Monday, November 30, 2009

American Racer Planning To Participate In The 2010 Isle Of Man TT

3 time ASRA National Endurance Champion and AMA Pro Road Racer Scott Harwood has announced the formation of Team Go-Scooter-Go Racing, whose primary focus for the 2010 season will be traveling to- and competing in- the Isle of Man TT.

The 2010 Isle of Man TT International Motorcycle Racing Event, which has established itself as the Most Famous Road Race Event in the World over its 102 year history, will be contested from May 29th- June 12th, 2010, and Team Go-Scooter-Go Racing will be piloting a Suzuki GSX-R600 in the Supersport class and a GSX-R1000 in the Superstock class.

Founded in September of this year, Team Go-Scooter-Go Racing has been hard at work identifying and securing the logistics needed to complete at the International level, and equally as busy forming partnerships and procuring competitive equipment and personnel.

Team Go-Scooter-Go Racing has the pleasure to announce the following partnerships thus far which will be vital to team development and success with the 2010 Isle of Man TT:

Suzuki Corporation
Intel Corporation
Road Race Southwest (Championship Cup Series)
Hotbodies Racing
Shoei Helmets
Arizona Pain and Posture, Scottsdale AZ

Team Go-Scooter-Go is still in the process of accepting and reviewing all partnership proposals for 2010, and encourages everyone to learn more about the Team and IOMTT project by visiting the Team website at All Team contact info can be found there as well, and the Team's journey can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Team Go-Scooter-Go has the pleasure to announce the following Team Members:

Rider: Scott Harwood; Race Bike Technicians: Joe Mowen, Jose Diaz, Sergio Gonzalez, and Drew Hansen; U.S. POC: Cherri Harwood; U.K. POC: Suzanne Fothergill.

Look for the Team at Firebird Int'l Raceway in Chandler, AZ starting in January, where the Team will be working on Team and race bike development in preparation for the May Isle of Mann TT Event!

Diving on the Isle of Man

There is a great report here about a recent diving visit to the IoM. I've chopped it up a bit.

Let me just start by saying what a fantastic trip it was. I’d never been to the Isle of Man before, but I wasn’t disappointed.

The island itself is in a bit of a time warp – yet in a nice sense. I didn’t see any graffiti, litter or see any loutish behaviour when we were out in the evenings, and everyone I met was friendly and helpful. It was a welcome relief form the various sights many of us have become accustomed to witnessing on a night out in the city.

The first 2 days were spent shore diving, as the swells and winds were a bit perilous. However these were by no means average dives. The first dive was at the Lifeboat Station in Port Erin which has an undersea wall that runs parallel and near to the lifeboat launch. It’s teaming with life and you’ll find Conger Eels, wrasse including Cuckoo, Ballan and Corkwing, with plenty of Tompots hiding in all the various cracks. Cammie managed to catch himself a lobster. Out of the water though it did look more like a juvenile so he sent it homeward to think again.

The next dive we did was At Port Soderick. It’s a nice wee bay enclaved by cliffs to the north. Basically, you fin towards the cliffs and follow their contours. The undersea terrain is reminiscent of St. Abbs with huge kelp stalks in such abundance it’s like a forest. There were a couple of youthful seals in the bay which followed us around too. Due to the weather, the swell and undercurrents were pretty exerting and required a lot of physical effort. I think most of us felt like we’d been in a washing machine on the spin cycle by the time we made our exit.

Again the weather was poor on the second day, so we settled for a shore dive in Fleshwick Bay. It’s a beautiful bay with high cliffs on either side and lots of rocks and underwater caverns to explore. Close to the cliffs leading back to the shore, there’s lots of thick kelp and if you’re lucky you’ll encounter a seal or two here. The combination of the topography and marine plant life makes this a really interesting and enjoyable dive, not to mention the dolphin which welcomed us with a graceful leap out of the water.

On the third day we finally got out on the boat. The sea was flat and calm and our first dive was a scenic dive at the Calf of Man on the south west side just beyond Calf Sound. This dive was as scenic as anything you’d find in the Mediterranean. Great viz and lots of coloured fish darting in and out of the rock crevices, along with spotted dogfish, and an abundance of mature scallops too close to the rocks for the dredgers. This has probably been the best scenic dive I’ve done in British Waters, despite missing out on seeing a basking shark which Joe, Alan and Ian had an encounter with.

Then Steve (Discover Diving) advised us our next dive was a ‘2 for 1’ experience, combining the wreck of the Clan McMaster with a drift dive in Calf Sound. We dropped in uptide of Thousla Lighthouse at the isthmus between the Calf of Man and the main Isle of Man. The wreck of the Clan McMaster lies at 15m deep and the drift was 3-4 knots! It was one of the best drifts I’ve experienced and it reminded me of Harry Potter flying around on his broomstick playing Quidditch.

