Tuesday, August 31, 2010

All our yesterdays

Michael MacPherson
MEMBERS of the former Manx Regiment met at the Manx Aviation and Military Museum to reminisce about their heroics during the Second World War. August is a significant month for the anti-aircraft regiment, which was formed in August 1938, went off to war in August 1939 and was credited with shooting down its first enemy aircraft in August 1940, during the Battle of Britain.

At its peak the regiment had around 600 Manxmen but there are now fewers than 20 who still live in the Island.

At the museum, they inspected two examples of the type of Bofors Gun they used in Europe after the D-Day landings as well as uniforms, medals, photographs and memorabilia illustrating the history of the regiment.

Museum curator Ivor Ramsden said: 'All of these boys are in their 80s or 90s now, but listening to them talk about their time in the regiment it's amazing how the years fall off them. It's as if they are back in their 20s.

'Some of them have memories that are crystal clear and these days they are prepared to talk about their time in service much more openly.

'To them, it used to be something that everyone had done but now they realise that people are much more interested in finding out what happened.'

After the men of the Manx Regiment were trained in the Island, they were stationed in Merseyside.

They were then posted along the south coast to defend strategic targets such as airfields, radar stations and aircraft production lines during the Battle of Britain, which reached its 70th anniversary this month.
At the end of 1940, the regiment's 129 Battery was sent to Crete, where its troops were captured and spent the rest of the war in prisoner of war camps.

The other batteries, 41 and 42, were sent to Eritrea and Egypt respectively until mid-1941, when they joined forces to support the famous 7th Armoured Division, nicknamed the Desert Rats, in western Africa.

After a foray up the west coast of Italy in September 1943, the regiment re-trained in Norfolk and arrived in Normandy a couple of days after the D-Day landings.

They fought through France, Belgium and Holland defending river crossings and later firing at ground targets such as infantry.

By the end of the war they had reached Hamburg and shot down more than 200 aircraft, still the record in the British Army. Sadly, the regiment was re-numbered after the war and lost its Manx connections.

The Manx Aviation and Military Museum, at Ronaldsway Airport, is open from 10am-4.30pm every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays. It will be open every day during Manx Grand Prix fortnight.  iomtoday.com

Monday, August 30, 2010

Perfect weather for start of MGP

POST Classic records tumbled on the opening day of the 2010 Manx Grand Prix sponsored by visitisleofman.com, with both Michael Dunlop in the Senior Post Classic and Castletown's Chris Palmer in the Junior Post Classic races posting lap and race records. Perfect conditions all around the course were reported as a packed grandstand settled down for the first day's racing on the Isle of Man.

Clerk of the Course Phil Taubman revised the start order following the speeds posted by the Post Classic Senior machines with the Post Classics Senior class following the Newcomers A away with Newcomers B slotting behind and Post Classic Junior at the end of the pack.

First away in the Post Classics were Olie Linsdell on the Yamaha FZ 746 and Mark Buckley riding the Suzuki XR69.

However, it was Michael Dunlop, who set a series of blistering times in qualifying riding 1981 Suzuki XR69 997cc who established an early lead to Glen Helen with a time of 118.485 from Olie Linsdell and Mark Buckley. More at IOMToday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

IoM 5th most likely nation to go to the Moon!

The Ascend report goes out to every US Congressman and Senator and to all US Government involved in space plus their industry. You can download it by clicking here.

Please note the first article and the mention of the Isle of Man in 5th position as nations most likely to go to the Moon!

Top five nations to return to the Moon:
Isle of Man

We beat the UK, Europe, and Japan!!!

Manx Grand Prix 2010 enjoys great weather and new records

Irishman Michael Sweeney set the fastest time of the week to date at 119.051mph on his 600 Yamaha  

SPEEDS were high in near-perfect conditions for the fourth timed practice of the 2010 Manx Grand Prix on Thursday evening. Lap records were unofficially bettered in several classes, while a couple more were within split seconds of also being swept aside.

The fastest lap of the week to date was achieved by Irishman Michael Sweeney at 119.051mph on the 600 Yamaha he will ride in next week's Junior and Senior, followed by Onchan's Si Fulton at 118.800mph and Wayne Kirwan 118.429, while Sulby's Dan Sayle went quicker than he has ever gone (even surpassing the outright Sidecar TT lap record he achieved with Nick Crowe at 116.667 in 2007) with a speed of 118.204mph on his R6. IOMtoday 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

There she goes again! Nicole is on STS-133

The STS-133 crew members, from the left, are NASA astronauts Alvin Drew and Nicole Stott, both mission specialists; Eric Boe, pilot; Steve Lindsey, commander; Michael Barratt and Tim Kopra, both mission specialists. Image credit: NASA

Launch Target:
4:40 p.m. EDT - Nov. 1, 2010
Mission Number:
(133rd space shuttle flight)
Launch Window:
10 minutes
Launch Pad:
Mission Duration:
11 days
Landing Site:
51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles
Primary Payload:
35th station flight (ULF5), EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4), Permanent Multi-Purpose Module (PMM)

The STS-133 crew members are Commander Steven Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt, Tim Kopra and Nicole Stott (Manx by marriage!)

