Ma’s Wild Weekend

Ma has always said she only wants to live till she’s 70. Her reasons? Getting old is crap, and the old must make way for the young (I agree that getting old looks to be on the crappy side of the human experience but I doubt the young have their sights set on living with Dad and doing jigsaws if only Ma would get out of the way). Well, Ma turned 70 in October, and guess what? She’s still here! As the big day approached, Ma gave no sign of shuffling off, so my sister Angela and I thought we’d take her on holiday, to get her bonus years off to a good start.

Of all Ma’s 3 children, Angela is the most successful (by successful I mean rich). Mathew could’ve been successful, but he had children and insisted on feeding them. As for me, I’m as close to successful as a wooden bead is to the Hope diamond (still, I get to sit around painting all day, so it could be I’m the most clever). Lucky for us, Angela’s success is our success, so when she announced she and her husband Neil had bought a holiday home near the Norfolk coast, we were all thrilled to bits and looked forward to receiving our respective invitations.

A little slice of paradise.

As the months wore on, our invitations failed to arrive. Angela made vague references to how lovely it was and how much we’d like it; but as for a nailed-down “you can come on these dates” …nada! So, with Ma’s sep-birthday looming, what better time to invite ourselves. Worried inviting the whole family might be pushing it, I suggested a girl’s weekend for Ma, Angela and me. Angela thought it was a fabulous idea, as did our brother Mathew, who did a great job hiding his disappointment that he wouldn’t be coming with us. Of course, we had to break the news to Dad that he would be left at home for whole weekend without his beloved. He took the news well, as this photo of him at the moment of Ma’s departure can attest.

His sorrow was palpable!

Ma didn’t seem too enthused when I told her Angela and I would be taking her on holiday. Her chief concerns were that we’d all end up fighting and I’d make her run through the airport. We didn’t run through the airport as it happens, instead, we sat around eating the chocolate Ma had intended to give to Angela. Naturally, we felt guilty for eating it, but it neither stopped us, nor ruined the taste, in fact, if anything, it made it taste better.

The sweet taste of ill-gotten gains!

The Chateau

Angela’s holiday home is situated in Kelling Heath – a camping and caravan park for posh folk. While some would call it a static caravan, we call it The Chateau. The Chateau is nestled in the woods and comes complete with mod-cons, lush furnishings and Wi-Fi, as well as an impressive supply of toilet paper, brought in especially for yours truly. As anyone who knows me well will tell you, I’m somewhat of a connoisseur of toilet paper, and while The Chateau supply was up to scratch in terms of volume, I’m sad to say, it lacked in terms of quality, as it wasn’t 3ply quilted.

Naturally, I wrote a note expressing my disappointment.

Kelling Heath itself is breath-taking, and even though it was miserable and raining while we were there, it was hard not be astonished by its beauty. Towering trees huddle together, creating a sense of otherworldliness, not alike the magical woods of European fairy-tales. It was love at first sight for me, as it was for Angela and her husband when they first visited 20 years ago, and why they have returned every year since, and why they decided to buy a holiday home there.

Holiday Highlights

As with all septuagenarian birthday holidays, the evenings were action packed.

The fun never ends!

Ma likes a good jigsaw. To be honest, I do too. In fact, you could say we are a jigsawing family. Which is probably a good thing, because you tend to find, when it comes to families (esp. boozy ones like ours), the more jigsawing, the less bludgeoning. Being the matriarch, Ma can be dictatorial when there’s a jigsaw on the go. Preferring to put in all the pieces herself, we, her subjects, are usually relegated to such tasks as finding the end-pieces and re-filling her wine glass.

Along with our jolly jigsawing evenings, we visited nearby towns during the day, one of which we went to by train, an experience which plunged one back into post-war Britain when everything was bunting and crustless sandwiches.

North Norfolk’s Poppy Line train.

The beautiful town of Sheringham.

Two little waifs enjoying the view of Cromer’s historic pier.

We also visited a stately home. To be more accurate, we visited a stately home’s gardens. They were beautiful, especially all the hens that were roaming about. We were meant to go into the house too, but it was expensive, plus, earlier in the year, I had a nosy around Buckingham Palace (which, if you ask me, looked a bit tatty), so I was thinking anything else would be a step down, plus, Ma had somewhere she wanted to be.

Ma strolling in the stately gardens of Holkham Hall.

