Saturday, November 15, 2008
Sheep With Attitude
"So, you want me to move then?"
"If you don't mind.."
"Can't you turn around?"
"Um, no not really."
You think I jest? I had to run at this little blighter to get him to budge, and even then he held his ground, thought he was about to butt me at one point. Navigating the mountain road is not for the faint hearted. It is also prone to mists, and in the dark, often all you can see is a pair of blazing red eyes glowering back up at you.. well, that and the horns of course. Trapped inside a Dennis Wheatley movie, who could blame you for being put off your Sunday leg of lamb?. We had this encounter on Wednesday, as we were making our way over to the village of Maughold. Hubby had booked the week off work, and whilst the kids were at school we'd made the most of it, setting out each day exploring various corners of the island. Maughold has an ancient churchyard housing tombstones dating back to the eighth century. It's a place I've always meant to visit, yet never before have quite got around to. Sadly, the original church (or Kirk, as it is locally known) has been replaced over time, but it still appears to have a strong congregation, being lovingly cared for. Set in a beautiful little village perched overlooking the sea, the views here are quite spectacular. I try never to take this place for granted, but I often have to pinch myself to believe we've landed up living in such an idyllic spot. Mid-week, out of the tourist season, there is a stillness to this isle that is hard to describe. Is it really only seven years ago that we were living inside a crowded inner City? Seems a whole other lifetime ago.Surprisingly, arriving at the church we found the doors unlocked, enabling us a few quiet moments to explore inside.
The smell of fresh flowers and beeswax rushed to greet us, and between the silence and the echoes we found ourselves whispering - heaven alone knows why. (Smile.)A lot of these gravestones are too weathered to read, the latest one I could find belonged to a Florence Quayle who died in 1821, aged 32.The oldest stones are housed in a three sided stone built shelter to serve some protection from the elements. A stained glass window has been painstakingly inserted, lending a fitting reverence.Some of these Celtic crosses date back as far as the earliest Viking invasions.Maughold was an active religious centre at this point, and a third of the Island's cross-slabs have been found here.It was a lovely way to spend an unhurried morning. It is easy to forget to set the time aside, there is always something more urgent calling, isn't there?This last week we devoted one day each to visiting the north, south, east and west of our island, finishing with either lunch at a traditional Manx pub, or in a cosy family-run restaurant, only arriving back in time for the on-slaught of our babes tumbling home from school.The fifth and final day we elected to stay in. Being as it was wet, wild and windy out, we wisely lit the fire, popped a bottle of Champagne and settled down to watching a movie or two over a banquet of Brie, Roquefort, Port Salut and crusty bread.