Friday, December 14, 2007

A day at the Jersey seaside

Today we have mostly been collecting beaches. After breakfast (kippers and smoked haddock for me today, along with tomatoes and mushrooms and fruit. I had the fruit separately!), we took ourselves East, back to Gorey and thence up a narrow road to St Catherine’s. There’s a long breakwater at St Catherine’s. We decided to walk along it, despite the fact that this morning was misty and chilly. There was ice on the car when we got up!

It was windy on that there breakwater. Very windy. I put my gloves on and did up my fleece and regretted very strongly that I had left my waxed winter jacket in the hotel! Boy was it nippy. And there was a man, right at the very, very end, fishing! Mad. We dropped down to the lower, more sheltered level and went back to the car park and into the café for tea.

Then we got Very Brave Indeed – trusting both our Jersey navigating abilities and The Builder’s careful, cautious driving and went up some back tracks to Couperon, for there is a dolmen marked on the map and I wanted to see it. We haven’t deliberately driven on any of these very narrow tracks before. The Dolmen du Couperon has been badly excavated and restored, according to its information board. But it’s a Neolithic grave site with imposing views of the bay. It is accompanied by a 16th Century gunpowder cottage. We pottered about on the cliffs, admired Rozel Bay from the top then got back in the car and carefully, cautiously navigated our way back to the ---- argh!!!!!! A post van is in the lane. Stop dead! Consider where we could go (other than all the way back to the dolmen) to let him past. But fortunately, he turned into a driveway and we made our way very slowly back to the “main” road. Which is about 6 inches wider than the track we were on.

We drove into Rozel, which is a pretty little hamlet but had no pressing need to stop, then along beautiful country roads to Bonne Nuit Bay – I wish I knew why it was called that, but it seems to have had a history of smuggling and profiteering. We had a little potter there and then made our way to St John’s, where there are shops and a Post Office. I’ve been carrying around Austin’s Christmas present and felt that it would be sensible to post it at some point before we left, rather than taking it on a random holiday to Jersey and then taking it home again. It was an odd place to find a Pound Shop, though, in this elegant little village and surrounded by elegant shops.

We decided to trundle up to Greve de Lecq, because it had another sign for an ancient monument on the map. There was an Iron Age (I think) settlement there but there are no obvious signs of it. The name means, they think, Beach (greve, which should have a grave accent on the first e but I can’t convince the laptop to put it there; odd because it’s perfectly happy to give me acute one) and creek because they *think* that Lecq is a Norse word for creek. It is one of the most beautiful little beaches I think I have ever seen. I’ve seen more beautiful big beaches, but often that is magnificence from scale. This was just lovely, and little. It also boasted a beachside café which, to our astonishment, given that it’s December and we were in the middle of nowhere, was almost full. We stopped for lunch.

And then we spent the afternoon driving around. We drove down to St Peter’s because there’s an M&S Simply Food there and we have decided to have a picnic in our room this evening. We drove down to St Belade and on to St Aubin, intending to take the road up through St Peter’s Valley, which is alleged to be very beautiful. But we missed the turning. So we drove up through St Lawrence, back up to St John and tried to find the road through St Peter’s Valley from up there. Lost it entirely. Tried a more circuitous route and found ourselves in another little web of country roads that my map really doesn’t cope with (they’re marked as lines like this _____ and I can’t see them properly when there are lots of them!) It doesn’t really matter, though. On an Island this size you are bound to run across something you recognise, or a signpost. Eventually. As it happens, and quite fortuitously, we found ourselves coming along a road which had St Peter’s valley waymarked. I had begun to think it was a mythical place, like Brigadoon! We drove down it, and it was indeed beautiful. But not, perhaps, the most beautiful place on the island, which is what it’s reputation was. Perhaps it is stunning in the summer. Certainly, when Queen Victoria came here and asked to be shown the most beautiful spot, she was taken on a drive down that road.

Back to St Helier, and here we are, waiting for it to be picnic time and watching the snooker. Tomorrow it will be time to go home. Well, back to England. I had been worried that there might not be enough to do on Jersey to occupy a whole 3.5 days. There has been. But only just. There would, of course, be more, if we had come in summer. The thought of driving along some of those roads during the season is quite mind boggling!!!!!

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