The plan was to take the horse tram to Derby Castle and there travel to Ramsey on the famed Manx Electric Railway, built in 1893 and still running today.
Arriving at the Jubilee Clock Tower near the port, I crossed the road to the public toilets. On emerging, I saw Tigger at the stop a hundred yards away and the horse tram rapidly approaching. There was only one thing to do: I took to my heels and proceeded to race the horse tram to the stop! A horse tram may not be not the fastest vehicle on the road but neither am I an Olympic sprinter so I think I did well to get there in time, applauded by Tigger.
At Derby Castle we caught the first MER train of the day. Though called trains, the vehicles are designed like trams and are the oldest electrical vehicals still in use anywhere in the world.
It was a picturesque ride with views of coast and the countryside. We were lucky to travel in one of the more beautiful carriages with padded seats and fine wooden panelling.
After our experience at Erin Port I jokingly said I would avoid coming to the IoM at the weekend. This joke was turned back on me when we found most shops and eateries in Ramsey close on Mondays! Even having lunch was difficult but in the end we found a cafe called “The Parliament”. A feature of this meal (egg and chips) was that my plate contained the longest chip I have ever seen. Manx potatoes must be gigantic.
The carriage on the return journey was less classy than first train, having longitudinal wooden benches and less pristine panelling. We had found the upholstered seats hard on the bottom, so it was as well that we had to endure the wooden benches only as far as Laxey.
The name Laxey, incidentally, comes from the Manx Gaelic words meaning “Salmon stream”.
We enjoyed tea and icecream at Laxey station and then visited the town. Its most famous feature is the Great Wheel, alias the Lady Isabella, which was designed to pump water out the deep mine workings. It uses flowing water to pump water and is a triumph of Victorian ingenuity.
We just missed a train back to Douglas so we took the bus instead. Tigger had forgotten to bring her sun hat so we went shopping for one. This proved difficult but in the end she found something suitable. We celebrated with tea and toasted tea cakes at Copperfields Olde Tea Shoppe & Restaurant, a rather stylish tea rooms in Castle Street.
Once again we rode the horse tram to the Derby Castle terminus. I recognized the horse from the day before, called Mark. We sat for a while watching Elvis, the tram shed cat, surely the laziest cat on the Island, and the horses. Mark apparently like Polo mints.
Tigger noticed a French restaurant so we walked over to take a look. It is closed until Friday which effectively removes it from our sphere of interest. From where, I wonder, comes this Manx prediliction for closing businesses rather than opening them?
Instead, we ate at Chillies, an Indian restaurant. We had our usual vegetable thali and it was very good, served with a bowl of pulao rice.
It felt as if it had been a long day and so we were content to take the bus back to the hotel and reward ourselves for the long climb by making tea and watching a video on the Island’s unique trains and trams. This is much more interesting than it sounds, especially as we recognized Albert, one of the tram horses we have come to know.