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Published: September 11th 2020
Well, whose bright idea was it to go to Jersey!! At first we assumed that Jersey was part of UK……only to discover slowly and painfully that Jersey is a British Crown Dependency and it wouldn’t be possible to have a day trip to Guernsey or Sark as we would have to isolate there for 14 days. Guernsey and its bailiwick ( includes Sark, Alderney and Herm!!) are COVID free so I don’t blame them for not welcoming visitors. We also learnt that as we are coming from a ‘Green’ area, we wouldn’t need to self isolate in Jersey, BUT ( and things change hourly!!) if we were coming from an ‘Amber’ area then we would need to self isolate for 5 days!! Then we learnt that we would also need a COVID-19 test on arrival and that they would text within 48hrs if it was negative and you had to reply WELL!!! If you tested positive then they would ring you. Two days to go – lets hope we get there!!!
We got here!!! An uneventful drive to Heathrow, stopping at Wetherspoons in Windsor for lunch! Meet and greet at the airport and then sat
in the terminal and waited for our flight (NB to oneself: don’t get to the airport too early as its hard work wearing a mask!!) The flight was only about 40 mins but when we arrived we had to collect our suitcases and then queue for the obligatory COVID test! 45 minute queue ( it felt more like 2 hours!!) and then we were ushered through to yet another queue!! This queue moved quite quickly and after showing our QT barcode and completing paperwork we were ushered through to small rooms for our test! It wasn’t at all pleasant!! Swab down your neck – well ok the back of your throat, but it made you gag, and then cotton bud thingys up both nostrils – without screwing your nose up!! I was quite traumatised!!
Collected the car and then drove to the Beachcombers Hotel (via Sat Nav!) and got here in the dark! We were too late for the restaurant/food at the hotel, so drove down to Gorey Village for some fish and chips ( It was Fish & Chip Fryday!!) and then drove to the harbour. After eating had a quick wander out to the end of the
pier admiring the castle etc, before going back to Hotel where we discover that there were no coat hangers ( lovely new wardrobes though!!) the fan in the toilet goes on for ages, and the TV looked wonderful , only there was no remote or aerial, and no-one could sort it out as they weren’t allowed in our room until we have the results of our COVID test. ( to be texted to us in 48hrs!)
Had a wonderful day!! The breakfast was delivered to our room at 9.15am…exactly as promised! Green tea, coffee and full English breakfasts (hot!!), toast, set us up for the day – with the added bonus of 5 small pastries that we had for our lunch!!
We decided that we would drive the road back to Gorey and then explore the Island anticlockwise. We drove past the Red Tower onto St Catherines breakwater where there was a flotilla of small sailing boats. Walked to the end and back, after having a coffee sat overlooking the bay watching the Ribs ( Nauti Buoy, Rigid Inflatable Boats!!) Went to Rozel next – another very pretty little harbour, fishermens cottages and
a small port, where we walked around and out to the end and back.
Onwards to Bouley Bay for a quick peer at the steeply shelving pebble and rock beach as well as Mad Marys Café. There was a bit of a queue at the café or I could have been tempted by the crab sandwich (Chris had his eye on a bacon roll!!!) but we thought we would push on to Bonne Nuit.
Stopped on the way at a large Carpark, where we could clearly see Sark, Herm and Guernsey. Alderney was a bit more in the distance! Watched a bit of a sailing race around the island and playing with a dog and his ‘twig’ ( You couldn’t really call it a stick!!)
Bonne Nuit was recorded in the 12th
Century refuting the long held belief that the name was derived from King Charles II parting words, when he left the island form this port, after his exile. It’s an unspoilt bay with just a stone jetty and a café with lovely views of the bay. Unfortunately, as we walked down the road to view the harbour, we discovered the tide was out and the
boats were moored on shingle!
We then decided to go back and visit some of the places we had visited that morning to see how they looked at low tide! First we drove past Trinity Church and onto Rozel. I don’t think I would have described it as a pretty little harbour now – although the beaches , old forts and rockpools it revealed were somewhat interesting! . Was going to have an ice cream in the harbour café – The Hungry Man – but they didn’t have the Jersey Ice Cream, so it was a walk up to the town to by them!!
The scenery towards Belval Cove was of beautiful beaches and rocks that was hidden by the tide this morning! Walked along from the White Tower to the Red Tower (Archirondel Tower) and was wowed by the scenery and the pinkish rocks. Loads of limpet shells with holes in them had been hung over branches along the route so I don’t know what that was about!!
