Posts

Image
We've just taken delivery of The Wreck of the Racehorse , the story of a sloop of war which wrecked on the rocks in the picture, 200 years ago this year.  The wreck site is just across the bay from Castletown, the Isle of Man's old capital, and the heroic efforts of volunteers to save the crew of the stricken ship helped convince William Hillary to found what became the RNLI. They succeeded too.  Of nearly one hundred people on board Racehorse , only six were lost.  Sadly three of the Castletown volunteers also died. The boat visible above the Skerranes - the rocks - is HMS Severn , a Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel which just happened to be passing when we were photographing.  There's a better picture of her in the book.
Image
Many of you know that, since the 1960s, the Isle of Man has had a small but growing population of wild wallabies.  Descended from escapees from the Curragh Wildlife Park, the wallabies find life on the island quite tenable.  There are thought to be about 100 of them now, and they've gone exploring. One seems to have come to live in the grounds round our office.  The senior partner has seen droppings, the junior partner a bouncing shadow.  For such large animals - they stand about three and a half feet tall - they hide remarkably well.  Most active at dusk and during the night, they eat grass, leaves and the bark from trees.  In fact their diet is very similar to that of deer, so they have few competitors for food, as there are no deer on the Isle of Man. The real problem with 'our' wallaby, is that we're spending so long trying to spot it, the work is not getting done.  We should hop to it. Incidentally, what do you call a lazy baby wallaby?  A pouch potato... The photo
Image
Working late one evening last week I noticed this wind dog out of the office window.  It was all the more amazing as it must have been ten o'clock at night.   Wind dogs are incomplete rainbows and some think they presage stormy weather.  This one didn't though.  While the weather on the island has been nowhere near as hot as in many places of Britain, it's certainly been much hotter and dryer than normal. The headland is Maughold Head, and the small white building on the far left used to be the accommodation for the lighthouse keepers.  Maughold lighthouse is half-way down the cliff beyond the white building.  It's low down so that its light shines beneath the sea fogs for which Maughold is noted. P.S.  Wind dog is also a nickname for the Saluki, the second fastest breed of dog after the greyhound.
Image
No, we haven't suddenly acquired an office helicopter, more's the pity.  This flew over the office the other day, probably with a group of motorcycle enthusiasts - or possibly professional racers - on board. We were interested enough to look up the details of the whirlybird (yes, I know we should have been working...).  It is apparently owned by Helitrain, which is based in Cirencester in Gloucestershire, near where the Loaghtan Books junior partner comes from.  Helitrain effectively offers a helicopter chauffeur service, although the company also appears to be involved in adult education, which we're interpreting as training helicopter pilots. It's pretty cool though, owning your own helicopter.  At least I imagine it is...
Image
The island has just seen the end of the TT fortnight.  The race circuit doesn't go past the office, but we can hear the roar of the motorbikes hammering out of Ramsey.  In fact the racing could have been a lot closer to us if the original route was still used. The start of the TT, or, as it was known then, the Gordon Bennett Trial (yes, he of the expression), started just across the valley from us, in Port E Vullen - we can see the houses from the office.  The plaque pictured above marks the spot.  The Trial was originally for cars and was held on the Isle of Man because the Westminster government didn't want to close their roads for racing - there were no race tracks then.  Tynwald, always looking to bring people (and their spending money) to the island, didn't have such qualms, so the Trials came here.  They were successful.  People had a good time, engineers worked out how their cars could be improved (or not), and the Manx liked the novelty. After a few years, races for
No photograph this time.  I did try, but at best it was a colourful blur. We have house martins nesting on the building (office martins?), and trying to take a decent photograph of small black and white feathery missiles proved impossible.  They're fast . I wonder whether the nest is just for practice though - or a decoy - as they've been faddling about for a couple of weeks now, and have only managed a small ledge so far.  I'd have thought they'd have got on with it more quickly.  Perhaps they're upset that they have no neighbours, as house martins like to nest in colonies.  Or perhaps, as the building was repainted last year, they don't like the smell. As it is, about a dozen of them are whizzing around emptying the sky of insects.  They're surprisingly tolerant of humans too, zooming past mere feet away intent on catching lunch.
Image
Of necessity an older photograph as the TT hasn't run for two years, courtesy of Covid.  The fortnight's racing starts tomorrow. For those readers who don't know - and there must be a few - the Tourist Trophy course runs for nearly 38 miles over domestic and rural roads (closed for the race of course), including across the shoulder of the Isle of Man's only mountain.  The lap record is just over 16.5 minutes, at the moment, which means an average speed of just under 136mph - they often top 200mph.  Imagine that going past your house. Loaghtan Books is not on the course, but not far off it.  We sometimes have to explain to printers why they can't deliver to us during TT fortnight.  Photographs such as the one above, help.