Isle of Man

Diary

Webmaster Sue
Hello there! I'm your friendly neighbourhood webmaster (or should that be webmistress? Um...nope - that sounds a tad dodgy!)
Like many of you, although I am fully online, I don't do social media, so I thought I would create a page of nice photos, some waffling, anecdotes etc. I hope that you like it, and if you would like to add any of your stories, photos etc, please email me at u3aisleofman@manx.net

For a better view, please click on any photo to see it full size with caption

Thank you As always, our grateful thanks to all the people on the front line in the health and supply services, working to keep us healthy and safe. Also to those behind the scenes involved in maintaining our utility supplies, and who keep our infrastructure going, and not forgetting the postal and delivery services keeping us connected. Thank you all!

24th May 2020

Back to work on the prom Busier Strand Street

Last Wednesday (20th), Mike and I went round to his sister's house and met up with her and our nephew in the garden. We were joined by Mike's other sister and had an enjoyable natter (well spaced, of course) for a couple of hours. You can't beat a face-to-face chat.

This week has seen further relaxation of restrictions, and we went down for our usual walk along Strand Street on the 19th. Busier than before, but people still being careful to keep their distance. We have started to incorporate take-out drinks and cake from one of the cafes in the street set up to provide a one-way system and hand sanitiser. We take them over to the sunken gardens and enjoy them in the sunshine. We tried again yesterday but it was blowing a hooley, so we just walked down the street with them. Being Saturday, it was really busy and not everyone was observing the 2m rule when queuing up. There were huge queues for Dealz and M&S. My strategy is not to queue for anything that isn't urgent. When I do get in a shop, I feel the pressure to get what I need, pay and get out as fast as possible. I really miss being able to browse - but some folk don't seem to care. In one shop, which was limited to 6 people, there was a woman with two teenage girls (daughters?). She was the only one with purchases - why not leave the girls outside and let another couple of people through? I think that sometimes, people don't really think. Poor Mike always gets left on the doorstep while I do the shopping - but it's for his protection. He knows this, but I agree with him that it's a pain.

Yesterday, we also decided to try and get rid of some rubbish at the Easter Amenity Centre. I wasn't looking forward to this and prepared myself for a lot of faff. What a pleasant surprise! All well organised with separate bays with large barriers between them - each bay had two skips, one for green waste and one for household waste. Got rid of our dead toaster in the metal skip at the bottom of the slope and away we went. I hope that they keep to that format.

Mind you, I will be accumulating more green stuff once I get going again in our little front garden, so many empty pots.....

12th May 2020

Tromode mill pond Tromode weir Engraved staircase Barbara

Here we are almost halfway through May - time seems to be going both quickly and slowly, it feels like ages ago when this crisis properly hit our shores, and yet we are really only talking about 7 or 8 weeks. I think that we have done really well here, and it is reassuring to hear that there have been no associated cases following the return to work of the construction workers etc. It's great going out and about and seeing the painters and decorators taking advantage of the good weather, and I'm looking forward to welcoming our window cleaner back. On one of our recent walks we decided to go down to the Tromode industrial estate. It was a favourite walk when our son was small, and we haven't been down there for quite some time. It was a lovely day and I took some photos of the ducks, the weir and a fabulous staircase at the woodcarver's place there.

On VE Day afternoon, we went to Peel and had a good walk round. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, perfect for getting out and about. There were plenty of people around, but well spaced and social-distance queuing for ice creams at Davison's. We got cones at the kiosk on the prom (salted caramel and strawberry yum)- no queue, hand gel, and contactless payment. We watched the families on the beach - all well spaced, with the small kiddies chancing a paddle! We checked out the work being resumed on the new lifeboat house and sat and had our flasks of tea by the harbour wall. Great day....

I have included a photo of our friend Barbara, from Bath U3A. Some of you will remember how she brought a U3A tour party over a few years ago. Following the VE Day recommendations, she put on a small garden party for her immediate neighbours (socially distanced, of course) and paraded up and down the road with her bagpipes! What is especially good about her enthusiasm is that she was born in Germany, and went to live in the UK with her late English husband when she was in her twenties, and has been there ever since. Like us, she is very much missing all the social contact that being in the U3A involves. She gave me permission to use her photo, and sends her greetings and good wishes to all our members.

