I was supposed to write this up in October but I was busy and stressed out. But now's the perfect time to recap about how from 10th - 13th October 2013, I went on my first short adventure to visit family on the Isle Of Man. It's the perfect time because I'm returning there from 26th Nov - 2nd Dec to hopefully achieve some Astrophotography as tis' the season to snap the Milky Way... I hope.
So here I'm talking about how incredible and wonderful it was to visit the island again since I was little as well as growing more closer than ever with my Uncle Jim, Auntie Marelle and Cousin Rosie.
She's the Grahame "Spirit of Adventure" because she's here and there across the globe living life, exploring, photographing and loving it all! What makes her a unique lady is that she works over on the west coast of BC, Canada as a Mud Girl. Where her and her friends work together to build furniture, walls and even houses out of local, recyclable and natural materials to your heart's desire. It's a very odd job if I'm honest but it's what she loves to do and I'm proud of her for making a difference, ey.
Sadly I won't be seeing her as she's back in BC. I'm happy she's with her gf and I know that I'll see here again in 2017 either at my house, on the island (with Becca joining me this time) and that someday we'll go to New Zealand together on an adventure like we promised.
As I recall, I planned this short break as a step forward to go away on my first flight alone (only an hour long) and see my family because Rosie mentioned that that time of year was when she'd be back on the island. So I figured, I'd go down to catch up with family and see the Island again since I was a kid with Mum, Dad and Becca there last time.
My late afternoon flight was easy and this time I surprisingly booked an EasyJet (I was surprised that they fly there) because I was expecting to get into a FlyBe small plane (like the one from Jurassic Park III... only I didn't want a nasty encounter with a Spinosaurus). Anyway, I had a nice afternoon flight and Rosie picked me up and took me back to see Jim and Marelle and that old woof Arthur.
After arriving at the house near Peel Castle, I got carried away catching up that I forgot to ring home (2 hours later...) whoops. But I did and had to over-apologise badly for my manners ha.
My evening was nice and welcoming and I had a big day ahead tomorrow so it was an early night for us all.
My morning was a very long walk in the North-West of the island through the Ballaugh Curragh (a patchwork of small woods, bogs, wetlands etc). Jim and I were doing some "brambling" though the endless woods.
Looking back on it now, I must have taken around 100 photos of side to side and back to front different views every couple steps (good thing I didn't upload every picture on here).
But now that I think about it, it would have been more heart pounding to have been there all alone, I'd of thought I'd get lost and feel like I'm in The Blair Witch Project and some of the trees looked like the ones from Hoia-Baciu Forest (scariest Forest in the world apparently)...
Jim was wondering off ahead most times and I was snapping away like a Tourist who had never seen a wetlands before.
I think this was one of the starting points in my interest into the world of Photography (I regret not never taking it back in College) *sigh*.
By midday, like how an uncle takes his nephew to the Zoo (that's exactly what Jim did with me). Rosie was working there as the receptionist. So he took me there whilst we were waiting for her to finish in a couple hours.
But one thing that I'd never seen before was the enormous Capybara "the world's largest rodent" which to me look like a Guinea Pig had been given some superhero meds or steroids.
Must get some better shots this time and hopefully of the Stars too.
We had to take Arthur for a walk in the afternoon so it was up to me, Jim and Rosie (as Marelle was on a business trip till the day before I go home).
We went past the Harbour and Peel Castle (which is where Jim was the Caretaker for many many years before retiring several years ago).
We headed to countryside where the streams and rivers were entering from the sea. I got some really nice photos that I lined up pretty well if I might add.
Even a nice shot of Rosie wondering through the woodlands arch en route back to the Castle.
We walked around the Castle's outer walls as the wind was blowing endlessly in my face (messing with my hair and giving me the chills).
In the evening, Rosie took me to see one of her best friends who recently got married a few months earlier, Chris and Roxy. They were so lovely and Chris had such great dark humour (like Marelle) which is what I like in people. He was Mr Inappropriate and Roxy was Mrs Smile Because My Husband Is Naughty *I'm digging myself a hole here...*
Their house was lovely and at the top of one of the hills near Peel (where my family lives).
They have 2 gorgeous great tabby kittens Jordan and Dexter and they loved me and lifted my heart as well as captured my attention all night (I'll bet they are as big as my boys now). Roxy had a unique Black Rabbit Axel behind a child-proof gate who made the most cute but somehow intimidating growl / cough because he doesn't like to be stroked and he practically butchered everything in that part of the house lol (Marelle said once as a joke "If he wasn't so precious to Roxy, he's be stew) haha.