Our last dive was the Sugar Loaf Caves. The caves descend to a maximum depth of 12 metres. After finning along the first walls, you encounter a large junction taking you into ‘The Cave of Birds’. There are stunning lighting effects here as the sunlight penetrates through the cracks in the rock. Take a torch with you to checkout the hydroids, anemones and various colourful sponges which adorn the walls. I found this particularly thrilling as you went from light to shadow to darkness, then shadow and finally light again. Cave diving has never appealed to me, so Sugar Loaf does just enough to provide a reasonable insight.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nicole's back safely

Back after 91 days in space, Nicole Stott returned to Earth from the ISS, resting on her back in a special seat on the shuttle's lower deck, to ease her return to gravity after three months away.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Snaefell Wheel or Lady Evelyn

I just received my NAMA newsletter and read about the smaller waterwheel in Laxey in Jack Cormode's report.  I had not realized how far along the restoration was to the Snaefell Wheel as I know it, which is now known as the Lady Evelyn.  I thought you might be interested in some information.

I lifted the following from Wikipedia:
The wheel stands in the washing floors in Laxey Glen Gardens, approximately 700 metres south of the larger Laxey Wheel.
The wheel was unveiled with the name Lady Evelyn to mark the extensive work of Evelyn Jones in her support of the Laxey Mines Research Team.

The wheel was purchased by the Snaefell Mining Company in 1865. Built by Messrs Leigh and Gilbert Howell of the Hawarden iron works in Flintshire, north Wales, it was one of two identical 50 ft (15.24 m) diameter wheels to be produced.
By 1910, the wheel had come to the end of its working life at the Snaefell Mining Company and was disassembled to be sent to Bodmin, Cornwall. By the 1950s the wheel had fallen into disuse, and in 1971 the Cornish Wheel Preservation Society had acquired the wheel and dismantled it for preservation. The society later merged with the Trevithick Society, who are the current owners of the wheel.
In 1976, the Llywernog Silver Lead Mine in Wales took the wheel on loan from the society though never reconstructed it.
In 2003, an effort was started to restore the wheel to its home in Laxey and on 20 August 2006, the wheel had its official reopening ceremony and began turning for the first time in decades.
To mark the occasion of the official opening, and in similarity to its big sister, a piece of music "Snaefell Wheel March" was specially written by Paul Dunderdale for the occasion and performed for the first time by Onchan Silver Band at the opening ceremony, with suitable fanfare.

A view of the IOM from Jersey

Here's an excerpt from an interesting article here .

It doesn’t seem fair, really. Here we are with the biggest and most successful finance industry of all three Crown Dependencies, and it looks like we are the only one about to go into recession. That’s if we’re not there already.
The Isle of Man, which some of us have looked down on for years, is predicting that its economy will grow by about 2.5% this year. Even Guernsey, with its deep financial problems, is expecting the economy to just about stand still this year or, at worst, suffer ‘a slight contraction’, according to last week’s Budget.
In contrast, the economists are even more confident than they were earlier in the year that Jersey’s economy will shrink by between four and six per cent in 2009. That’s despite the increasing buoyancy and signs of growth in virtually every other country surrounding us.
It is doubly unfair, of course, that our economy appears so weak when we are also the only Crown Dependency not to have suffered from the collapse of an Icelandic bank...

Perhaps an even more telling comparison for Jersey is with the other Crown Dependency. The Isle of Man has long been a competitor of Jersey’s in financial services but has never developed the strength or depth of Jersey’s finance sector. So where is the Isle of Man’s 2.5 per cent growth coming from this year, while we watch our economy shrink by at least four per cent?
The basic reason is that the Manx economy is much more diversified than Jersey’s. While Jersey observers have tended to laugh at the Isle of Man’s efforts to develop a space industry, for example, this currently contributes about £25m a year to the economy. Manufacturing employs 3,000 people (the population is now very similar in size to Jersey’s), e-gaming is growing substantially (while Jersey continues to talk about it) and 1,000 ships and 150 aircraft are registered in the Isle of Man (something else that Jersey talks about).
Growth in these areas has produced a much more balanced economy, with the proportion of the economy coming from financial services, down from 45% to 36%. Jersey’s is still over 50%, and some observers believe that the Island is even more reliant than that on the finance sector. So it’s not surprising that the performance of one dominant industry affects the performance of the whole economy.
So I’m not sure what we can learn from Guernsey’s experiences in fending off the recession, except perhaps to emphasis the need to take full advantage of our strengths in addition to bemoaning our weaknesses. But it’s pretty obvious what we can learn from the Isle of Man.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Just a few Thanksgiving observations

Some people consider this holiday as an appropriate time to commemorate the genocide against Native Americans. Since 1970, people have gathered at Plymouth Rock to mark the "National Day of Mourning." Supporters of this movement argue that Thanksgiving "celebrates" crimes against humanity; in particular, against the Mashantucket Pequots (in 1637). Such groups have a similar view of Columbus Day.

