In a series of articles in Manx Life magazine, produced by Mannin Media, authors from different walks of Manx society write about what makes the Isle of Man special to them. The September 2018 article is penned by Sarah Kelly, Chairman of the Manx Music Festival.
I have been contemplating what makes life in the Isle of Man so special.
Well, the words within our National Anthem – 'Gem of God's Earth' – are still relevant today as they were when it was written in 1907 for the Manx Music Festival.
Music and performing have been a large part of my life since I was a child and, in 2015, in its 123rd year, I became the first female chairman of the Manx Competitive Music Speech and Dance Festival.
The Guild, as it is more affectionately known, is the largest participation event on the Island, with more than 4,000 taking part over the nine days and nights it runs at the Villa Marina.
My life is not all about performing arts. More recently, I have also become the Chairman of the Manx Lottery Trust, which has given me a huge insight into parts of Manx life that I would likely never have known much about.
The Island has so many unsung heroes in many different areas of society and I am overwhelmed by the incredible people that I have met who do so much good for community and the environment of our Island for no payment at all. We are truly blessed to have such a fantastically vibrant and diverse population.
During the summer we use various modes of transport to get around the Island: steam train, electric tram, bus and car. Our dog, Misha, has become quite famous on the trains.
The Island is not, of course, solely about transportation and my husband Brian is a very keen walker so, while we may have used an engine to get to the start or from the finish, there is generally a long and beautiful walk in between.
The ever-changing hillside views are amazing all year round, from the vivid yellow gorse to the soothing purple heather.
My favourite days are when I can watch a sunrise, with the soft rays bringing warmth to a new day, or a sunset bringing a great day to a close.
When you are 'owned' by a dog, walking the Island is not confined to dry, sunny days and another favourite view of mine is watching the sea bash upon the shore on a dark and stormy day.
Misha is also a regular passenger on our other favoured local mode of transport. While our Island is beautiful from land, on a relatively flat sea on a calm day, with no sound from our kayaks, it is simply stunning.
I will finish with more words from the Anthem.
'Let us rejoice, with heart soul and voice', which we should do regularly as our Island is a very special place to live.