She was only just back from her summer holiday, yet already AM was off on another exciting trip – to Hobbiton in Middle-earth. I clicked the link that she had posted to her Facebook wall and marvelled at the photographs of the landscape. Hills almost completely covered with trees filled the foreground. Towering staccato-edged mountains framed the far distance. The geology of the area looked spectacular, especially the one bare hill with its sculptured dips and folds. Its grassy surface was reminiscent of a scrunched up green handkerchief. I wondered whether it had been formed in the same way as the famous Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye? I was very envious that AM had the opportunity to visit such a marvellous place.
In complete contrast I was going on holiday with my family to the Isle of Man. I arrived by ferry with my niece AF. When this trip was first mooted I had not been convinced that there would be much to interest me here. However on arrival the curiously quaint inhabitants of this island immediately grabbed our attention. In the village nearest to the port we watched two old men mowing their lawn in threadbare kilts. It was a wonder that their long white beards didn’t get caught up in the mechanism of their mowers. Next door to their cottage we found a shack that sold fast food. We queued to buy supplies. When our turn came the owner told us that there was no charge for purchases, and also gave each of us a ball of chalk-like material that would give us free entry to the island’s glacier park. Perhaps this would be an interesting visit after all?
Unfortunately after such a good start to our holiday things started to go terribly wrong. Somehow AF and I were parted from one another. We had no way of re-establishing contact because I was not carrying my mobile phone. Clutching the hot food from the shack to my chest, I trekked around a park for what felt like hours hunting for AF and the rest of my family. It was hopeless. I was doomed to spend the rest of the week all alone.
Then suddenly I spotted AM. What was she doing here? I thought that she was in the Shire? She took pity on me and said that I was welcome to spend the week that I would have been with my family with her instead.
First we visited a dinosaur museum. This was a disappointing experience: there were no dinosaurs on display, and I also complained to the curator that the building itself needed more doors and windows. Afterwards we drove to meet AM’s husband at her accommodation.
Imagine my astonishment when we turned a corner in the road and entered the landscape of Middle-earth! Who would have thought that the Shire was located at the northern tip of the Isle of Man?