The Carvery

Ma’s of that age where she eats lunch at 11am, her evening meal at 4pm, shouts at the telly, and goes to church on Sunday, church being a local pub where Ma is none too stingy with the wine.  Her fellow congregants are Da and their good friends Daphne and Ian. The four of them put the world to rights and afterwards go to a carvery (aka a self-serve Sunday roast) at another pub down the road. Ma loves a good roast, especially the tatties, gravy and a big fat Yorkshire pud. Ma’s also of that age where she likes to do the same things on a given day. As such, a Sunday is not a Sunday unless it involves wine and a roast (actually, the other days of the week involve wine too, but you didn’t hear that from me).

So it was, when Ma arrived at Kelling Heath and saw a sign for a Sunday carvery, she set her heart on attending; and although Angela told her (on several occasions) that the Kelling Heath carvery was not very good, Ma would not be dissuaded. By the time Sunday rolled around, Ma, using her impressive powers of passive-insistence (what nice people do when they want their own way, while pretending it’s neither here nor there if they get it), made it abundantly clear that she was going to attend the Kelling Heath carvery (crappy though Angela assured her it was) whether we liked it or not.

Actually, she almost didn’t get her own way, because when she asked Angela and I if we wanted to go to the carvery, we both said no (Angela on account of she knew it was crappy, and me because I too knew it was crappy, because Angela told me so). So, it was decided that we would go to the pub instead (which happened to be next door to the carvery). I’m not as in-chargey as Angela, so when Angela popped to the loo on the way to the pub, Ma took the opportunity to boss me about, so that when Angela re-joined us, we were not in the pub but in the carvery room. Of course, Ma made it seem we were in there by accident, but I think you’ll agree, the photo below shows Ma knew exactly what she was doing!

The face of triumph!

Needless to say, the carvery was crappy…not that Ma would admit it!

Ma and I are a lot alike, something Ma finds very annoying. It’s no picnic for me either, but I’d rather be like Ma than, say, Hitler. Our main similarities are we’re both fussy eaters, we both hate rubber bands (they are disgusting and made by the devil), and we both blow our noses…a lot! I’m not sure where the nose blowing thing comes from. According to google it can be anything from a spinal fluid leak to pregnancy, or even a foreign object. I did once stick a small pink sweet up my nose to see what happens when you stick a sweet up your nose (it turns out a trip to the doctor and a pair of pillars), but I was 4 years old and the sweet is long gone. Personally, my money is on a mild allergy of some sort, probably to housework or, in Ma’s case, idiots. Whatever it is, we’ve both got it. What does our nose blowing have to do with a trip to Norfolk? Nothing, except that I caught a cold on my way there (probably from the EasyJet air-conditioning), so my nose blowing reached fever-pitch.

Despite being a fellow blower, Ma didn’t have much sympathy for me, rather she kept telling me off for blowing mine so hard, warning me I’d blow my brains out and end up a dullard like my brother (ok, I made up the bit about my brother) if I didn’t stop. Well, I didn’t stop blowing it, hard as it happens, and, despite ma’s warning, my brains seem to have stayed put.

Another thing Ma and I have in common is a lousy sense of direction. When I say lousy, I mean non-existent. I’m not kidding, the pair of us couldn’t find our way out of a circular room with a flashing sign over the door saying EXIT. Where Ma’s non-existent sense of direction comes from, I have no idea (mine, of course, comes from her); no one else in the family has such an affliction, and therefore lack both understanding and sympathy as to what it is like to be so afflicted. As such, it is always a relief when Ma and I get lost and it is only us in the car, so there’s no one to tut and sigh at our silliness. However, just like Ma had no sympathy for my nose blowing in Norfolk (on account of its brain-dislodging intensity), I found myself unsympathetic when, on our way back from the carvery, Ma got lost. You see, we stopped at the Kelling Heath general store, to get ice cream and nose-blowing supplies, during the buying of which Ma got impatient and wandered outside and into the pitch-black woods.

Naturally, Ma headed off in the opposite direction of The Chateau, leaving Angela and I to wander about in the dark, shouting “Ma!!!” like two lost orphans. Normally we would’ve called her mobile, but prior to the trip Ma had swapped her iPhone for a Dorro – an old folks’ phone that she didn’t (and still doesn’t) know how to answer. Just as we were starting to get genuinely worried that we’d have to call out a search party and be on the telly looking all mournful that we’d lost our Mother, Ma appeared, not the least bit sorry she’d wandered off, rather, assuring us she knew where she was going all along.