Discovery will deliver and install the Permanent Multipurpose Module, the Express Logistics Carrier 4 and provide critical spare components to the International Space Station. This will be the 35th shuttle mission to the station.

More at NASA

Planning a trip to the IOM?

The Gold and Silver Awards were introduced last year, mirroring a scheme operating in the UK by VisitBritain to recognize the best achieving hotels and guest accommodation.  Properties are assessed annually and the Awards are based solely on quality, with an emphasis on service and hospitality.  The guest accommodation should also reflect the quality of comfort and cleanliness in bedrooms and bathrooms, and the service and hospitality given throughout a guest's stay.

The following accommodation providers have achieved awards:

5 Star Gold                                       Self-Catering Cottages
Iain Fairbairn and Joanna Crookall   Grenaby Cottage, The Granary, Grenaby 
Howard and Lorraine Quayle           Ballahowin Courtyard Cottages, St Marks 
Trevor and Margaret Yeo                  Knock–E–Vriew Barn, Ballasalla              
Philip Jenkins                                    Ballagreyney, Honeysuckle Cottage, Colby

4 Star Gold                                       Self-Catering Cottages
Tracey Nolan                              Waterfront Apartments, Douglas            
Jane Hooson-Owen                      Beach Cottage, Maughold                     
Steve King                                  The Loft, Santon                                 
Beth and Steve Martin                   Thie Y Ribbeyder, Andreas                    
Sara Brindle                                Greyney Mooar Barn, Colby                  
Voirrey and Brian Moore                Barn Cottage, Onchan                                    

4 Star Gold                                       Bed and Breakfast Accommodation
Pam and Graham Crowe                  Breagle Glen, Port Erin
Nikki and Nigel Sperring                 Albany House, Peel

5 Star Silver                                 Bed and Breakfast Accommodation
Sandra and Allan Jones                 Croit-ny-Bane Farmhouse, Andreas
Ingrid Piggin                                 The Crofts, Baldrine

4 Star Silver                                              
Christopher and Lynne Gumbleton                  Mount Murray View, Santon   Bed and Breakfast
Val Teare                                                           Ballachrink Farm, Bride         Farmhouse
Andy McCluskey and Sandy Kaneen               Rosslyn, Douglas                   Guest House
Paul Forrest, General Manager                         The Sefton Hotel                    Hotel

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

From Helmand to home

Martin Peters, a signaller with 40 Commando Royal Marines, was on a routine patrol in Helmand, Afghanistan when a suicide bomber struck.

INJURED Manx marine Martin Peters has been praised by Island war veterans for his courage under fire. The 23-year-old, who was badly hurt in a suicide bomber blast in Afghanistan, is resting at home in Douglas until next week, when he will return to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for check-ups.

He and his parents Derek and Karen, of Stanley Terrace, were invited to a meeting of the Armed Forces Day Committee, whose chairman Brigadier Norman Butler welcomed Martin back. Martin told assembled dignitaries including Chief Minister Tony Brown and Douglas Mayor Ritchie McNicholl that he had received many gifts and messages of support from the Manx community while in hospital, adding that it was 'nice to know I was not left there alone'.

Martin was just 13 feet from suicide bomber

MARTIN Peters told iomtoday he was standing just four metres away - just over 13 ft - from the suicide bomber who blew him up.

The signaller with 40 Commando Royal Marines was on a routine patrol in the Helmand province of Afghanistan when the bomb went off, spraying Martin and one of his comrades with ball bearings.

'We were in a safe area and there was a normal atmosphere, but suddenly this guy just went off,' he said. 'I got plenty of the ball bearings on my body armour but a few of them went into my leg. The other lad took more of the blast but he's OK now, he's up and about in hospital. You never think you will get injured. You see it happen but you never think it will be you, especially because our equipment is great. The Mastiff armoured troop carrier is a great vehicle.'
More at iomtoday.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


THE Manx Mountain Bike Club's End 2 End Bike Challenge has had another massive surge of overseas entries this year and is fast becoming one of the highlights of the Isle of Man’s tourist attractions.
Another record entry has been achieved this year - up by more than 300- and another 200 are currently on the waiting list, hoping to get the chance to ride the spectacular 46 miles route which is now rated as one of the best competitions in Europe.

