Read & Write
This is an opportunity for you to read about u3a members' days out organised by the Isle of Man branch of the u3a. It would also be great if you could contribute to this page.
On September the 17th Sue Madigan wrote very warmly about her dad:-
Just recently, my brother and I said a final farewell to our much loved Dad, aged 96. As we were putting together his eulogies, and then clearing his house, I got to thinking about his skills, hobbies and interests which were very wide ranging. It also got me thinking about how he went about acquiring them.
Dad did well at school with a particular affinity for maths and physics. On leaving school, he started training in accountancy – but then joined up with the RAF, where he was trained as a flight engineer on Sunderland aircraft. After he was demobbed, he hoped to continue as an engineer, but joined the Met Office as a temporary measure. He retired from the Isle of Man Met Office 40 years later! Throughout his life he had many interests and always had an “I can do that” approach to new projects:-
• Model building, especially boats, preferably “scratch built” with incredible attention to detail. His military models can be seen at the Manx Military and Aircraft Museum.
• Inspired by Grandad’s lovely copperplate, he taught himself calligraphy – my brother and I would occasionally get great letters from Santa, with suitably sooty fingerprints! He later extended this to pyrography.
• When I was a teenager, Dad bought Mum a posh new sewing machine. He decided to try it himself, and made me a very smart mini skirt. He then decided to try the embroidery functions – nothing simple though, he embroidered a Manchester City Football badge, complete with tiny galleon! I can still see him at the machine, sewing dozens of crepe paper petals on my fancy dress costume for Douglas Carnival back in the day.
• When researching modelling project of a French lifeboat with English connections, he decided to write to the SNSM (the French version of the RNLI). He got an English/French dictionary, swatted up on his schoolboy French and sweated over a letter to a M Jean le Bot. He had it checked first by Consul Angela Kneale to correct any errors. She said that yes, there were mistakes, but they were charming, and that he should send the letter as it was, which he did. He got a delighted response from Monsieur Le Bot, and a huge packet of plans.
• When computers started to become more generally available, he got one, and enrolled in the TGWU word processor course. He got his certificate of proficiency in in basic Microsoft Word in 2000 when he was 75. He eventually became an enthusiastic online shopper, and with a little help from me, he mastered online banking during lockdown in his 95th year.
• He was a founder member of the Men in Sheds in Port Erin, and loved it from the word go. The members had some interesting skills and readily exchanged them. So he learned how to cane a chair seat, weave a stool seat, turn a wooden bowl, and do some simple wood carving. He designed and built a Nativity Stable platform for the Catholic Church’s new Nativity figures. He made it so that it could fold down into a case for storage.
• His design talents were also wide ranging. Back in 1985, he won the competition to design a tie for IOM Airport. It was simple, but eye-catching and based on the International Civil Aircraft Organisation code for Ronaldsway – egns. The code was also used in the design etched on his retirement present – a beautiful smooth glass decanter. It looks like a flower, but the petals are made up of the letters egns fm.
• In his later years, his eyesight was affected by AMDS. This was a cruel blow, given the precision required by his hobbies. Still, with help from Manx Blind Welfare, he worked around it as much as he could. He taught himself paracord weaving, as the bright colours and feel of the materials were easier to manage. So he produced bracelets, key fobs, dog collars and wove walking stick handles, handed out to friends and family.
• All thorough his life, my Dad was a skilful raconteur. He could strike up a conversation on just about any subject, and had a wealth of funny stories from his long life to keep an audience entertained.
He was a wonderful Dad, and has left a void in our lives which sometimes leaves me in tears. But we have such wonderful memories him, and they are a comfort to all of us. He was only a recent member of the u3a, but throughout his long life, he certainly espoused the principles of Learn, Laugh, Live.
TRIP TO THE CALF
On Monday 14th June, a group of 12 U3A members enjoyed a trip to the Calf of Man. The weather was set fair for a good crossing, during which we enjoyed a close encounter with the kittiwakes and guillemots on the Sugarloaf stack and cliffs, where these seabirds were nesting cheek by jowl on every available space on every single ledge. The raucous calls and the smell of the guano had to be experienced to be believed! To see a video clip click here Sugarloaf Smellavision is not yet available!
We disembarked the little boat at South Harbour and walked up to the Wardens’ House where we were met by Tim Earle, a naturalist from Guernsey, who was helping the wardens for a few days. Tim is an accomplished speaker, who has given many talks on cruise ships visiting the Falklands and the Antarctic. He held us spellbound by his talk about the purpose of the work carried out at the Calf, how to ring the birds caught in the mist nets, traps or in the nest, and the purpose of the international database which collates all the information provided by all the bird observatories around Britain and beyond. We also heard how, with the virtual eradication of the longtails on the Calf, around 300 Manx Shearwaters are nesting on the Calf this year – a great success story.
A short break for a picnic lunch and a walk back to the jetty via the 3 defunct lighthouses completed our visit to the Calf. A fascinating day, at the best time of year to see the literally thousands of nesting birds, including fulmars, shags, cormorants, black backed gulls and many more. Do take advantage of the opportunity to visit this fascinating small island.