I’m pleased to say we all survived Ma’s wild weekend, with our sanity mostly intact. It was great to spend time together, and, despite Ma’s reservations, no fights broke out. Unfortunately for Angela, she caught my cold and spent the next few days in bed. I felt crusty as well, but Ma arrived home fit as a fiddle, so much so, I doubt she’ll be shuffling off anytime soon, though, if she does, at least we’ll have this selfie she took to remind us of our wonderful wild weekend together.

Clearly Ma’s selfie skills are on par with her sense of direction!

Magical Mystery Tour

My sister has the loveliest hair in all the world; it is thick and silky and always looks perfect, except for the time she had it permed and looked like a poodle. Unfortunately for Angela, we had a family portrait during her perm phase, so her poodle-do has been immortalized for all to see on our parent’s wall.

The portrait is a bone of contention in the family, with all us kids fighting over who will get it when our parents pop their clogs. Angela and I insist it should go to Mathew, but his wife Emma won’t have a bar of it. To make matters worse, someone had the bright idea of having a second portrait taken 20 years later, so now there are two in the family estate (by estate, I mean a silver-plated soup tureen and two portraits).

Lucky for Angela, her perm grew out. I’d dearly love to show you a picture of what it looked like, but I am too scared – Angela might have a pretty face, but she could strip the paint off the Sistine Chapel with just one look. It’s fair to say the whole family are scared of her (except Dad). Her husband Neil pretends he’s not, but I liked to see him have the nerve to post a photo of her perm.

The only picture of Angela I dare post.

Not only does Angela have lovely hair, she is also clever and kind and lives in Cambridgeshire with Neil and their talking cat – I’m not lying, it once said Hello (Angela heard it, but Neil denies all knowledge of the incident). The rest of the clan live on the Isle of Man, which is great for Angela – as she’s close enough to visit, but far enough away to not be bothered by us all. It also means it’s a bit of a novelty when she does come over, and we each, in our own way, try to make her trip special. Mathew and Emma provide a first-rate drinking service, popular with all their guests, which consists of sitting around and getting trolleyed; Ma has home cooking and Dad for entertainment; and me – without a fondness for drink or an aging patriarch at home – I have to be creative. As such, for the trip in question, I decided I would take her on a Magical Mystery Tour – when I say I, I mean Mathew, as I don’t have a car, and Angela is too fancy for a wheelbarrow.

The Island has lots of nice places – like Castletown, Laxey, the Sound and, of course, Peel. If Ma had her way, we would definitely be going to Peel, because she is from Peel, and takes everyone who visits us, there, even if they’ve been 100 times before (which Angels probably has).

While all these locations have their merits, there is only one place on the Island filled with Magical Mystery, and that is the North, specifically Jurby – which boasts a prison, motor museum and topnotch shopping.

Harrods of the North

The evening before the tour, Angela availed herself of Mathew and Emma’s drinking service, and, when she and Mathew arrived at my place blurry eyed the next morning, it appeared she had made the most of it. Not to worry thought I, my fun-filled tour would soon jolly her along. After collecting Ma, the four of us set off for the first stop on the itinerary.

Poo Beach

Poo Beach is where the North’s detritus is pumped out to sea – sadly, not far enough to avoid the occasional wash back. To remedy this shortfall, a new location has been found, and work on a new pumping system has begun. First, however, the old system has to be dug up.

As fascinating as this digging up process may be, it wasn’t actually what I had taken Angela to see. Rather, Poo Beach is also the site of a recently discovered World War II bomb. No doubt, showing someone a bomb would be the highlight of any tour, but, unfortunately for Angela, the Poo Beach bomb exploded some weeks before and there was nothing to see. Still, I pointed out the general vicinity of where it was found, and she seemed very impressed.

Who wouldn’t be impressed!

As we continued on our journey, I handed Angela her in-car entertainment…

I know what you’re thinking: how was she meant to find a wallaby on the Isle of Man? Well, it so happens, a pair of wallabies escaped from the Wildlife Park in the 1970’s, and estimates are, there are 100 or so roaming the north. There are sightings of them now and then, and rumor has it they’re gigantic. It is also rumored they are working for the government (indeed, a certain fellow, who shall remain nameless, was knocked off his bike by one, which did rather seem like a public service).

Angela, thrilled with the chance to win a prize – which, unbeknown to her, was only a KitKat (due the Magical Mystery Tour Company’s liquidity constraints) – managed to find a sheep and a cow before we arrived at our next destination.