Riders from as far afield as Israel, Scandinavia and Australia will be on the start line at the Point of Ayre lighthouse on September 12th, with more than 900 of the competitors from outside the Island.  The event is being sponsored once again by Sleepwell Hotels and organised by the Manx Mountain Bike Club.

‘It’s developing into a major tourist attraction,’ said Geoff Corkish MBE MHK, Political Member for Isle of Man Tourism.   ‘The number of riders coming to the Island from the UK and Europe is highly impressive and this year’s entry shows just how popular the event is.

‘The organisers have done a magnificent job in creating a really well run event and clearly the competitors are extremely keen. This is a major success story and Isle of Man Tourism is pleased to support it.’

The big surge in entries for the Sleepwell Hotel's End 2 End Bike Challenge is also making the organisers consider expanding the event in the future. One idea is to run more than one race over two or three days, although the pressure on volunteer marshals is a concern.

‘It has become a big event on Europe’s mountain biking calendar - a very big event,’ said Steve Honeybone, chairman of the End 2 End committee. ‘Without doubt the coverage on Sky TV last year has made a difference. Once it was broadcast we saw a really big increase in the number of people asking for application forms.’

He said the event was over-subscribed by February this year and that the 200 currently on the waiting list were all keeping their fingers crossed that they might still have a chance of competing.

‘As in any event on this scale, there are always quite a few who cannot start for various reasons, so we’re hoping that a lot of the 200 will get the opportunity to take part, but they will have to just hold tight and wait for their chance.’

The popularity of the Sleepwell Hotel's End 2 End mountain bike challenge has resulted in a number of changes for the 2010 event, based on liaison meetings with the police over road safety issues. The biggest change is that the road between Bride crossroads and the Point of Ayre will be closed for an hour between 9.30am and 10.30am on the day of the race which starts at 10am.

Heavy traffic congestion on the road in recent years led the organisers and police to agree on the roads closure and also to improve signage both for competitors and also spectators.

The organisers are also providing riders with the option of transport to the start using coaches and lorries leaving Douglas early to get to the start line in good time. Around 500 competitors can be transported using this system.

Lots of properties along the route will also receive a leaflet drop closer to the race day, to advise them that 1,400 riders will be travelling past their front doors, with the greatest congestion expected in the first few miles, chiefly in the Bride, Andreas, Sulby and Ballaugh regions, before the competitors hit the mountain tracks at Ballacobb, Ballaugh.

The route has also been slightly changed in the Glen Rushen area to use a wider track than previously with the intention of providing more space for the record number of riders. The new route will be clearly signposted for riders.

The winner in the last two years, former Olympian Nick Craig, is once again taking part and he starts as hot favourite to complete a hat trick, expecting to cross the finishing line in the very fast time of just under three hours. The slowest riders could take up to seven hours to finish the event.

Local hopes are once again with Elliot Baxter who was the first Manxman home last year. Paul Kneen, Rob Sorby and Julian Corlett are also expected to do well. Julian is one of the favourites for the veterans over 50's class title. He knows the route well as he is the man with the annual responsibility of marking out the course. TT Star Guy Martin is will be making a celebrity appearance in the race this year.

Meanwhile, the organisers have issued a ‘polite warning’ to competitors that they must not get involved in any serious practising on the route as much of the course is on private land with livestock and will only be available to be used on the day of the event.

Steve Honeybone added:  ‘We know it’s tempting - particularly for local riders - to go out at the weekend and ride the course, but we have a very good relationship with the land owners and we don’t want it to be spoiled by someone leaving a gate open and causing problems for the farmers.

‘So, we’re appealing for riders to use common sense. The route will be very clearly marked on the day, so no one needs to go out practising.  Anyone seen practising on private land will be excluded.’

For more information on the End 2 End Mountain Bike Challenge visit www.manxe2e.org.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


A BANK Holiday weekend event, which shocked the organisers by its overwhelming success when it was held for the first time last year, is expected to attract in excess of 10,000 people at the end of August.

The ‘Festival of Jurby’ - a free event focusing on vintage motorcycles and vehicles, together with a host of attractions for all the family - took the organisers by surprise when more than 8,000 people flocked to Jurby Airfield in 2009, making it the biggest single spectator attraction of the year.

This year the organisers are predicting in excess of 10,000 or more people attending the festival and have completely revamped the event to cope with the huge numbers.

‘We were completely overwhelmed by the number of people last year,’ said Tony East, Secretary of the Isle of Man Vintage Motorcycle Club, organisers of the event. ‘We thought we might attract a couple of thousand visitors if we were lucky, but we totally under-estimated how popular the event would be.’

The events committee of the VMCC Isle of Man came up with the idea of holding a gathering similar to the well established VMCC ‘Festival of 1000 Bikes’ held annually at Mallory Park.
Tony East admitted he thought it would be a success but he had no idea how successful.