And I say, the first Thanksgiving was held in Berkeley Plantation in VIRGINIA -- a year before the Mayflower turned up --  so take that Plymouth, Mass.  (Although we must celebrate our Manx connection.  Myles Standish, of Ramsey, Isle of Man, was taken on the Mayflower by the colonists as a security measure. He was a soldier of great repute. In 1621 he was appointed the first commander of Plymouth Colony.)

The first Thanksgiving occurred when Captain John Woodlief led the newly-arrived English colonists to a grassy slope along the James River and instructed them to drop to their knees and pray in thanks for a safe arrival to the New World. It was December 4, 1619, and 38 men from Berkeley Parish in England vowed:
"Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God."
You'll find their vow carved on a brick gazebo marking the location believed to be where Woodlief knelt beside the James River.

The Berkeley site is interesting.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Flybe from Bristol to Ronaldsway

A new route between Bristol and the Isle of Man is hoping to encourage domestic tourism, a budget airliner has said today.

Flybe says the year-round service will fly three times a week, with further flights added to their Bristol to Jersey route also.

The Isle of Man to Bristol route will be effective from March 28th, the start of the airline's summer schedule. The new service – operated by a 78-seat Bombardier Q-400 aircraft in just under an hour – will fly every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, with the addition of a Saturday service during the May through September peak season. 


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Boost to the economy

THIS year's Manx Grand Prix contributed nearly £5m to the Manx economy and raised about £800,000 income for the Manx Government, a survey has found. The research is the first in a series of studies commissioned by the Department of Tourism and Leisure to determine the contribution to the Manx economy of the Isle of Man's various motorsport events. Here.

Photo: Carolynn Sells on her way to becoming the first woman to win a race around the Mountain Course at this year’s Manx Grand Prix

I saw these on EBay -- they're Manx you know!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Manx Premiere

Film star fever well and truly swept through the Isle of Man at the weekend. The Manx premiere of 'Me and Orson Welles' was an occasion to remember for the stars and fans alike, as Zac Efron and other key members of the cast received the red carpet treatment.

Efron and co-star Claire Danes were overwhelmed with the reaction and had fond memories of the Island. There will be a look back at Saturday night's premiere on Monday's Mandate show.
Listen To Related Audio Clip at

Racing on the Lord's Day -- big changes afoot.

PLANS to close Manx roads for Sunday motorsport events have been unveiled. Tourism and Leisure Minister Martyn Quayle said the idea was to hold additional two and four-wheel events to attract visitors to the Island for a weekend of racing.

He dismissed the suggestion that the measures were ultimately aimed at reducing the length of the TT or MGP or scrapping Mad Sunday. But he said it could make the likelihood greater of live television coverage of the TT. Currently, racing is not permitted on the Lord's Day except in very limited circumstances. More.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

TMI Christian's mum...

British actor Christian McKay is a revelation in Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles, which opens next month. McKay seizes the chance of his first film to give a brilliant performance as young Orson, staging his legendary production of Julius Caesar at New York's Mercury Theatre in 1937. Awards surely await. McKay comes from Bury (Caesar, not to praise him...?) and shot the film – which co-stars Zac Efron, Claire Danes, Ben Chaplin and Kelly Reilly – on the Isle of Man (with the famous Matcham theater, The Gaiety on Douglas prom doubling for the NYNY venue. Ed). He told me he thought he'd never been to the island – until his proud mum came to see him filming there and told him: "Oh, your Dad and me came here, to Douglas, for our honeymoon. In fact, you were conceived here." Guardian

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Nicole!

47 today -- but how long is a day up there?

Story here.

NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, the newest member of the Atlantis crew, is celebrating her 47th birthday today aboard the International Space Station.

Stott, a Clearwater, Fla.-native and graduate of the University of Central Florida in Orlando and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, is finishing a three-month tour on the station.

She officially switched from the station's Expedition 21 crew to the Atlantis crew after the shuttle docked Wednesday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Davy Knowles and BDS in Baltimore on Thanksgiving Night

Thursday, November 26

Thanksgiving Night!

Recher Theatre
512 York Road
Towson, MD 21204

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Brown (ours, not theirs) calm in face of VAT bombshell

'DON'T overreact' — that's the message from Chief Minister Tony Brown MHK on the current tax crisis facing the Island. Last month a VAT bombshell was dropped when the UK Government revised the customs revenue sharing arrangement, resulting in a loss of £90m in revenue from April, rising to £140m in subsequent years.