Northern Civic Amenity Site

The Northern Civic Amenity Site (fancy for dump) was opened in 2012 at Balladoole Farm, next to, coincidently, the new Poo Beach pumping facility – otherwise known as the Northern Sewage Treatment Works. As far as dumps go, it’s pretty flash; it is always neat and tidy, with separate bins and skips for all kinds of crap, and a section where you can leave your fancy crap for other folk to riffle through.

I thought Angela would like to go there, not least because the surrounding countryside is so pretty (not that she noticed, as she was too busy looking for a Wallaby). In order to give her an authentic experience, I brought a bag of cans for her to recycle. Strange to relate, she seemed underwhelmed by the whole affair and didn’t even join me for a riffle through other people’s crap. It was her loss, as I found a pretty pottery bowl, that matched one I had at home.

For free!!!

Ballagennie Visitors Centre

Next we made an unscheduled stop at the Bellagennie Visitors Centre. It wasn’t on the itinerary, but Mathew said it was the scene of some goings on in his friend Chris Ewan’s book, Dark Tides, and we should stop for a nosy. Once there, we asked Mathew what precisely those goings on were, and he said that someone met someone there and then something happened in the clump of trees in the distance. Not exactly a Times Book Review, still, we all piled out the car and took a photo near the Visitors Centre.

Say cheese. Mathew!

Isle of Man Prison

The Jurby Hilton, as it is known locally, is home to the Island’s scallywags and ne’er do-wells. Situated in rolling countryside, affording fabulous views, the prison is a vast improvement on the old Victorian one, which was so cramped, inmates had to go home on weekends. Building for the new prison began 2005, and was due for completion in December 2007 – but it rained and then it was Christmas, so it opened in August 2008.

The prison received a shakeup in 2011, after an inspection revealed inmates were subject to boredom and rampant drug use; on the plus side, they got on very well with the guards. To counter this, and to combat boredom, inmates can now take art classes, earn a degree or learn a trade, and have an X-Box in their cells (though only 360’s – prison being punitive and all).

Sadly, the prison is not open to tourists, so we just sat in the carpark. Still, I could tell Angela thought it was pretty cool.

We can’t all go to Disneyland!

Isle of Man Motor Museum

Next we went to the Motor Museum. Opened in 2015, the Museum – covering an area of 70,000 sq ft – is home to 150 motorbikes and 150 motor vehicles, including a Greyhound Bus and a fire engine. Unfortunately, the price of the entry tickets far exceeded the Magical Mystery Tour Company budget of one KitKat, so we had to make do with looking in the window as we drove past – twice as in happens, because we got lost.

Jurby Junk

Next stop was the must have Island Shopping Experience: Jurby Junk. With the clue in the name, a whole heap of junk can be found there. Locals recommend tucking your trousers in your socks as a form of affordable flea repellent; and, if the smell of cat pee is not to your liking, a peg for your nose is advisable. Apart from that, there are some real treasures waiting to be unearthed in the cluttered aisles, where hoarding is artfully wed to commerce.

Now, I wouldn’t say Angela is a snob (at least not in earshot), but she is definitely more boutique than bargain when it comes to shopping. Nonetheless, I was perplexed she wasn’t excited when we drove into the Jurby Junk car park; rather, if I recall, shook her head, rolled her eyes and refused to go in (something she pobably deeply regrets, as Jurby Junk has since gone out of business). Still, she soon perked up when Ma bought her a vintage (read tatty) Ladybird Book on computers.

Dad’s Allotment

Our last stop, before heading back to Ramsey for refreshments, was Dad’s allotment – where he had spent the morning pottering, rather than join us on the Magical Mystery Tour. Dad has grown vegetables since I can remember, and has had his current allotment for the last 10 years. It’s a wee ramshackle idyll; with its lush vegetation and clean country air, it’s no wonder Dad spends most of his free time there.

Dad in his element

My favourite thing about Dad’s allotment is seeing Quackers the duck. Quackers and her friend Nomad showed up there a couple of summers ago and made it their home. Soon after, Nomad came to a sticky end (thanks to some polecat goings on). Quakers remained, making friends with the gardeners, especially Dad. She always waddles over and says hello when he arrives, and enjoys eating out of his hand.

Sadly, at the time of writing, Quakers has been promoted to glory.

The Mitre Hotel

Having bid goodbye to Dad and Quackers, we headed back to Ramsey for refreshments at the Mitre Hotel. Situated in the heart of town, and sprawled over 3 floors, the Mitre is the day drinker’s paradise. With comfy seats, a pleasant view of the Harbour and fine ales on tap, one can away fritter away one’s dole money in no time.