27th April 2020
Well, a little glimmer of light on the horizon - as of last Friday, construction workers, gardeners, and window cleaners and the businesses that support them were allowed back to work. A couple of months ago, any suggestion that I would be glad to see road works in action would have been met with disbelief - but I was so pleased to come across a temporary traffic light on the way down to my Dad's house in Castletown, I gave the small work gang a smile and a wave! Things were also on the move at the road works by the airport. It feels like a little piece of normality....
One thing that does feel strange is the 40pmh speed limit. No problem around Douglas of course, but on the long stretches down to Castletown, it does feel a bit odd, everyone keeping in line like small convoys with no overtaking. I'm a fairly cautious driver, but I have to keep an eye on the speedo as it's easy to creep past 40pmh, especially on downhill sections. In normal times, when we get to Castletown harbour I wave to the gathering of senior chaps who (in good still visits her relatives there, but cweather) gather at the Benbow Bench for their morning coffee and chat. One regular I have known for over 50 years - he is a retired harbour master and is the classic sea dog... jeans, navy jumper, white hair and beard (Ahoy there Tony!). I'll know that things are really back to normal when I see them all together again.
One thing I really,really miss when we go out for a walk is not being able to pop into a cafe for tea and cake. We've now started to take our own, a couple of small flasks and some biscuits. It's not the same, but it's better than nothing. A favourite pit-stop is at the harbour, and when we did this at the weekend, I took a couple of photos. The young jackdaw was quite bold, coming close for some of my biscuit. It was a beautiful day, such a shame to see the marina deserted, and the Bridge pub and nearby cafe closed.

Jackdaw by the harbour Social distancing swan Douglas Harbour Bridge pub

17th April 2020
We seem to have settled into a new routine - shopping on Monday morning for the two of us and my Dad, down to Dad's in the afternoon with his shopping and laundry. Daily walks for exercise, (with my camera to snap anything interesting), bits of gardening, housework, some online shopping, reading, watching tv, phoning Dad every day to check that he's okay and contacting friends and family where we can.
My sister-in-law dropped by on her walk the other day. As she let us know beforehand, we set up the garden bench, and I made her a cup of tea in a disposable cup and left it on the garden wall with a bin nearby. She sat in the sunshine and chatted for about 15 minutes and we sat in the porch with our cups of tea and the door open. A few days before that my other sister-in-law and my niece called by, but they preferred to stay outside the garden wall. Strange times indeed!
While I was searching for something entirely different, I found a couple of small lightweight Manx flags that we must have had since our son was small. They have been duly ensconced in my window.
Today we have finally managed to get an Echo Show connection with my son and his family. Being able to see all three of them (especially our Grandson's big toothy grin) was just brilliant! We have recently got an Echo Show for my Dad - the connection is working, but it needs a bit of fine tuning which I will do on Monday when I go down there. Here are a few more photos....

Rose Garden tree Happy window 2 Social distancing cat

9th April 2020
It’s just 3 weeks since we recorded the first case of Covid-19 on the Island, and how life has changed for us all. It seems a lot longer than that, but it is surprising how we have all got into a new routine. Although Mike and I are long retired, we had a busy round of U3A meetings, groups, community support groups and sessions and yoga classes – all suddenly stopped. I now find it difficult to know what day it is, let alone what date!
It’s also been very interesting to observe others on our daily exercise walks. Everyone keeping their distance, Douglas beach all but empty, the buses all but empty, people out in family groups, or alone – some with masks, but most not.

Douglas Quay
The essential shops have revamped and re-organised to protect customers and staff. David, the cheery “doorman” at Boots with his new face visor (he reckons it makes him look like a lampshade!). Everywhere there are patient queues of people outside Marks & Spencer, Shoprite, Tesco, the Co-op, and Boots. Everyone seems calm, and in many cases, quite upbeat. I always make sure that I thank all the staff for - well, just being there.

