Adventures in the Motherland(s): Isle of Man, Day 3

On the third day of vacation, my true love gave to me: three Manx seals, two dishes of Queenies and a walking stick made for Gandalf! OK, none of that makes any sense to you now, but let me explain...

Another (less sunny) view of Niarbyl.

This particular day, we decided to revisit Niarbyl and then headed to the Calf of Man, which is at the southern tip of the island. It was cloudy and Niarbyl felt much different than it did the night before, when we were sunset-watching. By different, I mostly mean freezing cold and blustery.

We grabbed lunch at the Calf of Man cafeteria (yay alliteration) which was sort of like a rest stop, but it was set up as a semi-circle with all glass walls so you could take in the views. It was much fancier than any rest stop in the U.S., because who's clamoring for a view of the New Jersey Turnpike? We ordered Queenies, or queen scallops, which is a local Manx specialty, along with jacket potatoes topped with Manx cheddar. Jacket potatoes=baked potato. The cheese was glorious, of course. 

Please excuse the poor (tried to remedy through cropping) composition of this photo. I could have done something more artful, but I was hungry, so I didn't.

When we finished stuffing ourselves with the local delicacies, we went out to explore the Calf. Pretty soon, we spotted some seals nearby. The longer we watched, the more they showed off for us. They'd swim upstream (not really "upstream" since it's the ocean, but ahead of the current) and then they would ride it by us like it was a lazy river and pop their heads up. We were guessing that they must be used to getting treats from tourists, which is why they were so attentive.  

The views at the Calf were amazing, and the rock formations were really cool, and not so crazy high that we couldn't climb on them.

The Calf of Man.

I married a Scottie goat.

Since Scott is part billy goat, he of course did lots of climbing up, down, and all around. At one point, he found a large piece of driftwood that I referred to at his Gandalf walking stick. Of course, then I made him do his best Gandalf pose for this picture.

Flora and fauna on the Isle of Man.

Naturally, there were high fields overlooking the ocean that were full of lambs. It was some farmer's property, but also a public footpath, so we were able to get sort of close to the lambs. No, in case you were wondering, watching the baby lambs never really got old. 

From the Calf, we wandered into Castletown to check out Castle Rushen, where we arrived 45 minutes before closing yes, we were rushin'. (Yeah, I know, that was a particularly horrible pun.) Though we didn't have time to thoroughly go through the castle, we did have time to check out the stockade and some other cool medieval castle features.

Of COURSE we had to make time for this photo.

One of which was an OUBLIETTE! You guys! I was so excited. I was also excited that I could identify the murder holes and parapets. I have a whole list of medieval words from reading Game of Thrones that I may never illustrate for Visual Vocabulary, (because it would be a whole year of hauberks, mangonels, and kirtles) but it was exciting to see them in action. Yes, big dork over here. I think I was more thrilled than Scott, which is a little sad seeing as how he's the fantasy nerd in our marriage.

Visual Vocabulary knowledge in ACTION!!!!!!

Next time we get to an even cooler castle (Peel Castle) and me doing my best soldier-on-a-battlement impression. Yeah, it's something special.

You know nothing, Scott Davis! Except you do know an awful of lot medieval vocabulary words, I'll give you that. 

If you missed part of our vacation recap and want to catch up:

Isle of Man Day 2

Isle of Man Day 1

Dublin Day 2

Dublin Day 1

Adventures in the Motherland(s): Isle of Man, Day 2

On our second day in the Isle of Man, the weather cleared and we could actually see this view from our bedroom window:

Imagine waking up to this every day.

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. 

Insert audio here of Leonardo DiCaprio shouting, "I'M THE KING OF THE WORLD!"

From left to right, the ponies are Whiskey, Patsy, Pickles, Humpty, Barney and Cody.

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:

Hey you, get offa my lawn!

Oh my yes, I love to eat the grass.

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!

OK, guess I'll just be quiet then...

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. 

That figure on the far right is Scott's Uncle Chip. Hey Chip!

Makes me think of an abstract painting.

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. 

This post is monstrous, I can't believe it only covers one day. It's making me tired just writing it. Anyway, up next is exploring the Calf of Man and Scott acting like Gandalf. 

If you missed part of our vacation recap and want to catch up:

Isle of Man Day 1

Dublin Day 2

Dublin Day 1

Adventures in the Motherland(s): Isle of Man, Day 1

We were up at the crack-o-dawn to get to the airport in Dublin and catch our flight to the Isle of Man. Everything went smoothly and our flight was nice and boring, clocking in at about 25 minutes long (crazy, right?) Random fact: for both of our local flights on Aer Lingus (heh, yes, I know, the unfortunately named Irish airline) they played U2 as we were boarding and disembarking. I bet those flight attendants want to bash the speakers in… 

When we arrived in the Isle of Man, the weather was cloudy and really foggy. We learned later that the fog is a trick of the mythical sea god Manannan—the story is that he would wrap the island in fog to protect it and hide it from Vikings and other ne’er-do-wells who were out for pillaging adventures. The fog made it hard to see much of the island at all, so we didn’t really know what the terrain looked like. We could also actually see the fog moving in around us and getting thicker by the second, which is something I’d never seen before and was mesmerizing to watch. Small wonder the phenomenon was chalked up to the sea god!

This fog is thick as pea soup! You mean peanut butter? You eat what you like, and I'll eat what I like!

Once we got to our cottage rental, we did a little exploring and found that we were surrounded by farm lands filled with lambies. There were so many sheep and frolicking lambs all over the island, the cute overload was nonstop. 

This guy belongs in a Snuggle Fabric Softener commercial.

We also encountered, time and again, that Europe was built for short people. Of course, this made me feel right at home.

The Doll's House—just my size!

Later that day, we went to the Manx Museum. It seemed like a quaint little museum when we started the tour, but the longer we were there (another room of artifacts? Well, ok then) we began to realize it’s VERY thorough and full of all kinds of ancient and modern history, art, natural history, specialized exhibits, artwork and archives. I'd like to say I gave each exhibit the attention it deserved, but I'd be lying. After a while, I lost steam and headed to the gift shop. One can always find amusement in the gift shop.

Foot-selfie at the Manx Museum (plus cool tiled type, of course)

The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful, aside from Scott ordering little lambie's uncle for dinner. Don't you just love his creepy smile? In his defense, we hadn't eaten lunch.

Coming up in the next installment: pony trekking through Middle Earth! (I guess that would make me the hobbit...)

If you missed part of our vacation recap and want to catch up:

Dublin Day 2

Dublin Day 1