Jersey is divided into 12 parishes, roughly corresponding to English borough councils. 10 are named after saints, the exceptions being Trinity and Grouville, which is where we are staying.
We have what is described as a “Superior” room but there are one or two things wrong with it, such as a broken lamp on my side of the bed and a toilet flush that jams, preventing the cistern from refilling. Then again, hotel rooms are like people: they all have their faults.
Our room is at the top of two flights of stairs, 32 steps in all, and although this isn’t as bad as the Isle of Man, we find it convenient to get ready for our day out and then go down to breakfast with all our kit.
As the weather had been warm in London prior to our departure, I had hesitated to bring my winter coat and scarf with me but this morning when we started out under a grey sky with a moon-pale sun struggling to shine through the cloud cover, it was so cold that I was glad of them.
We walked along the road to the village of Gorey and on the way had an encounter that illustrates a difference between Jersey and impatient London. I was about to cross the road when I saw a youth on a bicycle coming towards me. I continued walking, waiting for him to pass but after a while as he had not yet passed I turned to look back. I then saw that he had stopped and was waiting for me to cross!
I hurried across the road and was so surprised that I forgot to thank him as I should have done. I remembered that yesterday evening, our cab, powering along the main road, had halted to allow a vehicle out from a side road. Later, in the village of Gorey, similar thing happened when a car stopped to let us cross the street.
Some of us remember a time when such courtesy was experienced on the highways of the UK.
We reached the sea in the bay at Gorey Harbour, picturesquely situated beneath Gorey Castle, also known as Chateau Mont Orgueil, and had tea in a hotel restaurant facing the beach.
The next task was to buy a 3-day bus pass. Unfortunately, these cannot be bought on the bus as they can in some places, so, on the advice of the bus driver, we bought 1-day passes as these would enable us to travel to St Helier where we could pay the difference and swap them for 3-day passes.
St Helier’s bus station, incidentally, has an interesting arrangement that I haven’t seen anywhere else. The display shows the times and destinations of buses and the “stands”, labelled from ‘A’ to ‘O’, from which they leave. When you reach the stand, you are confronted with a blank wall with a sliding gate in it. The gate does not open until the bus is in position to take passengers aboard. When the gate opens it is exactly opposite the entrance to the bus.
Armed with our 3-day passes, we took the 23 bus to Durrell. If you have not heard of this place you might still guess what it is. Remember Gerald Durrell, writer and animal conservationist? This is the zoo that he established on Jersey to provide a refuge for endangered species and which still seems to be going strong, maintaining the high standards that he set.
After a cold, grey start to the day, the sun had at last broken through and we enjoyed exploring the zoo in springlike sunshine. I wasn’t intending to take photos as I think taking photos in a zoo is like shooting fish in a barrel. However, some animals were sufficiently interesting or charming, or both, to make me want to photograph them.
In order to economize, we had bought bread rolls, cheese, tapenade (an olive pate) and fruit for a picnic lunch. We ate this at a picnic table on the grass near the Bat House before continuing our explorations.
On Sunday, relatively few buses run on Jersey. This means your options are limited if you want to move about the Island and that you need to plan your outings carefully to ensure you can get home again before the service closes for the night. We had learnt this lesson in Cornwall where bus often cease running from about 5 pm. Always remember to check the time of the last bus back!
After a cup of tea in the zoo cafe, we left just in time for the 3:45 bus towards St Helier. We had some idea of returning to the hotel for a rest before setting out to search for dinner but things didn’t quite work out that way.
The first leg of the journey went perfectly well. We had a little walk in St Helier but practically everything was closed so we returned to the bus station to pick up the number 1 for Gorey which goes past our hotel. We started the journey and ran along happily enough until we reached St Clement.
At this point, Tigger’s usually reliable ‘inner pigeon’ seems to have gone haywire. The bus stopped, we got off, the bus departed, and there we were… miles from home. Oops! There would not be another bus for an hour, so we thought we might as well start walking. That way we would at least see some scenery and get a little exercise. In fact, it was quite a pleasant walk with serene views of the evening sea.
The main problem was that this was a main road, quite busy and in many places there was no pavement. Some vehicles came awfully close to us before veering away, especially when there were vehicles coming the other way.
The usual procedure on roads without pavements is to walk on the right, facing oncoming traffic. That makes sense until you approach a bend to the right. You realize then that you cannot see the oncoming traffic which means that oncoming traffic can’t see you, either. Motorists, even courteous ones like those in Jersey, tend not to expect pedestrians on the open road so the risk is obvious. On such occasions, we switched to the left, as we could then see further round the bend. When the road straightened, we would cross to the right again.
We eventually decided to cease walking and wait at a bus stop. We knew when the bus left St Helier but had to guess when it would reach the stop. In fact, Tigger’s estimate was pretty good and the bus turned up more or less when expected.
Incidentally, the Jersey bus service runs a neat scheme for informing you of the times of buses from any stop. It works as follows. Every bus stop is numbered with a 4-digit number. At the bus stop (which might not have a post and plaque) the word “BUS” is painted in the road together with the number of that stop. If you use your mobile to text the bus stop number to 66556, you receive an answering text giving the numbers, destinations and times of the next few buses from that stop. This is very useful and also reassuring when you find yourself waiting at a stop in the middle of nowhere.
Once aboard the bus, we decided to continue to its terminus at Gorey Harbour and have supper there. There are about half a dozen places in the harbour where you can eat in the evening. We chose the Seascale Hotel Restaurant which is where we had had tea in the morning. We had pizza and tea.
By the time we emerged to catch the 8:01 bus, it was dark. The harbour was pretty with its lights and the castle, which is illuminated with powerful projectors, stands out dramatically above the buildings. These pictures are a little blurred because they are hand-held.
We asked to be put off at the bus stop nearest our hotel. The night was dark and the stars shone out clearly. There was Orion, the Little Bear and many others. There was no moon to distract from our view of the sky. For that matter, there was no light at all and it was then that we remembered that out in the country at night if you want to see where you are going, you need a torch! Oops!
There were some cars on the road and whenever one came by and lit up our path, we hurried along. In some places there were lights from buildings but elsewhere is was pitch black. Fortunately, the digital pocket watch that Tigger bought me a couple of years ago has a single LED light on it. We found it produced sufficient light for us to follow the pavement. This time Tigger’s “inner pigeon” behaved itself and took us straight to the hotel. Tomorrow, I must remember to take our little Maglite torch with us.
Today is Mothers’ Day and at the restaurant they gave each female diner a bunch of daffodils. Tigger isn’t one for flowers and I never buy her any for this reason. Nevertheless, she was given her bouquet and we carried it solemnly back to the hotel. In the bar Tigger asked if they had a vase to put them in. The barman went away and came back with a flower bucket, the sort of thing florists stand bunches of cut flowers in. He promised to find a smaller one tomorrow.
When we reached our room, we were pleased (or perhaps “pleasantly surprised” says it better) to find that the two problems we had reported this morning (the broken lamp and the malfunctioning toilet flush) had both been put right. Brownie points to the management!