On our second day in the Isle of Man, the weather cleared and we could actually see this view from our bedroom window:
We got really lucky with the weather being so nice, because our big plans for the day were to go horseback riding, or as they call it in the Isle of Man, "Pony Trekking." Something about the island just makes everything more cute.
We arrived at the farm, suited up for our ride, complete with mud-filled riding boots and helmets, and signed our lives away. Step one was getting on the horse without stepping on the friendly farm cat...
It took a while to get us all saddled up and everyone adjusted so they were *ahem* comfortable, or at least, as comfortable as one can be when your sit-bones, etc. are smashed into another mammal's vertebrae. Then we took off on our magnificent pony trekking adventure. Sadly, I didn't get to take lots of pictures of this part (the pesky waiver; didn't want to break the rules or my neck) but our guides and family members did get some good ones.
Our tour guides were really great. They kept giving us positive feedback on how we were handling our horses by exclaiming, "Smashing! Brilliant!" All of the horses were very well behaved, except that Scott's horse, Cody, was a little preoccupied with getting up close and personal with Barney's rear end for the duration of the ride. I suppose that's not bad behavior, just a little idiosyncratic.
After dismounting our horses and going back to the comfort of the car seats (I must have a really bony butt, since mine hurt for days afterward and no one else seemed to be that affected) we grabbed a pub lunch at the Mitre Hotel in Kirk Michael. Our cottage rental did not have wifi (gasp!) so whenever we went out to pubs, everyone was hurrying to post their pictures to Facebook or transfer money from their bank accounts. I thought this was a hilariously American habit, so of course I took a picture.
After everyone was full of lunch and cider, we went to the Kirk Michael church and graveyard for a visit. Scott's family is from Kirk Michael, so there were a lot of potential Quayle ancestors buried in that graveyard. The graveyard had two full time attendants/landscapers:
It was fairly odd to encounter these local sheep in the graveyard, who spend their time eating the grass and then fertilizing it...copiously. I guess it's the circle of life. The top lamb was more suspicious and always kept an eye on us. The other lamb was super friendly and loved to get scratched, though at one point he tried to eat my scarf and when I yanked it away he was not happy. He jumped up on me to get at the tasty yellow cotton and I had to body check him. Doing battle with a lamb over your scarf: only in the Isle of Man.
I also found this sign inside the church and couldn't resist taking a picture. It looks so ominous! SILENCE, PLEBES!
After leaving Kirk Michael, our plans for the evening were quickly solidified into sunset watching at Niarbyl. Since the weather was gorgeous and we didn't know if it would be clear again for the rest of the week, we decided to try and pack it in. We were staying on the eastern side of the island, so we had to drive across the island to get to the western shore and pick out our viewing spot. Luckily, the island is small and because it's so far north, the sun doesn't set until 8:45 PM, so we had plenty of time to eat dinner (and drink more cider). (And eat some ice cream).
The sunset did not disappoint. We were serenaded by seagulls, sheep, horses, cows, and probably seals as we sat and watched (and snapped lots of photos). It was amazingly not crowded at this viewing point. We were joking that if this was American, it would look like the Jersey Shore, with McMansions built on top of each other for the best view. Instead the area just had some cottages. No big deal.
One of the coolest parts of sunset watching was discovering this moon bounce sea grass on our small hike to the viewing area. It was this super spongey, bouncy grass. I thought it felt like the roof of an unstable sod house that we might fall through; Scott had fun pretending it was a moon bounce. Not caught on video: Scott stage diving into the grass. I'm sorry I didn't get that one for posterity.