Flirting With The Devil


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Europe » Channel Islands » Jersey
March 5th 2018
Published: March 9th 2018
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The two big news stories during our stay in Jersey – football and the weather. The weather stories were a bit predictable. The “Beast From The East” was making a presence with some unusually cold temperatures and a biting wind. However, now we had snow in the forecast. Jersey is the southern most of the Channel Islands and tucked in at the bottom of the chain. It is much nearer the French coast and therefore not so prominently positioned like Guernsey and Alderney, that take the occasional swipe from a storm heading in from the north. We were busy staring out into the harbour at St Aubin from the comfort of the Westward pub. The locals were staring at the sky. A tiny amount of small white flakes descended. A barman advised that it was the first fall since 2013. The good folk outside continued to look skyward in amazement, as though they had just seen something wonderful, a man about to land from Mars or a group of paratroopers mounting an armed invasion. There was talk of airports closing, buses stopping and schools closing. It really did not seem real. A local worker originally from Wales confirmed that the slightest bit of white stuff could bring chaos, primarily because there was no equipment to deal with it. We would have to wait and see. I had another pint to calm my nerves.

The second big story related to Jersey's bid to become an international football nation. The UEFA annual congress had voted overwhelmingly not to support Jersey as the 56th member of the UEFA body. UEFA had originally declined to even hear the case for memberships, citing that the island is not a sovereign country (as defined by the United Nations). Jersey countered by appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). A good move. The Court ruled that UEFA must listen to the arguments being put forward, although agreeing that Jersey looked like it didn’t meet the rules of membership. The ever helpful Football Association in London refused to back the Jersey case.

The whole thing revolved around the recognition by the United Nations, although Jersey pointed out that they had their own Parliament, own Government, own laws and own taxes, as well as being recognised as a self-governing nation by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It is said that quite a few of the existing UEFA don’t comply with their own rules – Gibralter and the Faroe Islands to name but two – but it seems that they sneaked their applications in before a change of rules in 2007 and it seems there will be no bending of them for Jersey. The next Island Games are held in 2019 and will be based in Gibraltar. One of the highlights is usually the football. However ironically there will be no football in 2019 – Gibraltar. UEFA Member remember, don’t have enough suitable facilities! Jersey will have to concentrate on their cricket, where they are recognised by the governing body.

Today would be our last full day on the island. We caught a bus towards the north. The road signs out of "town" as well directing to various towns and villages, also point to the North, the West etc. There W's no sign for the North East. The first part of the bus jour was familiar territory, but we turned off the main road and climbed to St Lawrence. The UEFA and weather stories might be dominant, but in St Lawrence they have over fish to fry. "Say no to St Lawrence Church extension". The billboards and signs in the fields encouraged the protest. The church has seemed disproportionately large for the community, so who knows what the reason is for the plan. Meanwhile, the daffodils in the fields were try to break into bloom despite the weather. Flowers are big business in Jersey.

The communities were rural. The roads were narrow. This is the real Jersey - a world away from the glamour on the south coast. The bus stop for Devils Hole I'd the car park by the Priory Inn pub. We were the only passengers on the bus by this stage. A sign suggests visiting the Devil is well worthwhile - only a 10 minute walk. We were greeted by a very tame male Robin. He perched on a fence and demanded an offering. He was a good size, which suggested that he had secured himself a good territory and his tactics for food were being justified. He was completely unbiased by very close contact with humans. The Devil himself is only a couple of minutes down the track. The “Creux de Vis” in French originates from a shipwreck in 1851. A ship’s figurehead was washed up at Devil’s Hole
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Jersey Cow Statues
and this was adapted and carved by Jean Giffard to create the statue of the devil which was subsequently set up above the hole. The current statue replaces a succession of predecessors. At high tide, a cave on the seashore floods and is forced through the “hole” with a loud sound. Today, the tide was wrong. There was no water being forced through, but the view was quite spectacular.

It is necessary to return to the car park to link up with the coastal path. As far as I can see, the coastal path circumnavigates the whole island. However, we are not serious walkers and are happy to take on small bite size chunks. We set off for Le Greve De Lecq, which as far as I could calculate was a mere 3 miles away. The path led out on the cliff. It was positively breezy, but provided a spectacular view over the rocky headlands. There are few of the wide sweeping beaches up here, which explains why the occupation forces didn't see the need to build such large scale defence so at this point. The area gives a good view of other Channel Islands to the north. We could make out Sark, Herm and Guernsey beyond. My extent of Channel Islands geography could only previously add Alderney to that list - out of sight beyond the horizon - to that list. I can now add a few more to that list having read up on the subject – Jethou and Brecqhou are tiny in size, covering between them a mere 0.5 of a square kilometre.

