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Friday, 31 October 2008

Jersey Weekend

Last weekend, there being no dancing, I flew off to the island of Jersey to see a friend. It was easy. A short drive to the local airport that I still call Staverton but nowadays prefers to call itself "Gloucestershire M5". The plane has real propellers and just 20 seats - all by a window. We walk across the tarmac and up a proper set of steps into the fuselage like they do on old newsreel footage of politicians. The captain himself does the safety drill then says "Now, the interesting stuff - Sweeties!" and hands round boiled sweets. I look at the wrapper wondering if this largesse is sponsored by a local dentist but no, it's Lloyds TSB. Odd.

It's disconcerting to fly over a beach and half an hour later to walk on it but its got to be done. Jersey beaches are surprisingly big for a small island - that is, until the tide comes in and then they don't exist at all. I started wondering where thousands of summer visitors moved to twice a day when the sea reclaimed the sand.

I found a possible answer later - there are a lot of pubs. Do good food too. Fortunately, my visit coincided with "Tennerfest" when loads of places offer three courses for ten pounds.

I wondered if I might see some giant Jersey Cabbage but my friend thought the practice of growing them might have died out although she'd cultivated them herself in the past. They did have some giant Echiums although not as big as mine!

It's a modern financial centre yet pound notes are still used. The roads all have French names but they speak English. They are not part of the UK yet they drive their many cars on the correct side of the road. House prices are astronomical and still rising, It does both urban and rural. The national animal is a toad.

Jersey is a "island nation" to a degree that was a shock to me. Nowhere is more than about 9 miles from anywhere else. The sea is always closer. People want to escape but they are drawn back as well.

Finally, a thank you to the lady who saw me standing by the side of the road and mistakenly thought I needed a lift into town. It's good that there are still places where that can happen.

Gloucestershire M5  Airport
Jersey Cabbage and Echiums

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