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.