‘We were well organised and we had lots of exhibitors and an enthusiastic group of people at VMCC who worked hard and who believed in the festival, but the number of people who arrived was just amazing,’ he said.

‘We had a man with a count-clicker at the gate but when we got to 8,000 we just decided to stop counting. I reckon we must have been close to 9,000.’

Tony East is now confident that this year, weather permitting, the festival will attract more than 10,000 visitors. ‘Last year, although we didn’t realise it when we chose the date, there was another major motorcycle display in Castletown Square which was also attracted many hundreds of people. This year they are coming up to Jurby to be with us, so I think 10,000 is definitely on the cards.’

It means that the organisation of this year’s event has had to be totally revamped to cope with the potential of 10,000 or more people arriving at Jurby on August 29th. This includes a new traffic management system which will be supervised by G4S, in co-operation with an enhanced police presence to oversee matters.

There was just one caterer at last year’s festival, who did ‘amazing business’, but clearly it was not enough.  So this year the Festival of Jurby will have a Food Court with nine different food outlets to cope with the numbers.

The focus of attention throughout the day is vintage motorcycles and vintage transport. Classic bikes will be featured in a series of 20- minute parade laps around the Jurby airport race circuit but it’s emphasised that this is not racing, simply a parade where spectators can see some of the famous bikes from motorcycling history in action.

Geoff Corkish MBE MHK, Political Member for Isle of Man Tourism, said:  ‘Promoting the Manx Grand Prix Races as a festival is one of our important aims. The Festival of Jurby is a great addition to the programme of exciting events and I send best wishes to the VMCC in building on last year’s success.’

There were an estimated 5,000 bikes on display last year - and even more will be on display this year. This year will include parades by 40 TT and MGP winners and podium finishers, a display of Italian classic bikes including MV, Gilera and Benelli, 80 BSA Gold Stars, covered exhibitions, car and bike clubs, vintage farming machinery displays, Jurby Transport Museum, hundreds of classic and vintage racing motorcycles and an extensive range of children’s entertainment.

One of the ‘crown jewels’ of the festival will be a display of the official - and extremely valuable - Manx Grand Prix trophies, under the watchful supervision of G4S security staff. Another big attraction will be the famous Freddie Dixon banking sidecar, included with a display from the Milntown collection of bikes.

Star guests include Nick Jefferies riding his TT winning RC30 Honda, Sammy Miller on the exotic Bicilindrica Moto Guzzi, John Kidson riding the Arthur Wheeler Moto Guzzi and Ivan and Graham Rhodes riding the supercharged Velocettes including the unique and priceless ‘Wyfling Clara’ 350. Malcolm Wheeler, editor of ‘Classic Racer’, will be riding a Ducati he raced in the TT some years ago.

It’s also hoped to have a display of vintage tractors and perhaps a Farmers’ Market, although neither have been fully confirmed as yet.

‘It’s a family day out, which is why we feel it was such a success last year,’ added Tony East. ‘The Festival has something for all ages and all members of the family. It’s basically a transport extravaganza with entertainment for the family.’

The Festival of Jurby takes place on Sunday August 29th at Jurby Airfield, starting at 10.30am. Parking and admission is free. For full details of the Festival of Jurby and other exciting MGP events please visit the newly launched www.mgpfestival.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Manannan - a Suite for Windband

Retired music teacher Paul Dunderdale has been involved with music in various forms throughout his life, learning the clarinet at age 12 and progressing to conductor, arranger and composer by the age of 16, followed by a degree in music in 1971. During the 1970s he tackled a variety of roles including arts administrator, recording studio producer, leader of a folk club and instigator of the Bracknell Folk Festival.

Many residents on the Island will recall Paul as a teacher at both Castle Rushen High School and Ramsey Grammar School, and as Music Director of the Isle of Man Wind Orchestra since its inception in 1997 and Onchan Silver Band since 2005.

But his flair for composition has given Paul the opportunity to write music for a number of theatre productions, bands and orchestras. They range from simple arrangements for beginner school ensembles to works for choirs and orchestras by way of wind orchestras and brass bands, with a selection of material available on his website.

 ‘Manannan’ is a three movement suite for Windband, which began life in 1988 as a piece written for the ‘Castle Rushen High School Wind Band’. Paul commented, “That year had a good band and I wanted to write a piece that they could get their teeth into and which used Manx tunes. At that time Manx music was less easy to come by than it is now, and as I had worked in British folk music in an earlier job I was keen to work with folk tunes”. However, the published version is written for standard instrumentation and has been heavily revised.

