In our regular feature in Isle of Man Newspapers, authors from different walks of Manx life offer a personal perspective on #MyBiosphere. This month, Susie Heckles writes:
I am sitting on a high-backed armchair, in the music/reading room of the old stone Manx cottage I share with my husband and two entitled dogs in Glen Maye. My family all live on the Island and we’re blessed with two beautiful grandsons.
Wrapped in a warm Manx tartan blanket, I listen to the wind blowing furiously up the glen from the sea. Presently, the only source of heat in the house is from the huge ‘chollagh’ fireplace, which dominates the sitting room in the oldest part of the house.
I imagine clusters of faeries, laughing, whirling and dancing; carried, helpless, through the towering, black, creaking trees on the gusting breeze …
This may sound whimsical or fanciful, but is intrinsic to the mystical feeling, surrounding living on the Isle of Man.
Born and brought up in Cheshire, my father is Manx, going back many generations. As a child, we spent most of our holidays with family on the Island. When I was 21, I moved over permanently, having obtained employment with Manx Airlines, with whom I had a career culminating in my obtaining my ‘wings’ and flying the Bae 146.
I am now a ‘creative’: an artist and, perhaps, a story-teller. This has always been a deeply entrenched part of me and is inspired by nature; the Manx countryside, the changing seasons and also Manx cultural and family history on the Island.
Indeed, the house I live in now, was visited by my great great grandfather, when it was a village blacksmith in the last century and he brought farm horses here to be shod.
I love being outdoors on the Island, walking in the glens and plantations with my dogs. The glens are so beautiful, with strong scents from luxuriant undergrowth, the sound of birdsong and gushing water and the remains of old stone walls, cottages and mine workings.
A favourite place of mine is Spooyt Vane, near Kirk Michael. I have swum in the pool at the base of the waterfall many times and it has a deeply mystical and almost religious feel.
Human connection with nature and ‘Manxness’ on the Island is very significant and precious and I feel we are blessed by the UNESCO status of a Biosphere Reserve. Nature keeps giving and rejuvenating, but it needs our mindful care to be sustained. This is also true of our ancient culture and communities.
I particularly like the Victorian influence on the Island. The old shopping streets; the wheelhouses, where water power was converted into energy; the steam train and tram networks and Douglas’s promenades with their theatres and guest houses.
As a pilot, I used to have long, rewarding, days, flying around the UK, but there was nothing quite like that last flight of the evening, making an approach onto the westerly runway. The welcoming lights of Douglas’s promenades and the calm voice of the air traffic controller, clearing me to land. I knew then I was home.
Susie creates ceramics and artwork from her studio in Glen Maye and plays the cello with the Isle of Man Symphony Orchestra. She is the author of the children’s book ‘Ffynlo, Patch and a Magical Manx Half-term.’