I am busy with Open Top Car Tours from mid-March to mid-October. This year in the quieter months I have been planning, researching, walking and writing my next guide book of the Isle of Man. I have three sightseeing guide books published already: they are for both Isle of Man residents and visitors to help them explore this wonderful Island on foot.
My new book will be ‘Countryside, Coast and Churches – new ways to explore the Isle of Man on foot’. It comprises numerous detailed guided walks taking in great scenery and places of interest as well as churches and chapels. Exploring churches allows one to appreciate the Island’s history and it showcases some fascinating buildings that you may not realise are there. And many churches have interesting art and monuments that you might only expect to find in museums.
I have been fortunate that many of my sightseeing car tours do visit churches. There is one delightful little church in a remote corner of the Island that features in both the half-day and full-day car tours. And bespoke tours where we visit old churches so that my passengers can visit places where their ancestors are buried.
The walks are both full-day trips and shorter half-day ventures. And the book will be illustrated with lots of photographs of landscapes, coastlines, historic buildings and pre-historic sites.
In all it will take me the best part of three months from the start of planning the walking routes to finishing the manuscript. Then it’s over to the publisher to produce the finished book in all its glory.
My first Open Top Car Tour was a party of three on a sightseeing tour of the Isle of Man TT Course. There were three generations - a lady in her late 60’s, her son and her 7 year old grandson. The tour was a present to the mother from her son. Her late husband had been a competitor and had ridden TT Course many times, but she had never experienced the TT Course herself.
We set off from the TT Grandstand which was undergoing the final preparations before the fortnight TT Festival, so the place was very lively. I was explaining the rich history of the TT Races, held since 1907, as well as lots of stories of the amazing feats and speeds achieved by modern racers. The lady was particularly interested as we drove through places on the TT track that her husband must have tried to describe to her from his racer’s perspective.
One thing that is often neglected about the Course is how amazingly picturesque it is. It passes through white-washed villages, weaves its way in and out of woodlands, crosses extensive areas of farmland and climbs up the side of mountains. It is a scenic tour in its own right, which is why the appeal of the Total TT Tour spans all levels of interest in TT Races – of which my passengers represented a fair spread.
However, it was apparent that the 7 year old needed another interest as we toured. Those who have experienced the TT Course will know that there is a marker board after each mile and in between many sections of the track have a name. Either named after the places the course passes through or famous TT riders. So I asked him to read out the names as we passed (to keep him involved) and I would mention a relevant story or historical nugget about that place (to give my commentary an interesting twist).