One hundred


Please say hello to my Auntie Hazel, all the way from the Isle of Man.

She’s just got off that trike behind her. And here’s the scoop from local radio station 3FM:

A local woman has been sharing her birthday with the Mountain course.
TT 2011 is the centenary of the Mountain Course. Hazel Dean yesterday reached a milestone of her own celebrating her 100th birthday.
As a special treat for the lifelong TT fan, her family arranged for her to go on a parade lap of the Mountain Course, on a trike.
3FM caught up her after a 37¾ mile trip, she said it was a wonderful birthday surprise.

Which was nice to read. What was even better was when I got to hear how she felt about it as well.

[audio:|titles=Auntie Hazel]

Sounds good for 100 years old, hey?

Thanks to Ben Sowrey and the guys at 3FM for the permission to use their stuffs.

Clarkson loses Manx court case

Much joy on the Isle of Man today as BBC Top Gear presenter and Manx resident Jeremy Clarkson will have to reopen a footpath he had fenced off on the beautiful Langness peninsular. This after the decision of a public enquiry went against him.

Jeremy and his family own the lighthouse which sits on Dreswick Point at the southernmost  tip of the Island. The area is a haven for wildlife and has some stunning views, which made it popular for evening walks long before the Clarkson clan arrived. Personally, I can remember many wonderful evenings there as a kid, kicking a football along the lighthouse road and looking for driftwood by the foghorn.
But clearly ignoring caveat emptor, Mrs Clarkson – Frances Cain – objected that people were walking around the lighthouse (as they had been since it was built 130 years ago) and looking in through her windows.
Evidently, despite Top Gear being the biggest BBC export worldwide, purchasing blinds was still an issue.

However, in October 2006, Mr Clarkson found some spare change in an old jacket and with it, put a fence across the public right of way, the erection of which upset a whole heap of local residents. Now, after a lengthy and bitter legal battle, those local residents  – led by Ian Costain – have won their case and Mr Clarkson must reinstate the footpath around his home.

…the inspector found that all the routes had indeed been used as of right for enough years for them to have become highways, and needing to be added to the Rights of Way map.

So it would seem that “the Greatest Living Briton” (as the Tall Accountant refers to him) is just another ordinary citizen on the Isle of Man. Which is exactly how it should be.

Photo credit

Late again

Home from a hectic day at work to a hectic evening at home, mainly involving a jungle gym, a yellow barrel and a golf ball.
Don’t ask.

And then dinner and a few episodes of Big Bang Theory. Yes, it’s American and therefore should be rubbish, but the science angle makes it personally relevant and therefore amusing. It concerns me that I identify with certain traits of some of the characters though. (I’m not saying which traits or characters, since the vast majority of the protagonists are completely socially dysfunctional.)
I was going to add a random photo to this post from the Flickr Explore “last 7 days of interestingness”, but they are all photographs of a certain genre – too “mucked about with” (photoshopped) and unnecessarily arty for my liking. So disappointing.

So instead I searched for something from the Isle of Man groups, where I came across this:


which appears to be the least successful attempt at a swingers ad ever.

I also found a misplaced sunset picture (taken in Worcestershire) which would make a lovely quota photo. It was heavily copyrighted though, so appropriate permissions have been sought – hopefully you look out for that another day.

Gansey – a parenting revelation

Behold! A picture of Gansey – the beach in the Isle of Man where I spent most of my childhood summers.

Gansey (gets bigger here)

It had everything a young boy could want: ample sand for beach football or cricket, sun, sea, rocks with the essential rock pools, a small river etc etc. It was perfect.
At the time it never really troubled me, but looking back, I wondered how come my parents were so happy to let us spend so much time on the beach each holiday? Finally, as I visited there for the first time as a parent myself, the answer came to me.
It was so bloody EASY!

Even at their young ages, my kids were completely visible, completely safe and completely happy. As parents, we didn’t have to do anything except provide the odd biscuit and relax. And it cost nothing.
This is obviously the Manx equivalent of dropping the kids off at Westlake and getting the police to bring them back.

I’m going to highlight this post to my son when he has his own kids. Because forget all that stuff you learn at parenting classes about diets and nutrition, about bathing and which soaps are best to use for baby’s skin. That pales into insignificance against this sort of information. This sort of information is invaluable. It’s gold dust. It’s priceless. (Pammie – I hope you’re listening)

And relaxed parents mean happier children. Or so I’m told.

Gansey flickr set here.

Holiday Highlights

Although it pains me to say it, the 2009 Kids in Tow Tour is slowly but surely drawing to a close. And – as with all holidays – it’s had its ups and its downs. Fortunately, the highlights have far outweighed the negatives and – because I blog for myself as much as anyone else and I find myself with a few rare spare minutes – I think I should list them. That way, when I get back home to Cape Town (which apparently got washed away while we were here), and it’s grey, cold, wet, depressing and my zebras have gone missing, I can quickly and easily refer to this post and remind myself of the great time we had here. Which will cheer me up for all of 3 seconds. My brain is not easily fooled.

Let us begin:

  1. The embarrassingly uncomfortable Michael Jackson Tribute in Trafalgar Square.
    This, in fact, deserves (and will get) a blog post all of its own. Rarely have I seen a group of people looking more awkward in their own skins. Apart from the one lass in her polka dot skirt, floppy hat, white tights, cream fishnets and crocs, who was making all the others even more self-conscious.
  2. The worst landing ever at Ronaldsway Airport. Not a highlight per se, but it was just nice to be alive after it. 
  3. Reliving my childhood watching Alex and my Mum heading up to the farm together to collect the milk. A reminder that it’s sometimes the really simple things that mean the most.
  4. Every visitor to the cottage being invited to come and have a ride on Alex’s shed bus. For those of you who are uninitiated in the ways of the shed bus, it’s basically a shed with two chairs inside which stops at local Manx villages, Constantia Pick n Pay and the Waterfront.
    No ticket required. If you want a trip, just turn up and you’ll get an invite. Or ten.
  5. Silverdale Glen, with its Victorian water-powered roundabout. I have rarely seen anyone so ecstatic at such a unique playground feature. Bouncing with excitement. Shaking with exhilaration. And that was just my wife. The boy was beside himself.
  6. Our little girl’s First Birthday. She had cake in the garden and then went out on her first ever boat trip. I’m happy to report that the cake remained within her despite the somewhat lumpy sea conditions beyond Port St Mary breakwater. 
  7. Finally getting Mrs 6k to the summit of Cronk ny Arrey Laa. That’s a hill on the West coast of the Island with stunning views – especially at Sunset time – and it was always my intention to get engaged there. To whoever I was going to get engaged to. However, when the big moment came, I was 6,228.23 (thanks Google Earth!) miles away in Hermanus and I thought the romance might have been lost by the drive back to Cape Town International, a 15 hour trip to the Island via Amsterdam and Manchester, a drive up the shoulder road together with the worry of the weather being a bit crap when we got there. Although, I suppose we could always have taken the shed bus.
    Still – all’s well that ends well and it was nice to finally get up there yesterday evening, albeit that the sunset was more pretty than spectacular.    

And there are still 5 days remaining before the (literally) long haul back to Cape Town. It seems to have passed like wildfire, but at the same time (as is the way with these things) I can hardly remember details from the beginning of the trip. That could be down to old age or red wine though. Or, more likely a bit of both.

And – as a bit of a disclaimer – I’m not mentioning the obvious stuff like seeing family and friends. That should go without saying. Although I just said it.

Photos still available (and being regularly updated) on the only official 2009 Kids in Tow Tour flickr set.