We then had our results of our Covid Test come through on our phone!! Guess what?! We were both negative!! As it was now 5.00pm we went back
to the hotel (without our masks!) and informed them we no longer required breakfast in our room. We also changed our room from No 21 to 47 that had coathangers and a working TV, with views over the garden and a window seat. Only thing is there is a humming noise……….!!
Went out to eat at The Dolphin on Gorey Harbour, and had the most delicious mussels and chips. Chris had lasagne and chips and we shared a starter of breaded mushrooms…….It came to £35.00 so not too bad.
It was so good to feel ‘normal’!! Ok – so we social distanced at breakfast but everything seemed quite normal, although there wasn’t the usual buffet, and everything had to be requested via a waitress/waiter! I can live with that!!
After breakfast drove down to the La Roque Point on the South Coast by the Royal Jersey Golf Club! The tide was in, so all sea views with occasional rocks poking their heads up! Drove the coastal route round to St Hellier, where we found the A11 ( missed the A10!!) and headed to Devils Hole which is a blowhole created by the
sea eroding the roof of what was once a cave. Walked down to the cliffs and a narrow causeway and watched the waves crashing into the yawning chasm ( not my words!!!) It was ok….made all the better by seeing a red squirrel on the way back up eating acorns!! The name was derived from the devil figurehead of a vessel from 1851 that was shipwrecked here, and a local sculptor added ears to the original, and the “new” sculpture of the devil stands in the pond at the top of the walk! Not very impressive!!
Drove onto Greve de Leco, hoping for another pretty harbour, but it was a small sandy beach with rocks! The tide was going out and it would have revealed a very large beach….but only at low tide!! Walked around to the harbour wall and back, before having a quick peer at Moulin de Lecq – a water mill! During the German Occupation the water wheel was used to power energy for searchlights to defend the bay.
Went onto Plemont, on the North West of the island where, well I don’t know, but I was disappointed!!! It was high tide so the beach
was almost non-existent!! We had to walk down a long flight of steps, and could just about see where the beach was going to be………
Onwards to the north west tip of the island - Groznez Castle – ruins of!! It was a 14th
Century fortification believed to have been destroyed by the French in the same Century. Pleasant ruins, on heather and gorse clad clifftops. Walked to the other tower – the whole clifftop seems littered with bunkers, batterys and scarred battle towers! Walked back via the Racecourse ( with Jersey cows feeding in the centre!!) and thought we would go to Faulkner Fisheries for lunch, (a fresh seafood place located in a german bunker) , overlooking Le Pulec Bay – also known as Stinky Bay as the smelly rotting seaweed is used as a fertiliser, including the land for growing the famous Jersey Royal potatoes. Unfortunatelty, we forgot it was Sunday and it was closed. Quite gutted – I was looking forward to my fresh crab sandwiches!!
Onwards and upwards ( or in this case downwards!!) to try and find some lunch! Drove past Kempt Tower, one of the few surviving examples of a Martello Tower,
to Watersplash Café. Absolutely packed out – queued for a while, then left. Onto Le Braye (I think!!) where we managed to get a drink and a piece of carrot cake!! Admired the views, with its great expanse of sand and Corbiere lighthouse in the distance!
As it was low tide now, we decided to visit Corbiere lighthouse and walk across the causeway up to the lighthouse! Quite amazing!! Pinkish tinged rocks and loads of rock pools and a concrete causeway to walk on!! Walked out the end and back and then treated ourselves to a well earnt ice cream – Jersey cream of course!!
Time was ticking on by now so we retraced our steps from St Hellier around the South Coast again! Amazing!! It was just a massive rock-bed as far as the eye could see – completely different from this morning! Stopped by Hocq tower and had a little wander on what would become a seascape with a few rocks in a few hours. The sea could hardly be seen to start with, but it was coming in fairly quickly and by the time we left ( it was getting a bit chilly!!) the sea
had come in a fair bit!
Didn’t get back to the hotel until about 6.30pm so decided it was easier to eat at the hotel instead of going out!!
Birthday!! Pension age at last!! Far too long to wait but hey ho! There was one part left of Jersey to explore (except St Helier!! ) so we drove via the coast road (with its high tide – no sea of rocks this morning!!) to St Brelade and the south west of the island.
Our first stop was St Aubins Harbour and had a good wander around and a coffee! By the time we left the tide had started to go out! Drove up over the hill with its hairpin bends and then went to Noirmont Point where there is a War memorial and German Command Bunker. Normoit Tower was completed in 1814 and subsequently armed by the Germans, with two eighteen pounder cannons! There was also a history board about the ‘Atlantic Wall’ fortifications in the Channel Islands which was Hitlers vision of an impregnable line of defences from Norway’s north cape to French/Spanish Border, a distance of 2,900 miles.
