Monday, May 2, 2016

What's it all about....Jersey? Or Jaunting around Jersey Part 1

Well here I am finally on a misty Monday morning.  It's Bank Holiday here and it's been a very active four days here so am taking the morning "off" or most of it to do a blog post and relax.   I am having a light breakfast in the room - I do have a little French press in here so made some coffee and had a small pastry. 

So...Jersey....I love it.  Then again I have loved it since my first trip in 1988.   So a quick little lesson on Jersey - it is situated in the English channel just 14 miles from the Normandy coast of France.  Just 9 miles long and 5 miles wide it is tiny but still bigger than its two neighbouring islands of Guernsey and Sark. (next time I will base myself in Guernsey) which comprise the Channel Islands.  It was once owned by France and back and forth for a while until the British got it once and for all (YES!) and still retains French names (pronounced in a British way)  and a Gallic air but is definitely British.  Until the Victorian era the main language here was Jerriais, a derivation of Norman French.  Older people still speak it and they are trying to revive the language which would be a good thing.  For now it's definitely English - with a British accent!  The economy here is mainly international finance and tourism.  And you've heard of Jersey cows?  The island is a dependency of the British Crown but is mostly self governing for internal matters but the UK represents it internationally.  It has a trade agreement with the EU but isn't a part of it. 

The Jersey Boys show is coming here but here it's called "The New Jersey Boys". Fair enough. 

I have been busy for the past four days.  The first day I visited the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust - Gerald Durrell was one of my heroes.  Sadly he passed away in 1995.  The second day it rained all day so I visited the Jersey Museum, the Maritime museum and did a bit of shopping.  The last two days have been glorious sunshine so I was on the go all day with my 7.50 all day bus pass clutched in my hand and hopping buses everywhere.  I will cover those days in other posts down the road...I especially want to do the Durrell experience justice. 

So in this post I am going to highlight pictures of the first day of my jaunt around Jersey by bus...

The day did not start well...okay maybe this goes into the "too much information" cateogry but I tell it like it is on this blog.  I got out of bed and stepped on my Lumix battery charger which had fallen out of my suitcase (that's the official story), lost my balance and went careening towards the huge window while grabbing at the curtain and letting out the biggest fart of my life in utter terror.  I am good at that. (someday I will have to tell you about being in Africa in a tent with wild animals outside- now that was a classic) I went back to bed to hide my head in shame as if that didn't wake everyone in the house up then they are pretty deaf.  I finally worked up the courage to get out of bed and found I could not weight bear on my left leg as the pain was excruciating- somehow I had thrown out my knee a bit.  Now this has happened before but it is always terrifying as I keep thinking what if it stays like this?  I kept testing it on and off over the next half hour and finally it was fine and in fact my knee was great all day.  I didn't however get to have my daily shower as the tub here is so high I knew I didn't dare risk trying to clamber over it - a challenge for me at the best of times.

I stopped off at a local sight I had been wanting to see - buses around here run quite frequently. 

The bus had let me off in a parking lot so I stood in the parking lot to wait for the next one - well the bus stopped and the driver let me on but told me three times I was in the wrong place and I told him three times that's where the driver let me off.  Of course this was loudly in front of the busload of people...okay there won't that many but still.... I found out later that day that there is a BUS sign drawn on the road if there isn't a bus stop sign.  Oops...

So as you can imagine I started thinking "well this is going to be a shitty day".  And no it wasn't ..on so many levels...

 First stop was La Corbiere which means "where the crows gather". (didn't see any) It is most well known for its treacherous coast - there have been many shipwrecks here.   The UK's first concrete lighthouse was built here and first lit in 1874.  It is connected to the mainland by a causeway..the tide was in while I was there.  It really is a spectacular sight.

There were only three of us prowling around and just as I was leaving a whole coach load of people showed up so that was great timing.  I got on the number 12 bus to go back to St Helier but everyone else still stood there.  The bus driver told me they were waiting for the number 22 to go on up to L'Etacq...I said is it worth it and he said if you like photography and walking.  Okay..sold so I scurried over and got on the bus. 

It was a lovely bay but I didn't do the hiking bit like everyone else did for obvious reasons.  I ate instead.  Faulkners Fisheries has a very informal BBQ stand there during the summer months so I had scallops with Jersey Royal potatoes and salad....very nice.  I hadn't had much for breakfast so was perfect timing - so many times when I run across a unique place to eat I am not hungry. 

