Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Isle of Man - CAMRA Members Weekend
I got back early on Monday evening after spending a brilliant four days on the Isle of Man. This was my first visit to the island, and I was very impressed by what I saw and experienced. The almost wall to wall sunshine certainly helped, but from the moment I stepped off the ferry in Douglas, shortly after 10pm last Wednesday evening, and walked along the brightly-lit promenade to the guest house, I knew I was going to like the place.
I spent the first two days in the company of my West Kent CAMRA colleagues, Iain and Carole, together with Kent Regional Director Kae Mendham. We travelled to Laxey, courtesy of the wonderfully eccentric Manx Electric Railway, where we spent some time admiring the impressive Laxey Wheel. We then journeyed onto Ramsey, for lunch, before returning via Old Laxey, and the atmospheric Shore Hotel - home of the island's only brew-pub, and its malty Bosun's Bitter.
The following day we joined with colleagues from Maidstone and Mid-Kent for a tour right round the island, traveling by steam train as far as Port Erin, and then on to Peel, via Castletown, by bus. The multi-roomed White House Hotel was an excellent find, although I'm told that Peel's other GBG entry, the Creek Inn is also very good. The bus journey continued with a halt at the Raven at Ballough Bridge, before continuing onto Ramsey. After a pint or two in the Trafalgar we caught the tram (Manx Electric Railway) back to Laxey for some excellent Bushy's in the Queen's Hotel before catching a bus back to Douglas.
Saturday and most of Sunday were spent at the CAMRA AGM, held in the impressive, and recently restored Villa Marina complex in Douglas. Although the last such event I attended was the 1984 AGM in Edinburgh, I found the debates and speeches far more interesting than I'd expected to. I was particularly impressed with the presentation given by the Campaign's Chief Executive, Mike Benner.
We spent both Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes at the Beer Exhibition. where there was a good selection of beers to enjoy, as well as friends and colleagues to meet up with. The highlight of the weekend though was our Gateway to Kent Guide winning the award for best local CAMRA guide for 2009! This achievement was a fitting reward for all the hard work that went in to producing the guide, copies of which can still be obtained via the West Kent CAMRA website.
So all in all then a really good break, with the added bonus of good company, nice surroundings, busy and unspoilt pubs and beer at up to £1 a pint cheaper than it is here in Kent!