Okay, so it's been a few days... well actually quite a lot of days since the last post. Since then I've been to Jersey, moved house and done lots of regular stuff in England. Most of it probably wouldn't be of interest to you dear readers, and I'm not sure which bits would, so I'll open the floor for questions: if you want to know something about my life in the UK ask away and I'll answer to the best of my ability.
Golders Green asked a while ago about my trip to Jersey, so here's a travelogue of sorts. As a visual aid be sure to check out the photographs at flickr
We flew to Jersey care of Flybe, a UK budget airline that operates out of smaller airports such as Exeter International, which consists of three sheds and a carpark. We checked in online so as to speed things up, but for some reason there was only one person at the online check in desk and about 3 at the normal check in, so we actually waited around longer than the folk in the normal check in.
The flight was quick and calm. Once on the island we decided a rental car would be useful, something we were very pleased about as our time there went on. Sure, the island isn't that big but the car gave us the time and freedom to explore. Plus petrol seemed to be cheap so it didn't cost us that much over the period. The car rental was likewise very reasonable for 6 days.
We immediately drove off to a beach for some sightseeing and a coffee at Plemont. It's a small beach surrounded by cliffs. Most of the day there is no beach at all, and with the tide in we never got to swim there but it was a nice place to sit and drink coffee.
We paid a visit to another beach, Greve le Lecq. This is much more beachy with lots of sand and several restaurants/souvenir shops close by. We wet our feet but as we couldn't find any lunch decided to drive off to the Devil's Hole, where we had some good pub grub after a nice walk to look at a blow hole in the cliffs that wasn't actually blowing....
It was then off to the guest house for a nap. I had a walk round Saint Helier looking for beach equipment. The town was pretty much like any other - the usual shops etc. I also noted that even though I had been lead to believe that it was a duty fee paradise, consumer goods weren't really that cheap. The main shopping district was your typical street mall - busy and not very entertaining, with some quaint old buildings hidden amongst the more modern shops. Enid joined me later and we had fish and chips, then visited the waterfront.
We went to the Jersey War tunnels in the morning for a tourist experience. We were to learn over the course of our stay that the WWII occupation was a strong part of the national identity, even now. It made me realise how protected NZ is all the way down at the bottom of the world. In the UK too, there is a sense that people live with the memories of war and it still influences them greatly in their opinions of the military and international relations.
The war tunnels were very interactive; lots of exhibitions that got you thinking about what happened. The human figures with a TV screen where the head would be that represented German soldiers were very confrontational in their presentation, challenging you to think "what would you do if a German soldier said hello?" as the video showed a man greeting you and uncomfortably waiting for a response.
After that we went walking on another beach and had a look at the quite stunning Lalique glass in the St Matthews Church at Millbrook - well worth seeing.
Next stop was St Brelade's to see a Norman era church and the medieval fresco in the Fisherman's Chapel.
Went off to Portelet for some swimming and sunbathing. The walk up the steps for lunch was exhausting in the heat. That evening I took Enid off to La Capannina for a lovely Italian meal. The waiting staff took their jobs very seriously. The main waiter was actually preparing many of the dishes and really knew his stuff. At the end of the meal we went for a random drive around the town, ending up in a fun fair.
Spent much of the day on Greve le Lecq beach lying on a deck chair. Every so often I went snorkelling but it was a relaxing, lazy day. Great beach for doing that as there is lots of sand. It was busy but not overcrowded.
Went to St Catherine's bay for a swim and collecting sea glass. Very very hot so we moved on to Plemont, but the tide was too high for a swim so had chips instead, and briefly visited St Ouen to look for fresh seafood - sadly the shop was shut. Retired to the B&B and a neighbouring hotel for drinks and a game of pool.
The trip was coming to an end. We checked out and went off to town for a look at the markets. Then to visit the Living Legends shopping village, which was rubbish. We expected some craft shops but it was all tat! Then back to St Ouen to buy some fresh cooked crab, and a picnic at Grosnez, by the castle ruins. Took the time to write some postcards, and had some drinks at the farmers inn near Agateware pottery, before the trip to the airport and home.
In all it was an entertaining visit. The main pastime for us were the beaches and had good weather most days to enjoy them. The cultural attractions were low key but interesting, though I don't think we could have entertained ourselves for many more days.
With Jersey being so close to England, and fairly cheap to get to we are amazed that more UK folk don't go there, but our B&B host told us that tourism is in decline from the good old days. We recommend it to beach bums everywhere, just don't mention Bergerac!