Today started damp with wet pavements and spitting rain. We waited for a bus on the sea front, watching a heavy tractor removing seaweed from the beach. I did wonder where the much vaunted sandy beach of Douglas was. Under a layer of smelly seaweed, apparently.
The bus took us to steam train station,where we had tea, before boarding the 10:15. It being a Tuesday, there was every hope that Port Erin would be open. Moreover, it was supposed to be market day.
On arriving, we found that Port Erin was indeed open for business. We asked an elderly lady where the market was and were directed to the sea front. We found the market which consisted of a few stalls selling tee shirts, sunglasses and other miscellaneous goods, nothing apt to detain us for long.
The answer to the question “What now?” seemed to be Roberto’s, a corner cafe in Anglo-Italian style offering drinks and snacks. We started with drinks and graduated to food, which qualified us to sit in the dining area as opposed to the drinks area.
The eventual plan was to visit the Cregneash Village Folk Museum, a bus ride away. Our travel skills, honed and sharpened in Cornwall where transport is as desultory as here and goes to bed as early, made us plan very carefully as we did not want to miss our last connection back to Douglas.
Having exhausted the delights that Port Erin (Purt Chiarn in Manx) has to offer, we repaired to the bus stop to await bus number 1. Even finding the bus stop was a typical Manx puzzle. We found a notice telling us that the stop was “Across from the Orchard.” We found the Orchard – a hotel – but there was no bus stop “across from” it.
Eventually, we discovered that the Orchard has two entrances in two different streets and that the bus stop was “across from” the second, less obvious entrance.
The ride to Cregneash took us along country roads with beautiful views, perhaps the best we had seen so far. From the bus we took a signposted footpath to the village. Cregneash is a “living museum”, a village largely preserved as it was in earlier days. There are brown sheep with multiple horns and whitewashed cottages thatched in traditional style. This includes projecting stones all along the eaves to which are attached cords typing down nets protecting the thatch from stormy conditions.
In the village tearoom, we enjoyed a bowl of soup before walking the the bus stop, via the museum shop. We were intending to catch the last bus out and although we were at the stop in time, the bus failed to appear.
At first we assumed the bus was late (as was the bus that brought us here) but after 20 minutes it was obvious that the bus had passed early, probably while we were in the museum shop.
What we were to do? We seem to have such an adventure on every trip. I walked down to one of the houses where I heard voices talking in the garden. I entered and found three ladies – one of whom was wearing what I took to be traditional Manx costume – engaged in conversation. I asked if there was a local taxi service.
“Yes,” said one, “but you will have to phone them.”
“If you’re going to Port Erin,” opined that lady in costume. “then it’s a 20-minute brisk walk downhill.”
The third lady’s advice won the day, however: “If you don’t mind waiting until 5 o’clock, I’ll give you a lift as I’m going that way.”
I thanked her fulsomely, as you can imagine. She did indeed take us into town where we took a bus (again “across from the Orchard”) that carried us back to Douglas.
In Douglas, we visited the Jubilee Cafe, for a modest supper before taking the bus to our hotel. We climbed the 61 steps to our room where we made tea and settled down, Tigger to watch a DVD about Manx curiosities and your Tiger to write this blog entry.