” Flights go daily to the Isle of Man from Gloucestershire Airport and fares start at only £19.99. I don’t think it’s enough to call the Isle of Man quaint, that wouldn’t be doing it justice. It really is much more than that; it’s got a pace of life that induces calmness and serenity. Those mystical ‘qualities’ I was banging on about might just be providing the tranquil underbelly that in a sense delivers the true flavour of the island. The locals are amongst the kindest and friendliest I’ve ever met and you’ll be made to feel very welcome. So, if you want to see some stunning scenery and coastline, eat delicious seafood and let your body clock go into ‘neutral’, then a visit to the Isle of Man might just be your perfect antidote to our modern day pressures. CS For more information on where to stay and where to eat visit www.visitisleofman.com How to get there www.manx2.com
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