Matt, thrilled to be on such a magical tour!

Ange seemed pensive as she sipped her pint of lemonade; whether it was sadness that the Magical Mystery Tour was over, or the effects of her enthusiastic availment Mathew and Emma’s drinking service the night before, I can’t be sure. Either way, to cheer her up, I presented her with the KitKat – even though she had failed to find all the things on the sheet, the wallaby and skeleton having remained elusive.

Once refreshed, we took a stroll through Ramsey town, then said goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Ma would like it noted for the record that the pictured shopping trolley is not hers – it’s mine!

All and all, the tour was a great success, as I am sure Angela would agree. So, the next time you visit the Island, and fancy the non-stop excitement of a Magical Mystery Tour, be sure to drop me a line!

The Horrors of Narrow Boating

Ma recently had a traumatic experience which challenged her physically and psychologically. No, she wasn’t caught in a great flood, nor was the town pillaged by marauding Vikings. Rather, she went on a narrow boat holiday.

Trauma is not something one usually associates with Narrow Boating; indeed, it is normally perceived as a leisurely tootle along idyllic waterways. Not so, according to Ma. Rather, in her mind, it is an experience that should strike fear in even the most intrepid of travellers. To understand what made Ma’s narrow boat holiday so harrowing, it is necessary to examine all the contributing factors.

1. Ma Herself

Ma is great fun. When you spend time with her, 9 times out 10 you’ll have a good laugh. However, in later years, she has developed a condition which affects 1 in 3 people over the age of 60 (numbers in the Isle of Man are much higher) and is the outer manifestation of an underlying ailment called lifeisabitcrapitis (Latin for I haven’t won the Lotto). The condition is called moaning.

Moaning initially presents as a mild irritation with the way of the world, then steadily progresses until it becomes full-blown, usually when one retires and has the opportunity to sit around and think of lots of things to…well…moan about. It’s easy to tell when someone has Moaning, both by the discussion of their favourite topics – the weather and their various physical ailments – and their frequent use of the adverb too (i.e. it’s too hot; it’s too cold; I’m too old; I’m too fat…etc. etc.). And, of course, there is the most recognisable symptom: frequent sighing.

Fellow moaning sufferer, Victor Meldrew

NB: It is important not to confuse Moaning with another more serious condition – i.e. Evil Cow Disorder (or the male variant, Miserable Git Syndrome). People afflicted with Moaning are generally good-hearted realists who are merely fed-up with the injustices of life and the inconvenience of growing old. Whereas, People with Evil Cow or Miserable Git, poison neighbourhood cats, scare little children and spread bitterness and dissension wherever they go, and should be avoided at all costs.

And so, it was, Ma went on her narrow boat holiday with a particularly bad case of Moaning. According to my sister Angela, who had the good fortune to be on the same trip, Ma’s chief gripe was the fact that she doesn’t have a hat head. Apparently, Angela looked very pretty in her bobble hat but Ma’s bobble hat, in Ma’s opinion, looked rubbish on her non-hat head.

Ma wearing her bobble hat on her non-hat head

2. Crew Dynamic

Da and Ma recently bought a share in a beautiful Narrow Boat, called Dawn Chorus. The holiday under discussion was their maiden voyage, and crewing were Da, Ma and my Sister, Angela. Da was Captain, Ma was First Mate, and Angela was Deckhand. Sound simple enough? Well, it would’ve been, were it not for the fact that Ma was also Admiral.

Captain and Admiral of the Dawn Chorus

As such, Da gave orders to Ma, who gave orders to Da, who didn’t want to take orders from the First Mate but had no choice but to take them from the Admiral, who, incidentally, moaned about having to give orders, but, being genetically predisposed to give orders, given that she issues from a long-line of stalwart Matriarchs, moaned more about taking them, but who shouldn’t have given orders to the Captain, but who had to, cause Da, whose peripheral vision is on the wane, crashed if he didn’t lookout, when Ma shouted lookout. Added to this, Ma tends to mutter and Da’s as deaf as a door post, so any orders that were given were not usually received. Angela just did what she was told.

My lovely sister and deckhand, Angela

Now, I should explain how Angela ended up on Ma and Da’s maiden voyage. Firstly, the invitation was presented as a once in a life-time experience, which, though it surely was that, it was not quite the restful sojourn through the tranquil Shropshire countryside she imagined it to be. Further, she was promised plush sleeping quarters, exciting excursions (see further ahead for just how exciting they were), relaxation and reverie. Who could refuse?