'The actions by the UK Treasury were clearly not expected,' Mr Brown told a Junior Chamber of Commerce meeting last week.After all we had been negotiating for nearly a year with the UK over a new sharing arrangement and had only concluded a new sharing arrangement in March 2007.'

After being confronted with the changes, Mr Brown said the Manx Government told the UK it regarded the action as unreasonable, resulting in the reduction of income being phased in.

'Clearly such a severe drop in income over the next two years will have an effect on our ability to provide services and support many areas we as government cover including events, charities, sports, arts to name but a few. However, it is very important that government manages the situation carefully and does not overreact, so as not to impact too adversely on the provision of public services and also importantly on the economy and businesses of the Island, many are provided with valuable income by providing government with services.

'Confidence is important and we all need to be positive in moving forward.

'Government has started a process of internal evaluation within all departments and boards to identify the impact of reducing their budgets by 15 per cent from April 1 2010. Departments are already looking to make reductions in expenditure in their 2009-10 budgets.'

Right Manxies, it's time to buy local. Check out the links alongside and consider ordering from the Isle of Man this Christmas/holiday season. I am not sure how clued-up the sites are yet but there should be no VAT at all on sales to the US. The money should go to local businesses and not the UK Exchequer. If anyone knows more about this -- please leave a comment or email kelly (at)


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fastest woman round TT course gets MBE

The highest profile female racer in the UK was forced to resort to her favourite mode of transport in the rush to get to Buckingham Palace on time.

Maria Costello got stuck in traffic being driven to receive her MBE from the Prince of Wales, so jumped on a motorbike - despite being dressed up for the royal occasion.

Costello, who held the world record for being the fastest woman around the famous Isle of Man TT circuit, said afterwards: "We got stuck in traffic so my friend who works for Virgin taxi bikes took me.

"You wear an apron so my modesty was preserved. I did change my heels into flats though."

"I wanted to come by motorbike but not like that," she joked.

The 32-year-old from Spratton, Northamptonshire, had no time to change into her leathers for the impromptu ride so rode on the bike in a short black skirt, matching jacket, sheer black tights and numerous strings of pearls around her neck.

She said she was delighted her parents Eileen and George and sister Tina made it on time to see her collect her award.

"This is the payback for what I put them through - all my injuries. It's not a regular thing having a daughter who rides a motorbike. I'm just so glad my parents and sister were here to see me."

Costello said she began racing thanks to compensation money she received after being in a motorbike accident.

Costello was the first woman solo racer to be on the podium in the history of the Isle of Man TT and Manx Grand Prix. She added: "The Prince said, "Did you come by motorbike?" and I said, "Yes I did".

Photo: Maria Costello, the highest profile female racer in the UK, receives an MBE for services to motorcycling from the Prince of Wales

From the Press Association: here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Atlantis launch today brings Nicole a day nearer to coming home

CLEARWATER - Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch today and return Clearwater astronaut Nicole Passonno Stott and six crewmates back to Earth on the day after Thanksgiving.

Stott, as all our blog readers know, is on her first mission in space, has spent the last three months at the International Space Station on a mission to deliver equipment and gather materials from various experiments.

Members of the Passonno family of Clearwater have seen her more often during these past three months than they normally do, watching her on NASA television or in other reports about the mission. Nicole lives in Houston with her husband, Chris and 7 year-old son, Roman. Stott, 46, calls her mother, Joan Passonno, weekly from the space station. Passonno said the family missed one of Stott's first calls from space.

"She left a message, and the end of it was, 'Well, it would be great if I knew how to hang this thing up.'" Stott's sisters said they are in awe of their older sibling. "She is really cool,'' Krol said. "I mean, she's serious, she's smart, she's funny. She's a risk-taker; she's a daredevil."

Stott graduated from Clearwater High School in 1980, studied aeronautical engineering at Embry-Riddle University and graduated in 1987. She went to work for NASA in 1988, earned a master's degree in engineering management from the University of Central Florida in 1992 and entered the astronaut training program in 2000.

Stott's mission is somewhat history-making as she is the first mother to become a member of a space station crew.

Stott's mother said her daughter inherited her father's love of flying. They built experimental aircraft together in the family garage. Her father, Fred, died in 1979 when the experimental plane he was flying crashed into a canal near Lake Tarpon. Her father's death did not deter her from becoming a pilot, though.

Bill threatens to make Isle of Man a police state' - claims MLC

Interesting claim. Although as the police are already allowed to remove unlocked cars as a lesson to forgetful car owners, you have to ask if this is just a natural extension of their powers. I remember when we had a much smaller government and were pretty much left to ourselves, sigh... Ah, the good old days...