Selecting tunes to incorporate into ‘Manannan’ gave Paul a good grounding in Manx folk tunes. Paul explained, “The tunes had to work together in the context of the movement, and, whilst movements should provide contrast, they should also work together. There were originally four movements, but one really didn’t fit. It was removed and lives on in a different instrumentation; both pieces are the better for it!” Bearing in mind that the repertoire for wind bands was somewhat narrower 20 years ago Paul used the Vaughan-Williams ‘English Folk Song Suite’ and the two Holst Suites for wind band as exemplars for what was to eventually become ‘Manannan’.

At that time Paul was also researching the use of music notation programmes for computer as part of his studies for an M.Ed., and so ‘Manannan’ became a suitable candidate to test the programme he was using.

This is Paul’s first suite influenced by Manx folk tunes, with its title inspired by the tune ‘Manannan Beg Mac y Leir’ collected by Mona Douglas.

‘Manannan’ will also soon be available as an arrangement for brass bands. The ‘dropped’ movement, ‘Arrane Ghelbee’, is available as a clarinet quartet to be joined later by two further pieces based on Manx tunes. Enquiries about these can be made directly to Paul at paul.dunderdale@hotmail.com.  In due course further examples of his work will be available on a new website which he is in the process of constructing.

In the meantime the ‘Manannan Suite’ is currently available priced at £45 from Bandleader Publications.


Valerie Caine © August 2010 (Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Okells Aile wins European Beer prize

A MANX brew is the best of its kind in Europe, according to judges at this year's World Beer Awards. Okells staff are celebrating taking the gold award for best flavored porter in Europe with Aile.

Head brewer Dr Mike Cowbourne said: 'We are extremely proud to have won this gold medal for Aile, proving it to be the best brewed flavored porter in all of Europe, which complements the award we won for it in 2008 as one of the world's best 50 beers. IOMToday

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chief Minister enlists American Manx to build awareness of Island

CHIEF Minister Tony Brown MHK has appealed to people of Manx descent in the USA and Canada to help promote the Island and defend its reputation in their countries.

Speaking at the 50th convention of the North American Manx Association (NAMA) in Denver, Colorado, Mr Brown told delegates: ‘We do realise that in today’s world the Isle of Man cannot stand alone. We need your help, as proud and well-informed descendants of sturdy and resilient Manx folk.’

Suggesting various ways in which NAMA could assist, he said: ‘You can speak up for the Isle of Man’s record when you hear your politicians unfairly criticise us; you can share your knowledge with those who may not know anything about the Island.’   He also urged them to visit the government’s website and sign up to be a Global Friend of the Isle of Man.

The Chief Minister congratulated Association members for nurturing their links with the home of their ancestors and thanked them for their on-going commitment to preserving Manx heritage and culture.  He noted that their commitment had been demonstrated in many ways, including current activity to establish a Manx Museum within the University of Wisconsin - Platteville.
Providing an update on the Island’s diverse economy and its role as an international business centre, the Chief Minister explained: ‘The Isle of Man government now has much more control of its external affairs, and as an example, we now enter into bilateral agreements with countries around the world – particularly in relation to taxation matters – and our government is an active player in a number of global initiatives. The Isle of Man is now truly a member of the international community.’

The Chief Minister said that as an international business centre the Isle of Man was facing intensified scrutiny by larger countries, even though the Island upheld international standards in regulating business and had often been at the forefront of developing such standards.

He reminded delegates: ‘The Isle of Man does not support tax evasion or fraud, and we have never had banking secrecy. We work quietly with the authorities from many nations, including the United States, to help bring people who carry on such activities to justice, and we have been instrumental in successfully initiating and assisting in a number of important cases in the US. Our co-operation in such matters is firmly recognised by the US Treasury and enforcement agencies.’

On his return to the Isle of Man, the Chief Minister said:  ‘Members of the North American Manx Association were very grateful that I was there to represent the Isle of Man as they celebrated this significant anniversary.  Delegates in a workshop on tracing one’s ancestors were particularly keen to learn more about the progress of Manx National Heritage’s Ancestry Centre which is expected to open early in 2011 and has future plans for giving on-line access to its collections of parish registers, census forms, photos, newspapers and film and sound archives.

‘I also took the opportunity to urge as many as possible to visit  the Isle of Man in 2014 when NAMA holds its convention here.’

Festival Interceltique de Lorient 2010

The annual ‘Festival Interceltique de Lorient’ held in Brittany is a unique gathering of the Celtic nations in the port of Lorient attracting a staggering 650,000 visitors to enjoy ten glorious days of music, song and dance.
The Mollag Band

This year the festival celebrates its 40th anniversary, appropriately with Brittany as this year’s featured nation, and it’s expected that the number of visitors to the event will swell considerably. But it will also attract 500 journalists and is a major opportunity for Manx representatives to promote the Isle of Man to a wider audience.