I have also been in touch with my U3A friend Barbara, who is an Outings organiser with Bath U3A. She brought a group of members over to the Island a few years ago, and we have stayed in touch ever since. She is also feels in limbo as she belongs to a good number of U3A groups and other organisations which have all been suspended. I emailed my childhood friend in Peterborough to see how they were, especially her younger sister who is married to an Italian and lives in Italy. Thankfully, they are all okay, but in Italy, they can’t go more than 200m from their home. My own cousin Sonia is also married to an Italian, but they live in southern Spain, near Malaga. The family is fine, but only allowed out to walk the dog for 10 minutes each day! She told me that the army is all over the streets, helping the police. Obviously, this is done for the country’s benefit – but it must be scary all the same. I know that there will be many of you with such links abroad, in the UK, and here on the Island. Keeping in touch is vital while we put our lives on hold, trust in the professionals and look forward to coming out the other side.

The main thing is to keep a positive outlook, and find little bursts of cheerfulness wherever you can.

Sue A few days ago, there was a news item about a Mum who had started a Facebook page called IOM Bear Hunt, asking people to put a cuddly toy in their window to make going for a walk more interesting, especially for the children. I thought that this was a great idea and rushed up to the attic to find my son’s soft toys (yes, I know – he’s 35 and I’ve still got them!) They looked a bit grubby though – so I trusted to luck and threw them all in the washing machine. I was relieved that most of them survived the experience, although one bear lost his facial features which must have been stuck on. So now I have a “Happy Window”, with a rainbow and a rather odd collection of toys. I didn’t bother with Roland R*t, as I didn’t think anyone would recognise him.

My tree on 8th April 2020 Red shoots of recovery - maybe! Last year Just starting to blossom

This lovely weather has helped kick-start all the plants and trees, and I have snapped some of them when we have been on our walks.
Since putting up my bird feeders, we have had regular visits from a pair of blue tits, and a very voluble coal tit. I haven’t managed to get a photo as they are just too quick for me.

So remember, if you have any musings or photos you would like to share, please get in touch.

1st April 2020

These are very strange days, but we have been touched by the kindness of others. Our thirty-something neighbours put a note through the door offering to help with any shopping or messages, which was a lovely thought, but I have to admit, made me feel a bit ancient...
We also have to keep an eye on my very independent 94 year-old Dad - as expected he didn't want to move in with us, so we are now popping down once a week with essential groceries, and phoning every day. Not a lot gets him down, he takes his walker out for a stroll down to the post box and back when the weather's nice.

He said that he has been contacted by all sorts of agencies, and has had more offers of help that he knows what to do with! However, he has found the details of deliveries online, and has managed to get through to the local butcher to get some meat delivered. His main problem now is being a bit bored. He's an enthusiastic online shopper, so I can foresee an increase in deliveries...

When I was choosing a poster image for the Coronavirus page, I selected one that brought back memories from my childhood. I'm sure you all remember reciting it - "Coughs and sneezes spread diseases". Of course the second line was "Trap your germs in a handkerchief", which wouldn't do today (does anyone other than my Dad use a handkerchief these days?). "Trap your germs in a disposable tissue and bin it straight away" or "Trap your germs in the crook of your elbow" don't exactly roll off the tongue, but we all get the idea... It actually brings back another memory of when my son was very small and an avid Thomas the Tank Engine fan. He was not too sure about a new character that was introduced, because he was associated with the saying "Coughs and sneezles spread diseasels" - BoCo the diesel turned out to be a very nice engine, so all's well that ended well. Having to watch the TV series with him, I have to say that Mike (hubbie) and I thought that Ringo Starr was perfect as the narrator.

Spring  has sprung - regardless Spring has sprung and the grass has riz
It's great to see the unmistakable signs of spring when we go out for our social distancing walks! The lack of traffic also means that it's quieter, and you can hear the birdsong, which really lifts the spirit.
What seems like an age ago, I hung out an RSPB terracotta apple stuffed with wool on my tree for the birds to use for nesting. The storms we had didn't dislodge the apple, but they whipped out the wool and bits of it got tangled in the tree, making it look like some new tufty variety. Last week when the weather picked up, I went out, removed the apple and started to pick of the wool fluff. The day after, I was thrilled to see two goldfinches, picking out the bits of wool I had missed! After they left, I went straight out and put more little tufts of wool in the tree, and they have been back regularly. They must have made a luxurious nest, as the wool is beautifully soft and white.

One of the recent news items which made me smile is the Dancing Zookeeper featured on BBC News via Youtube. Check it out - he's got some really great moves!