Lonely on the IoM?

Not me. I have family deluxe, since we were joined by my brother, his wife and their 40kg farting rottweiler this morning. However, obviously, some people don’t have the luxury of companionship (whether or not it’s a flatulent canine) and may require some assistance in avoiding loneliness.

Step forward Google Ads. They identified that there were posts about the Isle of Man on 6000 miles… and that the site was therefore likely to attract people from the Isle of Man. And that some (or more) of those people from the Isle of Man may be lonely, single or ugly. Or all three.

And they suggested: Isle of Man Fish Dating.

I haven’t delved too deeply (if you’ll excuse the pun), as the “woman” with the fishbowl in her hand on the front page scared me off by being too manly. I’m not sure why anyone would want to date a fish, but I have heard that there are certain genres of Japanese “adult entertainment” which revolve around octopuses. Maybe this is similar?
Cod only knows.

The UK Dating Group which runs this odd contact site is also responsible for lovegundating.co.uk which urges you to “Just point and click” and is designed for those individuals who lose it it bit when relationships end.  Especially those with access to firearms. Shockingly, all the faces on the lovegundating site are the same as those on the IOMfishdating site. Maybe they only have 7 members. Still, that’s three happy couples.

And Penny (49), who is destined to remain single. Forever.

2009 KiTT: The story so far

I have finally managed to get around to using the ultra fast internet here on the Isle of Man to upload the first few photos of the 2009 Kids in Tow Tour to flickr. And not only that, but these are also the first batch taken with my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28. And I love it.


Calf Sound, Isle of Man

The weather is sunny, but the northwest wind is keeping it cool. But get out of the breeze and it’s lovely. And though we’ve only been here for 24 hours, it feels like forever: this place relaxes you instantly. We were down by the sea this morning, watching the seals and for about 2 hours, we just did nothing. Any parent will tell you how rare and precious that sort of time is.

The boy, born and brought up in suburban Cape Town, is in his element. There is space, fresh air, farm animals, birds, sea, rocks to scramble over, grandparents and a plastic tool kit that his Auntie Jane bought him. This morning he went up to the farm with Grandma to collect the milk. The rural equivalent of 7/11 – this stuff comes unpasteurised in churns, not in plastic cartons.

Now, as I sit inside this beautifully renovated 18th century cottage, tapping away on a rather posh laptop, I can see the family beginning a game of cricket outside in the sun. It seems foolish not to join them.

Until next time…

P.S. Thanks to all of you who have forwarded me Louise Taylor‘s hysterical piece in the Guardian on visiting South Africa for the World Cup next year.

She suggests that Egypt should have hosted the tournament. That’s Egypt which polled a mighty zero votes when they were selecting the host nation. Yes, Louise knows all about democracy.

As she says, “surely if the Egyptians could build the pyramids they could host a World Cup?” Yes, Louise knows all about hosting major sporting events.

And then, the piece de la resistance. Those four little words: “I’ve never been, but…”.

Yes, Louise knows all about South Africa.

Isle of Man Quota Photo

Since the organisation of the upcoming 2009 Kids in Tow Tour has been dominating much of my free time of late (not to mention that of Mrs 6k), I figured that it was about time I looked forward to the actual event, rather than cursing the eternal paperwork and pondering over what drugs to give the children before the 12 hour flight.

Thus, I went searching for a suitable photo to illustrate the beauty of what used to be my second home – now probably relegated to about fourth, but still somewhere I’m very fond of – The Isle of Man.

Here’s one of those photos – this is the top end (geographically) of the Island.


Sunset at the Point of Ayre – Ray Collister

Now here’s a bit of a pet peeve. I don’t mind photographs being altered, enhanced, fiddled with etc. I recognise that it can be an extension of the creative process which began with actually spotting the opportunity and taking the photograph. What annoys me slightly is when almost every photo seems to be adulterated in that way. Especially when the subject matter – in this case, my beloved Island – is surely beautiful enough not to need touching up in this way.

But maybe I’m wrong. Ray Collister, Barbara Elaw and Suddhajit Sen, whose names appeared more than any others in my flickr search, have all tinkered extensively with their pictures of the island.
As I said, this is  a pet peeve of mine, but since I’ve always been a sucker for black and white images and – since that balmy Thursday afternoon back in ’89 when I met Jean Guichard on a District Line train near Victoria* – lighthouses as well, I’m more than happy to have this picture on the site, since it ticks the important boxes.

* Another lie.

A different pace of life

Some better informed or more observant readers will know that I have links with the Isle of Man – the small and extremely beautiful lump of rock in the middle of the Irish Sea. In fact, that little red and white thing in your address bar just up there [points] is not just the symbol of 6000 miles… website, but also the symbol of the island: the three legs of Man.

While I am Sheffield born and bred, I spent a lot of my childhood on the Isle of Man, I have a lot of family there and even more family history. Thus, it’s always good to keep up with what’s happening on “my island”.
Before I continue, perhaps I should explain that while the IoM is now a technologically-progressive, global financial hub, there remains a far slower pace of life over there. If you’ve ever watched Father Ted – think of it as a slightly larger Craggy Island: same wild beauty, same fierce national pride, same bizarre local traditions and characters. After all, this is the place where in February 1990 (yes, nineteen-NINETY!), locals queued up to stare in wonder at the “moving stairs” at the new Strand Shopping Centre in Douglas: the first public escalator on the island. Thus, the IoM is often mocked as being a bit backward – caught in the past – by many in the UK. Well, vive le difference, I say (when I’m in that sort of mood).

Catching up on the the latest goings-on via the BBC website, I was distressed and distraught to learn that the Isle of Man seems to have lost out to Southern Lebanon in possessing the world’s heaviest potato.

The 3.5kg (7lb 13oz) potato was bought by Greens restaurant owner Nigel Kermode in Douglas after it became the official world record holder more than 10 years ago. But on Monday, it emerged that a farmer in southern Lebanon had grown a potato weighing in at 11.3kg (24.9lbs).

Lebanese farmer Khalil Semhat hopes the monster spud from his farm near Tyre, 85km (50 miles) south of Beirut, will take the crown. But according to the Guinness Book of Records, the current record is till held by the Manx potato.

And Mr Kermode said there was still a local interest in the original, more than a decade after it was found: “It’s not on display at the moment. We’ve had it out periodically because, to be honest, it doesn’t look very nice,” he said. “It’s gone all sort of grey and brown and it doesn’t look very appetising.”

Yes. That’s what passses for news on the Isle of Man. A big, 10-year-old, mouldy root vegetable.

I’m heading back there next year for a few weeks of relaxation and I can’t wait. Because life is different there: the rat-race doesn’t exist, the outside world doesn’t matter and no-one really cares how big your potato is.
I’ll leave the closing remarks to Nigel Kermode – because he sums it up so well:

We’re still a world champion – we’ll call it the second biggest potato in the world.

Perfect.