Z is for Zoo

I can’t believe that this is the last day of the A to Z Blog Challenge! I hope you enjoyed reading about the Isle of Man and are as excited as I am about The Manx. On this last day I want to share one last bit about the Isle of Man and it’s zoo.**

Currahs Wildlife Park is located in an area of wetland in the north-west of the island. It houses meerkats, pelicans, mongoose, lemurs, big game, primates, and much, much more. It was founded in 1963 and formally opened in 1965

In the 1970’s there was a grand escape of a couple of wallabies. One would expect to see wallabies wandering freely in Australia or Tazmania, but the Isle of Man? Believe it or not, they now have a feral population of about 120 wallabies.

How do they survive so well in a place so different form the warm temperatures of their native Australia? There are no predators and plenty of food. Wallabies thrive on the grasses, and are beneficial to the environment. Until the great escape of the 1970’s, cattle were brought in periodically to graze the grasses back. Now, they leave it to the wallabies.

They are pretty shy too. You are considered lucky if you spot one. Maybe it’s the start of a new Manx folklore…The Luck of the Wallaby.

**It is actually a wildlife park and not a zoo. What can I say? I needed a word that started with ‘Z’ so I cheated a little bit. [she grins and is joyous to finally reach the end of A to Z].

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This post inspired by – Z

Wrapping it Up

X is for X Words

We are getting down to the last letters of the A to Z Blog Challenge. Through the challenge I have been writing daily about the Isle of Man where my book, The Manx, takes place.  Besides all the wonderful characters and the folktales, I also included posts about visiting the island and some of the basics about the Isle of Man.

Now we come to the letter X. In my 1932 edition of 20,000 Words there are only three words listed that start with X: Xanthippe, xenon, xylophone. None of these really relate to my book so I have been at a loss as to how to make X work for the A to Z Challenge.

Next out is Roget’s International Thesaurus, 4th Edition, 1977. There are a few more words listed which are: X (as in a cross), Xanadu (remember that movie?), xenophobia, xerography, Xerox, X Ray, xylography, and xylophone.

An X is also seen as a symbol like a railroad crossing, a mathematical symbol, and a signature. Love letters are signed with an XO for kiss and hug, or XXXOOO for lots of kisses and hugs.

The X is Gebo (Gifts) in Futhark Runes. The gift as in the sense of both generosity and sacrifice indicating balance and all things relating to exchanges, including contracts, personal relationships and partnerships.

Why is the X always pronounced like a Z? Why have the X at all? Just turn all the X-words to Z-words. Except, if that was done than an X-Ray would become a Z-Ray and then you have a weapon that shoots death rays rather than a camera that shoots death rays. Wait…..what? Yeah. That’s what goes on sometimes with my grey matter. It gets a little weird up there.

Have an X-cellent weekend!

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This post inspired by – X

Witches of Slieau Whallion

Slieau Whallion is a hill located on the Isle of Man near St. John’s just off of Gleneedles Road. It has a grisly history of being the execution place of accused witches. They would be put into a barrel with spikes driven into the sides of the barrel, pointing inward. Then the barrel, with the accused witch inside, were rolled down the hill. Murderers were also punished this way. Quite a cruel way to die.

In my book, The Manx, Slieau Whillion is actually the name of a witch who befriends our heroine, Kaitlin and her side kick Donal. My Slieau Whillion does not take on the gruesome traits of the hill she was named for. She is a mix of Mrs. Whatsit, from A Wrinkle in Time, with a little bit of Dr. Who (think Peter Capaldi), and a dash of Winifred Sanderson (Hocus Pocus). She is eccentric with all the bells and whistles, plus a few added quirks that I have yet to discover. 

I am looking forward to finishing Kaitlin’s story so I can write one starring Slieau Whillion. She will be a blast to write.

Until next time!

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This post inspired by – W

X is for X

T is for Tourist Trophy Races

My main character in The Manx, Kaitlin Manning, and her father, Charles, are on the Isle of Man to photograph the TT races when Kaitlin stumbles across the first piece of a puzzle that takes her far from the races. I became fascinated by these races when looking for a reason for Kaitlin to visit the island. I thought about having her on vacation or just visiting family, but that was almost too simple of an idea. I came across these races and knew I had my reason for her to go to the Isle of Man. Here is what I learned about the races.