THE Isle of Man could become a police state if a new criminal justice bill goes ahead, warned David Callister MLC. The Department of Home Affairs has proposed a new Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009 which would both improve existing laws and seek to introduce changes to enhance the criminal justice system.

Public views are now being sought on the new draft legislation. But Mr Callister said many of the clauses in the draft bill 'border on the draconian' and would 'impact to the detriment of Manx life and make an enemy of the police'.

He said: 'If this bill is passed in its present form it will become a precursor to the creation of a police state. The draft bill contains a number of highly controversial clauses. Several of these would allow the police to by-pass the judicial process.' He explained: 'It would allow the police to enter your home without a warrant, act as a censor of stage performances, of unclassified films and even internet images.

'Public meetings could be disbanded, exhibits could be removed from art galleries (as has already happened in the UK) and, astonishingly, under-age children could be used to entrap shopkeepers.' He added: 'The provisions in the draft bill even extend to who may, and who may not, provide food between the hours of midnight and 5am and it would give a constable (police officer) the power to prevent an individual from drinking in any public place on the Island (at present this is limited to designated areas).

'The DHA is even considering introducing legislation to control such websites as Facebook.'

Full story here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Aer Lingus Winter Sale

Book now through November 19, 2009. Travel January 11 through March 10, 2010.

These fares are exclusively available through 1 (800) IRISH AIR. * Restrictions apply, taxes & fees add'l. See terms and conditions.

To Dublin or Shannon

Sale Fares From

New York (JFK) $189* each way

Boston $189* each way

Chicago (ORD) $189* each way

Then get Aer Arann to the IOM.

* Terms & Conditions: Fares available through 1 (800) IRISH AIR until 7:00PM ET on 11/19/09. Fares are each way, per person, based on round-trip economy class travel on scheduled services from specified cities to Dublin or Shannon, Ireland. Fares valid for Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu travel. Additional $15 each way for Fri/Sat/Sun travel. Valid for travel between 1/11/10 - 3/10/10. Excludes U.S. government taxes, fees, airport facility charges as well as foreign inspection, security and other gov't/airport charges, fees or taxes of up to $58 eastbound and $118 westbound. Also excludes the September 11th Security Fee of $2.50 for each U.S. enplanement. Valid for U.S. originating passengers only. Full payment is made at time of reservation. Seats are limited and offers may not be available on all flights and dates. Higher fares may also be available throughout travel periods. Tickets are nonrefundable. Gold Circle Club Points awarded on Aer Lingus flights. Stopovers are not permitted. Valid for new bookings only. Any change in itinerary may result in an increase in fare and is subject to penalty. If change results in lower fare, no refund applies. All fares, taxes, fees, rules and offers are subject to change without notice. Other restrictions may apply.

Nice story about Awards of Excellence

The Island comes together to honor local people. It's a great story of a community united. They were even nice to the Treasury Minister! Story here.

Funny: If you're not easily offended, go to YouTube and look up Manx Downfall. It's not something I can put on this family site but if you know anything about local Manx politics you'll laugh like a drain.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's not all floating around in space...

FE-2 Stott began Day 1 of her third session with the NASA/JSC experiment NUTRITION w/Repository, starting with urine collections and the blood draw. Frank De Winne assisted with the phlebotomy from an arm vein. Later, Nicole continued her 24-hour urine collections of the NUTRITION protocol. [After the phlebotomy, Nicole's samples were first allowed to coagulate in the Repository for 20-30 minutes, then spun in the HRF RC (Human Research Facility/Refrigerated Centrifuge) and finally placed in MELFI (Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS). No thruster activity was allowed during the blood drawing. The RC was later powered off after a temperature reset to limit wear on the compressor, and cleaned. The NUTRITION project is the most comprehensive in-flight study done by NASA to date of human physiologic changes during long-duration space flight. It includes measures of bone metabolism, oxidative damage, nutritional assessments, and hormonal changes, expanding the previous Clinical Nutritional Assessment profile (MR016L) testing in three ways: Addition of in-flight blood & urine collection (made possible by supercold MELFI dewars), normative markers of nutritional assessment, and a return session plus 30-day (R+30) session to allow evaluation of post-flight nutrition and implications for rehabilitation.]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Isle of Man has right to oil fields cash, says MHK

AN MHK is making waves as he calls for Manx territorial water limits to be redrawn in the wake of the VAT crisis.
Background: The UK recently decided to end the Common Purse Agreement between the Island and the UK dramatically reducing revenues to the Manx exchequer and prompting a great deal of internal analysis into the future for the IOM. Back in October 1966, the Manx and UK governments entered into an agreement whereby the Isle of Man was to receive a share of royalties and rentals from oil and gas exploration on the whole of the UK continental shelf, through what was then called the Common Purse Customs agreement.

