Before our stay in the Isle of Man we were told by those who lived or had stayed there that visiting the Manx Museum, located in Douglas, was a real must. I was keen for us to learn as much as possible about the Island and with 10,000 years of history within it’s doors, the Manx Museum seemed like the perfect way! With our last day under way it seemed like the perfect time to visit.
As we entered the museum we were instantly greeted by the Skelton of a Giant Deer Stag and I just knew the children were going to love it there! Said to be bursting with artefacts and unique treasures, the children were dashing from one part to the next, enjoying everything from gem stones to viking weaponry.
I found the Viking exhibition to be fascinating, sharing the voyage of the Viking ships, the Island’s very own Viking, and displaying ancient Viking silver and objects found on the Island over the years. It amazed me that I knew so little about the history of the Isle of Man, an Island just twenty minutes away by plane, and I vowed to read up on more of it when I returned home.
I love how the Manx Museum uses a real mix of galleries, film, and interactive displays so to appear to all visitors and most of all, all ages. Where as Lewis, Gaz and I enjoyed reading the information boards on each exhibit, the children preferred a more hands on approach and loved the telephones where real characters talked a little about life on the Island.
The children’s favourite part was the interactive area with a projector which allowed you to choose an animal to then trace and colour. I loved seeing Lewis helping Eva to choose her animal, these are the moments I will always love the most about our time together.
The great thing about the Manx museum is that with so much to see and do, there will be something to spark everyone’s interest. For me that was the Vikings, for the children the interactive space and, no surprise, for Harry the dinosaur bones.
There was even something for Lewis who, at fourteen, is bored by just about everything! He was actually really fascinated by the TT displays and the motorbikes and, having driven around some of the TT tracks earlier that day, it was really interesting to read about how the the event has developed over the years.
The Manx Museum has many exhibitions, some of which are permanent and some of which just temporary, one of which was the theatre dressing table area with wigs, hats and a whole host of dress up items. The children have literally never moved so fast as they did swooping on those costumes!
The walls had a huge display of stars from television and film, spanning right across the years, and a replica stage dressing room table with a huge mirror and lighting. I loved every minute of seeing the children try on the hats and wigs, looking at themselves in the mirror and laughing, or admiring themselves as they posed for a photo.
I think Megan has well and truly found her calling when it comes to the stage and she really got into character, flicking back her long wig, wrapping herself up in a faux leather coat and jewels, and lounging back on the chaise longue like a Hollywood film star!
We absolutely loved the Manx Museum. and can completely understand why so many people recommended it to us. I think everyone visiting the Isle of Man should go and learn more about this wonderful Island. Sadly it was almost time for us to leave and yet just before we made our way to the airport we were keen to visit one of the hidden gems of the island, Niarbyl Bay.
Hailed as a local beauty spot, just south of Dalby Village, on the Island’s west coast, Niarbyl Bay boasts stunning views, wildlife, and stargazing. On a clear day. you can see right across to the Mountains of Mourne in Ireland which we were just able to make out!
If you’re very lucky you can spot whales, dolphins, porpoises, and even sharks, although we didn’t see any this time. Legend also has it that there is an underwater mermaid kingdom just off Niarbyl bay and although we didn’t see any of those either, the girls were convinced they heard them in the distance.
Down on the beach we found caves hidden in the cliff side, some so dark and spooky that even Harry didn’t dare go in! The rocks to the north of the beach said to be 480 million years old and originate from Gondwana where as the rocks south of Niarbyl are sandstones belonging to a northern continent known as Laurentia. It is said you can stand with one foot on rocks belong to two continents, which is pretty special!
Despite having a cafe and look out point at Niarbyl Bay, we were the only people down on the beach that day which simply added to the magical feel of the bay. I think that’s the one thing I really noticed during our stay on the island, that it really hit home how over populated England is and how so little of our countryside is left unspoilt.
We were surprised to find a row of tiny thatched cottages overlooking the sea, which we later learned were featured in the film Waking Ned. As we stood looking out at the view I couldn’t help but think how amazing it would be to wake up to Niarbyl Bay each morning, it really would be the perfect view.
Further along the coast we came to one of the Islands Keeils, an early Christian chapel which was painted in the same white and red as the cottages, as well as the traditional colours of Laxey wheel. I love how the Island is so rich in history, and how they preserve it so well – plus it made for a great spot for a family photo!
The Isle of Man is full of these hidden gems, all with their own little quirks and points of interest, and I would love to have had time to travel around each of them should we have stayed for longer. I already have a huge list of places we want to go on our next visit and hopefully, should we visit in the Summer months we can enjoy more of the beaches just as beautiful as this one.
We had the best weekend on the Isle of Man and I can’t even tell you how special it was to go back after all these years and share my memories of childhood with the children. So many times over the weekend I had to swallow a lump in my throat, and blink back tears in my eyes, remembering how magical it had all felt at a young age and how I had wanted those Summer days to last for always. I know that when we boarded that plane on the Sunday evening all six of us were sad to go home, and yet as my Mum tells me over and over, “You have to go home to go back”.
And we will…..
** We were invited to the Isle of Man in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions are my own **