And the view wasn't bad either! 

The buses tend to run every hour so perfect timing to have a look around and grab a bite to eat if needed.   I was soon off again heading back to St Helier (the main town and where all the buses start from) ....this time to St Brelade's Bay. 

Not only is St Brelade's Bay the most popular beach resort on Jersey but it is known for its two churches - St Brelades church and the Fisherman's Chapel.   I was impressed with the I don't intend to be buried but if I did wouldn't this be a grand place to be? 

Then onto the beach....

Then I headed north to Bonne Nuit where the bus had a ten minute stop so I just popped off and took a couple of photos.  The cafe there is supposed to be great but it was a long walk down a hill and then up and thought "nope"...

Bonne Nuit means "Good Night" in French and legend has it that it was named because the exiled King Charles II parting words were "Bonne Nuit belle Jersey" as he sailed from the small harbour.   Although more practically it probably referred to the shelter that the harbour offered to sailors overnight.

The next place the bus visited, Bouley Bay looked more promising so I got off and walked around a tiny bit then headed to the pub for a drink.

The Black Dog pub.  Local legend tells of a black dog with huge teeth and eyes the size of saucers that roamed the north coast.  The tales were probably invented by smugglers to scare away locals from the coast while they landed their brandy and tobacco cargo.   After a refreshing gin and lemonade (what they call 7up here) the bus arrived and I was off again.

An hour later and I was back on the bus to St Helier for one of these...a Jersey ice cream with a dollop of Jersey cream on top.  Insert big smiley face.

Okay you think I'm done right? Not quite....there was one stop on the way back to the room.  La Rocque point and harbour.  I passed it on the bus quite often and was intrigued so off I got now it was past 7.

These towers are dotted around the island and were built as defense in the 17th and 18th centuries when the French and English were having disagreements.  The Nazis occupied Jersey for five terrible years during the Second World War and they fortified the towers even more. 

Finally..back to Gorey and my little harbour room...ah I didn't tell you about that did I.  See the picture below and I am in one of those houses with a view of the harbour.  Yes it sucks to me doesn't it.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bluebells and Sheep in Sussex

As much as I love traveling alone it is nice to meet up with people I know now and again - it's kind of a relief to talk to someone other than myself. I am not totally a lone wolf!  My friend Claudia from Germany came over to England for a week to stay with her friends Janette and Martyn and I was invited to join them for a couple of days as well.   So on Sunday afternoon I took the train down to Sussex where I was greeted by all three. 

It was a super couple of days and we got around the countryside quite a bit.  One of the highlights was visiting Bateman's which was the writer Rudyard Kipling's home and is now a National Trust Property.  I enjoyed it so much and will be writing more about my visit and the life of this amazing man when I get home.  

His study - look at all those books.  And a globe!!!! Eeee!   I'm thinking Mr. Kipling and I would get along.  (and he bakes good cakes as well...ha ha!  Don't worry if you haven't been to England you won't get this....Mr Kipling is a brand of cakes sold in boxes in grocery stores - sort of like Little Debbie's in North America except much much better - which reminds me I still need to have a date with his mini fruit pies......)

I only had two requests for my stay in Sussex...bluebells and sheep!   My hosts delivered both!!!


Beautiful bluebells.  And I got to ride around in a Bluebell as well - Janette and Martyn's campervan is named Bluebell! 


Aren't they the most adorable things?   (yum!)

The next day we went to Eastbourne - a pretty town that is one of my favourites.

After lunch we headed over to Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters - I never get tired of looking at these beauties.   I've walked over these twice - October of 1997 on my own and September of 2013 with Claudia.  I am so glad I've done it but  no plans to do it again!

And more sheep!!!! 

A pastoral scene with a bit of drama - it was raining on and off for that "broody look".

It was a lovely relaxing couple of days with Claudia, Janette and Martyn - great conversation, lovely tea and biscuits that just kept coming  (thanks Martyn!), wonderful hospitality and a new author to  binge read. (Susan Branch).  Just what I needed!

Thank you Janette and Martyn - it was wonderful!

