“He’s missed the runway”, a lady in front of us exclaimed as the engine of the descending plane suddenly went into turbo and began climbing again. As a rather nervous flyer, I began feeling a bit panicky. Worried thoughts ran through my head. What’s going on? Is that woman right? Has the pilot really missed the runway? Then the announcement came.
The weather had deteriorated in the Isle of Man. We were to wait it out for a while to see if the situation improved, otherwise we’d have to head back. A chorus of sighs followed. We waited and hoped as the plane began circling like a vulture. Small glimpses of the Irish Sea were visible through gaps in the clouds. I expected to see white horses or something signifying stormy weather. But the water looked on the calm side. Plus, there wasn’t any turbulence. I glanced down to my six-month old sleeping peacefully on my lap and hoped her first flight would manage to reach its destination. But it wasn’t to be. This was only supposed to be a quick 30-minute trip from Liverpool. Frustratingly, almost an hour and a half after taking off from John Lennon Airport, we were right back where we’d started.
We didn’t know at the time exactly what the ‘bad weather’ described in the announcement entailed. Was it heavy wind and rain? Or was it that eerie Isle of Man mist we’d encountered on previous trips? When we got home and chatted to the family we were supposed to be visiting over there, we discovered the latter was the culprit. After taking off from Liverpool, a thick mist had set in, completely covering the airport at Castletown so it wasn’t safe to land. “Manannan must’ve been in a bad mood”, I remember saying. According to Manx mythology the sea God Manannan would wrap his cloak of mist around the island to protect it from invaders.
“Those who live on the island will appreciate how unpredictable the weather here can be,” the pilot had said when making the announcement that the plane would be turning back. After visiting many times, I knew what he meant. As a tiny, sparsely sheltered island in the Irish Sea between northwest England and Ireland, the Isle of Man is no stranger to bizarre and changeable weather. A perfect sunny day can quickly transform into a gloomy rainy picture and vice versa. Along with its numerous ancient remnants and untamed natural beauty, the weather plays a part in its mysterious moody charm. Whether it’s bright and sunny with a glossy veneer or wet and gloomy muted by mist, the Isle of Man is always beautiful. Despite not making it there the first time round, we managed to get booked on the same flight the following day. Thankfully it was mist free so we were able to land and begin our little holiday.
Before long our lungs were being refreshed with delicious woodland air as we wandered through Ballaglass Glen in the north of the island – soothed by the sounds of fast-flowing water from the Cornaa River leading to cascading waterfalls. The woods were carpeted with bluebells in their impressive spring finale. The colours, the smells, the sounds, that wonderful fresh air; I was in my happy place. We always take in the glens when visiting the island, but this was the first time seeing the verdant views blooming with bluebells.
This was also the first time travelling with our baby girl. Strapped to my chest in a baby carrier, with her facing forward so her curious eyes could fully take in the surroundings, my steps were much slower and careful than usual. I wanted her to enjoy this amazing place, but my motherly instincts were always focused on keeping her safe – especially navigating some of the narrower, muddy patches with steep drops to the side.
We passed by an isolated cottage in the middle of the woods and I immediately thought of the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. This derelict stone building, a remnant of the glen’s mining heritage, really played into the enchanting scenery. As did the striking wooden sculpture of a bearded, Gandalf-like fellow known affectionately as The Wizard of Ballaglass located next to it.
After visiting the Isle of Man several times over the past eight years, as Andy’s parents live here, we’d pretty much seen and done it all. However there are certain things we do time and and time again, which never get tired. This includes driving to the south of the island, taking in Port Erin with it’s lovely beach that’s atmospherically back-dropped by the stark cliffs of Bradda Head, topped by the historic Milner’s Tower.
Then there’s Sound, one of the island’s most picturesque points, and Castletown with it’s attractive castle and harbour. Also, no Isle of Man holiday is complete without a double scoop of the award-winning Davison’s ice cream, boasting an array of tempting flavours such as coconut, chocolate orange, banoffee pie and Turkish delight.
Until next time Isle of Man.