The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy races, commonly referred to as TT, are time trial motorcycle races that take place on the public roads around the Isle of Man.  It is a 200 MPH street race over treacherous twists, turns, hills, and bumps. To race on this course is to put your life on the line; a very thin line.

The races started back in 1907. Rem Fowler won in the twin-cylinder class with speeds averaging 36 MPH. Today, the races have expanded to five classes of bikes that can average upwards of 130 MPH. The fastest average speed was set in 2016 by Michael Dunlop at nearly 134 MPH. The race record for the Sidecar TT was set in 2017 by Ben and Tom Birchall. They completed the 37 mile twisting course an average race speed at just over 116 mph.

Racers have nerves of steel to drive in what is known as one of the most dangerous races in the world. It is not just the roads themselves, but the obstacles alongside them. Some of roadways on the Isle of Man are narrow with brick walls and buildings that will come right to the edge of the road. A driver can come out of a tight turn heading headlong toward the side of a building. Fans sit just feet away from the riders who are screaming by at 200 MPH. One tiny error, any small unseen obstacle can turn deadly for both drivers and fans alike.

After reading so much about the TT I am looking forward to attending my first motorcycle race. I am a fan of quiet walks on the beach and hikes to astounding vistas (like to top of Mt Snaefell), but I am sure I’ll take time to see these monster bikes fly across the roads of Isle of Man.

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This post inspired by – T

O is for Osran

Today’s post introduces you to OsranMany of the characters in The Manx have at least a tiny bit of grounding in the real world whether it is the use of a real name, a mythical being, or a historical figure. Osran comes fresh from my imagination.

Her realm is in The BetweenThis is where the past, present, and future meet. Osran is the guardian of The Between making sure no one (magical or human) crosses from their own present into the past or future.

It is also where the energy for magic is generated. Whenever magic is used, the energy from it must be gathered in the Between to be redistributed back into the world. Osran oversees this process to be sure there are no flows that are uneven. Any imbalance will have catastrophic results affecting everything from the beginning of time to the end.

Osran is Kaitlin’s guide, and she will meet her for the first time in The Manx. Kaitlin doesn’t know what to make of Osran initially, but she feels comforted in her presence. Almost like an aunt or grandmother. They will make a formidable team as they fight to save both worlds which are on a collision course.

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This post inspired by – O

P is for Castle Peel

M is for Manannan Mac y Leirr

Manannan Beg was son of Leirr,
He was the first the e’er had Mann;
But as it seemeth unto me,
He himself was but a heathen.

‘Twas not with his sword he kept her,
Nor with his arrows, nor his bow;
Bur when he would see ships sailing,
He hid her right round with a fog.

He’d set a man upon a brow,
You’d think there were a hundred there;
And this did wild Manannan guard
That island with all its booty.

The rent each paid out of the land
Was a bundle of green rushes;
And that was on them for a tax
Throughout the county each John’s Eve.

Some went up with the rushes to
The great mountain up at Barrule;
Other would leave the grass below,
With Manannan above Keamool.

In this way, then, they lived, I think
Myself their tribute very small,
Without care or anxiety,
Or labour to cause weariness.

~~Old Manx Ballad

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This post inspired by – M

N is for Names

L is for Little People

The Little People have been a part of Isle of Man’s legends since the beginning. The Little People (Mooinjer Veggey), also known as Themselves, stand a good foot high. Much like gnomes, they dress in green with red caps, yet they are slender, more like a human. They are usually seen hanging out under the “Fairy Bridge”, but are also known to be just about anywhere riding on the back of a corgi. Kaitlin (who I introduced yesterday) will, of course, have an encounter with the Little People. 

For the locals, they know the importance of the Little People and the proper way to greet them. It is well known that if they are not given their due respect you may come down with chicken pox, get robbed, or have bad luck follow you. The TT racers are very careful about giving a kind greeting in hopes of having a bit of good luck in their race.

So, when you cross the Fairy Bridge you must say: “Moghrey mie (Good morning), Fastyr mie (Good afternoon/evening) or Laa mie (Good day) Mooinjer Veggey.” Many visitors write notes and wishes on pieces of paper and attach them to a nearby tree. The Little People are kindly and generous with their luck just as long as you are too.

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This post inspired by – L

M is for Manannan Mac Lir