The cliff path was deserted. We only met one other walker - a local, who pronounced how she loved this type of weather. We ploughed on towards Le Greve de Lecq, before being pushed inland by the Jersey Rifle Club. The rifle and archery club occupies a tract of land best avoided. I suspect it was possible to continue on the cliff in yesteryear, but now the signs point firmly along the lane. The red flags were not flying, but better safe than sorry. The abandoned and rusting skips I could see on the track, would just have to be a photo opportunity that would get away. We walked the country lane, passing the Rifle clubhouse and had some close ups of the plastic sheets covering the fields. The lane comes back to the coast at a site for an iron age fortress overlooking Le Greve. It could date from later, but nobody really knows. If you read the noticeboard, the outline of the fort will be more obvious. A sign on the gate to the opposite field heeded all to stay out.... busy bees were at work. The field was full off hives, but the weather was such that the bees were taking a day off from their usual spring activities. We descended towards the bay. Another of the “Martello” towers, built in 1780, guards the car park. There are some later barracks tucks in on the eastern side of the valley just before the car park – a relic of another deterrent to keep the French from taking the island. We walked out on to the golden sand and across towards the small pier of the western edge of the bay, which is still guarded by a German gun emplacement. 13 week old Luna ran across to introduce herself. She was enjoying her new surroundings and proceeded to dig a hole in the sand for no apparent reason than she could – and it was fun. Her owner threw a
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Royal Square
ball for her to retrieve. She didn’t respond – a retriever who doesn’t retrieve, sighed her owner. Lovely dog, though. There isn’t actually a great deal in Le Greve, so we retreated into the warm of Colleens Café for a warm drink. It was fairly full – even on a cold lunchtime in February. We waited for the next bus and enjoyed the view.

The bus turned up on time at the terminus and we headed back inland up the valley. We were the only passengers until St Ouen village. I spied the floodlights of the St Ouen FC ground that had been my original target for Saturday. We passed the St Ouen Manor – an impressive looking residence off to our right and with 10 minutes, we were skirting the airport perimeter. We alighted at Waitrose for our “free” hot drink. The snow forecast had prompted some to stock up on provisions and essentials and trollies were piled high as the good folk headed to their cars. We caught another bus to Corbiere. The weather was still bright and breezy, so we set off to walk as far as we could up St Ouen Bay before a Service 22 came in the opposite direction. The first bus was nearly full with those heading to the lighthouse area. We cut off down the old railway track to head north, passing an enormous granite slab. The builders were busy in first little bay before St Ouen Bay building another multi-million pound home to gaze out to the sea. WW2 gun positions skirted the bay as you would expect. I eagerly studied each one. The strong wind hampered our progress, so we only made it as far as Watersplash before seeking refuge on the bus and further sanctuary in the pub in St Aubin. I noticed people staring skyward half way through my pint. They looked up in amazement. I too followed their lead half expecting to see parachutists falling from the sky or a rare sighting. It was the latter – the first substantial snowflakes since 2013. The barman quipped, “they’ll soon close the airport and the buses will stop”. We retreated to St Helier.



We had a morning to kill before our flight. The airport closing was an exaggeration, but not in Guernsey. Snow had halted all flights in and out of Guernsey and Alderney. We wandered down to take a look at the art deco pier and sea pool by the Jersey Swimming Club. The Jersey Swimming Club was established in 1865 by a group of swimming enthusiasts concerned about the frequent accidents and loss of life at bathing areas around the island. A plaque paid tribute to a child drowned at the location. Plans were drawn up for 2 pools – ladies and gentleman separate - between Fisherman’s Rock and d’Augergne Rock. They only eventually built the one poo, which opened in 1895. A circle of granite protected swimmers from the tide. The current structure dates from the 1930s. The main Swimming Club has now moved up to the new pool in the old Fort Regent, so the glory days are gone. We walked back into “town” around the headland towards the large power station that blights the view. The sun was out and a few bright red Proteas – the national flower of South Africa – were beautifully contrasted against the blue sky. We had a quick souvenir shop and a wander round De Gruchy – the Harrods of Jersey. It opened in 1810 and is still going at the high end of retail. The building features their famous arcade extension, although sadly it seemed undergoing renovation at the time of our visit. I had one more thing to achieve in Jersey – a visit to Springfield Park, the spiritual home of football on the island and now fully renovated for the Island Games in 2015. The Jersey Football Combination leagues had not played any games there over the weekend, so the only option to get in for a view had been a ladies match. I strolled around the perimeter for a familiarisation for a future match visit – 960 seats, 4G plastic pitch and plenty of other hard standing for spectators. The ladies yoga was about to start in the back of the main stand, the childrens nursery was busy with morning activities and how many grounds have a cycleway running through the access areas?



We collected our bags and headed for the airport. The snow had held off.


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