In return, the Island relinquished any interest it had to oil and gas exploration and production beyond its territorial waters. At the time this was seen as a good deal, but during the 1970s oil prices shot up and an increase in exploration in the Irish Sea resulted in the discovery of a series of highly productive gas and oil fields. In July 1991, the UK and Manx governments agreed to extend Manx territorial waters from three to 12 nautical miles. As part of the agreement, the Island relinquished its right to a share of the royalties and rentals from the UK continental shelf.)

Peter Karran (Lib Vannin, Onchan MHK) understands that the Isle of Man gave up its rights to revenue from oil and gas discoveries in the Irish Sea when it struck a deal with the UK to extend the limit of Manx waters from three to 12 nautical miles. But he claims, the United Nations international convention on the law of the sea specifies that coastal states should have the right to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extending to the mid-way line between itself and its neighbours.

And if this is the case, the Millom gas field and a significant part of the North Morecambe gas field would come within the Isle of Man EEZ as would a large section of the UK-Ireland gas interconnectors. Mr Karran believes the Customs agreement with the UK should be renegotiated on this basis, suspecting that the Island will eventually be forced into scrapping the deal anyway.

He intends to move a private member's bill in the House of Keys calling for the Territorial Sea Act 1991 to be amended to include a new definition of Manx waters such that its limit would be taken as the median line between the Island's coast and that of the UK or the Republic of Ireland.

The Chief Minister says that the continental shelf issue has no bearing on the VAT debate. It will be interesting to see if the Manx people agree with him. More.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Today in Tynwald

The House of Keys will today be asked to consider the introduction of a bill which could change the system used for electing the Isle of Man's chief minister. South Douglas MHK Bill Malarkey hopes to amend the 1990 Council of Ministers Act and the 1995 Representation of the People Act so the position would no longer be filled by Tynwald.

He wants to bring forward a private member's bill which could see the process carried out by 'universal suffrage', or a national election, by the time of the next general election to the House of Keys, in 2011. Onchan MHK Peter Karran also wants to bring forward a private member's bill, to amend the definition of the territorial sea surrounding the Island.

In his words, he wants the seaward limit to be "in every direction the median line between the Island's coast and that of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland". The sitting gets under way at 10am and, among other items on the order paper, are 14 questions for oral answer and eight for written reply.

The Legislative Council is also sitting this morning, from 10.30am. There are two questions from Eddie Lowey, MLC, who wants to know the number of apartments in Douglas rented by the DHSS in the past two years, and whether the new ticketing system on the buses is working properly.

Members also have three bills to consider, including the Gambling Supervision Bill, which is down for second reading. Here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Don't bring drugs to the Isle of Man

BRING drugs into the Isle of Man and you could end up staying for 14 years. That's the message in a police campaign launched on Friday at ports and airports across the north-west of England.

It is hoped the Ports Anti-Drugs Campaign – financed through money seized from drug dealers – will raise awareness of the seriousness of the crime and its consequences when convicted, through posters, leaflets and beer mats. Here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gold Accolades presented in Douglas

Proprietors of six Isle of Man self-catering properties celebrated at a special presentation held by the Department of Tourism and Leisure today, where they were honored with Gold Accolades for providing top quality and service to visitors. Hon Martyn Quayle MHK, Minister for Tourism and Leisure, presented the awards at the ceremony which took place in the Millennium Room, Legislative Buildings.

The Gold Accolades were introduced this year, mirroring the scheme already operating in the UK by VisitBritain and, following assessments by the Island’s independent assessors ‘Quality in Tourism’, six self-catering accommodation premises achieved these prestigious awards. They are John and Shirley Kneale, Close Taggart Cottages, Ballaugh Curraghs for their two self-catering units, Andrew and Kathryn Scarlett, Ballakerkey Cottage, Glen Maye, Ian Fairbairn, Grenaby Cottage, who is the proprietor of The Hayloft, Ballasalla, Paul and Gill Fisher, Ballathona Farm Cottage, Andreas, and Fiona Anderson who runs Knockaloe Beg Farm Cottage, Peel.

The prestigious accolade is in addition to their star grading but shows that the proprietors have gone above and beyond expectations with their quality and cleanliness but, more importantly, their standard of service and hospitality.
Ian Fairbairn of Grenaby Cottage said:

‘We are delighted the Hayloft has been awarded a Gold Accolade. We believe it reflects the high standards of accommodation and service the Grenaby Estates team strives to provide for all our guests. The introduction of these new standard measures is good news for tourism on the Island as the Industry seeks ways to grow and improve.’

Shirley and John Kneale of Close Taggart Cottages have just completed their 14th successful year with Close Taggart Cottages. They said: ‘The original concept was, and still is, to offer a ‘special holiday for two’ in accommodation that we would be delighted to find anywhere in the world, and to treat our guests as we would be treated ourselves.’ John and Shirley have received many glowing references on their website including a comment recently made by visitors from Dorset saying, ‘Close Taggart is just like home, only better, like Heaven, only closer.’

