Mr Tweed's Manx Adventure
If you are thinking of going to the Isle of Man in November: don’t bother. It’s closed. Or most of it appears to be, anyway. Its numerous railways are finished for the season and, particularly outside of Douglas, the landscape is as barren as George Osborne’s economic outlook.
There is the aviation and military museum-handily combined (open Sundays), but don’t imagine an Imperial War Museum type structure. Think more shed-in-a-field. However, you will need to seek shelter from the unforgiving wind and rain that plagues this heathen backwater. That is where the local hostelries come in.
The IOM does have a number of good pubs and real ale is widely available. Choice has often been somewhat limited, but this has steadily increased over the years and, on my recent visit, I was pleasantly surprised by the range that is now available.
Castletown has two good offerings. The Castle Arms (AKA the Glue Pot) is the only pub to feature on a Manx note and is a very cosy local. The Okells IPA was on very fine form here. Nearby is the Sidings-known locally as the Duck’s Nest-which offers an impressive range of beers.
I was keen to try the revamped British in Douglas and it did not disappoint. Its decor is now relaxed contemporary with both service and food excellent. There are eight handpulls adorning the bar, although it was the rare sighting of a Meantime font that caught my eye.
Port Erin lays claim to the best beach on the island. Perhaps not quite as appealing in November, but the local pubs will keep you occupied. The Station is a well appointed Okells house, but the jewel in the crown is the Bay Hotel. This flagship of the Bushy’s estate is a cracker by any standard. Four traditional rooms and a roaring fire all add to the atmosphere and the beer wasn’t bad, either.
So why not give the Isle of Man a whirl? Look beyond their wicker man constructions and worship of pagan gods and you will find a good pub culture. Best visit in summer, though.