The three of them were talking about memories that they all shared as well as asking about me which was welcoming instead of just listening to moments that I was never their for or have no clue about (happens a lot in life, actually). I'd said I'd come and see them again before I left.
My late evening had Jim and Rosie showing me the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (a drama of George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson and John Turturro are chained together and on the run from the law). It's thanks to this film that I was shown the catchy yet sorta annoying song "Down In The River To Pray" by Alison Krauss (I have one or two of her songs), Dad laughed when I came home and said I'd seen it - he showed me the soundtrack a week later... Now I hear it now and then booming downstairs.
But today was a long day of just me and Rosie where she showed me the sights in Castletown (no, not the one in Hyrule). The Port reminded me of Port Wenn from the ITV series that Mum loves, Doc Martin (we think he is an Autistic character). Anyway, it was a beautiful town that looked so peaceful.
Since I like Trains *inserts ASDF reference*, Rosie took me to the Port Erin Steam Train Station which has quite the history, my favourite part was learning about how this very station has a part in the creation of my favourite Tank Engine in the world.
Reverend W. Awdry was inspired to create the Island Of Sodor from the Thomas The Tank Engine books.
Not the Tv series, but actually The Railway book series and after visiting the Isle Of Man, he found his answers to inconsistencies in his stories.
He found out the Bishop here was called the Bishop Of Sodor and Man, so he decided to create a fictional Island between IOS and England called Sodor.
And thanks to being a life-long railway enthusiast, he did his research to base many characters off of real locomotives and many railways off of British Lines, he even did his research to get the history, geology etc thanks to his brother George and some real life events to help create the stories.
It got me thinking back to when I was 10 and I went on The Bluebell Railway with Dad and Becca near Norfolk. Steam Trains are great nostalgia and can be a lot more reliable and comfortable than trains nowadays...
After 3pm, Rosie took me to the southern edge of the Island which was facing back home. I went to The Sound Visitor Centre in Heritage by the cliff.
I tried to get a shot of myself staring out to sea (think it'll work this time with my better camera and tripod).
But I got a really sweet shot of us two (and later on at Sunset) before we went inside for Tea.
The glass window had a nice view and it was a really beautiful place to chat along the Cliff and water edge.
As the Sun was preparing to set, our last stop was The Chasms.
I had shivers down my spine as I gazed down the steep ravine and seeing nothing down those black cracks into the cliffside edge.
But we did share a comforting sunset long chat as well as pictures together like the siblings we feel like.
We both talked about personal ideas and thoughts till the sun went down and she drove us back home.
We picked Emily up on the way back and she shared a fun and hilarious dinner full of memories, laughter and banter (thanks to Jim and Marelle who have known Emily since she was little). I'm glad she was lifted up again and I got to meet her too. She's doing amazing work now over at the BBC!
My last day was a good long walk around the town of Peel as well as chucking the ball for old boy Arthur to chase across the cold sandy beach. We also popped over to see Roxy and Chris briefly as they were heading out and Rosie promised to feed the boys. But I said thank you and bye until next time (which is next week actually... 3 years later and I get to meet their little girl Summer!)
It felt bittersweet to realise I was leaving my family after a few short days which felt like more.
I really got to know them much better than our couple meetings around England every year, I learned about their history, humour and memories as well as stories about Dad when he was my age. I loved staying with them.
But as the sunset, it was time for me to fly back home. After long hugs from everyone and promises of returning again, Rosie took me to the Airport. I was very grateful and honoured to have stayed with everyone and to have gotten to know everyone (especially Rosie a lot better). And thanks to Rosie's work of flying back and forth from Canada to England, I knew I'd see her again at my place because her, Jim and Marelle stay over after long train journeys from London to catch the flight back home the next morning.
My flight back was cool and I got a nice show of the sun disappearing under the cloudy horizon.
It feels weird that 3 years have passed since my last visit and everyone (newfound friends and family) have grown up, changed and kept in touch over Facebook. Also it's sad to acknowledge that Arthur passed away in 2015, RIP old boy!
And now I'm returning to see almost everyone (except for Rosie and Emily), but now I'm returning with a burning passion to capture some stunning photography of the landscape, sun and stars... I hope.
It sounds like I'm just using my Aunty and Uncle's house as a base of operations but it's a Yes and No. I need their help and I'd like to catch up as well as see Roxy and Chris again.
I really hope that the weather will be in my favour if I am to capture some breath-taking night shots at the Star Sites on the Island. I will be gutted and destroyed if it's all a fail, but I will have still taken some great photos and still seen familiar faces which isn't a total loss but a compensating bonus!
Wish me luck for my 6 days reunion and photography quest!