Fiona Anderson of Knockaloe Beg Farm said: ‘As a family we all enjoy running a tourist business alongside the farm and meet so many delightful people, who we love showing off our beautiful Island to!’

Andy and Kathryn Scarlett of Ballakerkey Farm could see from the beginning that their farm had the potential to diversify and it could be developed as a successful business. They said: ‘Thanks to our vision, the support of the local community and the foresight of the Isle of Man Government, the future of Ballakerkey Farm and its associated tourist facilities have been secured for future generations to enjoy.’

The award winners will be entitled to display the Gold Accolade Award at their premises, alongside their star grading sign, and it is hoped that more accommodation providers will achieve the prestigious gold standard in the future.

Week of events to celebrate Manx language

THE Cooish – Manx Language Week – begins tomorrow (Saturday) and runs until November 14.
It will feature concerts, workshops and music and language sessions with Manx musicians and singers as well as visiting performers from Ireland and Scotland. More here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Poppy man in Ramsey

A SEVEN foot tall Poppy Man stands inside the foyer at Ramsey Town Hall, marking the start of this year's Poppy Appeal. The iconic figure made of wire and poppies was created for Ramsey branch of the Royal British Legion by four young men from the town who put in hundreds of hours of work attaching thousands of poppies to a wire frame.

Poppy Man statues such as this can be seen all over the British Isles, raising the Legion's profile and symbolising the support given to those who serve or have served in the armed forces. Poppy Man has appeared on a plinth in Trafalgar Square and, most recently, holding hands with a young child whose father was killed in Afghanistan. The Ramsey figure is the first in the Isle of Man.

Prime-time ITV1 show features 2009 Isle of Man TT visitor experience

The Isle of Man TT Races will be featured in a prime-time ITV1 show this month. The three part series, called ‘John Sergeant On The Tourist Trail’, will be shown on Tuesdays from 10th November at 8pm.

The program features presenter John Sergeant returning to his roots as a tour guide and getting a unique perspective of Britain by joining different tourist parties and experiencing Britain through their eyes.

The TT is covered in the first episode of the three part series, each episode an hour long, which will also feature a number of the UK’s other leading tourist destinations including Loch Ness, the Lake District and the Eisteddfod Music Festival in Wales.

The TT feature was shot during this year’s races and tracks groups of German tourists who visit the Isle of Man on their annual pilgrimage. During the show John discovers why they love to return to the Isle of Man year after year, despite bringing all their own food and liters of German beer. During his visit he also met TT hero Guy Martin (photo) and German rider Karsten Schmidt who explained the thrill of competing in the world’s greatest motorsport event and learnt how the Island copes with its influx of international visitors.

The trip was organized by the Isle of Man Government’s Department of Tourism and Leisure who assisted the production crew from Mentorn TV with all of the on-site logistics during their four-day trip.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NewSpace and the Isle of Man

Photo: RICK TUMLINSON, Co-founder of the Space Frontier Foundation which promotes increased use of space by the private sector.

Space expert Rick Tumlinson says the Isle of Man is leading the race to make privately funded missions into space in the same way that Portugese explorers led the way to discovering the world in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Mr Tumlinson is regarded as one of the most influential people in the space industry and is co-founder of the Space Frontier Foundation which promotes increased use of space by the private sector. Here is his view of the Isle of Man's place in the business that is called NewSpace.

THE recent roll out of the Excalibur Almaz spacecraft has drawn attention to the Isle of Man as a player in the space field – at long last.

As a child of a British mother who spent years growing up on the larger island near you, and a friend of some of those leading the charge I have been following the growth of the Manx space industry and have become ever more impressed with your nation's grasp and understanding of the revolution now underway in this area. After a half-century of spaceflight dominated by 'Superpower' governments, smaller nations and entrepreneurs are at last joining the game – and the stakes are potentially enormous.

I am gladdened to see some of your leaders understand this, and are acting to getting you in the game early on. Humanity is not just on the verge of not just opening the next New World as my continent was known, we are about to enter an ocean that can carry us to New Worlds without end.

Its shoreline is just a hundred miles overhead, but it has taken decades for us to begin to realise its potential, and we are just beginning to understand how it can change our lives and futures. The Isle of Man, like Portugal in its time, stands in a position to leverage this new frontier far beyond what its own geographical size or economic might would lead one to think.

Just as Henry the Navigator's vision placed that tiny nation in the forefront of exploration and trade dominated by the 'Superpowers' of the 15th and 16th century, the vision of a band of leaders on your Island has catapulted you into a lead position in this new space race – if you stay the course. Indeed, NewSpace is the name we give this industry. Far from pie in the sky dreams, the business of opening space is real and well on its way to making money.

