Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 12 October 2015

Postcard From Jersey

An evening view over St Ouen's Bay Jersey
An evening walk overlooking St Ouen's Bay, Jersey. 
We've just come back from a last-minute and much needed break in Jersey, our first trip to the island. We stayed right on the north western tip, just a few minutes walk through heathland to find this glorious view. Jersey is a mere 9 by 5 miles, so you're never that far from the sea. We just about had a view of it from our bedroom window, and to my joy I realised the lighthouse winking at us was in France.

We took the ferry over which always feels like we're travelling abroad, and this was heightened by all the French road names and other references on the island. Many islanders - including the owners of our cottage - speak a local patois based on Norman French. William the Conqueror owned the Channel Islands as part of the Duchy of Normandy, hence the strong link with France.

We weren't in the UK either, but a Crown dependency, so it was interesting to see how the island's government works and how this makes daily life familiar, yet subtly different to ours. One example is the island's maximum speed limit, of a mere 40 miles an hour. It fits the narrower, winding lanes and the multitude of blind T junctions we encountered.

Highlights of our week included many cliff top walks and bay side strolls, plus the sighting of red squirrels and a dartford warbler. The heathland by our cottage is a Site of Special Interest which also hosts a ruined 14th century castle and lots of German WWII fortifications.

Evidence of WWII is everywhere, so a trip to the Jersey War Tunnels * was a must for our only wet day. It proved a thought provoking experience and an insight into how life would have changed for us if plans to invade the UK had come to fruition.

However, we learned later some people see a positive side to this darker part of the island's history. Our guide at the Durrell Wildlife Park told us her 95 year-old mother recounts how the occupation helped build a much stronger community amongst the islanders and regrets its gradual loss over the last 70 years. More food for thought for me to ponder upon.

Talking of food, our visit coincided with the annual Tennerfest - a marvellous excuse to eat out a lot. There's plenty here to delight foodies and ordinary diners such as NAH and I alike, especially if you like freshly grown local produce or seafood. There's also a host of beach cafes to explore, all offering sea views to die for, plus unpretentious yet great food which doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

I also have a couple of garden-related items to tell you about, which I've saved for later posts.

* = the link to the actual Jersey War Tunnels page has sound and I've not found a way to turn it off, which is annoying. Therefore, I've linked to the Wikipedia entry in the main part of the post and given you the option to go to the attraction's page down here if you'd prefer.

16 comments:

  1. Beautiful view of the sea and the sky!
    I enjoy learning the history of places I visit.
    Have a wonderful week!
    Lea

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    1. Thanks Lea - the gardens and lanes were full of Jersey lilies too. I hadn't appreciated them until I saw them en masse. I've tried to grow some without success so far - I must try again.

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  2. Nice post and lovely picture. I always enjoyed my visits to Jersey. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks Flighty - it was our first visit and I can't think why it's taken us so long to get there!

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  3. Funny place, Jersey. I think you went about it the right way, concentrating on walking. That must make it seem a bit bigger. After a week driving around, I was finding it all rather claustrophobic and cramped. The zoo was excellent, though - something I'd really like to see again.

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    1. Hi Helen, there's a lot more space on the northern part of the island. I can understand you feeling that way if you stayed further south. I'd like to return - I think walking the whole coastline is viable in a week, using buses to return to base each evening.

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  4. That was so interesting. I can't wait to hear more. The historical part reminds of that book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I realize the islands aren't the same, but are in the same general area, right? Also, didn't have a clue they speak Norman French. Fascinating. I want to go there someday.~~Dee

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    1. You're right Dee - we lump Jersey and Guernsey together as part of the Channel Islands, though they have different governments. Our ferry stopped off at Guersey first - Jersey is an hour further on and is the larger of the two islands. If you go there, we'll have to meet up!

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  5. It sounds as if you had a good break VP and hopefully were able to restore your batteries. We took our camper van to Portbail in Normandy in July, where from our campsite overlooking the beach we could see Jersey shimmering in the sunshine. It's was only about twelve miles away and day trips to the island were possible. We didn't get the chance to venture over but maybe another year. It's a place that I would certainly love to visit along with the other Channel Islands.

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    1. We toyed with the idea of a day trip over to France, Anna. I think it would have happened if we'd been staying for a fortnight.

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  6. Stunning view of the bay, it sounds as though you had a really interesting time. The history of the place is amazing and the scenery wonderful. I went in the 1960s and I don't think it can have changed much since then!

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    1. Yes, it does hark back to simpler times there, Pauline. That's one of the things we liked about the place

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  7. What a gorgeous photo. I've never been to the Chanel Islands, what an excellent place to spend a few days getting away from it all, hope you are both thoroughly refreshed.

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    1. Thanks Janet, it was just the tonic we needed after a tough summer.

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  8. I would love to take my Mum there. Would really suit us. Thanks for the inspiration. x

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    1. Karen, I think you and your mum would love it there. Let me know if you need any more information - e.g. I can thoroughly recommend our cottage, and the one next door.

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