Isle of Man

We spent three nights and two full days on the Isle of Man. I have long been enamoured of islands, and have distinct memories of looking at a map of this island in grade seven at my school’s library. I longed to go there one day, and with a trip to Manchester and Liverpool in the works, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. With our reprinted tickets we were allowed to board the Manannan, a vessel with a capacity of 850 passengers and two hundred vehicles. It was a smooth passage of two hours and 45 minutes. In spite of my brief kip on the plane, the need to sleep took over me during the second half of the voyage and when I tried to read I fell asleep at least eight times and dropped the book on the floor five times–and only got through four pages. Needless to say I will reread those pages later.

Life preserver aboard the Manannan, taken just before departure from Liverpool

We picked up our bags on the small carousel and walked along the Promenade to the Sefton Hotel. Mark noticed right away that the toilet didn’t flush, so we went back to reception who, at that late hour (around 10.30 p.m.) couldn’t fix it, but asked us if we could make do with the toilets on the first floor. Our room was on the fourth. So we felt as if we were staying in a hostel for a while as far as bodily functions were concerned. Two other bathroom features weren’t to my liking. I sound like a hotel snob but remember, I prefer to travel on a budget and always stay in hostels after all. The shower and faucets in our hotel did not make bathing or washing up a pleasant experience. The contraption to turn on the water, and then to turn it to hot and adjust its temperature was difficult to figure out. It reminded me of the geyser I used when I showered in Tristan da Cunha but in that case I had my host family to guide me in how to use it. I blame myself on this one, as I can’t fault the hotel for my inexperience in operating their shower. There was a separate bath but it had no shower curtain, so I used it yet still managed to cover the floor in water. And the sink had separate faucets for hot and cold water. I had read that this was the law for UK faucets (at one time, perhaps, because our Manchester hotel has a single faucet with dual temperature control) yet whenever I used it I either froze my hands or scalded them when I washed up.

We had checked the forecast and Thursday was to be a sunny day, so we planned on taking the Isle of Man Steam Railway, which dates from 1874, to the south of the island. We got a ticket that allowed us to hop on and hop off, and paid £17 each. When I gave the cashier a £20, he remarked that today was the final day those notes would be accepted. When I was on Tristan da Cunha in 2017, I came home with £395, thus I had so much money left over from that trip that I didn’t need to get any more from the bank, and I even sold Mark £150. Little did I know that the banknotes would be going out of circulation during the duration of our trip. While we were at the train route’s southern terminus in Port Erin, we walked into the empty Isle of Man Bank and exchanged our old notes for newer plastic money. The bills were in smaller dimensions. We asked for UK notes as the Isle of Man notes are not accepted in England (while the Isle of Man accepts both). The UK also doesn’t accept Isle of Man coins, and my attempts to exchange them for UK coins while in Manchester has been futile. I will have to return home with about £8 of useless Isle of Man coinage.

Sign at the northern terminus of the Isle of Man Steam Railway. Manx at top, English at bottom.

With our Steam Railway ticket checker on the Douglas platform

Mark on the Douglas platform

Mark aboard the train as we wait for departure. Train cars were divided into tiny compartments that could sit six comfortably.

Castletown station, with the triskelion, the symbol of the Isle of Man

Castle Rushen in Castletown

Castle Rushen

During a lunch break outside the castle, a friendly cat approached us and wanted some of our food. I let the cat lick my empty shrimp cocktail container. The cat got its head fully into the container and came out with mayonnaise on its face and whiskers, which it appeared to take great pleasure licking off.


The cedilla is used in Manx. I wonder how the name of the town is pronounced.

Mark in Port Erin

Port Erin beach houses

Port Erin beachfront

I always like to photograph flags while they are fully extended, flying in the wind. Sometimes I must be patient and wait for a suitable gust, while other times I notice that the flags have drooped at the exact second when I snap the shutter. Luckily for me the wind cooperated and I only needed to take two photos of the triskelion unfurled outside the Balmoral Guest House in Port Erin.

The railway station as we headed back into Douglas

I mailed some postcards here

Mark overlooking the Promenade in Douglas

Mark on the Promenade

Overlooking the Tower of Refuge in Douglas Bay.

The Tower of Refuge at high tide

The Tower of Refuge at low tide

Manx milk for sale

Manx licence plate. Many had a letter followed by MN, and others had MAN.

Vanity plate on a Porsche Taycan turbo

The trip back to Liverpool was rockier than the trip to Douglas. I overheard many passengers being sick. Mark and I played one game of Scrabble on the return trip but with so many people sick, and with passengers losing their footing near us, we feared someone would either vomit or stumble onto our board (or both) so decided to pack up after only one game.

3 Responses

  1. I chuckled at the lack of mixer taps; separate taps are as British as bad teeth. 😉

    The train cars are reassuringly familiar in their look and dimensions; in the photo of Mark I could picture John and George on either side of him, Paul and Wildfred Brambell across from him.

  2. Hi!
    I’m enjoying your updates! I’ve also visited Manchester a couple of times (Jari got his eMBA through the University there) and we took one trip to Liverpool while there. I’ve been a Beatles/John Lennon fan since high school, so I loved it!
    I’ve enjoyed learning/seeing photos of the Isle of Man. I had a university professor from there, but otherwise, I know very little. (I also share your interest in photographing flags and I understand the joy you must have felt in capturing this one in only a couple of shots.)
    See you soon!

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