Blog 5 Jan 20Happy New Year, Happy New Decade – welcome to the 2020s!

The last 10 years have flown by, and on occasion it has certainly been a rollercoaster of a ride for me personally, but overall it has probably been the best 10 years of my life….

This is despite suffering redundancy in December 2012, which was an extremely difficult period. I certainly wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone, but I was very fortunate to have a lot of support from my family members, especially Steve and Lesley (In-Laws).

At the time I was Chairman of Onchan District Commissioners and sitting a few professional exams. This gave me an opportunity to channel some of my energy into something else until I was able to find suitable employment once again, which took some time as unfortunately all this just happened to coincide with a spike in unemployment on the island.

However I think our lowest point over the 10 years has to be shortly after that, when we got embroiled in a land dispute after a local firm of advocates incorrectly registered our property and land when we purchased our home back in 2007.

I am not going to dwell on that particular topic too long, other than to say that I can’t remember another occasion when Ellen and I have felt under so much pressure, both financially and mentally.

On a more positive note, Ellen and I have been very fortunate to have travelled the world together over the past 10 to 15 years. We have visited more than 17 different countries during the last decade or so, some of which we have visited on multiple occasions such as Canada, the USA and also in Europe. We have certainly created a lot of great memories along the way.

I have also passed various professional exams and was very fortunate to have been elected an Onchan District Commissioner in April 2012 which then gave me the confidence to consider standing for the House of Keys in 2016.

I will always owe a debt of gratitude to the people of Onchan for showing their continuing support for me over the past 8 years, both as an Onchan Commissioner and now as an MHK.

Just looking back at some of the events over the past 10 years, it is hard to imagine that the first iPad only came out in April 2010 – I would certainly be lost without my iPad these days.

We also had a couple of Royal weddings during the last decade; and who can remember the aeroplane completely disappearing in 2014?

In politics we have had Brexit, Trump and Johnson – and had anyone heard of “Fake News” or “Selfies” before 2010? They have become commonplace these days.

The 2010s started with Gordon Brown in Number 10, which I certainly couldn’t remember until I googled it, but it was also the decade in which the UK Prime Minister changed four times….

Looking forward to the next decade, it will definitely be a very interesting period as the UK continues to set a course for leaving the European Union, which will also influence the direction that the Isle of Man will have to take over the next 10 years.

Climate Change will remain high on the agenda over the next 10 years, especially when there have been so many climate related events in recent years.

Unfortunately, Australia has been ravaged by the worst wildfires ever seen, with swathes of the country devastated by fires that started back in July last year.

More than 18 people have died, more than 1,500 homes destroyed and over 500,000,000 animals have lost their lives from massive blazes which State and Federal authorities have struggled to contain over the last 7 months.

The fires have been exacerbated by persistent heat and drought, and many people have pointed towards climate change as a major factor – it certainly makes you stop and think as Australia faces one of its most difficult challenges.

Closer to home here on the Isle of Man the New Year’s Honours List was published last week and Onchan resident Hector Duff, MBE who celebrated his 100th birthday in October received an OBE, which is really wonderful news for the island.

He truly is a Manx legend…..

As for my own schedule over the last week, I have certainly taken the opportunity to recharge the batteries and to prepare for the year ahead.

Last weekend was spent in Sheffield visiting Ellen’s family, before driving up to Leeds on Sunday morning to visit my brother’s family.

Lesley (mother-in-law), Ellen and I had dinner in our hotel on Saturday night, and on Sunday evening Ellen and I joined my brother and his family to have a dinner in the city centre restaurant where my brother (Sean) has been the head chef for many years.

Although Sean is originally from the Isle of Man he moved to Leeds about 15 years ago with his partner, and since then they have had three wonderful kids, who have never visited the Isle of Man.

Hopefully, that will change in 2020 when my brother and his family will join us for Tynwald Day, which will also give me an opportunity to show the kids around our beautiful island.

Monday in Leeds this week turned into a bit of an adventure when we agreed to meet everyone at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Ellen and I had just arrived at the park when I got a call from my brother to say his car wouldn’t start, so this meant we had to take a trip into Dewsbury to pick up a “jumpstart kit” before heading back into Leeds to help out…

With the car fixed we headed back to the Sculpture Park for a very enjoyable walk with the kids, despite the mud….

Late afternoon once we said our goodbyes, we headed back to our hotel and then on to the newly built Thorpe Park Odeon Cinema to watch the latest Star Wars film: The Rise of Skywalker.

A fantastic cinema with large reclining chairs, it certainly made the whole experience very different from the Palace Cinema in Douglas.

Back to the hotel just after 19.00 before grabbing some tea.

An early start on Tuesday (New Year’s Eve) in order to pack our case before driving from Leeds to Manchester Airport and then homeward bound after a wonderful few days with our families, especially the younger members.

We only see them once a year, so it is great see their progress in life and to see how much they have grown up.

We finally arrived home for around 13.00, and the rest of the day was spent in front of the fire and the TV, although I did need to catch up with some correspondence.

As for the rest of the week, it was spent at home just relaxing and being lazy. That said, I still needed to monitor correspondence and a few other things that took up a couple of hours each day, but nothing too stressful.

Nothing scheduled for the weekend, so hopefully we can get out for a walk before heading back into the office on Monday.