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This is the main road between Douglas and Ramsey if you don't go over the mountain.  It's the Manx A2 and runs within a mile or so of the office.  OK, the photograph was taken earlier in the year - not even on the Isle of Man do daffodils flower in July - but the amount of traffic it gets is fairly accurately shown. We recently visited the UK and were horrified by the volume of traffic.  All the time!  We're what the Manx call 'come overs', in other words immigrants, so, moving from the UK, we were not unused to UK traffic.  But surely it's got a lot worse?  It's dangerous.  It's noisy.  It smells.  It wrecks the countryside.  It's unhealthy.  I had an asthma attack when we were there because of all the pollution.  The last time I had an asthma attack was nearly thirty years ago. It's not for me to say what should be happening in a country I no longer live in, but... come on!  How many ordinary people voted for turning England's green and ple
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Last weekend was the island's Parish Walk.  It's always held as near to the longest day as possible as the walkers need all the help they can get. Visitors often think that 'Parish Walk' sounds like a pleasant stroll:  it isn't.  Walkers must visit every parish church in the Isle of Man - that's seventeen parishes - along a designated route which is 85 miles long.  They have 24 hours in which to do this, hence the need for as much daylight as possible.  The Manx Parish Walk is considered one of the most gruelling walking challenges in the world. Hundreds start, few finish and, while there is a lot to see at the start with hundreds of people, some in costume, by the time they get near here the field is sparse and very spread out.  This year 1,009 people started, 100 finished. The race begins at 8.00 in the morning at the National Sports Centre, Douglas, so walkers get to us about 12 hours later, or slightly less if they're in the lead.  This year's race w
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I used to be a fan of the post office.  On a Junior School trip we were taken to see how the main post office in my home town worked.  Even this length of time afterwards I remember being ushered into a basement and the excitement of seeing tens of thousands of letters whizzing through machines being sorted and franked.  When I was a student, back in the early eighties (we're talking 1980s, by the way, not my age) I saw another aspect of the post office when I became a temporary Christmas postman.  THAT was hard work! Such 'back stage' views created a fondness for the post office which has lasted up until very recently. Unfortunately the post office itself has killed the respect I've had for it for decades. I'll give give you an example.  On 3 April a regular customer ordered one of our books.  We sent it out the same day.  On 3 June the book was returned to us, still with its original paperwork.  The recipient's UK address was correct.  The postage was correct.
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The TT is upon us!  And before eagle-eyed readers of this blog get in touch, the combination speeding through Ramsey (above) is not from this year.  Similar scenes took place yesterday evening with local team the Crowe brothers emulating their Dad and winning in spectacular style. I've never understood why the acrobatic member of the combination is called the passenger.  It seems to me that he or she does most of the work. In a very real sense the Isle of Man's year revolves around TT.  Supplying books to our customers on the island we frequently hear 'we need to get stocks in before TT', or, occasionally (and sadly), 'we won't need the books until after TT'.  Delivering during racing week (this week!) is almost impossible due to road closures, and many businesses, like delivery firms, just shut for the week.  We don't have their excuse! Scheduling deliveries of supplies from across (i.e. the UK) is also interesting.  Senior race day - it's the most
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Our farming neighbour thinks that the finest May tree on the island stands outside our office.  He estimated that it's probably carrying at least a million blossoms.  It's a lovely tree, particularly at this time of the year. The Hawthorn, as it's more usually called, is traditionally thought to guard one of the gates to the realm of the little people, and is also considered as a protection against evil spirits.  In Celtic cultures - and the Isle of Man has a strong Celtic tradition - it is treated with particular respect, with gifts hung on the branches to propitiate the fairy guardians. Perhaps because the trees are thought to belong to the little people, in some areas it was considered very unlucky to bring hawthorn blossom into the house.  Or perhaps it was merely because the blossom looks spectacular but smells 'like death' if cut - almost literally.  The chemical in hawthorn blossom is the same one as is in bad meat.  It was also unlucky to cut hawthorns down
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  As many of you know, the Tower of Refuge stands on Conister Rock in Douglas Harbour.  The rock is sneaky in that it lies just underneath the water when the tide is in.  Boats which don't know the waters - and a few which do - have been known to ground or even wreck on Conister Rock.  The Tower of Refuge acts as a marker so that skippers of incoming boats know where the rock is. The Tower is usually only accessible by boat, and then only by boats whose occupants know what they're doing and have permission to do it.  However, at Spring tide it's just possible to walk to the Tower, if you don't mind getting your feet wet.  The walk is organised by the RNLI (its founder, William Hilary, built the Tower) whose members supervise to make sure people don't do anything daft, or at least can be rescued if (when) they do do daft things. Last Thursday was the day, and getting on for two thousand people enjoyed the unusual sunshine (remember that large round yellow thing?) to
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Pictured above is His Excellency Sir John Lorimer, Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, and King Charles' representative on Mann. Yesterday Loaghtan Books was honoured by a visit from Sir John and Lady Lorimer. ....... The King's representative came here. Here. ARGH! His visit was of course a huge honour, but it did bring with it some difficulties.  As our delivery drivers will testify, vehicular access to the office is, frankly, awful.  While I was sure that His Excellency's driver could cope, I had visions of the official limousine getting scraped on our famously hostile hill. Tentatively I suggested to Sir John's PA that he and Lady Lorimer might arrive on the Manx Electric Railway, and we would meet them at the Dreemskerry tram stop.  Rather to our surprise, they not only came on the MER but on an ordinary service tram.  Good for them!  In Sir John's position he could have requested the Royal trailer, if not a 'Special', and it would of course have be