Official Manx Delegate to the festival, Aalish Maddrell, is delighted with the Manx representation in Europe’s largest Celtic festival, commenting, “Lorient is celebrating its 40th anniversary in style – it will be a fabulous festival with great opportunities for Manx performers, artists and producers to get noticed”.

Laurence Skelly, (Past President of NAMA) who is managing the Isle of Man Pavilion for the Manx Heritage Foundation, will be on hand promoting Manx produce and local cultural events, with a multi-lingual leaflet produced especially for the event.

The Celtic family has now expanded to include Galicia and Asturias, and with a VIP marquee for diplomats and the influential business community this is an excellent time to promote the Isle of Man as a holiday destination. Island based Regency Travel has put together a selection of travel packages to encourage visitors from the Celtic nations to the Isle of Man, and should this prove successful direct travel from the Island to Brittany may be a distinct possibility. This is an untapped area of opportunity with local representation at the festival a vital link in focusing local efforts in pursuit of cultural tourism.

Music forms a large part of the festival with stalwarts of the Manx scene ‘The Mollag Band’ again representing the Isle of Man and rubbing shoulders with the likes of ‘Capercaillie’ and the ‘Cranberries’. Noted for their originality, liveliness and natural humour ‘The Mollag Band’ perform an eclectic mix of self-penned songs and traditional material in both Manx and English. Their unashamed delivery of songs with emphasis on social and political comment still relays a strong message twenty years after the group was formed. Those lucky enough to visit the festival will have a sneak preview of their next CD due out hopefully later this year.

Another exciting development for music lovers travelling to Lorient is the production of another Manx music sampler by the Manx Heritage Foundation in conjunction with local contemporary Celtic bands. Designed by Adam Berry ‘Kiaull 2’ will only be available at the festival.

‘Festival Interceltique de Lorient’ is a highly visual event so its fitting that David Maddrell has been selected for the festival’s Inter-Celtic exhibition with the support of the Isle of Man Arts Council. A regular exhibitor at the Sayle Gallery he is predominantly self-taught using an extensive range of mediums, but on this occasion will focus on presenting eight mono-types at this prestigious event.


Valerie Caine © July 2010 (Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gone Fishing

Back in a week. If I can get internet access I'll post while I'm away.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thanks Jim! A great Convention. See you in 2012 in Platteville!

First photos from the NAMA Convention handover in Denver. Sally handed over the Presidency to Jim, the Chief Minister, Tony Brown handed over a super-special gold etched and engraved plate to commemorate the 50th Convention and Jim gave the Chief Minister (actually the Manx nation) a geode from Colorado. And we all had a blast.

And the Greater Washington Manx Society have the winner of the 2010 NAMA Youth Award. Congratulations Mim Blower!! (in the interest of full disclosure I should mention that she is my daughter and I am very proud of her work on the NAMA FB page and scanning the NAMA bulletins.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Remember this guy?

Tree surgeon Nick Barlow from St. Johns is more used to felling trees than preserving them.
Now he has taken up the unusual art of chainsaw carving, transforming dead trees into works of art.
From wizards to wildlife, his huge wooden sculptures are becoming a popular part of the Manx countryside.
Tree Surgeon Nick Barlow with his sculpture 'The Owl'.
Nick carved 'The Owl' at St Judes from a dying sycamore tree
His latest creation is a seven foot angel which will be unveiled at Mannifest on Friday 6 August 2010 as a symbol of the festival spirit.
"It is massively physically and mentally challenging, any cut could ruin the entire thing. You have to have a lot of patience, attention to detail and a bit of imagination" said Nick.
'The Angel' sculpture created for Manifest music festival
The Angel was an unwanted tree trunk which would have be used for firewood
Chainsaw art originated in America and combines the modern technology of the chainsaw with the ancient art of woodwork.
For Nick it is about conserving the natural landscape and making the most out of our resources.
Nick said: "Everyone thinks being a tree surgeon means you love cutting down trees but most of us have a soft spot for them.
"For me the carving is a progression of that. Rather than a tree coming down and being burnt it can be transformed into something new." Nick first tested his skills as an artist by carving a face into the trunk of a tree belonging to his friends Sue and Gary Quilliam.
"It gave me a big boost of confidence and they asked me to carve a wizard out of a dead oak tree in their garden."
Tourist attraction
The 12 foot high wizard now sits by the roadside in Sulby Glen and has become an attraction in its own right.
The 12 foot 'Wizard' at Sulby Glen
The 12 foot 'Wizard' at Sulby  
Glen is attracting alot of local attention
Sue Quilliam said: "There's been a massive amount of traffic along this road with people just coming to see the wizard. It's becoming a tourist attraction.
"I'd wanted it done for eight years but to find both artistic talent and chainsaw skills is unique. He's incredible"
Nick is hoping to put together a wooden wonderland exhibition of sculptures in time for Christmas 2010.

