Blog Sep 17Apologies for the delay in posting this week’s Blog – hopefully the enclosed will explain what I have been up to over the past ten days……

Thursday 31st August was the start of my holiday to Norway with Ellen, but I only managed to pack my case late on Wednesday afternoon.

Ellen and I haven’t been away together for more than a couple of nights since 2015, which is mainly due to using all available funds for my House of Keys Election Campaign last year.

Ellen has also mentioned several times over the last year that I needed a break away from politics and work, which isn’t easy for reasons I will explain later on.

Although we were only flying out on Thursday lunchtime it still seemed an incredibly busy morning with a lot of phone calls and e-mails to sort out. I also managed to do a Three FM interview at the airport before getting on the Birmingham flight.

Unfortunately our flight was delayed, which gave me an opportunity to write up last week’s Blog and to catch up with some further e-mails.

I certainly believe the time is right for the Government or a Tynwald Scrutiny Committee to take a closer look at the reliability of airlines currently servicing the Isle of Man at the moment.

Anyway, the flight was two hours late but we finally arrived in Birmingham for 16.30, which is still better than some flights these days. The first thing we noticed upon arrival was the amount of redevelopment going on in Birmingham at the moment, but it looks a beautiful city.

Although I was on holiday I was still keeping one eye on e-mails and messages, before jumping on a P & O Cruise Ship on Sunday evening and losing my internet connection for at least 24 hours….

I won’t bore everybody by describing every moment of our holiday but I’m happy to share a few details for when I look back in 2021.

Birmingham is an amazing city and it was an excellent way to start our holiday. Friday morning was spent shopping before heading to Birmingham’s Sea Life Centre. We also had dinner in the Malt House, which is located by the canal and is famous for Bill Clinton standing on the roof terrace in 1998 drinking a pint….

I also needed to make several calls during the day, which related to Constituent matters on flooding, ownership of a lane and family services.

On Saturday morning we enjoyed breakfast on a narrow boat, which was excellent and certainly something different, before we caught the train to Southampton, which was around a three-hour journey.

Once we arrived in Southampton, we stayed at the White Star Tavern – one of the many Southampton establishments based around the theme of the ill-fated Titanic.

On Sunday lunchtime we boarded the “Arcadia” for a week long trip to Norway, including the beautiful Norwegian Fjords.

Monday was a day at sea, which gave me a chance to relax and unwind, but we arrived in Stravanger on a wet Tuesday morning and with no internet since Sunday lunchtime, the first task for me was to catch up with the forty or so e-mails and messages, which I did as Ellen watched us dock in the harbour.

Wednesday was also wet and misty as we arrived in Alesund. In fact the rain was quite heavy when we left the ship, but that didn’t matter because we had organised to do some sea kayaking. The weather soon cleared up as we kayaked along the Alesund coast for a couple of hours and it really was a wonderfully memorable experience.

Back to the ship for some lunch and to change before we climbed up to the Fjellstua Viewpoint on Mount Aksla, which had more than 418 steps and is one of the highest points in Alesund, but the amazing views were well worth the effort…….

We woke up in one of the most stunning places on Thursday morning, Flam certainly had some of the most breathtaking scenery and landscape ever. The weather was again damp and misty, but we took the the Flam Railway high into the mountains, which had more than 20 tunnels as it climbed more than 866 metres above sea level.

We stopped at the Kjosfossen waterfall halfway up the mountain, where a beautiful lady dressed in red enchanted men through music and dance in order to lure them into the mountain; once trapped they would be given to the trolls to work as slaves – or so the story goes……

The final stop on this fantastic journey was Bergen, Norway’s second largest city behind Oslo. Bergen is the gateway to the Fjords and has a fascinating history and a population of 238,000.

An early start for us, as we needed to board a coach at 8am as we travelled around and beyond the Bergen region, including visiting the Steinsdalsfossen waterfall and taking a ferry ride across the Hardangerfjorden. We finally arrived back at the ship for 15.40.

Saturday was a day to relax at sea before we headed home on Sunday from what has been a wonderful Norwegian break.

The hardest part of this trip has been the lack of internet at times. As I have mentioned in previous Blogs, MHKs are paid to undertake a role and not a position of employment.

In the private sector most people would catch up with e-mails and messages on their return from holiday, but in this role we need to respond to messages within a reasonable timeframe, bearing in mind that people only contact you when they really need your help, so you can’t ignore them for a week or two………

In theory you are never actually on holiday, but it is all about finding the right balance, which I think I have during the past week.

Just looking at my calendar, the next couple of months look extremely busy, so I am now looking forward to getting my head down on various topics.