Sunday, August 14, 2016

Jaunting around Jersey Part 2

So here I am back again with another story of my time on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands between England and France.  Part 2 takes place on Saturday May 1st when once again I purchased an all day bus pass for 7.50 GBP.   I had enjoyed my previous jaunt so much I decided to hit the buses once again.

I was staying in Gorey Harbour which was such a good decision as I was right by the water in a village setting yet with regular connections to good public transit all over the island.  The bus stop was literally a two minute walk from my door step.

While staying there I was being coy about where I was staying when talking about it on the blog.  (Stalkers you know!) Here is another picture of the harbour:  I stayed in the pale yellow house in between the three yellow buildings in a row (hotel) and the blue house.  One floor up with a wonderful view of the harbour.  I would mark it with an X but I don't know how to do that!

This view appears on postcards, fridge magnets, tea towels and trust me... I've got them all!!

I hopped the number 1 bus (every half hour) to St Helier which is the main town.  There I changed to the number 3 bus to Rozel Harbour.   I decided I was going to have breakfast there.  (not that many options in Gorey and I like to try a different place each time)

Twenty minutes later as I got off the bus I knew I would like this place...I wandered down the narrow street to the harbour and over to the Hungry Man kiosk.  I had heard many wonderful things about this place so I was so disappointed to see every table was taken and there was nowhere close by to sit. Sadly I made my way back to the main street and entered a tea room..or tried to.  They weren't yet open but would be in a few minutes so they said - and instructed me to sit outside on the deck which I did.  I sat for a while but no one even approached me and being as I hadn't had my coffee yet I was kind of grumpy and muttered "sod this",got up and walked down to the harbour again.  And guess what?  As I arrived a couple left their small table by the water so I immediately plunked my backpack down and went to order my breakfast.

So there I sat with my bacon, egg and cheese bap (bun) and a flat white coffee.  Bliss!  What a view!

The Hungry Man is supposed to have the best Crab sandwiches on the island - next time!

What more could a person ask for - a delicious breakfast with a view like this and the tang of the wonderful sea air.  I think you would have had to bitch slap me to get the smile off my face. These are the moments I savour on a trip - sitting enjoying the view and thinking how lucky I am to be able to do this.

I wandered around the village a I adore fishing villages whether they are in Portugal, Turkey, Malta or them all.

It was time to hop on the bus an hour later so back I went to St Helier's Liberty Square bus station where I got the number 9 bus to Greve de Lecq which is one of the most popular beach areas on Jersey's north coast.

This beach was definitely a bit more touristy than other places I had seen but it was beautiful all the same.

At first I thought this was a very big fat seagull but turns out it was a duck..a very confused looking one.

I happily watched this boat get pulled in...I also spent a fair bit of time sitting on one of the benches on the pier above.

All too soon it was time to hop on the bus to St Helier and back to Gorey.  But my day wasn't finished yet..oh no it wasn't!  It was time to "hit" the castle above me and tackle the steep climb..nothing like leaving that until the end of the day.  Smart thinking, eh?

Mont Orgueil Castle or Gorey Castle as its better known as was built in the 13th century.  It has evolved over the years and was used as the main defence of Jersey until the 1600's when Elizabeth Castle was built (we will be visiting seeing that in another post). It was then used as a prison but fell into such disrepair by the mid 1700's that it could no longer be used for that purpose.  Renovations were done and it was used as garrison accommodation.  Germany invaded Jersey during the Second World War and they used the castle as garrisons as well - building new structures to fit in with the existing ones.  Royalty has visited this castle including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as well as the present Queen.

Another knight in shining armour.

What a view!

The view overlooking Gorey.  I had a more compelling reason to check out this view.  The bathroom of the airbnb I was using had NO curtains or blinds and I was constantly looking up at the castle with trepidation especially at night when the overhead light was on.  I am pretty sure no one could see it as it was pretty much a wall straight up - and I couldn't even see the house from here.  Whew!!!  The little green kiosk below the flagpole is where I would always catch the bus.  