In the Channel Islands there , was a total of 13,083 workers – 3065 Germans and the rest of them made up of French, Algerians, Moroccans, Belgium, Dutch, Spanish, Polish and many other nationalities. There was also 3000+ Russian slaves that were treated extremely badly working 7.00am – 7.00pm.
Walked down to Portelet Beach! Loads of steps but as the tide was going out, a causeway between an island (with a tower on!) and the main beach was being revealed, that needed to be walked out to!! In 1721, to a sea captain Philippe Janvrin who was not allowed to
dock because of fears that his ship might bring in the plague. While anchored offshore, he died but worried authorities would not allow his body to be brought ashore, so it was buried on the island known as Ilet au Guerdain. Didn’t climb up to the Tower on the island (Chris did and now has a pulled muscle!!) Was going to have lunch in the beach café but decided to push on to St Brelade!
St Brelades is a huge sandy beach that is almost non-existent at high tide. Walked through a garden dedicated to Churchill, before
walking up to the church that overlooks the beach. Unfortunately it was shut, but walked down ‘Le Perquage’ onto the beach. (This is one of last remaining sanctuary paths. In the pre-Reformation era, criminals who sought refuge in a Parish Church and swore to leave the Island and give away all their possessions, could use one of the Perquage walks which linked each Parish Church to the sea. From there they could take a boat and seek sanctuary in France! The Perquages ceases to exist in 1683 when King Charles II bequeathed them to Viscount of Jersey who then sold the land to the farmers who owned the neighbouring fields!!)
Had a lovely birthday meal at the Dolphin hotel/restaurant in Gorey and watched the sunset over the harbour! Shame the tide wasn’t in!!
Drove to the War Tunnels – wondered why it was so quiet!! They were shut Monday & Tuesday!! Plan B it was then!!
Back into St Helier, parked the car and wandered to Tourist Information to make sure we didn’t miss anything!!Headed for the Royal Square, site of the Battle of Jersey in 1781 and formerly the hub of
the City. It used to be a Marketplace and it was here that prcoclamations were announced, prisoners awaited trial in a wooden cage, and petty offenders were flogged. In 1648 two witches were strangled and burnt at the stake in the square. There is also a statue of George II wearing the Order of the Garter.
Walked the main shopping streets of King Street and Queen Street and to Central Market – an 1882 Victorian glass roofed building. The central feature is an ornate three tiered fountain where cherub figures lean on water jars. Had a quick peer in the fish market – didn’t leave too much of an impression!!
Back to Liberation Square, where on 9th
May 1945 crowds of Islanders gathered to welcome the British Fleet that had come to release them after five gruelling years of German Occupation.
And that was it!! Not a very impressive town, but after a coffee, we wandered along the seafront to get tickets for Elizabeth Castle ( these also included a return journey on the DUC) The duc pulled up – a cross between a bus/tractor/boat and we got on and after driving into the sea, it changed
into a boat and we floated out to the Island & Elizabeth Castle.
An interesting castle, ordered by Elizabeth I, started in 1594 and then building continued in the early 17th
C under the supervision of Jerseys then Governor, Sir Walter Raleigh. It is a castle that has seen a lot of action including the English Civil War and Philip Carteret, the then Governor, sustaining a siege for 50 days. Charles II took refuge here 2x, once as Prince of Wales and again, 3 years later when he was proclaimed King. During World War II the Germans added to the fortification with bunkers and gun batteries. Walked up to the top and then along the breakwater where Chris climbed up to the Hermitage, home of St Helier, Jerseys Patron Saint. As the tide had gone out by now, we decided to walk along the Causeway, revealed by the sea.
A short drive took us to Samares Manor, where a kind lady let us in for nothing because it was 3.30pm and they shut at 5.30pm!! (It could have been because we bought a Jersey Lily bulb yesterday that apparently can take up to 7 years to flower!!) Lovely
gardens – lots of children around at first but they weren’t interested in the walled gardens or the herb gardens. Spent a very pleasant wander around for about an hour before going back to hotel.
Jersey War Tunnels didn’t open until 10.00am so we left the Hotel at 9.15 and were the first people in the queue. Masked up and went in spot on time. Learnt loads of historical facts eg The Channel Islands were part of Normandy when William became King of England. In 13th
Century Normandy was lost to France and Channel island remained loyal to UK and have done ever since, despite the act on 19th
June 1940, the British Government made a crucial decision: The Channel Island would not be defended against German Invasion. There was an air raid on the 28th
June 1940 over St Helier and on 1st
July 1040, the Islanders had to show their surrender by flying white flags from their windows. Sheets, pillowcases, vests were hurriedly hung up and a white cross was painted in the middle of Royal Square.
