We hit the beach a runnin boys, we turned those bikes around………well something like that as Johnny Horton sang. We rolled off the Ferry that took us from Belfast to Douglas on the Isle of Man at a leisurely 2.5 hours time frame. Arrived later afternoonish like 4pm or so. I had already bought food and had it packed on the bike, 15 packs of cookies and a tub of ice cream……okay kidding about the ice cream.
Before I get to carried away with cycling antics, I need to tell you about Cheryl and Brian, because they weave thru my next few days of life like a kilim rug. Our meet begins in Belfast as we all sat waiting for the Ferry. A simple conversation, as is usual, begging with a comment about the bike and the direction. Well it all gets turned around pretty quick into a discussion of Trump, Christ, carbon foot prints, Al Gore etc. And I am confused, opinionated, but still confused. Confused because I am not making the mental connections as to, how these subjects and people are connected.
So, as it regarded Pres. Trump, clearly my two new friends had taken in everything the media had dished up as being a truism. I assured them he was not red headed villan in my books. And that what he has achieved thus far from a business standpoint, is well, nothing short of miraculous looking at the stats. Now, about Gore, I was not so kind and gentle. Albert is bag of wind, a catastrophe of thought and theory, a man riddled with negative anecdotes and not ONE SINGLE solution…….oh, and please send $7.95 to help me save the world would be my description of him. We all boarded pretty much amicably agreeing to disagree. I did find out Cheryl is the minister at cute little stone Church in Dalby.
Up the road I go, and Douglas and Amarillo grow smaller in my rear view mirror. Traveled on an A sized carriageway for a few miles. As soon as possible I got off onto the smallest of backroads headed for Injebreck. Which as it turns out was once a fancy Hotel with a large pavillion where folks would come to picnic in the summer. Long gone now, the building is still glorious and the surrounding yard a botanical masterpiece. I know this because by pure God willed luck, I was out of water right at Injebreck…..and knocked on the only door around. A wonderful gal came to the door, Julie Stipple. She filled both my bottles with outstanding spring water, then gave me a tour of what used to be the old hotel. Outside she walked me thru her late husband’s garden masterpiece, with rhodendrens, honeysuckle, lilac and double Rose’s of every color.
A long and winding route up and around Snaefell, I was darn glad for a chance to roll downhill for a change. At least half the mountain top is fully exposed and the wind will RIP your hair out by the roots. Rolled down a mountain bike track for a couple miles, it was pretty rough on old Shirley, crossed a damn spillway and then roared down the mountainside into Thuly a Will. Wow, what gorgeous little piece of the world that is.
Basically followed the creek down it’s very stony path for several miles. Waiting for a junction that would take me north towards Ramsey. Everywhere on IoM, is 5 miles apart, and Ramsey not much further than that.
Ramsey, sits at the north end of the IoM, and faces the north like a rampart set against the mountains that back it to it’s south. The flats that make up the northern tip of the island lay stretched out in front. Its estimated the flats were created by advancing ice flows during the ice age. Who am I to argue, I am just a guy on a bike. By the way, I am wearing normal hiking pants, and lined ones at that it’s been from cool to downright cold somedays.
Backroads, mountain bike tracks would lead me now westerly and south. Balllaugh, I stopped at the Raven Bar to have a flat white and charge a few batteries up. My phone is dying a slow death me thinks, it does not hold a full charge for even half a day if I am not careful. And yes, I do keep it plugged into the hub at all times while riding..
The sage of the Raven Bar, there is one in every bar I think . He is the town’s unofficial greeter, self appointed world and local historian, and all round go to guy for the latest gossip or off color joke. I went for the joke first, then the gossip.. I found out some interesting possible stats about the island, that I have to say over time and meeting others they would seem to be quite accurate it seems. ITo begin with, it’s an expensive island to live on. The highest GDP of all Europe, the 9th largest economy in the world. Not to mention more billionaires and millionaires than you can shake a Wall Street Journal at.
It’s the result of creating a income tax haven for corporations etc. For some islanders, this has proven to be a wise decision, while for others they feel that it has brought an income level that has changed the intrinsic feeling of the island. Hard to know, but I bet there is a double sided blessing to it for sure.
Heavy cloud cover greets me as I roll back the tent door ( I am beginning to get along better with my tent, hate to admit it, but it’s not really that bad) I rode what is left of an old rail line between Balllaugh and almost into Peel. It was fun, even exciting as you ride past sheep, sheep, then more sheep and a few overweight cows. I am not accustomed to seeing cows that appear to be RIB-LESS. They are standing there, almost bouncing, like helium inflated cow-ballons. Its unnatural it is.
