Easter weekend finds us visiting relatives on a tiny speck of rock halfway between England and Ireland. Home to the world’s oldest democratically elected parliament and proudly independent of the European Union, the Isle of Man is a haven for business and for people who want to get away from the queues and sneers of mainland Britain. The island is effectively a village; everyone knows everyone else and people still greet each other on the way to the bakers.
We spend the evening of Good Friday at Patchwork, a tiny cafe in Port St. Mary, enjoying their weekly movie night. It’s a simple concept: grab some bottles from the Co-op next door, settle at your table, and your pre-ordered starters are served at 19:15 sharp. Once everybody’s finished a screen is pulled down over the door, the lights are dimmed while diners adjust their chairs, and the first half of the film is projected onto a makeshift cinema wall between the espresso machine and the specials board. From here on in there are but two interruptions; the main course and dessert (for which the film is paused halfway through while music keeps the ambience going) and to allow a participant of a passing 10k run to use the loo, emerging again seconds later amid cheers from all tables.
Oh, the derelict place? Back when we first started coming to the island this was a privately owned automobile sales and servicing business, and for a few years after it closed it’s doors a trio of rusting Americana filled the forlorn showroom, yet today it stands completely empty. Aside from the occasional broken window and some childish graffiti (OK, and a stuffed toy cow pressed up against the glass) the building appears to be in fairly good nick, retaining cupboards full of crockery and a lovely old kitchen range.