The Germans then made up lots of rules for the Islanders eg
they were only allowed to own one dog, cycling two abreast was a punishable offence and all wireless sets had to be handed in. People that were not born on the islands were sent to three different camps in Germany and stayed there until the end of the war.
Schools continued throughout Occupation but as it grew difficult to keep the classrooms heated, the school day was shortened and learning German became compulsory in September 1942.
There were lots of different nationalities brought to the Island to create the tunnels etc including 1500 Soviet prisoners who were brought to Channel Islands in cattle trucks, as slave labourers and regarded as the lowest of the low. Many of them died, dying from malnutrition, exhaustion and disease
More than 140 islanders attempted to get to England and France, most of the escapes took place after August 1944, by which time the USA & UK had liberated the coast of France. This was when the Channel Islands realised, with sinking hearts, that the Invasion had passed them by, and Jersey was cut off from supplies and the Germans and Islanders faced starvation. On 8th
May 1945 the Channel Islands were
liberated and the Red Cross dropped food parcels for the Islanders. The Germans faced starvation still and were forced to eat seagulls, berries, limpets and anything they could find. Morale collapsed.
August, after 5 years of German Occupation and 90 days of British Military rule, Jersey then took back their Island.
Came out from tunnels into bright sunshine and had a quiet smirk at the long queue waiting to go in!! There must have been at least sixty people!
Drove back to the other side of the Island via the long beach at Grouville to visit 12th
Century Mont Orgueil Castle. Magnificent views of Gorey and the coast up to St Catherine’s breakwater. Learnt loads more history – one thing that stuck out is that the Queen still receives two mallard ducks (not sure if they are dead or alive!!!) from the Seigneur of Trinity!!
Had a quick lunch (with a very trusting and friendly Siamese fluffy cat!!) before moving on to The Hougue Bie which is a dolmen, covered with a mound, built about 6,000 years ago. You had to crawl almost, through a tunnel for about 30ft before it opened up into
a chamber. The Germans also built a batallion command bunker here for telecommunication to Guernsey and it has now been dedicated to all the men that lost their lives. There was also stories from different islanders, most of whom were children when Jersey was invaded. At the top of the mound there was The Chapel of Notre Dame de la Clarte, built in the second half of the 12th
Decided to have a walk around the reservoir on our way back to the hotel as the weather was so nice. Another nice dinner at “Feast” at Gorey Harbour, with an outside table (having booked yesterday !!).
Yesterday was a day of castles and history, today was a day of animals!! We started off early as we had a RIB powerboat trip booked for 9.00am (only time they had left!!) from St Catherine’s breakwater, about 15mins away.
There we four groups of people, Me and Chris being a group of two, so we ended up on the front ‘seats’ that were like, well, jockey seats with a handle to cling on to at the front of it. Larger family groups sat on
bench seats at the back. The RIB raced along at 40 knots, banging on the waves and spray both sides!! Reminded me of the speed canoes up the Mekong many years ago!! Then we saw dolphins and slowed down to follow them! They were playing around the boat, riding the bough wave – it was quite a large pod of about 25 bottle-nosed dolphin and it was really special to see them. Sped on to the Islands (Les Ecrehous & Les Dirouilles – cant say I had heard of any of them!!) and were treated ( after seeing a few seals on the rocks and in the water) to a tumbledown group of houses on a rocky crop. There were four other houses – each on its own rocky crop and still separated by water. I’m guessing at low tide, they all join up together!!
Docked on a shingle beach ( covered at high tide) and was able to have a wander round for 20mins – some people actually had a swim!! Back on the RIB and back ( after speeding round in a figure of eight!!) to St Catherine’s breakwater.
Drove onto Gerald Durrell’s Conservation Zoo for
a spot of lunch and a good wander round looking at all the animals, that is if you could find them as it’s all very wild and overgrown!! Particularly enjoyed watching the orangutans swinging about on ropes and the butterfly house!! Back to the hotel to pack as we are leaving tomorrow 7.30am for the airport.
My thoughts of Jersey – it feels very safe. Its quite expensive with an average dinner costing us between £50-£60 , with a glass of wine is £5.00 - £7.00. The people are very welcoming and friendly. Its very pretty and some beaches are best to see with the tide in, and some beaches are non-existent unless the tide is out!!
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