Every holiday has a day like this. If you are lucky, there will be only one.
We took the horse tram to the port and walked to the bus station. We were going to Peel (Purt ny Hinshey) and to visit the cat sanctuary on the way back. We duly took the bus to Peel. The day had started fine but clouded up during the journey.
Having reached Peel, we had tea in a cafe smelling of burnt fat and checked the bus timetable. The infrequency of buses caused us to rush off for the next departure in a few minutes.
The bus took us to the train station at Ballasalla but there was no train due for 1.25 hours. In fact, a workman had parked a van partly across the line!
We therefore took the number 2 bus which goes to the cat sanctuary. I asked to be told when we were at sanctuary and the driver, who startlingly resembled Peter O’Toole, replied. “If I remember”.
In the event he did remember. We got off and the bus roared away leaving us in the middle of nowhere. And now it began to rain, at first gently, then with increasing intensity. We found the cat sanctuary but now realized that it was open only from 2-5 pm. It was now about 11:30 and there was nothing to be served by standing in the rain. We found a bus stop and travelled to Castletown when we had lunch at the Bowling Green Cafe.
The plan now was to take the first bus from Castletown that would get us to the sanctuary after 2 pm. We waited for the 13:51. At 13:51 a bus arrived and we climbed wetly aboard. After some time we realized that the bus was not going where we wanted to go but to Port Erin. So we revised our plan again.
At Port Erin we took the steam railway. We asked to be dropped off at Santon, a request stop and the nearest station to the cat sanctuary. By now we were beginning to feel a little discouraged, especially as Tigger is suffering from cold and not at her best.
We got out of the train and into the rain at a deserted Santon station. There was no indication where to go, not even how to get to the road. We made a guess that turned out to be right but when we reached to road, there was no indication where the cat sanctuary was or even which way to go to get back to Douglas.
This illustrates a curious lack of follow-through that we have noticed many times on the Island. They want you to visit places (or so we assume) but give you so little help in finding them – or telling you useful things such as towns that close on a weekday – that you could be forgiven for thinking the opposite is true, namely that they are deliberately making them hard to find.
We at last worked out which way it was to the cat sanctuary but it was going to be a longish walk in the rain and so when we reached a bus stop with a shelter, we decided to give up and return straight to Douglas.
Back in town we stopped for hot chocolate at the Al Capone cafe then discussed what to do next. It was only 4:30 but we were tired and there was little to do in the grey rainy weather. On the other hand, it was too early to go back to the hotel.
The plan that emerged was to have a snack (we had “toasties” made of cheese without any trace of taste at the Alpine cafe) and then to buy sandwiches to take back to the hotel. We bought cheese and tomato baguettes at Copperfield’s.
As a finale, we took a ride on the horse tram, almost two complete runs. They finally dropped us off at the bottom of our street. We then climbed the hill and then the 61 steps to our room, where we had tea and baguettes and relaxed at last.