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My (late) Manx Friend's Garden


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How wonderful ... I love it .... a garden with real character to reflect the owner.


Funny ... me and Mr M cleared an overgrown area this year under some bushes. I call it the cemetery because it looks like one ..or will do, if only I could find a slab like rock to stand up like a Henge.

Failing that a sword like Excalibur stuck in the ground might look good.

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Keith   (part 1)


My first visit to IOM was for a weeks "Kart" racing. I had a Morris van as my transport. Our club secretary had arranged all the travel and residence details and our group were booked in at The Golf Links, Port Erin and we sailed from Liverpool.

It was a wonderful week.There were three "meetings". The first was "round the houses" up in Ramsey. The second was round part of the Clipps circuit in  Douglas, with the Start and Finish at the TT start/finish. The third one was down in Castletown using the entire "Southern Hundred" circuit.

On our last night there I went for a gentle stroll on my own round the harbour and looked back, over the bay to the Golf Linx" and I was suddenly bit by the bug that still bites me. .......A desire to stop there. Throw everything else to the dogs and move in. Family commitments of course made it impossible and always would do, but I could come back every so often, and we do, at least once annually.

This annual visit is usually  the week before the T.T.  All the bikes and riders are there, and can be viewed at virtually any "vantage point" and they come out to play every day.

It was through our residing for a week in Port Erin that we came across Keith. He lived in a cottage down a lane that leads to the sea, and our first contact was due our walking down this road to the little bay at the bottom. One day we went exploring down this lane and came across this man in his cottage vegetable  garden at the side of the road.

It was a garden such as men try to create and usually fail, but Keith seemed to have the "patience of Job" and "green fingers".


We stopped and just  marvelled at his layout. It was without a doubt a "cared for" garden. It was free of weeds (I think they dare not show their heads above the soil).

There was a path way up the centre which led to a greenhouse. On each  side were vegetables of all kinds that would take prizes anywhere, which they did to my knowledge. 

On one visit  we had gone in a "Mini Jem" that I had just built (fibreglass body two seater with Mini running gear and back door that was full width and full height and lifted from bottom). As he saw it he said "Oh that's just what I need.  I have cauliflower that I want to get down to the Horticultural Show and it wont go into my car. It will just go into yours!" And so it did. And so he won first prize and we both won a hernia lifting the damn thing.





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The other big thing that came to light was his interest in motorcycles. Not “foreign” bikes, but “British” bikes. Norton, BSA, Arial,Triumph, Rudge, A.J.S etc. and he had a garage full of “Tired” examples. Many of them were non runners salvaged from “the tip”, the rest were just heaps of bits….mostly rescued from the tip. (He worked for his brother who was a builder and, since he was the truck driver, visits to “the tip” were a regular feature in his itinerary!!!)

A few years after getting to know Keith and Cath we were unable to book in at the Golf Links, they were fully booked, so we rang K & C to see if they knew of any other suitable place. They would have a look round and let us know.

A few days later they rang back saying that the only accommodation that they could find in Port Erin was at a block of self catering flats on the front. It had just change owners and they had a first floor flat available. They gave us the 'phone number and we booked in.

When we eventually got there we were greeted by the couple who had just bought the place, and their week old daughter. We were their first customers and they were great. Bill, Susan and a little girl who was eventually called Heidi. This was to be the start of another great tie to IOM. We became godparents to Heidi. Eventually, as Heidi became older, Susan and my wife used to go on holiday together to a more benign climate.

Bill has gone to the big boarding house in the sky, Heidi now has her own house (and husband) and Susan still runs a very nice block of self catering flats…..and we still stay there.


Some time during the earlier 50's I became friendly with a young Manx chap about my age who was studying at the Agricultural Collage near York, and who was working on a farm near our house as part of his course. We became friends and he spent quite a few evenings with us. Eventually he finished his course and disappeared to where?

When I was in IOM for the go-karting week I decided to see if I could find him. So I looked up his name in the telephone book. There were a few with the same surname but only two with the same fore name initial, so I rang the first one…...spot on.

We met up at a hostelry in the centre of the island, and had a wonderful evening's chat. He was now agricultural advisor to the Manx government and was running things like the Experimental Farm, the Milk Marketing board, A. I. Etc.

We now meet up regularly when Management and I visit what still seems to me to be a “magical” island.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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