Isle of Man

In so many ways, the Isle of Man is a curiosity and a contradiction. It is not a part of the United Kingdom yet the British Parliament has its role in Isle of Man affairs due to the British monarch also being the Lord of Man. Its citizens get British passports but with the legend British Islands - Isle of Man instead of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Isle of Man is not a member of the European Union but its membership of the Common Trade Area gets around that to a point. The Isle of Man pound is tied to Sterling and the British notes and coins can be used; even so, it is best not to try the same with Manx notes in the U.K. The British influence continues with institutions like the BBC and the Ordnance Survey, as you will find on visiting the place. Still, the Isle of Man Survey is the island's actual mapping agency.

My first trip to the Isle of Man happened in July 2009 and it was a day return sailing trip between Liverpool and Douglas. That limited my time on the island and the weather wasn't inviting so it might have been just as well. Still, it proved to me that I could get to a part of the world that was new to me and there was a sun-blessed return to Liverpool that evening. A Mayday Bank Holiday weekend visit followed in 2010 and I got better weather that allowed some coastal walking, especially between Port Erin and Peel on the island's west coast. July 2011 was when I last visited and there was more coastal walking with a start in Port Erin that went around the south-western tip of the island with views of the Calf of Man before I got to Port St. Mary from where I continued to Castletown. All of this was enabled by a solid bus network and the place felt a world away from the bustle of near neighbours, which always is what I seek on a break away from home.