Friday, April 22, 2016

A great week in London

Well another catch up on my week in London.  I flew in Monday morning and while the flight was smooth and went well UK customs was another story.  It took nearly two hours to get through and I have a suspicion they were either all on a tea break or I will cut them some slack and say they were all at a meeting. (uh huh...). From my vantage point on the side at the back of the herd they were interrogating a fellow and the customs officer next to me decided to listen in.  Why they couldn't have taken him to another room and done this I don't know as it must have taken fifteen minutes or so as we did not move.  Grrrr...I also think there should be a third customs channel...have your EU and "Other" but how about a "Commonwealth" channel.  Anyway I finally got through but had to ask where the luggage came in for the flight from Malta as it was long off the luggage carousal and sitting with some other luggage belonging to pissed off "others".   Ah well once I got on the train and saw the beautiful English countryside rolling by it put me in a better mood.

Monday and Tuesday were pretty much "rest" days - a trip to the launderette, to the ATM, errands, to the Balham library to print tickets, etc.

By Wednesday I was ready to get busy again and visited the digital (smaller) replica of the famous arch at Palmyra which was destroyed by ISIS.  (bastards!).   This was situated at Trafalgar Square for three days and will be moved to other locations including New York City and Dubai.   I was able to get past the barricade to get a photo (security was in place) but I didn't dare go up to it and touch it for fear of incurring the wrath of the other photographers.  A couple of people tried it and let's just say steam was rolling out of a few people's ears. (and noses too I think).

I then headed over to the London Marathon Expo which was being held at the West Excel centre which is confusing as it's in the east.   It was a fairly long trip but to an area I hadn't been before.  It was huge of course and I found myself whimpering at times when I saw the medals as I did love doing my (19) half marathons and it's been hard to let go of that.  They were offering massages and it wasn't cheap but I needed one so badly on my knees - I opted for the cheapest which was 15 minutes.  Problem being I had to remove my a crowded complex.  Anyway the massage therapist held a towel and I disrobed underneath so hopefully I didn't flash too many people but of course my fat legs and grossly swollen knees were exposed to everybody walking by.  I was mortified so it was kind of hard to relax.  At some point a fellow walking by was taking pictures with his phone - what kind of perverted loser takes pictures of people having massages.  I hope the sight of my fat knees broke his damn phone!  Rant over!  It was wonderful to have about twenty minutes of walking without any discomfort or pain...pure bliss.  I indulged my sock obsession and bought myself a couple of pairs (two for one - how could I resist?). I did buy a sleeve for my knee (forgot mine...yeah I know..DUMB) but even the largest did not fit so had to return it - I made sure I tried it on in the loo before I left the building.   Anyway I enjoyed it so much.

Then it was on to St Pancras station to meet my friend Claudia from Germany.  She suggested having sandwiches in St James's Park so we quickly picked up what we needed at M & S Simply Food (Prawn and Mayonnaise for me!) and off we went by tube.  We walked through Green Park and on to St James Park.  It was a beautiful day and the park was stunning. 

We then walked back to Victoria and Claudia headed south to Sussex (I will be joining her there this weekend) and I headed back to Streatham Common.

Thursday morning I met my friend Judi at Victoria Station and we attended the Rolling Stones Exhibitionism at the Saatchi Gallery on Kings Road in Chelsea.  It was fascinating and featured mock ups of the first flat they shared (and the ensuing mess it contained as it was described by them!), a mock up of the recording studio, stage costumes and personal clothing, instruments and more.  It ended with a 3D snippet of a live concert.  Very cool.  No photos allowed unfortunately but they did have these outside! 

We had a nice Indian meal near Judi's hotel in Bayswater - an Indian meal in London is a must and something I hadn't had yet this trip.  Very tasty!

On the way back on the tube I read in the Evening Standard (they hand it out free at tube stations) that the Houses of Parliament were going to be red, white and blue in honour of the Queen's 90th birthday.  So I went you see red, white and blue? I stayed until 8:30 but no joy and it was getting chilly so I left...I took advantage of being there and got a few more shots. 

I wandered over to the river bank and got a few shots of the London Eye.

This morning (Friday) we met up at South Kensington tube station and walked over to the Natural History Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit.  I aim to see this every year I am over when it is on. (it runs yearly from October to March - this year it was so popular it was extended until early May) It was absolutely beautiful but I notice it tends to be more nature orientated these past few years with not as many animals.  When there are live creatures they tend to be reptiles or birds.  Ah well - a good thing to do on Earth Day!

After lunch at Whole Foods Judi set off home and I went to Battersea Dogs Home. 

They don't have all the kennels open for browsers not planning to adopt but I did see about twelve dogs and of course they all stole my heart....

Back here for a relaxing evening which I needed.