The family tree of the French and British families that lived in the castle.

I really enjoyed this castle and wouldn't hesitate to visit it again...

I ended off my fabulous day with a lobster salad with the wonderful Jersey Royal potatoes on the side...a bit extravagant but I'm worth it. :)

 A fabulous day from beginning to end!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Being Bookish in Alnwick

After my glorious days on Holy Island and at Bamburgh Castle I spent a day exploring my base of Berwick.  My last day in Northumberland was earmarked to visit Alnwick  (pronounced "Annick" because's Britain and they like to do stuff like that).  It was a dull cold rainy foggy day ....but you've got to roll with it. So off I went on the double decker bus and I was lucky enough to get the seat on the top in the front row. Fun on a nice day - not such a great move on a foggy day. ("I'll be the first one killed if a crazy driver hits us because I'll fly through the window" I kept thinking.- one car made it back into its own lane just in time as I cringed and closed my eyes)  Anyway we made it there in one piece..obviously or I wouldn't be writing this would I?

Finally snagged a picture of's a play park a "stone's throw from the beach" where you can paint pots, go to a cafe and have a family adventure together.  All righty then.  I snickered every time we passed this on the way to Holy Island and Bamburgh but never managed to get a picture before this bus trip because I had my camera out and ready to snap.

Upon my arrival in Alnwick I headed onto the High (main) Street passing through the market first.

I slowly made my way to Alnwick Castle.  Having read negative reviews saying it was overpriced andbeing as I had visited two Castles in the past three days I knew I wouldn't bother with this one.  I did visit the gift shop however and purchased a 5 x 7 copy of this print.  Yes, I am obsessed with sheep!  I loved the gift shop and could have spent a whole lot of time and money there but stuck with the print only.  I wandered over to the entrance to the palace grounds and asked security if despite having no ticket I could walk past and get a photo.  He said "go ahead" so here it is...ahem here they are...well I couldn't stop at just one could I?

Absolutely loved the detail on this fence.

Barter Books...the real reason I came to Alnwick.  Barter Books is on the site of the old Alnwick Railway station and was opened in 1991.  They have kept the character of the railway station yet turned it into a wonderful place for readers like me.  It is one of the largest second-hand book shops in Europe and attracts over 200,000 visitors a year with 40% being outside the local area.  The reason the shop is called Barter Books is that customers can exchange their books for credit against future purchases if they wish.

When I walked in the door and saw this I fell in love... I mean really...a dog, a fireplace, coffee and tea on tap, specially made cookies,(both kinds: ginger and chocolate chip were very nice thank you)  a cafe as well (though I didn't sample their wares) and thousands and thousands of idea of heaven...okay put Paul McCartney on the sofa with a guitar (on second thought he doesn't even need to bring that with him)  and I'd spend eternity there!

I stood in here and tried to calm myself down...I am such a book geek that is pathetic.


This mural of authors was fascinating...I had to get postcards of it..for more information click here.

See the Keep Calm and Carry On poster above?  This is where it all began...This is an original 1939 wartime poster that was bought at auction in 2000.  It was put up in the book shop and caught on and well..the rest is history.

And yes I did buy a book!  (the book was donated to a charity shop when I had finished reading it..AFTER ripping the part of the page that said Barter Books with the price on and gluing it into my travel journal...geek, geek!)

At this point I was getting a bit peckish so headed back into town passing through this gate...

Hotspur Tower, Bondgate

Another view of the High Street - lots of pubs, cafes and shops.

St Michaels Pant - Pant is the word used for fountains that had water funneled from nearby streams. There are numerous pants all over the city including the High Pant and the Low Pant. ("You take the High Pant and I'll take the Low Pant and I'll get to the toilet afore you") I didn't know this when I was there or I'd have gone stalking all the "pants".  On second though it was rather a dull icky day to be doing that...ah well, next time!  Anyway this was one was constructed in 1759 which makes it the second oldest functioning pant in Alnwick.