Angela’s plush sleeping quarters

Secondly, Angela’s husband and I were meant to go too. Unfortunately, Angela’s husband had a last-minute work emergency, and had to forgo joining his in-laws on their floating Winnebago (I believe he was devastated). I too had the great misfortune of not being able to attend. Though, to be fair, my invitation did not include the promised luxury which lured Angela; rather, I was offered the kitchen as my sleeping quarters and the role of Galley Wench.

Not so plush!

3. The Rigours of Narrow Boating

Narrow Boating may look easy but, according to Ma, it is not. Rather, it is a perilous way to travel, fraught with dangers. After all, you must float in a straight line, on smooth waters, at speeds of up to 4 miles an hour.

Clearly not for the faint hearted!

Then, of course, you must forage for your food at local, waterside public houses, and, in Ma’s case, find the nearest hoedown.

And let’s not forget the fact that you are in the wilderness, with only a bit of painted tin between you and the elements, and are, therefore, exposed to all manner of feral plants and animals.

Indeed, Australia might have its river crocs, but England has ferocious canal fowl:

And while Amazon river travellers have carnivorous plants to content with, the wayfarers of the British canal system must put up with these menaces.

Despite such deprivations and life-threatening dangers, you’ll be pleased to know that the Dawn Chorus cut a safe passage through the countryside and, all on board, arrived at the Nantwich Basin, well-nourished and unharmed.

4. The Perils of Excursions

Day excursions are an important part of Narrow Boating; they offer the crew the opportunity to relax and take a break from the rigours of floating, and experience some of the wonderful attractions England has to offer.

Now, it is not often that one of us kids end up on holiday alone with our parents. However, it is interesting to note where they take us when we are. For instance, the last time my brother Mathew was on holiday with them, they took him to Disneyland. Where did they take Angela?

She could barely contain her excitement!

It may surprise you to know that the Hack Green Bunker was not built for Royalty, or the Business elite; rather, it was built for Civil Servants. It is strange to envision post-apocalyptic England with nothing but civil servants running about, especially as there’ll be no one left to fill out their forms. Obviously, the Government thought it was a great idea, and spent oodles of Tax Payer’s money on the project.

Despite not having a log flume or magic mountain, Angela said her visit to the Bunker was very interesting.

Barely contained!

The crew also went on a day trip to Chester. For the most part, the outing went well. They visited all the local sights, then Ma and Angela did a spot of shopping.

Late in the afternoon, the crew returned to the boat, tired but happy. That is, until Ma realised she had lost her purse. Panic descended and everyone sprang into action. Angela and Da were dispatched back to Chester to scour the city’s ramparts, and Ma had a glass of wine to settle her nerves. Unfortunately, their efforts proved fruitless and the purse remained lost. After cancelling all her Bank Cards, Ma spent a sleepless night worrying that she had ruined their holiday and, by logical extension, the balance of the Universe.

She needn’t have worried though; when they went to the Police Station the next day, to request a television reconstruction of events and a countywide purse-hunt, there was her purse, safe and sound. Apparently, a lady had found it on a park bench Ma had sat on. Ma left the kind stranger a reward, and returned to the boat happy that both her faith in humanity and the balance of the Universe had been restored.

So, there we have it, all the shocking details of Ma’s traumatic journey. While these details provide us with a good idea of what Ma had to endure, nothing conveys the raw nature of an experience like a photograph. Indeed, a closer examination of one photo in particular, shows the true extent of Ma’s ordeal.

Oh, dear God, the horror! How did she survive!!!

Ellan Vannin

Ellan Vannin is Manx Gaelic for Isle of Man

The imagery of this collage is taken from the line in Eliza Craven Green’s poem:

“My own dear Ellan Vannin with its green hills by the sea.”

In the upper left corner is a pair of wallabies. In the 1960’s two red-necked wallabies (native to Australia and Tasmania) escaped from the Curraghs Wildlife Park in the North of the Island. Free to roam in an expansive habitat and with no natural predators or competition for food, the wallabies thrived and multiplied. It is estimated that over 120 wild wallabies live on the island today. Although most live in and around the Curraghs, there have been sightings as far south as Braaid. Far from being invasive, the wallabies play a vital role in keeping wild grassland under control, which has a positive impact on other animals.

Ellan Vannin – 22″x30″ hand-cut collage

Ellan Vannin (detail.1)

Ellan Vannin (detail.2)

Ellan Vannin (detail.3)

2019