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As we publish Brian King's book The Wreck of the Racehorse , we were invited to attend the ceremony to unveil a plaque marking 200 years since the boat sank.  We were incredibly lucky with the weather.  It was very cold - hey, it's December - but not raining or windy.  Gorgeous day. Racehorse , as many of you know, was one of the two wrecks - the other one was of Vigilant , which Racehorse was supposed to be escorting home - which prompted William Hillary to found the RNLI. The plaque was unveiled, as it says, by the Isle of Man's Lieutenant Governor, Sir John Lorimer.  Sir John represents the Lord of Mann on the island:  the Lord of Mann is better known elsewhere as King Charles III. What is particularly nice about this photograph is that the gentleman reflected so prominently on the left is Sir John.  Having done his unveiling he stopped to chat. (Am I allowed to say here that, according to the Admiralty, Racehorse was a sloop not a brig?  Yes, I think I am...)
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While the rest of the UK has been smothered in snow, the Isle of Man has only really had a smattering.  The picture is of Snaefell, the Manx mountain.  Appropriately the name means 'snow mountain'.  The picture was taken from the path to North Barrule. The line running across the mountain is the track of the Snaefell Mountain Railway, while the building and masts are part of the air traffic control system.  From this angle you can't quite see the Summit Hotel.  Although we don't get much snow, we do get ice, so book deliveries have been quite exciting.
No pic this time, mainly because I couldn't think of an illustration. We had a stall at the Laxey Christmas Fair last weekend.  While it's always excellent to talk with real readers, we also get some very odd comments, particularly when you bear in mind that we're surrounded by the books we've published and are trying to sell.  For example: 'Do you sell chocolate?'  (Er... no.) (Aggressively)  'I don't like "Lady Chatterley's Lover".'  (Um... we don't publish that one...) 'Can you recommend a good church for my sister to go to?'  (The local vicar was manning a stall upstairs.) 'Are you my mummy?'  (From a lost child of about two - we helped.) 'If I buy one of your books do I get free coffee?'  (No!) 'I don't like cabbage.'  (No idea where that one came from.) 'Are you the chutney lady?'  (Not as daft as it sounds as the junior partner does make and dispense chutney to favoured victims tas
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     We saw the last of our delivery vehicles yesterday.  The old trams have the winter off and start work again in March.  From now until then local deliveries will have to be made by car as we have no handy bus service.  We do try and do our bit to stop global warming.      Unexpectedly the last two trams of the season did a parallel run from Ramsey to Laxey - that's the northern half of the line.  For those of you who don't know what a parallel run is, it means two trams running side by side going in the same direction.  One of them obviously has to use the line which trams travelling in the opposite direction would normally use.  Under normal working conditions this would be unsafe as the pair might meet a tram coming towards them.  As these two were the last trams of the season they knew there was nothing else on the line (and they'd checked by radio with the stationmasters of course) so the drivers thought they'd put on a show for enthusiasts.     It was spectacul
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I hadn't realised it had been so long since the last blog but we've been busy.  Sorry about that. Our last publication of 2022 is just about due from the printer.  In fact it should have been here, but there were 'delays at the factory', so it missed its promised shipment date.  We're now hoping that Ramsey past & present will arrive next week, so it will still be in time for those of you looking for something for Christmas (?!), even if it's later than expected. Part of the problem with deliveries to the Isle of Man is, of course, the weather and how it affects shipping.  Rain is a nuisance, but worse are high winds, which can delay the boats.  Incidentally, other countries have ferries, we have boats. Our shipment will probably arrive on the Ben my Chree , the Steam Packet Company's largest boat and the one used for most freight.  The Steam Packet's fastcraft, Manannan , pictured above in Douglas harbour, is great for a quick crossing, but rarely
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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.
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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