Rolled into Peel and it was early so I hit a tea shop, had a flat white and cranberry tea scone. Wonderful visit with the other 7 people who occupied the tiny shop. The morning discussion was about Police work, the dangers of it, and how so nobody had actually brought a pistol to the island. No telling what sort of trouble this could lead to? The citizens of this fIre isle are taught to immediately call FART, not to fart, but to call FART. of course, as a non-islander I am app,ying all sorts of thoughts to this notion. Finally it is just to much, these folks are. zrrying on about the tactical advantages of FART, The superior training ing………..and I am thinking I have never trained for farting, maybe that’s what I am missing. Turns out to be the police Fast Action Responce Team. And be it known that those who retire out of this unit are truly the ONLY ones to have actually earned the title of ……you got it, Old FARTS
Archibald Cox son, he is a world famous silversmith, you should go check him out says the man with but 2 teeth as he sips his fea. Still sitting in the tea shop I am. There is a big display of his work up at the cathedral, just oop the street lad. So I wander back up the hill, and make it to the Cathedral. I immediately run into a gregarious and jovial fellow named Henry as seen center below. To his right and seated is Connor who is a Music major, and specialist in pre- 1700 organ music. He didn’t know a lick of ZZ Top or AC-DC…..music schools these days fall so short on their promises. And lastly is Andrew, a Thoelogy Masters student, and soon to enter the Vickerage. Certainly looked at the Cox display of work, very impressive, not only his smithing skills but also his oils, drawings etc as well. Time for lunch said Henry, will you join us he asks. Certainly. The Vickers house, a multi roomed affair, with several men living within its rock walls. It’s not really a halfway type house, just an invitation to stop and stay should you feel like working for your room and board and possibly while their develope. closer relationship to Christ himself as a result.
As it turned out, these guys also knew Cheryl and Brian whom I had met on the ferry trip over. We had fresh sea spinach, fried, very good. Shaved carrot salad with wild dill and Gorse petals ( which are edible as it turns out ) Sister Margaret’s meat loaf, also very good……..oh yes and French fries. 2 this is I have found synonomous with the island eating habits, TOAST and FRENCH FRIES. I thought Jeremiah has a serious TOAST addiction, but I am sadly la king what it truly takes. Henry as it turns out has a degree in environmental science, and came to the island to open an art store. He found the church work more rewarding and gave up the store front. And by the way he says as I depart late afternoon, be sure to stop in DLby and say hello to Cheryl and Brian for us.
I set out of Peel towards DLby, but its hilly. I had been having some chain skip issues, and looked things over several times to no avail. This evening however it would become k own. The bottom wheel on my rear driller finLly gave way, just hanging by a thread. I was done. Mostly downhill back to Peel, I went I. the morning and sat and had tea in my favorite tea shop till the bike store opened. Got my part…..sort of, it was a used item and did not actually match perfect but got me by. Took a moment to wash a few items before again leaving for Dalby. When I finally did make it, I seen the quaint tlittle rock church right away. Met up with Chryk
And bRian and wwent to there very quaint little cottage to have lunch with them, more talk about Christ working thru us, a little talk about the environment, and then it was time for me to head up the hill and into the forest heading south. Dalby 5o the top is steep…..sorry Brian, I know you said it wasn’t much of a hill, but it is a hill. As suggested I turned of onto a mtb track out today Lashlin, what a great place. You can see the headlands s they call it, the Calf of Man and a great blue vista that is the Irish Sea. Steep hills covered in bright yellow gorse and white cotton ball shaped sheep. Up to the top and turn right and head for Rushen, down thru that and into Ballakilpheric. Turned back notherly at Colby, and rode one of the bigger roads that I had been on, the A2. Maybe 2 or 3 miles, and took to the tiniest roads and tracks I could find. Douglas now lay in front of me, and my time on Isle of Man would come to n end, sadly, but it has to happen sometime.
I have been told that “you ain’t been to the Isle, less ya tried some Queenies, smoked Kippers and had ya some Davidson’s Ice cream. So last night I had the Queenies, which are on friend baby scallops laid over a crisp slice of sour dough toast, then they pour a white wine and mustard sauce over all that. The sauce has lemon grass and bits of bacon in it. Fabulous, and JW is not a fish lover………….I don’t remember where it says it, but I k ow God said eat beef, I made fish for the cats. Today, apart from getting this blog posted, I will find Kippers and dang sure find that ice cream. I am officially having a heck of. time with my new Go-Pro Hero7. It does take stunning images as well as video for me. But the app that connects to my phone is a tedious little bugger and always disconnects or becomes unpaired. And lastly, I was going to edit on my tablet but my tablet OS is not capable of doing such. Job. Apart from that folks, I am feeling healthy, blessed indeed and fortunate that there are some out there praying for me and reading the blogs. Thank you all, and my prayers for all who mY be reading this.