Led by folks such as Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos of, Elon Musk who created Paypal, motel magnate Bob Bigelow and groups like Excalibur Almaz, we are just years from the first regular commercial spaceflights to and from the first commercial orbiting space facilities and hotels. Even NASA has begun to notice and is about to spend billions of dollars on NewSpace firms to carry its own payloads and even astronauts to and from space.

By setting itself up as a home base, banker, broker and investor/supporter of these leading edge firms, the Isle of Man has the potential to help lead a historic revolution not only in spaceflight, but human history as we begin to tap new and limitless sources of energy, materials and inspiration and eventually build the first permanent human communities beyond the Earth.

Size does matter in some things, but vision, intelligent planning and bold action will win the day far more often. The people of Mann should be proud and excited by what your government and business leaders are doing. They need your support and understanding, and to not be weighed down by Luddites who can't see beyond their own noses.

I say here's to you. Sail on my friends, sail on, the universe awaits!

Zac comes back

The heartthrob film star Zac Efron of the Manx made film 'Me and Orson Welles' has been booked to appear on the red carpet at the local premiere of the film at the Gaiety Theatre on November 21.

When filming on the Island, the young star of High School Musical attracted a lot of attention. Shooting was centred on the Gaiety Theatre, which filled in for the legendary Orson Welles 'Mercury Theatre'.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Don't touch the seal pups!

MEMBERS of the public have been urged to keep away from any seal pups on Manx beaches as the breeding season comes to an end.
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said: 'Seal pups often appear on Manx beaches at this time of the year and the DAFF urges walkers and beach users to keep clear as approaching a seal pup may cause it to become abandoned. 'It's normal for a seal pup to be left unattended for several hours while the mother hunts for food. The mother may be offshore watching, so approaching, handling and picking up a seal pup can cause the mother distress and she may abandon her young.'

They said: 'Seal pups are very cute but well-intentioned people are often mistaken in rescuing healthy pups because they are basking on the beach. It takes time to accurately decide if a pup is abandoned so watch from a distance and seek advice. 'Seals are wild animals and can bite,' they added. 'They also carry diseases which are transferable to humans and dogs.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weather so bad they put it in the paper

HEAVY rain and gale force winds battered the Isle of Man over the weekend. The stormy conditions caused the Steam Packet Company to cancel its Manannan fastcraft service between the Island and Liverpool on Sunday. The firm is scheduling a replacement crossing today (Monday).

Ronaldsway Met Office recorded between 25-35mm of rain at low levels, while on higher ground there was almost 45mm. The strongest winds hit the west and north of the Island with gusts of 56mph recorded at Peel, Ramsey and the Point of Ayre lighthouse.

December 9th - 100 years since the sinking of the Ellan Vannin

The 100th anniversary of the wreck of the Ellan Vannin will be commemorated with a wreath laying ceremony at the site of the disaster. Public transport body Merseytravel has agreed to provide a ferry which will take dignitaries out to the site in the Mersey estuary on Thursday, December 3.

Chief Minister Tony Brown will represent the Isle of Man and will lay the wreath on behalf of the Manx government. Also aboard will be the man who wrote the well known song about the disaster.

The Steam Packet's Ellan Vannin left Ramsey on December 3 1909 bound for Liverpool, but a huge wave overwhelmed her in rough weather. Five hours after she set out, she sank with the loss of 15 passengers and 21 crew in gale force eleven winds and 20 feet waves. A fund for victims' relatives was set up and the Steam Packet donated £1,000 but the feeling behind the tragedy is revealed in the fact the company never again named a vessel Ellan Vannin.

Hughie Jones of the Spinners wrote the song about the Ellan Vannin, and will perform it live during the ceremony. Here are the words from the song.

Snaefell, Tynwald, Ben My Chree
Fourteen ships had sailed the sea
Proudly bearing a Manx name
But there’s one will never again
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

At one a.m. in Ramsey bay
Captain Teare was heard to say
"Our contract said deliver the mail
in this rough weather we must not fail"
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

Ocean liners sheltered from the storm
Ellan Vannin on the wave was borne
Her hold was full and battened down
As she sailed towards far Liverpool Town
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

With a crew of twenty-one Manxmen
Her passengers Liverpool businessmen
Farewell Mona's Isle farewell
This little ship was bound for hell
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

Less than a mile from the Bar lightship
By a mighty wave Ellan Vannin was hit
She sank in the waters of Liverpool Bay
There she lies until this day
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

Few Manxmen now remember
The third day of the month December
The terrible storm in Nineteen-nine
Ellan Vannin sailed for the very last time
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea