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Jersey Revisited

A Winter's Afternoon in St Helier

The X15 soon had me transported from the airport to the bus station in St Helier.

Where the buses offload their passengers, the lighting is similar to Security in Southampton Airport that I had passed through about 90 minutes ago. Inside the cavernous hall are a few inquiry desks and some seating in the same design as at the airport. All designed to let bus passengers know they are welcome to spend even less time here than back at the airport.

I helped myself to a map showing St Helier on one side and the whole of the island on the other.

1. 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'

In the interests of domestic harmony, that is following instructions from my wife, my first objective was to find her something to read as she had left her current book back home. The sub-instruction was to get something from a charity shop if at all possible. Google answered my request for "charity shops in St Helier" with three options: Oxfam and Mind Jersey, both located in New Street, and Jersey Care Hospice Shop in Union Street.

Both streets were in F7 on the map's grid referencing and would need a walk of less than a kilometer from where I was to find them.

Mission accomplished at Oxfam where I bought a copy of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which was tucked away between Harry Potter and a Delia Smith cookbook. The purchase released me from my domestic and matrimonial obligations so I could explore St Helier in freedom.

2. Liberation Square

My starting point was "Liberation Square." The focus of this square is a life size bronze of men, women, and children holding up a Union Jack flag on 6 May 1945 in celebration of the end of the German occupation of the Channel Islands which they had endured since 30 June 1940. It is a stark and poignant reminder of what the citizens of the Channel Islands had to endure during those five years. Forced labour, lack of food, and the oppression of suffering invasion. Despite countless conflicts and losses of life around the world since that day of liberation 73 years ago, there are still people around the world living under regimes of forced labour, starvation, and oppression.

Liberation Square

Afternoon sun lightens the end of a dark period in Jersey's history.

3. Albert Harbour

With thoughts about those circumstances 73 years ago and what preparations for Christmas under occupation must have been like, I crossed "La Route De La Liberation" and on to Albert Harbour. This was full of private sailing and motor boats completely lacking in dignity as their sleek hulls and keels rested on the greeny brown slimy sludge of the harbour bottom waiting for the incoming tide to elevate them into their natural element and restore their dignity. Inset to the old flagstones of the original harbour wall are light grey triangular tiles. Thirteen in all numbered "0" to "12" with each one representing a force of the wind as measured by the Beaufort Scale. "0" is "Calm" with "Smoke rises vertically" while "12" is "Hurricane" with "Yacht crews decide to take up golf." The wind was coming on shore and would have registered "3" which was "a gentle breeze, wind extending flags."

The Start of the Beaufort Scale

"12" is at the landward end of this harbour. Against the wall between the harbour and the "Route De La Liberation" are benches set into the shelter of walled alcoves. The backs are made of plate steel and each bench bears the names of ships or boats associated with Jersey that sank in various parts of the world.

The End of the Beaufort Scale

Even golfers would stay in.

On the opposite side of the harbour from the Beaufort Scale slabs are 26 polished stone benches, each one representing a letter from the alphabet in in the NATO phonetic way. So, "A" is alpha, "B" is beta right the way through to "Z" being Zulu. As well as this dictionary, there are illustrations for each letter showing how they would have been communicated using semaphore.

A is For 'Alpha'.

4. Elizabeth Harbour

This is not a glamorous harbour sheltering Sunseeker yachts or sleek ocean racing yachts but the main hub through which imports and exports in and out of Jersey going by sea are moved. It is sectioned off by wire fencing to keep the public out of the way of lorries and forklift trucks scurrying around to split or make up shipments. Not a good place for the unwary to be so I walked along a street that went behind the main warehouse here before rejoining the walkway around the rest of the harbour.

5. Elizabeth Marina

Just like Albert Harbour, the Elizabeth Marina was full of luxury sail and motor boats but unlike the Albert Harbour, in this marina the water was deep enough to stop the sleek hulls from grounding in the mud and slime of a low tide. I walked past the ITV offices where a receptionist was busy working on a keyboard. Somewhere behind the glass panels was an editorial suite and studio going through the frantic last minute preparations for the next news broadcast. For those not familiar with the UK TV companies, ITV stands for Independent Television which is a direct competitor to the BBC.

The Radisson Hotel, because of its smoked glass windows on the ground floor, did not look open for business. In fact, with hindsight less than a week after being there, I cannot remember seeing an entrance. One of life’s great mysteries is to be resolved on my next visit to Jersey.

Out to sea shadowing over the horizon was one of the biggest anvil shaped clouds I have ever seen. It looked huge, bigger than the photo below makes it look. The sun was setting behind it and every so often a mercury coloured shaft of light would appear from the leading edge of the cloud. The temperature was dropping, the wind getting up. It began to feel like a "5" which is a "fresh breeze - well conditioned man-o-war could just carry royals in chase." I had bought a book for my wife and I had seen some more of St Helier.

Where the footpath joins the Esplanade is a bus stop where I only had to wait five minutes for the next X15 to St Aubin’s, meet my wife, and get my first glimpse of the hotel we would be staying in for the next couple nights. Hope it is warm.

The Anvil Cloud

Alan Russell
Alan Russell

I am a very lucky person. I live in a beautiful area,the New Forest,have a happy home that I share with my wife and two felines. More,much more than this I travel many highways,to interesting places and meeting interesting people.Carp diem.

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