"It's something I would like to make my profession. I would love to do this day in day out."
Nick will perform a live carving at the Royal Manx Agricultural Show on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 August 2010.


Friday, August 6, 2010

View from the train!

Sandy & Jim Corlett - Our next President of NAMA
Sally Dalquist - Outgoing President down a silver mine next to a past-President, Norm Standish.

To see more photos go to this Facebook link.

Greetings from Denver

After an epic trip across the country rendered more exciting than necessary by my having to return home for the computer powercord and then misplacing my ID at the airport -- we arrived in the Mile-high City. There are many Manx here, including the Chief Minister, Tony Brown. The NAMA Board held a meeting yesterday and the proposals from it will be presented to the membership on Saturday, including the new officers, the recipient of the NAMA Youth Award and some procedural changes.

If your Society hasn't got in its update -- send it to me now. kelly@mustgoto.com and I'll read it out for you.

Today we're off to a mine. I'll hopefully report back with photos.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

NAMA Convention 2010 - Denver

It's Convention time. I hope to be blogging from Denver from tomorrow evening following the Board meeting. Jim and Sandy Corlett & the rest of the Denver Manx have a great schedule all set up for us and I'll try and post photos and thoughts from the mining trip on Friday. If you can't make it to Denver -- check out the blog.

TT pumped £19 million into Manx economy

VISITORS at this year's TT Races pumped £19 million into the Manx economy, the first TT-specific figures reveal. The first-ever survey focusing solely on the TT, carried out by the economic affairs division of the Treasury, showed that 30,787 people visited the Island for the TT this year, spending an average of £620 on the trip.

There have never been such figures specifically looking at the TT before, so tourism bosses cannot say for sure whether the number of visitors was up or down on last year. More here.

Taste Isle of Man assures quality in food and service

Following its success last year, Isle of Man Tourism is pleased to announce the launch of the second ‘Taste Directory’ for eating establishments on the Island.  

The Taste Isle of Man quality assessment scheme was introduced in 2008 to independently assess the Island’s restaurants, pubs, takeaways and other eateries and the Taste directory was first produced last year, for the benefit of both visitors to the Island and local residents.  This invaluable booklet lists a wide range of ‘Quality Assured’ or ‘Highest Quality Assured’ eateries across the Isle of Man.

Each of the establishments listed are members of the scheme and inspected annually in all aspects including cleanliness, bar and restaurant, hospitality, service and food quality. Those who are accredited are awarded a ‘Quality Assured’ or ‘Highest Quality Assured’ accolade. They are also assessed on their use and promotion of local produce and those achieving a score over 60% are awarded the ‘Harvest Isle of Man’ accolade, which is supported by the department of Environment, Food and Agriculture.

The scheme has proving even more successful this year with the number of participants up from 18 last year to 32.  The following eateries have recently been inspected and achieved accreditation.

Highest Quality Assured                                    
Copperfields Old Edwardian Restaurant                     
Harbour Lights Café and Restaurant, Ramsey                        
L’Experience Restaurant                                       
Niarbyl Restaurant
Tanroagan Seafood Restaurant                          
The Courthouse

Quality Assured
Alpine Coffee Shop
Cafe Rosa Restaurant
Davison’s at the Villa                                            
Harbour Lights Café and Restaurant, Peel                             
Harbour Lights Café and Restaurant, Port St Mary                   
HQ Bar & Restaurant                                           
Imperial Dragon Chinese Restaurant
Mines Tavern
Mitre Hotel
Nobles Park Café
Peel Fisheries
Rasoi Indian Restaurant and Takeaway
The Bay Room                                                   
The Crosby Hotel
The Curry Lounge
The George Hotel
The Glen Helen Inn
The Highwayman
The Liverpool Arms
The Riverside Catering and Eatery
The Sound Café
Tholton Tea Room & Bistro
Welbeck Hotel

Copies of the ‘Taste Isle of Man’ Directory are available from the Welcome Centre in the Sea Terminal.  For further information contact Bob Doodson, Isle of Man Tourism Quality and Service Executive, on 685965.
Few know the whereabouts of Manx National Heritage's large object store. And as MNH's community outreach officer Katie King explained, they want to keep it that way.

'We are not trying to keep it a secret but we are trying to keep it discreet,' she said.

Nevertheless, MNH has been more than happy to show members of the public around the store, which is home to some 8,000 historical items for which there is no room to put on display in the main museums.