Harry "Hotspur" Percy - erected to commemorate 700 years of occupation of Alnwick Castle by the Percy family.   He looked better from the back...ahem...This trip seemed to involve an unusually high number of knights.  (sadly, all dead)


For some strange reason I was not in the mood for a pub so finally found a local cafe that had what I wanted.  I was having one of those days where I didn't know exactly what I wanted to eat but somehow I'd know it when I saw it on a menu..I hate when that happens!  It was a cold dank day so something warm and quintessentially British was in order.  What could be better than a Toad in the Hole....Yorkshire pudding meets sausages.  It was yummy delicious.

With my tummy full I wandered through the market again and paused to buy some pretty hand made note cards before boarding my bus back to Berwick.  Alnwick is certainly on my "list" of places to get back to if only to see more "pants" and get "accidentally" locked in the bookshop for the night.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The mystery of falling in love with Brora

Visiting the northern highlands of Scotland without a car isn't what most people would do - but I am not most people.  I love public transportation!  The Highland bus drivers were all friendly and helpful and I can't say enough good things about the locals.  So making my base in the seaside town of Golspie I took trains and buses all over the area.  In fact Irene, the hostess of my bed and breakfast commented that she had never had a guest get around and see so much on public transportation as me! So on May 12th after one of Irene's filling cooked breakfasts I walked to the bus stop in the town centre to hop one of the very few daily buses to Brora.  As I was waiting I noticed this old fashioned post box on the wall opposite.  I love stuff like this!

A short twenty minute ride later I arrived into the village - home to around 1300 people.  Brora, (don't you love that name...I love the way it rolls off my tongue) is just a 12 km coastal walk north of Golspie but alas I can no longer walk that far. Brora was once the industrial centre of Sutherland with a coal mine and quarry that provided stone for such buildings as nearby Dunrobin Castle, London Bridge and Liverpool Cathedral.  It also had a woolen mill, brickworks and distillery along with the traditional occupations of crofting and fishing. Today there is a distillery nearby and a bit of fishing but the main industry is tourism.

The first thing I saw when I stepped off the bus (well except for the bakery/ice cream shop that I naturally made a mental note of) was this drinking fountain dedicated to  Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 in Fountain Square.

I then made my way over the bridge past the beautiful Clock Tower war memorial which was dedicated in 1922.

I then headed right towards the ocean (which I can never get enough of) but got waylaid along a short path...this was part of the Jubilee Walk that had been washed out I found out later.

Hmmm....where did the path go? At this point I was puzzled - "not much of a walk" I thought!  I had wanted to walk along the river to the sea but that obviously wasn't going to work out.

The Brora river meets the sea

And then as I headed back past the Clock Tower I found this..

I was so excited to see daffodils again - of course being north the season was a month or so behind the south of England.

The path wasn't that long so when I reached the end I started back and sat here for a while just enjoying the peace and quiet.

The River Brora with the Clock Tower peeking in on the top right hand side of the picture.

I picked up a walking guide to Brora in one of the shops - if only I had picked it up when I first got there as I only had a short time to follow it before the bus to Helmsdale was due.  Buses are so infrequent that staying on would have meant I missed seeing Helmsdale.   Luckily I had walked most of the route on my own but it would have been nice to read about what I was seeing as I walked.

I wish I could have had the time to walk along the beach...ah well I walked along a more awesome beach in Dornoch. (to come!)

One of the oldest parts of Brora.

Traditional Fisherman's Cottage - I want to live here!

Back at the bus stop and of course I had to have a famous Harry Gow ice cream.

As you can see it was rather cloudy.  The sun came out as I was leaving (of course!) and when the bus stopped in Brora on the way back I was sorely tempted to jump off except I knew I would be stranded there as it was the last bus of the day!  I know Brora is just an ordinary Highland Village but to me it was something special.  I felt such a connection to it and I know someday I will be back to spend a day there.   I still have to nail down the exact place my ancestors came from in Sutherland...could this be it?