Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jersey Wednesday

So. There we were, pondering what to do for the day after breakfast yesterday. Consulted one of the guidebooks and decided to head into the middle of the island and take our chances on the web of country lanes and see if we could find the Hamptonne Country Life museum. We were just congratulating ourselves on having navigating around the island more or less sussed – when we missed a disguised left hand turn and ended up heading back into St Helier.

So we took a random turn to the left and ended up on a Green Lane much earlier than we had intended to. The Green Lanes are very narrow lanes where the speed limit is restricted to 15 mph and pedestrians, cyclists and people on horseback have priority. The maximum speed limit anywhere is 40 mph and there are only two very tiny sections of divided road (and one of those is out in the middle of nowhere and had no apparent practical purpose!). It’s amazing how quickly you get used to moving about slowly. I turned to remind The Builder not to go too fast and found he was doing less than 30!

Anyway, back to the Green Lane. We were proceeding along quite well, until we reached a diversion and were flung unexpectedly out into the network of Green Lanes and other small roads. We did see some beautiful countryside but didn’t feel as though we were progressing with any degree of intent towards Hamptonne (though we did keep seeing signs to it). Eventually, The Builder notice a small sign on a stone building we had passed several times. And that was the only indication that that building might indeed be Hamptonne. We surmised, in the absence of any other signs or any vehicles at all, that it was closed for the winter. At least on Wednesdays.

So we drove down the middle of the island to St Aubin where we got out and went for a wander along the “esplanade” and pottered in the shops. It reminded me, for some reason, quite strongly of Mornington, though it is very much tinier. I think it must be the yucca trees growing along the roadside. And the design of some of the buildings. It was the least French architecture that I’ve seen.

Then we decided to drive up along the Green Lane near our car park, and ended up in Portelet, an out of the way hamlet with lovely views over the sea. We went for another amble along the cliff tops, admiring the many little inlets and beaches that are hidden away. Proper smugglers coast! And into St Brelade for lunch in a “suburb” called Red Houses (don’t know why – didn’t see any red houses). And up the west coast road. Absolutely beautiful. Magnificent views, including of the other Channel Islands, lovely beaches, nice countryside. Eventually (after a somewhat hairy million point turn because we – yet again – had missed a turn) we passed a somewhat unlikely racecourse absolutely in the middle of nowhere – goodness only know how they get the horses there! - and so to the ruins of Grosnez Castle on the north western tip, where you can see not only the other Islands but also the Normandy coast. There are also some very, very secluded beaches up there. Even better smugglers country – and so close to France for the smuggling!! Another walk along the cliff tops, a pat of a happy, friendly puppy and back in the car and back to St Helier for a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

We had dinner in a local wine bar/pub. Not a pretentious menu, but they did a fine job on a piece of sirloin steak, some garlic prawns and some chips, then back to the hotel where I managed to have my regular Wednesday chat with Tony on MSN Messenger. The hotel has, it says, wireless connectivity in the public areas of the hotel only. However, having once connected to it, I find that the laptop connects automatically in the bedroom. The signal may be low – but it works. I am not complaining.

One day left before we head back to England and thence to Salisbury

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