Bob returned from Jersey today. He regaled us with tales of high adventure and wild weather. Herewith, I include some of what he told us.
Because of Storm Eleanor, it would be safe to say that Bob’s trip to Jersey could have been timed a bit better. With winds reaching gusts of 80mph, it was quite difficult getting about. It’s one thing to try and walk into a wind that strong (you end up standing still) but walking with it at your back is somewhat dangerous on an island that measures only 10 miles and 5. He claimed to have seen quite a few people flying.
The size of the island is important. In area, Jersey is only around 50 square miles with a population of 100,080 – that’s 2000 people per square mile. Compare this with the Isle of Man which is around 221 square miles with only 83,737 people – 379 people per square mile. Which means you can hardly turn around on Jersey without touching another person.
(The comparison with the Isle of Man is relevant because of the many similarities between the two. It’s also relevant because I’ve been to the Isle of Man and can visualise it.)
It would appear that everyone on Jersey owns at least four cars and drives them all at the same time. According to Bob, peak hour starts and finishes at the same time every day having lasted 24 hours. This makes life quite difficult when you consider that the roads are either narrower than any normal car or one way and turning around is going to be next to impossible.
Mapping appears to be a problem on Jersey. The map that Bob had only showed a few of the streets (all French), was not to scale and featured mythical beasts in the corners. He tried to use it to find the Gerald Durrell Zoo. While ultimately successful, it was fraught with wrong turnings and misdirection. He even asked a local who, like every comedy skit yokel, spoke slowly, deliberately and had no idea where it was.
The Zoo, Bob told us, is probably very good when the weather is kind. He spent a couple of hours there, one of which was spent in the main entrance building in the company of all the other visitors seeking shelter from the torrential, drenching rain. Incidentally, because of the ferocious winds, the rain was actually going sideways.
When the weather allowed some sort of visit, Bob told us that all the animals, not being as stupid as humans, were tucked up in their enclosures, nice and snug and dry…and invisible. Except for the apes who have big glass windows for seeing them in inclement weather.
If Bob had thought the driving to the zoo was difficult it was nothing compared to the diabolical one-way system of St Helier. To go right you often have to turn left; to go north you often head east…sometimes you have to do both at the same time. Rather than signposts, No Entry is painted on the roads making it difficult to work out which direction is permitted.
Generally, all the roads are narrow, making turning impossible and backwards the only direction to go. Bob said he was forced to reverse about 200 metres in one road because it just ran out, blocked at the far end by bollards. It reminded him of Mirinda’s experience with the French tractor from a few years ago.
Speaking of reversing and narrow roads…at one point Bob was driving along a narrow road with about six cars behind him when he was stopped by a Jaguar coming the other way. The Jag driver wanted Bob to reverse to a passing place but, as Bob indicated, there was no way six cars would reverse to make way for one. He sat and waited. Eventually the Jag driver managed to find his reverse gear and slowly and surely found a spot where the road was a few inches wider.
The hotel he was staying at was very comfortable and had many lounging areas. As it turned out, this was extremely handy given he spent most of his three days inside due to the weather. When he did go out it was generally only as far as the front door because the heavens would open and the deluge would recommence as soon as he left any form of shelter.
The hotel was almost opposite Elizabeth Castle which sits off the main island. At low tide, it is within wading distance – or so it’s claimed. Bob ummed and ahhed a bit finally deciding not to wade out to it given the storm induced 25 metre waves, gale force winds and flying debris.
Speaking of flying…Bob didn’t see any birds on Jersey. That isn’t to say that there are no birds on Jersey, rather more that Storm Eleanor had blown them to France.
This makes it sound like he didn’t enjoy himself on Jersey but, he assured us, it was an adventure just not what he’d been expecting. He also advised us against hiring a car if we go, suggesting the buses were a lot better with the advantages of getting the right of way everywhere, not having to reverse and knowing where they were going…most of the time. He also said our marriage wouldn’t survive it.
I should add that everything I’ve written is 100% true and not embellished in the least. Also, the car hire guy could do with a lesson in directions.