Hour-long tours, restricted to a maximum of 20 people, have been held on the last Thursday of each month since April. The store, which opened in 2004, is a treasure trove of stored social history, antique furniture, veteran agricultural equipment and archaeological artefacts.

Katie explained that a large proportion of MNH's national collection was in store as is standard for most museums that have reserve collections from which to draw the public display. 'The public see just the tip of the iceberg,' she said.

Much more really interesting stuff here. Oh, and the photo is from the much loved and missed deathtrap at White City on Onchan Head. Remember that wooden roller-coaster? Dracula was one of the scary things on the Ghost Train.

Asturias Inter-Celtic Festival 2010

Local Gaelic choir ‘Caarjyn Cooidjagh’ has taken a little bit of Manx culture to this annual Celtic festival held in the Principality of Asturias, an autonomous community within Spain and formerly a kingdom in its own right in the Middle Ages.

A summer festival held in the shadow of the Ría de Avilés it hosts a wide range of folk music from different countries, providing a cross section of events for visitors including crafts, sports, games and exhibitions. But the main focus of the event is music which includes folk, rock and choirs which can be heard in music kiosks, parks, squares and parades all over the city.

Situated on the Spanish north coast the area boasts a rugged coastline and mountainous interior where Spanish is the official language, although the Asturian language Bable is still spoken. It is hoped that eventually all place names in Asturias will be changed to reflect the Asturian language.

Often referred to as ‘the land of cheeses’ the music of Asturias varies, with the traditional Asturian bagpipe, or gaita, usually accompanied by hand drum, whistles and accordion. In recent years there has been renewed interest in traditional folk music with several ensembles gaining both regional and international recognition

Members of ‘Caarjyn Cooidjagh’ have been busy fund raising for their performances by selling copies of the choir’s CDs, but have been fortunate to receive funding from the Isle of Man Arts Council.

Valerie Caine © August 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Official Opening of ‘The Abbey Restaurant’

Strawberry and Cream Teas are now back on the menu at Rushen Abbey where Manx National Heritage and its new catering partners Sarah and Artan Giummri today officially opened the doors to the new Abbey Restaurant. In a special ceremony performed by the Chief Minister, the Hon J A Brown MHK, the outstanding new restaurant facility was officially declared open. The opening ceremony was attended by special guests from the local business community, dignitaries, neighbours and volunteers who have supported the development of Rushen Abbey since its purchase by Manx National Heritage. Founded in 1134 by Olaf, King of Man, Rushen Abbey was built by monks from Furness Abbey and run by the Cistercian Order.  The Abbey was a very important religious presence in the Island and was the last Monastic establishment along with the Nunnery in Douglas to be dissolved during the Reformation after which most of the Abbey buildings were destroyed. Martin Moore, Chairman of Manx National Heritage said:
“Around 1765, Deemster Thomas Moore, a senior Manx judge, moved to Rushen Abbey and built a fine country house which became, in 1847, a school for young ladies.  This became a country house hotel around 1866 and is the present Abbey Restaurant building.  The grounds of the Abbey itself became a fruit farm but it was in the early 1900s that it became a popular visitor attraction with tea dances and the famous strawberries and cream teas”.    
The season would be opened in May or June with a church fete and stay open through the summer months, providing a venue to meet and dance.  There was a dance floor outside in the grounds and live bands played for tourists during the day and locals in the evenings.  Many young men of the day learnt to dance at Rushen Abbey and many went on to meet their future wives whilst dancing there. The famous strawberries and cream teas used home-grown strawberries from the grounds of the Abbey and when demand was high enough, from Ballasalla. Soft drinks, tea and coffee were served in the grounds of the Abbey, with alcohol available in the Rushen Abbey Hotel. From the 1920’s to the 1960’s visitors paid an entrance fee to the Rushen Abbey Hotel and entered through a turnstile into the abbey grounds.  Peacocks roamed the gardens, where there was also a vinery and a dance floor.  Strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant and blackberry jam were also available to buy in ‘Rushen Abbey’ branded jam pots. Martin Moore, Chairman of Manx National Heritage went on to say:
“Over the past three years, Manx National Heritage has focussed its attention to restore the former Rushen Abbey Hotel. The new restaurant provides a spectacular destination for eating out on the Isle of Man and completely transforms Manx National Heritage’s visitor facilities at Rushen Abbey”.
This new facility at Rushen Abbey has excellent links to Douglas, Castletown and the South by road, public footpaths including the Millennium Way and via the Steam Railway network.  Over the coming months we will undoubtedly see further regeneration initiatives in these surrounding areas as the Isle of Man Government further progress the Town and Village Regeneration Scheme”. Manx National Heritage today handed over the keys to the Abbey Restaurant to Sarah and Artan Giummri whose skills and experience have been instrumental in the successful development of the Abbey Restaurant.